KidLit Coffee Talk with Ariel Bernstein


Thank you for joining me today for KidLit Coffee Talk. I’m so excited to have the wonderful Ariel Bernstein with me today. Ariel and I first met last April at #nErDCampNJ in Chatham, New Jersey. We were both on the Debut Author Panel and have been friends ever since. Recently, Ariel and I sat down over a virtual cup of coffee and chatted about her debut picture book, I Have a Balloon. I Have a Balloon was released in September from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books and was illustrated by Scott Magoon.


First off, what kind of coffee do you like to drink?

I like a bit of coffee in my milk and sugar.


Ha ha, I can appreciate that. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your writing journey.

I’ve enjoyed creative writing ever since middle school and initially wrote a lot of short stories. Once I got interested in writing children’s books, I joined SCBWI. I got a lot out of conferences and meeting other children’s book writers.


I agree, SCBWI has been such an important part of my writing journey, too. Tell me about I Have a Balloon.

It’s about Owl, who has a shiny, big, red balloon, and Monkey, who wants the balloon very much. It’s not a book about sharing, but about realizing the value in what you already have and being okay with not getting everything you want.


It’s one of my favorite picture books from 2017. What was the most exciting part of the publication process? What was the hardest?

The most exciting part was seeing the illustrations by Scott Magoon! As an author, you never know how someone else will interpret your words or what their vision will be, so it was a wonderful surprise to see all the details Scott put into the story. The hardest part of publication is, not surprisingly, the wait. It took two years from when my editor acquired the story to publication, which is actually a very standard amount of time for a picture book!


What else are you working on?

I’m working on more picture book stories, plus my chapter book series, WARREN & DRAGON, illustrated by Mike Malbrough (Viking Children’s). The first two books in the series will be out this August!


I can’t wait for WARREN & DRAGON! How has life changed for you since Owl and Monkey’s release into the world?

I get more notifications on social media of people reading and enjoying the book, which makes my day every time! And I have more events scheduled now to read the book, and that’s been a lot of fun.


There’s nothing quite like seeing your book in the hands of a reader. What’s one picture book you loved when you were little and a more recent one you love now?

I’ve always loved Maurice Sendak’s OUTSIDE OVER THERE. It feels like you’re in a dream when reading it. A more current picture book that I love is LEAVE ME ALONE! By Vera Brosgol. It goes in an unexpected direction, and gets funnier with each page turn.


I just finished The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre. What are you currently reading?

I’m just finishing up CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo. I haven’t read much young adult, and am glad I got a recommendation for this series from a friend. I wish there was a third book!


I love Leigh Bardugo! Last question, what is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I guess my critique partners know this, but I have trouble creating an outline for a book before writing it. I have a vague idea of what I want to write about, and then figure it out as I go. It’d probably easier if I was able to work with an outline though, as I often get stuck!


Thank you so much for joining me, Ariel! 

To learn more about Ariel Bernstein, visit her website at

Connect with Ariel on social media:

Twitter – @ArielBBooks

Facebook –

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