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Interview with Katherine James 6/22/2014

Bianca Schulze: The Sugar Plum Tree is your first children’s book and you were inspired by one of your own family traditions. Will you share a little about this tradition and how it began with your family?

Katherine James:  When we were little, our parents would tuck us into bed by telling us the story of a magical tree that grew candy, The Sugar Plum Tree. They would give us a kiss goodnight and say that if we stayed in bed and slept all through the night, we might find something special under our bed when we woke in the morning.  Sometimes we would get candy, sometimes it would be a special note or stickers.  Our parents would always explain, no two dreams are alike and every dream can bring something different.  (Which really translates to anything they had around the house would be special if we found it under our bed in the morning.)   They were very clever!  And, they shared the story with our babysitters and grandparents to use on special occasions as a fun and engaging way to get us to go to sleep.
Now that we are grown and have children of our own, we have continued the tradition of sweet dreams and morning surprises!

BS: What do you hope readers will take away from a story-time session of The Sugar Plum Tree?

KJ: It’s all about spending time together and creating memories.  It requires adult participation.  The magic starts with the parent (or caregiver.)   Going to sleep can be the start of an adventure at the end of the day.

BS: Being based on the original The Sugar Plum Tree poem by Eugene Field’s (1850-1895), how long did it take you to make gentle modifications to his work and make this poem your own?

KJ: It was about a four-year project.  We took our time researching the legality of modifying a written work in public domain.  We spent a lot of time searching for just the right illustrator.  But most of the time was spent on writing and re-writing to be sure we had stayed true to the poem and our family tradition.

BS: What kind of feedback have you been receiving from children that have read it? And what age groups have you found it resonates with the most?

KJ: Children love it!  They love the magic that surrounds the story. Giving the child a real reason for going to sleep and staying in bed.  The surprise under the bed is their reward.   It’s fun and exciting!  Most of our readers are ages 3-8 years old.

BS: Can you tell us a little bit about how the three of you collaborate under the one pen name of Katherine James?

 KJ: We knew in the beginning that we wanted to pay a special tribute to our parents.  A dedication page in the book just didn’t seem enough.  And by the time we started designing the cover, using all three of our names seemed much too cumbersome.  We combined our parent’s middle names and came up with Katherine James.

BS: The brightly colored cartoon illustrations are a vivid eye-catching treat, sure to make mouths water. Can you tell us about your partnership with Jan Dolby and why you selected her to be your illustrator?

KJ:  Jan is amazing!  We like to think of her as our 4th distant sister.  And, we have never met!  Everything was done via email and phone chats.  She was completely able to put on paper the images we saw in our minds as children.  She is truly talented!

BS: Which published children’s book author do you think has had the biggest impact on the way each of you write for children?

 KJ: It’s hard to pinpoint just one.  Growing up we had so many books!  Our parents were very avid readers.  Their love of books naturally flowed to us.  It was perhaps their retelling stories to us, giving characters different voices, expanding story lines and our parents telling unique versions of classic tales that has remained with us the most.

BS: Do the three of you have continued plans to create more books together?

KJ: Yes!  But our next project is getting The Sugar Plum Tree into a box set, a perfect gift and a treasured keepsake.  The box will include the book and the Sugar Plum bag for collecting special treats.

BS:  If you could each be reincarnated as your favorite literary character, who would you choose and why?

KJ: Mary Louise would choose Pippi Longstocking for her eccentric, self-assured, and superhuman strength.

Karen would choose Nancy Drew for her intuitive thinking and problem solving abilities.

Susan would choose Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon for her imagination and belief that you can create whatever you want.

BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

KJ:  Dream! Wish! Believe!

Bianca Schulze – www.thechildrensbookreview.com

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The Children’s Book Review – Just In!

The Sugar Plum Tree by Katherine James

Hardcover: 32 pages
Age Range: 3-7
Publisher: LilyLu & TT@ Publishing, LLC (2014)

ISBN: 978-0-165-85004-7

What to expect: Candy, Rhyme, Family Tradition, Bedtime

Inspired by Eugene Field’s (1850-1895) original The Sugar Plum Tree Poem, here is a deliciously sweet bedtime book from Katherine James that takes young readers across the Lollipop Sea to the Garden of Shut Eye Town where the Sugar Plum Tree grows.

“Have you ever heard of the Sugar Plum Tree? It’s only a wink away…

It Blooms on the shore of the Lollipop Sea. The moonlight will guide your way.”

By making a few gentle modifications to the original poem, the authors, three sisters who go by the pen name Katherine James, have created a softer combination of the words and phrases as they aim to provide sweet dreams. Their goal is also to create an opportunity to introduce a family tradition to be shared on special occasions, such as birthdays and babysitter nights:

“And when you awake, tradition has said magically there will be

Candy treasures beneath your bed for those who believe..”

Fun words such as “fizzy pops,” “zippity-zaps” and lolli-lous are like little starbursts for the reading mind. And the brightly colored cartoon illustrations area vivid eye-catching treat, sure to make mouths water, illuminating the pages and the world of the Sugar Plum Tree where candy pops from the pages.

From lollipops to a chocolate cat to a ginger bread dog and the hint at a delicious morning surprise, this bedtime picture book has the recipe to be any sweet-toothed kiddo’s favorite.

-The Children’s Book Review www.thechildrensbookreview.com

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The Sugar Plum Tree “Dream, Wish, Believe Book Giveaway

Enter the sweetest contest ever and receive a copy of “The Sugar Plum Tree” by Katherine James.  We’re giving away 50 books and 5 Grand Prize Sugar Plum Tree Dream Sets.

Over 3000 books sold and increasing popularity in both Canada and United Kingdom…

We are sweetening children’s dreams internationally.

What is “The Sugar Plum Tree”?

“The Sugar Plum Tree” is an endearing children’s story told by author Katherine James that takes both adult and child to a majestic place coined the “Garden of Shuteye” where a tree grows the yummiest and sweetest candy you could ever find.  If you are lucky and you believe, the tradition holds that your sweet dreams will bring morning surprises with candy under the bed.

How do you enter?

1: Read our latest blog post: “There’s Always Time to #DREAMWISHBELIVE”

2: Leave a comment on the blog with what you Dreamed. Wished. And Believed in as a child.

3: Follow us on Twitter @SUGARPLUMTREE3 and tweet the following: “I just entered the #DREAMWISHBELIEVE book giveaway to receive a copy of hte sweetest book ever “The Sugar Plum Tree” http://bit.ly/1qmqova

4: Fill in a valid email address where you can be contacted using the form below:

Enter the Contest

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Contest *



The #DREAMWISHBELIEVE giveaway begins Monday, June 17th, 2014 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, June 30th, 2014.

We will be announcing two winners per day on Twitter and our Facebook page.  Each winner will receive an autographed copy of “The Sugar Plum Tree” book.

On July 1st, 014, we will announce five Grand Prize Winners of our Sugar Plum Tree Dream Set consisting of an autographed book, a Sugar Plum Tree bag, one beanie baby and other “sweet” surprises certain to put a smile on any child’s face.

Dreaming just got sweeter.  Good luck & best wishes for winning.

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There’s Always Time to #DreamWishBelieve

There is something magical and effervescent about a good dream or even wishing for something wonderful to come true. More powerful than the dream or wish is that you actually believe in the actual possibility of whatever your mind and heart can conjure up.

Consider this…

Growing up I loved the movie and book Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. The book helped me to create this magical world of candy in my head based on what I was hearing, but more importantly the movie manifested all of what I had already imagined and more. On a subconscious level, I knew that there was nowhere in real life that had chocolate fountains, rivers or even places and things made of candy. However, the gift of the movie and the concept was the opportunity to dream of an instance where I was the winner of a golden ticket whereby I was subsequently whisked off to a magical, sugary and very real candy kingdom like the one Willy Wonka created.

Unfortunately, as we get older our time spent consciously dreaming and imagining the possibilities for things like candy lands is very much diminished by the demands of adult life. While sad to admit, imagine a world where adults spent most of their time dreaming and wishing. We would wish bills away, but they would still be there. We would dream of being anywhere but a desk for eight hours and no work would get done. These are some of the obvious reasons why the euphoric phenomena of dreaming and wishing dissipate as we mature, but isn’t there always time to dream, wish, and believe in something?

If you have children like I do, you know that parenthood presents us with yet another opportunity to dream, wish and believe in impossible situations and happenings. Whether it is through imaginary play with your kids or a reading a book that takes you to an imaginary place- children remind us that there is always time to dream wish and believe.

This was precisely what my sisters and I were thinking of when we decided to write “The Sugar Plum Tree”. We grew up with this story that was told to us on special occasions about a place where candy grew plentifully grown on a tree awaiting our dreams of all of the sweet goodies we could eat. In the morning, everything that was read to us the night before was validated with a sweet surprise left under our bed in the form of candy. How neat!

“The Sugar Plum Tree” is starting new traditions and providing both adults and children with renewed opportunities to imagine the impossible through candy. We will be running a #dreamwishbelieve book giveaway campaign starting today Tuesday, June 17th and we hope you will participate for the chance to win this an autographed book or a Sugar Plum Tree dream set for that special child in your life.

What did you dream, wish or believe in as a child? We want to hear from you.

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