Cover Reveal: World More Beautiful: The Life and Art of Barbara Cooney by Angela Kunkel, ill. Becca Stadtlander
If you’re a creator of books for children, you are obligated to go face-to-face with your fans on a regular basis. And if you are, say, doing a school visit you will find that the kids there have sometimes been instructed by their teachers to ask you questions. And the question you most often receive? “Where do you get your ideas?”
It’s such a tricky thing to answer. Sometimes you’ll have the perfect origin story at hand. It might involve false starts, drama, and humor. Other times you’ll have to confess that the idea kind of came out of the ether. And sometimes you’ll tell the kids that you got the idea from a podcast you were listening to. There’s no shame in that. I’ve bandied about many science-related ideas for books from the podcasts I follow (and I am STILL waiting for someone to write that CRISPR picture book, people). Other folks enjoy history podcasts and that’s where they get their ideas.
And then there are the people who get ideas from children’s literature podcasts.
Specifically the podcast Fuse 8 n’ Kate.
Even more specifically still, MY podcast with my sister.
I received the following email the other day from author Angela Burke Kunkel (author of this year’s incredible Make Way: The Story of Robert McCloskey, Nancy Schon, and Some Very Famous Ducklings):
The idea for this picture book bio started way back in 2020 when I listened to your Fuse 8 n’ Kate episode on Miss Rumphius. I originally started researching Hilda Hamlin, the real “Lupine Lady,” but for many reasons the book shifted to become a biography of Cooney instead…. The podcast really was the start of it— I was driving around Vermont, maybe delivering things to students if I remember correctly?
Pro-tip, this is a very effective way to get someone’s attention.
I probably don’t need to tell you that this has never happened to me before. I’ve randomly led people to picture book ideas, sure (this year’s Jerry Changed the Game! How Engineer Jerry Lawson Revolutionized Video Games Forever mentions me briefly in the back because author Don Tate saw a tweet of mine about Jerry and got inspired) but never ever because of my podcast. Needless to say, Kate and I are totally flabbergasted and honored. And when Angela said she’d let me premiere the cover of her book on my site? Well, you can bet I jumped all over that.
So for all you Barbara Cooney fans out there, check out this cover and some of the interiors they’re releasing on Edelweiss:
You may have noticed that the art certainly evokes the style of Ms. Cooney herself. That’s thanks to artist Becca Stadtlander, the artist behind (amongst many other things) Mr. McCloskey’s Marvelous Mallards. I just can’t help but love that two women who separately worked on picture book bios of Robert McCloskey are now coming together to create a book about Barabara Cooney.
World More Beautiful doesn’t release until August 13, 2024, but you’ll be able to start the pre-orders next week on November 13th, have no fear. And believe me. This one is worth the wait.
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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