Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
Happy New Year! Before we get too deep into 2017, I should catch you up on where I've been over these past months.
2016 was a great year of book adventures! In January I made a quick trip to the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in Denver, Colorado with some terrific folks from Scholastic.
One of my favorite things about working in the world of children's books is the fascinating people I get to meet. On a regular basis I find myself at a table with a group of people I've never met before. This was a really special evening. I got to visit with Sharon Robinson, a rock star author in her own right and daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson. And the fabulous Luanne Rice who I loved getting to know. And I always enjoy spending time with the talented team from Scholastic. Because of winter weather a few weren't able to attend, but I had such a great time with Roz, Chris, Bess and Jennifer.
At the cocktail reception that night, they had blowups of the cover and two pages from my new picture book Ten Hungry Pigs displayed.
In February I had my first school visit of the year at Oak Point Elementary. They'd never had an author visit before, so it was a very special day. The staff and students were fantastic!
My book Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure was not only nominated for the Minnesota Book Awards, but it was one of only four books that were finalists! Though our splashy, fun loving pigs didn't win, we all had a great time at the ceremony. Here I am signing books next to my friend, author/illustrator Michael Hall.
I flew to Amarillo, Texas in late February to speak and sign books at the Knight of Discovery program. Special thanks to Lee Ann Shaw for being such a gracious host! That was the last school engagement I could schedule until later in the year. My book Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure was chosen by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library as their focus title for Once Upon a Reader, a Minnesota state-wide literacy program. So my speaking schedule was packed between March and October.
After gathering props for months and practicing the show, the One Upon a Reader Trunk Shows began in March. It was one crazy year of shows! There was song, dance, surfing, splashing, bubbles, waves and a whole lot of PIGS! One real pig showed up at a show in Spring Valley and I have to admit- I kissed him. There was one snowy day of travel along the north shore and more than a few rainy days along the way. At least one four year-old girl cried after the show in Crookston (she was shy, but desperately needed to tell me she wanted to be an author). Thousands of kids and their parents all across Minnesota came to the shows and squealed with joy. There was one leg of the tour where I got to travel like a rock star with musician Tom Lieberman (he wrote, performed and recorded the song for our show).
There were colorful hats, feather boas and rubber ducks. There were two television interviews, a handful of newspaper articles and at least one microphone mishap on a stage in Willmar.
There were so many people that helped with the shows, there's no way I could possibly list them all. Some were librarians or library helpers that actually participated in the shows and others helped in so many other ways. Thanks to every one of you. And I definitely need to thank our Once Upon a Reader team that planned, coordinated, marketed, organized and supported sixty-one shows throughout the state. I may have been the one up there wearing hats and performing, but the shows wouldn't have been possible without Sue Hall, David Katz, Slade Kemmet, Tom Lieberman and Emily Lloyd.
It was such an amazing experience! And most of all- we spread the good word about reading, literacy and the joy of books across this great state of Minnesota!
There’s only one word that perfectly describes this season of Once Upon a Reader- FUN! I’m sad the shows are over but I have so many amazing memories from the year.
In May, my new book Ten Hungry Pigs, a companion book to Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure was published by Scholastic/Orchard Books. The pigs are all back in this crazy book. Pig One and his trusted Ducky friend are making the perfect peanut butter and jelly snack when the other pigs come along adding their own favorite foods. Needless to say, their favorite foods do NOT go with peanut butter and jelly.
In early October I traveled to Fargo to deliver a keynote at the North Dakota Reading Association conference along with Gary D. Schmidt and Jarrett Krosoczka. I absolutely love speaking to teachers. You won't find a more interested, passionate audience in the world than a conference of teachers. Many thanks to Louis Lauer and the NDRA Committee for coordinating this. The conference was amazing! I've been invited back to North Dakota this spring to speak in some Fargo area schools- I can't wait!
I finished out my speaking year by traveling to Milwaukee and Chicago in early December to visit schools for the My Very Own Library program which is sponsored by Scholastic Book Fairs. I had a great time with Shannon Boehner of MVOL and Stephanie Davern of Scholastic Book Fairs. And it was so nice to hang out with authors Sundee Frazier, Christina Diaz Gonzalez (who lives in Miami and was really feeling the cold in Chicago), and Alan Gratz.
Between the shows, the driving and the countless hotels throughout the year, I managed to find time to work on the manuscript and sketches for a new book. More about that very soon.
And finally, at the very end of the year I signed with a literary agent for the first time in my career. I've had some really terrific years making books of all shapes and sizes. As an author and artist, it's time to start reaching for some of my long term publishing goals. Tracey Adams at Adams Literary is just the person to help me realize those goals. I'm looking forward to some fun new opportunities in 2017!
Thanks for reading. See you all soon!