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by Jill Esbaum

Thanks, Tara, for hosting my cover reveal for STINKBIRD HAS A SUPERPOWER!

Cover of ANGRY BIRDS PLAYGROUND: A cheetah on the prowl, surrounded by foliage, with the red angry bird at the top left and the yellow at the bottom right, with angry faces, looking on.This book idea was sparked by a work-for-hire project for National Geographic Kids, Angry Birds Playground: Rain Forest. There I was, cramming my days with Amazon animal research, and … yeesh. Life in the Amazon is a big-time, bloody example of eat-or-be-eaten. And it was starting to get me down. (Maybe watching all those gobbledy-grisly videos wasn’t such a hot idea.)

But then a breath of fresh air blew in. The hoatzin. A leaf eater. A bird that bothers nobody, and nobody bothers it. Why? Because it smells to high heaven—like cow poop, thanks to its four-chambered, slow-mo digestive system. Golly, that cheered me up. Further research showed it to be a great singer (not), a great flyer (not), and a great nest-builder (um…). Best of all, their chicks have what might be called (if you’re me) a SUPERPOWER unlike any other bird in the whole entire world!

Well, how could I not play around with THAT idea? So I wrote an informational fiction manuscript from Papa Hoatzin’s POV.

A hoatzin standing on the top of a tree. He has spiky orange feathers at the top of his head, a turquoise patch around his eye area, and long grey-brown feathers around his body. Ugly thing.

And no editor got it.

In my 25 years of submitting, this manuscript actually holds the record for most rejections (so far *knock wood*). Hmm, maybe it was a little long. And, okay, a little over-written. But I’m stubborn, so, all along the way, I kept going back and tweaking. More rejections. Finally, I hit upon the idea of adding one of Papa’s chicks to the mix, making it funny, and WHEW, everything clicked.

A dream editor at Putnam snapped up my manuscript, had me tweak again, got the hilarious BOB SHEA to illustrate (I KNOW!), and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, here’s the cover:

Cover of STINKBIRD HAS A SUPERPOWER. Lettering in bold bubble letters with "Stinkbird" turquoiise, "has a" small and in pink, and "superpoower" in a neon-ish green. The stinkbird is stinkin' cute, a little birdie with purple body and large cartoon eyes with the turquoise patch around them. There are cuteness "stars" surrounding him as he prances on a white and grey branch, surrounded by large cartoon leaves and foliage.

STINKBIRD HAS A SUPERPOWER will release May 16th, 2023, to be followed in 2024 by the second book in the series, the equally amazing PARROTFISH HAS A SUPERPOWER. I am so proud of these books. Kiddos will love ’em and boy, will adults have fun reading them aloud.

Get your dibs in now, because this baby is available for PRE-ORDER!

Thanks, Jill! It looks SUPER!

And blog readers, the amazing Jill Esbaum is giving away a picture book critique!

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected in October.

Good luck!

Jill Esbaum is a widely published author of books for young readers. She is a frequent school visitor and conference speaker. She teaches writing for children at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter at @JEsbaum

I’m thrilled to host the cover reveal for a story I have longed to see in print. The lovely Marcie Colleen is here to show it to you and tell the tale of her own literary love triangle…on Valentine’s Day no less!!!

by Marcie Colleen

When I first set out to write a picture book titled LOVE, TRIANGLE (see the origin of the idea for the book here) I just wanted to tell a punny story that hopefully someone would want to publish someday. But my meager expectations were highly exceeded. In fact, the entire journey of this book has been unlike anything I could have ever imagined and I have my very own “triangle of amazing-ness” to thank.

First, my agent, Susan Hawk, who first realized the potential in this story when it was simply a concept pitched to her during our courting phase. And although it took me almost two years after signing with her to write it, she remained a cheerleader the entire time, bubbling with excitement when she spoke of the work-in-progress to editors. Eventually, the manuscript was completed and we found ourselves in a five-house auction situation! Now for those of you who don’t know what that means, an auction is when more than one publishing house wants the story and are willing to try and bid for it. (Sorry to say, book auctions do not include paddles, large hats, or a gavel, in case you were wondering.)


For about a week I met with the interested editors on the phone. We discussed what each house envisioned for the book and how they intended to market it. We discussed potential illustrators and possible design. They even asked for my ideas. It was so surreal.

Finally, the day of the auction came (again, no paddles or giant hats but I did have a mimosa-fueled auction party with some of my closest girlfriends).

After everything was said and done, I signed a two-book deal with Alessandra Balzer, Publisher at Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. I had always admired Alessandra’s work and had heard her speak once at a conference. As I told her during our pre-auction conversation, I was a “first time caller, longtime fan.” She was the perfect choice for the Apex of this literary love triangle.

But, our team did not become complete until Bob Shea signed on to illustrate.

Bob. Shea. (Now do you know why I call this a literary love triangle?! I mean, this team is the best of the best!)

Now, I love Bob’s work. Funny thing is, several years prior I had heard Bob speak on a panel at Books of Wonder in New York City. It was there that I first met him and he signed a book for me. I was only an aspiring writer at the time and Bob wrote “Good luck with the writing.” Thanks for the luck, Bob! I think it worked!

The story of book-smart Square and sporty Circle who are best friends until a dynamic Triangle shows up releases on October 3, 2017.

In the meantime, take a look at this freakin’ awesome cover!


Hey, we even have the BACK cover…so we cover all the angles…


Marcie is giving away a signed F&G (folded & gathered proof) of LOVE, TRIANGLE to one lucky commenter. Leave a comment below to enter. If you SHARE this cover reveal, you receive another entry. Just comment again telling us where you shared the LOVE.


Me announce winner of ME WANT PET contest.

But first, if you a parent/caregiver/teacher with picture book kids, subscribe to blog (see left column). Me have more book contest soon. Comment on this post if you new subscriber and you can win THREE PICTURE BOOK PRIZE PACK (BOY + BOT, EXTRA YARN, ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT)! Me pick winner APRIL 1. THIS NO APRIL FOOL’S!

Now ME WANT PET winner.

It be Anna, age 9! ConBATulations!

Now me show you more great pets!

Isaac, age 6:

This Kid Erik, age 10:

Josie, age 8:

Jordan, age 6:

Renn, age 5:

Me and Tammi Sauer thank all kids who draw pets!

Maybe Tammi write SEQUEL!



Know Tammi Sauer? She write new book. She write good book. Bob Shea draw picture. It ME WANT PET!

(Me read to five-year-old class. They giggle. They snort. They LOVE!)

Cave Boy star. Cave Boy want pet.

He find pet. Mama say no. Gah!

He find new pet. Papa say no. Gah, ug!

He get new new pet. Gran say no.

Cave Boy sad. Me sad. You sad!

What Cave Boy do?

Me no tell.

You read book. Ooga!


Daughters want draw. I ask, “What pet you want Cave Boy have?”

Daughter Eight draw dinosaur. Me say no. Too stompy.

Daughter Five draw giraffe. Me say no. Too tall. No fit cave.

You have kid? Kid draw Cave Boy and new pet. Send to tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com by March 13. Me post here. Me pick pet. Kid win book.


Tammi Sauer author. She write many, many kid book. Book like CHICKEN DANCE and MOSTLY MONSTERLY and MR. DUCK MEANS BUSINESS. You visit her: OOGA! (Ooga not book. Me like say OOGA!)

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