Author Spotlight: Mary Munson with Love Will Turn You Around

Happy Tuesday and welcome to Glitter Reviews!

We are happy to have Mary Munson with Love Will Turn You Around featured today in Glitter Reviews. Mary is a children’s book writer and teacher with over 25 years of experience. Gnome Road Publishing released Love Will Turn You Around on April 4th, 2023. Kate Talbot is the illustrator of the book’s lively and colorful spreads. 

The book’s blurb from Goodreads:

Some days everything seems wrong, and life can make you feel . . . bent out of shape.

In Love Will Turn You Around, readers are reminded of the power of friendship and positivity to turn a frown upside down and make things right again. Kids are encouraged to persevere during difficult times as they witness Heart’s determination to overcome his struggles to fit in with the other shapes. Cheers are sure to follow as Heart remembers what matters most and embraces the strength within to turn things around not only for himself but others, too.

With bright, engaging illustrations that showcase primary and secondary colors and a text that cleverly introduces basic shape properties, Love Will Turn You Around is the perfect addition to preschool and elementary classrooms and libraries.

My Favorite Things

I enjoyed Heart’s friends helping him feel better, but I loved that Heart figures out he would only feel better doing what makes him twinkle. We all need to find what makes us twinkle, which won’t necessarily be what makes someone else feel twinkly. Also, children learn about shapes through an engaging story about being oneself.

Love Will Turn You Around is a story about having a bad day, feelings, and identity. What inspired you to write it?  

This story emerged through Susannah Hill’s “Valentiny Writing Contest” a few years ago. I thought a Heart would make a good character, and without love, he might be upside down. I didn’t win the contest, but the image stuck with me. I thought about what an upside-down heart might feel like and how he might get right-side up. Of course, he needed some help, and naturally he would be friends with other shapes, so I suddenly a story arc and characters. Because I am a teacher I wanted to ‘teach’ through the story as well. So, I set out to ‘turn Heart around’ using the other shape’s properties and friendship.

The identity part came in because at work we often wondered why rhombus is the only shape not called by his real geometric name. And I wanted to play with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, being compared to a diamond in the sky, when he is really a star, and a diamond is really a rhombus…childhood sure can be confusing!

After Heart wakes up feeling all wrong, he tries to feel better by adopting his friends’ qualities instead of looking inward. You did an excellent job conveying the universal act of trying to fit in with others in a kid-friendly way. Was it challenging? Can you tell us about your thought process?

Sure, I think this is something we all do to an extent. I know I have often emulated qualities I have admired in other people. I know kids always try to do things other kids do. We actually practice that in preschool to help strengthen children’s self-confidence. There is a game called, “Do As I’m Doing,” where each child does something (jumps, claps, twirls), and all of their friends do it with them. It makes each child a “star” and shows young children how capable they are of doing many different things.

Children are inherently kind, so they would most likely try to help a friend who is struggling. We also focus on the properties of shapes a lot in preschool, talking about lines, curves, and corners. I used each shape’s geometric strength to kindly offer assistance to Heart. It wasn’t challenging once I thought of the shapes as children.

But soon, Heart realizes that finding what makes him happy and being himself will make him feel better than trying to be someone else. Why do you think it is essential for children to develop their identities rather than just fit in with others?

Since every child is unique and special, the sooner they realize what their individual gifts are, the more we can celebrate that, ultimately strengthening the whole group. There is safety fitting in with the crowd for sure, but creativity, talent, and truths always try to emerge. Helping people find their strengths is one of the kindest things you can do for someone.

Kate Talbot’s cute and dynamic illustrations catch the reader’s eye with lively shapes in primary and secondary colors. Which is your favorite spread?

Oh yes, Kate rocked the illustrations! She is an artistic genius, for sure. I wanted the shapes to hold their true form for children to learn (for example, no arms, legs, or any characteristic that breaks the shape’s boundary). It was a tall order to make each shape have a different personality, but she did it beautifully with color and texture.

I think my favorite is when Square is trying to help Heart by pulling and stretching him. The look on Heart’s face cracks me up every time. But I also love the movement of Star across the monkey bars twinkling down at Heart. The secondary colors in that scene really make Star “twinkle.”

What do you hope children will take away from Love Will Turn You Around?

I hope they take away the importance of being kind and showing love to others. I hope they think about what makes them “Twinkle,” or brings them joy. We all need more joy in our lives. I hope that if children start to think about what brings them joy, they will follow where it leads and discover their true purpose and/or talents in life. So I ask you, “What makes you twinkle?”

Please tell us about your writing routine.

Ha! I wish I had a routine! I am such an abstract random thinker, most likely kissed with undiagnosed ADHD. I am lucky if I can finish my morning hygiene routine without getting sidetracked by clickbait or a good song that comes on the radio.

I most often wrote on school vacations, during the summer, or if a writing contest caught my attention. Right now, I am so excited about having a book coming out, and I am all about making merch…does anyone need Heart socks?

Can you share with us your best writing tip? 

My best writing tip is to follow what feels right to you, have fun with it, don’t get bogged down with rewriting (although that is important), ask other people their thoughts and really listen to what they are saying. This book felt different when I wrote it. I was absolutely certain it was a winner. There were no doubts; I never thought that way about my other stories.

What is next for you? 

Well, I am currently making plushies to accompany the book. I would love to see all the shapes in plush form for children to retell the story and play with. I also envision an animated series for toddler and preschool children. But this summer, I plan on getting out to surrounding daycare/summer camps to spread some love by reading the book and asking children, “What makes you twinkle?”

If you were a shape, which would you be? Why? 

I would be a circle so I could roll and bounce around. I feel like I would get hurt if I had points. A circle seems safer for me.

What is your favorite color and why?

 I have always loved pink; it can be soft, sweet, or it can be lively and bold.

What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?  

“Cupcakes in your hair!” She looked into my eyes and said it during a group time, out of the blue…I still don’t really know what she meant, but she definitely meant it. Did she know about my secret cupcake love? Did my hair look like it had cupcakes in it? Some things are better left unexplored.

What food should people eat more? 

Cupcakes! That’s what I would have said, but in the event my doctor is reading this…broccoli, of course.

What do you think about the term “teacher’s pet”? 

I can be very literal, so I think it’s insulting to children. They are not pets. With that being said, I often tried to be the “teacher’s pet.” Everyone wants to be loved by their teacher. And good teachers make everyone feel like they are loved.

Thank you so much for this very fun interview! It definitely made me ‘twinkle!’

Thank you for chatting with me!

Photo courtesy of Amy Geiger Photography and from Mary Munson’s website.

About Mary Munson:

Mary Munson is a teacher and writer with over 25 years of experience with children with and without special needs. Mary enjoys writing entertaining stories interlaced with early childhood concepts. Love Will Turn You Around is her debut picture book.

You can find Mary at:

Website: Mary Munson

Twitter: @mmun22

Instagram: @marywritespbs

Goodreads: Mary Munson

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.


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