Author Spotlight: Renée LaTulippe



 

Mar. 4, 2020

We are thrilled to feature our great friend, author, and poet Renée LaTulippe and her debut picture book, THE CRAB BALLET (Cameron Kids), out March 8! Enter to win a copy!


 

 

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write poetry for children.

 

Thanks for having me on Kidlit411, Sylvia and Elaine! That’s a big question, so long story short is that I’m an ex-teacher and ex-theater person who moved from the United States to Italy twenty years ago and now writes for kids!

 

As for writing poetry, I started doing that in second grade and kept on going through my first undergrad college, and then stopped for a couple of decades. It wasn’t until I started writing for All About Learning Press (they create reading and spelling curricula for the homeschool market) that I learned that writing for kids was even a thing. They asked me to put together a collection of poems for parents to read to their preschoolers and the next thing you know I’d written over 40 poems. This was in the winter of 2009-10, so I like to think I was inspired by the fact that I was very pregnant with my twin boys at the time, haha. 

 

Anyway, I was smitten and a year later I launched my poetry blog, No Water River, and began to meet all sorts of wonderful poets and writer types. And here I am!


 

Congrats on your debut picture book, The Crab Ballet! Tell us about this story and what inspired you.

 

Thank you! The Crab Ballet is a poem picture book that gives the reader a front-row seat to a seaside ballet performance featuring all sorts of creatures, from squid and turtles to starfish and dolphins and, of course, the crabs, who are the prima ballerinas.

 

This book actually started from a short poem I wrote for a contest in 2015 in which I had to use the word “iridescent” in a poem. I liked what I’d written and thought it would be fun to expand into a two-act extravaganza, so that’s what I did. And of course, I’m always inspired by where I live on the coast of Tuscany. Although I’m not a snorkeler, I never get tired of gazing at the Mediterranean sea outside my window or splashing around in it with my kids.

 

You're a well-published poet. Was your road to picture book publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

 

Long. Just long. Hahaha. I think a few thousand of us can relate to that! I feel very fortunate to have been invited to submit poems to various anthologies over the years, which kept me going while I waited for a book of my own to happen. 

 

I actually sold my first book in 2017 within a couple of months after signing with my agent, but it hasn’t come out yet. The Crab Ballet, which went on submission around the same time, didn’t sell until 2020, right smack in the middle of the worst part of the pandemic. It was such a gift! And totally worth the wait because I was thrilled that Cameron Kids acquired it. I had been drooling over their aesthetic for some time and knew they were the perfect publisher for my dancing crabs.

 

What other projects are you working on?

 

That first book I sold! It’s a collection of poems titled Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform to be published by Charlesbridge. It’s been a long wait but, like with The Crab Ballet, it will be absolutely worth it because my editor had a brilliant plan for this book that I can’t talk about yet. But it’s going to be amazing!

 

Otherwise, I am getting ready to send my first YA verse novel to my agent. What an incredible journey that writing experience has been!

 

You are such a source of information on lyrical language, poetry, and rhyme. What are the one or two top tips you'd give to aspiring children's poets?

 

Ooh, there are so many. And it depends on what they are writing. But my top tip no matter what you’re writing—poetry, prose, rhyme, picture books, novels—is to read it out loud all the time. I mean ALL THE TIME. Over and over. It’s very hard to hear the music you’re creating if you don’t open your mouth and sing it.

 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

 

Ooh, there are so many. Ha. Here’s an annoying thing: I am a very picky eater. I don’t like anything fancy or “weird,” and by weird I mean stuff that is totally normal, like lamb and seafood and carrots and tomatoes and brownies with nuts in them. I live in Italy and I do not like wine. You do not want to invite me to your house for dinner—unless it’s a barbecue. I like barbecues!


Haha! We've known for years and just learned something new. Where can people find you online?



About Renée:

Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, TBA) and has poems published in many anthologies including Night Wishes, School People, National Geographic's The Poetry of US and Book of Nature Poetry, One Minute Till Bedtime, and ThankU: Poems of Gratitude. Renée is the founder of The Lyrical Language Lab and provides free lessons for children's writers on her YouTube channel. She has a BFA in acting/directing and an MA in English Education. She lives by the sea in Italy with her husband and three children.


 


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Comments

  1. So excited to add this book to my next library order for my school! Yeah Renee! I have been a fan for years.

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    1. Oh, boy! Thank you so much for the library order, Nadine. That's so exciting! :) <3

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  2. Renee, I have learned so much from you over the years and am always inspired by your love of language and joyful energy. Congratulations on your debut and more!!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Lisa! What a kind thing to say. And I am so excited for you as well, with all your books. IT WILL BE OK is just darling!

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  3. I just heard that my copy has been shipped, yay! Can't wait to get it. You're a brilliant writer and teacher who changed the direction of my own long writing road. Yay, Renée!

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  4. Great interview! I can't wait for your book of theater poems.

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  5. This is such a cute idea. I look forward to reading it. The piece I heard you read was delightful. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Deb! I'm glad you liked the sneak peek. :)

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  6. Enjoyed learning more about the author. This sounds like a fun story. The cover is beautiful.

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  7. I've "followed" you for some time and appreciate all the writing advice you offer, especially on your YouTube channel. Thanks!

    I love this interview and am happy to see your book is out. How exciting! (I'm just a little confused about the wine thing. Such good Vino in your country.) 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Linda! And ha ... I've just never liked wine. Makes me kinda sickly. And I'm married to an Italian who also doesn't like wine, so it's not just me! :D

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  8. This looks/sounds glorious--can't wait to savor it! Love your YouTube channel (plus Italy plus vino)!

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    1. Thank you! And I'm so glad you find the YT channel useful!

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  9. Congrats! This book looks amazing. I love your poetry blog and your videos.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Laurie!

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  10. Congratulations—a crab ballet sounds delightfully fun! And living by the sea in Italy sounds dreamy as all get-out.

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    1. Thank you, Elia! I never get tired of the beauty around me, that's for sure!

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  11. I can’t find the right words to say what I feel about this book! It’s beautiful, in rhyme, and written by Renee LaTulippe! It’s been a few years since I first took Lyrical Language Lab, still the best and most comprehensive course on rhyme and lyrical language I’ve ever taken. Congratulations Renee!

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    1. Oh, wow, thank you so much! I so appreciate your kind words about LLL. Yay! :)

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  12. Your book is gorgeous! Congratulations on your debut. I look forward to reading and studying your work as mentor text.

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    1. Thank you so much, Danielle! I hope you find it helpful as a mentor text (and what an honor!). :)

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  13. The sea dances constantly, so what could be lovelier than a Ballet of the Crabs -- coming soon to a venue near you! Rhythm and lyricism are the perfect vehicle to carry it off. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I never get tired of the dancing sea, that's for sure. :)

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  14. "It’s very hard to hear the music you’re creating if you don’t open your mouth and sing it." Love this advice and the gorgeous snippets I've seen of your debut pb so much! (I still have a pair of my old pointe shoes.) Congratulations and so happy for you and this beautiful book!

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    1. Ooh, get out those pointe shoes and twirl! Thank you so much, Melissa! :)

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  15. I'm thrilled for you, Renee!!! I've been waiting for this book since you decided to build on your poem using the word iridescent. That poem blew me away and I know the book will take my delight up a few notches AND that your book will be huggable ... as all the best books are!
    My copy is on the way and I've requested it for purchase at my library. Congratulations, my friend!

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    1. Aw, Penny, my dear friend -- you know it's been a long time coming and I so appreciate your support and cheerleading over the years! And thank you for the library request. Exciting! Send me a WhatsApp when you get the book! <3 :)

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  16. So excited for you, Renee! Huzzah! Can't to get my copy!

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    1. Thank you so much, BJ! We've been on this road together for so many years, haven't we? Here's to more books for us all! :)

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  17. What a charming book! Congratulations, Renee! I'm so happy for your success!

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  18. This is my first introduction to you, Renee. I wish I'd heard about you sooner and could have enjoyed your poems. I love poetry and think your dancing crabs sounds like a lyrical and colorful book. I can't wait to read it. I would love to win a copy of my own. Terrific post! Good luck with your future children's books. Congrats on this lovely book being published.

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  19. Congratulations, Renée! I have yet to "get" rhyming when it comes to my own writing, but I've enjoyed trying by following your rhyming tips these past few years since I started my writing journey. For the new donation drive added to the #50PreciousWords contest this year, I donated CRAB BALLET. Enjoy your book launch! 🦀

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    1. Oh, my, that is so nice of you, Ashley! I'm truly thrilled and honored. Thank you so much! :)

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    2. Sorry, I forgot, THE on the title. 🤦‍♀️. You're welcome!

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  20. This sounds like an amazing book Renee! My journey has been "just long" as well so I can totally relate, but a huge CONGRATULATIONS about selling your books! I can't wait to read them all. I love poetry and think it goes so beautifully in hand with picture books.

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    1. Thank you so much, Carolyn! And yeesh, yes, it's sooooooo long. We just gotta keep moving forward, right? :)

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  21. This looks like a delightful book. Kids and parents are going to love it. Thanks.

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  22. I love love love this book! And I love hearing about your food preferences. My 18-yr-old son would be right there with you, LOL.

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    1. Thank you so much for all your support, Jilanne! I drove my mom crazy with my persnickety tastes but hey -- I was born this way! :D

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  23. I've been looking forward to reading this for ages. The language looks so fun! (Also, when I was a child I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, so I'm looking forward to seeing their role in the ballet!)

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    1. I cannot think of a better job on earth than dolphin trainer! Wow! Thank you for your kind words -- I hope you enjoy the book1

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  24. Congratulations, Renee! You are an excellent teacher and I can't wait to read your book!

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  25. I love the idea of a crab ballet! Congratulations! Can't wait to read your book. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Angie! I mean, the DO have the legs for it! :)

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  26. Congratulations! Your book looks wonderful.

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  27. Congrats on the release! This sounds like a wonderful book and the cover illustrations are beautiful.

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  28. Love seeing you in the author spotlight, Renee! This is so wonderful and awe-inspiring for the thousands of us still in the trenches. I love how CRAB BALLET was inspired by a contest, your homeland, and your theatre background! BRAVO.

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Kathy! It took a heck of a long time, but the crabs and I made it to the other side. And for those in the trenches -- you will get there too! <3

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  29. Knowing how much you give to the writing community with your poetry lessons makes this launch so much sweeter. Congrats!

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    1. What a kind thing to say, Lauri. Thank you so much!

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  30. Beautiful idea and illustrations.

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  31. So fun to learn more about you, Renee! (I don’t like nuts in my brownies either.😬) Congratulations on THE CRAB BALLET!! 🎉

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! The illustrator did an amazing job. :)

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