Monthly Archives: November 2011

I made it! Day 30

small readers

I made it! 30+ Ideas in 30 Days!

I am so thankful that  Tara Lazar began PiBoIdMo for those of us who love to write and illustrate for children.  Tara has created an amazing online and interactive medium for discussing, sharing, and learning about picture book writing.  When I decided to participate in PiBoIdMo I had no idea that I would meet so many wonderful people and learn so much about the kidlit and publishing world in one short month!

Read more about how much I have enjoyed PiBoIdMo at geek the

Thank you to all of my new friends (and my Mom!) for commenting on my blog posts throughout the month. I started my blog on the 1st of November thinking no one would read it.  Still I wanted to keep an online record of my journey, so I took a chance, and I met all of you! I look forward to continuing our online exchange of ideas as we strive to become the best writers that we can be.

I ♥ my PiBoIdMo blogging buddies!!


My goals for the upcoming year:

1. Dig through my PiBoIdMo journal and find the diamond ideas!

2. Start a new writing journal.

3. “Flesh out” ideas and create storyboards and book dummies.

4. Continue to blog and learn from my picture book writing friends.

5. Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

6. Find a local critique group.

7. Read Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children  (in the mail!)

8. Read The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Make Revisions, Self-Edit, and Give and Receive Feedback  (in the mail!)

9. Maybe, just maybe…search for a literary agent! That may be a goal for next year.  But we’ll see!

New adventures await! I can’t wait to hear about yours!

Keep it simple Day 29

Wow! I cannot believe that Picture Book Idea Month is nearly done!

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single second of this experience! On tomorrow’s blog…for what and whom I’m thankful and goals for the coming year.

For now, sit back and enjoy the magic unfold in Press Here!  by Hervé Tullet. This is currently my Kindergartners’ favorite picture book. Who needs an interactive iPad when you’ve got this?

Tonight as I write in my journal, I am going to focus on basic elements that make reading picture books really fun for kids.  Sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that truly shine!

Love your library! Day 28

In these tough economic times,  public library funding is in dire jeopardy.   Authors and librarians can work together to ensure that libraries  continue to grow and support the multimedia needs of citizens everywhere.

ALTAFF, or the Association for Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (part of the American Library Association) has launched a program called “Authors for Libraries.” Authors who join the program will be added to ALTAFF’s authors’ page where, “library staff, Friends groups and Foundation staff can find information about upcoming tours to assist with scheduling library talks and book signings as well as information about forthcoming books and resources for book groups.”  In addition, ALTAFF is asking authors to contribute a personal quote about the importance of libraries. Click here to see a list of current members,  books,  and links to homepages.

Here are additional links to organizations that support public libraries:

International Federation of Library Associations  

Geek the Library 

I love libraries  

Show your support, and let the world know that libraries are invaluable resources that change lives!

Reflections on writing Day 27

Why do writers write?

Why do writers write? For power?  Prosperity? Few writers will gain either of these in a lifetime, and most don’t care to. Writers write for the sake of the craft. They write because something inside of them drives them to write.

Why do I write?

Happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose come to mind.

My mother still has a beat up copy of a story I wrote in the second grade about some bunnies and a rainbow, I think.  I remember two distinct things about that writing experience.  First, I remember the sense of exhilaration I felt as my story began to unfold.  Writing was for the most part effortless, and I immediately knew that the story was really good.  I didn’t have an inner editor in the second grade.  I also remember the sense of pride and accomplishment that I felt when my teacher read it, told me how wonderful it was and proceeded to show it off to the other second grade teachers. There wasn’t much else I was good at-I wasn’t an athlete, I couldn’t play the piano well, and I was a mediocre math student.  To realize this gift was like discovering magic.

After that writing experience, I asked my parents for a diary. My mother bought me a little purple one with a lock and key, and I took it with me wherever I went. I still have it! I love to read my old diary entries, because they take me back in time, and I am reminded that once I really was a child who saw the world through innocent eyes.

I write today because it simply feels good to write.  I write to discover things about the world and about myself and about the connections between us that are real and telling. I write about my dreams and my childhood and my hopes and my life. I write about things that are happy and about things that are sad and all of these things live and breathe in my beautiful and merciful journal.  I am convinced that within that journal lies another bunny story, and I intend to find that diamond in the coming months.

Love what you do! It is a gift.

Let Your Spirit Soar!

Use Storybird to stir your imagination!

Yet another amazing web 2.0 tool for creating picture book ideas…Storybird! Thanks to fellow PiBoIdMo participant Ella Kennan for posting  this fantastic link.  You can read her Storybird called All Kinds of Happy on the PiBoIdMo Facebook page.  Storybird is quite addictive, so set aside a good chunk of time to play.  Sign up is free, and you can keep your stories private, or you can publish them and receive comments. You can also purchase a PDF copy or a printed book. If you are a teacher or work in a school, introduce this tool to your students. It will engage and empower the most reluctant young writers.

Click on the link below to read my first Storybird called Let Your Spirit Soar!


Professional Pointers Day 25

How do I write a strong picture book?

Let’s consult the professionals… picture book authors who know what it takes to succeed in the world of publishing.

Darcy Pattison, author of The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (2009), offers great advice for rookie picture book writers in her blog called 30 Days to a Stronger Picture Book.  This page is definitely worth bookmarking.

#1 tip from Darcy:

Consider the “dual” audience. Yes you are writing a children’s book, but who is going to read it aloud a million times? (As a librarian, I can truly appreciate this advice.) A strong picture book appeals to both children and adults.

April Pulley Sayre, author of The Bumblebee Queen (2005),  also offers advice on how to Become a Children’s Book Author.

#1 tip from April:

Read the latest copy of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrator’s Market. According to The Writer’s Store, “For more than 20 years, CWIM has been the definitive publishing guide for anyone who seeks to write or illustrate for kids and young adults. Inside you’ll find more than 700 listings for children’s book publishers and magazines, including a point of contact, how much they pay, and what they’re looking for.”

Think I will be asking Santa for the 2012 edition of this book!

Katie Davis, author of Party Animals (2002), answers Frequently (and Seldom) Asked Questions from writers and artists who want to publish picture books.

#1 tip from Katie:

Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  I am receiving a membership to this organization for Christmas.  Thanks, Mom!

Watch Katie in this short video called The First Steps to Getting Published


And now…for Perfect Picture Book Friday sponsored by

Susanna Leonard Hill!

Visit Susanna’s page for more perfect picture books, including her own!

TitleDuck! Rabbit!

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Scholastic, 2009


Suitable for: Grades K-2 (ages 5-8)

Themes: Creative Thinking, Point of View

Opening and Brief Synopsis: “Hey, Look! A duck!  That’s not a duck.  That’s a rabbit!  Are you kidding me?  It’s totally a duck.  It’s for sure a rabbit…” Each two page spread features a simple black ink drawing of a mystery animal- it appears to be a duck on the left side but a rabbit on the right side!

Links to Resources: Duck! Rabbit! TeachersGuide

Why I like this book:  This picture book is ingenious.  The optical illusions are so simple yet so spectacular and hilarious!  Duck! Rabbit!  holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end. (And there is a surprise ending!)

Watch the book trailer!

Happy Thanksgiving! Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with love, laughter, good

food, and great picture book ideas!

I love a parade! Day 23

Spotlight on Picture Books:

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I couldn’t help myself this afternoon.  I just had to stop by the local bookstore on my way home from the grocery store. I always head straight for the children’s book section.  I ran into two of my students this trip. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t see at least one or two of them.  They always seem so surprised to see me outside of the library, like it’s magic or something!

I found several goodies today.  I was particularly impressed by this new book by Melissa Sweet.  Balloons Over Broadway (2011) is the story of Tony Sarg, the toy collecting puppeteer who is credited for designing the first giant helium balloons for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Melissa Sweet built her own toys as part of her writing experience, and they appear on several pages of the book.  Also pictured are detailed drawings of Tony, his marionettes, and the helium balloons we see in the parade today. The last page of the book includes an author’s note and a photograph of the one and only Tony Sarg as well as a note about the mixed media used in the book. An all around fantastic picture book!

I love to read about innovative people in history who are rarely spoken or written about.  Balloons Over Broadway is an example of a historical fiction picture book that works.  I loved it so much that I bought a copy for myself. Take a moment to visit Melissa Sweet’s website.  You won’t be disappointed! You will find an incredible link to a Balloons Over Broadway activity kit along with other fun surprises. Melissa has also collaborated with notable picture book authors like Judy Sierra and Jane Yolen. I love the quote on her homepage-you’ll understand why when you read it!

Enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, everyone!

Creative writing with Web 2.0 tools Day 22

Today’s feature: 10 free web 2.0 tools to get your creative juices flowing!

1. PicLits Choose from hundreds of photos and keywords to generate ideas! Drag and drop words or freestyle write.

2.  Generate a story outline using this free online mind mapping tool.

3. springpad  Use springpad to save and organize ideas and information from the Internet.

4. autocrit  Instantly edit your manuscript with the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. Basic membership is free.

5. the story starter  The Story Starter randomly generates over one billion writing prompts for kids and adults!

6. Glogster  Import images, text, sounds, and video to create an online poster.

7.  Wordle  Create inspirational word clouds by typing words and phrases. Change and rearrange!

8. Animoto  Create awe-inspiring slide shows with images, phrases, and music.

9.  Penzu Create a private online journal. I really love this one!

10. MakeBeliefsComix  Create your own comic strip. You don’t even have to draw! (Good thing for me!)

Have fun playing, creating, and generating new ideas with these really cool online technological tools!

On another technical note, check out my new Vodpod Shelfari widget.  It took me all night to figure out how to get that widget to work!  Oh, but I love a good challenge… I will add a Shelfari video for picture books to my Vodpod widget tomorrow.  Goodnight!

Angels bowling Day 21

A storm is ragin’ tonight! We definitely need the rain in Texas, so I won’t complain.

I remember lying in bed around age 3 listening to the thunder crash above our little house. To comfort me, my mother sat at the foot of my bed and told me that the angels were bowling. What fun, I thought!  I envisioned angels in white gowns and halos tossing bowling balls down golden lanes.

Since then, I have encountered violent acts of nature that have truly terrified me including hailstorms, tornadoes, dust storms, and hurricanes. Severe weather events can devastate entire communities. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and my own parents evacuated their home the same year when Hurricane Rita threatened the city where I was born.

I have also witnessed wondrous acts of nature. I’ve watched the fattest snowflakes fall along the Texas coast.  I’ve danced in the drought-breaking rains of the Texas Panhandle.  I’ve spent sunny summer days sailing on lakes across North Texas. Nature is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and utterly awe-inspiring.

If you need a picture book idea, look no further.   Picture books can demystify the science behind weather phenomena. They can also encourage children to appreciate and enjoy the natural world of weather.  Here are some notable titles from my school library collection:

Thunder Cake, written and illustrated  by Patricia Polacco (1997)

If Frogs Made the Weather, written by  Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Dorothy Donahue (2005)

Cloudy Day, Sunny Day,  written and illustrated by Donald Crews (1999)

The Cloud Book, written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola (1975)

Storm is coming!  written by Heather Tekavec and illustrated by Margaret Spengler (2002)

The storm book, written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. (1952)

If you are a visually inspired writer like I am, you might enjoy creating an online glogster poster at It’s fun and it’s free!  Check out  my picture book weather idea glog. You can even print it out and put it in your writing journal!


What is Mrs. K. reading today?

I started a new children’s novel today called Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (author of the Cronus Chronicles) I haven’t finished the book, but I think it is safe to say that I highly recommend this novel. The majority of the book is anchored in reality, but there is an element of fantasy as well. Ursu interweaves the two worlds brilliantly. Breadcrumbs is an ideal choice for fifth grade children who will easily identify with the main characters in the story.