The Just Write For Kids team are thrilled to welcome back Alison Reynolds, author of the delicately warm and delightfully joyous Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds series on her blog tour for her latest two books – The Big Snow Adventure and The Playground Meanies. I love these books for their authenticity and meaningfulness; highlighting children’s real life sensitivities and explorative natures in social situations. Alison generously shares her inspirations and journey with us today! 🐻 👧🏻 ❄️ 🌳
THE BIG SNOW ADVENTURE & THE PLAYGROUND MEANIES
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
These books are 3 & 4 in the PICKLE AND BREE’S GUIDE TO GOOD DEEDS series. Pickle and Bree are the very best of friends, though they don’t always see eye to eye! They may have their differences, but together, they always manage to work through their problems. Featuring a handy Guide to Good Deeds at the back of each book, parents and children can join Pickle and Bree on their adventures while gently exploring social etiquette and positive behaviour.
After discussion, the editor and I decided to explore the concept of respecting rules and being kind (bullying). She also suggested since the first two books in the series were set in Pickle and Bree’s home that we take them into the wider world.
I always begin picture books by scribbling down ideas in an A5 visual diary. It’s important for me that the initial stages be jotted in a notebook without lines as it encourages me to play with words and not feel as if any storyline or words are permanent. Eventually after a few false starts I decided on a snowy mountain and a playground.
I grew up with a romantic image of snow based on reading European books full of soft, powdery snow. When I first visited the snow, I was seven and promptly cut my hand on the icy mass. At first, I wondered about including this in THE BIG SNOW ADVENTURE but instead I decided to make the mountain be exactly what I wished for my first snow encounter. So I rewrote it and gradually the narratives emerged from the characters. I remember I had an image of a chastened Bree and Pickle sitting together on a log after leaving a stream of destruction behind them. I wrote the story to find out what happened.
The enthusiastic, bustling Bree can’t stop herself from pushing to the front of the lines, and speeding down the ski run oblivious of other people’s safety. Pickle doesn’t realise how he’s much bigger than most of the others and is putting their safety in danger.
The editor suggested a few tweaks to clarify what I meant and the book was ready to be illustrated by the super talented Mikki Butterley. There was another light editing and the book was ready to be sent to press!
THE PLAYGROUND MEANIES arose from a conversation with my 7 year old niece. She told me some girls bullied her because they said she was wearing pink runners. Apparently, she was and I asked her why that would worry her. She replied that “I don’t want to feel like I’m doing something wrong”.
When I first envisaged writing a book about bullying, I was thinking about a bully pinching somebody’s lunch or even hitting somebody. Talking to my niece reminded me how sensitive one can be if you’re made to feel different or wrong, especially when you’re seven.
So the story arose where Jason, Pickle’s sensitive friend, reacts when two little bears say Pickle and Jason have huge, floppy, clown feet. By the end of the book, the two little bears realise how having huge, floppy, clown feet can be an excellent thing.
When I write I often pillage my own life, even when I’m not aware of doing this at first. During the writing of THE PLAYGROUND MEANIES, my husband and I had a friendly debate on who could yell the loudest. This changed into Pickle in the book yelling the loudest yell in all the world, which made birds fly out of trees.
The book underwent a very light edit and off it cyber-sped to Mikki Butterley to be illustrated. The editor and I did have a discussion about the title. Teachers told me not to have bullies in the title as it could put off child readers, but bookstore owners told me that they thought bullies would help sell the book to parents! Finally, we decided on THE PLAYGROUND MEANIES, but mentioned bullies in the blurb.
I love writing this series with illustrator Mikki Butterley. I adore her illustrations and she seems to be able to draw anything, although I’m sure I test her.
My trusted editor with her perspicacity and tact, helps make the books as good as they can be. I really feel as if we’re all working together as a team and the books are total joint efforts.
I feel very fortunate that The Five Mile Press/Bonnier Australia commissioned me to write this series. Hopefully, we are helping create a kinder, gentler world for everybody.
Alison Reynolds can be found at her website and Facebook page.
See below for the full PICKLE AND BREE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE and FANTASTIC GIVEAWAYS:
PICKLE AND BREE’S GUIDE TO GOOD DEEDS: BOOKS 3 & 4
Look what’s happening to celebrate the release of the latest two books in the award nominated Pickle & Bree series, The Playground Meanies & The Big Snow Adventure.
13/2/17 Boomerang Books & Pass-it-on Jackie Hosking
14/2/17 Creative Kids Tales
15/2/17 Buzz Words Di Bates
16/2/17 Aussie Reviews & Meet Illustrator Mikki Butterley
17/2/17 Just Kids’ Lit & Julie Grasso
Just leave a comment on any of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or twitter or even email firstname.lastname@example.org to win a copy of The Playground Meanies or The Big Snow Adventure.
JUMP THE SLUSH PILE IS BACK!
Win an opportunity for a children’s editor at The Five Mile Press to look at your picture book submission (strictly 500 words or less). Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add initials JSP.
Win a free picture book assessment by the author Alison Reynolds. Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add the initials PB.
Remember the more you comment, the more chances you have to win.
TEDDY BEAR CONTEST FOR ALL AGES!
Win a print of Mikki Butterley’s fabulous artwork from one of these two books. Just send a photo or drawing of your favourite teddy to email@example.com or upload to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or Twitter @AlisonReynoldsa
Competitions close March 24th and winners to be announced and contacted by March 31st.
29 thoughts to “On Tour with Alison Reynolds and Pickle and Bree”
Finally my big, floppy clown feet will be accepted (ha, ha)!
I love sensitive Jason (and your neice) sounds just like my little boy.
I love Jason too. We need gentle, sensitive people in the world.
OH Wow, I absolutely loved reading this interview and seeing Alison’s notebooks. Another brilliant insight into the writing process. This was gold and thanks Romi for hosting. PS.. JSP he he
It’s so fascinating, isn’t it?! It’s like seeing into the author’s mind! 🙂 Hehe…can I add JSP too! 😉
Even pieces that I’m doing direct to computer, if I’m stuck I write the scene in my trusty notebook. It really helps. Loved visiting you too Jules.
Loved seeing Alison’s rough notes! Very cool to see a master’s process. Thank you for sharing. PB
I’m glad you can appreciate Alison’s rough notes. I love seeing some of the process in action, too! Thanks for your comment, Shaye!
Ty Shaye. I did wonder about showing them as look a mess but it makes sense to me and how I work things out.
Alison, I can relate to you playing with words, jotting them down and not feeling that the storyline must be permanent. Excellent advice! JSP
Hi Lynette. Isn’t it freeing when you accept nothing is permanent and can’t be changed later
Thank you for sharing your process, especially that a physical notebook works. I too love paper and find it a lovely way to write. (Clearly I was born in the wrong century!) I also really love seeing the early sketches of the illustrations. See, paper all the way 🙂
Thanks for the great post. JSP
I was fascinated by the illustration roughs too. And nice to meet another notebook lover. It is a lovely way to write picture books. I do tend work straight computer for longer works. But I still play with scenes in the notebook. Long live paper.
What a great interview, Romi. Hi Alison. I love how you say you play with words and see what happens. Thanks for including pictures of your early rough notes. That’s what we should do as children’s authors. Play. It was interesting to see how your stories developed from initial concept to the final story. JSP.
Romi asks the hard questions! I love playing with words. Think you can get so caught up in the business that you forget to enjoy your writing.
Loved seeing the early sketches and hearing about the thought processes. Thanks Romi and Alison. (JSP)
Great to hear this Debra. Often its a rather convoluted thought process!
Thanks for sharing this, Alison. I loved the idea of first playing with ideas in a book without lines so that nothing at that early stage feels fixed. I must try it sometime! (JSP)
It is liberating just to go rogue on the page without lines. Hope you enjoy it!
I love seeing your notes Alison and Mikki Butterley’s early sketches. Bree is a gorgeous bear and the “Bree’ is also a surname on my family tree!
How cool to have Bree as a family surname. It makes you smile just saying it be was this a Jersey name?
Thank you Alison for the glimpse into your writing process. It was fascinating to see the image of your notebook. Judging by the other comments I am not the only one to be interested in the writing process of others. Additionally, great choices for the different settings.
PS Forgot to add PB
Thanks Zoe. It’s amazing my random splatter turns into a book! It’s just having faith in your mind. I firmly believe that it makes connections between things when you don’t realise if you let it. B
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We love Jason! The note books were fab to see as well. JSP. Neridah x
Jason is a favourite for me too. Are you notebooks so messy Neridah? Mine start off neat but somehow I think of more things and ….
I love Jason too. My bear, Colly is a panda and I was so pleased to have Jason as a panda in the books.
Interesting to hear the different teacher/book shop owner perspectives on the title and what would appeal. A great reminder! JSP
Hi Amelia! Yes, I found it such a good reminder that the title does matter!