Erica Perl and I bonded over yogurt. Passionfruit, to be precise. Evidently yogurt is quite the predictor of whether two book creators will be copacetic as we have been good friends for a good long while. I admire many things about Erica’s writing, including her humor, warmth and respect of her characters. Even when they are doing goofy things like pretending gallon juice containers are pets, she is never laughing at them. Only with them. And crying with them at times, too. I am so pleased she is my guest today because you will fall in love with Arnold and Louise, two woodland buddies who are as different as chalk and cheese but love each other all the same. The Great Louzee and Lost and Found (both Penguin Workshop) are the first two titles in a brand new series that I predict will have a lovely long life.
I would be happy to give away two signed copies of each of the first two books (so two winners could each win a set of two books). Let me know when you have selected winners. Continental US only, please – much as Louise would love to travel farther, my postage budget requires this!
Kirby! Thanks so much for inviting me over to introduce Arnold and Louise (Penguin). This is a new series of early chapter books about the friendship between Arnold, a bear, and Louise, a chipmunk.
In the first book, The Great Louweezie, Louise announces that she can see the future. Arnold is reluctant to risk his lucky marble to find out if Louise is right. In the second book, Lost and Found, Arnold lends Louise a treasure… even though he knows that Louise often loses things. Each story is told in five chapters, with wonderful illustrations by Chris Chatterton. Both books will be available on January 22, 2019. And if you want more Arnold and Louise, guess what? Two more books are coming soon!
I first wrote about these characters many years ago. I mention this because I find that kids often think authors write books, then immediately get them printed… because they came out perfect the first time.
Ha! I say. Ha ha ha ha ha ha HA!
The truth is, the Arnold and Louise books took over ten years, and more than fifty drafts! During that time, I changed the characters’ names and I even changed what kinds of animals they were. I rewrote them as picture books, then as early readers without chapters, then as early chapter books. I even tried to rhyme them – that definitely didn’t work! There were a lot of cross-outs, crumple-ups, and failed attempts… all of which led to making Arnold and Louise the best books they could possibly be.
Some things stayed the same throughout, like Louise’s playfulness, bossiness, and refusal to acknowledge that not everyone sees the world as she does. Arnold’s basic personality (which is mostly calm and patient, despite his patience being tested regularly by Louise) also stayed consistent through many revisions. I find that when I am revising, figuring out what I want to keep is as important as figuring out what I need to toss.
I was thrilled when Chris Chatterton signed on to illustrate. I’m a huge fan of his work, which has a charming and classic feel that’s perfect for these books. He also has a true gift for creating facial expressions. That helps readers see that even when Louise is making things challenging for Arnold, it is never done maliciously.
Finally, I should mention that the first book was inspired by – and is dedicated to the memory of – my dear friend, Billy Greene. As a child, Billy wanted to be a magician. He even printed up cards, one of which I keep by my desk, identifying himself as BILLGREENI. I vowed to bring his dream to life in a book. Louise jumped at the chance to take on this important role.
I couldn’t be more excited to see these books in kids’ hands. I hope readers see themselves in Louise’s inventive and impulsive nature, in Arnold’s kind and generous spirit, and in the special bond these two unlikely friends share.
Erica S. Perl is the author of many popular and critically acclaimed books for young readers. Her novels include All Three Stooges, When Life Gives You O.J. (Sydney Taylor Notable Award, Amazon Best Book of the Month, P.J. Our Way selection), Aces Wild (NPR Best Books of the Year, P.J. Our Way selection) and The Capybara Conspiracy: A Novel in Three Acts. Erica’s picture books include Chicken Butt!, Goatilocks and the Three Bears, and Ferocious Fluffity. She is a crowd-pleasing presenter at schools, libraries, and community events. Erica honed her skills working as a trial lawyer in New York City, and, before that, studying theater and driving an ice cream truck. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, daughters, and dogs. To learn more, visit
website and follow @ericaperl on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.