Sunday, December 12, 2010

Out and About with Book Tour Alex

I did a book reading/signing at Barnes & Noble in Vernon hills.  It was my fourth reading/signing at a B&N, but my very first with Book Tour Alex.  For those of you who don't know, as a debut author, I was awarded custody of Book Tour Alex at the SCBWI-Illinois Prairie Writer's Day conference.  I am supposed to bring Alex to all of my book events until the conference again next year.

The reading/signing was part of a book fair for Mundelein School District 75.  My son had done his student teaching in dist. 75 and two of his students and his cooperating teacher came to see him.  I got a wonderful surprise when I saw one of my previous students there!  I had been his itinerant from preschool through fourth grade and I hadn't seen him in three years!   Sean's new girlfriend, Kiera and her mother also came - it was so nice of them to come and really great meeting her mother!

Here are some pictures from the event.  See Alex on the table with the books?  I think I need to give her a more prominent seat at the next event!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Signing at Barnes & Noble

I did a book reading/signing at Barnes & Noble in Oakbrook last night as part of a fundraiser for the Hinsdale United Methodist Preschool. We had a great turnout and the kids were adorable, as usual!  Cheryl and the rest of the staff were so nice and supportive!  One of the workers in the cafe created a special drink in honor of 1 Zany Zoo. It was SO delicious!  He even made this counter sign.  

I can't believe I forgot to bring Book Tour Alex with me!!  I'm already falling down on my duties :-(  I hope they don't  ask me to return her!

Monday, November 15, 2010

School Visit at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School

My friend, Lori Hahm, asked me to come to her school, Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School at Illinois State University.  I went there on November 12th and read to the kindergarten, first and second grade classes, as well as the fifth grade class for deaf and hard of hearing students.  I had a fabulous time!!  They started the day off with an all school assembly - something they do on a regular basis.  Lori introduced me there and I got a very warm welcome.

When I went into the library, I found this banner the students made.

The librarians have a tradition of having the author hide, the children do a chant and then the author pops out - it was a riot!  We did that before each group reading.  Everyone at the school made me feel so special and welcome - I really appreciated that!  What a wonderful school!  Here are some pictures of the event.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Prairie Writer's Day

Yesterday, I attended Prairie Writer's Day, our annual SCBWI-Illinois conference, and it was fantastic!  There was a great line up of editors and agents and I learned a thing or two or twenty.  The best part, as always, was hanging out with my fellow writers!

We met at Harper College and the main room we used was awesome!

There was a display of 2010 books by Illinois Writers and/or illustrators.  If you squint, you can see 1 Zany Zoo towards the top of the rack on the right :-)            

Every year, the committee chooses from among the authors whose debut came out that year and gives the lucky person Book Tour Alex.  Guess who the lucky person was?

Here's a close-up of Alex.

Pictures compliments of Bethany Robinson - thanks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Unplanned Hiatus

I can't believe it's been more than a month since I last posted - it feels like a couple of weeks!   Since I started writing this post a week ago, I've had a book reading/signing at Barnes & Noble in Bolingbrook, a Career Night at Stevenson High School and a weekend trip to Washington DC!  I'm determined to finish this post before all my events are history!  Here's what's coming up this month:

  • On November 6th, I will be the guest blogger on Tara Lazar's blog, Writing For Kids (While Raising Them).  Once again,    she's hosting PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), "30 days of inspiration and motivation created for picture book writers".           I'm also a participant and, at the end of the month, I'll have a file of at least 30 picture book ideas!  
  • On November 12th, I'll be reading my book to the students at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School at ISU.  A college friend of mine teaches there and asked me to come read.  It's going to be a lot of fun!  Plus, I'll get to see my son, Brian, while I'm down there.
  • On November 13th, I'm attending Prairie Writers Day - SCBWI-Illinois' annual conference.  I can't wait - it's fun to see my Illinois writer friends and I always come away with so much knowledge and renewed inspiration and motivation to write! 
  • On November 15th, I'm doing a reading/signing at the Barnes & Noble in Oakbrook.  I love reading my book to kids - I'm not so crazy about adults listening :-)
I hope I can keep doing events every month - we'll see how long it lasts!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

57th Street Children's Book Fair

I went to the 57th Street Children's Book Fair and had a great time! I met a very special fellow author, I'Deyah Ricketts, an eight-year-old girl whose parents self-published the picture book she wrote when she was four and she's now working on a novel! We exchanged autographed books - she was so adorable!  Her book, Where are the Animals? was published by I'Deyah Books - they have a fantastic website too - check it out at!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Fairs and Festivals

A fellow author on the SCBWI-Illinois listserv asked if anyone had a list of book fairs or festivals for authors to attend and/or participate in.  One reply included a link to a page on the site - Your guide to writing, publishing and marketing books and ebooks

The author of the article, Scott Lorenz, explains why and how book fairs and festivals can be great promotional tools for authors.  He also includes a list of the top 25 fairs and festivals.  

While you're on the site, take a look around for other great information for authors!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

57th Street Children's Book Fair

I've been so busy with work, I've neglected my blog and, in the process, failed to promote a fantastic event for families - The 57th Street Children's Book Fair!  Here's their press release:

 The 57th Street Children's Book Fair began 24 years ago as a back-to-school celebration. The Fair has grown every year since its inception, and now hosts dozens of local booksellers and community organizations. Last year, more than 5,000 people from all over Chicago attended the Fair and participated in reading-related activities, enjoyed live entertainment and delicious refreshments, and browsed a huge selection of books and merchandise available from a variety of specialty vendors.
In celebration of Blue Balliett's forthcoming novel, The Danger Box, our theme for 2010 is . . .
Mystery & Science: What will you discover at the 57th Street Children's Book Fair?
We'll have all the usual entertainment and activities, plus books and activities about scientific investigations and science giants.
This year, join us on Sunday, September 19th from 1pm to 6pm for hands-on fun for the whole family.

I will be manning the SCBWI table from 2:00 - 3:00, along with fellow Illinois authors.  I hope to see you there!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Critters Against Cancer

Jenni has put my critique auction up on her site - actually she did it last week but I've been so busry with the start of the school year, I haven't had a chance to post this. 

If you have a rhyming manuscript you'd like critiqued - get over to her site - Bee Historic - and place a bid!!  If you have a non-rhyming manuscript, bid on one of the other fantastic critiquers.  You can also bid on autographed books and illustrations!

Did I mention, it's for a wonderful cause?  So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Critters Against Cancer

A fellow writer, Jenni Bielicki, is hosting an event called Critters Against Cancer, where she's auctioning off manuscript critiques, along with autographed books and artwork.  The money is going toward breast cancer research.  Isn't that a great idea?  You can check it out at her blog 

Those of you on Facebook, you can join her event here:  Critters Against Cancer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

SCBWI Conference in LA

I went to the SCBWI Conference in LA and it was fantastic, stupendous, outstanding, tremendous . . . !

There was a super lineup of keynote speakers  - here they are (in order of appearance): Jon Scieszka, M.T. Anderson, Loren Long, Gordon Korman, Marion Dane Bauer, E.B. Lewis, Gail Carson Levine, Carolyn Mackler, Gennifer Choldenko, Rubin Pfeffer, Rachel Vail, Paul Fleischman and Ashley Bryan.

There were also a zillion workshops throughout the four days.  I'd go into detail, but why reinvent the wheel?  There was a team of bloggers who covered the sessions.  You can read it here: The official SCBWI Conference Blog.

I met so many talented and fun people, many of whom I'd talked to online but never in person.   I had two roommates I'd found online - E. Samantha Cheng, a mini-documentary producer and Shelby Mahan, a middle-grade nonfiction writer.  I was worried that we might not hit it off and it would be uncomfortable for us.  Well, there was no need to worry - we had the greatest time together!   As a matter of fact, we've vowed to be roommates for all future conferences!

I also met my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, for the first time in person!  On Saturday night, she and her fellow agent, Kelly Sonnack, hosted a little wine and cheese gathering in the park for their clients.  It was so nice meeting them all.  On Sunday morning, she took me out to breakfast at a really cool restaurant - can't remember the name of it though.  It was nice getting to know her better.

I hope I'll be able to attend next year - it'll be their 40th year so it's bound to be loads of fun!  If I do go, I'll know better than to lug 20 books with me.  At Friday night's book sale, I only sold five books - and three of them were bought by my roommates!  Obviously, this picture was taken before I counted how many books were left!

Anyone out there have a good conference you'd recommend?

Monday, July 26, 2010

1 Zany Book Launch

I had my book launch for 1 Zany Zoo on Saturday and it was a huge success!  Ruth and Pam at Barnes & Noble did a fantastic job setting up the children's area and getting the word out in the preceding weeks.   I did my part by emailing friends and spreading the word on Facebook.

I made goodie boxes for the kids with animal-themed items and Cheerios Treats to tie in the contest.

One of the best things I did (at the suggestion of another writer - can't remember who) was to have my friends and family autograph a copy of my book.  It's going to be a wonderful keepsake!

We had a great turnout - more than 90 people came and we sold 102 books - it far exceeded my expectations!  Thanks to everyone who took the time to help me celebrate the release of 1 Zany Zoo!   

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview With Illustrator, Colin Jack

Check out this awesome interview with Colin Jack, the illustrator of 1 ZANY ZOO!  It's so interesting to get a behind the scenes look at this extremely talented illustrator!

Colin Jack Interview

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Book Hit's The Shelves Today - Virtually

Today is the release day of 1 Zany Zoo.  I've had this date marked on my calendar for nearly a year - my work calendar, purse calendar, home calendar, both laptop calendars and google calendar.  You might say I was a little focused on this day.  So, why aren't I standing outside my local bookstore, waiting for it to open so I can finally see my book on the shelf?  

Because - my book will only be available online!  Apparently, bookstores are choosing to primarily carry authors with a "track record" in their stores.  This has been a huge disappointment to me - not only because I can't walk in to any bookstore and find my book on the shelf but, more importantly, potential readers can't!  

From the first time I saw the phenomenal cover Colin Jack drew, I knew it would be a magnet for children and their parents.  Then they'd open the book and start reading and looking at the equally fantastic illustrations on every page, and they wouldn't be able to resist it!  Well, that was the dream anyway.

So, I'm very excited my book is officially released - really!  I just need to adjust the dream :-)


Saturday, June 26, 2010

School Library Journal Review

1 Zany Zoo was reviewed in the July edition of the School Library Journal.  I'm pretty happy with it - here's an excerpt:

" . . . Degman's giggle-inducing rhymes move this read-aloud story along: "2 sporty zebras in goggle and flippers / were snipping the walrus's whiskers with clippers. / One did the combing, the other the trimming, / They swept up the clippings, then all four went swimming."  Kids will enjoy hearing the catchy rhymes read multiple times.  Digital cartoon images, made to appear like hand-drawn ink sketches, capture the swift movement and playful mood.  Overall, this is a fun romp through the zoo."

Friday, June 25, 2010

1 Zany Zoo Launch Party on July 24 - HELP!!

My launch party is going to be at Barnes & Noble at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, on July 24th from 2:00 - 3:00, and I need help!

I'm trying to think of a fun craft to do with Cheerios. Does anyone have any brilliant ideas?

Also, I'm having book signing anxiety! It doesn't help that my handwriting is worse than a third grader's (new game show?). Because the zookeeper's key plays an key role (can't help myself) in the story, I want to write something like "Reading unlocks doors to your future" or "unlock your imagination - read". What do you think?

If you're in the area on July 24th - I'd love to have you stop by for a bit :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hilarious British Sketch!

This is a hilarious sketch of an author getting advice from his editor.  Too funny!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blog Contest at Ink Spells

Fellow writer, Susan Kaye Quinn, is hosting a contest on her blog to celebrate the release of her first novel,


"a teen love story about a college bound girl who falls in a pool, the navy recruit that saves her, and their struggle to choose between following their dreams and daring to love."

Check it out on her blog  Ink Spells  I'm going there right now!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thirty Day Countdown to 1 ZANY ZOO

I can't believe there are just 30 days until the release of 1 Zany Zoo and 34 days until my launch party!!  I remember a year and a half ago - it felt like July 20, 2010 would never come!

I would love to tell you to run to your local Barnes & Noble or Borders to buy one, or just look at it on the shelf (that's what I want to do), but I've been informed neither store is going to carry the book.  However, they will be available on both sites as well as  I'm not sure which independent stores, if any, will be carrying it but I'll post them when I find out.

Though they're not selling the book in their stores, the managers at my local Barnes & Noble have been nice enough to arrange a launch party!  It's going to be on July 24, 2:00 - 3:00.  If you're local, I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Simon & Schuster Sweepstakes

Simon & Schuster is having a sweepstakes and the prize
is . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . 1 ZANY ZOO!  What - no money, no cars, no trips?  Sorry, but it is a $15.99 value :-)

If you want to enter - and why wouldn't you - here's the link: 1 ZANY ZOO Sweepstakes  But don't wait because the deadline is June 30th!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2010 Printers Row Lit Fest

Next Saturday, June 12th, I will be participating in a panel discussion with fellow children's book authors: Kat Falls, Meggan Hill, Barb Rosenstock & Kristen Walker :

SHOW, DON’T TELL: Up Front and Personal with Five (!) First-Time Chicago Children’s Book Authors Moderated by Esther Hershenhorn.  Five first-time children’s book authors share their Tales from the Front – the thrills, the surprises, the rewards, the Reality  A portion of the time will be given to Q & A.

You can find us at the Hotel Blake, 500 S. Dearborn, Second floor, Chicago at 1:00 pm.  I'm really looking forward to this - it'll be my first (maybe only) time on a panel.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Kirkus Review for 1 ZANY ZOO

My editor sent me the Kirkus review for my book, 1 ZANY ZOO, and they like it!!  Here are a couple of quotes from it:

". . . An array of further animal antics unfolds in bouncy verse (full of phonetic Seussian crunch) amid equally antic pictures . . ."

" . . . Degman’s verse is bright—this text won the Cheerios New Author Contest—and animator Jack’s digitally produced creatures, both animal and human, are pleasingly Bill Peet–esque. Crackling good fun . . . "


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

My son, Sean, graduated from Western Illinois University yesterday!  He got a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.  I know he's going to be a phenomenal teacher!

Congratulations, Sean!  I'm so proud!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

National Limerick Day

Did you know today is National Limerick Day?  I didn't know until this morning, but I'm going to put it on my calendar for next year.  In honor of NLD, I wrote a little limerick.  I'd love if you'd write one too and post it in your comment :-)

There once was a picture book writer,
Who’d edit to make her work tighter,
She polished each line,
To make every word shine,
A contract would surely delight her.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hearing vs Not Hearing

One of my students, Alix Z., drew the picture below to enter in the SEDOL Student Art Fair.   The right side (our right) shows how she hears without her hearing aids and the left side shows how she hears with her hearing aids.  Didn't she do an awesome job?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tales From the Front in Prairie Wind - Spring 2010

The Illinois Chapter of SCBWI has a quarterly newsletter, The Prairie Wind, and I was asked to write an article for a column called Tales From The Front.  The column is written by newly published authors and their paths to publication.  I wrote about  the publication of 1 Zany Zoo and my article, 1 Peculiar Path To Publication, appeared in the spring, 2010 edition,which went online yesterday.  You can read it here. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Prolific Blogger Award

I was so pleased to be awarded the Prolific Blogger Award by Ruth Donnelly at Readatouille!  Apparently, once you are the recipient of the award, you need to award it to three other bloggers.  This was a tough decision but, here are my three choices:

Blee Bonn  who always has fun and interesting posts and who makes the best book trailers around!

Kelly Pollark  who has the highest energy blog posts I've read - they're exhausting!

Scotti Cohn   whose blog, It Happened in Chicago! includes all-things-Chicago and fascinating interviews with authors with a Chicago connection.

Congratulations, Blee, Kelly and Scotti!  Now go forth and pass on the award.

39th Annual SCBWI Conference in LA!

I'm so excited - I signed up for this year's SCBWI conference in LA!  It's going to be "4 days of agents, editors, publishers, workshops and networking designed to take your writing and illustration to the next level." (

It's expensive so I wasn't going to give myself permission to go until I sold another manuscript - don't get excited - it didn't happen :-(  But, my husband, John, got free airline tickets and a hotel voucher from work and he's been wanting to visit his brother in San Francisco so, CA - here we come!  While I'm at the conference, he'll be visiting  his brother - it worked out perfectly!  We'll  tack on a couple of days after the conference to see LA.

Another great thing about it is, I'm going to meet my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, in person for the first time!   I'm really looking forward to that!

Are any of you going?  I hope so - it would be great to meet online friends in person!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My First Negative Review on You Tube

I found a negative review of 1 Zany Zoo on You Tube and it's hysterical.  Check it out:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Made a 1 ZANY ZOO Book Trailer!!

Our regional SCBWI chapter hosts wonderful workshops on different aspects of children's publishing, called "Food For Thought".  Yesterday's workshop, Book Trailers and Online Promotion included a panel of SCBWI-IL authors and illustrators who shared their experiences creating book trailers and other on-line promotional tools for the picture book, middle grade, and YA markets.

The panel included:

Host, Librarian, blogger, Amy Alessio.

Middle grade writer, Brenda Ferber, who shared her trailers for Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire.

YA writer, Laura Ruby, who shared her trailer for Play Me.

Picture book illustrator, Larry Day, who shared his animated trailer for Nanook and Pryce.

I was so inspired by the presentation, I went straight home and created a trailer for 1 Zany Zoo.  Thanks to the amazing illustrations by Colin Jack and the jacket copy by Chloe Foglia, I think it turned out pretty well.   I'd love to know what you think!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interview on "Monsters & Money in the Morning" on CBS!

I did an interview on the CBS show Monsters & Money in the Morning at the crack of dawn yesterday morning.  I think it went well and it was so much fun!  Everyone there was extremely nice and they made me feel very comfortable!  By the end of the interview, I was enjoying it so much I would have stayed for the full two hours :-)  After the interview, Terry Savage asked me to sign the hardcover book and Mike North had me sign the Cheerios box.  Terry gave me a signed copy of her book The New Savage Number.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And The Free Critique Winner is . . .

Well, here are the stats and the result of my very first critique giveaway:

Nine people entered for a total of 23 entries.  I used a very high-tech method to select the winner - I cut strips of scratch paper, wrote the entrants' names on them, and placed them in my favorite winner-picking bowl.  I then closed my eyes - you'll have to take my word on that - and picked the winning name. 

And, the winner is . . .   Bernell!!!

Congratulations, Bernell!  Please save your manuscript as a pdf and send it to me at:

Thanks everyone for entering!  I feel bad that I could only choose one winner so I've decided to offer a free critique for each of you.  The only thing is, I may not be able to get to them in a timely manner but I promise I'll get to them before the end of May - and hopefully sooner, depending on how busy things get around here.  So, if you'd like to send a manuscript for critique, save it as a pdf and send it to the email address above.  I'll do the critiques in the order in which they're received.

Thanks again for joining in my first critique giveaway!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicago Public Radio Interview

Last week I went down to Navy Pier and did a taped radio interview with Kristin Moo for the show Eight Forty-Eight on FM 95.1 - WBEZ.  The interview aired this morning during the 9:00 - 10:00 hour and will replay tonight during the 8:00 - 9:00 hour. 
Here's a link in case you want to listen and can't sit by your radio waiting :-)  I think it turned out pretty well - Kristin had asked me to read a few verses and I read them a bit too fast but, other than that, I think it was good.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy First Birthday To My Blog!

In honor of my blog's first birthday (and Poetry Month), I'm giving away a free critique!!  Because prose is not my thing, I'm only accepting rhyming manuscripts.  Writers of prose will thank me for this.  Here's a little poem I wrote about it:

My blog's been up for one whole year,
The time for celebration's here!

If it's a free critique you seek,
congratulations - it's your week!

So, now I bet you're asking "How?"
Just read the rules - yes, read them now!

You'll receive one entry for doing each of the following:
  • Post a comment saying you want to enter 
  • Write a little poem and include it in your comment
  • Post a link to this post on your blog
Entries will be accepted until midnight (CST), April 9th.  The winner will be chosen, at random, on April 10th and I'll post the winner here.

Good Luck!!

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    My First, and Unfortunately Not My Last, TV Interview

    I had my first TV interview yesterday - it was a fantastic experience - until I saw myself on TV!!  The people at ABC were so nice and helpful and made me feel very comfortable - as comfortable as I could be doing a LIVE TV interview!!  Here's a link in case you want to watch - it wasn't perfect but it was better than I expected - I didn't faint or have a major brain freeze! 

    The wonderful marketers for Cheerios put me and my two sisters up in a beautiful hotel right across the street from the studio - which we appreciated at 6:00 in the morning! 

    At the studio, we waited in the "Green Room" 

    My sister, Mindy, wrote, "The Grusin sisters were here" on the wall!
    I was "miked" by Mike - really!

    I was interviewed by Kevin Roy,
    who did a wonderful job of
    covering for my flubs!!


    The "news room" is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.  There was a small platform off to the side where Kevin and I sat for my interview.  I don't have a picture of us together because I made my sisters leave right before Kevin sat down.  I was afraid I'd look at them and start laughing so they watched in the green room! 

    Here's a view of the set from the sidewalk in front of the building.  The whole thing was very cool!!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    My First (last?) Major Newspaper Interview!

    My first (last?) interview for a major newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, came out today.  It's exciting, but a bit embarrassing - especially the gigantic picture of me!  I was a little uncomfortable with the online picture - about 2" x 2" - then I saw the picture in the actual paper -  about 6" x 6" - it's hard to hide the imperfections in a picture that big!!  Oh well, I am what I am :-)

    I think Delia O'Hara did a great job and I appreciate her leaving out some of the idiotic, nerve-driven, things I babbled on about during our phone interview!,SHO-Books-chilit21.article

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    32 years ago - wow, I'm old - I went to visit my boyfriend in Ireland and he took me to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone.  We climbed up to the top of the beautiful old castle, full of history and magic.
    When we got to the spot where you kiss the stone, we found a gruff man who appeared to have come straight from a long night at the pub.  He said that, to reach the stone, I needed to lay on my back and hang upside down over the edge.  He assured me, he wouldn't let me drop.  Keep in mind, he said this with a cigarette hanging out his mouth, smoke billowing into his eyes, and wreaking of stale beer.

     Well, being a typical 20-year-old, I said, "Ok, thanks!"  and I did it!  I don't have a picture of ME doing it but I found this online - it'll give you an idea of what Im talking about.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Britain's Smallest Library - Thinking Inside the Box

    Villagers in the Somerset Village of Westbury-sub-Mendip have found a "novel" way to cope with the shortage of libraries in their area by turning an old red phone box into a book exchange.  The villagers set up the book box after their mobile library services were canceled.

    I bet this is where Redbox DVD rentals stole got their idea.  I would love to go there to check it out - any excuse to go to England!  If only someone would bankroll it . . .

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    What's The Difference? by Suzanne Slade

    My friend, Suzanne Slade's latest book, What's The Difference?, is now available for sale!  Suzanne has written more than 60 books!!  I can't even imagine that!   

    What's The Difference? (the sequel to What's New at the Zoo?) uses clever rhyming verse to show the difference caring people can make in helping endangered animals - all while practicing subtraction skills. 

    You can check it out here


    Links are provided for informational use.  Please don't forget your local independent bookstores!

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    3rd Annual Cheerios Winners Announced

    Yahoo - the 3rd Annual Cheerios New Author winners were finally announced!  And the winner is . . .

    Laurie Isop for her story "How Do You Hug a Porcupine?"

    And the runners up are . . .

    Billie Fowler for her story "Samuel T. Slingshot"

    Jessica Young for her story "Juliet the Jellyfish"

    Read all about it here!

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    In a Cheerios Box Near You - Finally!!

    Well, I finally got the green light to make this announcement:

    The Cheerios boxes with my book inside are in a grocery store near you NOW!! 

    As of today, spottings have been reported at Walmart, Jewel, Cub Foods, Safeway and Wegmans, but they should be in most grocery stores by the end of the month.  The picture on the left was taken by my son at his Walmart by ISU.  It's a very surreal thing seeing my book on the front of the box and even more surreal seeing my picture on the back - yikes!!

    The book is written in English and Spanish - I actually like the Spanish title better - 1 Zoo Loco!  Next time you're shopping, check out the cereal isle :-)

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    A Comedy of Errors #2

     This one's a quickie:  I took my son to his first job fair this morning and I was worried he'd be late.  We were waiting to turn left out of our subdivision and that light always takes forever.  It was 6:45 on a Saturday morning and not a car in sight.  My son told me to turn through the red light.  I said I didn't want to go through a red light so I turned right and made a quick u-turn (also illegal because of the double yellow lines - but not as blatant as going through a red light).  What I didn't realize was, while I was making my u-turn, the light changed, so I ended up driving through a red light anyway!

    New widget - Ideas For Change In America

    I added a new widget - it's over there, below my profile picture.  Right now they're in 16th place and need 329 more votes to be one of the ten winning ideas! 

    While you're there, check out the other great ideas - once you sign up, you get 10 votes.  There are some amazing ideas - I'll post my other favorites when I find them.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Read Aloud - Think Aloud To Improve Comprehension

    This great site, Reading Rockets, was suggested in an email from Anastasia Suen.  The whole site is great but the particular articles she recommends are about  "Reading Aloud" and "Thinking Aloud" to help students increase reading comprehension.   Both articles discuss the power of reading and show how to model strategies typically used by thoughtful readers.

    I have several students with whom I work on reading and listening comprehension and I'm going to try these techniques ASAP!

    I'll report back about how it works for my students - if you use these techniques too, let me know how it goes.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Congratulations to Jamie Weiss Chilton!!

    My agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, has been received a well-deserved promotion from associate agent to agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, inc.!   I'm so happy for her!

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Anderson's 8th Annual Children's Literature Breakfast

    Yesterday, at the crack of dawn, I attended 8th Annual Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast - though it was only my 2nd annual.  I went there with my friend, Suzanne Slade, who was one of the 65 Illinois authors invited to attend the breakfast.  As part of the program, guest authors sat with the approximately 500 attendees for "table chats".   At different times during the program, between speakers, the authors moved to different tables to mix and mingle and talk about their books.  I really enjoyed meeting authors who I knew by name and book titles but had never met - Brenda Ferber, Katharine Kendzy Gingold, Robin Luebs, Janet Nolan, and Beverly Patt.

    As usual (at least both times I've been there) the Andersons provided a lineup of fantastic speakers: Pam Allyn, Jordan Sonnenblick, Francoise Mouly, Patricia McKissack, Henry Cole and Richard Peck.  In addition, Jan Dundon and Kathleen March, Anderson's Bookshop Children's Coordinators, did a wonderful presentation of some of their favorite books released this year.  To me, the highlight was Jordan Sonnenblick - his talk was genuine, humorous, and touching!  I bet this middle grade English teacher is the most requested teacher by parents and students!

    I came away with a bag full of goodies, ton of inspiration and a long list of story ideas sparked by the speakers' presentations.  I'm already looking forward to attending again next year!