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Viewing Blog: Shutta's Place, Most Recent at Top
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The Writer's Life by children's writer, Shutta Crum. Includes information on writing, children's books, school visits and conference speaking, teacher information and random thoughts about living the writing life.
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1. 1st Random Act of Publicity: 2011


For this year’s random acts of publicity week, I’d like to give a loud shout-out about  my friend Deb Diesen’s book, THE POUT-POUT FISH IN THE BIG-BIG DARK. (Illustrated by the talented Dan Hanna. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

If you enjoyed the first book about the Pout-Pout Fish, you’ll love this one, too in which Fish must conquer his fears to help his friend Ms Clam recover her “yawn-gone pearl.”

And if you get a chance be sure to check out the hilarious book trailer made by Dan for the book. (See below.)



What’s it about?

It’s all about joy!


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2. It’s SCHMOOZE Time!!!

If you’re a writer or illustrator and want to spend some time networking with other writers and illustrators contact me about the annual Schmooze here or via my “contact” page. It’s Sunday, August 14 from 2 to 5 p.m.  More information is available on my Schmooze page (under the Events tab).


In the playhouse!


Hope to see some of you soon!


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3. “It Gets Better” Video


What a wonderful idea! Artists and writers have joined the wave of folks speaking directly to kids who are having a tough time, or who are being bullied, to let them know that “it gets better.” What a great way to encourage kids who are suffering. Many of us have “been there” and “done that.” Many writers, too, were bullied or depressed as kids. But we persevered to come through to the other side—to life as happy and productive adults. This is something teens need to hear.

The link is below. Please share this!



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4. Lexical Lust: an Ink-slinger’s Confession


Often I am asked about which book had the most impact on me when I was a child. A couple of years ago I finally decided to write about that.

The book was a Webster’s Dictionary that I rescued from an incinerator and lugged home to a house that did not have many books. Part of the “A” section was missing. Still, it was a wonder to me!  I continue to be enamored of dictionaries of all kinds.

To read my love song to dictionaries click below. This article was originally published in the Language Arts magazine, vol. 88, No. 2, November 2010. “Copyright 2007 by the National Council of Teachers of English.  Used with permission." 


Enjoy . . . all you bibliophiles!


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5. God and the Swearing Book: My Two Favorite Reference Questions.

If you’ve read the “about me” info on this website, you know I was a librarian for twenty-four years. On the first Father’s Day after my own father had died, I wrote a short piece for a professional journal about two favorite reference questions I fielded while a librarian. Both involved fathers who were doing their best for their children.  As Father’s Day is coming up again, I thought I’d post a link for those parents, teachers, and librarians who might be interested.

The Last Word:  God and the Swearing Book

(Note: This article was originally published in Children and Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, Vol. 7, no. 2, Summer/Fall 2009.)



And cherish your fathers, they are too quickly taken from us.


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6. An Interview with Elizabeth Law and Allen Zadoff and a Chance to Win a Critique!

My friend, Cynthia Leitich Smith, has posted a fun interview with Publisher Elizabeth Law of Egmont and author Allen Zadoff. And Elizabeth has been kind enough to offer a critique of part of a manuscript! This is a wonderful chance for someone to get some thoughtful criticism back from a respected professional in the field.  So head on over to Cyn’s site at her Cynsations Blog and check it out! What have you got to lose?

Happy Writing!


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7. Mine! Book Trailer Released . . .


Since I have a really difficult time waiting for a book to be released, I thought I’d release a tantalizing bit of MINE! via a book trailer.




Hope you like it! I love, love, love Patrice Barton’s illustrations for our book! 

And—just in case you haven’t heard . . . MINE! has gotten two great reviews thus far. (And both are starred reviews!)

From the stars so far:

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2011:
"Crum uses only the title word (if you don’t count a single "Woof?"), but the various inflections speak volumes about the comic dynamics of sharing…[Barton's] dizzyingly expressive digitized pencil sketches seem to be everywhere at once continually reframing the action to make sure readers savor every gleefully anarchic moment."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2011:
"The capricious artwork has touches of Helen Oxenbury and Marla Frazee’s babies, smudgy, digitized pencil sketches full of movement and joy…This charming, animated episode will elicit giggles and demands of ‘read it again!‘"


And be good-share,


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8. Books and Contests by Writer Friends . . . Yay, for you! You could be a winner . . .


One of the greatest things that has happened since I started writing is that my network of friends keeps growing–writers and non-writers. Many of the writers host contests. (As I did for THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN last fall.) Below are links to some giveaway contests and good books written by good writers. So stop by one, or more, of them and enter. Someone has to win. It could be you!



(p.s.:  I will be posting a permanent link on the right hand side to ongoing book-related contests. Be sure to check that out soon.)



Katie Davis:  In honor of the hatching of her new book: LITTLE CHICKEN’S BIG DAY. In addition to autographed books there are different prizes each week. This week it’s a baby quilt she made herself!  So stop by Katie’s site at katiedavis.com. 



And stop by the YA Fusion blog where book giveaways happen often. It is co-written by a number of young adult book authors and readers, including my friends Kristin Lenz and Tracy Bilen.

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9. Publishing Children’s Books Program

Publishing Children’s Books: The Dirty Truth!

Thursday April 7, 2011 @ 7:00 p.m.
Ann Arbor Public Library, Traverwood Branch
3333 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105

Panelists are:
Shutta Crum, author and storyteller
Sleeping Bear Press publisher at Sleeping Bear Press
Colleen Kammer, owner of the the Book Beat in Oak Park, Michigan
Marian Nelson, publisher at Nelson Publishing, LLC
Erin Stead, illustrator and 2011 Caldecott winner
Philip Stead, author, illustrator, and writer of the 2011 Caldecott winner
moderated by Dr. Harry Eiss, professor of children’s literature at Eastern Michigan University

And it’s FREE!

Come as you are. Books will be for sale. Bring friends (or even foes-we’re not particular).

For more information please contact Ahuva Rogers: ahuvar@comcast.net or 248-895-7241 or call the Ann Arbor District Library at: 734-327-4265.

Sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association–Detroit and the Ann Arbor District Library.




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10. R. Gregory Christie to Illustrate an Upcoming Title of Mine with Hyperion


I’m tickled and so-o-o-o excited to announce that award-winning illustrator R. Gregory Christie has agreed to illustrate my upcoming book with Hyperion:  JUBAH. It’s a picture book story of a young girl with the power of creation in her hands . . . based partly on African creation myths. The hard part, of course, is waiting to see his art. He uses a mix of realism, abstraction, and folk art. But, it will be a while before the book will be out. In the meantime-here is a link to his website Gregarious Art Statements. Enjoy!


p.s.:  Check out the new widget for the Children’s Choice Awards!


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11. MINE! Next book coming out June 2011, and its cute cover.




My next book, due in June of this year, is a complete departure from the fantasy novel that came out last year, THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN (Knopf), and a return to picture book format. It’s titled: MINE!

And I thought you all might be interested in seeing the wonderful artwork of the illustrator, Patrice Barton.  It’s published by Knopf, and edited by the talented Michelle Frey.

MINE! is a simple tale of one-upmanship with a hero who is a VERY YOUNG child. This book is for sharing with any child who has ever laid claim to all the toys within reach. It was inspired by the Toddler’s Creed—something I always keep in mind when writing for this age group. 



Love it!

And I hope you will love MINE! when it gets here. I do know that many online ordering sites are doing preorders right now.

Happy National Reading Month to all of you!


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12. Catching Up—News and Hurrahs.

Lots of news to catch up on…

1.)  First of all, THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN was listed last year by the New York Public Library as one of their recommended top 100 books. Yay! Listed in: “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.”

2.) And . . . I’m happy dancing for a good friend of mine and a writer I mentored a year or so ago. Her name is Tracy Bilen. She won me as a novel mentor for a year in Michigan’s SCBWI (Soc. of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) group. Her manuscript had the basics of a great read…a riveting plot and an empathetic main character. But it needed deepening and developing. She worked hard, took many of my suggestions and always did the homework I suggested. Just this week she received an offer from Simon Pulse, a division of Simon & Schuster. YAY!  I think I am more excited about this than anything else that’s happened lately.  It’s so fun to know that soon another great young adult novel will be in the hands of readers. It will make its debut in 2012. Hugs to Tracy!!! (And we’ll roll out the red carpet when the book comes out.)

3.) A really different and fun book just made the news on National Public Radio. It’s called YOU CAN COUNT ON MONSTERS by Richard Evan Schwartz. It’s not a picture book–though it’s all about pictures of monsters (and numbers).  I’ve highlighted it to the right. Enjoy!

4.) Wow!!  Michigan rocks…In the recent ALA awards Erin Stead won the Caldecott Medal for A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE (written by her husband Philip). Sure am proud to live in Michigan!


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13. Get Ready for Holler Loudly!


Holler Loudly


Due out on the 11th of this month is a new rip-snortin’ tall tale by Texan, Cynthia Leitich Smith (published by Dutton Books and illustrated by Barry Gott). Young Holler, Mr. and Mrs. Loudly’s child, has the ability to turn teacher chalk to dust, stampede cattle, and set the hounds in the county to howling . . . with just his voice. But ya know–between me and you and the fence post–not every talent is truly appreciated . . . at first. However, quick thinking on Holler’s part when a tornado threatens saves the town and his talent finally is appreciated. In fact, the town names the local library after him: The Holler Loudly Library. HAH!  What a fun picture book read this is!  And the lively, colorful illustrations vividly portray all the energy of the text. A truly great match-up of writer and illustrator. Be sure to order your copy soon. (Ages 4-8.)

Also, be sure to stop by Cyn’s website and check out the book trailer for HOLLER LOUDLY.  Or click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

But . . . hold your horses! Don’t go riding off yet.

To top off this good bit of publishing news I’ve got an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of HOLLER LOUDLY.  (See below.)

cyn_author_photo Welcome, Cyn!

  1. S. C.:  I love the ironical twist at the end of HOLLER LOUDLY Was this the germ of the story? Or did the idea for HOLLER LOUDLY begin elsewhere?

Cyn: Thank you! HOLLER LOUDLY was a book some six years in the making. It started out as contemporary realistic fiction about a loud boy who’s sad that the old theater is being torn town. He eventually makes the suggestion to move the library into that building. It had a lot of qualities I liked-the importance of children’s voices, historic preservation and libraries. But it was a little complicated, a little too much about the world of grown-ups.

Over time, it became a tall tale about a very loud boy-one whose loudness, like any unchecked superpower, becomes burdensome. Over the course of the story, he comes to appreciate quiet times, the music other folks make, but also uses his power for good

S. C.: The dedications are wonderful, as well. Were you a loud child? (Aren’t all stories just a little bit autobiographical?)

Cyn: For me, writing HOLLER LOUDLY is probably a study in wish fulfillment. I was very much concerned with being a “good” girl. There are family photos of a very young me frowning at cousins who’re making noise.

S. C.: It seems to me that Barry Gott’s colorful and energetic illustrations are perfect for this book. And I enjoyed the way the illustrator and art designer used the loud words as part of the illustrative matter rather than simply having them in the text. Did you have any say in this?

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14. And the Winner is: Carol M.! Lucky #44 wins a free copy of THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN.

A big thanks to all of you who visited my blog during the blog tour for THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN. You are friends, colleagues, other writers, and fans.

Using a random number generator #44 was selected to win the prize–and Carol has been notified. So if you have not heard from me . . . I’m sorry, that means you did not win the book. However, copies are available at all your favorite book outlets and in an electronic version. Also, THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN will be out in paperback next summer.

Thomas cover larger

Hugs, to all!

Happy Reading.




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15. Lounging at Leon & LuLu’s!

Looking for a fun Sunday outing? Look no farther. That cosmos of the curious, that galaxy of glitz and goofiness, Leon & Lulu’s, is hosting another of their annual author events.*

What a great space: with roller skates lining the walls, the original roller rink floor, and lots of really mind-blowing art, comfy chairs, screwball socks, and other various funky finds too numerous to name.

And to really put the icing on the cake, they’ve invited about 40 authors to be in various spots throughout the store to autograph books. What a great time, and place, to do your holiday shopping. Stop by and say Hi!

It’s Sunday, Oct. 10th from 11 - 5  at Leon & LuLu’s at 96 W. 14 Mile in Clawson.

The link to Leon & LuLu’s is here.  And the link to the author event is here. Also, the store does a number of events to help local not-for-profit groups. This event is supporting Beyond Basics.

*Beyond Basics is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering reading, writing and expanding horizons enrichment programs to students attending public schools in metropolitan Detroit. To find out more about Beyond Basics at www.beyondbasics.org.

The Books & Authors event is co-sponsored by ICU Eyewear, purveyor of fun and fancy reading glasses. ICU has donated a limited quantity of fashionable and funky reading glasses, which will be sold the weekend of the event for $17 (regular retail $22). All proceeds from the sale of the reading glasses, tips and raffle money will benefit Beyond Basics.  Entertainment will be provided by Trio Fiori (Jeffrey Beyer, flute; Theresa Stacy, violin; Sharon Sweet, piano).

Here’s a pic from last year’s event. I attended and met up with my friend, and fellow author,  Jean Alicia Elster. JeanandMeat LeonandLulu09 (Check out her website!)


See you Sunday!



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THOMAS is continuing his tour around the blogosphere and interviews with me (some serious, some not), and/or reviews of THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN can be found at the following sites.

At author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s award-winning site there is an interview with me about writing across different formats for children (picture book, novel, poetry, etc.).

At author Deb Diesen’s Jumping the Candlestick site there is a fun interview.

The Book Scout has posted an interview as well as a book review.

A Good Addiction has an interview with me and a review.

Reading Vacation (hosted by eleven year-old Melina) has a story about the person who has had the greatest influence on my life and writing—my dad.  She has also posted a review.

At There’s a Book website I talk a bit about the love of words and one of the most important books to come into my life-I saved it from an inferno! That site is also hosting a book and swag give-away. So be sure to scroll down to the end of the article and sign up!


And check these out:

Lost for Words has a review. As well as Flaming Net, a site where the reviews are written by kids.

Info Dad has a fine review of THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN, as well as Journey of a Bookseller and Greg Leitich Smith’s blog.

Happy surfing and reading! And keep posted here, there will be

blog stops in the next few weeks, as well.


17. Win a free, autographed, copy of THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN!

Thomas and the Dragon Queen is making a tour of blogs about children’s books this month. In honor of that, I’ve decided to give away an autographed copy to a reader at random. Just leave your name and an email address where I can reach you, if you win, by midnight October 12th. Kids:  If you are under 13 years of age, please get a parent or guardian’s permission to enter the contest. To enter: click here or on the hand below:

hand writing

NOTE:  You MUST be over 13 years of age, or have a parent’s permission if you are not. And I will randomly select a winner on Oct. 13th.

Good luck, all!

Shutta Crum

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18. Readers, readers, everywhere . . .

I LOVE that kids (and other readers) are picking up my new book, THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN (Knopf). Here are a couple of pics folks have sent me.



This is Aiden who read through a weekend visit to family and then on the way home in the car. Thanks, Hope for sending this to me!



Marxchildreading Thomas


This is Dillon Marx who, is not quite ready to read THOMAS yet, but who is trying to figure out why his older brother is so engrossed by this book.  Thanks, Sueanne, for letting me post this picture!


Finally . . .  a couple of favorite pics a friend sent of Bertie “reading” THUNDER-BOOMER!  Thanks, Alice!




I wish he could tell me what he truly thought of it. THUNDER-BOOMER! does have a dog in it. At least he is not trying to bury it in the backyard!

Way to go, Bertie!!


See my contact page if you have photos you’d like to send me of your family members reading my books.



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19. Bamboo Temple in Kamakura, Japan


During a break from working with the children at Sullivans School, we visited Kamakura where the giant Budda is, as well as the beautiful Bamboo Temple. I loved the way the light shone through the trees!


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20. In Tokyo



We are in Japan during Golden Week. It is very busy as this is the time of year that many Japanese take their vacations. It is also one of the beautiful times here as azaleas and wisteria are in bloom.

I had a great time with the young students of Yokosuka, Atsugi, and Zama. We are off today to northern Honshu (the main island) to schools in Misawa.


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21. Dragon Pump Oirase Gorge



A wonderful dragon at a temple along the Oirase Gorge. Surely, one of the most beautful areas of Japan! A river drains in a series of waterfalls from Lake Towada . . . a double caldera lake high in the mountains of northern Honshu.

And a view of one of the two lesser Fujis of the north.

We are headed home with some sadness at leaving such a beautiful country . . . and all our new friends behind.

More later on the great kids and staff of the DODEA schools.


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22. Konnishiwa! Images of Japan


We are home-with some sadness at leaving new friends and a beautiful country. I will forever be indebted to the PTOs of the great schools of the Depart. of Defense who hosted my series of author visits with their students.

We took hundreds of photos. I can only share a few here. I hope you enjoy these sights as much as we did!

(Above: me with a young fan who was the proud caregiver for M.C. Perry School’s rubber chicken mascot for the day.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         (Left) My husband Gerry and I on a sail through the many islands off the coast of Kyushu while we were at Sasebo naval facility.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The “Chicken Shack!” in Iwakuni. (Near the marine base where we stayed.) We were treated to a wonderful meal in our own tea room here. No shack! Gorgeous.


 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The famous Kentai Bridge outside Iwakuni. The center section was built without nails so it could be pulled down if necessary during a raid. On the mountain top is the Kentai Castle.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         A bullet train-the high-speed trains are super fast, comfortable, quiet. What a great way to travel!




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Red Torri gate in Hakone. Wherever there is a gate there is a shrine or temple.





ancienttreeHakone An elder statesman of a tree in Hakone.








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23. Welcome to a new little book…


Thomas cover small

Today is THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN’s birth-(launch)-day! It is now available in stores. It is published by Knopf, with black and white line illustrations by Lee Wildish. THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN is an adventure story of a small knight and a large dragon.

This book seemed to pour out of me. I was stuck in the middle of a much longer book with a more complicated plot when, suddenly, I knew I had a different and very important story to tell that was short, simple, and pure. That story became THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN.

I do hope you get a chance to read it; especially in these times of so much misunderstanding in the world . . . for this book is really a book about peace. It is also humorous and full of adventure. That is good. A work of fiction is primarily meant to entertain. But if a book about peace can entertain as well as demonstrate how to get along with others different from ourselves . . . that is wonderful! And I am happy about it.




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24. THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN REVIEWS are starting to roll in . . .



Publisher’s Weekly: Galley Talk says: Thomas and the Dragon Queen has everything you’d expect in a tale of a chivalrous age: a brave knight, a kidnapped princess, a fearsome dragon-but none of these in quite the way you’d expect. . . Expect to realize that you care very much about how things will turn out for this small boy. Expect to be surprised. But above all, expect a wonderful tale, well told.”

The Horn Book Magazine says: ” A sure-fire hit as a read-aloud, this is an engaging book featuring a hero filled with bravery, quick wits, and heart.”

Booklist Magazine says:  “A refreshing antidote to the tired fractured-fairy-tale genre, this good-hearted chapter book delivers an adventure that many young readers will enjoy. A fine choice for those early elementary-school students seeking longer chapter books.”

Publisher’s Weekly Magazine says:  “Wildish’s  . . . high-spirited b & w cartoons enhance the ample action and humor of this taut fantasy, which culminates in Thomas’s triumphant homecoming.”

Thomas cover smallEnjoy—and trust, always, to your good hand and your brave heart!


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25. Shutta’s 9th Annual Writers’ Schmooze . . . a big thanks to all of you for making my day!



P8150493 P8150494






Children’s authors hard at work!



I’ve enjoyed torturi . . . um, inspiring my writing and illustrating colleagues over the course of the last nine years with a short writing exercise at each schmooze. This year was no exception. It is during this time, since I get to inflict . . . um . . . lead the activities, that I have a few free moments to take snapshots of my friends giving in to the muse. (The writing prompt also gives me time to hit the dessert table once again while no one is looking.)

I was delighted by the laughter and advice freely shared, and all the good food y’all brought. (OMG: the Peruvian goat cheese! I was so glad Monica was gracious enough to leave me the leftovers. I was contemplating offering to arm wrestle her for it.)  And I am so pleased at the boxes of books donated for the Martin County Library. Oh my! Five boxes full. (Diane-you are a doll!)

Finally, it was great to be able to put faces to the names that crop up on the Michigan SCBWI listserv and to welcome so many “old” hands and new faces to the playhouse. Keep on writing . . .

Many hugs from your devoted task master,


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