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Some of you may already be familiar with my crazy cat, Phoebe.

She meowed at my back door one night, I opened the sliders, and she sashayed in, looked around and said, “Isn’t this great?”, just like Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High—anywhere you are, that’s the place to be! (Especially if it has a fireplace and tuna.)

So when Maria Gianferarri asked if I’d do a cover reveal for her companion book to BEING A DOG, Phoebe stepped up to ask the questions about BEING A CAT: A TAIL OF CURIOSITY.

(For ease of reading, I’ve translated from Phoebe’s native Feline tongue.)

Maria,  I’m curious, where is Cat’s favorite place to nap?

Cat’s favorite place to nap is dog’s bed.

Surely that can’t be the ONLY place to take a snooze?

Atop a radiator, or in a slice of sun.

Ahh, I know all about sun slices.

Anything else Cat wants to impart to the readers? 

Yes. Curiosity did NOT kill the cat.

Thanks, Maria! Now without further meow, the BEING A CAT cover by illustrator Pete Oswald!

Sittin’ pretty!

Blog readers, the prolific Maria is giving away a PB critique with this reveal.

Just leave one comment below.

A random winner will be selected at the end of the month.

Good luck!


Maria Gianferrari wonders and is in awe of the natural world and its inhabitants, domestic and wild cats included. She lives in Massachusetts with her inquisitive scientist husband and Maple the dog, a watcher who’s curious about anything that moves, especially if she can chase it! Curiously, though an unabashed dog lover, this is Maria’s third book featuring cats as main characters, most recently Bobcat Prowling, as well as Officer Katz and Houndini. You can learn more about Maria at her website, MariaGianferrari.com.


Pete Oswald is a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator and an Annie Award-nominated animation production designer best known for The Angry Birds Movie film franchise and Oscar® Nominated ParaNorman, in addition to multiple animated studio films. He is also known for his work as a children’s book author and illustrator, and painter. Pete lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three sons.

by Maria Gianferrari

Happy Spring! I am delighted to be here on Tara’s blog today to celebrate my newest picture book, BE A TREE!, illustrated by the phenomenal Felicita Sala, and published by Abrams Kids!

BE A TREE! invites readers to imagine themselves as trees—stretching our branches to the sun, feeling rooted and connected to life underground, letting our crowns swing in the wind.

So, here we go! If you could be a tree, which kind of tree would you be?

A baobob?

A palm?

Or perhaps one of the trees featured in these beautiful endpapers?

To be a redwood—imagine all the things she has seen?

Here I am a Redwood National Park back in 2011—what a magical place it is!

Thanks, Maria! If I could be a tree, I’d be a Paperbark, so I’d always have something to write on! I actually have some River Birch trees outside my bedroom window. Sometimes I want to lean out and grab a piece of their natural paper.

Thanks to the generosity of Abrams Kids, one lucky blog reader will receive a copy of BE A TREE! (US residents only—sorry!)

So, while I think almost everyone reading this blog would also choose a paper birch, I have to ask you to think again. If you could BE A TREE!, what tree would YOU be?

Leave one comment below and a random winner will be selected next month.

Good luck!


Maria Gianferrari has climbed fig trees in Italy, stood under stately coastal redwoods and twisted Torrey pines, marveled at mitten-shaped sassafras leaves, colorful coral trees and sawtooth oak acorn nests. She lives with her family, including dog, Maple, in a house encircled by trees. Visit her online at mariagianferrari.com.

by Maria Gianferrari

Do you make time to play every day? I won’t lie and say that I do—sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m trying (and mostly failing) at making play a priority. PLAY LIKE AN ANIMAL was born from the realization and the frustration that play is disappearing from kids’ too busy and over-scheduled lives. Young kids have “play dates” and scores of enrichment activities instead of time for free play. Schools are cutting, or even eliminating recess and increasing testing. And it’s not just young kids, it seems that teenagers practically have to be Olympic athletes to participate in sports—what happened to the importance of camaraderie, being a good sport and learning teamwork? And that sports/exercise are beneficial for combatting stress and anxiety too. Is it a wonder our kids are anxious?

Rather than ranting, I chose to write a “playful” book to celebrate play, and to inspire kids, parents and educators to dive right in because play is life—play is important, and not trivial. Play teaches compassion, empathy, cooperation and how to be fair; play helps us express creativity and explore our imaginations; and play helps us problem solve. But above all, play is fun!!

Mia Powell’s vibrant and whimsical art is the perfect match for the active text which encourages kids to get moving and to play like animals do:

Do you plonk like a peccary?
Surf like a dolphin?
Sled like a raven (or crowboard like a crow?)

Lerner Publishing has generously offered to donate a copy of PLAY LIKE AN ANIMAL. Just leave a comment telling us your favorite family game or your favorite way to play to be entered for a chance to win (sorry—US residents only).

Thanks for having me here, Tara, who’s always punny and playful in all of her books!


You. can visit Maria and all her books online at MariaGianferrari.com.

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

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My Books

Coming soon:


TIME FLIES
"7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I" BOOK #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 26, 2022

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