I was able to bring my son to a lovely author event sponsored by Book Beat, in Metro Detroit area, this past month. To celebrate March is Reading Month, Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rhonda Gowler Greene both spoke at the Oak Park Public Library about being an author and their new books.
Rhonda’s presentation was centered around her newly released book, The First Men Who Went to the Moon. It is a wonderful story that teaches readers about how Apollo 11 took its men on a mission to the moon. The book uses a rhyming and repetitive text structure that is also circular. On the side of each page, is even more information and facts about the text and illustrations. The book is entertaining, engaging and informative. The illustrations by Scott Brundage are gorgeous and make you feel as if you are in space. The story will hook readers of all ages. My son and I loved hearing her speak and have enjoyed reading the book and learning even more about the historical event!
Rhonda was kind enough to answers some interview questions and give us the inside scoop on the book!
Can you give us an inside scoop that we wouldn’t learn from reading your book?
Well, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. When I wrote the story a few years ago, I didn’t have the anniversary in mind. But, I’m so glad the manuscript sold when it did and the book is out for Apollo 11’s 50th.
The story sold the summer of 2017. I was told then the book would have a Spring 2019 release. The publisher definitely wanted it out for the anniversary. I was so happy to hear that, but also a bit worried it might not actually happen because getting a picture book published in less than two years is a very tight squeeze. Several of my books took three to four years from contract to release. But everyone worked VERY hard to keep the book on schedule. Right around Thanksgiving when I was so busy with other things, I had revisions to do. Then I had more due right around Christmas. The illustrator (Scott Brundage- whose art for the book is amazing!), my editor, the copyeditors, the fact checkers, the designer, etc. were crazy busy, too, meeting deadlines. Everything came together though—and beautifully. I appreciated the team effort!
The 50th is being celebrated all over the country this year, and especially in July because the Apollo 11 mission was July 16–24, 1969. I’m honored to be speaking and signing at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on July 21.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?
I would be a children’s media specialist/librarian because I love books and I love working with kids. I actually got my master’s to be a media specialist. (Before that, I was an elementary teacher.). I never worked as one, though, because I became a stay-at-home mom after my husband and I started a family (4 kids within 7 years). I read A LOT to my kids. I think that sparked an interest in writing stories of my own. Luckily, after a few years (and 220 rejections!), I began selling some of my stories to publishers.
Maybe I’m a librarian at heart though. I own so many books, my house looks like a library!
What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?
Wow, it’s hard to pick just one. I can think of certain books in all genres that have stuck in my mind. But, I’ll pick one of my favorite picture books– Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin. It’s a classic and a 1996 Caldecott Honor Book. I never get tired of reading it. The writing by Lloyd Moss is so clever. And the whimsical illustrations by Marjorie Priceman match the text perfectly. Maybe it sticks in my mind because I have a music background (minored in music/piano) and— because I love going to the symphony!
What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?
Homemade yogurt. I hate to cook (would rather be reading or writing!), but I make my own yogurt, a big batch every couple of weeks.
Thanks so much Rhonda for putting together a wonderful presentation and for stopping by Storymamas for this interview. The book is published by Sleeping Bear Press and is out now! Lastly, we wish Rhonda all the best at Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in July!