My Monsters Continue to Travel the Globe

February and March have continued to be busy months for me with my Microsoft Educator Community Skype Classroom visits—over 75,000 virtual miles total now. Whew! Yesterday I traveled from north Texas to New Jersey and all the way down under to Australia! G’day, mates!


In the past two months, I’ve also squeezed in a couple of in-person school visits in St. Louis at Lone Dell Elementary and Bayless Elementary, meeting hundreds of eager 4th and 5th graders.


What I enjoy so much with school visits—whether in-person or via Skype—is sharing my love of words with the students. Seeing them become excited about reading and writing is the best! Today, out of the blue, I received a note from Mark Nechanicky, 4th grade teacher in Albert Lea, MN, expressing appreciation for my January Skype visit with his class.

Thanks again for the Skype. We purchased and received books from you. Our media specialist told me that they are checked out all the time. Thought you should know the students really like the books.

This totally made my day! As a former school librarian, I know how awesome it is to have students lining up for a good read. And it’s totally amazing when that read is one I’ve written!

Chandra Hale, school librarian from Celina, TX, where I visited 5th graders yesterday, said: I’m trying to get a copy of each of your monster books for our library… Several students are already asking about checking them out:) And 4th grade teacher, Maria Krudzlo from Marlton, NJ, had this to say after my recent Skype visit with her class: They learned a lot. Thanks again! I ordered your books and the kids are arguing over who gets them first.

Again, that’s so super cool!

My books FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS are published by Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions. This is a small indie press, so it is much tougher for my books to be noticed by schools and libraries and middle grade readers. But I’ve found through my visits that WHEN my books and students connect it is a winning combination. I hope you’ll pass the word on about my monsters through social media with an Amazon or Goodreads review or a Tweet.

The REAL critics (the student readers) from all of these states so far: Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Washington, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa—as well as Puerto Rico, Canada, Wales, and Australia—give a big “Scary on!” for my stories.

I hope you’ll have the opportunity to share my monsters with the special students in your life!

Skype Visits Reap Writing Rewards!

January Journeys

It’s been a busy start to the New Year for me–juggling time zones and virtual jet lag. I’ve been connecting with students across the U. S. and even as far away as Canada and Wales. Next month I’ll be off to many more national locations–even to the territory of Puerto Rico.

Students and teachers have been eager to discover tips on bringing sensory details into their writing. I like to encourage the students to use “juicy words.” Specific nouns, power-packed verbs, and creative adjectives are all helpful in making a story come to life.

I take the students through the five senses, exploring words that amp up a story and take it to the next level. I use a variety of props to aid them in selecting sensory words to fit the scene. I even “put them in a scene” to find the right words to entice their readers to read more.

Most of all I encourage the students to reach for their reading and writing goals. I stress how important words are for all of us. Words can be powerful when used for good, for change, for sharing ideas and knowledge. Words can unite and enlighten!

And I love sharing some of “my words,” a brief slice from one of my books: FROM THE GRAVE or INTO THE SHADOWLANDS. The monsters seem to have a way of connecting with kids and helping them connect to reading and writing.

Here are tweets from two of the teachers about my visit to their school in Minnesota:

If you are interested in inviting me to visit your class, check out the Microsoft Educator Community or contact me directly here.

And check out these Thank You’s from students in Iowa who shared in sensory word fun!



Happy Halloween and Here’s What I’ve Been Up To


Halloween is finally here and the monsters have free reign tonight.

Mayhem when appropriate–to the max!

If you need some spooky jokes, check here for 100 Frighteningly Fun Jokes perfect for Halloween.

School Visits

As you can see I’ve been busy bringing my monsters out to the world. School visits and bookstores. Always so fun to meet my readers–and put on my Books-A-Mania shoes!

And even a spooky party–and a skeleton dog! Now it’s Trick-or-Treat Time! Have fun!!

An Evening with Author/Illustrator DAV PILKEY


How does an evening with children’s author Dav Pilkey begin? (well,after waiting in a looooong line wrapping all the way around Headquarters library…)

Waiting for Captain Underpants

Waiting for Captain Underpants

With, of course, a loud “Tra-la-laaaa!” yelled in unison by all the kids (and many of the parents) in the audience. It’s Captain Underpants’ typical call to action.

I had the fun opportunity to be part of this attentive and rambunctious crowd last night at the St. Louis County Library’s Author Event, celebrating the release of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT. (# 12 in the series)

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants



Dav Pilkey, who will have 60 books to his credit with 2016’s THE ADVENTURES OF DOG MAN, has revolutionized reading for boys especially. USA Today called him the “savior of the reluctant reader.” His short, graphic chapter books with their silliness, fast pace, and bathroom humor are a perfect fit for young readers. The kid-friendly author creates his tales based on his own elementary school experiences.

The Adventures of Dog Man

The Adventures of Dog Man

As a child who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia, he understood the power of pictures to tell a story. Even though he often found himself doing hallway detention for drawing in class, he couldn’t resist making more clever comics—to the delight of his fellow students and the dismay of his teachers.

“Underwear is not funny!” said Mr. Pilkey’s second grade teacher. “Grow up!” she cautioned him. “You can’t spend the rest of your life making silly books!”

Drawing favorite characters

Drawing favorite characters

Oh, how little she knew, and how very far Mr. Pilkey has enriched young readers with the delights of his underwear crew.

Some of his other titles include:

The Ricky Ricotta Series 

Dog Breath

Paper Boy

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk

Super Diaper Baby



Nowadays, the author prefers drawing in more natural spots, like along the beach in Japan when visiting his wife’s family. But even there, he still suffers criticism—from some monkeys that is. Mr. Pilkey shared a video of himself at work sketching, while several monkeys attempted to confiscate his pens and offer vocal commentary on his work-in-progress.

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics




At the end of his presentation last night, Mr. Pilkey made a point about perseverance. He showed a picture of a scowling egg and a happy potato in boiling water. “Don’t let adversities overcome you,” he said. “Rather use them to build on. In boiling water, a potato softens but an egg becomes hard.”



Many young readers in the crowd wore red capes, similar to Captain Underpants. On back of the capes was the message, “Reading is Power!” Thanks, Mr. Pilkey, for enhancing children’s literature with your comic characters and delightful illustrations and proving that strong reading muscles really do rock!

More on Helping Kids Become Readers and Writers

Sorry I don’t have photos yet to share of my school visit at Point Elementary last Friday, but the Mehlville School District has posted a press release of the event with a photo. Click on the link to read all about it.

I’m nearly finished reading all the great stories the Point students wrote and shared with me. They showed what great imaginations they have–so much creativity! And lots of the stories have great humor as well.

Today I read a second grade writer’s story. All the main writing points I’d shared with the students on Friday, she’d woven into her brief story.

She had a story arc: beginning, middle, and end.
Her dog character had a problem and found a way to solve it.
With dialog and some descriptive words, she quickly revealed her characters to the reader.
It was clever. It was fun. It was truly amazing!

Students usually need little encouragement to create their own stories. The earlier they begin to put their own ideas into words the better. They will become more accomplished in both their reading and writing. They’ll master spelling, grammar, and punctuation more easily. And they’ll have so much fun bringing their imagination to life to share with others.

Below is a list of websites with information/opportunities for encouraging children writers.

Guardian Angel Publishing Contest for School Children

Poetry for Kids

Giggle Poetry for Kids

Graphic Organizers

Publishing Students’ Work

Young Authors and Artists Group

Writing By Children (ALA)

List of Children’s Authors & Illustrators Websites (ALA)

Favorite Children’s Stories (ALA)

Children’s Authors Who Teach Children How to Write (Blog) Workout