The Picture Book Buzz - Kidlit Caravan Fall Releases
KidLit Caravan is a troupe of authors and author/illustrators with debut picture books headed your way in 2022!
Hit the road with the caravan and swing by their website for their "scenic stops, including:
creator profiles, news and upcoming events;
storytime for kids;
contests & giveaways for lucky winners; and
craft and industry insights for fellow writers.
Not to mention cover reveals, tales from our journey, and much more. "Our debut picture books will be "gnu" in 2022, but there are already more stories coming down the pike for 2023 and beyond."
Welcome Angela Dale & Suma Subramaniam,
Thank you, Maria, for having us on your blog.
Thank you for having us on your wonderful blog, Maria!
Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write or draw? How long have you been writing and/or illustrating? What is your favorite type of book to write or illustrate?)
ANGELA DALE – Bus Stop (Cameron Kids, 10/4/2022) – I loved writing when I was a kid and through college, but after that I didn’t write creatively for years. I had this idea in the back of my head that a ‘real’ writer had to pen ‘the great American novel,’ and it took me a while to discover that the forms that speak to me most as a writer are short – poetry, picture books, and (of course) poetic picture books – where each word can reverberate in unexpected ways. And with picture books the illustrator layers the story even further - it feels almost magical. Not surprisingly, many of my manuscripts are very short. Bus Stop started out at 200 words, and then with the help of Cameron Kids editor Amy Novesky’s excellent eye and ear, I pared it to less than 100 words, and I think it adds even more energy to the text.
Harry, our resident furball and sometimes writing companion, reminds me to pause:
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – Namaste Is a Greeting (Candlewick, 10/11/2022) – I write STEM/STEAM based picture books, middle grade, YA, and poetry for children and young adults. I work on creative projects at home in a quiet room where no electronics are allowed.
I’ve been writing for children for over twelve years now. My favorite type of books to write have been picture books and middle-grade books mostly because those are the books I enjoy reading the most.
Namaste is a Greeting, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Candlewick Press, 10/11/2022) is my debut fiction picture book about namaste’s meanings. It is told in simple, lyrical text, paired with a charmingly detailed visual narrative about a little girl’s kindness.
She Sang For India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice For Change, illustrated by Shreya Gupta (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux/Macmillan, 11/08/2022) is my debut nonfiction picture book biography about the first Indian musician who performed at the United Nations.
Harry is so cute! Summa, that's so impressive to be electronics free! What is something no one (or few) knows about you?
ANGELA DALE – In my mid-20s, I dropped out of the graduate writing program at NYU without even finishing the first semester. That choice took me on a circuitous writing path but ultimately I believe we make things happen when we’re ready for them. I’m delighted to be where I am today as a writer.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – Although I go by Suma Subramaniam, I also have a second name called Jayalakshmi. It’s the name of both my maternal as well as paternal grandmothers.
Now that we know a little more about each of you, what inspired you to write your book(s)?
ANGELA DALE – Bus Stop (10/4/2022) – A new neighborhood popped up just down the road, and when I drove past one morning early in the school year, it was just hopping with elementary schoolers. I could feel their spirited energy and it instantly filled me with joy. The sight also took me right back to my own bus stop days where my siblings, neighbors and I played all sorts of games while waiting for the bus … sometimes for a very long time before we realized it wasn’t coming. 😊
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – Namaste Is a Greeting (10/11/2022) – The inspiration for Namaste is a Greeting came from my childhood years growing up in a small apartment community in India, surrounded by people from various backgrounds, classes, and religions. We bonded when we embraced our differences and came together as a community to celebrate every holiday and festival. I captured that experience by breaking down the meaning of Namaste into smaller, easy-to-understand-and-apply actions in everyday life.
She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change (11/8/2022) - The inspiration for She Sang for India came from listening to M.S. Subbulakshmi’s music all of my life. In her time, it was rare for a woman to make a mark in the world. Subbulakshmi broke rules, busted barriers, and used her voice for change for well over seven decades of her music career. Through her life, we can learn that the ability to heal ourselves and the world is within us.
Such wonderful ways for daily experiences to inspire picture books. Who was a favorite/special author, illustrator, and/or favorite book as a child?
ANGELA DALE – Oooooooooo, I absolutely love Eloise. I had a babysitter who introduced me to the various Eloise books. In manner and speech, Miss Alice felt very much like Nanny to me, and her readings were marvelous and wry just like Kay Thompson’s text. ("I cawn’t cawn’t cawn’t understand why skibble is not in the dictionary.") And then Hilary Knight’s illustrations – I could pore over them for hours. Eloise is by turns outrageously funny and deeply poignant. The Eloise books are certainly outside the mold of most of today’s picture books, but their layered humor, determinedly six-year-old point of view for ‘precocious grownups,’ and subtle sweetness still tug on my heartstrings.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – My favorite author as a child was R.K. Narayan. He wrote a collection of short stories called Malgudi Days. The language in the book is simple. The first version was published in pre-independent India. It was later republished by Penguin Classics many years later.
Another favorite is Amar Chitra Katha books which are a series of comics and graphic magazines based on religious legends, folklore, epics, and biographies from Indian culture.
Is there anything special you want your readers to know about your book(s)?
ANGELA DALE – Bus Stop (10/4/2022) – Be open to the wonder of any given moment no matter how ‘ordinary’ it may seem. “Thrill. Play.” Always.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – Namaste Is a Greeting (10/11/2022) – I want readers to know that it only takes a little bit of kindness to make friends and create a bond with those who are like us and those who are different from us.
She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change (11/8/2022) - I want readers to know that the power to heal ourselves and the world is within us.
I do think all three of these themes come through your books. Did anything surprise or amaze you when you first saw the illustrations? Which is your favorite spread in the book(s)?
Text © Angela Dale, 2022. Image © Lala Watkins, 2022.
ANGELA DALE – Bus Stop (10/4/2022) – Try as I might, I simply can’t pick a favorite – it’s whatever page I’m on. Almost all of the illustrations are full-bleed single images across a full spread, which blows me away every time. A few of them have only a single short sentence, giving the story just the right pace and encouraging the reader to linger. (Amy Novesky set the page turns brilliantly.) Also I love going from page to page and naming all the children in each scene as they accumulate, especially – spoiler alert – the last page, where all 30+ kids are in action. In the spirit of anticipation, a theme through the book, here’s an earlier spread of Antoine, Beatrice, Carlos and Divya looking for the bus to arrive.
Text © Suma Subramaniam, 2022. Image © Sandhya Prabhat, 2022.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – Namaste Is a Greeting (10/11/2022) – I saw myself in this book and I saw so many children of Indian origin in the character of the little girl. The feeling is indescribable. My favorite spread in the book is when the child chooses a plant from a garden store. She goes for the one on the very top of the shelf that is hard to reach, one whose leaf is droopy and so no one will want to buy. But in her tender heart, she loves that plant.
Text © Suma Subramaniam, 2022. Image © Shreya Gupta, 2022.
She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change (11/8/2022) - Shreya’s illustrations in this book are breathtaking. I love how she brought M.S. Subbulakshmi to life in the entire story. My favorite spread is the one where little Subbulakshmi bows to her audience with grace.
Those are beautiful spreads from some talented illustrators. Okay, here's an oddball question for you, if you could meet anyone (real or literary), who would that be?
ANGELA DALE – I would love to have tea at The Plaza with Eloise, Nanny, Weenie and Skipperdee. I would ask Eloise to show me how she braids Skipperdee’s ears. If Kay Thomspson and Hilary Knight stopped by, that would be the maraschino cherry on top.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – I’d love to meet Sudha Murty, who is an Indian educator, children’s book author, philanthropist, and the chairperson of Infosys Foundation.
What was the hardest or most challenging part about writing your book? (such as maybe research, rhyme, word count, a particular portion….)
ANGELA DALE – Bus Stop (10/4/2022) – It’s a pretty simple story with no central character in which, in some ways, nothing happens for a long time – at least not the thing everyone’s waiting for. Making sure the story had an arc, forward momentum, rising tension, and a satisfying solution was a tricky but fun challenge. In the editing process many of the sentences were paired down to just a name and a verb. I tried out a lot of verbs over the course of many revisions – including after seeing sketches and near-final artwork – to make sure I had exactly the right one for each character, and the right ones, paired together, for each scene.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM - Namaste Is a Greeting (10/11/2022) – This book was surprisingly easy to write. The first draft is super close to what will be published. I only made two word changes in the final draft.
She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change (11/8/2022) - This book took me 8 years from idea to publication. The most challenging part was to capture a legendary musician's seven-decade career within the pages of a picture book using short, lyrical text and poetic devices.
Angela, that would definitely be a challenge. Suma, what a difference between the two books! Hard to imagine just changing two words. Describe one thing you’ve learned from your journey, so far. Or something you discovered about yourself or writing over the past two years.
ANGELA DALE – It’s critical to know the market and the conventions of the format, so that you can be very clear in your own head – if you decide to stray from those conventions – why you are making that choice. And then stray with confidence, purpose, and play.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – I learned to be adaptable and carve time to work on more than one project. It didn’t take much except reprioritizing how I managed my schedule. I discovered that I’m most productive when I prioritize writing as the first and the last item on my agenda every day and every night.
You have to know the rules, before you can break them. Suma, I love that writing regimen! That's the first I've heard of someone working this way. I really like it. Are there any upcoming projects you can share with us?
ANGELA DALE – I have an unannounced project slated for 2024 that I hope to be able to share soon. I’m also working in partnership on another project I’m very excited about as we focus on finding exactly the right home for it.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM - have quite a few upcoming projects in the works.
The Runaway Dosa, illustrated by Parvati Pillai (Little Bee Books), releases in fall next year. It’s a fairy tale mash-up of “The Gingerbread Man” and the Tamil rhyme “Dosai Amma Dosai.”
In 2024, I have three books:
A Bindi is a Dot, illustrated by Kamala Nair (Kids Can Press), releases in spring 2024. This picture book is a celebration of the beauty and cultural significance of bindis that explores the different names for bindis, when and how they are worn, and how they are made.
My Name is Long As a River, illustrated by Tara Anand (Penguin Workshop), releases in fall 2024. The picture book follows young Kaveri—who insists on a nickname—as she and her Paati take a journey along the Kaveri River. As they travel, stories of how Kaveri got her long name unfold, deepening her understanding of who she is.
The first of my middle grade series, V. Malar: Pongal Super Host releases in 2024 and the second book is slated for release in 2025.
I have one more book that is yet to be announced.
Such exciting news. We will definitely have to keep our eyes open for these books. Last question, what is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?
ANGELA DALE – When I lived in California ages ago, I loved to walk through Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The views are breathtaking and the flora and fauna totally cool. I had the chance to revisit a few years ago, and it’s just as magnificent as I remember.
SUMA SUBRAMANIAM – I love the Olympic National Park in the US. It’s close to where I live in Washington State. The one I’ve been longing to visit is the forests of the Western Ghats of Southwest India. It has been decades since I visited the place, and I’d love to go when I can.
Thank you both for giving us a little peek into you and your books. Wishing you both great success.
Thank you Maria for this fun opportunity to share about my journey to Bus Stop.
To learn more about these authors and the other authors and illustrators in the Kidlit Caravan, visit them at https://www.kidlitcaravan.com/.