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Preorder WHEN PB MET J = get special swag!

My peanut butter & jelly origin story, illustrated by Sesame Street artist Sarah Rebar, will be out January 17th, 2023 from Penguin Random House! West Side Story meets a world of kitchen condiments in WHEN PB MET J: The Best Friendship Since Sliced Bread. Available just in time for Valentine’s Day, this is a story to share with your bestie, your sweetie, or your favorite kiddo.

If you pre-order now at the link below (or anywhere else books are sold) please let me know (on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook)! I’ll send you some custom swag as a thank you for your support ;-).

For now, I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at our Friday Night Jam spread:

‘Poo-Dunit? A Forest Floor Mystery’ out June 7th from Candlewick!

All preorders for my books are eligible for a signed bookplate, postcard, and sticker. Just send your proof of purchase to katearonson (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you in advance for your support!

Here’s a group buy link for all kinds of booksellers offering Poo-Dunit? A Forest Floor Mystery, out from Candlewick on June 7th, 2022:

Free Printable Piglette Valentine!

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or Palentine’s, Piglette and I are sending you lots of love this February 14th ❣️ So here is a free printable valentine card made just for you by illustrator Eva Byrne. Download it & give it to someone you love (or like extremely well). xoxo??

Clovis Keeps His Cool is (Almost) Here!

The long-awaited story behind the proverbial bull in the china shop is here, illustrated by Eve Farb and releasing from Page Street Kids on August 17th, 2021.

Your pre-order would be so appreciated, and I’d be happy to send you a little “thank you” in the mail–Simply contact me with your proof of purchase at: katearonson (at) gmail (dot) com. You can purchase CLOVIS and support your favorite indie bookstore at the same time using either of the following links:

P.B. Tweak Critique Services

P.B. Tweak! Critiques in A Week

I have had a private critique service for years but only advertised it on rare occasions. Mostly, clients just found me by word-of-mouth, but now that I have eight books in the picture book pipeline, I’ve decided to announce it publicly: I offer custom pitches as well as query letter and picture book manuscript critiques! Check the list of my offerings and prices under my Services.

What you get when you purchase a P.B. Tweak from me:

The turnaround time for a critique is one week or less. I read your story, then take two days to mull it over in my mind. I sit down with your manuscript, add in-line comments throughout, and then write you a one-page personal letter on the strengths, weaknesses, marketability and potential for improvement that I see in your manuscript. This phase takes me a minimum of two hours, as I try to get a vision for all that your project can be, and formulate some concrete suggestions on how to get it there.

My specialty:

My specialty is character-driven narrative fiction and my own picture books run the gamut between commercial and literary, including quiet and lyrical as well as humorous, pun-filled and even rhyming texts. I will not personally offer non-fiction critiquing until I’ve published a non-fiction manuscript. (I believe it’s important to show several real publishing credentials when we claim to know enough to be paid for a critique.) As I’m always publishing new genres, my critique offerings will broaden accordingly.

Client Testimonials

Visit my Instagram account @p.b.tweak to read my client testimonials.

Piglette 2: Due May 25, 2021!

This spring, I’ll be welcoming the scrumptious sequel to Piglette. In these books, I’ve sought to celebrate the senses, while also exploring questions of the heart.

While the first Piglette focused on fragrances and finding one’s place in the world, Piglette’s Perfect Surprise is all about flavor and patisseries (plus a look at striving versus simplicity–I may have been preaching to myself there). Eva Byrne’s luscious illustrations will have your mouth watering!

Authors’ careers are often determined by pre-orders these days, before their books even hit the shelves. That’s why I’d be so grateful for your pre-order, which makes future Piglettes a possibility. The book is available at any of the links below. Indiebound in particular supports your local bookshop, which could surely use the support at this time. Merci beaucoup! and please enjoy a sneak peak inside the book here.


Penguin Random House

Interview with Kristen Schroeder

Throughout 2020, I’m interviewing the new authors & illustrators of the group Perfect 2020 PBs. Today, the spotlight is shining on author Kristen Schroeder (who happens to be an agency sister of mine at McIntosh & Otis). Her debut picture book, Alien Tomatoillustrated by Mette Engell, just released from Page Street Kids on July 14th, and it’s a beauty!

Welcome, Kristen!


Lovely to have you! Now, this is one intriguing title. What is Alien Tomato about?

Thanks for having me, Katelyn! Alien Tomato is the story of a mysterious red sphere that lands in a vegetable garden. The veggies are convinced it’s an alien tomato and treat it like royalty, but the cantankerous gopher is skeptical.

The illustrations are so well-suited to your story with their vibrant colors and expressive characters.

Yes! I’m so excited and honored that Mette Engell has brought ALIEN TOMATO to life. I’m in love with her art!

I have to ask…Where in the world did the idea for this book come from?

My daughter was about 11 years old at the time and blurted out the words, « alien tomato ». « What did you say ? » She just laughed and didn’t even know why she said it. I started thinking about whether I could write a picture book about an alien tomato, and the kernel of the book idea came to me.

Ha! Too funny. Tell us about the book’s journey to publication. How long have you been pursuing this dream?

I started writing picture books in 2013, when my youngest child started first grade and I had a little more time to write. I joined the 12×12 community in 2014, which helped me navigate and understand the industry. In 2015, I got a gold membership and started submitting to agents. Although I didn’t get my agent through 12×12, I do credit 12×12 with helping me have the confidence to submit more widely. I am a #pitmad success story. I received two offers of representation in late 2015. And then…it took three long years to sell my first book. My son will be entering eighth grade in the fall, so it’s been a seven year journey, so far !

It IS such a long road, but you hung in there and triumphed. Looking back, can you describe a pivotal moment in your career? Maybe “The Call ”or “The Email” or whatever moment you knew that your dreams were about to come true?

The pivotal moment for me was when my agent, Christa Heschke, told me we had an offer for ALIEN TOMATO. We had come close several times, with ALIEN TOMATO and other manuscripts being considered by editors or going to acquisitions meetings. So it wasn’t until we had an actual offer that I felt being a published author was going to happen for me.

You mentioned starting to write once your youngest began school. Had you ever dreamed of becoming an author before adulthood? And what other fields have you worked in professionally?

I was a huge reader growing up, but I didn’t really see myself as a writer or even enjoy writing until I was much older. I tried writing as a hobby on and off for about ten years, entering a few short story contests and trying to write a mystery once. I have a Bachelor’s degree in business and MBA degree and I still run my own business in Australia. When I discovered writing for children, it seemed to click for me, and I decided to pursue writing more seriously.

What are your preferred genres and target audiences?

Humorous picture books are my favorite to read and write, so the majority of my manuscripts would fall into this category. I recently received a rejection on two manuscripts for being « too quirky » which I took as a compliment, However, my second and third books would not be described as humorous. FREDDY THE NOT-TEDDY, published by EK Books, is a story about embracing differences and staying true to yourself. SO MUCH SNOW comes out in fall 2022 with Random House Studios  and could be described as a lyrical read-aloud with some rhyme. I’m so glad I stretched myself creatively to try new things.

What does a typical day in your life look like? 

I live the glamorous life of a parent/business owner/writer. Get kids off to school. Answer emails for my business. Reward myself with writing time. Do household chores. Check social media. Repeat until carpool time.

How do you continue to feed your creativity?

Staying connected with 12×12 members, critique partners, and the writing community keeps me motivated. Attending SCBWI conferences is also a great way to fire up the creativity. I was registered to attend the NE SCWI conference for the second time (I’m hoping this chapter will adopt me – they put on a great conference !) but it was cancelled due to Covid-19. In the meantime, a lot of great online content is available, including webinars.

What advice would you offer other creatives?

We are not machines. Creative people tend to work in bursts, and that’s okay. Embrace the creative wave when it hits and ride that wave ! If you are in a slump, don’t worry, don’t stress and don’t force it. You will find your creative mojo again.

Amen to that! Now that your dream of publishing your very first picture book has come true, what’s next? What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Keep writing and keep selling more books ! My next two books don’t come out until 2022, so I’m hoping to hold a delayed launch event for ALIEN TOMATO in 2021, if possible. I’ll keep celebrating my début as long as I can ! (Starting with these cookies made by a local baker : How Sweet It Is Desserts. I dropped some off for local friends and neighbors who pre-ordered ALIEN TOMATO. They were almost too cute to eat !)


Yum! Those cookies look amazing! Do you have any virtual events coming up, where readers can “meet” you?

I’m doing some virtual storytimes on Instagram, so that will have to suffice for now. Follow me on Instagram at @klschroeder for details, or drop by and say hi anywhere on social media:

Twitter: @KLSchroed

Author FB Page:


Thank you so much, Kristen. Congratulations on Alien Tomato, which I know is going to be a hit!


So many author events and book launches have been cancelled due to the current pandemic. Help Kristen Schroeder today by ordering her new book at any of the links below. (IndieBound helps you order directly from your local independent bookstore, which could surely use the support as well!) 

cover art

Interview with Skylaar Amann

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 is a special day! Author-illustrator Skylaar Amann’s debut picture book, Lloyd Finds His Whalesong, splashes onto the kidlit scene today, hot off the presses of Page Street Kids. I love this book and am so happy to be chatting with its very talented creator.

Welcome, Skylaar! 

Skylaar Amann copy

Please, introduce us to your brand new book baby!

Thanks! Lloyd Finds His Whalesong is about Lloyd, a young humpback whale, who can’t sing. His family’s whalesong guides the whales through danger and connects them to each other. But Lloyd is too quiet to join in. When Lloyd finds a magical, mysterious object with supersonic seaweed strings, it could be his chance to be part of the song. He practices and practices, nervously preparing to show the other whales. But before he can perform for them, a noisy disruption scatters the pod. Lloyd’s powerful new instrument may be the only thing that can reunite them—if he can find the courage to share his unique song.

What can you tell us about your journey to publication? How long have you been pursuing this dream?

Publishing was always something I was interested in, but I have only been working seriously toward it for the last six or seven years. I quickly realized I wanted to (and needed to) improve my illustration skills. While I was tinkering with picture book idea (including Lloyd), I was mainly taking classes focused on art and illustration fundamentals. I studied and worked long hours. It was weird to be a student again, producing work that I didn’t like, that wasn’t “Instagram worthy” and so on—but it changed the course of my work and life forever. Even though I’m still learning to be a better storyteller and illustrator, I finally felt like I could tackle the style of illustrations I wanted, and I revised Lloyd several more times.

Eventually I sent a promotional illustration postcard to Page Street Kids, and Kristen Nobles responded with a very nice email about my work. Soon after, I submitted Lloyd to her. I went through many (many, many, haha) drafts with Kristen and Courtney Burke, and eventually landed in a place where the story was solid, and I finally got that “yes.”

How wonderful! Your hard work has certainly paid off–the book is gorgeous. From what age did you consider yourself a writer-illustrator? What spurred you to pursue this path professionally? And have you worked in any other fields?

I wanted to write as far back as I can remember, even before I wanted to illustrate. I wrote tons of stories during elementary school that were bound and “published” for the school’s Author’s Tea Party, during which we read excerpts of our books to students and parents!

I studied fine art (drawing, printmaking, and bookbinding) in college along with creative writing. I made artist books and zines and published poetry for many years before refocusing my work back to my childhood dreams of writing and illustrating books for kids.

Professionally, I work as a corporate copy editor and freelance illustrator, and am working on expanding my work into online teaching and mentoring. I’m excited to be back for my second year as a picture book mentor for WriteMentor this spring.

What themes do you gravitate toward in your writing and illustrating? What are your preferred genres/target audiences and preferred media/art techniques?

My favorite subject in all media is the ocean. It is my life’s greatest inspiration and humanity’s lifeblood. I grew up on the rugged Oregon Coast, with the rocky shoreline, pounding waves, diverse tide pools, commercial fishing fleet, and marine science center practically in my backyard. That environment colored the way I think about and approach everything in life, from marine conservation to sustainable fishing to the poetics of the tide to our pressing climate emergency.

I like to create work that infuses real science and real creatures with emotion and narrative. That might look like a painting of a shark (with googly eyes) or a story about the amazing properties of humpback whale song (enhanced by a ukulele). When I’m not working on a project about the sea, I’m still usually drawing or writing about some aspect of nature, like the forest, or a specific animal, or the lifecycle of a tree.

How do you feed your creativity as an artist in order to keep the creation flowing? What do you do when you feel “stuck”?

Nature and the ocean definitely feed my creativity, but I live in the city right now, so a lot of my ideas come from walking around aimlessly and thinking and jotting down notes in my phone’s notes app. I often get an inkling of an idea and let it sit for a while (days, months, even years sometimes!) before I do anything with it. If I know it’s something I definitely want to work on but can’t figure out the story, I will sketch the characters or environments to help build the world. As great as inspiration and creativity are, routine is more important to me. If I treat my work like a job, it will become one. That means sitting down to work even when I don’t want to or can’t think of anything. If I’m really stuck, I’ll watch an online class or practice art fundamentals.

When I’m stuck with writing, I’ll print my draft and then edit with a pen. I’ve also developed some page layout templates that I can jot notes and doodles on to think in a fresh way. I find this works extremely well, (especially with pacing).

Great strategies. What other advice would you have for fellow creatives?

Figure out what your goal is and work toward that. If an opportunity pops up, evaluate it against your goal. If it won’t move you toward that goal, politely decline. There are so many distractions and pressures with social media, and tons of small projects that don’t pay or aren’t worth your time. Set your goal, believe in it and yourself, and work logically and pragmatically toward it.

Now, back to your debut, with that burning question: How did the idea of Lloyd Finds His Whalesong come to you? Do you remember your lightbulb moment?

My original title was something like “Lonely Lloyd and His Little Ukulele.” All I knew at that point was that the story was about a sad little whale who finds a ukulele. It was around the time I myself started learning to play the ukulele. I didn’t have an opportunity to pursue music education as a kid, so picking up the uke as an adult was a really moving experience for me. (I still can’t sing very well though, haha!)

As of today, your dream of publishing your very first picture book has come true! What’s next? What do you still hope to accomplish in the future?

My next steps are to find a literary agent who can help me continue along my publishing and illustration path. I would like to continue writing and illustrating picture books and hope to branch out into more illustration projects as well. I very much want to pursue novel writing as well and have been hard at work learning plot structure and pacing for the last few years. It definitely doesn’t come easy to me, but I am working hard at it and am excited to see where it goes!

What promotional events for do you have planned for Lloyd?

I will be doing some virtual events in July for Lloyd Finds His Whalesong.

– July 2 10 am eastern, reading on the Page Street Kids IG account
– July 14, 11 am pacific, reading for Green Bean Books on their FB page
– July 25, 11 am pacific, Powell’s via zoom webinar

Beyond that, the best way to stay up to date with my events is to sign up for my newsletter.

How can readers found out more about you and your work?

You can follow my illustrations on Instagram and chat with me about writing and ocean stuff over on Twitter! My website and illustration portfolio is at

Skylaar, thank you so much for being here with us today! Happy Book Birthday, and here’s to many more.


So many live author events and book launches have been impeded by the current pandemic. Help support author-illustrator Skylaar Amann today by ordering her book at any of the links below. 


Interview with Alexandra Thompson

Today, I have the HuGe pleasure of welcoming talented author/illustrator Alexandra Thompson. I’m already such a fan of her work, so I couldn’t be happier to celebrate the imminent release of her first picture book, A Family for Louie, releasing from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. 

Welcome, Alexandra!

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Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

Your debut picture book, A Family For Louie, is out June 9th. The cover is so charming! Tell us what this story’s about. 

Meet Louie. He’s a dog of very fine taste. He knows every chef in town, and each day he wanders the city, visiting his favorite restaurants. It’s a good life, except… Louie is all on his own. What Louie wants more than anything is a family.

But try as he might, Louie can’t seem to find a family that’s right for him. At the beach, he meets a little boy and his mother… but they’re eating green jello salad and sardine sandwiches (Louie’s least favorite foods!). At his favorite sushi restaurant, Louie spies a father and daughter with an open seat at their table… but their cat chases him away. At the park, he meets a nice family having a yummy barbecue, but when they invite him to play frisbee… Louie just can’t keep up. Where-oh-where will Louie find a just-right family of his very own?

Instantly endearing. So how did the idea of A Family For Louie come to you? Do you remember your lightbulb moment? 

When an art director was reviewing my portfolio at an SCBWI conference, she was really drawn to my illustration of a little bulldog eating a steak in a restaurant. She commented that he was a little foodie and asked what his name was. I didn’t have one at the time, but the name Louie popped into my head. His story started to form in my mind from that moment onward.

Love it! What can you tell us about your journey to publication? How long have you been pursuing this dream?

I have always wanted to illustrate children’s books, but it was something that I put on the back burner for years. In 2016 I took an online course (Make Art that Sells – Illustrating Children’s Books) to get the inside scoop on making picture books – I knew nothing about the business or where to start if I wanted to break into the industry. That course helped me build up a portfolio and during one of the instructional videos, I doodled Louie for the first time. He looked a lot different then!

After the course I joined SCBWI and went to their 2017 summer conference in LA.

I decided to go all in and splurged for the portfolio review – I just wanted someone that was in the industry to tell me if I was on the right track and what I needed to improve. I was super fortunate to have Lucy Ruth Cummins as my reviewer and she gave me some invaluable feedback. 

I ended up receiving the mentorship award at the conference, along with 5 other amazing artists. As part of the mentorship, we had our portfolios reviewed by 6 industry professionals, including my future art director, Cecilia Yung. This was huge! I left the conference with so many new friends, my head bursting with ideas and inspiration – not to sound sappy, but joining SCBWI was truly life-changing for me. I felt like I found my people!

One of the big takeaways from my critiques was that I had stories in my portfolio – develop them! So I did. Louie felt like he had the most direction, so I worked to get that dummy ready to send out to agents. My mentorship group turned into my critique group and was really critical in getting feedback and keeping me accountable for my book goals. 

During this time I was researching and compiling a list of about 5 agents that I felt would be a good fit for me. Right when I finished the dummy and just before I was about to start querying, I got an email from Hannah Mann at Writers House. The crazy thing? She was number one on my list of agents to query! I ended up signing with her and within a few months we sold Louie. It was nuts. 

Wow! So you were basically “discovered” before even querying? Magical! But also well-deserved. From what age did you consider yourself a writer &/or illustrator? What spurred you to pursue this path professionally? 

I have always considered myself an illustrator. Drawing has always been my number one passion. Although I used to write stories all the time growing up (which I was reminded of after rediscovering my old diaries), I never thought about being a writer until I won the mentorship at the 2017 SCBWI LA conference. I got a lot of feedback that there were stories in my illustrations and I should develop them.

Before picture books, I used to work in-house doing prints and graphics for children’s apparel. I actually went to school for Fashion Design. I ended up leaving and going full-time freelance, and I still do that kind of work on the side – although less and less as my schedule fills up with book work.

What do you like to write about/illustrate, in general? What are your preferred media and techniques?

I love animals, cozy scenes, nature. Anything magical and maybe a little spooky, but not scary.

Louie was done digitally and the next book I’m working on will be digital as well. I’ve been experimenting with mixed media in my spare time. I’m not confident enough to do a book that way yet, but I’d like to at some point!

What does a typical day in your life look like?

My schedule has been all over the place lately, but generally I get up around 730am, exercise, breakfast, and then head into the studio to work on whatever is on my plate until 1230. I’ll have lunch, work for another couple of hours and try to get out for a walk around 330pm. I usually finish up around 530. A lot of times I end up back in the studio after dinner and work until 830. 

What feeds your creativity as an artist? Or helps you out of that “funk”? (Hobbies? A certain routine? Comfort food/drink?)

Getting outside! Walking, hiking, wake surfing when it’s warm enough. I think it’s so important to get your body moving – not only for your physical health, but for your mental wellbeing. I also love to read, see a movie, go to museums – especially natural history museums! Of course, getting out has been limited with the pandemic. Virtual hangouts with friends and family and baking have been getting me through these strange times.

What tips would you offer to other creatives?

Set goals and break them down – set due dates. And draw..all the time. If you practice, you will improve. Lastly, find your creative community – whether that’s in real life or online. It’s so vital to have community, especially when you work in a field where you are often alone.

Your dream of publishing your very first picture book is about to come true! What’s next? What do you still hope to accomplish?

Woohoo! I still can’t believe it 😀 I’m currently working as an illustrator on a picture book, but I can’t share details on that yet! 

Louie was a 2-book deal, so I have another author/illustrator book that’s in the works.

I just want to keep doing this. I learned so much from making Louie, so I hope to continue improving my artwork and storytelling. 

Any promotional events we can look forward to meeting you at?

Covid-19 has, of course, turned the world on its head. Instead of an in-person book launch, I’ll be doing a virtual book launch. I’ll be going live on my Instagram channel on June 9th at 3pm EST! I’ll be reading A Family for Louie, followed by a Q&A. I hope to see you there!    

You can also browse through my work on my website,

and follow me on Instagram to see my day-to-day and arty things.

Also, the mentees have a blog with great information for anyone interested in illustrating books for children!

Wonderful! Thank you so much for spending time with us, Alexandra. Here’s wishing you plenty of success. I know little Louie will win many hearts!


So many author events and book launches have been cancelled due to the current pandemic. Help Alexandra Thompson today by ordering her new book at any of the links below. (IndieBound helps you order directly from your local independent bookstore, which could surely use the support as well!) 

A Family for Louie_jacket

Piglette is born!

At last, my book is out in the wild. Welcome, Piglette! Bienvenue au monde!

 This story was written and illustrated with such love.

If you’d be willing to request it at your library, purchase it from your indie bookshop, or order it online,

I’d be so grateful. May it bring you and your little ones many happy moments.

Merci beaucoup!

***Receive a FREE Piglette printable paper doll when you sign up for my mailing list here!***