from jack kerouac

Cloud 001

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

the sibert medal

The Sibert Medal is my FAVORITE book award. (sorry for yelling.) I am reading my way through this list and I haven’t come across a single title that hasn’t delighted and surprised me.

There doesn’t seem to be a particularly interesting story connected to the award’s creation. No matter. The books that have received the medal and honor are excellent. If you have a child (or a self) who is deeply curious about all kinds of things, look no further than the past Sibert Medal winners and the 2014 winners for intriguing titles. (I can’t find an integrated list anywhere.)

Here’s the official story: “The Robert Sibert Informational Book Award, established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. ALSC administers the award. Informational books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize and interpret documentable, factual material. Poetry and traditional literature such as folktales are not eligible but there is no other restriction.”

lovely links: March 2014

a little eye candy from 3191 Miles Apart (which is relevant to this site because books are printed on paper)

Studio Visits: The Atlas Powder Company via the School Library Journal

because I am crushing on Brian Floca’s work right now (see: Locomotive)

a totally great example of self-directed learning and a parent brave enough to follow (I just ordered 300 sheets of construction paper)

seven steps to getting published, from Keri Smith

children’s books are more important than many people make them out to be because they stick with readers the longest and ultimately shape their character

richard scarry unfinished manuscript to be published

because I love Mark Rothko’s art, seascapes (really)

reading Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, Dobry by Monica Shannon, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (easily the best pbb I’ve read this year), The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins



This winter has been tough.

We are living in a tiny cabin that makes entertaining impossible. The extreme cold has forced us to spend our time inside. I don’t know many people in town. My son takes two naps a day.

This winter has been awesome.

We are living in a tiny cabin that makes entertaining impossible (as a result I don’t spend much time cleaning). The extreme cold has forced us to spend our time inside (where we read a lot, write a lot, listen to music and stories, make art and make-believe). I don’t know many people in town (so I don’t have to answer any distracting phone calls or pretend that I want to get together when I really don’t). My son takes two naps a day (so we stay home and create).

once upon a time

My family received a set of Rory’s Story Cubes for Christmas and we have been enjoying them very much.

The concept is simple: there are 9 story cubes with a different image on each of the cube’s 6 facets. You roll the cubes, line them up the way you want and begin with “Once upon a time…” letting the images guide your story.

Very simple, very fun.

from roald dahl

Montana 007

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. Because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”



I am not supposed to write about this. I am supposed to appear cool, calm, collected. Professional. At ease. In command.

But, the reality is that I am none of those things. I’d like to just plug my ears and sing, “tra-la-la, tra-la-la” until this hard part passes but I know (I Know.) this doesn’t help.

I am stuck.

I finished the first (rough) draft of my picture book biography in early February in a fever of effort. Time has passed. I’ve received feedback from a few trusted readers. I’ve thought about the story. And I know that my manuscript falls short of my aspirations. I can name three ways in which it is lacking. (And I’m not talking about simple grammar or spelling errors.) I’m talking about the more elusive qualities of tone, form, energy.

I have questions. How do I manifest tone in words? How do I change the energy of  a manuscript? How do I learn about those things? Do I take a class? Which one? Do I read even more picture book biographies that I admire and try to glean lessons from them? Do I pay an experienced author to read my manuscript and give me feedback? Do I just stop writing? Take a break? If so, for how long? Do I apply for an MFA program? Do I find a critique group? Do I scrap this story and start anew? Perhaps I’ve chosen the wrong form for this subject? Maybe I should try harder? Is there such thing as trying too hard?

I just don’t know what to do.

What I do know is that no one is going to make this OK for me. I have to write this book. I have to struggle through it. I have to choose every single word.

So, for now, I wait.

I’m finishing a scrapbook, working on a quilt, trying some new recipes,  searching for a house. I’m using different parts of my brain. I’m letting the manuscript and my brain catch their breath.

And then on March 4 I’ll pick up my manuscript and try again.

lovely links: February 2014

Montana 023

Mem Fox is brilliant and she kindly shares some of her brilliance

Seth Godin, “But what if I fail?”

Kerlan Collection of Children’s Literature

Kate DiCamillo to Be Ambassador of Young People’s Literature

Albert Einstein for kids

Cynthia Rylant interview

reading Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, A History of the American People by Paul Johnson (this tome will take me a while), The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly, Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

from willa cather

Clouds 003“All this was very well for Harsanyi; an interesting variation in the routine of teaching. But for Thea Kronborg, that winter was almost beyond enduring. She always remembered it as the happiest and wildest and saddest of her life. Things came too fast for her; she had not had enough preparation. There were times when she came home from her lesson and lay up on her bed hating Wunsch and her family, hating a world that had let her grow up so ignorant; when she wished that she could die then and there, and be born over and begin anew. She said something of this kind once to her teacher, in the midst of a bitter struggle. Harsanyi turned the light of his wonderful eye upon her – poor fellow, he had but one, though that was set in such a handsome head – and said slowly: ‘Every artist makes himself born. It is very much harder than the other time, and longer. Your mother did not bring anything into the world to play piano. That you must bring into the world yourself.’” -  from The Song of the Lark