Monday, January 9, 2012

Willa Bean!

I'm thrilled to give a "million bajillion" birthday wishes to Willa Bean! The first two books in this early chapter book series, Little Wings, Willa Bean's Cloud Dreams and Be Brave, Willa Bean were published at the end of December.

The author, Cecilia Galante is well known for her middle grade and young adult books and this is her first foray into books for a younger audience (ages 6 & up). For all you authors out there, Willa Bean has a great publishing story, so let me give you a little insight into how this series came to be. Cecilia came into New York City one day to have lunch with me and to talk about her career. We sat down for a nice sushi lunch and, of course, immediately began talking about books. Cecilia was looking to start a new project and she asked me what was "trendy" at the moment. I threw out a few things that were hot in the young adult world: paranormal, fairytale adaptations, and angels. (This was a couple years ago). Cecilia paused for a moment and then said, "But what I'd really like to do is something for a younger audience.... Ooohh... what about young angels?" I immediately loved the idea, telling her, "Yes! Can you imagine all the merchandising potential? Just think of their little wings!" Which, smart Cecilia, jumped on, "Little Wings would be a great title for the series!"

Of course just that one lunch didn't seal the deal. Cecilia still had to write (and rewrite) the books. I had to pitch and sell it to editors. The lovely Jennifer Arena at Stepping Stones/Random House had the brilliant idea to turn the angels into cupids, which helped us avoid any unnecessary religious overtones. Jennifer also found the fabulous Kristi Valiant to illustrate the books And, now, at long last, Willa Bean is on the shelves!

If you have kids who are just learning to read, check out this series. You just have to love Willa Bean, with her million bajillion freckles and crazy, big, wild hair! And did I mention she has a pet owl named Snooze? :)