Posted in Behind the Scenes, Meet the authors

Howard Wong

Author website/social media:

1.     When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I loved reading at a young age. The library was my favorite place to visit and still is. 

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I borrowed a well-read copy from the library with a cover that had seen better days during a summer when I was ten. I read the whole thing in one afternoon while visiting my grandparents. I just couldn’t put it down. The whimsical adventure that Charlie took me as a reader inspired my imagination. 

3.     Is it hard to come up with book ideas? 

Sometimes it is. Inspiration for ideas can come from anywhere at any time. I tend to collect some ideas that come to me that aren’t ready to be a full story yet. I like to revisit these unfinished ideas to see if I can mold them into a story. 

4.     What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

Rick Remender’s Black Science series, which isn’t a book. It’s a comic book series which has been one of my favorite stories I’ve read in a while. It has all kinds of adventures set in a world where we travel through multiple dimensions with different versions of the world we know, interesting character development and many twist and turns. It’s not fit for young readers though. 

Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

Oliver Jeffers is one that I point out to friends when we talk about picture books we love. Lost and Found is one of my favorites of his. His stories and beautiful art compliment each other perfectly to tell funny stories with heart. 

Why do you think graphic readers like yours are important for kids?

I think all kinds of books are important for kids. Having grown up as a reader, books for me then and now are the magical gateway to incredible worlds, adventures, mysteries, and self-discovery! I wrote The Unhappy Little Pig from the inspiration of how we try to be like other people we feel are better than us, but it’s really not the way to find happiness. By the end of the story, we discover what makes the unhappy little pig truly happy. This is something that I hope kids will find true for themselves too. 

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read different genre of books. Even ones that you think you don’t like just to try them out. Like trying new types of food, you never know if you like it until you give it a go. 

Write every day, but don’t worry about it being perfect the first time. When we write we make mistakes, come up with better ideas, and more. We go through many drafts before we get to the version we like most, which is the one you’ll see in a book. So don’t worry about changing things in your story. We do it all the time. 

Share your stories with your family and friends. Ask them what they like and don’t like about your stories. This will let you see what works well and what parts of your story you’ll need to work on a bit more. 

8. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I have readers who’ve commented on my work on social media and in person like at TCAF. I like readers sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions of my stories with me. I get to know what that like about my writing, but I also get to share stories of how I came up with certain things like using an old photo of our first dog as one of the characters. 

9.If you could portal into any book (yours or another person ’s), what book would it be?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The whimsical world alone would be fun to experience, but of course there’s also all that chocolate and candy too!

Posted in Meet the authors

Jay Cooper

Well, first I want to say thank you for the interview! I think it’s seriously cool that you are reaching out to writers. I have no doubt you’ll be a great writer yourself, if you aren’t one already! But on to the questions: 

1. when you were my age, did you like to read? What a fun reading age that was! 9 was the year that I read the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia… Book 3, The Voyage of the Dawntreader, was always my absolute favorite of the series. Of course, you have to add to these about a bajillion comic books and Mad Magazine books (I LOVED Spy Vs. Spy and the Don Martin books!)

2. what book made an impact on you? Oh, there are so many! I have to pick just one? Geez. Okay. Well, Norman Bridwell of Clifford the Big Red Dog fame had a number of other books. One that I really loved was How To Care For Your Monster. It was a practical guide to taking care of your pet werewolf, or vampire, or Frankenstein’s Monster! I loved monsters growing up, and this book really struck home with me… The idea that even the most bloodthirsty monster needs to be cared for like a regular family pet—it was clever and original. And Norman’s illustrations were amazing. They still are!
3. How do you come up with book ideas? Sometimes it feels impossible to come up with book ideas! And other times they just fall into your head all at the same time like raindrops. I guess you could call those “idea showers”. You never can predict when it will happen. The real problem is remembering them! More than once I’ve come up with a book idea that seemed like the most amazing idea ever for a book, and I’ve thought, “I should write that down… but how could I possibly forget such a brilliantly, awesome and amazing idea anyway? Pshaw!” And then, of course, I totally forgot what the idea was. Now I carry around a little notebook everywhere I go so that no matter when or how I get good idea showers, I can record them. Lots of writers do this.
4. What author or book have you read recently that impacted you? That’s a great question. There is an illustrated children’s book that just came out two months ago that is so amazing, so simple and beautiful, that I cannot get it out of my head. I bought it and immediately gave it to another person within an hour of buying it. That’s how good it was! It’s called Cicada, and it’s written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. I think it will be my favorite book of the year.
5. Is there a new or lesser known author kids should know about? Another great question! Russell Ginns is a relatively new author with his Samantha Spinner series. He’s just about the funniest person that I’ve ever met. I highly recommend his books.
6. What advice do you have for kids who want to be an author? The best writers are readers. I work on Broadway, and have read a thousand scripts for plays and musicals at this point (okay, that’s an exaggeration: but a few hundred, certainly!). I read books all the time on top of that. It’s really helped my writing tremendously. Stories are so much a part of my life that creating them has become second nature to me. The trick is finding your own voice when you write… and that just comes with time and practice.
7. Do you hear from your readers?what do you like about it? Receiving a letter or email from a reader always brings a smile to my face. When I got into this business, I really just wanted to have an impact on another human being. Just one. Every time someone reaches out to me, I feel like all the hard work and effort I put into my books is worth it! (And I hope it never gets old).
8. If you could portal into any book, what book would it be? Oh, that’s a fun idea. If I could go into any book at all, I’d probably choose Edith Hamilton’s Mythology book. I’ve always loved mythology, and the idea of meeting Zeus, or Hermes, or Artemis is a very exciting idea! Or I would choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I have always wanted to meet Titania and Oberon and all the fairies. Okay, I’m switching it: I’d choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream first and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology second. Can I do both? You’re in charge of this, right?

Posted in Meet the authors

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read books and poems? 
When I was 9 I loved to read. I also loved to ride my bike, roller skate, and make things.  We did not have a library in walking distance (& my mother didn’t drive), but a bookmobile came to our neighborhood.  I loved reading mysteries, biographies and fairy tales.  I wasn’t introduced to much poetry when I was small.  The poetry I knew and loved came in the delicious rhymes from books like Jack and the Beanstalk: Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman ….
And The Gingerbread Man: Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man.
Those still stay with me.  
2. What was your favorite book, poem or author?
My favorite would have been the Nancy Drew mysteries and Pippi Longstocking.
3. How did you become a poet?
I wish I had an easy answer.  Looking back, the way I saw the world was always a little different.  I was enchanted with words and sounds and song lyrics.  I began to write rhyming lines and couplets in my diaries and on notebook paper and to my friends and family.  I wrote poetry in High School, then college, and when my children were babies I tried to get published as a poet.  But I think I was a poet all along.
4. Is it hard to come up with poems?
Not the topic, not the idea.  I can’t write them all in a lifetime.  But to make them be as good as I hope, as I want, as I expect, that is the hard part.  So I work and work and revise and change and cross out and polish each one as best I can.
5. What is one of the coolest things that has happened with one of your poems – like book or famous person reading it?
Hmm.  Well sometimes you will see things on the internet that you don’t even know about.  I’ve seen a book of mine being read by a governor to a group of children but I do not remember who or what state and I’ve happened upon a few of my poems being turned into songs.  
6. Do you have a favorite children’s poetry book or poet?
Honestly, I have many.  It truly would be hard to choose just one.  I wish I had a better answer.  
7. Why do you think kids should read poetry?
I don’t know if they should, but I sure hope they end up wanting to. I think a poem is a small package of words that can surprise, delight, make you feel joy, and make you feel not as alone.  I love how you can flip through a book of poems and read whatever first line or title catches your heart.
8. How did you come up with the Cherry Tree poem that I love so much?
I actually went to Washington D.C. to see them all up close and personal and blooming all over like tiny groups of pale pink and white paper umbrellas.  I took my notebook and wrote down words & images I thought of as I stared at them.
9. Do you have any advice for a kid interested in poetry?
Read as much of it as you can.  Open a book of poetry.  If one poem doesn’t grab your curiosity or wonder or attention, move to the next.  Copy the ones you love in your own notebook.  (Remember to write the poet’s name.)  Try writing your own poems by observing what it is you want to write about (a puppy dog waking from a nap?  The moon in a night sky?) and always, always write down what is in your heart.  All the things that give you joy, all the things that make you want to cry, all the things that make you wonder and ask questions.  All the things that make you, you.

Posted in Meet the authors

Jake Burt

Author website/social media: WWW.JBurtBooks.Com  TWITTER: @jburtbooks


1.     When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
Absolutely. My favorite genres were (and still are) fantasy and science fiction. I clearly remember raiding my dad’s bookshelves, grabbing stuff that I probably shouldn’t have been reading at my age. Of course, I loved kids’ books, too – some of my favorite authors were E.B. White, Roald Dahl, and Rose Estes.

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you?


The book that had the greatest impact on me was The Hobbit, by Tolkien. But the one I want to give a shout-out to here is The Lottery Rose, by Irene Hunt. It’s the first book I ever read that made me cry. Up until that point, I didn’t realize that a story could have such a profound effect on my emotions. 


3.     Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Like how did you think to mix foster kid with Witness Protection?


I find generating ideas to be both easy and fun…the trick is finding one that will actually make a good book. That’s harder, since I don’t really know if an idea is novel-worthy until I try to plot it out. That’s quite a bit harder, and it takes lots of work. However, nothing beats the feeling of finishing an outline and realizing you’ve got a potential story on your hands (except maybe the feeling of publishing one!)


4.     What author or book have read recently that impacted you?


I recently read Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s The Book of Boy, and I loved it. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in medieval European history, so to read a book centered in that time period – and a fantasy novel rooted in relic culture, no less! – was great fun. It was also a reminder of the myriad ways we can access history to tell compelling stories.


5.     Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 


When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of choose-your-own-adventure novels. They’ve started making a bit of a comeback, so I think I’d let kids know about a guy whose books I absolutely devoured when I was a kid. His name’s Joe Dever, and he wrote a massive CYOA adventure series – one in which the choices you made in the first book could impact the narrative in the fifteenth book. I still own all my old copies, and was pleased to discover that his work is available online for free, too (check out


6.     What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?


Find an audience for your stuff, and share it frequently. Get good at seeking critique and accepting feedback. The quicker you learn to look at your writing as a living thing, always evolving and improving, the easier it will be for you to embrace the revision process. That’s vital, because it’s in revision that the real work (and a lot of the real joy) of our profession lies. 


7.     As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?


I do hear from readers, and I absolutely adore it. My favorite thing about responses from fans is their questions; I love giving them the inside scoop on tidbits that might not have made it into the novels. It lets me revisit the stories in a fun way, and they sometimes even inspire me to think about a character, plot thread, or setting in a new light. 


8.     If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?


I think anyone who says anything other than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is either lying or hasn’t thought carefully enough about the question.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Jim Petipas




Social media:



The Cows Go Moo








You Tube:

The Cows Go Moo





Questions from Bridget:


1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Absolutely! My parents weekly brought me to our public library in Hingham, Massachusetts. I can remember exactly where the children’s section was. I would always gravitate to books on how to draw animals and cars, two things that I love! I would also check out a lot of picture books to bring home and read either on my own or with my parents. Of all those years spending time in libraries who knew I would eventually become a children’s book author and illustrator and have my own book on the shelf!


2. What is a book that made an impact on you?

If I were to choose one of many, I would choose, “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie. He is the guy who started TOMS shoes. When you buy a pair of TOMS shoes another pair is donated to a child living in a place or situation where they might not have access to good footwear. He calls this, “One for One.” The very evening that I finished reading that book, I said to myself, “I want to do something like that with my book!” Since my book series is about cows I came up with the, “Buy-A-Book / Give-A-Cow” project. Ten percent of the profits from all of my sales of my books and Moo Merch goes to providing real cows to a family’s living in poverty through Heifer International. The families are trained on how to care for their cow and start their own cow milking business to help provide for their family’s needs. I am very thankful that I read that book when I did!


3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas? 

I am full of ideas! So are my family members. Whenever we come up with a book idea, I write it down on a piece of paper and put it in my book ideas file, or I type it into the “notes” on my iPhone. As of right now I am focusing mostly onideas for, “The Cows Go Moo!” series. I have some other animal-based stories that I am working on as well. One of which, is about our Silver Labrador Retriever named Earl! Both of my daughters encouraged me to write, “The Cows Go Moo!” based on a silly song I wrote back in high school. A song I wrote in college has become thebasis for my second book, “The Cows Go Moo Shuffle!” Which will hopefully publish before the end of the year. Then my youngest daughter Sophia said, “Dad you should do a coloring book!” “The Cows Go Moo! Udderly Crazy Activity & Coloring Book” will be available in May 2019! Ideas are cool already, but when you see your ideas become a reality it is very cool! 


4. Like why do a book that supports a nonprofit?

Since middle school I have been involved in supporting non-profits such as World Vision, Compassion International, Boston Rescue Mission and others. Over the years I would regularly volunteer at homeless shelters, clothing drives, soup kitchens, food banks and as a youth worker. My dad was a homeless person for the majority of his adult life, so I have a special desire to support people in need. I have also had the opportunity to serve in schools, camps, and orphanages all around the world including Guatemala, Russia, Haiti, and Peru, as well as in many cities within the US. My support of Heifer International provides the opportunity and the training to families in need of assistance and this not only provides money for food, clothing and school, but it also builds other important aspects within a person’s life. Heifer International also does this cool thing called, “Passing on the Gift.” Whenever one of these family’s cows gives birth to a calf, that calf is passed along to another family in need within their community to continue the means to help end poverty! I have personally been given so much in my life and it is a privilegeand joy to pass that on to others.


5. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

For sure! There is an author who lives near me whose author name is G. Johnson. She wrote a wonderful children’s picture book entitled, “Seacoo.” The book was beautifully illustrated by Yifan Luo. The story is about a little panda bear named, Seacoo who loves to read. The story is a fun tale about his family, making friends with Coco and the beauty of change. When I was first considering turning my song into a picture book, I met with G. Johnson to get her advice based on her own experience of writing and publishing. The best piece of advice she gave me was, “finish the book!” This became a driving mantra and encouragement to help keep me focused and MOOving forward to finish the book! I encourage you to check out, “Seacoo!”


6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Be curious! What I mean by that, is to look for the amazing, funny, mysterious, and fantastical happenings in the world (or universe) around you, within your family, school, friends, experiences, likes, dislikes, dreams and imagination. Gather these ideas in a file and write about some of them. One helpful tool that I learned about writing was to do a Story Map! Take a blank sheet of paper, put it horizontal and write your idea right in the middle of the page. Now start brainstorming! Write down as many funny, strange, challenging, etc. etc. elements, memories, personal stories, etc. etc. that you can think of… this is often called a brain dump! Draw little pictures, circle words and connect themes. You can occasionally take this Map out and add to it again and again. Then you can start to write about it. Get the ideas out, have fun and learn as much as you can from others about becoming an author. Keep at it and don’t forget to, “finish the book!”


7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes! Because I have a catchy song that goes along with my book, I have received many videos on Facebook of kid’s singing the song, holding up the book, dancing and mooing around! It has been very funny, encouraging and heartwarming to see and hear that my book is bringing joy into people’slives and homes. I also hear a lot from parents. One just told me, “My son loves your book!” One of my favorite reviews was from a grandmother who said, “I was playing the recording of “The Cows Go Moo!” song and reading the book to my five and half year-old grandson when all of a sudden he exclaimed, “Grammy this is better than “Who Let the Dogs Out?” isn’t it?” Great job with the book and catchy tune!” Some of the best experiences are on author visits when we sing the song together, read the book and do some drawings of the characters. Instant feedback and great fun!


8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

Great question! There are many books I can think of where that would be very cool to be able to do. The book that comes to the front of my mind right now is actually a series of wordless picture booksby Aaron Becker, Journey, Quest & Return.” I love the fantastical settings, the colors, the way the main character can draw a boat or anything rightwithin the story to be able to escape danger or travel to a far away land. Being a wordless book allows the reader to imagine the words for themselves, to scream, to greet, or to cry with their own voice. The intricate artwork and vivid colors are amazing. I have always loved the medium of pen & ink with watercolor. That was actually how I started doing my first book, but then I moved into using all ink with Copic markers. More recently I have been doing some digital artwork on an iPad that I received for Christmas! Aaron Becker and I both live in Massachusetts, so I guess the both of us currently journey in the same land! Moochas gracias for interviewing me for your terrific website!


Posted in Meet the authors

Julie Falatko

Author website/social media:


Twitter: @juliefalatko

Instagram: julie_falatko

Facebook: JulieFalatkoAuthor


1.             When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

YES. I loved to read. There was a great library in the town where I grew up, and my mom used to take me there for hours. I am an only child and sometimes my whole weekend would be sitting in my room, with a cat on my lap, reading book after book. It was dreamy.


2.             What is a book that made an impact on you?

This was a hard question to answer, because so many books have made an impact on me, from novels that made me feel seen to picture books that made me laugh. I’ll choose Bridge to Terabithia, which was the first book that made me cry. I think that showed me how magic books can be – little squiggles on the page that can make me feel real feelings? Sorcery!


3.             Is it hard to come up with book ideas?

It’s not hard to come up with ideas, but it is hard to figure out which are the good ones. I get most of my ideas when I’m outside, walking my dogs or going for a run. I always bring something with me to write on, and I write them all down. Then I play around with them, and some have momentum and become a good story, and some turn out to not be so great, idea-wise.


4.    What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

I can’t stop thinking about The Lost Girlby Anne Ursu. It’s a real page turner that grabbed my heart, made me smile, and empowered me stand taller.


5.      Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? 

Yes! My friend Karen Strong has a debut middle grade coming out in May called Just South of Home, that has family, mystery, science, and ghosts, and I can’t wait to read it. 


6.    What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

The first thing I need to make sure kids know is that authors are real people. I didn’t know that when I was a kid. I assumed all my favorite authors were dead. Or, if they were alive, they were much fancier than me. So you heard it here first: authors are regular people. Not fancy. And alive.


The second thing you need to know is that the way you write – your process – is exactly the same for me as it is for you. Professional grownup authors struggle with our words too. We write terrible stories sometimes. We get frustrated because the words on the page don’t match the words in our heads. We get distracted. We stare out the window. The biggest difference is that I know this is how it works, so I know to keep going. 


And the last thing I have to tell any kid who wants to be an author is: GOOD. If you have stories you want to tell, then we need to hear them. Please keep writing. Know that the story you have to tell is worth telling. Write the story in your heart. Write the stories you want to read. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. 


7.    As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

 I do hear from readers! I love when readers draw my characters and write their own stories about them, or when they put characters from different books in a picture together, like Snappsy and Bert chatting with Waldo and Sassy. 


I also love when they write me to tell me they like my books because they’re funny. Maybe this is because I’m a needy person who likes to be reassured that I am, in fact, funny. Or maybe this is because I think funny books are important, and those readers reiterate that for me.


8.    If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

I would portal into Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Emily Hughes. I want to spend a night in each of those treehouses! And most especially live in the one with all the books.


Posted in Meet the authors

Susan Ross

My name is Susan L Ross, and I’m an author from Maine and Connecticut. For more information about my two middle grade novels, Searching for Lottie and Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story, you can visit my website at: I’m also on Twitter @SusanRossAuthor.

My new book, Searching for Lottie, is a modern mystery about a 12 year girl named Charlie who tries to discover what happened to her grandmother’s sister, Lottie — a young violinist who disappeared during the Holocaust. Charlie knows that Lottie probably perished, but the more she learns, the more she wonders: Is is possible that Lottie survived? Much of the story is based on my own family’s history. My first book, Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story, is about a refugee Somali girl and boy in Maine and was inspired by my childhood home in Maine.

  1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read? When I was young, I didn’t just like to read — I LOVED to read. My main interest was horses, and I would devour any horse-related book I could find: Black Beauty, Misty, and The Black Stallion were among my favorites. There was just one thing that I liked even better than reading — and that was writing! I wrote my first novel in fourth grade. It was called Diablo, and the story was about — you guessed it — a horse. I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. MacDonald, who even let me stay inside at recess and write.

2. What was your favorite story? As a kid, another favorite book was The Little Engine that Could. In Searching for Lottie, Charlie’s Nana Rose is always full of optimism, in spite of early tragedy and hardship. She has encouraging sayings for almost everything. Like Nana Rose, Charlie keeps going when things get tough. She thinks about The Little Engine That Could and repeats to herself:  “I think I can, I think I can…!”

3. How do you get your ideas? I usually get my ideas from a real-life setting or something that is true. Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story was inspired by the many Somali families who have settled in my childhood home in Maine and my belief that books can help make our world a kinder, better, place by letting kids experience different cultures through diverse characters and stories. I want my readers to feel as if they are a character within each story and in this way, build empathy for the characters around them. The idea for Searching for Lottie came from my own family’s experiences during and after the Holocaust — and seeing how much it meant to my kids to learn about our family’s history.

4.  What author do you really like right now? I am an enormous, life-long fan of Patricia Reilly Giff, who won two Newbery Honors with her wonderful books. Her newest middle grade novel is Island War. Pat wrote the lovely blurb for the jacket of Kiki and Jacques: A Refugee Story.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? A “newer’ author whom I admire is Anna Crowley Redding, the author of Google It: A History of Google. She writes about STEM subjects, something I am definitely not good at — so I love learning from her books! 

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Here is my advice for a kid who wants to be an author (and guess what? It’s the same advice for adults!) KEEP WRITING! It takes a really long time to write a book and can feel exhausting sometimes, but don’t give up. Remember, so much of writing is thinking about your stories — and then, revising your drafts. Like Nana Rose always says in Searching for Lottie: “If at first you don’t succeed — try, try again!

7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I love doing school visits and hearing from my readers. For World Read Aloud Day, I was able to Skype with many schools on the same day — it was SO cool talking with kids from Iowa to Ontario. I felt especially happy after reading a review of Kiki and Jacques from a Somali girl in Australia; she was excited because she rarely sees books about her culture. Best of all, she thought I got the details right. Since authors do a lot of research — I met with Somali teens over several years to learn about their lives and was tremendously inspired by them — I was delighted she felt that way.

8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? The story behind Searching for Lottie is based on my own family’s experiences, so if I had a portal, I think I’d use that to find out even more about our family’s history. My son did a school project about my refugee mother’s journey to America, and I began to realize that although many years had passed since World War II, in some ways, it felt like our family history had actually gotten closer and more accessible because of the Internet and because kids can ask questions today that were sometimes too painful for my generation. All families, whatever their backgrounds, have stories — and it is so important for kids to save these memories for the future.

Many thanks and let me know if there’s anything else you need — I love your blog and think you are amazing!