Welcome to another edition of KidLit Coffee Talk. Today, I’m excited to welcome debut author Julie Pepper. Julie and I first met through the amazing Clear Fork Publishing, our mutual publishing house. She was kind enough to sit down for a cup of coffee with me and chat about her new picture book, It’s Time! It’s Time! is a perfect back to school book, as it takes the reader through the main character’s experiences on the first day of school. It was released on August 8th and was illustrated by Anne Steele.
This morning, I’m drinking a hot cup of Ocean City Coffee Company’s Pirate’s Blend. I brought a bag of this coffee home from our vacation last month to Ocean City, New Jersey. Julie, what kind of coffee are you drinking this morning?
I live in Davis, California, the bike capital of America. So, naturally I get my coffee delivered to me by bike! Not only that, the little local company, The Pepper Peddler, also uses bike power to roast the coffee beans. They use fair trade organic beans, and I love their light roast. I am also rather fond of their name 🙂
Wow, a coffee delivery company? That is so cool! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’m a mom of three fun little humans aged 7 and 4 ½ (times two). I have also been teaching for 11 years, mainly in 5th grade.
I’ve written ever since I could (almost) write. I believe my first original story was The Mean Meat and the Mean Met. I must have written that around the end of 1st grade. Meat was a boy and Met was a girl. I’m not sure why they were mean. I’m also unsure why I chose those names, but I find them pretty funny. Now that I’m thinking of it, I need to ask my mom, since I believe she kept that gem of a tale. Beyond that stunning debut, I wrote many short stories and poetry growing up. I remember hiding in my closet in Jr. High, and writing what I thought would be a spectacular novel. I had just finished Wuthering Heights and I wanted to write words that would elicit emotions like I felt while reading Emily Bronte’s work. Would love to find that in a box of memories one day!
My current writing journey began after my teacher-friend, Joanna Rowland, became a published author. We were in our teaching cohort together years ago, and I was super impressed with her drive when she came out with her first book, Always Mom, Forever Dad. A couple years later, when she posted on Facebook about her deal with Clear Fork Publishing, I really started to think that this is something I should start pursuing. I’m so happy I did! Thanks, Joanna for inspiring me 🙂
So many kidlit authors are, or were at one time, teachers. I think that gives us a unique perspective into the world of picture books. Tell me about It’s Time!
It’s Time! is a simple and sweet story that follows a little boy from the moment he wakes up, until he steps foot into his new class on the first day of school. Maybe I should rephrase that. The reader doesn’t actually follow the boy–he is never seen. The illustrations are what he sees as he prepares for his day. It’s a minimal word picture book, and the story is told through the images. Anne Steele is the illustrator of the book, and her color choice is amazing. Anne and I grew up together in Amador County, so that was a pretty neat aspect of this project. My son inspired this one, as he started preschool last year, and he really enjoyed the new world that opened up to him.
What else are you working on?
First off, I’m excited that there will be more It’s Time stories. We haven’t decided which one will come next, or when, but there is so much we can do with the concept. It’s Time to Go Potty, It’s Time for Bed, etc. My hope is that kids will not only enjoy the story and the pictures of It’s Time, but that they can also be used to help with daily routines, or to reduce fears of the unknown (It’s Time to Go to the Doctor, to the Dentist, etc.).
I love that! These are all concepts that kids can easily relate to. What’s one picture book you loved when you were little and a more current one you love now?
When I was little, I remember having a bunch of Little Golden Books. My favorite was Scuffy the Tugboat. The cover is embedded in my mind. Loved that little tugboat as a kid. Not sure how I feel about the theme of the story as an adult, but that would need to be an entire blog post of its own!
I have read so many fantastic picture books in recent years, so it’s hard to pick just one! I love anything by Oliver Jeffers. I’m so in awe of author/illustrators, and he is just fantastic in both areas. I love Stuck because it’s quirky and fun, but I have to say my personal favorite of his is Lost and Found. The friendship between the boy and the penguin is so lovely and pure. I tried to pick one, but it looks like I got away with two!
It’s so hard to choose one favorite when there are so many amazing picture books on the market today! Right now, I’m reading (and loving) The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. What are you currently reading?
During the school year I try to read books that may interest my students. I want to be able to genuinely recommend books to kids when I’m having one-on-one reading conferences with them. Currently I am reading Katie Slivensky’s The Countdown Conspiracy. It’s about 6 kids from around the world who are chosen for the first mission to Mars. I’m only now just starting it, but I’ve loved what I’ve read so far. Kidlit is just awesome.
Thanks for interviewing me, Jenna!
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Julie!
If you would like to learn more about Julie Pepper, you can find her on Facebook or on Twitter at @pepptalkin.
Now, it’s GIVEAWAY time!
You have the chance to win a copy of Julie’s book, It’s Time! To enter this giveaway, simply comment on this post and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Then, click on the Rafflecopter below. A winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, September 12th. And don’t forget subscribe to my blog. Good luck!