November 2, 2022

Birth Stories for Books: LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR, by Rebecca Kraft Rector

Hello readers! In today's edition of Birth Stories for Books, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the path to publication for Rebecca Kraft Rector's new book, LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR, (illustrated by Shanda McCloskey, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, September 2022). 

The book is based on such a fun concept. I can't wait to hear more about how it came to be. 

by Rebecca Kraft Rector and Shanda McCloskey

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome back to the blog, Rebecca. In our last interview, you shared your path to publication experience for an earlier book, SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED. I’m looking forward to learning more about your latest book, LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR.

Rebecca Kraft Rector: Thanks, Dawn!

DP: Speaking of editors, can you share with us the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this book and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to a REAL LIVE EDITOR?  

RKR: It took about 30 revisions and two years from idea to submission. My agent suggested submitting the story to editors as a package with sketches from one of her illustrators. I’d never heard of submitting a package, but as soon as I saw Shanda McCloskey’s sketches, I said Yes, yes, yes! They were absolutely perfect, full of energy, personality, and sass. Fabulous! I am so very lucky that Shanda agreed to do the illustrations.

DP: What a great match up. The illustrations are so much fun! And it sounds like your agent's submission approach was a good one. 

Image Credit: Shanda McCloskey, from LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR

Image Credit: Shanda McCloskey, from LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

RKR: In the first drafts, Little Red met two other animals before Mr. Wolf. Then I had Mr. Wolf disguised as other animals. Finally, I had him appear as himself immediately. The other versions distracted from the point of the story. Right from the start I knew Red would write Granny a thank you letter for the cape and Mr. Wolf would correct it and thus miss eating Red.

DP: It sounds like you really took the idea of revising until the story was just right to heart. That's an important tip we all could learn from. 

Reflecting on the journey from idea to published book, is there any one moment along the way that you credit with opening the door for this particular story to find its way to publication? 

RKR: I think it was when I started having fun with the language—adding alliteration, assonance, similes, idioms, etc.

DP: I think most of our stories get better when we lean into the fun! 

When you compare your path to publication for LITTLE RED to your experience with SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED, what are some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each?

RKR: SQUISHED was an old story that I took to a Highlights workshop where it was ‘discovered.’ LITTLE RED was a completely new story. SQUISHED was called a modern take on an old tale. I hadn’t set out to do that. But with LITTLE RED, I purposefully looked for an old tale that I could twist. I played with titles and came up with LITTLE RED WRITING HOOD. And the idea of the thank you letter was inspired by that.

DP: I just love the word play and the concept. It's so much fun. 

You have a fantastic Parent and Educator's Guide for LITTLE RED on your website. It looks like both you and the illustrator, Shanda McCloskey, had a hand in this. Can you provide some insights about how this guide came together? Have you received any feedback from parents and educators about how they are putting this resource to good use? 

RKR: I wrote a basic Educator’s Guide for SQUISHED and I thought I’d do something similar with LITTLE RED. But Shanda suggested we do one together. We talked about things we could include and she outlined it and put together her part of it quickly. It was amazing. I wanted to be sure my part of the Guide reflected curriculum standards. I’d been writing educational test passages and questions, as well as other things for educational publishers. So my mind was stuffed with standards. That actually slowed me down for a long time. I couldn’t include everything! We have had some teacher feedback that it’s just what they need, but we haven’t heard how it’s actually being used in the classroom. Yet.

DP: One of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with young readers at school, library, and bookstore visits, and I’m always looking for new pro tips. Now that you have launched several books, (two while the world has been navigating a pandemic), what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow author/presenters in terms of planning successful (in-person and/or remote) events? 

RKR: Websites and social media are great ways to make people aware of you and your availability. If you’re doing a virtual visit, try to test your equipment on their platform ahead of time. My microphone worked fine on Skype and Zoom, but wouldn’t work at all for Crowdcast. I had to type answers into the chat box! Shanda has a wonderful podcast with lots of great tips. 

DP: Great tip on testing individual platforms ahead of time, and wow! What a fantastic resource. I was not familiar with this podcast. Thanks so much for sharing it. 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

RKR: “Just keep swimming.” Write. Persist. Do what makes you happy. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince. But it only takes one “yes.”

DP: That's fantastic advice, Rebecca. 

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR with us.

Readers, Rebecca's books are available everywhere books are sold, including your local indie bookstore, which you can access online via Bookshop. And if you can't add another book to your personal library, you can still support Rebecca's work by requesting one or more of her books from your local library


Rebecca Kraft Rector is a retired librarian and the author of more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books for children. Her cats Ollie and Opal keep her company while she writes. When she isn’t writing and eating chocolate, she’s trying to keep deer out of her garden.

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR is Rebecca’s second picture book, published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2022.

Visit Rebecca online at


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, 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  

No comments:

Post a Comment