On My Shelf BLOG

My First Book Contract-Yipeeee!

I am simply too excited to talk about someone else’s book today.

“Why?” I’m sure you are wondering.


I have signed my first book contract!

With a Christian publisher!

For FOUR picture books!

I’m doing a happy-dance! (I know, I’m over-using these !!!! But I can’t stop myself!)


Right now I’m heading for the freezer. My son bought me a cheesecake to celebrate!

I need to say thank you, Lord Jesus, for this opportunity to add encouragement and joy to young children and their parents.

I also need to say thank you to my husband, Jerry. He’s in Heaven now. But he always believed that God and I could, and would, arrive at this point. He invested a lot of prayer into this day. I am grateful for his support.

And I must thank my children (including my daughter-in-love), and my beautiful grandchildren who have believed in me and cheered me on for the past ten years. They are some of the biggest reasons I write for children.




61jcesyptnl-_sx260_Author Liz Rosenberg and illustrator Matt Myers have created a delightful picture book about friendship. What James Said gives young readers a wonderful tale of best friends and their understandings and misunderstandings. It was published in 2015 by Roaring Brook Press.

Our protagonist is MAD at her best friend, James. Because…

“James told Aiden,

who tells everything to Hunter,

who whispered it to Katie,

who informed Dante,

who told it to Emily, Anna, and Declan,

who let Declan’s little sister in on it,

who told me,

that I think I am perfect.”


Sounds like a recipe for a big misunderstanding, doesn’t it?

And so it is.

This sweet story SHOWS young readers what happens when people spread tales to their friends. The subject of that talk usually gets hurt. AND the person who supposedly started such talk gets hurt, too.

But somewhere in the mix of the next day at school our protagonist figures out that what she heard wasn’t quite accurate.

You’ll have to read What James Said for yourself to see how the mess turns out.

I enjoyed this book and will definitely share it with my youngest grandkids. Sometimes they, too, need a little help figuring out the ins and outs of friendships.

Who doesn’t?

From Hero to Zero and Back–with a Lesson for “Has-Beens”

Wonderful tips for parents & grandparents! Thanks, Margaret!

Margaret Welwood on Writing Children's Books


I’ve never much liked the saying, “Kill two birds with one stone.” It’s descriptive of course, but it also seems a tad brutal. How about “Pluck two blossoms with one snip?” or “Feed two kittens from one bowl”? Or even “give birth to twins”? (Don’t try that one at home.)

However we phrase it, I think Lucy Rozier’s Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph has done it. On the surface, it’s a highly creative tall tale historical fiction picture book. (Who knew there was such a sub-genre?) But I think it’s also something else.

Jackrabbit McCabe is a hero all right. The joyful, long-legged speedster fetches ol’ Doc Dobbins to patch up the overachievers in the Double Dare Ya Club, and rounds up every child and chick when twisters come barreling through Windy Flats. He’s a sure bet at the horse races, and he leaves locomotives in the dust.


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515tar42btol-_sy386_bo1204203200_Still a Family written by Brenda Reeves Sturgis and illustrated by Jo-Shin Lee was published by Albert Whitman & Company in 2017. It gives us a look into the life of a little girl and her parents while they are homeless. The child and Mom live in a women’s shelter and Dad lives in a men’s shelter.

In this touching story we walk through the child’s days of sleeping on a mat on the floor of the shelter, standing in line at a soup kitchen and playing with her only toy-her doll. Mom and Dad take turns caring for her while the other looks for a job. And sometimes they all get together at a park to visit and hug.

Throughout the difficult details of her life the little girl courageously reminds us-and herself-that they are still a family.

I think this picture book isn’t typical for several reasons:

  • The main character starts her story with a huge change from her “normal” life to homelessness. Though her life changes it doesn’t really change her resolve. She holds fast to the unchanging truth that she, Mom and Dad really are a family no matter what changes they are forced to make.
  • The “Author’s Note” at the end of the story tells readers that it is dedicated to children living in shelters.
  • However, it is also a challenge to other readers to get involved in solving our nation’s problem of homelessness. She says “Whatever you can do will matter, and it will help.”

I think that Still a Family will become an excellent resource for lower elementary classrooms. It can also be a starting place for parents and children who want to make a difference in their own communities regarding homelessness or other social issues.






Like a good little author-wannabe I’m trying to create a weekly e-Newsletter. That’s not a big problem for me. I’ve written newsletters before. However –

womanparklaptopIn order to distribute this newsletter efficiently and within the confines of the SPAM laws I must use marketing/e-mail distributing software. I don’t think the powers that be will throw me into SPAM prison, but they can certainly destroy my bank account if I do not comply.

So, I’m learning Mail Chimp. I’m told it’s the simplest software of this type to learn. <sigh> So much for my technology IQ.

Two weeks ago I sent up a distress signal to other writers. “Can anyone help me?” I begged.

One brave friend said she would try but she doesn’t really use MailChimp.

Another friend suggested YouTube.

I finally decided to search for a book like “MailChimp for Dummies.”

I found one! The Nuts and Bolts of MailChimp by Barb Drozdowich. It’s on my Kindle and it cost only $1.99. And it’s current. Published in 2017.


If MailChimp is in your future you can purchase Nuts and Bolts at Amazon.

It’s step-by-tiny-step. She explains every button, every step, every process, every term.


I’m about to conquer this thing. I have to read some things two or three times. But Barb is wonderful at explaining things clearly and anticipating difficulties I might face. She’s a technology instructor. And it’s like she is looking over my shoulder guiding me through this maze.womanparklaptopsmile

Thank you to all of my writing buddies. Thank you to all of my praying buddies, too.

Thank you, Jesus, for this book.

I may survive yet another adventure in technology jungle.


51sthkvc3al-_sx258_bo1204203200_On the morning of his class’ talent show the main character in And Two Boys Booed marches bravely into class and takes his place in the last chair. As he waits his turn he reminds himself how ready he is. He’s practiced a billion times. And he’s wearing his lucky blue boots and his pants with cool pockets. On page after page he repeats the same refrain and adds one more bit of confidence to his story.


It is his turn to stand and sing before the class.

The author, Judith Viorst cleverly shows us the main character’s fear and determination through her skillful use of language. She shows us that the more nervous he gets the more tongue tied and twisted he becomes. The words to his song are slipping away! Sophie Blackall’s illustrations enhance the story greatly.

Which will win in this tale? Fear? Or courage?

And Two Boys Booed was published by Margaret Ferguson Books of Farrar Straus Giroux in 2014.

National Read A Book Day

8271350710_43e529234f_kSeptember 6, 2017, is National Read A Book Day. I know, you probably read something from a book every day. I do. But tomorrow is the day to put aside some of your daily grind and sit back with a great book. Read the whole thing. You can do it! Hey, if you can binge-watch vampires, zombies, and mass murderers you can binge read. Try it!


If your life simply will not allow you that pleasure (like you have 3 year old triplets or some such craziness) there’s an alternative way to celebrate National Read A Book Day.
Read a picture book or two with someone you love. Read it to your toddler, your fourth grader, even to your grandmother, or to your Irish Setter.

Bake a book-shaped cake and share it over a read-aloud session.

Make colorful bookmarkers and give them to your friends.

Visit a nursing home or hospital and read to patients.


Use your lunch hour to read while you woof down your chicken salad sandwich

You can find a little more info here or here to start your celebration of the printed word.


Happy Reading!



I’m trying to decide whether I like this picture book, or not. It definitely isn’t one of my favorites. But, I’m not an eight-year old boy. Mr. Particular: The World’s Choosiest Champion was written and illustrated by Jason Kirschner.

Mr. Particular is a sort of graphic novel/picture book. That isn’t my favorite format either. But millions of kids disagree with me on that one. The illustrations are excellent. Muted colors let the adorable faces and expressions shine through. The book was published in 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books.

If popularity on Amazon is any indicator of success Mr. Particular  ranks #484 under Amazon/ Children/Science Fiction/Superheroes. Of course I don’t know how many thousands of books fall under this category. Just for comparison Captain Underpants ranks #10 and Pinkalicious is #17.

It’s a cute idea. The main character and his friends spend their lives pretending to be super heroes. But the MC is extremely particular about food, clothes, textures, noises, etc. His idiosyncrasies eventually cause his friends to kick him out of their games. He tries to change his finicky tastes but fails.

But wait! Suddenly a real crisis occurs and one of his buddies needs rescuing. Of course, our little superhero rises to overcome his texture challenge and saves the day. Thus setting himself on a path to overcoming his other weaknesses.

It’s a cute story, but for my taste it’s way overdone. I like hyperbole in characters but all of the kids in this book look and act super-eccentric to me. I know six year olds do funny and sometimes ridiculous things, but these kids are way over the top in my opinion.

The style of the illustrations is great. The artwork itself is cute and fun. I like art with movement, but these graphic-novel strips are moving in all directions. Also, the pages are crammed with speech balloons and “text boxes” that overshadow the art for me.

It’s just too much of a good thing for my taste. Too, too busy.

Hey! Will you help me out? Dash down to your local library with super-sonic speed and read Mr. Particular with your warp-speed reading, then let me and my readers know what you think here in the comments. Or, on my FB author page. P-L-E-A-S-E!






5 kids

Last week I shared with you some ideas for school/library visits. Mostly ideas about advertising your visit and making students eager for your arrival. Those ideas came from the New Handbook for Storytellers with Stories, Poems, Magic and More by Caroline Feller Bauer. It was published by the American Library Association way back in 1993. Many of the tools she mentions are outdated and have been replaced with shiny new technology. But her ideas are still there, little sparkling gems hiding under the poster board and chalk boards and paper bag puppets.

Before I plunge into Part 2 I must clarify something. In last week’s post I mentioned that I can’t wait to see one of my books ON THE SHELVES. I do NOT have a contract yet. I’m hoping and praying to get one in 2017. Sorry–I didn’t mean to mislead anyone or misrepresent my current holding pattern.

I am excited about Bauer’s practical suggestions for creating a mood reminiscent of my book, or for tying my book into a class curriculum either directly or with activities that use skills the students are learning in their grade level. Most of these ideas are so LOW-TECH that I actually remember them from my days as a first grade teacher, or better yet, from my days as a student at Ramona Boulevard Elementary School # 93.

They are so low-tech that 21st Century elementary students might just find them unique and tons of fun. I’m basically going to list them with little explanation. If something sparks your interest you can Google it or search for a printed book that tells you more about it. Oh! Don’t forget about searching YouTube, also, for demonstrations.

Here are some of Bauer’s ideas. The key thing to remember is that whatever activities or ideas you choose MUST relate somehow to your book(s), characters, setting, theme or topic. The idea is to make your book memorable by using one or more of these ideas.

  • A Story Apron or Jacket with pockets of different colors or sizes to hold your visuals
  • A large Story Bag for the same purpose
  • A decorated box large enough to hold your book(s) for their dramatic entrance
  • A music box or bric-a-brac that plays music
  • Nesting dolls to represent your book characters
  • Artifacts you’ve gathered from a local thrift store
  • A large map of the country or area that is the setting for your story
  • Rocks you’ve painted with faces, key words or magic words
  • Jigsaw type puzzles created from pages of old picture books laminated and cut
  • Paper bracelets (like hospitals use) with your name & logo, or your book’s title, or a key phrase from your book. You can buy the blank bracelets from local office supply stores or order them plain (or custom printed) online from places like Tyvek for as little as $5 per 100 blanks.
  • Use fun things like Tongue Twisters, Jokes, Proverbs or Riddles to introduce your story or characters, or to give a little break in the middle of your session. There are many books that contain these available online and in hard copy.
  • Use Word Games like Hangman
  • Use props or flashcards to have students create their own Continuous Story one sentence at a time.
  • Demonstrate some old-fashioned String Games like “Rocking the Cradle” or “Spinner.”
  • If it fits your program help students make folded fans.
  • If you know some American Sign Language teach students key words related to your book. If not, ask an ASL Interpreter to teach you the words you need to know.
  • Tell an abbreviated version of your book or story using “Heiroglyphs” – symbols that you make up ahead of time. Teach the students how to read your symbols or use them to make their own stories.
  • Demonstrate and/or teach students to cut out Folded Paper Objects such as people (Remember making those strings of paper dolls holding hands?), animals, pumpkins, spiders, Christmas trees, snowflakes, bats, hearts…
  • Try some Finger Plays or Action Rhymes (like “Bend & Stretch” or “Where Is Thumpkin?”) or stories like “Going on a Bearhunt” or “Ten Little Gypsies” or “Five Little Monkeys.”
  • Songs!! You don’t have to sing well to have fun singing silly songs or story songs with students. Even teach them a new song. If you play guitar or ukele or flutaphone use it with your songs. If not—use a CD or MP3 player and sing along.
  • If your book is nonfiction make giant flashcards with key events or terms related to your book. Make them silly and the kids will remember them forever.
  • Or bring natural objects that are examples discussed in your book.

I think that’s enough ideas for now. Get creative! You don’t want the kids to be the only ones who have fun at your future presentations. You want to have a some of that fun yourself!

If you use some of these ideas PLEASE let me know. Comment here or on my Face Book Author Page. Thanks!