Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 4, 2021

Book Winners – Reminder – Picture Book Whisperer – Find Your Story


by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Sheri Delgado Preston won THE NIGHT BEFORE THE DENTIST
by Natasha Wing

Winners please send me your addresses.


Debra Collins sent this in for


Hi Debra, what a really fun image! It’s also handy to know that this picture was taken in Florida. Here’s my suggestion of just one way of many that you could turn this picture into a picture book. But first here’s the disclaimer that we use in all of our Children’s Book Academy weekly critiquing sessions, “As many people as see your work, that’s how many opinions you’ll get. So, take what you like and leave the rest.”

First impressions – could be an odd animal friendship book with contrasting characters, where Goose flies off every Spring leaving Squirrel feeling abandoned, until come Fall and Goose returns with tales to tell.

Alternately, the idea that I liked best was “Who’s the Cutest: Squirrel or Goose?” The story takes place at Florida’s Cutest Animal Contest. Alligator has brushed and flossed his teeth to look as bright and shiny and cute as possible. Unfortunately, the judges get scared and run away. They come back just in time for Flamingo who has fluffed her feathers to be as fluffy pink and pretty as she can be. 

You’d list a whole bunch of different animals that live in Florida and how they prepare to win the contest, and each one misses out for some reason or another until finally, it’s just goose and squirrel. Not everyone is happy, because they would rather the spotlight go to more famous Floridian animals, but nevertheless there it is. Now it’s up to Goose and Squirrel to be as adorable as possible. Ultimately, Squirrel wins but then everyone says, squirrels are just rats in raincoats. To which squirrel responds, “I don’t care, I won this fair and square, but it doesn’t matter because all the animals are cute as cute can be, even alligators, especially to their Mamas.”

Debra, I hope you enjoy these and would love to see how you might take these or other quirky ideas to transform your picture into your own magic picture book. 

Dr. Mira Reisberg is an Editor and Art Director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork, and the Founding Director of the Children’s Book Academy. So far, her students have published or contracted over 670 children’s books!

She is excited to be hosting the 2021 Picture Book Palooza featuring 26 presenters, prizes and giveaways, worksheets and handouts, and some fantastic submission opportunities all for only $59 right here:   

In a former life, not too long ago, Mira was a literary agent and a children’s literature professor. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit. Find her at the Children’s Book Academy at or on Twitter @ChildrensBookAc

If you’d like Mira, agent Charlotte Wenger, or a fabulous mystery editor to help you find your picture book magic, consider joining her in the size-limited and time flexible Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books e-course. We’d love you to help CBA get to 1000 books published or contracted by students. Please check us out here: 

Thank you Mira for sharing your time and expertise with us. Much appreciated!


I attended the Spinelli/Stead Webinar last night. If you missed it, don’t miss tonight’s free virtual webinar with:

Newbery Medal-winning authors Jerry Spinelli and Christopher Paul Curtis discussing Spinilli’s new middle-grade novel, Dead Wednesday, and writing for young readers – August 4th.

or Thursday night’s Spinelli/Gidwitz Free Webinar on Thursday evening.

Newbery Medal winners Jerry Spinelli and Adam Gidwitz spend time talking about Dead Wednesday and books – August 5th.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congrats, winners!

    Great ideas, Mira!


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