Thursday, May 4, 2017

An Interview with Ellen Leventhal about Anniversary Editions and Bluebonnets

by Janie Reinart

Today, we are celebrating the makeover and anniversary edition of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS by co-authors  Ellen Rothberg and Ellen Leventhal. 

Welcome the lovely Ellen Leventhal for our interview.

Who is your agent? 

No agent as of yet.

How did you get the idea for your story?

My co-author, Ellen Rothenberg came up with the idea. We talk a lot at schools about "What if?" 

She saw cows in a patch of bluebonnets and asked, "What if those cows ate those bluebonnets?" The rest is history!

Even thought we loved DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS and it was doing well, the first book went out of print. So we updated the story.  

Our new illustrator, Joel Cook, came at it with a new vision and fresh ideas. Happily, Clear Fork Publishing (Spork) picked it up. 

Order books here.

What is your favorite part of the story?

That's easy. My favorite part is where we came up with a cuter and more kid friendly way to solve the problem in the anniversary text. I giggle when (the cow) Sue Ellen's friends find things in the barn and she finally realizes what has to be done.

How long did it take to write? Get a publisher?

The original took about a year and a half. We entered a contest and won! That's how we got a publisher for the first version. 

This time, after we rewrote the story, I sent it to a publisher, and honestly it didn't take that long for her to accept it. But of course, that is just the beginning.

Ellen's desk.

What is your writing routine?

I wish I could say that I get up early in the morning, work until noon, have a quick lunch, and then go back to writing. But nope, I'm not that disciplined. 

I do write every day, but sometimes it's not for long. There are days when I write for hours, and there are days that I fit writing in between the rest of my life. My goal is to become more disciplined and have a better routine.

What is your favorite writing craft book?
Well, that’s not fair. There are so many. I’m one of those people who pick up a book on the craft and think it’s the best. Until I read the next one! 

Of course, I do have Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books on my desk, and any craft book by Nancy Sanders in super valuable. I have two of hers on my desk too. My desk if overflowing! (Another goal: Clean up!)
What inspires you to write?

Hmm, I’ve always loved to write, so it’s hard to think of a current inspiration except for the fact that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, doing school author visits. 

When I taught full time (I still teach part time),I found myself re-writing the curriculum to make it more interesting, writing poems to help kids remember things, and just having fun writing with kids. 

So, the thought of sharing more about literacy or content of a particular book is what pushes me to keep going. So,I guess I would say that kids inspire me.

What are you working on now?

I have a few things going right now. I just finished a new fiction picture book, and I am shopping it around. I sure hope someone loves it. 

I’m also working on a narrative non-fiction which is new for me and a historical fiction picture book. 

Words of advice for writers...

I am certainly no great sage,but if I had to give advice, it would be the same thing I tell myself. 

If you love it do it. 

Rejection is not personal (Eek! That’s a hard one, but so important). 

And don’t be afraid to explore new avenues in both your writing and your submissions. 

Oh, and read, read, read in your genre. I just told a group of kiddos that in order to be a great writer, you must be a great reader. I totally believe that.

Some more good news from Ellen her book LOLA CAN’T LEAP will be out next March from Clear Fork. Congratulations, Ellen!
Thank you for a wonderful interview and best wishes for your new and renewed book launches.

Ellen Leventhal is an educator and writer in Houston, TX.  Her grandchildren, chocolate, dogs, and school visits are some of her favorite things.

You can find Ellen on her website,
and on FaceBook


  1. A most interesting post! Thanks, Janie, for an informative and humorous interview. I was quite surprised to find out Ellen doesn't have an agent--yet. This is encouraging news for those of us who don't have one. =] And thank you, Ellen, for sharing with us!

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  3. So fun to open up my email today and find author/friend Ellen being interviewed by CP Janie. Love the interview questions and Ellen's thoughtful answers!

    1. I too enjoyed Ellen's answers . ❤️

  4. Fun interview - thanks for sharing Ellen with us, Janie.

  5. Thank you, Janie and Ellen, for sharing the path taken by DON'T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS. Congrats, Ellen, on your new book!

  6. Thanks for stopping by Charlotte ❤️

  7. Thanks Janie for your blog post of Ellen's book. Can't wait to read her new one!

    1. New book babies are always exciting 😊

  8. Ellen is a talented writer and great person. So glad to see her featured here.

    And the revised Don't Eat the Bluebonnets looks wonderful. Congrats!

  9. Nice interview. Congratulations on your books. I, too, agree that Nancy's books are wonderful.