Debut Review Challenge with Paulette Sharkey

It is my pleasure to welcome Paulette Sharkey to the Debut Review Challenge blog. Her picture book, A DOLL FOR GRANDMA, explores the memory loss of a grandparent and is a useful tool for families navigating that difficult terrain with their children.

Paulette Bochnig Sharkey worked for many years as a librarian, first in her home state of Michigan, and later in Australia, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Her writing has appeared in magazines including ParentsHopscotchHighlights, and Cricket. She has also been a proofreader, ghostwriter, developmental editor, recipe indexer, and transcriber of children’s books from print into braille. A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (Beaming Books, May 2020) is her first picture book. 
A little girl and her grandmother always find ways to have fun together. Then Kiera notices that Grandma is changing: leaving keys in the refrigerator, knitting hats too small to fit anyone’s head. When Grandma moves into a memory-care home, Kiera finds a new way to sustain their close relationship. She embraces the altered reality inside Grandma’s mind and gives Grandma a doll. Now they can take care of their “babies” together. This is a story about empathy and kindness and the special bond between grandparent and grandchild. It’s about loving and accepting people as they are, even when they change. (Beaming Books, 2020)


Number of years writing: 30

Number of years from contract to published book: 1.5

Date your book was released: May 5, 2020

Number of pages: 32

Number of launch events: Because of Covid-19, I’m doing a blog tour for now, possibly more events later.

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity: I devote an hour or two of every writing day to marketing and publicity.

Number of critique partners: Four

Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years: I’m going to be (uncharacteristically) optimistic and say five!

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: Haha! Too many to count!


Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck?  

I’m working on a picture book biography about a female musician. I love shining a light on an inspiring woman who has not gotten the attention she deserves but I’m stuck trying to show the problems and hardships she faced in a child-friendly way. And the pb bio field is crowded now, which is discouraging, but I believe in this WIP!

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

The piano is a constant in my life, the thing that grounds me. For the last 15 years, I’ve been playing for the elderly residents living in senior facilities. Whether I’m playing solo, with my duet partner, or with my lovely amateur musician friends in our small ensemble, the piano is how I recharge. 


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 fearful cat 

Setting: A birthday party

Theme: Enjoying the moment

Problem: Needing a plan B when things don’t work out as hoped

Pitch: When a fearful cat must attend a birthday party, she counts the minutes until it will be over, but when an enticing gift is opened, she decides to participate in the fun—in her own cautious way. 

Very sweet! Introverts and anxiety sufferers need positive examples in books.


Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. Every time you write five reviews for debut Kidlit creators between May 1 – June 30, 2020, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Paulette has generously donated a signed book (US only). Thank you, Paulette!

For this week only, Paulette is offering a nonfiction picture book critique, up to 1000 words. Enter by Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find the complete rules for the Debut Review Challenge and a downloadable record sheet to keep track of your reviews HERE.

2 thoughts on “Debut Review Challenge with Paulette Sharkey”

  1. What a wonderful book to share. Every time I see the cover, it reminds me of my husband’s grandmother often wanting to keep his niece’s dolls. She’s had Alzheimers for a long. I’m looking forward to reading your story.

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