Trick or Treat with Agent Lisa Amstutz!
Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, readers! Has your family baked anything together this fall? Homemade treats are a true delight, especially during the holidays. Today, we have Literary Agent, and Author of over 150 books (WOW!), Lisa Amstutz here talking about one of her favorite traditions: making applesauce with her family! Her book Applesauce Day (illustrated by Talitha Shipman) highlights a family's tradition doing just that. Want to know more about Lisa, her book, and her literary career? Read on...
Q: Hi, Lisa. Thank you for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m thrilled to have you. For those who aren’t familiar, you’re an Associate Literary Agent at Storm Literary, are the author of over 150 children’s books, and hold a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Science/Ecology. How fascinating! Can you share more about yourself and how you became a children’s author?
A: Thank you for inviting me!
A literary career was never in my plans. My degrees are in science, and I figured I’d end up teaching or doing research long-term. But I’ve always loved books, and when my kids were young, the idea of writing for publication took hold. After freelancing for magazines and the local newspaper for five years, I found SCBWI and the wonderful world of children’s literature.
I soon realized that I had a lot to learn, and started reading, writing, critiquing, taking classes, and attending workshops. I joined my regional SCBWI board and made lots of great connections and friendships there. While working on my own stories, I also wrote for children’s magazines and the educational market. It took me about five years to find an agent and sell my first trade picture book, but by then I was well-published in those other markets. It’s been quite a journey!
Q: Applesauce Day follows Maria and her family as they head to an orchard to pick apples, then make the perfect treat for fall - applesauce. Can you share more about Maria’s adventure?
A: This book is based on my family’s tradition of making applesauce together each year. My editor, Andrea Hall, and I wanted to show different ways that this could happen, so those are reflected in the story…picking apples at an orchard, buying them at a farmer’s market, and growing them. Over the years, our family has done all of the above. The important thing is that we do it together—making memories as well as a delicious treat.
Q: What will readers love most about Applesauce Day?
A: Young readers enjoy repeating some of the fun words: Crank! Squish! Crankity! Squish! or
Blurp! Blurp! Blurp! And Talitha Shipman’s colorful illustrations really bring the story to life. I
hope readers will be inspired to make their own applesauce (there’s a recipe in the back) and
create a new family tradition of their own!
Q: That definitely sounds fun! What makes this the perfect read, and treat, for fall?
A: Apples are traditionally associated with fall, and educators often do an apple unit (see https://www.lisaamstutz.com/applesauce-day.html for a teacher’s guide). I actually prefer summer apples (Transparent), but there are many fall varieties that work well for sauce. If you don’t have the time or equipment to do a big batch, it’s easy to just peel and core some apples and simmer them on the stove or in a crockpot with just enough water to keep them from sticking. Maybe you can read Applesauce Day together while you’re waiting for them to cook 😊. Mash them and add a little sugar and cinnamon to taste and you’ve got applesauce! The smell of those apples cooking is amazing.
Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
A: My next book is called Our Christmas Tree Farm, and will be published by Feeding Minds Press in Winter 2023. This one is also close to my heart, as my parents raised Christmas trees for several years when I was a kid. So writing it brought back lots of memories!
That sounds lovely, Lisa! Thanks again for joining us. We can't wait to check out your books!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A trick AND a treat!
Trick: Mine your memories for picture book ideas. Even if the experience isn’t universal, the emotions may be. For example, not everyone makes applesauce as a family, but many people have traditions related to family and food that inspire similar emotions and memories.
Treat: Enter to win a free copy of Applesauce Day!
Thanks so much for such a delightful trick and treat!
Contest Details: To enter to win a copy of Applesauce Day, comment below and let Lisa know why you're most excited to bake this holiday season! The winner will be announced on or about November 4th.
*Note: Book giveaways will be shipped in the US only.
Reminder: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes.
About Lisa Amstutz:
Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 150 books for children. In 2021, she joined Storm
Literary Agency as an associate literary agent. Lisa's background includes degrees in biology and environmental science, and she specializes in topics related to nature, sustainability, and agriculture. She lives on a small farm with her family, and still loves to make applesauce every year.
For more about Lisa, check out the below links:
To purchase Lisa's books, or to leave a review, click here.