Category Archives: Uncategorized

50 words

Another challenge, and you all know how I love a good challenge. Vivian Kirkfield is hosting the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge. You can follow the link to read more about it, but basically – write a story for children in 50 words or less. It’s not as simple as it seems.

GNU SHOES by David McMullin

Hugh Gnu’s gnu shoes were used, so Hugh pursued new gnu shoes at SUE SHREW’S SHOES.

“Two and two,” said Hugh, “plus two,”

“Plus two?” asked Sue.

“I choose to chew shoes, too.”

“My shoes are not to gnaw, gnu.”

“Who knew,” said Hugh Gnu.

“Not you,” said Sue. “Shoo!”

 

Thanks for reading. Now go to Vivian’s site to read all of the other wonderful entries.

Another Valentine’s Day Contests

It seems like just yesterday that I was adding my entry to the inaugural Susanna Hill Valentiny Writing Contest. Here we are at year two (The Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest). Hurray, it’s becoming a thing!

I will admit that I wasn’t planning to enter this time around. I am currently attending the SCBWI winter conference in New York City, and I wanted to spend my time preparing for and putting my energies into making sure I had a productive experience.

But who was I kidding? As soon as I read the rules –  “Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused.”  – I was trapped. While I was not paying attention, my brain, behind my back, came up with this.

 

TOO MANY MANNYS

“Look,” said Manny Mooney. “I found a valentine on Penny Pepper’s desk. It says, ‘For my marvelous Manny. You do the funniest things!’”

“It must be for me,” said Manny Mackey. “I mimic messy monkeys.”

“Or, it could be for me,” said Manny Meany. “I march through muddy muck.”

“No, it’s for me,” said Manny Murphy. “I make myself milkshake mustaches.”

“You forget about me,” said Manny Mitty. “I moo to mixed-up music.”

“And what about me,” said Manny Moony. “I mumble with a mouthful of mini-marshmallows.”

All five Mannys held onto the valentine and performed their funny feats.

Penny Pepper pranced in and was perfectly perplexed.

“What are you doing with my valentine?” she asked.

All of the Mannys answered at once, “I’m proving this valentine was meant for me.”

“Oh,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine is not for Manny Mackey, Manny Meany, Manny Murphy, Manny Mitty, OR Manny Mooney.”

“But there are no more Mannys,” said the many Mannys.

“If you look closer,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine says, ‘For my marvelous Mommy.’ I’m bringing this one home.”

 

Thanks for reading, and go to Susanna’s Blog to read all of the other wonderful entries.

1000 Picture Books – Part 5: Final Thoughts

12 months, 1000 picture books, and 1 ton of fun! Click here to start at the beginning of this series.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but all of that listing wore me out. Now, I need to sit back and relax with a good picture book (or 1000 more).

Each time we complete an epic journey, there is always a lesson hidden somewhere, so… let’s figure this one out.

I was surprised at the number of comments I got, both here and on facebook, about this project. One comment that really stuck with me, went something like this:

When you look at these lists, don’t you feel overwhelmed that everything has been done before?

My initial thought was – Well now that you put the idea into my head, I do! There doesn’t seem to be any stone left unturned (and yes, there were even books about stones). As you browse through these statistics, everything is represented. Every format. Every character, Every plot. Every topic. Every point of view. And if something is not represented in these posts, it’s only because I didn’t share every little detail. If I had, this would have been a 10 part series.

In my own experience, I can’t count the number of times I have written an “original” story, only to see the same book released by someone else a few months later.

But think about it – of course this happens. Just look around you. In this business, we are surrounded by smart, thoughtful, imaginative, energetic, soulful, clever, industrious peers, both published and unpublished. The number of possible ideas generated by picture book writers and illustrators, each and every day, is staggering! Our combined brain energy could power a small planet.

I do not find this overwhelming. I find this thought – freeing.

The knowledge that everything has been done in some form, removes the constraints. Yes, I hope we all strive to be creative, and original, but now the pressure is gone.

This huge body of preexisting ideas gives us the drive to develop a stronger individual voice, and to work towards improving our craft. This is an opportunity to learn and grow. And we can use the work of others to help us get there.

Now, go read!

Be inspired. Learn about what you like and what you don’t like. If you find something similar to yours, that’s okay. Find ways to make yours unique.

It’s bound to be… it’s yours.

 

1000 Picture Books – Part 4: Point of View

This is the paragraph to skip if you have already been following this series.  In 2016 I decided to learn more about current trends in picture book market by reading 1000 books. As I did, book by book, this monster of statistics, began to grow into what you see before you. In case you missed any of the previous parts, click here: Part 1 – Picture book makers; or Part 2 – Characters; or Part 3 – Genre.

Now, we continue with point of view and settings.

Tense:

442 – Past

430 – Present

34 – Future

5 – Multiple

25 – Wordless

I’m surprised that past and present are nearly equal. I felt like I read so many more written in past tense.

 

Person:

583 – Third

174 – First

53 – Third

88 – Conversation

8 – Lists

5 – Letters

2 – Questions

6 – Multiple

25 – Wordless

 

Rhyme:

820 – Not in rhyme

161 – Rhyming

10 – Some rhyme, some not

We’ve all heard it – don’t write in rhyme. I do all the time, I love it. Maybe, I’m a glutton for punishment, and as we can see here, not nearly as many rhymers are making it onto the page. I would be interested to see statistics from a publishing house on the percentage of rhyming picture book manuscripts they receive. Of the books I read, 16% were in rhyme. If the percentage of rhyming books being submitted is smaller than 16% then it would be an advantage to write in rhyme. I’m guessing the opposite is true.

 

Time Period:

852 – Contemporary

96 – Past

5 – Prehistoric

2 – Future

2 – Multiple

 

Weather/Time of day/Seasons:

824 – Weather was not important to the story.

74 – Night or Dark

43 – Winter or Snow

27 – Across the 4 seasons

14 – Rain

10 – Summer

6 – Wind

5 – Storm

4 – Spring

4 – Autumn

 

Setting:

158 – Multiple locations

151 – Home

81 – No clear location

78 – Woods

61 – Traveling around town

56 – School

51 – City

43 – Specifically, not is the USA (most popular not-USA locations: 8-Africa; 7-France; 5-Middle East; 4-Mexico)

34 – Ocean

28 – Yard

27 – Farm

25 – Jungle

20 – Kingdom

15 – Space

14 – Zoo

13 – Park

10 – Library

7 – Stage

6 – Around the world

6 – Book

5 – Garden

 

And some other stuff:

51 – Books with back matter

1 – Board books

2 – Comic Book Style

15 – Books that could be manipulated (flaps, pop-ups, turning book, etc.)

 

Phew! That’s it for the stats. Well, that was quick and easy.

I’ll write one more blog post to wrap everything up. Part 5 is right here.

1000 Picture Books – Part 3: Genre

In part 1 we learned about the picture book makers. Take a look here.

In part 2 we learned about the characters. Take a look here.

For those of you who can’t be bothered with parts 1 & 2 (and who can blame you – we’re all very busy), here is the short version of what’s going on here. I read 1000 picture books. I took lots of notes. I gathered all the results. Now, I’m sharing them with the world.

This post is a look at genre and theme and topic. They are all a bit overlappy, but I organized them as best I could. This was a difficult statistic to track. It’s easy to determine if a book is an alphabet book or a biography, but determining if a book is about family, or imagination, or solving problems is a bit more subjective, especially when many books cover multiple themes. You’ll see what I mean once we get into it.

And were off…

Genre:

464 – Humorous or Quirky

243 – Serious

140 – Concept

53 – Biography

49 – Sweet

47 – Lyrical

42 – Bedtime

29 – Fractured fairy tale

9 – Bilingual (all Spanish)

8 – Holiday

8 – Poetry

7 – Religious

7 – Fable

4 – LGBTQ

Please, don’t ask me what I mean by humorous, serious, and sweet. It’s just a really sloppy way of me saying they didn’t fit in the other categories and that’s how I felt when I read them. Ambiguous? Definitely!

 

Themes:

114 – Being yourself/Self discovery

82 – Friendship

72 – Manners/Kindness

64 – Overcoming obstacles

62 – Discovery/Trying new things

55 – Nature

49 – Emotions/Feelings

34 – The Arts

32 – Adventure

30 – History/Government/Civil rights

26  – Reading/Books

24 – Family

21 – Coping with loss

20 – Imagination

19 – Pets

18 – Science

14 – Birthdays

13 – New siblings

12 – First day of school

11 – Growing up

9 – Bullying

7 – Love

7 – Survival

6 – Transportation/Travel

5 – Fitness/Hygiene

5 – Moving

 

Fiction/Nonfiction:

862 – Fiction

106 – Nonfiction

24 – A pleasant mix of both

8 – Inexplicably not recorded – hmmm?

Now, another look at word counts in relation to F/NF books

Fiction over 1000 words – 49; Fiction under 1000 words – 784

Nonfiction over 1000 words – 49; Nonfiction under 1000 words – 58

Those with a pleasant mix over 1000 words – 5; Those under 1000 words – 19

 

A closer look at concept books:

39 – Nature

17 – Counting

16 – Alphabet

10 – Science

7 – History

6 – Shapes, Emotions

5 – Colors, Family, Reading

4 – Opposites, Manners

3 – Creating, Development, Jobs

2 – Travel, Self care, Language, Sizes, Arts

1 – Days of the week

 

And what are the three most popular fairy tales to twist?

5 – Little Red Riding Hood

3 – Goldilocks

2 – Hansel and Gretel

 

I had two disappointments with my data collection. I wish I had recorded meta/interactive books. I love meta books, and I know I came across quite a few. Also I wish I had kept better track of multi-cultural or diverse books. I did take notes on character ethnicity, but that isn’t exactly the same thing. Next time.

Again, please ask lots of questions? After all, I didn’t do all of this work for my own pleasure. Wait a minute, that’s exactly why I did it. But I still love to share.

Now move on to Part 4: Point of View and Settings

1000 Picture Books – Part 2: The Characters

Go take a peek at part 1 then come back.

If you didn’t take a peek, basically, I read 1000 picture books in 2016, and took lots of notes.

Today I’ll take a look at the characters in the books. What types of characters are making their ways into picture books the most? Let’s see who (and what) made it into the books I read. If you see ‘MC’, is is a shortened version of ‘Main Character.’ Remember that all of the numbers you see are out of 1000.

Human, Animal, Inanimate, or Creature:

499 – Human

312 – Animal

45 – Inanimate

55 – Creature

88 – None, either not recorded, or a concept book

 

One Main Character, or Multiple Main Characters:

883 – One MC

41 – Two MCs share the spotlight.

9 – Three MCs

3 – Four MCs

5 – Five MCs

1 – Ten MCs

58 – Many MCs

I was surprised at how many books focused on more than one character.

 

Male or Female:

482 – Male

302 – Female

66 – At least one of each

204 – Unsure – sometimes with a cat, or a dragon, or a crayon, you just can’t tell without asking a few inappropriate questions.

Let’s get that male to female ratio a bit more even.

 

Age:

566  – Child (55 were babies or preschool)

172 – Adult (8 were elderly)

4 – At least one of each

257 – Unsure – I was raised to never ask a talking doughnut its age.

I was surprised by the large percentage of adult MCs.

 

Ethnicity: From the 499 MCs that were human.

340 – White

60 – Black

30 – Asian

23 – Hispanic

3 – American Indian

1 – Middle Eastern

30 – A mix of MCs

12 – Could not be determined

I think it is pretty clear who is and who isn’t represented.

 

Most popular humans:

13 – Artists (visual or performing)

9 – Royalty

6 – Writers

5 – Activists

 

Most popular animals:

43 – Birds

9 were chickens, 7 were penguins, 5 were owls

33 – Bears

29 – Dogs

23 – Cats

16 – Mice

15 – Rabbits (or hares, or bunnies)

11 – Elephants

11 – Monkeys or gorillas

8 – Pigs

4 to 6 –  Insects, Frogs, Foxes, Pandas, Alligators/Crocodiles

 

Most popular inanimate objects:

9 – Foods

6 – Vehicles

6 – Trees

4 – Books

4 – Shapes

4 – Toys

 

Most popular creatures:

7 – Monsters

5 – Dragons

5 – Dinosaurs

4 – Aliens

4 – Witches

 

Most popular secondary characters:

28 – Birds (4 were Chickens)

27 – Mothers

24 – Dogs

21 – Fathers

15 – Bears, Cats

13 – Grandmothers

11 – Brothers, Both parents, Sisters

10 – Grandfathers

8 – Dragons, Mice, Dinosaurs

7 – Wales, Robots

6 – Royalty, Wolves

5 – Monsters, Turtles

4 – Lions, Dark/Night,

So, that’s the breakdown of who is populating the pages of current picture books. There’s a huge mix (there were hundreds of characters I didn’t have room to mention), but there are definitely some types that show up more often than others.

For those of you who are writers and illustrator, we can use this to see where there are opportunities to make some positive changes.

Any questions? Please ask. If there is any information you think could help with a story you’re creating, I’m happy to help.

Now move on to part three – Genre.

1000 Picture Books – Part 1: The Who

This year, my goal was to read 1000 picture books.

I’ve heard it said over and over that to improve your writing, you need to read and be familiar with the books currently hitting the market. I figured 1000 would be a good start!

After reading each book for sheer enjoyment, I would go back and look at the nitty-gritty. What made the book tick. The details. The numbers. The statistics. What did I like and what… not so much.

How did I choose the books I read? I will be the first to admit, this is not a scientific survey. Though it is a fairly random sampling, my personal taste surely had an influence on the books I picked. I wanted recent books, so they had to be published in 2010 or more recently, in most cases, more recently.

First, I looked at big lists (Best books of 2015, Most popular books of 2014, Most anticipated books of 2016 – you get the idea). Then I read a ton of blogs and wrote down every book I saw featured and reviewed (Lauri Fortino’s Picture Books at the Library posts were a great source). Next, I went to the libraries. Every week, I would go in and clear out the new acquisitions shelf (sorry kids). Luckily I live near two major library systems, Las Vegas and Henderson, so I had double the options.

One more note. The numbers don’t always add up to 1000. This is due to numerous factors, some of which I’ll mention as we go along. (One being I lived in rural Oklahoma for three months, and had to get creative with my book finding and recording practices.)

Okay, let’s get to it –

Books by the year:

2010 – 7

2011 – 13

2012 – 44

2013 – 85

2014 – 155

2015 – 315

2016 – 381

Publishers: Here are the publishers I came across most often.

70 – Candlewick

35 – Chronicle; 32 – Dial Books for Young Readers; 30 – Little Brown & Company, A Neal Porter Book

29 – Alfred A. Knopf, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers; 25 – Schwartz and Wade; 23 – Disney-Hyperion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 22 – Harper/Festival; 21 – Abrams Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt and Co., Balzer and Bray; 20 – Ripple Grove Press

19 – Viking; 18 – Beach Lane, Random House; 16 – Scholastic; 15 – Philomel Books, Roaring Brook Press; 14 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 13 – GP Putnam’s Sons, Bloomsbury; 12 – Sterling Children’s Books, Holiday House, Kids Can Press, Enchanted Lion, Farrar Straus Giroux; 11 – Owl Kids, Nancy Paulson Books, Little Bee, Groundwood Books, Greenwillow Books

5 to 10 – A Paula Wiseman book, Aladdin, Albert Whitman & Co., Arthur A. Levine Books, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Clarion, Feiwel & Friends, Flying Eye, Gecko Press, Hyperion Books for Children, Kar-Ben Publishing, Katherine Tegen Books, Lee & Low, Megan Tingley Books, Millbrook Press, Nosy Crow, Peachtree, Sleeping Bear, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Tate Publishing, Templar Books, Tundra Books, Two Lions

There were a total of 158 different publishers in the books I read, so don’t give up on your project, there could still be a place for it yet. Keep looking!

 

Authors:

Most prolific with 8 books – Mac Barnett

2 authors (Mo Willems, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal) wrote 7 books

4 authors (Linda Ashman, Kelly DiPucchio, Tammi Sauer, and Philip C Stead) wrote 6 books

4 authors (Silvia Borando, Miranda Paul, Bob Shea, and Michelle Robinson) wrote 5 books

11 authors wrote 4 books

26 authors wrote 3 books

96 authors wrote 2 books

620 authors wrote 1 book

That’s 764 total authors! This is great news. There’s plenty of room for all of you!

 

Illustrators:

most prolific with 7 books – Mo Willems, Christian Robinson, and Oliver Jeffers

3 artists (Benji Davies, Dan Santat, and Bob Shea) made 6 books

8 artists (Silvia Borando, G. Brian Karas, Jon Klassen, Melissa Sweet, Erin E. Stead, Peter H. Reynolds, Lori Nichols, and Tom Lichtenheld) made 5 books

20 artists made 4 books

36 artists made 3 books

106 artists made 2 books

521 artists made 1 book

That’s a total of 697 illustrators! No one dominates these things. Everyone can have a shot.

 

Author/Illustrator combos:

Of the 1000 books, 553 had separate authors and illustrator, and 477 were created by people who did both! That’s almost 50-50. If I’m correct in guessing that most people only do one or the other, it appears that people who do both are at a bit of an advantage.

 

Number of words:

Wordless – 25

Less than 100 – 67

100 to 500 – 547

less that 500 – 639

more than 500 – 328

500 to 800 – 166

less than 800 – 805

800 to 1000 – 60

more than 1000 – 102

I used to hear we should aim for 500 to 800 words. But more recently, people say picture books should be under 500. These numbers definitely reflect that the shorter books are being published more often. 100 to 500 words looks to be the current sweet spot.

(I’ll talk more numbers later when I look at non-fiction books.)

 

Pages:

Most picture books are 32 pages, 32 pages with 8 end pages, or 40 pages. of the books I read, 745 met this standard.

199 books had more than 40 pages.

only 6 had less than 32 pages.

 

Any questions? I can get more specific with some of this information if you are interested. Just ask. Remember,  I only took notes on a fraction of the thousands of wonderful books that are out there. Please don’t be offended if your favorites don’t seem to be represented. I only started  this so I could get an idea of the current trends, and I feel that this survey does generally show those.

The next post is about characters – male/female? ethnicity? most popular animal? Part 2, check it out.

Or if you have a fear of Characters, you can skip on over to Genre in Part 3.

My 100 Favorite Picture Books of 2016

I read a lot of books this year. Well over 1000. Some I loved … some not so much. Here are my favorites. Understand that this is only from the books I had a chance to read. I’m sure there are hundreds of wonderful books that I didn’t get a chance to read.

The 100 books that follow, I found to be exceptional in the areas of text, art and idea.

I think it is clear that I am more attracted to quirky, humorous books, than I am to lyrical or serious books, but many wonderful lyrical books still made the list. I was also surprised by how often biographies made my list.

I start with my 10 favorites in no particular order. 10 books I completely connected with.

THUNDER BOY JR. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales – Strong, personal, emotional text with bold lively art.

THEY ALL SAW A CAT by Brandan Wenzel – Fantastic. This book had it all, from great art to lovely simple repetitive words to and interesting concept to a perfect ending.

THE MAGIC WORD by Mac Barnett and Elise Parsley – Everything about this book is excellent. Pictures of the main character made me laugh out loud. Great twist on saying please. A new favorite.

NANETTE’S BAGUETTE by Mo Willems – I was beguiled and delighted by this repetitive, rhymy text with simple, silly images.

THE WATER PRINCESS by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds – Here is a lyrical one that I fell in love with. The perfect words with a lovely, important story for kids.

DUCK ON A TRACTOR by David Shannon – Hilarious pictures and story.

EXPLORERS OF THE WILD by Cale Atkinson – Loved this book. such clever story telling and so satisfying.

FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie – Emotional struggle for freedom with bright art.

THE SUMMER NICK TAUGHT HIS CATS TO READ by Curtis Manley and Kate Burube – Such a clever book that was funny and unusual. Funny images.

LET ME FINISH! By Minh Le and Isabel Roxas – My only meta book on the list, and I love meta books. funny and relatable  with active images.

These next 5 might have all be in the top ten if I were making this list yesterday or tomorrow.

IT CAME IN THE MAIL by Ben Clanton

SCHOOL’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson

HOW TO TRACK A TRUCK by Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco

BRING ME A ROCK! by Daniel Miyares

IS THAT WISE, PIG? By Jan Thomas

And here are the rest. All books I thought were terrific!

PLANET KINDERGARTEN: 100 DAYS IN ORBIT by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and Shane Prigmore

MONSTER TRUCKS by Anika Denise and Nate Wragg

HOW THIS BOOK WAS MADE by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

IF YOU EVER WANT TO BRING A PIANO TO THE BEACH, DON’T! By Elise Parsley

JAZZ DAY by Roxane Orgill and Francis Vallejo

MY DAD AT THE ZOO by Coralie Saudo and Kris Di Giacomo

THE TWO TIMS by David Elliot and Gabriel Alborozo

MR. PARTICULAR by Jason Kirschner

NOBODY LIKES A GOBLIN by Ben Hatke

MAYBE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL by F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell and Rafael Lopez

THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK by Sergio Ruzzier

BYE-BYE BINKY by Maria van Lieshout

WHERE’S THE ELEPHANT by Barroux

MR. MOON WAKES UP by Jemima Sharpe

THE THANK YOU BOOK by Mo Willems

THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE by Pat Zietlow Miller and Frank Morrison

WOLF CAMP by Andrea Zuill

HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Rebecca J. Gomez and Dan Santat

ARE WE THERE YET? By Dan Santat

ALAN’S BIG SCARY TEETH by Jarvis

LUCY by Randy Cecil

THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES by Michelle Cuevas and Erin Stead

ARMSTRONG by Torben Kuhlmann

OH NO, ASTRO! By Matt Roeser and Brad Woodard

BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK by Jean Reidy and Leo Timmers

ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER by Megan Maynor and Rosalinde Bonnet

CAN I TELL YOU A SECRET? by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

GROVER CLEVELAND, AGAIN! by Ken Burns and Gerald Kelly

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING by Arthur A. Levine and Katie Katherine

BEDTIME FOR BATMAN by Michael Dahl and Ethen Beavers

ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

QUACKERS by Liz Wong

ONE DAY IN THE EUCALYPTUS, EUCALYPTUS TREE by Daniel Bernstrom and Brendan Wenzel

ME AND ANNIE MCPHEE by Oliver Dunrea and Will Hillenbrand

EXCELLENT ED by Stacy McAnulty and Julia Sarcone-Roach

CAN ONE BALLOON MAKE AN ELEPHANT FLY? By Dan Richards and Jeff Newman

I LOVE YOU ALREADY by Jory John and Benji Davies

THERE’S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP by Ross Burach

JOSEPH’S BIG RIDE by Terry Farish and Ken Daley

NED THE KNITTING PIRATE by Diana Murray and Leslie Lammle

YOU BELONG HERE by Clark, M. H. and Isabelle Arsenault

EVERYONE LOVES CUPCAKE by Kelly DiPucchio and Eric Wight

10 LITTLE NINJAS by Miranda Paul and Nate Wragg

NEXT TO YOU by Lori Haskins Houran and Sydney Hanson

QUIT CALLING ME MONSTER by Jory John and Bob Shea

BEAUTIFUL by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

STEAMBOAT SCHOOL by Deborah Hopkinson and Ron Husband

THIS ORQ. (HE #1) by David Elliot and Lori Nichols

ALL ABOARD FOR BOBO ROAD by Stephen Davies and Christopher Corr

COWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE by Lori Mortensen and Michael Allen Austin

MERVIN THE SLOTH IS ABOUT TO DO THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD by Colleen AF Venable and Ruth Chan

KISS IT BETTER by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah Massini

GOODNIGHT, BAT! GOOD MORNING, SQUIRREL! By Paul Meisel

MOTOR MILES by John Burningham

THE BILL THE CAT STORY by Berkley Breathed

THE WOLVES OF CURRUMPAR by William Grill

MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM by Tammi Sauer and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

RULES OF THE HOUSE by Mac Barnett and Matthew Myers

DRAGON WAS TERRIBLE by Kelly DiPucchio and Greg Pizzoli

MADELINE FINN AND THE LIBRARY DOG by Lisa Papp

THE CRANKY BALLERINA by Elise Gravel

WE FOUND A HAT by Jon Klassen

BRUNHILDA’S BACKWARDS DAY by Shawna J. C. Tenney

THE HAPPIEST BOOK EVER by Bob Shea

ALL WE KNOW by Linda Ashman and Jane Dyer

THIS IS MY BOOK by Mark Pett

PLAYING FROM THE HEART by Peter H. Reynolds

DOG RULES by Jef Czekaj

A PERFECT MESS by Steve Breen

WE ARE GROWING by Laurie Keller

DOJO SURPRISE by Chris Tougas

THAT STINKS! By Alan Katz and Stephen Gilpin

SECRET TREE FORT by Brianne Farley

THE MIXED-UP TRUCK by Stephen Savage

RUDAS NINO’S HORRENDOUS HERMANITAS by Yuyi Morales

AROUND AMERICA TO WIN THE VOTE by Mara Rockliff and Hadley Hooper

THE BRANCH by Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt

EAT, SLEEP, POOP by Alexandra Penfold and Jane Massey

ROSIE THE RAVEN by Helga Bansch

BELLA’S FALL COAT by Lynn Plourde and Susan Gal

THE DEAD BIRD by Margaret Wise Brown and Christian Robinson

POND by Jim LaMarche

TEK: THE MODERN CAVE BOY by Patrick McDonnell

TOO MANY MOOSE! By Lisa M. Bakos and Mark Chambers

DON’T CALL ME CHOOCHIE POOH! By Sean Taylor and Kate Hindley

A VOYAGE IN THE CLOUDS by Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall

ANIMALS BY THE NUMBERS by Steve Jenkins

PAWS MCDRAW by Connah Brecon

Let me know which of your favorites made my list, and which ones you think I should have included.

Another Option for Paying for Conferences.

There are many reasons we don’t attend writers conferences. Too far, too much time away,  we are not interested in the topics, we are not interested in the speakers or the agents and editors we are interested in will not be attending.

But often the biggest reason is it’s too expensive.

I was wanting to attend the national SCBWI conference in New York this February. But with the flights, housing, food, and the cost of the conference itself, I thought I may not be able to make it work.

Then I caught word of a option I had not explored before – Grants.

Look into it!

I applied for a Personal Development Grant, and have received $650 to help pay for expenses.

So I’m going!

This program has been funded, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

                                        

The application process only took a short time and the submissions process for receiving the funds looks pretty simple also.

I’m sure this type of grant is available in many states, so give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

I’m so glad I looked into it and put in the effort, and I know I will apply again in the future if I need to.

Thank you to everyone who made this a possibility.

Holiday Contest (Part 3)

Am I being completely ridiculous? Feel free to tell me if I am – but I’m doing this anyway. Here is yet another entry into Susanna Hill’s holiday writing contest.

I was struck by the holiday spirit, and couldn’t stop writing. I promise, this is my last one.

 

THE TWELVE DAISIES OF CHRISTMAS

Twelve little daisies found a big stack of springtime books.

Eleven about lady bugs,

Ten about April showers,

Nine about baby chicks,

Eight about spring cleaning,

Seven about playful lambs,

Six about bicycle rides,

Five about butterflies,

Four about bird chirps,

Three about fresh air,

Two about picnics,

and one about Christmas. Christmas?!

The daisies were amazed.

They gathered around the Christmas book, pouring over each page.

Elves? Pine cones? Reindeer? Sleds? They had no idea such things existed!

A daisy’s life is all about spring – new growth, bunnies, Easter eggs – that kind of stuff.

But hot chocolate?! Honestly, who could resist?

Not these twelve daisies, so they headed off to explore an exciting new world.

First they came to summer.

They discovered sand and waves, beach balls, barbecues, and fireworks.

But it was so hot, they all developed a bad case of the wilts.

Next was autumn.

Autumn revealed costumes and candy, jack-o-lanterns, and turkey with stuffing.

But the chilly winds took their toll. They arrived at winter, broken and blotched.

Knowing they were close, The little daisies trudged on through the snow shedding petals with each step.

By the time they reached Christmas they were nothing but twelve brown sticks.

The inhabitants of Christmas were surprised. They had heard of daisies, but pictured something a bit more … healthy, but Santa new better.

“For your bravery and curiosity,” said Santa, “I give you a bit of Christmas magic.”

And with a touch of his nose, the daisies transformed back into their springtime glory.

The Christmas folk were merry hosts, and in return, the little daisies shared their fresh, bright enthusiasm, making it the springiest Christmas ever.

Thanks for reading, and a very springy holiday season to you all!