Announcing a new picture book release:

Margot Finke’s Rattlesnake Jam is published with loving care by Guardian Angel Publishing.
Wild and wonderful illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier jump off the page.

Rattlesnake Jam is a rhyming romp of a picture book. Crazy old Gran and Pa argue over how to cook up the rattlers he catches. Gran is determined to bottle them into her cure-all rattlesnake jam, yet Pa longs for Gran to make him rattlesnake pie.

Visit the webpage where Gran and Pa hang out and rattlers slither about..

or WIN an autographed copy of “Rattlesnake Jam.”

Hair, Hair, Everywhere in Picture Books

When I received this photo of one of my favorite little friends, Mia, I knew I had a feature for my blog. What fun hair Mia has!

Many children’s authors have enjoyed celebrating hair–proving that a fertile imagination combined with winning words and great illustrations pave the way for picture book success. Listed below are a few hair-raising PB’s…

FRANNY B. KRANNY, THERE’S A BIRD IN YOUR HAIR! by Harriet Lerner & Susan Goldhor

CRAZY HAIR DAY by Barney Stalzberg

BINTOU’S BRAIDS by Sylviane A. Diouf

BEDHEAD by Margie Palatini

STEPHANIE’S PONYTAIL by Robert Munsch (a classic hair adventure)


Donna Shepherd has created a fun and health conscious picture book highlighting the importance of good dental care with NO MORE GUNK!

And kids will love Kevin Collier’s bright illustrations.

When you visit the book’s blog site, you’ll find links for caring for your teeth and a wonderful review of the book by Gayle Jacobson-Huset, Assistant Editor of STORIES FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE. http://storiesforchildren.tripod.com/

The author/illustrator duo have also teamed up on an earlier healthwise picture book, OUCH! SUNBURN, which is included in the Double Doozie. Two books for the price of one!

Be sure to copy and print the free coloring page from NO MORE GUNK!

Happy coloring and happy flossing!

Picture Books I’ve Been Reading

Below are a few of the picture books I’ve been reading. These books offer a wide variety of subject matter and illustrations.

ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS: HEALING THE WOUNDS OF WORLD WAR II by Lita Judge. Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.
This is a simply told, true story of a girl and her mother in post-World War II United States who began a grass roots movement to provide shoes and supplies to war victims in Germany. The end page collages of photos and letters combined with the breathtaking watercolor illustrations bring this tale to life with poignant detail. This book is a slice of history and humanity that should be shared in every classroom. http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Tracings-Healing-Wounds/dp/1423100085/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206555149&sr=1-1

THE STORY OF SALT by Mark Kurlansky. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006.
A colorfully illustrated history of salt, this book examines one of the most common elements used worldwide. Kurlansky shows how salt, now virtually taken for granted, has played such a pivotal role in various locales in the past. A timeline of “Salt through the Centuries” concludes the text. http://www.amazon.com/Story-Salt-Mark-Kurlansky/dp/0399239987/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206555188&sr=1-1

HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX by Ellen Levine. Scholastic, 2007.
This 20008 Caldecott Honor book tells the fictionalized description of Henry “Box” Brown’s escape from slavery in 1849 when he mailed himself to freedom from Richmond to Philadelphia. The bold pictures and provocative story should encourage young readers to find more books exploring slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. http://www.amazon.com/Henrys-Freedom-Caldecott-Honor-Book/dp/043977733X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206555227&sr=1-1

AT GLEASON’S GYM by Ted Lewin. Roaring Brook Press, 2007.
Bold, bright illustrations accompany a condensed story of Sugar Boy Younan’s workout routine and quest for the National Silver Gloves Champion in the 110 Pound Bantam Weight Division. A couple of girl boxers are shown in the story as well, but the book’s primary audience would seem to be boys—especially reluctant readers. http://www.amazon.com/Gleasons-Gym-Neal-Porter-Books/dp/1596432314/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206555264&sr=1-1


Meet JENNIFER GLADEN—teacher, mom, and children’s author.
Her first children’s picture book, A Star in the Night, will be released this summer by Guardian Angel Publishing. http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/
Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?
Yes! Even as a child, I could always be found writing something. I wrote stories and poems for my teachers. I wrote in my journal every day. In short, it’s always been a part of my life. Growing up, I was a quiet little girl. Writing was my way of communicating with the world.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I sure did! It wasn’t until I took a few courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature that I realized this was something I really could do. I’m grateful that I chose to follow my dream. If I didn’t, I’d be missing out on the greatest career in the world!

Tell us about your children’s books.
My first children’s book, A Star in the Night, will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing sometime this summer. It is a Christmas themed eBook about a boy, Andy, going home on Christmas Eve. Andy, accompanied by a shimmering star, encounters three experiences, which change his view of Christmas forever.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
Yes. My official website is http://www.jennifergladen.com/.You can also find me on my blogs: http://jgladen.blogspot.com/ andhttp://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.

How has being a teacher helped you with your writing career?
Teaching helped me with my writing in many ways. It’s the best research a writer could have. I interacted with children every day. I saw what problems they were dealing with, how they reacted to it, what was important to them. Also, I have worked as an after school leader at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There, I helped students with homework and designed a craft once a week. That has helped me get to know children of all age levels. I’ve worked with Kindergartners through eighth graders.

My educational training helps me keep my characters real for fiction. I’m more in tune with what situations would apply to certain ages. I’ve learned how to “make learning fun,” which I hope carries over in my nonfiction pieces.

How do you find time for your writing?
When I get up in the morning, I throw on a pot of coffee. It helps me wake up. After the girls are at school, I begin my day as early as possible. My toddler is still home with me. So I know the earlier I start, the more I’m likely to get done.

Most of the time, I have to demand my writing time. Especially when all three kids are home. It sounds harsh, but it also helps the kids learn boundaries. They’re learning that Mom needs the computer, printer and her whole office at certain times of the day. Of course, there are always interruptions—anything from picking the kids up at school—to having a medical emergency. In fact, the little things that make me leave my desk (making lunches, reading a story to my toddler, letting the dog out) force me to take mini breaks. Otherwise, I know I’d barrel through the day without stopping. However, I try not to waste any moments. Ideas sneak up on me when I’m walking and driving, so I started carrying around a mini notebook.

When my husband has off from work, he knows he has full supervision of the kids. These are my “power writing” days. I try to get as much done as possible because it’s less likely I’ll be interrupted.

What are you working on now?
My current project is a picture book about a little girl, Olivia, who needs a liver transplant and her brave journey to get it. While many children are wondering if they’ll learn to ride a bike, Olivia is wondering when that life-saving transplant will happen. We see the struggles and complex feelings in which she deals with daily.http://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.

This book was inspired by my own daughter who needed a liver transplant. When I looked for good books to read to her, I saw nothing which could help a child of her age cope with this situation. “There should be a book about this,” I complained to my husband. Voila—Olivia was born.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with it. Be persistent in your dream. Don’t give up in the face of rejections. Just pick up your manuscripts, dust it off, revise (yes – for the umpteenth time) and send it out elsewhere.This is your dream and your goal. The only one who can assure your success is you.

-original Interview by Mayra Calvani, http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/

Super Saturday

On Saturday, I had the privilege to hear Allyn Johnston, Editor-in-Chief at Harcourt, and Marla Frazee, children’s author and illustrator, give a presentation on picture books in Washington, Missouri.

Ms. Johnston spoke of “the power of picture books.” She said she believes good ones have “the ability to affect lives.” She also referred to a picture book as “a piece of theater on a 32-page stage.” She looks for the rhythm and repetition in a well-written picture book. “Perfect words in perfect places.” She said the last line of the story should resonate and the story should come full circle. To find out more about Allyn Johnston, here’s a link to an interview with her:http://www.scbwi.org/faces/getting_to_know/previous/johnston.htm

Ms. Frazee spoke of the physical structure of a picture book–the 32-page format. She said it is the combination of words and pictures that tell the complete story in a picture book. She emphasized her respect for children as her audience–how well they “read” her pictures. She stressed that picture books need to have an emotional component–even humorous ones. For more information on Marla Frazee, you may visit her website at http://www.marlafrazee.com/

What a great opportunity this was to hear these special insights from two such knowledgeable women in children’s literature.

The other excitement I was a part of on Saturday was Jody Feldman‘s premeir of her first children’s book, THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, at Left Bank Books in St. Louis. Jody’s idea for THE GOLLYWHOOPER GAMES began many years ago when she was volunteering in a school library and witnessed a boy unable to satisfy his book thirst after finishing CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Jody wanted to write a book that would be similiar to Roald Dahl’s masterpiece. Her love for word games and puzzles led her to create this story featuring the Golly Toy & Game Company. For a read filled with interactive adventures, be sure to find a copy of Jody’s new middle grade novel. The official release of THE GOOLYWHOPPER GAMES is tomorrow, March 3. And to read more about Jody, you may visit her website at http://jodyfeldman.typepad.com/writing/

Today’s Guest Writer: Susan Berger

Susan Berger is the author of Jamie’s Dream, a children’s picture book she created with her son, Christopher Corbin. Kim Sponaugle’s colorful illustrations help bring Jamie to life in a story where dreams are for sale.


Here’s an interview with her by Mayra Calvani.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. Then I wanted to be a nurse. (I was reading the Cherry Ames, Girl Nurse Series) Then I wanted to be a reporter. (I was reading the Beverly Gray, Girl Reporter series.) In my defense, I did not want to be everything I read. I never wanted to be an inventor (Tom Swift Series) or a detective (Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys) In my daydreams I wanted to be queen of the world so I could end all hunger and give all the orphans good homes. Then I wanted to be an actress. By this time, I was twelve and knew myself for a fickle person since I wanted to be so many things.

I did not want to be a writer. I knew I was a writer. I won my first writing prize at St Cyprians School in Cape Town, S. Africa in 1955. It was a very nice story about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. It began… “Far away in the land of Holidays, where no mortal child has ever been, lived the Easter Bunny….” I wish I could remember the rest of it.

In 8th grade, in Westport Connecticut, I had a poem published in an anthology of high school poetry. I suppose I wrote some more after that, but it must have been schoolwork. By the time I was in 9th grade, all my extracurricular activity was acting.

When I started to write again in 1992, the first story I worked on was Jamie’s Dream with my son Christopher.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

I was attending the 1992 Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. They gave out an exercise. “Write about a saying as if it were real” I chose “Buy a Dream”. I came home and discussed it with Christopher. I asked him “Where would you go to buy a dream?” He gave me that LOOK that children give grownups when grownups are being particularly stupid. “Dream’s R Us, of course” he answered. And so our collaboration began. Chris was 9, but he was going to a school where writing was highly valued. His school mornings began with 20 minutes of creative writing. Then they read their work aloud. They critiqued each other, just as they did in my adult writer’s group. He was a great partner. Over the next 12 years, Jamie was sent out many times. It was rewritten at least 16 times. Then Guardian Angel said they wanted to publish it. The joy of that moment is equaled only by the moment I first saw Kim’s Illustrations.

What are you working on now?
This week I worked on Disasters Happen: Earthquake which will be published by Guardian Angel in 2008. It is a nonfiction book for the science series. It is aimed at first – third graders. (What causes earthquakes? Can we predict them? Where do they happen? How do we prepare for them? What to do during a quake? What happens afterwards.)
I am also working on a storybook called Brittany’s Wall, and a mid-grade chapter book called Tasha the Magnificent. Brittany is going into its 8th rewrite. Tasha is going into its 9th rewrite. I have contacted the SCBWI for a new critique group for Tasha. I find re-writing to be both drudgery and magic. When I finish a story, I am always convinced that I have written the best story I am capable of writing. It is amazing to see how much better it can become.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

It is not your business to question your talent. It is your business to show up at the page. (okay, it’s short, but it’s great advice.)

Do you have a website or blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

http://jamiesdream.com/ links to my live journal and to mine and Christopher’s IMDB.com pages. I am looking forward to making another website where I can list other books as they come out and link to other authors.

What is the IMDB?
It is the internet movie data base (http://imdb.com/) It is a wonderful site. You can look up any movie or TV show and see the full cast and credits. You can also look up any actor and (hopefully) see what movies and TV shows they have done. I say hopefully because I cannot seem to get my Hannah Montana Episode added. I don’t have a large Movie and TV resume. Most of my professional work is theatre.

Do you have any other words of widsom?

Andrea says to Melina in The Magic Violin by Mayra Calvani (http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/magic-violin.htm), “I’ll tell you what’s magic-believing in yourself. That’s magic!” Jamie says in Jamie’s Dream “But mom, you said I could do anything I believed I could do.” I think Andrea and Jamie’s mom give very good advice. May you always find the magic.


Today, you’re in for a treat–
an interview with author, Shari Lyle-Soffe. Below you can read some of her insights into writing…and make sure to click on the links to find out more about her lovable racoon brothers, ROOTER & SNUFFLE. They’ve been colorfully brought to life by master illustrator, Kevin Scott Collier.

The MISADVENTURES of Rooter & Snuffle
Author: Shari Lyle-Soffe http://www.sharilyle-soffe.com/
Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier http://www.kevinscottcollier.com/
E-books ISBN-10: 1-933090-43-X ISBN-13: 978-1-933090-43-6Print ISBN-10: 193309088X ISBN-13: 978-1933090887

On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle
Author: Shari Lyle Soffe http://www.sharilyle-soffe.com/
Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier http://www.kevinscottcollier.com/
E-books ISBN 10: 1-933090-51-0 ISBN 13: 978-1-933090-51-1

Tell us about your children’s books.

I have a picture/storybook series with Guardian Angel Publishing. Each book is made up of three separate stories about brother raccoons and their friends on their romps in Cathedral Woods. They deal with the same problems as real children do . The first book, THE MISADVENTURES OF ROOTER AND SNUFFLE, is available in a number of electronic formats and has just been released in paperback. The second book in the series, ON THE GO WITH ROOTER AND SNUFFLE, is available in electronic formats and will be available soon in paperback. The third book in this series, TROUBLE FINDS ROOTER AND SNUFFLE, has not been released yet but will be out this Spring! My books are available at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/rooter&snuffle.htm and at online and brick & mortar booksellers.

What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

Winter is a struggle because I get inspired when I am out in nature, and as much as I love snow, I don’t like the cold. In warm weather I love to walk or just sit outside. I live in the woods of Southern Oregon with lots of wildlife, trees and fresh air. Occasionally I sit outside and journal. I enjoy doing that but I’m not very good about keeping it up on a regular basis. I have a new laptop, and I am anxious for the weather to warm up so that I can sit out under a tree and write.

Describe your working environment.

I have an office in my home. Unfortunately it is small and I share it with a treadmill. I also share with a cat, Amber. It is pretty cluttered in here and in need of paint, but the walls are covered with my published works to remind me I am a “real” writer. The room is full of files, books, my computer desk, a phone, a small television for when I actually use the treadmill. I am blessed with both a desktop computer and a laptop.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Never, ever give up! Read everything you can find about writing for children. Read every book in your genre that you can beg, borrow or buy. Network with other writers online or in person. If you can afford it, take a writing class. I learned a lot in the beginning in the ICL chatroom, and I was not an ICL student. Write! Write! Write!

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Don’t allow the negative opinions of others to hold you back. Don’t be a snob. There are a lot of small publishers that would like to look at your work. Not everyone is published by Random House. Writing for magazines is still writing. Books are not the only writing format. Write what you love. Write what inspires you. Don’t let family and friends tear you down. Don’t quit because of rejections. If you can’t take rejection, you have chosen the wrong field. Share what you have learned with others.

Do you have a website or blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes, you can learn more about me and my work at http://www.sharilyle-soffe.com/ . Click on the links in my site directory.

Robin Falls

Today I’ve discovered a new children’s book author, April Robins, with a lovely website I’m sure you’ll want to visit.

There you’ll find a winter coloring page to download. Wouldn’t this wolf picture make a wonderful project to work on while the icy winds and snow keep you inside?

Guardian Angel Book Ranks 3rd at Fictionwise

Congratulations to author Donna J. Shepherd an illustrator Keven Scott Collier for their Guardian Angel Publishing eBook, OUCH! SUNBURN, which is the third most requested eBook right now at Fictionwise.com. Here’s a description of the book from Fictionwise:

Donna J. Shepherd’s snappy rhymes along with the colorful and fun illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier help children see the need to protect their skin in the sun. Sun Safety Tips in the back of the book reinforce the book’s theme. 15 illustrations, 94 words, 27 pages

Here are some links to find out more about the book and its creators:

And coming soon from the dynamic duo is NO MORE GUNK!–a book that makes dental hygiene fun.
Way to go, Donna & Kevin!!!