Hello, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! #SeasonsOfKidLit is excited to have the amazing Naomi Kruger from Beaming Books with us today. Naomi is the Senior Aquisition's Editor with Beaming Books and is here sharing their incredible must-read books for the season. Plus, she's sharing a glimpse at her holiday manuscript wish list, too. Want to know more about Naomi and Beaming Books, and want a chance to win their new release, The Animals Speak? Read On...
Q: Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, Naomi! We’re excited to have you and learn more about you and the books you publish! Can you share a little about yourself with us?
A: I’m a senior acquisitions editor at Beaming Books where I primarily acquire and edit picture books and some middle grade nonfiction. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota where I work from home most of the time. I go into our Minneapolis office a couple times a month. When I’m not working, I enjoy gardening, reading poetry, and being with my family. I have a preschooler and a kindergartner who love reading books as much as I do!
Q: What is Beaming Books looking for in a manuscript when they are seeking winter / holiday books to publish? Do you have a particular item on your wish list?
A: We’re always interested in considering Christmas books, since our publishing house has roots in the Lutheran tradition. They could have progressive Christian themes or be more general, about spreading joy, being generous, or other Christmas traditions that aren’t specifically faith-focused. But we are also looking for holiday books from other religions and traditions. We have a Diwali book that just published (Diwali in My New Home) and I’d be really interested in acquiring a Hanukkah book. I’d be interested in considering manuscripts about Kwanzaa and other non-religious holidays that are celebrated this time of year. I am also looking for an innovative retelling of the story of Saint Nicholas. Another winter holiday I haven’t seen many submissions for is Valentine’s Day. I’m less interested in something specific about that holiday, and more interested in something about love, spreading love, what it means to be loved, etc. that could be pitched as a Valentine’s Day title. But a story that involves the holiday specifically could be a good fit too, especially if it includes strong SEL themes.
Q: What are some holiday books offered by Beaming Books and what drew you to them?
A: The Animals Speak: A Christmas Eve Legend, by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Brittany Baugus is a lyrical story about the birth of Jesus and the legend of the animals gaining the gift of speech on Christmas Eve every year since. It’s about how we tell the story of Christmas even now, rejoicing with creation that Jesus was born. I’m always drawn to beautiful language like this and manuscripts that tell biblical stories in unexpected ways. I also love how the illustrator depicts the Holy Family with brown skin, which is accurate to the time. I’m actually going to be reading this one aloud at my church’s Christmas pageant as the children parade in dressed as animals. It’s going to be really cute!
Little Mole’s Christmas Gift by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sally Garland is a festive story about generosity and gift giving that goes beyond extravagant presents. The entire Little Mole series is so endearing, and this Christmas story is such a wonderful addition to the collection. It doesn’t have any religious themes other than it being about celebrating Christmas, so it’s a good choice for a wide audience, including schools and libraries.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Lift-the-Flap Christmas Stories for Young Children, which I wrote, illustrated by Megan Higgins. This is the third in our Lift-the-Flap Bible Stories series. It’s a great one for toddlers and preschoolers especially, but I think younger elementary kids will like it too. I really enjoyed expanding the story beyond just the angels and the stable, to include Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before Jesus was born and Jesus’ dedication at the Temple after he was born. For a board book, it’s actually quite detailed!
Q: Those all look great - thanks for sharing them with us. Does Beaming Books have any books on the horizon that we should be on the lookout for?
A: I am really excited about a new book coming next fall in time for the holidays: Lullaby for the King by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Michelle Carlos. It’s an imaginative, poetic story about animals coming from across the Israeli-Palestinian landscape with instruments and other biblically significant gifts for baby Jesus, culminating in a lullaby sung by the angels. We just saw second pages and the illustrator is working on final art now. It’s going to be incredibly gorgeous. I feel so honored to work with the incomparable Nikki Grimes on this book and Michelle Carlos’ stunning watercolor artwork is breathtaking. My kindergartener walked by my desk when I was reviewing the latest pages and he stopped in his tracks, “Mom! I want you to make that book!” I was happy to tell him that it would be ready by next Christmas! You’ll be able to preorder it in January and get a look at the cover then too.
Q: That sounds amazing - we can't wait to read it! Speaking of books, what was your favorite holiday book growing up?
A: The Nutcracker: A Young Reader’s Edition of the Holiday Classic, illustrated by Don Daily, Adapted by Daniel Walden from the story by E.T.A. Hoffman.
It was published by Running Press in 1996 and it’s a gorgeous, large format, illustrated storybook. It has chapters and a lot of text on each page, so it’s not a traditional picture book. The art still captivates me! I have my copy from childhood and display it on our mantle during Christmas.
Q: For some extra fun holiday questions: What is a holiday movie that you watch each year?
A: I always watch A Muppet Christmas Carol and White Christmas. Both of these movies bring me so much joy!
Q: What is a unique way in which your family celebrates the holidays?
A: On Christmas Eve we go to a candlelight family church service in the late afternoon, and then come home for a charcuterie board dinner, watch a Christmas movie, and give each other books, inspired by the Icelandic Jolabokaflod tradition. We don’t have any Icelandic heritage, but we started doing this a few years ago when we learned about it. We have big family gatherings on Christmas Day and another day near then, but Christmas Eve is just our family of four. It’s quiet and cozy. I love it.
Thanks again for joining us today, Naomi! It was wonderful getting to know you more and hearing all about the beautiful books you publish!
Q: How would Beaming Books like to Spread Joy this holiday season?
A: To help Spread Joy to your readers, we would love to gift a copy of The Animals Speak to one winner.
Thanks so much, Naomi! What an amazing gift!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win a copy of The Animals Speak, leave a comment below to thank Naomi for stopping by and let her know why you're excited to read it. The winner will be chosen on or about December 16th!
*Note: books will be shipped in the US only.
Reminder, those who comment on every post will be eligible to win (1) of (5) RYS Speedpasses or a special book package!
About Naomi Kruger
Naomi Joy Krueger is a writer and editor based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of several books for children including, "Lift-the-Flap Christmas Stories for Young Children," "Lift-the-Flap Easter Stories for Young Children," "Lift-the-Flap Bible Stories for Young Children", and the board book, "I Can Praise God." She enjoys gardening, poetry, and spending quality time with her husband and two sons.
To purchase Naomi's books, or to leave a review for them, click here.
For more about Beaming Books, or to browse their bookshop, click here.