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1. Joey Beaver ran through the puddles. #sketch #wabisabi...

0 Comments on Joey Beaver ran through the puddles. #sketch #wabisabi... as of 10/26/2015 11:55:00 AM
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2. Monday Map ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


0 Comments on Monday Map ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder as of 10/19/2015 10:17:00 AM
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3. Our Week in Books, October 10 Edition

Bonny Glen Week in Books #5

Our past few weeks have been a swirl of doctor appointments and deadlines. I had to skip a few of my weekly Books We’ve Read roundups because usually I put them together on weekends, and my last three weekends were quite full! Three weeks’ worth of books is too many for one post, but I’ll share a few particular standouts…and next Sunday I’ll be back on track with my regular “this week in books.”

Mordant's Wish by Valerie Coursen Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

Mordant’s Wish by Valerie Coursen: a family favorite, now sadly out of print (but available used). This is a sweet story with a chain-reaction theme. Mordant the mole sees a cloud shaped like a turtle and wishes on a dandelion for a real turtle friend. The windblown seeds remind a passing cyclist of snow, prompting him to stop for a snow cone—which drips on the ground in the shape of a hat, reminding a passing bird that his dear Aunt Nat (who wears interesting hats) is due for a visit…and so on. All my children have felt deeply affectionate about this book. The domino events are quirky and unpredictable, and the wonderful art provides lots of clues to be delighted in during subsequent reads. If your library has it, put it on your list for sure.

Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon. Review copy provided by publisher. A strange, snoozing beast shows up in the backyard, and the kids don’t know what it is. They ask around but the adults are busy, so they hit the books in search of answers. All the while, the sloth sleeps on. The fun of the book lies in the bold, appealing art, and in the humor of the kids’ earnest search unfolding against a backdrop of clues as to the mysterious creature’s identity. Huck enjoyed the punchline of the ending.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas. I’ve had this book since before I had children to read it to: it was one of the picture books I fell in love with during my grad-school part-time job at a children’s bookstore. Fox and Vivas are an incomparable team—it was they who gave us Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, which I described in 2011 as perhaps my favorite picture book of all time, an assertion I’ll stand by today. Possum Magic is the tale of a young Aussie possum whose granny works some bush magic to make her invisible, for protection from predators. Eventually young Hush would like to be visible again, but Grandma Poss can’t quite remember the recipe for the spell. There’s a lot of people food involved (much of it unfamiliar to American readers, which I think is what my kids like best about the book).

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild  Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Rilla and I finished Dancing Shoes, our last Saturday-night-art-date audiobook. Now we’re a couple of chapters into Swallows and Amazons. She’s a little lukewarm on it so far—so many nautical terms—but I suspect that once the kids get to the island, she’ll be hooked. The Ransome books were particular favorites of Jane’s and I’m happy to see them get another go with my younger set.

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt  Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne  dear committee members by julie schumacher

After Charlotte’s Web, I chose Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious as our next dinnertime readaloud (for Huck, Rilla, and Wonderboy). We’re nearing the climax now and oh, this book is every bit as gripping as I remember from childhood. The kingdom is about to erupt in war over the question of what food should define “delicious” in the Royal Dictionary. The queen’s brother is galloping across the kingdom spreading lies and fomenting dissent, and young Gaylen, the messenger charged with polling every citizen for their delicious opinion (a thankless and sometimes dangerous task), has begun to discover the secret history of his land—a secret involving dwarves, woldwellers, a lost whistle, and a mermaid’s doll. So good, you guys.

My literature class (Beanie and some other ninth-grade girls) continues to read short stories; this month we’re discussing Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” In November we’re doing Around the World in Eighty Days, so I’ve begun pre-re-reading that one in preparation. But I also found myself picking up a book I read, and didn’t get a chance to write about, earlier this year: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. The fact that I’ve read it twice in one year is probably all the endorsement I need give: with a TBR pile is taller than the Tower of Babel, I really shouldn’t be spending any time on rereads at all. :) But there I was stuck in a waiting room, and there it was on my Kindle, calling me. It’s an epistolary novel—you know I love those—consisting of letters (recommendations and other academic correspondence) by a beleaguered, argumentative university writing professor. His letters of recommendation are more candid and conversation than is typical. He’s a seriously flawed individual, and he knows it. But his insights are shrewd, especially when it comes to the challenges besetting the English Department. I thoroughly enjoyed this book on both reads.

Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace  Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery  Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis

Beanie finished Betsy and the Great World and is now reading Betsy’s Wedding (Rose insisted, and I fanned the flames) and Rilla of Ingleside, as our 20th-century history studies take us into World War I. Don’t Know Much About History continues to work quite well for us as a history spine, a topics jumping-off place, especially given the way it is structured: each chapter begins with a question (“Who were the Wobblies?” “What was the Bull Moose Party?”) that serves as a narration hook for us later. Then we range into other texts that explore events in more depth or, as with the Betsy and Rilla books above, provide via narrative a sense of the period. I probably don’t have to tell you I’m pretty excited about getting to include Betsy and Rilla in this study. Rilla of Ingleside is one of my most beloved books. The fact that my youngest daughter’s blog name—which I use nearly as much as I use her real name—is Rilla is probably a good indication of how much this book (and Rainbow Valley) means to me.

Illustration School Lets Draw Happy People  Illustration School Lets Draw Plants and Small Creatures  Illustration School Lets Draw Cute Animals

My late-September busy-ness put me in a bit of a slump with my sketching progress—it’s really the first time I’ve dropped the ball on my practice since I began just over a year ago. This week I pulled out our Illustration School books (Beanie and Rilla found them under the tree last Christmas) and decided that whenever I feel slumpy, I’ll just pick a page in one of those, or in a 20 Ways to Draw a book (we have Tree, Cat, and Tulip) and follow those models. It’s an easy way to get some practice in and there’s something satisfying in filling a page with feathers, mushrooms, or rabbits—even when I make mistakes. Which I do. A lot.


This roundup doesn’t include much of the teens’ reading, and nothing from Scott although he has racked up quite a few titles since my last post. I’ll get the older folks in next time. And I suppose it goes without saying that these posts also provide a bit of a window into our homeschooling life, since I try to chronicle all our reading—a large part of which is related to our studies. If you’re curious about what resources we’re using (especially the high-schoolers, about whom I get the most queries via email), you’ll find a lot of that information here.

Speaking of which: any favorite WWI-related historical fiction you’d like to recommend?


   Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen Books We Read This Week - September 13 Bonny Glen Week in Books Sept 6 2015

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4. Our Week in Books: September 6-12

Books We Read This Week - September 13

So very hot. We were languid this week and didn’t seem to read as much as usual, but maybe that’s just me. We had a lot of medical appointment stuff happening with Wonderboy and it’s possible I just didn’t do a good job keeping track of what people were reading. A few things, though, absolutely shone.

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall  Land Shark by Beth Ferry and Ben Mantle Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal.

Land Shark by Beth Ferry & Ben Mantle.

A Fine Dessert is one of those picture books everyone is talking about this year, for good reason. Four families, four centuries: mothers and daughters in Lyme, England, 1710; on a Charleston, South Carolina plantation, 1810; in Boston, Massachusetts, 1910; and a father and son in—we were all so excited to see the narrative arrive in our own backyard—San Diego, California, 2010. Each pair gathers the necessary ingredients for a most delicious-sounding dessert: blackberry fool. This is a deft and fascinating look at progress and culture: what changes over time, and what stays the same. Rich history, rich dessert: a delicious combination. Naturally, there’s a recipe for the dish in the back of the book—along with informative notes from author and illustrator. Is there a blackberry fool in our future? Absolutely.

Huck really enjoyed Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. You walk through the year with a grandmother and child, tending the garden and watching the activity of a whole village of little creatures below the soil. Sounds like familiar territory, but this is a new presentation, gorgeously illustrated, and my kids loved watching the below-ground bustle of roly polies, earthworms, and other nibbling creatures.

Land Shark: everyone read it but me! I’ll have to report back later on that one. Seemed to be a hit, though.

The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie by James Kochalka  My Very First Mother Goose  

The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie by James Kochalka.

My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones.

Huck devoured Glorkian Warrior—a young graphic novel I’m told is most entertaining. Now, the Mother Goose was a tiny bit of a cheat. :) This is a much beloved book in my house—a gift from my sister when Jane was born, and considerably tattered from hundreds of readings. Huck knows it more or less by heart. Which is where the cheat comes in: I have a policy of requiring a kid to memorize a poem before he (it is nearly always my youngest who asks) may download a new iPad app. The neighbor kid turned Huck on to some free motorcycle game, but Huck couldn’t add it to our device until he recited a poem for me. He trotted off to the poetry shelf and came back—oh, it must have been seconds—later, triumphantly announcing he’d learned one by heart. Sure, he had. IN THE CRADLE, PRACTICALLY. He rattled off Jack and Jill and hustled away to download his game before I could muster an argument about loopholes. Next time I’ll have to be more specific about which end of the poetry shelf he may draw material from, the scamp.

The Supergirl graphic novel was a Rilla read.

Continued from last week:


Vanessa and Her Sister A Novel by Priya Parmar  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobookGinger Pye by Eleanor Estes

I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the last two chapters of Charlotte’s Web. Just the sight of the next chapter title—”Last Day”—got me all choked up. And, you know, this is very likely the last time I will read it aloud to my own children.

Vanessa and Her Sister is so good, you guys! I’m reading pretty slowly, just because I’ve been so busy and I zonk out quickly most nights. But that’s all right because I’m happy to be savoring it slowly. Gorgeous writing. And I took Kortney’s advice and requested Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf biography from the library. It arrived and is about three inches thick. It doesn’t seem to be available on Kindle, more’s the pity. All fat books should be available on Kindle.

Beanie reread a bunch of Harry Potter books this week, and I don’t know what everyone else was into. Rilla checked out a stack of library books about the moon. She’s been spouting interesting tidbits at me all week.

I have two more crammed-full weeks ahead of me, and then I hope to get back to posting in between these Sunday book recaps. But for now, I’m just happy I’ve managed to pull this together four weeks in a row!


  Bonny Glen book roundup Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen Bonny Glen Week in Books Sept 6 2015

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5. Autumn is coming so we are going nutts!


We are doing a special promotion through 9/15/15 to coincide with our favorite season.  We’ve teamed up with a bunch of really cool kidlit authors to offer some great free and discounted eBooks.  4EYESBOOKS has discounted The Nutt Family:  An Acorny Adventure on AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKobo.  Chess Nutt and his sister Praline are always pretending to have crazy adventures. What happens when these two acorn siblings have an unexpected real life adventure on their own? Things get a little nutty!

Other books in this great promotion will be discounted from 9/11 – 9/15.  Check them out HERE.


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6. Today Is International Literacy Day. Why Literacy Is Important and How You Can Help.

The world is limited for people who can’t read. Imagine not being able to read signs, medication labels, job applications, or a note from your child’s teacher, and not having the pleasure of reading a novel. Reading helped me survive the abuse and torture of my childhood; I am saddened for the people who don’t have that escape. And reading novels helps reduce stress, increase vocabulary and knowledge, stimulate your mind and possibly slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, increase empathy, and do better at school and in life. People who can’t read often have lower incomes, lower quality jobs, low self-esteem, and worse health. Yet nearly 800 million people worldwide cannot read or write, 126 million of them are children, and 2/3 are girls or women.

Literacy Day

Infographic via Grammarly

Infographic via International Literacy Association who want to create the Age of Literacy by spreading the #800Mil2Nil message.

How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:

FirstBook; every donation until September 30th will be matched by the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF); every donation during this back-to-school season will be matched by Barnes and Noble.

International Literacy Association; donate or International Literacy Association, text “LITERACY” to 91999 and make a donation in the amount of your choosing.

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7. New Map ~ After the Ashes

I love getting snail mail, especially when it's a shiny new book with a map that I worked on earlier this year!

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8. Cybils Awards: Five Reasons to Apply as a Judge!

Everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd post my five reasons why you should apply to be a Cybils Awards judge. As you would expect, there's a lot of overlap with other people's reasons, but I'll add my own spin on them, and with an emphasis on my category, Young Adult Speculative Fiction. For those who don't know what speculative fiction is, it includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, dystopian, steampunk, and basically anything else with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

1. Read and discuss good books. Hopefully you don't need an excuse to read, but it doesn't hurt to be able to say, "Sorry, I can't do the dishes, I have to finish this Cybils book." Cybils judges engage in intense reading - and for Round 1, a LOT of reading - and intense discussions with a small group of people who share your book passion.

In YA Spec Fic, we've sometimes had upwards of 200 nominated books in Round 1, and while you don't have to read them all, Round 1 judges in YA SF can expect to have to read at least 40 books over a 3 month period. (Presumably, you'll already have read some of the category nominations). It's crazy intense, but so much fun! Round 2 judges have to read 5 to 7 books in a little under 6 weeks, but they get to read "the best of the best" and choose a winner.

2. Make lifelong friends. Those intense discussions with like-minded people? Turns out they're a great basis for a friendship. I've made lifelong friends from serving together on a Cybils panel. (And KidLitCon is a great place to meet up with them in person!)

3. Influence the books available for children/teen reading. Yup, awards do have an influence. And while the Cybils don't get as much media as, say, the ALA awards, we have a pretty big and dedicated following that includes teachers, librarians, and booksellers. The books you choose may end up on reading lists, getting purchased by a library, or in bookstore displays. Books that win awards and get that attention may be more likely to be reprinted or have a sequel or other books by the author published.

4. Get your blog better known. Did I mention we have a following? Round 1 judges are encouraged to blog about the books you read, and while Round 2 judges can't blog the finalists during the round, they can post reviews after the winners are announced. Throughout the Cybils season, we post review excerpts with links to reviews by both Round 1 and Round 2 judges to the Cybils blog, thus further aiding discovery of judges' blogs. During the summer, you can contribute themed book lists for posting on the Cybils blog. Being a Cybils judge can bring greater visibility to your blog, increase your traffic, and give you greater credibility with publishers.

5. Learn a lot. I mean, a lot. I sometimes think I know a lot about YA SF, but every year I'm blown away by the knowledge and expertise of my fellow judges, and every year I learn more from them.

What I'm looking for

As Category Chair for YA Speculative Fiction, I have the responsibility to choose the judges for my category. It's my least favorite part of the Cybils: I hate having to choose one person over another, but unfortunately we usually don't have room for everyone.

Here are some of the things that I look for:

1. A passion for speculative fiction. If your "about" on your blog says that you don't really like most spec fic, then I'll most likely pass. If you don't post about SF much, I'll think long and hard before choosing you.

2. Knowledge of spec fiction and its subgenres. Speculative Fiction is a very diverse genre. One day you might be reading a scary ghost story, and the next a futuristic dystopian. I look for people who have read broadly within the genre and can discuss the various aspects, literary elements, and tropes of the genre.

3. Critical thinking skills. I have to know that you can think critically about books and analyze the literary elements and readability of a book. Reviews are a great way to demonstrate this, but if you don't review books, hopefully you can submit other blog posts that demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

4. Open to diverse perspectives. I want to see that you have a demonstrated interest in diversity, and a tolerance for worldviews different from your own.

5. Diverse backgrounds. I mean this in two ways. First, I look for people who can bring expertise or experience with one or more under-represented groups, in what we usually mean when we say diversity. For example, do you blog about people of color, LGBTQA+ characters, differently-abled characters, different religious or worldviews, etc.? Second, I look for a variety of personal and work experience, so that the panel is hopefully made up of a good mix of librarians, teachers, parents, booksellers, authors, etc.

So I have I scared you off yet? Oops, I was supposed to be convincing you why you should apply! Please do apply, and if YA Speculative Fiction isn't your thing, we have plenty of other categories ranging from Easy Readers to Young Adult. We even have a book apps category!

Here's the information on how to apply!

Also, see the following posts for more reasons to apply!

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9. The Golden Compass Book Review and Activities for Young Readers

It’s winding down! Summer may slipping away, but the Jump Into a Book team is always looking for creative ways to showcase amazing kidlit authors while also offering up companion activities to keep families reading and “jumping” into the pages of their favorite books.
This week I would like to focus in The Golden Compass; a wonderful book by author Philip Pullman.
 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

In the world of Jordan College at Oxford, Lyra Delaqua’s life is more than simple. She shares many adventures with her daemon Pantalaimon and her best friend Roger. She occasionally learns from the scholars, but only when she’s in the right mood. She’s neither a peasant nor a noble child.

However, this simplicity only lasts until she catches the Master of Jordan trying to poison her nobleman uncle, Lord Asriel. This sets off a series of events that wrenches Lyra from her careless life at Oxford.

Lord Asriel is the first to introduce the aspect of Dust to her, something that he believes can only be found in the north, the place she desires to go more than anywhere else on planet. Thoughts of the great, white north race through her mind on a daily basis. This could be her chance—to travel to the north with her scholarly uncle to help him discover this so called dust.

But events are set in place to keep this from happening. Children are disappearing from Oxford. No one knows where they go or what happens to them once they are gone. All they know is who is taking them—the Gobblers. But the gobblers are faceless, and day by day, more children and their daemons are disappearing from all over the world.

After Lyra’s uncle has departed for his journey into the north, Lyra is introduced to the charming and graceful Mrs. Coulter, who intrigues Lyra so that she agrees to go with Mrs. Coulter and her eerie golden monkey to become her assistant, learn the ways of traveling, and venture into the north.But before Lyra leaves Jordan College, she is called to the Master who gives her a curious device called an alethiometer—a truth measurer. He gives her no information—not how to read, nor why he is giving it to her. He only emphasizes the great need to keep it secret.

For the first few weeks with Mrs. Coulter, Lyra’s life is drastically improved. She dresses well, bathes frequently. She learns about geography, cartography, and every other “ography.” But dark secrets are soon revealed—secrets of Dust, something called the Oblation board, and possibly what is happening to the children snatched up by the Gobblers. Lyra escapes from Mrs. Coulter just barely, and on her journey to find truth and her friend Roger, she encounters and learns more than she could ever imagine including Lord Faa and Farder Coram of the water-bound gyptians, Lee Scoresby the hot air balloon pilot from Texas, Serafina Pekkala—queen of a tribe of witches–, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled bear prince from Svalbard. Together this ragtag band of determined allies travel into the north, discover the secret of the Gobblers, and many more secrets that even the alethiometer kept hidden.

The Golden Compass was one of the most interesting, intriguing books I have read in awhile. Everything is different about this book. Pullman has his own style, his own view of the world. The introduction of the idea of daemon’s as a person’s external soul is a very beautiful idea to me, especially since I am such an animal lover. There are so many unique, intricate ideas weaved into this book that you must read closely to catch them all. I am thoroughly intrigued and can’t wait to finish out the series with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
author philip pullman
**Some of these links are affiliate links
Golden Compass Inspired Activities at Copalette.com. Enjoy a plethora of fun activities inspired by the book including Serafina Pekkala’s Mini Bow and The Golden Compass Game Spinner:
activities inspired by The Golden Compass
Make a pouch to hold your own alethiometer at Special Collections Learning:
What are the Northern Lights?
Northern Lights
Scientifically known as Aurora Borealis, the northern lights are electrically charged particles from the sun that collide in earth’s atmosphere. So basically it’s these tiny particles that are really excited and in turn create these beautiful colors in the sky. SO..Where is the best place to see the northern lights?
  • Remote Islands in Norway
  •              Scotland
  •             Canada
  •             Greenland
  •             Finland
  •             Iceland
  •             Sweden

(and my Head Elf, Becky, tells me that Northern Minnesota should be added to this list! :)

Follow me on Pinterest!
Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board Jump Into a Book Kidlit Booklists on Pinterest. Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board A Year In The Secret Garden on Pinterest.

Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
The Fox Diaries
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.


The post The Golden Compass Book Review and Activities for Young Readers appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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10. #TBT in B&W

Maggie meets her grandmother, and Oliver gets a scolding. (From MAGGIE & OLIVER OR A BONE OF ONE'S OWN.)

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11. Details, Details...

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12. New Map

Here's a new black & white map for a middle-grade novel coming out soon. I'll post the book when I get a copy. (I've been humming that Dora the Explorer song A LOT lately... I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map...)

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13. New Books for Children’s Book Week and a giveaway

Achoo_187 AnimalMouths_187 Fibonacci_187 PrimateSchool_187 ThisLand_187 WandrngWoolly_128

Would you like to win a set of Arbordale’s spring releases?

Here is a fun little fact scavenger hunt related to our spring books complete it this weekend for a chance to win free books.

  • If you suffer from seasonal allergies eating _________________ from your local area may help alleviate symptoms.
  • Butterflies, Bees and other insects don’t have ____________. They have different parts of the mouth that makes eating nectar easy.
  • Iguanas have sharp teeth and are classified as omnivores but they primarily eat __________ and especially ripe _____________.
  • Monkeys also love to eat fruit, and as a ____________ they are animal cousins to humans.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are primates that live on the tip of Madagascar an ___________ off the coast of ___________.
  • A very large animal that lives in Africa today, the ________________ is a close relative to this extinct Ice Age animal ___________.

Email your answers to Heather (at) Arbordalepublishing.com to win copies of Achoo! Why Pollen Counts, Animal Mouths, Fibonacci Zoo, Primate School, This Land is Your Land and Wandering Woolly!

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14. What I'm Working On Now

I haven't forgotten about you, little blog. I've just been knee-deep in revisions, and now final art (yay!) for Charles Around The World.

I'm posting a lot more frequently over on Instagram, if you'd like to follow along...

(My hairy little assistants... always good for adding hair to the watercolors...)

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15. We’re Bugging Out!


Super excited to announce that our Bee Bully is being featured in Bookbub today and is only $.99 for a limited time.  To celebrate we have some free gifts to tell you about.  From April 1st – April 5th you can download our latest release, Caterpillar Shoes, absolutely free from Amazon.  Check out what’s troubling Patches the caterpillar and the silly decision she makes to live her life to the full.  There are some interesting caterpillar facts in the back of this book.



I’ve also got more surprises to share.  My friend, Laura Yirak, is also giving away a copy of her delightful bee book, Bumble Babees during this same period.




Scott Gordon has another treat for you. His book, The Most Beautiful Flower will be FREE April 2-April 6.  This book is only $.99 on April 1st.  Don’t you just love spring!  Enjoy these goodies while they last.


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16. Caterpillar Shoes


Happy World Poetry Day!  We’ve been busy working on our latest children’s picture book, Caterpillar Shoes.  This story is about a colorful caterpillar named Patches.  She’s an energetic caterpillar trying to decide what activities to do.  In the end, she doesn’t put any limits on herself and lives her life to the full.  This is our twelfth children’s book and we are so excited for it’s release.  Stay tuned here to learn about upcoming promotions for this book and others.

Th only limit to a paintbrush and a blank canvas is your imagination.


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17. Can You Smell What DC is Cooking?

Before I let you know what’s cooking, I’d like to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve done something I’ve always wanted to do and some of my fans have asked me to and that is to publish a boxset of the Billy and Monster books.The Billy and Monster Collection Included in this boxset are the first five books in the Billy and Monster series. They are:

Billy and the Monster who Loved to Fart

Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers

Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Billy and Monster’s New Neighbor Has a Secret

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas

Over the weekend, I posted the cover you see to the right on my Facebook page and asked family, friends, authors and fans to let me know what they think. One recurring theme was that the grey color was a bit dull so I’ve asked my designer to change it to a brick red and I know that is really going to stand out. If you have any thoughts, I’d be interested to hear them.

I have to admit that the driving force behind me doing this boxset was because I wanted to covert it to an audiobook. I use a company called acx.com (an affiliate of Amazon) to do my audiobooks and will be working with a professional voice-over artist over the next month to give Billy and Monster a voice. Can’t wait to share that with you.

#BREAKINGNEWS You can actually get a copy of this boxset at the link below!

The Billy and Monster Collection

Thanks for all your support. It’s much appreciated.

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18. First few passes of color. #comic #kidlit #illustration #sketch ...

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19. 'Brushing up' on a #story about a Kat, and a ghost cat. #sketch...

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20. Interview with Kidlit Author – C.L. Murphy

Its back! Author Interview Thursday is back for the first part of the year and I’d like you to get ready for some inspiring authors who will not only provide the necessary fuel to turbo-charge your writing career to another level but will also offer tips, personal stories and current industry trends.CL Murphy - Childrens book Author Today in the hotseat, we have a lady who I met on Twitter. She absolutely and truly gets Twitter and to observe her interaction with fans and fellow authors on that social media platform is truly remarkable. She’s forever drawing attention to other authors books but guess what? The spotlight is firmly on her today. I’ve learned so much from her from afar and I’m glad I get the chance to ask the questions I’ve always wanted to ask her. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming C.L. Murphy.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

Whilst some may call me an author, I consider myself more of an illustrator. The first time I received recognition for something I created was in the third grade when I won a school wide poster contest. I lost my focus from art after my Mom died when I was 12. She was a talented artist and some of the happier times that I recall from early childhood, were of her creativity.  It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I was encouraged again by the teachers who told me that art was what I needed to be doing. I went on to college with a concentration in design. My creative spirit has led me down many paths, but none as rewarding as creating children’s picture books. One of those paths led me to paint a mural or two (or twenty). Colourful jungle critters “keep the beat” in this mural that I painted on a children’s music classroom wall.


What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by C.L. Murphy?CL Scribbles 1

I hope readers will fall in love with the lovable wolf pup character that I’ve created. He’s a kind lil’ fellow that loves all creatures and wouldn’t think of harming any of them. Uniquely, he considers himself a herbivore. He and his kooky, right-hand(wing) raven, Roxy, will take children on adventures in the great outdoors, introducing them to animals, all while trying to be true to his kind and curious nature.


You write and illustrate your books. Can you tell us your process in terms of what comes first and pertinent advice for other children’s book authors looking to illustrate their stories?

Because I am such a visual person, I always have the story envisioned in my mind prior to beginning. I start by sketching the story on paper and then creating the new characters digitally. The characters seem to speak to me during this part of the process as they come to life in my mind. I cannot give any advice to others because that would make me appear if I were some kind of expert. If anything, I’d say; find your style and keep crafting it.


Cathy, you’re the absolute master when it comes to Twitter. Can you give us a few tips on connecting with fans and authors on Twitter and how its been beneficial to you as an author?

Master? I’m just another twit on twitter. Haha! I do have fun, though, and enjoy the social platform. I find the 140 character limit a perfect format to connect with people.  I have benefited from Twitter by meeting and forming friendships with delightful people from all over the world. Many authors, teachers, readers, parents and creative folk are out there in Twitterland ready and willing to connect and share. They all brighten my day. I love following fellow KidLit tweeps but also appreciate those that enjoy life. I am interested in many things and what people have to say. Be kind and curious, just like Lobo’s character, and other tweeps will engage.


What were some of your favourite books as a child?Sunny the Sand Angel

Favorites? I can find merit with any book and I dislike playing favorites. It’s like asking me which of my sons is my favorite child. I love them dearly for different reasons. I owned a decent sized collection of books as a child and I would play librarian with the assortment. I categorized my books (which is surprising because I’m not what you’d call orderly) and taped check out slips in every single one. My library “stamp” was the family Christmas greeting that was used to stamp our signature on our yearly greeting cards. Oh, how I’d love to to find one of the books with the imprint of Merry Christmas from Bill, Bette, Carol & Cathy Lou, stamped in it. Those ALL would be my favorites!


You’re a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Would you advise other children’s book authors and illustrators to join and how has it helped you? 

I’m a member of a fairly new branch of an Oregon chapter. We don’t assemble as much as I’d like, but when we do, I always leave the meeting enthused about what I’ve learned and anxious to use the knowledge. The society is a wonderful wealth of information and I would highly recommend any author or illustrator to join their local chapter. I feel it is almost mandatory to join if you want to stay involved with the industry.


How do you reward yourself once your book is published?Lovable Lobo North Pole

Once a book is available to readers, the work is far from over, so there’s no time to celebrate. A successful launch includes promotions and honest reviews in hopes that others take note. You hope that children and their parents will like, or better yet, LOVE, what you’ve poured your heart and soul into. The BEST reward is when something you’ve created is appreciated!


What is your favourite Hollywood Animal film and why?

There you go asking me to play favorites again, David. As a child, the movie Bambi, made quite an impact on me. I’d listen to the story on a record player over and over again. I had a pet rabbit that I named Thumper based on one of the movie’s characters. I enjoy animated movies and ones that capture your imagination. I’ll always be a kid at heart with a soft spot for the furry and the feathered.


What three things should a first time visitor to Oregon do?

Oregon has so much to offer! There’s outdoor activities galore, available year round, in every corner of the state! A visit to Crater Lake National Park is a must. If you’re a fan of live theatre, then world renowned, Oregon Shakespeare Festival can’t be missed. We’re famous for our microbreweries and wine regions, if you partake. Don’t get me started on the local cuisine!  How does some warm MARIONBERRY cobbler à la mode or a chocolate HAZELNUT torte or a PEAR upside-down gingerbread cake with caramel drizzle sound? Oops. I think my sweet tooth is showing.


Lovable, who is the main character in your popular series – The Adventures of Lovable Lobo – was inspired by a wolf you raised for 14 years. Can you tell us something we possibly don’t know about wolves?musicroom

I could perhaps tell you everything you’d ever want to know (or not) about wolves. Okay, that’s not true. I believe them to be magnificent, intelligent creatures with a very caring social structure. Interestingly, the wolf has inspired many legends and stories, their imagery is present in many cultures and even prehistoric man left evidence of their existence. Did you know that wolves are one of the few animals that communicate using a great range of facial expressions?


With Christmas just gone, can you tell us the most memorable gift you received growing up?

A very memorable gift was a copy of The Wizard of Oz book that I received from an aunt at Christmas. Memorable, because I found it creepy. That wicked witch gave me nightmares as did the house coming down and squishing her. And those flying monkeys! I appreciate that the newer story’s adaptions have lessened the creepiness, but back then, I hid the book from sight. I did want a pair of those ruby slippers, though.


What can we expect from C.L. Murphy in the next 12 months?Lobo Huddling

Lovable Lobo will go on another adventure. I have two stories in the works. They are fighting amongst themselves and the strongest shall prevail. I’m hoping to announce a BIG surprise, that no one will see coming, sometime in 2015 but it may not happen until 2016.


Where can readers and fans connect with you?


Website: http://lovablelobo.com

Blog: http://lovablelobo.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LovableLobo

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lovable-Lobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6852948.C_L_Murphy

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/murphymess

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CLMurphyKidLit


Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

I waited until my sons went off to college to start the journey even though I had plenty of ideas. When they were young, they were always a source of inspiration. I’d take my notebook along and write and draw during our outings. For instance, they liked to fish. I did not. I took that opportunity to create in between baiting hooks. Ah, worm guts. Nature can be so inspiring! The point is; I could have started back then. Could have. Would have. Should have.

It is both an exciting and interesting time in the publishing world. Never has it been so easy to self-publish and that has created a glut of self-published books on the market, with absolutely NO filter. How do you stand out amongst the gazillions? You produce a quality product and develop a loyal fan base whether you’re traditionally published or not. It is not easy, as I’m sure you know all too well, David. It takes dedication and an inordinate amount of time. If you love what you do, you keep doing it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them when you do, try new things, make new connections, stay informed and see where it takes you, but NEVER give up. That’s my strategy and I’m sticking with it.

Thank you, David, for this opportunity to share.


The pleasure was all mine Cathy. I like how you ended by encouraging us never to give up. It sometimes seems like the time is never perfect to begin that dream. Sadly, things will never be perfect for us to begin that dream and the best time to start is usually now. Please connect with Cathy at the links she provided above and let her know you got to know her through my interview with her. She currently has two books about Lovable Lobo that you can get on Amazon and other Online Retailers. Kindly leave a question or comment below so Cathy and I know you stopped by.

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21. Happy New Year of the... Sheep? Ram? Goat?

I vote for goat!

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22. Billy and Monster Get Featured on BookBub

Great news!Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

My book – Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs – has just been accepted by Bookbub and will be featured on March 21st.

Why is this great news I hear you say? Well it is great news as Bookbub has more than a million subscribers and will email everyone on their list interested in Children’s books. BookBub email their subscribers daily and offer to them eBooks at a discount. I have to admit that I have discovered and downloaded many eBooks recommended by BookBub. You can actually sign up here.

One of my books – I Love Baby Animals – got featured on Bookbub about a year ago and became a Top 10 best-selling book on the Amazon store in the Children’s category. What’s even more exciting this time, is that the book will be available to readers on Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Barnes and Noble plus Foundry.

If you can’t wait for March 21st, then grab a copy of Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs at the link below

Biily and Monster on Amazon

Billy and Monster on Apple

Billy and Monster on Barnes and Noble

Billy and Monster on Nook

Billy and Monster on Kobo

Billy and Monster on Scribd

Billy and Monster on Foundry


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23. Good News When You Least Expect It...

Life is a constant roller coaster and I'm blown away by two exciting offers this week...

The first offer through the Greenwich Academy via Izabela O'Brien, parent volunteer chairing the Greenwich Academy book fair on April 12, 2015. They have asked me to appear as their guest author.

The second offer...

I reached out to the Collingswood Book Festival after participating as an exhibitor October 11, 2014 as to their application process to be an invited/featured author for their 13th book festival to be held October 3, 2015. After receiving the details, I eagerly filled out the application and low and behold I heard from the Author Selection Committee and I am now a confirmed featured author.

Please know I'm not bragging, I'm just sharing how networking and assisting others on their road to publication and beyond is essential in getting your name out there! I implore you to do the same, you never know what doors will open.

Here's to your inspiration!


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014 Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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24. A fine blend of non-sense engineering and cats. #sketch #pencil...

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25. Interview with Kidlit Author, Kristen Lamb

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve taken out time to join me today.K Lamb As you may already know, today is World Book Day and it was interesting seeing all the children dressed up as different literary characters on my way to drop off my bambinos at school. And what better day to have a children’s book author remind us why the written word matters. Today’s special guest was introduced to me by C.L. Murphy who was on the hotseat a few weeks ago. In the weeks leading up to today’s interview, I’ve been impressed with her passion to see literacy levels increase in children. Her blog contains lots of good stuff plus interviews with children book authors. Her book covers make you take a second look and she has loads of fans in different countries across the world. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Kristen Lamb.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

This is the part where I want to tell you lots of exciting things, but the truth is―I’m just a simple gal from the San Francisco Bay Area. As an indie writer I find joy in telling my stories and seeing the smiles they produce on a child’s face. I am a wife, mother, and business woman that lives a quiet life. My adventurous side finds peace hiking through the Yosemite Valley and my playful side can be found hanging out with Goofy and Mickey at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Most importantly, I am always thankful for each new day’s dawn and the promises it brings. I believe it is important to be grateful.


Tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?  

Surprisingly, I remember quite well the “moment” I was complimented on my writings and the feeling it evoked. The details are a little more fuzzy. I was in grammar school and it was first or second grade. We had an assignment where we had to write a story and then make it into a bound book using material, cardboard, and book binding tape. I was so enthralled with the project, I asked my teacher if I could make two books. Our class “literary masterpieces” were proudly displayed at Parents Night. I can still remember the feeling inside when my teacher smiled down at me that night and then told my parents that someday I was going to be a writer. There was a feeling that radiated from somewhere deep inside of me that seemed to concur with her prediction.


What were some of your favourite books as a child?  Massachusetts-6

When I was very young, I loved my big red book of nursery rhymes. The book was bigger than I was at the time! I’d drag it around everywhere. Then of course, I had my all-time favourite Dumbo. It was more of a treasured memory in that my grandmother (who lived next door) would always tuck me in and read it to me. She must have been so tired of that story! But I loved our routine. She would tuck me in, read me the book, and finally sing me Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah before kissing me goodnight. How could that book not be my favourite?

Oh my, now the truth comes out. The quirkier side of me loved gothic horror. Yes. I admit it. When I was really young I loved the gothic comic books. As an advanced reader, I moved on to novels rather quickly such as Frankenstein, Dracula and countless others. Of course those were contraband that I kept at my grandmother’s house. To be honest, my love of these books probably also relates to the fact that my grandmother and I would always watch the old black & white “B” horror movies together. I loved cuddling up with her as we munched on popcorn and drank Dr. Pepper. For me, the stories were never scary because they came from a safe place.

When at home I would read my favourite Nancy Drew mysteries and other childhood books. I loved Little Women, Red Badge of Courage, Diary of Ann Frank and the classics. The genres I enjoyed varied greatly. Luckily, my grandmother was an avid reader who shared her love of literature with me so my supply of books was endless.


You have currently published three books in the Dani P. Mystery series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?Dani and the Haunted House  

The birth of Dani P. Mystery started out as a short story. It was a gift of love to my daughter. Dani, the protagonist in my series, is loosely based on my daughter and it was created specifically for her when she was seven years old.

When I became an ‘empty nester’ my family encouraged me to publish one of my stories. I always thought someday I would, but then they challenged me to make it a reality. I had worked on several projects and could have released any one of them, but in my heart I knew it had to be Dani P.  It is then that I decided to create the series and share Dani’s adventures with other children.

As you mentioned there are currently three books in the series:  Dani and the Haunted House (1st edition), Dani and the Mall Caper (1st edition), and Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch. There will be more books available in the future and I look forward to seeing what Dani gets into next! The important thing to know about the books is that I always try and include some kind of message in the story, in a subtle way that promotes self-esteem or life lessons. And although the books are part of a series, they can be read independently in any order.


What have you found to be a successful way to market your books? 

Gasp. I have not begun marketing! You mean there’s more to it than just writing a book? Okay, so that’s my humour showing through. As any indie writer will probably tell you, writing a book is the easy part! Marketing is what drains your life away.

In truth, I really haven’t begun marketing my books yet. I made a conscious decision not to until I had three books in which to market. I feel it is important, especially when doing a children’s series, to have more than one book available to a child before getting them “hooked.” Right now I do have three books available on Amazon, but I am in the process of having the first two books re-illustrated by my amazing new illustrator, Katrina Glidewell. When the first three books are complete with all new illustrations, then I will begin marketing. As it is, I get inquiries all the time asking me when the next Dani P. book will be released. This is an incredible feeling, but at the same time I don’t want to let the kids down by not having the next book immediately available, which is why we are still on the soft release without a big marketing campaign.

In the meantime, I am getting out there and letting people meet Dani. I’m connecting with teachers, parents, and children. I’m slowly building the platform to (hopefully) make her a success. We have our website, Facebook Page, and Twitter account where we can interact with her readers. One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed is the communication I’ve had between the parents/children and teachers. They make each day brighter with their notes, their pictures, and feedback. We even have a new feature on our website where we are tracking where Dani has visited. Our readers are notifying us when Dani “visits” them and we are marking those visits on our world map. We look forward to expanding the map as more people learn of this feature!


I really like your book covers as they stand out. What advice would you offer other children authors with regard to working with an illustrator for illustrations and book covers? Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch

There are several factors one needs to consider when deciding upon an illustrator! My first piece of advice would be to take your time. Don’t rush. We all get so excited when we write that story and we want to see it brought to life, but it is so important to wait for the right illustrator to come along.

It is also important to shop around. Spend the money to get several concept pieces done from different illustrators. Who best understands your vision? Can you communicate well with them? Do they respond? All of these are key factors. And ultimately, put your agreement in writing. It is crucial for both parties to have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.

A writer must also focus on the reality of the situation: what can you afford? Personally, I don’t expect to make a profit from my books. It would be wonderful if I did, but it isn’t the reason I write. I write for children. To share the gift of reading. However, you have to be realistic that the overall cost of production is within means to produce and sustain. Ask yourself the hard questions and be prepared to answer it honestly.


Do you think social media is a waste of time and how has it helped or hurt you as a writer? 

I absolutely do not believe social media is a waste of time. But that does not mean it equates to book sales either. Social media is a wonderful way to connect with readers, parents, teachers, and other authors. The relationships, and even friendships, I’ve built from social media cannot be depreciated because they don’t bring in sales. Never underestimate the power of human connections and their true worth.

As an author friend of mine says, social media is a “time vortex.” Time disappears when on these sites. It is important to monitor the time you are investing in them and balance that out with productive time. It is all about accountability to yourself, and ultimately, to your writing.


What tips do you have for writing good dialogue? 

Honesty. I believe it is simple. Become your character. Would a character on a page really speak the same in real life? And don’t forget to listen. The world is a wonderful place to learn if you’re willing to be a sponge. Soak it all up. Then pour it all onto the page through your writing.


Is there a particular book or film that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

Hopefully this doesn’t come out the wrong way, but I don’t want to be inspired by a book or a film. I want my inspiration to come from within. I want it to be genuine, and me.

I do have a book that has inspired me, but not as a writer―as a person. Many years ago, a client brought in a book for everyone in our office. He said he had received it as a gift and it moved him so much, that he bought dozens of books to share with others. The book was The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. I easily understood why it moved him as it struck a chord within me as well. Truth be told, I bought several copies of it myself and shared with family members.


Toy Story or Shrek? 1 - ATW Map

You’ve got a friend in me….Toy Story. I love the entire dynamic between Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Andy. In today’s life too many things are disposable and friendship shouldn’t be one of them. There is always room in our heart for one more. Although, I am a person that values genuine friendship over acquaintances. My grandmother always taught me that it is better to have a few true friendships than a multitude of false ones. It is all about quality over quantity.


What three things should a first time visitor to your city/town do? 

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area there is never a loss of things to do, whether it is taking in the theatre, strolling through Golden Gate Park, visiting Napa Valley, or heading out to the ballpark!

The possibilities are as varied as the personalities that visit! There is truly something for everyone. Of course, you can always visit one of the many libraries!


What can we expect from Kristen Lamb in the next 12 months? 

In addition to re-releasing the first two books, it is my hope to have the next two books in the Dani P. Mystery series released as well. The fourth book in the series is Dani and the Hidden Treasure and the fifth book is Dani and the Magician. That is a lot to accomplish in such a short period of time, but I like setting goals. It is always good to be striving toward something.


Where can readers and fans connect with you? Dani and the Mall Caper

I love connecting with Dani’s readers! You can find us at:




www.twitter.com/danipmystery or @danipmystery



Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? 

Decide whether you want to be an indie author or publish traditionally. Then have patience. Being a writer isn’t glamorous. It takes a lot of hard work, even longer hours, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But if you have a voice that demands to be heard, it is worth it.


Thanks for sharing so much with us today Kristen. I really loved the tips you gave on working with an illustrator and how we shouldn’t rush into working with the first person who comes along. As its World Book Day, I’d like to encourage everyone to checkout Kristen’s page on Amazon or any other retailer of your choice and pick up one of her books. We’d also love to hear an questions or comments you may have and as always do share this interview on your social networks.

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