Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Author Colleen Rowan Kosinski Talks Mentor Texts

by Kirsti Call
I met Colleen at the NJ SCBWI conference. I love the message of her lyrical and lovely debut picture book, Lilla's Sunflowers. Colleen's enthusiasm and artistic eye shine through her words and her art and I'm thrilled to have her discuss how Mentor Texts have influenced her writing and illustrating process.

Do you utilize picture books as mentor texts?  -If so, how? 

Of course I read as many new books as I can to keep current with what is being published. I primarily use mentor texts as examples of how the text and illustrations work together. I also look at the range of perspectives, spot drawings, and full page spreads to help me lay out my dummy books.

How has reading picture books helped you discover who you are as a writer?

When I read picture books I discover what resonates with me. I've found that lyrical, quiet books are what I love most. I also tend to be drawn to books with a circular tale. And I am a sucker for beautiful illustrations.

 Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you in the creation Lilla's Sunflowers?

There wasn't one book that inspired me in the creation of Lilla's Sunflowers. Although I did examine many books to decide how to paginate my text and various books to help me figure out how I wanted to lay out my illustrations. 

What do you feel is the BEST way for picture book writers to utilize mentor texts?

I think mentor texts are great to read when you are stuck. They may spark an idea and help you with the rhythm of your storytelling.

Thank you, Colleen!  I agree that mentor texts help spark ideas!

Colleen Rowan Kosinski has always found joy in
creating. She received her B.A. from Rutgers University in visual art, and is an alumna of Moore College of Art. She rediscovered her passion for writing after many years as a successful, freelance fine artist. When she discovered children’s book writing she knew she had found her passion. She’s written middle grade novels, young adult novels, and picture books. Her debut picture book, Lilla’s Sunflowers, was published by Sky Pony Press in 2016. Colleen belongs to the SCBWI and is active in her local chapter. You can contact her at Colleen AT myartsite.com. As a lover of nature and animals, in the spring you can usually find her nursing a sick rabbit or robin back to health. Colleen resides in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband, three sons, doberman pinscher, rottweiler, and miniature dachshund.


  1. I love sunflowers!! That's a beautiful cover, Colleen! Looking forward to reading your book--congrats! :)

  2. Beautiful photo of you Colleen and love the cover art of your new book! Good to read an illustrators perspective of mentor texts.

  3. This book is beautiful! The cover makes me want to get my hands on it and read it. Nice job!

  4. Sunflowers are my favorites! Gorgeous art Colleen! Can't wait to read it!

  5. Welcome to the world of picture books. Good luck with this title!

  6. Beautiful cover art and beautiful Collen among the flowers. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  7. I've admired your work for a long time, Colleen! Your voice is so strong and style so unique. Thank you so much for being our guest! We are honored. Best wishes!

  8. I just bought this beautiful book! Thanks for the interview.