Like many of you, not only do I write a blog, I follow blogs. One of them is Vivian Kirkfield’s blog, Vivian Kirkfield-Writer for Children, Picture Books Help Kids Soar blog on wordpress at http://www.viviankirkfield.com.
After reading Vivian’s blog about the debut picture book Mending the Moon, written by Emma Pearl, and illustrated by Sara Ugolotti, I entered a giveaway to win either a copy of the picture book, or a manuscript critique by the author. I won!
As I had already purchased Mending the Moon, I chose the picture book critique as my prize.
Emma provided me with an insightful and thoughtful review of the present state of one of my manuscripts. She acknowledged its strengths, pointed out its weaknesses and shared thoughts on how it could be improved. She’s even offered to reread it after I complete my revisions!
While in email contact with Emma, I asked if she would allow me to interview her. Emma graciously obliged.
As it’s easier to give attention to shorter posts, at this time of the year, I decided to devote this post to Emma’s beautiful debut book and will follow up with a post that shares Emma’s writing insights.
Mending the Moon, is a lovely tale of inter-connections. It shares the story of a child’s relationship to her grandfather, and their relationship to and with the natural world and its inhabitants.
When the full moon falls from the night sky, Luna wakes her grandfather to help her fix it. Together with the animals of the mountain, from the biggest to the smallest, they search for its broken shards. And when faced with the difficulty of putting the moon back together, the insect world lends its talents to the task. Finally, it takes all the world’s birds to hoist the moon into its proper space and make the world feel right.
MENDING THE MOON’S BOOK JOURNEY as shared by Emma Pearl
I have always loved reading and writing. Something about the magic of immersing yourself in a brand new world, whether it’s of your own creation or somebody else’s, never fails to get me tingling with excitement. It’s the anticipation of what might happen, all those possibilities. Stories are the ultimate human experience, allowing us to live through all kinds of extraordinary events and emotions that may or may not happen in our real lives. They allow us to learn, to believe in magic and to imagine.
I think I was three or four years old when I wrote my first story, a fully illustrated tale about a kind frog who befriended a lonely tree. I never really stopped after that. I’ve written countless stories, plenty of poetry and even a novel in my 20s. But it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I began to think about writing for young people, and it wasn’t until they had both started school that I had the time or the brain capacity to start getting serious about it. So in 2017 at the grand old age of 44, I set about learning how to write properly.
There’s such a wealth of information and resources available online for aspiring writers, and I quickly became immersed in the writing community. I was constantly amazed by the kindness and generosity of other writers – so many people at all levels of experience willing to give their time and knowledge freely to anyone who needed it. And I definitely needed it!
In that first year of learning, I flitted between novel writing and picture book writing. This particular story started with a silly question – what if the moon fell out of the sky? From that start point, out tumbled four whole stories about Luna – a feisty, kind, brave little girl with a grandfather who guided and supported, allowed her to find answers but never took over. Together, they solved all kinds of natural mysteries and problems, helping to put the world back to how it should be. I knew instantly that the world I was creating filled me with excitement and wonder, but I never dreamed I would even share these stories with anyone else, let alone that Mending the Moon would end up being my publishing debut.
I wrote the four stories over a couple of days in 2017 and then forgot about them. I wrote a couple of novels and many more picture book texts. I began to enter online pitch contests with my PBs, not because I ever expected anything to come from them but because I enjoyed it and it was a great way to connect with other writers.
In 2020 I applied for the WriteMentor summer program with my MG novel and was surprised and delighted to be accepted for a 4-month mentorship with UK author Lu Hersey. It was a wonderful experience and an enormous boost to my confidence as well as my craft. In October that year I entered #PBPitch with several picture books. Again, I did it for the interaction. I didn’t truly believe that anyone got agent likes from those things. Well, I didn’t get an agent like but I got something even better – an editor like! Kayla Tostevin from Page Street Kids had seen my pitch and liked it. I could hardly believe it.
I sent her my manuscript, which in hindsight was still in need of some serious revising, and a week later she replied, saying she had some feedback and would love to see a revised version. We went backwards and forwards a few times. Revisions were hard, but Kayla’s vision was superb and I knew I was making the story stronger with her guidance. She had a quiet confidence that we could get it to a point where it could make it through acquisitions, but even if we didn’t manage to, the manuscript would be in great shape to submit elsewhere. And then, just before Christmas, I received the official offer of publication – a perfect way to finish a year that had otherwise been fairly horrendous on a global scale.
It’s a long path from contract to publication, but the whole process has been an absolute delight and I’m thrilled with how the book has turned out. Sara Ugolotti’s illustrations are out of this world and beyond anything I could have imagined. And best of all, one of the other Luna and Poppa stories, Saving the Sun, has also been contracted and will be out next Fall. It’s a dream come true.
A Litttle About Emma Pearl:
Emma writes fiction for all ages and is represented by Sera Rivers at Speilburg Literary. Mending the Moon is her debut picture book, and Saving the Sun will be published by Page Street Kids in September 2023. Emma is a picture book mentor for WriteMentor (2021/22) and a freelance editorial consultant for picture books. She lives with her family in New Zealand.
Purchase Mending the Moon through the links below: