Happy Passover, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! We're so excited to have the amazing Vivian Kirkfield with us today! Vivian, multi-published author, popular blogger, and creator of the My 50 Precious Words Challenge, is here today sharing her adorable book, Pippa's Passover Plate (illustrated by Jill Weber). As Pippa gets ready for Passover, she finds her Seder plate missing. None of Pippa's friends have seen it either. What's a mouse to do? Want to know more about Vivian and Pippa, PLUS want a chance to win a 30-minute ask-me-anything zoom chat with her? Read on...
Q: Hi, Vivian! #SeasonsOfKidLit is thrilled you could join us and talk about your adorable
book, Pippa’s Passover Plate! First, for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting you,
can you share a little about yourself and how you became a children’s book author with
A: Hi Heather and Lynne Marie! Thank you so much for inviting me to share my story – and the story behind the story – with your #SeasonsOfKidLit followers.
I think my path to publication might inspire others to believe that we are never too old to follow our dreams. And just as importantly, that we can always be making new dreams.
As a young child, I dreamed of becoming a teacher – and when I graduated from
college in 1967, I realized that dream with my job as a kindergarten teacher in NYC. But many years later, when I was already a grandmother and retired from teaching, my son took me skydiving and, when my feet touched the ground, I knew that if I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I could probably do anything. And that was good because I had a new dream, to become a writer for children. So, in 2012, I jumped into the kid-lit world the same way I jumped out of that airplane, with my whole heart. I took classes.
Joined critique groups. Participated in challenges and contests. And wrote and revised
and submitted! I signed with my agent, the amazing Essie White, in 2015 and within 2
months, we had a book deal for SWEET DREAMS, SARAH.
How fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing that with us, Vivian.
Q: Pippa’s Passover Plate is a sweet rhyming story about Pippa the Mouse as she prepares a meal for Passover, only to find out her special Seder plate is missing. Soon, Pippa is on a mission to find her plate before Passover begins. This sounds like such a sweet story! Can you share more about the story with the readers?
A: I always encourage writers to participate in contests and challenges because these writing prompts can open the floodgates to so much creativity. In 2013, I was doing Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (which was called PiBoIdMo back then). One of her blog guests was Kar-Ben editor Joni Sussman who invited everyone to send her a picture book manuscript about a Jewish holiday. I sat down and immediately, a vision of a little mouse getting ready for Passover popped into my mind – and the words flowed from my pen…in rhyme! Sadly, when I sent the story to the editor, she passed on it. But many years later (and many revisions later), a local author/illustrator critique partner, Jill Weber, took the story to one of her editors she was having lunch with in New York…and Mary Cash at Holiday House bought it on the spot. And hired Jill to be the illustrator. And the amazing thing is that I didn’t have to change anything.
The story unfolds with Pippa Mouse searching for her Seder plate. Passover is at
sundown and she can’t find it. Gathering her courage, she bravely confronts three of her
natural enemies to see if they know where it is. Cat, Snake and Owl try to be helpful and
suggest that she ask Golda Fish down by the lake. Pippa spies the dish at the bottom of the lake but falls in and is rescued by Golda who joins them all for a holiday celebratory
Q: For those who may not be familiar with Passover, why is it important for Pippa to find her Seder plate and what will children experience when reading your story?
A: The Seder plate will hold the special food items that are part of the Passover story of the slavery of the Jewish people in Egypt and their subsequent freedom from bondage: matzah (unleavened bread because the Jewish people had to hurry and didn’t have time for the yeast to rise), the zeroa (a roasted bone), beitzah (hard-boiled egg), maror and chazeret (bitter herbs like horseradish root and romaine lettuce), charoset (a sweet mixture of chopped apple and walnut) and karpas (sprigs of parsley or onion or boiled potato). Pippa needs to find the plate so that she can follow the tradition of remembering the bitter times of slavery as well as celebrating the sweetness of the freedom to practice one’s religion.
Children whose families don’t observe Passover can experience a story of searching to find a lost object (which is something we all experience in our lives). They can identify with being afraid and having to gather courage (which is something we all experience in our lives). They can relate to the importance and joy of building friendships (which is something we all experience in our lives). When we layer our picture book manuscripts with universal truths, we invite our readers to connect with the characters in our stories.
Q: You’re a wonderful storyteller and rhymer! As we know, rhyme is not an easy task and must be flawless in this industry. Can you share any tips you may have for readers looking to write in rhyme?
A: Aww…you are very kind! Rhyme is definitely difficult to write…because it’s so much more than making sure the end word on each line rhymes. It’s all about the rhythm which is also important in prose writing. Major tips:
Read LOTS of books in rhyme – especially current ones from the past 10 years.
Write your story in prose first, if you can. Or, once you’ve written in rhyme (if that’s the way it flowed from your pen), make sure you aren’t wasting lines that don’t really say anything that moves the story forward. Frivolous rhyme is a line that is there just because you needed something to rhyme. Remember the motto of #50PreciousWords: magic happens when you make every word count.
Have someone else read your rhyming story. When we read our own stories, we often change the natural stress of words because we know how we want it to sound. But parents who are reading your book will NOT know how you want it to sound and, if the meter is off, editors probably won’t buy it. If you don’t have anyone else to read it, record yourself reading it and listen back. Try to be aware of where you trip up – where the line doesn’t flow smoothly. The thing about rhyming stories for children is that they are meant to be read aloud.
Q: What makes Pippa’s Passover Plate the perfect read for spring?
A: I was so darned fortunate to have Jill Weber as the illustrator for Pippa’s Passover Plate. Her color palette is an explosion of joy! Every time I look at the pages, I fall in love again! Each spread bursts with flowers and the lush greenery of a woodland in bloom. And there is so much to discover on each page – kids love seeing Cat peeking in Pippa’s window. They delight in pointing out snake, slithering in the background, on the page where Cat tells her to go ask snake. Jill made sure to place the next animal character in the page before Pippa actually goes to speak with them. And the daisy chain Pippa slips on Snake and the flowers Owl brings to the holiday celebration sing of Spring.
Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this with us, Vivian. We can't wait to get a closer look at Pippa!
Spring into Storytime Giveaway!
Vivan has offered to give one lucky reader a 30-minute Ask Me Anything Chat. How exiting!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win, leave a comment below and let Vivian know why you can't wait to read her books! Mouse GIFs are appreciated, too! ;)
The winner will be chosen on or about Tuesday, 4/2!
Bonus: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of two (2) 15-minute Zoom Ask Me Anything chats with Heather and Lynne Marie!
About Vivian Kirkfield:
Bio: Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, walking along the ocean floor, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing stories in the picturesque village of Bedford, NH. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of many picture books that have garnered accolades such as Junior Library Guild Selection, Eureka Honor Award, Best Science STEM Book, and Social Studies Notable Trade Book including Sweet Dreams, Sarah; Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe; and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves and the upcoming Pedal, Balance Steer: Annie Londonderry, First Woman to Cycle Around the World and One Girl’s Voice: How Lucy Stone Changed the Law of the Land.
For more about Vivian, visit her at the below links:
To purchase Vivian's books, or to leave a review for them, click here.