Tell the Truth, Dragon! Interview with Bianca Schulze

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Tell the Truth, Dragon! Interview with Imagination Soup

Today, I’m thrilled to share a recent interview with Bianca Schulze, the author of the popular Dragon series and the newly published Tell the Truth, Dragon and the founder of The Children’s Book Review

In Tell the Truth, Dragon, Dragon blames someone else for her own mistake. Gentle text prompts readers to encourage Dragon to tell the truth and apologize for her mistake, even though it’s a tough thing to do. Dragon realizes her mistake and offers an apology—and then more than makes up for it!

tell the truth dragon

Melissa: What made you decide to write the next dragon story about telling the truth?

Bianca: Here’s the truth and nothing but the truth, my publisher asked me to write a new story for Dragon with a plot based on lying. I said sure! And then one of my kids made it really easy for me to write. This story, while fictional, could also be considered, in part, a true story.

You see, I baked a scrump-diddly-icious chocolate cake one evening—from Weeknight Baking, in case you’re interested. I left it on the kitchen counter to cool. When I returned to the kitchen late evening to cover the cake with a cotton tea towel, I discovered someone had eaten part of it. A ring around the entire top of the cake was gone. But who could have done this unauthorized nibbling (as school librarian Suzanne Costner describes it)? All the children were in bed? Or were they?!

I’m sure you know the answer I got during my family interrogation: “It wasn’t me!”

I once heard in a documentary about Ernest Hemingway that when he didn’t know what to write about next or felt stuck, he’d start with one true thing. So that’s what I did. I took the temptation of one of my kids not being able to resist sampling a freshly baked cake as the premise—I gave that temptation to Dragon. For the plot, I played around with whether she would own up to the truth. And, if so, how would she apologize and make amends for her mistake?

Here’s the Ernest Hemingway quote which came from his memoir, A Moveable Feast:

“But sometimes when I was started on a new story and I could not get going, … I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before, and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.’ So finally, I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”

Melissa: How do/did you handle lying with your kids?

Bianca: I’m sure I could write an answer that makes me sound like a perfect mom that handles every situation with Mary Poppins’ pizzaz. Alas, I’m a human, which means I’m perfectly imperfect by nature and can go from frazzled to Zen master and back again in one day. However, I am a human who loves reading parenting books and listening to podcasts for personal betterment. My current obsession is Dr. Becky, the podcast host and author of Good Inside. Her advice is so practical and just makes sense. I’ve lifted this quote from the publisher’s summary of Good Inside:

“…Dr. Becky builds from the baseline of a radically simple but profound truth: You are good inside. Your kids are good inside. There are no “bad kids” or “bad parents”—there are only good kids having a hard time, and good parents struggling to do their jobs well.” With this in mind, if my kids resist telling the truth, I ask myself: Am I allowing them a safe space to do so? Can they tell me the truth and still feel intrinsically good inside and that they are loved no matter what? Nobody needs to feel shame—there are almost always natural consequences to most blunders that are lessons in themselves. We’ve also shared plenty of discussions on the importance of building trust through always telling the truth and owning up to mistakes when we make them. And, I’ll also add to the cake-baking story above that the natural consequence of less time with mom because she had to bake a new cake appears to have been effective. We’ve had no unauthorized nibbling since—at least, not that I’m aware of.

Melissa: What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or (seat of your) pantser?

Bianca: Well, thinking in dragon pun terms, I’d have to be a panster because I totally ‘wing’ it! I’m a big feeler, so I tend to start by thinking through some personal growth I hope to see in the main character. But how do we get there? Well, that’s the thrill (and stress) of being a panster!

Melissa: Do you know if Dragon will continue to have more books in his series?

Bianca: Yes! I’m contracted to write two more stories starring Dragon. Yippee! I don’t know the release dates yet; possibly late 2023 and then again in 2024. I also have a picture book featuring a cat currently being illustrated by the talented Samara Hardy; she illustrated the Dragon books, too. I hope to share more about this project in the new year!

Melissa: What are one or two tips you give to children writers?

Bianca: For tip number one, I provide kids with a simple recipe for writing a story that will pique interest in their readers—hook them with a problem that needs solving.

The Three-Ingredient Story Recipe:

1. Pick a character.

2. Pick a setting.

3. Solve a problem.

Example: Tell the Truth, Dragon!

1. Pick a character: Dragon

2. Pick a setting: A royal kingdom

3. Solve a problem: Somebody ate some of the freshly baked cake made by the castle cooks. Who was it and will they own up to their mistake?

And for a loaded tip number two:

Believe in yourself, write from the heart, and then make sure you find a partner to swap stories with. Share with them the things you love about their story and the parts that could do with a little work. Don’t be scared to open yourself up to positive and negative feedback (which should be delivered with kindness)—some of the best writing improvements can come from hearing about the parts that somebody didn’t love about your story. And, of course, being open to feedback doesn’t mean you have to take the feedback. It’s your story that you wrote from you heart after all. Believe in yourself! (I hope you enjoyed this circular paragraph.)

Melissa: You have a blog, a podcast, picture books, and a family. What is your secret sauce to managing so many creative and important roles?

Bianca: First, you should know that my secret sauce bottle is made of glass—so it is breakable and sometimes needs refilling. The label has big, hard-to-miss sparkly letters that spell GRACE! This sauce, once consumed, does not provide sudden elegance or refinement. It does, however, have the power to influence one to honor their presence and to be kind with oneself.

I try my best to have grace for myself and others. I try to take regular breaks or ask for help when I need it. And when I don’t take a break or ask for help (remember, I’m human), well… life finds an unpleasant way of letting me know, and I must remind myself of the word grace again. It’s an ongoing cycle enhanced by calendars and reminders and the occasional nudge from an outsider who drops a bit of feedback that leads me back to the glass bottle of secret sauce.

“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.” — Attribution Unknow. Many people online attribute this to Brené Brown, but she said with grace on Twitter: “Actually not my quote, but I love it.”

GIVEAWAY

Enter for a chance to win a 4-book set of the Dragon series—including a copy of Tell the Truth, Dragon! autographed by Bianca Schulze—a framed ‘Growing Readers’ print illustrated by Samara Hardy, and a $50 Bookshop.org gift card!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

– An autographed 4-Book Set of the Dragon series, including:

Don’t Wake the Dragon, signed by Bianca Schulze
Just Be Yourself, Dragon, signed by Bianca Schulze
Who Loves the Dragon?, signed by Bianca Schulze
Tell the Truth, Dragon, signed by Bianca Schulze

– A framed ‘Growing Readers’ illustration by Samara Hardy (Art Size: 7″ x 7″, Final Frame Size: 12.88″ × 12.88″)

– A $50 Bookshop.org gift card

Two (2) winners receive:

– A copy of Tell the Truth, Dragon, signed by Bianca Schulze

Tell the Truth, Dragon Book Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tell the Truth, Dragon! by Bianca Schulze, illustrated by Samara Hardy

Ages 3+ | 32 Pages | Publisher: Clever Publishing | ISBN-13: 9781954738034

Publisher’s Book Summary: Acknowledging and owning up to a mistake is a very difficult task for children—and it’s not always easy for adults, either! In this most recent installment of the popular Dragon series from Clever, Tell the Truth, Dragon introduces a situation in which Dragon blames someone else for the mistake she makes. Gentle text prompts readers to encourage Dragon to tell the truth and apologize for her mistake, even though it’s a tough thing to do. Dragon realizes her mistake and offers an apology—and then more than makes up for it!

Designed to be a read-aloud, parents will take pleasure in the playful text as much as children will enjoy following the prompts to interact with Dragon. The whimsical and colorful illustrations enable the dragon to jump off the page and will delight readers with her personality on every page.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Bookshop

Barnes and Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bianca Schulze is the founder and editor of The Children’s Books Review – a resource devoted to children’s literature and literacy. Bianca is also the bestselling author of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up, an Amazon “Book of the Month” in 2016. She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Bianca now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

For more information, visit biancaschulze.com

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Samara Hardy is an illustrator and designer who has created artwork for clients across the globe for greetings cards, stationery, homewares, children’s books, and much more.

For more information, visit samarahardy.com

TOUR SCHEDULE

Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Children’s Book Review

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Fairview Review

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Celebrate with Picture Book

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Writer with Wanderlust

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

icefairy’s Treasure Chest

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Review Wire

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Friday, November 11, 2022

The Momma Spot

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Imagination Soup

An interview with Bianca Schulze

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Some the Wiser

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Happily Ever Elephants

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Dad Suggests

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Me Two Books

A Tell the Truth, Dragon! book activity

Monday, November 21, 2022

Lisa’s Reading

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

J.R.s Book Reviews

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

A book review of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Monday, November 27, 2022

Simply 7

An interview with Bianca Schulze

Interview with Bianca Schulze

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One Response

  1. Amy Green says:

    I’d like to win this giveaway because this is one of the best prize collections I’ve seen in a long time!

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  • WELCOME

    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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