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Trick or Treat with Kelly Swemba!

Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, readers! Have you had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Swemba? She's a bright and shiny star in the #KidLit community, is an avid reader, and has her debut book, Missing Violet (illustrated by Fabiana Faiallo) coming out in January, 2023. Also, Kelly just so happens to be a lover of fall like all of us! Want to know more about Kelly, her favorite fall reads, and her new book coming soon? Read on...

Q: Hi, Kelly. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m thrilled to have you! I have a different type of interview planned for you today. This is a segment I’d like to call, Kelly’s Favs for Fall! First, for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, can you share a little about yourself?

A: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Heather! For those who don’t know me, I’m Kelly Swemba, I enjoy writing heartfelt PBs and upper middle grade. I was born in raised in Ohio and have always loved books and writing. It wasn’t until I took a break from working as a nurse to raise my children that I discovered the beautiful world of picture books. Reading with my children felt like a treat on so many levels. I got to bond with them and introduce them to wonderful stories were we both learned, laughed, and fell in love with our favorite characters. This love grew and I became inspired to write my own stories in 2019.

Q: You’re a rising star in the picture book community, and are a huge reader of #KidLit! I’d love for you to share some of your book recommendations for the season! What are some of your favorite fall-themed picture books?

A: Growing up in Ohio, I’m lucky to experience all the seasons, Fall being one of my favorites for the coziness and colors.

My favorite books with a fall theme are:

THE SCARECROW: by Beth Ferry illustrated by the Fan Brothers– I love the friendship in this story. It creates such a full feeling in my heart.

THE SQUIRRELS WHO SQUABBLED: by Rachel Bright illustrated by Jim Field. This book is hysterical, and the rhyme is so tight and creative! My kids and I have read and reread this book so many times.

BEFORE WE STOOD TALL: FROM SMALL SEED TO MIGHTY TREE: by Jessica Kulekjian illustrated by Madeline Kloepper. What a fresh approach and creative way to write a story! It’s lyrical and beautiful and left me in awe.

DANCE LIKE A LEAF: by AJ Irving illustrated by Claudia Navarro – I cannot say enough about this book! The story is tender and beautifully illustrated.

Q: STEM is an important part of learning and a great resource for any school and home library. Do you have any favorite STEM-filled books you’d recommend for the season?

A: I love STEM books and most of my critique partners write lovely ones, so I’m very lucky.

PLANTING STORIES: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise illustrated by Paola Escobar.

THE SNOWFLAKE MISTAKE: by Lou Treleaven illustrated by Maddie Frost.

PANDO: A Living Wonder of Trees by Kate Allen Fox illustrated by Turine Viet-tu Tran.

Q: Very awesome suggestions! And now, a very, VERY serious question: what books would you recommend for anyone who’s looking for a spooky, monster-filled story this season?

A: My favorite spooky PB has to be CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds illustrated by Peter Brown.

For this time of year, great monster books are:

THE MONSTORE: by Tara Lazar illustrated by James Burks.

ROOM ON THE BROOM: by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Alex Scheffler.

And for more ghoulish stories…

ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES! by Megan Lacera illustrated by Jorge Lacera.

MOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE SCARES: A Zombie tale by Lynne Marie illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo.

Favorite MG books:

SRITCH SCRATCH: by Lindsay Currie.

CAVENDASH HOUSE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS: by Claire Legrand illustrated by Sarah Watts.

DAYBREAK AT RAVEN ISLAND: by Fleur Bradley illustrated by Kamali Minter.

Awesome choices, Kelly! We had some of these books featured this season, too! ;)

Q: These are all great suggestions - thanks so much! I must say, I am looking forward to reading your upcoming book, Missing Violet. In your book, Violet and Mia are best friends who are inseparable...that is, until Violet gets sick one day and doesn't make it home. Can you share more about Missing Violet and what kind of seasons your main character, Mia, goes through in the story?

A: All Mia has ever known was life with her best friend Violet. Until that changes and leaves Mia in a new world where she experiences a rainbow of feelings, from sadness to anger as she journeys through her grief. But from this, Mia discovers that she isn’t alone. She enters a season of comfort and hope and is able to say goodbye to her best friend while holding tight to her wonderful memory.

This sounds like such an important message, Kelly. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt book with us! We can't wait to check it out, and check out all your book recommendations, too!

Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?

A: A treat! I would love to offer one reader a PB critique or a 30-minute zoom chat, which ever they prefer!

Thanks for such a neat treat! Trust me, writers - you definitely want to win this from Kelly. She's amazing!

Contest Details: To enter to win a picture book critique or 30-minute zoom chat with Kelly, comment below to let her know why you can't wait to read her book! The winner will be announced on or about November 4th.

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 Kelly Swemba:

Kelly Swemba has been passionate about big feelings since she was little. She holds a master's degree in psychiatric nursing and has also worked as a preschool intervention aide for children with autism. When not writing, Kelly can be found outside exploring with her kids, walking her puppy, or reading.

For more about Kelly, check out the below links:

Twitter: @KSwemba

Kelly's website:

To pre-order Kelly's book on Amazon, click here.


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