Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Salina Yoon

Salina, Penguin & Annoying Little Penguin
Social media/website
Twitter: @salinayoon

Tell me a little about yourself   I was born in South Korea, and moved to the U.S. when I was just 4 yrs old. I actually did not like books when I was little because I could not read them, and neither could my parents. We didn’t read or speak a word of English at the time. I actually learned a lot of English from watching Sesame Street. Even though we didn’t own many books at home, the few that we did have made an impression on me. I loved looking at the illustrations because you didn’t need words to understand them. I could make up my own stories! Enjoying the pictures made me want to be an artist myself. But I never dreamed that I’d be an author/illustrator of children’s books. That dream occurred to me only after college—as an adult!

How many books have you written & illustrated? Over 160… but I don’t know exactly. It’s hard to keep track after the first 100!

How did you become an author/illustrator? I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a kid. It was one thing I felt like I was good at and enjoyed. As I pursued art in my high school and college years, I learned that there weren’t many jobs out there for artists. I looked at children’s books and saw so much art in them, and it really appealed to me. I started off by illustrating very young children’s books that required very few words because I was still very afraid to write. It took me ten years of publishing before I wrote my first children’s story, “Penguin and Pinecone.” And now, I can’t stop!

Do you have a favorite book or character you have created? Penguin will always be my favorite book character of mine because it was my very first one. And he was inspired by my son, Max, who once brought home a pine cone he wanted to befriend.

Mine too! This was the first time I dressed as Penguin. I lost count how many times I have dressed up as him!

Do you have words of encouragement for a kid like me? Whatever it is that you love, keep doing it! Don’t be discouraged no matter the obstacles you face. The biggest obstacle for most people is their fear of failing. Just remember that you HAVE to fail in order to succeed! You can’t have one without the other, so think of each failure as a step towards success!

Do you have a favorite author or illustrator?  I have many, but at this very moment, I choose Peter Brown because I just finished reading The Wild Robot, and it was amazing! You should read it!

Why are you so awesome?  I’m awesome because I don’t give up! I’ve received hundreds (maybe thousands) of rejections over my career, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I love. I keep going until I get it right.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet Amy Marie Stadelmann


Author website/social media:, @amymariestad on twitter and instagram.
Tell me a little about yourself: Hello! Well, I’m Amy and I live in Brooklyn, NY. I have a little dog named Cosmo and I collect garden gnomes that live all around my apartment. When I’m not writing and illustrating books, I’m a designer in the world of kid’s media working on animated tv shows and apps.
When you were my age, did you like to read? I was a slow reader at first, but once I got the hang of it, I loved it! My mom is a big reader and we would take regular visits to the library and that helped get me into the habit early of always having a book to read.

What was your favorite story? I first read The Little Prince when I was around 8 or 9, and that is still my favorite book to this day! But I also was very obsessed with all the Oz books written by L. Frank Baum. Oz is still my absolute favorite fictional land.
How do you get your ideas? Most of the time ideas are a mystery! But, I think one way that ideas come to me is by being curious and asking questions of the world and of myself. Sometimes the answers surprise me and I think, ‘there might be a story there…’
Is it hard to write a book? Any creative project has it’s moments that are hard, but also moments when it’s easy or confusing or hilarious or frustrating to the point of tears. It’s a lot of work, and the hardest part is probably just deciding that it’s done. (I could nitpick my work all day!) But the end product is so worth it, because you get to share a story with the world!
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? Well so far, it’s just books 1 and 2 of Olive & Beatrix, and while The Not-So Itty Bitty Spiders is special to me because it was my first book, I do think The Super-Smelly Moldy Blob is a bit stronger of a story and I also really love the Beatrix/Houston relationship in that one! That was very fun to write and illustrate!
What author do you really like right now? I’m currently reading the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books by Ransom Riggs. I love the way he created a magical fantasy story from real life old photographs. Very clever, and so fun!
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Write! Write down your stories, even if they are just little ideas. Writing (and drawing!) are just like anything else, the more you practice – the better you get. Also, and I think this is important for adults too, make sure to let yourself daydream. Let yourself sit quietly and just dream with no particular goal, because your imagination is also just like anything else and the more you use it and let it run free – the better and stronger it gets.

Posted in Book Review, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Wendy BooydeGraaff


Author website/social media: Website  Goodreads  Pinterest

Tell me a little about yourself: I’m the youngest of seven girls who grew up on a fruit farm in Southern Ontario, Canada. Because of that, I spent my early years playing outside all the time, and I ate lots of healthy food we grew ourselves, so those are two topics—the outdoors and food (even if it’s pretend food, as in Salad Pie)—that seem to work their way into lots of my stories.

When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes! I loved reading. In fact, I’d get so into the story I was reading that my sisters would talk right in front of me and I wouldn’t hear a thing. Then they’d laugh really loud and I’d finally look up and ask what was going on.

What was your favorite story? There was a strange and imaginative book I had that I read over and over called What the Wind Told. As you can see on the cover, the main character is sick in bed. Every day, the wind tells her fantastical stories about the windows across the way. For example, behind one of the windows, and old lady always leans on a cushion because the floor turns into a pond every day. Her furniture is nailed up high on the wall to keep dry. Maybe it’s because I read this book so often that I still like looking at windows and making up a story about what’s going on in the rooms behind them.


How do you get your ideas? I do a lot of thinking, imagining and wondering about people and situations and my ideas come out of that. Also, I do a lot of observing and noticing details. When I look closely at the world around me, I see something different every hour, even if it’s my own backyard.

Just yesterday I saw a strange little millipede with yellow markings on it and my daughter and I watched her for a long time as she hurried along the cracks in the deck. Where was she going? What was she thinking? Did she notice us? Why was she moving so fast and then going back in the same direction she came from? When I can’t answer my questions, I make up the answers, and after that there might be a story to tell.
Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Yes, it is hard to write a book, though I try not to think about it that way because the story is better if I focus on the characters, the plot, the words. While I was writing Salad Pie, it was important for me to read it aloud over and over again and then to show it to my writing friends and listen to their questions and comments.
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? I’ve written lots of stories but Salad Pie is my favourite because it gets to be in bookstores.
What author do you really like right now? Hmm…this is tough. I think Mac Barnett is really funny, so I read a lot of his picture books. I love Kadir Nelson’s illustrations, so I will pick up any book he’s illustrated. I also read lots of novels, but I have too many favourites to name.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? First, read a lot of books—books you know you’ll like and books that people recommend. It’s important to see all of the different ways of approaching an idea, so I read some books all the way through even if I don’t really like them. Also, reread books you like. Then read them again. Think about why you like them and how the author wrote the parts you love.
Second, start writing. Write journal entries, letters, emails, reports, articles, stories. Writing is like exercise: you have to do lots of it before you get stronger.


Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Nancy Viau


Author website/social
Twitter/Instagram: @nancyviau1

Tell me a little about yourself: 
I’m the author of three picture books (Storm Song, City Street Beat, and Look What I Can Do!) and two middle novels (Just One Thing! and Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head) Four grown kiddos call me Mom. I like to say they’ve done a terrific job of raising me. Two toddlers call me Grandma Nan, and they’re realizing that although I’m way older than they are, I’m still a kid at heart. (Look at Nancy in First Grade – so cute)

my ponytail school pic

When you were my age, did you like to read? 
YES! Believe or not we didn’t have picture books or early chapter books in my house, at least the kind you know of today. We had Little Golden Books, and I had quite a collection. The first time I actually read an entire book all by myself was in first grade. I still remember how amazed I was when I figured out that letters made up words, then how words got strung in a line to make sentences, and finally, how sentences connected to form whole stories. Magical!

What was your favorite story?
I had a very big book called The Real Mother Goose, and begged for rhyming story after story to be read to me. It was impossible to pick a favorite. There were 200 rhymes! When I was older, I absolutely loved the Bobbsey Twins books (about twins, Bert and Nan) and the Nancy Drew mysteries (secretly wanted to be that Nancy). (Bridget note: Me too!) Both of these series had characters with my name!

How do you get your ideas?
Many ideas come to me when I’m hiking or biking, or traveling to new towns and countries. Sometimes, my ideas end up on notepaper, grocery lists, planners, or (in the past) the back of my kids’ homework. Oops!  Other times, I go right to my computer and start a story.


My idea for Just One Thing! happened over several years, as I noticed kids trying out different activities, hoping to find that one thing they could be known for as they move through school. Is it playing an instrument? Being a dancer? A soccer player? It’s not easy to find out what suits you best.

Just One Thing cover

Is it hard to write a book? 
It’s harder than most people imagine. Take picture books, for example: The writing has to fit on 32 pages. Count the pages of the picture books in your house. Most have 32 pages, but guess what? Only some of those pages are used to tell the story! Look and see what ends up on the other pages.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written? 
Hmmm, tough question. My favorite is usually the one I’m working on that has not been published. Since it’s new, the possibilities are endless. I can change it anyway I see fit.

What author do you really like right now? 
I love the work of author-illustrator Peter Brown, his older titles and newer ones. My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is one I enjoy reading out loud.
What advice to you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read a bunch! Read all the time! If you like fiction, that’s awesome, but try nonfiction, as well. And don’t forget, other kinds of reading material count, too—magazines, cereal boxes, video game instructions, newspaper comics, poetry, blogs, jokes—anything! Also, write! Get your thoughts down on paper any way possible. If it’s hard to write them down, tell a story and let an adult type them on the computer while you speak.



Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Danna York



Danna York

Tell me about yourself.
Hello!! I live in Missouri, outside Kansas City in a small town called Belton. I am married and have three grown children. I homeschooled my kids from K-12 and it is the treasure of my life. It allowed us all to be creative and grow in our talents. I have taught art to many kids and still do today! I love putting art into the lives of children. So doing this amazing interview is much more than what I do, it is an opportunity to reach kids and inspire what they do!

When you were my age what did you like to read?
Being young with books is one of my favorite memories. I loved going to the library at my elementary school and going through the books. I would always pick out the ones with the pretty pictures. My favorite book to check out was Little Bear’s Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I actually would take it out over and over. I love the picture of Little Bear up in the tree looking out over the wide, wide world. He wanted friends and found a little girl named, Emily. I loved that book and the name Emily so much, I named my little girl after her. So much inspires us!

How do you get ideas?
My ideas come from what I love. I look around in my life and see things I know about, if it connects with kids and if I want to spend a lot of time on it! I will put many things together around one idea by drawing, finding words and playing around. Then I surround myself in it, mentally and physically and see what pops up. When I was writing To the Cider Mill, I sat many time in a real cider mill and watched everything, took notes and drew. Sometimes you just have to be in it!!

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book?
Yes! Any talent you have and want to develop takes hard work and that is a good thing! It is a passion that is brought out of us to present to others. That is what makes us who we are-no matter what your talent is! Writing for me, is harder than illustrating- writing has more rules to follow to do it well. Illustration has its rules, but you get to be more of you in your work. I am also a self-publisher and that is very different than traditional publishing. There is a lot more involved for me to get a book ready and out. All things take a lot of time for it to be ready. Because I write and illustrate it is a great day when you begin to see your work hold hands and run down the path together. Until that day-you keep working!

Books written
My book To the Cider Mill is easy to read and written in rhyme. Rhyme is another way to write and is pretty challenging. I really loved the process of writing the book, because it was something I did with my children, the topic was interesting to me, and I found many things to surround it. This is what you look for. I really loved the process of writing the book, because visiting a cider mill with my children is something we enjoyed.
To the Cider Mill is not a standard picture book- I believed there was a need for an interactive story that invites the reader to come along. Also come along and color the illustrations and the most of all, add their own art! Apples, pumpkins and scarecrows on a brisk fall day and getting to draw these things, too along side each illustration. With this book you don’t just read and put it down, you become part of it! I am working on another book with the same interaction and hope to have it out soon. I love getting kids to draw and maybe become an author or illustrator someday-this book is a great beginning!

What authors do you really like now?
I really keep the classics close. Beatrix Potter and her incredible writing and Peter Rabbit in the watering can! Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad’s green and brown pictures,simple stories and fun surprises. Eric Carle and his amazing art cut-outs-all different and all brilliant!

What is your advice??
Surround yourself with books of all kinds, do drawings from them, read everything, and keep your favorites close. Go to museums and see all the different art. Take a private art class and learn to use different mediums, like pencil, watercolors and pastels. Start a small writing group and read to each other. Start writing stories and drawing pictures for it now. I have my art class take a piece of paper and fold it to make four blocks on both sides and write and draw a story-that is something Beatrix Potter did. Re-tell a classic story with your own ideas!! Look around a room and find an object like a clock, put a face on it and tell a story around it! Be bold and be brave and read them to someone. Don’t be afraid to change your story and take advice from someone who knows. Most of all keep a sketchbook for all of it-take it along and see the wide, wide world, like Little Bear.

Posted in Book Review, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Hazel Mitchell

Hazel and Toby close up

PS. Look it is Toby!
Website/social media:

Tell me a little about yourself: I am originally from England and moved to the USA in 2000. I now live in Maine. At school my best subjects were art and english, so now I am using both those interests in illustrating and writing books. But it took me a long time to get to do that. Before I worked in children’s books I was a graphic designer and served in the Royal Navy. When I ‘m not working I love spending time with my two poodles, Toby and Lucy and my cat Sleep.

How long have you been writing & illustrating books? I illustrated my first book in 2010 which was ‘How to Talk to an Autistic Kid’ by Daniel Stefanski. Since then I’ve illustrated about 18 books. Toby is my first book as author and illustrator. I wrote it in 2014 and it’s being published on Sept 13th 2016 by Candlewick Press.

How did you become a book author/illustrator? I did a lot of other jobs before I became an author and illustrator, but all those jobs involved art, somehow or another. Before I left school I always thought I’d write a book, but it took me a long time to do it. What I really wanted to do was work with horses (my other passion), but instead I went to art college. Then I spent a long time working in graphics and design, creating all kinds of things from t-shirt designs to business brochures. It was only when I moved to the USA that I really seriously thought about getting work in the children’s book industry. I had lots of stories I was working on, but none I’d finished. I started to put together a portfolio of work that I thought suitable for children and wondered how I’d go about getting it to publishers. Luckily I discovered the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and in 2010 I went to a conference in New York City. There was lots of good information and other people there who all ready illustrated and wrote for children – so I learned a lot! I sent out postcards with a picture of my work on it to publishers and was lucky enough to get my first book that year. I suggest that anyone who’s interested in working in children’s publishing check out

When you were my age, did you read alot? What was your favorite book? Yes I did! I read all the time and spent a lot of time in my local library. Sometimes I would try and sneak into the adult library – in those days children were not allowed in. It was very grand and SO many books. But my favorite type of books were mystery stories and tales about horses. But my very favorite book was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I still love to read it.

How do you come up with your story ideas? Many different ways. Some are inspired by real life – like Toby. Others come from things that have happened to other people, or films and television and other stories. Sometimes I dream them! When I’m stuck I try different writing exercises, like opening a book at any page and choosing three words by closing my eyes and pointing at them. Then I see what happens! Sometimes, though, stories come from doodles and sketches I’ve drawn.

Do you have a favorite book you have written/illustrated? Toby!

Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? Both and a combination. I most often do all the line work by hand with graphite. Then I add shading and texture in watercolour, but in just one colour wash (like blue). Then I scan the painting in and colour it digitally in Photoshop.

Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators? That’s hard, because there are so many great ones! C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, David Almond, J.K. Rowling, (all British!), I love the illustrations of Toni DiTerlizzi, Kelly Murphy, Ashley Bryan, Eric Rohmann, Edward Ardizzone, David Small, Levi Pinfold, Melissa Sweet … I could go on and on.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Marcie Colleen

Marcie with books correct

Author website/social media: Twitter: @MarcieColleen1

Tell me a little about yourself:
As a kid, I loved anything creative. I danced, sang, acted, and loved decorating my school books with homemade paperbag covers.I guess you can say I dabbled in anything and everything artsy. Then, as an adult I continued to dabble. I have had lots of different jobs in my life. I have been a teacher, an actress, and a nanny. But I have finally found the BEST job ever–writing children’s books. Now I can be creative AND I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas to do so!

When you were my age, did you like to read? Absolutely! I loved going to the library and would often read the books in the car on the way home.

What was your favorite story?
I have always been a big Curious George fan. Years ago, before I started writing for children, my brother gave me The Complete Adventures of Curious George for Christmas. I’ve read those classics over and over again in my adult life. My favorite scene is at the end of Curious George Takes a Job when George and all of his friends can be seen in a theater watching a movie about George. As a kid I would look through the audience and try to find everyone from the story. Often, like at my wedding, when people that I have met throughout my life gather to celebrate with me, I think back to that scene as if I am living my own “Curious George Theater” scene.

How do you get your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. Sometimes I overhear something and it sparks an idea. Other times I remember something from my own childhood or I read a story on the Internet. I keep notebooks and post-it notes full of ideas.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book?
Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it, right? Truth is, it is difficult, but if you want something badly enough, you work hard at it and each time you will get better and better. I’m still getting better with each story I write. The key is to make sure what you are doing makes you happy. And writing stories and trying to make them the best they can be makes me very, very happy. Some may even say SUPER happy.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?
That’s a really tough question. Honestly, I love them all. Although right now I have caught Super Happy Party Bears fever, seeing as they are dancing onto bookshelves really soon. SQUEE!

What author do you really like right now?
Lately I am loving Bob Shea books. They are funny and full of heart and he makes it look easy. And let me tell you…they are NOT easy. The second Ballet Cat book, DANCE, DANCE, UNDERPANTS is just brilliant! Yes, a book with underpants in the title is brilliant. Oh, and selfish plug…he’s illustrating my debut picture book, LOVE, TRIANGLE (Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins) which will be out in Fall 2017.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Believe that you can be. And if anyone tells you you can’t, ignore them. Guard your dream. Because dreams are precious and they can come true. You can be anything you put your mind to. Trust me!