Monthly Archives: July 2017

We have a winner of The Road That Trucks Built!

It’s been a busy month of July here on Polilla Writes, and it’s been a great experience to be involved in the blog tours of When Your Lion Needs a Bath, When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles, and The Road That Trucks Built – all written by Susanna Leonard Hill. We’ve met her two illustrators – Daniel Wiseman and Erica Sirotich. We’ve learned some crazy, fun, surprising things about Susanna who shared recipes and crafts with us, and we’ve had three giveaways, one for each book, which brings me to …

the pleasure of announcing the winner of The Road That Trucks Built!

Using the random name picker thingie, I learned that ….

the winner’s comment included this: If I were one of these construction vehicles, I’d be a roller. 

And that person is …



You can expect a book in the mail from Susanna; just give her a little time. 🙂

Huge thanks to everyone who came to read and learn, participate and encourage. It means a lot to me that you came to visit my blog, and to Susanna, Daniel and Erica that you came to learn about their work.

I hope you all go purchase at least one copy of each of these fun books. (I’ve even made it super easy for you to find them by going to BUY THE BOOK here on my blog.) There are children out there who’ll enjoy them. Perhaps you’d like to donate a copy of one, two, or all three to your local school library or public library or day care. Books are meant to be shared and loved.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Last chance to win The Road That Trucks Built – by Susanna Leonard Hill

Hi, Picture Book Lovers!

I am adding my last extra blog post into my busy all-about-Susanna-Leonard-Hill-&-her-books-and-illustrators-in-July schedule. This is to remind you that today – at 9 PM EST – your chance to win, here on my blog, a copy of The Road That Trucks Built .. brakes to a halt … red light, over.

You can go HERE to read my interview with illustrator Erica Sirotich and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Susanna Leonard Hill‘s children’s book The Road That Trucks Built.

Take a look at this fun illustration created by Erica:




Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich
Used by permission of Little Simon

If you want to enter the draw, just leave a comment on the July 20 interview post telling us which truck you would want to be or drive – the bulldozer, the scraper, the grader, the paver, the roller, or the paint marker – and your name will go into the random name picker tool I use to determine who is the winner … of a book, not of permission to drive the truck.  🙂  It’s fair and easy!

The month is coming to a close – can you believe it! – ending my part in Susanna’s blog tour for Trucks.  Thanks to Susanna (author), Little Simon (publisher), and Erica Sirotich (illustrator), and – of course – to everyone who enjoyed this with us. We greatly value your interest and comments. 🙂

Be sure to check your email tonight if you entered the draw. In the next post (on July 30) I will announce the winner of The Road That Trucks Built.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂  

Truck snacks from Susanna Leonard Hill for when your little road builder gets the munchies

While we wait a few more days to know who of you wins a copy of The Road That Trucks Built by Susanna Leonard Hill, Susanna came up with a little trio of “recipes” to go with the TRUCK book. 🙂  Enjoy!

From Susanna …

If you’ve got a little road builder at your house, what could be better than a traffic light snack? 😊

Here are three options with varying degrees of preschool do-it-yourself and grown-up actually-having-to-cook involvement 😊

Easy Healthy Graham Cracker Traffic Lights

You will need graham crackers, strawberries, bananas, green grapes, and some kind of nut butter.

Divide graham crackers in half along the lines provided so you have rectangles instead of squares.

Slice circular pieces of strawberries, bananas, and green grapes.

Spread the graham cracker rectangles with a little peanut butter (or other nut butter to taste or if there are allergies).

Place a strawberry round on top for the red light, a banana round in the middle for the yellow light, and a green grape round on the bottom for the green light.

Voila!  Easy, healthy traffic light snack for your little driver!

Rice Krispie Treat Traffic Lights

You will need Rice Krispies, a bag of marshmallows, and about 1/2 a stick of butter, (or ready-made Rice Krispie Treats), and red, yellow and green m&ms.

Make a batch of Rice Krispie Treats as per the directions on the cereal box  or, if you’re short on time or prefer not to tangle with melted marshmallow 😊  do it the easy way and buy ready-made Rice Krispie Treats.

If you make them yourself, cut the treats into rectangles and, while still a little warm and soft, press red, yellow and green m&ms on for traffic lights.

If you use the ready-made ones they are precut to the correct dimensions but since they’re cold you’ll just need to use a tiny bit of nut butter, icing, or softened marshmallow to stick the m&ms onto them.

Voila!  Easy, still pretty healthy traffic light snack for your little construction worker!

Cookie Pop Traffic Lights

You will need a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe, or a Betty Crocker or similar mix with 1/3 cup butter, 1 egg, and a tablespoon of flour, or a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, plus some popsicle sticks (flat craft sticks with rounded ends) and red, yellow, and green m&ms.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or do it the easy way and use Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix or refrigerated rolled sugar cookie dough)

Roll the dough on a floured surface about 1/4 inch thick and cut into 3 X 1 inch rectangles.

Place about an inch of a popsicle stick into a 1 inch side of each cookie.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are light brown.

Immediately press red, yellow, and green m&ms into each cookie.

Cool 2 minutes, then remove from baking sheet and finish cooling on cooking racks for about 30 minutes or until completely cool.

Makes about 30 cookie traffic lights for your little road builder!

These all look so fun to make! And you can still enter the July 29 draw to win a copy of The Road That Trucks Built by commenting on my July 20 post

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Elephant snacks from Susanna Leonard Hill for when you & your elephant have the munchies; book winners

It’s been a busy blog tour for Lion and Elephant! And, of course, for Susanna Leonard Hill

Because it was originally my plan to announce the winners of Lion and Elephant books on this date – and then I gave them each their own day of glory – I’ll congratulate the winners today anyway: Happy Congrats to Teri for winning a copy of When Your Lion Needs a Bath and to Debra for winning a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles!  Yay!

Actually, everyone wins because of the fun extras Susanna has been sharing with us. To linger in the excitement of the release of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles, here’s something yummy sent by Susanna …

… an elephant recipe 😊

Elephant Sugar Cookies

You will need:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsps baking powder

2 3/4 cups flour

An elephant-shaped cookie cutter

Raisins or chocolate chips (for the eye)

Sprinkles, small candies, colored sugar, a little icing, etc. for decoration

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar.

Add egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients then add slowly to butter mixture until all incorporated.

Roll out on lightly floured board to desired thickness (probably about 1/4 inch or so)

Cut out elephant shapes with cookie cutter.

Press a raisin or a chocolate chip in place for the eye.

If decorating with colored sugar or sprinkles, sprinkle on top and press lightly with the bottom of a glass before baking.

If decorating with small candies, press lightly into elephant before baking.

Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes until light in color with light browning on the edges.

If using icing, add after baking.

If you missed earlier news and fun you can check all of my July posts for fun events, including reviews, interviews and giveaways.

So ends my participation in When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles blog tour. Huge thanks to everyone for adding to the fun through your visits and comments. Especially, many thanks to you, Susanna, and to Little Simon and Daniel Wiseman. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

We have a winner of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles!

Today I get to announce the winner of a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman!  yay!







I put the names into the random name picker tool and it selected ….


CONGRATULATIONS, Debra! I sent you an email for your info. 🙂

Debra is the winner with this comment: “I would amuse my elephant by reading him a book and showing him the pictures that were drawn by Daniel Wiseman. They are whimsical and fun and would totally get my elephant’s mind off of his cold.”

Thank you so very much to everyone for participating. I really enjoyed your visits and comments. Please feel welcome to stop by even when there is no blog tour going on.

There is one more post here associated with Elephant; Tuesday come back for  snacks from Susanna. 🙂 And in the meantime, you can also enter the draw for your chance to win a copy of Trucks.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂 

Last chance to win When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles by Susanna Leonard Hill

Hi, Everyone!

I am again sneaking an extra blog post into my busy all-about-Susanna-Leonard-Hill-&-her-books-and-illustrators-in-July schedule. This is to remind you that today – at 9 PM EST – your chance to win on my blog a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles comes to a close. Don’t blow it!  (See what I did there? 😉 )

Anyhoot … Check out all my July posts if you want to learn more about 1 author: Susanna, 2 illustrators: Daniel and Erica, 3 new books: Lion, Elephant, Trucks. You can count on Susanna to bring you fun things to do, too, such as crafts and recipes.

As extra incentive, in case you haven’t yet entered the draw to win a copy of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles – that you can donate to a school or library if you prefer – look at this wonderful illustration created by Daniel Wiseman.




Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

All you have to do is leave a comment on the July 11 interview post telling us how you would take care of your elephant when it has the sniffles and gets bored – and your name will go into the random name picker thingie I use to determine who is the winner. 🙂 Can’t be any easier than that!

And this is the end of my part in the promotional blog tour for Elephant. Thanks to Susanna (author), Little Simon (publisher), and Daniel Wiseman (illustrator), and – of course – to everyone who came to visit and participate. We sincerely appreciate your interest and comments. 🙂

Next post is July 23 to announce the winner of When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Interview with illustrator Erica Sirotich; & a book giveaway!

I’m delighted today to welcome you to my second illustrator interview! Erica Sirotich, illustrator of The Road That Trucks Built – written by Susanna Leonard Hill – accepted my invitation to answer some questions here for us.

Welcome to my interview corner, Erica! I’m happy to invite you as only the second illustrator I’ve ever interviewed. I’m learning wonderful things about creating. 🙂 By way of introduction, could you tell us a little about yourself?


Hi there! I am a freelance and children’s book illustrator living in St Pete, Florida. I’ve been working on picture books for about four years, and illustrating professionally for eight. I am the illustrator of Susanna Hill’s adorable The Road That Trucks Built, but I must mention that my author-illustrator debut, Found Dogs, just came out too (July 18)! It’s a picture book for young children about adopting dogs from the local shelter; it’s published by Dial (Penguin) and can be found wherever books are sold!
Other than drawing, I love my dog Russell Redfur (all dogs really); I enjoy lots of coffee and talk radio and podcasts while I work; and I’m a big collector. I collect picture books and art books, stamps, rocks from my travels, Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls, and most recently, plants.

Congratulations on your author-illustrator debut! That’s exciting! When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator? Who or what inspired you, and what keeps you motivated?
Well, I’ve been drawing my entire life. My little brother and I grew up drawing together, and we’re both working illustrators now. As kids, we inspired and challenged each other all the time, and taught each other drawing techniques and tricks. He still inspires me (, and so do hundreds of other illustrators, whose work I follow online, on Instagram, and whose books I obsessively collect.

It’s wonderful you have someone close to you with that same interest. Can you tell us a little about your technique and choice of medium?
I sketch everything first in pencil, of course, and when sketches are approved by my art director, I refine them and move on to ink. Depending on the project, I either use brush pens and fine tip pens to create crisp line art (as in Trucks), or brushes and ink to create a slightly looser, softer look (as in Found Dogs). When the ink drawings are complete, I scan those in and collage the pieces together in Photoshop, and color the images digitally. My finished pieces are hybrids of traditional and digital illustration processes.

It all sounds very interesting. How do you decide on how the characters will look?
I just sketch and sketch and sketch and the characters’ personalities emerge gradually and organically from this process. For Trucks, I first had to study all of the vehicles that appear in the book to try to understand how they move and work. (I had never even heard of a scraper before!) So I gathered dozens of reference photos of the trucks and tacked them on my cork wall in front of my desk. Some of them reminded me of certain animals; for instance, the bulldozer reminded me of a little crab, and since we wanted the trucks to be characters in their own right, I embraced that comparison and drew her that way—as a crabby dozer. (She’s not crabby, actually; she’s cheery, and carries a purple flower in her exhaust pipe.)

Yes, she looks quite happy doing her work. 🙂 How much is your own idea when illustrating a book, and how much direction is decided for you? In other words, how much freedom are you given? Do you do any brainstorming with the author?
Usually when I’m working on initial sketches for a book the art director has provided a couple sentences describing what should appear on each page or spread. I’m given a lot of freedom to determine how to execute that, but once the entire book is sketched out, the art director often makes more recommendations to improve consistency across spreads, to fix tricky areas, to remove unnecessary elements or add necessary ones, and so on.
Recommendations in the Trucks illustration process included things like: let’s change the perspective on this page, or zoom out to see a wider view; let’s show each truck from the previous spread in the current spread; let’s show more rocks and sticks in the dirt; let’s add more confetti to the road opening celebration; things like that.
When illustrating a book, I work exclusively with the art director, not the author. That’s just the standard process in publishing. I do believe the art director/editor shows the author the sketches once they’re complete, and then the finished pieces at the end.
The author is consulted in part to make sure nothing has been misinterpreted or
misunderstood, and to make sure she likes how it’s materializing. But I don’t
communicate with the author directly; the art director calls most of the shots.

Your illustrations for Susanna’s book, The Road That Trucks Built, are very well-suited to children. How did you land this assignment? Approximately how long did it take you to complete this book?

Thank you! Well, I have an agent, Jenn Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary, so my projects mostly come straight through her. For Trucks, the art director saw my work and contacted Jenn to see if I’d be interested in illustrating it. I thought the manuscript was so cute and clever, and though animals are my favorite things to illustrate, I loved that in Trucks the vehicles had to be depicted as characters in their own right. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
I believe the process for illustrating Trucks spanned about six months, but I was actively illustrating for about four. For a short period of time, I was hopping between illustrations for Trucks and Found Dogs.

What is it about illustrating children’s books that appeals to you?
I just love children’s books and I’m over the moon that I have had the opportunity to work on several thus far. I think some of the most compelling and innovative work in illustration these days is being done in picture books. There’s so many incredibly talented people out there making them, I’m just humbled and honored to play a tiny part in that world.
Also, I love that working on books is kind of a hybrid between being a freelancer and having a “real job.” When illustrating a book, you know you’ll be busy for several months at a time and can budget your time (and expenses) accordingly. Being self-employed can be a roller coaster of busy—not busy—busy and also making money—not making money—making money. Longer projects help build some stability in an otherwise unpredictable career.

I understand about your love for picture books, and when you help create them it must be thrilling! Writers have critique groups, editors, agents, how does that work for you as an illustrator?
I have a wonderful agent. It’s been her connections and enthusiasm for my work that’s led to all of my major projects over the last four years. For illustration-only projects, like Trucks, I work with art directors rather than editors. I don’t know of anything along the lines of an illustration critique group, but I have a lot of illustrator friends, as well as my brother, who weigh in if I get stuck or need advice. And I post a lot of work and process shots on Instagram, which has a very large illustration and picture book community. It’s nice to get feedback from folks there, and feel connected to a creative community that’s dispersed across the globe.

Obviously, it’s important to have those connections. Is being an illustrator all you had hoped or thought it would be?
Haha! Well, in some ways, yes. First and foremost, I get to draw (almost) every day, so in that way, I’m living the dream. Being self-employed can be difficult, though. I’m lucky to have some regular clients in addition to my book illustration projects, including Highlights Magazine, and that helps me fill in the gaps.
There’s that saying out there: If you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life. That’s not true, ha! I usually work 6-7 days a week, nights included, and I work very hard. (Yes, sometimes I’m sitting on my couch in the living room while I work, but there’s always more to do and I don’t like to procrastinate.)
All that said, the work is a privilege and joy. The fact that, in the end, it lands in the hands of children makes it even more special and even kind of surreal. I just love it.

How wonderful that you have been able to turn what you love to do into something you … love to do for a  job! Do you have any advice for hopefuls?
There’s no substitute for dedication, persistence, work, and study. If you want to work on picture books (or on any particular book genre), read and study as many recently published picture books as you can (last five years, preferably). Use your favorites as mentor texts and try to really understand how those works are put together and why they are successful. Join SCBWI, study their website and resources, and do your best to attend at least one regional or international conference. Soak up the collective wisdom of that group. Hone your style and present your work professionally online, in a clean, standalone website. In your portfolio, show fewer strong pieces, rather than more mediocre ones. Follow agents on social media and, when you’re ready to submit your work to them, follow their guidelines and only submit your best. Maintain a professional persona online; don’t post things that you wouldn’t want a potential client
to see. And don’t quit your day job too soon. Getting consistent work in illustration and publishing can take years and years. Try not to be discouraged. The process is slow but the rewards are worth it. Good luck!

Thanks, Erica, for a very interesting interview and for giving us a glimpse into your world. 🙂 Congratulations, again, on your own book debut this week! I wish you continued success.


Twitter: @cuddlefishpress 
Instagram: @ericasirotichon 

And now …

Susanna Leonard Hill, and her publisher, Little Simon, are offering to one of you a copy of The Road That Trucks Built




The rules are simple. Leave a comment on this post telling us which type of ‘truck’ in the road crew you would like to drive, and your name will be entered into the draw – not to actually drive one of them, though. (Sorry)  🙂  You have the ones in the story from which to choose: the bulldozer, the scraper, the grader, the paver, the roller, the paint marker. (If you read my interview with Susanna you know which one she is likely to choose. 🙂 )You have until Saturday, July 29, at 9:00 PM EST to enter. Using the “random name picker” I will select one name, and the next morning – Sunday, July 30 – I will announce the winner of a copy of The Road That Trucks Built. Be sure to check your email Saturday night because I will be contacting the winner for a mailing address.

Don’t delay, comment today! And please pass the news on to your friends; post on Twitter, FaceBook, or what ever way you communicate with the world. We thank you.

To catch up on the exciting things that have been happening here all month read about it. (You have until July 22 to enter the previous draw, too.)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!