Author Lana Krumwiede

Happy, happy, happy Friday! Are you gearing up for a productive reading weekend? May I add one wonderful picture book to your weekend reading list? I assume you responded with a loud Y-E-S! :)

The book? Just Itzy

The author? Lana Krumwiede 

The illustrator? Greg Pizzoli

Lana dropped by to chat with me about Itzy, nursery rhymes, Greg, reading, and picture books. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Lana!

Illustration Credit: Greg Pizzoli 

Itzy the spider has the patience of a saint! When I first started writing in 2001, his story was one of the first things I wrote. It took me a long time to learn how to tell his story well enough to get it published, but that little spider hung in there with me. It seems very appropriate that I learned persistence from Itzy!

Nursery-rhyme characters will always hold a special place in my literary heart. Perhaps it’s because nursery rhymes are some of my earliest reading memories, or because I adored my Kindergarten teacher, or because I was a Kindergarten teacher at one point.

Illustration Credit: Greg Pizzoli 

Greg Pizzoli’s illustrations are absolutely perfect. One of the challenges of writing a picture book for someone else to illustrate is leaving enough space in the story for the illustrator to do his portion of the storytelling. Greg sensed those spaces and added to Itzy’s story in his own very delightful way.

General Sarin and Gevri stretched my writing skills! When I first started writing Freakling, I didn’t know it would lead to a trilogy, and I certainly never imagined myself writing straight-up battle scenes. When I had the opportunity to develop Taemon’s story into The Psi Chronicles, all roads inevitably led to a final battle in True Son. To set that up, I needed a military-centered culture and characters, and General Sarin and Gevri stepped forward.

Reading is like being a tourist. I fell in love with all the exciting trips I went on as a child and I wanted to become a tour guide.

Picture books are much harder to write than most people realize. It feels like using a microscope to examine every word, every sentence, every pause and page-turn. Is it necessary? Is there a better choice? Is it in the right place? Now rewrite the story and ask all the questions again.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the best writing advice I ever received. From the early drafts of Just Itzy, I believed in this story, but I also knew it needed work. I wasn’t experienced enough to figure out what I was doing wrong, which was very frustrating. Finally an author friend told me, “Just write something else!” It took me fourteen years, fifty-some-odd published magazine pieces, and two novels before I was finally able to do right by Itzy. I’m so grateful for that advice!

I am giving away a copy of Just Itzy.

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 2/27 to 11:59 PM on 3/1.

2. You must be at least 13.

3. If you win, please pay it forward.

Borrow Just Itzy from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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