With Children’s Author & Illustrator, Jane Chapman

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, readingScreen Shot 2017-07-14 at 23.35.23 and writing is not fun at all. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Jane Chapman, children’s author and illustrator, and wife of author and illustrator, Tim Warnes, is our contestant today! A beloved author and illustrator of many animal picture books, here are some of her books:


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Below is a list of Jane’s categories from A – Z, and her answers off the top of her head.  


ANIMAL:   Coati Mundi

BERRY:  Black Currant


DINOSAUR:  Triceratops

EVERY CHILD:  is an individual




ICE CREAM FLAVOR:  Home-made rum and chocolate gelato

JAMMING SONG:  Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)

KITCHEN ITEM:  Kitchenaid Mixer

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):   mispronunciation, mamapropisms, making up voices for animals, or back stories for strangers walking past with big bags (‘he keeps his performing hamsters in there’)

MONSTER:  Cookie, Elmo, Grover

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THIS YEAR:  5   big-bear-small-mouse-CVR

OPPOSITES:  Big Bear, Small Mouse           

PICKLES (YES OR NO):  Always yes!

QUICK (THINGS THAT ARE):  biscuits disappearing

ROUND:  oranges, the moon, pom-poms


TOY:  the new Lego Millennium Falcon (except that it’s not really a toy)

UNIQUE COLOR:  somewhere between brown and lime  


WORDS OF WISDOM:  Make the best decision you can with the facts available, and don’t blame yourself in the future with the benefit of hindsight.

 X (word that begins with): Xi ( I have Scrabble Dictionary)

YOUNG ADULT BOOK:  ? Not for me.

ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  I’m not very zany, sorry! But I suppose I looked quite zany after one of our regular face-painting sessions when my oldest son was little. I was always happy to offer myself as a model, because I’d get to sit still, with my eyes shut, while Noah concentrated quietly for over an hour. He patiently covered all the skin he could see including under my chin, my neck, my ears, up to my nose…he was very thorough. I have some great photos of the results. 

ME:  I totally get the serenity of just being, when you have young ones who are engrossed in a quiet activity. With that in mind, you can do something zany right now…sharing your photos of your son’s face-painting artwork on you! Was the face painting session a beginning to a love of art in your son, Noah?

JC:  I don’t know that I can find the photos so easily! I looked black mostly, with dark green patches. He wasn’t keen on the brighter colours – he liked a bit of drama. But yes, Noah is very interested in art. Now he is a great printmaker. My younger son prefers using a spray can. 

ME:  You gave a good visual, no need for photos. 😊 Creativity abounds in your children too; love it! Family time together is wonderful. And how fantastic that you and your husband work together too!

How about playing games together? You mention you have a Scrabble dictionary, is that a family favorite game by chance? 

JC:  It’s a family favourite from my childhood home, but Tim and the boys don’t like it much, so I hardly ever get to play. 

ME:  Same here.

Coati mundi are fantastic little animals! Does one appear in any of your books and is there a reason the coati mundi was on the top in your mind?

JC:  No, there are none in any of my books; apparently Joe Public only wants to buy books with more regular animals in (them). I just think Coati Mundi are charming. I have seen them at the zoo, and find their elegant long noses beautiful (I like who_are_weanteaters for the same reason).

ME:  Joe Public needs some diversity of animals, I think. Such as books with snow leopards, quokkas, impalas, bonobos and coati mundi. Even Snoopy likes diversity. If Snoopy ran into a triceratops, what do you think the scene would play out like?

JC:  This is one of those questions that I can’t answer easily; my brain goes into overdrive. I am strictly a ‘60s Snoopy cartoon strip fan, so he’d probably hide in the bushes pretending to be a T-Rex stalking its prey (like when he pretends to be a vulture on a rock, all furrowed brow).

 ME:  The scenarios are fantastic fun to consider though, aren’t they 😉. What is your favorite tulip color and do you grow them?

JC:  Tim plants pots of tulips most years, but they usually get eaten by mice if they are planted in the ground. I like the really dark plums and blacks, but my absolute favourites are flaming parrots in yellow and red stripes. 

ME:  Stunning choice! I am equally intrigued with your ice cream flavor answer.  How did you come across it?

JC:   Just made it up! I have a fancy ice-cream maker, so we chuck everything in a big bowl until the flavour is just slightly too sweet to be perfect, then it goes into the machine.    

ME:  My mouth is watering. Sounds like your culinary creativity could be sold to an ice cream company. And your creativity continues.  Like you, my family and I enjoy creating back stories for strangers, but strangers in general. You make them up specifically for strangers with big bags. Has this past time ever found its’ way into your books?  And, what upcoming projects of yours can share with us?

JC:  Oh no, no one is immune! It’s just that strangers with big bags (specifically elderly ladies and gentlemen) are the easiest to imagine with hoards of man-eating squirrels that can’t be trusted to be left at home.

This pastime has never gone into a book, but I think that stretching your imagination muscle is always healthy. The problem for me is that I find it hard to stop believing the scenario once the game is over.

I have very, very recently completed the art for another Bear book by Karma Wilson. I am super pleased with my painting – the quilts alone took me weeks, but I so love these characters. Mole wears a neckerchief like a cape when he is singing one scene. I think he looks like an operatic star.

I also have a book about sea otters coming out in a few months. Sea otters are adorable. Not only do they tie themselves up in kelp, but they also hold paws while they float about so that they don’t get separated.

Thanks for the interview!

ME:  Very happy to have you participate Jane! I picture what your illustrations of man-eating squirrels would look like and then delve into fits of giggles because I picture these illustrations of yours from some of my favorite books, you’ve written.

very special friendsworldwide friends

The bear books are delightful too!

All of your illustrated characters are adorable, charming and wonderful! I am drawn into their story more because of them.


Now that I know you are working on a sea otter book ( I LOVE otters) I’ll be anxiously awaiting it’s release date.


With Your Paw in Mine is published by Little Tiger Press, June 2018

Bear Can’t Sleep is published by Simon & Schuster, Fall 2018

Thank you Jane for playing the ABC Game and letting into your world of creativity!

Here are more of her illustrated books to check out…


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Readers, thank you for stopping by. You can learn more about Jane and the rest of her books and art on her website:

And you can see her online gallery, along with her husband, Tim Warnes’, at Chapman & Warnes Online Gallery .

And you can follow them both on:

Instagram: @chapmanandwarnes 

Facebook: ChapmanandWarnes

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!


P.S. Someone near and dear to Jane will be our contestant next week!











With Children’s Author, Dori Chaconas

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with Authors 010 - Croppedthe alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy! 

Today’s contestant is none other than the author of the beloved CORK & FUZZ EZ-to-Read Book series, and many picture books.

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Below is a list of Dori’s categories from A – Z and her answers off the top of her head.

ANTONYM FOR AWFUL:  delicious         

BOAT:  row boat         

CAMPING (things used for):  firewood         

DANCE STYLE:  tap         

EVERY CHILD…:  beautiful

FLOWER:  Peony

GROW IN A GARDEN:  tomatoes

HOBBY:  needlework

ICE CREAM FLAVOR:  butter pecan

JUNK DRAWER ITEM tape measure

KINDNESS IS:  needed

LANDSCAPE:  woodland

MUSIC GROUP:  Clancy Brothers

NUT:  cashew

OPPOSITES:  attract



RAIN FOREST ANIMAL:  tiger      Cover_Art_-_Final_300_size


TOY:  baby doll

UNDERWATER:   magical

VIRTUE:  tolerance

WOOD:  maple

XCITING (something):  book contract

YARD SALE (things you find at):  kitchen utensils

ZEBRAS…:  “horse in striped pajamas”


ME:  Oh my goodness, what is “horse in striped pajamas” from? For the life of me, I cannot place it other than the song by Captain Kangaroo.

DC: You’ve got it! Captain Kangaroo. And maybe Peter, Paul and Mary.

ME:  I loved that song. Zebras are magical to me, the same as the underwater world. My Cork and Fuzz the Swimming lesson cover art 300 size002main reason is the exotic fish and the amazing dolphins. What about underwater do you find magical?

DC: The silent, sparkling, beautiful world you’re in when swimming under water.

ME:  That’s fair. I don’t swim underwater so I take your word for it.

You named tiger as the rain forest animal. They, as well as many other animals and plants, are endangered and fast becoming extinct due to palm tree oil excavation. Can you share some fun facts about tigers in general?

DC: Just that they’re the most beautiful animal I can think of.  

The-Clancy-Brothers-007ME:  Agreed! The sound of their roar is music to me. Please tell us about the music of the Clancy Brothers! Is this your favorite genre of music?

DC: We love the Clancy Brothers music, as well as most Irish music, even though there’s not a drop of Irish blood in us. Be it about love, war, drink, etc. each song tells a story, rich in feeling and history. 

ME:  Songs are musical short stories (ok, some, not that short) and are meant to be savored. There are genres for every person, like ice cream flavors for every person’s like. Butter Pecan is a delicious ice cream flavor! Name some flavors that should never be in ice cream.

DC:  garlic, onion, tomato and cheese. Ha! I think I just described spaghetti sauce! 

ME:  I agree, spaghetti sauce should never be an ice cream flavor. Yuk!

Have you been camping? If so, what is your favorite camping food cooked over the fire?

DC: We used to camp many years ago and most of what we cooked over the campfire was almost inedible. (Except bacon. You can’t ruin bacon.)  But when you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything. 

ME:  True, you cannot ruin bacon. Even ‘ junk food’ like s’mores is hard to ruin over a fire. Speaking of ‘junk’, junk drawers fascinate me. They can hide so many things unless Finders_Keepers_Cover_300_sizethey are organized. Yours sounds organized since you know you have a tape measure in it. Will you let us in on ‘the know’ of new projects we readers can be looking forward to?

DC:  I have several picture book stories in the works, in different stages. And just so you know, my junk drawer is a jumble of disorder, and the only reason I answered your question with ‘tape measure’ is because I know it’s in there somewhere, if I could find it.

ME:  Haha, your junk drawer sounds just like mine, except I don’t know what’s in mine most of the time; 😊 but, YAY to new books from you!!!! When you have book covers to your upcoming projects, please let me know and I can share them on this website or update your game play with them.

Readers are other picture book titles to look for from Dori:


 Thank you Dori for playing the ABC Game with us today!

DC:  Readers, you can connect with me here: 

Thanks, Traci, for the chance to play!

And thank you readers for stopping by. Have an amazing weekend!







NOT JUST A PRETTY PICTURE: Women Illustrators and Why I Love Their Work

Part 1- Animals

I admit, I judge a book by its cover. Especially in children’s literature. When the art grabs my attention on the cover, I know goodies await my eyes on the inside; think eye candy!

However, my first impression is never “Such a pretty picture…” when I see the covers. Instead my brain deciphers right away, what exactly about the cover entices me to open the book. There are numerous qualities on my checklist and these carry over into the illustrations of the book itself. Some books will have just one checkmark, others, two or more.

These qualities will be explored in my new series, ‘NOT JUST A PRETTY PICTURE: Women Illustrators and the Why I Love Their Work’ kicking off right now as part of the #kidlitwomen movement. Women have been rockin’ the kidlit world for decades and continue to do so. 

To start us off, my theme for Part 1 is Animals. Why? Simple, because I love animal stories, especially dog stories. And these women illustrators used their magic to reel me in. The following illustrators were chosen for the animal category but may show up in later posts for other categories. (For post length, I chose some favorites off the top of my head). Checklist category, explanation,  illustrator name, and illustrator sample follow. All photos are my own taken from books I own or from my local library.

Adorablism-  my word defining the cuteness of animals portrayed in books that matched the written story within. 

Sydney Hanson 


Sydney Hanson

Lillian Hoban  

Lillian Hoban

Lita Judge

Lita Judge Owl

Renata Liwska

Renata Liwska

Judy Schachner

Judy Schachner


Emoting – I can feel these animals emotions throughout the story, making me a part of it. 

Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall

Jane Chapman

Jane Chapman

Laurie Allen Klein

Laurie Allen Klein emotion

Hazel Mitchell

Hazel Mitchell

Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa Brantley Newton emotion

Pauline Ts’o

Pauline Ts'o

Andrea Zuill

Andrea Zuill


Realism – Animals drawn to look realistic. I love these books for research and for reference. Illustrations capture the animals true essence and pull me into their world.

Shennen Bersani

Shennen Bersani

Higgins Bond

Higgins Bond

Laurie Allen Klein

Laurie Allen Klein

Eliza Wheeler

Eliza Wheeler


All of these #kidlitwomen illustrators are exceptional in their field, in my opinion. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did while I reread their stories as I chose my favorite artwork of theirs for this post. And may these women inspire you.




Congratulations Elaine! You have won a copy of Susanna Leonard Hill’s 


Thank you everyone who entered! The correct answer to this question,

Susanna’s answers on her game play were decided by one of her category answers, what color are her answers?

is purple! 

In every contestants’ category sheet, there is a color category of some sort. Whatever color the contestant names, is the color of their answers throughout the game.  

My bonus entry question was to name my favorite color which was told in a contestants’ game play. Deborah Underwood named indigo in her color category. In the interview portion, I stated indigo is my favorite color. 

In addition to the color similarity in every contestants’ category sheet, I came up with another constant that showcases alternatives to two overused words in writing…GREAT and AWESOME. I revel in synonyms for them.  One of two categories for every contestant category sheet showcases their alternative to either of those words and I use their word in the interview when applicable.


The ABC GAME resumes next Friday, March 9, 2018. 

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!




Today, March 1, 2018, is your last chance to enter this ABC Game Recap Contest. 


For a chance to win the prize shown below, go to this link ABC’s OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD  and comment your answer (before 11:59 p.m. CST tonight-March 1, 2018) on this post or that link, to this question:

 Susanna’s answers on her game play were decided by one of her category answers, what color are her answers?


I will collect the names of all correct answer givers from this post and the others, early tomorrow morning and announce the winner tomorrow, March 2, 2018 on this website. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old and live in the continental USA. Winner will be notified via e-mail, March 2, 2018. 



With Picture Book Author & Mentor, Susanna Leonard Hill                               Susanna Hill

By Traci Bold

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children since the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, though, reading and writing is not much fun. Which is how I came up with the ABC game. My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will play the ABC game by answering each ABC category off the top of their head from A to Z. Following the answers, I asked a few questions to gain a little insight into some of those answers.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer…

View original post 1,373 more words


(I have simplified this contest. For a chance to win the prize listed below, go to this link ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEADl and comment your answer on this post or that link, to this question:

 Susanna’s answers on her game play were decided by one of her category answers, what color are her answers?

See bottom of this post for rest of contest details)


Children’s Author and first contestant of my ABC Game, Susanna Leonard Hill, is the contestant’s whose name I drew for the ABC Game Recap Contest Prize. And her wonderful new book, shown below, which came out January 2, 2018, is the PRIZE book I am giving away in the drawing next week, March 2, 2018! 



Written by Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

Published by Little Simon

To learn more about Susanna’s new book click here.


Post your comment on or before midnight (CST) March 1, 2018.

On March 2, (this has changed from original contest post) I will randomly draw a name, from those who give correct answers, as the winner and announce the winner and the correct answers on my blog,

Good luck everyone. Have a fantastic weekend!


To be eligible, you must be age 18 or over and live in the continental USA.




With Children’s Author, Linda Stanek 

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

stanekMy new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy! 

Today, Linda Stanek, children’s author of non-fiction and fiction including picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels is playing the ABC Game. A couple of my favorite titles of hers are:  

Below is a list of categories from A – Z. Off the top of your head, fill in the blank for each category.




DANCE:  None (sorry)

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  just one??? Is that possible? Elephant, Cheetah, Texas Ocelot…

FRUIT:  Pear


HOLIDAY:  Christmas


JEWEL:  Sapphire

KNOW HOW TO:  use American Sign Language

LOVABLE CHARACTER:  Crane Man from Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard


NATIONAL MONUMENT:  Statue of Liberty


PARK:  Assateague National Seashore

‘Q’ WORD:  Queen

ROUND THINGS:  Marbles, Earth, ball.


TREAT:  Lindor’s Dark Chocolate Truffles

UNIQUE COLOR:  Paynes Grey—the blue-gray color of the sky just before it rains.  

VACATION SPOT:  Chincoteague Island

WORDS OF WISDOM:  “When you’re being respectful to them, and to yourself, you’re on the right track.”


YODELING…: Okay…go ahead, Traci. I’m listening….

ZOO:  The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium!

ME:  (laughing) Me yodeling would make neighborhood dogs howl. But I certainly do appreciate it when I hear it. Such as when I hear Jewel’s rockin’ [always looking for fun synonyms for great or awesome] yodel or huskies. 😊 I have to ask about Chincoteague Island. What about it sings to you while on vacation there? Could it be the wild horses that live there and are descendants of horses that were shipwrecked there over 200 years ago?

LS: Yes Traci, the wild ponies are enchanting! But even without them, I’d be drawn to the Assateague National Seashore on the island right next door. With no commercial establishments there (other than the National Parks Service) it is beautiful and unspoiled. I could sit and gaze at the waves and listen to them roar all day long and never tire of it! 

ME:  Sounds so tranquil. I give that seashore a  thumbs-up-sign   . Which brings me to you knowing how to sign. How often do you use that talent?

LS: Really never. I learned it in High School, many long moons ago.

ME:  Some animals use sign language. Since you write rockin’ animal books, maybe you can combine your writing and signing talent…

Please tell us more about the Crane Man from Linda Sue Parks’ book, A SINGLE SHARD.A single shard

LS: Crane Man is one of those characters who is more than ink on a page. I felt that I really knew him. He is kind, and thoughtful, and wise. I wanted my friendship with him to go on forever.

ME:  I hope Linda has a sequel book for Crane Man so your friendship can continue on the same for many other readers who feel the same way as you. The Columbus Zoo would be a great place to visit with a friend or family. And, Jack Hanna does his shows there and teaches us so much about the animals and protecting them. What are two of your favorite exhibits at that zoo and why?

LS: As for the exhibits, I would have to say the African Savanna exhibit is a favorite, because you feel that you are really looking out onto one. I also love the polar bear exhibit. There, you can watch the polar bears from above the water line and below. It’s pretty cool to watch them swim! 

ME:  I will definitely check those exhibits out when my husband and I visit it as it is on my bucket list. Weirdly enough, seeing Bigfoot is on it as well. Would you use a bagpipe, Lindor’s Dark Chocolate Truffles, pears or tea to attract Bigfoot to your neck of the woods to get photo proofs that Bigfoot exists?

LS: I would first eat all the Lindor’s to…I don’t know…give me courage! Yes that’s it, courage! Then I would use the music of the bagpipe to try to soothe the savage beast. Although without lessons, I would probably drive them all away!

ME:  Courage is good to have while Bigfoot tracking. What a story that would make! I hope you write it. 😉 Like tracking Bigfoot, tracking animals is fun to do too, but not to harm them in any way, just to study and photograph them in their element to learn about them. We know how much you love animals and advocate for them. What animals on the endangered species register do you feel need the most immediate attention in saving? (They all need saving, this is for sure) Meaning, currently, are there any that come to mind that many people do not know much about? Please tell us more.

LS: I’m really worried about polar bears as the ice at the poles degrades. I usually feel a sense of hope when speaking about endangered animals, but this is one that worries me more and more. I have a book coming out in the fall on cheetahs, and I’m very concerned for those iconic cats too. They are the most-rapidly disappearing cat in Africa, and warrant some serious attention as well. 

Beco's Big yearME:  I’ve seen the photos of the devastation the polar caps melting is causing. We humans need to do our part to stop the global OnceElephant-255x300warming before it’s too late. We also need to advocate harder for saving our world’s animal species. You are a Rockstar on this front and have brought attention to how truly wonderful elephants  are and why they are so important to their ecosystem, what other books do you have in the works right now that you can share with us?

CheetahDreams-2-255x300LS: Cheetah Dreams  is coming out in the fall. The wonderful and talented Shennen Bersani illustrated this one, as well as my two books, Once Upon an Elephant and Night Creepers. (Can I just say…how lucky am I?!) I have another animal book I’m working on at the moment (shhh…can’t say what, yet) and I’m working on a couple graphic novels that involve animals too. 

Thanks for letting me play, Traci! It’s been fun!


ME:  I love Shennen’s work!!! You two are a rockin’ team. 😊 And I am stoked to read CHEETAH DREAMS when it comes out. ONCE UPON AN ELEPHANT is one of my favorite animals books ever so I know I will fall in love with CHEETAH DREAMS as well. Animal books always grab my attention at the store and library. Keep them coming!

Thank you Linda, for playing the ABC Game with us this week!

To learn more about Linda and her books you can find out information here:

Linda Stanek


And you can connect with Linda on these social media outlets:

 Twitter: @LindaStanek

Thank you readers for stopping by! Have a rockin’ weekend!














With Children’s Author, Laura Purdie Salas 

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with Salas_thumbnailthe alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Who’s playing the ABC Game today? Laura Purdie Salas! She’s written more than 125 books for kids and offers books and courses for writers through Mentors for Rent. One of my favorite of her series is the ‘CAN BE’ series.

Below is a list of Laura’s categories from A – Z and her answers off the top of her head.

AIRLINE: Aerlingus – great prices and accents!

BIRD: Cardinal  Sheep everywhere_preview

CHEESE: Super sharp cheddar (but I love pretty much ANYTHING cheesy)

DOCTOR: James Herriot (veterinarian is close enough, right?)



GRAIN: Quinoa? Is that a grain?

HAT: Sun hat


JOB: Zookeeper

KALEIDOSCOPE COLOR: TurquoiseSunrise on Lake Superior_preview

LAKE: Superior

MACHINE: Dishwasher


OCEAN: North Atlantic

PAPER: Vellum

Q NAME: Quasimodo



TRAIT: Tolerance

UTILITY: Gas (fireplace)


WIND: Yes, please

X WORD (word with ‘x’ in it): Fox/vixen (twofer Tuesday) [Tuesday is the day Laura filled this sheet out]

YOGA POSE: Half moon

ZOO: Ambivalent

ME:   First, you wondered about two of your answers so let’s clear those up. Quinoa is a super seed of the Goosefoot Plant. It is argued both ways about it being a grain and not being one. I say close enough. Second, a veterinarian is indeed a kind of doctor so you are correct there as well.

LPS: Excellent! I made myself answer very quickly so that I wouldn’t get caught up in judging my answers, so you got my top-of-the-head wonderings:>)

ME:  From your answer, I assume it is safe to say you have been to Ireland. What specifically do you enjoy about Ireland? (Besides their wonderful dialect).

Laura and Randy at Cliffs of Moher_previewLPS: I’ve been just once, though I’ve flown Aerlingus a few times. The sheep and the landscapes (Cliffs of Moher!) and the greenness of Ireland are astonishing. And all the gorgeous knitted things because of all those sheep. And the history. 

ME:   I have not been there but I understand Scale of Cliffs of Moher_previewyour awe of it! They have horses too but not as common a sight as the sheep. Do you ride horses? Do you own a horse? If so, what is your horse’s name and what kind is it? If not, if you had a horse, what would you name it and why?

20170302_121029LPS: No and no, sadly. I always wanted to own a horse and I was a horse-obsessed kid for sure. Luckily, I had a friend who had a horse, and I 20170302_144029got to go riding with her every once in a while. If I had a horse today, I would name it…hmmm…names and titles are a bit of a problem for me! I’m going to go with Apollo, god of poetry. Apollo also makes me think of space exploration and of power and curiosity. Yep, today, at least. Apollo would be my horse’s name. 

ME:   Apollo is a fantastic name for a horse. Maybe one day you will have that horse!

Lake Superior is superiorly cold, even in summer. But it is beautiful. Do you believe it feels superior to the other Great Lakes and why or why not?

Quick Dip in Lake Superior_previewLPS: With a name like Superior, it probably does! When I see kids named Princess and Goddess and King and Perfect, I think, “People, what are you doing to your kid?” Names are important. They shape us. Still, though Lake Superior is the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes, I like to think that it feels equal to the other Lakes, not superior to them.

 ME:  You are all brave going in that cold water!

How often do you recycle ideas while creating? This can be writing or outside the writing box.

LPS: I recycle ideas ALL the time! A picture book manuscript falls apart, but I can When Good Knitting Goes Bad_previewuse the short story version for educational materials. A particular structure I try doesn’t work, but I save it to try again later. A poem is dreck, but I pluck out one jewel of a phrase to use with something else. My knitting that doesn’t work just gets tossed. It’s not salvageable. 

ME:  Love your ‘Q’ name…Quasimodo. That character had the kindest heart and was taken advantage of just because of how he looked. What is the kindest act you have ever witnessed?

LPS: The kindest act I’ve ever witnessed? That’s like asking my favorite book! Our younger daughter has given up creature comforts to live overseas trying to help refugees. That amazes and inspires me! But I love witnessing small kindnesses, too, like one child comforting another, someone rescuing stranded ducklings, or even just people holding doors open for strangers. Small kindnesses matter in big ways, too. 

ME:  I am in awe and inspired! Your daughter does have a kind heart. I wish her the best. © The smallest acts of kindness are huge in so many ways. I feel they are all equal. Good answer Laura!

You listed Half Moon as a yoga pose. I am just learning yoga. Do you practice it and if so, dancer pose_previewwhat is the hardest yoga pose for you to do? If not, and you could name a new yoga pose, what would you call it?

LPS: I only do yoga in short bits now at home, because I have crappy wrists. I’m very flexible, so I’m good at most of the basic poses, but Camel Pose kills me. I feel like I’m going to break in half when I do it. Ooh, if I could name my own yoga pose, I would call it Caramel Midnight Pose. I might have to invent it right now!   

 ME:  Ooooo, I like that pose name! Once you invent it, let us know and I will add it to this post at a later date. 😊 You hold the Half Moon pose well!

LPS:  That’s actually Dancer Pose, not Half Moon. The only yoga pic I have of me. 

ME:  I am terrible with remembering yoga pose names. I think there should be a blue whale pose, that would be easy to remember. And blue whales are amazing! And they are one of the top animals children are consistently wondering about. Will you share with us, any poems or special facts about them that you know or wrote? And, will you also share with us any special projects you are working on now?

LPS: I love that children are wondering about them—they are astonishing creatures! A blue whale will appear in one of my 2019 picture books, but only as one of many animals. Here’s a poem I wrote about a blue whale.


Dear Friends, 

I am gentle.

I’m not meant to be mean.

But I must capture you with my stubbly baleen.


I drink in the ocean.

Leave no place to hide.

I blow out the water. I trap you inside


With my bristly filter.

I wistfully kill

You all by the mouthful. I love you, dear krill.

 Note: The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, and it eats the smallest A need to feedcreatures, zooplankton. When blue whales fill their mouth with ocean water and then exhale, the water goes out but the tiny sea animals are trapped in their baleen plates. 

 That’s from my book A Need to Feed: Poems About Predators and Prey. (

There’s also a gorgeous, sad song called “Ode to Big Blue,” by Gordon Lightfoot (


‘His mouth was as large as a tunnel so they say

His hide was thick as leather and his eyes quick and small

And his back was all scarred by the times he got away

And he knew the smell of whalers did Big Blue’]

meet my familyRight now, I’m preparing for the launch of my newest picture book, Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families. It’s a science book, but it’s really a book about diversity, and about how there’s no one right way to be a family. And I’m working on several other picture books, on topics from winter to shapes to kindergarten.

Thanks, Traci, for inviting me to play. This was fun, even if it was a little bit intimidating!

ME:  That’s a poem I can sink my teeth into! The blue whales are beautiful and gentle. (Of course the krill may not think so). Thank you so much for sharing your poem with us! I foresee many happy faces when reading your new book. I love animals and books about them so I am all in!

Thank you Laura for playing the ABC Game this week!

LSP:  Thanks, Traci—this was a fun creative exercise!

And readers, thank you for stopping by! To learn more about Laura go here:


Meet My Family! info, book trailer, reviews, teaching guide, and more:                               




E-letter for educators:   

E-letter for writers:





Blog Tour Graphic 2018_preview

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!















mastermind – noun, verb

[mas-ter-mahynd, mah-ster-]

  1.   noun: A person who plans and organizes something
  2.   verb: to plan and direct (a usually complex project or activity), especially skillfully


Ollie held a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich. Those were Kirby’s favorite. A mastermind of thievery, Kirby put her plan in action.

A tree stood tall between Ollie and Kirby. Kirby hid and watched. Ollie spread mustard on his sandwich, making sure it reached all edges. He carefully replaced the top slice of bread.

Kirby snuck up behind a bird in the yard.

Ollie opened his mouth.


Tweet, tweet! Whizzzz rustle.

Ollie jumped at the sudden movement. He looked up. A leaf directly above his head fluttered toward him.

“Stay off my sandwich, leaf. It’s mine.” Ollie shooed the leaf away and settled back down.

Kirby slunk closer. She had to stop Ollie from eating that ham and Swiss sandwich. Her mouth watered. Drool dripped from her muzzle.

Ollie opened wide and took a dainty bite.

Kirby cocked her head. Such a small bite for such a wide mouth.

“Mmmm. This is the best sandwich ever.” Ollie licked his lips.

A rock lay near. Kirby turned around three times, then kicked the rock right past Ollie, toward the field.

Just as Ollie opened for another bite, the rock tumbled past.

Kirby hid behind the tree.

“Who rolled the rock?” Ollie asked.

The wind whistled in response.

Ollie grunted as he took another bite.

His mouth full, he looked around.

“I wonder where Kirby is?” Ollie said, chewing.

Kirby yipped at the sound of her name. Oops.

Ollie swallowed. “Too bad Kirby isn’t here. I would gladly share my sandwich with her.”

Kirby crawled on all fours toward Ollie. Sneak attack.

Ollie swigged back water from his cup.

Kirby crawled closer. Rustle. Snap.

Ollie set his sandwich down on the wrapper. He stood up and stretched.

This is my chance. Kirby crept.  And crept. Almost there.

Grumble, burp!

Kirby stopped in her tracks.

Ollie sat down. He stretched his legs out in front of him and put his arms behind hid head and lay down. The sandwich lay on the wrapper next to him.

“I just need a couple minutes rest before I finish my sandwich.”

Kirby stood up. She tread softly to Ollie’s other side. She watched him breathe softly, his eyes closed. The sandwich was just ahead, near Ollie’s side.

Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz.

Get outta here fly!

Bzzz. Bzzz.

Ollie swatted the air above his face.

Kirby placed her front paws down in front of her, raising her butt in the air.


Ollie swung his arm out, swiping his sandwich high into the sky just as Kirby flew through the air, her mouth open wide.

Success! The sandwich made contact and with one tug, it ripped in half.

“Great effort Kirby!” Ollie laughed. “You know, I always share with you. No need to sneak attack.”

Kirby gulped her half down.

“I suppose you need a drink  now?” Ollie asked.


“Here you go,” Ollie offered Kirby his cup of water. He finished his sandwich while she drank. “I hope you left me a drop.”

Kirby looked up, water dripped from her muzzle.

Ollie looked in his cup. One drop left. He hugged his dog. Kirby nuzzled him back.

“I suppose you want to nap now, huh?” Ollie lay down.

Great idea Ollie! Just like I planned. Kirby nestled into Ollie.

Dreams of their next adventure filled both of their heads.





Fun with words, creatively. For all ages.

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