How Norene Paulson Makes Back Matter Really Matter in Her Picture Books
February is the perfect month to share a picture book that expresses empathy and friendship. Today, I’m delighted to present Norene Paulson and her new picture book, NILA’S PERFECT COAT. This heartwarming story was published by Beaming Books and released on February 7th.
Kidlit Creatives Members: Norene is generously offering the winner a non-rhyming picture book manuscript critique. For a chance to win this special prize, follow the directions at the end of this post.
First, I want to share illustrator Maria Mola’s sweet cover art!
About the book: Nila and her mom love shopping at the thrift store. But when Nila finds the most perfect, shiny, puffy coat, Mom says no: Nila's winter coat still fits her just fine. With a lot of determination and some birthday money from Dad, Nila sets out to prove the coat really is perfect--but along the way, learns maybe it's perfect for someone else. Someone who needs both a coat and a friend.
Manju: Hi, Norene! Congratulations on your third published picture book, NILA’S PERFECT COAT! Before we dig into the back matter for your new picture book, please share how you used back matter in your previous book.
Norene: Hi, Manju! My second picture book WHAT'S SILLY HAIR DAY WITH NO HAIR? has back matter entitled Hair Loss in Children explains the most common two reasons kids lose their hair - alopecia and cancer treatments. Since many people are unfamiliar with alopecia and unaware it is something that can affect children, I felt explanatory back matter would be helpful. I also included resource links to the following organizations: National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Children's Alopecia Project, and the American Hair Loss Association. In addition, there is also a note for readers written from the main character's point of view on important things to remember about temporary tattoos.
The back matter for SILLY HAIR DAY was researched online by visiting a variety of both informational and nonprofit websites. Additional extended research was done for the tattoo back matter as my editor and I wanted to emphasize the importance of using tattoos that met or exceeded safety standards.
Manju: In NILA’S PERFECT COAT, the back matter includes a nonprofit group. Did you write the story with One Warm Coat in mind or did that connection happen later?
Norene: I didn't write the story with One Warm Coat in mind. I found their website during my research on recycling clothes in general. It was one of the links I included in the original back matter where coat/clothing drives were discussed as one sustainable option for rehoming clothes.
When Andrea, my editor at Beaming Books, said the back matter didn't work for her, I agreed. I knew it needed to be more focused, and that's how I ended up honing in on the nonprofit One Warm Coat. The tie-in between their mission of providing free coats to those in need and Nila gifting her coat to a friend in need worked better. I connected with One Warm Coat (www.onewarmcoat.org) when I tagged the nonprofit in my Instagram cover reveal post, and they responded asking to learn more about the book. Since then my publicist and I have worked with their President & CEO, Beth Amodio and Executive Vice President, Patti Zappa, to promote both the book and their organization.
Manju: Back matter could include an author’s note, photographs, glossary, timeline, suggested books and more. What advice would you give to a picture book writer who wants to include back matter?
Norene: While back matter is often found in nonfiction books, it can add an authenticity layer to fictional picture books, as well. Back matter is an excellent way to provide additional information that enhances understanding of the text, provide additional resources, or, as in the case of NILA'S PERFECT COAT, offer a call-to-action.
My advice to picture book writers wanting to include back matter is to make sure their story has elements that would benefit from including additional information, extension activities, photographs, graphics, etc. Then study the back matter of similar mentor texts before beginning research. Lastly, use trusted primary or secondary sources to make sure the content included is current and correct. Don't forget to annotate and to include the annotations when submitting.
Thanks very much, Norene!
Norene Paulson is a word-loving, book-reading, story-writing kid lit author. Growing up in South Dakota, Norene spent long hours exploring the frontier with Laura Ingalls Wilder and solving mysteries with Nancy Drew. Now grown up and living in Iowa, Norene writes picture books that celebrate friendship, acceptance, and inclusion. When she’s not writing, Norene enjoys spending time with her husband, her two grown sons, and playing word games.
Norene's debut picture book, BENNY'S TRUE COLORS, illustrated by Anne Passchier published with Imprint/Macmillan on Nov. 17, 2020, and her second picture book, WHAT'S SILLY HAIR DAY WITH NO HAIR? illustrated by Camila Carrossine published with Albert Whitman on March 23, 2021. Her latest picture book,NILA'S PERFECT COAT, illustrated by Maria Mola, was published by Beaming Books on February 7, 2023.
To learn more about Norene, visit her website at www.norenepaulson.com or follow her on Twitter @NorenePaulson or on Instagram @nrpaulson.
Prize offer: For your chance to win a non-rhyming picture book manuscript critique - read the post, leave a comment on our Kidlit Creatives page (must be a member) and share this interview on your Twitter or Facebook. Deadline to enter is Monday, February 13th.
All posts on Manju's blog promote members of Kidlit Creatives: Create, Query & Support.