Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 17, 2018

Book Giveaway: Snow Day by Cheryl Nobens

Congratulations to Cheryl Nobens on her new book Snow Day. Cheryl was featured on Illustrator Saturday.  I noticed her book and she agreed to do a book giveaway. All you have to do to get in the running is to 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 the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Here’s a link to the book. Also available on Amazon. Check back to discover the winner.


Full of winter fun, Snow Day! is a picture book to delight young children and the adults reading it, as well as being a story carried along from poem to poem like a chapter book that will engage and entertain primary and middle school readers.

Plus, it’s a wonderful poetry forms learning tool! An index and guide to each poem form’s meter, rhyme, and theme follows the story. Some forms are simple enough that kids will be able to try writing them, right away. More complex forms introduce the concept of writing poetry as a great brain game!

Cheery, evocative, poignant, and hilarious by page-turns, CA Nobens’ illustrations perfectly capture the magic of a snow day.


I wrote the first poem that would become a part of Snow Day!, sitting on my back steps, watching fat, fluffy flakes fall into my yard.

I didn’t write down the quatrain, “Snowflakes” until a couple of days later, when I was out on a walk, and the haiku “Snow Day!” came to me with my footsteps. A neighbor let her dog outside as I, delirious with joy at the snowfall, was walking by. He bounded to the edge of his tether and grinned at me. We grinned at each other!

Then, I started to think about how much I love poetry, and the fact that most of the time, kids are only taught the simplest poem forms, like Free Verse or Blank Verse. In my daughter’s classes, it seemed like the kids’ poems, year after year, amounted to a list of something. Like things that are purple. Or things that are green.

I started collecting information about different poem forms, and picking out the ones that I thought were different and fun, or classics that I thought ought not to be forgotten.. Little by little, I assigned aspects of a winter’s day to each. For example, I thought, what’s really a bummer about a snow day off of school? Realizing that it’s almost over! So I wrote a poem in the Dirge form (which mourns the passing of a person, time or place) about the arrival of the snow plow.

In some cases, the theme of a poem form suggested a poem for Snow Day! Most of the time, I went looking for a structure that was right for the next episode of Jo’s day. I wound up with a huge folder full of print-outs from dozens of poetry websites, scraps of thought on every sort of paper product and the idea for my book!

My goal was to create a storybook that could be read to young children (and enjoyed by the adults reading it to them), as well as being a good Easy Reader for older kids.

I wanted it to be funny, because who doesn’t love funny? And I also did my best to capture some moments and feelings about a snowstorm’s sheer beauty, which I remember from when I was little myself, and from snow days with my daughter.

Also, there’s an Ice Dragon named Zephyryll, a dog called Dust Mop who dreams he’s ThunderSnow, lead sled dog of TV and movie fame, and Jo’s two best friends, Violet and Suzi. Oops! We can’t forget that Mom and Dad and baby brother, Sam, are part of the action.

I chose 24 different, classic forms of poetry. There’s an index and guide to each poem form, with meter and rhyme and themes spelled out, following the story. Some are simple enough that kids will be able to try writing them, right away. More complex forms will introduce the idea of writing poetry as a brain game. And stick with kids.They can grow up knowing that poetry speaks to everybody, and doesn’t always have to sound like some grown-up in a frilly blouse and silly pants wrote it. You don’t even need a quill pen!

Concept Sketching in my Head

Five years ago or so, for the first time in my (then 35-year) career, my business went completely dead. I had the wrong agent, and some serious family health issues distracted and diverted me from self-promotion. All of a sudden, there were no checks coming in. I had to take on some temp work or fail to pay the bills, which I never would do.

The first job I found was scoring fourth grade state English exams, where I wished every day that I could find those little kids and tell them that their wild and individual expressions were wonderful, and not “wrong” because they weren’t printed on the sheaf of acceptable answers that I (and the other agonizingly bored scorers) were grading from. I worked on poems for Snow Day! on my fifteen minute breaks and half a lunch hour with one hand, stuffing my sandwich into my mouth with the other.

The second job was retouching class photos for that company that took all of your pictures, and those of your kids. This was a little better, creatively. But I was working ten hour night shifts, driving and ironing and packing a lunch for two more hours a day. Also, trying to get my business back on the rails, before I left my home office to commute, at 3pm.

This left precious little time for me to work on the next stage of my book, which was the illustration. But I was determined not to let Snow Day! drift to the back of my life and melt away to nothing. I started skipping my lunch and, instead, briskly walking around and around the grounds of the hotel across the street. Lunch was at 9:30 pm, and it was fall and then late fall and I walked in the dark and the rain and then the sleet. But in my head, I was sketching. I was deciding which image of Jo’s day came first and next and last. I designed her neighborhood, her family’s house and yard, and the interior of their kitchen and living room and Jo’s room. In the kitchen, especially, I “stood” in one corner or the other, to imagine what that looked like and where to place the characters. I created Jo’s family and friends, changed their faces and their expressions and clothing, imagined an ice dragon and a daydreaming dog. I rearranged things and characters and lit them and shaded them, and then tried hard to commit the image (which tried to slip away, night after night) to memory.

Then, I gave myself 45 minutes every day (I set the alarm on my phone), right before I left for work. In each of these segments of time, I tried to pour one double-page spread out of my brain and onto the paper, as whole as possible. I had no time to double-think or doubt, and anyway, I’d done all that on the path around the hotel.

Here’s one of my first sketches.



Let me take this opportunity to point out that, while it’s become the vernacular, identifying a particular example of type as a font is not correct! This is one of my pet peeves (which my daughter tells me I need to let go of). To say, “a bold font” or “an italic font” makes me want to scream even louder.

A font is the collection of all the sizes and styles of one typeface, such as Helvetica. Think: all the sizes of Helvetica Regular, all the sizes of Helvetica Bold, all the sizes of Helvetica Italic, etc. An individual example, such as Ariel and not Hevetica, is a typeface.

This is something that I learned in art school, back in days of yore.

That being said, there are other things I learned in art school that I choose to ignore. I turn my back on them and hum! Such as this one: there should never be more than three different typefaces in any particular design. Every single designer friend that I have showed the Snow Day! dummy to has covered his or her eyes and winced, before cautiously reminding me of this apparently never challenged rule.

There are 45 different typefaces in Snow Day! Ha! And why? Because that’s the way I want it! I spent hours and hours on the internet, searching for just the right typeface to convey the mood of each poem. I found and used some conventional typefaces, and was also delighted to find that there are thousands of “indie” typefaces out there, created by contemporary designers. It would have been infinitesimally easier to use the same typeface for each poem. And it would certainly have been cheaper. I still owe about $600 for licenses that I will have to pay for, before the book goes to print.

It also made for a little bit of trouble. One typeface revealed glitches, when I tried to email a pdf to the printer and it read differently on her end. But, thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, which was completely unavailable, back in the day that I attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, I was able to track down the designer in Australia. And interact with him. And he revised the typeface so that it behaved itself, and gave it to me for free – warming my heart as only another artist can manage.

If you’re going to break a rule of graphic design, break it real good. That’s what I say.


CA (Cheryl Ann) Nobens was born in northern Minnesota. After graduating from Hibbing High School, she went on to earn a BA in Illustration and Graphic Design from The Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

She published her first children’s book in 1979 (The Happy Baker/Carolrhoda Books/written and illustrated by CA Nobens), and has been working professionally in the field of children’s literature and educational publishing ever since. She has illustrated (or written and illustrated) over 80 titles, so far, bringing humor and heart to both story and pictures. This April, she self-published for the first time: “Snow Day! A Story Told in 24 Poem Forms”.

She works by sketching conventionally in pencil, scanning and then digitally coloring in Photoshop. She uses InDesign to lay out and typeset book interiors, covers and dust jackets.

CA works as a writer, illustrator and book designer from a studio in her century-old house in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where she lives with her family and two cats. This makes her very happy.

Thank you Cheryl for sharing your journey with us and offering one lucky winner a copy of your new book, SNOW DAY. 

To see more of Cheryl’s work, you can visit her at these websites:

Illustrator Saturday

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow Cheryl what journey of creativity and resilience!! Congratulations on creating such a fruitful career and on releasing Snow Day! Growing up in Miami, FL snow was always fascinating to me but I didn’t touch snow until I was 8 here in Chile where I now live. All the best to you!


    • Thank you!


  2. Another great giveaway! I’ll share on FB and twitter!


  3. Congratulations on Snow Day, Cheryl! I look forward to reading. Hope your family health issues have resolved. 🙂 You certainly worked through a lot of challenges.


    • Thank you! Yes, family health issues have gotten much better. Thanks for asking. 🙂


  4. I love finding fun books of poetry for kids. II also like exposing them to different rhymes and rhythms. And just between you and me, I love fonts and typefaces and have been know to break the “rule of three” on occasion also.


    • Ha! Glad to hear I’m not the only one to break that rule. 🙂


  5. Beautiful illustrations and delightful poems. Thank you for such a fun book. Snow days are priceless… I was a teacher and mother in upstate NY! I’ll be reading this one to the grandkids.


    • Oh, thank you! I hope your grandkids love it!


  6. What a fun book! I can’t wait to read it. =)


    • Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting and inspirational. I wish this book had been around when I was a child. Wishing you success with Snow Day, Cheryl.


    • Thank you!


  8. This book looks simply adorable. The art is wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading all those poems. Thanks for the post!


    • Thank you so much!


  9. congrats, Cheryl!!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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