Category Archives: Interviews with Authors and Illustrators

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Realistic Dialogue

You’re a writer working on a manuscript and you’ve finally got your two most important characters in the same room. There’s tension between them. One character has a question and the other has the answer. The conflict your plot has been riding on has finally come to a head—these characters need to say what’s been on their minds for pages!

But how do you make sure that your characters say what they need to in a way that’s believable to the reader? Nothing ruins a moment like this more than when the dialogue doesn’t flow or sound believable. If this is a problem you’re grappling with, don’t worry. We asked two previous New Voices Award-winning authors, Pamela M. Tuck (As Fast As Words Can Fly) and Glenda Armand (Love Twelve Miles Long) for their tips and tricks on writing successful, realistic dialogue.

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Illustrator Keith Mallett Takes Us Behind the Art of Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

Released this month from LEE & LOW BOOKS, Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! is a picture book biograpy of James VanDerZee, a groundbreaking photographer who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance—politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Mamie Smith—and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too.

We asked illustrator Keith Mallett to take us behind the scenes of his art process bringing Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee to life: Continue reading

Building a Biography: An Interview with New Voices Award Winner Andrea Loney and Senior Editor Jessica Echeverria

At Lee & Low Books we are always interested in biographies of unsung heroes. Stories of lesser-known individuals who used their talents and overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams and serve their society fill our shelves of published titles. Each year our New Voices Award judges consider dozens of biographical submissions on the lookout for a winning combination of compelling characters and well-researched storytelling. But how do these components come together to create a manuscript? How does a writer condense someone’s entire life into a picture book? Does the writer or editor decide what information goes in the story and back matter? What is back matter, anyway? To answer these questions, and for an inside look at the editorial process, we interviewed Andrea Loney, author of the 2014 New Voices Award-winning biography Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! and Jessica Echeverria, our Senior Editor who helped turn Andrea’s manuscript into an absorbing debut!

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Out Today: Arrow of Lightning (Killer of Enemies Book #3) by Joseph Bruchac

Today is the release day for Arrow of Lightning, the exhilarating final book in the Killer of Enemies trilogy, and we couldn’t be more excited!

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Interview: Uma Krishnaswami on Citizenship, Culture, and Community

Today is the release day of Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, a middle grade historical novel about nine-year-old Maria Singh who longs to play softball. To celebrate, we interviewed author Uma Krishnaswami to find out more about her writing process and her inspiration behind Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh.

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Illustrator Elisa Chavarri Takes Us Behind the Art of Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris

Released last fall from LEE & LOW BOOKS, Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris is a beautiful story of recycling, conservation, and family tradition. Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for the market. Ixchel first tries weaving with a variety of materials, but then she  notices the colorful plastic bags littering her neighborhood and suddenly has an idea that ends up benefitting everyone.

We asked illustrator Elisa Chavarri to take us behind the scenes of her art process bringing Rainbow Weaver to life: Continue reading

Interview: Writing Haiku With Curtis Manley, Author of The Crane Girl

the crane girlThe Crane Girl, released last month, is an adaptation of a popular Japanese folktale about the power of friendship and kindness to transform lives. Told in both haiku and prose, The Crane Girl follows young Yasuhiro who rescues an injured crane in the woods one night. The next day, a mysterious girl appears at his door. She offers to weave silk for Yasuhiro and his father to help them with money, but eventually the father’s greed has a life-changing effect on them all.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we asked author Curtis Manley to take us through his writing process when it comes to haiku, poetry, and The Crane Girl. Continue reading

Interview: Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore on Collaboration

Prairie Dog Song cover imageWith Susan L. Roth’s signature collage illustrations and Cindy Trumbore and Roth’s detailed narrative, it’s clear that Roth and Trumbore’s styles are a perfect match. Their award-winning books, The Mangrove Tree, Parrots Over Puerto Rico, and Prairie Dog Song are a testament to their effortless collaboration style and their shared passion for conservation. In this interview, Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore discuss their writing process, their stylistic differences, and working together to create the perfect story.

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Interview: Richard Sobol on Coexistence, Travel, and Capturing the Perfect Moment

Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony is about the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian families in a Ugandan village who created a Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative. In this uplifting photo-essay, we learn how families live and work together peacefully despite their religious differences. Author and photographer Richard Sobol takes readers on a journey to Namanyonyi through his beautiful photographs. And to learn more about his experience, we’ve asked him a few questions about his creative process.

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25 Books from 25 Years: Marisol McDonald and the Monster

LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating the latest installment of our extremely popular Marisol McDonald series, Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. In this endearing bilingual story, Marisol confronts her greatest fear: monsters!

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