Happy Monday and welcome to Glitter Reviews!
Today’s Author Spotlight is on children’s author Norene Paulson, who I met through Michele Ziemke’s Mighty KidLit. Her most recent picture book, Nila’s Perfect Coat, illustrated by Maria Mola, was published by Beaming Books on February 7th, 2023.
Nila finds the perfect coat while treasure hunting with her Mom at a thrift store. Her Mom says no because she already has one. Nila is determined to get the goat, but in the process, she realizes it might be better for someone who needs it.
When I read Nila’s Perfect Coat, I could not stop thinking about its lovely message about empathy and its inclusion of modern families. I also could not stop staring at Maria Mola’s gorgeous illustrations. Plus, I enjoy thrift shopping!
So, I was excited to have Norene Paulson on Glitter Reviews to chat about Nila’s Perfect Coat.
Nila’s Perfect Coat is a lovely story about wants versus needs. What inspired you to write it?
The initial inspiration for the story was a desire to normalize thrift store shopping and highlight the benefit of rehoming clothes. After all, what one person may not want anymore, another might desperately need. I then asked myself when is enough enough, and what can we do to help others when our wants supersede our needs?
Besides wants versus needs, Nila’s Perfect Coat touches on economic hardship, modern families, and co-parenting. Please tell us if this was intentional and how did you weave these layers into the story.
When I write, I’m intentional about representation. Kids need to see characters in living situations similar to theirs or their friends. Dual-household families are common, and it was important to me to have that reflected in the story as well as to show Nila’s parents in a respectful co-parenting relationship.
Although having Lily’s family experiencing hard times was a necessary plot point to explain Lily’s lack of a winter coat, what was most important to me was making sure the illustrations showed Nila and Lily living in similar-looking houses. What I want to subtly convey is that experiencing hard times is not neighborhood specific. It can happen to any family anytime, anywhere.
So, yes, weaving these elements into the story was intentional.
Nila and her mother love treasure hunting at thrift shops. Do you enjoy thrift shopping too?
Yes, I am an avid thrift store/consignment store shopper. I would guess 90% of my clothes come from shopping in those stores. Thrift shopping is fun because, like Nila’s Mom said, “You never know what treasures you might find…”
Maria Mola’s illustrations are gorgeous. Which is your favorite spread?
Aren’t they amazing? I mean, how adorable is Nila with her freckles and bangs! I love each spread, but since you asked, I’d say my favorite spread would be where Lily’s getting on the bus. Right away, Lily’s expression alerts the reader to the fact that something isn’t right. There’s a feeling of sadness about her that emotionally draws the reader in.
What do you hope children take away from Nila’s Perfect Coat?
I hope Nila’s story leaves kids with a sense of gratefulness for what they have, a sense of empathy and compassion for those who don’t have the same, and the desire to make a difference.
Please tell us about your writing routine.
Sporadic is the best way to describe my writing routine. I don’t write every day. I should, and one of my critique partners has an early morning online writers’ group that meets every day at 7:00 a.m. to write for an hour. I’m in awe of writers who are so disciplined, but that is not me. My most consistent writing is done when I have a deadline to meet.
Can you share with us your best writing tip?
Sure, my best tip is just to get that first draft written. First drafts are meant to be messy. They don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Their only purpose is to be a starting point. As the saying says, “You can’t revise a blank document” and revising, revising, revising is how great stories come to be.
What is next for you?
Honestly, I’m looking forward to getting back to writing some new first drafts. Since I’m not good at multi-tasking, I haven’t done any new writing since the promotion for NILA’S PERFECT COAT began. I do have another manuscript out on submission, but so far, it hasn’t found a home. Keeping my fingers crossed, though.
What is your favorite clothing accessory?
Not sure if rings qualify as a clothing accessory, but I’m obsessed with them. I usually wear at least four – two on each hand.
If you could learn a skill instantly, what would it be?
I would love to be able to illustrate picture books instantly. Unfortunately, my artistic ability peaks at stick people.
What is your happy place?
Find me on a deserted beach, and you will find me in my happy place.
What is your favorite word?
Conundrum is my favorite word because, at times, everything about publishing is quite puzzling. My favorite runner-up is discombobulated, just because it’s fun to say.
Cats or dogs?
Definitely dogs, particularly rescue dogs.
About Norene Paulson:
Norene Paulson is a children’s author who writes picture books about inclusion, acceptance, and friendship. Benny’s True Colors was her debut picture book, followed by What’s Silly Hair Day with No Hair? Nila’s Perfect Coat is her latest picture book.
You can find Norene at:
Goodreads: Norene Paulson
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