Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 29, 2018

Book Giveaway: Kindergarrrten Bus by Mike Ornstein

Author Mike Oenstein has new book titled, KINDERGARRRTEN BUS. Kevin M Barry illustrated the book for Sleeping Bear Press. It is available in bookstores now. Mike has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. 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 do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Mike!


Yo ho ho! It’s the first day of kindergarten. Just imagine all the fun things to learn and experience! And who better than a pirate captain to drive the bus to school? He’s ready to share all the rules one needs to know to ride the bus and to get along with mates at school. But with the anticipation of the first day of school there also comes a bit of anxiety. And it turns out that being a big, blustery pirate captain is no guarantee against feeling insecure and a little frightened in strange and uncomfortable situations. Who can help a rough and tough pirate captain get over his fears and back to driving the school bus? Using humor and pirate-speak, Kindergarrrten Bus addresses some of the concerns and anxiety that many children feel on their first day of school or at the start of any new undertaking.


The idea for Kindergarrrten Bus came to me one afternoon about six years ago when I was waiting for my daughter to get dropped off by the school bus. I was with my son who was about four years old at the time. We were goofing around as usual and talking about the fact that he would be taking the school bus to kindergarten soon. I asked him what he would do if the bus door opened up and the driver was a pirate. I said, “Ahoy, boy! What, it be ye first day of kindergarrrten?” in my best pirate voice. He smiled and rolled his eyes like I was a big doofus. I wrote the idea down on a piece of paper along with those exact words I had said.  They would later become the first words of the book.

That’s how I write. I guess you can call me a disorganized writer. I have ideas and lines to different potential manuscripts written on pieces of paper in my desk dating back decades. When I jot them down they seem like great ideas at the time. Some I’m motivated to start working on immediately. Others I let marinate for a while.  Hopefully I’ll get to all of the ones worth getting to. Thoughts and ideas can come at any time and in any place.  The idea for my other picture book, The Daddy Longlegs Blues, crept up on me (and up the wall) when I was in an outhouse.

I left Kindergarrrten Bus marinating in my desk for a few years. A lot happened during that time. My son went to kindergarten. His bus driver was not a pirate. Neither was his bus driver in first, second, third or fourth grade. I do recall one of them having a beard though. Life was busy. I wrote intermittently. I had met an agent at a seminar who showed interest in a manuscript that I submitted for critique. We stayed in touch and kept revising and submitting and revising this manuscript. We are still actually working on it! I decided that I needed to put that manuscript down for a while and work on something new. I went through my desk for inspiration and saw the words “Ahoy, boy!” I got excited. I remembered that before my son started kindergarten, my wife and I were concerned about how he would adjust because he was shy at the time. I thought about all the experience I had working with kids who suffered with tremendous anxiety, as well as the fact that I was an anxious kid growing up myself. I decided that I wanted this to be a theme. But it had to be fun and entertaining first. I fell in love with picture books because my mother and sister would read them to me in their own fun portrayal of the characters’ voice. So, I imagined being the pirate when I was working on the book.  As I wrote the words I would hear his voice in my head. Sometimes I would say them out loud. I wanted this to be as fun for the reader as it was for the child listening.

I became very focused. I wrote and edited at the same time. I printed out updated copies and took them wherever I went. I thought about it and wrote down lines and ideas whenever I could. After about three months I decided to send it to the agent. She got back to me quickly and said she really liked it. She only requested a few minor changes for grammar. I had learned a lot from her about editing and writing a story through all the work we’d been doing on the other manuscript. She is incredible. Her name is Anna Olswanger.

Anna sent the book to Sleeping Bear Press and it was accepted. They did not ask me to make any changes to the manuscript. They only requested that I write an authors’ note about anxiety which I happily did. They kept me in the loop every step of the way. When I was told that Kevin M. Barry was contracted to illustrate, I went to his website and knew he was the right illustrator. When I saw his sketches for the book I was even more excited. Sleeping Bear Press’s vision, Kevin’s vision and my vision for the book were in sync. In less than two years from the day I took that crumbled up piece of paper out of my desk, a copy of Kindergarrrrten Bus was in my hands. I could not be happier with how it came out!


Mike Ornstein wishes he were still in kindergarten, but he had to grow up . . . sort of. He now lives in Westchester, New York, with his family. When he’s not working with children and adults in the mental health field, he enjoys coaching baseball and softball and laughing and being happy! He is also the author of The Daddy Longlegs Blues.

Thank you Mike for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. I love the the delightful illustrations and story. So much fun.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. this looks so cute, and i hope that i win, as my kinders would love it!


  2. This looks like so much fun! Loved reading the journey—Looking forward to reading it.


  3. What a fun idea for a picture book! I’m sure my niece would love this.


  4. This sounds like a winner for sure. Love pirate stories…in all settings.


  5. How fun is this book!? What kid wouldn’t enjoy a pirate captain driving their bus to school? Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest:
    Thanks again, have a great week!


  6. Very, very cute! Love the pirate ship bus. Wonderful characters! Good job, matey!


  7. This really looks like a delightful read! The pirate was well crafted


  8. Can’t wait to read this! I start with a pirate theme every year in my kindergarten. Love the back story!


  9. Awww. This sounds adorable. Thanks for the post. I will pass on the giveaway. Too many books here.


  10. Arrgghhhh! What a fun piratey book! Love it! Looks like a winner! Congratulations!


  11. Tweeted the giveaway @FrugalFamTree


  12. Thank you for sharing the process! This story looks to be a powerful one for those anxious kiddos on their first day of school. Also I tweeted a link at @annkelleywriter.


  13. Great idea and I can’t wait to read it!


  14. Thank you for all of the kind responses and reposts! And thank you, Kathy for sharing my story! -Mike


  15. Pirates and school buses! Who would’ve thunk it? can’t wait to read. Put me for a chance to win. Thanks.


  16. This book looks amazing!


  17. This looks like such a fun book!


  18. What a GREAT premise, and LOVE those illustrations! 😀


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