Marcia Strykowski

Staying Home

Hi there!

It’s been way too long that I’ve let my little blog go unattended and I figured it was time to check in. I also plan to click on all my favorite blogs and make sure everyone is safe. I’m curious to find out how you’ve been keeping sane and what you’ve been doing to pass the time.

Life is certainly different these days. For most of us, our main concern is how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. Even though, in some ways, there might be more time, if you’re like me, I find myself with much less ability to focus. Instead of working, I’m scrolling through COVID-19 updates, hoping against hope that this pandemic will soon be over.

Meanwhile, I’m also making a few masks, helping my mom donate a large collection of fabric to the cause, and trying not to focus entirely on the news.

A bright spot during my weeks is virtually chatting with friends and colleagues. Here, for example, is my critique group. We did quite well, considering we are such a large group. Everyone was polite and observant of speaking one at a time, and as always, the feedback from this talented group is amazing!During this strange time, I also enjoy walking, as I’m sure many of you are doing, either alone, or six feet apart from friends.

From Pexels on Pixabay

From ZoeGammon on Pixabay

I guess all we can do is keep our distance and help those who need us. Keep walking toward those brighter days ahead and many many thanks to all those working on the frontlines!

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I truly hope all my blog readers are safe and healthy. Hang in there, we’ll get through this.

Next up, some writing news!

New Candlewick Press Books

I haven’t blogged about new children’s books in a while and when I received these first two in the mail to review I knew it was time for a special post. For reasons stated below, this post will be dedicated to Candlewick Press. Here’s a bit of history from their website:

In 1992, Candlewick Press opened its doors as an independent children’s publisher, and we remain an independent publisher today. As part of Walker Books Group, Candlewick Press enjoys a unique ownership structure which includes more than 75 of the employees in our US office, staff in our UK and AUS offices, plus more than 150 authors and illustrators.

Candlewick Press arrived on the scene with some of the highest-quality picture books anywhere. And in the years since then, our offerings have grown to encompass all ages, from board books to e-books, high-end novelty to cutting-edge fiction. What hasn’t changed is our goal of excellence, our model of independence, and our commitment to the authors and illustrators who create our books and the readers who love them.
Two decades and more than 2,000 awards and accolades later, we are as committed as ever to independent thinking and primed for a future that looks brighter than ever.

First up we have two super duper board books from Nosy Crow, an imprint of Candlewick Press.

100 First Words illustrated by Edward Underwood is a huge 9 ½” by 11 ½” fourteen-page book loaded with flaps to lift. Under each flap is an unexpected surprise along with a new word. For example, a hidden owl peeks through a window behind a pair of curtains. This brightly illustrated book is perfect for infants up through toddlers and is a step up from smaller books of a similar theme. SPOILER ALERT! A group of pedestrians (and a dog) smiling up at the bus passing by is hidden under the bus flap in the below picture.

Alphabet Street written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius is also a large board book—8” x 12”—and when this fold-out book is fully opened it spreads to an amazing eight feet wide! Each page features a new shop with two big flaps for little fingers to open, revealing more delightful illustrations and words underneath. This fun book would make a clever backdrop for imaginative play with small dolls and/or cars. A pretty ribbon keeps the book shut for travel or storage.

In my usual big stack of new picture books that arrived at my library I noticed a pattern. Not only did there happen to be four books about a grandfather and his grandchild, but three with that particular theme were by Candlewick. With each monthly order, this publisher continuously stands out. What else could I do but decide this would be a Candlewick post. So here’s to beautiful books and grandfathers everywhere!

Our Favorite Day was written and illustrated by Joowon Oh. A debut author/illustrator, Joowon has created the sweetest book ever! The simple story of the strong bond between grandparent and child is gorgeously illustrated with a combination of cut paper, water color, and gouache. The expressions of love between the characters plus their surprise activity makes for a beautiful well thought out story you’ll want to read over and over again. 

Looking for Yesterday was written and illustrated by Alison Jay. A young boy tries a variety of impossible methods to repeat the day he experienced the day before. Lovely story of a grandfather who teaches his grandson about the importance of enjoying each new day while still maintaining fond memories of past adventures. Illustrations were created using alkyd oil paints. 

Grandpa’s Top Threes was written by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. Main character Henry misses the closeness he shared with his grandfather, but then helps him through the grieving process in a way only children can do. Illustrations were done in watercolor and assembled digitally. Also, the style of the type caught my eye in this book; the font is called Mountains of Christmas. 🙂

That’s a wrap. Wrap yourself up cozy and enjoy these delightful books!


Strawbery Banke Fall Festival

Strawbery Banke is a 10 acre outdoor living history museum located at 14 Hancock Street in Portsmouth, NH. This restored colonial village is  worth checking out. The historic houses are staffed and open for touring May 1 through October 31, from 10 am to 5 pm. They are also open for special events throughout the year. From their website:

Strawbery Banke is unique among outdoor history museums in presenting a complete neighborhood’s evolution over 300+ years, with most of the 37 historic buildings on their original foundations. These structures link visitors to the people who lived on the Portsmouth waterfront from 1695 to 1954. Costumed role players and traditional craftspeople recreate the lives, concerns and challenges of families in the community, basing their interpretations on diaries, letters, historical records, archaeology and collected artifacts.

Strawbery Banke’s Annual Fall Festival showcases dozens of traditional New England handmade crafts, heritage breed and farm animal demonstrations, and the museum’s heirloom gardens and seed-saving program. The Fall Festival also now incorporates the Children’s Book Festival. The book festival has been happening for five years and this year included celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Ox-Cart Man. This gorgeous picture book, written by Donald Hall (September 20, 1928 – June 23, 2018) and illustrated by Barbara Cooney (August 6, 1917 – March 10, 2000), has always been a favorite of mine and was awarded the 1980 Caldecott Award. It was a highlight of my career to meet both Donald and Barbara years ago. Barbara was at a Boston Book Builders event in 1991 (where she signed Miss Rumphius for me!). I remember the moderator called her Hattie, mistaking her for the main character in Hattie and the Wild Waves when the book was actually based on her mother’s life. Years later I ran into former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall at the Andover Bookstore. One of his comments has always stayed with me. He said that even for a short poem it took him many many revisions. He often spent hours putting a comma in and then taking it out again, over and over.

I had a great time at this year’s Children’s Book Festival, visiting with new and old author friends as well as talking with those who stopped by to buy books.

Children’s Book Authors left to right: Kim Chaffee, Kirsti Call, Marcia Strykowski, Carol Gordon Ekster, Christy Mihaly, and Terry Farish.

You never know who might pass through the festival.

Below is the view out the window from where I was selling books. I’d seen sheep herding before, but duck herding!?

Maybe I’ll see you next year at this fun fall event!


School Library Journal Day of Dialog

I’ve been remiss in keeping up this blog over the past few months, but rather than make excuses, suffice it to say, I’ve been busy and it’s great to be back. There have been several awesome events lately that I’d like to share with you. First up, SLJ Day of Dialog was held at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, MA on October 4, 2019. Here are the details from the SLJ website: Join School Library Journal for our second-annual Day of Dialog Cambridge, the most anticipated librarian-only gathering of the year! Attendance is absolutely free!
Be informed, inspired, and entertained by the industry’s leading authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers. Spend the day discussing the latest trends, and get the inside scoop on the hottest books in the world of children’s and young adult literature.
You’ll enjoy a full day of panels and speaker presentations by celebrated authors. And thanks to our many publisher sponsors, attendees will receive free advanced reading copies and an opportunity to have complimentary books signed by their authors.
Network with colleagues from around the country in an intimate, library-centric setting; get a first look at exciting titles due out next season; and walk away with free books and stimulating ideas for your libraries and classrooms.
How could I not join in on this fun event? Thanks so much to SLJ, all the sponsoring publishers, and Dr. Maria McCauley, Cambridge Public Library director for hosting this wonderful conference. Kiera Parrott did a great job introducing each group, as well. The morning opened with the thoughtful words of Erin Entrada Kelly, author of the gorgeous Lalani of the Distant Sea novel for middle grade readers.
Second on the agenda was the Picture Books panel with Kyle Lukoff, author of Call Me Max, Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale, author and illustrator of Here and Now, Vita Morrow, High-Five to the Hero, and Cornelius Van Wright, author/illustrator of The Little Red Crane. Leslie Hynes, a school librarian from Kingsley Montessori School in Boston, did a nice job moderating.
Next was the first Book Buzz with representatives from American Psychological Association/Magination Press, Candlewick Press, Charlesbridge Publishing, Greystone Kids, Minedition, Boyds Mills & Kane, Owl Kids Books, and Houghton Mifflin Company.

After those three excellent presentations, we broke for a delicious lunch, collected books and autographs, and caught up with old and new friends. The afternoon keynote was Deborah Heiligman who shared the fantastic research methods she used for Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.”

The Nonfiction Panel was moderated by Margaret Bush, Professor Emerita, Simmons College, Boston. This energetic group was such fun to listen to. Marge Pellegrino, Kim Chaffee, Melissa Stewart, and Carole Boston Weatherford all have delightfully compelling books you really should check out!

The third panel of the day was all about Tweens & Teens. Panelists included Craig Battle, author of Camp Average, Ryan LaSala, author of Reverie,  Maulik Pancholy, author of The Best at It, Karen Rayne, author of Trans+, and Christina Soontornvat, author of A Wish in the Dark. Ashleigh Williams, a SLJ middle grade editor, did a great job moderating this fascinating discussion.

The second Book Buzz had representatives from HarperCollins, Page Street, Quarto, Reycraft, Sourcebooks, and Starbright Books. A lot of fun new books were shared.

The mesmerizing closing keynote was presented by multi-talented Nikki Grimes, author of Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir. Her many books and poetry are amazing–check them out!


All in all a very worthwhile day!

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:

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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

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