Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 22, 2020

Book Giveaway: CLEO’S BIG IDEAS: Onward and Upward! by Janice Milusich

Janice Milusich has written a new picture book, CLEO’S BIG IDEAS: Onward and Upward!, illustrated by Jennifer Ball and publish by Eifrig Publishing. Janice has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner.

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 Janice and Jennifer.

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!


Cleo is at it again~inventing things.

It’s time to go back to school, and Cleo is not looking forward to it. She was hoping that Winston, her tortoise, could go with her, but unless she can get his E.E.W. (Eco-Enviro-Warmer) working again, that’s not going to happen.

And what’s worse, Ms. Mason, the same person who’s made fun of Cleo’s big ideas ever since she moved into the town of Humble, is going to be her teacher. This school year’s going to be the pits, unless Cleo can find a way to recycle, reuse or renew it.

One thing’s for sure: Cleo’s big ideas are sure to lead her onward and upward

Between chapters, Cleo includes several Do-It-Yourself activities that you can try out, too!


Book Journey-

Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upwards! is the second book involving the character Cleopatra W. Darby. The idea for this book came close on the heels of finishing and publishing Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another. Once Eifrig Publishing accepted my original proposal and manuscript they asked if I had an illustrator in mind. I immediately thought of Jennifer Ball as we knew each other through a local critique group, LICWI (Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators), and we had worked together on another project that has yet to be published. When I had the idea for Cleo as a character I drew, as I often do, a doodle of her and looking at it I knew Jen would be perfect to illustrate Cleo. Thankfully, Jen accepted the job. Since we had worked on the first book together, working on the second book felt like we were on familiar ground.

Cleo is such a great character. She’s so much fun to write. Her inventiveness, quirkiness and pro-active personality keeps the momentum of the story going. Cleo is the queen of being “green”, and along with her friends Albert, Sara, and Cleo’s pet tortoise Winston, recycling, renewing and reusing get full billing on Cleo’s stage. Jen’s illustrations provide a visual dimension that adds to the characters’ personalities and inner workings.

In Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upwards! Cleo is not looking forward to the start of school. She had been counting on bringing Winston to school with her, but she needs to fix his E.E.W. (Eco-Enviro-Warmer) in order for that to happen, otherwise he might go into hibernation because of the school’s air conditioning. So when Z.Z., owner of Z.Z’s Emporium, tells her his store is out of the heating element that she needs to fix Winston’s E.E.W., Cleo is  understandably frustrated. On top of that she’s found out that Ms. Mason, who busted the E.E.W in the first book, is going to be her teacher. Cleo is sure it’s going to be the worst year ever.

Things don’t usually work out as bad as we anticipate them, and the same goes for Cleo. Although she doesn’t have Ms. Swell again, like Albert does, at least she’s in class with Sara and this year they’re going to be linking to NASA TV and having a scientist visit the school to talk about recycling and space junk. What’s even better, a school mascot contest is announced and Cleo figures that Winston is a shoe-in, but there’s still the matter of the heating element and to Cleo’s surprise, Ms. Mason provides her a possible solution.

Cleo’s beginning to think things aren’t going to be so bad this school term when Albert, an expert on everything space related including aliens, announces that space junk has been spotted and is on a steady path toward Humble Elementary! All thoughts of the mascot contest are put on hold while a team of scientists from NASA descend upon the school to help deflect the hurtling space junk.

Not content with watching all the action, Cleo, Sara, and Albert create, Winston II, a robotic recycler, who with the help of Albert’s rocket, can be launched into outer space to save Humble Elementary from sure disaster. With the help of Sara’s go-cart and a lift from Z.Z., Cleo and Albert get their plan B to school just in time as NASA’s scientists are having deflector difficulties.

It’s Winston II to the rescue! Not only does he save the school, he’s unanimously voted in as school mascot. “Zowie!” says Cleo. She can’t believe the way it’s turned out and she can’t wait to tell Winston because in a way he’s won too.

In each of the Cleo books there are activities to try. I have tried each of them myself and have used one in particular, the owl specs, with my students.


Janice Milusich is a mother of three grown children, and a teacher for the visually impaired and blind. She’s a graduate of St. John’s University and of Hunter College where she received her M. A. in the Education of the Visually Impaired and Blind. She holds a Certificate of Advance Studies from LIU in Educational Technology and most recently graduated from Stony Brook University’s Children’s Literature Fellowship. She is represented by Erica Christensen of Metamorphosis Literary.

Her published works include a picture book, Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights, with Dutton and two early chapter books, Cleo’s Big Ideas:One Thing Leads to Another and Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upwards! with Eifrig Publishing. She has an upcoming picture book, contracted by Anne Schwartz at Random House, I Hear the Snow, I Feel the Sea, illustrated by Kate Pugsley due to be released in Fall of 2023. You can contact Janice at and check out her blog at


Jennifer Ball – Cordero is a children’s book illustrator/designer living and working in the New York City area.  Her digital illustration style melds painting, collage, and hand drawn line with her signature quirky, fun-loving personality. Along with illustration, Jen has spent more than 15 years as an award-winning print and packaging designer for some of the top companies on Long Island.

When Jen’s not creatively noodling in her studio, she’s outside (in any weather) playing with her daughters Emma-Jane, and Charlotteane, her dog Luke and her husband Anthony —or rockin’ it at a concert for her plethora of favorite bands. All while contemplating new book and character ideas.

Jen holds a BFA in Visual Communication Design from Hartford Art School.

She is an active member of Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators (LICWI), SCBWI – Long Island Chapter, and CBIG (children’s book illustrators group).

Jen’s books include: “Hello Hands!”, “Hello Mouth!”, “Hello Feet” (Positive Foundations Publishing), “Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another” (Eifrig Publishing) and “Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upwards” (Eifrig Publishing).

Janice thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love the idea of Cleo, finding ways to over come obstacles by recycling, reusing and renewing things she can find to invent new ways to make things happen. I am sure kids will love the book and Jennifer’s illustrations. She really brought to life the characters and their situations. Good luck with the book. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations, dear Janice! Wishing you and Cleo all the best of success!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy, thank you for the opportunity to be seen via your blog. All my best, Janice


  3. Thanks Lynne!


  4. This book sounds like an adventure! And a great read! Thanks for sharing and congratulations!

    Sharing on Twitter and I follow by email. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats, Janice and Jennifer! (I’m signed up for emails and I RTed the giveaway.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m looking forward to reading about Cleo. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a great way to introduce recycle, reuse and renew to children. Love the illustrations as well. I am looking forward to reading this to my grandkids!

    Liked by 2 people

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