Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 10, 2020

Book Giveaway: LULU & ROCKY IN INDIANAPOLIS by Barbara Joosse

Barbara Joosse has written a new picture book, LULU & ROCKY IN INDIANAPOLIS, illustrated by Renee Graef. It’s published by Sleeping Bear Press and hit the bookstores on August 15. Sleeping Bear Press 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 Barbara and Renee.

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!


Lulu and her cousin Rocky are visiting Indianapolis! There are so many fun things to see and do, like visiting the Dinosphere at the Children’s Museum, exploring the curiosities of Central Canal, and of course, going to see the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Written by Barbara Joosse and illustrated by Renée Graef, this fourth book in the Our City Adventures series explores the city of Indianapolis, visiting well-known sights like the Eiteljorg Museum and Monument Circle, as well as unexpected gems.


“Lulu & Rocky in INDIANAPOLIS” is the fourth book in a series of Lulu & Rocky Adventures, each taking the reader to an interesting place.  I have written over 50 books for children.

Renee Graef, the illustrator of “Lulu & Rocky in INDIANAPOLIS,” is my best friend.  We wanted to do a series of kids’ travel books together so we could . . .  travel together!  Renee and I share eyes and ears when we discover a city.  We let the city whisper and shout to us, and our enthusiasm builds because we are together.

A lot of kids’ travel books are formula.  But we wanted “Lulu & Rocky in INDIANAPOLIS” to be unique, a personal experience, a warm and inviting book that truly tells the story of Indy!  There’s no other way to do this than to visit Indy and let it share its story (and endless Indiana sky) with us!

I spent two months researching Indianapolis before we travelled.  I explored blogs and websites, talked with people who live in Indy and people who visited, museum curators and shop owners.  I decided on a balanced list of things to do and places to go, but also left room for Indy to suggest something surprising once we arrived.  Our list included an iconic photo op (the _NDY sculpture) physical activities (riding a surrey bike at White River State Park, bowling at Action Duckpin Bowl), signature food (iced cookies from the Illinois Street Food Emporium), iconic venues (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) museums (Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art) and surprises (the steam clock along the Central Canal and a hammock at White River State Park).

At each venue, we looked for just the right activity that especially appealed to kids.  The Indianapolis Children’s Museum was an easy-call—DINOSPHERE!  Newfields was more difficult.  The LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana is iconic, but it was the sculpture, Funky Bones, set in a kid-rompable field, that we felt was irresistible to kids.  It wasn’t difficult to know just what a kid would do with the sculpture—hop on the bones and sing the song, “Oh the head bone’s connected to the spine bone . . .”

The story of Indy, we decided, is it’s wide-open arms.  The place that demonstrated that best was Monument Circle—because of its round shape (like open arms), location (the very center of the city) and history (welcoming soldiers after the Civil War).  So we made Monument Circle the closing venue in the book, the place where readers experience the aha moment of Indy’s story.

Because our characters are animals, but really children, it was important to find a boutique hotel in Indianapolis that would become their home away from home.  Ideally, the hotel would be downtown, historic, include a concierge (the “adult” who stood in for their Aunt Fancy), with dining in the hotel itself that included food kids would like.  We spent a lot of time looking for just the right place, and found it at Le Meridien Hotel.  It didn’t hurt that the concierge looked more than a little like a friendly, cuddly bear.

I treated Indianapolis just as I would any character—researching, letting Indy tell me its own story, and then letting it reveal its story to readers through detail.  It was hard to say goodbye:

We wave goodbye to Mr. Johnny-Bear,

the pacers and racers,

drums and dinosaurs,

coaches and clocks,

and endless Indiana sky.


We wave goodby to Indianapolis,

and Indianapolis waves back.


Barbara M. Joosse is an American children’s writer. She has been writing for children for over thirty years. She has published fifty-four books in 29 different languages for children, both picture books and chapter books. Her book titled, Mama, Do You Love Me? has sold over 3 million copies. Through her writing, she aspires to find the things that are the same, and the things that are different, between us all.

She has toured worldwide to promote her books, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages and attended college in Wisconsin, first at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and received her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She attended University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1977-80, taking creative writing classes. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Council for Wisconsin Writers.


Renée Graef is an award-winning illustrator who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in art. She has illustrated over 80 books for children, including the Kirsten series in the American Girl collection and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Renée worked as a creative director for the Little House program at Harper Collins for five years and enjoyed traveling to the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites.

Renée has also illustrated classics such as The Nutcracker and My Favorite Things, as well as books about American icons: Mount Rushmore and Paul Bunyan. She has worked on books/cookbooks for Lidia Bastianich (of PBS’s Lidia’s Italy). Renée’s most recent alphabet books are on timekeeping and on lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Renée worked with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles on Thèrése Makes a Tapestry, a historical fiction highlighting the weaving of tapestries during the 1670’s in Paris.

Ms. Graef’s accomplishments have been honored by the Society of Illustrators-Los Angeles and the State of Wisconsin’s House of Representatives, among other groups and her work has been exhibited in numerous solo shows. Renée splits her time between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California.

Thank you Barbara for sharing your book and journey with us. I have a copy of your book and I learn so much about Indianapolis. I makes me want to race out and visit. Renee’s gorgeous art brings LuLu and Rocky’s trip to the city to life. Every page has so many things to look at and enjoy. This one’s a keeper. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I was excited to read this post as soon as I saw Barbara’s name! We go way back, though she doesn’t know me. 🙂 I’ve used her books in my classrooms for many years. This new book looks amazing – fun, beautiful, and engaging. Congratulations to both of you!

    I will share on Twitter and I follow by email. 🙂


  2. My goodness what a fun book! Can wait to race away and get a copy! Best of luck to you both!


  3. Who knew that Indianapolis was more than just a speedway and an intersection of several interstate highways? Apparently Barbara and Renee knew this, and now a bunch of kids are going to be wheedling their parents to take them there! Looks like a fun book!


  4. Sounds like a fun way to get kids interested in visiting other states and cities than their own. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared an image on Pinterest as well:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!!


  5. Congrats, Barbara and Renee! I RTed on Twitter and I’m signed up for the emails.


  6. What a fun way for kids to learn about the wonders and activities of various cities! The illustrations are charming! Congratulations Barbara and Renee!

    I tweeted and follow your daily blog.


  7. Such a great idea to have a book for kids on visiting places—and this one looks exceptional! Congrats, Barbara & Renee!


  8. My son loves reading the books in this series. They are a great way to learn little bit about each state. What a great concept


  9. I love everything about Lulu and Rocky in Indianapolis! Thank you for introducing it to us.


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