[guest post] Roxanne Troup on My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me

Like many stories, the final product of MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME is much more than the sum of its parts. And while I don’t know that I set out to write an intergenerational story, it became that through the process of revision.

The first spark of an idea for this story came about when I encountered a YouTube video of a commercial pecan harvest. I watched as a tractor with a padded arm grabbed hold of a tree and shook. Thousands of pecans thundered to the ground like torrential rain!

Though I’d grown up around farming, and knew a bit about mechanized harvesting, I was in awe. I’d never seen pecans harvested by tractor. I didn’t even know they made attachments for that! When we harvested pecans in Missouri, we gathered them by hand like the wild products they were. I was fascinated with the dichotomy of commercial harvesting versus home-harvesting and knew kids would find the process curious as well. But I needed an organic way to highlight both processes. When the phrase, “But not my tree,” came to me, I knew I’d found a story mechanism that could work.

My pre-draft (Yep, I just made that up. It’s the “draft” where all your ideas go—in no particular order.) was messy. It focused on the care and harvesting of pecans but wasn’t really a story. As a matter of fact, I never even finished it. But I also didn’t throw it away. I’d been reading, writing, and critiquing long enough to know it had elements I could work with. It included the refrain—“But not my tree”—that would stay with the story throughout each iteration. It hinted at a seasonal structure. And it had a nice child-like voice. I also never finished my first…or second…or third draft. When something isn’t working, I have a tendency to just stop and start again, taking what I learned in that partial draft to the next one (which I don’t recommend to anyone, but it is part of my process). 

In my “first draft,” I nailed the structure. In my third draft, I switched from telling how pecans are harvested (albeit from a child’s POV) to showing that process through the actions of a grandfather and child. But it wasn’t until my fifth draft that I finally had a solid story—beginning, middle, and end. Does that make number five my official “first draft?” Anyway, a couple weeks later, I was ready for feedback. (All-in-all, this process took about 2 months.)

After the story cleared my critique group, I reached out to a pecan expert in New Mexico. Professor Richard Heerema, at the University of New Mexico, graciously reviewed my story for accuracy, and after making a few changes, I began submitting. To crickets.

In hindsight, I probably submitted too early. But, thankfully, one of the editors I contacted saw enough potential in the work to request an R&R (a revise and resubmit). Though I didn’t agree with the direction the editor wanted me to take, I tried to figure out what underlying issue they were pointing out. That’s when the lightbulb went off. My story was too “education market-y.” (I’d written quite a few education market books by this time, and while I knew how to make a variety of topics interesting for kids, I hadn’t figured out how to make a story interesting to publishers and book buyers who weren’t focused on kids’ acquiring knowledge.) I needed my story to tap into the universal emotions all kids have—whether they’d experienced what they were reading about or not. So, I went back to work.

This time my revisions focused on language—especially sensory details—and amping up the relational aspects of the story. A month or so later I had the opportunity to submit my new draft to Katie Heit at Scholastic. My story was too quiet for Scholastic’s list, but Katie was so complimentary I knew I’d hit the right note with my revisions. Finally, in 2021, Yeehoo Press offered me a contract—nearly two years after that initial spark of an idea ignited my imagination. And today, I get to share that story with you!

It’s a beautiful thing to watch something you imagined live on in the hearts and minds of others—first in my publisher and editor; then with the illustrator, who really brought this story to life and deepened the relational aspects of it; and now in the hands of readers and reviewers. I hope every reader walks away from this book with a better understanding of where our food comes from, but also that they are loved and cared for just like the child (and tree) in this story—if not by their own grandfather, by a parent or family friend, a teacher, social worker, or other caregiver. I also hope that kids are able to internalize the truth that though family changes, the love we have for one another never runs out. It grows—like an orchard.



In this moving tale about the depths of love and care a grandfather and granddaughter have for one another, author Roxanne Troup and artist Kendra Binney deliver a timeless story sure to become a classic.

Of all the trees in Grandpa’s orchard, one tree is his favorite–a pecan tree, planted for his granddaughter on the day she was born.

As the seasons change, the leaves unfurl and fall again while Grandpa tenderly cares for each  tree in his orchard. Sometimes they need pruning, sometimes they need feeding. They all need harvesting, and the granddaughter loves watching the tractor hug the trees’ trunks and shake until leaves and twigs and pecans rain down.

But not the child’s tree–her tree is special. It is not a part of the orchard. It’s for just the two of them and all the ways their relationship grows as they care for this special tree: tending its roots, harvesting its pecan treasures, and creating something delicious together.


Roxanne with her kids.


Author of over a dozen books for kids, Roxanne Troup grew up along the waterways of Missouri, where everyone had a pecan tree but few grew pecans commercially. Today, she lives in the mountains of Colorado (where no one grows pecans), and writes kids’ books that celebrate wonder and family. She loves visiting schools to water seeds of literacy and teach about writing. (And sometimes remembers to water the plants in her own garden.) You can catch up with her online at www.roxannetroup.com


written by Roxanne Troup
illustrated by Kendra Binney
published by YeeHoo Press, April 2023
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 40 pp.
*On shelves April 11, 2023
, available now for pre-order

*Interior spreads text copyright © 2023 Roxanne Troup, illustrations © 2023 Kendra Binney, published by YeeHoo Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “[guest post] Roxanne Troup on My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me

  1. Ah what a gorgeous story, your telling feels as if you’ve opened a bit of the orchard to us and are sharing it’s intrigue and special relationship between grandpa and granddaughter! Loved hearing about your process and drafts, and viewing the beautiful and sensitive art that wed so well with your story! Thanks for sharing all Roxanne, congrats and all the best to you and Kendra with it!


  2. Congratulations, Roxanne. I am anxious to read your book, know it will be so lovely. I enjoyed reading about your thinking and process through the creating. My own grandfather planted a maple tree for me and I visit it sometimes when I return to the little town where I lived way back when! It’s huge now & holds many good memories!


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