Author Spotlight: Serena Gingold Allen
March 25, 2022
We are excited to feature author Serena Gingold Allen and her novelty board books, MOONLIGHT PRANCE, and SUNRISE DANCE illustrated by Teagan White (Chronicle Books, April 5, 2022).
Enter to win a copy of both books!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I grew up writing a lot—I was homeschooled until high school and my family had a newsletter. Each month we’d have a topic that we’d write about (usually history or social justice-themed) and kids from other homeschooling families across the country would send in articles they had written too. In addition to this, I was always writing some story or other (often middle-grade mystery stories featuring adventurous kids). I never did finish any of them, but I sure enjoyed writing them. When I grew up I became an elementary school teacher and one of my favorite parts of the job was reading aloud pictures books to my students and having conversations about them. After a decade of teaching, I was burnt out and decided that I would finally pursue writing as a career.
Congrats on board books, Moonlight Prance and Sunrise Dance! Tell us about the books and how they came about.
Thank you! I wrote Moonlight Prance after my first child was born. My husband and I were tired of reading all of our son’s board books and I decided I would write one. I asked my husband what he’d appreciate from a board book. He wanted something that wasn’t boring and was fun to read aloud. Eventually, I had the idea for Moonlight Prance in the middle of the night when I was awake with my son. I imagined all the nocturnal animals out romping around. And the first lines popped in my head in rhyme. After only a few revisions, I submitted to publishers and my editor pulled it from the slush pile at Chronicle Books. She brought it to her acquisition team and everyone liked it so much they wanted a companion title to go with it. So I wrote the first draft of Sunrise Dance and they acquired that too. Both books are novelty board books with push-pull tabs. They’re written in rhyme and feature energetic animals and fun movement words.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I started writing children’s books in 2013. I wrote Moonlight Prance in 2016, submitted it to a few publishers in early 2017 and it was acquired by Chronicle Books along with Sunrise Dance in late 2017. And now, five years after acquisition they are finally being released in April. So in some ways, it was short and sweet, but it was also long and winding.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m in the midst of submitting three very different picture book manuscripts to agents and editors. One is written in rhyme, one is in lyrical prose, and the last is fiction but inspired by a friend with an interesting job who passed away a few years ago.
I think I would tell my younger self that a career doesn’t have to be for life and that it’s OK to follow more than one dream. For aspiring authors, I have two pieces of advice: take the time to hone your craft before you start submitting and join a critique group. I don’t know what I’d do without my critique group. They’re like a second family to me.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I spend a lot of time hiking, running, and rock climbing and I log every workout in a journal (date, activity, duration).
Where can people find you online?
I have a website with some great resources that go along with my books: serenagingoldallen.com
Serena Gingold Allen is the author of Moonlight Prance and Sunrise Dance (Chronicle Books, April 2022), both novelty board books about wild animals. Growing up in the foothills outside of Yosemite, Serena spent her childhood observing the natural world. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but she still spends a lot of time in the great outdoors hiking and rock climbing with her husband and their two children.