Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Will my son ever be a reader again?

Not too long ago, I came across this greatly mistreated paperback copy of SANTA'S CRASH-BANG CHRISTMAS by Steven Kroll at a yard sale. I immediately knew I had to have it, despite its obvious maladies.

I had to have it because my family had it when I was a child, and I loved this book. It had been one of my favorite Christmas books, second only to Dr. Seuss' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. It had a special place in my heart even though I hadn't seen or thought of it for years.

The other day, I was looking through the shelf of picture books in the family room. My fourteen-year-old son happened to be nearby. Every now and then I'd pull a book out and show it to him. "I love this book!" he would say as he'd flip through the pages. We talked about reading them together when he was younger. Even as a teenage boy currently rebelling against reading, books have a special place in his heart. And he remembered that, just for a moment, when he said to me, "I like books. I just have to force myself to read the first couple of chapters."

I've been a little concerned lately that the boy who used to beg me to read CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS or CHICKS AND SALSA over and over has lost his love for reading. I've worried that the same kid who devoured THE MAGIC THIEF in two days will never find another book that he can't put down.

But those little moments of "Oh, I love that book!" have assured me that books still have a special place in his heart. With time, and perhaps some subtle encouragement from me, they will once again have a special place in his life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


It's finally here, folks. The cover you've all been waiting for.


This little book deserves to be revealed with flair!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

School Visit: Great Questions from Students!

On Tuesday I spent the day at a local elementary school, visiting with kids from preschool to fifth grade. The students were all enthusiastic and engaged. They asked so many questions that one of the first things I did when I got home that afternoon was to write down as many questions as I could remember. I'll share them with you here, along with my answers.

How did you get the idea for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?

Corey's daughter was a bit bossy, so she told me one day, "We should write a story about bossiness." We had a cast of characters from an earlier story that we thought would be perfect for a new story involving a bossy character. We thought it would be fun for them to be doing a building project together, and what could be more fun than building a treehouse?

Follow-up question to that one: What was the story about that had the same characters as this book?

It is about the same group of friends crowding into Porcupine's art studio and creating a big mess!

How many books have you written?

I haven't counted, but I think it is over 50. Only two have been (or will be soon) published, though.

*Note: 50 is an astonishingly large number to a group of 3rd graders.

What is your favorite book that you wrote?

I have a manuscript titled PRINCESS PIE that I am hoping-hoping-hoping gets published some day.

Why did you bring that stuffed moose?

Because he's my inspiration! He sits with me in my office at home. Plus, I thought you would like him.

*They did like him. Moose got several hugs.

When did you start writing?

When I was very little. Maybe 5 or 6. As soon as I learned how to write!

When did you start trying to be an author?

About 15 years ago or so is when I decided I wanted to try writing as a job and not just for fun.

Is it easier to write by yourself or with a partner?

Sometimes it seems easier to write by myself, but having a partner has benefits. For example, Corey and I live in different parts of the country, and we each talk a little differently. So sometimes words that rhyme for me don't rhyme for her (like thought and not). Working to make the rhymes work for both of us means that they will work for more people in general. Also, it's fun to have someone to brainstorm with.

Which part of the book did you write, and which part did your partner write?

Great question! The truth is that the whole book was a team effort. Corey and I wrote the story together from beginning to end. We both had to be happy with every line and every word!

How do you send a book to a publisher?

Once you know who you want to send it to, you write a letter telling that person why you think your book should be published. If it's a picture book, you usually send the story along too! And then you wait and hope. (If you have an agent, he or she does this for you.)

What does "publish" mean?

It means that a story is put in finished form in a book or a magazine.

Where was the book made?

The book was printed in China, but the publisher has offices in New York, London, Toronto, Sydney and New Dehli.

Are you working on other books?

Always. And Corey and I have another book coming out this year titled HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS.

Who is your favorite author and what genre do you like to read?

It is hard to pick a favorite, but I really like Dr. Seuss a lot. And I read a lot of young adult books, especially fantasy.

What do you like most about being an author?

Writing stories is a lot of fun, but I also really like visiting schools to talk to kids about books and reading and writing.

Why are you wearing an Ariel [The Little Mermaid] shirt? 

Because The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite movies!

*And because showing kids that you like some of the same stuff helps them be more open to you.