I was thrilled to receive this pic in my inbox last night from illustrator Ron Lightburn. It's the cover for our new picture book, Juba This, Juba That, which will be published by Tundra Books this fall.
The book is based on a traditional work chant sung by slaves in the American South. I learned the "song" when visiting Monticello, the home of U.S. founding dad Thomas Jefferson. The costumed staff we met there were doing all the jobs that were done on the original estate, including grinding corn. The chant was being sung as part of that job.
I never was able to get the catchy rhythm of the Juba chant out of my head. What a wonderful book it would make, I thought! So I put my thinking cap on, did some research, and re-wrote the chant to make a simple story that's fun to read and fun to hear. I also made sure to include some key preschool learning opps - my background is in the education world, after all. The story focuses on opposites like up and down, near and far, high and low.
I haven't seen the rest of the art for the book yet, by judging by the cover, it will be whimsical and beautiful and evocative. Can't wait!!!!