EARTH DAY 2019 and a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids

Happy EARTH DAY 2019. I can hardly believe that next year will mark the 50th Anniversary. Where were you on that day in 1970? I think Stuart and I were collecting litter at one of our favorite fly-fishing spots on the Shepaug River in Washington, Connecticut.


It was a place like that which inspired me to write FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Book. And I was fortunate to have the amazing talent of Mirka Hokkanen to bring the story to life with her modern woodcuts. For more thoughts about how we can protect endangered animals, please hop over to Ronna Mandel’s blog, Goodreads with Ronna, and say hello – I’m chatting about Earth Day and the environment and why I wrote FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN in the hopes that it would encourage children to cherish their world and its wildlife.

We are all storytellers. One of the things that fills me with wonder and joy is when I interact with kids at schools, libraries, and bookstore events. They love listening to the story I read. But even more than that, they want to tell me THEIR stories.

And that is what #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is all about.


We want to encourage young kids to discover the storyteller that lives in them.

And we also want them to understand the value of each word.


In past years, we’ve had entries from Singapore, Canada, France, Ireland, England, Switzerland, and more than a dozen states across the USA. I’m hoping, having connected with teachers and librarians on my round-the-world trip, that we will have an even wider reach this year. #50PreciousWordsforKids coincides with Children’s Book Week and makes a fabulous activity for that event. Please spread the word to teachers, parents, librarians, and other childcare facilitators.


  • Children ages 12 and under participate
  • Story must be 50 words or less…title does NOT add to the word count
  • Story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • Story can be happy or sad, rhyme or prose, true or make-believe
  • Teachers can have students write individually, in teams, or as a collaborative class project
  • Homeschool parents can send one story per child
  • Please email all stories to me:
  • I will post all of the stories on my blog on May 11
  • A mini author Skype visit will be randomly awarded to one class per grade level
  • Please contact me if you have any questions:

Thank you so much for stopping by…I’m actually in Chicago right now…helping my granddaughter celebrate her 6th birthday and then connecting with some kidlit friends who live in the Chicago area.

And on Thursday, I’ll be over at Cathy Ogren’s website, talking about how I used mentor texts during the process of writing SWEET DREAMS, SARAH. Please join me  over there for a visit.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And I’ll see you back here on Friday when I post a review of Jodi McKay’s PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE. I read it to Sophie via Skype and she loved it and totally got all the puns!



Have Books – Will Travel —————— Where in the World are Vivian, Sarah, Pippa, and Those Tobogganing Otters?


Hello my friends and welcome!

I wanted to share some of the events coming up on my calendar in the next few months.

February 2: Today is Groundhog Day – what will he do???? Susanna Hill, author of Punxatawney Phyllis might know.

punxatawney phyllis

But if you want to know what I am doing for the next six weeks or more, here’s a brief (or not so brief) itinerary so if you are interested (and I hope you are), you’ll be able to keep track of me Continue reading

I’m In Texas Today…Well, Almost!

Hello dear friends!

Author Melissa Stoller invited me to her blog today and I hope you’ll pop over there and join the chat as she asks me THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT STORIES, CREATIVITY, AND CONNECTION.

And guess what? Leave a comment on her blog and you might win a picture book critique from yours truly.

Hope to see you there!!

Please don’t forget that the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge post will go live on March 2…that is only FOUR DAYS AWAY…have you sharpened your pencils?