Welcome, parents, librarians, book lovers, writers, and fall fanatics of all sorts! Today we have a pleasant treat for you. The incredibly talented AJ Irving is with us sharing her and Claudia Navarro's beautiful book, Dance Like a Leaf. When a young girl's grandmother starts to decline, the girl takes the lead in their autumn traditions, for a beautiful celebration of life and passing. This book is not only a heartwarming read but an important one for readers of all ages. Want to know more about AJ, what she's been working on lately, PLUS want a chance to win a fall-tastic treat from her? Read on...
Q: Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit, AJ! We’re thrilled to have you Trick or Treat with us, and hear all about your recent book Dance Like a Leaf. It sure looks like a sweet read! Please share a little about your journey to becoming a children’s author.
A: Thank you so much for having me on #SeasonsOfKidLit! My childhood dream was to be a writer. I never let go of that dream, but I changed my mind often about the kind of writing I wanted to do. I discovered my true writing path after I became a mother 15 years ago. I’d never been so excited about a genre. Picture books are pure magic! I spent many years learning the craft and received lots of rejection, but I refused to give up.
Q: In your book Dance Like A Leaf, there are many hooks - dancing, colors, seasons, intergenerational relationship, grandmotherly advice, SEL with coping strategies and more! Did it all come together naturally, or if not, what was your process for integrating those hooks?
A: I had a very special relationship with my grandma. We were pen pals until she could no longer write. Dance Like a Leaf was inspired by a letter I wrote her near the end of her life. This book came from my heart. Lyrical writing feels very natural to me. I wasn’t thinking about hooks as I was writing the story. I admire layered picture books and strive to write them. I think my layers come out subconsciously.
Q: Who came up with the last image of Grandma? Was it the illustrator, was it an art note? What are your thoughts about this image?
A: My incredible editor, Kate DePalma, thought a wordless spread at this moment in the book would be powerful. She was right. Claudia’s illustration is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s my favorite spread in the book.
Q: Thanks so much for sharing that! What other books of yours can we check out ASAP and what have you been working on recently?
A: Picture books take forever to make their way into the world, so we must always be working on something new 😊 My latest picture book, The Wishing Flower, brilliantly illustrated by Kip Alizadeh, came out in May. I have an unannounced queer, lyrical concept book that I’m eager to share. I’m also polishing a queer girl love story and working on a project inspired by my job in a jail library.
Q: Those sound amazing-thanks for sharing! What is your favorite thing about the fall season?
A: Autumn was my grandma’s favorite season. Watching the leaves turn will always be my favorite part of fall as well. I love crisp mornings, blue skies, and discovering more and more of nature’s painted leaves.
Q: BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite Halloween Candy?
A: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m so excited they come in Halloween shapes now!
Thanks again for joining us today, AJ! It was a pleasure having you and hearing everything you're working on.
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A Treat! I’d love to give away a signed copy of Dance Like a Leaf!
Thanks so much! What a superbly sweet treat!
Contest Details: To enter to win a copy of Dance Like a Leaf 1) share this post on social media and 2) leave a fun fall GIF for AJ below thanking her for stopping by.
#SeasonsOfKidLit's Trick-or-Treat Winners will be chosen on or about November 5th.
*Books will be shipped in the US only*
Note: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes, perfect for quick MS feedback, provided by Agent Mentee Lynne Marie & Author Heather Macht.
About AJ: A.J. Irving grew up in Boise, Idaho, writing stories and daydreaming about becoming an author. Now, she writes picture books and poetry beneath an old elm tree in Salt Lake City. A.J. is the critically acclaimed author of Dance Like a Leaf and The Wishing Flower. As a children’s author and former bookmobile librarian, A.J. is passionate about inspiring kids to love books. When she’s not reading, writing, or dancing, she enjoys exploring Utah with her husband, two children, and their English bulldogs. A.J. is represented by Jordan Hamessley of Jabberwocky Literary. Learn more at https://ajirving.com/.
For more about AJ, check out the below links:
For more about Claudia Navarro, check out the below links:
To purchase AJ's book on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.
A special thanks to David Rodriguez Lorenzo for the amazing custom-signatures!