This afternoon I took the plunge and  joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 challenge.   Thank you, Julie for hosting this amazing contest!   Support from my writing peers throughout my PiBoIdMo experience kept me on track and writing every day. I look forward to participating in this new challenge with all of you throughout the year!

This evening I finally read my PiBoIdMo journal from cover to cover. I must admit, I was a little hesitant at first, afraid of what I might or might not find. When I began to read, I realized why writers must write every single day. I had already forgotten some of my most intriguing and unusual picture book ideas!  I enjoyed rediscovering these little gems, and I narrowed down my ideas to a top twenty list. Out of those twenty there are five that really peak my interest.  They are, not surprisingly, related to events from my childhood and my adventures in teaching. My best writing is usually inspired by my life experiences.  I have found that a good deal of time must pass between these life experiences and my writing before something worthy materializes. With age and wisdom comes understanding, and with understanding comes the real story.

I discovered several picture book writing tools and templates on a website I use frequently for lesson planning called  sponsored by the International Reading Association. I am using the plot pitch template to flesh out my “little gems.”

The Children’s Picture Book Project

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.  -Benjamin Franklin

Do you like a good mystery?

Mysteries in the Library…

It’s official! My Spring 2012 literacy event is  Mystery Night at the Library!    I have already chosen several mystery themed books and series for the literacy stations including The Cam Jansen mystery series, Judy Moody Girl DetectiveThe Box Car ChildrenAce Lacewing Bug Detective, and many more! Students will rotate through stations in the library where they will solve all kinds of mysteries related to the book titles.  I’m already in search of disappearing ink and other decoding devices to make this year’s event one to remember!  I’m trying to design five stations for students in grades K-2 and five stations for students in grades 3-5. For example, at the Olivia and the Missing Toy station students reach into a mystery box and guess by feel what toy is inside the box. There will be a picture of the actual toy on the bottom of the box so students can check to see if they guessed correctly. I am also going to write mystery stories with my fourth grade students prior to Mystery Night at the Library. I’ll  set up an open microphone  and students who choose to participate may read their stories to a live audience.  What fun!

Planning literacy events for students is so much fun, and watching the children and their parents enjoy the events is extremely rewarding. My mission this year is to plan an exciting literacy night that will encourage students to read mystery books. This genre has  recently been overshadowed by other popular genres (at least in my library) and I would like the children to discover how much fun it is to read a good mystery!

If you have ideas for mystery books or mystery stations, please let me know!


It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill

Title: Goal!

Written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by A.G. Ford

Candlewick Press, 2010

Suitable for:  grades 3-5

Themes: soccer, bullying, friendship, teamwork

Opening and Brief Synopsis: “I have to get water from the well before dark.  But I finished my homework, and right now it’s soccer time.”  Six boys living in South Africa are enjoying a game of soccer in the dusty street. One must stand guard on the roof, because the streets are not safe. Then the bullies come. The boys are afraid they might lose their new federation-size soccer ball.

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: Goal! is one of this year’s twenty nominees for the Texas Bluebonnet Book Award. It is my personal favorite.  The book gives readers a small taste of what it is like to live in South Africa.  It also highlights the game of soccer, or football, as it is known everywhere in the world except in the United States. Although conditions are difficult for these boys, they are still children, and they love to play soccer. When they play, they forget their worries.  I never tire of reading this book aloud, and my third, fourth, and fifth grade students love it. I see the anticipation in their faces when the bullies come and the boys hide their new ball under the water bucket.  Will the bullies find it? You’ll have to read Goal! to find out!

Watch the book trailer!

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!