Attention, children’s book lovers!
If you’re staying in town this Labor Day weekend, be sure to mark your calendar for 2 PM on Sunday, September 4, when BookPeople is hosting a book release party and signing for children’s author Jennifer Rustgi and illustrator Ashley White, who together created the charming picture book A Moon of My Own. At this fun and engaging reading, children will get the opportunity to visit all seven continents and stamp their “passports” as they make their way around the world in this delightful story. There will also be a discussion and demonstration of the concepts of lunar phases and fun facts about the moon!
Recently, I had the pleasure of emailing with Rustgi about A Moon of My Own and how the book came about. Our Q&A follows below, but first…
More about the book
The book, which comes out September 1 from Dawn Publications, is an enchanting story about a young girl who travels all over the world in her dreams, accompanied by a moon that is always with her, yet always changing. Accompanied by beautiful illustrations, the story also features several pages of additional material for kids, parents and teachers, including nature facts about the moon, sample activities and lesson plans.
The inspiration for the book came from author Rustgi’s young daughter, who asked one evening while riding in the car, “Mama, why does the moon always follow me?” That question sparked Rustgi’s imagination, since the moon does seem to follow us wherever we go. That, along with Jennifer’s childhood love of imaginative travel, led to this enchanted adventure around the world with the moon as a little girl’s faithful companion.
Illustrator Ashley White, of Pflugerville, was also inspired by her young daughter, who wears rain boots every day (as does the little girl in the book).
Dr. Mary E. Hobbs of UT Austin’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education calls A Moon of My Own “a beautiful book for readers young and old,” while Dr. Walter S. Smith, Professor of Education at Texas Tech and director of the World Moon Project, calls it a “beautifully illustrated book that encourages children to develop a relationship with Earth’s closest neighbor.” Kirkus Reviews notes the book “just may encourage young readers to look up to the night sky and gain a new friend of their own” (7/2/16).
A Moon of My Own will be available for purchase at the event for $16.95 (hardcover). If you can’t make it to the event but would like a signed copy, you can order online from BookPeople and write “SIGNED COPY” in the Comments field on the checkout page.
Q&A with Jennifer Rustgi
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and what other work do you do/have you done besides writing (and parenting)?
I was an elementary teacher for several years and had a strong interest in early literacy. Through my years teaching, I developed a love for children’s books, especially picture books. I had dabbled with writing over the years, but it wasn’t until I was I staying home with my daughter after she was born that I really dove in.
Did you “consult” with your daughter in any way as you shaped, brainstormed and wrote the book, to connect with her childlike voice and way of viewing the world?
My daughter is so proud of her role in helping create the story, and I let her know how grateful I am for her asking that question! She was my “beta-listener” throughout the whole process of writing it, so that was a big help. In terms of developing the voice, I’ve always easily connected with young children and have spent a great deal of time around them. I suppose that helped me in creating what I hope is a realistic childlike voice.
Do you have plans for other books you want to write in the future?
I’m currently working on finishing a middle-grade book about a young girl named Priyanka. She wants to connect with other kids, but her inner critic silences her voice over and over again. One day she finds help from an unexpected source: a talking worm named Gilbert. It’s a topic that I think many kids can relate to on some level, with a bit of fantasy thrown into the mix. Ultimately it’s story about the value of being yourself and finding your own voice.
A Moon of My Own was originally self-published before being picked up by Dawn Publications, so Sept. 1 marks the release of a new edition of this book. Why did you choose to indie-publish first, and how has it been to shift to having a publisher?
I chose to self-publish because I liked having the control of being able to make it happen on my own. Another benefit of self-publishing first was that I got to collaborate with the illustrator, Ashley White. We had a fantastic rapport and I believe that shows in the final product.
The experience of working with Dawn Publications has been great. It was tough, at first, to take in constructive criticism and suggestions, but once we got over that initial hurdle we were able to see how making some changes could improve the book. We’re thrilled that we get a chance to reach a much larger audience through our relationship with Dawn.
What do you envision for your writing career, say, five to ten years from now?
My hope is that A Moon of My Own is just a starting point for me. I definitely feel like I have more to put out there, so I hope to be fortunate enough to keep doing what I’m doing for the foreseeable future.
What do you like most about your stories, voice and perspective as a storyteller?
I love the idea of my characters walking a fine line between precociousness and wide-eyed innocence. The main character in A Moon of My Own sees the world through the wonder of a child’s eyes, yet has perceptiveness beyond her years. I’m an observer and I think that comes through in my storytelling.
Thank you so much, Jennifer!
Interested in other upcoming children’s events at BookPeople? There are so many great ones! Here are just a few:
- Award-winning illustrator Angela Dominguez reads Marta! Big and Small, Sat. 9/3, 11:30 AM
- A Very Colorful Storytime! featuring The Day the Crayons Came Home, Weds. 9/7, 10:30 AM
- The Dark Knight Storytime! featuring Batman’s Dark Secret, Sat. 9/17, 11:30 AM
Check the bookstore’s events calendar for more information about these and other upcoming events.