Interview with BRAINSTORM! debut image guide writer Rebecca Gardyn Levington and illustrator Kate Kronreif

is a British illustrator and graphic designer who lives together with her household in Vienna, Austria. Brainstorm! is her third image guide. You’ll find out extra about Kate at and on Instagram at @kate.kronreif.


BRAINSTORM! is a rhyming idea image guide that begins with a bit woman sitting in a classroom, annoyed as a result of she will be able to’t consider something to write down about. As she stares on the storm brewing outdoors – kerplink! – a tiny thought falls from the sky. The woman regularly finds herself engulfed in a whirlwind of phrases, photos, and concepts swirling throughout her, finally turning into caught up in a cheerful downpour of her personal creativity.

BRAINSTORM! is focused to kids in grades Okay-3, who’re starting to learn to form and sharpen their idea-generation and storytelling abilities. The again matter contains writing prompts (“Cloudy With A Probability of Concepts!”) in addition to a glossary (“A Twister of Terminology”) that oldsters and educators can use to encourage youngsters to have enjoyable taking part in with their concepts.

Rebecca: It was a darkish and stormy night time… (no, critically it was!) and I used to be having a horrible bout of author’s block when — BAM! — I appeared out my window on the storm brewing outdoors and puzzled: Hmmm….what if IDEAS rained down from the sky… you realize, like a…rain storm… NO, wait!…like a…. BRAINSTORM!

I started writing what I first thought would stay a brief poem, however as I tinkered, I start pondering that possibly this may very well be an image guide. After revising and sprucing with the assistance of my CPs, I despatched it out to a bunch of brokers and editors (I used to be unagented on the time). And whereas I had some good suggestions, there have been no bites. Then, in late 2019, my superb #PBChat mentor and rhyme author extraordinaire, Lori Degman, launched me to editor Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press, who kindly provided to have a look a manuscript from me. I despatched her one (not Brainstorm!) and though she handed on it, she mentioned she appreciated my writing and invited me to ship extra. So, I despatched two extra (additionally not Brainstorm!), which she additionally kindly handed on. Then I despatched her fourth story (yup, Brainstorm!) and Sarah emailed me to say that she and her staff beloved it and that they needed to amass it for his or her 2022 checklist! YAHOO!!!

(FYI, this can be a VERY condensed and Hollywood-esque model of what really occurred. Certainly, there was a LOT of lag time between all these steps. For context, the overall time between me sending Sarah manuscript #1 and the time I obtained the contract for Brainstorm! was a full YEAR).


Kate: My pretty agent at Vibrant handed me the manuscript for Brainstorm; I believed it was nice enjoyable and couldn’t wait to get began on it.

I started with character growth, which is all the time my favorite half; I did a number of sketches of some completely different characters – girls and boys – earlier than the writer settled on the woman with darkish hair. The others ended up within the guide too, as our heroine’s classmates.

I did all my preliminary sketches with pencil and paper, then imported them into my iPad. From that time on, I did every little thing digitally, in Procreate; I performed round with the sketches, refining them a bit till I used to be pleased with them, after which made the ultimate paintings.

(Observe from Debbie: Kate’s artwork director was Felicia Macheske at Sleeping Bear Press)

Rebecca: So, right here’s the factor: writing in rhyme LOOKS tremendous straightforward. However, oh man, IT IS HARD. And should you don’t know what you’re doing, it exhibits (and, consider me, it’s NOT a superb look!).

I keep in mind once I was first beginning out, I used to be listening to one in all Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 webinars and he or she mentioned one thing like: “In case you don’t know what the phrases ‘scansion,’ ‘meter,’ ‘harassed beats,’ ‘iamb,’ ‘trochee,’ ‘anapest,’ and ‘dactyl,’ imply or how they apply to your writing, it’s best to NOT be writing in rhyme.”

Effectively, I didn’t have a clue what she was speaking about, however I LOVED writing in rhyme, so I used to be decided to coach myself. I enrolled in rhyme goddess Renee LaTulippe’s INCREDIBLE Lyrical Language Lab course, the place she teaches you ALL the phrases listed above and SO rather more. I can’t suggest her class sufficient (and I promise she doesn’t pay me – though she may and I might be completely o.okay with it).

So, my recommendation is that should you love rhyme and need to promote books in rhyme, take the time to learn to do it nicely. Don’t simply assume you realize what you’re doing since you “simply hear it in your head.” You will have a fantastic ear for it, and that’s fantastic, however keep in mind, you’ll not be there to learn your guide to each one who picks it up. The aim, due to this fact, is to craft a guide that may be learn by ANYONE (with any accent, in any a part of the world) and they won’t stumble or query “how” they need to learn it. And the one method to do that is to know methods to construct a narrative with PERFECT meter (i.e. methods to create sentences with harassed beats which are completely positioned) and the way to decide on rhymes and add lyrical devises that may make sure that these sentences are learn with ease and fluidity. This is the reason individuals say it’s tough to write down rhyme nicely. There’s SO rather more that goes into it than merely rhyming “cat” with “hat.”

All that mentioned, should you do put the time in to study the craft, you CAN promote books. All that mumbo-jumbo about “all brokers/editors not liking rhyme” is hog-wash. I’ve bought 5 rhyming books within the final two years. There are PLENTY of brokers/editors who do like rhyme – nevertheless it MUST be accomplished nicely.

My recommendation for younger illustrators could be to only maintain drawing, as a lot as doable. Maintain trying and maintain drawing. And have enjoyable and check out new methods of creating work – paint, make collages, possibly little movies – experiment, don’t be treasured and don’t fear if not every little thing’s good, simply maintain doing it!

There’s a lot I may say, however I believe the most important factor is to seek out the kind of writing that works for YOU. Write the books that you’re joyful writing and don’t suppose too laborious about following “guidelines.”

Once I began, I felt like I “had” to write down books with fascinating or quirky MCs or that had narrative arcs the place the MC tried 3 times earlier than undertaking his/her aim, and many others. I believed I “shouldn’t” write in rhyme as a result of “nobody likes rhyme.” However each time I attempted to write down a narrative that conformed to the “guidelines,” they all the time fell flat and I typically felt disconnected from my work. It wasn’t till I started tinkering extra with kids’s poetry that I noticed that the books I beloved studying probably the most had been actually extra like lengthy poems. I started finding out these “idea” or “poem-picture books” and realized that writing most of these manuscripts felt rather more pure to me. As soon as I began pondering of my “tales” as prolonged poetry and stopped focusing a lot on characters and story arcs, my writing started to circulate extra simply and I started to promote books.

In reality, I typically inform people who I now not write image guide “drafts” however as a substitute I write “poems with risk.” Of the 5 books I’ve bought up to now, three of them began as brief poems. 

So, I’ll wrap up my recommendation with my very favourite quote: “Do what you like; love what you do.” I don’t know who mentioned it (however whoever it was knew their stuff!) I encourage all writers to write down what brings them pleasure. The remainder, I promise, will comply with.

Debbie, thanks a lot for having me in your weblog! I’ve had a lot enjoyable sharing my journey with you!

For extra insights from kids’s guide creators, see my Interviews Archive.