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THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN, a picture book, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the perfect time to blog about a wonderful picture book that deals with breast cancer. THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN teams up children’s author Janna Matthies and illustrator Kristi Valiant, both from my home state of Indiana.

In January, when her mother shares the news with her family that she has breast cancer, Janie comes up with the idea to plant a garden: “Watching it grow, and eating healthy veggies, will remind us Mom’s getting better,” Janie tells them. With pumpkin season as their goal, the family joins together to plant the ‘Goodbye, Cancer’ garden.

From planning and planting, to eating the vegetables that they’ve grown, the garden parallels Mom’s progression through her treatment of breast cancer. Told in a sensitive way, the story shows ups and downs over the months that follow—eg: “Sometimes she looked sad, and my brother and I felt a little worried.”

THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN addresses a difficult issue with an uplifting and hopeful story line, and is illustrated with beautiful pictures filled with love and hope. The story was driven by the author’s own battle with breast cancer.

Enjoy a chat with the author and illustrator, and get in on a special give-away, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, a blog that combines food and children’s books. While there, you’ll also find photos, a recipe, and get some insight into writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Jama’s Alphabet Soup:
http://jamarattigan.com/2012/10/18/chatting-about-the-goodbye-cancer-garden-with-janna-matthies-and-kristi-valiant-a-special-giveaway/

Janna Mathies blogsite: http://jannamatthies.blogspot.com/
Kristi Valiant’s website: http://kristivaliant.blogspot.com/

THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN by Janna Matthies, illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Albert Whitman & company, Chicago, IL 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8075-2994-2
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Indiana Author-Illustrator Brunch and Bookfair

Children's authors and illustrators featured at the Bookfair

I attended a teriffic event for children's authors and illustrators in Carmel, Indiana on Saturday. The event honored Indiana children's authors and illustrators, and was the first event ever sponsored by Indiana SCBWI to honor PAL members. PAL stands for 'Published and Listed,' meaning books released by trade publishers.

Featured were fifteen Indiana authors and illustrators with books for children published in the past three years.

The morning began with a brunch at Bubs Burgers & Ice Cream, and yes, they serve breakfast foods. It was a great opportunity to chat with the others there, and the food was great. After breakfast, each of the featured authors or illustrators introduced themselves and said a few words about their latest book. The morning closed with Saundra Mitchell, who talked about online marketing, something that those with published books need to at least be aware of in today's digital times.

In the afternoon, B&N in Carmel teamed up with SCBWI to host a Children's Author & Illustrator Bookfair, with booksigning and panel discussions. Authors and illustrators were there to meet with patrons, autograph their books, and answer questions.

The afternoon began with two panels featuring Middle Grade and Young Adult authors. The authors shared information about their craft and answered questions.

At 1:00 pm it was time for the picture book crowd. Children's author Janna Mathies opened the first panel by leading a sing-along with a song that she had written about books and where they take us. Picture book authors then talked about their books, their craft, and answered questions about writing for children.

Lynn Rowe Reed, author and illustrator, kicked off the second panel with an illustration demonstration, followed by authors and illustrators who offered insight into writing and illustrating for children.

The afternoon was a great success. I loved meeting and talking with visitors to the bookstore as well as the friendly staff there. It's so rewarding to see so many people who stopped in for the bookfair. Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to be a part of the event, and those who helped bring it to life.  Read More 
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Family Book Basket

I believe the Christmas season brings out the best in people, and there are always those who stand out among the rest for their generosity. The Belles of St. Mary's Church in Kouts, Indiana raffled off themed gift baskets once again this year in early December as a fund raiser. One of the baskets was a Family Book Basket. The books included in the basket would be a prize by themselves, but what made this one so special were the books that were donated and autographed by the authors and illustrators. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the following authors and illustrators, as well as a children's book reviewer and a bookseller, who very kindly donated books for the basket.

Nathan Clement, author and illustrator, for his picture book, DRIVE published by Front Street/Boyds Mills Press. Find out more about Nathan, including his up-coming book, at his website, http://stickman-studio.com/.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, author, for her picture book, GRANDPA LOVES, published by HarperCollins. Visit Rebecca and her books on her website at http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com/.

Esther Hershenhorn, author, for her picture book, THERE GOES LOWELL’S PARTY!, published by Holiday House. You can find Esther and view her books on her website at http://www.estherhershenhorn.com/lucky.html.

Kristi Valiant, author and illustrator, for the following chapter books which she illustrated and that accompany the Our Generation dolls: THE MYSTERY OF THE VANISHING COIN and THE ADVENTURES AT SHELBY STABLES. Find Kristi and more about her books at http://www.kristivaliant.com/.

Mary Harris Russell, children's book reviewer, who donated several picture books which she recently reviewed for the Chicago Tribune. See http://articles.dailypress.com/2002-12-24/news/0212240020_1_eric-carle-sloth-jack-prelutsky.

And finally, Darlene McDonald of Barnes & Noble in Valparaiso, who donated several books for different ages to the book basket. Find out what's happening at B&N in Valpo at http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2138.

One of the un-anticipated pleasures of writing for children has been meeting the many wonderful people in the world of children's books. And that alone is its own reward.  Read More 
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Focus on the Picture Book in Indiana

An inspiring conference for children's writers and illustrators was presented by Indiana SCBWI this past Saturday at the offices of Children's Better Health Institute (CBHI) in Indianapolis. CBHI was a wonderful host--special thanks Read More 
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