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by Maria Gianferrari


The Katz is out of the bag!! Tomorrow’s the book birthday of my latest picture book, OFFICER KATZ & HOUNDINI: A TALE OF TWO TAILS, illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou. Aladdin gets extra points for fitting two very long surnames on its spine!


Since the blog tour’s kicking off right here at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), I thought I’d celebrate its release with a sneak peek at some of my favorite images from the book.

There are two kinds of magic in the book. The first is a kind of practical magic. Officer Katz is an inventor. This is his most prized and pawsome invention, the Katzapult:


Houndini’s magic is more elusive. Like his namesake, Houdini, he’s an escape artiste, practiced in the art of disappearance. I love his exuberance as he bursts out of a box here:

Officer Katz and Houndini have sidekicks, Deputy Catbird and Squirrel.


And I absolutely adore the hilarious endpapers:


Which place would you like to visit, New Pork, or perhaps Mane?

Leave a comment, and you will be eligible for one of THREE prizes:

  1. A query pass from agent extraordinaire, Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary (either a query plus a whole PB manuscript or a query plus first five novel pages).
  2. A picture book critique from Maria—either fiction or nonfiction.
  3. Your own copy of OFFICER KATZ & HOUNDINI (US residents only—sorry!).

Thanks again for having me here, Tara! It was pawsitively purrfect!

The prizes will be given away in early November.


Tuesday, Oct. 18th: Librarian’s Quest
Wednesday, Oct. 19th: Bildebok
Thursday, Oct. 20th: Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love
Friday, Oct. 21st: Pragmaticmom + THREE book giveaway
Monday, Oct. 24th: Homemade City
Tuesday, Oct. 25th: ReFoReMo THINK QUICK Interview with Carrie Charley Brown


Thank you, PiBoIdMo participants, guest bloggers and illustrators. Do you know what you did?

You helped me raise $433.62 to donate to RIF, Reading is Fundamental.



Your purchases via the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop made it possible.


With Carol Hampton Rasco, CEO of RIF

For every $10 donated, RIF is able to distribute four books to a child in need.



So last month I made my way down to RIF Headquarters in D.C. I toured their offices and talked with RIF staff about the important work they’re doing.

One staff member had just returned from a county in Appalachia, where 28% of the schoolchildren were officially homeless, and where even more lived in crowded trailers with multiple families apiece.

The school Principal told RIF that amazingly, their test scores rose from 9th percentile to the 22nd percentile in just one year. To what did they attribute that growth? RIF! Now that these children have books of their own, they’re able to continue learning at home and over the summer break instead of being left behind. Books are AMAZING. But you already knew that, right?

As part of my trip to RIF, my publisher, the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster, donated 100 copies of THE MONSTORE to the children at Bancroft Elementary in Washington, D.C. I was honored to appear at the school to talk to the children about writing and to personally sign every copy.



The best moment of the day? When I told the children they’d each be going home with a copy of my book. They cheered and hoorayed, and two besties in the front row hugged each other so tight they tumbled over in joy. Now that’s a great day for any author. Thank you, Aladdin and RIF!




I have something else important to tell you.

RIF’s donations have taken a plummet in recent times. The economy has hit them hard. So please consider donating directly. Remember $10 = 4 books!


Donate here. Or here.

And again, thank you for making the PiBoIdMo donation possible!

Every sale from the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop will continue to benefit RIF!


Shirt design by Tory Novikova and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!

Shirt design by Carter Higgins and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!

Shirt design by Carter Higgins and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!


Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious does not even begin to describe the week I’ve been having! I know, I know, why should YOU care? Frankly, I don’t know. The fact that anyone other than my mother reads this blog blows my mind.

First, on Friday, my agent said she loves the 900-word picture book I just wrote. Who knew that many words was possible? I tend to stick to the 500-is-best rule, but this story was too librarious (made-up word) to fit in such a tiny space. So it’s busting out into the world and I hope it writes home soon. Au revoir, dahlink!

Next, I spoke at the RUCCL One-on-One Plus conference. And people thanked me for my speech! To know that I helped a few mentees feel less nervous that day—whoa! Mission accomplished.

And now, I have an announcement!

Drum roll please….

Oh, you’re an animal, Animal!

I have an illustrator for I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, 2014)!

And he is full of awesome sauce! (Although he’s from the UK, so that might be called “admirable gravy” across the pond, I dunno.)

Without further ado (and I do a lot of ado), it’s…

(No, that’s not Benji in the picture. Although I think that may be me on a non-showering day.)

Benji is the admirable gravy behind such books as WINSTON WAS WORRIEDDINO PARADE and HODGE THE HEDGEHOG (which I mistakenly thought was about John Hodgeman), plus the delightful interactive book app series from Nosy Crow, BIZZY BEAR.

So can you tell I’m absolutely tickled to have him working on my book?

This is one of the most exciting parts of being a picture book author—finding out who your illustrator will be and falling in book love. (Not to be confused with marriage love, as I am already taken by a dashing computer geek. And yes, you can use the words “dashing” and “computer geek” in the same sentence. Although to the computer geek, it may have a programming connotation.)

So check out Benji’s work, congratulate him, and also give him fair warning that he’s working with an absolute nut. He may require counseling after the book launch.

After all, I called him “admirable gravy”!

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