Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back-to-school GIVEAWAY!

It's back-to-school time, or will be soon, for many in the U.S. So to celebrate (or as a consolation...take your pick) I'm giving away a signed copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?--because it's important to have quality reading material to read for fun during the school year! All you have to do to be eligible to win is subscribe to my newsletter and fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18 and older. Ends at 12:00 a.m. CST on August 31, 2017. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer's End

The end of summer vacation is here, and I am both happy and sad about that. On one hand I will be glad to get back into a regular schedule. On the other, it's back to getting up early, lunch by myself, and seeing my teenage son for approximately 20 minutes a day. 

I've never been one of those parents who cheers when the kids go back to school. I have always enjoyed the disruption of our usual schedule and spending time with them doing summery stuff like playing in the sprinkler, staying up late building a Lego masterpiece, and going on adventures to the park or zoo. 

But my kids are older now, and summer, though still fairly laid back, is something different. I have their schedules to consider. They are almost all grown up, after all!

Still, the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year is something to celebrate. This year it marks my oldest daughter's first real steps into the world as a college-graduated adult, my second daughter's third year of college, and my son's second half of his high school experience (with which he CANNOT WAIT to be finished).

As the new school year begins, I am hopeful that it will be full of good things. 

P.S. Come back on Wednesday to find out about my back-to-school giveaway!

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Case of the Missing Milk Jug

The grocery cart was bursting with bags of food. I followed my teenage son as he pushed the cart out the automatic doors and into the bright sunshine of a July afternoon.

Past dozens of cars we trekked, until we came to the place at the back of the lot, where the kid had carefully parked our minivan about an hour earlier.

I opened the back hatch.

The kid leaned over and reached for the milk jugs at the bottom of the cart.

"What the...? Where the fudge is the other gallon of milk?" he exclaimed.

I looked. There on the bottom of the cart lay a milk jug that had clearly tipped over on the trip across the parking lot. But the other jug had vanished!

"It must have fallen off," I told the kid. "Go see if it's on the ground somewhere."

I loaded the groceries into the back of the van, looking up every few seconds to check on the kid's progress. He walked with purpose, glancing between vehicles, until he reached the front of the store.

He went inside.

He came back out.

He raised his arms in a clear "WTH?" motion.

It was obvious to me that someone had discovered our carelessly abandoned jug of milk and either made off with it or returned it to the store. So I joined my son and we ventured inside to inquire of the employees.

First, I checked with our cashier on the chance that we had simply left the jug of milk behind. But no. So we made our way to customer service to inquire further.

"Can I help you with something?" said a voice from behind me.

I turned to the short, smiling clerk and asked, "Did someone bring in a gallon of milk that they found in the parking lot?"

She looked at me with a curious expression that I interpreted to mean: "I have no idea what the heck you are talking about." So I explained in detail.

"Oh," she said apologetically, "I just got here. Let me check with someone else." I waited patiently as she flagged down a tall, older man in a bright yellow vest. "Did you find a gallon of milk outside?"

"Yeah," he said matter-of-factly. "It was still cold, so I put it back."

The clerk smiled and told me to go ahead and grab a new milk. I was slightly stunned that a grocery store employee would discover a gallon of milk on the ground only to nonchalantly return it to the cooler at the back of the store. But, happy that the mystery was solved, the kid and I made our way to the dairy department, where we were reunited with our lost jug of milk.

When we arrived home and all the groceries were put away, and after I relayed this story to daughter no. 1, I realized that this is one of countless ordinary little stories that make up the chapter book of life. And they're worth telling, even if those who hear them may not hold them long in their memory.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Story Time Isn't Just for Libraries or Classrooms

When you think about story time, does your mind automatically go to the library or to the preschool classroom?

In my searches on Pinterest for "story time" I've found an abundance of boards, lists, and links dedicated to library and classroom story time ideas. I've even come across countless links to homeschool blogs. What seems to be lacking is practical advice aimed at the parent reading with his or her child.

Story time is not just for the library or classroom. Much of the advice on the web that is aimed at librarians and teachers can be useful for parents reading with their children as well! But there is so much of it! Even as a self-proclaimed story time enthusiast, I can get a bit overwhelmed by all the talk about reading readiness, extension activities, and comprehension...oh my!

But "supercharging" story time doesn't have to be complicated. It's as simple as this:

Read a book. Talk about the book. Do a simple activity inspired by the book.

That's why I began a social media campaign called Read, Discuss, Do! My goal with this campaign is to offer simple, book-specific discussion and activity ideas that can be used by anyone -- caretakers, educators, librarians -- to "supercharge" story time!

If you'd like to see what we've been up to, check out the #ReadDiscussDo hashtag on Twitter and Facebook! I would love for you to participate with stories and ideas of your own!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

It's summer!

Summer has officially crept up on me. My daughters have been home from college for nearly a month. My son's last day of tenth grade was a week and a half ago. And we leave for our annual summer road trip in just a few days!

How did that happen?

It seems like, as the kids have gotten older, the transition from school year to summer has become less seamless. It happens little by little until, suddenly, the season is in full swing and I barely even noticed.

Anyway, summer is here! And even though my girls will be working a lot, and my son will be spending a lot of his time playing video games or shooting hoops with his friends at the park, I intend to make the most out of summer.

I'll enjoy my slow, lazy mornings. I'll happily tend my garden. I'll soak up the sun and spend as much time with my kids (two of whom are not even kids any more) as much as they'll let me.

And maybe I'll even get some writing and reading done!

Happy summer to you too! (Or winter, for those of you way down south!)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS turns one today! It's hard to believe that it has been a full year since my second picture book was officially published.

A book birthday means a book PARTY and that means it's time for a GIVEAWAY! Wouldn't you love to win a signed copy of a kick-butt rhyming picture book full of action and puns?

Then...go enter the Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win!

Good luck!

(And come back soon, because WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? has a birthday coming up too!)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Poetry Month: Verse Novel Reviews

When I set out to read as many verse novels as I could this month, I had hoped to read more than six of them. I got through my library pile fairly quickly, but haven't made it back to the library to get more. What can I say? April has been busier than I had anticipated!

Stil, I read several new verse novels and reread an old favorite. It's been a good reading month! It's rare that I manage to read two whole novels in a month, much less six of them!

Here is a list of the verse novels I read for the first time this month, along with a quick review of each. I hope this inspires you to do a little verse novel reading of your own.

GROW by Juanita Havill

Gardens and friendship - two things that grow well together. This book is a sweet story about a young girl helping her neighbor start a community garden on a vacant lot. As the garden grows, friendships develop. And when the owner of the vacant lot decides to build on it, the friends must work together to find a way to keep their garden growing.


I loved RHYME SCHEMER by this same author (see my review here), so when I heard about HOUSE ARREST, I had to read it. It is the engaging and heart wrenching story of a young boy who must write in a journal as a condition of his house arrest, a consequence of a desperate act of theft. He had stolen a wallet in hopes that it would help his family buy his baby brother's medicine. Throughout the story we see his attempts to convince the "authorities" that he's not a bad kid, his family's struggle to keep afloat while dealing with the baby's illness, friendships strained, other friendships grow, and a journey from desperation to hope. It's a book that will make you laugh and cry.

LITTLE DOG, LOST by Marion Dane Bauer

Anyone who enjoys stories of lost dogs finding love in a new home will enjoy this book. It is written in third person point of view, which is something I've never encountered before in a verse novel. But it works. I like the way the author tells the story from a few different angles and brings them all together in a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion. It's a quick read too. It took me a little over an hour.

LITTLE CAT'S LUCK by Marion Dane Bauer

This book is a companion to LITTLE DOG, LOST. I liked that book, but I LOVED this one. I found the writing to be a little bit more poetic, though the author employs the same storytelling method as in  LITTLE DOG, LOST. This book focuses more on the animals, and the friendship that develops between the two main animal characters is wonderfully sweet and completely believable. It is a fun, charming, wonderful book that had me fighting back tears.

UNBOUND by Ann E. Burg

Ann E. Burg has a gift for writing gripping, emotional, multi-cultural stories. UNBOUND is the story of a slave girl named Grace and her family's quest for freedom. I enjoyed Grace's voice and her spunky, indignant attitude that ends up being the catalyst for the events that lead to her family's escape into the swamp.