Thursday, September 30, 2021

My Sister, the Giver

Not long ago I received a package in the mail. It contained a pair of earrings that had been shipped all the way from the U.K. to my little house in Nebraska.

Fun, aren't they? I can't wait to wear them out in public!

What's the significance of the chili peppers? 

Recently my sister Elizabeth and I were shopping together. As I looked through a rack full of quirky earrings, I mentioned that I had been searching for a pair of chili pepper earrings ever since FEDERICO AND THE WOLF came out. I explained to my sister that a new pair of earrings was one way I liked to celebrate the publication of each of my books. I have moose earrings for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, fox earrings for HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, and cactus earrings for TWO TOUGH TRUCKS. But so far, I hadn't had any luck finding a good pair of chili pepper earrings to celebrate my latest book. 

Later that same day, Elizabeth texted me to say, "I ordered you chili pepper earrings."

Well, of course she did! My sister has always been a thoughtful giver. 

But here's the thing. When we were shopping that day, it was to fill some time between two of her many recent doctor appointments. Here Elizabeth was, worried and stressed about her recent diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, listening to me grumble that no one sold chili pepper earrings. But she didn't mind. In fact, I can imagine her making a mental note to look for chili pepper earrings online as soon as she got home. 

In case that doesn't impress you, there's more.

The VERY SAME DAY that Elizabeth had learned that her cancer had spread, she came by my house to visit with me and our parents, who were in town for my daughter's wedding. She had stopped by the store, and while she was there she bought me candy! White Chocolate Lindor Truffles. One of my favorites.

This is the kind of person my sister is. Even through the hardest times, she finds reasons to laugh. To give. To enjoy every little blessing life has to offer, and to be a blessing herself. She even got me to try sushi for the first time recently. And, wonder of wonders, I didn't hate it! 

I'm blessed to have Elizabeth in my life. And proud that I can call her sister.

Elizabeth and I out for sushi after one of her many
doctor appointments.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Whirlwind that has been My Life

Wow! It's been over a month since I shared anything here. And that's not due to laziness or willful neglect, but because my life has been a whirlwind for the past several weeks.

What it is that has kept me so busy that I've neglected to update my faithful blog followers?


I've been busy with the new Read, Discuss, Do! website, which launched on June 2! If you haven't see it yet, be sure to check it out and subscribe to the mailing list if you're so inclined. We've got so much great stuff going on over there, including a super fun summer reading challenge for the whole family!

And then there's the #PBChat mentorship. I volunteered to be a mentor again this year, and it took a long time to read through all the potential mentees' applications and manuscripts. There were so many talented writers applying to be my mentee, and choosing just ONE from the 60 that applied was a challenge!

I'm also co-teaching a nine-month picture book masterclass through my local SCBWI chapter beginning July 10. 

As busy as all those things have made me, the real whirlwind was because...

My daughter Julia got married! The past three months have been dominated by wedding planning, which was great fun, but was also incredibly demanding. DIY weddings are no joke! But the day turned out to be every bit as beautiful as we hoped.

Add to that the handmade quilt that my sister and I made for the happy couple, and that left almost no time for writing or revising. Not even for my blog.

So yeah. That's what's been up with me. 

If you don't hear from me again for a while, it's probably because I'm working on revising my verse novel. Again!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Best Clever and Funny Fractured Fairy Tales

Fairy tale retellings are one of my favorite kinds of stories. Whether written as picture books for the very young or novels for middle graders and young adults, there is something about fractured fairy tales that appeals to me as a reader and a writer. Certainly the magic and adventure at the root of the original stories is part of it. But it's fun to see how different writers make those classic stories their own. In picture books a clever twist or a new setting can give a classic tale fresh, new life even while the story follows the original plot closely.

Here is a list of some of my favorites (plus two of my own) to read if you enjoy fractured fairy tales that are clever and funny. 

The Great Gran Plan by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Steven Lenton

A funny story that blends Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, with clever and hilarious results. 

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka, illustrated by Lane Smith

A classic that should be included in every library. This version of the story, told from the perspective of the wolf, just might convince you that the wolf was the victim. Or will it?

Twinderella by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Deborah Marcero

This clever and charming retelling is twice the fun of the original story!

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings

If you enjoy puns and fairy tales, you'll enjoy this delightful romp!

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

Cinderella in space! What more of a reason do you need to read this charming and empowering story?

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, illustrated by Lydia Monks

If you like mixups and misunderstandings--and hilarity--you'll love this delightfully silly fractured version of Rapunzel. 

Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

More of a sequel than a retelling, this clever story takes the original and gives it a switcheroo!

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

Little Rid Riding Hood set in Africa, with a delightful new twist on the traditional ending. 

A Cooked Up Fairy Tale by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle

This clever mash-up is sure to make you chuckle (and might make you hungry too!). 

And, naturally, I had to include my own books:

Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Dan Santat

Hansel and Gretel, but as ninja chickens outwitting a fox rather than a witch!

Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

A gender-swapped, Mexican-American retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. 

What are your favorite fractured fairy tales?