On My Shelf BLOG

Thanksgiving Day at Our House

Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young

Written by Nancy White Carlstrom           Illustrated by R. W. Alley

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 1999


In Thanksgiving Day at Our House fifteen cute poems dance with colorful, adorable illustrations. Both the poems and the artwork capture the traditions and humor, the colors and confusion, the purpose and silliness of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The jingle-jangle of the short poems appeals to very young children. (ages 2-5, I think) The illustrations do, too. They capture the adorable and sometimes absurd behaviors of preschoolers. The book makes a point of including very young children in Thanksgiving celebrations—an idea I really like.

The poems pay tribute to family and friends. They also remind us of Thanksgiving history and traditions including school pageants and Thanksgiving Day feasts. Three poems are prayers; one for the feast, one for people in need, and finally, a good night prayer of gratitude.

Thanksgiving Day at Our House is a fun read-to book that celebrates both family and Thanksgiving Day.


November is a season of thanksgiving in our country. For Christians it is our yearly opportunity to give thanks to God, and our yearly reminder to live with gratitude to God and to other people every day of the year.

For the next few weeks I am laying aside the writing books ON MY SHELF and picking up the greatest book of all—The Bible. Each Tuesday I’ll share with you some scriptural reminders to give thanks. I hope my prayerful choices bless you and direct your thoughts toward God, the greatest giver of all times.

Please join the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comments and by sharing this post on FaceBook or twitter, Buffer or Hootsuite, or wherever you can. Thank you in advance.

Today let’s remember I Thessalonians 5:18.

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

In everything?


Does this mean we are bubbly and happy when terrible things happen to us and around us? I don’t think so.

But it does mean to me that I can, and should, thank God for every circumstance, every situation, because I know that God can and will use the best and the worst in my life for my good and for His great glory. That IS why He created us, isn’t it? For His glory.

He will stir all of the lovely and messy ingredients of my life together and pour out a beautiful cake that I can offer to Him in gratitude.

The Apostle Paul shared this and several other wonderful truths with us in Philippians chapter 4. Each sentence in this chapter is a jewel to study and pray over and incorporate into my life. Verses 11 –  13 contain not the least of these jewels.

…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. For I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

A little or a lot. That isn’t just talking about money and creature comforts. It applies to companionship, to hope, to joy, to rejection and loneliness and all sorts of emotional and spiritual issues.

I can choose to be contented and thankful in everything.

Fall Board Books

ON MY SHELF I also have a small collection of board books about fall and the Thanksgiving holiday. They are all bright and inviting replete with the warm colors of fall on every page. Each one creates a wonderful opportunity for curling up with a preschooler you love to enjoy the language and laughter of fall and Thanksgiving Day.

If you don’t have a preschooler to snuggle with try visiting the children’s section of your local public library or book store. Plop yourself down in one of those tiny chairs and feast your eyes on the fall-themed books there.

The fall board books ON MY SHELF include:

happyThat’s When I’m Happy written by Beth Shoshan, illustrated by Jaqueline East, published by Sandy Creek in 2007, is a cozy read about the love between a toddler-bear and his daddy and mommy bears with fall as a backdrop.



Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills, findapumpkinpublished by Scholastic Inc. is one tale in the Duck & Goose series. It is a sweet, simple and slightly silly tale of Duck, Goose and the perfect  pumpkin.





A Pumpkin Prayer is written by Amy Parker (Hi, Amy!) illustrated by Kirsten Richards and was published by Thomas Nelson in 2011. It is filled with lovely rhyme, rhythm and poetic language. The cute mice characters in the illustrations make young children feel welcomed to come right in and talk with God – “A God who loves me so!”


Happy Thanksgiving Day! is written by Jill Roman Lord happythnxday(who just happens to be one of my critique buddies from Write2Ignite! and Word Weavers of Charlotte). Jill’s language is cleaver and bouncy as always. AND, gives young children the message of the real reason for Thanksgiving – not to simply be thankful, but to give thanks to GOD. Thanks, Jill, for another sweet read. Happy Thanksgiving Day! was published by Ideals Publications in 2013.


Happy Snuggling!


Writer’s Market Guides

Writer’s market guides abound! They are very useful when researching periodical and book markets for your manuscripts. Their formats vary, but they all include valuable information–much more than just a list of publishers.

All include helpful indices, information about agents, articles about writing, submitting, publishing, marketing, and more. They include bios and interviews of popular authors and agents, and tips for finding the best markets for your work.

Here are a few Guides on the horizon:


At a cost of about $30 per book I can’t possibly afford to buy each of these books each year. And, I don’t need to. I’ve zoned in on a couple that best represent the markets I target.

I find that I can use each Guide for a couple of years because I ALWAYS make a phone call to a publisher to verify that they are still in business, that they are still accepting submissions and that the listed submissions editor is still around before I submit to them.

So, I rotate the Guides and purchase only one each year.

Peruse the collection and select one or two. Please let us know IN THE COMMENTS which Guides you plan to use. Most can be pre-ordered yearly.

The Runaway Pumpkin


The Runaway Pumpkin   by Kevin Lewis      illustrated by S.D.Schindler

Published by Orchard Books in 2003

Re-published by Scholastic in 2008


runaway-pumpkinIf you want a good laugh, if your kids need a giggle, read The Runaway Pumpkin aloud to them. But you’d better practice in front of the bathroom mirror a couple of times first.

The rhyme is cute and silly.

The rhythm mimics a rolly-polly pumpkin bouncing down a bumpety hill.

The hyperboles are hilarious.

The illustrations bring the silliness to a climax.

In short, The Runaway Pumpkin is a fun fall read. My grandchildren memorized the repeated refrain last fall.

‘Round and ‘round

across the ground

makin’ a thumpin’

bumpin’ sound

came that





round and roll-y



If you have young kids or grandkids you’ll want to add this book to your collection. If you don’t have the kids you might want to donate a copy to a local school media center the next time they hold a Scholastic Book Fair.

Ahh! Welcome, autumn.

For Inspiration

I get a lot of pleasure from both reading and writing. (Of course I do or I wouldn’t be a writer, right?) I especially enjoy reading about writing.

All of the children’s writers that I know—myself included—from time to time wonder why in the world we decided to write seriously for children. We get discouraged and irritated because the industry moves at glacial speed. We also get frustrated at our own snail’s pace of learning, of writing, of re-writing. I own a few books that are ongoing sources of encouragement for me. When I’m really ready to just resign I thumb through these books.

IMG_1792They help me to remember the reasons I chose to write for children in the first place. And they help me re-commit to those reasons.

I hope they’ll become part of YOUR inspirational library, too.

I realize that all but one are OLD books. So, I’m on a safari for much newer titles to take their places. Will you help me?

Please give me the titles and authors of booksIMG_1790 that stir your heart and rekindle your passion for writing for children. Here. In the comments, please. Thank you in advance for helping me along in my writing journey.



By Jane Yolen

Take Joy: a Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, Writer’s Digest Books, 2006

IMG_1780By Katherine Paterson

Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children, E. P. Dutton, 1986

The Spying Heart: More Thoughts on Reading and Writing Books for Children, E. P. Dutton, 1989

A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children, Plume, Penguin Group, 1989.

By Michael Card

Scribbling in the Sand, InterVarsity Press, 2002.

And my newest encouraging book is by Jordan Rosenfeld

A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, Writer’s Digest Books, 2015.


A Writer’s Guide to PERSISTENCE

persistence-2A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice

Written by Jordan Rosenfeld                           Published by Writer’s Digest in 2015

Early this year God whispered to me that THIS would be the year that writing changes from an expensive hobby into a part-time career for me. THIS would be the year that I lay some other things aside and pour myself into writing.

Thus far it has been.

Following God’s direction I resigned from my beloved Write2Ignite Conference for Christian Writers of Literature for Children and Young Adults.

Then, I read several books for “career” writers. I also completed two courses on writing picture books. Pacing Picture Books  to Wow! with Jodell Sadler, and The Complete Picture Book Submission System with Julie F. Hedlund and Emma Walton Hamilton.

Through God’s intervention I signed with a literary agent, Cyle Young of Hartline Literary. He has done much to motivate me to FINISH THOSE MANUSCRIPTS.

Through unhappy circumstances my responsibilities of frequently providing care for my four grandchildren has been downgraded to occasional sleepovers.

And, by God’s decree, my biggest responsibility, that of care-giving and advocacy for my disabled husband, ended when he passed away September 3, 2016.

Most recently I purchased another book A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice at the SCBWI Carolinas Conference. One word in the title grabbed me – PERSISTENCE. It is my hope and prayer that I’ll earn enough money writing to fill in any gaps that are sure to come.

Finances can be a powerful motivator.

So, I’ve begun the journey through A Writer’s Guide to Persistence. I haven’t been disappointed. Rosenfeld’s words are at once inspiring and therapeutic, disciplinary and encouraging to me. Her text zooms in on three things: Practice. Polish. Persist.

Rosenfeld weaves practical ways to balance writing with the rest of my life while increasing productivity. Throughout she reminds me that writing is a craft, a career and a practice.

She offers advice for authenticity by helping her readers find their own voices, by helping them take risks as writers, and by offering ways to increase creativity.

She offers a different tact on revision and honing our craft.

A Writer’s Guide to Persistence also gives encouragement and practical ways to push through rejection and self-doubt.

At the end of each short chapter are two sets of practical activities called “WORK IT” and “MOVE IT.” WORK IT contains practical yet philosophical assignments to help writers figure out why they are writing and why they want to persist. MOVE IT offers ways to physically move our bodies in order to avoid fatigue, stiff muscles and exhaustion which leads to writer’s block.


The book includes a detailed index, also.


I’m still in the first section: PRACTICE, but I’m already seeing real value for my investment of money and time working my way through A Writer’s Guide to Persistence.


I do not plan to rush through this volume. I’m taking it slow and steady so as to gain maximum benefit from Rosenfeld’s inspiring and therapeutic, disciplinary and ENCOURAGING WORDS.


I’m in this second career for the long haul.


Carle Honorees on the Importance of Picture Books

Long live #picturebooks!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)


Tonight the Eric Carle Museum will present four winners of its prestigious Carle Honors. I will be there to capture it all and report back to you, picture book devotees. In the meantime, I asked the honorees to answer one important question about the state of our craft and business:

Six years ago, The New York Times published an article about the demise of the picture book. Fast forward to this past January, and a picture book won the Newbery Medal. Plus, the current market has been heralded as “the golden age of picture books.”

Why have picture books defied the Times’ portent of doom–and why do they continue to remain a strong and important art form? Why are picture books more loved now than ever?

stevenheller“Is there any better medium for bringing together such varied artists and writers and stories and styles? The book has not died…

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Owl Moon

Owl Moon    A Caldecott Medal Book  By Jane Yolen    Illustrated by John Schoenherr

Published by Philomel Books in 1987

owl-moonI sort of assume that anyone who enjoys picture books enjoys Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. I know it was one of the first picture books that I fell in love with.

To me the poetic text mimics the chilliness and the stillness of a late night in a lonely wood as the child and Pa trudge through the snow.

As the child follows Pa into the dark woods, then into the moon-bathed clearing, the text builds in anticipation. Finally, the owl appears and the child makes a deep personal connection with the owl and the moon and the dark woods.

She meets Nature face-to-face and is awed.

Holding to the hand of her protector, her guide, her teacher, her Pa, she connects with the mysterious natural world around her.

The beauty and music and cleverness of Yolen’s language amazes me in Owl Moon as in her other picture books. And the beauty of the themes of family and hope and amazement at the natural world all weave throughout that lovely language.

Reading Owl Moon aloud softly gives me the same peaceful feeling as the lullabies that my Grandma sang to my Mama, Mama sang to me, I sang to my children, and they sing to theirs.

Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. Wrapped up in Owl Moon.


Called to Write

Called to Write: Seven Principles to Become a Writer on Mission

By Edna Ellison & Linda Gilden                    Published by New Hope Publishers in 2014

Available in print and digital formats.

called-to-writeCalled to Write is written for Christians who God has called to write for Him. The text walks us through seven stages of writing in answer to God’s call.

The “Preface” gives us the heartbeat of this volume:

God loves for writers to surrender their careers to Him and let Him direct. Relinquishing control is not always an easy thing to do. We struggle with that just like every other Christian writer.

This book is not about the struggle of being a Christian writer. It is more about the blessing of following God’s call to be a writer on His team.

Though Called to Write touches on some basics of the craft of writing its emphasis is the spiritual preparation of the writer, not the manuscript.

Ellison and Gilden dig into many types of writing and projects that fit under the umbrella of writing for God. They focus on the spiritual preparation and growth of the writer, however. They state:

We write to bring honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean that every word, article, or book we write must be a sermon. That doesn’t mean that everything we write must be evangelistic. However, it does mean that everything we write, no matter what the subject, should be written with excellence and in a way that honors our Lord.

Each chapter ends with three sections designed to help us examine ourselves.

THE MISSIONARY IN YOU asks questions about our mission and purpose as Christians.

THE WRITER IN YOU asks questions about our motives and emotions related to our writing.

A WRITER’S PRAYER invites us to pray in specific ways for God’s direction in our writing and publication, and other areas of ministry.

If God has given you a message and a call to proclaim it in writing, this book will give you both direction and encouragement in following God’s call.