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While my daughters were home from school last week, we got inspired by illustrator Aaron Zenz and his creative children who blog at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. The Z-Family recently collected rocks and sticks, painted them, and planted them around their town to brighten the day of unsuspecting locals.

We decided to do the same—give rocks some smiles and let a neighbor stumble across a fine-lookin’ paper weight. Or new pet. Or objet d’art.

While the Z-Family collected beach pebbles, we live on a mountain (those from the Rockies would call this a hill), so we collected small boulders. My littlest child picked the largest rocks and had to drag her bag home.

Here’s the family of rocks we painted, each with its own unique personality. (Yes, we named them.) Later this week, we’ll stash them in nooks and crannies around town and see if any lucky folks decide to adopt them. Stay tuned!

Materials: rocks, acrylic paint, multi-purpose sealer, imagination!

by Aaron Zenz

Kids are an amazing source of inspiration.  They haven’t yet learned the conventions and “rules” that so often inhibit our own grown-up imaginations.  My kiddos constantly astound me with the creativity that pours forth from their pencils.

My kids have a couple of blogs where I showcase their art and ideas.   Two years ago I set up a challenge for professional illustrators to use a drawing from the kids’ blog to fuel a piece of “Fan Art.”

For example, this is a drawing my daughter Lily made:


And here’s my interpretation:


Here’s a drawing from my son Isaac:


And here’s my take:


I expected that perhaps a handful of people would join me in participating. Instead, over 70 pieces of amazing art poured in from people all over the world.  You can see the full results of the celebration HERE.

It was so much fun, we just had to do all over again two years later.  One of the illustrators who contributed both years is J.C. Phillipps of “Wink the Ninja” fame.  This year she chose to recreate an image by my daughter Gracie:

And here’s J.C. Phillipps’ version:


But then, something else happened…  Here’s what Mrs. Phillipps had to say:

“I decided to give the rabbit a girl.  As I was making the girl, she started to speak to me.  Turns out, her name is Esmerelda and she loves it when things go wrong.  As I was putting this collage together, all these little story ideas started weaving their way into my mind and I now think I have a new idea to write up.  Time can only tell where it all leads—but I think little Esmerelda and I are going to have a lot of fun together.”

Awesome!  And that gets me to thinking of a particular picture book idea that I’ve had rattling around in my brain for years, sparked by one of the kid’s pictures.  I’ve yet to work it up.  Perhaps PiBoIdMo 2011 is just the time to do it!

So here’s your challenge for the day.  Write up a story idea based on the random wonderfulness of a kid drawing.  If you don’t have a kid close at hand, here are a few drawings for inspiration:

by Lily:

by Gracie:

by Isaac:


Happy writing to you all!

Aaron Zenz is giving away a copy of his latest book “Chuckling Ducklings” PLUS an original sketch of a baby critter of YOUR choosing! (see examples)  Just leave a comment here to be entered! A winner will be randomly selected in one week.

Aaron Zenz has illustrated 14 books for children.  He is also the author of “The Hiccupotamus” and “Chuckling Ducklings.”  His kids review their favorite books at their blog Bookie Woogie and share artwork at their other blog Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty.

Follow Me on Pinterest As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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My Picture Books


Available now at:

Coming Soon:


I THOUGHT THIS
WAS A BEAR BOOK
illustrated by Benji Davies
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
August 2015

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD
illustrated by Troy Cummings
Random House
October 2015

NORMAL NORMAN
illustrated by S.Britt
Sterling Children's Books
2016

7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY
illustrator TBA
Disney*Hyperion
2016

WAY PAST BEDTIME
illustrator TBA
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
2016

My Other Books

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