Marcia Strykowski

KidLitCon, ProvBookFest, and NESCBWI19!

It’s been a wonderful spring for conferences and literary festivals. Below are a few pictures of events I was able to participate in.

First up, I was thrilled to attend KidLitCon which in previous years has been held all over the country, but this year was nearby in Providence, RI. What a wonderful group of librarians, teachers, authors, and illustrators.


Below, an awesome panel filled with creativity and talent. Left to right: Janet Costa Bates, Nancy Tupper Ling, Oge Mora (find her in the latest Caldecott winners!) and Isabel Roxas. This disscussion was moderated by Kirsten Cappy.
Next, moderator Katy Kramp, Paula Chase, Barbara Dee, Ann Braden, Varian Johnson (also our inspiring keynote speaker), and Jo Knowles. These amazing authors discussed their award-winning middle-grade fiction, all of which included tough and complex topics.
Librarians and booksellers discussed how they get the right books into the hands of kids. Shown here: moderator Karen Yingling, Melissa Fox (an independent bookseller who came all the way from Kansas) and Sam Musher an enthusiastic school librarian.
Whoever said kid lit conferences weren’t fun? They are a barrel of laughs! Members of my Writers’ Rumpus critique group enjoy lunch: Kirsti, Laura, and Catherine (with Josh Funk in the background).
I enjoyed participating in this roundtable about social media.
The below panel featured Chris Tebbetts who illustrates James Patterson’s Middle School series (along with many other projects) and Christopher Denise, another illustrator of many gorgeous works including the Redwall series and Firefly Hollow. Nicely moderated by Anamaria Anderson.And here is Debbi Michiko Florence and Kara LaReau, as part of a larger panel, discussing their chapter book series and what it takes to write these important in-between books.

A couple of weeks later, I returned to Rhode Island for the first annual Providence Book Festival. Events featuring adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry were scheduled at the same time, but I pretty much stayed in the kids’ room and even then wasn’t able to catch all the panels. Padma Venkatraman opened up the children’s events. Here she is in the middle of her lovely, moving presentation.I was on a panel, too! We discussed Fiction That Empowers Girls/Topics No Longer Taboo in Middle Grade books.

And here’s a picture taken later when we were looking a bit jollier. Left to right: me, Barbara Dee, Laura Shovan (sitting, moderator), Monica Tesler, Jen Calonita, and MarcyKate Connolly. Look up their awesome books!
This next one was a fun picture book panel with Anika Denise, Jannie Ho, and Emilie Boon.
A big highlight for me was watching P. W. Alley draw. Here he puts the finishing touches on Paddington Bear for a young fan.Sorry for such blurry pictures, but this next one shows David Neilsen, Nancy Castaldo, and Susan Tan who took turns reading their work.

And here’s Dianna Sanchez, Kara LaReau, and Pat Cummings discussing their middle grade books. Loved this discussion between Julie Dao and Antoine Revoy about their creative process and what inspires them.
I spy Roller Boy!
Last but definitely not least, the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators annual spring conference was held once again in Springfield, MA. Great time with great people! As you can see, my critique group (check out Writers’ Rumpus) was well represented. We also met up with a lot of new friends and old friends. Inspiring speakers and workshops, as always.
Cathy Ogren and Adaela McLaughlin getting ready for the evening’s events!
Josh Roberts volunteered at the busy registration desk, but paused a minute to pose with Kim Chaffee.
I started off the conference at a dinner for Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple’s Picture Book Boot Camp attendees. A great group bursting with good news.
Friday night dinner with ten members from Writers’ Rumpus.
In the middle, beyond the crowd, you’ll find a tiny Jane Yolen giving the opening comments of her inspiring words of welcome. And, hey, look what book got stuck on the screen!
Finishing up breakfast on Saturday morning just before our keynote speaker.
Lynda Mullaly Hunt presented a profound and moving keynote speech: “The things we are ashamed of make for very good writing.” And “What will be your legacy? Will you spend your one precious life devouring Netflix?…The story that drives you can change lives.”Saturday dinner, always delicious!

That’s a wrap, hope your spring is going well, too!

ALA Awards & More

While participating in ReFoReMo which showcases a lot of great picture book titles throughout the month of March, I got to thinking about the latest ALA (American Library Association) awards which were announced on Jan. 28, 2019.  Luckily, just about all of the winners are available at my library, so I’d like to belatedly share a brief look at some of them for those of you who might have missed these special titles. Congratulations to all the talented authors, illustrators, and editors behind the following books for children.

The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to Merci Suárez Changes Gears. This beautiful book for ages 9 to 12 was written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press. The story is about a 6th grade girl’s coming-of-age and includes her relationship with her grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease. Humor, heart, a believable main character, and a well-done plot!

Two Newbery Honor Books were announced, as well: The Night Diary, written by Veera Hiranandani and published by Dial Books for Young Readers; and The Book of Boy, written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr and published by Greenwillow Books.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children went to Hello Lighthouse and was illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall. The book was published by Little, Brown and Company. This is such a gorgeous book. I’ve researched lighthouse history before and this has it all, telling the sweet story of a lighthouse keeper and his family during the time just before lighthouses became automated. A beautifully illustrated peek at coastal history with informative back matter on the endpapers.

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named: Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal and published by Candlewick Press; A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin and published by Little, Brown and Company; The Rough Patch, illustrated and written by Brian Lies and published by Greenwillow Books; and Thank You, Omu! illustrated and written by Oge Mora and published by Little, Brown and Company. (shown further down)

The Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults went to A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, written by Claire Hartfield. The book is published by Clarion Books. This important book with photographs throughout includes a wealth of interesting detailed history leading up to the race riots.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected: Finding Langston, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and published by Holiday House; The Parker Inheritance, written by Varian Johnson and published by Arthur A. Levine Books; and The Season of Styx Malone, written by Kekla Magoon and published by Wendy Lamb Books.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award went to The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. The book is written by Marion Dane Bauer and published by Candlewick Press. Gorgeous illustrations of hand marbled paper assembled digitally into collages along with poetic text describe how the universe was formed and how we are all a part of that magic.

Three King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books; Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company; and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.

The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went to Monday’s Not Coming, written by Tiffany D. Jackson. The book is published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I have not read this book yet, but according to the almost 1,200 reviews it has already received on Goodreads, it sounds amazing, albeit difficult to read for the strong emotions it produces.

And the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award went to Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora and published by Little, Brown Young Readers. A wonderful addition to the growing collection of books incorporating kindness and community. I absolutely loved the folktale-style plot and colorful illustrations.

Speaking of ALA, the below video was featured at their big annual midwinter conference courtesy of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Check out my own little book Roller Boy at 23:56! Here’s their blurb: From the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meetings and Exhibits that took place January 25-29, 2019 in Seattle WA, videos from SCBWI members showcasing and talking about their new books. This video was shown at the SCBWI booth to thousands of librarians who attended the conference.

Also, the below clever wiki video spotlighting 11 Great Works of Middle Grade Realistic Fiction was a wonderful surprise, check out Roller Boy at #4 (1:59).

Several conferences and book festivals coming up, but hope to chat with you real soon!

Rolling into the New Year

new year 2019 a

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Yes? How are you doing with that? Many people start off with the best intentions, but then find it too difficult to carry through on everything. Yvonne Ventresca shares some great tips for achieving your goals here.

OR, maybe it’s time to join a writing group. Marianne Knowles shares why that’s a great idea on the Writers’ Rumpus blog. Speaking of Writers’ Rumpus, check out the previous post, as well, where Laura Fineberg Cooper picks out some of her favorite posts from 2018.

My last book event of 2018 was hosted by The Room to Write at Barnes & Noble. What a great group of writers and illustrators, and organizer Colleen Getty (shown below, front & center), did a wonderful job of putting it all together.
Here are a few more pictures from the event.

Click on above picture to enlarge.For more Roller Boy events, please click here. And here is my updated ABOUT page.

As always, thanks for reading. It’s a real treat to hear what you’re up to and to know you, whether in person or across the miles via internet. Friendship makes the world go ’round!

To each and every one of you, may all your 2019 dreams come true!

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Traditions

While I stir cranberries, bake pies, and grate cabbage for coleslaw, I’m thinking of Thanksgivings gone by and Thanksgivings to come, and how thankful I am for this special holiday. On that note, I figured I’d revisit this post from a few years back and spruce it up with some new additions since I don’t have time to carve out an entirely new article.

I just looked up what foods are considered traditional for the holiday. They include turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie for dessert. This all seems right in line with our menus, although we always include something green, too, like broccoli or asparagus, or good ol’ green bean casserole, and usually squash, too. For pies, we’ll be serving pumpkin and apple. I also got in the habit of making Chex™ Party Mix each year.

This year I skipped the party mix because my son won’t be able to join us, sniff 😦 . I should have made it anyway and sent him a tin full which I did the one other time he couldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. He was studying at Oxford and wasn’t due to visit until Christmas break. We did Skype that year though, propped a close screen view of him right up on the tabletop. 🙂 However, he and his lovely wife have a very good reason to be far away this holiday, so all is well and we’ll see them soon.

It’s definitely a season to count blessings, but it can sometimes be challenging to feel cheerful and deserving of so much when others are going through such unbelievably difficult hardships. Not only personal acquaintances, but those shown daily in the news. We all have problems but some people seem to have more than their share at times.

Although there are many discrepancies about what went on, who attended, and what they ate, most people agree the first Thanksgiving was held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. I find it interesting that this famous Currier & Ives Lithograph along with the popular tune of “Over the River and Through the Wood,” both created in the mid 1800s, also both had roots in Massachusetts.

c&i american homestead winter

Over the River and Through the Wood

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving-Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate!
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood;
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Lydia_Maria_ChildLydia Maria Francis Child, born in Medford, Massachusetts (February 11, 1802 – October 20, 1880), was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Here she is reading a book in 1870.

Currier and Ives was a successful American printmaking firm headed by Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888) born in Roxbury, Massachusetts and James Merritt Ives (1824–1895) of New York. Currier & Ives produced at least 7,500 lithographs during its seven decades. Artists created two to three new images every week on lithographic stones. The images were printed in black and white and then colored by hand in assembly-line fashion, with each worker applying one color.  Currier & Ives sold more than a million prints, through peddlers, pushcart vendors and bookstores, through the mail and through an international office in London.

In Amy’s Choice, Amy teaches her friends how to make turkey apples to start off their traditional Thanksgiving celebration. Shown below are a few turkeys the kids in my family made to decorate our Thanksgiving table one year. Any holiday traditions going on in your house?

turkey apples

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” —Cicero

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Picture Book Picks!

Because so many great picture books were released over the past year or so, I feel I have to get in one more book review post. Here’s another sixteen books for your holiday gift giving and reading pleasure, in no particular order:

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year was illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, poems were selected by Fiona Waters; published by Nosy Crow. This lavishly illustrated big sturdy book is filled with some of my favorite poems as well as many new ones. It’s fun to look up the birthdays of your family and friends to see what poem has been chosen for their special day. There’s a handy index of poets, titles, and first lines at the back and an attached ribbon bookmark. A coffee-table sized book that’s great for all ages with delightful illustrations of wildlife throughout.

Paul and His Ukulele was written by Rob Broder and illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky; published by Ripple Grove Press. I adore this tender celebration of a life well lived. The beautifully written story follows Paul, a gentle spirit and lover of music, from childhood to adulthood. His relationship with his parents is warm and loving. The watercolor and ink illustrations are gorgeous and worth looking at again and again. Possible spoiler alert: it was fun to see Paul’s future love interest appear early in the coffee shop scene. But what they accomplish together is the best surprise of all!

Potato Pants was written and illustrated by Laurie Keller; published by Henry Holt & Co. The illustrations were created with markers, colored pencils, pen & ink, acrylic paint, potato stamps, collage, and digital drawing. What a refreshing sense of humor Laurie Keller has. It shows on every page, even on the title and copyright pages. In the back matter, we get to meet Tuberto, creator of potato pants and see his “full line of potato fashions for both the active and the couch potato.” Underneath all the laughs is a good reminder that assumptions about others aren’t always accurate.

Too much, not enough! was written and illustrated by Gina Perry; published by Tundra Books. This bright, cheerful book introduces us to Moe and Peanut. When one friend always wants more, taller, bigger, messier, etc. and the other friend always wants less, smaller, softer, tidier, can they ever find a way to get along? A good story of accepting differences. The cute artwork was surprisingly created with Photoshop and the endpapers are fun, too!

A World of Cities was written and illustrated by James Brown; published by Candlewick Studio. This is a beautiful big book, and I’m talking really big as in an 11″ x 15″ format. Seeing all that takes place in the bold, graphic prints, plus the fascinating facts and huge populations of so many different parts of the world made this reader feel an enormous sense of just how huge the world really is. Wonderful for classrooms and armchair travelers of all ages.

Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches was written by Julie Fulton and illustrated by Rachel Suzanne; published by Maverick Arts Publishing. This fun book is a great choice for story time. The lyrical repetition throughout will have kids squealing in anticipation of the title line, which is the bear’s response each time Jack politely and patiently offers egg sandwiches. The big ol’ gruff bear is certainly hungry, but what DOES he eat? I have to admit I kept worrying about Jack’s safety as the bear received his large eating supplies. The suspense builds throughout, but all turns out well after Jack’s clever solution, followed by a cute punchline. Bright and cheerful illustrations are a great match for this fun story.

Fire Truck Dreams was written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram; published by Running Press Kids. A fun rhyming story. Beautiful pictures have the appearance of a lot of soft textures on each page. This is such a cute series, Fire Truck Dreams being a follow-up to Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams.  And the busy little fire engine even stops at a Rescue Readers Library on his way back to the station.

Lost in the Library was written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Stevie Lewis; published by Henry Holt & co. The rhyming is spot on and I love the personable lions with their big expressive faces. Beautiful digitally rendered illustrations and endpapers along with an interesting page of back matter containing fascinating facts about the New York Public Library. The muted color palette works perfectly for the luxurious rooms of the NYPL.

The Book Tree was written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh; published by Barefoot Books. A lovely work of art from the embossed title on the cover to the beautiful book-filled endpapers. The mixed media illustrations are stunning and the words are gentle and flowing–all resulting in a comfortable folktale-for-the-ages style. And the message is of course perfect, because really, where would we be without books?

Small was written and illustrated by Gina Perry; published by Little Bee Books. I love how it appears this feisty little character is all on her own on her adventures, but upon closer inspection you will discover her mother and baby sibling are always close by in almost every picture. The illustrations are clean, bright, and imaginative. Very cute story with a BIG message.

Drawn Together was written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat; published by Disney-Hyperion. This gorgeous book reaches across generations and language barriers to set a young boy and his grandfather on a magnificent adventure that, through their mutual love of drawing, brings them a lasting and close companionship. The amazing artwork was created with markers, oil-based inks, brush pens, watercolors, and colored pens and pencils.

How Rude! was written by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Olivier Tallec; published by Quarto Publishing PLC. This cute story is about Dot and her friend Duck. Duck is being very rude during the nice tea party Dot has kindly spread out for him. The words are filled with humor and the expressive illustrations are adorable. This is a wonderful book that shows why it’s important to be polite and how people feel sad when others are rude to them.

Ten Horse Farm was written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda; published by Candlewick. The paper cutting and folding genius has done it again. Horse lovers in particular will love the detailed pop-up illustrations. Each beautifully constructed horse leaps right off the page. There aren’t many words, mostly just one per page, but it is definitely a treasure for gentle story-times and pop-up book fans of all ages.

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah was written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky; published by Schwartz & Wade. For the many fans of Sydney Taylor’s classic series, this new picture book is a great find. Based on her own childhood, Taylor, in 1951, was the first to write about Jewish children and culture. This new book is aimed at a slightly younger audience and features little Gertie who wants desperately to help prepare for Hanukkah. After being told she is too small, she finally gets to do the biggest job of all. I’ve always enjoyed Zelinsky’s illustrations and the interesting back matter includes his thoughts on technique.

Christmas ABC was written and illustrated by Jannie Ho; published by Nosy Crow. This is a very cute alphabet board book. The alphabet is clearly displayed, one letter per page, in uppercase as well as lowercase on bright checked backgrounds. Simple bold pictures match the one word text throughout. One of my favorites is Qq which stands for ‘quiet’ and shows a little gray mouse tiptoeing along with a special present. Pages are sturdy with rounded corners, perfect for little hands.

Little Christmas Tree was written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle; published by Big Picture Press. This is another beautiful board book for a slightly older group–ages 2-5. The lyrical verse tells of a little tree waking up in the forest surrounded by woodland animals. Surprises unfold throughout Christmas day until night and snowflakes fall. This is a lift-the-flap book with at least three tabs blending into the scene on each double page spread. Descriptive words and colors are hidden on the underside of the flaps. Illustrations are filled with sparkles and other details. The lovely rhythm of the poem put me in mind of Emily Dickinson. 


More Roller Boy Launch Events

To round off the Roller Boy book release, there were three signing events back to back. The first was the previously mentioned big launch party, shown here. Plus I belatedly got this picture to add in (not every day you get to see your name in lights! 🙂 ). mateo scarecrow and HPL sign smallerThe following Saturday, I participated in the 4th Annual Children’s Book Festival which was combined with Strawbery Banke’s annual Fall Festival held in historic Portsmouth, NH. I had a great time at this interesting location.Strawbery Banke - smaller lighter

DSC02822 - CopyNext up was at a Barnes & Noble this past weekend:

DSC02829 - Copy - smaller
BN double
BN kid groupTo see more pictures of kids with books, click on the Kids With Books page from my menu. 

I have another event coming up in a few weeks, a four-town school district is hosting authors for a family literacy night. If you ever want to find out what’s going on, just click on my Events page.

If you’d like to add Roller Boy to your Goodreads book lists, here’s the link (and thank you!).

OK, now that Roller Boy is out in the world and doing well, maybe I can get caught up reading other blogs and working on future books. Speaking of books, here are a few quotes for those of you between projects or perhaps thinking of dipping into writing.

“It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the master work. Now, I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.” –Paulo Coelho

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” –Karen Lamb

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”  –Charles Dickens

Roller Boy Book Launch

Thanks to all who were involved, the Roller Boy launch party was a great success! It was so nonstop busy, I never even got a chance to see all that was going on in the rest of the library. But I know there were scavenger hunts, story times, door prizes, and lots of information-sharing during their 130th Anniversary Open House celebration, and apparently close to 300 people were in attendance.
mateo scarecrow and HPL sign smaller
I’m still catching my breath, but here are a bunch of pictures. Most of these shots (I’m sharing them at a low resolution) were taken by Art Norton Photography. Check out Art on Facebook, too. He has some gorgeous scenery and wildlife.

That’s all for now. I may be adding more pictures later, but I wanted to get as many posted as possible so attendees can find themselves. Sorry to those who came during camera breaks. Thanks again, blogworld!

Almost forgot to mention my next two events:

Oct. 6th from 11 to 3 at the Children’s Author Festival in conjunction with Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH

Oct. 13th from 12 to 3 at Barnes & Noble in Salem, NH

Hope to see you there!



It’s Roller Boy’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday Roller Boy !

Since I’m working all day today and partying all day tomorrow, there will hardly be time to let you all know what’s been going on. But I’ve got back-to-back plans to celebrate the release of my third middle grade novel: Roller Boy (see last post) and I’m sure I’ll have a lot of pictures to share when the events wrap up in a few weeks.

For now, there’s a couple of online parties going on. 🙂

First, check out an interview with me on the Writers’ Rumpus blog, hosted by Laura Fineberg Cooper. I’m so grateful to be part of this awesome group. Click here for the link.

Next, check out Laurie J. Edwards, author extraordinaire. Her blog is also celebrating Roller Boy’s release! Thanks, Laurie! Click here for the link.

Roller Boy, published by Fitzroy Books, is now available through all venues. But if you can’t find it on the shelf of your local bookstore or library, please ask! They’ll be happy to get it for you.

In my last post, I mentioned how one of our library’s scarecrows would be based on Mateo, the main character of Roller Boy, well here he is relaxing a bit while waiting to get stuffed and strung!roller boy scarecrow

I’ll check in again later, and if I haven’t said it before, I so love keeping up with all of you thanks to amazing internet capabilities. Who knew thirty years ago where we’d be today, chatting with worldwide friends? I’ll be back!

Meanwhile, here’s a shopping link that brings you right to Roller Boy:

independent bookstore logo

As always, thanks for your support and friendship!


Roller Boy Excitement

I’ve been away for a bit, but I’ve certainly been keeping busy during these hot humid days. Seems it’s a summer filled with weddings, showers, concerts and other fun get-togethers. But, aside from these pleasant distractions, there’s only a month or so to go until the release of my new middle grade novel: Roller Boy, published by Fitzroy Books. To kick off the launch, I’ve got three events lined up back to back, all in NH (details below).

I’m having such fun spreading the word and getting everything ready. If you see someone wearing a roller skates necklace around town, it’s probably me. Roller skate novelty items are not easy to find. These little skates were in the bead section (on sale!) at Hobby Lobby. And then to my surprise, my friend Rosemary found a pretty roller skate pin in the thrift shop that resides in the basement of our library.

At the first and main launch party, we’re going to have all sorts of food, fun, prizes, and good times in conjunction with the library’s 130th anniversary as an established public library.  There’ll be a scavenger hunt throughout the building with staff stationed here and there to answer any questions. September is also Library Card Sign-up month, so be sure to stop in at your own local library if you’ve been missing out on all it has to offer.

Upstairs in the meeting room, I’ll have freshly made chocolate lollipops for the first 50 people who stop by my book table. I found a plastic candy mold online and decided to make a small batch ahead to test out the idea. First, I painted in the blue and white chocolate and then I melted Hershey bars for the skate boot. I might mix and match a bit, for example, white or blue skates, we’ll see. Naturally, they’ll be GF since Mateo eats strictly gluten-free.It was fun to come up with a craft, too (below). When I added juice caps to the back as well as to the front of a cardboard skate, I was happy to discover it could now stand up on its own.

I’m especially excited to tell you about the scarecrows. Like several other towns in New England, Hampstead has a town-wide scarecrow exhibition for the month of October. Participation goes to a good cause, so thanks to Marilyn, who came up with this bright idea, we decided to give it a try this year. The library is buying two scarecrows to dress and decorate and, here’s the extra fun part, one of them is going to look like Mateo, the main character in Roller Boy! The scarecrow isn’t assembled yet, but this is how I’m hoping he might look, although I’m sure he’ll be a little slouchier, plus I’m having trouble finding old skates to give up to the weather. There’ll be a contest to name the other scarecrow. Stay tuned for pictures.

Here are the details for my upcoming launch events:

Sept. 29, 2018 Roller Boy Release Party at the Hampstead, NH Public Library in conjunction with their 130th Anniversary Open House celebration. Drop in anytime between 10 and 2.

Oct. 6, 2018 Children’s Author Festival from 11-3 in conjunction with Strawberry Banke’s Fall Fest, a popular annual event in scenic Portsmouth, NH.

Oct. 13, 2018 Barnes & Noble Book Signing from 12-3 in Salem, NH.

When tossing around promotional ideas, I was encouraged (dared!?) to put on a pair of roller skates. Did you know skates are much wobblier nowadays? It couldn’t just be my weak ankles. And the ground is definitely more slippery than when I was a teen. So to be blunt, it was terrifying! At least I lasted for the amount of time it takes to snap a picture, and then survived the ordeal.

If you’re anywhere near NH, stop in and say hello. Maybe you’ll visit your own home libraries, too. Librarians love to hear what patrons want to read, so if you can’t find Roller Boy on the shelf, you could easily put in a request. As always, thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of the summer!


2018 Picture Books

Below are some new favorite picture books I’ve recently added to our library. These are all 2018 releases and several have it’s-about-time sensitive subjects included, but they are all uplifting and well worth the read. There were a few others I would have liked to include, however not all were checked-in when I read and reviewed, which I suppose is a good thing. Books as special as these tend to fly off the shelf!

Duck Gets a Job written and illustrated by Sonny Ross, published by Templar Books (an imprint of Candlewick Press) First U. S. edition 2018. This wise and thoughtful book about being who you were truly meant to be rather than stressfully following the crowd is long overdue. The pictures are delightful and the message spot on. This might make a nice graduation gift!

Fruit Bowl written and illustrated by Mark Hoffmann, published by Alfred A. Knopf 2018. A fun book about the connections between fruits and vegetables which includes a sympathetic tomato who smartly pleads his case as he tries desperately to get into the fruit bowl. Witty puns throughout!

Perfectly Norman written and illustrated by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury Publishing First U. S. edition 2018. Another great message about being brave enough to be yourself no matter how unusual you might feel and in the process you just might find your tribe. I tend to prefer large format books and this is a nice big 10″ x 12″.

Hello Lighthouse written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, published by Little, Brown and Company (a division of Hachette Book Group) 2018. Simply a gorgeous book. I’ve researched lighthouse history before and this has it all, telling the sweet story of a lighthouse keeper and his family during the time when lighthouses became automated. A beautifully illustrated peek at coastal history with informative back matter on the endpaper.

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Sarah Horne, published by CarolRhoda Books (division of Lerner Publishing) 2018. Another fun book, very unique with bright colorful illustrations and a surprise ending.

In-Between Things written and illustrated by Priscilla Tey, published by Candlewick Press 2018. This could have been a basic concept book, but the details and surprising examples of what it means to be in-between bring a whole lot more to this clever book. Wonderful mixed media illustrations!

Iver & Ellsworth written by Casey W. Robinson and illustrated by Melissa Larson, published by Ripple Grove Press 2018. The poignant illustrations and gentle words tell a rare rendition of the true meaning of everlasting friendship. A well-done debut book for both author and illustrator!

Julian is a Mermaid written and illustrated by Jessica Love, published by Candlewick Press 2018. A little boy and his grandmother demonstrate a loving story of acceptance in a sometimes cookie-cutter world. With its empowering message, this is an outstanding debut book.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins, published by Disney Hyperion 2018. You’ll love meeting Penelope, an adorable little T. rex who, on her first day of school, is surprised to discover all her classmates are children. Can she learn to stop eating them?

Whale in a Fishbowl written by Troy Howell and illustrated by Richard Jones, published by Schwartz & Wade 2018. A beautifully poetic book about a captive whale who longs for the ocean. Lovely illustrations which include a nice fold-out page.

Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree written by Sandy Shapiro-Hurt and illustrated by Xindi Yan, published by Tilbury House Publishers 2018. A lovely rhyming story filled with deep themes of caring and nature. The soft vibrant illustrations are stunning!

The Other Ducks written by Ellen Yeomans and illustrated by Chris Sheban, published by Roaring Brook Press 2018. A goofy fun story about two easily confused and clueless ducks. The humorous illustrations are watercolor, graphite, and colored pencils.

The Funeral written and illustrated by Matt James, published by Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press) 2018. This is a light, gentle take on a sad event we all eventually encounter. Despite its underlying gloomy subject, the thoughts and actions of the children are buoyant, believable, and life-affirming.

Mommy’s Khimar written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn, published by Salaam Reads (Simon & Schuster) 2018. Love and acceptance are the main themes in this very sweet combination of words and pictures. A debut book for both author and illustrator.

Alma and How She Got Her Name written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, published by Candlewick Press 2018. A charming book about a little girl with a very big name who learns about her many namesakes. The graphite and colored-pencil drawings are delightful!

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