Ninjas In the Stacks!

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Educators & Librarians, Events, Japanese Demons, Ninjas, Promotion | 0 comments

IMG_2390-1024x768My awesome publicist, Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, has created a thrilling ninja activity for bookstores and libraries! Readers will become book ninjas as they use their wits and dexterity and perhaps a card catalog to uncover clues and solve puzzles and perform challenges. Great, fun, and active–fabulous for grades 5-10. Check it out!

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McArthur School

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Educators & Librarians, Events, Race, School Visits | 0 comments

IMG_8597Last Friday I did a round of poetry workshops with some of the classes at a McArthur Elementary. I snapped a picture of this fabulous quilt hanging up in the main office.

I loved the energy and excitement of the kids as they listened to poems and tried writing their own. Especially the Asian girl who earnestly asked for the right English adjective to describe quick, happy, upbeat music (she was pleased with my suggestion of “lively”) and then proudly read her poem aloud in her tentative English; the Hispanic girl who wrinkled her nose a bit at my Spanish accent but still smiled at me to make sure she wouldn’t hurt my feelings; the Caucasian boy who squirmed throughout my presentation until I thought he was bored out of his skull and then blew me away with one of the best poems I’ve heard; the Middle Eastern girl who hugged me and said she could now check “hugging an author” off her bucket list.

It was lovely to see all these bright, eager, American face light up with joy to be talking about artwork and writing poems.

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Curious George, the Refugee

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in American History, Children's Literature | 0 comments

51POFD+8PTL._SX418_BO1,204,203,200_Those who fled war and political persecution have enriched our society in so many ways–including with words and images. Curious George is only one of the characters created by authors and illustrators from all over the world who made the United States a refuge and a home.

For more books created by refugees, click here.

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A Glimpse Inside a Writer’s Closet

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Writing Process | 0 comments

IMG_8591If you peeked into my closet today, you’d see:

  • a stuffed cobra that can be posed with its head and neck pulled into striking position
  • a facsimile of a gravestone from 1893
  • a pirate hat
  • and of course unruly piles of books.

All of these are legitimate work-related objects. #writingisweird

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Love This To Death

Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Events | 0 comments

ducklings-pussyhats

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Mean Girls and Elementary School

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Childhood, Writing Process | 0 comments

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So it happened a while back. Probably it happens to most kids eventually. My daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. You know, there were the promises of friendship and the gifts and the insults and the “I won’t play with you if you don’t do what I say.”

I told my brother and he yawned and said, “You can’t choose your kid’s friends.”

I told my writers’ group and we spent a good twenty minutes reviewing who said what to whom and hashing out the power dynamics. I mean, it’s material, people.

I promise, I don’t try to fight my daughter’s social battles for her, despite heavy temptation. And who knows, maybe this other kid’s mother also thought her daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. Probably they will both go to college despite all of this and grow up to live productive lives.

But I wonder–is it even harder for those of us who create children’s literature to keep that bit of distance that lets our kids become themselves? I swear, I had to bite my tongue when my girl came home from school so I didn’t ask breathlessly, “What did she do TODAY?” Oh, the bitter politics of the playground, the crushing anxiety about whether a friend of today is a friend for tomorrow, the dance of who sits next to whom. It’s not just my memories–it’s my work life. I take a pen in my hand and relive it over and over again.

(In my latest book, however, I made my main character a ninja who can solve social issues among her peer group by kicking people in the head. So there.)

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SLJ’s Best of 2016–Quick, Little Monkey!

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Book: Quick Little Monkey, Marmosets, PIcture Books, Reviews | 0 comments

research, marmosetSo happy to learn that Quick, Little Monkey! is on School Library Journal’s list of the best children’s books of 2016. “Only a monster could look into those eyes and tell this book it couldn’t be on a Best of the Year list,” the reviewer says. This is how I feel about that!

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