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A writer and illustrator tries to find joy in the daily grit, connect with other writers, read books, manage four children and find out where she's put the phone today.
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1. Chalk Lessons

How do you feel about failure?
This summer, we made chalk paint with cornstarch, food coloring, and water. 
Summery delight!
See our driveway canvas?
 Little did we know that a thunderstorm brewed two hours away.
All our chalky wonders washed away overnight.

It's that resonance of art and failure that makes us strong, right?

Do you ever wonder if we can learn as much from our flops
- our sloppy first drafts, our rejections, our imperfections -
as from our neat and tidy successes? 

I have this thing. This fear of ruining a brand new notebook or sketchbook. 
I figure if I'm constantly working at something, then naturally, I'll keep improving. 
And when I look at my old notebooks stuffed with terrible first drafts and awkward brainstorms, 
I get panicky. What if this first page represents who I am through that entire notebook or sketchbook? Can't it at least start out perfect?
Talk about writer's block, eh?
So, I solved it. 

It's my secret to hurdling the fear of failure. (in a notebook.)

I just skip the first page. 

Then I'm set. I have a one-page cushion keeping me from a first-page flop. 
(Really, it means that the second page becomes the first page, but shhh.)

But really, don't we gain something in being brave with each feeble offering of ourselves?
In truth, even if I jump right into the first page of a notebook and ink it up with a scratchy failure, 
actually my "failure" teaches me something, and that becomes growth.
And if that's true, then maybe "failure" isn't so much of a failure. 
Maybe the effort of trying something stretches and grows our skills. 
And actually, that is beauty right there: being brave.
So, go out and be brave, my friends!
Ruin some second pages.
Scribble your heart out.
Make sloppy chalk paint that gets rained on overnight.
Get all muddy and splash around in those glorious flops.

Chalky books!

Journey by Aaron Becker
Quest by Aaron BeckerChalk by Bill Thomson
Art & Max by David Wiesner
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Harold's Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

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2. The Art of Mess

My camera likes to find the glowy bits, the sacred more than the dirt. 

I got to talking with my sisters-in-law recently about the pressure of keeping up with
Western "mom-culture," as seen through the filters of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and their ilk.
As an artist, I promote myself. I show my best side.
As media-savvy socialites, we most of us show our best sides.

We share our successes, because... who wants to share the flops?

But regular scans of others' tidy homes, clean kids, and glorious creations
can feed into a suffocating sense of failure, especially among mamas.

{It's so clean out there! So tidy! So productive! So creative! So delicious!
So overwhelming! }
With such a tide of seeming success out there, how can one stay afloat? 
In truth, my house is so messy from life and work that I don't want to open my doors.

And yet!
I think the secret to staying afloat is by being honest.
Maybe the rest of everyone is as clean and productive and delicious as they seem, but I am not.
And I have a hunch that there are a few lovely souls like me, too.
So here is me, letting you in past the front door.
I am cobwebbed and sloppy.
I don't like to sweep or clean the windows.
I don't remember to dust.

I like to read. I love to make art. I want to write.

I love to snuggle with my family. I like to watch sunsets.
When all those things are accomplished for the day, I breathe.
Sometimes I clean up.
And the thing about the mess is
that we live here.

We, with all our strings and nests.

We, with our hive of buzzing. our endless scraps of paper
our mountains of books.

We, with our jars of pencils. Our oddball sorts of tape and fabric and library card and rubber band and broken watch.

We, with our shuffle-off-your-shoes and slough off the backpacks, hunker down with a good book, snuggle in for a daydream or a few minutes of escape and forget the chores.

What does our mess represent?

That dinner happens here.
Not elegant. Often blacky on the edges.
But family and chatter and real plates and silverware.

That health happens here.
Not spit-spot. Often grimy. with mildew creeping on the fringes.
But fresh, running water and soap. Running shoes. Soccer gear. Bikes. Laundry.

Music happens here. More practice than polished. But honest and earnest.

Art blooms here.
With scribbles and smudges. With paper crowding all the corners.
With story starts and muddy middles.

This is us.
This is our mess.
A haven. A canvas. A library.
for dreamers, athletes, artists, readers.

Life is a beautiful mess.
Here's to enjoying the sacred and the dirt, my friends.

What does your mess represent?

Our latest reads:

Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, ill. by Benji Davies
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson, ill. by Tiphanie Beeke
Book Scavenger - by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

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3. First Day!

Because we like to shoot at least an entire roll of virtual film
on the first day.

No jitters here!
Birdy just wants to meet the classroom bunny!

 The fella dealt with his jitters by making faces. 

Here's to the firsts in life, my friends - 

First grade!
First time in middle school!
First page in a new book!
First scribble in a sketchbook!
First line of a new story!

Here's to all the beauties to discover ahead - 
all the joys, 
and even more exciting,
all the mistakes around the bend - 
the rough starts, 
the scribble outs,
the failures
and bad days.

May they grow us kinder, brighter, wiser, 
full of grace,
and brave in hope. 
Here's to the beginnings in life, my friends!
Here's to joy in all of our seasons,
in all of our chapters.
Here's to each day we get a clean page
and fresh pencils
to make our mark.

Here's to erasers, and forgiveness when we make big, scribbly messes. 
Here's to friendship and kindness
and all the beautiful things we pick up along the way. 


Wherever You Go - Pat Zeitlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Atlas of Adventures -  illustrated by Lucy Letherland
Zoo ology - Joelle Jolivet
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, illustrated by Frank Marcellino
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet
Ramona the Brave - by Beverly Cleary

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4. Magic Spells for Improving Your Craft

Here is a little something I wrote for Puddle Jump Collective about magic and art-making:

My twins just read the Harry Potter series -
seven books and one play.
My whole rabble of wildebeests is now running through the house with pointy sticks, saying, "Wingardium Leviosa!" and "Expelliarmus!"
Aside from the bad parenting of letting children run with pointy objects, 
I myself would not mind a wand for a few things in life. 

1. The dishes.  (A den full of four hungry wildebeests and their keepers can be very full of dishes)
2. The laundry. (Again with the den analogy.)
3. The writing and the art.
Wouldn't it be fun to flick a pointy stick 
and magic oneself into a brilliant writer and/or illustrator?
So, really, where is that magic spell?  
Wouldn't it make everything easier?
So, I once had the opportunity to hear picture book illustrator Renata Liwska and her husband Mike Kerr speak at a SCBWI conference in Seattle.
Wide eyed and wonderstruck,
I wanted to know the tricks and magic spells
that would turn me into a picture book illustrator exactly like Renata Liwska.

Ever do that?

Well, maybe not. But I did. 
So, we all of us watched thirstily as Renata and Mike unpacked for the talk.
They pulled out a motherlode of black sketchbooks and laid them in a mountain in front of us.
Each sketchbook was filled with perfect illustrations. 
Perfect! Pristine in skill and finish! 
How was there not even one scratched out, loopy mess up in the entire collection? How?

Renata is soft-spoken, humble, and has such a kind smile.
Her husband Mike pointed to the pile of books and told us Renata's magic spell:

Sketch every, every day.

That's it? 
Just work?

Where's the magic in that? 
Two years later, it's beginning to sink in.It isn't an instant change, but each drop in the bucket is a spell of sorts.
Each drop is a growing of your eyes and ears and hands,
every sketch is an observation, a study of the world,
each page is a honing of your vision -
and therein you find the transformation! 

So, my friends, let me share some magic spells for improving your craft in a nutshell:  

1. Show up. Every day.

(Writers also call this "butt-in-chair.")

2. Sketch. Sketch. Sketch.

(Or insert your passion here. Bake cakes. Practice soccer. Juggle fruit.)

3. Write. Write. Write.

(Especially important for aspiring authors.)

4. Read. Read. Read.

(Observe and learn from the world relating to your craft. If you want to be a picture book illustrator, by golly, read picture books like a sieve!)

5. Repeat.

6. Every, every day.

Once more:


And the thing is?
The more I do it, the more I love this daily rite.

It's like magic.

{Excerpt first published Tuesday, August 30 on Puddle Jump Collective.}


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell
Half Magic by Edward Eager
The Magic Half and Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Strega Nona's Magic Lessons by Tomie de Paola

Books on Writing and Art:

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine
Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke
Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals
20 Ways to Draw a Cat by Julia Kuo
Let's Draw a Story by Sachiko Umoto

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5. Puddle Jump !

It's here! It's here! It's here!

Puddle Jump Collective : 13 children's book author / illustrators combining forces to showcase art, discuss craft, collaborate, and contribute to the kidlit world.

We'll blog, share projects, and splash often.

I'm honored to be one of the lucky 13.

This rain-loving girl skipped to the front of the line
for the our very first project -
a collaborative Puddle Parade.

Author/illustrator Lorian Dean is next up
to combine my rainy girl with an entirely new character and set up,
which she will post, and tag another illustrator to follow suit.
I can't wait to see what transpires.

I hope you'll join us as we journey into the big pond.


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6. Paris party!

Let them eat cake!

Sweetness from Cafe Pray...
It's always fun to play with noses
on famous art...
They puzzled over my hand-drawn pieces of  Picasso's Woman & Bird

and then played "Pin the Nose on the Picasso"

After a scavenger hunt, and treats,
we made wee matchboxes des Paris.

Ah the joys of the small things in life!

Paper. Art-making. A clamor of cousins. Laughter. Balloons.
Joyeux anniversaire! Happy birthday!

Here's to finding joy in the small things and the good things, my friends!

Au revoir!
C'est la belle vie!
Swan song!


Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock
The Iridescence of Birds by Partricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
Henri's Scissors by Jeanette Winter
A Giraffe Comes to Paris by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris, ill. by Jon Cannell
Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail by Laurence D'Anholt
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson

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7. Coming soon...

They say some people match their dogs.
I wish I had a dog so I could know what I look like.
I so often enjoy looking behind the camera at the world.
For an upcoming project, I was asked to make a kid portrait of myself. 
A selfie? A sketchie? A skelphie?

I approached it the same way I approach a new character. 
Sketch a zillion bundle of possibles,
then hone in on who that character is.
So.. who am I?

What do I look like anyway?
What do I feel like?
What would I look like if I combined me now
with some of my favorite things from childhood?
Books. Overalls. Sunshine. Rain.
Puddle boots.
This is the girl I settled on. Bookish. Hopeful. Happy.
Not afraid to get messy.

Here's to finding your happy self this week, my friends.

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8. Parlez-vous party?

It's birthday week for my three girls.
It took them awhile to agree on a theme.
Paris + kitty cats + French pastries.

Kitty cat cafe ?
Ooh la la. 
And you know me - I love any chance to make art,
especially for a party.
After researching all manner of things French,
I sat down to sketch in the book fort.
(Avec iced coffee in a jar, no less.)
Oh, happy day, mes petits.
I think I'll make some hanging art
and some tiny, cupcake art.
I should probably figure out games. 
I'm no good at games. 


Hide the baguettes? 
Name the French cities? 
Guess the French words? 

Some French books we love:

This is Paris - Miroslav Sasek
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Story of Babar - Jean de Brunhoff 
The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle by Barbara McClintock
Madame Martine by Sarah S. Brannen
The Story of Diva and Flea by  Mo Willems & Toni DiTerlizzi
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, ill. by Terry Fan

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9. Aloha

A small friend is turning 6 in two weeks.
She lives across the country,  
and we can't make it to the luau party.
We can't come for cake and balloons and birthday hugs,
but we can send pineapples
and kitties
and fancy toothpicks.
 They're like tiny, paper aloha hugs.

So, in shuttling wildebeests to soccer camp lately, 
I have discovered a few good surprises 
in being the carpool soccer mom.

 Books on CD. 
Car-goofy kids.
And sketchbook time
 while all my soccer players 
do their runs and drills.
Big chunks of sketchbook time 
help when working out new ideas.

 It's funny that I can sketch happy around a crowd, 
but I can't write a drop.
My thoughts turn to stone and my stories sink.
 But then, that's kind of a theme for me with words anytime lately.

I know some writers who scribble serious magic 
in coffee shops and airplanes. 

What about you?

When do you do your deep story work?
Can you create masterpieces with everyone there?
Do you thrive with hum and buzz?
Or do you like a hush when you create?


Wherever you find yourself this week,
I wish you peaceful breezes, sweet surprises, and

Books {and CD books} we're enjoying this week:

Captain Cat by Inga Moore
Dream Friends by You Byun
Ling and Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin
Ling and Ting: Together in All Weather by Grace Lin
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, ill. by Catia Chien
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin 
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt 

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10. School's out!

Goodnight, pencil jars. 
Goodnight, lunchboxes. 
 School's out!
Hello, sunshine books.
Hello, swing seats. 
Hello, sandy feet. 

Summer is in session!

Summery reads:


 Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann
A Beach Tail by Karen Lynna Williams, ill. by Floyd Cooper
Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr & Michael Sampson, ill. by Melissa Sweet
Surf's Up by Kwame Alexander, ill. by Daniel Miyares
Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny ChisholmIsland: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

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11. borrow

A happy accident in pencils, cardboard backing 
and color palette experiments
is my latest submission to the May SCBWI Insight's prompt word "borrow."

Don't you love getting to borrow from all the delicious books waiting in the library?

Here's a question for my creative friends -  do you ever work with prompts?

I am stretched when I work on art for Birdy's sight word cards.
I try to think of all the ways a simple word speaks to me,
looking for the story behind it.

Online resources such as SCBWI Insight drawing challenges
or Colour Collective's weekly color prompts are a fantastic springboard
for experimentation. And online challenges are abundant, once one starts looking.

  How do you stretch yourself? 

Do you write from prompts?

Do you ever coax words out left-handed, if you're a righty?

Sketch with eyes closed, if you're an artist?

How do you dig deeper for inspiration?

My brother, illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson continually inspires me,
He paints jaw-dropping wonder on reclaimed wood, old surfboards, drums, plywood.

Some of our borrowed library treasures this week:
The Night Gardener - Terry and Eric Fan
Roar Like a Lion - by Tae-Eun Yoo
A Rock is Lively - Diane Hutts Aston, ill. by Sylvia Long
The Bear and the Piano - by David Lichtenfeld
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, ill. by Jon Klassen
Tiny Creatures : the world of microbes by Nicola Davies, ill. by Emily Sutton 
The Adventurers by Rachel Elliot, ill. by Valeria Docampo

Dream Animals - by Emily Winfield Martin

What does BORROW bring to mind?

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12. SAM and JUMP

Today the wildebeests and I traveled to Eagle Harbor Book Company for a book party.
Jennifer K. Mann's book SAM and JUMP is freshly out in bookstores, 
so we hopped over for the book birthday celebration.
So many delicious new books. Drool!

Jennifer Mann read from her book SAM and JUMP, 
which is a poignant story about loss, discovery, and friendship.
And then Jen shared stories of loveys lost and found. 
 The wildebeests brought up a book to be signed and loveys to show. 
 Jennifer is so engaging and gentle with all of her fans, even the small ones.

 Here's a picture of Jennifer with local authors Margaret Nevinski and Dawn Simon.
I'm so thankful I have Dawn as my critique partner. 
Her exuberance and wit are such a delight, 
and her writing critiques brilliant.
 What a treat to live near talented and gracious authors and illustrators.
What a treat to celebrate SAM and JUMP!

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13. 3000 chairs

Because... of this poem by Children's Author Nicola Davies, and the #3000chairs project.
It's worth every second it takes to read.

My husband and I had the opportunity to spend time in Kosovo with war survivors - refugees who returned to their homes carrying life-wrenching scars of war, with stories that ached in the hearing, and burned in the telling.

I wish a chair for every child running from war.
I wish refuge.
and hope.
and light.

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14. Poet Tree

Apparently, it's Poetry Month.

Only, I've been a little distracted.
I skipped off to the city
for my local SCBWI meeting -
an art show,
a lecture from book-wise and witty
editors Mary Kate Castellani and Caroline Abbey,
and then a consultation and workshop with
art director, professor, and story genius Joy Chu.

This is the same Joy who guided me over the last two winters
in visual storytelling classes through the UCSD online extension program.

I'm still reeling with inspiration.
I could have listened for days. Months. Years.

Now I'm home, all bright and hopeful,
waiting for my brain to shape so many beautiful tips
and ideas into working order.
Time to let the front thoughts simmer.  
Time to play with poetry.

We started with a poet-tree.

The wildebeests and I cut out branchy trees and labeled each branch with simple word:
sky, go, sea, etc.
Next, we cut out dozens of leaves - in all flutters of color,
because it just looks more exciting that way.

Each branch grew rhyming leaf words:
sky = cry, my, pie, etc.

Because we like to make life even more thrilling, and sometimes complicated,
I thought it might be fun for the older wildebeests to thread their leaves on yarn.

Winnie added a button.

Pip used gold pen. She's really into gel pens lately.

And their finished masterpieces.

I'd love to meet a tree like this someday, shimmering with colors, yarns, and words!
I think I'd move in.

I'll share more poetry play next time.

Until then, here are a few favorites:

A Kick in the Head, An Every Day Guide to Poetic Forms - compiled by Paul Janeczko, ill. by Chris Raschka
The Random House Book of Poetry - edited by Jack Prelutsky, ill. by Arnold Lobel
Switching on the Moon - collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, ill. by G. Brian Karas
Chicken Soup With Rice - by Maurice Sendak
When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard
Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard

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15. Pirates in the Library

It's National Library Week.

How glad I am for libraries this week and always.

How rich it is to have a place to borrow books,
 to load up on research, art, music, words, and stories!

How glad I am for the staff at my library, 
gracious souls who do not even sniff
when the wildebeests and I emerge
with a mountain of books to take home. 

How patient they are with the noise and flamboyance 
of kid-ruckus and story hour, 
even when small bears and dragons and pirates
weave and wail beyond their story circles.

How perfectly like a matchmaker 
is our children's librarian, 
always hunting down treasure 
to help her patrons fall in love with reading.
Happy Library Week! 

Our latest librarian-found treasures: 

When Mischief Came To Town by Katrina Nannestad
Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith
Tea Party In the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
Detective Gordon: the First Case by Ulf Nilsson
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

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16. Happy birthday

Happy birthday, Beverly Cleary. 
Thank you for Henry, Ramona, and Beezus.
Thank you for Klickitat Street.
Thank you for your books. 

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17. Postcards and clever cows

Guess what came in the mail? 
Here's a hint: they rhyme with "host-guards" and "wizness-bards."

Don't they look exciting?

I'm pretty smitten with the packaging from Moo.
I think they know about the little party that happens whenever new cards come.
Happy dance. Confetti.
They even send encouraging little notes that say things like, "you're delightful."

And can you see the cutest little business card box ever?
Even the postcards come in their own box.

My husband heard me squealing to the postcard boxes,
"You are so cute! You are so clever! I love you. You are fabulous!"
He thought I was talking to my art.
Nope, just the gorgeous packaging. 
And I do love the way my cards look and feel,
so I suppose I was cheering for me, too.

Well done, Moo.
But maybe I'll keep my crowing in until everyone's asleep.  

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18. Spring sale

Because you always wanted to save 10% in my shop
with the code Spring16. 

Birthday cards? Wall art? 
Sight word flashcards, anyone?

A gift for your teacher, your pre-K, your kindie...

 A gift for your walls...
My Spring Sale goes through April 30. Cheers!

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19. When Books Dream, and Other Caldecott Thoughts

When books sleep, do they see in color? 
In their slumbering, do they take a wayward path, 
meandering through bright worlds and words, 
do their characters reach for lofty things?

Do books dream
of Caldecott and Newbery?

Or do they wish
to be read,
to be loved,
from end to end,
from page to page,

word after word after word?

On Monday, the American Library Association announced their choices,
the most distinguished books of 2016. 
They've picked the stellar standouts, 
a handful of beautiful treasures. 
Finding Winnie gets the Caldecott medal this year. 
Oh happy day for illustrator Sophie Blackall and author Lindsay Mattick!

Caldecott Honors go to:
Waiting, by Kevin Henkes,
Trombone Shorty, illustrated by Bryan Collier & written by Troy Andrews,

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,
illustrated by Ekua Holmes & written by Carole Boston Weatherford

and one more Caldecott Honor-
glorious surprise!

Last Stop on Market Street,  illustrated by Christian Robinson & written by Matt de la Peña
rode home not only a Caldecott Honor,
but a Coretta Scott King Honor,
and the Newbery Medal,
the award given each year for the most distinguished contribution
in American literature for children. 
What an exciting day!

Some of our other book favorites were honored on Monday with special awards as well.

Drum, Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael Lopez & written by Margarita Engle
won the Pura Belpre' award for illustration.

Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez & written by Meg Medina
earned Pura Belpre' Honors in both writing and illustration.

Emmanuel's Dream, illustrated by Sean Qualls 
& written by Pacific Northwest author Laurie Ann Thompson
was honored with the Schneider Family Book Award. 
Yay, Laurie! 

And tomorrow, our Library Mock Caldecott committee
finds out their winners.

Last week, the committee had to stand up
and defend their favorite book finalists,
provide good, deep dirt on why their books mattered.

 Nearly every kid present had a different favorite book.
Each speaker, even my crowd-shy wildebeests,
braved the limelight to give strong, passionate, thoughtful evidence
as to why their book was a winner.
And that's when it struck me -
each book wins.
Each book published has a chance to speak, to set a spark in a child.
And that is a win.

That's the beauty and the power
of these little, flat packages of words and pictures
that we call books.

So if tomorrow at the Library Mock Caldecott Awards Party,
there just happens to be one Mock Caldecott winner
and a surprising eight Honor books,
it is because
each of those books
has won over
some very passionate readers.

And if you just happen to be around tomorrow -

Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 3:45 p.m.

at the Jefferson County Library,

come in for the party!

All are invited!

Come see the books!

Have some party snacks and toothpicks!
If you read five books, you get to weigh in on the People's Choice vote.

And next Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at the library,
we'll write letters to authors and illustrators. 
We'll send awards to our winners.

Here's to books that dream,
and to books that spark readers and dreamers!

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20. Deep Blue Birthday

My little buddy turns seven tomorrow.
He's kind of smitten with the ocean lately,
especially the big guys, the scary guys, 
and the whales.
I love discovering new beauties in the creative process.
Coloring is something I'm both awed and fascinated by,
so I decided this would be a great opportunity
to experiment with how I color my sketches.

I sketched in buttery soft oil pencils,

and layered colored pencils on top.
No paint this time.

After that, I scanned my colored sketches on to the computer
and played with laying in textures with Photoshop.

Now I get to take my sketches 
and turn them into the party - 
cupcake toppers, 
fishy "paper dolls,"
sharks on a stick, perhaps.
More to come...

Whale-y wonderful books:

Whale Song - Tony Johnston, illustrated by Ed Young
The Storm Whale - Benji Davies
The Blue Whale - Jenni Desmond
Big Blue Whale - Nicola Davies, illustrated by Nick Maland

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21. Tiny Valentine-y

Haven't you always wanted mini flashcards?
I thought they might be a fun Valentine-y gift. 
I like to carry around pocket-sized art decks, don't you? 
Because don't we all carry words on the go?
Who doesn't like a little
fun on a ring?
Or words on a string?

They're up in my shop
perfect word surprises
for your small people - 
or your pocket card collectors.

Local buyers can enter the code: LOCALPICKUP
on my shop to waive shipping fees 
and arrange a delivery option.
Here's to the small, the tiny, the mini,
the little bits of love and beauty in this big world
that make life sweet and good.

Tiny book favorites:

Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Eric DiGiacomo
The Tiny King by Taro Miura
Tiny's Big Adventure by Martin Waddell, illustrated by John Lawrence
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes - by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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22. Peter, Wendy, and the Cupcakes

My adorably rogue-ish nephew played a pirate in Peter and Wendy a few weeks back.
His mama asked if I'd like to try some Peter Pan art for the bake sale. 

Tink. Hook. The ship. The acorn kiss. Peter and Wendy. 
Enough for a whole fleet of fairies and lost boys, 
and their cupcakes, too.

Avast and Blimey! What a yardarm of sweet pirate bounty.   


Peter Pan by  J. M. Barry, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Peter Pan retold by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson illustrated by Mary Blair
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Fairies and the Quest for Neverland by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by David Christiana


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23. Turtles, Caldecotts, and Blackberry Fools

I'd rather have a turtle, and I'd rather wear a mock turtle.
I'd rather cook with crockery than be a mockery. 
I'd rather party with Mock Caldecotts than with mock halibuts. 
And party we did!
- complete with book toothpicks and book inspired snacks:
sunflower seeds (If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson), 
honey and bread (Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall)
tiny sandwiches (The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone Roach), 
pretzel sticks and grape "stones" (Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld), 
dried mangoes (Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez).
Voters designed medals for the winning books.
Kids announced both the ALA winners, and our Mock Caldecott winners.
Our committee results:

Our Mock Caldecott Gold Medal :  Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond.

And then, honor awards for all eight of our runners up:

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich - by Julia Sarcone Roach
Mango, Abuela, and Me - by Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez
A Fine Dessert - by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall
Thank You and Good Night - by Patrick McDonnell
If You Plant a Seed - by Kadir Nelson
The Whisper - by Pamela Zagarenski
In a Village by the Sea - Muon Van and April Chu

And then, the entire library voted on the People's Choice Award. 
The winner was Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl. 

In the book "A Fine Dessert," blackberry fool is made by four families, over four centuries, with different implements.
Our children's librarian Martha Ashenfelter had a brilliant idea.
Why not have our committee make the same dessert
using the same implements?
They loved it! 
They ate it up. Every speck. Every lick.  

What a sweet finish to a wonderful party.
Thank you, Martha.
Thank you, Mock Caldecott committee.
I hope we can talk and mock Caldecotts again soon.

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24. Lucky?

 SCBWI's drawing prompt for March is LUCKY.
I got to thinking about luck,
and what it means to me. 
With or without four-leaf clovers, book contracts, 
double-rainbows or pots of gold,
I am wishing-wells full of the best kind of luck.

I have beauty all around me -
in sky and earth, 
in people with all their glorious quirks,
in a roof over my head, clean water,
in laughter and forgiveness.

And I am free - 
free to write, to make art, to learn,
dream, wish, pray,
to hope.

I believe thankfulness and hope can fill the darkest sky with stars.
That's my kind of lucky.


The Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Christopher Denise
The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies by Heather Forest, illustrated by Susan Gaber
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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25. Bucket List

Things to do on your third stroke-aversary:

Dig for treasure. 
My treasure might be hiding in the mountain of dirty laundry downstairs.
Or maybe in shuttling wildebeests to lessons, or practice.
Or maybe the treasure is in every speck of this beautiful daily dirt.
The sun is shining,
the flowers are out.
It's beautiful.

Being alive is good, my friends.
It's so good.

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