Debut Review Challenge with Shauna LaVoy Reynolds

Shauna LaVoy Reynolds joins the Challenge blog today to share her tender picture book, POETREE. Welcome, Shauna!

For a BONUS ENTRY, please leave a comment on this blog post!
 (This will apply if you also complete at least one official ENTRY FORM.)

Debut By-the-Numbers: POETREE

Number of years writing: 

Basically forever, but I’ve been taking it super seriously for about 7 years.

Number of years from contract to published book: 

3 years

Date your book was released: 

March 19, 2019

Number of pages: 


Number of launch events: 

One was plenty! And I’m still thinking about that cake.

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:

I think I’m pretty good at prioritizing and balancing writing vs. marketing & publicity. The problem is when it all takes a backseat to Netflix or laundry or Twitter.

Number of critique partners: 


Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years: 

5 would be amazing. 1 would also be amazing.

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: 

Every dang day.

Current number of reviews:

On Amazon: 20; On Goodreads: 95

A Few Questions

  • Why do you write for children?

Kids are so funny and creative and their imaginations have no limits. I wouldn’t want to write for anyone else.

  • What does your work space look like? Tell us about a typical work session. 

I usually work at home, either on a comfy couch or at the kitchen or dining room table. I prefer the kitchen because of the bird feeders right outside the window. The goldfinches and chickadees are happy to be my coworkers as long as I keep their breakroom stocked with snacks. If I have some sort of deadline or find the responsibilities of home too distracting I like to work in coffee shops. I wrote the very first and very final drafts of POETREE at a Starbucks near my house.

  • When you need to take a creative break, do you have another activity or hobby that recharges you? 

Lately it’s been jigsaw puzzles, but I enjoy anything that uses my hands while keeping the wordy part of my brain free. A long walk on a cool day is always physically and mentally refreshing, too.

Time to Play: STORY SMASH!

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Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript! 

Character: A grumpy hedgehog

Setting: Jupiter

Theme: Perseverance 

Problem: No one is listening

Pitch: A grumpy hedgehog wants to travel to another planet, but who will do his chores and keep his best friend company while he’s gone?

I have to say, this sounds like a *terrible* story. I can totally relate to that grumpy hedgehog, though.

This idea is … intriguing. 😉 You never know what you’re going to get with Story Smash!

Okay, Challenge Participants! It’s Time to Write Some Reviews!

Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. Every time you write five reviews for debut Kidlit creators between January 1-February 29, 2020, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Shauna has generously donated a signed book. Thank you, Shauna!


  • Support debut authors by suggesting their book titles to your local library.
  • Purchase them as gifts for children in your life, a teacher, or a local school.
  • Share book titles or reviews on social media and tag the author/illustrator.

About Shauna and her Book

Bio: Shauna LaVoy Reynolds is an author, storyteller, and word nerd. She lives in a house full of books outside of Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, two children, and an elderly poodle. Shauna writes uncommon stories for uncommon children to make the world a lovelier place. Poetree (Dial, 2019) is her debut picture book. Connect and learn more at

Book Title: POETREE

Author/Illustrator: by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

Publisher: Dial / Penguin Young Readers

Year: 2019

Synopsis: The snow has melted, the buttercups are blooming, and young poet Sylvia celebrates winter’s end by writing a poem. She ties the poem to a birch tree, hoping that it doesn’t count as littering if it makes the world more beautiful. But when she returns, a new poem is waiting for her. Could the tree really be writing back? Sylvia decides to test her theory, and so begins a heartwarming poetic correspondence that helps Sylvia express her love of nature and discover an unlikely friend.

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