Rebekah Prince Bergeron’s earned the #3 spot on The Gittle List in 2017 for The Worry Tree Is Waiting. It is a great example of a “Gittle List” book. A unique concept, executed beautifully, that should be on a best seller list (and I hope some day it is), but Costco and Walmart choose “safer” titles instead. (Read Aviva’s Review.)
How did it feel to win a spot on The Gittle List? When I received the email from Aviva letting me know The Worry Tree Is Waiting was number 3 on the list my heart skipped a beat or two. I had to reread it to be sure I had read it correctly. Then I checked social media to make sure I wasn’t confused! What a thrill it was!
What’s you earliest memory of writing? I don’t remember the first time I started writing stories down, but I do remember sitting on my grandparents’ porch when I was perhaps eight or nine and writing all day. It was not the first time I had written something, but it was the first time I remember re-reading my work critically. I was disheartened to realize what I had placed on paper was not very good and I resolved to improve my craft. I guess I’ve always been my own harshest critic!
Which children’s book contains your favorite illustrations? My obsession began with Tasha Tudor and her illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. It then grew with those in The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Her watercolors were simultaneously whimsical and realistic. I used to stare at the illustrations and imagine I was part of the story. When I met Sandy McDermott (illustrator of The Worry Tree Is Waiting), it was her nature watercolors that made me want her to illustrate my book.
What is your favorite children’s book? As a child, I loved the Burnett books and read them over and over. I loved the description of the scenery as well as the intricacies of the characters. It was probably no coincidence that the heroines were young girls who didn’t properly fit into their expected roles. As an adult, I love Thank You, Mr. Faulker by Patricia Polacco. I read it at the beginning of every school year to remind myself how important it is to honor the unique gifts of each of my students.
Why did you decide to self-publish? While I loved what I had written, I had a clear vision of the type of illustrations it needed. I could not bear to have a publisher put the wrong illustrations into my book so I tucked it away. When I mentioned that Sandy’s work would be perfect, my husband encouraged us to self-publish. There was so much to figure out, and I would do some things differently, but I think self-publishing is significantly easier now than when I wrote this book 20 years ago.
What do you do to market your books? Marketing is a struggle for me. I am not good at self-promotion and I have a full-time career that makes it difficult for me to find the time I need to market my book well. I use social media, but not a much as a should. I have recently decided to try some of the marketing tools that Amazon provides. I have learned quite a bit from being involved with The Gittle List. Thank you, Aviva!
[Note: Rebekah will provide a free paperback to schools/professionals who work with children. They only need to fill out a form on her website. Rebekah says, “Feel free to spread the word. This project is about getting the book to those who need it.”]
Many of Rebekah’s earliest memories are of spending hours entertaining herself by reading and creating stories. Once she learned to write, she began to fill notebooks with original stories and poems. Rebekah would join her mother, who was a librarian, attending bookseller conferences and author luncheons. These experiences fostered Rebekah’s love of words, while hours of browsing the children’s room developed an appreciation for picture books. Although being an author was never a career goal, Rebekah always sensed she would one day write a children’s book.