It’s no secret that I love fun words, so when I saw Kathy Doherty’s THE THINGITY-JIG, I had to take a closer look!

Bear is bored one night, so he wanders into people town and finds a discarded couch. But, to Bear, it’s not a couch at all—it’s a THINGITY-JIG—and he uses it not to sit, but to bounce and play.

Kathy has given her main character, Bear, the perspective of a child. The child reading the story can immediately understand the mindset of Bear—it’s exactly how a kid sees a plump, springy couch! (Much to Mom’s chagrin.)

This childlike perspective is echoed in the illustrations by Kristyna Litten. The huge moon lingers over bear, and he looks small yet determined to experience adventure in people-town.

Besides the wide-eyed wonder of Bear, the story uses onomatopoeia as a repetitive refrain. It’s not only fun to say “smack, wallop, whack,” but it signals to the reader new action in the story. Something big is about to happen.

Onomatopoeia is a delight to read aloud (which is what we do with picture books), bringing the action of the story to life.

When Bear endeavors to bring the couch home, he invents contraptions to do the work his tired friends are too snoozy to do. Kathy continues in the vein of THINGITY-JIG to introduce a…




It’s a rolly-rockity group of Rube-Goldberg-like machines! What kid doesn’t love to invent and build? Bear keeps his curiosity alive throughout the tale.

And the ending—well, it’s both surprising and inevitable, which is how a good conclusion should be.

Put it all together and you get THE THINGITY-JIG, by Kathy Doherty and Kristyna Litten, released by Peachtree in April 2021.

Since I’m an idea person (you know Storystorm if you’ve spent any time on this blog), I asked Kathy how she arrived on her story concept.

When I’m asked where I get my story ideas, I say, “From reading piles of picture books…from everyday life…and from childhood memories.”

The idea for THE THINGITY-JIG sparked one day while I was walking in my neighborhood. I spotted a discarded couch. I thought back to my childhood when I’d jump on the couch when my parents weren’t looking. I could envision its gray nubby fabric and bullion fringe.

As I walked along, I played “what if?” What if a cub couldn’t sleep one night and wandered off into people town? What if he found a couch and had never seen one before? What would the cub do with it? What would he name it? What if he wanted to keep it? The more I played “what if?” the more the story took shape.

Thank you, Kathy! It’s such a fun book!

Blog readers, you can win a copy of THE THINGITY-JIG right here (if you don’t rush out to buy it immediaely).

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon.

(In fact, when I get back from vacation, I have a whole long list of winners to announce…)

Good luck!

Kathleen loves bringing kids and quality literature together. She’s a reading specialist and an educational specialist in curriculum and instruction. She’s written standardized test items for Pearson Inc. in alignment with the Common Core Standards. Her love of learning has led her to graduate from four different universities.

Nothing scares her. Kathleen has taught elementary school for over 30 years. A student once told her she’d make a great vampire because she’s tall and her teeth are sharp.

Kathleen was first published in TIME Magazine with a letter to the editor about Charles Schulz. Her work has also appeared in The Mailbox, Spider Magazine, Highlights Hello, Highlights High Five, and Highlights for Children. She’s won the Highlights Pewter Plate Award, the Highlights Celebrate National Poetry contest, and a letter of merit from SCBWI’s Magazine Merit Competition.

THE THINGITY-JIG received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews. Visit her online at