It's such fun to help writer friends celebrate their debut books. Like me, you may know of Cindy through her work over the years at ReFoReMo, which focused on mentor texts every March. Cindy had the Herculean task of organizing the picture book mentor texts by category or subject for the Facebook page files. After her years helping fellow picture book writers with comparative titles and mentor texts, it's so satisfying to feature Cindy Williams Schrauben with her own debut!
Book Review of This Could Be You
Educators and librarians, add this to your SEL, growth-mindset collection. Parents and grandparents, share as a fun read aloud with your children or grandchildren. This uplifting picture book from Cardinal Rule Press celebrates myriad of ways children can explore their world, dig into their passions, and help others.
This Could Be You features avocations and careers traditionally explored for the K-second grade band, as well as other choices not as commonly known for the younger set. Readers are encouraged to see themselves as gardeners, farmers, police, teachers, along with writers and activists. The bright, engaging illustrations by Julia Seal ensure inclusivity as people of color, women, and the differently abled are included. Lyrical, rhythmic verse and internal rhyme make this a bouncy romp of possibilities enticing children to imagine who they could be.
This Could Be You by debut author Cindy Williams Schrauben and illustrator Julia Seal will be released April 1, 2022.
Craft Chat with Cindy Williams Schrauben
Kathy: I know you’re a poet, but I’ve not seen the internal rhyme structure used as uniquely as you do in This Could Be You. Did early drafts begin this way? Did you suggest that the rhyme be bolded as an art note or did the art director suggest that?
Cindy: Actually, I used Give Me Back My Bones by Kim Norman as a mentor text. The first time I heard that fun rhyme scheme I knew I wanted to try it. Thanks, Kim. The format didn’t change, but early drafts were much different. The original title was Why Not You – thankfully that changed because a picture book with that title (written by an NFL quarterback and his wife) debuted this month.
Bolding and hyphenating the phrases was my idea. I played around with other options such as italics before settling on this combination. Because many of the sentences are structured unconventionally, I wanted kids to realize the importance of stressing those phrases. I was thrilled when my seven year old grandson read it correctly right away.
Kathy: Your back matter focuses on changes readers can make to have a growth mindset and how parents/caregivers can engage young readers to think more deeply about their social emotional learning. Was this an add-on or an integral part of how you envisioned this book?
Cindy: I subbed This Could Be You with this back matter. The main text is important, but I wanted to include supplemental information for adults that will help them to adjust their own perspectives and tweak their everyday vocabulary, empowering their families/students with a growth mindset. It was always my hope to create a book that would have this kind of enduring impact.
Kathy: Tell us a bit about your journey to become a published author. What was surprising? Unexpected?
Cindy: There have been lots of surprises along the way. I had no clue how trying and long the journey would be, BUT I am so grateful that I was able to persevere with the help of the amazing kidlit community. The generosity and camaraderie is unlike anything I’ve dealt with. Another surprise is playing out right now – it is easy to think that once you get a book deal, you’re set. In reality, the marketing process has required a great deal of time and energy.
I was also blessed with a surprise after the book was printed. The reverse side of the jacket features a 27” x 11” poster – I love it.
Kathy: I’m proud to be a member of your “street team” (folks who help spread the word about your debut). What are all the pieces, parts of your marketing campaign? How did your publisher, Cardinal Rule Press, help in this effort?
Cindy: Thank you! I couldn’t do this without my team. There are so many aspects to the marketing process. The key for me was finding ways to connect with my audience in a meaningful way – providing them with helpful content. I am lucky in that my book has a clear theme – educating people about a growth mindset. I did lots of research regarding marketing a picture book, but ultimately had to pare my ideas down to those efforts that would be both effective and enjoyable for me – otherwise, I would have gone crazy. If you follow my social media you will see lots of silly things I have done like making felted bees, creating a six-sided puzzle with pages from my book, and painting a huge rocket photo booth. Will these things make a big difference? Maybe not, but it was fun and that is important, too.
I couldn’t be happier with the support and guidance I’ve gotten from Cardinal Rule Press. They offer Master Classes, Office Hours, and suggested timelines as well as extensive marketing efforts. The founder, Maria Dismondy and her team are phenomenal.
Kathy: What are you working on now?
Cindy: I am always working on several stories at once. I am a pantser for sure – I roll with whatever feels right at the moment. I never want to make my writing feel like work. I am looking for ways to give back to the writing community as soon as things calm down (after my launch). Besides that and marketing, I am working on an initiative I call, Partners in Literacy. It is a program in which businesses can sponsor my school visit by purchasing a book for each child from a local indie. I hope to kick it off soon. There is info on my website.
Cindy Williams Schrauben lives in Michigan where she writes books for kids that range from truly serious to seriously silly. Before embarking on this path, she held positions as a preschool administrator, teacher, and assistant director of a children’s museum -- always striving to empower kids. When not writing or honing her craft, Cindy might be found dissecting her grandsons’ shenanigans for story ideas, reading on the floor in the bookstore, or eating ice cream… ideally all at once.
You can connect with Cindy at www.cindyschrauben.com or www.direct.me/cindywilliamsschrauben