Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Launch Party

On Saturday, September 7, I'm officially launching the third Joe and Sparky book, Joe and Sparky Go to School, at my favorite local bookstore, Barrington Books.

We'll be celebrating books and back-to-school with face painting, cupcakes, treats (including a turtle-shaped watermelon if I can manage it), giveaways, crafts, games, and a raffle. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Next Big Thing! ~ a global blog tour

I’ve been tagged by Brian Rock, author of The Deductive Detective, to participate in The Next Big Thing!, a global blog tour about children’s books that started in Australia. (Go check out his post!)

I’ll be talking about my brand-new early reader, Joe and Sparky Go to School, illustrated by the hilarious Frank Remkiewicz of Froggy fame.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
Kids! After meeting lots of elementary students as a visiting author, I thought it would be fun to send Joe Giraffe and Sparky Turtle to school with them. But I didn’t have the story’s conflict until my son came home from school wearing a star sticker for good behavior. Joe and Sparky each try to earn a star, with Sparky succeeding and Joe, well, not so much . . .

"Paint something you love" does not mean "Paint your friend."

What genre does your book fall under?
Early Reader

Which actors would star in a move rendition of your book?

Joe Giraffe is loud, adventurous, and tall. Sparky Turtle, on the other hand, is cautious, grumpy, and bald. So let's cast . . .

Will Ferrell as Joe Giraffe

Ed Asner as FDR Sparky Turtle

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The endearing and mismatched pals accidentally latch onto a big yellow bus and leave the cageless zoo for their first trip to school.

Who published your book?
Candlewick Press

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A week or so, but the revision process was much longer. In the original version, Joe and Sparky wait by the boys' restroom, but don’t go inside. My brilliant editor asked me to bring them inside of the bathroom, and that scene is now an entire chapter. Joe and Sparky believe they've discovered a magic pond. The water disappears -- AND IT COMES BACK AGAIN!!

What other books would you compare this story to within your own genre?
Reviewers have compared the story to Amelia Bedelia and Frog and Toad. I’ll take it!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My two sons (who had lots to say about the bathroom scene), their school, and bits of our everyday life. For example, our town library's guinea pig, Rudy, makes a cameo appearance as the class pet.

What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?

Joe and Sparky Go to School is the third book in a series. For more Joe and Sparky shenanigans, read Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels and Joe and Sparky, Superstars!

Now I’m sending you across the pond to meet the Next Big Thing, author-illustrator Paula Bowles. She’ll be talking about her adorable and uplifting picture book What Goes Up! Check out her blog on August 12 for her answers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Toodle-dee-doo . . . It's here, it's here!

It's the big day! JOE AND SPARKY GO TO SCHOOL releases today. For a sneak peek, check out the book trailer . . .

To celebrate, we're whooping it up at  Scribbling in the Garret, blog of my good friend and fellow author, Cynthia Platt.

Cynthia's blog is a must-read. As a children's book author, editor and an MFA student (holy cow!), she knows a thing or two about writing for kids. She blogs about her writing adventures with humor and a healthy dose of pop culture.

We had a fun chat about teacher sayings, the Hokey Pokey, and early readers. Plus she's hosting a BOOK GIVEAWAY! Just write the name of your favorite teacher in her blog's comments section to enter to win a signed copy of JOE AND SPARKY GO TO SCHOOL. Visit Scribbling in the Garret for more info.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A NEW Joe and Sparky Adventure

JOE AND SPARKY GO TO SCHOOL (Candlewick Press, June 2013)

Yippee! Look who's headed your way this June!

Joe and Sparky take an unintended field trip to school in their third adventure. When they get there, they discover that there’s a lot to learn, like that the restroom is full of little magic "ponds," that you’re supposed to count the peas in math, not eat them, and that the goal of the day seems to be to get a star.

I'm ecstatic about this book because 1. Frank Remkiwicz's illustrations are snort-milk-out-of-your-nose HILARIOUS; 2. This story was inspired by all the amazing students I've met at school visits; and 3. Joe and Sparky encounter a bathroom for the first time, a scene that my sons have been asking me to write since they could talk. (You know you have the best editor ever when she asks you to expand the bathroom scene.)

JOE AND SPARKY GET NEW WHEELS in the Candlewick Press Spring 2013 catalog

You can pre-order a copy at, your local independent bookstore, or anywhere books are sold.

Stay tunes for a giveaway, fun activities, and more details . . .