Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Raccoon's Perfect Snowman: A Picture Book Review, A Giveaway, AND an Author Interview!

 Congratulations to Jana Leah who won T is for Thor from last week's blog.

Today I'm happy to share a new picture book by author/illustrator, Katia Wish. Raccoon's Perfect Snowman (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020) will delight the young reader in your life even as it communicates an important message.


Raccoon was very serious about building snowmen.

He practiced rolling, stacking, and decorating and knew that his friends would want his help making their snowmen.


But things didn't go as Raccoon expected. 

 Raccoon took out all of his snowman-building tools.


When it was time to decorate their snowmen, Mouse wasn't left with much to choose from. 

Raccoon loved his snowman but was very disappointed in what his friends' produced. None of them got it right! With shoulders slumped, Rabbitt, Fox, and Mouse left him alone... and miserable.

Before they were out of sight, Raccoon called them back. He had an idea for a truly perfect snowman. Working together,  they used whatever snow they found, stacked it however they wanted to and lastly, Raccoon told them, 

The new snowman wasn't very clean.

It didn't stand up straight.

And the decorations didn't match.

But it was perfect



CAROL: What role does SCBWI have in your life as a writer/illustrator?

KATIA: SCBWI is huge! All of my contacts, connections, classes, critique groups, and knowledge came from SCBWI. With every new workshop and conference, I gained more and more understanding of what I needed to do to develop my portfolio and improve my writing. 

CAROLHow did winning the 2011 Tomie DePaola Award affect your career? 

KATIA: Winning the 2011 Tomie DePaola Award so early in my career was amazing. Art directors and editors respect and appreciate Tomie’s work so much, so his recognition meant a stamp of approval for my work. Industry professionals noticed and started to pay close attention to the development of my work. It gave me confidence and encouragement to continue working on my illustrations and dummies.

CAROL: What gave you the idea for the story?

KATIA: The book is about friendship and rethinking what “perfect” means. The book is about my childhood memories of building a snowman. It’s such a sensory experience: how the snow changes color in the light, the warmth of the hat, the coldness of the snow, the sounds of the wind, the crunchiness of the snow.

CAROL: What was your publishing journey?
KATIA: When you start from a character, it’s quite a challenging experience. You try different stories on, try different directions. What you are doing at that stage is not developing the story yet, but getting to know your character.

This is something my wonderful agent coached me on through all the years I have worked with him. If the story comes from the character, the character is strong, alive, and believable. It doesn’t matter what kind of story the character will live in, it will still be true and relatable and honest.

We went through many many many drafts getting closer to the heart of the story. The first 5-7 drafts were not even close to the final book at all! But with each draft, the true character was revealed.

It’s an exhausting experience to build stories this way, but it’s worth it. If the story relies on one joke or one trick, it will not have re-readability.

When we were ready to submit, we found a great publisher for the story – Sleeping Bear Press. The editor and art director had more suggestions on how to improve the story and the artwork. They came up with the most brilliant solution to the ending of the book. Even though their solution was so obvious and so undeniably best, I didn’t see that solution even through so many drafts of the story. The fresh set of eyes makes a difference for any creative project or any situation in life!

CAROL: What medium did you use and why did you choose that particular medium? 

KATIA: At this point, I work primarily with watercolor and pencil. I start with idea generation, loose doodles, color studies. 

Then I transfer the sketch on watercolor paper and have a lot of washes and build up layers in watercolor. Things still look very ambiguous and not promising. So I have to stay in this uncomfortable stage for a very long time. 

But then in the last 20% of the process, I start adding linework and everything comes to life - characters’ expressions, details, depth. It’s sort of magic how things transform. 


I'm happy to give away this book to one fortunate reader. Please leave me a comment with your email address if you are new to my blog. A winner will be drawn after 6 PM on November 13. 


I've been playing with Lumen 5 and creating short videos for the books I review. Here's the one for Racoon's Perfect Snowman.


Danielle H. said...

We love to build snow people here and find pinecones, sticks, even grasses to decorate them. Thank you for the interview and chance to win a copy to read and share.

Susan said...

Another cute book! My grandson was just asking questions the other day about raccoons!

Cathy Ogren said...

Great interview and the book looks adorable. We love making snowmen and snowwomen!

Carol Gwin Nelson said...

What a fun book and interesting publication journey. This is a great book for all the little perfectionists I know!

Rosie Russell said...

What a cute book!
I enjoyed learning the process from start to finished.
Thanks for sharing, Carol.
Best wishes to, Katia on her new book.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks Danielle, Rosie, Carol, Cathy, and Susan. YOur names go on the list!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Makes me ready for a snowy day! Congratulations, Katia!

Jana Leah B said...

Oh this story looks adorable & so fun. I know my nephew will enjoy it.
turtle6422 at gmail dot com

Sandra Warren said...

Love the story and the illustrations. It brings back memories of building snowmen with my girls. Great review Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Sandra. You're in!

Unknown said...

I absolutely love the illustrations!!
thanks for including me!
Hewi Mason

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for signing your name, Hewi. Yes, the illustrations are terrific!

rowanhistorylady said...

What a lovely picture book. I am so impressed with the story and the illustrations. Theresa Pierce

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Theresa! Your comment doesn’t show up immediately. I have to approve it. Glad to see your comment! You’re in the giveaway!

Debbie Allmand said...

WOW what a great review and lovely video. Growing up in southern Louisiana building snowmen wasn't something we did often. Snow rarely fell but when it did we made miniature snowmen. Lovely look at a delightful picture book.

Carol Baldwin said...

No snow in Louisiana, Debbie? You need books about it then!

KATIA WISH said...

Thank you so much everyone for kind and supportive words! It means a world to me. Let's enjoy the next winter with all the snow and snow creatures!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
What an adorable book! LOVE IT!
Thanks for sharing it with us!

Never Give Up!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joan. Your name is in the drawing!

Rosi said...

What a fun book. The illustrations are really cute. I don't think I ever built a perfect snowman. Mine were always a little lumpy. Thanks for telling me about this book. I will check it out.

Barbara Younger said...

Ah. What a sweet and festive idea for a winter picture book. I'd love to win a copy. Thanks for the giveaway!

Carol Baldwin said...

YOu're in, barbara!

Vijaya said...

i'm late to the party but a huge congratulations to katia. the snowman is adorable and i loved knowing the story behind it.

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