Letters from readers are always a joy, but when they’re accompanied by artwork depicting scenes of one of my books, the joy is doubled. I suppose one could say they reflect compound interest! But I’m digressing, as I play with budgetary puns…
Recently, a teacher sent me a packet of illustrated letters from her students, who had enjoyed listening to my middle grade novel Me and the Weirdos. She reads the book to her class every couple of years!
In their letters the children asked if I would please write a sequel and told me what parts were their favorites. Here are two of my favorites of their pictures. Captions (by me) explain what’s happening in these scenes.
During her last-ditch effort to unweird her family, Cindy Krinkle encounters a skunk and tries to appear friendly to avoid getting sprayed. The skunk turns to follow a popcorn trail dropped by Cindy’s came-to-the-rescue father.
In the book’s epilogue, after Cindy realizes her family is weird but also wonderful, she goes trick-or-treating as a skyscraper—here between her friend Patti, a surprise package, and her father, a grunting ape.
I’m very pleased to report that I am now being represented by the KirchoffWohlberg Literary Agency. I’ve had terrific conversations with my agent, Ron Zollshan, and am looking forward to our collaboration. Below is the write-up about moi on the agency website:
Jane Sutton is the author of 7 picture books, 3 middle grade novels, and one YA novel. They feature humor and subtle plugs for empathy and acceptance of oneself and others. Some have been translated into French and Italian. Recent titles include What’s Up with This Chicken? (a hen refuses to get off her eggs), Paulie’s Passover Predicament (a moose wants his first seder to be perfect, but it’s decidedly not), and a new edition of her middle grade novel Me and the Weirdos (ALA/CBC Children’s Choice, Utah Children’s Book Award).
Jane grew up (although never completely) on Long Island. Faced with the indignities of adolescence, she developed a sense of humor and love of writing. In high school she was elected class comedienne, and in college, to Phi Beta Kappa (Brandeis University, BA in Comparative Literature), perhaps a rare combination. Jane has worked as a newspaper writer, a copywriter, and a special education tutor. She teaches a class on writing children’s books and does author visits for all ages. Jane and her college sweetheart husband, a science educator, live in Lexington, MA. They feel beyond lucky that their grown children and families live in the Boston area.
This gentle story is told with humor and creativity, and the watercolor-and-pencil cartoon illustrations extend the charming text. Many of the animal neighbors have all-too-human expressions, the indoor and outdoor scenes are warm and whimsical, and the picture of the plumber duck diving into Mortimers toilet to retrieve a bar of soap is likely to evoke a lively response. Kids will be taken with this title. – School Library Journal
Sutton’s humorous story about overcoming superstitions is expanded by Harris’ watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that are filled with whimsical details–Sadie’s charming houseboat, Mortimer’s cozy tree house, and the tiny mouse that appears on every page. Children will chuckle over Mortimer’s folly, even as they recognize familiar anxieties. – Booklist
A delightful tale about the mysterious relationship between food and fortune…. Astute readers will have gleefully guessed, of course. Spirited watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are full of movement and humor, and the text is freshly funny right up to the hilarious last line. – Kirkus Review
Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster
In this adorable and brightly illustrated Hanukkah story from Sutton (Don’t Call Me Sidney) and Rowland (Little Nelly’s Big Book), Esther the gorilla joyfully sets out to the Jungle Store to get everything she needs to give Hanukkah presents to her friends. She happily chooses the gifts, but as she hands them out to her monkey, elephant, hyena, turtle, and zebra pals, Esther realizes that her gifts may not have been as perfectly thought-out as she had hoped (such as the jogging suit she purchases for the turtle). Esther’s innocent mistakes and her ingenious solution will prompt laughter. – Publisher’s Weekly
Paulie’s Passover Predicament
Paulie the moose is hosting his first seder, and things aren’t going well. He carves a horse from a radish instead of horseradish for the maror (bitter herbs)… Paulie’s friends can’t help but laugh at his Passover faux pas, but they love him…Vagnozzi’s toylike, apple-cheeked animal cast exudes high spirits and open hearts. – Publisher’s Weekly
…A cheerful addition to the Passover library, this book centers on the idea of friendship and acceptance while also explaining most of the holiday’s symbols and rituals. Buoyant illustrations of a menagerie of animal friends strike just the right note. – Jewish Book Council
Don’t Call Me Sidney
…This amusing story about a poetic pig’s search for his true identity is accompanied by humorous acrylic and pencil collage illustrations in which large figures of the characters dominate the subtly detailed scenes. The subdued palette of reds, tans, and blues complements Sidney’s quirky personality. Children who wonder what life would be like if they were given a different name will identify with Sidney. – School Library Journal
This fun story about the importance of a name stars Sidney, a slightly goofy pig who has a way with words. …The accessible, textured illustrations, done in pencil, acrylic, and collage, feature amusing facial expressions on the pigs and Sidney’s other animal friends; their round, expressive eyes (sometimes with long eyelashes that seem to be batting, especially at Sidney’s doting mother) convey exactly what the characters are feeling. – Booklist
Representing authors and author/illustrators to trade publishers. Including books for ages from baby to young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Book # 10 is a rhyming personalized picture book for Hanukkah by Hallmark in which the purchaser chooses the recipient’s name, gender, hair style, hair color, skin color and eye color. Hence, the dedicatee is always different. I ordered one for my then 101 year old dad, Milton, whose hairstyle was “none.” He was tickled by the book, Milton’s Magical Hanukkah.
I continued my string of picture books with Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster, the story of a purple gorilla who shops for Hanukkah presents at the last minute and ends up buying her animal friends inappropriate gifts designed to make young readers giggle. Think jogging suit for a turtle.
When I brought up the subject of dedicating the book, both my children said, “Judy Kleinerman!” My response: “Of course!”
Hence, this dedication to my dear friend:
You see, Judy Kleinerman and I have been friends forever. It’s true. Just ask us. We were friends even before we were born…because our moms were pregnant together. We grew up in the same town, went to summer camp together, had countless sleepovers with many a giggle loop. And now we both live in the Boston area. Judy grew up to be Dr. Judy — a hematologist and oncologist. See?
As the dedication says, she comes to our house every Hanukkah for a party featuring my husband’s latkes. And her presence makes the celebration warmer and brighter…for everyone!
Years ago I would use a pumpkin for the head of my Welcome, Trick or Treaters! character. But two years in a row, squirrels gnawed on the pumpkin, transforming the figure from friendly to downright gruesome. Now a red playground ball with a smiling Sharpie face serves as the benevolent, inedible head.
Here’s this year’s creation:
Chef Ball-erino is ready to greet trick-or-treaters.
In my picture book Don’t Call Me Sidney, a pig who aspires to be a poet can’t find a rhyme for his name, except “kidney,” and changes his name to Joe. But the absent-minded Sidney keeps forgetting that he’s now Joe, and his friends and his mother, who named him after his great great great grandfather who invented the mop, are horrified by the name change. Eventually, Sidney comes up with a crowd-pleasing compromise and continues to follow his poetic muse.
I dedicated this book to my son, Charlie, with 3 adjectives that describe him.
Since then Charlie has become a kind, wise, and hilarious dad to two children, my fabulous grandson and granddaughter!
Impossible not to smile when I look at this photo!
My sixth book The Trouble With Cauliflower is about a koala bear who’s convinced that eating this particular vegetable, whose taste he happens to like, gives him bad luck the next day. It’s a fun depiction of self-fulfilling prophesy, gorgeously illustrated by Jim Harris.
Before this, most of my books had been novels, so Cauliflower was my first picture book in many years.
I dedicated it to my daughter, Becky.
The reason for calling her “my sunshine” is that, well, she is.
And now Becky is mom to her sunshine, my granddaughter Gabby.