Children's Publishing 2000-2009

As we head into this next decade, it's fascinating to look back. It's been a tough ten years, but remarkable as well - especially in the children's book world. We saw renewed interest in children's literature and reading with Harry Potter and Twilight. More adults are reading the Young Adult genre as they buy books "for their children."
     We experienced 9/11 which rocked our lives and hit the New York publishing industry especially hard. With the recession that followed, some amazingly talented editors were laid off, and good books fell by the wayside. Our normally hard to crack business got even harder.
     Meanwhile, our world changed - technology made it clear that there was no such thing as getting back to normal. The way we read is changing and we're all struggling to predict and adapt. It's daunting, but it's exciting too. What will books/reading in this next decade look like?
     But I ramble. Let me send you to an expert. Betsy Bird did a wonderful wrap up at Fuse #8: Best of the Decade: A Look Back at Children's Literature from 2000-2009.

Book Charities

The season of gift giving may be over - but we're moving into the season of fresh starts, new resolutions and hope for a better future. In that sense, it's a perfect time to think about supporting book charities.
     UK Librarian, Zoe Toft, has gathered a fantastic and thorough list of BOOK CHARITIES around the globe at her blog, Playing By The Book. The US charities in particular are listed here.
     Some of them are supported by corporations, some need your moolah, but some of them just need book donations. If you're like me, you have a TON of books that might help.
     Time to thin out your library for a good cause?

Coloring Page Tuesday - New Years Stork

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     2009 is coming to a close and 2010 is nigh. The air is ripe with possibilities!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!

A New Book Giveaway!
     If you've been reading my blog you know our stats at have gone through the roof lately - thank you! In fact, we're close to 1,500 people signed up to receive Coloring Page Tuesday Alerts to their in-box every week (we're at 1,425). That's too awesome not to celebrate.
     So, when the 1,500th person signs up for Coloring Page Tuesdays, I will do a drawing of all existing subscribers and one lucky person will win a signed copy of SOAP, SOAP, SOAP (bilingual or all-English - their choice)!
     So let the sign-ups continue and tell your friends!

Office Invaders!

How's a girl supposed to get any work done? Boots has decided my wacom tablet makes a lovely sunning area right underneath my desk lamp. And yes, she sometimes hits the buttons just so and contributes to whatever work I'm trying to do (the final spread for The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia is onscreen). And Bernie has decided I need TWO footrests. Which means I don't always get to scooch in like I need to....
I'm surrounded by fuzzy love.

Bubble Art!

My latest picture book, Soap, soap, soap, has lots of bubbles in it, so they've been on my radar of late. Check out this fantastic bubble art by Keith Johnson:

(He does school visits too - you might want to check out his very cool video about it.)

Winsor McCay

Go check out some of the "Little Nemo" comic pages by Winsor McCay archived at The Comic Strip Library ... Wow. Looks like he may have inspired Sendak and Van Allsburg, hm. And that poor Little Nemo just can't stop falling out of his bed! Just make sure you have some time to kill, you'll want to look around for a while.

Thanks to Christine Tripp for the heads up!

Merry Christmas!

I wish you and yours the very best this holiday season - Merry Christmas!
Click the image to see a larger version.

Tikatok Books

In this world of self-publishing options, there's one just for kids - Tikatok Books. It was just bought by Barnes & Noble, for obvious reasons - it's a very cool idea. How awesome to be able to make your child's writing/illustrating creation into a bona fide book? Very groovy.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Reindeer Ride!


(Click the image to view a larger version.)
     Santa goes for a ride this week! Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas Holiday this year!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages and subscribe to receive weekly alerts when new images become available.

3/50 - Spend Locally This Holiday Season!

To summarize from the website (click the logo to learn more):
3 - What three independently owned businesses would you miss in your community if they disappeared?
50 - If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
68 - For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, etc. In a national chain, only $43 stays in your community. Online - nothing.
1 - The number of people it takes to start the trend. You.


Avatar Movie - site and trailer.
OMG - go see the trailer on the official site, but know the trailer doesn't even do the movie justice. GO. Go see it. You're mouth will hang open the entire time. It is stupendous and gorgeous and different from anything you've ever seen. Some of the characters are a bit too stereotyped, but that would be my only negative critique. This movie blew my mind - completely.

The Death of the Book Tour?

Author Book Tour Turns Endangered Species - it's a long article by John Douglas Marshall of The Indie Reader Magazine, but an incredibly thorough read on the birth, height and decline of the book tour - the why and the loss the decline is to our communities. If you're interested in the marketing side of books (and if you're an author, you should be), this is a must-read.

Some quotes from the article:
(Stuart) Applebaum says that Random House remains committed to book tours as its "primary instrument for book promotion," but he also states, "The lousy economy is not inhibiting our book-tour decision making as much as the decline in available appropriate local media outlets. If we can set up a respectable number of worthwhile interviews and appearances for our authors, ones that have some potential to move the sales of their book, we most likely will encourage their visit to that city."
Author events have greatly increased the visibility of local bookstores, played a significant role in their being transformed into informal community centers. . . Crowded monthly author calendars enhance a bookstore's reputation in the city, ensure some foot traffic, too.

Thanks to Publisher's Lunch for the link.

SOAP reviewed in Criticas!

Remember I told you about the reopening of Criticas - the top and ONLY reviewers of Spanish and bilingual titles for English-speakers? (Librarians lean heavily on this resource.) Well, SOAP is in the latest edition and will be in the January issue of School Library Journal - woohoo!!!!

Type too small to read? CLICK here to read the Criticas Review online

Neil Gaiman visits Decatur!

Many thanks to Little Shop of Stories - our AMAZING independent children's book store. They threw the most baddest assest Graveyard Halloween Party in the country and won a visit from Neil Gaiman to our fair city! (Yes, THAT Neil - Newbery winning author of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.)
     Tickets were a hot commodity in our little corner of the world, let me tell you! (We're talking lines for tickets, sales of first-borns, you name it.) But everybody was amazingly behaved Monday night as they headed into Presser Hall at Agnes Scott (the only nearby venue large enough to handle the crowd - this photo doesn't begin to do it justice). Here we are winding our way in...

And my poor attempt at getting a shot of him onstage (no flash allowed)...

     And truly, the original plan was to stick around and get him to sign some of our books (a Sandman comic, the PB The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Anansi Boys, and Odd and the Frost Giants). But man o' man.
     They let the families with kids go first (for obvious reasons) and it was apparent it would be a long wait until we would get to Neil. So hubbie and I gave up our signing slots to whoever was next in line. Even so, Neil was signing until about 1:00AM!!! No wonder he doesn't do this very often!
     But gads, it was great to see him - seems like a normal guy - with a fantastic talent. And I am SO PROUD of my bookstore!! Diane and Dave and all the rest - you ROCK OUR WORLD!!!!

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Candy Cane

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     I'm busy making cookies and the twinkly lights are up. Christmas music fills the house. How are you getting ready for the holidays?
     Need some stocking-stuffer ideas? Read on!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages and subscribe to receive weekly alerts when new images become available.

     Did you know my Coloring Page Tuesdays images are available as bona fide coloring books that make GREAT stocking stuffers for kids and their teachers, scrap-bookers, or people who just love to color? All three collections, "I Love to Read!", "Fun Stuff!", and "Holidays!" have over 20 coloring pages in each.
     Click the cover to buy a copy through And order soon to make sure they get to you in time!

     Three of my Coloring Page Tuesday images are now available as actual stamps through The Greeting Farm - Library Mouse, Victorian Poetry, and Reading Fairy! Click here to buy!

Need more gift and stocking stuffer ideas - click here to read my latest Coloring Page Tuesday Alert with lots of great ideas!

Oh wow - look at the great job six-year-old Vlad did on the candy cane. And he sent it, with holiday wishes, all the way from Romania! Thanks Vlad! :) (Check out the Easter coloring page Vlad did here.)

Wowsa - look at you guys GO!!!

Can you believe our stats here at!? We had over 6,000 hits on a recent Tuesday and we've been floating close to that number ever since! Many, much, big-o thanks to all my loyal followers!!
     It seems only a few months ago I was wondering when my stats would grow to over 2,000 hits a day. But I'm learning that stats don't move by slow increments - they exponentially jump. In other words, rather than struggling around 2,000, the stats quickly doubled and then tripled. Wow.
     Another fun thing to do is look up the ranking on ://urlfan - ranks #119,109 out of 3,783,534 websites! I'd say that's pretty darned good, yah?
     So THANK YOU for sharing my books and my coloring pages with your friends and family!!! Ho, ho, ho indeed!

Kirkus Closing

The standard in book reviews, Kirkus, is closing. (Nielsen is also shutting down 'Editor & Publisher.')
     Okay, they had a reputation as the snarky reviewers. And they even let publishers pay them for reviews. Hm. But it was probably inevitable that Kirkus would close since so many newspapers have closed their book review sections and blog reviewers have become so prolific. But I'm bummed.
     It's the death of a standard, an institution. When I got into this business, I set bars in place by which I would grade my success. Getting a starred review from Kirkus was one of those bars. And now I'll never have the chance to jump it.
     But truly, bloggers have replaced the need. And blog reviewers are most often unpaid, passionate readers writing about what they love. You can't get a more honest opinion than that.
     Want to follow some great online children's book reviewers? Anastasia Suen has a great list at Blog Central: Children's Book Reviewers.

UPDATE!!! Looks like there may be a buyer to keep Kirkus alive!!! Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

ATL Press Club Party

Thursday I had the pleasure of being invited again to the Atlanta Press Club Holiday Author Party. It's an opportunity for tv, radio, and media people in the Atlanta area to learn about local authors and their latest books (along with bidding for items in a silent auction).
     Well, hubbie ended up with a cold, so couldn't join me. And all the way there I was thinking, this won't be nearly as fun now - I won't know anybody there.
     HA! I walked in to find I knew a TON of the authors - all buds. So I went from Squeal! Hug! to Squeal! Hug! And of course, I didn't get pics with everybody. Like how did Jessica Handler and I not get a picture together? But here I am with my SCBWI peeps PJ Shaw and Donna Bowman:

Here's PJ's and my set-up:

With interested visitors!

And I had the fun, rare opportunity to hang with some of my adult author peeps too. Here I am with Karin Slaughter and Hollis Gillespie:

     Also there were Mimi Schroeder of Max Communications; Kolinda Scialabba of the Gwinnett County Schools; Media Escort Esther Levine; former owner of Chapter 11, Vivian Lawand; Library Manager James Taylor; author Don O'Briant; and author Susan Rebecca White.

     Thanks to Wil Ennis of B&N for supplying so many of my books (they asked me to sign them all!) and to Lauri Strauss, the Executive Director of the Atlanta Press Club for the kind invitation.
     I love events like these - they end up being a great opportunity to catch up with friends while celebrating everybody's successes. And I even won a beautiful hand-blown glass vase in the silent auction - yay!

Coloring Page Tuesday - bonus - Dreidel!

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     Hanukkah begins today, so here's a bonus coloring page - a dreidel for you!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more holiday-themed coloring pages and subscribe to receive weekly alerts when new images become available.

Why Do Authors Charge for School Visits?

I ADORE this post by Kim Norman at Author Visits by State: Why do authors charge fees for school presentations? If you're a media specialist, librarian, teacher, or interested parent - please read this article!!!
     I spend so much time responding to requests for speaking engagements that start out sounding sincere but don't pan out because the inquirer actually wants my services for free (or ridiculously low pay). It's HOURS away from my work (why they are interested in me in the first place), and it can be hurtful - why would anybody assume my time has no value?
     Especially when I really do love doing school visits. I love the energy created from sharing my passion with kids – seeing their eyes light up when they are inspired and fascniated - there's nothing like it.
     Now I know there are some schools who truly who cannot afford my visits (or anybody else's) and I am working on finding ways around that. (Hope to share soon.) Because a visit with an author or illustrator can truly change lives. When a real person shares how they successfully accomplished their (seemingly impossible) dreams, children's dreams move from far-fetched ideas to actual possibilities for their future. It can mean everything to them.
     You can learn more about my school visits (and even see me in action) on my VISITS PAGE.

John C. Campbell Folk School - Another Great Weekend!

Once or twice a year I teach in the North Carolina Mountains at the John C. Campbell Folk School. This past weekend I taught "Creating Picture Books" and it's a treat for me made even better when I have an enthusiastic group of students. Like last year's, this year's group was just as awesome.
     Of course, this year we had a wonderful new twist... snow. It was mostly gone by the time I took this photo, but the entire valley was breathtakingly beautiful throughout the weekend. This was the view from our writing studio....

     It was my first time to teach during the colder months and the school was decorated for Christmas for their annual Fireside Sale - a fantastic kick-off to the holiday season. Greenery and pretty lights created a holiday mood and the happy energy was tangible.
     It was in this environment that I spent the weekend with eight budding children's book authors, eager to learn their new craft. It was an intense weekend. Each student arrived with a manuscript and we got to work reducing them down to their cores and tightening them up to their possibilities. Amazingly, one manuscript was about ready to go out for submissions while three others were nearly there. What a talented group!
     Each created a 'mini-dummy' illustrating the four components of their story's arcs: problem/desire/goal presented; escalation of conflict or obstacles; climax; and resolution.

Some of my students had to hit the road early, but here are a few with their creations:

     The bonus during the closing ceremonies was the pie-making class who shared samples of their weekend's labors - yum!!
     Afterwards I had lunch with good friends who I don't get to see nearly enough, then drove home. What a fabulous time! I love my weekends at John C. Campbell!

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Excuse me, Santa...

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     What are you wishing for this holiday season? Is the wish for you or for somebody else?
     Need some help with some good gift-giving ideas? Read on!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages and subscribe to receive weekly alerts when new images become available.

     How's this for a great idea - pair my latest picture book, SOAP, SOAP, SOAP ~ JABON, JABON, JABON (all-English or bilingual version) with some bubble bath and/or a reading rubber duckie!
Need more gift and stocking stuffer ideas - click here to read my latest Coloring Page Tuesday Alert with lots of great ideas!