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Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky’s debut picture book just released! When she told me the premise, I knew she had to be on the blog…you’ll soon find out why…

Dianna, since I regularly discuss ideas on my blog, can you reveal where your concept for this book originated?

JAMES’ READING RESCUE is inspired by a  true story that I read on the internet a number of years ago. The mom of a young son (who struggled with reading) suggested he read to the cats at the rescue shelter where she volunteered. He improved his reading while helping to socialize the cats for adoption. It was a win-win story that captured my heart!

My own son struggled with reading when he was younger and I’ve been involved in animal rescue for 40 years. This story jumped off the page at me and I just knew that one day it would be a wonderful picture book—no matter how long it took! The rescue began a program called Book Buddies, involving dozens of children reading to the cats and was so successful that other rescues contacted them to find out more about their program. How can you go wrong with a story about reading and cats?  They just seem to naturally go together.

Wow! This story was meant for you!

My own kids have read to therapy dogs at the public library. In fact, I had only ever heard of dogs being the “read to” animal. What’s special about reading to cats instead?

Indeed, this story was meant for me! Cats often like the sound of a human voice and it is one of the best ways to help socialize them. So, reading to them is perfect. Some may seem to ignore you, but human presence, a gentle voice and stroking their fur, if they permit it, is a great way to help them become comfortable and “adoptable”. Some animals who have come from a home environment may have missed this human comfort and even seek it out with little readers!

I was not familiar with Clavis Publishing because they are based in Europe, although I understand they have a branch in New York. How did you connect with them?

You’re right, Clavis is based in Belgium but they also have a New York office. I researched all publishers who were accepting unsolicited work for children’s stories. Then I reviewed the types of stories they were publishing. I then submitted!

Clavis prints their books in both Dutch and English and market in Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

Good for you!

What do you hope readers will take away after reading your book?

A few things, actually!  Everyone struggles with something. Kindness matters even if no one witnesses it. Hard work really does pay off. Reading opens the world and love of (and from) animals opens our hearts. Rescue animals make wonderful family members and black cats (and dogs) are the least adopted because of their color. Please think of these facts next time you’re looking for a new friend!

You know, my new pet Phoebe is a black cat! I should read to her!

So, what else is on the horizon for you?

I have a couple of stories on submission at the moment, so I’m anxiously waiting to hear about them! I’ve also been busy with revisions on a few other stories and I’m hoping to submit them within the next couple of months. I also have some stories patiently waiting their turn to be written, so I’m excited to get to those and see where they lead!

Did anything about the publishing process surprise you?

Almost everything! As a new writer I was completely untutored in all the “must knows”—story arc, the rule of three and the terrible SHOW not tell!! And then the dreaded query letter…! It has been such a learning experience and the help of more experienced writers along the way has been invaluable.

Dianna, thanks for sharing your debut here!

Blog readers, you can win a copy of the book by leaving a comment below. A random winner will be chosen soon.

Good luck…and happy reading! (I hope you have a cat!)

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky has always been a passionate reader and animal lover. As a result, her children grew up in a house full of books and cats! She rediscovered her love of picture books reading to her children and it is the realization of a dream to now write for other children. She spent her childhood years on the Canadian prairies but she has lived in Montreal for many years, raising her family and working at McGill University.  Writing for children is both a pleasure and privilege that she hopes to enjoy for as long as possible! Find out more about her debut picture book at Clavis Publishing.

How lucky we all are to be in the midst of the most colorful time in picture books. Cultures from around the world feature prominently, like never before. You can truly visit the globe from the comfort of your living room couch.

Author Joana Pastro grew up in Brazil and she brings the joyous festival of Carnaval alive in her newest book, BISA’S CARNAVAL, due from Orchard Books/Scholastic on December 7th.

Joana, this book is so lively and colorful! Did seeing the illustrations by Carolina Coroa bring you back to the Carnaval of your childhood? 

Certainly! Carolina did such an amazing job capturing the energy, the excitement, the joy of Carnaval, and also the fact that in those five days, Brazil means Carnaval! Everything else in the country stops. It’s all a big celebration. I also want to add that because Brazil is a big country, each region has its own slightly different way to celebrate. The one featured in the book is the one that happens in the city of Olinda. Carolina portrayed Carnaval, and everything that’s unique to Olinda’s celebration, like the giant dolls, the geography and the buildings (by the way, a UNESCO World Heritage site), in the most beautiful way. I truly feel transported every time I read the book. I love it!

Sometimes the best stories are inspired from our own childhoods. The magic is that we can refine them to our liking! What from your childhood remains in the story and what did you change?

Joy, excitement, energy, craft-making, and especially love and family are the big elements that remained from my childhood.

As for changes, the first change is the location. Carnaval in my city was joyful, exciting and fun, but it pales in comparison to the festivity in other cities. I changed to Olinda, because of its unique cultural aspects, especially the giant dolls parading along the street side-by-side with the revelers. I was always fascinated by those. They’re very poetic to me. Another change was that, in my childhood, it was my mom, not my great-grandmother, whom I watched zig-zagging at the sewing machine. She made and fixed our clothes, and she’d do all sorts of crafts with us. That taught us to be mindful of our resources, recycle, and not discard things so easily, and also a great way to spend time together as a family.

How does your family celebrate Carnaval now that you’re in America? 

Unfortunately, I can’t say we celebrate it. We always know it’s happening, we follow it online and on TV, but that’s it. My children have always heard us talking about it, but it was only after I started writing BISA’S CARNAVAL that they became curious about it. In my interviews I always say that one of the reasons I wrote this book was because I wanted Brazilian-American children to feel proud of their heritage. I just realized that this is already happening with my own children. Who knew your interview would be so therapeutic?

What traditions do you follow and have you created any new ones?

Festa Junina is a religious festivity with dance, music, games, and lots of delicious food. We have our own version of that every year. It’s fun and there’s a lot of eating going on!

I love Christmas. It’s always been my favorite holiday. I decorate my whole house, we always have a baking and craft making session as a family, before actual decorating starts.

As Brazilian-Americans we’ve incorporated Halloween and Thanksgiving as a tradition. Halloween is about dressing up and candy. What’s not to like? When I first moved here, I loved the idea of Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates being being thankful. It took me a few years to realize its historical inaccuracies. Today I’m careful not to perpetuate them, and I focus on being grateful for our blessings.

Joana, thank you for sharing your beautiful version of Carnaval with us!

Blog readers, you can win a signed copy of BISA’S CARNAVAL. Just leave one comment below to enter. A random winner will be chosen at the end of the month.

Good luck!

Joana Pastro always wanted to be an artist of some sort. So, she became an architect. But once her first child was born, all the visits to the library, and the countless story times made Joana start dreaming of becoming a children’s book author. After a lot of reading, writing and revising, her dream came true. Her debut picture book, LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz, was published by Boyds Mills Press in 2020. Her second book, BISA’S CARNAVAL, illustrated by Carolina Coroa will be published by Scholastic  on December 7, 2021. Originally from Brazil, Joana now lives in Florida with her husband, her three extremely creative children, a rambunctious Morkie, and a needy Maltipoo. Visit her on Twitter @jopastro, Instagram @jopastro, or at

by Rosie J. Pova

I remember vividly the exact moment the title for the book popped into my head.

It was Thanksgiving Day and my family and I, along with some friends, had rented a cabin in the mountains in Colorado.

The turkey was in the oven, the salads and the sides were made, and I was bored. Everyone else had left to go to some hot springs and soak up, but I had stayed at the cabin to cook. On top of that, I had a cold and was quite miserable to go anywhere, anyway.

Luckily, Jack Canfield had a 2-hour pre-recorded webinar coming up for which I had registered. He was being interviewed, talking about his journey, his ups and downs, marketing and other interesting topics for authors.

I had watched that webinar a few times already and was pretty familiar with the content, but never tired of listening to Jack’s amazing journey to such tremendous success with his CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL series.

So, I was ready to soak up his wisdom once again.

As usual, his talk left me feeling inspired and motivated. I was in the mood to write.

I started brainstorming catchy titles for a story that would be fun to write. I asked myself, what would be a title that stands out, is intriguing, memorable, and fun to say all at the same time?

Suddenly, it came: THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE. I liked it! Then I thought of an interesting opening sentence. I was trying to amuse myself… hoping that I’d create one of those classic, memorable opening lines.

What followed was, The school of failure was located in the middle of nowhere, but it was the center of everything! I was delighted with my progress and continued to write the first draft that day.

That was a great feeling, it cheered me up, making me forget I was under the weather. And even though the starting of my day seemed like a bit of a fail, it was well worth it to have this time to myself and end up with a completely new story. I was grateful—maybe this was a divine plan after all.

Fast forward a few years, many, many revisions later, and the story sold!

Many more revisions after that, my precious little opening sentence ended up being cut, but the title stayed with the addition of a subtitle: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS.

Now finally, I am pleased to share it with the world, and hoping it finds its own success in the homes and hearts of many readers.

Thank you all for celebrating this book with me.

And now, the reveal…the cover by Monika Filipina…

P.S. I did find a way to sneak that opening sentence in to the book—it’s now included in my Author’s note!

Thank you, Rosie, for sharing this cover with us! And some adorable story characters…

Rosie is also giving away a 30-minute consulting phone call (or Zoom, depending on your location) to chat about any writing or publishing questions you have for her.

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon!

Good luck!

Rosie J. Pova is a marginalized, multi-published, and award-winning children’s author, poet, speaker, and school presenter. She is also a Writing Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District, an instructor with Writing Workshops Dallas, teaching online picture book courses to children’s writers, and Rate Your Story judge.

Her latest picture book, SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana/Lerner, March 2021), was featured in The New York Times and Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A Story About Success will be released in 2021 in China and in spring of 2022 in the USA from Yeehoo Press. She has three other children’s books in print as well.

Rosie has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women’s and mom’s topics.

Originally from Bulgaria, she now lives in Dallas, TX with her family. 

Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @RosiePOV.

by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

This is the dedication from my new book ADRIFT, available September 7, 2021 Oct. 26, 2021 November 9, 2021*:

For my mother Jane and my daughter Maddison—in their own boats in this same storm. And the two beautiful friends who helped make this a book: Nina before the story and Hannah after.

OK, I know that’s a weird way to begin a blog post. And, frankly, this might be a totally different (weird?) way to introduce a book. But, stick with me.

In the early days of 2020, just as I was about to get on a plane and teach writing in Alabama with my mother (author Jane Yolen) then visit my daughter Maddison in Georgia on the way home, the world ground to a halt. We were locked down. I was alone and scared. I am not ashamed to admit, I spent many days pacing and crying. I know my experience isn’t unique. We were all, in our own ways, struggling. Families were stuck inside together or kept apart from each other. Educators were scrambling. Creatives were trying to figure out how to create through the stress and uncertainty.

In a conversation one evening, my friend Nina—the one from the dedication (Nina Victor Crittenden, a talented author/illustrator) said to me “we may be in our own boats, but we are all in the same storm.” I know she didn’t make it up, but the metaphor stuck with me. I went to bed thinking about that storm. And, I woke thinking about it. After being an author for 26 years, I knew that was my brain telling me to write that story. I opened my computer and typed, “One tiny mouse on one tiny boat pitched back and forth, adrift on the churning seas…”

I often write just for the sake of writing. Clearing out what is in my head. I wrote a lot of poems about my fears during the pandemic. They were never meant to be published—a deep cleansing breath of words onto the page. When I couldn’t stand the sadness of being so far away from my daughter, I wrote about doing yoga with her over Zoom. I still can’t read this without crying.


The best part
of my day,
is filled with
One thousand miles away,
my daughter opens a room
on the internet
and I enter.
She instructs me to breathe,
in and out.
In and out.
And I do.
But, my breathing
is not for centering myself.
Oceanic breath
means nothing to me.
My pranayama
is a long sigh
of relief.
One more day she is healthy,
even if too far away
from me.
I do all the poses
and stretches
and impossible bends.
In truth,
they are getting easier
for these old bones.
But, I would walk across
hot coals
if that’s what it took
to see her face,
hear her voice,
know she is safe.
Close your eyes,
she instructs. Think
of something you are
grateful for.
I should be thinking
I should be one with
the intention.
But, I am bad
at yoga rules.
I look across those
one thousand miles
into those
oceanic blue eyes
and I know exactly what
I am grateful for.

©2020 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

That first morning, writing ADRIFT was like that. The purging of anxiety onto the page. In that white hot writing—the first draft when you are madly chasing along after the plot without having any idea where your character is taking you—there is just story, not yet book. I think I read it to friends over Zoom that night. I remember tears. Mine. Maybe theirs, too. Who knows. There were so many tears in those early days. We all needed that deep cleansing breath. It probably wasn’t particularly good, yet. But, it resonated. Like Little Mouse in my story, the contact with my own community was so necessary. So healing. My friends encouraged me to try to sell it. First, of course—revision.

Revision, my mother will tell you, is the opportunity to re-imagine, re-envision your work. When I am grumpy about revising—and I am always grumpy about revising—I remember that.

Then a funny thing happened—one of those things that, if you wrote it in a novel, your editor would tell you it’s not believable. But, it happened nonetheless. Michel Moushabek, the publisher of Interlink/Crocodile Books either posted on social media or emailed my mother (these stories get murky as they get further in the past) and mentioned the quote that Nina had said to me. He asked if she would consider writing a picture book based on it. She said, funny you should ask, I have just read that manuscript! My agent sent it right away.

Hannah Moushabek is a marketing genius. This isn’t my opinion. Look her up. She is presently working for Simon & Schuster (who did not publish ADRIFT but did publish my other 2 books that came out this year, TOUCAN WITH TWO CANS and PEOPLE SHAPES). In her (very) spare time, she acquires and edits picture books for Interlink/Crocodile. She is the Hannah in my dedication—who helped me after the story. Hannah found Anastasia Suvorova who created evocative, deeply moody, hope-filled illustrations. Anastasia created a color arc to the story that made visual what I had written. Blue-gray to peachy pink—fear to hope.  Hannah took my words and Anastasia’s illustrations and created a book.

That should be the end of the story, right? Today my book comes out and people get to read it! Yeah!



* As we know now, 2021 had its own ideas of how it would unfold. Enter a new storm—global supply chain issues. ADRIFT was supposed to come out September 7 when the pandemic was over and we were hip-deep in our long-awaited joyous celebrations of togetherness! None of that happened. We are still in the middle of the pandemic and we are not fully back together. Also, you may have noticed, September 7 has come and gone. And, if you check Amazon today, you will notice that the pub date is now November 9, 2021. This change happened just one week ago. I am lucky—we saw this coming and moved the pub date, the first time, back in July. And, I am a patient sort (who has been in the book business a LONG time), so while this last-minute change is inconvenient, I have decided it just means I will celebrate ADRIFT’s book birthday for the full two weeks between today and November 9th.  Others, friends with books tied to anniversaries and holidays, specific days meaningful to their stories, have not been so lucky—in their case, ‘late books’ translates to substantial loss of sales. I mention this because I want to honor how hard it has been for everyone launching a book. And, I want to encourage you to not overlook books that are on backorder. We can all wait a little, right We book creators are trying to all keep our heads and spirits up and keep bringing you beautiful, hopeful, empowering, funny, gorgeous, silly, and thoughtful books. Sometimes it is hard. On days like today, or maybe November 9th, when my book is finally out in the world, on shelves, and in small hands, it’s much nicer.

This past year and a half has been so difficult on so many levels. But it also helped me slow down and reprioritize my life. It made me look at community, including the 4 amazing women in the dedication of ADRIFT, in new and important ways—those moments where I, like Little Mouse, have held my loved ones “close enough to feel them near, but not close enough to crash.” Honestly, ADRIFT is my hope for our future—for every kid to know that alone and afraid may be part of life, but there is always something wonderful to look forward to after the storm—metaphoric or real.

Have I not told you enough about the book itself? Probably not. Sorry. Here’s the elevator pitch:

Finding himself alone and scared in the middle of a storm, a small mouse finds comfort and strength when he sees another boat and is joined by others. They ride out the storm together―close enough to see each other, but not close enough to crash. In a gentle metaphor for the global pandemic, ADRIFT is a way to start conversations with young readers about fear, hope and being together even from afar.

I hope you love ADRIFT. I hope you share it with the children in your life. And, I hope my words and the magnificent art by Anastasia Suvorova give you hope and joy even when times are stormy.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for sharing, Heidi!

Blog readers, don’t go drifting off! You can win a signed copy of ADRIFT!

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon.

Good luck!

Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than thirty-five books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.

Heidi lives and writes on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with one very large cat who lives inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside. Once a year she calls owls for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Follow her online at, on Twitter @heidieys and Instagram @heidieys.

Thinking Outside the Box:

You know what else has been SO HARD this year? Promoting your book. We have all had to not only pivot from in-person to online book events, but we have had to figure out how to promote our books without the stuff we all count on—book festivals, school visits, books store signings…

How do you get a signed copy of ADRIFT?

You can purchase autographed and personalized copies of ADRIFT through my local bookstores:

Odyssey Bookshop, Hadley MA
High Five, Florence, MA
The Carle Museum, Amherst, MA (413) 559-6333
BookLinks, Northampton, MA (413) 585-9955 or through

What do you do once you have a copy of ADRIFT:

If you purchase a book from your own bookseller, I will send you a signed bookplate: email your address to

If you are an educator and have purchased or preordered ADRIFT, send a copy of your receipt to: and they will send you a link to a recording of me reading ADRIFT for your classroom.

I will be doing an online event with Odyssey Books on Wednesday, Nov 3 at 6:30pm EST, with or without books!

by Karen M. Greenwald

I’m often asked why I wrote A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR (illustrated by Sian James)? The funny thing is that I didn’t really feel like it was a choice. It needed to be told. Sometimes, you just know. But when I think about the three and half years it took to create this book, the question could easily be rephrased.

What made you go spelunking through gazillions of documents, newspapers, and articles and scale enormous barriers (there were many!) in search of the one thing that would allow this piece of history to fit the picture book format?

Whew! Yes, finding the key to unlocking her story took a lot of work. But Susanna’s election in 1887 offers so many lessons for children (and adults). While many of the challenges she faced are still relevant today, most people have never heard of her. Thrust into the center of a public prank, Susanna had to make a difficult choice that would impact her life and her family’s future. Clearly, bullying is a problem many children sadly deal with daily. I knew that learning about how this woman was bullied would make her story come to life and feel relatable to kids today.

Even winning didn’t change her treatment. Papers worldwide focused attention on her weight, dishwashing, and clothing—not on her education or other qualifications. Notice any parallels between coverage of her and women today? Despite the press, women and men around the world wrote to Susanna. They said she gave them hope that equity was possible. Wouldn’t it be amazing if her bravery and victory could inspire children to treat each other with more respect today?

Finally, Susanna’s win didn’t happen in a vacuum. Argonia was part of her journey and triumph. Yet, history has long brushed them and this important election aside. I wrote my book to continue the conversation Mayor Salter and her community began—one that touches on ending bullying, finding compromise, and building unity. I know these topics will spark important discussions in school and at home, showing children the power a vote and belief in oneself can yield.

Two weeks ago, the National Women’s History Museum held my book’s launch. I couldn’t catch most of the chat—it streamed so fast. But one post while I spoke caught my eye. It was from Susanna’s great grandson (I knew he was coming), “Susanna’s great-great granddaughter is also listening and is loving hearing more about her. She’s bringing this book to her 5th grade class next week where they are talking about gender stereotypes in class—this book will be a perfect addition to the conversation. Thank you for a new family treasure!”

So why did I write this book? What better answer could I give?

Thank you, Karen! I didn’t know about Susannah until your book! Thank you for writing it!

And as a thank you to you for reading about A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, Karen is giving away a half-hour Zoom consult to talk about writing picture books. I often chat with Karen via Zoom, so I can confirm what a delight she is!

Leave one comment below to enter.

A winner will be chosen at the end of the month.

Good luck!

Karen M. Greenwald has a wide range of government, campaign, and branding experience. She’s won international awards for STEM creative, writing, video, rebranding, and self-promotion. Bylined credits include online, print magazines, and The Washington Post. Karen belongs to SCBWI, 12×12, and co-founded #SunWriteFun—a NF/Informational fiction summer contest that raises money for kidlit charities. Her picture book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR, debuted in October (Albert Whitman). It has held steady since February on two of Amazon’s Hot New Releases lists for kids. A Phi Beta Kappa, she earned undergraduate and JD degrees from Georgetown University. Before turning to branding, Karen worked as an attorney and focused on international environmental compliance issues. Follow her on Twitter @karenmgreenwald.

…because they’ll change!


Let me explain.

For a dozen years, this post on picture book dummies has been one of this site’s most popular articles.

It presents guidance on page breaks and how many a picture book can sustain.

I first learned about the picture book format when an editor told me my 500-word PB was “too long”. I didn’t understand. She then asked me to mark natural page breaks. I took a pen and went swoop, here! Swoop, there! Swoop, swoop, ta-da swoop! Turns out I had 42 gazillion breaks!

She drew the diagrams above on the back of my manuscript and told me that I had to focus on scenes as well as words. That day, everything about my writing changed. I was embarrassed that I had been writing picture books without any idea of how they were formatted.

The point of the dummy article I wrote (the second I got home) is to inform PB writers about format, like I was informed that day. Every genre has a standard length and general format. To sell a story, you need to familiarize yourself with said format. A picture book is different than a magazine short story, a graphic novel and countless other literary forms.

Plugging your PB manuscript into this format does many things for your story, like demonstrating which scenes have too many words, which have too few, which are necessary, and which can be tossed. It’s also a telltale way to determine if you have changed the scene on a regular basis. It’s a PICTURE book, so the same scene on multiple pages can get ho-hum, hum-drum. Pacing a picture book, with page-turn surprises, is key to its readability.

OK, so you know all this.

Well, also know that it all could CHANGE.

Once an editor buys a manuscript for publication, they may have a different vision for certain spreads and page breaks. Don’t be alarmed; they’re typically genius moves.

“Case” in point: in THE UPPER CASE, the 2nd book in the 7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I series, I sprinkled punctuation mark characters throughout the story. My editor at the time, Tracey Keevan, suggested we instead get them all onto one spread. AHA! However, I didn’t feature enough punctuation to make that spread visually interesting. So, I added Period, Apostrophe and Comma—even the babies p and q. Then I wrote them all onto a single spread, and Ross MacDonald worked his magic. Voila!

There’s a reason why you need to be cognizant of page breaks—an editor will sense them as they read your manuscript. But there’s also a reason why I don’t recommend submitting a manuscript marked up with them (unless specifically requested)—they may change as the editor edits your story. (Plus those few words interrupt the flow of the story.)

The layout guides above are there to teach the picture book format so eventually you can internalize it. After writing many manuscripts, you’ll be able to create picture books without plugging them into a dummy at all. Those logical scene changes will appear in your story without you even realizing it.

In short—be aware of page breaks, but be flexible, too!


The 3rd book in the 7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I series, TIME FLIES, is zooming your way in April 2022!

In the colorful and letter-filled Capital City, there’s never a moment’s rest for Private I, the city’s best investigator. Trouble seems to always have a way of finding him—trouble with a capital T. On this particular day, T tells Private I that his watch is missing. And T isn’t alone—the citizens of Capital City have lost track of timepieces all over town! Can Private I catch the perp and make up for lost time before it’s too late?

Click here to pre-order!

by Sharon Giltrow

I would like to take the time to thank Tara for hosting my cover reveal for my next picture book GET READY, MAMA! I ‘met’ Tara a long time ago in 2014, when I first participated in PiBoIdMo (now known as Storystorm), and I appreciate the time Tara gives to support everyone in the KidLit community.

GET READY, MAMA! is a role reversal/how-to story, about a child who has to get her mama ready for the day. In particular the amount of time it takes to do this and the order of events.

Time is familiar to us all, but it is often hard to define and understand. For me it is easier to think of time as a sequence of events. What has happened (the past), what is happening (the present), and what will happen (the future).

In the past (2018) I wrote GET READY, MAMA! It took a long time to write, revise, and re-write my book. Then it took even more time to get a publishing deal (2020).

In GET READY, MAMA the mama is sleeping, which is in the past.

In the present (2021) I am doing a cover reveal for GET READY, MAMA!

In GET READY MAMA the mama is getting ready, which is in the present.

And now it is time for the cover reveal with art by Arielle Li…

Written by: Sharon Giltrow
Illustrated by: Arielle Li
Published by: EK Books, April 2022

Getting Mama ready for the day can be a challenge… you’d better watch out that she doesn’t sneak back into bed, try to distract you with cuddles, get breakfast all over her top, or… wait, is Mama watching TV?! Learn how to get Mama up and ready despite her mischievous delaying tactics with this essential guide to dealing with morning mayhem!

In the future (2022) GET READY, MAMA will be released. You will have to wait for that to happen. It may feel like a long time to you! So, to make the waiting easier here is a sneaky peek from GET READY, MAMA!

Best of all, you can pre-order it now in the present, and receive it later, in the future.

Thanks, Sharon! Now, let’s get ready for a giveaway!

You can win a copy of GET READY, MAMA when it releases in the future. Take the time now, in the present, to leave a comment to enter. 

A random winner will be selected soon.

I know what you are saying, in the past you have never won anything, but today could be your lucky day. Good luck!

Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. Sharon has taught for all of her career. Previously a teacher of children who are hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind, she now teaches young children with Developmental Language Disorder. Her humorous debut PB, BEDTIME DADDY! released May 2020 through EK Books. CONNECT with Sharon on Instagram and Twitter.

The times we’ve been living through feel drained of color, don’t they? It’s similar to Pruett’s world in Nancy Viau’s latest picture book, PRUETT AND SOO.

Pruett is from Planet Monochrome, where everything is black, white, and gray, and everyone follows the rules and walks in straight lines. And they never, ever ask or answer questions.

But then Soo arrives from Planet Prismatic. She’s bursting with brilliant colors! She zigs and zags all over the place! When she asks Pruett questions, he finds he wants to reply…and his whole world starts to change.

With a palette that shifts from grayscale to full color, this engaging story reminds us that what you feel defines who you are—and sometimes a friend helps you see that best.


Nancy, can you tell us about PRUETT’s journey to print?

PRUETT AND SOO sold to Two Lions waaaay back in the spring of 2017. After the first round of initial revisions, all was quiet for about a year. Jorge Lacera was brought on board to do the illustrations, and that’s when the story went through countless, but amazing and extremely detailed, revisions—For. The. Next. Three. Years.

Since the whole color palette had to change S L O W L Y from black and white to full color, every spread had to subtly sneak in a teeny bit more color. Jorge did a terrific job with this, and I am grateful for his hard work and that of the entire editorial team at Two Lions. They perfected every bit of crazy punctuation, every line, every unique color for dialogue, and more.

Funny story: After many revisions, no one noticed that in the first line I referred to Pruett as an alien. A very savvy editor noted right before the F&G was finalized that since Pruett is from the planet where the story takes place, he is NOT an alien! Only Soo is. Good catch, right? This is why we value lots of editors looking over our work!

PRUETT AND SOO blasts into our universe on March 22, 2022.

And now for the reveal:

Congratulations, Nancy!

Blog readers, you can win an F&G of PRUETT & SOO. Just leave one comment below to enter. 

A random winner will be selected later this month.

Good luck!

NANCY VIAU is the author of the picture books TODAY IS A BEACH DAY!, FIRST SNOW, STORM SONG, and more. Her middle-grade novels include SOMETHING IS BUGGING SAMANTHA HANSEN, SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD (updated for 2019), and others. A former teacher and kid-at-heart, Viau loves to visit schools, libraries, and bookstores across the U.S. to present assembly programs and writing workshops. She currently lives in New Jersey and travels around the solar system in her imagination. Connect with Nancy on Twitter or Instagram @NancyViau1 or via her site:

by Patti Richards

I’m so excited to be here today to talk about my new picture book, MRS. NOAH (Little Lamb Books)! The book sets sail on October 19th but will be available for pre-sale on October 5. It’s about the unsung hero of the Ark story, Mrs. Noah, and all she does to get the ark ready AFTER Noah decides the job is done.

It seems like every idea I add to my Storystorm list each year has its own story, and MRS. NOAH’s is one of my favorites. So, here’s how it all happened:

I was packing my family for a big trip to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was our very first cruise and I was running around like a crazy woman trying to prep for the two-day drive to Florida (we thought that would be fun…yep). So along with planning for the actual cruise, I had to book hotel rooms and make sure everyone had enough clean clothes and toiletries for the two days before and the two days after. Not to mention buying up enough pet supplies and snacks for our house sitter, stopping the mail, making sure everyone had a swimsuit and shoes that fit, plus paying all the bills and getting the house cleaned before we could leave. My husband, who always helps, had to work extra hours so we could have this week away. This meant he was at the office until late every night, so I was on my own. And just six weeks earlier, my son had undergone a big surgery to remove a benign tumor from his skull base, so there were follow up appointments to get the “all clear” just a few days before we left. Needless to say, I was a shipwreck waiting to happen.

Somewhere in all of the craziness, I had this thought… “If I’m this stressed trying to get everything done before we leave for our cruise, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get everything ready for an ark full of animals and the rest of her family?” This made me laugh out loud. The idea of Mrs. Noah settled in and stayed (I call ideas like this “God whispers”) and by the time the trip was over, I had the first lines of the story in my head.

When I got home, I immediately put MRS. NOAH on my Storystorm list, and that’s where it stayed for six years (yes, you read that right)! Each year I’d sign up for Storystorm, and each year I’d add MRS. NOAH to my list at some point during the month. I wanted so much to write this story, but other projects kept bumping it out of the way. Then, in 2018, I was able to quit my full-time freelance writing job, and for the first time in more than 25 years as a writer, focus completely on my work for children. That’s when the idea finally became a first draft. After a year of sharing it with my critique group, revising, sharing and revising again (I had a total of 13 versions at this point), I saw that a Twitter event called #FaithPitch was coming up and I thought, “Why not?” and I pitched the title throughout the day but didn’t get any love.

Fast forward to February of 2019—I had completed another manuscript (also a Storystorm idea) that I thought might be a good fit for a faith-based publisher. I found three small houses that were taking unsolicited submissions and I sent in that manuscript. Months went by. It was now October and I was enjoying a writing retreat day with my critique group. We’d taken a break and I was checking email and there it was…a message from Little Lamb Books about the manuscript I had submitted called MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. In that email Rachel Pellegrino said they were interested in acquiring this story, but was MRS. NOAH still available? She’d seen it on #Faithpitch and if I hadn’t sold it, they’d like to have both and publish MRS. NOAH first. WHAT?!

I couldn’t believe it. After so many years in the submission trenches, I was finally getting a “Yes,” and not just for the book I’d submitted, but for MRS. NOAH too! And how sweet to get it when I was with my critique group who knew MRS. NOAH well and loved her as much as I did.

That’s the story behind the story! The real Mrs. Noah’s ark journey was 40 days and 40 nights and then some. My MRS. NOAH’s journey was 9 years. One started on an ark and the other on a cruise ship, but both have an ending full of promise and good things to come. I want to thank Tara for giving us the inspiration each year through Storystorm to always be on the lookout for new ideas. You never know what can happen when you look at an old, well-known story and see something new!

Wonderful, Patti! Congratulations on your dual picture book success!

Blog readers, Patti is giving away a PB critique to celebrate.

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be chosen in October.

Good luck!

Patti Richards lives with her family in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first children’s story, “Fishing on the Black Volta,” was published in Boy’s Quest Magazine. She has three nonfiction books, an ebook, and is part of the award-winning poetry collection, THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE. Patti’s work has also been featured in Highlights Magazine and she’s been a Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain honoree twice. She enjoys reading, gardening, singing, playing the piano, painting and tending to her flock, which includes Gracie the dog, Barnabas, the big black puppy, and Willow the cat. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @pattigrichards.

Doing anything tonight?

Now you are!

It’s the annual Carle Honor Awards, virtually. Reserve your spot now!

The Carle is the international champion for picture books. They collect, preserve, and present picture books and picture-book illustrations for audiences passionate about children’s literature.

Every year before this prestigious event, I ask the Honorees a question about picture books and their influence on our lives and world. This year, the question came to me immediately:

In this challenging time, how can picture books and children’s literature provide a sense of normalcy to young readers?

Carl Lennertz, Every Child a Reader
Angel Honoree

“During these times, young people—and adults—need a place for quiet and escape, and what better place than on the pages of children’s books filled with beautiful pictures and intriguing words. What happier thing than to see kids playing together in a picture book, if they can’t otherwise, or to see a delicious strawberry and a hungry caterpillar? I do feel, however, that kids are much wiser than we give them credit for, and they know something big and scary is going on, and that they don’t always want to be treated like, what?, children. This is also a time to keep their minds open and engaged, not withdrawn. As a society, we need to keep moving forward with all forms of knowledge about history, current events, and, yes, how things need to change. We need the children to lead us, as we haven’t done a job at all about social injustices, hunger and health, the state of the planet and so much more.”


Justin Schiller and Dennis David
Bridge Honorees

“With picture books we experience a doorway to the imagination and the ability for children’s literature to guide the reader beyond the physicality of words where images take over to generate one’s own creative expression within the actual storyline. Maurice Sendak once told me that his artwork expands the text a hundredfold and the reader can interpret the story well beyond the actual meaning of the individual words. This also cultivates and enriches the experience beyond the physical pages of a book.”


Patricia Aldana
Mentor Honoree

“Picture books, especially when read aloud, talked about, reread, and available for picking up at will, and finding over and over again, are one of the greatest gifts a child can receive. [International Board on Books for Young People] IBBY’s work with children in crisis all over the world has shown us what a remarkably helpful thing it is for a child to have a caring adult sharing wonderful books with [them].”


Raúl Colón

Artist Honoree

“Picture books take the readers to another world. Or at least through some sort of journey. Especially wordless picture books, which make the mind enjoy the trip a little more. Now the observers have to decipher what they see in front of them. Bring some sort of coherence to all the visuals that remain in a certain order in their eyes. Once they’re lost in that visual adventure, they leave the physical space they find themselves in, and fly away to another place—the difficult times left behind, if only for a moment. However, the lingering effects of a good story may last for hours—or even a lifetime.”


Congratulations to the Honorees and thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Visit for more about the museum and tonight’s event!

The Carle Honors Honorees are selected each year by a committee chaired by children’s literature historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus, who was central to the founding of the Honors. The committee recognizes four distinct awards: Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field; Angel, whose generous resources are crucial to making illustrated children’s book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; Mentor, editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form; and Bridge, individuals or organizations who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields.

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My Picture Books


illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
January 2, 2022

illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 2022

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