Gifts and giving

Hi, all, and Happy Thanksgiving Week.

Following are a few ideas for gifts, for books, and a way to help others.

For Everybody:

If you are looking for something that is truly unique, a couple of local artist friends are opening their studios to the public on Dec. 5th and 6th.

Potter Stacy Snyder in Arlington has her functional pottery for sale in her home studio. The sale is Dec. 5th and Dec. 6th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 508 N Kenmore St. in Arlington, VA. (Flyer posted below.)

Kate Samworth (author/illustrator of Aviary Wonders) is just over the line in Maryland, and she and her mom are having a studio sale as well. Visit them on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 11 and Sunday, Dec. 6 at 4.  7318 Flower Avenue Takoma Park, MD 20912.

Keep a lookout for artists in your own community if you’re not in this one. (Or look some up on Etsy, where fabulous people like Sarah Hand hang out.)

For Readers (AKA Everybody)

Pam Coughlin over at Mother Reader always has a list of creative ways to give books and you can check out her web site for more. You might also consider:

El Deafo (Bell) + a pair of rabbit ears (or supplies for making your own graphic novel)

Origami Yoda (Angleberger) + origami paper

The Way Home Looks Now (Shang) + a baseball and crackerjacks

Teddy Mars, Almost a World Record Breaker (Burnham) + a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records

The Gingerbread Man is Loose at Christmas (Murray) + a set of blank cards for making your own card, or some mix for making your own Gingerbread Man.

And on the home front (aka books by me):

How to Behave at a Tea Party + a Tea Set

How to Behave at a Dog Show + stuffed dog or paper and ribbons for hosting a pet show of your own.

Nanny X + Secret agent supplies from the cool shop at the Spy Museum.

Nanny X Returns + some fishing supplies from your local outfitter

Dream Boy + a dream journal and pen

When you’re book hunting, remember to read local! Here’s a list featuring books by members of the DC Children’s Book Guild.

Sign on the line:

One More Page is having a great event today for Small Business Saturday. Visit the store and you’ll see local YA writers galore, wrapping books, suggesting books, and helping collect books for schools as part of the Compulsion for Giving Book Drive, followed by Martina Boone’s Book Launch at 6:30, an event she’s sharing by hosting a panel and playing some games with other YA authors.

Speaking of One More Page: If you order one of my books from them, you can ask to have it signed or personalized before they ship it to you. I also have book plates I can sign and send out if you prefer to use a book shop near you.

For Writers: 

I really enjoyed doing critiques at SCBWI’s fall conference this year, so I thought I might offer a few more. I’m going to start by “selling” three critiques, at $50 each. But instead of paying the $50 to me, please send me an image of a receipt that shows you’ve donated $50 to a charity that is helping Syrian refugees. Then I’ll make arrangements to take a look at your manuscript. I’ll critique either a picture book manuscript or the first 20 pages of a middle-grade or YA novel. If you’d like to purchase this as a gift for a writer in your life, you’ll get: a tax deduction, the knowledge that you’re supporting someone in your life who wants to write, and the knowledge that you’re helping someone who truly needs it. Win, win and win.


Oh, and here’s Stacy’s flyer for those of you in the DC area:

2015 Holiday Sale email

Posted in art, gifts, holidaze | 2 Comments

Nine Good Books About Dogs (Also: Nine Books About Good Dogs)

I’m so excited to have HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW join the other established dog/pet books out in the world – especially as we gear up for The National Dog Show and then Westminster. This week, I’m taking a look back at some of my favorite dog books. Here are nine you shouldn’t miss!

Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Garth Williams

I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of Good Night, Moon, but Mister Dog? I am waving the foam finger in the air because it is No. 1! There is so much kid-ness in the way this quirky, transporting book was written. The illustrations are lovely (Garth Williams!) as is the ending.

Go, Dog, Go, Written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman

This was one of my husband’s favorite kid books, but I didn’t discover it until I was an adult. The layout with the dogs up the tree is one of my favorites, and has became my gold standard for picture books: there are so many little things going on and there’s something new to be discovered every time you look.

Big Dog and Little Dog, Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

A board book for the youngest set, though as an adult reading this to my kiddos, I adored the whole series, especially when they dressed up (see below).






Clifford, the Big Red Dog, Written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell

I was a huge Witch Next Door Fan as a kid, and it took me years to figure out they had both been done by Norman Bridwell (though it’s rather obvious when you look at the illustrations). Clifford was the crowd favorite at DC Public Library recently, where we asked kids to vote in a Kid-Lit Dog Show. (How to Behave’s Rexie would have had the home court advantage, so he watched this one from outside the ring.)

See Me Dig, Written and illustrated by Paul Meisel

Paul was the illustrator for The Schmutzy Family, so I’m predisposed to love him, but regardless, I’d still be swooning over this book. The text is for the earliest readers but the illustrations are for everybody. I especially like the expressions on the dogs’ faces. (And, in the below spread, the bears’s, fox’s and beaver’s.)

From See Me Dig by Paul Meisel, copyright Paul Meisel

From See Me Dig by Paul Meisel, copyright Paul Meisel

The Phantom Tollbooth, Written by Norton Juster, Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

I hadn’t really thought of this as a dog book until the librarian included him in the afore-mentioned dog show, but is there any dog as brave and lovable as Tock? Plus, I can’t resist the urge to work The Phantom Tollbooth into every list and conversation.

Itty Bitty, Written and Illustrated by Cece Bell

A small (itty bitty) dog is looking for a home and finds one in the unlikeliest of places. Kids love little things, and Itty Bitty is the littlest of all. I still aspire to decorate my home with Itty Bitty’s style and panache.

Because of Winn Dixie, Written by Kate DiCamillo

Throwing in another for slightly older kids. This was one of the first books my son asked me to read, after his teacher read it to his second grade class. How could I say no? The characters are so real, and so, of course, is the dog.

Harry The Dirty Dog, Written by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

This is a classic book for a reason. If it’s been too long since you’ve read it, you can find it here online read by Betty White. As a big fan of schmutz, I hope this book encourages kids to go outside and get dirty.

Please leave some of your own favorites in the comments!

Posted in dogs, kidlit, picture book idea month, picture book month, picture books | 4 Comments




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Cover Reveal: Lisa Maxwell and UNHOOKED

All kinds of buzz today in honor of Lisa Maxwell’s upcoming novel Unhooked. (By upcoming, I mean Feb. 2, but I’m ready to get excited about it RIGHT NOW.) First, there’s the cover. I’ll wait for a minute while you take this in.unhooked-final

Here’s the skinny:
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.

Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?

What are people saying about it? I’m glad you asked:

“Perfect for fans of AG Howard’s Splintered trilogy and ABC’s Once Upon A Time, this twisted Peter Pan retelling isn’t the Neverland of your dreams — it’s the Neverland of your nightmares.”

~Sara Raasch, NY Times Best-Selling author of Snow Like Ashes and Ice Like Fire

 “The Stars Turned Away spins the classic Peter Pan tale into a tempting, spine-chilling adventure. Maxwell transports readers into the haunting, and yet breathlessly romantic, world of Neverland that will spellbind readers into making them wish they could stay forever.”

~Christina Farley, author of the bestselling Gilded series

“This dark, violent, gripping and twisty retelling of Pan is so good, there’s no going back to the original!!”

 ~Ellen Oh, Author of the Prophecy Series

But wait, as Ron Popeil would say (and I quote him more than I should) THERE’S MORE. To celebrate, you can enter to win an ARC of UNHOOKED and the first two books in each series by Sara, Christina and Ellen. But you have to go over here to enter:

To recap:


Author: Lisa Maxwell

Pub. Date: February 2, 2016

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Hardcover: 352 pages

Check it out!

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The One Where I Somehow End Up Defending Phil Collins

Not that he needs it, but I’m here to defend Phil Collins.

Yes, that Phil Collins (or, as my husband refers to him: Phil’s Colon.)

I am here to defend his right to make beautiful music or complete dreck if he wants to.

In my news feed today, I saw about a zillion stories about the petition asking that Phil Collins stop making music –or at least stop sharing it. I get that it was a joke. Honestly, I do. And I might have even said, in the past, that the world doesn’t need another (insert name of any multitude of bands here) album. I might have said that we didn’t need to see Mick Jagger after 1983. But I was wrong.

If I don’t want to hear those albums, I don’t have to listen. If I don’t want to see Old Mick, or the Old Monkees, or Old Madonna, or Old Morris Day, or Old Butthole Surfers, or the Old Replacements (who were great by the way), I don’t have to watch. But as I age up, there is something comforting about knowing these guys are still strutting around a stage. There is something comforting about knowing that Jeff Lynne can put out a new album (in stores Nov. 13th in case you were wondering) and someone out there will buy it.

Artists need to create. It’s what they do. Maybe it’s all they can do. And there’s no reason for them to stop when they get old, just because when we see them, with their leathered skin and post-menopausal physiques, we feel old, too.

Closer to home for me is JK Rowling, who clearly doesn’t need me to defend her, either, but here goes: It’s true that she will probably never achieve what she did with Harry Potter, no matter how much longer she writes. But just because she peaked early doesn’t mean she should disappear and never write again. Personally, I’ve liked the other stuff she’s created. It’s still art. And for me – maybe not for you but for me – it’s still well worth the read.

I am hoping that I have not yet peaked in my own writing career. And I’m lucky that nobody’s yet said (publicly) that I’m a wanker and that I should go crawl into a Dumpster. I’m lucky that nobody is trying to save the world from me. Should that happen, I hope there will be someone out there to tell everyone else to leave me alone because I’ve still got something to say. Apparently, Phil Collins still has something to say, too. So go ahead, Phil: Do what you need to do. We don’t all have to listen, but we hear you.

Posted in art, music, phil collins | Tagged | 4 Comments