I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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IMAGINE YOU AND ME + 6 Qs with author/illustrator Benson Shum + #IMAGINEaTwoBookGiveaway = Happy #BookBirthday!

January 23, 2024

We’re celebrating the #BookBirthday of Benson Shum’s


with a TWO-book #giveaway!

A gentle story—with a surprise twist!—

about the bond between an imaginative bear and his best friend.

(Dial Books)

What a sweet story about the magic of friendship and imagination.

AUTHOR STUDY ALERT: You can find previous #BookBirthday posts with Benson about ANZU THE GREAT and THE FIRST NIGHT OF HOWLERGARTEN.

Welcome back Benson!

We have questions…

Q 1.  What was the inspiration for IMAGINE YOU AND ME?

Benson Shum: The inspiration for IMAGINE YOU AND ME started with a painting I did of a bear and a little girl. My agent saw it and asked if I had a story. I knew they were friends, but what was their relationship? I thought maybe they could be imaginary, but this time, the little girl was the one. Then I kept asking more questions and the story grew from there.

Illus. Benson Shum

Q 2. Was the story fully fleshed-out from the beginning or did your characters lead the way?

Benson Shum: The baseline of the story was in my head and I had an idea of how the story would end. But as I wrote and wrote that changed. But the core of their relationship stayed the same. 

Interior illus. from IMAGINE YOU AND ME, text and art by Benson Shum (Dial Books)

Q 3. What’s your process once you come up with the story and characters—before you send it to your agent? Do you have a critique group or set of beta readers for your books?

Benson Shum: Once I have a rough draft, I would send it to my critique group to get their thoughts. I would revise and share it with my group again until I felt it was ready to share with my agent. Then I would revise based on my agent’s notes. And when it’s ready, she will send it out. 

Interior illus. from IMAGINE YOU AND ME, text and art by Benson Shum (Dial Books)

Q 4. Were you a reader as a kid? When and how did reading grab you? 

Benson Shum: My mom took me and my sister to the library a lot. I would check out piles of picture books, and I would read and mostly look at the pictures. When I discovered comic books, like Spider-man and X-men. That was when I got really hooked into reading. 

Interior illus. from IMAGINE YOU AND ME, text and art by Benson Shum (Dial Books)

Q 5. Do you have any activities or educator guide for this book?

Benson Shum: Yes, I have some activities to go along with all my books. (Under activities on my website).  But here is a direct link to IMAGINE YOU AND ME activities!

Q 6. What’s next for 2024 and beyond?

Benson Shum: I have a new book called MOONCAKES MEAN FAMILY coming out July 16th, 2024. It’s a story where we celebrate food and family and what it means during the Mid-Autumn Festival. It just became available for pre-order if you’re interested!

Releasing from Penguin Workshop July 2024

Did someone say #IMAGINEaTwoBookGiveaway?

YES! One lucky recipient (U. S. only) will receive one copy each of



THE HALF BIRTHDAY BOOK by Erin Dealey, Illus. Germán Blanco (Genius Cat Books)

and some COOL 1/2 Birthday stickers!

To be eligible:

Retweet with #IMAGINEaTwoBookGiveaway hashtag,

Twitter: follow @bshum79 and @ErinDealey and tag a friend!

Insta: follow bshum79 and erindealeyfind the #IMAGINEaTwoBookGiveaway post on Erin’s insta

and tag a friend!

Deadline February 6th/ midnight Pacific.

ONE Winner will be notified on February 7th aka WRAD.

(Have you signed up yet?)

Congratulations, Benson–

and Happy Book Birthday!

To learn more about Benson Shum and his work

Check out his website: http://bensonshum.com/

And follow him on social media:

Twitter @bshum79

Instagram bshum79

Up next: Natasha  Tripplett’s THE BLUE PICKUP (Harper Collins / illus. Monica Mikai )

will launch on February 6, 2024.

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