Hayley Barrett, a long time Reading resident, introduced her first children’s book to a packed house at Whitelam Books the first Saturday in April. The book, “BABYMOON”, is published by Candlewick Press, a top national publisher of children’s books that’s located in Davis Square, Somerville.
All Whitelam’s copies completely sold out that Saturday and more are on the way. Liz Whitelam, the book store owner, remarked that the crowd of more than 60 people attending “BABYMOON’s” launch was the largest ever since her store opened a couple of years ago.
“BABYMOON” will also be available internationally beginning in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The book’s illustrator is Juana Martinez-Neal who has received star reviews by Publishers Weekly for one of her books and won the 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator award for another book. Juana is truly an award winning illustrator also winning a 2018 Caldecott Honor for her Candlewick Press Book “ALMNA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME”.
Hayley Barrett always wanted to be a story teller feeling it was in her nature and grew up a “bookish” kid. She wanted to read anything about horses and reread over and over again. About 10 years ago, she got interested in the craft of writing children’s books and attended events including the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a professional organization for children’s writers. Attending their sessions and meeting like-minded and very helpful children’s writers confirmed her interest.
In addition, networking with 2 groups of book writers who meet monthly to support as well as critique each other’s work, kept being a children’s writer top of Hayley’s mind. Perhaps not surprisingly, Hayley says that there are lots of children’s writers and illustrators right here in Reading which include Tara Sullivan, Scott Magoon (previously spotlighted) and A.J. Jerrett.
Writing “BABYMOON” was the beginning of Hayley’s challenge in 2015 to get it published. She decided to go the traditional route rather than self-publishing by seeking a literary agent who would present samples of her children’s writing talent to potential publishers. She identified Ammi-Joan Paquette, currently the #1 agent for children’s literature, working for the elite Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The process took 4 years working with Candlewick’s editor, Mary Lee Donovan and her illustrator, Juana Martinez-Neal.
Mary Lee Donovan recommended Juana to Hayley to be the Illustrator. Part of the reason it took 4 years was the prominence of Juana in children’s illustration and the painstaking effort she puts into this very hand-made art.
In “BABYMOON” as Hayley’s website describes, “a new person has arrived. Let’s take our time. We’ll rest together, learn together, and fall in love as a family”. Hayley yelled so hard when she learned that “BABYMOON” was going to be published that her voice cracked. In its publication, Hayley came to the full realization of how much fun it indeed is to teach children that books about them are the best way to open up the whole world to them. It takes patience and perseverance to make the first one happen as the 4 years before publication will readily attest.
Hayley’s second non-fiction picture book, “What Miss Mitchell Saw” will be published by Simon & Schuster’s Beach Lane Books on September 3rd of this year. It will be much longer and recount Nantucket Astronomer Maria Mitchell’s amazing 1847 discovery of a telescopic comet from the roof top of the Pacific National Bank on Nantucket’s Main Street. Maria’s discovery caused an international sensation as astronomers debated her claim to a royal reward. Hayley’s central question in the book was “Did Miss Mitchell win gold and glory?” as the story unfolds among stars and ships and splashing whales. The editor at Simon and Schuster is Andrea Welch and the illustrator, Diana Sudyka.
Hayley’s 3rd book, entitled “Girl Versus Squirrel”, is in process and about one resourceful girl and one intrepid squirrel. “Great minds meet their match in “Girl Versus Squirrel”, a rollicking tale of teacups, peanuts, and the satisfying surprise of learning something new”. It will be published by Holiday House Books in the Spring of next year.
Hayley likes to teach children and older people about the things she finds interesting and they may as well. She is a graduate of RMHS, class of 1984, and Wheaton College, majoring in English and French. She started out by wanting to be a nurse and studied Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania before things changed and her interest in children’s writing took hold. She is one of 5 children of the Daltons, growing up on Lowell Street.
Hayley lives with her husband John Barrett III, a graduate of Tufts University and the Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College. John is 1 of 10 children, growing up on Reading’s Summer Avenue. They have a son, John IV and daughter, Rose.
More information can be obtained at: hayleybarrett.com.