Book bloggers are obviously so important to authors. They give consistent reviews. They open their blogs to us. They are readers and fans! I think we should honor them more.
So this series of interviews was born! Hopefully it will help authors find bloggers and give everyone else a better appreciation of them.
Welcome to Danielle Davis for our very first interview. Be sure and check out her links at the end of this post.
What types of books do you review?
Danielle: I review picture books, the kind that are smart, beautifully illustrated, playful, and/or unique.
Do you have any guidelines for authors to follow in contacting you? A link will work.
Danielle: I typically receive books from publishers directly, but I love it when an author or illustrator reaches out too. Email is perfect and my contact info can be found here.
Do you post anything besides reviews—such as cover art or giveaways?
Danielle: Yes, yes! I try to always pair a picture book review (and interior art) with something related to the book. Sometimes that’s a craft. It could be an interview. I might collaborate with someone who provides a book-related recipe. Or it might be pictures of pool floats. You know, stuff like that.
And I love hosting giveaways and do so with some regularity. They combine mail and passing books on to others, two of my very favorite things.
How do you find books to review or do they come to you?
Danielle: After two years of blogging, I now receive a lot of books in the mail directly from publishing companies. That said, I’m still always hunting online at other blogs, at independent bookstores, and at my local library, where I have my very own hold shelf. J
What got you into blogging about books?
Danielle: My love for them and wanting to share that. And, more specifically, I wanted to provide posts that make connections between picture books and their subject matter in fun, interesting ways.
What elements go into a good review and how long does it take to write one?
Danielle: What a good question. If I’m making something or collaborating with someone, a blog post can take days. If it’s a simpler affair, a couple to a few hours, which includes gathering interior artwork from an author, illustrator, or publisher as well as writing (and reading).
For picture books, I think a good review shows us illustrations from the book because it’s such a visual medium. And I think it also tells us what the blogger loves about it, why it’s special. And finally, I think it gives us a sense of the story, premise, or characters, without giving everything away.
How often do you post reviews?
Danielle: Usually twice a week though I’ve been posting only once a week this summer.
What types of things make for an extra special book? The kind you don’t forget?
Danielle: I think one big thing that makes a picture book extra special is that it takes full advantage of the form. So that means it’s visual in its storytelling, spare, and makes you either laugh or cry at the end. I think you really want that ending to resonate one way or another so that kid readers want to go back immediately and read it again or so that it sticks with them in some way. A book, any book, should change you after reading it—make you see a familiar thing with fresh eyes, make you giggle, make you feel something.
Favorite books you’ve reviewed.
Danielle: HUGME by Simona Ciraolo from last year charmed me. Maybe because it’s about an adorable cactus and I live in Los Angeles. But mostly because of its authenticity. There was something honest and slightly edgy about it that I really loved.
Books you are looking forward to in the next year.
Danielle: I’m excited to write blog posts on two soon to be released picture books: THEWONDERFUL FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY by Beatrice Alemagna and SWAN by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad.
Both are inventive and beautiful and not to be missed! (And they make you feel things!) J
Do you prefer kindle or actual books when reading?
Danielle: Picture books are by their nature objects. The experience of holding one and often reading it aloud and showing the pictures is integral to the magic.
If you could only purchase one book, what would it be?
Danielle: Only one book? That. Is. Tough. Probably THE GIRL IN THE FLAMMABLE SKIRT , a collection of short stories by Aimee Bender. I was introduced to it when I was just starting to commit to the idea of trying to be a writer ten years ago and everything I’ve written since has been influenced in some way by that wild and wonderful book.
Only one picture book? THE RED TREE by Shaun Tan. I know, it’s so sad! Oh well, that’s the one I’d pick because it’s brilliant and everything I need in a book.
What’s your favorite spot to read?
Danielle: For picture books, it’s my living room or the library. Or, even better, to a group of little ones with the amazing nonprofit called Reading to Kids that I volunteer with once a month. Yeah, that’s the best spot.
Give us your best advice for a beginning book blogger.
Danielle: I think it’s important to post about books you truly like. That’s how you begin to develop your blog’s aesthetic and point of view. That’s how you create a voice. That’s how you throw glimmering bits of positivity out into the book universe. And that’s how you become a source others with similar tastes can trust.
One other thing: don’t be afraid to reach out to authors and publishers, even when you’re just starting out. They’re usually kind and appreciative of your efforts on behalf of books, no matter how new or small your blog!
Thank you so much, Michelle, for having me!
Danielle Davis has an M.A. in Literature and Creative Writing, a membership with SCBWI, and a pair of roller skates. She writes books for young readers and helps others do the same. Her blog, This Picture Book Life, is a good place to find her.