Albertina the Practically Perfect began as a picture book. I shopped it around a dozen times - more than any book I've ever sent out. I got a number of "nice" rejections, but they were still rejections. Usually I would have given up, but I just couldn't quite let it go. I found myself thinking of other things that could happen to Molly, the narrator -- even imagining sequels to the first picture book, always assuming there WAS a first one. At some point, I realized that I could build on the picture book and make it a chapter book for young readers. In fact, I saw Albertina and Molly as slightly older children than the average picture book stars, and suddenly it made sense. Getting to expand the story, add more details, get to know the people better, was actually fun.
When I sent my completed book off to Greenwillow, it came back with a rejection but with very specific criticisms. They made sense to me, and I began rewriting at once -- excitedly, cheerfully, but with never a thought that I would send the book back to Greenwillow. After all, they hadn't requested a rewrite. They'd just said no. Thank goodness for my writers group! When they heard the new, improved version they insisted that I send it back to Greenwillow. I felt a little foolish, but I sent it anyway -- and this time Susan Hirschman accepted it.
I named the teacher in this book "Miss Aamot" after my first grade teacher who still lived in Juneau. She died recently, but until then, she was usually the first person in line at my local book signings, and I loved putting her in a book.