Today, I have the honor and delight to introduce a fellow Matthews, North Carolina writer, Michelle Nott. Michelle is celebrating the publication of her debut picture book, Teddy, Let's Go (Enchanted Lion Books: December 2022). After the review, make sure you read my interviews with Michelle and Nahid Kazemi, the illustrator. It'll make you want to pass this sweet multi-generational book along to your child or grandchild.
I have reviewed hundreds of picture books, but I can't remember any that open with three wordless pages. These pages depict Teddy's "birth."
Here is one of the spreads:
Following these sewing scenes, the reader meets Teddy's creator. "The wavy-haired woman with love in her eyes pulled me close and whispered in my ear."
Teddy "floats" into his new home and is introduced to his owner. "This...is Teddy," the wavy-haired lady says.
A nose as small as mine rubbed against my cheek.
We were made for each other.
Teddy goes everywhere with the little girl. They eat mushy vegetables together and both need a bath. They celebrate their first birthday with cake and party hats. When she begins to talk, Teddy names her.
|She soon had a name for everything. "Here's my Rabbit and my Giraffe |
and my Teddy and my...my...my."
So I called her by her favorite word: My.
No matter what they did together, Teddy always listened for his name and knew what would come next, Teddy, let's go."
My grows up and...
|One summer, I climbed into My's backpack |
and we rode a bus to camp.
Teddy was often left behind in the cabin (which he guarded) and tried to figure out what he was supposed to do next. He watched and the screen door sprung open, and laughter blew in. (I had to include that line because I love it!)
Teddy and My return home after camp and Teddy hiked to the top of her dresser.
After their seventh birthday when "Teddy whispered happy dreams in her ear," he felt something different. Days and nights passed. He listened. Then one day, A small voice cried. My went still. I stretched out my arms and legs so My would know I was still there.
My scrubs Teddy and sews some loose stuffing back inside of him. Then she says, "Teddy, let's go!" She closes one door and opens another.
|"This," she said ,"is Teddy."|
I floated down to our first bed and to a new baby. This was our moment.
I listened...and whispered happy dreams in his ear.
I love so much about this sparsely written and beautifully illustrated picture book. I love how the author brings the story full circle in the same way that Bevan, A Well-Loved Bear did. I love Michelle's lyrical language, her use of repetition, and the threads that connect the grandmother to her granddaughter and then connect My to her baby brother. And as a daughter who learned to sew on my mother's Singer sewing machine and has made her share of stuffed animals and pillows with my own daughters and granddaughters... I love how My sews up Teddy just like her grandma.
As a special treat, you are going to hear how both Michelle and Nahid drew from their own childhood experiences to write and illustrate Teddy. AND you'll also hear how their vision for the wordless pages was exactly the same without ever consulting with one another.
Carol: What was the inspiration for Teddy, Let's Go!
Carol: What was your path to publication?
Michelle: As mentioned, the idea for this story occurred when my children were quite young. At first, I wrote it as a bedtime story for them. Once I discovered SCBWI and CBI, I revised and shaped it in hopes of publication. After querying it for a couple years, I often read that it was lovely but "too quiet." So, I put it away.
Fast forward to my daughters in high school, I queried Essie White with a middle grade novel who really liked my writing and asked if I also wrote picture books. I sent her three --two that were more commercial and Teddy Let's Go! She signed me for Teddy. A couple years later, she sold the manuscript to Enchanted Lion Books with Nahid Kazemi as the illustrator. I could not have been more thrilled!
In a very early draft, I had paragraphs describing the grandmother sewing and stitching Teddy together. All that description was lovely for an oral story at bedtime, but entirely too much for a book. Nor would it be necessary. I cut it all before submitting it to agents. I didn't even add an illustration note. And then, I saw the PDF of the final art by Nahid. She had brilliantly illustrated in the first wordless spreads just what I had imagined in my head.
PREORDER! AUTHOR SIGNING!
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, you help authors when you preorder their books. You can find Teddy, Let's Go at your local bookstore or here and here.
If you live anywhere near Charlotte, NC, come meet Michelle and purchase a copy of her book at Park Road Books on November 19.
“Teddy, Let’s Go” is a perfect second baby gift. I love the heartfelt wordless opening pages. Congratulations on this bundle of joy.
You're right, Joyce! I need your email address to enter you in the giveaway.
Such a sweet story. The illustrations look amazing! Thanks for the post.
“Teddy, Let’s Go” sounds and looks lovely! And, yes, I do have a new grand baby expected Dec. 4th with my daughter and son-in-law and they have an almost 2 year old little boy that would love this book! Congratulations. I can’t wait to see it in person - that is the book and the baby! We don’t know if a boy or girl.
Thank you, Barb. Your name starts the list--twice!! And congratulations in advance!
I love my teddy bear still and it travels with me on road-trip vacations. This story melts my bear-loving heart. Congratulations to the author and illustrator for a beautiful book many parents/grandparents will enjoy sharing over and over.
I LOVE the fact that your teddy bear travels with you, Danielle! You would love this book.
This book looks so cute! In addition to being a librarian, I am a mother to a 4 and 5 year old! And they have to sleep with their bears every night (along with a million other stuffed animals, but the bears are the most special to them). They would love this.
Thank you, Emily. Your name goes in twice! I have granddaughters who also sleep with a million animals...
What a cute story! Our girls like Emily’s children thoroughly enjoy their stuffed animals. What started out as simply named animals like dog, puppy, bear are now getting other names. What always amazes me is how they rarely forget where they leave them and so can resonate with the story of restuffing the animals that develop a hole and start to get misshapen!
Whoever posted the last comment, THANK YOU! But i need your name and email address to enter you in the giveaway.
What a lovely origin story for Teddy! This looks wonderful!!
Thanks, Marci. It is!!
I think my little granddaughters would love this book. They love the great big teddy bear that sits on my bed! (that was given to me by my daughter)
I bet they would! Thanks for commenting- your name goes in twice, Brenda!
This one brought tears to my eyes. We have passed down many well-loved items in my family. My little brother had a stuffed chimp, which he gave to my kids when they were small. When they outgrew him, I replaced a torn ear and filled him with some new stuffing, stitched him up, and presented him to my brother on his birthday. That brother just turned 70, but his chimp still sits in a special place in his home.
Thanks, Kathy. You would love this book. Since you're a mama--(and most likely grandma) you go in twice!
Would love to share this book with a couple of grandchildren I know and love. Thanks for the opportunity
Gwen, I was thinking of how much you would love this book! You're in twice since you're a grandma!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful book with us. The story and the illustrations are delightful!
You're welcome, Esther. Your name goes in twice--you're a mama too!
The picture of the sewing of the bear drew me in as I sew and have made a few dolls anD animals over the years. It was interesting to learn of the illustrator’s methods.
YOu're in twice, Granny Jo!
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