Author Spotlight: Alison Goldberg



Dec. 15, 2017

Today we welcome picture book author Alison Goldberg and her new book, I LOVE YOUFOR MILES AND MILESillustrated by Mike Yamada (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BFYR), which releases on Dec. 26.

Be sure to enter to win a copy!




Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.

Like many writers, my love of writing began as a child. I wrote poems and stories, created neighborhood newspapers, and made up plays with friends.

After college I knew I wanted to focus on economic justice issues, and for several years I worked for non-profit organizations. But I always sought out opportunities to write whenever I could—whether articles, reports, or program materials. I also took workshops in fiction and poetry and joined critique groups.

One of my very first jobs was as an organizer for the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. At the time, the campaign materials included a unique image of children reading while surrounded by food. This art helped raise support for our work and was created by Tomie dePaola! Even though I didn’t attempt to write children’s books until years later, I think this planted in me the idea that it’s possible to connect art to the issues I care about.

Once my kids were born, I became immersed in picture books. The pairing of text and image and the possibility of verse made them feel like the perfect form. Eventually, I decided to make the leap and focus on becoming a children’s author, along with a commitment to connecting my stories to social and economic justice whenever I could.

Congrats on your debut picture book, I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES. Tell us about it and what inspired it.

Thank you! When my children were in preschool they adored vehicles. We stopped at construction sites, traveled to a tractor parade, and even watched an instructional video for a very sophisticated European street sweeper. Many of our afternoons involved truck and train play. We studied all of the vehicle books we could get our hands on. And together, we stood on the same train bridge I visited when I was a kid, waiting for the MBTA to pass underneath. On lucky days the conductor gave a honk and a wave.




At bedtime, the game “How much do you love me?” turned into a comparison of our love to the size and strength of vehicles. After many nights of coming up with these examples for my own kids, I thought this could be a fun take on a love book.

And when I found out that my first picture book would be published—a love book for children–I knew I had to use this opportunity to raise support for the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger!

You've also written a YA book on philanthropy and social change, CREATING CHANGE THROUGH FAMILY PHILANTHROPY: THE NEXT GENERATION. Tell us about this book. How did you transition from writing to teens to pre-schoolers?

CREATING CHANGE is a resource guide about philanthropy that grew out of my organizing work. I co-wrote this book with a colleague and it required dozens of interviews, research, and translating program materials into book form.

Even though the language and purpose of CREATING CHANGE is very different from my picture book, seeing a project like this through from start to finish helped give me some of the tools I needed to write for kids.

In my experience, whether it’s a few hundred words or a few hundred pages, writing for publication comes down to persistence and revision.

What projects are you working on now?

In addition to picture books, I’m working on the fourth draft of a middle grade novel. This story takes place in the ocean so I’m enjoying learning a lot about sea creatures.

What advice would you give to aspiring picture book authors?

When you go to classes, conferences, or book events, don’t be shy about approaching people. Find writers who are at a similar stage in their journey and build a writing community. This is the network of people you can lean on for advice, form critique groups with, celebrate with when you get good news, call when you get disappointing news, and cheer on through all the ups and downs.

What is something most people don't know about you?

I love paper mache! It’s such a flexible material for all kinds of sculpture. This month, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher assigned a family book project based on Kate DiCamillo’s THE TIGER RISING. Our family got a little carried away… My daughter’s paper mache tiger is eight feet long.

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.alisongoldberg.com and I’m on Twitter @alisongoldberg.




Alison Goldberg is the author of I Love You for Miles and Miles, illustrated by Mike Yamada (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Before becoming a children’s writer, Alison worked for economic justice organizations and wrote the resource guide, Creating Change Through Family Philanthropy: The Next Generation (Soft Skull Press, 2007). These days, she blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison is also a board member of the Food Research and Action Center. Learn more at www.alisongoldberg.com or on Twitter @alisongoldberg.




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26 comments:

  1. What a great interview and a great book. Can't wait to see it in person! XO

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  2. I can’t wait to add this to my mentor text pile! Great interview!

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  3. This book looks adorable! And your comments about paper mache reminded me how fun that is. Might have to do some with my kids over the holiday break.

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    1. Thanks, Shelley! Enjoy the paper mâché!

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  4. Great interview, Alison. I love the concept for this book. Congratulations!

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  5. Congratulations! Love the background story of how this book came into being. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I love the paper mache tiger project. It's so easy to get carried away when you love a craft and are inspired by a loved book! Congratulations on this dream come true. I'm looking forward to reading and looking at every page of this new picture book.

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    1. Thanks, Marty! We had such a good time with the tiger project--I think we're going to have to plan another big paper mâché project soon!

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  7. Congratulations Alison! What a delightful debut!

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  8. My grandson love vehicles also, especially trains.

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  9. Congratulations, Alison! I love it that your book is helping to end childhood hunger.

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    1. Thank you, Evelyn! It's such an important campaign so I'm grateful to be able to offer my support.

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  10. This looks great; something my kids would have loved when they were younger! And how completely timely for us, your new philanthropy book!

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  11. I think kids and adults are going to love rereading your book. Congrats! I also love the ocean, so your middle grade book work-in-progress sounds fun to read too.

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    1. Thanks, Danielle! I'm about to dive into draft #4 of my middle grade so your comment about it is much appreciated!

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  12. Great interview, thanks. Really looking forward to reading this new picture book!

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    1. Thanks, Kellie! I hope you enjoy the book!

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