Q&A with Jolene Perry

Jolene Perry is the prolific author of young adult titles. Her latest novel, All the Forever Things, is about Gabriella, who has grown up in the funeral home her parents run. Gabe knows that death is a part of life and nothing is forever. Yet Bree, her best friend, has been a constant; it’s always been the two of them together against the world. But when Bree starts dating a guy—the worst guy— from that ultra-popular world, suddenly she doesn’t have time for Gabe anymore. Can Gabe and Bree figure out what a forever friendship truly means?

We were lucky enough to sit down with Jolene to chat about All the Forever Things, writing quirks, and setting a book in a funeral home.

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

A: No regular routine, but I do love snacking on Pellegrino and dark chocolate almonds. So I do have a routine, it’s just a snack routine.

Q:  Do you have any writing quirks?

A: I draft fast, which means that I rarely have time to research. I don’t even pause, put my CAPS LOCK on, and yell at myself about things I need to add later.

I also write with my eyes closed. Like, a lot. This freaks out my family.

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

A: The easiest part about creating a book is the first draft. The hardest part is turning that rough draft into what you envisioned from the beginning, because that first draft is going to be a mess (at least it will be if you’re me).

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: I’ve taught in middle and high schools, and there is a newness to the world and what it has to offer when you’re dealing with so many first experiences.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: I’m always working on other projects.

Q: What makes your book, All the Forever Things, stand out?

A: The friendship. The obsession with vintage. The cadavers. I love the funeral home setting of this book. I loved that the funeral home was in sunny California. The research was fascinating (touring funeral homes), and I think there’s this stigma around death, or this mystery, so writing in a world that lives in part of that mystery was super fascinating for me and something I’d have loved to read as a teen (and maybe now too).

Q: What was the process of working with your editor like?

A: I love working with my editor. You know you’ve found the right editor when the work is hard, but you’re excited about what their notes will do to your story.

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

A: When I was a kid, I read the classics and Stephen King. Now, I read from historical fiction and non-fiction, to sci-fi, to fantasy, to soul-destroying contemporary and everything in between. I’m currently reading Girls on Fire and The Martian.

Thanks, Jolene! Find out more about All the Forever Things on our website. For even more fun, take our quiz to find out which heroine you are from Jolene Perry’s four AW Teen novels!

Q&A with Jolene Perry

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Albert Whitman & Company

March is Women’s History Month! Take the time to learn about, remember, and appreciate women by reading about them! Albert Whitman has a huge selection of historical picture books showcasing women’s accomplishments. You’ll find everything from female athletes, scientists, and detectives to famous women that made a difference in our shared history. Check out this list for some of our favorite girl-power picks!

#1 Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark

This beautifully illustrated book follows Eugenie Clark’s lifelong obsession with sharks. Her discoveries changed the way scientists thought about sharks, but her choice to pursue a career as a scientist changed the way society thought about women. This picture book shares the story of her entire life, but focuses mainly on her years of research from the 1940s to her death in 2015. Told in a narrative style, this true story will make all readers want to dive in for more.

#2 An Apple for Harriet Tubman

An Apple for Harriet Tubman

This story follows Harriet Tubman through her life as a slave working in an orchard up to her escape to the North. It’s a great start for teaching little ones about America’s past and the struggles of those who haven’t always been free.

#3 Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

Dorothea Lange traveled the country during the Great Depression to take photographs of those affected most. Her struggle with her own physical disability and her development as a photographer are told in this captivating picture book. Available now in hardcover, this story is great example of how women have made differences throughout history.

#4 Touch the Sky

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper

Share the story of Alice Coachman, the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 1948 games. Bright illustrations and lyrical captions will engage and inspire readers with the story of a woman who jumped over every obstacle to accomplish her dream. Photos of the real Alice Coachman are also included in this picture book.

#5 How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln

Most Americans know a lot about President Lincoln, but not so much about the detective who saved his life before his inauguration. Explore the adventures of Kate Warne, the nation’s first female detective, as she breaks down barriers for women and saves her president in this colorful picture book.

#6 Heart on Fire

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

It may seem hard to believe, but woman have had the right to vote for less than a hundred years! Learn about Susan B. Anthony’s fight to give women the right to vote in Heart on Fire. Her daring (and illegal) vote for president in 1872 helped spark the movement for women’s suffrage across the country. This non-fiction picture book will remind all readers about the importance of the right to vote.

#7 Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Not only was Mary Walker a suffragist and one of the first female doctors in America, she also wore pants, something unheard of in her time! This picture book discusses the story of a Civil War hero who challenged traditional gender roles. Share this illustrated biography and inspire young readers to question societal norms.

What are your favorite stories about women in history? Visit our website to find more books about women!

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Albert Whitman & Company

Saving the Bees and Other “Green” Reads for Spring

April showers bring May flowers, but what else keep the flowers blooming? Bees! These little helpers stay busy all spring and summer pollinating plants and making honey. In recent years though, many bee species have been dying out. Though they may be small, they play a huge role the ecosystem and in our food production. Stay busy as a bee this spring with books about the bees and other stories about saving our planet from Albert Whitman & Company.

 

#1 Please Please the Bees

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Benedict the bear has been enjoying honey his whole life, but one day the bees go on strike! Rather than getting angry, Benedict decides to listen to the bees. Once he realizes he can help, he gets to work planting flowers, improving their hive, and learning to be a better beekeeper. Funny illustrations of Benedict drinking cups of tea with honey and bees holding strike signs will leave kids buzzing with laughter in this story of cooperation, listening to others, and doing your part. Follow this link for a preview.

#2 What’s So Special About Planet Earth?

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Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a different planet? Fun as that may be, it’s impossible for humans to survive anywhere else. This eye-opening picture book explains the differences between Earth and other planets in our solar system to show just how unique our planet is. Little ones will learn about the Earth’s atmosphere, the sun, and other planets. Take a look here for more.

#3 Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?

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Come back to planet Earth and get a picture of the rapidly changing Arctic. Through colorful illustrations kids will learn about the effects of greenhouse gases and ways they can help prevent the destruction of polar bears’ homes. Part of the Wells of Knowledge collection, this book introduces science in a fun way. Check out more by clicking this link.

#4 This Tree Counts!

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One owl, two spiders, three squirrels, four robins…how many animals can a single tree provide a home for?  Find out with Mr. Tate and his class as they take a closer look at the tree behind their school. The students learn about the small ecosystem within the tree, but notice something seems to be missing. Told by an easy-to-follow counting pattern, this fun book will leave kids ready to investigate and appreciate nature wherever they go. Follow this link to see more.

#5 Rooting for Rafael Rosales

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For older readers, this middle-grade novel shares the stories of Rafael and Maya. Rafael is growing up in the Dominican Republic and has dreams of playing baseball in the major leagues. Maya is living in present-day Minnesota and is worried about the bees dying and the harm her father’s company is doing to the environment. This novel switches between two different time periods and places, but weaves the stories together as Maya and her sister follow Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. Maya starts rooting for Rafael because if he can make it, maybe she—and the bees—will be okay, too. For more, click here.

 

#6 Dig Too Deep

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For teen readers who like mystery, Dig Too Deep is a perfect pick. Liberty Briscoe’s life is turned upside down after her mother’s arrest (for political protest) means she must live with her Granny in Ebbotsville, Kentucky. Though she’d been there before as a kid, things have changed drastically. Coal mining has destroyed the tip of Mt. Tanner, and people, including her Granny, seem to be getting sick. Liberty starts an investigate and soon realizes there’s something suspicious going on. What will she do? Find out more by clicking here.

 

Want to find out more about our planet and how to save it? Follow these links for more books about the Earth and protecting our environment.

Saving the Bees and Other “Green” Reads for Spring

Q&A with Elizabeth Briggs

Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs is an action-packed adventure for teen readers about time travel gone awry. In it, Elena Martinez and a group of friends are required again by the Aether corporation to travel into the future and save another teen who has gone missing. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events. But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost—or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything—including their relationship—to save their friends.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Elizabeth to chat about Future Threat, finding inspiration, and writing routines.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: Future Threat is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy. The first book, Future Shock, was inspired by this question: what if you discovered something terrible was going to happen to you in the future? Would you be able to change your fate? In Future Threat I decided to take the opposite approach by giving the characters a glimpse of an optimistic future…and then took it away from them and made them fight hard to get it back.

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

A: I start with an idea and then I try to flesh it out by creating the characters, setting, and plot. I brainstorm for a while before making a scene by scene outline. Once that’s done, I start writing a really messy first draft, and my book usually changes a lot from the outline as I get new ideas. After that, I spend a lot of time revising the book to take it from a very rough draft to a polished manuscript.

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

A: The easiest part is coming up with the idea, because I get ideas for new books all the time and each one sounds like it would be a ton of fun to write. The hardest part is writing the first draft and turning that idea into an actual book.

Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: There are lots of other time travel books out there, but very few of them go to the future, especially multiple times. The book also has a diverse cast and a Mexican-American heroine, which we unfortunately don’t see enough of in YA sci-fi.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: Right now I’m working on Future Lost, the final book in the Future Shock trilogy. It will be out in 2018 and asks the question: what if you discovered the world was going to end? Would you be able to change it, even if doing so required a huge sacrifice? It’s going to be a big, epic end to the trilogy and I hope readers will enjoy it!

 

Thanks, Elizabeth. Find out more about Future Threat and the whole trilogy on our website. And, make sure to check out Elizabeth’s events calendar for a chance to hear her talk about her books in person this spring!

 

 

Q&A with Elizabeth Briggs

Four President’s Day Books to Read

President’s Day is just around the corner! Our current political climate has kids (and adults) asking questions, so why not spend the day off school curled up with a book (or two) about the leaders of our country. From how a campaign works to important moments in history, our collection of presidential books has a fun and educational selection!

1. If I Ran for President

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With one of the most talked-about election seasons in recent history just wrapped up, If I Ran for President explains the process of presidential campaigns to little ones. Through the imagination of a multicultural cast of children, this picture book shares the fun parts of running for an election, but also the hard work that is a part of the process.

2. How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln

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Told with colorful collage-style illustrations, this historical book shares the story of the first female detective, Kate Warne, as she thwarts a plan to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln on his Inauguration Day. A great choice for girls in particular, this fun picture book surely educate your little one!

3. If I Were President

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Children from all over America imagine what it would be like if they became President of the United States. From having a personal chef make desserts to being sworn in at the Inauguration, the cast of If I Were President depicts both the fun and the serious parts of this important job. Interspersed with facts about the White House and American history, this picture book is as informative as it is imaginative.

4.  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

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Introduce your child to one of the most famous speeches in American history with this picture book. The actual text of the Gettysburg Address is accompanied by beautiful illustrations depicting historical moments from the early years of America. In our tense political climate, Lincoln’s unforgettable words are relevant in today’s world and current political climate. Complete with an introduction by scholar Gabor S. Boritt, this book is a perfect choice for a child’s first history book.

 

Four President’s Day Books to Read

Q&A With Gary Urey

Pursued is the first book in a gripping futuristic series, Secrets of the X-Point, by Gary Urey. In it, Axel Jack and Daisha Tandala are two thirteen-year-old friends running from a billionaire madman who killed their scientist parents and now wants what the kids have—GeoPorts (Geographical Transportation Systems.) The GeoPort, invented by their parents, has the ability to transport a person to any place on Earth within seconds. Soon, the chase becomes more than just a high-tech game of hide-and-seek, but a war for control of everything—money, culture, politics, and power.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Gary and talk about basing fantasy in reality, changing directions, and Pursued.

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

A. There is no easy part of creating a book. However, there are plenty of hard parts, like filtering through a hundred bad ideas to get a good one and slogging through until the end. I have a few books that have sputtered out at the 20,000-word mark because the idea wasn’t strong enough. You need a lot of self-discipline to sit in a chair for hours and write when every fiber of your being wants to walk the dog, play on the Internet, or go jogging. Other than that, it’s the greatest job in the world!

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: Honestly, Pursued was just a working title that survived the editor’s (the awesome Kristin Zelazko!) red pen. The series title, Secrets of the X-Point, made sense because the X-Point, a real phenomenon also known as an Electron Diffusion Region where the earth’s magnetic field connects with the sun, is the final piece of the puzzle that makes teleportation possible in the book.

Q. What was the process of working with your editor like?

A. Ha! It’s exciting and humbling at the same time. Exciting because you are working together to make the book better, humbling because a particular character, chapter, or paragraph you may love gets hacked by the editor and never makes it into the book. Writers need editors because the author is often too close to the material. Stuff that you thought was better than Shakespeare in reality may just be confusing to a reader. Also, grammar mistakes and poorly-worded sentences need a second pair of eyes to clarify.

Q. What makes your book stand out?

A. The science! The GeoPort device the kids use to teleport is only possible because of advanced GPS technology. The book is a traditional action/adventure thriller—kids on the run, bad guys want what they have, etc—but the kid’s ability to teleport isn’t through magic. Everything is possible because of advancements in science. Also, Pursued is just a gripping read with fun protagonists who must survive against almost overwhelming odds.

Q. Do you have any writing quirks?

A. Only if you call writing in a customized shed in my back yard quirky. I live in Maine where the winters are extremely cold. My shed is insulated and wired for electricity so I can plug in a space heater. Rarely do I need an air-conditioner in the summer. It takes about thirty minutes for the 6×6 shed to heat up so I can write. Also, I live near a busy intersection so I always wear Bose noise-reduction headphones. They completely block out all sound.

Q. Are you working on any other projects?

A. Yes, I’m working on books two and three of Secrets of the X-Point. I can’t wait to continue Axel and Daisha’s adventure! I’m also working on another humor book in the vein of Super Schnoz and am currently developing a pen pal-style book about two boys in outer space with the very funny Bart King of Bart’s Big Book of Girls Stuff, Boy Stuff, Gross Stuff, Spy Stuff, and many others.

Q. What books did you like to read as a kid?

A. Comic books! I was obsessed with them. My favorites were Spiderman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Night Crawler from the X-Men, and many others! My favorite books as a kid were How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell and Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez, a non-fiction book about the primal connection between wild wolves and humans. I still have my original copy!

Q. Why write children’s books?

A. My goal was never to be a writer. As a young man, I wanted to be an actor. I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC and hit the audition trail. I had a roommate during those days who was an artist. His name is Steve Casino, a well-known pop artist today, who back then wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. He landed a job illustrating a book about the life of Wild Bill Hickock. I remember picking up the manuscript the publisher had sent him and hearing a very powerful bell ringing in my soul. From that moment on, I wanted to write children’s books.

 

Thanks so much, Gary! Find out more about Pursued here or check out a cool book trailer about the series here.

 

Q&A With Gary Urey

8 Valentine’s Day Books for Kids (and Teens too!)

Inspire a love for reading this Valentine’s Day with Albert Whitman books about love, kisses, hearts, and everything in between. From sweet picture books to somewhat steamy romance novels, we have something for readers for all ages. Take a look at our list below to check out some of our favorites for February 14th!

1. It’s Valentine’s Day, Chloe Zoe!

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Follow Chloe Zoe on an adventure as she makes valentines for all her classmates, including her extra-special friend George. This familiar character and cute story are bound to have young readers excited for a class party of their own. Crafty kids will also enjoy the activity kit on our website! Scroll to the bottom and click on the link to make valentines of your own!

2. Next to You

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Full of adorable illustrations of piglets in sweaters, baby monkeys in trees, a basket full of chicks and all sorts of other baby animals, this easy-to-read book is a delight for kids and adults. Available at Target and at other retailers, this book makes a great gift for your own little valentine or a mom-to-be. What’s cuter than that?

3. A Kiss Means I Love You

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This fun book teaches little ones how say “hello” with a wave, “I love you” with a kiss and “let’s go!” with a tug. Photographs of real children show the ways we communicate without using words, and the rhyming text makes it a great pick for read-aloud story time. Available as a picture book and as a board book, A Kiss Means I Love You is a great choice for preschool and early elementary readers.


If you’re looking for something for older readers with crushes of their own, check out some of our AW Teen romance novels. Follow a variety of characters, including edgy former rock star Adam and sweet yet shy Kaycee, as they encounter first kisses, heart-pounding crushes, and tough decisions.

1. All the Forever Things

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Gabriella has grown up helping with the family business—running a funeral home. She knows that not everything lasts forever, but she’s surprised when her best friend, Bree, begins acting distant because of her new boyfriend. Then, a love interest of her own comes into the picture. After a strange prom night, Gabe thinks her friendship with Bree might truly be over. Teen of all ages will be captivated by this story of changing friendships and new romances.

2. Resurrecting Sunshine

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For teens who aren’t going gaga over Valentine’s Day, Resurrecting Sunshine is a perfect pick! This edgy love-story-meets-sci-fi plot follows Adam Rhodes as he deals with the loss of the first girl he loved. Just when all hope is lost, Dr. Elloran comes to him with an interesting proposal—one that might be able to bring his lost love back to life. The plot thickens as Adam learns more about this new technology and the family who runs the mysterious lab.

3. Has to Be Love

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Clara has a tough decision to make. Does she accept her admission to a writing program at Columbia University? Or, does she commit to her boyfriend, the only person in her town who doesn’t look at her differently because of the bear attack scars on her face? Set in a small town in Alaska, Clara’s choice becomes even more difficult when a new student teacher comes into her English class. Confusion, new feelings, and fears build as Clara keeps her secret and tries to make a choice.

4. South of Sunshine

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Kaycee Jean McCoy has grown up in conservative Sunshine, Tennessee. She would rather kiss a boy than let anyone know about her true feelings. Then a new girl, Bren Dawson, moves into town and Kaycee can’t help but fall for her. But will she risk the approval of her friends and family for a new love? This book celebrates finding a balance between loving your roots and loving yourself.

5. Hurricane Kiss

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When natural disaster strikes her hometown, Jillian McKay evacuates and ends up with unexpected company. River Daughtry, the former star of her high school football team, hasn’t been seen since he was admitted to the West Texas juvenile detention center. Once arrogant and flirtatious, River is now quiet and moody. The unlikely pair confront the storm and their pasts while learning what it really means to survive. This dramatic romance will have teens hooked from the start.

For more teen romance novels from Albert Whitman, click here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to readers young and old!

8 Valentine’s Day Books for Kids (and Teens too!)