Author Archive

Alliguitar and Banjaguar

The first two musical alphabeasts


Many early readers of A is for A is for Alliguitar commented that the illustrator did a great job. So I asked Herb Leonhard to share his process.

First I gather visual research materials to help me create the various elements, in this case the animals, instruments and places that will need to be represented. Then I can begin to develop the characters themselves through more detailed pencil sketches. This is where the personalities of the animals are born! I do the entire book as pencil drawings and present that to the other people involved for suggestions and feedback. Then I redo the drawings as acrylic paintings.

Once it gets to the painting part, it becomes more “play” than “work”. Next I scan each painting into the computer and add additional painting, effects and corrections digitally with Photoshop. Sometimes I also paint several of the elements in a scene separately and bring them together digitally, so my work is very much a marriage of traditional and digital techniques.

Click on the “Fun Stuff for Kids” page to print a coloring page of alliguitar and banjaguar that Herb has prepared.  Many thanks to the illustrator!

A is for Alliguitar: Musical Alphabeasts should be available everywhere now. If you’d like a book label signed to someone special (including yourself!), contact me at

You can also get your copy hot off the press from the publisher here. Enjoy!

Outside the Waldwick Library with daughter Meghan Day, children's librarian extraordinaire

A great story time was had by all!


On a Windy Night book trailer is here. Play it if you dare!
(Click on the lower right corner for the full effect.)

Many thanks to the very talented Neal Jonas for putting this all together!

If Rocks Could Sing CoverSometimes  I come across a picture book that delights me–one where pictures and words have been put together with such mastery that I feel inspired. 

If Rocks Could Sing is such a book. Author Leslie McGuirk combed a Florida beach for years until she found rocks that resembled each alphabet letter–which required admirable patience–and a word that starts with each letter–which required admirable inventiveness. Her arrangement and photographs of these rocks are artful wonders as well. For example, “J is for Joy” shows a big fish-shaped rock nose-to-nose with a little one, both smiling, causing big and little readers to smile with joy, too.  Tricycle Press was the publisher, and its quirky, offbeat selections will be missed.

This is the kickoff of a blog series I will add to as I come across more such picture books–especially titles that may have escaped mainstream notice. Fellow children’s writers, librarians, and teachers, I hope you enjoy a look at these worthy new entries in the picture book genre! Stay tuned.

Use them or lose them! Find a southern independent bookstore here.

Use them or lose them! Click to find a southern independent bookseller.

BookstoreWindowOn a Windy Night has been included in the CCBC Choices 2011 booklet, the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center! The CCBC is a resource library at the University of Wisconsin in Madison for librarians, teachers, students, and anyone else interested in children’s literature. Read the complete list here.


Rush deGuzman trick-or-treated as a boomslang snake (a venomous African tree snake) this Halloween. Hands down, his was the scariest–and funniest– costume submitted, as well as most original! The costume was a labor of love on the part of his dad, stepmom, and her mom. Congrats–and a free signed copy–go to Rush and his family!

If you’ve ever wondered how an illustrator sees the picture book process, you’ll enjoy George Bates’ account on his blog here.

For more, click here for an interview with George Bates.

The illustrations in On a Windy Night show how young children’s imaginations can turn something real—an tree, a cornstalk, or a pumpkin—into something scarier. Two- to four-year-olds are able to imagine monsters, but are unable to reason them away as imaginary.

First, don’t tell children they’re being silly or babyish to be afraid. Assure your child that being afraid sometimes is normal—for people of all ages. Then support them in facing their fears for what they are.

Help your child experience whatever he or she fears in a safe situation. If he is afraid of the dark, let him sit on your lap looking at stars in the night sky as you point out constellations with a flashlight or visit the planetarium together. A dimmer switch can make his bedroom darker by degrees each night. Gradual is the way to go!

Fear can strike any time, not just at Halloween. Reading a book like On a Windy Night together provides an opening to talk with your child about her fears. LISTEN! Share with your child similar things you were afraid of as a child, but got past. Tell her that, in time, she will, too.