Children's books

Little Red Rolls Away book birthday (plus author interview)

little red cover


by Linda Whalen
illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
Grades K-2
Sleeping Bear Press, April 15, 2017


Happy Book Birthday to Little Red!


When Little Red Barn wakes one morning, he finds his animal friends have gone. He’s empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on a truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid. Where is he going? Who will be there when he reaches his destination? When Little Red does finally reach his new home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before. The story of the little barn’s relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives

What I love about this book

I fell in love with this new hit upon first reading.  The text and heartwarming illustrations drew me in and had me feeling Little Red’s concerns about moving from the only home he’d ever known. I found myself rooting for Red as he traveled to his destination and was happy in the end when he learned that his move wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Yes, this book is entertaining, colorful and fun to read, but it goes much deeper than that. Information is included at the back of the book to help children navigate through the changes they often face with a move; issues such as uncertainty, missing friends and family and the fear of making new friends.

The author’s website also includes a publication by Lynne Thomas, a seasoned clinical social worker, on the importance of preparing children for change and tips on how to make the transition an easier one.

Foster Care families, parents of adopted children and military families might find this book especially helpful.

Watch the book trailer:


I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Whalen and got the scoop on her debut title and her writing world in general:

ME: What was your inspiration for Little Red Rolls Away?

LW: At first I just wanted to save, or in today’s popular word, repurpose a barn. Then as everything is with me I brought in how a child would feel being moved. A barn wouldn’t understand the move was for its benefit and children have a hard time grasping the why of a change.

ME: When you began writing this picture book, did you know how it would end?

LW: Not exactly, I knew I wanted it to be somewhere great and fun but I wasn’t sure where that would be. I also wanted the trip there to be full of places unknown to the little barn.

ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot, avatar, or spirit animal and why?

LW: It would have to be a dog. They are so resilient.  Dogs seem to bounce back from hard times much as writers must do with rejection. Their tails wag in excitement at the prospect of happiness. We do happy dances when someone likes our work. I like to think writers are smart and friendly like our hairy friends.

ME: Do you have any writing rituals?

LW: I’m afraid I’m too much of a whirlwind to be that organized. But I try.

ME: How long have you been writing?

LW: I wrote stories in my head as a child not really aware I could have written them down. As an adult, I just wrote snippets of stories until I finally wrote my first book The Valley of Childhood, an inspirational book for adults which came over ten years ago. I started writing children’s manuscripts a couple of years after that, so publication of my first children’s book has been a long time coming and fantastic now that it’s here.

ME: What is your favorite childhood book?

LW: My favorite childhood book was and still is a calibration of stories titled, Children’s Stories selected by Child Study Association. My mother gave it to me when I had my own children and I read a story from it to them every night. Some of the stories are not what I would call kid friendly today but we just left those unread.

ME: Little Red Rolls Away is your first picture book, how long did it take to get an offer, how did it feel when you got “the call” and how did you celebrate the good news?

LW: From submission to offer took about six months. My agent called my cell phone and anyone who knows me knows I’m terrible with cell phones so I actually got a message on my cell. Maybe that was a good thing because as I recall I hugged my phone and danced around the house. A wonderful friend sent me flowers and I bugged my family with dinner out and happy dances for about a week.

ME: Tell us something we don’t know about Little Red.

LW: He was almost blue. We were driving to my husband’s childhood farm from the airport one year and we started to notice quite a few blue barns. We joked that there must have been a super sale on blue paint. In the end, my mind saw Little Red as red, that’s what he had to be.

ME: What do your plans for future books or projects include?

LW: Maybe another Little Red Barn book.  I have several picture book manuscripts that would love to find a home and I have a Middle Grade and Young Adult novel written and critiqued that needs some attention and submitting

Buy Little Red Rolls Away and add it to your playlist.

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