Illustrator Insight with Alice Brereton

Enter the gentle night with Nightlights by Paul Paolinlli and Dan Brewer. This lyrical picture book explores all the types of light that brighten the evening.


We were lucky enough to chat with the book’s illustrator, Alice Brereton, about being a children’s book illustrator, staying real, and Nightlights.

Q: How did you become a children’s book illustrator?

A: I don’t know. It’s a mixture of many things: working hard, making good choices, pestering your art teachers, problem solving, having a supportive mom, eating burritos and being okay with sitting on your butt for hours on end doodling, etc…I can’t say what sets me apart from other people who want to be a children’s book illustrator? It’s not a closely guarded secret or even a moment of luck, it’s just me being myself professionally… and drawing a lot.

Q: What is your favorite medium to work with?

A: I really enjoy using Photoshop. I love that I never run out of paint or paper. I also like all my art contained in one safe area so my cats can’t walk all over it.

Q: What were your first thoughts when you saw the text for Nightlights?

A: “Ooooooooo!” I was so excited I didn’t have thoughts, just stupid excited noises. I couldn’t believe that this book was being entrusted to me. It was exactly what I wanted to draw.


Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: Sadly no, my routine/process is to write self-deprecating post-it notes that remind me when things are due and to also do a healthy amount of panicking.

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: The easiest part of the book is following my detailed thumbnails sketches. The hardest part is making the detailed thumbnail sketches.

Nightlights thumbnails

Q: Why illustrate children’s books?

A: Because working in retail sounds like too much fun!

Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: I think the use of black and straight lines will make it pop on the book stand.


Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: I am working on two books right now, one is about a little girl scientist and the other is about a tormented bunny.

Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: My favorite thing to read as a kid was poetry, I loved the book SunFlakes, which is a collection of short poems ranging from cheerful to depressing. Right now I am really enjoying the Fairyland series by Catherine M. Valente.

Q: What is your favorite night light and why?

A: As an adult I like to sleep in complete darkness, as a child I liked to leave my window shades open so the moon could light up my room.

Thanks so much, Alice. Find out more about Nightlights on our website and come back to the blog on August 14 to get to know authors Paul and Dan.

Illustrator Insight with Alice Brereton

Q&A with Ann and John Hassett

Bob, from Goodnight Bob by Ann and John Hassett, is back and he’s ready to rock! He’s caught up in a competition with his friend’s dog. Bob’s friend Max has a dog. Bob has a rock. Max’s dog can do tricks. But so can Bob’s rock! Can it do everything the dog does? This funny, minimalist story uses patterns, repetitions, and comparisons to create a satisfying read-aloud experience with a whimsical twist.


We were lucky enough to sit down with the husband-and-wife team to talk about enjoying the creative process, pets, and Bob’s Rock.

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: Honestly, we do it for our own amusement—it’s a lot of fun! At the same time, making picture books gives us the most authentic and discerning audience in the world. Children are definitely not afraid to tell you what they think of your work! Also, their understanding of the world goes far beyond their reading ability, so there is the combination of simple language and sophisticated emotion. We enjoy the challenge of creating with that perspective in mind.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: Throughout our own childhoods, John always had a pet and Ann always wanted a pet but never had one, which is why she identifies with a pet rock especially. Whether it’s a goldfish, a dog, or a rock, a pet is a good friend.


Q: What is your hope for Bob’s Rock?

A: We hope that readers will find Bob’s Rock funny and that they will connect with the relationship between Bob and his friend Max. Bob and Max engage in good-natured, silly one-ups-manship, comparing their pets’ abilities to perform tricks. Subtle competition and conflict go hand-in-hand with children’s friendships, and that is an important part of their daily interactions in the sandbox, on the playground, and at home.

Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: The simplicity of Bob’s Rock supports newly independent readers, but we think that the story is worth reading again and again whether the reader is an adult or a child. We think that readers will like Bob and his friends, and that the humorous situations and gentle surprises in both Bob’s Rock and Goodnight Bob make the books engaging and fun stories for children and families to read and reread.


Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: Always! Bob is always having adventures, and we’re hoping to share them soon.

Thanks, Ann and John. Check out Bob’s Rock on our website! To find out more about Goodnight Bob check out this cute video.

Q&A with Ann and John Hassett

AW Teen Summer Reading Challenge 2017

Who: Everyone who loves reading YA!

What: Read any AW Teen title (click here for a full list) and review it anywhere (your blog, Instagram, YouTube—wherever!). Reviews from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017 will be accepted. Yep, even older reviews!

When: June 15th—August 31st, 2017

How: Submit the link to your review here.

You will receive one entry for every AW YA book you submit a review for. You can receive extra entries for sharing your review on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Netgalley, Goodreads, and Edelweiss. And if you follow us our Albert Whitman or AW Teen Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube you can get even more extra entries!

One lucky participant will win the GRAND prize:

A beach basket full of summer reading goodies including:

  • Lip balm, nail polish, perfume, water bottle, beach towel, sunhat, and more!
  • 10 AW Teen titles!
  • Advanced Reading Copies of two Fall 2017 titles: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke and Glow by Megan E. Bryant
  • The first two books in the New York Times bestselling series by Elizabeth Briggs: Future Shock and Future Threat
  • A collection of four Jolene Perry romances: All the Forever Things, Summer I Found You, Has to be Love, and Stronger Than You Know
  • Two more heart-pounding romances: Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal and South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

Four other participants will win the book pack of the same 10 titles!

Winners will be randomly selected on September 1, 2017.

Take a look at the titles below which will be included in the prize!

New Titles

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

On a trip to Germany, sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally travels back in time to 1988 East Berlin via red balloon. Upon arrival, she meets members of a secret guild that meet in an abandoned subway tunnel under the city. The guild uses balloons and magic to help people escape to the other side of the Berlin Wall.  While trying to find her way home, it becomes clear to Ellie and other guild members that someone is using dark magic to change history. Will Ellie find her way back home? What will happen to the friends she makes along the way? Find out in the first book of the Balloonmaker’s series. Click here for more.

Glow by Megan E. Bryant

After giving up her college fund to help save her family’s home, Julie is stuck in her hometown. While scavenging at a thrift store, she finds a series of antique paintings. She takes them home only to realize there are hidden glow-in-the-dark images painted under them. Julie tries to find out more about the artist and ends up discovering a century-old romance and the shocking true story of the Radium Girls—women who worked in factories using paint to make glow-in-the-dark products and ended up becoming radioactive as a result. The truth Julie doesn’t know puts her and everyone she loves at risk. Will she find out before it’s too late? Find out more about Glow by clicking here.

Future Shock Trilogy

Future Shock and Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs

In the first book of this best-selling trilogy, Elena is recruited by the Aether Corporation for a top-secret project. Elena, and four other teens, including Adam, a science prodigy, are sent to the future to recover data. Something goes wrong and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own future. In order to save herself and her new friends, Elena must rely on her eidetic memory, street smarts, and growing trust in her teammates. To see more about this first novel in the trilogy click here.


In the second book, Elena is sure she’s done with the Aether Corporation forever, but when travelers on the latest mission go missing, Elena, Adam, and Chris are pulled into the rescue effort. The future they see this time is amazingly advanced, thanks to their last mission, but their return to the future alters the course of events yet again. In every trip more lives are lost—or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything to save their friends. For more about this sequel, follow this link.

Look for the third title, Future Lost, in Spring 2018!

Jolene Perry Romance Novels

All the Forever Things

Gabriella, Gabe for short, grew up around her family’s funeral business, so she knows that nothing lasts forever. However, her best friend Bree has always been a constant. But Bree starts dating one of the “popular” guys—a guy Gabe can’t stand—and suddenly stops having time to hang out with Gabe. The only person at school that does want to spend time with her is Hartman, a new guy at school. Gabe holds back, not wanting to be as boy-crazy as Bree. The tension in Gabe’s new romance and her friendship trouble with Bree build leading up to prom night. Will Gabe be there when Bree needs her most? Can they ever rebuild their friendship? Find out more by following this link.

The Summer I Found You

While she’s still coming to terms with her recent diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, Kate’s relationship falls apart. Aiden’s plans to serve in the army for life are cut short—he’s now a disabled young veteran. As he struggles to accept his new life, he finds Kate, but neither of them wants to get attached. Will they discover that they’re right for each other after all? Click here for more.

Has to be Love

When she was younger, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She’s comfortable in her small Alaskan hometown, but her dreams reach much farther. An acceptance letter to Columbia University offers her a thrilling and terrifying new opportunity, but with her boyfriend pressing her for a forever commitment and the feelings she’s developing for the new student teacher in her English class, things keep getting more confusing. Will she make her own choices? And which is the right choice to make? Find out more by following this link.

Stronger Than You Know

Fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer she lived in with her mother after surviving years of confinement and abuse. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, but she’s never sure that she’ll belong. As she begins to adjust to her new life, Joy begins to grow closer to her new family, and even a boy she meets. Just as things seem to be looking up, Joy finds out that must testify against her mother during the trial. How can she confront her old life while moving forward into her new one? Follow this link for more.

More Summer Romances

South of Sunshine by Dana Elemdorf

Kaycee’s southern roots shine through her “yes ma’ams” and love of sweet tea, but not everything about her Tennessee hometown is easy to accept. Kaycee knows that being gay in Sunshine is unacceptable and she’s decided to fit in rather than start trouble—even if it means letting Dave Bradford kiss her on occasion. But when a new girl, Bren Dawson moves into town, Kaycee gets swept up with her emotions and lets her guard down. One night, Kaycee’s best friend catches Bren and Kaycee kissing. With her world flipped upside down, what will Kaycee risk for love? And what will she risk for acceptance? Click here for more.

Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal

When a hurricane threatens Jillian McKay’s home town, she’s forced to evacuate with her neighbors—including River Daughtry, the former high school football star who disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center last year. Realizing their evacuation route is blocked, the two seek shelter in their abandoned high school and learn what it really means to survive. Find out more about this suspenseful romance by following this link.

Happy Summer Reading, and don’t forget to submit your reviews here!

AW Teen Summer Reading Challenge 2017

Middle Grade Summer Reading for Fans of All Genres!

Does your young reader like mystery novels? What about fantasy or sci-fi? Is historical fiction more their style? No matter what genre excites them most, Albert Whitman has something for everyone. Check out some of our new titles and our favorites we’ve put in paperback with the list below. They’re perfect for readers ages 8-12!


Dreambender by Ronald Kidd

In this dystopian future, everyone in the City is kept safe, but music and art are forbidden. Jeremy Finn is a dreambender—it’s his job to remove thoughts of music and art from everyone’s dreams. But one day, Jeremy comes across a dream of Callie singing and starts to wonder why he has to get rid of something so beautiful. He decides to find her in the real world, defying his community and the role they’ve assigned him. Fans of sci-fi and future novels will get caught up in Jeremy’s adventure and the moral dilemmas he must face along the way. For more, click here. And, if your reader prefers to stay in the past or present, be sure to check out Kidd’s other novels, Night on Fire and Room of Shadows.


The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey

After her mother dies of fever, Kit tries hard to keep her promise to be a “proper lady,” but in a 1905 Nevada mining town, it seems downright impossible. Then, she discovers that the gold mine where her father works is profiting from unsafe working conditions. She convinces her dad to speak up, but soon realizes that justice doesn’t always look the way she imagined. Though it’s set in the past, Kit Donovan’s “tragically true” story teaches readers to speak up for what’s right regardless of where—or when—they see injustice. For more, follow this link.


The Lost Cipher by Michael Oechsle

We’re bringing back this favorite adventure story in paperback just in time for summer. After Lucas’s father dies in Afganistan, his grandmother sends him to Camp Kawani—a camp for kids who have lost a parent. Though he is reluctant at first, Lucas soon makes new friends and hears about the local legend of Thomas Jefferson Beale’s hoard of gold that’s hidden in the mountains. They decide to track it down, but is their mission too dangerous for them to survive? Find out in this page-turning adventure novel. Click here for more.


Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta

This story follows the lives of Maya, a girl living in present-day Minnesota, and Rafael, a boy from the Dominican Republic in the not-so-distant past with dreams of playing professional baseball. The stories switch points of view throughout, following Rafael as he tries to get noticed by baseball scouts, and Maya as she worries about the bees dying and the damage to the environment caused by her father’s company. The stories collide when Maya and her sister start following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. This story of hope and tough decisions reflects the emotional growth of middle-grade readers. To find out more, click here.


The Dragon Waking by Grayson Towler

Take a trip into a fantasy world where Rose Gallagher encounters magic, dragons, and mysterious meteorite fragments. After a dragon suddenly appears near her desert home, Rose’s predictable small-town life is turned upside down. She befriends a shape-shifting dragon named Jade and agrees to help her recover the mysterious Harbinger—a piece of meteorite that has the power to awaken dragons! As their quest continues, Rose finds herself risking her life. This fantasy is filled with very real themes of friendship, compassion, and trust. For more, follow this link.


Pursued by Gary Urey

Ready for a high-speed chase around the world? Axel and Daisha are! Equipped with the GeoPorts, a device invented by their scientist parents that can transport anyone to any place on Earth in seconds, the friends are on the run from the madman that killed their parents. The two are separated and must find each other so they can destroy the Geoports and honor their parents final wishes. Soon they find themselves caught in the middle of a war for control of money, culture, politics, and power. Can they reunite? Sci-fi fans and adventure-loving readers alike will love this first book in the Secrets of the X-Point series. Find out more by clicking here.

Happy Summer Reading!

Middle Grade Summer Reading for Fans of All Genres!

Meet our AWTeen Authors at BookExpo and BookCon

Start your summer off with free ARCs of Albert Whitman’s newest YA titles! If you’re attending BookExpo or BookCon in New York City on Friday June 2nd or Saturday June 3rd, authors Megan E. Bryant and Katherine Locke will be giving away signed ARCs of their novels. Make sure to swing by the Albert Whitman Booth (#1913). Take a look below for the full schedule and a description of the books they will be signing. Hope to see you there!


Book Signing Schedule:

Book Expo

Megan E. Bryant, author of Glow

In-booth (#1913) signing on Friday, June 2nd, at 10 a.m.

Katherine Locke, author of The Girl with the Red Balloon

In-booth (#1913) signing on Friday, June 2nd, at 2 p.m.



Katherine Locke, author of The Girl with the Red Balloon

In-booth (#1913) signing on Saturday, June 3rd, at 10:30 a.m.

Megan E. Bryant, author of Glow

In-booth (#1913) signing on Saturday, June 3rd, at 11:30 a.m.


Glow by Megan E. Bryant

After giving up her college savings to help resolve her family’s financial troubles, Julie is stuck in her hometown for another year. While browsing at a thrift store, she finds a set of antique paintings and takes them home only to realize there are hidden images that glow in the dark. Eager to find out more about the paintings and the artist who created them, Julie ends up uncovering a century-old romance and the disturbing true history of the Radium Girls—women who used radioactive paint in factories and became radioactive themselves as a result. Her obsession with the paintings grows along with her own complicated relationships. Will she find out the truth about the paintings before it’s too late?  To find out more about this upcoming YA novel, follow this link.


Megan E. Bryant has written dozens of books for kids and young adults. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and teaches at Salem College. Visit her online at or on Facebook and Twitter.


The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

During a class trip to Germany on a visit to the Berlin Wall memorial, present-day Ellie Baum is sent back in time via a red balloon. She finds herself in the same place, only the wall is still standing and it’s 1988. Ellie soon meets members of an underground guild who hide in the abandoned subway tunnels between East and West Berlin. The guild members use balloons and magic to help people escape to the other side of the wall, but even they don’t know how Ellie got here, or how to get her back. In her attempts to find her way back home, Ellie and her new friend Kai uncover a plot to alter history using dark magic. In their search for the truth behind Ellie’s mysterious time travel, they realize they need to stop the deadly plan, even if it means risking Ellie’s only way back home. The Girl with the Red Balloon is the first book in the Balloonmakers series. To find out more, click here.

Katherine Locke live in a very small town outside of Philadelphia with her feline overlords. In addition to writing fiction she writes about books and reading and has contributed to The Forward, GayYA, “Teen Librarian Toolbox”, and other sites. This is her first young adult novel. Visit her online at or on Twitter.

Meet our AWTeen Authors at BookExpo and BookCon

Time to Rhyme: Albert Whitman Celebrates National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate by checking out some of our favorite picture books written in verse. Getting kids interested in poetry can be hard, but the beautiful illustrations in these books will keep kids engaged while also exposing them to different kinds of poetry. Plus, they’re fun! Scroll below to see some of our favorites.


A Pirate’s Mother Goose

In this fun twist on classic Mother Goose rhymes everything has been given a pirate makeover! Whether it’s cats giving the first mate a fiddle or scalawags waltzing in the brig, this collection will inspire the pirate-poets in us all. Cartoon illustrations will have kids rhyming doubloon and buffoon whether they read them in the morning or the afternoon. For more, click here.


The Year Comes Around

Don’t want to rhyme all the time? Try The Year Comes Around. This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a journey through the four seasons with a Haiku for every month. It’s a great way to introduce the traditional Japanese form of poetry to young readers, and it’s a perfect read year-round. Click here to find more.


A Funeral in the Bathroom

This Albert Whitman bestseller contains a collection of funny poems about school bathrooms. Children will be laughing all the way through these relatable moments as the bright illustrations take them through poems like “Flushophobic” and “There’s a Sock in the Toilet.” Clever rhymes make it a great choice for a read-a-loud story time. Listen for bathroom poems of your own after reading this one! Follow this link for more information.


Our Principal Promised to Kiss A Pig

Don’t miss this silly introduction to Shakespeare. In this Albert Whitman classic, the school principal promises to kiss a student’s pet pig, Hamlet, if all the students read 10,000 books by the end of the school year. Hamlet wants nothing to do with the bet, and it seems like he’s going to be safe until an author visits the school and the students quickly reach their goal. Will the Principal keep her promise? Told with pig-pun twists on classic lines from Shakespearean plays, this fun book introduces kids to poetry and Shakespeare at the same time. How’s that for a rhyme? For more, click here.



Want more? Check out Nightlights, an upcoming release from Albert Whitman. Read-along rhymes capture nighttime images for readers by describing the lights we see once the sun goes down. Perfect for bedtime or a summer camp-out, Nightlights is set to be published this August. For a preview or pre-order, click here.


Happy Poetry Month from Albert Whitman & Company!

Time to Rhyme: Albert Whitman Celebrates National Poetry Month

Author Insight with Kurtis Scaletta

Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta is the story of two very different protagonists. Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and—someday—play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret—the same secret—that forever changes how they see the world.



We were lucky enough to hear from Kurtis about his experience creating this story:

When a new book comes out I like to go back and look at the earliest file I can find, where it all began, the first words that became a novel. Though much of a book will change as I go through the phases of writing and revision, I always find the opening scene is intact. That very first dabble will be there in the finished book, revised but recognizable.

That is true for Rooting for Rafael Rosales. A lot of ideas were bouncing around in my head when I began writing that night (January 25, 2014): baseball in the DR, which I had been reading about; Spring Training, which I had wanted to write about since I went to Fort Myers in 2003; the way that fans watch sports with a feeling of personal destiny; and bees. I was thinking about bees.

From that jumble I had a vision of a girl sitting in a baseball stadium, completely apathetic about the game, thinking about the future of the planet, while a player who has been working his whole life for this moment takes the field. Both of them have valid feelings; but they have different experiences. I decided their lives would then intersect, however briefly, and both would be changed. That scene now opens part two, but it is in that scene that the book was born.

So although Rooting for Rafael Rosales has two distinct stories—the sports-obsessed island boy and the nature-obsessed landlocked girl—they have always bound up together. The inspiration is that moment where their lives intersect.


Rafael is very different from me, but I found a spark of familiarity in his ambition, his fear of failure, even in his occasional bitterness and jealousy, which he outgrows. Maya is more like I was as a child: solitary, dreamy, and sensitive. I found both these characters easy to love, and their stories unfolded naturally.


But bringing their stories together was a challenge. Past the first scene, how and when would Rafael and Maya meet? How would they change each other? That is where I did the most writing, cutting, rewriting, and cutting again. Even at the end I wonder if people will see this as two books mashed together, though it was always meant to be one.

However, I realize now one way their stories are the same. Rafael wants his father and friends to look at his skinny, undeveloped body and see the major league slugger he will become. Maya wants her family to look at her backyard garden and see that she is out to change the world. They are both children who want the respect given to adults, if not for whom they are at the moment, then for the adults they will become.

I didn’t think of it that was as I wrote but now see it in scene after scene: the way these two children ache to be taken seriously, especially by their fathers. And while this is true of all children, I think it is especially true of Rafael and Maya, that their dreams are larger than their bodies and their abilities. And that’s why I think the book ultimately works. That is why their stories resonate.

If I realized such themes before I set out to write a book, I could be more attentive to them. But the need to discover is what keeps me going, turning those first scenes into finished novels where so many other projects falter and fizzle. It’s what I learn about myself.


Thanks, Kurtis. To find out more about Rooting for Rafael Rosales, check out our website.

Author Insight with Kurtis Scaletta