Thursday, July 11, 2019

TWO TOUGH TRUCKS update, and giveaway WINNER!

Vroom! Zoom! TWO TOUGH TRUCKS, my and Corey's next picture book, will be released into the world on September 17, 2019. That's just over two months from now!

TWO TOUGH TRUCKS, in case you didn't know, is not just about trucks. It's also a first-day-of school friendship story! How perfect, then, that it will be out right around the beginning of the school year. If you are looking forward to this book's release, here are some ways you can help rev up support for it over the next few weeks:

  • Add it on Goodreads
  • Request and/or hold it at your public library
  • Preorder a copy for a little one in your life
  • Tell your friends and family
There will be some celebrating going on as the book's release date gets closer, so stay tuned!

And now...announcing the winner of the Summer Book Giveaway:

Rebecca Levington!

Congratulations, Rebecca! I'll be in touch via email.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Updates and a GIVEAWAY!

I know I've been away from the blog for a while, but not without good reason. Since my last post at the beginning of May, I've been preoccupied with:
  • Daughter #2's college graduation
  • Son's high school graduation
  • Son's graduation party
  • Vacation to the mountains in Colorado (where I saw a moose for the first time)
  • Enjoying time with my hubby during his two week's off
  • Revising a picture book with Corey
  • Critiquing three picture book manuscripts (I offer paid critiques now)
  • Preparing for the #PBChat Mentorship program
  • Revising a middle grade verse novel for an agent
  • And planning my daughter's wedding, which is happening in ONE MONTH!
In the midst of all of that, my two books had birthdays. WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? turned 4 and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS turned 3! So, as a slightly belated celebration, I'm giving away one copy of each to a lucky winner! Simply fill out the form below to enter. Ends Wednesday, July 10 at 11:59 p.m. The winner will be announced on Thursday, July 11!

Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Saturday, May 04, 2019

12 Picture Books about Gardens: A Read, Discuss, Do! Book List

Gardens can be so many things. A pot of flowers on a front step, a manicured flower bed in a city park, even a stretch of wild prairie! These books explore gardens in all their forms, inviting readers to got out and get involved in nurturing their own little piece of nature.

I hope this list of 12 garden books inspires you to not only talk about gardens and nature with your kiddos, but also to get out and explore some gardens with them, and maybe even plant a little (or big) garden of your own. All it takes to get started is a pot, some soil, and a seed!

Badger's Perfect Garden by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

A story about gardening, friendship, and unexpected results. Use this book as inspiration to plant your own perfect (or perfectly imperfect) garden.

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

This book shows readers--in bouncy, lilting rhyme--that gardening can happen anywhere. In an old pot or an empty lot! Let this book inspire you to grow your own "anywhere farm" whether you have room for one pot on the front step or a back yard of your own!

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small

Another beauty that shows gardening can happen anywhere, even in a city full of concrete!

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

There's a lot going on in the garden all year long, both above and below ground. Perhaps this book will inspire you to take a closer look at what's happening in the garden, whether in your own back yard or at a local park.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Nature sprouts up in abandoned human places, inspiring a young gardener to learn and grow along with this "curious garden." This book might inspire you to look for places where curious gardens are trying to grow. The cracks in a city street? Inside an old, abandoned car? An empty lot that's overgrown with weeds and wildflower?

Florette by Anna Walker

Another gorgeous book about bringing a garden to the city.

My Busy Green Garden by Terry Pierce, illustrated by Carol Schwartz

What kinds of busy birds and bugs can you spot in a garden near you? Even a simple patch of grass has a lot of life buzzing in it. Look closely!

Mortimer's First Garden by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Dan Andreason

Let this sweet little book inspire you to plant a seed and watch it grow!

We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines, illustrated by Julianna Swaney

A story about a family's journey to becoming gardeners, and all the ups and downs that came with it. Maybe this book will encourage you to learn and grow with gardening in your own way!

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

A simple and bold book for the littlest gardeners that will encourage them to dig in the dirt. What will they discover? There are lots of things to discover when planting a garden!

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez.

A rhythmic story about bringing green to the city, with lots of helpful information in the back about how to make your own community more free as well as ways to support pollinators.

The Magic Garden by Lemniscates

A beautiful book that encourages readers to go out and experience that magical wonders that a garden can bring to light. This book includes extensive back matter for the curious reader!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


The title just about says it all for I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith.

Doesn't the title alone make you want to flip open this book to find out what mischievous stuff is going on in there? Do it! You won't be sorry. This delightful book of poetry has something to amuse every kid or kid at heart, whether they think they like poetry or not. The poem "Out on the Farm on a Saturday Night" alone is more than worth the effort. What does an upside-down cow sound like? How about a sideways cow? I bet you're wondering!

Full of fun word play, irresistible humor, and clever poem structures, not to mention delightful illustrations, I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING is a must-have poetry book for every home or classroom library. Whether during National Poetry Month or All Year Long, it would be nonsensical for you to miss out on this brilliant book of poems!

I borrowed it from the public library. And I don't want to bring it back. So I guess I better go buy my own copy. You come too! Or go check it out at the library. But don't forget to bring it back, no matter how tempting it is to keep it for yourself!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Just for Fun: 10 Random Facts About Me

It's been a long time since I wrote a post like this, but Michelle I. Mason wrote a fun one and (sort of) challenged her readers to do the same, so here I am, following her example! I tried really hard to dig deep and list the most interesting things. Judge for yourself on whether I succeeded!

1. My hubby and I have been married for a quarter of a century.

2. My teenage son thinks I'm a little weird because I enjoy playing Minecraft. But he can't tease me too much because he plays along with me!

3. One time I dressed up as Bilbo Baggins for my church's Trunk-or-Treat event. I made the costume myself out of repurposed clothing I found at a thrift store.

4. One of my favorite hobbies is making handmade journals. Some are made with repurposed chipboard covers and pages made of card stock or drawing paper. Others are made out food boxes (such as cake mix or cereal) and other repurposed papers. It's a fun creative exercise, and I sometimes give the finished products away as gifts.

5. My daughter Samantha sometimes calls me Mo, after the father in the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, because of the book-repairing skills I acquired during my years working in a school library. Many damaged books have gotten a new lease on life thanks to that handy skill! I've repaired Bibles and other books for family members and friends, and have even rescued a few from the church pews when I've noticed them in need of a good gluing. I brought them back as good as new, of course.

6. Another title I've earned from my children is that of The Finder of Things because of my knack for finding missing things when everyone else's efforts have failed.

7. When I was a little girl I went through a long list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. A doctor, a policewoman, a zoologist. At the top of the list was always "wife and mother," though. Artist and poet were there too, but they always seemed to be a part of me that I had to develop rather than something I wanted to become some day.

8. I have a weakness for science fiction movies, especially those involving alien invasions or space exploration. In fact, one of my favorite movies ever is Independence Day. But the sequel? Let's all just pretend it doesn't exist. Are you with me?

9. Besides English, I have studied three languages at some point in my life. German, Japanese, and Spanish. I studied German while I lived in Germany as a kid, and for six years in school after that. I took one year of Japanese in high school. And I've been slowly learning Spanish over the past 25 years of being married to a native speaker. It's a shame that I'm not fluent yet, but I can get by when I must, and I've made it my goal to be proficient (and comfortable) in conversational Spanish by the end of this year.

10. I have never broken a bone, but I have: gotten whiplash in a freak swimming pool accident, torn the ligaments in my left foot while dancing, chipped my right elbow on a skating rink floor, and bruised my coccyx (tailbone) when the swing I was on broke.

Do you have any of these things in common with me? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, March 30, 2019


BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, is a perfect little book. Well, it's about as close to perfect as a picture book can get.

by Marsha Diane Arnold
illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
Sleeping Bear Press

Badger has been waiting all year to plant the perfect garden with seeds he gathered in the summer and saved in jars over the winter. With the help of his friends, he clears an area, then makes neat little rows. And together, the friends carefully plant the seeds, being sure to keep similar seeds together. "Bumpy seeds in this row. Round ones here. Keep the whirlies together!" After a lot of work, the garden is planted, and Badger and his friends celebrate with muffins and mulberry juice. When fierce rains come and wash Badger's perfectly planted seeds away, he is so sad that nothing can cheer him up. He'll have to start all over and wait until NEXT year for his perfect garden.

Or will he?

BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN, with its charming text and soft, glowing illustrations, is a delightful story about friendship, hard work, and dealing with disappointment. But more than that, it's a story about how sometimes, when things seem to be ruined, they are really only different. And different can be its own kind of perfect. 

It's a perfect story to share with anyone at any time, but especially with a little gardener at springtime. Perhaps it will inspire you and your little helpers to plant your own perfect garden!

Monday, March 18, 2019

13 Picture Books that Include Recipes - A Read, Discuss, Do! Book List

Picture books that include recipes are one of my favorite things. Not only are they fun to read together, but they have great Read, Discuss, Do! activities built right in. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend a day than with some reading and cooking together as a family. With that in mind, here are 13 (a baker's dozen!) picture books that come with recipes.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman, a delightful book that takes the reader on a journey around the world to find the ingredients for apple pie, with a recipe for apple pie at the end!

Bear and Chicken by Jannie Ho is a darling friendship story about a chicken who is concerned that the bear who rescued him from the cold is planning to make him into soup! Try the soup recipe for yourself. No chicken needed!

Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand is a fun rhyming romp that will have everyone hungry for cake, which you can make by following the recipe for a slightly smaller whopper cake included in the book.

Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Maniac Muffins by Chris Monroe is every bit as silly and fun as it sounds. Make one of the muffin recipes at the end (guaranteed not to terrorize the town). 

Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee is a darling book with fun language and plenty of repetition, making it great to read aloud with a little one. Follow story time up with some fun in the kitchen making your own bee-bim bop!

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley, a simple yet bold concept book about food and color, and includes a recipe your little ones can help you with.

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall is a book about the history of Blackberry Fool, a dessert made with whipped cream and blackberries. The recipe is very simple, and takes much less work than it did one or two or three hundred years ago.

Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz, illustrated by Talitha Shipman, a colorful, pleasant read about a family's tradition of making applesauce together every year. Read the book and try making applesauce with your family (it's easier than you may think).

Ugly Pie by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon is a charming book about a bear's search for ingredients to make the pie he's been itchin' for: Ugly Pie! Try the pie recipe yourself and see if ugly can be delicious!

Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paulette Bogan, a spicy romp about chickens who are tired of chicken feed! Have a little fiesta with your little ones with one of the recipes at the back!

Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Janet Stevens is a clever story featuring a descendant of the Little Red Hen, showing how cooking with a group of friends can be a rewarding challenge. And who can resist a recipe for strawberry shortcake?

Bread Lab! by Kim Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly, illustrated by Haylin Cho is a lesson in bread making disguised as a story of a young girl and her aunt spending the day cooking together. Try to avoid craving fresh baked bread as you read! Then again, crave all you want and then follow the directions to make bread yourself.

How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller, illustrated by Hatem Aly, a fun family story about a little girl who is determined to get her picky parents to broaden their palates! Includes a recipe for quiche at the end. Yum!

I hope you look for some of these books and have a happy time reading and cooking with your family.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you try the recipes? I'd love to know the results. Did I miss a favorite? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to look it up.