Friday, February 26, 2016

Shmulik Paints the Town ~ Author interview & Book Giveaway!

Shmulik Paints the Town 
By Lisa Rose; illus. by Catalina Echeverri
32 pages; ages 3-8
Kar-Ben, 2016 

Themes: imagination, multicultural, humor

Israel’s Independence Day is coming up and on Monday, the mayor drops by Shmulik’s art studio. 

“Can you paint us a mural on the wall and decorate the park around it?”

“Certainly!” says Shmulik. 

On Tuesday Shmulik heads out to check the wall with his dog, Ezra. But it’s much too pretty a day to waste painting. On Wednesday, Shmulik can’t think of a thing to paint so he puts it off til the next day. And so the week goes, with Shmulik procrastinating day by day. 

What I like love about this book: Shmulik the procrastinator. Don’t we all have a bit of Shmulik inside us? I love Ezra, who takes matters into his own hands – er, paws. And I love the bright illustrations and splatters of color everywhere. It made me want to dig out some paints and a brush and have at it. 

Beyond the book: 
Imagine you are chosen to paint a wall and a park for Independence Day. What would you paint? 

How many excuses can you think of for getting out of painting the garage -  or doing your homework? 

Can animals paint? Koko the gorilla paints pictures, and so do animals at the zoo. Watch animals painting at the Houston Zoo.

I'm giving away a copy of the book - but first, let's talk to the author, Lisa.

Sally: What inspired this story? 

Lisa: My cousin paints pictures using dog paw prints.  She drips the paw in paint and then stamps it over the canvas and then creates paintings based upon the prints.  Owners love to have this very unique work of art.  Also, sometimes people bring their old and sick dogs to her so that they can have a lasting memory their beloved pet.

At first, this wasn’t even Jewish themed story and it wasn’t working. After putting the story aside for long time, I attended a story structure workshop by Shutta Crum and figured I figured out how to revise it.  Victory!  My advice: Never to throw out stories that aren’t working.  Simply, put them aside—you never know when you will learn how to revise it.  It may take days…or years…but it will come. 

Sally: I love that Shmulik is a procrastinator. How did he get his wonderful name? 

Lisa: I have to admit I didn’t name my character Shmulik - although, I do have a cousin named Shmulik. 

Sally: Were you delightfully surprised by the wild bright splatters of paint in the illustrations? 

Lisa: It is a little known secret that authors have very little control.  In fact, I never even spoke to the illustrator until after the book was released.  The illustrator didn’t know about my cousin’s paintings and the inspiration for the story.  However, I’m so pleased with the illustrations!  I can’t wait to give Catalina a BIG HUG! 

Sally: Talk about the need for diversity in children’s books.  

Lisa: Many times people don’t buy diverse books, because they lack the awareness.  I decided to help this change by making the writing community more aware of the issue. I’m Jewish.  However, I taught in Detroit and many of my stories are inspired by my African American students.   My experience gives me a unique perspective of understanding two communities. One thing I’ve observed is how both communities can lack an understanding of each other - not  because of hate, but because of just living divided.

I believe the way to end ignorance is with knowledge.  To help bring attention to this issue, I started “MISSING VOICE picture book discussion group” on Facebook. I call it MISSING VOICE because I want it to mean more than just race -  to also include religion, and little known historical facts and people. Once a month we read a new picture book and discuss it. Then, at the end of the month, there’s a live chat with the author on our Facebook page. You can find out more about Lisa at her website

Book Giveaway: If you want a chance to win a copy of Shmulik Paints the Town just follow these rules.
  1. Leave a comment on this blog post
  2. send me an email to sueheaven(at)gmail(dot)com  - or click on my profile and send an email from there.
  3. to be eligible for the giveaway you have to live in the continental US 
Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy provided by the publisher. 


  1. What a treasure! You always know how to pick them. I love to read stories about other cultural traditions and diversity! Great interview with Lisa.

  2. This book is getting a lot of buzz. Thanks for the interview. Please let someone else win. I am still packing and sorting and just don't want another thing to pack.

  3. So excited for Shmulik and his success (and Lisa too)!

  4. Yay, Lisa! The book looks fantastic!

  5. Excellent interview and so cool to hear how this story evolved. Paw prints, yeah!

  6. Oh wait, this is what I do with my writing every single day. Ha. ha.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your writing path. Shutta Crum is amazing. It is wonderful that so many published authors are willing to share their knowledge and help others.

  9. Thank you for sharing your writing path. Shutta Crum is amazing. It is wonderful that so many published authors are willing to share their knowledge and help others.

  10. Diverse books rock. Travel and reading are great ways to learn about the world, and books are cheaper. Ha. Thanks for sharing your story about how the book came full circle Lisa. Congrats!