Save the date! On April 26 and 27, 2019, I’ll be signing books at SOKY Book Fest. Click the logo below to see some of the headlining authors, including Angie Thomas, Silas House and Rita Mae Brown. More updates to come.
Here’s a humor piece I wrote, published by Emrys Journal Online via Medium, about over-the-top writer guidelines. If you write and submit to literary journals, this one is for you. Or if you like to laugh about the plight of writers, this one is for you. Or if you just really want to know all about the much-coveted writing life, click below.
After days of 90 degree weather, Sunday’s 60 surprised us all with how cold and windy it felt. We Michiganders are known for our toughness regarding the weather, but the weather always changes, and quickly. Here’s a group of us at the SCBWI-Michigan table, talking books.
Standing by all the picture books—SALAD PIE is in good company.
And, signing amid all those Michigan-authored board books, picture books and novels. Thank you, Bookbound, for selling our books at Kerrytown Bookfest 2018.
Sunday, September 9 is the Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'll be there from 10:30 to 12:30 (event goes until 5), along with twenty-three other Michigan authors and illustrators. Bookbound will be selling our books, and we'll be on hand in shifts to sign.
It's coming! Every year, I book free classroom Skype (or Google Hangout) visits for World Read Aloud Day. This year, I'm opening up time slots for February 1, 2019 now so you can schedule early. Just contact me via my contact form, and let me know what grade your class is, and a few times that would work, as well as what time zone you live in.
Each Skype visit is about 15-20 minutes long. I introduce myself, read aloud SALAD PIE (with a bit of audience participation), and then answer a few of the students' questions (please have them prepared in advance). I also show and talk about a few books that I love that I didn't write, so students can get all revved up about reading!
Did you know that there's a whole host of research out there about why reading aloud to children is so good for them? Reading aloud allows kids to develop phonological awareness and other literacy skills, increases attention, increases vocabulary and enhances social-emotional development. So in addition to having fun, all kinds of growth is happening at the same time.
This Saturday, I'll be at Sterlingfest's Local Author Book Sale, a first for me. A whole host of authors and illustrators will be there, including:
Also, there will be many activities for kids. Check out this photo and website via Sterlingfest's Twitter account.
Looks like too much fun to pass up! See you there?
On July 28, 2018, I'll be at the Sterlingfest Art & Music Fair in Sterling Heights, Michigan at the SCBWI booth along with several other Michigan-based authors and illustrators. Check out the whole list of local authors here. We'll have our signed books for sale, local restaurants will have food, there's a midway with rides and a soundstage with live music. I can't wait! Festivities begin at 10 AM.
Many, many people I meet tell me about their dreams to write a book, and if it's a book for children, I always refer them to SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), an organization I've been a part of for several years. SCBWI is a global nonprofit organization, with local chapters, that encourages both professional and aspiring writers and illustrators to be informed, focus on craft, and find a critique group. Besides offering conferences and networking with people in the children's book industry, SCBWI also celebrates the books written and/or illustrated by its members.
SCBWI-Michigan, my local chapter, has many upcoming books to celebrate. Take a look at these books coming out this summer and fall. Thanks to Jodi McKay for the image.
Because I write books for children, that means I also read many, many books for children. Many people ask me for recommendations, and so, about eight years ago, I started a blog featuring my favourite books--young adult/teen, middle grade and picture books. Lately, I've been reviewing more picture books than anything else, but I'm still reading everything. I love to discover great books, and I only post about books that I highly recommend.
Also, I'm always sure to point out via tags if an author or illustrator is Canadian (because I'm Canadian!) or if they are from Michigan (I live in Michigan!). So, please, stop by An Education in Books Blog--Must-read books for kids, and leave a comment. See you there!
Because my background is in education and special education, and I do some contract work for an educational foundation, I'm always interested in the latest research. Lately, at work, we've been talking about something called executive function, which is extremely important in early childhood. It's an umbrella term that refers to the brain's ability to plan, organize, strategize, pay attention and remember details. And, it turns out that imaginative play, especially in early childhood, may help develop executive function!
Whatever you want to call it--pretend play, make-believe, fantasy play, imaginative play--it's important for the kids in your life. So pull out the dress-up clothes, put on that stethoscope, or grab those pots and pans and mix up a huge batch of imaginative play.
One of my favourite bookstores, Books & Mortar, is supporting their local Grand Rapids Public School with this nifty promotion.
The sign reads "Please support the Congress Elementary Book Drive. Receive 10% off your entire purchase when you buy one or more books to donate to the classroom libraries at Congress Elementary--right in our backyard!
"Every book has been hand-picked and requested by the teaching staff and will be infinitely treasured as resources that help inspire and empower our next generation of leaders! THANK YOU!"
One of my favourite parts of this book drive is that it involves the teachers at Congress Elementary. Not only have the teachers chosen the books that fit their classroom library needs, but they've been hosting story times at the bookstore. Having been a teacher at GRPS myself, I know that when you are asked what you need to make your classroom better, it makes all the difference. Thank you, Books & Mortar, for being the community bookstore that inspires teachers and students.
Today, in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, I read SALAD PIE with some classrooms in Wisconsin and Texas. One of the classes had questions about the book binding process. I tried to answer as well as I could. Some of the questions were tough: Do they sew the pages together by hand? I thought there was a machine that did it. Why don't the pages fall out? Well, they use glue, too, I think. So, I found this video from Chirp Books that shows books being made in a factory. I hope it answers many more of those questions!
Also, a really fun picture book about the book making process is Mac Barnett and Adam Rex's How This Book Was Made.
Happy World Read Aloud Day! And thank you to all of those children, teachers and librarians that hosted me via Skype or Google Hangouts. It was a pleasure meeting you.
World Read Aloud Day is February 1, 2018. Every year, LitWorld promotes this event to read aloud and change the world.
Kate Messner provides a list of authors that are willing to Skype with classrooms for free in honour of World Read Aloud Day, and I'm one of those authors. If you'd like a free Skype visit, contact me via my contact form. And visit Kate Messner's blog to find out more information about the event and more authors who are doing Skype visits.
SCBWI-Michigan's Merry Mitten event at The Bookman in Grand Haven: We braved the snowy roads for the cozy bookstore along the lakeshore.
The YA authors had a cozy fireplace (you can see the snow piling up outside).
We picture book makers had a cozy corner surrounded by local books.
Thanks to everyone who came out, and to The Bookman, for a beautiful store and lovely welcome! Happy Holidays, everyone.
Saturday, I went to the Frenchtown-Dixie Library in Monroe County, Michigan, for the 5th annual Children's Author Meet and Greet. What an event! I was greeted at the door by Maggie, a local middle schooler, reader and event photographer, and then, I saw this picture book display:
Amy Nielander and I shared a table, full of picture books and activities.
From picture book to YA novels, there were many Michigan authors and illustrators to meet.
Of course, Frenchtown-Dixie library patrons had great ideas for their Salad Pie recipe:
And in closing, the whole group with books, posing for a photo. Thank you to everyone at Frenchtown-Dixie Library for a warm and welcoming event!
On Saturday, November 4 from 12 - 3 pm, a host of Michigan authors will be at the Frenchtown Dixie Library in Monroe County. Come and meet us all! Buy books and get them signed!
Enjoy an Autumn afternoon with 12 amazing authors of books for
children of all ages! Come meet and greet our authors, buy some of their books and spend a couple of hours with us.
Our Guest Authors Include:
• Ruth McNally Barshaw
• Wendy BooydeGraaff
• Kelly DiPucchio
• Debbie Diesen
• Tim Dziobak
• Kathy Higgs-Coulthard
• Dena Jayson
• Kristin Bartley Lenz
• Sierra Masson
• Heather Smith Meloche
• Amy Nielander
• Jordan J. Scavone
Frenchtown Dixie Branch Library2881 Nadeau Rd, Monroe, Michigan 48162
Last Sunday, the 15th annual Kerrytown Bookfest took place in the market space in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The crowd was impressive as were the many vendors. We saw books, new, used and rare; a retro-looking ice cream truck serving treats; made-in-Michigan artwork, paper cutouts and cards.
Last stop was the SCBWI booth, where lots of Michigan authors and illustrators were signing books (including me!).