Thank you Maria Gianferrai for including Kid Lit Frenzy in your Blog Tour for Penny & Jelly: The School Show. My niece and I really enjoyed the book. Also, thank you for answering some of her questions as part of your stop.
KK to Maria: How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Maria: Penny and Jelly was literally inspired by my daughter, Anya, and her dog sister, Becca. Anya’s very artistic and creative, like Penny, and as an only child, Becca has been her best friend and playmate. We adopted Becca as a rescue when Anya was 4 (now she’s 13), so they’ve grown up together. Here’s an early cute picture of them together.
KK: What inspired you to become a writer?
Maria: I don’t think I was really inspired. In a way it chose me. I’ve always loved expressing my ideas in words, but I was initially afraid of failing at it—I liked the idea of being a writer, but it took awhile to actually commit to the hard work of day-to-day writing, and all of the rejections that are involved in wanting to become a published one. But, I persisted and persevered, and I’m proud of myself that I didn’t give up when I easily could have.
KK: Did you ever participate in a Talent Show in school and what did you do for the talent show? If so, were you successful?
Maria: I’ve never participated in any kind of public talent show. I was quite shy as a child (still am), so I definitely would not have enjoyed it. When I was a kid, we used to make up plays and perform in our garage for our friends and neighbors. We also used to do a holiday play at one of our neighbor’s houses for our parents. It was a lot of fun to pretend, and it was a more comfortable environment.
KK: Will there be any more Penny & Jelly stories? And are you working on any other books that you can tell us about?
Maria: Yes! A second book, PENNY & JELLY SLUMBER UNDER THE STARS, is slated for release in June 2016. See if you can find the character that illustrator Thyra Heder modeled after me. I just love Thyra’s expressive illustration style. It has such warmth and humor.
I’m working on several different fiction and nonfiction picture book manuscripts at the moment. The one I’m currently having the most fun with is a nonfiction book about rats called RAT-tastic!
This is a photo of our rat sisters, Lucia and Nera (Lucia is white, Nera is black). Nera died on Christmas day last year which made it impossible to celebrate.
And this is our first pet rat, Sky.
We really miss Nera and Sky. Rats are very sweet and affectionate creatures, and they make great pets.
Thanks Maria for letting us also chat with Penny.
KK to Penny: What are you plans for the summer break? And do you have any books that you are looking forward to reading?
Penny: Lots of swimming in the lake with Jelly and my friends. Playing in my treehouse and catching frogs and fireflies and butterflies (don’t worry, I always let them go).
I love to read! I want to read the new biography on Jane Goodall called Untamed, and the new Penderwicks book. And Jelly keeps asking me to read his favorite picture book, Gaston.
KK: I really like doing gymnastics. Do you have any favorite sports?
Penny: I like to play soccer—it’s fun!
KK: What kinds of things do you like doing with your friends?
Penny: We like to play games outside, like hopscotch and tag. We also like to climb trees.
**Penny has a question for KK: Is KK your nickname? What does it stand for? Penny’s my nickname, but my real name is Penelope. But Jelly is just Jelly.
KK: KK is a nickname and stands for my first and middle initials. My first name is Kayla but everyone at home calls me KK.
Thanks for interviewing us, KK & Alyson! ~Penny & Maria
Hey Maria, This is Alyson. Guess what?! I saw on your website that you grew up in Keene, New Hampshire. What a small world since I went to college at Keene State College.
About the author: Maria writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with dog, Becca as her muse. Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, will be released on July 7th, 2015 (HMH Books for Young Readers). A second Penny & Jelly book titled, Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, will be released in June 2016. Maria has five additional books forthcoming from Roaring Brook and Boyds Mills Presses as well as Aladdin Books for Young Readers in the coming years. To learn more about Maria, visit her website: www.mariagianferrari.com or on facebook.
And you can visit Penny & Jelly at their website: pennyandjelly.com, and on Instagram: @pennyandjelly.
Check these blogs for more fun with Maria, Penny, and Jelly:
Friday, June 26th: Kidlit411/Sylvia Liu & Elaine Kiely Kearns
Monday, June 29th: Miss Marple’s Musings/Joanna Marple
Tuesday, June 30th: Pragmatic Mom/Mia Wenjen
Wednesday, July 1st: Watch Connect Read/Mr. Schu
Thursday, July 2nd: Kidlitfrenzy/Alyson Beecher
Friday, July 3rd: Writing for Kids While Raising Them/Tara Lazar
Monday, July 6th – Friday, July 10th: Emu’s Debuts virtual book week launch
Monday, July 13th: Bildebok/Cathy Ballou Mealey
Tuesday, July 14th: HMH Picture Book Parade
Enter to win a copy of PENNY AND JELLY by completing the rafflecopter below. Winners must be 13 years or older and have a US mailing address.