Kristine Asselin: A Kid-Friendly First Picturebook

W-Asselin_headshotKristine Asselin has been juggling many talents. She is the 2014 NESCBWI Conference Director, writes non-fiction books for the school and library market, has intriguing YA and MG fiction projects in process, and her first picture book was just released. Worst Case of Pasketti-itis, which was illustrated by Luisa Gioffre-Suzuki, tells the tale of a picky eater who goes through an intriguing metamorphosis.

Petunia LOVED pasta. In fact she would eat only pasta every day. No beans, no greens for her, oh, no. At least she wasn’t fussy about what type or shape of pasta, though. She loved spaghetti, fusilli, farfalle, gnocchi, linguini, and fettuccine. WhatW-Pasketti-itis-cover-shot---edit young reader will not love hearing those lyrical, Italian food names? She ate lasagna, rotini, penne, tortellini, macaroni, and ravioli. It’s enough to make anyone hungry!

Petunia was one pasta lover who did not believe in the saying “You are what you eat,” and so ignored everyone’s warnings that if she wasn’t careful she’d “turn into pasta.” Then it was too late. Pasketti-itis sneaked up on her and, yes, she morphed. Spaghetti hair and rigatoni arms! Oh, my! Her classmates were horrified and poor Petunia collapsed from the strain.

The school nurse saved the day, showing that if Petunia wanted her problem solved, she must eat things like:

“… Broccoli, carrots, green

beans, rice. Eggplant, ice cream, or corn

will suffice. Bagels with cream cheese, egg

salad on rye. Blueberries, strawberries,

chicken potpie. Anything but pasta!”

It was a mantra that gradually did the job, returning Petunia to her former gluten-free body.

Kristine’s engaging text was inspired by her daughter Katherine’s selective palate. Luisa Gioffre-Suzuki’s illustrations are ink line with watercolor washes in a simple, child-like style.

A fun-filled book launch will be held at the Reuben Hoar Library in Littleton, MA on June 29th from 1:30-3:30. It is free and Kristine hopes there will be lots of pasta lovers there, particularly those who are ages 3-7. Copies of Worst Case of Pasketti-itis, published by 4RV Publishing, will be available for signing.


JAZ: Kristine, first let me say congratulations on this new genre for you! Do you have more picture book manuscripts in the works?

KA: Thank you, Joyce! I’m thrilled to have this book finally come out. Picture books were actually my first foray into writing, back when my daughter was really small. WORST CASE was written about seven years ago. I do have a few more PBs ‘under the bed’ but nothing that I plan on bringing out anytime soon. But I never say never!

JAZ: And what is your daughter Katherine’s reaction to seeing the book in hard copy? She has outgrown the fussy eating habits that inspired this story, right?

KA: She’s thrilled to be the inspiration of the book! And no, she hasn’t outgrown her fussy habits. She does eat slightly more than Petunia—but she never did pick up on the wonderful varieties of pasta. She’s pretty much a spaghetti girl.

JAZ: Has your work organizing the NESCBWI conference been a help or hindrance to developing your own writing? Although the enormous amount of time you’ve invested must be a factor, the range of contacts you are making must certainly help your prospects down the road.

KA: I love connecting with other writers, so NESCBWI has been great for building friendships and connections. I’ve met some of my best friends through this organization and I’ll always be grateful for that! It’s also a great way to meet industry professionals. I’m definitely a procrastinator when it comes to my own writing—so it’s sometimes a struggle to put aside time for myself. I’m working on it though!

JAZ: One intriguing YA project you are developing has a paranormal component. I know it is in the initial draft stage, but would you care to talk about the theme and how different that process is from the picturebook?

KA: I love writing YA and MG—my favorite part of writing is putting a scene together. In a picture book, the words have to be so lean…so sparse. I love including the details and sensations that make a scene come alive in YA—really those details are what the pictures are for in a PB. I’m still in the very formative stages of the YA that you’ve mentioned—I’m excited to see how it evolves.

JAZ: Ultimately, will you continue to write in various genres or do you see yourself targeting a particular area that has a stronger pull than the rest?

KA: I definitely see myself as a YA and MG writer—I’d love to have the luxury of devoting all my writing time to those genres. But I also love my nonfiction freelance work—I’ve had great experiences writing for Capstone Press and Abdo Publishing and hope to continue my relationship writing for them as well.

JAZ: So, about your new Sporty Girl blog, which I saw on Goodreads. What a great concept! What is your team’s dream objective for the blog?

KA: Our mission from our blog: At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about the sports they love. We look forward to the day when the words, “You play like a girl,” is the best compliment anyone can receive.

All four of us love reading books that feature girl athletes—so we thought a blog focused on that would be a niche that hadn’t been previously explored.

JAZ: The focus of your fiction writing, regardless of the age group, seems to be a girl audience. Have you ever considered doing a story with a male main character? Why or why not?

KA: I haven’t really. In all my unpublished fiction, there are important male characters, but I’ve never considered writing from a male perspective. But, as I’ve said before, never say never!

JAZ:  Since Worst Case of Pasketti-itis is your new baby now, would you like to talk a bit about your plan for the June 29th book launch? What can people expect?

KA: I’m so excited about my first launch—I think we’ll have a lot of family and friends. The plan is to do a reading, and answer any audience questions. We’ll have some crafts, some snacks, and maybe a surprise or two! I’m hoping to just have a celebration for this book!

JAZ: Do you still eat pasta with ketchup?

KA: LOL. This was family tradition—for some reason we didn’t use spaghetti sauce in my house growing up! But, no, I use sauce now!

Kris, thank you for sharing your thoughts and best of luck with your book launch. Worst Case of Pasketti-itis will do very well!

Thanks so much, Joyce, for having me on your blog!

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