Review of "Easter Elf" and interview with Author Rochelle Groskreutz
Easter Elf by Rochelle Groskreutz with illustrations by Leah Di Pasquale is such a unique and fun picture book that I’m telling everyone they need to order one for the young readers in their lives. If the name Easter Elf, doesn’t make you look twice, the colorful and playful cover will have you pulling it off the shelf for a closer look. And then you’ll be hooked, because it just gets better from there. After all, you’re going to want to know all about this elf who doesn’t live at the North Pole and does Easter-ish things. When a Christmas Elf crashes into the picture, the situation becomes a little interesting for Easter Elf, but I won’t give it away. You’ll just have to read for yourself how it all turns out! It’s a well-written, perfectly illustrated, and charmingly unique story that parents and kids will adore together.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Hop to it with Easter Elf! In this delightful picture book, young readers learn that there are elves for more than just one holiday, and that friends make any celebration more fun – even when there’s a little competition involved.
Easter Elves: They're EGGceptional at basket weaving, grass shredding, and hopping. They can paint, decorate, and hide eggs in no time. They dress in pastels and never leave the workshop without their bunny ears.
Christmas Elves: They’re TINSEL-riffic at, well, everything. They dress in greens and reds and never leave the workshop without a jingle bell.
SO, what happens when Christmas Elf makes a surprise crash landing at Easter Elf Spring Training? She hops higher, weaves better baskets, and shreds significantly more grass than Easter Elf, who can’t help but feel a little elf-doubt.
Will Easter Elf finally get a moment in the spotlight, and even better, the opportunity to help a friend?
Brought to life through luminous, high-energy illustrations, Easter Elf is sure to become a holiday (mash-up) favorite and Easter basket stuffer to the delight of young readers (and Easter Elves!) everywhere.
Q. I’m so pleased to share an interview with Rochelle Groskreutz, the author of Easter Elf. Congratulations on such a beautiful picture book. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing adventure so far?
A. I started writing in college to build towards a career in law. But I fell in love with the stories I was reading and the writing I was doing as an English Writing Intensive major. Professionally, I’ve been self-employed (Words For Sale) as a freelance copywriter since 1997. I was inspired to write for children after I had my own in 2004. I started writing for children in 2009 by completing the beginner and advanced programs at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Honestly, SCBWI has been the most valuable kidlit resource for me. It’s helped my craft so much, and helped me meet so many inspiring, like-minded people to share this “adventure” with.
Like everyone, I’ve had failures in my kidlit journey. More than 115 rejections over 8 years, the promise of having an agent only to part ways with that agent after 16 months, etc. But what I learned most is that it's not about how much you fail; it’s about how much your persevere.
Q. Easter Elf is such a fun idea. I love how you call it a mash-up. What was the inspiration for this cute book?
A. EASTER ELF was inspired when I took a closer look at the commercial side of the holidays. Late fall five years ago, I was gearing up for a visit from our Elf on the Shelf®. It made me think that Easter was getting short-changed as a holiday, since surely the Easter Bunny could not fill all those baskets alone. My original Easter Elf character was gruff and a bit disgruntled about why Christmas elves get all the glory.
Q. I appreciate how you included a little lesson about humility and being helpful to a friend in need. But you did so in a subtle way. Was it hard to get the balance right with that as you wrote the book?
A. It was, but I have to say that Abby at KWiL and I really gel when it comes to editorial revisions. She really drove my story idea in a new direction, and from the start we agreed that this book was driven just as much, if not more, by illustration. It was a challenge to pull back, but a great lesson that I hope will help me write more succinctly on future projects.
Q. I adore the illustrations by Leah DiPasquale. They’re such an important part of telling this story. (Each time I go back to the book, I see something new that I missed on my previous times through it.) How involved were you with the development process with the illustrations?
A. I told Abby initially that I wanted to be surprised as much as possible by Leah’s work. Because KWiL is a newer, independent publisher, I was able to be part of the process and give some input. But I ultimately wanted Leah to work her magic and convey how she interpreted my words through her amazing illustrations—she did not disappoint, IMO!
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your publisher KWiL Publishing?
A. I am fortunate to have a connection to KWiL. The founder, Abby Nies Janowiec, was in my first picture book critique group, the LITtle Ladies, that formed in 2012. I respected Abby’s feedback on my work while she was in our group, so it was a true pleasure when she approached me about wanting to publish Easter Elf. Abby started KWiL in 2016, and has successfully not looked back ever since. I’m proud to be part of KWiL Publishing, and look forward to their future.
Q. Would you be willing to share with readers the different types of jobs you’ve had? I always like to ask authors this, mainly because authors always seem to have had interesting job histories.
A. You bet—such a terrific question! As soon as I turned 16, it didn't matter to my parents that I was babysitting for the past four years—it was time for me to get a “real” job. So mine was a “juice girl” at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP). I helped boost breakfast business by peddling my tray of apple, orange, grapefruit and tomato juice around the restaurant. I even got a commission for the glasses of juices I sold.
Q. If there’s anything that you wish you could go back and tell your “unpublished” self, what would that be?
A. BE PATIENT. I have none, so I’ve often wondered why I got into this industry in the first place. It is so cliché but gosh darn-it, it’s true—it really is about the “journey” and not the destination. Focus on your improvement along the way rather than the end-goal of publication. Everyone rides a rollercoaster in life—it’s really about how tight you want to hold on.
Q. What sort of books do you like to read as an adult and what were some of your favorites as a child?
A. As an adult, I am a self-help junkie. From Growth Mindset to You Are a Badass, I love books that force me to examine my thoughts and actions more. As a child, The Giving Tree and The Monster at the End of this Book were my favorite picture books. As I got older, I read every book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series (I was also a Little House on the Prairie fanatic) and every title from Judy Blume.
Q. Can we look forward to another book from you in the coming months?
A. I just finished an educational book in a series for Weigl Publishing on Mount Elbrus, which I believe will be available later in Spring 2019. And I have been talking with KWiL about a follow-up picture book about Easter Elf’s visit to the North Pole.
Oh, I would love that book. Great idea!! Yes, please write that one.
Q. Before we move on to the Super Six list, is there anything else you want to tell readers about yourself or your book(s)?
A. Watching little ones suffer from sugar overload at Eastertime is not pretty. Spare them and yourself the agony—Easter Elf makes a great, sugar-free basket stuffer.
Super Six List:
Fav Pizza Topping: Cheese, extra cheese and more cheese
Book You’re Reading Now: Sell Books and Get Paid Doing Author School Visits by Kim Norman. Plus I typically start each day reading a picture book—I just finished Hannah Sparkles by Robin Mellom.
Coffee, Tea, or Both: Coffee to rise, tea to rest is usually my daily mantra.
Fav Activity as a Child: Swimming
Most Interesting Place You’ve Lived: My four months as a nomad seeing the world. Best place was a week in a private wood cabin on a quiet beach in Ko Samui, Thailand.
Best Place You’ve Vacationed: My husband and I quit our jobs in 2002 to travel around the world for four months—that’s my favorite travel memory. China, New Zealand and Thailand were my top three countries to visit.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thanks so much, Rochelle!!