Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is September 30th - October 6th this year. Celebrate your right to read what you like by reading a banned book! Click the banner to learn more.

Introducing Zoklings!

From Gratz Industries, Wendi Gratz, seamstress extordinaire and wife to YA author Alan Gratz, has come up with the better mouse trap. Check out ZOKLINGS! They're so simple and yet SO CUTE!
     As Wendi says, "They're totally mooshable and poseable and sooooo much fun to play with."
     I see the beginning of a trend. Check them out in Wendi's Etsy shop. Go Wendi!


My bud Nate Evans has a new picture book just perfect for boys. It's called BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Machines, dinosaurs, what's not to love? I asked Nate about it...

Q.   Congratulations on the release of your latest picture book BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS (co-authored by Stephanie Gwyn Brown, illustrated by Christopher Santoro). You must have been in a very loud mood when you wrote this. What was the inspiration?
A.   It’s been a long road to publication. Stephanie and I wrote this manuscript 10 years ago. It began as a mash-up of my love of gigantic, noisy things: dinosaurs and construction vehicles. I mentioned the idea to a friend, but she thought it needed more – she suggested I tell the book in rhyme. Then I mentioned the concept to another friend, and he suggested that it needed even more – he told me it should be an ABC book! Both of these friends were well-published authors so I decided I should listen to their advice. I was stumped until I hit upon the title: “A Building Crew of Dinosaurs” as the working title. While I was wrestling with the verse and rhyming aspect of the manuscript, I met Stephanie at an SCBWI schmooze. That schmooze was my literary gold mine because, as I got to know Stephanie, I discovered she was an amazing poet. And she loved the rhyming, ABC concept. We decided to collaborate on the project. She thought about things for a few days and then came back with a couple of amazing verses. She really helped to set the tone for the vivid, and loud, language. Lines like:
“Digging, driving, drilling, filling.
Dinos tough and rough and willing.”

Q.   You've collaborated on several books now, including the Jellybeans series and Ponyella with Laura Numeroff (Ponyella and two of the Jellybeans books ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list). Do you prefer collaborations or writing on your own?
A.    When I was a kid I loved TV shows about groups of friends collaborating on projects and having fun together. Shows like the “Monkees” and the “Banana Splits.” (I also always wanted to be in a rock and roll band, another very collaborative effort.) So why I then proceeded to pick one of the loneliest professions in the world, I have no idea. I sat, alone in my studio for years. After a while, I was sick of it. There’s so much about collaboration that I love: the camaraderie, the brainstorming, the ability to toss a problem back and forth to find a solution. I’ve found that problems that will stall me out for days, or even weeks, as a solo creator will be solved almost instantly in the context of a collaboration. Collaboration for me increases the joy of my working process. And when the combination is just right, like with Stephanie and me on “Bang! Boom! Roar!” the working process feels almost magical.

Q.   You're also an illustrator. What's it like having another illustrator put your words into pictures?
A.    It is amazing! Of course, the illustrators I’ve worked with are the magical Lynn Munsinger, and the amazing Christopher Santoro. I’ve admired Lynn’s work for years, and when I saw Christopher’s artwork for “Bang! Boom! Roar!” I was floored. I almost literally could not believe my eyes: he’d done much more, taken the visuals so much further, than I could ever have imagined. His artwork is incredibly colorful and lively and full of texture and detail. To me, the illustrations for this new book feel like scenes from an extraordinary animated movie.

Q.   Along with picture books, you do chapter books. How is your process different for those?
A.    Writing chapter books feels very different to me – the breadth of concept, the language and wordplay, the scope and detail of an adventure. Over the last few years I have been teaching myself to write for older and older kids. So from picture books, I jumped to First Chapter books (“Dragon Bones” for Random House Stepping Stone; “Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective” and “Beast Friends Forever” for SourceBooks). And, as of several days ago, I’ve just sent my agent my first middle-grade novel manuscript. Now I’m exploring the possibility of writing for teens. It gets tricky because I believe most authors have a natural voice that fits comfortably with a certain age group, and when you try to evolve beyond that age group you have to be very vigilant and careful. You need to pay exacting attention to choice of concept and format and narrative voice and tone. This is another aspect of collaboration that for me is very important. By teaming up with another author, it’s a wonderful way to broaden your writing skill set for the project.

Q.   This is a great boy book - what with all the machines and dinosaurs and rhythmic sounding text. Do you think it's easier to write for boys, since you are one and all?
A.    Well, once again I have to point to collaboration for my answer. I do feel more at home with boy themes and loud language and exciting action. But when I collaborated on several picture books with the fabulously talented Laura Numeroff, she wanted to write some sweet girl adventures. Working with her, we wrote some very cute stories filled with lots of glitter and pink. I’m very proud of those books, but I certainly couldn’t have written them on my own. (I do have to mention that I did look to my two nieces for added inspiration: one loves to play soccer and other sports, and the other is a beautiful dancer.)

Q.   Finally, how else are you getting the word out about your new book?
A.    At the moment I’m really concentrating on school visits. It is so much fun getting out and interacting with kids in a school environment. It’s a wonderful way to get a chance to talk about my latest book, among other things. It’s also incredibly inspiring to spend time with so many different types of kids.

Thanks Nate! And to read how truly personal this book was to Nate as his wife was dying from cancer - go to Janice Hardy's blog post: The Kindness of Illustrators.

Here's a great video to give you an idea how the book goes...

GIVEAWAY!!! Leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing for a free, signed and dedicated copy of BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Must live in the continental USA to win and include your email addy in your comment (spelling it out is fine). No addy, no winnie! The drawing will be held next Wednesday.
DING! DING! DING! And the winner is.... Rebekah!!!!

Note: To leave a comment click the "3 comments" (or however many) line below. It will take you to a window where you can write your comment.

The Challenge of Retelling Grimms' Fairy Tales

Go hither ye and read the amazing article by Philip Pullman (yes, THAT Philip Pullman, of The Dark Materials trilogy) in The Guardian: The Challenge of Retelling Grimm's Fairy Tales.
     It's to celebrate his new book, FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (A New English Version), in which he has retold 50 Grimms' tales.
     Here's a most elegant quote:
"I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale, and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy."
     Just as I've been so fascinated by Jack Tales throughout my life, Mr. Pullman has obviously been fascinated with Grimms' Fairy Tales, their origins and evolution. Just as my new non-fiction manuscript (which I'm just starting to submit to publishing houses), "The Story of Jack: The Evolution of Storytelling via the Jack Tales," goes into the history of Jack Tales, Mr. Pullman delves into the history of the Grimms' Tales.
     I find the evolution of stories fascinating. Hence my recent research trip to Virginia and North Carolina to track down the origins of Jack Tales. I even have a manuscript (which I haven't sent to anybody because for years the publishing houses have said 'no folk tales') adapting a Jack Tale adaptation of the German "Bremen Town Musicians" which later became "Jack and the Highway Robbers," which I now tell as "Jack and the Big Bad Bull." So many of the stories we tell are evolved from stories told hundreds of years ago. As Mr. Pullman says,
There have been many, and there will be many more, versions of these tales that are brimful of their author's own dark obsessions, or brilliant personality, or political passions. The tales can stand it.
     I don't know why these stories hold my passion so strongly, or the passion of all society for that matter. Perhaps they ring true to us, remind us of home, remind us of being human. I find it ironic that the stories that have held us together for so long are, in our modern society, intended for children. Again, to quote Mr. Pullman, quoting the great pianist Artur Schnabel when talking about the sonatas of Mozart:
"they are too easy for children and too difficult for adults."

Coloring Page Tuesday - Fairy on a Scooter!

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     I love fairies, I love scooters, and I think they sort of go together, don't you?
     Halloween images will start next week. Meanwhile, I need some Halloween creations in my gallery to share in my upcoming newsletters. CLICK HERE for existing images!

     Signed, dedicated pre-orders are available for the hard cover edition of LULA'S BREW. Call my local independent children's book store, Little Shop of Stories, at (404) 373-6300 (USA).
     Meanwhile, the paperback is available now on Amazon!
     Want to help spread the word? CLICK HERE to download sidebar banners, cover shots, blog post banners, a press release, anything you can use to help get the word out.
     THANK YOU!!!

     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Post it to a blog, then share it in my GALLERY!
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.

Class on Creating Picture Books - with me!

Are you familiar with the art supply store BINDERS in Atlanta, Georgia? Well, they also host art classes and workshops.
     I am thrilled to announce I will be teaching CREATING PICTURE BOOKS at Binders from October 12-14th from 10am to 4pm. CLICK HERE for more information (or the logo above). And since this is the first time they'll be offering my class, there's a 25% discount to inspire interest. Hope to see you there!

Awesome Librarian Tattoos

Nobody knows how to bedeck their body with literary awesomeness like librarians do! Mental_floss has some great photos you have to see in 11 Amazing Librarian Tattoos. Like this one on Becca of the Dewey Decimal number for Harry Potter:

     I also recently learned about Becky Quiroga Curtis from Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida. She's known for getting famous children's book illustrators to draw their characters on her bod, which she then runs out and has made into permanent tattoos! So, she's literally covered with original works of art from picture book heros!
     Thanks to Teresa Rolfe Kravtin for the heads up on Becky and for use of her image (which she took at the recent SIBA book fair).

The creation of Lula's Brew - the brew, not the book

So my publisher wants to include a recipe in the press release for LULA'S BREW. Not just any recipe - THE recipe - y'know, Lula's Brew - the actual BREW.
     Well, I've thought about it for years, quietly in the back of my mind. So I thought it would be a breeze. It didn't turn out that way.
     At first I thought, Halloween... it needs to have something to do with pumpkin. So I performed the grand experiment. I divided and cleaned out an enormous squash which I roasted with its seeds (I'm lucky I didn't chop off any of my fingers doing this):

Then I diced and sauteed lovely ingredients:

I sauteed them in a pot to create a sort of white bean chicken chile with a can of pumpkin. It's real - I read about other people doing this with success.
     I also read some recipes that turned it sweet, with coconut milk and curry. So I divided the batch half-way through and made both. Then I served them in the squash halves with the roasted seeds and fresh parsley.

     Brave hubbie gave them a try and... well, the results were not so stellar. Neither recipe was IT. Neither one was Lula's Brew.
     So Monday I tried again. I needed something that was accessible to most American's, with ingredients that anyone can buy at their local store or may already have in their cabinet and fridge, but which end up delicious when combined... and witchy-stew-like.
     Then, I remembered this recipe I used to make for my poker gang nearly every week in my single days. It took some digging, but I found the recipe and... adapted it. I updated it to my more grown-up taste buds (just a bit) and renamed all the ingredients. The corn became "mummy teeth" and the black beans became the "moles from a bat's behind." Y'know, like Lula's Aunties would have directed.
     The result? YUM! No really! THIS is it! THIS is Lula's Brew! CLICK HERE for the recipe. YUM!

     Did you notice the actual copy of LULA'S BREW in the background, did ya? Did ya, huh? Yeah, it's cool.

Dianne de las Casas - BOOKS and APP!

It's been a miss here at that I haven't yet shared with you the awesomeness that is Dianne de las Casas. Not only is she an amazing storyteller who does over-the-top school visits, she is also the creator of Picture Book Month (in November), teaches professional devlopment for teachers and librarians, and she has a string of professional books and picture books based on folk tales. For instance: The Cajun Cornbread Boy; Madame Poulet and Monsieur Roach; Mama's Bayou; The Gigantic Sweet Potato; There's a Dragon in the Library; The House That Witchy Built; Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate; and her latest, Dinosaur Mardi Gras. She even has three more coming out in 2013 - woosie!
     If you're one of Dianne's over 10,000 subscribers to her newsletter, you already know about her many skills and books, but for those who haven't signed up yet, I recently asked Dianne some questions...

Q.     I would love to hear about how you tie folklore/storytelling into your books. How do you decide which stories you want to pursue in print?
A.     Folktales inspire me because they hold universal truths. They have been around this long because there is inherent wisdom in them. Children are my barometer for whether or not I will retell a folktale in book form. If I tell a story to live audiences and they respond to it time and time again, I know the story will work in print. I love creating fun and catchy refrains within a story. I usually choose stories that have a refrain that appears 3-5 times in the tale. Think "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Little Red Hen." Then I like to "remix" the story and modernize them or give them a regional twist. My take on "The Gingerbread Man" became The Cajun Cornbread Boy. My take on nursery tale, "The House That Jack Built," became The House That Witchy Built and The House That Santa Built. These stories work so well in story time, when they are read aloud. I call them "Tell-Along Tales."

Q.     How long does it take you to refine a story until it's ready to go to your editor?
A.     I usually hone my stories in front of live audiences so sometimes, it can take years before it morphs into a version I feel is ready for print. There are so many things to consider. Adapting a live oral tale to the static print version can be a challenge, especially in a picture book. You can sometimes lose the "storytelling" element of the tale. This is where the illustrator comes in. For me, the illustrations are just as important as the words. Ironically, words can sometimes be inadequate in a book, especially when the story was once a tale from the oral tradition. This is where I rely on the illustrator to capture the essence of the story that was, in live storytelling, usually portrayed with a character voice, a facial expression, or body movement. The subtext of the illustrations are a perfect compliment to the text.

Q.     Most storytellers subtly change stories to fit their own voice, locale, etc... How do your stories adapt?
A.     I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. My city and state provide me with a cadre of ideas for stories set in my locale. Sense of place is so important to a storyteller and it is important to me as a writer. I love honoring my sense of place. But I also grew up all over the world and I have an international family so I honor that too.
     For instance, I could see a Japanese tale like "Momotaro, The Peach Boy" adapted into a story with Southern flair, keeping the motifs of the original story yet adding that sense of place. An old couple from Georgia want a baby but cannot have one. One day, the old woman sees a peach floating down the creek. She brings it home. When she gives the peach to her husband, it splits open. A little girl with frizzy hair and dotty freckles appears... LOL

Q.     What's it like when you see the illustrations for one of your books for the first time?
A.     I LOVE seeing the illustrations for the first time. It's like Christmas for me. Imagine going to sleep with words in your head and waking up with pictures depicting the words, in your lap. This is what it's like. It's like magic. I'm very fortunate in that I am friends with my illustrators and they graciously allow me sneak peeks of the art. It's always a thrill! I envy people like you, Katie Davis, and Joyce Wan, who have the double gift of being able to write AND illustrate. What a blessing!

Q.     Tell us about the new app, Rockin' Three Billy Goats!
A.     It is soooooo COOL! Seeing the app go live in the Apple App store was like my birthday, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Christmas wrapped up with a big giant bow. It took about a year to develop. It's called "Rockin Three Billy Goats" and it is an iOS app available for $2.99. It features my signature "Tell Along" storytelling with music, sound effects, a catchy refrain, a rapping troll, and interactive characters. You can touch the goats, the troll, the sun, the clouds, and even a secret pink bunny. I love making Little Billy Goat do flips. I feel like a kid playing with a new toy. I've been playing with it on my iPhone and iPad every day. LOL The terrific art was done by Stefan Jolet and the app was developed by Moglue. It was definitely a team effort and I am sooooo proud of it. I feel so "grown-up" as an author, having an "app!" LOL

Q.     And tell us about your amazing school visits!
A.     Thank you so much for saying they are amazing. I am passionate about literacy, storytelling, and books. I love visiting a school and interacting with the students. I have a ton of fun rocking the stage. I sing, clap, dance, rap and get the kids to join in. I bring them on stage and we have a blast. I have been doing school visits since 1996 and it's always thrilling for me to visit a school. Every audience and their reactions are different. I always go home inspired and feeling like I made a little difference in the world. How can you not feel that way when they applaud, smile, and hug you after?!! Their enthusiasm is contagious and I feel blessed that they allow me to share that time with them.
     Thank you very much, Elizabeth, for having me as a guest. You are a great hostess!

Thanks for stopping by Dianne! And y'all check back as we get towards November. I'll have Dianne back to talk about Picture Book Month!

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Aye ye scurvy dogs, tis Talk Like a Pirate Day. Did ye know, ye can set the language on yer facebook page to "English (Pirate)." Aye. Tis a good thing. And did ye know, I have several coloring pages of pirates you can use? CLICK HERE.


     Guess what arrived in my hot little hands on Monday - a hard bound copy of LULA'S BREW - the BOOK!!! The seven-year journey is getting close to being a dream accomplished!
     Click the image to learn more about it and download free Lula activities.
     Meanwhile, you and your friends can call my local independent children's book store, Little Shop of Stories, at (404) 373-6300 (USA), to put in your pre-order for a signed copy. Or wait until October, when you'll be able to buy it directly from your favorite bookseller. It's so cool that this is finally happening - it's hard to believe it's real.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Pirate time!

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     Shiver me timbers! Wednesday is "Talk Like a Pirate Day" ye scalewags! How do ye plan to celebrate, eh matee? I hope by sharing my young adventurer with yer prisoners...*ahem* I mean, your kiddies.
     CLICK HERE for even more pirates to color.

     Want to help spread the word? CLICK HERE to download sidebar banners, cover images, blog post banners, a press release, anything you can use to help get the word out. THANK YOU!!!
     Meanwhile, if you would like to pre-order your own signed/dedicated copy of LULA'S BREW, just call my local independent children's bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, at (404) 373-6300 (USA) and your copy will arrive in early October.

     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Post it to a blog, then share it in my GALLERY!
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.

Guest Post on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations!

Check it out! I wrote a guest post called "LULA'S BREW: What's Your Reading Flavor" featuring LULA'S BREW over at the AWESOME Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog: Cynsations.
     Along with being a long time supporter of mine - which I SO appreciate - Cynthia is the author of the Tantalize series and several picture books, including one of my faves, HOLLER LOUDLY.
     I talk about the seven-year journey for LULA'S BREW and how she's traveled through every reading option we have these days. And how I am most excited about her current incarnation as a REAL BOOK!

Writing for Children Live - guest post by Kim Taylor-DiLeva

Hi Everybody, This is the first of what I hope will be many more guest posts at Please leave some feedback in the comments, let me know what you think! - e

     Hi everyone! Before I begin today’s guest blog post, I’d like to give a big thank you to Elizabeth Dulemba for allowing me to share with you today. As an aspiring children’s book author who, just like you, is a follower of this blog, I’m so tremendously excited to be a part of this blog today.
     So back to the post…if you are, or ever have been, an aspiring children’s book author, then like me, you’ve had times when you’ve either been closed out of great conferences, had to travel great distances to hear from experts in the field, or spent a lot of money on fees and travel.
     I was a frustrated, but very motivated, aspiring children’s book author, who decided to do something about it. Having been an aspiring children’s book author for a very long time (on and off for 12 years – children, career changes, etc. etc.) and having made the decision to finally devote my free time and career to doing what I really loved (writing for children), I needed education and training from the best, experienced children’s book authors available. So in an effort to help other aspiring, frustrated, and motivated aspiring children’s book authors (and myself), I began
Writing for Children Live.
     Writing for Children Live is a website where you can learn from the best experts in the field of writing childrens' books, from the comfort of your own home, through FREE, LIVE teleconference calls and webinars. No fees, no travel. You can listen in on your phone or via your computer. If for some reason you can't make the call or webinar at the time and date it is scheduled for, there is no need to worry.  A replay of the call/webinar will be made available for your convenience FREE for 24 hours following the live call. So no getting closed out, either.  

If you miss the replay of your favorite, author, agent or publisher, or if you heard the call, but wish you could hear it again, and again, for all of the great information and tips, all calls will be made available to purchase on an MP3 download (after the 24 hour free replay). All webinars will also be available to purchase, so that you can watch it as many times as you want to. 
     My favorite quote from the movie Field of Dreams is “If you build it, they will come.” So when I decided to start Writing for Children Live, I thought that if this website was meant to be, the speakers will come. You can imagine the THRILL I had when the first author to submit a proposal to speak on Writing for Children Live was the one and only, Newbery Honor Award Winner for her book ON MY HONOR, Marion Dane Bauer!
     I can’t wait to host Marion Dane Bauer’s teleconference call and webinar in September (the 19th and 26th) and am so tremendously excited about hosting all of the other great authors that are coming this fall: YA author Angela Morrison, YA author Susan Shaw, nonfiction author John Micklos, Jr. and YA Author K. M. Walton. Even more great authors are coming this Winter and Spring (you won’t want to miss my interview on writing coming this spring with Ella Enchanted’s Gail Carson Levine!!!)
     To get notified of how you can access upcoming author presentations, visit
     Now, just in case you were wondering…I have managed to get a professional book published for librarians and teachers, called ONCE UPON A SIGN, but am still waiting for that book contract to come in for a children’s book. I continue to get rejection letters, but am starting to get a few sentence response in my rejection letter instead of just the “form” letter, so I figure I’m getting closer.
     I look forward to helping each other to achieve our writing and publishing goals together through Writing for Children Live!

9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist

GREAT article by Drew at 9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist. The article is worth your reading time. I don't think I'll spoil it by sharing the last paragraph:
     "Being a professional artist means, above all, taking your art seriously. If you want to become a professional artist, writer, photographer, musician, or any other type of creative genius; you need to do what the professionals in these fields do. Being a professional is not about having fancy business cards or making lots of money (although that’s pretty cool too!). Being a professional simply means that you have decided to take this creative obsession of yours and make it into your career. Let’s face it, we create our art because we want and need to. We don’t do it for the money, but we also have to realize that without the money, we won’t have the time or energy to create our art.
     Strive to learn from those who have gone before you, do what you have to do, and always Live Your Art!"
Go read the whole thing...
Thanks to SwissMiss for the heads up.

Hispanic Heritage Month - 2012

Hispanic Heritage Month runs September 15th through October 15th.
     Why September 15th? Because five Latin countries celebrate the anniversaries of their independence on September 15th: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence Days on September 16th and 18th. For the month we celebrate those whose roots trace back to Spain, Mexico and Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Que bueno, eh?
     Wondering how to celebrate? There's information at the United States Census Bureau and a great resource for teachers at TeacherVision for ideas on how to share Hispanic culture with your students. You could make a pinata, tell Puerto Rican folk tales, or maybe learn a little Spanish... using my bilingual titles to do it:

     Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón and Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante.

Quote for the Day...

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt
I made it into my screen saver:

And the winner of the Skippyjon Jones and Kohls® prize pack is...

Janice Payne! Congratulations to Janice.
     And thank you all for stopping by and leaving such heartfelt comments (104!) about what Skippyjon Jones has meant to you, your children, and your students over the years. It's truly humbling to read a little bit of what makes Judy's books so special to you. She's created a wonderful character who obviously strikes a nerve - it's what we all dream of doing when we enter this business of creating books for children. And I wish Judy and Skippyjon Jones many more happy adventures!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Alphabet Safari

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     Wow, it's been a big week around here. I wanted to give you a happy reading image to go with all the back to school art, before I dive into sharing...
     LULA'S BREW is now in Print!
     And I'm counting on you guys - my peeps, my Coloring Page Tuesday fans - to help spread the word. If you like to use my images - this is the perfect way to say thank you! Because I need your help!
     CLICK HERE to download sidebar banners, cover images, blog post banners, a press release, anything you can use to help get the word out.
     LULA'S BREW has been six years in the making! She first entered the world as an app, and was downloaded over 10,000 times. But in print she will face new challenges of getting into book stores and into the hands of readers. I need your help - word of mouth, recommendations to your local bookstores, libraries, teachers and friends, anything you can do. THANK YOU!!!
     Meanwhile, if you would like to pre-order your own signed/dedicated copy of LULA'S BREW, just call my local independent children's bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, at (404) 373-6300 (USA) and your copy will arrive in early October.

     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Post it to a blog, then share it in my GALLERY!
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.

Most Loved Children's Book (infographic)

Did you ever see this? With permissions from the creator, Francesca Greggs of lemonwood design, (and first posted at The Digital Reader), I give you The Most Loved Children's Books for March Into Literacy Month. (Which, as you can guess, was back in March.) It's a great quick history of children's books. (Click the image to see it larger in a new window.)

Noah Gundersen

What an interesting young musician. He comes from a family that performed together (and they are amazing too - I think that's his sister beside him), but this guy has an ease and magnetism that is so very cool to watch. I listened to his music at his website and watched several videos on Youtube. What a talent!

I think they used this song in the show The Sons of Anarchy...

Thanks to Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for turning me onto him!

Lost email

Hi Guys, One of my followers recently emailed me asking about Talk Like a Pirate Day. I am planning on creating a pirate-themed image for the holiday and meant to respond today, but apparently, the intranets have gobbled up the correspondence (which does indeed happen sometimes). Can you resend please? (Hope you see this.)

Candlewick's "We Believe In Picture Books"

Candlewick Press is beginning a year-long campaign all about celebrating picture books. It's called "We Believe in Picture Books," and they will post a video every single day to make sure we know how wonderful picture books are.
     It kicked off on August 31st with a great video between librarian Betsy Bird (of Fuse #8) and librarian Travis Jonker (of 100 Scope Notes) having a conversation purely using picture book titles. Pretty great:

Kohl's Cares® and Skippyjon Jones - GIVEAWAY!

Kohl's Department Stores is helping kids go back to school by selling exclusive hardcover SKIPPYJON JONES books and coordinating stuffed toys for $5 each!!! That's $5 EACH - el cheaparooni! (There's a back-pack too!)
     Now through the end of September, 100% of the net profits from sales of these products will go to benefit kids' health and education initiatives in communities nationwide. Since the program's inception, Kohl's has raised over $208 million to help kids. That is muy, muy impressive. Don't you think?
     From the press release... "In addition to the merchandise program, Kohl's Cares® features a scholarship program, which recognizes more than 2,200 young volunteers each year with scholarships and prizes; the Associates in Action program, which encourages associate volunteerism and has donated more than $47 million to youth-focused nonprofit organizations to date; and fundraising gift cards for schools and youth-serving nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit"
     To help get the word out - today I am interviewing the very awesome Judy Schachner, creator of Skippyjon Jones.

Q.    Your artwork remains amazingly consistent through all the Skippyjon Jones books: IN THE DOGHOUSE; IN MUMMY TROUBLE; AND THE BIG BONES; LOST IN SPICE; CLASS ACTION; and the soon to be released CIRQUE DE OLE. What is your medium and how long does it take you to finish a spread?
A.     It's funny you should mention that thing about consistency. For me, one of the most difficult things about doing a book is keeping the characters looking the same from page to page and in a series, from book to book. Skippy has evolved over the years the way Mickey Mouse and so many other cartoon characters have over time. At least that's what I tell myself to make me feel better about all my artistic inconsistencies,( she said chuckling ).
      These books are painted with acrylics and a little pen and ink. A double page spread can take anywhere from three days up to a week...and when I forget how to paint, which happens frequently, it can go on forever. There is a lot of layering of color and there are so many tiny dogs!!! I'm thinking of calling in the ASPCA to give me a break one of these days.

Q.    Do the stories come first, or the artwork?
A.     I always start off writing, then about two to three pages in, maybe more, my ADD kicks in and I just have to start drawing or else I'll go crazy. Most of the time I go back and forth between the both. I also have a tendency to self edit too much if I'm just writing, so adding the visuals keeps me moving along at a good clip.

Q.    How long does it take you to noodle out the complicated and muy, muy fun text?
A.     The text really doesn't take me very long, it's the artwork that takes forever and I do polish the words right up until the very end.

Q.    Skippyjon gets into so many adventures - do your cats truly inspire them all?
A.     I believe in giving credit where credit is due. The idea for the first book came after my cat Skippyjon Jones, was stung on his most adorable head by a very large bee. Soon after, my kitty boy began to speak with a spanish accent reminiscent of Antonio Banderas. The fact that no one else in my family ever heard him utter a single word in Espanol did not trouble me, though at the time I WAS seeing a psychiatrist. And who doesn't know a cat that hasn't built pyramids in his litter box day after day. I could go on and on describing the creative writing ,so to speak, of my little Crumcakes but then I'd risk sounding like a proud Mama so I'll spare you.

Q.    How did you find out about Kohl's Cares® program? It's muy bueno, eh?
A.     The Kohl's Cares people contacted my publisher ( Penguin ) and asked if I'd consider being a part of the program...How could I say no to the opportunity of being able to help so many children? I am grateful that they approached me and thrilled with the quality of the Skippy related products that they created.

Q.    Finally, Skippyjon Jones has reached other worldly levels of success - CONGRATULATIONS! Did you ever imagine he would be so popular and how has it changed your life?
A.     No Elizabeth, I never in my wildest dreams expected this level of success or popularity from my books. I am so grateful to all of the librarians and teachers and parents and independent booksellers and children who championed Skippy from the start...word of mouth is the best form of marketing there is. I have always been happiest just making my books. I never really cared about fame and I certainly wasn't thinking about making lots of money, for as we all know , a career in children's books isn't always lucrative and for most of my career it was not. It wasn't terrible but I could not support a family on my royalty checks. So like most author/illustrators, I traveled to remote parts of the planet talking to anyone who'd listen in exchange for small bags of cat food. I don't like being the center of attention and I don't like being away from home.I hate having my picture taken,doing T.V. interviews and I suffer from high anxiety when I speak in front of when you ask me Elizabeth, how has all the success changed my life? My answer would have to be...'it's complicated.'' But the love that comes in the form of letters and e-mails has to be the greatest reward not just for me but for any author/illustrator. This morning, I received a letter from the mother of a sweet little boy who, just months before he turned four, died of leukemia. She told me that her son had all of my books and could recite them by heart. His mother went on to say, that though his earthly remains will not be at his memorial service his spirit will be represented by the presence of his little red wagon which will be filled with all of his favorite things. My books will be in that wagon. I have never taken my job for granted but after receiving a letter like that,I know I never will.

Oh my gosh, Judy. I can't imagine receiving a letter like that. What an honor to be so loved - by me too. Grande hugs to you!

     Along with Judy's Skippyjon Jones titles, Kohl's also has two books to help make life easier for the grown-ups: EAT THIS AND NOT THAT (FOR KIDS) - a guide to what's safe for kids to eat without getting loaded down with calories, salt and fat in today's fast-food mine field; and CROCKPOT'S BUSY FAMILY RECIPES.
     So, head to your nearest Kohl's and get your SKIPPYJON JONES books and doll quick! (If you're a fan, like I am, you will not want to miss this!)

     This is a biggie!!! Next Wednesday I will randomly draw one name from the commenters on this blog post to receive the ENTIRE PRIZE BOX of books and plushes!!!! (You may get a different mix than what I received.) Whatever you receive, trust me, you want this!
     Must be in the continental United States to win - and you must include an email addy so I can contact you. (It can be spelled out.) No addy, no winnie!

Full disclosure: Kohl's sent me the entire promo pack in a groovy Skippyjon Jones box to help get the word out about their initiative - including an awesome sock monkey - and I'm so glad they did! Reading, helping kids - right up my alley! I'm so proud of companies when they do good things like this.