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The Building Blocks of Jill Dana

This month, we'll be highlighting the Donors from Our Rate Your Story *Build-A-Story* Contest (August 1 - September 10th). Each will share a little bit about themselves and the building blocks of their career, tell you about their latest project and leave YOU a building block to help build your stories! Be sure to check them out! AND don't forget to enter our contest (more info here) to be eligible for prizes!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The contest deadline has been extended to September 10th.


I’m Jill Dana. I’m an author, illustrator, educator and filmmaker. I’m the author of the Butternut series, as well as other books. I’m a member of SCBWI, a RYS judge, the book promotion groups @PictureBookGold and @PBSunrays, 12x12, and more. I think it’s important to be an active member of the children’s book community and love how it’s warm and supportive community.


Creating art is part of who I am. Whether it’s writing a story, filmmaking, or illustrating, I love making stuff. I also love children, nature, and animals and feel that it’s an honor and responsibility to create books for young readers.


I’m super excited to share that there are two books in the Butternut series and there are more to come. Butternut is the story of a little butternut squash finding his way in the supermarket world. There are themes of identity, friendship, #WhereFoodComesFrom, and more…

The third Butternut book, BUTTERNUT & THE FLYING BUTTER is the next book in the Butternut series. We haven’t revealed the cover yet, but I can’t wait to share our book with young readers. It’s illustrated by Anusha Santosh and edited by Lydia Leong of Marshall Cavendish Children. They’re wonderful collaborators and contribute so much to the supermarket world of Butternut.


I think it’s important to write your initial brainstorming ideas and draft without editing yourself. Allow yourself to create freely when expressing your initial thoughts. It’s easy to be overly critical of our work and that can hinder creativity.


A favorite book that I recently read is BIG TUNE: Rise of the Dancehall Prince by Alliah L. Agostini and Shamar Knight Justice. It’s filled with music, dance, family, community, and has that touch of magic in the best picture books. The text and illustrations marry perfectly and I think it would be a great mentor text for many writers and illustrators. The main character, Shane, is so adorable and finds a solution when the speaker breaks and spoils his family’s party plans... It takes place in 90s Brooklyn which evokes happy memories for many grownup readers as well. Alliah is also a member of @PBSunrays, a group of amazing authors and author/illustrators.


I have a bright and cute 17-year-old Silky Terrier named Bruce (a.k.a. Batdog). If you’d like to see him transformed into a Muppet on TikTok, here’s the link to the @JillDanaBooks TikTok page (which is filled with many dogs and butterflies):

You can connect with her here:


IG & Twitter - @JillDanaBooks

FB -

JILL'S PRIZE: Jill has generously donated 1 Non-rhyming picture book critique (1,000 words or less). If you entered the contest and believe your book has series potential, please comment and tell us about it to be considered for this bonus prize!

Meet MORE Prize Donors and Find More Prizes HERE [Click on the Links]

The Building Blocks of Award Winner Nancy Churnin (

The Building Blocks of Julia Recko

The Building Blocks of Monique Jones Brown

The Building Blocks of Lynne Marie

The Building Blocks of Karen Kilpatrick

The Building Blocks of #SeasonsOfKidlit (

The Building Blocks of #SeasonsOfKidlit (

The Building Blocks of Erin Dealey (

The Building Blocks of Dan Cramer (

The Building Blocks of Audrey Ades (

The Building Blocks of Michele McAvoy and The Little Press (

The Building Blocks of Linda Joy Singleton (

The Building Blocks of Helen H. Wu, Publisher & Author (

The Building Blocks of Jennifer Buchet (

The Building Blocks of Adam Blackman, Cardinal Rule Press (

The Building Blocks of Becky Scharnhorst (

And don't forget to send in your entry here:

Announcing the 2023 Rate Your Story Summer Contest

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