Guess How Much God Loves You

“It’s a great story because the girl was dreaming that she was in it, and she was also listening to her grandpa read the Bible. She slept on a bear like a pillow, and she was also holding a little baby lion. I loved the girl.”
~Eliana, 7, Junior Book Reviewer

My review partner clearly identified with Lucy and joined in her fantasy of witnessing the miracle of creation firsthand. What a compelling presentation of the beginning of all things, and the love of the Creator for each of us! I suggest that parents and caregivers be ready with a simple explanation of the plan of salvation, as they may find children particularly receptive after this moving story.

I received a free copy of this book; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Will your book be “better than the movie”?

T. Davis Bunn’s characters come to life for me–so much so that I continue to wonder about them after he’s finished his part of the story.  I hope to meet Attorney Marcus Glenwood again!

The Great Divide

Why does the book so often trump the movie?

Here are a few reasons:

As the movie director, you watch the story play out before your eyes in the way that you can best relate to it. The characters may resemble, physically and psychologically, people you know, and may even help you to understand others better.

The movie is three hours long, with no chance to replay your favorite parts (if you’re in a movie theatre), but you can savour the book at your own pace.

You can HOLD the book. I like to keep glancing back at the cover picture, or the picture of the author I’m appreciating more and more.

Straightforward enough. But that took me to a deeper question—how can we keep our stories playing in our readers’ minds?

We’ve all started to read a book, then put it down because we’ve lost interest. And we’ve stayed up too late reading other books.

CSMSAC blog post 2019-09 sleepy

Even with the caveat that what’s fascinating to me (Biblical fiction, Christian suspense) may be boring to you (What? You like sports stories?), we acknowledge that skilled writers in every genre know how to keep interest high.

So how do we—like Bunn and other skilled authors—learn to keep our readers’ interest?

  • Read successful authors in your genre. Read their work silently and out loud. Immerse yourself in it. Unknown to them, Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain were my mentors when I began to write picture books for children. They also mentored the artist for my first two books.
  • Study the craft via free or paid resources and courses.
  • Pay close attention to what the beta readers of your stories tell you. Their opinions may not be based on a university degree in literature, but they will be based on what your readers like.
  • Consider joining a community of writers. When I was writing magazine articles, our library was hosting a weekly meeting for writers that provided useful feedback. The online Authors Community offers a free Starter membership that will give you friendly access to other writers as well as editors, illustrators, and other professionals.

It’s a big world out there, with millions of potential readers. Will our stories be read?

Categories: Journey | 1 Comment

Making a (Picture Book) Dummy is a Smart Idea

Coralie (Scissortown artist and spaghetti sorter) diagnosed the problem–I had Tina’s mom adding sardines to the spaghetti AFTER she’d added a whole onion to another batch.

I had printed off Scissortown as a Word doc, then cut the text into strips and taped them onto pages of 8” x 8” paper. I then taped the rough line drawings of Coralie’s pictures to the pages. That’s when I knew something was wrong, and the artist diagnosed the problem: I’d mixed up the spaghettis. But you’ll have to read the story to find out why the invading Slicers and Dicers made for such unorthodox culinary measures. 😊

Unless you have a great ability to visualize, and maybe even then, a picture book dummy is critical to see how your story flows. The dummy can be quite fancy, or—like mine—drop dead simple. However you make it, this tool will help you see how much text is on each page, where it should go in relation to the pictures for variety and greatest effect, and how to place suspenseful material on the righthand page to invite your young reader to turn the page.

16-17 w text


This author is much “artsier” than some of us, but you might enjoy watching him construct a dummy for his picture book.

This post gives useful information on the physical construction of a picture book (not something I’d given much thought to till I started writing them).

I find the instructions in this post very clear.

Lisa’s guidelines for evaluating your book dummy will also help you evaluate the story itself.

Speaking of which, I sent Marie and Mr. Bee to an online author/editor friend in the hope of getting some pre-publication buzz. What I got was a very kind reply that I wouldn’t want her to review the story because it had plot holes. Making a book dummy helped my son and me lay out the book to make the story clear, making minor adjustments to the wording while paying careful attention to page turns.

Also, Coralie’s art did what it was supposed to do: clarify, enhance, and add credibility to the story line. For example, the “Super Grow Tree Co” labels on the trees in the picture above were Coralie’s idea to explain how the trees grew so fast.

Please note below the matching teacups and lamp, the warm glow of the lamp, the aging Mr. Bee’s glasses and gray hair, and the fact that Marie is knitting him a sweater. None of these are mentioned in the text, but they add a richness beyond words as we see Marie caring for her elderly little friend.

Interestingly, when I invited this online friend to take a look at the story after it was laid out, she gave it five stars and made no mention of plot holes.

So there you have it: a do-it-yourself visual aid that will be invaluable if you indie publish and will be working directly with your illustrator. If you’re seeking a traditional publisher, you will probably not be asked for suggestions for illustrations. However, making a book dummy will help you get the best possible flow for your story.

Please visit eBookChristian to learn about my picture books for children (both print and digital), and my Authors Community (AC) vendor page for editing services.

If you’re an aspiring children’s book writer, please check out the benefits of a free membership in the Authors Community, and the value in the Manuscript Bundle.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

A Challenge to Children’s Book Writers


I blow the dust off my sunglasses before I start driving. So does four-year-old Ellie. She doesn’t have sunglasses, nor is she driving, but that doesn’t stop her from imitating my actions.

On a deeper level, the iron-willed and compassionate “Lady with the Lamp” changed lives not only for the wounded soldiers of her day, but for all who would follow her in the nursing profession, and for their patients.

As children’s book authors, can we be agents of change with stories of men and women, boys and girls, and even animals that model kindness and initiative to an eager audience?

Who are your real-life heroes? Perhaps there is someone you could interview and photograph for a story. A veteran, maybe, or a foster parent. When our infant granddaughter failed to thrive in the hospital just after birth, her surgeon asked a social services agency to provide someone who would visit the child frequently. They responded with Tricia, a foster mom who spent hour after hour, day after day, visiting and singing to the little girl until it was time for her to leave the hospital. And now, in the home provided by her adoptive parents (our daughter and son-in-law), this child continues to thrive. Perhaps you know a “Tricia,” an unassuming person who quietly teaches us that kindness rules.

I like Saving Joey: A True-life Story, for the author’s sensitive portrayal of his birth mother’s grief and concern, and the tough decision she made to provide a good life for her baby the only way she knew how. I can see this story being of great comfort to an adopted child, especially one who was “abandoned” in a place where s/he was sure to be found.

Saving Joey

But heroism is not confined to people! Perhaps you could write about a service dog, or a search and rescue dog. My mother’s rescued cat repaid the kindness, alerting me when my mother needed an ambulance.

However, a story need not be true to teach a powerful truth. After all, surely the most famous kindness story of all is The Good Samaritan, told by the King of storytellers!

Will you and I help make the world a kinder, gentler place by writing about heroes that show us how it’s done?

During storytime, kids are especially receptive to lessons that teach values. Stories of kindness will reach their hearts in way that direct discussions never can.

And, if you’re looking for help and companionship in your writing journey, please check out the Authors Community, for which I edit children’s picture books. There you’ll get to know a group of people who share their joys and struggles, and who give and receive advice freely.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Libraries–a Key to Author Success or a Poor Second Choice?

library defense

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.

–Albert Einstein.

The program facilitator got a little more than she bargained for when she handed four-year-old Eliana the lion puppet. Who’d have anticipated such loud, long, and repeated roars from a little girl dressed in her Sunday best? But such is the way with library programs–skilled facilitators who promote language and literacy in fun and creative ways, eager participants, and grateful parents.

Fierce felines aside, let’s get down to the business of selling books …

I cheerfully presented Marie and Mr. Bee to our Acting Children’s Librarian. But rather than snatch it from me with eager hands, he said, “I’ll check in our computer and see how well your other book is doing.” Scissortown (the “other book”) passed muster, and the library bought Marie and Mr. Bee. That book must have passed muster as well, as the library then purchased my tale of a library-loving rabbit.

What a lesson for me! I remember a post by an author who urged us to buy books in order to support authors–a great idea! But when he suggested that we borrow their books from the library if we had to, my feathers got ruffled.

Is the library really a poor second choice?

As I mentioned above, the librarian checked to see how my first book was doing before buying the second one.

As Eliana’s grandmother, I love my free library card! It gives me access to any book in any public library in our province, and our local library brings these books in for me free of charge. I read book blogs and Facebook posts about picture books that I think would interest Eliana, and then check to see if I can borrow them. I could not afford to buy all these books for Eliana–and why would I want to? But–most of the books for which I’ve posted reviews are library books.

Even before the above charmer was part of our lives, I borrowed children’s picture books to read to a weekly story circle at my grandson’s after school care. What a rich learning experience that was!

Our library has hosted a book launch for me, and also provided venues and events where I can read and sell my books.

The Public Lending Right program pays Canadian authors when selected Canadian libraries buy their books.

Library access is a privilege. Let’s enjoy, appreciate, utilize, and promote this privilege!

By the way, are you an author looking for help and companionship in your writing journey? If so, please check out the Authors Community, for which I edit children’s picture books. There you’ll get to know a group of people who share their joys and struggles, and who give and receive advice freely.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Stories and Their Gifts to Children

Do stories have any rivals when it comes to learning to empathize with those who are like us—and with those who are not like us, but still have the same feelings? I’m reminded of a friend who grew up in an environment that might be termed “difficult.” He went on to become both an advocate for people with disabilities and a mediator. This man credited his people skills and empathy to the fact that, as difficult as things were at home sometimes, he was allowed to read and had access to a well stocked home library.


Who has not heard of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, the mouse that nibbled the lion’s net and set the beast free, and Little Red Riding Hood? The parables of Christ, Aesop’s fables, fairy tales, and modern stories . . . all have lessons to teach us and the children in our lives.

Perhaps there are unintentional lessons. “Little Red Riding Hood,” with its age-old warning to young girls not to talk to strangers, is all well and good, but what of the runaway cookie that gets eaten by a fox? What I learn from this story is that lying gets you dinner. ☹

Now I’d like to invite you to take a look at two of my favorites—The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree, a modern story with an overt Bible lesson, and Wilderness Cat, a realistic story with subtle, implied lessons in a pioneer setting.

Forgiving Tree

In The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree, Brother Bear is crushed when Cousin Fred accidentally damages his brand new bike. Why should he forgive? And he doesn’t—until Sister Bear finds him sulking in the tree house and points out the faded red line dividing the house in half. A fierce quarrel had led the siblings to draw the line and fume, each on their own side, until a rainstorm left them soaking and miserable—but with the quarrel behind them. Brother Bear forgives Fred, and Mama and Papa Bear reinforce the message that God requires us to forgive each other. Age-old wisdom for modern times!

If you wish to present Bible truths as such, I recommend checking out The Berenstain Bears Living Lights Series. These upbeat, contemporary stories with clear Christian messages are proving immensely popular with Christian parents and educators. What can we learn from their success?

Wilderness Cat  highlights God’s provision to a pioneer family through their faithful cat. Most young children like animals, but this quiet story held the children in the story circle particularly enthralled. I think they strongly identified with the hero, who obediently but with great difficulty gives her beloved cat to a neighbor before the family begins their 50-mile trek to Canada. I find Serena’s obedience significant, not only for the respect she shows her parents, but also because of how the story ends.

Mama says God will provide—but how is that even possible when Papa and Luke have walked back to the US to earn cornmeal for the winter, and Mama and the girls have finished the last of the food in the cupboard?

That night, Serena dreams she hears her cat crying. Or is it a dream? She opens the door to find that her pet has not only found them, he has a snowshoe hare in tow. Papa and Luke return and a feast follows, as well as a promise from Mama that they will never leave their faithful kitty behind again.

Perhaps you know older people whose stories of struggle and triumph would, if skillfully presented, interest children today.

Speaking of Biblical values, in 15 Bible Stories Not for VBS author DiAne Gates explains why some stories don’t work well for children. If you aim to re-tell Bible stories to make them more accessible to young children, this article may offer some helpful guidance.

If you prefer a more secular approach to values, I recommend Kes Gray’s Leave Me Alone: A Tale of What Happens When You Stand Up to a Bully, with its eight unlikely heroes. Their courage and determination to help a sad and frightened little victim send a giant—“so big he blocks the sun”—stomping and sneering off into oblivion. It’s a favorite of three-year-old Ellie’s. She and I love to watch the meanie stomp away, and to see the smile on the little boy’s face as he says, “I never saw him after that And I know I never will.” This simple story reminds us that we need each other, meanies can very quickly become cowards, and even the smallest of us has important work to do.

leave me alone giant             Little Croc

For a more complex plot, I believe Little Croc’s Purse is worth a look. I loved reading it to the children age five and up at our local day care. Suspense and danger kept them enthralled—will Little Croc, in his determination to act with integrity, make it past mean Murdock? The cad wants to steal the purse that Little Croc is turning in to the police station! Not to mention Little Croc’s friends, who ridicule his choice to be honest.

But there’s also internal conflict. As Little Croc makes his way to the station, he meets a crocodile wearing a sign board that says “Help Old Crocs.” How important is that? Then he sees a pair of lovely red boots–on special no less. And how about a cool glass of lemonade? Surely he could borrow from the rightful owner . . . or could he?

The author/illustrator does a beautiful job of presenting these conflicts with huge doses of humor and cuteness. And there’s also the matter of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for doing the right thing. Mrs. Doolally’s gratitude for the return of her purse is heartwarming—and so is her generosity. The story doesn’t stop there, but goes on to present some basic budgeting concepts as our hero decides how to spend, save, and share his reward money.

In addition to honesty, I suspect that most of us also want to promote empathy. I like Are You My Mother? for its portrayal of a situation young children can easily relate to. It also features repetition, which is so valuable for beginning talkers and readers; clear, expressive illustrations; and a surprising resolution to Baby Bird’s predicament.


Check out Tanglebird for a humorous, lighthearted approach to initiative and compassion, and A Storm Called Katrina for a more serious, realistic approach.

Tanglebird       Katrina

Taking Care of Sister Bear is a gentle story about a pesky baby sister that drives home a powerful truth: there is a heightened appreciation in the love we feel for those we have almost lost.

Sister Bear

Are you interested in “normalizing disability”? In Marie and Mr. Bee the hero, who just happens to use a wheelchair, is an equal and beloved partner in work and play. Her forest friends make accommodations for her without comment, and Marie pays the price for making a bad choice just as the rest of us do. Children with disabilities and their parents say they appreciate this approach. Perhaps you, too, have a statement to make about people who might be considered less important because they cannot do some of the things that many others can.

2015-10-26 Cover Working Copy

Besides “lying gets you what you want” and “people with disabilities are somehow less,” are there other themes or values you might want to avoid, or even counteract?

According to the American Psychological Association, “there are three major effects of watching violence in the media (i.e. video games/television): children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others.” We can surmise that books portraying violence would have the same effect.

On the other hand, I read of a study that concluded that children who watched portrayals of violent acts might or might not be more likely to commit them—it depended how the villain and victim were portrayed. If the villain was someone the viewer respected, the influence was negative. But if the violence was portrayed from the victim’s point of view, the movie could promote compassion.

Food for thought?

As we read to little ones and also create stories for them, let us also be mindful of the opportunity and privilege to share ideas of enduring value.


Categories: Journey | 4 Comments

“Live Long and Prosper”–and Grow as a Children’s Book Writer

As a young person I loved the original Star Trek series, and as a considerably less young person I enjoyed Star Trek re-runs with my husband and children. And now, having written three picture books for children, I like to think that the Science Officer on the USS Enterprise would have found the lessons learned from my first book “fascinating”–or at least “interesting.” 

2014-09-10 Square e-book cover LA

First, the story line


  • The story was very engaging. The Slicers and Dicers reminded me of Dr. Seuss, and that you used a pet as the ultimate hero was fabulous. Even as an adult I wanted to know what would happen.
  • A delightful story with many layers of meaning.
  • The book is a sweet surprise! The story line may raise questions, but will also encourage conversation with your kids.
  • I loved it every step of the way! It is intriguing, unique and beautiful!
  • I’ve read it several times. I see more details that I like the more times I read it. I thought it was very cool how the children are distracting them with stories about nail clippers, bread knives and can openers, and the onion floating in the spaghetti sauce is so funny. It’s so different from today’s stories.
  • I have read my children many stories, but I have not read them one like this. So unique! Such depth!
  • You can have a lot of fun reading this book over and over to young ones.
  • I could easily picture adults in the late 1960’s commenting on how ‘far out’ the story is—and that is ‘far out’ in the very good sense—that capacity of boundless joyful imagination. This story had that for me and I give it a strong recommendation.


  • Reading your story, I was left with a raft of unresolved questions which made me doubt the quality of the story as appropriate either for children or the adults who might be reading it to them. . . . I can only suggest that once you have created your stories, you take some time to read them with a more intellectually critical eye.
  • There were a few points when my son interrupted to ask why different things were happening in the book (like why the Slicers and Dicers destroying things and why no one was doing anything to stop them, or why kids’ hair was growing so fast), and I didn’t have a better answer than “because.”
  • Although an innocuous story, the book paints the large hippopotamuses as the destroyers of the town and they are tricked into leaving instead of given ways to stay and stop cutting up everything. This may promote those who are fat or heavy are destructive and not to talk it out to resolve a problem.

Lessons learned

Is this a real thing?

Some people had problems with the unrealistic Scissortown story line. And yet—no one asks why Mama Bear cooks porridge rather than venison for breakfast, or why she cooks at all, or why the Three Bears live in a house rather than a cave. I think that somehow Scissortown may be a sort of cross-genre story—both reality and fantasy—that throws some people off. My other stories have not had this problem.

My second book, Marie and Mr. Bee, has had a much smoother ride. It features a young girl who lives in a cabin in the woods, where she works and plays with the talking animals. Perhaps the “Once upon a time” nature of the story is more apparent right from the beginning. 

No one has expressed a problem with the story line in Little Bunny’s Own Storybook—Little Bunny’s call to initiative and creativity is unhindered by the lack of reading rabbits in the real world.

Weighty matters

A few reviewers expressed concern about “fat shaming” re Scissortown’s hippo-like Slicers and Dicers, a thought that had crossed my mind when writing the story. There have not been any such problems in the other books. Marie’s irritating little nemesis becomes a good friend, and the only “villains” in Little Bunny’s world—a gentle looking wolf, some very cute pirates, and, of course, the librarian who closes his favorite place for inventory—have all been well received.

How about the message?

Please note: The inside back cover (last page of the “Scissortown” e-book) offers children encouragement to show kindness and take the initiative. The faith-based version features two Bible children as examples. Some of the following comments apply to both versions, others to the faith-based only.


  • I really enjoyed this story and loved that it had this important message for children.
  • It teaches children the importance of being responsible and using their thinking skills to solve problems.
  • A story with a message—always important for today’s “techno” young people.
  • I loved the faith based part at the back. It felt reassuring and loving to read what you have written.
  • An unexpected ending that challenged me to rethink the “shushing” of children.
  • I appreciated the many opportunities the book gave to lead into meaningful discussion, as well as the flexibility to pull various life lessons from it.
  • The message that children are important, have a voice and are contributing individuals is affirming. The ending is a beautiful reminder of the Kingdom value that Jesus places on children. Indeed—they are precious in His sight!


  • When I read my children a story, I want them to take away more than there is to offer here. . . . The faith-based application falls short in actually offering anything that children can use to apply to daily life. The two verses offered at the end of the book do portray real biblical stories where children helped adults, but that’s the entirety of faith-based application.
  • Children are quite intelligent enough to be able to draw their own conclusions, in the same way that a congregation can draw their own conclusions from a clear exposition of Scripture often without any “application” needing to be spelled out.

Lessons learned

It’s a set-up

A few reviewers found the faith-based application at the back of Scissortown inadequate, while others found the presence of an overt application a bit surprising. Marie and Mr. Bee, on the other hand, features a Note to Parents on the inside front cover that “sets up” the reader to look for a faith-based or secular (but moral) application as s/he shares the story with the child. The last page has Marie reading to Mr. Bee from the Book of John and the Book of Proverbs, or from her and Mr. Bee’s very own storybook. This scene, with the elderly Mr. Bee sitting on Marie’s lap, a tiny and a regular teacup on the side table, and Marie’s “Tiny Sweaters Pattern Book” in the knitting basket, seems to provide a very satisfying ending.

Page 24 Proverbs 12,14b Version

Themes that work

It is interesting that the Note to Parents, outside back cover, and last scene in the story appear to be entirely adequate for the Proverbs Version of Marie and Mr. Bee. I think that’s not only because the reader has been “set up” to look for the lessons, but also because the themes of diligence in work, reaping the consequences of our actions, forgiveness, and compassion resonate with Christian readers. So does the overall theme of Scissortown—that children have important contributions to make. However, in a culture where parents and teachers are dealing with bullying and brutality, Marie’s themes of forgiveness and compassion may shine most brightly.

The themes of both books also work very well for those who prefer secular literature. Indeed, the element of choice—religious or secular—has been a strong selling point for both Scissortown and Marie. Many customers who buy these books as gifts like the option of giving different versions to different families.

Little Bunny’s love of books, his ability to solve problems with initiative and creativity, his parents’ role in supporting his efforts, and the invitation to children to write their own stories, are woven into the plot. This approach has worked very well, but is only possible where there’s only one version.

Does it appeal to kids?

  • This sweet tale will enchant any child, not least through its amusing exploration of the possible consequences of a life without scissors.
  • The kids thought it was so funny! They loved it!
  • I LOVE this book! (comment by a seven-year-old)
  • My grandson was thoroughly enraptured and wanted me to read it over and over again.
  • What a delightful children’s story – appealing to a child’s imagination and demonstrating the wonderful gift of the author’s imagination.
  • Kids everywhere will appreciate a book about “sharp things.”
  • My six-year-old son gave this book 5 stars, so I’ll honour that review. He said his favourite part was the grown-ups making a big mistake hiding all the sharp things.
  • My kids have read it over and over!

Lessons learned

From the audience 

All three books have kid appeal. I attribute this in part to what I’ve learned from sharing a variety of stories with my grandchildren, and during story circles at various venues.

From other authors

Reviewing my top picks is also helpful, as I reflect on what makes these stories work so well.

From feedback

I must also credit my small but merciless army of beta readers—family members and friends who give honest and helpful feedback.

From the pros 

Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul and You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E. Dils have been rich sources of instruction. You may also wish to check out Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market, a good basic guide for the beginning writer by Kathleen M. Muldoon, .

How’s the artwork?

  • Illustrations are beautiful and an integral part of the whole.
  • The cover page is really nice. It grabs one’s attention from the beginning, and the illustrations are good for the kids to follow.
  • Your artist is excellent.
  • It tells a wonderful story through beautiful images, even the dastardly Slicers and Dicers!
  • Scissortown is a fun, beautifully illustrated story.
  • You and the illustrator have done a fantastic job!
  • The illustrations are captivating!

Lesson learned

The illustrations of both Coralie and Nataly have been well received, reaffirming the importance of choosing the right artist. In my experience, “the right artist” is one who is willing to follow the writer’s suggestions, but will also speak up when something doesn’t seem right, and will generously contribute his or her own ideas and vision. In World Building for a Little Girl I detail some of Coralie’s contributions to the world Marie shares with her forest friends.

In conclusion, let’s learn from the masters; pay attention to our editors, beta readers, reviewers, and audience—and enjoy the journey!

About Margaret

Propelled by the welcome question, “Grandma, can you tell me a story?” Margaret Welwood has enjoyed the journey from adult non-fiction writer and editor to children’s picture book writer and editor. In Life A (which she revisits from time to time), she edited a business magazine, a Writer’s Digest award-winning non-fiction book, and a five-star Bible study book. Now in Life B, she babysits charming grandchildren (her target audience), and writes and edits picture books for children and short non-fiction pieces for adults.

Please visit Grandma’s Bookshelf to learn about Margaret’s picture books for children, and her editing services. Margaret’s books are available on Amazon.

She invites you to connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Linkedin and Twitter.


Categories: Journey | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Immersion Experience–what is it about some children’s picture books that keeps little ones asking for them again and again?

Eliana reading CSMS

After all, the 1960 Green Eggs and Ham is still a runaway best seller on Amazon, and The Runaway Bunny is still a winner after 75 years. What can we learn from their success, and the success of other children’s storytellers?

In this article I explore success from the vantage point of a children’s book writer and grandmother, with links to some of my favorite stories for sharing.

Love Daddy


Categories: Journey | Tags: , | Leave a comment

This is what happens . . .

when a writer drives home on April 17, grateful she’s wearing her winter parka and snow boots, sees truckers chaining up, and calls her husband from the entrance to the driveway to navigate the vehicle through the snow.

Snow is high and snow is low.

It’s hard to drive and hard to go.

Sun is bright and sun is warm.

When will it do that snow some harm?

Trees are bare but ground is not.

Hopes for camping are all shot.

Spring is here, or so they say.

I know it’s true though sky is gray.

Birds will sing and grass be green.

Blooms and bright leaves will be seen.

So now I wait here in the snow,

for spring will come View from our acreageand cold will go.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lions, Tigers and Bears? Oh, no!—Guest Post by “Astro’s Adventures” Author Susan Day

Insights into the role of animals in children’s literature, from Aesop’s fables to classic fairy tales to modern stories.

Susan Day SMILING FACES smallerHave you ever wondered why so many children’s books have animals as their main characters?

Now, we can look at Aesop. His fables go back thousands of years and are, of course, laced with naughty foxes, silly goats and cunning rabbits. They were created to teach his audience important lessons that would help them survive and become better people.

In stories such as “The Ugly Duckling” and even “Little Red Riding Hood,” animals play an important instructional role, representing the many sides of human nature. They can be mean and sneaky like the Big Bad Wolf, or naïve and vulnerable like the Little Duckling.

However, did you know that there are other reasons why children’s authors choose animals as their characters?

Many children’s books were created to help children learn more about themselves. They focus on values such as sharing, generosity, kindness and friendship. They aim to teach children how they can best shape their characters and be happier, well-rounded people.

No race, no culture, no color, no class

Can you think of a children’s book which has an animal as the main character? There are thousands available. Was the animal of a particular race? Did he or she come from a particular religious or ethnic culture? Did the animal have a particular skin color or come from a particular class?

It’s likely that the animal was blue or purple, or perhaps green, and that he or she had no particular race or ethnic background. And, that is the author’s intention.

Limited gender, too

All animals have a gender, they have to be either male or female. However, they are not defined by their gender. They have their adventure, solve the mystery, and face their fears as an animal first, boy or girl second.

Authors choose animals because they represent none of the things above. This allows the author to create a character which is immediately identifiable to any child who reads the story. The author can start with a clean slate, as it were, on which they can mold and shape the exact scenario they want.

Children need to read stories which touch their hearts and minds. They need to be able to say, “Yes, that’s me,” when they pick up a book. When the stories are about animals, the message isn’t cluttered by whether the character is a boy or a girl or what nationality or culture it might come from.

The story can simply delight and charm, and be owned by all of its readers across the globe because it speaks directly to them all.

Children need to read books which were created to meet all their needs. They need to experience the lives and worlds of others. The use of animals is a surefire way to cut through any aspects that might stop the child from immediately identifying with the characters and their stories. They won’t look at a book and see a child from another culture or the opposite gender, and think “That’s not me, I can’t identify with them.” They’ll look at a book with a rabbit on the cover and ponder, “I think and act like him. I have done silly things and wonderful things, too. This book could be about me. I could be a hero like this character.”

About the author – Susan Day

susan Day head shot smallSusan Day is a children’s author and writer. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents, parents and teachers to support them in helping children become better readers. As well, Susan has created a guide to help grandparents build a more meaningful relationship with their grandchildren through their love and passion for books.

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. And, apart from blogging, writing and reading, she loves coffee, painting and learning to box.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at