Q & A with Jennifer Hansen Rolli

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Jennifer Hansen Rolli, author, illustrator, and Kutztown University grad will return to campus for the Kutztown University’s Children’s Literature Conference. The conference, 4/21/18, celebrates its 20th year with keynote speakers: Peter Sís, Raúl Colón, Lee Harper and Sharon Draper. Kutztown University students can attend the conference for $10.

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Claudia and Moth, Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017

Jennifer will take part in our “Author Chat” breakout session. What’s that mean? The truth is, at any sort of literature conference it is very hard to chat with the headliners. So, authors and illustrators with Kutztown roots volunteer their time and talents. In recent years, Lisa  Kahn Schnell,  Rachel Yoder, Kathi Ember, and Aubry Joi Cohen shared their recently published children’s books at a chat session.

We’re delighted that Jennifer Hansen Rolli has accepted our invitation for 2018

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New books by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Jennifer has been painting since the day her father bought her a professional painter’s box at a very young age. She went on to run her design firm in Philadelphia for many years. But, after her 3rd child, she fell in love with the all picture books she was reading and started making up stories and pictures of her own.

School Library Journal gave high praise to her picture book Claudia and Moth: “Rolli’s illustrations are painted in oil on brown paper and the bright, texture-rich, full-page spreads are a delight. Recommended.” -SLJ

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From Claudia and Moth, oil on kraft paper, all art © Jennifer Hansen Rolli.

School Library Journal called her first book, Just One More, published by Penguin Random House in 2014, “A Must Read for Pre-school and kindergarten.” Among other honors it is a selection of  Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Q & A with JHR

Q: Was your name Jennifer Hansen when you went to Kutztown?

JHR: Yes, it was.

Q: What was your major?

A: It was Communication Design.

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‘Milk House Washday’ © JHR, 2016 Communication Arts Illustration Annual

Q: Do recall any professor(s) fondly?

A: That Evangelista was a toughie, but boy, did he squeeze the best out of us! Landis, –he kept the whole show together. I loved Breter.

Q: Out of college you had your own design practice. What sort of clients did you have?

A: Since I was in Philly, it was a lot of local companies like Comcast and Ibanez Guitar. My big winner was Genentech in San Francisco. Microbreweries were popping up everywhere and I had a good footing in that market (as long as I didn’t sample the product too much). Tons of fun.

Q: How did you come to publish your first book, Just One More?
A: I really loved the picture books I was reading to my young children and started writing during my downtime silly things my kids were doing…like asking for “just one more of just about everything.” It was unbelievable, kids are kids in their own bubble. But, it was a great way of learning natural consequences if they go overboard. So when all my kids were school age, I went to that notebook and made a story out of all the “just one mores” I had made a list of.

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Q: Were there books, websites, or other resources that helped you reach that point? For example, did you join the SCBWI , Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ?
A: I had no idea what I was doing, so I did some research via websites about getting published. I had tried selling my story – only once – and that was enough for me. I needed help and decided to get a good agent if I was going to do this. With a little more digging, I emailed my current agent and that was that. He loved my concept but said, “Jenny, this is not a story, it needs a conflict and a resolution…join SCBWI, go to a conference, and learn how to do this.” I did, and one conference was equivalent to a college education in picture book writing. Really.

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Title Page, Claudia & Moth, oil on Kraft paper.

Q: A lot of aspiring children’s book creators expect getting a book published is the goal line. How important is follow-through when the books come out? Website, educator packets, social media, etc?

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Illustration from https://www.jenniferhansenrolli.com


A: You are right, we all think getting published is the “be all end all” but actually, getting published includes the whole process leading up to your book sitting in a bookstore. But that is only the half of it, everything you do to get your book into little hands is just as important.

Q: Did you initiate your great Educator packets, or was this something you publisher did?

A: I met Marci Colleen at an SCBWI conference, she’s a former teacher who creates these magnificent guides. She now has her own middle grade series and picture book…but still creates the guides, thank goodness.

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From the free Claudia & Moth Educator Guide (link below)


Q: I grabbed Life Cycle image above from your Educator Guide. Do you want to say anything about this particular image?

A: The life cycle of both the moth and the butterfly are threaded throughout Claudia & Moth and it’s a great teaching tool for 1st and 2nd graders.

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Book by Erin Danielle Russell art by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

In May How to Trick the Tooth Fairy by Erin Danielle Russell with art by Jennifer will be published. A limited number of copies of this new book may be avaialable at the conference. Jennifer will talk about all her books and what it takes to have a successful author visit at a school. The books will be available at the KU bookstore at a discounted price and she will be happy to personalize them. It is still possible to register to attend The 2018 Kutztown University Children’s Literature Conference, Info Here.

For lots more info on Jennifer’s work, including a way cool animation based on Claudia & Moth at www.jenniferhansenrolli.com.

 

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