By reading Kerri Kokias’ engaging website (check it out here), I discovered that she has held many jobs, from nanny to ice cream server to social science researcher. For the record, I am very glad she has added picture book author to that list! Join me in celebrating her debut picture book, Snow Sisters! (Knopf/Random House), illustrated by Teagan White.
When I first started writing for children I thought that I could easily get a book published within a couple of years. My daughter would be three by that time and she would sit on my lap as her friends scampered around at my book events. Now that my debut picture book, Snow Sisters! is out, my daughter is not cooperating with my fantasy. She is thirteen and too big to sit on my lap; as is her nine-year-old brother whom I hadn’t yet conceptualized when I first started dreaming of being a published author. So, writing (for me) is harder than it looks.
I had a lot more than I realized to learn about craft. About developing characters, and plot, and word choice, and letting the words and illustrations work together to tell the complete story. But I’ve also learned a few unexpected lessons. Like, how to be vulnerable and open to critique and rejection. Like, when I need to take control of my career and when I need to relinquish control. And like, what a true privilege it is to write for kids.
I have worked hard. I don’t mean to minimize that. But, I also have a supportive family who respect what I want to do and provide both moral and financial support allowing me to do it. I have encouraging friends. I have a strong writing community- people who generously share their knowledge and bolster each other up. I had an agent willing to find a home for a debut story, an editor willing to take a risk on one, and an illustrator who could bring it to life. Snow Sisters! is about independence and connection, and I’m well aware that I could not have gotten published on my own. Through the journey to publication I found my people!
In a few weeks I’ll have the opportunity to teach my daughter’s eighth grade class how to lead a story time and they will go forth and read, Snow Sisters! with the younger kids at their school- including my son’s class. It’s not what I first envisioned, but it’s just as sweet. Maybe one of the preschoolers will crawl into my daughter’s lap and I can snap a picture. Maybe I won’t even be there. Either way, I’m grateful to be just beginning what will hopefully be a long career as an author. I’m eager to see what else I have to learn.
Snow Sisters! (Knopf/Random House, 2018) is the story of two sisters who enjoy a snow day in their own unique ways. The two sister’s stories are told in parallel, with the first sister’s story presenting itself on the left panel of each spread, and the second sister’s story unfolding on the right. The two sisters’ stories are told with the same words, only in opposite order. The book is driven by Teagan White’s sweetly detailed illustrations. My greatest hope for this book is that it will find its people.
Kerri Kokias credits most of her story ideas to her “fly on the wall” personality. This means she’s both a keen observer of social interactions and a nosey eavesdropper. Kerri lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two children, and three dogs. Learn more at https://www.kerrikokias.com, or connect on Facebook or Twitter @KerriKokias.
Learn more about Teagan White at, https://www.tinymothstudios.com, or connect on Twitter or Instagram @tinymothstudios.
Thanks for sharing! I love the idea of teaching older students how to do story time with the younger ones! Congratulations on your first book. It sounds wonderful. May there be many more!