When my son was diagnosed with autism, I knew that working in a lab as a geneticist or as a professor wouldn’t be in the cards for a while, but I was getting anxious, depressed, quiet.
I had just received my Master of Science degree from Arizona State University and now that diploma sat on the floor of my bedroom, in a frame, with nowhere to put it.
I began to buy and read as many STEM picture books as I could get my hands on, and then it occurred to me- I have something to offer in this space.
In my youth I love to write poetry and I decided I would write a STEM picture book series in verse- I mean how hard could that be…
Let me tell you…
It… is… HARD!
Not only are you keeping track of the rhyme and meter, but you are also trying to make sure that you don’t have forced rhymes, or near rhymes. You need to make sure that the scientific concepts are correct and relayed in a way that is fun and engaging to your audience. You have to make sure that your story has an arc, that it fits on 26-page spreads, and that everything word has a purpose.
Then you have to find a publisher who will take your work and put it out into the world.
Years were spent querying publishers and agents. I had interest from a few, but no takers. For many I was writing in a very difficult space- a narrative non-fiction STEM picture book… in rhyme. This meant that it would be hard to translate into multiple languages, it didn’t exactly fit in the non-fiction space, and it didn’t really fit as a traditional picture book.
After three years of taking classes, perfecting my story arc, and perfecting my rhyme and meter, I ultimately decided to self-publish my Ava series… now the REALLY, REALLY hard part – finding an illustrator to bring my words to life.
One day I was on Facebook cruising and autism mom site and there they were. PECS pictures a mom made in the image of her child.
I wrote to her immediately- have you ever illustrated picture books?
Nothing… for a month.
Then she wrote back, we met, we agreed to work together.
Karlie’s artwork is absolutely amazing. Her illustrations have brought life to my text. This is her first time she has illustrated a picture book and every time I received a spread from her I was blown away by the quality of her work. I will always be so thankful for her.
In this first picture book you will get to know Ava- a half-Hispanic, half-Caucasian girl who never feels like she fits in anywhere. On Picture Day she is determined to fit in when… static electricity strikes! Ava must convince her friends to become ecstatic about static to create an epic class photo. She finds a way to fit in by bringing her friends into her world of play and exploration.
Throughout the book the kids will learn about the scientific method, atoms, and static electricity. At the end of the book parents will find discussion questions and an experiment they can do with their child.
My hope with this book is to spread my love of science, exploration, and importance of being uniquely you and inviting others into that space.
My other hope is to inspire other mothers who are raising children who have disability to continue to dream, to create, and to share your gifts with the world.
Order your copy of Picture Day Pandemonium here.