It’s scary when after years (for me over a decade) of writing and revising a manuscript, it becomes a real book and suddenly the story is no longer mine. It belongs to readers. Always the hope is that readers will connect with the characters, love the story, want to share the book.
Yesterday, I saw my first educator review of my debut middle grade novel and was filled with joy and relief that it was a good one! WHEW!
I am thrilled to announce that my middle grade debut, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter will be published by Scholastic on May 5, 2020! I’m eternally grateful to my amazing agent, Tricia Lawrence of EMLA, and my brilliant editor Jenne Abramowitz! Check out this gorgeous cover:
It’s been a busy few weeks and I hope to have my quarterly newsletter out on time next month. In the meantime here are a few things I’ve been up to.
As part of the #KidsNeedMentors program, I partnered with teacher Jane Chalifoux and her third grade students at Mills Pond Elementary. After a year of correspondence and book donations (from me to them), I visited their class in May. I spoke to them about books and writing Jasmine Toguchi, and then led them in a few writing exercises. They were an enthusiastic and creative group and it was a joy partnering with them.
In July, I flew to Jackson Hole, WY where I taught a kid’s writing camp to a group of very talented young writers. It was my first time to Jackson Hole and I thought it was gorgeous! I hope to return in the near future to check out the sights.
I also traveled to Minnesota where I had the opportunity to finally meet my Capstone editor, Jill Katz. We have worked on two series together (Dorothy & Toto and My Furry Foster Family). It was wonderful to chat with her face-to-face. She’s every bit as lovely as I knew she’d be.
I ended July with a trip to the Los Angeles area to visit with my parents and my daughter. I spent a day at the Nisei Week Baby Show, signing Jasmine Toguchi for young readers. I had a lovely time! I look forward to returning next summer for Nisei Week festivities.
In August, it was a dream come true for me to be on the faculty of the SCBWI Los Angeles annual conference. I led a workshop on crafting chapter book series, and participated in a panel on creating memorable main characters. It was memorable for me to share the stage with awesome senior editor and moderator Matt Ringler and authors/illustrators I’ve long admired, Ben Clanton, Bruce Hale, and Lisa Yee.
I love doing school visits and meeting amazing students, teachers, librarians, and staff! In the past couple of months I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with students in New York, Connecticut, and Wisconsin. These young readers are the reason I write books!
Jumping for joy in Castleton, NY for their Read Over Sleep Over event with the third graders!
Speaking with enthusiastic first graders visiting The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, NY.
Fabulous second graders in Brooklyn NY!
A wonderful group of book-lovers from third to fifth grade in Madison WI!
Looking forward to meeting more students and readers across the country this year! Thank you to all the fabulous schools and libraries for hosting me!
I am over-the-moon thrilled and honored to learn that Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl is a Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award nominee! I have loved Ramona since childhood! Thank you to the committee for the nomination and thank you to Team Toguchi, my editor Grace Kendall, illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, my agent Tricia Lawrence, and the entire fabulous team at Macmillan Books!
Wowee zowee! I’m so excited to learn that Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl won the Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award for Transitional Fiction! A big thank you to Blue Crab committee and the Maryland Librarian Association for this wonderful honor!
Many thanks to the Cybils Awards committee members and judges. And thank you to Team Toguchi – illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, editor Grace Kendall, and the marvelous people at Farrar Straus Giroux and Macmillan Kids! I am so grateful to work with such a talented team! And as always, big thanks to my agent, Tricia Lawrence! <3
I’m super excited to share the news that I have a new chapter book series coming out this fall, 2019!
My Furry Foster Family (Picture Window Books/Capstone) is about an 8-year-old Japanese American girl named Kaita Takano who fosters pets with her family. There are four books in the series for 1st – 2nd graders. The books are adorably illustrated by Melanie Demmer.
I was thrilled to be working again with my editor from the Dorothy and Toto books. And given my background with pets and animals, and my degree in zoology, it was such a joy to write these books! I’m excited to share them with you!
If you happen to be a NetGalley member, you can read and review Truman the Dog. I hope you enjoy! I look forward to sharing the news when they come out later this year!