And the winner of the book drawing with swag bag is JuniperEve, whose son Toby will love Toby! Please look for an email from hotbuttonpress in your mailbox.
Hazel Mitchell and I first met on Facebook a few years ago. I was immediately taken by her award-winning children's book illustrations. Even more fun were the engaging stories of her real-life rescue poodle, Toby.
I wasn't much of a dog person at the time, but like all of Toby's many fans, my heart stopped when Hazel shared the news that Toby was lost, from a kennel caring for him while his people went on a vacation. For eight long and agonizing days, we all threw our collective virtual attention and love behind his rescue. You can read more about Toby's adventure here.
Miraculously, Toby was found. But that was just the beginning of his story. This month, Candlewick Press releases the picture book inspired by him, Hazel's first published story-writing effort to go along with the charming illustrations of her poodle.
In the story, a boy and his (presumably single) dad have moved to a new neighborhood just as school is starting. He finds a pet adoption flyer and asks his dad about getting a dog. Dad and boy go to the local shelter, and Toby finds his forever family and home. But that doesn't mean he's happy, or at all what dad and boy expect! Toby just doesn't want to play, or be a bud, or do any of the things good dogs do, much to the frustration of his people.
|Click on the photo to view full-size
Like any really good book clearly written for children (and not with a hidden message for adults cloaked in #kidlit), the book still has enough innuendo and intrigue to engage the imagination of the older reader. Where is the mother in the story? Where does the dad work? What kind of sports do they like? What is the boy's name and how old is he? What books does he like to read? The visual clues will make readers want to learn more about everyone in the story.
|TOBY. Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
Children can enjoy more Toby moments at Hazel Mitchell's fun-filled website. There are fun activity pages here. Look at the great Toby merchandise at his Zazzle store! And coming soon: A Toby cam and teacher's guide. Plus Toby has his own Facebook page and Twitter. And he barks a lot on social media, so go share a few woofs with him!
But first, get a copy of the book. It releases on September 13 and you can buy it at Amazon, Indiebound, and Barnes & Noble.
Do we have a contest - of course we do! All you have to do is sign up on Toby's mailing list to win a copy of the book. Click here to email and write BRP Contest in the subject line. You might even get a few extra Toby treats if you win!
|Hazel Mitchell is an award-winning illustrator and now children's book author. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
|Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil blog, a long-time writer and editor, a children's book aficionado, and now the proud owner of her mother's beloved dog. We aren't sure how Printz feels about this arrangement. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.