Saturday, June 26, 2010

Latino authors and illustrators honored for outstanding works in children’s literature

For Immediate Release
Tue, 06/15/2010 - 20:28

Contact: Macey Morales
Public Information Office (PIO)

Recipients of prestigious Pura Belpré Medal accept awards, sign winning books

CHICAGO – Hundreds will gather for an event that celebrates the most influential Latino authors and illustrators of children’s literature. The Pura Belpré Celebración will serve as a national backdrop for the presentation of the coveted Pura Belpré Medal, an award that recognizes Latino authors and illustrators of children’s literature. The event, open to registered conference-goers, will take place from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel/East State Ballrooms, during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual conference taking place from June 24 to June 29 in Washington, D.C.

Given annually, the Pura Belpré Medal is awarded to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is known worldwide for the high quality it represents and serves as a guideline for educators, parents and bookstores for the best of the best in Latino-themed children’s literature.

The event will honor the following 2010 Belpré Medal winners and honorees:

  • Julia Alvarez, author of “Return to Sender,” published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
  • Rafael López, illustrator of “Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” written by Pat Mora and published by Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and David Diaz, author and illustrator of “Diego: Bigger Than Life,” published by Marshall Cavendish Children.
  • Georgina Lázaro, author of “Federico Garcia Lorca,” illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro and published by Lectorum Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Scholastic Inc.
  • Yuyi Morales, illustrator of “My Abuelita,” written by Tony Johnston and published by Harcourt Children’s Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • John Parra, illustrator of “Gracias. Thanks,” written by Pat Mora and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Event highlights include a performance by Los Quetzales Mexican Dance Ensemble under the direction of Laura Ortiz. Participating authors will sign copies of their award-winning books.

Read this press release in Spanish.

The Pura Belpré Medal is named in honor of Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian from the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller and author, she enriched the lives of Latino children through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore. The award is given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and co-sponsored by the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA).

For more information regarding the Pura Belpré Medal please visitémedal.
ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their Web site at

Founded in 1971, REFORMA is committed to promoting the development of library collections that include Spanish language and Latino oriented collections; advocating for library services and programs that meet the needs of the Latino community; educating the Latino population of the availability of library resources; and the recruitment of bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff. For more information on REFORMA, visit


Friday, June 25, 2010

New children's book explores 'big changes' in a child's life

Young Ruthie’s mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.
She wouldn’t talk to Mom or Dad. She refused to leave her room.
Her parents scolded, begged and coaxed, but Ruthie paid no mind,
Her moods grew big and ugly, like some Hippo’s fat behind!

Thus begins this humorous rhyming picture book about the effect that a major change can have in a child’s life and the selfless love that can bring about healing and joy once again.

Ruthie isn’t happy—not happy at all. In fact, she feels as big and ugly as a hippo’s fat behind. That’s because she’s moved house, and that means leaving her old home and her best friend behind. It also means fitting in a new school and going through the stress of making new friends, something Ruthie isn’t willing to do.

Her parents try many things to make Ruthie feel better, but nothing seems to work. One thing is for sure: Ruthie is getting from bad to worse. She hates her dad’s jokes; she hates her mom; she refuses to do her chores. She even decides to dress like a crazy person, with a wild hairdo and socks that don’t match, anything to show her anger, sadness and frustration. Then one day, while Ruthie is sitting alone on the porch, she receives a visit from an unexpected guest and this changes her life forever, transforming her back into the caring, affectionate child she originally was. Want to know who that unexpected visitor is? You’ll have to read the story to find out!

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind will keep young readers giggling until the end. It is a funny, sweet story of change, one most children will relate to. Author Margot Finke has a gift for rhyme and it shows in the smoothness and wittiness of her verses. Oregonian artist K.C. Snider’s illustrations add their own touch of humor, complementing the tone and mood of Ruthie’s tale.

A parent-teacher guide at the end of the book will make discussing the story and exploring its theme easier. I highly recommend reading this to a child who has recently experience a ‘big change,’ such as moving house, welcoming a new sibling or step parent into a home, or going into a new school.

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind
By Margot Finke
Guardian Angel Publishing
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-059-0
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-060-6
Copyright June 2010
For ages 5-12

Author’s website:

Guardian Angel Publishing


Also available from Powell’s, Target, B&N and most online retailers.

Watch the trailer:

I'm a guest at The Writing Mama

Hi all,

Today I'm a guest at Virginia Grenier's The Writing Mama. Virginia is the editor of Stories for Children Magazine.

In the interview, I offer some tips for writer moms and also on how to write a novel over the summer with your child.

I hope you'll stop by!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Children's Author Nicole Weaver Donates Proceeds to Earhquake Victims

Nicole Weaver is a teacher, freelance writer and children's author. Her first picture book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle, is written in three languages: English, French and Spanish, and was inspired by the author's childhood experience in the beaches in Haiti. Nicole was devastated by the recent Haiti earthquake and is donating part of the proceeds of her book to help victims. In this interview, Nicole talks about her book and what she's been doing to create awareness and raise money for the Lambi Fund of Haiti.

Thanks you for this interview, Nicole. When did you start writing for children?

I started writing for children five years ago. Prior to that I primarily wrote poetry and short stories. It is my heart desire to continue writing tri-lingual children's picture books that portray all children of color in a positive light. I remember asking myself why the children in the books I read were not the same color as me. I feel this is my second calling in life. In six years, I will retire from teaching so I can write fulltime.

Tell us about your children’s book, Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. What inspired you to write it?

When I was a little girl, I lived near the beach in Haiti. Sea turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. I took daily walks along the shore to collect seashells, low and behold out of the blue I came across this huge sea turtle. At the age of ten I moved to America where I got hooked on reading picture books. After reading so many books I daydreamed of writing a picture book of my own one day. I attended several workshops for writers, it was there I learned that I should focus my writing on personal experiences. The memory of seeing the sea turtle was still very vivid , it was then I decided to write a book about what I saw on the beach so many years ago.

Your book is written in English, French and Spanish, making it quite educational linguistically. What compelled you to do this?

I was compelled to write the book in English, French and Spanish because I am fluent in all three languages. Since I am a French and Spanish teacher I am passionate about finding ways to expose young children to a foreign language. A child’s mind is wired to master a language very naturally at a young age. A tri-lingual book will help expose a child to two new languages, it is a good way to garner interest for other languages and cultures.

What is the main message children will learn from this book?

I tried to convey the importance of friendship and showing compassion for someone in need of help. It also has themes of love and a family coming together to make a sound decision and respecting nature.

I understand you’re donating part of the proceeds from this book to the Lambi Fund of Haiti as a way to help earthquake victims. Please tell us about this.

My mother lost thirteen cousins in the earthquake . Shortly after the earthquake the superintendent of the school district where I have been teaching for twenty years sought my help. I volunteered to do a press conference with the local media.

Many schools participated and hosted bake sales which raised Several thousand dollars . All the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross and the Lambi Fund of Haiti. Lambi Fund provides financial resources that promote social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people. After the initial fundraising with my school district I wanted to continue to help make a difference. I read Malaak Compton-Rock’s book “If It Takes a Village, Build One,” She inspired me and made me realize it is the little things we do that can make a huge difference in the life of someone. It is always a challenge to find ways to become globally responsible citizens , the earthquake propelled me into action. I am taking Malaak’s suggestions very seriously; I am using what I love to do to help benefit Haiti. I have a second children book, written in English, French and Spanish due to be published in 2011 by Guardian Angel Publishing. I will be donating proceeds from that book as well.

For more information about the Lambi Fund , readers can go to www. or email Karen Ashmore, executive director at

The illustrations in the book were done by fine artist Ruben Chavez. How was your experience working with an illustrator? Did you have input in the artwork? Do you think he captured the mood and tone of the book?

I had a great time working with Ruben, he did a great job capturing the mood and tone of the book. I collaborated with Ruben to make sure the little girl would be representative of not only Haiti but could possibly be from any place in the Caribbean or Spanish speaking countries in South America. I wanted to reach many cultures from around the globe.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes I do, readers can go to the following sites to learn more about me and my work:

Any last words to our readers?

I want all readers to understand that I am very serious about helping with relief efforts for my native Haiti. Every little bit helps no matter how small . It is my earnest desire to continue to write children’s books that will promote language acquisition and other cultures. Readers, I invite you to read the article written about me in my local newspaper March 20th, 2010: Thank you in advance for supporting Haiti relief efforts.

Thanks for the interview, Nicole.

Read a newspaper article about Nicole and her efforts to help Haiti on the Littleton Independent.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Margot Finke, author of "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind"

A native of Australia, Margot Finke is a freelance editor and children's author. She specializes in fun rhyming books for kids, as well as in stories for reluctant readers, especially boys. Her latest picture book is the hilarious Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind, recently released by Guardian Angel Publishing. She now lives in Oregon, where she continues creating entertaining stories for children. To find out more about her work and manuscript critique services, visit her website.

About the book:

When Ruthie moved, she left all her friends and family behind. She left her old happy self behind too. She sulked, was rude to her parents, and threw tantrums. What had happened to their darling girl? Then, something unexpected surprised Ruthie, and their happy child returned. Find out what made Ruthie her old self again. (Parent-Teacher guide included.)

Watch the trailer.

Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind is available from the author's website, Guardian Angel Publishing, Powell's, Amazon.

Thanks for being my guest today, Margot. Tell us, what got you into writing for children?

Many years ago, when we first arrived here in Oregon from Australia, my three children were young. I became a grade school Teacher’s Aid.

The kids thought I talked funny, and I told them it was because I was an Aussie from Down-under. They asked about OZ, and so I started telling them about the fantastic variety of unique Aussie critters. I would pin a map of Australian animals on the classroom wall, and make up stories about various ones. I also did this for my children each night, right off the top of my head.

After a while, I found I had to write them down, because the kids asked for story repeats, and I had no idea what I’d said the first time around. My writing grew from that small beginning, into my “ Wild and Wonderful” rhyming series, about animals from the US and Australia, and two other books: “Rattlesnake Jam” ( for boys), and my latest, “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind,” for girls. Nine picture books in all + another PB coming, and a mid-grade adventure in the Aussie outback ( for boys) due late next month.

Tell us about your latest children’s picture book, Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind. What inspired you to write it and how did you come up with that title?

Like my other picture books, “Ruthie” is in rhyme. Now I have a confession to make – rhyme is easy for me. I think I double dipped when they handed out the rhyming gene! Kids today deal with a lot of change – divorce, a move, the death of a loved one etc.

So the idea for “Ruthie,” and that scene stealing pink hippo, came to me late one night in bed – like many of my nuttiest story ideas! These two lines, from the first verse, set the story in my mind:

Her parents scolded, begged and coaxed, but Ruthie paid no mind,
Her moods grew big and ugly - like some Hippo's fat behind."

I wanted a fast paced rhyme that was fun to read and visualize, yet also kid and parent friendly. As a teacher’s aid, I discovered that words in rhyme stick with children longer than those in plain text, especially if there is humor involved. Hey! Don’t all authors want their words to be remembered?

Ruthie is an entertaining, fun story told in rhyme yet it offers an important, powerful message. What will children learn from this book?

I am so happy you think so. Yes, I do admit to being a bit sneaky when I wrote “Ruthie.” The disruption of “big change” often plays a huge roll in family life. Children and parents cope far better if they talk together about any coming changes: or encourage children to share their feelings after a sudden big change.

Adding the Parent-Teacher guide opens a window for parents and teachers to ask children how they feel about Ruthie, her parents, and her bratty behavior. If children identify with Ruthie, and share their feelings, the frustration and anger that big change often brings, will shrink to a more manageable size.

I understand the book comes with a Parent-Teacher guide. Is this guide included in the book or available from your website?

Yes, the Parent-Teacher guide is included in the back of the book.
There is an excellent review for “Ruthie” on Jill Osborne’s “Writing and Play Therapy” Page:

Jill is a licensed child therapist.

The artwork in the book was done by award-winning illustrator and fine artist K.C. Snider. How was your experience working with an illustrator?

K.C. was a joy to work with. We chatted back and forth about every illustration, and she was very open to the suggestions I offered. And this is not always the case. Some illustrators like to live in their ivory tower: incommunicado! K.C’s talent is awesome – as is the cool pink hippo that steals the whole book. Her cover art says it all!!

You also offer manuscript critiques to writers. How can readers learn more about your editorial services?

Thanks to the internet, my website, and two blogs, I receive Manuscript Critique requests from clients in many different countries. Unfortunately, some are not ready for a professional critique. These I advise, as gently as possible, to keep writing and rewriting, read many more books, and learn basic grammar and writing skills. Join a private critique group if at all possible.

However, many clients simply need some guidance, or clues about tightening and polishing their chapters or pages. Some critiques are done quickly, while other manuscripts take time and patience from both myself and my client. Yet it is the end result that counts. Nothing gives me more of a thrill than to hear that a client’s book has been published. Manuscript Critique Service – details: Critique.htm

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Find Books, Writing Help + Manuscript Critique Service, on my WEBSITE DIRECTORY.


Margot’s Book for Kids + Writing News:

Any last words to our readers?

Boys are more likely to be reluctant readers. They WILL read, if you find them fun stories with macho action and great humor. I discovered this years ago, when my son did not want to read. My HOOK KIDS on READING offers boy friendly titles.

AND: “Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble,” my coming Aussie adventure, offers action, danger, boy style humor + plus a crazed emu, and all the yabbies, snake, and witchetty grubs a boy could eat.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Mayra.

Thanks, Margot!

Article first published as Interview with Margot Finke, author of Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind on Blogcritics.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Writers - What's the Most Important Part of Your Website Or Blog?" by Suzanne Lieurance

Do YOU know the answer to that question? If you do much marketing online, I'm sure you do.

But, if you're an author who simply has a website in order to let readers know about your books, you may not know the answer to that question.

The answer is - your opt-in box.

If you don't have an opt-in box on your site, I know what you're wondering.

What IS an opt-in box?

An opt-in box is the part of your website that asks visitors to sign up for your mailing list. As an incentive for doing so, usually the opt-in box includes some sort of FREE bonus the visitor receives immediately when signing up. A bonus could be a free e-book, special report, or even an audio clip with helpful information.

WHY is the opt-in box so important?

That's easy. It's so important because, without it, you have no way to stay in touch with the people who visit your website. You have no way to let them know when you have another new product or service to offer them. Sure, you can announce new products and services on your website. But people won't see this information unless they come BACK to your site or sign up for your RSS Feed (in which case, you still won't know WHO these people are). Why leave that up to chance? Why be left in the dark when it comes to who your followers are?

With an opt-in box, you collect the names and email addresses of people who opt in (that is, they AGREE to receive regular emails from you periodically), so you can let them know directly when you have some news. For example, you can send an email to the people on your mailing list when you have a new book coming out, or you'll be speaking at a writers' conference in a few months, or you'll be offering a new online writing workshop soon. Most importantly, an opt-in box gives you a way to stay in regular contact with the people on your mailing list. When you stay in regular contact, you form a relationship with these people. Over time, they grow to know, like, and trust you. And people who know, like, and trust you are more likely to purchase your books and/or other products or services.

So what's the MOST important part of your website or blog?

Repeat after me - the opt-in box!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of 22 (at last count) published books, a freelance writer, and writing and business coach. Get more tips to help improve your writing, build your writing career, and sell more books every weekday morning in The Morning Nudge. For a 5-day FREE trial subscription to the Morning Nudge, go to

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

WriteOnCon: a free online conference for kidlit writers

I stumbled upon this today via the Guide to Literary Agents blog (by the way, if you're looking for an agent, you have to subscribe to this blog!)

Registration starts July 1st and it will take place August 10-12.

There's a great lineup of agents and editors. I'm going to register for sure. Being so far away in Belgium, as I am, I don't get many chances to attend conferences. Plus this is free.

My upcoming book!

Hi all,

My publisher just sent me the cover for my upcoming book. Guess what? I think it's cute!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sully's Topsy Tale - a visual and auditory delight for children.

Guardian Angel Publishing announces release of Donna J. Shepherd's eighth book for children.

Middletown, OH – (June 2, 2010) The final picture book in the Topsy Tales trilogy features a jazz loving, bebopping, singing snake suffering with laryngitis. What’s an independent snake that only sings solos to do? While waiting for his voice to return, Sully learns to appreciate the talents of others and the value of friendship.

Vibrant illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier (Grand Haven, MI) with hidden hearts perfectly complement Donna Shepherd's clever rhymes and wordplay making Sully's Topsy Tale a visual and auditory delight for children ages 2-5.

Donna J. Shepherd, inspirational author and speaker from Middletown, Ohio, has hundreds of articles and devotionals to her credit. Her books for children include Topsy Turvy Land (Hidden Pictures Publishing), No More Gunk & OUCH! Sunburn!, Chizzy's Topsy Tale, Dotty's Topsy Tale, and Poodle and Doodle (Guardian Angel Publishing). Her lyrical rhymes and fun stories make Donna's books wonderful read-aloud choices.

Endorsed by licensed and certified speech-language pathologist Victoria Ryan, MS/CCC-SLP, Sully's Topsy Tale could be utilized "at the beginning of articulation therapy to read to children who have problems making the “s” sound so they can hear (often) how a correct “s” sounds; during articulation therapy with children who are practicing making the “s” sound at the reading level; with children in voice therapy as a way to talk about healthy and unhealthy vocal habits."

Guardian Angel Publishing creates fun, affordable and educational books and eBooks for your preschoolers and primary age children. Picture books, early readers, easy readers, storybooks, and chapter books are available as eBooks, print books, CD's and DVD's. Libraries, schools, churches, and independent bookstores may request wholesale books through the website.

Sully's Topsy Tale (ISBN: 1616330473, ISBN 13: 978-1616330477) is distributed through Ingrams. Bertrams, Baker & Taylor, and by calling Guardian Angel Publishing at (314) 276-8482.

Visit Donna on the web at:

Find hidden picture puzzles, games, and coloring pages at:

For review copies and/or interview requests or wholesale information, contact Lynda Burch at

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

12430 Tesson Ferry Rd #186

Saint Louis, MO 63128 USA


Contact Information

Guardian Angel Publishing

Lynda S. Burch

(314) 276-8482

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poodle and Doodle to Benefit PAWS


West Chester, OH - (June 3, 2010) -- Children's author, Donna J. Shepherd, will be will be signing copies of her latest book, Poodle and Doodle, at Dogfest from 11 am – 5 pm next Saturday and Sunday June 12 –13.

In Poodle and Doodle (Guardian Angel Publishing), Angel, a twelve-pound prissy poodle, is none too happy when Leah brings home Scruffy, a seventy-five pound clumsy Labradoodle. Why ever would Leah want another pet when she had the perfect dog already? Children love Donna J. Shepherd's humorous rhymes while keeping a sharp lookout for hidden bones in the delightful illustrations by Jack Foster.

Donna Shepherd will donate 10% of the purchase price of her fun and colorful children's picture book to PAWS. Dog Fest is hosted by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a no-kill, non-profit animal shelter in Butler County which houses dogs and cats until they are adopted into their own forever, loving home.

Dog Fest originated in 1999 as a community event for West Chester where people could bring their dog or dogs for a day of fun with just a few events and booths, exhibitors and entertainers. Dog Fest 2010 will draw over 15,000 people and their canine friends, 8 food vendors, 110+ booths, entertainment, demonstrations, contests, and food for the canines and their humans too!

Many rescues exhibit at Dog Fest and dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages are adopted every year. Dog Fest also provides an opportunity for you and your dog to just come out and have fun, where your dog can participate in games, contests, and even a doggie parade!

Be sure to stop by Donna Shepherd's table in the PAWS booth. She'll have coloring pages for the children, treats for the dogs, a Poodle Hidden Picture Puzzle for young and old, and a real live doodle to pet.

The event will be held At the Voice of America Museum Park, 8070 Tylersville Road in
West Chester, Ohio. Visit for more information and directions to the park.


Donna Shepherd will donate 10% of the purchase price of her fun and colorful children's picture book, Poodle and Doodle, to PAWS - the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a no-kill, non-profit animal shelter in Butler County.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guest post by Klutzy Kantor

My dear internet buddy Jessica Kennedy, author of Klutzy Kantor, is busy touring the blogosphere to promote the release of this her first children's picture book (major congrats, Jessica!), so I suggested she take a break and have the cute protagonist of her book, Klutzy Kantor, write a guest post instead. I asked him what makes his book special and what kids will love about it the most. This is what he had to say....

"Well, I hate to brag. Actually it’s hard not to. My book is special, because J. Aday Kennedy made me very smart and gave me a great personality. I’m a bit of a klutz, but that makes the book funny and kids that aren’t very coordinated will relate to it. Jack Foster drew me and made me purple. He makes my personality and klutziness shine.

Aday did some other neat stuff for me. If you visit her website you can get quite a few goodies. A teacher’s guide, coloring pages, information about two more books about me and my elf friends, and pdf’s of my favorite apple recipes. She co wrote my theme song, “Go Me!” with LeFerna Walch of The Character Studio DOT com. LeFerna choreographed a dance that the song teaches. If that wasn’t enough, I have my very own blog at

I’m in Michigan with LeFerna working on a surprise that Aday and my fans will love. This book has a lot of extras that kids and grown ups will love and with each new book in the series more has been planned. Temporary tattoos, stickers, book marks and contests are just three of them."

Sounds good to me, Kantor!

For teaching resources and coloring pages, visit Klutzy Kantor's BLOG.

Don't miss the author's other virtual tour stops! For the full schedule, visit the author's website.

About the book:

Everyday Kantor Pegasus practices solving riddles. A tricky leprechaun attempts to outsmart him by giving him a next to impossible riddle to solve. To end his clumsy ways he must solve it. Children learn the benefit of practice and to focus on their strengths.

Written by J. Aday Kennedy
Illustrated by Jack Foster
Reading level: Ages 4-10
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (April 14, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1616330514
For Purchase: Amazon

About the author:

J. Aday Kennedy, the differently-abled writer, is an award winning multi
published author of inspirational/Christian pieces and of children’s literature.
Eight picture books are under contract eagerly awaiting publication. She is a
ventilator dependent quadriplegic making her dreams come true a story at a
time. As a speaker, Aday entertains, instructs, motivates and inspires
audiences of all ages. To learn more about her and her writing, visit her blog
to read one of the interviews, witness the book promotion brainstorms for
authors, marketing and writing tips.