If you know Tamara Ellis Smith at all, you know that she is a heart-out person. She wears her heart where everybody can see it, and everything she does is connected to her heart.
This is as true of her writing as anything else, of course.
Tam started writing a manuscript about grief a couple of years ago when her family had lost some loved ones unexpectedly. GRIEF IS AN ELEPHANT wound its way through the revision and submission process and finally landed with Victoria Rock at Chronicle, who continued to work with Tam on it until she was ready to make an offer.
In a tragic twist, Tam’s father suddenly developed cardiac issues and was hospitalized. She read him the manuscript as he lay dying, and within a few days, we had the offer from Victoria to publish this picture book—which now, of course, has even more meaning than it did before. I know that Tam’s loss and her aching heart will lead her to comfort for her readers, and they in turn will comfort others, and so on. To quote Tam’s text, “Listening becomes light."
Victoria signed the remarkable Nancy Whitesides (represented by Rebecca Sherman at Writers House) to illustrate. In the story, grief evolves, first appearing as an elephant, and ultimately in the form of a firefly; we can’t wait to see Nancy bring her own heart to the visuals of this story. It is scheduled to release in spring 2023.
Many congratulations to you, Tam.