1. of the best or highest quality; supreme..."
The word applies to Abraham Lincoln, the beloved American president, in so many ways. But it also applies to author Eileen R. Meyer. She is one of the most dedicated and hardest working authors I know. Her research skills are impeccable. Her poetry is prime. Come discover her sources of inspiration, her methods of research, and her clever ideas for marketing.
PT: I'm so excited that your new book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT, was released yesterday, Eileen! What drew you to Abraham Lincoln as the subject of this book?
Eileen: Thank you, Patty! I'm excited, too, that this book is now available to young readers. A number of years ago, I read an adult biography about Abraham Lincoln. (As an Illinois native, I've always admired our state's most famous leader.) While reading the book, it struck me that there were still so many interesting stories about Lincoln that could be shared with children. Most young readers know the basic framework of Lincoln's life, but they're probably not as familiar with other stories about him. That was the first germ of an idea for this picture book.
PT: Your three earlier books were picture books, but THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN is a 48-page, nonfiction, poetry collection. Quite a change! What did you enjoy most about writing it? What were the biggest challenges for you?
Eileen: This book IS quite a change, Patty! I adore writing poetry. I began my writing career by selling poems to magazines, such as Highlights, High Five, Ladybug, and others. Though it is an unusual approach, I wanted to tell true stories within the framework of a poetry collection, highlighting a different story with each poem.
|Text by Eileen Meyer|
Illustration by Dave Szalay
Why poetry? Poetry provides the reader with an opportunity to slow down, pause, and reflect. Using lyrical language, sound, rhythm, and form, a poem can engage a reader in a very special way. Additionally, most poems are what I would call "bite-sized" - they include plenty of white space on the page - which allows readers to form their own connections.
What did I enjoy most about writing this book? Learning more about Abraham Lincoln! When you undertake a nonfiction project, you know that you'll be spending oodles of time immersed in your subject matter. Reading and spending a lot of time in thought about Abraham Lincoln was a delight!
As for my biggest challenge? With many books about Lincoln in the market, I needed to find a way to tell stories about Lincoln's life that was both fresh and interesting. The "superlative" theme and writing poetry was my "aha!" moment.
PT: This book required extensive research. How did you go about finding resources? Any tips on organizing your research? And how did you decide which information to include in the book's back matter?
Eileen: I LOVE research projects! Generally, I begin by reading books about my topic. I take lots of notes to ensure there is enough fresh content before I move forward with the project. Truly, I find that the books help steer my path. The books' authors always reference special collections, museums, historical sites, historians, and other topical experts throughout their book text and in the footnotes. That helps direct the next steps of my research.
|Eileen at the Lincoln Memorial|
Photo by Carol Stalun Photography
|University of Illinois Library,|
1891 book compiled by
Secretary of State Seward's son
Regarding the back matter, I had a conference call with my editor early on in the project and we outlined those elements. The author's note, timeline, resources (books and websites), quotation sources, and selected bibliography were all key components. I'm especially excited about "The Superlative YOU" page in the back matter. It encourages young readers to consider the ways in which they, too, are superlative.
PT: You and fellow Grogger Julie Phend wrote a terrific post about promotional book swag. How are you using swag for THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN?
Eileen: I think book swag is so much fun! Some folks hire publicists for their marketing. Some plan fancy launch parties. I decided that I wanted to use my marketing budget for some innovative pre-order swag. Folks who pre-ordered copies of my book were able to contact me and receive this swag package:
• "Be Superlative - Be Like Abe!" youth-sized silicone wristband
• One-of-a-kind Lincoln cork coaster for your coffee (a great way to start the day with a reminder to "Be Superlative!")
• A snazzy Lincoln pencil
• An author-signed bookplate to place inside the book
• Two bookmarks featuring illustrator Dave Szalay's awesome art
• Activities (only available in this offer) for a young reader
• A lucky Lincoln penny
Another plus of the swag is that I can continue to use it at promotional events to come. It was fun to create a little excitement leading up to the launch!
PT: Are you able to tell us what's next for you?
Eileen: Thanks for asking, Patty. I'll only say that I've started researching another history topic and I'm in the preliminary stage where I'm reading books. I've also visited a key historic site. My husband is a good sport, and on a recent trip to the National Book Festival in Washington DC (to listen to some fabulous KidLit authors present programs), we took a little side trip. Traveling for research projects is lots of fun!
|Eileen at the Library of Congress|
PT: Thank you, Eileen, for a post that's "the most"!
Discover more about Eileen:
Website - www.EileenMeyerBooks.com
Facebook - eileen.r.meyer children's author
Twitter - @Writer_Meyer
Instagram - eileenmeyerbooks
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Congratulations Eileen! Your story regarding the origins of this PB are fascinating. I am a lover and writer of historical fiction and love your approach to celebrating one of our greatest leaders. I would LOVE a copy of this book.I am sharing it with the world on my twitter feed. Best of luck and thanks for sharing this. BTW, I read about your illustrator in this month's SCBWI bulletin. He gave a shout out for the book. Cool.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Darlene! Working with the talented Dave Szalay was such a treat! This book about Abe is right your alley. So happy to connect with another writer and history fan!!Delete
Thanks for sharing Eileen's book on Twitter, Darlene! I didn't realize that Dave was in the SCBWI Bulletin this month - double the fun with the two creators of this book.Delete
OOO! I'm a fan of Lincoln and would love to share this with my kids! annettemwhipple at gmail dot comReplyDelete
Fantastic, Annette! We are such great admirers of our fabulous 16th president! Thanks for visiting.Delete
Thanks, Annette! Lots of Lincoln lovers in the world!Delete
Excellent post! Love the photos and pictures of research and book pages. Can't wait to read this one. Lincoln is a favorite. Congratulations! Sharing on Twitter as well. angelecolline at yahoo dot comReplyDelete
Thank you, Angie! So much to adore about Lincoln, isn't there? His wisdom, patience, ability to see the wider picture. Enjoy the book!Delete
Thanks for sharing on Twitter, Angie. The more I discover about Lincoln, the more amazing he is - as if that's even possible!Delete
I can't wait to read this and see how else I can structure a PB bio. Love that fact that u are paired w/the "superlative" Dave Szalay, Ohio illustrator friend.ReplyDelete
Dave is simply the BEST, isn't he? Such a great ride working on this book with him and the entire Charlesbridge team. Enjoy this one, Kathy! Can't wait to see what you are up to next!Delete
How cool that you know, Dave, Kathy! Eileen's structure for this bio is really outside the box, which makes it a fun one to study as a mentor text.Delete
I cannot wait to read this book! I used to give my students choices on how to do book reports, and one of the choices was to write poems about the person. I WISH I was still teaching, so I could show them this book! Congrats!ReplyDelete
Wow, Ellen - we are kindred spirits. What a great teacher you were, to encourage such a novel approach using poetry and biography!! I hope you enjoy this one. Thanks for stopping in.Delete
It makes me happy that you gave your students this choice, Ellen. Kids are naturals at poetry!Delete
Thank you for sharing g your experience, Eileen! I love the combo of A.Lincoln and poetry!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Linda. It was a unique way to look at our 16th president and it was so much fun! Enjoy. :)Delete
Some of my favorite books are nonfiction + poetry combos, Linda. A. Lincoln will mingle on my shelf with many other great poetry books.Delete
Wow! This book sounds super(lative)! It was not on order for the San Francisco Public Library. I just suggested it!ReplyDelete
That is such a wonderful way to support an author, Jilanne!Delete
Thank you,Jilanne! I hope that your library can share this book with patrons. I appreciate your support!Delete
Fabulous interview. Congrats on your new book - can't wait to read it! It sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, Tracy! So many tidbits about Lincoln that I didn't know!Delete
Great post! Our family loves Lincoln and poetry. I'm looking forward to checking this book out.ReplyDelete
If you love Lincoln and poetry, this is the perfect match for you, Bettie!Delete
Fabulous, Bettie! I hope that you enjoy the stories shared in the poems. Great discussion topics with young people. Lincoln's story-telling prowess vs. texting ... good conversation!Delete
This is such a terrific book. I have a review copy and loved every word. No need to enter me in the giveaway. Thanks for the post.ReplyDelete
How cool that you had a sneak peek at the book, Rosi! The poetry and illustrations were perfectly complementary, weren't they?Delete
WOW! Thank YOU, Rosi - I'm delighted to hear that you loved the book. He's a pretty terrific subject matter. That made my research so much fun.Delete
Great interview Patricia! This is a work I want to get my hands on, Eileen, and a great way to approach a subject. Congrats. I'm curious, did you write with a particular grade level or reading level in mind? I guess in a way poetry collections might cover a wider span, in a way...ReplyDelete
Great question, Dean. I love the fact that poetry invites readers of many ages and levels. Using spare wording and leaving lots of white space on the page encourages kids of all reading levels to take a look at the poem and find their own connection. It's not text-heavy or intimidating at all. I knew this was elementary grade focused, but that a wide range could enjoy the stories. I like to say these poems are perfect for ages 0-99! :)Delete
What a great interview! I am soooo proud of my old grade school chum and cannot wait to add her book to my collection. Congratulations Eileen! You are simply superlative!!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Laurie! You and I go WAY back and that history is so much fun. We both loved reading in grade school, and isn't that neat that your youngest, Dylan, can enjoy my books! Thanks for being such a strong supporter. Yay for all of us John S. Clark Grade School kiddos!!Delete
great post, Eileen and Pat. Superlative Lincoln sounds... super!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sue! It was a long journey to get this project across the finish line, but I love the way it turned out. Best subject to write about, that's for sure!Delete