Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen (Interview & Giveaway)

Bookzone Reviews welcomes Alexa Palmer and Catharine Kaufman, the authors of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen which is on tour with The Children's Book Review.


Created by Alexa Palmer and Catharine Kaufman

Illustrated by John Martinez and Hayden Mills

Ages 4-10 | 60 Pages

Publisher: Palmer and Kaufman | ISBN-13: 978-0-615136301

Publisher’s Book Summary: Jolene loves junk food. She loves it so much she wears red licorice in her hair–and pink taffy underwear! The Munch Bunch calls her “The Junk Food Queen.” Then, one night in her dreams, she meets a bunch of cool characters who take her on an incredible, edible journey into a world of juicy fruits, super salads, and yummy smoothies.



Alexa Palmer resides in Rancho Mirage, California, where she has raised three daughters- Alexandra, Stephanie, and Christina. A preschool teacher who has been passionate about writing since the age of 8, Alexa also has a background in performing arts from the University of London and Oxford University. She is a published songwriter formerly studying under the tutelage of the late Buddy Kaye and is excited about launching the musical version she created for Jolene.

Catharine Kaufman is a nationally syndicated food columnist, blogger, author, magazine writer, and TV chef. She credits her growing expertise in good nutrition for her survival and recovery from breast cancer and shares that expertise to help keep her family, friends, and fans in good health. Writing her columns under the moniker “The Kitchen Shrink,” Catharine dispenses advice on topics that include smart grocery shopping, food facts, and folklore, unforgettable dinners on a shoestring, solving cooking disasters, and putting the skids on colds, flu, and other ailments with healing ‘food chemistry.’

Showing off her humorous culinary savvy, Catharine was featured in a “Kitchen Shrink” mini-series produced by Time-Warner, which included such segments as Kitchen Play Date with Kids, and Pantry Preparedness. She also did a stint as a radio host and sidekick of restaurant reviewer and food guru Merrill Shindler on KLSX, Los Angeles. As a founder and partner of, the healthy gourmet cooking and food safety blog, Catharine has been garnering kudos from foodies around the world for her featured columns on that long-established site.

Through its offbeat humor, Catharine’s well-received children’s book with collaborator Alexa Palmer, “Jolene – Adventures of a Junk Food Queen,” motivated her two daughters and other children to participate in her cooking classes, as well as to acquire healthier eating habits than many of their peers. “Jolene…” has also been endorsed by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and is being sold on Amazon and other outlets. Ever since discovering her inner foodie, Catharine has been in her element, focusing her energy and passion on weaning as many people—but especially children and young adults—off toxic foods and guiding them on a fun journey to healthy living.


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was very young I had an interest. I wrote my first short story at eight years old. It caught the eye of someone who encouraged me to write. I began writing human interest poetry and song lyrics at a very young age.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think what makes a good story is literally a great storyline…”Like, wow! I love what this story is about!” Also, interesting, spicy characters, wit and humor, and a captivating beginning, middle, and end. The first few pages are most important. Those pages bring your readers in and if you have a strong plot that grabs them, well then, your story is bound to click. Of course, the writer has to have a brilliant pen and the craftmanship has got to be strong with detail and distinction.

How long did it take you to write Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen?

Jolene was what I call a work in progress. It took many years, both to complete the book version and the musical version. I was raising three kids at the time. When they went to bed at night or when they would go to school, I would work on Jolene. I was involved in another creative project at the time also, so it was just a matter of fitting it all in. Jolene went through massive editing. I am a mad editor. I catch little mistakes all the time.

What is the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen?

I learned that I have perseverance and that I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing craft. It has to look great on the page and have a good flow. Also, I never gave up. I pictured myself like Jolene climbing over Marshmallow Mountain. I had to complete the project and never abandoned or gave up on my quest or intentions.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kind of things do they say?

My readers seem to enjoy Jolene. I get feedback from kids often and they are influenced by the story, but also enjoy the magic of a story built upon fun and fantasy. They always tell me they like the characters and which ones are their favorites.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I tend to write for a few hours and then depending on what else is happening, I take some breaks, but always return to my writing space, especially if the work is good. Sometimes at night when I’m falling asleep, an idea might pop in my head and if I think it is worthy, I get up and write it down. Writing is a discipline, but when everything unfolds well, it is also great fun! Remember, it is an isolated profession if you choose to write alone, so breaks really help the process.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Oh, I have to say I use distractions. It is a quirk I have while I write. I will stop and prepare food, grab coffee, or read a recipe magazine – anything that distracts, and then I come back to my work. Also, I tend to read my work and over to make sure it makes sense and is worth my time. In other words, I have to like what I write. If I do like it, I read it over and over to then edit it well.

What is one piece of advice you would give to our readers who may be aspiring writers?

The advice I would give new writers is to keep your writing consistent. In other words, do it on a regular basis. Try to write in a variety of genres…poetry, song lyrics, the novel, a script. Find your strongest strength and go from there. Remember, even though you find your strength, you may evolve and change over time. For example, I was always good at rhyme. It came easily to me so that became my catalyst for writing poetry and the song lyric. From there, my writing evolved. It should change and evolve so that when you reflect on your earliest works, you should be able to see the improvement through time in one of more disciplines. Also, keep it original. No one likes copycats. The more original your ideas are, the more exciting the work will be!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be an actress. I was a natural performer as a child, so I’ve been told. I was in many stage productions growing up and took lead roles in school productions, so I loved acting. Nevertheless, it all changed when I was in college and my creative writing professor encouraged me to become a writer. He felt it was my true calling. I just naturally gravitated toward it and realized how much I had loved it all the years of my life. I made a choice.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes, I feel this needs to be added – there is an important value in succeeding as a writer. I never realized this until many years passed and I became wiser about the process. As it unfolds prior to your better works, you may struggle as a writer for many years and at times feel a bit hopeless. It is part of the journey. What you are gifted in the end is a knowing revelation that your work may be passed around through generations, depending on what you choose to write about. This is a very special, lasting gift of the written word and the world around you will share it with love for endless years to come. Many people may be touched and changed by way of the journey you embark upon. You may or may not experience material gain or wealth. You may eat soup in your kitchen for weeks or months. You may cry, complain, scream or moan about said circumstances, but take a moment to sit down and look at your book or listen to your songs, or poetry you have written. A smile will come to your face. It’s magic!

Thank you for joining us here at Book Zone Reviews, giving us a peek into your writing process, and for the sage advice!


Monday, September 19, 2022

The Children’s Book Review

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Fairview Review

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Crafty Moms Share

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lisa’s Reading

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Monday, September 26, 2022

Heart to Heart

An interview with the authors

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

icefairy’s Treasure Chest

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Me Two Books

A Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen book activity

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Life Is What It’s Called

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Monday, October 3, 2022

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

An article by the authors

5 Tips For Healthy Eating

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Because I Said So

A book review of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Book Zone Reviews

An interview with the authors


Enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen!

Two (2) winners receive:

- A signed copy of Jolene: Adventures of a Junk Food Queen

Jolene Adventures of a Junk Food Queen Book Giveaway

This post was created in partnership with The Children's Book Review, Alexa Palmer, and Catharine Kaufman

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