Up-Coming Author Visits

SCBWI Fall Conference
September 25-26, 2015
Lindenwood University
St. Charles, MO

Please contact me if you would like me to autograph copies of my picture book, NAME THAT DOG, at your school's Scholastic Book Fair.

Recent Author Visits


Author visit, with Author and Instructor (Writing for Children), Nancy Polette May 2015

Author visit at Troy Buchannan HS March 2015

Scholastic Book Fair, St. Charles, Missouri December 2014

Scholastic Book Fair, Fenton, Missouri December 2014

Scholastic Book Fair, Columbia, Missouri December 2014

Saturday Writers presentation on writing and marketing a picture book, June 2014, St. Peters MO

Lakeview Elementary School, O'Fallon, MO in April 2014

With Kim Piddington, Missouri SCBWI Regional Advisor, at the Missouri Association of School Librarians convention in St. Louis, April

Indiana SCBWI Spring conference April 2014

Chesterfield, MO children's writers group at Christmas 2013

scholastic Warehouse Book Signing December 7, 2013

At Main Street Books with owner, Vickie Erwin November 30th

B&N with authors Mike Force, Chris DiGiuseppi, and Valerie Battle Kienzle November 22nd

Local Author Open House at MK Library in O'Fallon, November 21st

Carlin Park Elementary School Angola, IN

Sherwood School Scholastic Book Fair in Arnold, MO

ICD Scholastic Book Fair with students--Immaculate Conception Dardenne Prairie, MO


Peggy with children's author Karen Guccione-Englert at the MK Library Local Authors Open House in O'Fallon, MO

Book signing at Indianapolis Fairgrounds, with Mary Igras

Author Visit to Immaculate Conception School (ICD) April 2012

ICD library staff

Edison Elementary School Hammond IN

Lincoln Elementary School Hammond IN

Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, Hammond IN

Keynote Speakers
MO SCBWI Fall Conference


Heather Alexander, editor at Dial Books for Young Readers

Quinlan Lee, agent, Adams Literary Agency

Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of BULL RIDER

Author Visits
Spring 2011


Kids Ink Independent Children's Bookstore, downtown Indianapolis

Shirley Mullin, bookstore owner, with children's authors Janna Mathies, Peggy, and Nathan Clement

Thank You cards from Holy Family School in South Bend

Fieler Elementary students

Ms Hanneman's class at Northview Elementary

In the classroom at Northview Elementary School

Talking to students at Northview Elementary

Working together to create a poem in Starke County

Talking with students at Starke County

Author Judy Roth and students at the Starke County Young Artists Day

Indiana SCBWI PAL Luncheon and Bookfair at B&N Bookstore


Booksigning at B&N Bookfair

Anderson's Bookshop Children's Literature Breakfast


Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast, with author and keynote speaker Tim Green

December Booksigning at The Bookstore in Michigan City


friendly staff at The Bookstore

Holiday Author Fair
Hosted by the Indiana Historical Society


Author Book Signing

Butler University Chorus entertains with Christmas Carols

Bellaboo's Play and Activity Center


Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Stuffee and the author

Stuffe's lunch!

November: Picture Book Idea Month

October Author Events


Author Panel: the Road to Publishing--Kathryn Page Camp moderating

Kate Collins: adult trade publishing, mysteries

Peggy Archer: children's trade publishing, picture books

Katherine Flotz: self-publishing, memoir

Michael Poore: adult trade publishing, fiction

Cynthia Echterling: e-publishing & small press, science fiction

Author visit to Portage Public Library, October 23rd


IN SCBWI presents Esther Hershenhorn:
Getting Your Stories Right
October 9, 2010


Esther Hershenhorn talks about the Reader's story and the Writer's story

Esther shares resources, experience, and opportunities

Trish Batey, Indiana RA

Yellow paper on your back gave a hint of 'What author are you?' for the day

Smiling faces

Peggy Archer gives an overview of the 2010 SCBWI conference in LA

Karen Kulinski gives an update on Indiana's HoosierLinks

Janna Mathies at the piano sings "Why It Matters" by Sara Groves

door prizes

IN SCBWI steering committee with Trish: (L to R) Karen Kulinski, HoosierLinks, Kristi Valiant, Website Coordinator, Alina Klein, Listserv Coordinator, Peggy, ARA (not pictured: Sharon Vargo, Illustrator Coordinator)

New Regional Advisor, Kristi Valiant, talks about plans for 2011

Indiana SCBWI: Outgoing RA Trish Batey, ARA Peggy Archer, Incoming RA Kristi Valiant

Author visits at Citizen's Financial Bank and ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors


Visiting with author/illustrator Nathan Clement and son Theo at the ROAR author event

Autographing for a young reader

Story Time at ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors Event in Indianapolis

Reading to young bankers at Citizens Financial Bank in Valparaiso

2010 SCBWI Conference for Children's Writers and Illustrators in Los Angeles, CA


Some of the crowd at the SCBWI conference in LA

Ashley Bryan, Golden Kite winner for Nonfiction

with Keynote speaker and Golden Kite winner, Marion Dane Bauer

Illustrator and Keynote speaker, Loren Long

E.B. Lewis, Keynote speaker

with Keynote speaker, Gennifer Choldenke

Keynote speaker, Gordon Korman

Chris Cheng, Australia RA and SCBWI Member of the Year

Kris Vreeland, Independent Bookstore manager, Vroman's Bookstore

Eva Mitnick, LA librarian and reviewer for SLJ

Greg Pinkus and Alice Pope on networking

Bruce Hale--Skyping

with Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI

Steve Mooser, co-founder of SCBWI, with Sally Crock RAE

Indiana SCBWI members Mary Jo, Shannon, and Peggy celebrate in LA with Heart and Soul.

East and Midwest members celebrate at the Golden Kite Luncheon in LA--Peggy, Courtney, Julia and Mary Jo.

Peggy with Alice and Lisa, co-RAs from IL--friends and roommates

Linda V., formerly of Indiana, with her 'dog-in-training,' Dusty.

IWC Writers' Picnic


Anyone for Literary Bingo?

Children's Corner



Knee-high by the 4th of July!


This is the cornfield just down the street from my house on July 13th. That's me with the boot on my foot again!

Springtime Author Visits


Local Authors Day, Valparaiso B&N

Welcome to the Young Artists Fair in Plainfield, IN

Signing books at Van Buren Elementary School in Plainfield, IN

Book Launch Party for NAME THAT DOG!, Valparaiso Public Library


Happy Birthday, Name That Dog!

Little reader loving that dog book!

Celebrating the Book Launch!

Doggy treats at the book launch party

More springtime author visits


With Jocelyn at the Porter County Expo Center for the Be Kind to Animals Celebration

Speaking to readers and writers at the LaPorte County Public Library in April

Our new grandpuppy, Dudley!

Chad & Sara's Wedding Day


The new Mr. and Mrs. Biggs!

Focus on the Novel:
Indiana SCBWI Spring Conference


Trish Batey, Indiana SCBWI RA, Stephen Roxburg, Lisa Graff, Helen Frost, Peggy Archer, Indiana SCBWI ARA

Stephen Roxburg, Publisher of namelos, talked about writing the YA novel, the current state of publishing, and his new company, namelos

Lisa Graff, Middle Grade author, talks about writing the middle grade novel and the Slush Pile

Lisa autographs books with a smile

Introducing Helen Frost, YA author and poet

Question and Answer panel--Lisa, Stephen, and Helen

Registration, getting to know you

Schmoozing with other writers

Trish with author, Valiska Gregory

Books for sale--writers can never have too many!

Taking it all in.

School visits
Chesterton, IN








Mitchell, IN
Library Event


Afternoon Tea with the author in Mitchell

Alexis talks about storytime for the very young

Starke County Young Artists Day
North Judson, IN


My little corner--I love when students come up to talk.

HOW many dogs do you have?!

Authors of the day

Keynote address: Growing an Author with Peggy Archer

Making a book with Katie Mitschelen

Research--detective work, with Peggy Miller

Crafting a poem with Mary Ann Moore

Becoming an artist with Edwin Shelton

Music with the Band

One small hand holding onto another

Sharing the Christmas holiday with writer friends


Name That Dog! Sharing F&G's and write-up in Dial's catalog with group.

Writers Christmas lunch and meeting in Michigan City

Meeting up with Esther and Karen in Chicago

F&G's for Name That Dog!


Name That Dog! ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0

Christmas Writing Celebrations


Writing friends from the beginning!

November Author Visits


Drawing a turkey at Hussey-Mayfield Public Library-- Zionsville, IN

Autographs at Hussey-Mayfield Library, Zionsville

"Who likes to eat turkey at Thanksgiving?" --Morton Elementary School, Hammond, IN

Thank you cards from Morton Elementary students

Reading to my grandson's pre-school class at Zion Lutheran School-- Bethalto, IL


Ladies Tea
St. Mary's Church


Family Book Basket


Indiana SCBWI Fall Picture Book Conference


Courtney Bongiolatti, Editor S&S

Laurent Linn, Art Director S&S

Terry Harshman, Editor CBHI

Author-Illustrators, Kristi Valiant and Sharon Vargo

Kristi Valiant, IN-SCBWI logo winner

Our volunteer crew (minus a few)

author Katie Mitschelen and Peggy enjoying the conference

...Pawprints on the heart.


Snickers 2009

Snickers 1998


IWC Dinner Event
The Business of Writing


Janine Harrison, opening remarks

Sharon Palmeri, President IWC and speaker

Kathryn Page Camp speaks on Taxes for Writers

Kate Collins, mystery book author and Keynote speaker

Gordon Stamper, secretary IWC

Peggy, Sally, and Karen--writing friends enjoying the dinner event together

Autographs with a smile :)

Smokies in the morning


Writing the Picture Book
Rensellaer, IN


Smile and say 'author'!

Ready to start!

"Ghostwriting" with Sara Grant, Editor,
Working Partners


Sara Grant, Editor, Working Partners

One on one with Sara

Author and Editor...

Getting to know you...

Sharing thoughts... connecting

Schmoozing...

Smiling faces...

Our Kentucky friends...

Trish, RA, Peggy, ARA, Christi and Alina, steering committee members

Writing the non-fiction picture book


Picture book author, April Pulley Sayre, speaking in South Bend.

Writers and Friends


Surprise!

Esther and Heidi

Esther with Steve and Sally from National SCBWI

Heidi and Peggy, friends and poets

We came from Indiana...

...from California and Iowa

and enjoyed the friendships.

Peggy, Karen & Esther--connecting once again.

Summer Critique Meeting


Critique group gathering at Peggy Miller's house. Karen, Fred, Mary Ann, Katie, Judy, & the two Peggy's in front.

Songwriters in the Family


Our daughter, Sarah & our son, Dan both sang original songs at the Porter County Fair in the Colgate Country Showdown.

Indiana SCBWI Summer Schmooze


From Fort Wayne to Whiting, we gathered to talk & gain some bit of insight into the world of creating children's books.

Enjoying the company of other children's writers & illustrators.

Schmoozing.

Meeting other children's writers.

Sharing thoughts.

Smiles were free.

Peggy Archer talks about trade publishers.

Judy Roth talks about working with a small publisher.

Karen Kulinski talks about working with an agent.

Karen fielding questions.

ALA 2009 Chicago


Peggy with the Cat in the Hat

Katie and the Cat in the Hat

I won a collection of autographed books from the IL SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers & llustrators) booth at ALA for the Valparaiso Public Library. An awesome prize! Thank you IL SCBWI!

Peggy, presenting books won at ALA to Connie Sullivan, Branch Manager and Leslie Cefali, Youth Services Assistant, Valparaiso Public Library.

Find Authors

It’s Picture Book Walk Time!

June 29, 2015

Tags: Picture Book Walk, Storybook Walk, St. Charles County Library, Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville MO, Birds by Kevin Henkes

Summer is finally here and it’s Storybook Walk time again! This year Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Missouri features the picture book, BIRDS, by Kevin Henkes.

Nestled among the trees around the lake you’ll find the pages of the book displayed. You can read the story, one page at a time, at different markers along the path. You might even see some of the birds from the book in the trees as you walk!

Quail Ridge Park is a beautiful place to visit. My husband and I like to walk the paved trails. Our grandkids also like the playgrounds and the park creatures like toads and bugs and the animals they see there. There is also disc golf, picnic areas, unpaved trails, and a dog park.

For another Storybook Walk experience, check out St. Charles Community College in Cottleville, where featured books along the half-mile trail are changed each month.

‘Stories are handpicked by library staff with a child’s enjoyment in mind.’ Watch for a new Storybook Walk coming to the St. Charles City Park.

The St. Charles County Library Foundation created the ‘series of Storybook Walks throughout St. Charles County to offer a unique approach to reading. In collaboration with our community partners, the Storybook Walk provides a new outdoor adventure that champions family connection, early childhood development, and health and wellness. Each month a new book is posted at several stations along a trail, allowing families and friends to enjoy a story as they walk the path and take in the scenery.’ (from: St. Charles County Library Foundation website 2015).

Check out the blog, Coffee Cups and Crayons, for some activities to go with BIRDS.

Take a summer break and visit a Storybook Walk in your area for a new way to experience the joy of reading picture books with the children in your life!

Creating Fictional Characters With Psychology in Mind

June 18, 2015

Tags: Lori Galaske, Dr. Richard Johnson, Kid Lit Life, The Other Side, Catholic Writers of St. Louis, MO SCBWI


In February I attended a program offered by the Catholic Writers of St. Louis called “Enliven Your Writing with an Understanding of Clinical & Spiritual Psychology.” Psychologist, Dr. Richard Johnson, talked about how a character’s personality makes him act the way he does, and he encouraged us to create characters with attention to their personality.

He covered such a range of information, and it’s impossible to cover everything that he talked about. But I wrote a brief wrap-up for our Missouri SCBWI newsletter that was recently posted on Lori Galaske’s blog, Kid Lit Life (June 16, 2015). Follow the link to Lori’s blog, and a re-print of the article. If you follow the link to Catholic Writers of St. Louis, you can read even more! Then check out Lori’s website, The Other Side.

Critique Across Missouri!

June 9, 2015

Tags: Critique Across Missouri, Missouri SCBWI, children's writers and illustrators


Missouri SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) is sponsoring Critique Across Missouri, a week-long event during the week through June 13th. Critique groups are forming across the state to bring children’s writers and illustrators together to share each other’s work and offer feedback. All genres are included, and everyone is invited to participate, members and non-members alike.

Writing is a solitary business, and getting together with others who understand what you do is a great perk. My focus is on writing picture books—poetry, fiction and non-fiction. People who aren’t immersed in writing for young children often think that writing a picture book is quick and easy. Because the story is, for the most part, uncomplicated and simple, with a single focus. Only another picture book writer really knows the truth. Well, maybe your spouse, or your best friend, too.

They understand that finding the perfect word can take many revisions, that picture books have rhythm, and that writing a well-crafted story in such few words is an art, and can be more difficult than writing for the older crowd.

Picture books and poetry are meant to be read out loud, and a critique group is the perfect audience. Better yet is to have someone in your group read your manuscript out loud. You can hear the rhythm the way someone else hears it. Do they stumble anywhere? Some words are pronounced differently by different people. Sometimes it’s because of the rhythm you’ve created, and sometimes it’s just that there is more than one way to pronounce a word. This is the place to find out.

In a critique group, we tell each other what works in our manuscripts as well as what isn’t working or what might help to make it better. But besides the actual critique that we offer each other, we share the highs and lows of the business. Personal notes from editors, acceptances and rejections. No one understands the joy and the pain of trying to create a work of art than another artist—both writers and illustrators.

Besides critiquing manuscripts, we also share marketing tips and writing or illustrating tips with each other. Sometimes someone will suggest the ‘perfect place’ to submit your manuscript. We also share picture books that we like in some way, and how it brings home the writing tips that we’ve heard at events or conferences for children’s writers and illustrators.

Critique Across Missouri is a good way to get feedback from writers who haven’t formed that personal connection to you and your writing, because you are probably going to be meeting with some writers who aren’t in your regular critique group. So it’s a fresh point of view for your work.

The week is already in full swing, but it’s not too late to join in the hype. Connect with other writers or illustrators who you know this week, in person or online, or even by Skype, and share a manuscript to critique. Or read some picture books, novels or poetry and share your thoughts on the writing or illustrations. Share your experiences in marketing, and writing cover letters or queries. Or just schmooze with others who do what you do, and understand where you’re coming from.

This week is dedicated to critique groups for children’s writers and illustrators in Missouri. Don’t miss out on the perks!

Author Presentations—Yours and Mine

May 29, 2015

Tags: Writers' Week, Troy Buchannan High School, Spoede Elementary School Family Book Night, Nancy Polette, Jeannie Ransom, Cathy Gilmore, Carol Benoist, Vicki Berger ERwin, Justine Riggs

Spoede Elementary Family Night
I recently did some author presentations in or near O’Fallon, Missouri, where I live. My goal— to inspire and encourage readers as well as writers and future authors. And for others, to show that if you believe in yourself and work hard at something, you can accomplish anything.

In March I participated in Writers’ Week at Troy Buchannan High School, where I talked about writing and re-writing and becoming a published author. While I was there, I listened to a wonderful personal essay written by a very talented student. And I was honored to have the cover of my book, NAME THAT DOG, painted on a ceiling tile, destined to join other visiting authors’ books on the ceiling of the school library. The painting was done by an amazingly talented high school artist.

Later that evening I visited Spoede Elementary School and spoke to the students and parents at Family Book Night. I felt right at home in the camping theme, with flashlights and stories around artificial campfires in the gym! But the most fun was talking to students one-on-one during and after the presentation.

In May I talked to authors participating in Nancy Polette’s class on Writing for Children at the Middendorf-Kredell library about my own journey to publishing and picture books. Nancy is an excellent teacher of children’s writing, and an excellent author as well. School Library Journal said that she is "an educator with imagination, creativity and an appreciation for the intelligence of children."

I remember the times before being published, and I relate to the uncertainty of ever being published, and whether our work is good or not. And I cherish the encouragement and help from published authors that I received myself. I enjoy being able to offer that encouragement to other children’s writers. And having contacts with other children’s writers, published and unpublished, keeps me going.

I also attended some local author appearances during the past few months. Going to another children’s author’s presentation is always food for thought, even if it seems very similar to what I do at an author visit myself, or even if their book is totally unrelated to what I write. Here are a few of my ‘take-aways.’

In March Jeannie Ransom, author of the picture book The Crown Affair, gave a presentation to patrons at the Middendorf-Kredell library in O’Fallon. Her presentation was very similar to what I sometimes do, but there were some added things that she did that connected with her audience. One was showing on a map the distance between where she writes to where the publisher is located, as well as the location of the illustrator, and the printing company.

Being able to view the presentation as an attendee gave me additional insight. I could see what parts held everyone’s attention, what they connected with the most, and consider why.

Later that month I went to a presentation and book signing by Cathy Gilmore and Carol Benoist, authors of Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day (Cathy is also the author of Little Lamb Finds Christmas) at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Fenton. I could feel the enthusiasm of the speakers during the presentation, and see how that enthusiasm ‘caught’ their audience up in it. A craft activity afterwards brought children into the book even more.

Most recently, this month I attended a presentation and book signing at the Spencer library in St. Peters with Vicki Berger Erwin and Justine Riggs, authors of the book for adults, Finally a locally produced Guidebook to St. Charles, by and for locals, Neighborhood by Neighborhood, City and County—which has to be the longest title I’ve ever read! Vicki has had many books for children published in the past, including some of the Babysitters’ Club books, and is the former owner of Main Street Books in St. Charles. Again, as an outsider, I could see what connected with the audience—not only by what they talked about in their presentation, but also how it was presented and how the speakers connected to the audience on a personal level.

Another perk of attending other author presentations is how the excitement of having a new book published catches me up in it with them. It keeps me motivated, and excited about my own work. And sometimes listening to another author speak inspires a new thought or idea that can be totally unrelated to their own book.

Another idea is to see what authors are doing presentations at your local schools. When I started out, I asked the school for permission to attend the presentation with the students. It gave me motivation, information and a base for myself as an author for future author presentations.

So take a moment to check out author appearances at your local library or bookstore. You might be surprised at how it can fire you up as a writer.

Celebrating National Poetry Month for Children

April 13, 2015

Tags: poetry month, ALA, children's poetry, children's poets, poetry month celebrations


National Poetry Month was initially celebrated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Since that time it has become the largest literary celebration in the world! There are so many good places out there in cyberspace to find children’s poems, interviews with children’s poets, videos of poetry readings, poetry-writing help, poetry celebrations, poetry book lists and more. Here are some places to look.

During Poetry Month, ALA sponsors the Dear Poet project, a multimedia education project that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets.

ALA also sponsors Poem in Your Pocket Day, which will be on April 30th this year. Participants carry a favorite poem with them and share it with others throughout the day. You can share your poem on twitter, or other social media places, too.

Find more poetry month celebrations on twitter at Poets.org, and National Poetry Month.

Poetry Friday is a special tradition in the Kidlitosphere. It's a weekly gathering and sharing of favorite poetry thoughts and poems and books, hosted by a different blogger each week. And you can continue to be part of Poetry Friday throughout the year!

On her blogsite, The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is featuring a special project for poetry month this year called Sing That Poem! You won’t want to miss a visit to her site this month.

At The Miss Rumphius Effect blogsite you’ll find links to poetry resources and so much more on this teacher’s blog. A special feature for poetry month this year are her daily links to different poetry forms.

Find more poetry tips and terms on the website of Sharon Creech.

Reading Rockets celebrates children’s books and authors, and of course, National Poetry Month. Watch videos of poets reading poetry, interviews with children’s poets, and much more

Visit the Poetry Foundation: Poetry Picks for Children where you’ll find favorite poetry books for children selected by Children’s Poet Laureates.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. This award is currently awarded every two years. The winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for 2015 is Marilyn Singer. She has published over one hundred books for children and young adults in a wide variety of genres, and many of her books have won prestigious awards.

Find a list of Ten Popular Poets for Kids here on the pbs parents website. Some of my favorites are:

Shel Silverstein
Jack Prelutsky
Kenn Nesbitt

So many links, so little time! All of this is enough to make my head spin! Children’s poets like Marilyn Singer and so many others are a great inspiration to those of us struggling to write not just good poetry, but really great poetry—advice from poet laureate, J Patrick Lewis on Day 8 of RhyPiBoMo. So enjoy, learn, and be inspired!

It's RhyPiBoMo 2015!

April 4, 2015

Tags: RhyPiBoMo 2015, poetry month, Angie Karcher


It’s Poetry Month! And what better way to celebrate writing poetry this month than by participating in RhyPiBoMo! At first glance it sounds a bit like something Mork, from Mork and Mindy, would say ‘back in the day.’ But really, RhyPiBoMo stands for Rhyming Picture Book Month.

Started in 2014 by author Angie Karcher, RhyPiBoMo is a great experience for poets, both new and experienced, whether you write in rhyme or not. I followed it last year, and it was like taking a 30-day course in writing poetry!

And there’s still time to sign up as a participant! Take the pledge, and register by April 8th to be eligible for some great daily prizes. Visit the RhyPiBoMo website for official rules, to see who’s posting, and for a list of prizes.

Read the daily posts and get inspired—you’ll catch up quickly! Then check the daily challenges for hands-on poetry writing.

Ok, so I seem to be consistently a day late this week! Yesterday was “WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RHYMING PICTURE BOOK” Friday. I love good rhyme, so here are a few of my favorite rhyming picture books.

TROUT, TROUT, TROUT! A Fish Chant by April Pulley Sayre
TEN LITTLE LAMBS by Alice B. McGinty
GOD’S QUIET THINGS by Nancy Sweetland

And one that discovered recently, written in verses although not a rhyming picture book, has become another of my favorites—
ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS by Lita Judge.

Join RhyPiBoMo before April 8th and get your badge! Happy Poetry Month!

Pick Up a Puppy Book on National Puppy Day!

March 23, 2015

Tags: National Puppy Day, children's books about dogs

Inspiration for Name That Dog!
Today is National Puppy Day!

A note to picture book writers—Can’t think of anything to write about? Write about a dog!

Many picture books with dogs (and older books for children, as well) have remained popular over the years. Here’s my shortened list of books about dogs that most picture book readers know.

Names of familiar dogs in picture books:
Pretzel
Biscuit
Clifford
Benjy
Harry
Mudge
Martha
Carl
Spot (see Dick and Jane, 1950’s)
Snoopy

Books with dogs as characters:
The Halloweiner
The Poky Little Puppy
Detective LaRue
A Pet For Miss Wright
Officer Buckle and Gloria
Are You My Mother?
Go, Dog! Go!
Pup and Hound
Shiloh
Ribsy

Books about dogs belonging to people in history:
George Washington’s Dog
Lewis and Clark’s Dog

Poetry books about dogs:
Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs
Once I Ate a Pie
Love That Dog
and of course, Name That Dog!

Books without a dog or puppy in the story, but the dog in the illustration adds to the story:
Turkey Surprise
The illustrator, Thor Wickstrom, added the dog to my picture book, Turkey Surprise. It has no dialogue, and nothing is said about the dog in the story. But that little dog adds such humor, and you really know what he’s thinking by looking at the illustrations!

Writers, I hope you’re inspired! Now pick up your favorite children’s puppy book and enjoy National Puppy Day! Click here for some quotes about dogs.

Caldecott and Other Great Picture Books

February 23, 2015

Tags: 2015 Caldecott winners, ALA, God's Quiet Things, Mole Music

Caldecott Medal

On February 2nd the American Library Association announced the 2015 Youth Media Award winners. Among those awards is the Caldecott Medal, awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Congratulations to the 2015 Caldecott Award winner, The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat! I’m not an artist or an illustrator, so the awards for illustrations made me stop to look at picture books from a different angle—illustrations.

I borrowed The Adventures of Beekle from the library. The illustrations are very colorful and imaginative, and, I think, match the feelings of Beekle. There are illustrations of children with their imaginary friends on the inside covers, done in black and white over blue background, which adds to the picture book experience, and also adds to the story. As a reader, I always like when there are illustrated end pages rather than blank pages. Much of the story experience in this book is told through the illustrations.

In addition to the Caldecott Medal winner, this year Caldecott Honor Awards were given to five picture books for young readers, and one graphic novel for young adults. I wasn’t able to find all of these books at the library, but I did take a look on line at the ones that I couldn’t find. Here are a couple of the Honor Books that I did get to look at.

Nana in the City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
The illustrations of the city in the beginning of the book lack as much brightness—when the young boy thinks the city is busy, loud and scary. Later, as Nana shows him how the city is a wonderful place, the illustrations become brighter and more colorful—I like the contrast. I like the textures shown in the illustrations, too.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett.
I read this book last year, and at the time I thought that the illustrations carried the story. I still feel that way. Sam and Dave are digging a hole, hoping to find ‘something spectacular.’ Through the illustrations we see that as they dig, they change directions, just missing their ‘something spectacular.’ What most impressed me in the illustrations was that the story seemed to begin and end in the same place, but subtle details in the illustrations show that it’s indeed not the same place. For example, what was an apple tree in the beginning of the book, is a pear tree at the end. You’ll have to check out the book to find the rest.

Of the winners that I didn’t get to look at (yet), there were two books that I definitely want to read.

The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre, written by Barb Rosenstock
I checked this book out on line. From what I saw, I loved the colors and the art style. The story line also sounded interesting to me, and I hope to be able to read this one soon.

The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant
This is another book that intrigued me when I looked it up on line. I’m a list-maker, and this is a story about Roget, of Roget’s thesaurus—a list-maker. The illustrations seemed to be very ‘busy,’ which matches Roget’s list-making personality. I’m interested in seeing more.

I love when the words and the illustrations work together in a picture book to create a beautiful work of art. There are a couple of picture books in my own library which are not Caldecott winners or honor books, but books where (in my opinion) the illustrations worked with the text to create a ‘winning’ picture book.

One is God’s Quiet Things, illustrated by Rick Stevens, written by Nancy Sweetland. I love the soft pastel illustrations. They seem to take me to a new dimension where I can feel as well as see the quiet things in nature that God created. The writing is also very soft and lyrical, which I enjoyed.

Another book, which combines text and illustration to create the story, is Mole Music, written and illustrated by David McPhail. Mole’s story is told in the words, but the effects of what he does is shown in the illustrations. It leaves a very powerful impression on the reader.

For those of us who write for children but don’t illustrate their work, I hope this inspires you to take a ‘different’ look at picture books.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

Book Love—A Blog Hop!

February 11, 2015

Tags: book reviews, children's books, blog hop, book love, Story Patch

I love sharing good books with other readers, in person and online. But I don’t do it often enough. Thanks to Carrie Finison for the push to blog about books that I love this month!

I read about the Book Love Blog Hop on Carrie’s blog, Story Patch. I hope you’ll join me in blogging about books that you love this month.

BOOK LOVE Blog Hop Instructions:

1. Pick some books you love (any genre) that you think deserve more attention than they are getting.

2. Post reviews for the books you chose on Goodreads, or any social media. The reviews can be brief - even posting a short review helps. Posting on Amazon or Shelfari is great, too, or Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. The more places you can publicly proclaim your love, the better!

3. If you want, you can also post the reviews on your own blog, or link your blog back to your reviews on social media.

4. Feel free to display the BOOK LOVE badge on your blog - and if you want, link it back to this post so your visitors know what it's all about.

5. Tag some friends to do the same! Tag friends through their blogs, or on Facebook. That's it! If you don't want to wait to be tagged, you can jump right in and start reviewing and tagging yourself.

Here are some of the most recent books that I’ve read and loved.

THE THREE BILLY GOATS FLUFF, by Rachael Mortimer, illustrated by Liz Pichon (picture book)
Opening line: “Trip-trap. Trip-trap. How was he supposed to sleep?” The story plays on the well-know tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The problem: Mr. Troll can’t sleep with the goat children trip-trapping across his bridge all the time. Kids will love how the goats end up solving the problem and make a friend in the process. Illustrations are big and colorful, adding to the experience. Scholastic 2010

DOUG UNPLUGS ON THE FARM, by Dan Yaccarino (picture book)
Opening line: “This is Doug. He’s a robot.” On the way to visit a farm, Doug’s parents plug him in so he can learn all about farm things. But when Doug gets un-plugged, he learns about a farm first hand, and picks up some things that you just can’t get any other way. Alfred A. Knopf 2014

BIG BAD WOLVES AT SCHOOL, by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Brad Sneed (picture book)
Opening line: “Rufus was a young wolf who spent his days turning over rocks, rolling in the grass, and running like the wind.” Rufus’ parents send him to the Big Bad Wolf Academy to learn more about being wolf-like. He is not exactly the best student. In the end he saves the day just by being himself. Simon & Schuster 2007

ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS, HEALING THE WOUNDS OF WORLD WAR II, by Lita Judge (picture book)
Opening lines: “When I was three, Papa left home to join the war. When I was six, the war was over.” Written in a lovely poetic voice, this follows the true story of how one family helped to ease the suffering of many Europeans following World War II. Double spreads are captioned with titles and dates. This story is a picture of how seemingly small efforts make big differences. Hyperion Books for Children 2007

TOP SECRET FILES: THE CIVIL WAR, by Stephanie Bearce (middle grade)
Opening line, chapter 1: “Railroad baron Samuel Felton knew a terrible secret—one that could change the course of history.” If you think you don’t like history, this book will change your mind! No computers in the 1800’s? No phones? No problem! Find out how men, women, slaves and even young boys worked together for a cause that they believed in. Readers will be caught up by these true stories about people, and events that happened in the Civil War. Then they can try out their own spy skills with the activities provided throughout the book. Prufrock Press 2014

Tag, you’re it, Sue B. Edwards!

Tag, you're it, Margo Dill!

Tag, you're it, Joyce Ragland!

Ok, blog friends. I tag you! February is Valentine’s Day, but the love doesn’t have to stop there. So hop on, and share some of your favorite books!

Poetry: Puns and Plans

January 28, 2015

Tags: writing poetry collections for children, poetry collections


There are so many ways to procrastinate! My brother sent me an internet post on Punography yesterday. I pulled out a few that might be related to reading or writing.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.

Broken pencils are pointless.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?
A thesaurus

I love these, but I can’t let it keep me from writing, and being creative myself. I’ve been working on a Halloween poetry collection. I started it ages ago, and really want to get it to the place where I would be happy seeing my name on the book’s cover. That means that I’m happy with each and every poem in the book. Here’s my present day plan.

Plan: Have a theme that connects the poems in my book to each other.
Pulling it off: Identify my theme—does it work? Will readers ‘get’ it? Or do my poems seem random? How would I identify my theme on paper, in one or two sentences?

I look at the list of poems that I have so far and try to see how it will flow, from beginning to end. I want to make it start on Halloween, just before trick-or-treating begins, and end when it’s all over at the end of the night. I think I’ve got that, but I’ll be running it past my critique groups to see if they see the same way that I do.

Plan: Have a consistent tone in all of the poems in my collection.
Pulling it off: Re-read my collection, from beginning to end. Do the poems all have the same tone? Are they light or serious? I want them to be lively and fun—not too spooky, or dark.

After doing this I found that a few of my poems were longer, and seemed ‘older’, or not as much fun as the others. So I took those out. That meant that I would have to replace those with others! More work! But definitely worth the effort.

Plan: I want to have three more poems finished before sending this manuscript out again. (Yes, I did send it out a few times already, thinking it was ready. After the rejections, and with some feedback, I can see that I was wrong about that).
Pulling it off: I’m a list person. So I made lists. (I even made a list of my lists!)

List 1: I made a list of things related to Halloween, including characters and anything about trick-or-treating or spooky things. This is my Idea List.

List 2: I listed my finished poems, putting the character or topic of each poem along side of it. This way I know what I’ve already touched on, and can eliminate things from my first list.

I chose a topic for my new poem (using my lists) and thought about what kind of rhythm would work best for that topic. I get so many songs and poems running through my head when I’m doing this! I’ll be glad when I’m finished so I can sleep at night.

Doing the writing—this is the hardest part, of course, because I want the rhyme and rhythm to work so well that you won’t really think about it when reading the poem. So I make lists—of rhyming words, of words that mean the same thing but are more fun to say, of different ways to end my poem—I want the last line or two to have a ‘punch’ so that you’ll remember it.

So I have been busily writing Halloween poems, in January. Some are good, some not so good. The puns in Punography inspire me, because I love the play on words. I hope they made you smile—and inspired you, too! Now go and write!