Penny & Jelly: The School Show Blog Tour

Hi, Maria Gianferrari! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show. Are you a list maker like Penny?

Maria: Thanks, Mr. Schu!

You're welcome! Are you a list maker like Penny?

Most definitely! I usually have multiple lists going at one time—to do lists (for work and stuff around the house), shopping lists, to read lists—they’re endless, and yet satisfying at the same time.

I'm the same way. I often create a to-do list after I finish a series of tasks just so I can check things off a list. :)

Explore Thyra Heder's website. 
Did you and Thyra Heder communicate at all while she was illustrating Penny and Jelly: The School Show? How did you respond the first time you saw the finished illustrations?

Maria: No, but I could tell Thyra was a fellow dog-lover, and I loved her style from the first moment I saw her initial sketches of Jelly. She really infused Penny and Jelly’s characters with warmth and humor. She really is the perfect illustrator for this book!

Explore Maria's website
I bet waiting for a picture book to be published is not easy.  Please tell us about Officer Katz and Houndini, Hello Goodbye Dog, Coyote Moon, Highway Hawks and Terrific Tongues.

Maria: It’s not easy, but it’s worth the wait for that magic moment you see an illustrator breathe life into your words. I feel so grateful and fortunate to have been matched with such incredibly talented artists!

Officer Katz and Houndini wants to capture his nemesis, the elusive escape artist, Houndini, but he’s constantly foiled. Will he be able to save Kitty City? You’ll have to tune in to find out! It’s a zany tale complemented by Danny Chatzikonstantinou’s humorous and quirky art. It will be published by Aladdin Books for Young Readers in October 2016.

The canine character, Moose, in Hello Goodbye Dog hates saying good-bye to his person, Zara, and chaos ensues as he tries to say hello. It will be published by Roaring Brook press (winter 2017). I believe I’ll be getting some sketches from illustrator Patrice Barton soon. I love her work, and am so excited to see what she’ll come up with!

Coyote Moon and Highway Hawks will also be published by Roaring Brook Press, in July 2016 and summer 2017 respectively. They’re narrative nonfiction stories with a poetic bent about predators hunting for their families, a coyote mother, and a red-tailed hawk father. Bagram Ibatoulline’s art for Coyote Moon is absolutely gorgeous and stunning. It’s so intricately detailed that it’s almost photographic, and yet it has atmosphere and dynamism. And Caldecott winner Brian Floca will be illustrating Highway Hawks—how lucky am I?

Terrific Tongues is also a work of nonfiction that’s more concept-oriented, about fascinating creature tongues. It will be published by Boyds Mills Press. An illustrator is currently in the process of being selected—I can’t wait to hear who it will be!

Wow! You're going to be very busy over the next three years. Congratulations! 

Visit Toadstool Bookshop the next time you're in New Hampshire. 
How are you going to celebrate Penny and Jelly: The School Show’s book birthday?

Maria: I’m hosting a book launch at my local hometown indie, the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, NH, with family and friends. I’m nervous and excited! We’re going to have a photo-booth, so that kids can pose with Jelly, and pretend to be Penny, trying on a variety of talents with props. You can follow it on Instagram: @pennyandjelly.

Please finish these sentence starters:

The best thing about being a writer is working at home and hanging out with Becca, my beloved dog, all day long. Isn’t she beautiful? Yes!

Picture books are inspiring, engaging, educational works of art that touch the heart.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the second Penny & Jelly book, Penny and Jelly Slumber Under the Stars. I just reviewed the proofs, and I think I’m even more in love with Thyra’s artwork for this book than The School Show. There’s a character modeled after me and our pet rat, Lucia, which is so sweet! It’s scheduled for release in June 2016.

Thanks again so much for having me, Mr. Schu!! Thank you, Maria! 

I am giving away a copy of Penny and Jelly: The School Show

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 7/1 to 11:59 PM on 7/3. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Follow Maria’s blog tour:

  • Friday, June 26th: Kidlit411/Sylvia Liu & Elaine Kiely Kearns

  • Monday, July 6th – Friday, July 10th: Emu’s Debuts virtual book week launch

  • Monday, July 13th: Bildebok/Cathy Ballou Mealey

Borrow Penny and Jelly: The School Show from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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