Monday, February 18, 2019

Meet children's author Laura Roettiger and her new picture book, Aliana Reaches for the Moon

Teachers and parents strive to inspire their students and children to become engaged and excited about the world around them.

As a parent, I loved discovering new ideas on how to have my children interact with nature when they were younger.  I believe that fostering this interest in learning played a large part in their ability to put themselves on their own paths to successful futures now that they're grown, because they learned how to ask questions and get excited about possibilities.  Looking back, their journeys began with picture books. There were so many that we read before bedtime.  Some of our favorites that featured nature were We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, and When Will It Be Spring? by Catherine Walters. 

Today, I'm excited to share a new picture book by Laura Roettiger called Aliana Reaches for the Moon.  This story is centered on the process of discovery and creative interaction with the natural world by a young girl as she creates a birthday gift for her brother. I anticipate that children will enjoy looking for clues about the gift Aliana makes in subsequent re-readings, and will be inspired to make marvelous creations of their own. 

Laura took time out of her schedule to share some insights about her new book. The book's birthday is tomorrow, February 19, so you will be able to bring this book into your own personal libraries to enjoy with the young readers in your life! 

What was your inspiration for Aliana Reaches for the Moon?

The inspiration for the story comes from a few different people and observations that I have woven together.  I moved from Chicago, Illinois to the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado in July 2016. It was the first time I lived away from the light pollution of a city and I was amazed by the brightness of the full moon. This is what starts Alianas journey in the book. Aliana is based on my own daughters and some of the wonderful children I taught in Chicago at Carlos Fuentes Charter School.

Your story is set in Colorado. What are some of your favorite outdoor places to explore in Colorado and beyond?

Colorado has so many ways to enjoy the outdoors. I had vacationed in Colorado many times including ski trips, hiking, river rafting, and a little mountain biking. Now that I live here, I hike trails with my Goldendoodle Charlie in all seasons. One of the biggest differences between living here and Chicago is the amount of time spent enjoying nature. My "backyard" is National Forest, so I can hike from my house or drive a few miles to a variety of trails. I've also learned to snowshoe which is an amazing workout. Several years ago, I took a hiking trip on the Oregon-Washington border seeing amazing waterfalls near the Columbia River Gorge. Minus the waterfalls, it's very much like that here. 

Do you have any favorite artists that combine science and art, perhaps like Aliana does?

I love impressionism. Artists like Monet, Degas, and Pissaro and their Post-Impressionist disciples Van Gogh, Seurat, and Gauguin have inspired me. I'm not sure if they combined science and art like da Vinci is known for, but I'm sure there are connections. My writing and photography are the way I express my art.

What were some of your favorite books when you were younger?

My favorite books included Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sydney Taylor's All of a Kind Family, and all of the Beverly Cleary books.

What is your typical day like as a writer? No real typical day. 

What is your favorite advice to share?

Author Laura Roettiger (on Left), signing a copy for a reader
Advice for writers: Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), connect with other writers as much as possible - if you write picture books, Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Picture Book Challenge is an excellent source of support and education. Read widely, especially in the genre you write in. It’s important to study craft by reading and knowing what works and why. Be patient, because publishing is a long slow process.

Advice to support writers: Buy the book for yourself or to give as a gift. In addition to that, some of the other ways that are free and also valuable to writers include requesting a book from the library. Libraries make purchases based on patron requests. Write reviews online at Amazon and Goodreads. You can submit reviews on books you purchased elsewhere or read from the library. Talk about the books you enjoy. Recommendations from word of mouth are an important factor in purchasing books.

Find more information about Laura and connect with her at her website: