A Davis won A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by by Blythe Russo

Carl Scott won Ocean Soup by Meeg Pincus

Cathey Nickell won AVEN GREEN SLEUTHING MACHINE by Dusti Bowling



Round 2 voting for The SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards has begun and will close on April 30th at 5pm PDT.

Do jump in, check out the finalists for your division, and cast your vote!

To cast your vote, log on to

Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards. That takes you right to the voting page where all of the books in your division appear. Then click the VOTE FOR THIS BOOK button below your chosen book and you are done!



$20-$30 ENTRY FEE. Deadline May 7, 2021.

Early-Bird Deadline: May 7, 2021

  • Poetry entry—$20 for the first entry; $15 for each additional poetry entry.
  • Manuscript entry—$30 for the first entry; $25 for each additional manuscript entry.

Deadline: June 7, 2021

  • Poetry entry—$25 for the first entry; $20 for each additional poetry entry.
  • Manuscript entry—$35 for the first entry; $30 for each additional manuscript entry.

Additional entry discounts only apply after submitting and checking out your first entry. All deadlines are at 11:59 PM EST, on the specified date. All payments must be submitted at the time of entry.

One Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000, an interview with the author in Writer’s Digest, a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, including a coveted Pitch Slam slot and more.

The first place winner in each category will receive $1,000.

The second place winner in each category will receive $500.

The third place winner in each category will receive $250.

The fourth place winner in each category will receive $100.

The fifth place winner in each category will receive $50.

The sixth through tenth place winners in each category will receive a $25 gift certificate for


  • Inspirational/Spiritual
  • Memoirs/Personal Essay
  • Print or Online Article
  • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story
  • Rhyming Poetry
  • Non-rhyming Poetry
  • Script (Stage Play/Television/Movie Script/Short Film)
  • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

Category Selection

Select the category that best represents your entry. If the judges feel that another category is more appropriate, we will switch the category for you, on your behalf.

  • Genre Fiction: Stories that fit into a specific classification such as mystery, romance, science fiction, horror or fantasy.
  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction: Serious, non-formulaic fiction that does not fit into a genre. For the sake of separating them entirely from genre fiction, are combined into their own category. Literary fiction is generally more concerned with style and characterization, and may be paced more slowly than commercial fiction. It usually centers on a timeless, complex theme. Mainstream fiction is usually faster paced, with a stronger plot line (and more events and/or higher stakes). Characterization may not be as central to the story and the theme may be more obvious than literary fiction. The category of both of these two indicates that the story would generally appeal to a larger audience and isn’t confined by the rules and structure you might see in a typical genre.
  • Memoirs/Personal Essay: This is an article that is distinguished by and draws its power from its personal viewpoint. In such pieces, the author examines an issue, event, experience, place or idea and offers an opinion or some other reaction to it. The goal of an essay may be to explain, justify or persuade. The last is most often the goal of newspaper op-ed essays. Examples of other types of essays may be found in such magazine columns as Redbook‘s “A Young Mother’s Story” or Writer’s Digest‘s “Chronicle”.
  • Print or Online Article: This is an article in which the writer has researched a topic and explains the topic to readers. It can also profile an individual, a place or a topic. Often there is a “service” angle—a clear benefit that readers can take away from the article. There are many types of articles: how-to articles, personality profiles, Q&A’s, informational pieces, travel articles, magazine features, web articles, news articles. They may include events drawn from the author’s personal experience, but the focus of the article is on providing readers with information.
  • Inspirational: An article, essay or story with an explicitly religious, spiritual or otherwise inspirational focus. An article that’s suitable for Guideposts or St. Anthony Messenger, for example, would be inspirational. An essay on how the power of Christ, (or Buddha, or Allah or Vashti) touched your life would be inspirational. A story about the power of religion, the power of prayer, or the power of the universe would be inspirational.
  • Rhyming Poetry: When the last word of some or all lines rhyme with each other. Ask yourself: What is the rhyme scheme of my poem? If you don’t understand what that question means, your poem is probably non-rhyming. Most formal poetry is considered rhyming poetry (such as sonnets or ballads).
  • Non-rhyming poetry: When there is no recognizable or purposeful rhyme scheme or structure. Free verse falls under this category.
  • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction: Fiction written for the children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Script (Stage Play, Television/Movie or Short Film) : Scripts—original or written for any television series in production on or after January 1, 2020—are eligible. Adaptations of the author’s own writing will be accepted. All other adaptations are not eligible.

Word Count / Line Count Requirements
Online Entry forms must have the word/line/page count listed where requested.

Count refers to all words making up the story (no matter the number of letters in the word). Do not count the title or contact information in the word count.

  • Poetry entries: count the lines containing text. Do not count blank lines between stanzas & do not count the title or contact information.
  • Script entries: Please provide the number of pages submitted instead of the word count.
  • Memoirs/Personal Essay, Print or Online Article and Children’s/Young Adult Fiction: 2,000 words maximum.
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story and Genre Short Story: 4,000 words maximum.
  • Inspirational Writing: 2,500 words maximum.
  • Rhyming Poem and Non-rhyming Poem: 40 lines maximum.
  • Script (Stage Play, Television/Movie or Short Film): Send the first 15 pages ONLY (the title page does not count toward the page limit) in standard script format, plus a one-page synopsis. Do not submit the complete script unless it fits within the page count requirement (ex. Short Film). Scripts—original or written for any series in production on or after January 1, 2021—are eligible; adaptations will not be accepted.

Entry Method Options/Preparing Your Entry


  • All entries must be submitted online through Submittable. If you already have a Submittable account, simply log in! There is no cap as to the number of submissions that can be entered into the competition overall, however each submission (including edited versions being re-submitted) must be checked out separately.
  • Please be sure that the email address that you provide will be valid throughout the competition. Competition related updates and winner notifications are sent via: email. Please type carefully and list only one email address. Check your spelling carefully including all login information, email addresses etc. Incorrect email addresses may result in the transmission of important information being delayed and/or unsuccessful. Be sure that our email addresses (Writer’s Digest and Submittable) are not blocked, or you may not receive critical information, receipts, confirmations etc. Check your SPAM folder for any expected but unaccounted for email communications.
  • Cover pages are optional; they are not requested or necessary.
  • Please submit text only; illustrations are not accepted. We recommend that you select a font which is easy to read; please do not use a decorative or script font. 12-point type size is preferred but not mandatory. We have no requirements as to the number of words per page. We have no rules or requirements regarding subject matter or language etc.
  • It is preferred that an entry be formatted to 8.5 x 11 paper, single sided, 1 inch margins. We prefer any of the various standard-formatting styles (although non-conforming entries will not be disqualified). Scripts (TV/Movie, Stage Play or Short Film) and poems may be either double-or single-spaced; all other documents must be double-spaced.
  • Contact information is collected via the online entry form. You should not include this information on the file being uploaded. Only the category, word/line count and entry title should be included on the file being uploaded.
  • Word counts are not to include entry title. All words (no matter the length) are to be included in the word count.
  • For poetry entries, supply a line count instead of a word count. Line counts should include all lines that have text; do not include blank stanzas in your line count.
  • When filling out the online submission form, you will be asked to upload your entry file. Accepted file formats include: .doc, .docx, and .pdf. Do not attach zipped files, or documents stored on the web like Google doc’s etc . Please name your file the same as your submission title if possible; identifying information should not be included in your file name.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 20, 2021


Joyce Lapin has written a new picture book, THE LITTLE SPACECRAFT THAT COULD illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli and published by Sterling Childrens Books. It is the sequel to IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON, which was featured with a book giveaway last week. It is coming out on May 18th, but is available now for pre-order. Sterling has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Joyce  and Simona.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Ride along with the New Horizons spacecraft as she rockets three billion miles to Pluto! Watch her take the first close-up photos of Pluto, and then journey another billion miles to mini-world Arrokoth. You’ll whiz through space at more than 10 miles per second; learn how giant planet Jupiter helped the little spacecraft reach Pluto; and discover the astonishing surface feature that made the world fall in love with Pluto.


Creating this book and watching it come to life has been incredible for me— mostly because of the wonderful team I’m part of: My agent, John Rudolph; my wonderful creative partner, illustrator Simona Ceccarelli; my science consultants, Prof. Stephen E. Schneider and—I still can’t believe this!—Dr. Alan Stern, Leader

of NASA’s New Horizons mission; and of course, the outstanding editors at Sterling Children’s books, including Rachael Stein, Eve Adler, and Suzy Capozzi (who stepped in during Eve’s maternity leave).

I’ve always loved reading about other worlds. And one day when I was pretty young, I found a paperback book in our house called The Search for Planet X.

(At the time, Pluto was often called “Planet X.”) To this day, I don’t know what that book was doing in our house, since it doesn’t seem like something my parents would have bought. It must’ve been some sort of kismet, though, because I read that book, and after that I always felt a kinship with Pluto because I knew more about it than other kids.

I love watching TV documentaries on the planets, and I’d seen a few on the New Horizons mission to Pluto. In one such show, it was explained that just days before New Horizons was to rendezvous with Pluto, its Earth team suddenly lost contact with the spacecraft.

I couldn’t imagine the angst of the New Horizons team during this time. After years of planning and preparation, and then 10 years and three billion miles of space flight! Man, what they must’ve gone through!

It turned out that the spacecraft’s computer was handling so many tasks that its backup computer kicked in. The New Horizons team worked madly 24/7, and contact was re-established in time for the Pluto flyby. But the whole episode really grabbed me by the throat and stuck with me.

Shortly after this, I was in a Barnes & Noble looking for something to read and

saw the book Chasing New Horizons, by Alan Stern and his colleague, David Grinspoon. Since I had Pluto on the brain, I bought the book and was enthralled when I read it.

What’s ironic to me now is that one of the main things that grabbed me about the New Horizons mission—the loss of contact just before reaching Pluto—didn’t make it into my book! I had thought it would add terrific suspense, but instead it somehow slowed the story’s momentum. So, I very reluctantly took it out.

Not too long reading Chasing New Horizons, I was meandering around B&N again and saw The Little Engine That Could. Something clicked and I began thinking about The Little Spacecraft That Could. It was perfect, because the New Horizons spacecraft was (and is!) so feisty! Can you imagine a craft smaller than a piano crossing four billion miles of space? What a spitfire that little probe is!

My agent, John Rudolph, liked the manuscript very much. And the timing was uncanny: Just as John was reading the manuscript, New Horizons was approaching her next target in space after Pluto, the incredible mini-world now called Arrokoth. I actually wrote the section on Arrokoth in real time, as the information was coming in!

I had hoped that UMass astronomer Stephen E. Schneider—who’d been my science consultant for If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon—would be available to work with me again, and he was! One part I remember being difficult to write was the section on Pluto’s sky. The science behind its hazy blue color is complex, and Steve was very patient as I worked to get it right without “losing” the reader. With Steve’s help, I found a description I was happy with.

It had always been my plan to loop in Dr. Alan Stern; everything concerning the New Horizons mission came down to him. Once I had the deal with Sterling, I felt it was time to contact Dr. Stern.

I must’ve spent days crafting that email! I was nervous about if and when Dr. Stern would reply. But he responded that very evening, and—I’ll never forget this—the first sentence of his email said, “Joyce, please call me Alan!” I knew everything would be okay then, and I was thrilled!

Alan was fantastic, working with me by both email and phone. Revising for him was nerve-jangling, because I was so mindful of who he is. But Alan couldn’t have been kinder, more patient, or more generous with his time. When he offered me a cover quote, I was bouncing off the walls!

So now kids can read about The Little Spacecraft That Could! I’m so proud to be part of this team, and SO proud of our book. Maybe some child who reads it will feel the same kind of kinship I felt with Pluto when I read The Search for Planet X. I hope so!


Joyce has enjoyed reading and learning about other worlds since childhood. A former advertising copywriter, she’s happy to have found a kinder, gentler life writing books.

Joyce is originally from Glen Cove (Long Island, NY) and now lives in Simsbury, Connecticut. Her favorite nonfiction readings include biographies and survival stories. For fiction, she loves anything by John Grisham and Elin Hilderbrand.

Joyce’s happy place is the beach. The light of her life are her 10 great-nieces and great-nephews.


Simona CeccarelliI grew up in Italy, with a passion for both art and science, a large library – which has been expanding out of control ever since – and the urge to open all doors and follow every path. Her first journey was to study science and work as a medical research scientist for over 10 years.

Art eventually lured her back to follow “the road not taken.” She studied illustration and visual development at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. After a brief detour into scientific communication, corporate marketing and even art direction, she found her happy place in children’s illustration. Her main path now is from the coffee machine to her studio, where she has all the adventure, excitement, laughter and emotion she could ever dream – and more.

When Simona is not drawing she is laughing with her kids, plant flowers, ride horses and read books (not all at the same time).

She loves colors, characters, stories, and making children smile. She gets that chance through her books and more with Sterling Children’s Books, Amicus Publishing, Scholastic Education, Thienemann-Esslinger, Dressler, Carlsen Verlag, Harper-Collins, PI Kids, Rizzoli/Mondadori, Cricket Media, Parallel Games, Haba and many others.

Simona currently lives in Switzerland with one husband two kids, three nationalities, four languages…and a cat. Simona is represented by Andrea Cascardi. Here is a link to: Simona on Illustrator Saturday. Don’t miss learning more about Simona and seeing more of her wonderful art. 

Thank you Joyce for sharing your book and journey with us. This book is just jammed pack with information that will spark kids and their parents interest in outerspace. 

Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 19, 2021



Raven Quill Literary Agency

Kelly Dyksterhouse grew up with a book always in her hands and a story always in her head. The important role that books played in her early years developed into a passion for children’s literature in her adult life. Kelly holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults for Vermont College of Fine Arts and has interned as an editorial reader at leading literary agencies and worked as an independent developmental editor and writing mentor. She considers the opportunity to help bring books into existence to be a great honor, and it is a particular joy for her to work alongside authors as they develop their project from idea to polished manuscript. The best feeling of all is when those manuscripts end up as books in the hands of children.

I am looking to acquire middle grade and young adult novels and narrative nonfiction, as well as picture books and graphic novels.

For 2021, I am especially looking for graphic novels. I’ll consider text only, but am hungry for author/illustrators.

For picture books, I am drawn to books that are character driven with a strong narrative arc, and I particularly love books with a surprise or subversive twist to them that make me laugh. I also love lyrical texts with a classic feel, and am looking for nonfiction picture books about a little known period of history or that focus on the natural world. Author/Illustrators are always a plus.

In middle grade, I’m looking for a wide range of genres. I enjoy high-concept, fast-paced adventure books with a commercial hook, either contemporary or speculative, as well as literary works featuring lush, lyrical writing. I love ghost stories, magical realism, historical fiction and mysteries–books that get you to look at the familiar in a different light and to see the possible in the impossible. I enjoy books that feature ensemble casts, unlikely heroes, underdogs, surprise friendships and complicated, yet hopeful, family dynamics. I am particularly interested in books written by and featuring underrepresented voices in ways that showcase kids being kids in all the above scenarios. For nonfiction, I’m interested in projects that shed a light on a little known historical time period or discovery, projects that focus on the natural world, and issues of social justice. In all genres, I’m looking for beautiful writing and strong voice.

For YA, I’m looking for speculative fiction that is layered, has a distinct voice, and is grounded in a universal emotional desire. I seem to be drawn toward literary works that have a commercial hook, and I’m interested in genre mash-ups. So whereas I don’t love sci-fi, I’d jump at a mystery set in space; I would also really love a historical that feels relevant or that has a light magical twist. I find that I’m especially drawn to YA that has vivid, immersive and contained settings–settings that almost function as a character themselves (Think Scorpio Races or Frankie Landau Banks). As with MG, I enjoy books with ensemble casts and fast action. I’m not usually a great fit for straight romance, but I do enjoy a romantic thread. I always enjoy a good enemies to lovers story. A couple of specific wishes: I would love a smart, funny heist and a moving novel in verse along the lines of Poet X. 

Fun facts about me:On my nightstand right now: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, The Way Back by Gavriel Savit, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, and Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri.

What I miss most about life “Pre-COVID”: live music and breweries, soccer, traveling, working in coffee shops.

What I am thankful for during these months of social distancing: Long walks in the woods. Zoom. Chocolate. Books (duh). Animals-dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, foxes, deer, owls…anything living and breathing I can watch or talk to during the day.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to QueryMe.Online/KellyDyksterhouse 

Submissions are only accepted through Query Manager. You may submit one project at a time to one RQLA agent at a time. If that agent passes on your query, you may then query another RQLA agent after a period of one month. For picture books, you may submit the entire manuscript in addition to your query. For novels, please submit a query, a one-page synopsis, and the first ten pages of your work. Authors and artists from underrepresented groups are invited to make note of that in the referral box.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 18, 2021

Book Giveaway: EDMUND THE ELEPHANT WHO FORGOT by Kate Dalgleish

Kate Dalgleish has written a new picture book, EDMUND THE ELEPHANT WHO FORGOT illustrated by Isobel Lundie and published by Scribblers an imprint of Sterling Childrens Books  It is available in bookstores nowSterling has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Kate  and Isobel.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


An elephant never forgets . . . except Edmund! Join this silly elephant on the funniest shopping spree ever.

“Elephants always remember. Elephants don’t get it wrong.
Elephants always remember. As long as they sing this song!”

Edmund isn’t like other elephants: he forgets. A lot. Then, one day, his mother sends him to the store to pick up some things for his little brother’s birthday party. To help him remember what they need, mama gives him a fun little song to sing . . . and a shopping list. But Edmund even forgets the list! Soon his purchases get sillier and sillier—like seven sassy dancing cats instead of 20 pointy party hats. Kids will laugh out loud at this delightful story and its humorous, dynamic art.


First of all, I would like to Thank Kathy for this fantastic opportunity to share my debut picture book, Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot. It has all been a bit of a whirlwind, and somewhat surreal journey but to get to this point is truly a dream come true!

I am such a horder of new notebooks; whenever I’m asked for gift ideas I always reply the same; A nice new notebook! I need them! I plead as my husband rolls his eyes jokingly. And need them, I do! Every now and then, a funny word, catchy phrase, intriguing name will pop in to my head and I must write it down immediately, even if I don’t plan to use it right away, I store it away for a story that hasn’t even unfolded yet.

That is exactly what happened with Edmund. His little memory song popped in my head one day when I was explaining to my girls that elephants never forget. I scribbled it down, and the story unfolded from there.

I sat on it for some time, working on some other ideas, until October 2018 when I came across the Stratford – Salariya Children’s Book Prize. I worked hard to polish up a number of manuscripts I had been working on and decided, after some deliberation, to submit Edmund.

When Annie from the Stratford Literary Festival contacted me in March 2019 to announce that Edmund had been shortlisted for the prize, I was absolutely dumbstruck! It was beyond what I could have imagined!

The overall winner ‘Look, Daddy, Look!’ by Manlu Tu was extremely well-deserved; the story and illustrations were beautiful and I was just thrilled to have even been considered.

Imagine my absolute elation when, in September of the same year, Nick from Salariya Book Company contacted me to say that they loved the text and would like to publish it!

Before long, I had arranged to meet with Isobel to discuss the illustrations. It seems like a lifetime ago now that we met in a cosy coffee shop in London and went over everything; new ideas to develop the story further, characters we might like to include, possible layout. She was so enthusiastic about the story and as invested as I was in bringing Edmund to life, I couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

On receiving various drafts, I could see that Isobel had captured Edmund and all of the other zany characters we had discussed perfectly. I was then informed that Sterling Publishing were also interested in publishing Edmund in the US. Once again, I was so humbled that an idea by little old me was going overseas!

Despite publishing dates being delayed and changed through Covid, the months have flown by and in March 2021, I finally received my own copies of Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot. To finally hold it in my hands, to read it to my girls at bedtime and take it in to school to read to my class was quite literally a dream come true.

I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to thank Isobel for the amazing illustrations, the team at Salariya and Sterling and everyone involved in promoting the book for all of their hard work and support. And can I say to anyone out there, wondering ‘can I…?’ The answer is: yes. You can.


Kate Dalgleish studied at the University of Sunderland, North East England where she qualified with a BA Hons in Primary Education in 2006. She then went on to work full time as a Primary School Teacher in Teesside.

She knew she wanted to write from a very early age and would often regale her friends and family with tales she had imagined. This developed in to a true passion and with every amazing story she read to others, she yearned to write books of her own. Her ever-growing collection of notebooks is full of ideas, including that of her debut picture book – Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot which was shortlisted for the Stratford-Salariya Children’s Book Prize.

Kate continues to teach and to write. She now lives in the North East of England with her husband, two children and their boxer dog, Smudge. She enjoys spending time with her family, exploring the outdoors and having cosy movie nights together. In her spare time, when she isn’t scribbling in notebooks, she loves to read and listen to her collection of vinyl records.


Isobel Lundie a children’s book  illustrator living in Worthing. She graduated from Kingston university in 2015 where she studied Illustration and Animation. She has always been interested in how to make books interactive so children can lose themselves in the narrative. Having worked as an illustrator, she is particularly interested in how exciting, colourful and distinctive artwork can transform stories for children and absolutely loves what she does and especially loves the beginning of projects where she can let her imagination go and create the characters and the worlds they live in.

Isobel has been a busy bee illustrating 45 books in the last three and a half years. Here are some of her childrens book titles:

She has two main styles that she works in:

Her collage style is using recycled papers, stuck down, scanned then worked into digitally and her pencil style line work that is then scanned in and worked into digitally for the colour.

You can visit her at:

Thank you Kate for sharing your book and journey with us. This book is so much fun. Kids love silly and I’m sure this will provide big belly laughs, guaranteeing that parents will be reading it over and over again to their children, until the kids are able to read it on their own. Isabel’s illustrations add more fun to every scene. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 17, 2021

Illustrator Saturday – Annie Zygarowicz

Annie is originally from Brooklyn, NY, educated at the School of Visual Arts – BFA in illustration and design and now located on a small farm in upstate NY. Her art background began as a freelance editorial illustrator for magazines and has grown to encompass a myriad of exciting entrepreneurial adventures.

Intrigued with developing three-dimensional objects and characters for theater sets led her to sculpting with clay and digitally. She was lucky to have the opportunity to show and sell her sculpts in galleries and in retail shops.

To promote her artwork and other artists, she designed promotional pieces that began to attract clients. She opened her studio, Zygdesignz, to help individuals promote their small businesses though graphic/web design services, publication layout and design and marketing advice.

Annie’s primary focus has always been illustration — for editorial, children’s books and designs for art licensing. She has created a new series of paintings that are currently being exhibited in galleries and sold in eclectic stores.


This is my art process for all of my illustrations. It starts with many sketches with pencil on tracing paper or on my iPad. Then I narrow it down to one with some kind of composition in mind.

This is a rough sketch for the Wizard of Oz book cover.

The next step is to figure out the composition (characters, forest, etc.). It’s really scribbly but it makes sense to me.

I also like to make preliminary sketches of the characters for interior illustrations.

Then I set up a color palette and beginning painting with lots of layers.

Ta Da, I’m done! Well, this took a few days. There were so many small details to paint. I really enjoyed creating this illustration.

Interview with Annie Zygarowicz:

How long have you been illustrating?

Thanks for this opportunity, Kathy. Becoming an artist was always important to me, especially because it meant that I can have an exciting career doing what I love to do. Besides illustrating, I thought I could make difference in the world in some small way. Despite having multiple art careers in twenty-five years, children’s book art and writing has always been what I wanted to do but I never had time. It feels like an entirely new career for me but in reality, I think I’ve preparing for it all along.

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

In art school, my future husband and I would scan through the art job bulletin boards. We were hired to create everything from storyboards for a film, greeting cards for a new card company, hand lettered signs for a trade show, props for theatre productions and caricatures, the list goes on. These small commissions were fun and gave us a glimpse of real world art experiences.

What inspired you to attend School of Visual Arts, New York to get your BFA?

SVA provided an excellent art education with instructors who also worked in the industry. There were a myriad of courses including animation, sculpting, cartooning, illustration, fine art painting, etc. Plus New York City was the perfect backdrop where you could walk to museums and galleries between classes.

What did you study at SVA?

Four years of illustration and fine art, as well as cartooning/graphic novels, animation, a few writing courses and lots of electives.

Did you take any children’s illustrating courses?

I did – “Writing and Art For Children’s Books,” included writing, story breakdown, character development, and dummy construction. At that time, I was interested but there were limited resources (like zero internet) so I instead pursued editorial illustration to get my foot in the door.

Do you feel school helped you develop your style?

After much experimenting with all kinds of medium (colored pencils, pastels, oils, etc.) with weekly critiques, I think art school gave me the freedom to make mistakes and understand how to rework them. Two art styles emerged — one that is cartoon-like while the other is dark and painterly. Both have been part of my aesthetic for years.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

The faculty was always there if you asked for help but I had a plan and was confident that my portfolio represented what I could offer. I sent postcards to magazine art directors who would potentially hire me for my art style.

What type of work did you do when you started your career?

An editorial illustrator. After a week out of art school, I was sending out postcards and was called for illustration work from a few national magazines. It was cool. While I freelanced as an illustrator, I was hired as an art director for the production, graphics and advertising departments at a news corporation, overseeing and training a large staff, weekly deadlines but it was a good way to learn every facet of operating a company. Eventually I gained enough experience to open my design studio. Soon after, a well-known eyewear company hired me to design and illustrate nearly all of their product lines, including logos, signage, packaging and catalogues. Soon more client work followed, such as educational games and books, branding, tourism maps/brochures, journals, websites, etc.

I still had children’s book art in mind, but it wasn’t the right time to pursue it. So I became involved in teaching art classes part time at a museum and at schools (K-12) where I developed an art curriculum that was fun and interactive for different grades.

It looks like you do a lot of art exhibits. Do you find this is a good way to get business?

Preparing art and hanging an exhibition can be both exciting and challenging. I think it’s a good way to get exposure, network and to get to know the community. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when there’s tight deadlines to create 15-20 pieces, although it’s worth it. For me, watching viewers get caught up in my paintings is rewarding. I’ve sold many pieces, cards and prints, as well as received referrals and requests for commission work.

You did an exhibit titled, “The Faces Behind the Science” at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY. Did you do the 16 paintings of active and decease scientists and scientific illustrators because you knew the museum would be interested in the illustrations or did they come to you?

I submitted a proposal. I’d like to think it was an opportunity to educate the public about the scientists, naturalists and artists who made substantive contributions to our society through their discoveries and dedication. When a gallery vacancy became available at the Museum of the Earth, a friend of mine recommended me. I wrote a proposal for a personal project based on my fascination with scientific illustration, botany, entomology and paleontology. After scouring every primary resource I could find, I made a list of both notable and unknown men and women. Among them were Charles Darwin, Katherine V.W. Palmer, Samuel H. Scudder. After painting their portraits and 13 others, it was fitting to write brief biographies (with footnotes) to accompany each portrait. The Museum
gave me the approval to exhibit the portraits and bios. (Even though I use several photographs to draw caricatures, it’s important for artists to check with Creative Commons that your reference images are in the public domain).

How did you get the chance to illustrate the SCBWI Winter 2018 Bulletin?

By accident. I attended a luncheon and sat next to a children’s book writer and after two hours, we
agreed to submit her article and my illustrations together to the Bulletin. Thank you to Sarah Baker
and Stephen Mooser for making that happen!

Is the cover illustration on your website of The Wizard of Oz a book that was published or did you do that for your portfolio?

I’m building my portfolio to include images of projects that I’d like to be hired for, like book covers
for chapter, middle and YA books as well as interiors full art and vignettes.

Was The Adventures of Rodger Bensworth a published book, too?

This is also a mock cover for my portfolio. It was one of the props for a college student film. The
caricature on the cover is the actor who played Roger Bensworth. I really enjoyed co-writing this
film with my daughter and thrilled when it won a few film festival awards, too.

Was The Adventures of Smokey and the Grouchy Neighbor your first published book?

It was. Although I didn’t write it, I helped with editing and illustrated it. The author knew me and approached me in 2016 with the idea. Completely a book of illustrations was daunting at first but exciting. I created character designs, lots of sketches and began two final paintings in watercolor. They looked good but I thought they could be better. One day I read about Cintiq/Adobe apps vs. iPad/Procreate as alternative painting tools. I opted for the iPad/Procreate and I quickly adapted to world of digital painting. Oh and I was able to complete all of the final art for the book on time.

How many illustrations did you do for the book?

Twenty-three illustrations (several spreads) and the cover design.

How did you get that contract?

Susan, the author was one of my studio clients. She adopted a Schnauzer named Smokey and was inspired to write a story about his adventures for her daughter. We met and discussed her vision and marketing strategies. What I liked most was that she trusted me to develop the illustrations independently with minimal revisions. It worked really well and we enjoyed the process of making a book.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

It wasn’t until I became a children’s library assistant in my teens. I worked in an historic library on the East coast of Long Island, among lots and lots of books all day long! After reading most of the library’s juvenile collection, I was able to refer books to patrons and their children. Kids would come up to me and ask about more books in a series or we’d discuss exciting parts of a book. It was fun listening to them talk about their favorite stories, the characters and the worlds that the authors and illustrators created just for them. It was around that time that I signed up for the children’s book course at art school.

Can you tell us a little bit about being co-founder and artist at Night and Day Art Collective and what they do?

Night and Day is a group of four local fine artists with different art styles. We focus solely on fine art painting, art shows and exhibitions. We’ve become good friends and supportive of one another. I’m also a part of new art collective of women artists from around the globe – we’re in the planning stages but more details are coming soon on my website blog.

Do you have an artist rep or literary agent? 

At present, I do not, but I’m open to working with an editorial agent who either represents author/illustrators or one who represents only artists (children’s and/or editorial). It’s important to me that it is someone that I can share my enthusiasm with; who is interested in how my mind works and my overall style.

Every six months, one of my ‘must-do’ tasks is researching agents with similar writing tastes in art, kid’s fiction and nonfiction genres. At this moment, I have four manuscripts completed. I wrote/illustrated a picture book w/dummy; a chapter book as a ghost writer/illustrator and a non-fiction chapter book as an illustrator/editor. I’m also experimenting with other forms of writing that are a
work-in-progress. Three times a year, I also like to submit my updated portfolio as a website link or newsletter to
industry professionals.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

Not really, but would like to. I think wordless stories should be planned carefully with page turns and pacing from start to finish, for example check out Mercer Mayer and John Goodall’s books — they’re wonderful.

I see you do commission work. How did this start and how do you find that type of work?

Like most introverts, it takes a good deal of courage to make a cold-call via email to a company or local business to sell retail/wholesale. Most of my illustration work has been through referrals so it was time to take the big step. Five years ago, I made an appointment with a retail art gallery to show my portfolio and the owner WAS interested. She’s been selling my art card collections, prints and referring commissions to me steadily since then. I’ve gained a niche following of like-minded admirers as a bonus. New galleries in 2021? I think it’s a possibility.

Do you work full time as an illustrator?

I now consider myself a full time freelance illustrator and writer, having scaled back on my studio business so I can focus on and prioritize illustration and book projects. Occasionally I still create websites for authors, illustrators, and small businesses.

What do you do to get your art noticed?

Painting for galleries and retail are always excellent ways for the public to see my work.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

I would consider it but…my goal is to work with professional publishing houses and an agent. But to be fair, here’s what I look for in a self-publish client: Good communication skills and time management, adhering to deadlines, signing a contract and their trust in my skills and interpretation to illustrate the story. In the past year, I’ve worked with two lovely authors that have decided to query their manuscripts traditionally first before self-publishing, so I’ve begun that process for them.

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

That’s kind of you to say, Kathy. As far as careers go, I really believe hard work and perseverance is the likely path toward success but it’s not always a guarantee. And as they say, it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Despite that old saying, I have spent considerable time dedicating myself to learning about the art, writing and marketing of children’s books. I consider that a success
because it was during the time when I was working full time in my studio and raising my family. I think with a strong support system, including friends, mentors, and my amazing family, anything is possible.

What is your favorite medium to use?

• Digital painting. Transitioning from traditional supplies to an Apple Pencil, Procreate and Photoshop. I like the ease of making revisions, meeting rapid deadlines, transporting and painting anywhere and of course, the unlimited color palette.
• Sharpened HB pencils/erasers and Micron markers for my sketchbooks.
• Painting with oil paints. I’ve been an oil painter since art school days —mixing rich colors on a palette, textural brush strokes, and the smell of paint (not turpentine) is a meditative process. I can’t wait to use them again for gallery shows.

Has that changed over time?

I haven’t changed much insofar as digital devices and apps – they are updated periodically with new
features to explore. With oils, yes, I would like to paint traditionally for shows.

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

Sketchbooks, newsprint, vellum, pencils, pens, markers, paints, digital devices (12.9” iPad) and lots of books and online resources for reference.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

Anywhere between 8-10+ hours a day for freelance work. Oddly enough, I really like deadlines for painting, researching and writing. During a typical month, though, I’ll do work on craft. Meaning that I loose myself in everything children’s book related. From reading industry magazines to various blogs (like yours) for new book releases, agent/editor wish lists and read lots of children’s books and reviews. I try to attend one webinar, workshop or conference to stay current and updated. I enjoy volunteering as an illustrator coordinator for my SCBWI regional chapter – it’s is a good way to stay involved, as well as, participating in my critique group and online groups. A limited amount of time is devoted to posting art on social media, which I’m not really a fan of.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I usually read through a brief or manuscript a few times while drawing thumbnail sketches. It’s good practice for me to envision the project in my mind before researching anything. On my third draft, before an art director or a self-pub author views it, I’ll use image references to be sure that parts of the drawing are accurate. If the subject matter is readily available to me locally, I’ll photograph it.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The internet has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s beneficial to have an online presence through my website to get inqueries and commissions, access to unlimited resources, expandable search for photo reference, email queries directly to publishers and attend online meetings around the world. Aside from art purposes, it was vital for me and so many people in the US and globally to be able to connect with family and friends, especially during the pandemic. All of these points outweigh the disadvantages.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

My bucket list has dozens of words left on it but at the top is what this interview is all about: Diving back into illustration. Like so many artists and writers who spend thousands of hours of writing, revising, drawing, redrawing and painting — that process gives me a better understanding of what it takes to be an author/illustrator. I’ll admit it’s intense to juggle art and writing but I’ve discovered it
involves lots of self-discipline and most of all, being proactive on a daily basis. I admire all of those published author/illustrators, authors and illustrators out there who make it look so easy.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you
love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
Not really, but I can recommend a couple of resources.
• If you’re interested in becoming children’s book illustrator, join SCBWI.
• For graphic designers, writers and illustrators, there are webinars, template contracts and general
information, join The Graphic Artist Guild (in US).

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?
Art is subjective. Listen to your inner voice and interpret what you see and hear with a small sketch then move onto drawings. Try all sorts of art supplies and play with form, texture and light. Find the real artist within you.

Annie, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone. 

To see more of Annie’s work, you can visit her at:


Talk tomorrow,



ANDREA WALKER – AZANTIAN LITERARY is April’s Agent of the Month. Scroll to bottom to read the submission guidelines for chance to win a first page critique with Andrea.

Andrea Walker started her career in publishing through several internships, eventually joining Olswanger Literary as a contracts intern. It was there she first began building her client list. As a writer herself, Andrea isn’t afraid to rework something several times to make it shine and will be your champion along the way. Before publishing, Andrea earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Creative Writing and Education from UCF and is currently working towards her Masters. When she’s not reading or writing, Andrea is enjoying time with her family and planning their next adventure.

Andrea represents PB, MG, and YA and is especially interested in seeing submissions from underrepresented voices.


10. Would you have an example of a query letter that got your attention that you could share?

I don’t have one to share right now, however, there are a lot of resources on how to write a great query letter. From a quick google search, I found this one: Also, agents and authors sometimes do query critiques so keep a look out for those on blogs and twitter!

11. Do you feel it is better for an author to focus on one age group and genre?

Not necessarily. I think it’s fine to write across age groups and genres. Write what inspires you. However, when you sell in a certain age group or genre continuing to write in that space helps build your audience and readership.

12. Would you be interested in representing a writer/illustrator?

I am! I keep a small list and I am actively seeking author/illustrators to represent.

13. How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

I read the full query and sample pages and if I’m hung up on a decision, I read the synopsis.

14. Do you let people know if you are not interested?

Yes, I currently respond to all queries.

15. Lately, there seems to be various age groups for MG and YA novels. Do you think a writer should worry about classifying a middle grade as lower or upper middle grade and same with YA or is it okay to just say MG or YA and let you decide how to classify the book?

I definitely think an author should know where their book fits in the market. Comp titles are a good way to show an agent you understand the age group you’re writing for.

16. Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

A concise query letter, presenting clear stakes, and great sample pages.

17. How long does it usually take to respond to requested material? And query letters?

For requested materials, I try to keep it to 3 months but sadly I do fall behind that. Typically for a query response, two weeks, however certain months are busier than others and it may take closer to a month for a response.

18. Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Some query letters I receive are just the author talking about how good the book is or what inspired them but this doesn’t help any agent to determine whether or not your book is a good fit for them.



In the subject line, please write “APRIL 2021 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2021 April  – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED! Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page.

Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Sending it to my hotmail account will probably keep me from seeing it and including you in the running.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: April 23rd. – noon EST

RESULTS: April 30th.




I’m looking for high-concept stories with a great hook. Text that is so well written, I visualize the illustrations as I’m reading. I love to laugh in the PB space and enjoy anything quirky or fun like I Want My Hat Back, lyrical as in Dreamers, or filled with heart like in A Sick Day For Amos McGee. While I love lyrical prose, I am not a good fit for rhyming text or anything that is overly sweet. Overall, I love to be surprised, if you’ve taken a concept and flipped it on its head, I’d love to see it!


I am eager to build my middle grade list and on the lookout for lower mg and chapter books too. I’m always interested in high-concept, but I’m really looking for voice and the ability to capture the complex feelings of this age. I would love to visit lush worlds like The Night Gardener with characters you can’t help but root for a la Ghost, anything filled with heart and hope as in Front Desk or that helps kids deal with tough topics like The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise or The Thing About Jellyfish. I’m not a good fit for high fantasy, but I’m open to all else.


I absolutely love YA, it’s what really drew me to the world of publishing. Again, I’m drawn to high-concept and commercial young adult works. I’m looking for stories that stay with you long after you finish them like Slay and The Wilder Girls. Beautiful prose that sweeps you into the world with no looking back like Caraval or The Hazel Wood. Books that blend prose and epistolary like SADIE or RULES FOR VANISHING. Stories with standout voice like You Should See Me in A Crown and explore tough topics or deeper truths as in The Grace Year. I’m always interested in stories where magic is real and hiding in plain sight, books with speculative elements, and mysteries.

With that, tastes can be hard to pin down, and sometimes I really don’t know what I’m looking for until I see it. If it’s PB, MG, or YA and you think I might be a good fit, I’d love to take a look!


For submission guidelines please visit:

When you are ready to submit, please use her form here:


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 15, 2021

Book Giveaway: TREEMENDOUS by Bridget Heos

Bridget Heos has written a new picture book, TREEMENDOUS illustrated by Mikr Ciccotello and published by Crown Books for Young Readers. It is available in bookstores nowBrdiget has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Bridget and Mike.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


This adorable picture book illustrates the life of a tiny acorn growing up to be a tall oak tree. A wonderful introduction to nonfiction for curious, nature-loving kids!

Hello, world! This little acorn is so excited to grow!

Told in the diary entries of an acorn, this picture book follows a young acorn and its long life as an oak tree, from being buried by a squirrel to towering over other trees. The text communicates the basic science simply and with humor, and the illustrations up the fun factor! Parents will love the sweet story and charming illustrations, and teachers and librarians will love the extra resources at the back.


Here is the story of TREEMENDOUS:

I got the idea for the book while gathering acorns with my daughter Samantha. There was a bumper crop that year, and she and I would collect them across the street in the church garden (and then leave them there because what were we going to do with a bunch of acorns?) Around then, we started having strange encounters with ducks–odd because it was a city neighborhood with no pond nearby. And wonderful because my daughter was obsessed with ducks! She once brought home the Nicola Davies book, JUST DUCKS, and her brothers laughed at how it was the perfect fit for her obsession.

Next thing we knew, there was a mother duck making a nest in the church grotto. We watched their little family grow as the eggs hatched right around Easter. It later all made sense when we learned that ducks eat acorns! I wanted to write a book as a way of thanking the oak trees for that special time.

I decided to have the oak tree tell it’s own story because I like to think that we are all–whether people or animals or plants–part of a big story and that over time we come to understand that story and our place in it. Besides being about trees and nature, TREEMENDOUS is about growth, and the patience and ingredients it requires. In that way, I think readers will relate to the narrator and her journey!

The first of Mike’s illustrations that I saw were of TREEMENDOUS as an acorn. She was so adorable and full of life! When the art went from sketches to full color, I had the feeling of being in a world that had just woken up from dreary gray sleep! Mike is wonderful to work with because he also has a mind for promotion–something that is a bit out of my comfort zone even though I have been writing children’s books for a long time. We made a trailer, inspirational posters, activity guide (which you can find on our Web sites), and are both doing virtual school visits. Mike does a drawing lesson with the kids in which they learn to draw TREEMENDOUS as an acorn! The students’ drawings are adorable!

Thank you for giving me the chance to talk about TREEMENDOUS: DIARY OF A NOT YET MIGHTY OAK, Kathy. I hope your readers will check out TREEMENDOUS!


Bridget Heos is the author of THE MUSTACHE BABY series (illustrator: Joy Ang), STEGOTHESAURUS (T.L. McBeth), FAIRY’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL (Sara Not), TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE LAMB (Sarah Jennings), and QUEEN DOG (Alejandro O’Keefe). She has also written more than 100 nonfiction children’s titles, including I, FLY (Jennifer Plecas), the ANIMALS: JUST LIKE US series (David Clark), and BLOOD, BULLETS, AND BONES: THE STORY OF FORENSIC SCIENCE FROM SHERLOCK HOLMES TO DNA.

Bridget lives in Kansas City with her family. She loves cooking, watching the Chiefs, exercising, and exploring America via school author visits.
Facebook: @AuthorBridgetHeos
Instagram: @BridgetHeos
Twitter: @BridgetHeos.


MIKE CICCOTELLO received a BFA with a concentration in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He is the author-illustrator of the picture book TWINS and the forthcoming BEACH TOYS VS. SCHOOL SUPPLIES (both from FSG/Macmillan).

Mike has also illustrated Bridget Heos’s TREEMENDOUS and CHEESE AND QUACKERS, a two-book early graphic chapter-book series written by Prospect client Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (forthcoming from Aladdin/S&S). He is an active member of SCBWI, CBIG, and was a contributing member of You can find him online at and @ciccotello. Mike is represented by Rachel Orr. Please contact Rachel at rko(a)

Bridget, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a book that will make it fun to learn how a little acorn can grow into a mighty oak tree. Mike’s illustrations bring the whole book to life. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 14, 2021

Opportunity: Illustrator Critiques – Book Launch Party


Angie Quantril won PIE FOR BREAKFAST by Cynthia Cliff

Danielle Hammelet won Clarinet & Trumpet by Melanie Ellsworth

Kayla Richardson and Julie Phend won

DEFINITELY DOMINGUITA Series by Terry Jennings


OPPORTUNITY: MIRA REISBERG AT THE CHILDREN’S BOOK ACADEMY has offered to critique four illustrator’s picture book illustrations. There are four spots –  May 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th. She will discuss many things like how you can tweak your illustrations to help you sell your work, plus much more.

Submission Details:

Please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:
Kathy.temean (at) Put Illustrations Critique with Mira in the subject area. Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Your name should be in the .jpgs title with the order numbers. Please include a blurb about yourself along with your picture that I can use. to introduce you to everyone.

Click here to see a previous Illustration Critique from Mira.


Join Hallee for a Double Book Launch Drive Thru Party for Way Past Sad and Way Past Jealous! THE MORE THE MERRIER! SWAG AND TREATS FOR ALL! COVID-SAFE AND SUPER FUN!! at Children’s book World in Bala Cynwyd, PA on April 17th.



Miranda Paul has been promoted to agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Ann Marie Wong has joined Holt Children’s as editorial director. She was previously senior editorial director at Scholastic Book Clubs.

Pronoy Sarkar has joined Little, Brown as senior editor, reporting to Judith Clain. Previously, he was an editor at St. Martin’s.

Elizabeth Lazowski has been promoted to assistant editor, children’s at Chronicle Books.

Talk tomorrow,


Joyce Lapin has written a new picture book, IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli and published by Sterling Childrens Books  It is available in bookstores nowSterling has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Joyce  and Simona.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


If you had your birthday party on the moon, what would it be like? Blast off to an extraterrestrial celebration and find out! This cool picture book combines fun and facts to help kids learn all about outer space. 

Have your birthday party on the moon and everyone will come! After all, who wouldn’t want to ride in a rocket and celebrate for a day that lasts as long as a month on Earth? Then, young partygoers could romp in a low-gravity playground; watch candles and balloons behave weirdly in the Moon’s atmosphere; and see why the “moon angels” they make in the thick carpet of lunar dust will last for thousands of years. With each discovery, kids learn the science behind the surprise, explained in terms they’ll understand. Complete with sidebars and a glossary, this entertaining adventure is perfect for sharing at home and at school.


It’s so interesting how If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon came to be!

I’d written a previous space-based manuscript, though it hadn’t yet found a home. (I still hope it will!) I love writing this type of nonfiction because I’m fascinated by the topic.

I was with an agent, but there was no energy flowing from him. After I’d given him every opportunity, I researched new agents and prepared a new query letter. As soon as I sent the email cutting ties with the first agent, I hit “Send” on my
new queries. This time, I queried for If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon.

John Rudolph from Dystel, Goderich & Bourret stepped up immediately, which made me feel terrific. And he was the perfect agent for this book. In addition to being a consummate professional, John is a very hands-on dad who knows everything about kids’ birthday parties. This was extremely helpful since I’m
not a mom. 😊

For example, John told me there should be pizza at this birthday party. I remember his words—he said, “It’s always pizza!” This actually led to a terrific addition to the book. I can’t remember how my research turned this up, but I found that Pizza Hut once actually delivered pizza to the International Space Station. “So,” my book reasoned, “maybe they’ll also deliver to the Moon!” This is an anecdote that wouldn’t have existed without John’s input.

I felt a science consultant was essential, so I called the Astronomy Department
at the University of Massachusetts. The department chair answered the phone and I asked him for a referral—but to my delight, he offered to help me himself. And this astronomer, Prof. Stephen E. Schneider, has been a dream to work with. He’s meticulous and creative, and has helped me keep my science watertight.

I was thrilled when Meredith Mundy at Sterling Children’s Books made an offer on the book. Before we could begin editing, though, Meredith was offered a new opportunity in the industry, and the wonderful Christina Pulles stepped in.

I think what I most appreciated about Meredith and Christina (and the Sterling editors who worked on my second book, The Little Spacecraft That Could), is the deference they showed to my creative instincts. Sterling had faith in my visions,

and that means so much! Not just because the books became what they were meant to be, but because the mutual respect feels really good.

Perhaps the greatest gift to this book was the illustrator, Simona Ceccarelli. Simona was one of four illustrators whose work Meredith had sent me, and I loved Simona’s work right away! I thought her style was perfect for If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon. And you know what? The first thing people say to me about the book is how much they love the illustrations! And I’m right there with them! Simona really made this book come alive.

Also, my critique group—the Shoreline (Connecticut) Group, led by Kay Kudlinski—was incredibly helpful and supportive. There’s so much success and positive energy in that group. What a thrill it was to have Kay and the others pop a champagne cork for me!

Oh, I forgot to talk about how I came up with the idea for a birthday party on the Moon! I’d already decided to write about the Moon, because: 1) We know more about it than any other celestial body; and 2) Kids love the Moon! My concern was that there were already lots of kids’ books on the subject. I needed to view the Moon through a brand-new lens.

I began thinking about a party on the Moon, but something was still lacking. When I made the party a birthday party, the book suddenly had legs. So there you have it! I hope that everyone who picks up If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon has as much fun with it as I still do!


Joyce has enjoyed reading and learning about other worlds since childhood. A former advertising copywriter, she’s happy to have found a kinder, gentler life writing books.

Joyce is originally from Glen Cove (Long Island, NY) and now lives in Simsbury, Connecticut. Her favorite nonfiction readings include biographies and survival stories. For fiction, she loves anything by John Grisham and Elin Hilderbrand.

Joyce’s happy place is the beach. The light of her life are her 10 great-nieces and great-nephews. She is represented by John Rudloph at Dystal Goderich and Bourret.


Simona CeccarelliI grew up in Italy, with a passion for both art and science, a large library – which has been expanding out of control ever since – and the urge to open all doors and follow every path. Her first journey was to study science and work as a medical research scientist for over 10 years.

Art eventually lured her back to follow “the road not taken.” She studied illustration and visual development at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. After a brief detour into scientific communication, corporate marketing and even art direction, she found her happy place in children’s illustration. Her main path now is from the coffee machine to her studio, where she has all the adventure, excitement, laughter and emotion she could ever dream – and more.

When Simona is not drawing she is laughing with her kids, plant flowers, ride horses and read books (not all at the same time).

She loves colors, characters, stories, and making children smile. She gets that chance through her books and more with Sterling Children’s Books, Amicus Publishing, Scholastic Education, Thienemann-Esslinger, Dressler, Carlsen Verlag, Harper-Collins, PI Kids, Rizzoli/Mondadori, Cricket Media, Parallel Games, Haba and many others.

Simona currently lives in Switzerland with one husband two kids, three nationalities, four languages…and a cat. Simona is represented by Andrea Cascardi. Don’t miss learning more about Simona and seeing more of her wonderful art. Here is a link to: Simona on Illustrator Saturday.

Thank you joyce for sharing your book and Journey with us. Kids will love the idea of birthday party on the moon. I love how the text discusses why the sky is black rather than blue and noting that earthshine is 40 times brighter than moonglow—having expeditions to check out craters and a scavenger hunt to track down artifacts left by the Apollo astronauts (two golf balls, 12 pairs of space boots, a rumored ‘rude drawing’), and chowing down on ‘a Space Station favorite,’ chocolate-pudding cake squeezed from a foil pouch. It is so much fun and Simona’s illustrations are out-of-this- world. Can’t wait until next week to show of the sequel to this book, where you and Simona pair up again.

Talk tomorrow,


See bottom: Personal Question – Hoping some animal lover will know what to do.


Jolene Gutierrez won THE LADY OF THE LIBRARY by Angie Karcher

Manju Beth Howard won SUMMER OF THE TREE ARMY by Gloria Wheland

Judy Bryan won HEADSTRONG HALLIE by Aimee Bissonette

Judy Sobanski won DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT! by Robin Newman

Sara Kruger won CHASE THE MOON, TINY TURTLE by Kelly Jordan

Nancy Reilly won Little Dandelion Seeds the World by Julia Richardson

Heather Stigall won LET’S POP, POP, POPCORN by Cynthia Schmerth



Looks like another great book from Jerry Spinelli

Note: New website address –



Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers


SCBWI MEMBERS: Remember to Vote for the CRYSTAL KITE AWARD BOOK. Deadline April 14th

SCBWI only lets you see the books in your region. I am in the Atlantic Region. Below are the eight books that were featured on Writing and Illustrating from my region. If you live in another region and were featured, please let me know I will be glad to add you and give you a shout out.


May Saves the Day by Author: Laura Gehl

Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Mathematician Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: Yevgenia Nayberg

Sincerely, Emerson: A Girl, Her Letter, and the Helpers All Around Us by Emerson Weber Illustrator: Jaclyn Sinquett

The Magic In Changing Your Stars Author: Leah Henderson

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah Author: Erica S. Perl Illustrator: Shahar Kober

WAY PAST MAD Author: Hallee Adelman

Way Past Worried Author: Hallee Adelman


California/Hawaii Region:





PERSONAL QUESTION: I know there are a lot of animal lovers that follow me, so I thought one of you may have an answer that could help me. There are a bunch of bunnies in my backyard. They are building their nests for their babies. The yard is fenced in, but a feral cat gets in and is biting off their heads in the middle of the night. We hear the screams, but it’s too late by the time we get outside. Does anyone know what we can do to save the bunnies lives?

Talk tomorrow,


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