December 29, 2020

Have Swag Will Travel: WAY PAST WORRIED and Other Titles, by Hallee Adelman

As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future. One of the things I'm most looking forward to in the coming year is launching a new book into the world, and that means BOOK EVENTS!

Today's guest, Hallee Adelman, has launched several books into the world (two during the middle of a pandemic!), and she was kind enough to allow me to interview her about some of her book-event-related experiences and ideas. I am also excited that she's giving our readers a shot at her New Year’s Giveaway: A Year with Less Worries and More Books, which comes with a signed copy of her latest title, Way Past Worried, book swag, a recipe sheet and whisk to make Worry Whip, and a gift certificate for free copies of her next two books!!! 

So let's get right to it! 

Dawn Prochovnic: It’s so nice to have you back to the blog, Hallee. I’ve enjoyed following your social media campaigns for your latest book as well as for your earlier projects. It’s evident that you put a lot of thought into your outreach to readers. 

You visited the blog last year to share enrichment activities and learning extensions related to your first book, My Quiet Ship. Since that time, you’ve launched two additional books, Way Past Mad that came out in March, (Albert Whitman & Co, illustrated by Sandra de La Prada)

and most recently, Way Past Worried (Albert Whitman & Co, illustrated by Sandra de La Prada.) 

I can’t think of two more appropriate themes and titles for the historic times we are currently navigating! In addition to hosting a variety of traditional book launch events prior to the pandemic, I’ve noticed that you’ve also coordinated many innovative outreach efforts. Reflecting on the programs you have facilitated, both traditional, and remote, are there any elements/activities that stand out that the kids (and/or their parents/ caregivers) seemed to enjoy the most? 

Hallee Adelman: With every book I write, my goal is to help kids feel loved. I want kids to feel seen and cared about as they learn to manage big feelings. Of course, I also want readers to connect and have fun, and I love creating interactive experiences. Some stand-out moments during this “time of zoom” have been dancing with classes to the Way Past Mad song, 

sharing Power Poses (or stances to feel empowered), using visuals to play “Guess My Mood,” and swapping ideas on how to deal with big emotions.

DP: What a beautiful, heartfelt goal, and the activities you've described sound (and look!) marvelous. I suspect that kids do indeed feel very loved and seen and cared about when they read your books. 

Do you have any fun anecdotes and/or pictures to share from your past events?  

HA: Yes! Way Past Worried was launching at a time when frankly, the world was worried. The headlines were grim, families were struggling, adults were drained from zoom calls, and most kids were learning from home. As I wrote in Way Past Mad, people’s feelings continued to “swell and spread like a rash.” Everyone suggested that I postpone the launch party. But I didn’t want to. I knew that kids and families needed to connect and remember that they were part of a large and loving community.

Children’s Book World was closed due to the pandemic, but as always, their team was up for anything. So I reached out to my local library in Belmont Hills to see if we could host a drive-through launch party in their parking lot. Amazing children’s librarian, Gwen Gatto, was thrilled and started spreading the word to families. 

We set their parking lot up as a track. Guests came in and were greeted by our team dressed in purple hoodies with the book cover on the back, so it could feel like the illustrator, Sandra de La Prada, was right there with us. I had planned out stations so that cars could make multiple stops to get treats by No Nuts Nikki, clip boards with activities and swag, superhero masks, signed books, and lots of photos (taken by my sister and niece). Socially-distanced stations were run by my kids, Jade and Sage Adelman, along with Children’s Book World, book ambassadors like Avery Haron, colleague Lyndsey McCormick, and fellow authors, like Goodbye Mr. Spalding’s Jenifer Robin Barr. At the very last stop, each car got a “BOOX” car magnet and entered a raffle to win a bundle that included swag, recent Albert Whitman titles and other books by local authors and friends.  

Besides friend and family guests, kids and teachers from schools like the Little Learners Literacy Academy and Conshohocken Elementary rolled in with love. I was so excited to see big smiles and to create a “worry-free zone” where everyone could recharge and feel Way Past Happy!

DP: Oh my goodness, Hallee. This event looks like so much fun! What an excellent example of working with and around current obstacles to create community and connect with readers. It makes me wish we lived closer so I could have been there to participate and support you in person!  

I do have to ask if you have any event mishaps or cautionary tales that other storytime/book event planners might benefit from knowing about--or simply get a kick out of?

HA: In the zoom universe, it might help to ask teachers in advance if the kids know how to mute and unmute their microphones. Alternately, you can suggest at the beginning of the zoom that parents of kids with unmuted microphones find a different time to vacuum.  

DP: Ha! Very good tips! I'm writing this into my planning notes right now!

I’ve noticed that you’ve incorporated novelty items/swag into your book promotions, for example branded feelings charts and a Way Past Worried puzzle. I’d love to learn more about how you went about creating/obtaining these items and if you have advice for others who might like to create similar items for their own books. 

HA: My biggest piece of advice is to ask yourself: Why you are creating these items and activities to go with your books? I write small books about big feelings and want readers to feel great love. I also want the book’s impact to extend beyond the time that a child spends reading the story. As a former teacher, I can’t help but think of extension activities, music and swag that can go along with the books. I want to strengthen students’ learning, create usable resources for librarians and teachers, and bring smiles to families. I think deeply about everything that I create and invest a lot of time, money and effort into making the book extension pieces just right. 

Another piece of advice would be to bring fun, talent and community into the work. I’ve engaged a talented local artist, Darcy Marcantonio, designed websites with super-techie, Derek Little, and written my own music that I brought to life with exceptional local musicians, Alfred Goodrich, Chuck Treece, Jeff Smith, and singers, Leo Gade and Elizabeth Christman from the Philadelphia Boys and Girls Choirs. This past year spring I launched the Book Song Challenge with “Poppy” a local celebrity also called “76ers Sixth Man” 

and have worked with the uber-special team at the Franklin Institute to connect with students about the science of emotions. 

My favorite activities are the ones I have created with my daughter, Sage Adelman. She is a wonderful baker and enjoyed cooking from a very young age. Together, we have made videos, recipes, and cooking activities like Mad Cakes and Worry Whip-so kids can mash out their mad and whip their worries! 

When reading the books, I hope kids consider the characters on the page and how the stories make them feel. In the long term, I want the kids to become successful in managing feelings, navigating relationships, and feeling confident and empowered. I’ve made Power Stickers, “Way Past Fun” card games, stamps, Stuck-at-Home videos, Emotion-Building writing lessons, “I Found My Way Past Mad” medals, etc. 

All these resources allow me to use different mediums to help cement the power of the book’s messaging in a way that feels authentic and natural to me. So my last piece of advice would be to make sure that whatever you create, large or small, will reflect a true piece of yourself and feels “just right” for your readers. 

DP: This is such excellent advice, Hallee. And I'm very moved by how much consideration and care you put into each resource and extension activity and tool that you create for your readers and their grown-ups. I feel so grateful that our mutual affection for picture books and education provided an opportunity for us to get to know each other. 

Are there any other resources you relied upon to plan your event(s) that might help others plan their own book launch events, particularly during these unique times?  

HA: There are many resources! I love learning and sharing wacky event ideas with my writing group. New writers looking to learn more about events can always turn to other authors through SCBWI, Highlights, and #pbchat. I personally always loved Alexis O’Neill’s author visit packet on her website! It helped me communicate with schools when I was first getting started. There are often great conference sessions about planning school events and launch parties. Many authors also post launch pictures and share descriptions of their events. I’ve found it helpful to ask my local bookseller, librarians, teachers, kids, parents, and fellow authors about successful visits and launches. As you can probably tell by now, two of the greatest resources I always turn to are community and creativity. 

DP: Thank you for being so generous with these ideas, Hallee! I was familiar with Alexis O'Neill's articles for the SCBWI Bulletin, and her School Visit Experts site, but I had not yet visited her author visit packet on her website. That's a great resource to add to the toolkit. 

Do you have any new projects coming up that you’d like to put on the radar? and/or is there something you wished I would have asked you that you haven’t had the opportunity to share? 

HA: Yes! Way Past Sad and Way Past Jealous are due out this Spring 2021! And…thanks to my amazing agent, Moe Ferarra of Bookends Literary, there are more books to come after that! Way past grateful for this opportunity to chat with you, Dawn. 

DP: It's been absolutely delightful chatting with you, Hallee. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with us. I've learned so much! 

Friends, the very best way to thank Hallee is to support her work. Hallee's books are available everywhere books are sold.

And, if you'd like to WIN Hallee's latest book, Way Past Worried, along with book swag, a recipe sheet and whisk to make Worry Whip, and a gift certificate for free copies of her next two books, simply comment below before 11:59pm EST on January 3rd. If you'd like another chance to win, visit @WayPastBooks on Instagram and follow the instructions on the giveaway posts. The contest starts today and will run through 11:59pm EST on January 3rd. Winners will be announced on January 4th.


Hallee Adelman is the author of My Quiet Ship (2018), and The Great Big Feelings Series with titles including: Way Past Mad (2020) and Way Past Worried (2020). With a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, Adelman has taught university through elementary students, having been nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award on multiple occasions. She loves sharing writing tips with educators, children, teens and writers. Adelman has also served various organizations related to children and/or education such as Franklin Institute, Please Touch Museum, Wissahickson Charter School, and Simon’s Heart. She is married with two children and two dogs.  Random fact: Adelman also produces documentary films and theater projects.  Learn more at


Have Swag Will Travel is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms (Spring '21), Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at


  1. As a worrier, I can confirm that this book has a message for all ages! Thanks for the giveaway. Wishing you all a wonderful 2021!

    1. That's such a great point! Agreed! Happy 2021 to you, too!

    2. Janet, thanks so much for your time in reading Dawn’s blog. Glad you found the book to be good for kids and beyond. ❤️❤️❤️

    3. Janet, thanks for reading Dawn’s blog! I’m so happy that you connected with the book! I definitely have kids and adults in mind when writing. Happy 2021 to you as well!! ❤️❤️

  2. Wonderful, thoughtful interview by two Authors I respect. You both have taught me much and a good people. Please enter me in the drawing for Way Past Worried. Happy New Year all!

    1. I'm so glad you found the interview meaningful ... I learned a lot, too! xoxo

    2. Annie, congrats on winning the drawing! Dawn shared that she pulled your name! Feel free to email me your address. Here’s to a 2021 filled with more of your beautiful music!

  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview and giveaway! I'm excited to explore these books and the online resources with my son, especially right now. And the parking lot party is such a brilliant book launch solution!

    1. Hallee's online resources are fabulous--and I agree, the parking lot party was such a brilliant book launch solution!

    2. Jillian, thanks so much. So happy you will check out with your son and glad you liked the idea for a parking lot party! Thanks for reading Dawn’s blog and happy new year to you and your family!

  4. What a wonderful interview. I love the book and look forward to the others. What an amazing job you did creating excitement around your book in these tough times! Thanks for sharing

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview and Hallee's latest book.

    2. Kimberly, thanks for reading Dawn’s blog and taking time to post! I hope you have a great 2021! Thanks for your warm words about the book!!