Tag Archives: Books

Where Hope Springs

Yesterday, I posted here for the first time in over a year. I was lucky to get to announce my friend Alison Goldberg’s cover reveal for her upcoming picture book I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES.

This morning, I’m scrolling back through all the supportive comments, the happy tweets and retweets, the Facebook joy and many shares of this important moment in Alison’s life and career. And once again, I see our community for what it is—a spring. A spring of unparalleled beauty, sparkling, life-giving, earth-quenching. A rushing source of courage and creativity and optimism, of belief in the value and potential of our young ones, of conviction that story matters and can make a vital difference.

I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES, like my BABYMOON and so many others, is a “love” book. It’s meant to invite moments of simple enjoyment between children and those who care for them, to help them snuggle, share a giggle, or dream of adventures. Books like this knit relationships together in warmth and safety.

But they do something more too. They nourish children with the good food of rich language, of deep caring, of a world that makes sense. Just because junk food exists—or deadly poison, for that matter—doesn’t mean it should be given to children. Junk—like cheap, thoughtless language. Or poison—like hatred, evil, violence.

There is no way to permanently protect children from these things, of course, and some never have a moment of peace between their first breath and the terrors of the world. But some do. I have to believe that if these young people are filled with good food, they will grow strong and happy. They will not be satisfied with junk or tempted by poison. They will have drunk from the spring of love, and that is permanent. It changes them. It makes them who they are meant to be, and we all need that. The whole world needs it.

So write the love books. Publish the love books. Fill our homes and libraries, shelters, schools, and park benches with them. And if you have the chance, pull a young one close and read one to them. Nourish them with laughter and hope. Encourage them to believe that a better world can exist. Because it can, and with their help and ours, it will.

Enjoy the day,



I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. I also blog for the agency at https://emusdebuts.wordpress.com.




Alison Goldberg’s Big Moment!

alisons-author-photoIt is my great honor to host Alison Goldberg today as she reveals the cover for her debut picture book, I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES, coming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux next December. (How will we wait??)

Alison, this is so exciting! I’ve watched this book transform from an idea to a manuscript. Now it’s almost a real book. How did you first get the idea?

Between the ages of two to four, my son was deep into trucks. My daughter loved building complicated train tracks. We lived and breathed vehicles for a few years. The bedtime game, “How much do you love me?” turned into a comparison of the size, strength, and length of all things that go. After many nights of coming up with these examples for my own children, I thought this could be a fun take on a love book.

I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES is *perfect* for children who love trucks, boats, planes, and trains! It’s sure to be a favorite of caregivers too, with enough heart to make story time a sweet, snuggly experience again and again.

With no further ado, here’s the gorgeous cover!


What did you think when you first saw the cover, Alison?

I was absolutely thrilled! There is so much movement and so much sweetness in Mike Yamada’s illustrations. The perspective of the plane flying toward the reader is incredible. And I love those bears!

Heavy-duty vehicles zoom, soar, and dig on every page. Mike Yamada’s dynamic, vibrant illustrations are packed with page-filling excitement! Here’s a bigger sneak peek:

 I especially like how I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES offers readers—both child and adult—the profound reassurance that, “Love can be stronger than the strongest excavator” and “steadier than the steadiest tugboat.” I can’t wait to preorder it and share it with the trucks-and-trains kids in my life.

So, do you have any advice for new picture book writers?

Revise, revise, revise.

 Also, finding critique partners to share the challenges and the joys of this process is so important. When you go to classes, conferences, or events, don’t be shy about approaching people.

 Hayley, we met in NYC at a SCBWI conference, even though we both live in the Boston area. I remember hearing you read a fabulous picture book manuscript at a roundtable and thinking, I need to connect with her!

I remember feeling the exact same way at the time, and now here we are! Congratulations, my friend!


More about Alison:

Alison Goldberg is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before becoming a children’s book author, Alison worked for economic justice organizations and wrote a resource guide about social change philanthropy. These days, she blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison is also a board member of the Food Research and Action Center, an organization committed to ending hunger in the United States.

Alison participates in Picture the Books, a group of picture book creators with 2017 debuts and is a member of The Writers’ Loft (thewritersloft.org) in Sherborn, MA. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Learn more about Alison and I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES at www.alisongoldberg.com or on Twitter @alisongoldberg.


The Almost ABCs of Your First SCBWI Conference

You’re doing it. Maybe you’ve meant to for a long while. Maybe it was a New Year’s resolution. Maybe you’ve just learned that a professional organization for children’s literature exists and you want to check it out. At any rate, you’ve decided to attend your first SCBWI conference.


The conference I know best is hosted by the New England chapter of SCBWI, or NESCBWI.

Don’t try to say it. Just. Don’t.

Anyway, NESCBWI is the largest regional conference in the country. Attendees are mostly from the New England states but not exclusively. Last year’s conference had visitors from Tennessee and South Dakota, if I remember correctly, and bookish people like editors, agents, and art directors come from all over. Prominent writers and others in the business swoop in from NYC, California, and even abroad to offer workshops, participate in panel discussions, and deliver keynotes.

None of this is free. Conferences, even regional ones, are expensive. You want to make the most of it and to help you do just that, I’ve assembled a list of tips. They are in sort-of alphabetical order. Know a good tip for K? Q? Feel free to chime in!

A is for Attire—Attire at conferences tends to the casual side of professional. Think spiffy and stylish but not fancy. Layers are a good idea. Why? The temperature varies from room to room. You’ll be sitting for long periods and then quickly moving between workshop rooms. Consider comfortable shoes. If feasible for you, taking the stairs is much quicker than waiting for a crowded elevator. You’ll bless me for suggesting you forgo the stilettos.

B is for Business cards—A must. There are lots of low-cost options. If you can, have them printed well before the conference to make sure they are correct and legible. Be sure to include all of your contact info including your (possibly brand-new) Twitter handle.

C is for Critiques—You’ll have to pay for these, so be smart and prepare your manuscript and/or portfolio ahead of time. These opportunities fill up fast and if you’re not ready to submit your stuff right away, you might miss your chance. Read the directions carefully so you’ll know what to do.

D is for Dog—Tons of children’s books are about dogs. They are universally beloved.

E is for Etiquette—The children’s literature world is a small one. Very small. Everyone knows everyone and no matter how excited you are to reveal your work to a waiting world, you must not follow an agent or editor into the restroom and pitch it. You are a professional. Act like one. Speech over.

F is for Food—Give a thought to food, especially if you have particular dietary limitations. Conference organizers do their best to please the crowd but can’t possibly attend to every need. Familiarize yourself with which meals are offered by the conference and which meals are not. Conferencing is hungry work and room service is pricey. Bring healthy snacks. Will your room have a fridge? If so, hooray! Make any necessary dinner reservations in advance. Include an extra spot or two to allow for serendipity. You’ll be meeting new people and they’d probably love to join you for dinner.

G is for Giraffe—Fewer books are about giraffes but they are still perfectly nice animals.

H is for Hotel—If you plan to attend all or most of the conference, you’ll need a hotel room. Reserve yours right away as conferences frequently sell out. There are good reasons to stay on-site. First of all, a lot of the meeting-and-greeting at a conference happens in the hallways and elevators. The fun doesn’t end when the last workshop is over. There are social events of all kinds at night. Open mic readings, illustration challenges, regional meet-ups where you can make solid connections, and quiet rooms for visiting. Here’s another truth: conferences are tiring. You’ll be glad to have a retreat when there’s a break in your schedule or when you simply need some alone time. Many writers also try to squeeze in  some writing. One last thing: If you’d like to save some serious money, consider arranging to split a room with another conference attendee.

H is also for Homework—Please do your homework! Workshop presenters and keynotes are announced ahead of time for a reason. Look up people and their work. Read some of the writers’ work, if you can. Check out illustrators’ galleries (hello, Pinterest!) and study agent bios. You’ll get a lot more out of the conference if you do.

I is for Introvert—Lots of creative, bookish people are introverts. They are also super-friendly and welcoming. Say hello. Ask to join a lunch table. Whether you’re an introvert, and extrovert, or in-between-vert, you’ll be glad you did.

J, K,L,M…

N is for Nametag. Wear it for the whole weekend. You never know who’s sitting next to you.

O, P, Q…

R is for Registration—Once again, be ready. Look at the workshops ahead of time so you can make quick choices. Popular ones fill fast so be sure to know your second and third choices. Know your SCBWI membership number to get the member rate. You do not HAVE to attend each and every workshop period. Maybe you’d like to get some rest (see R) or wander the bookstore. That’s perfectly okay.

R is also for Rest—Don’t be afraid to take a break now and then. Take a careful look at your schedule for appropriate break times. Drink some water. Breathe. You’re doing great!

S is for Social media—such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

At a minimum, I suggest you get a Twitter account. It is an easy and professional way to stay connected with your new colleagues after the conference and to learn about others in the field. Make sure you put your Twitter handle on your business card. If you have old business cards, take a few minutes and jot your Twitter handle on the back. Follow the people you meet.

Facebook is trickier for some, especially teachers and others involved in the care of young children, but consider signing up for an account. You can keep it exclusively for professional contacts if you like. It’s an easy and fun way to get to know people on a more personal basis and there are lots of relevant writing and illustrating groups to explore.

Tumbler, Pinterest, Instagram, and others are rich resources for writers and illustrators. Check them out.

V is for Victory. V is also for Volunteer. I beseech you to volunteer. Most of the jobs are easy-peasy and take little or no time out of your conference. It is the quickest (and most appreciated) way to feel like you belong. I guarantee you’ll learn at least one person’s name and feel that much more at home.

Y is for Yellow. Illustrators love yellow. Me too.

Z is for Zzzz… You’ll need it after the conference to get ready for next year.

If you are serious about your work—your writing, your illustration, your craft— you owe it to yourself to join SCBWI and attend a conference. You’ll find your people there. See you soon.

Enjoy the day!





I’m Reading in the Rain!

I won’t borrow a book from you. If you absolutely, positively insist, I’ll accept your book and take it home. Once home, I’ll stash it somewhere until I can get my own copy. Then I’ll return yours. Why? Because I love to destroy books.

That’s putting it too strongly. What I mean is this:  If I love a book, it shows. Spaghetti sauce stains. Cocoa dust. Bits of paper tucked in here and there. I read while I cook, while I eat, and while I shower. That’s right. In. The. Shower. I am an all-terrain reader.

Home Cooking

In college, I took a one-day class on book restoration. It was fascinating. I loved to handle the old books with their embossed leather bindings and gilded edges. They were beautiful and worthy of painstaking preservation. They would not, however, lend themselves to my habit of of reading-while-doing.

I think kids need books they can destroy. Books that can be chewed, scribbled in, left outside, loved. They need books that belong to them. If books are always owned by someone else–an adult, a school, a library–the reader is compelled to think of the preservation of the object as well as the enjoyment of the content. That’s okay sometimes. It’s not okay all the time.

Take it from me, the shower reader. Let your kids take their books in the rain, under the sprinkler, into the tub. Books are durable. A dousing of water won’t hurt and usually improves them. The book will dry out and the ruffled pages will be even easier to read.

Enjoy the day.