If You Go to Tulip Time, recently published by author and former kindergarten teacher Tricia Ballenger with the Write Place, shares the beauty, history, and excitement of Pella’s annual Tulip Time festival through the eyes of a child. We talked to Tricia about her experiences writing and publishing her book.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had been teaching kindergarten for twenty-five years, but I never had a book about Tulip Time to share with my class. I would talk with my class about what it’s like to be the host of a festival and welcome guests to Pella, but I wanted a book to help explain what the festival is all about.
For those not from Pella, can you explain what makes Tulip Time unique?
During Tulip Time, the whole community comes together to volunteer, spruce up houses and yards, and dress up in Dutch costumes. Young and old participate, making it a true family celebration—which is unique for such a big event.
What’s your favorite Tulip Time tradition?
Each year I sit on the north side of the square with my extended family to watch the parade. Then, we all walk to my sister’s house, which is only a few houses away, and spend time together as a family.
Can you tell us a little about your process for writing this book?
Six years ago this project started out as a notebook with pictures of Pella landmarks and the story of Tulip Time told as I knew it. I used the notebook in my class that year, and when we toured the town I noticed my kids were pointing out landmarks that I’d included and telling me what they’d learned about them. I was inspired to take the book to the next level. I decided to get help from the Write Place, which turned out to be a good decision.
What did you find most enjoyable about writing and publishing your book?
I liked working with Hannah and Lexie at the Write Place. Before coming to them, I had the vision for my book but I felt like I had no confidence. They helped me organize my vision and made me feel like I was part of the whole process.
Do you have any advice for an author wanting to write a children’s book?
Seek professional help if you need it. Also, know children and write to their hearts. I feel like most people who write children’s books do this.