Meet PENNY & JELLY, and Maria Gianferrari too!

penny-jellycover_lresI am thrilled to welcome Maria Gianferrari to Bildebok as her charming debut picture book Penny & Jelly: The School Show  illustrated by Thyra Heder  launches into the world!

Amazon* raves about Maria’s adorable debut: This young and funny picture book introduces the soon-to-be star of her school talent show: Penny. Despite her desire to knock everyone’s socks off, Penny’s having a tough time deciding on what talent she might have.  Readers of Pinkalicious and Ladybug Girl will swoon over the talent of Penny & Jelly.  *Don’t miss the sneak peek at this Amazon link showing Thyra’s fascinating creative process for illustrating Penny & Jelly!

Kirkus says, Penny and Jelly are sure to warm the hearts of both future talent-show contestants and readers who have similarly close canine friends.

Through email, Maria and I discovered that we grew up less than thirty miles apart from one another! We had fun imagining all the spots where we might have met once upon a time in rural New England.  Since Maria describes herself as a list-maker just like her character Penny,  I dreamed up a few list-related questions for this talented, creative and prolific author.

Think back to when you were six years old. Imagine you are planning your birthday party. What three games are we going to play?

1. Hide & Seek
2. Clue
3. Sorry

Maria got a nifty pair of binoculars as a birthday gift! What three things will she go outside and look for?

1. Birds
2. Birds
3. Birds (I’m a complete bird nerd). But if I have to pick a different one, it would be the moon.

Your website features two clever animated scrolls detailing your likes and dislikes. That’s how I discovered that we both love nocciola gelato! Can you share three of your favorite snacks to munch while writing?

1. Not really a snack, but a huge mug of hot tea. My favorite is a tea that I buy in Germany, Nizze Sahne Tee (Cream tea from Nice—it’s an aromatic black tea).
2. Lime chips with guacamole (but I need a few napkins for this one!)
3. Almonds & craisins

Let’s pretend you’ve finished the book launches and promotions for your first three books. Now it’s time to unwind and rejuvenate your writing soul. Name three places that you would like to go on vacation.

1. To Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland to stay in a glass igloo and watch auroras
2. Australia to explore its cool flora, fauna and the Great Barrier Reef (but not swim with sharks)
3. To the Galapagos Islands to see Darwin’s finches, among other unusual creatures

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Author photo courtesy of Monogram Arts

Look for many more books from Maria titles being released in 2016 and 2017, including:

Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, illustrated by Thyra Heder (HMH Books for Young Readers/June 2016)
• Coyote Moon, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Roaring Brook Press/July 2016)
• Officer Katz & Houndini: A Tale of Two Tails, illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou (Aladdin Books for Young Readers/October 2016)
• Hello Goodbye Dog, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Roaring Brook Press/winter 2017)
• Highway Hawks, illustrated by Brian Floca (Roaring Brook Press/summer 2017)
• Terrific Tongues (Boyds Mills Press—illustrator & release date to be determined)

My daughter and I were so excited to attend Maria’s book launch party at the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene NH on Saturday morning.  Surrounded by family, friends and lots of eager young readers the Toadstool SOLD OUT of Maria’s books! Here is a photo from the long line for inscribed copies of Penny & Jelly, and a fun photo booth shot that Maria and I took together. Flamingo sunglasses, a palette, boa and tutu!

2015 July 0122015 July 023








To enter a drawing for your very own copy of Penny & Jelly: The School Show, leave a comment with your name and the talent that you would perform in your school show. The lucky winner’s name will be pulled from a hat and announced here in two weeks.

If you have missed any stops on the Penny & Jelly blog tour, please visit these amazing kid lit sites:

June 26th: Kidlit411/Sylvia Liu & Elaine Kiely Kearns

 June 29th: Miss Marple’s Musings/Joanna Marple

June 30th: Pragmatic Mom/Mia Wenjen

 July 1st: Watch Connect Read/Mr. Schu

July 2nd: Kidlitfrenzy/Alyson Beecher

July 3rd: Writing for Kids While Raising Them/Tara Lazar

 July 6th – Friday, July 10th: Emu’s Debuts virtual book week launch

July 14th: HMH Picture Book Parade



About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Picture book addict and autism advocate, author, scone lover. WHEN A TREE GROWS (2019) @SterlingKids. Repped by Liza Fleissig @lizaroyceagency. Reach me via email at or Twitter @catballoumealey
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29 Responses to Meet PENNY & JELLY, and Maria Gianferrari too!

  1. izatrapani1 says:

    What a wonderful debut! The book looks adorable- and I really enjoyed seeing the illustrator’s process on Amazon. Now I can’t wait to read the story! Thanks for the fun interview,
    For the school show I would sing The Lonely Goatherd (from the Sound of Music) because I love to yodel (or aspire to :-)- Iza Trapani

    • Ha Iza! Yodeling IS one of the talents that Penny attempts. 🙂 Grace and I were singing tunes from The Sound of Music on the way home in the car – the sight of Mt Monadnock and the name “Maria” just inspired us!

    • mariagianferrari says:

      Thank you, Iza (and Cathy 🙂 ) I loved seeing Thyra’s process too. I am very lucky to have her as the illustrator of Penny & Jelly!

      And I would LOVE to hear you yodel to that–one of my favorite musicals :)!

  2. tinamcho says:

    I like your interview format, Fun! Congrats on the new book. I enjoyed the pics. My talent would be piano.

  3. rnewman504 says:

    What a terrific questionnaire, Cathy and Maria! Congrats and much success with Penny & Jelly. My skill would be to sing off tune in French, and if there are any requests, maybe one or two women’s college classics in Greek. 🙂

  4. This looks like such a fun book. I will definitely check it out. I love the interview. If I had to be in a school talent show, in honor of my grandson, I would make farting noises with my hand and armpit. It’s a family tradition.

  5. I’ve read a number of great reviews about this book. Sounds like a keeper and one I would have loved as a child.

  6. I would swing from the rafters by aerial silks!

  7. mariagianferrari says:

    You are so amazingly adept at that, Lisa, and brave!

  8. mariagianferrari says:

    And thank you again, Cathy! I loved being your guest on Bildebok <3!!
    Are you of Norwegian descent? I love how it sounds like build-a-book! It's similar to German, Bilderbuch :).

  9. Sue Wang says:

    What fun, Cathy and Maria! Good wishes on this very cute and lighthearted book. I hope you do get to the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands, or Australia after the book launch. It’s a big process :).

  10. mariagianferrari says:

    Thanks, Sue–just saw your message today! And thanks again so much, Cathy :)!

  11. Pingback: A Stellar Selection! Penny and Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars | bildebok from Cathy Ballou Mealey

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