Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Favorite Things" & Giveaway for Diva Delores!

Diva Delores is a big seal, with an even bigger ego, who's finally graduated from the opera chorus to center stage. But she's a little too full of herself to admit she might need help preparing for her new role. Fernando is a tiny, ultra-cute mouse who has all the knowledge and talent to help Delores succeed. But will she let him?

Welcome to the final stop on the blog tour for Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse by Laura Sassi and Rebecca Gerlings! Told in humorous verse with illustrations bursting with personality, Diva Delores is one of my favorite new picture books. So this post is going to be all about favorites! It includes:

  • Illustrator Rebecca Gerlings' and author Laura Sassi's favorite parts of working on the book
  • My favorite things about the book -- written as a poem to be recited to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music
  • A **GIVEAWAY** courtesy of publisher Sterling Books (U.S. and Canadian addresses only)

Thanks, also, to Sterling for letting me include a couple spreads from the book in this post.

There's a lot to cover, so let's get started!


What was your favorite part of illustrating this story?

My favorite part of illustrating a picture book is always the character development. It's brilliant fun to bring characters to life and imbue them with personality. And what wonderful personalities Delores and Fernando are! (My second favorite part was choosing the color palette -- I hope it conveys the richness and old-world glamour of an opera theatre.)

Do you have a favorite stanza or stanzas from the book?

I particularly enjoyed illustrating the stanzas where Delores was huffing and tantrumming! It meant I could really go to town with her body language and accentuate the contrast between the two characters' personalities for added humor. Having young children means I have a lot of first-hand experience of temper tantrums to draw inspiration from...

The cast and the maestro
were greatly relieved,
but Diva Delores, 
quite frankly, was peeved. 

She bellowed and bawled.
"You helped me, it's true,
but a mouse help a diva?
That simply won't do!"


What was your favorite part of writing this story?

My favorite part of writing this story, once I had settled upon the story's structure in terms of meter and rhyme, was to play with plot and wording until the story sang! And I love Rebecca's response to the illustrator's version of this question, because for me, too, it was loads of fun (and hard work) to really develop Delores' and Fernando's characters and to think about what made each one tick...and how to convey that within the framework of a rhyming text. It was a truly joyful moment for me when I had the idea to add the varying "Tra-la-la-las" at the end of the certain spreads to convey Delores' inner mindset, and eventually, her growth. Once I added that element, I knew the manuscript was getting close to submissions stage.

Do you have a favorite illustration from the book? 

This is an extremely difficult question because I am smitten with each and every one of Rebecca's charming illustrations! However, since story beginnings are very important in capturing and keeping the reader's attention, I think I will choose the opening spread. By using opposite background colors (gray and white) for this spread, Rebecca cleverly and effectively sets up from the outset the very different life goals and perspectives of Diva Delores and that adorable opera house mouse, Fernando. 

Fernando loved chocolate
and cheese on dry toast,
and popcorn and gumdrops,
but what he liked most...

was feasting on Mozart, 
Puccini, and Strauss,
and lending a paw 
at the Old Opera House.

Delores loved glamour and
spotlights and praise.
She longed to be showered 
with fragrant bouquets.

Now here was her chance, 
after years in the chorus,
to take center stage and be 
Diva Delores!

I feel compelled to add that I also love the glorious joy of the spread where Rebecca depicts Delores and Fernando singing on stage, but I don't want to spoil the story, so I don't want to comment too much on that one. Please note, however, that this is the spread that I have chosen to have framed so it can join the collection on the special wall in my house that showcases illustrated spreads from each of my published books.

What a wonderful idea to have a special wall in your house to "house" some of your favorite illustrations! I ADORE the spread you are speaking of and hope that our readers will buy the book -- or enter our giveaway -- so they can see it, too. But if they just can't wait, they should go to stop seven on the blog tour, at KidLit411, to see the spread :)


Diva Delores
A mouse named Fernando
One knows what pride is and one knows glissando
Red and gold artwork and verse that all sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Pink fluffy wig that looks fab on Delores
Unlikely friendship
And tra-la-la chorus
Sparkly gold cover that's worthy of kings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the book's done
When I close it
When I just can't grin
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I must read again


Now it's your turn to talk about favorites. You can enter the giveaway for one copy of Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse by leaving a comment on this post that mentions one of your favorites related to the opera. It can be your favorite opera, your favorite song from an opera, your favorite experience at an opera, or anything else along those lines. I, for instance, might say that my favorite part of going to the opera is seeing the dancers! (Had to get dance into this post somehow :)

If I might not know how to contact you, please leave an email address or link to your social media site. One lucky winner will get picked randomly one week from today -- on April 17 at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!!


  1. I LOVE your rendition of "My Favorite Things". Thanks so much for having us on your delightful blog, Kerry. And it was LOADS of fun answering your great questions!

    1. Thanks, Laura. It has a been my pleasure to have you and Rebecca on my blog. I LOVE Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse and am so glad to be on your blog tour!!

  2. My favorite thing about the opera is my daughter! She studied opera in school and has been in two professional shows (so far).

    1. That's awesome, Rebecca. Hope she keeps singing!

  3. One of my favorite opera experiences was taking my younger sister to a local cinema to see a live showing of an opera at the Met. It was great to see opera on a big screen, rather than just on a tv screen or waiting until we could made a trip to a big city. I love how opera combines expressive music, acting, & dancing!

    1. I love how opera combines all those things, too. There's nothing like a live show, but seeing a live showing on a big screen is probably the next best thing :)

  4. My favorite thing about the opera is the way it made mythical Viking braids and horned helmets go VIRAL.

    For the record, Vikings did braid their hair but the horned helmets were a 100% costume fancification! Deloris would probably have approved! :)

    1. That's so cool! Yes, I'm sure Deloris would approve :)

  5. I personally have never been to the opera, but have spent a great deal in the theater seeing plays and musicals. I love the magic of it all coming together. You feel part of the performance and become so engrossed in the characters you often forget that is it their "job" to be onstage (or off behind the scenes).

    1. That is so true about the magic, especially when it's a live performance. I hope you make it to the opera some day :)

  6. My favorite opera has to be The Barber of Seville. With all musicals of any sort, it's the whole package -- orchestra, voices, costumes and setting. Magical.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Totally agree!! Magical :)

  7. My favourite part of going to the opera is seeing the costumes.

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