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Wall Street Journal features A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK for Earth Day 2018

On April 22, the WSJ featured my picture book A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, illustrated by Daniel Miyares and published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Such an honor to be included with the other picture books mentioned as well.


Wall Street Journal A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

We have a Winner! Interview (and Giveaway!) with GILLY’S TREASURES author, Julie Murphy!

Hey, everyone!

Congratulations to Sue Lowell Gallion, winner of Julie’s Gilly’s Treasures!
Thanks to everyone who entered!


Today, debut fiction picture
book author Julie Murphy joins us to talk about her recently released book, Gilly’s Treasures (Cedar Fort). Welcome,
Julie, and congratulations!

Thanks, Jody! It is
wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me over.

First, tell us about you.
You live in Australia,
Yes, I live in Melbourne, which is a major city in southeastern Australia. Melbourne is located near
the coast. I love the sea, and have a few favorite coastal spots that we regularly
visit for family holidays.

It looks amazing! How did you come up with
the idea for Gilly’s Treasures?
It was a combination of
my love of the beach, and my feelings about advertising constantly bombarding
us with messages that we will be happier if we get more stuff. Seagulls can be
greedy for anything edible, and my character Gilly takes it a step further. He
likes finding shiny, pretty things, and can’t stop wanting more.

Sounds really cute, and relatable! Did the writing come
quickly, or did you write several drafts?
The story has been with
me for so long that it is actually quite hard to remember! I think the general
story came fairly quickly but I have no doubt that, as with all my stories, I then
revised it ad infinitum. I actually entered it early on as a short story in a
Fable (for adults) competition and it got an honorable mention, which was
encouraging. So then I developed it into a picture book. I remember it took me ages
to even settle on a name for my main character. For a while I was quite
attached to “Gulliver.” I thought “Gulliver’s Treasures” had a certain ring to
it. In the end, however, the name didn’t flow well in the text, and I thought
the joke probably wouldn’t work with most children. (GULLiver, and the classic story “Gulliver’s Travels.” Get it? Okay, never

Ha! Once you finished
writing, how long did it take to sell it? Cedar Fort is a US publisher, right?
Right. Cedar Fort is a
Utah-based publisher. Many of its books are LDS-oriented, but they also publish
general books that are uplifting and help people to think about what’s
important in their lives. I discovered Cedar Fort when I read a tweet from their
then Commissioning Editor, Ashley Gephart, on Twitter’s Manuscript Wishlist
(#MSWL). She said that she was looking for “uplifting/family values” stories. So
I sent off Gilly and quickly got a
favorable reply. My pitch went something like: While out fishing, Gilly the
seagull finds a beautiful, shiny treasure. He loves it so much he can’t help
searching for more…and more. Will he ever be satisfied with what he has?
experience just goes to show how important it is to target manuscripts to appropriate

Wow! Social media to the rescue! Did you work with your
editor on further revisions?
Yes, some very minor ones
– only changing a word here and there.

What would you like kids
to take away from your book?
Great question! I would
like kids to take away a number of things. Firstly, a love of story and reading…although
hopefully they already have that! I’d also like them to spare a thought about
what matters most to them, and to be encouraged to get out and experience
nature for themselves. And lastly, I hope they enjoy the fun and playfulness in
Illustrator Jay Fontano’s striking artwork, which offsets my story really well.
Jay has introduced a great little character too – a friendly crab – who
children will have fun spotting on many pages.

What else is on your
Oh, I always have lots on
my plate, but I generally enjoy the juggling act. Right now I have several
stories at different stages of development; most are picture book manuscripts (fiction
and non-fiction), and there is an early reader also calling for my attention. My
next book to be published is a non-fiction illustrated picture book for 4-8
year olds, about fascinating feet of the animal world. It will be called I’ve Got Feet! from Amicus Ink (distributed
by Chronicle) in 2017. I also have
more deals in the pipeline that I can’t talk about yet. I am almost bursting
from wanting to spill the beans! Rest assured that when the time is right I
will happily reveal all on my website and Twitter – follow me via the links below to stay in touch!

Ooh, secrets! Sounds great, Julie! And now, readers, for the giveaway:
Cedar Fort has generously
provided a copy of Gilly’s Treasures
to give away to one lucky US reader. To enter, tell me your favorite beach
activity in the comments below. The winner’s name will be posted on this blog
and on my Twitter (@jodywrites4kids) on December 12.  
You can visit Julie at www.juliemurphybooks.com
Facebook (with book
preview): www.facebook.com/GILLYSTREASURES

Gilly’s Treasures is available from many on-line book stores and Cedar
Fort’s sales site, Books & Things (which offers free postage to most parts
of the USA)

Thanks, Julie, and good luck with Gilly’s Treasures!
Thank you, Jody! It has
been an absolute pleasure.

RACE CAR DREAMS by Sharon Chriscoe

Hey, everyone,
Today we’re joined by
Sharon Chriscoe, author of the just-released RACE CAR DREAMS from Running Press
Sharon, thanks for joining
us. I had a chance to read RACE CAR DREAMS, and it’s really cute! I predict a huge
first place finish with little readers everywhere. Tell us about your book!
Aw! Thank you so much, Jody! And thank you for having me on your wonderful blog! RACE CAR DREAMS is a rhyming bedtime story about a little race car getting ready for bed. After his high octane filled day at the track, he washes his rims at the Tickle-and-Wash, fills his tummy with oil at Guzzle-and-Gulp, and chooses a book from the Speedy-Reads Library that’s all about speed. Then, once toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!
Where did you get the idea
for the book?

A couple years ago while I was reading the super-talented Jane Yolen’s HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT? for around the tenth time, I found myself wanting my very own unique twist on a bedtime story. After much brainstorming, and some trial and error, it hit me . . . full throttle! A race car! Kids love race cars and I had never read about a race car getting ready for bed. I spent the next few weeks in my mobile office drafting those first words.

Yep. That’s right, my office is not only mobile but it’s the passenger seat of a bread truck in which I work alongside my super supportive husband on our bread route.

It took almost another year of tweaking the story, revision after revision, draft after draft (nearly 50 in total!) before Race Car became a book that was submission worthy. And I am so thankful to my wonderful critique partners and the SCBWI Blueboard members that encouraged me and helped me to get him all polished and shined.
How did Race Car Dreams
end up at Running Press Kids?
My amazing agent Jessica Sinsheimer sent RACE CAR DREAMS out on
submission March 18th, 2015 and right away we received a lot of
interest in our little race car. We actually had an “I’m taking this to ed
board” note in 35 minutes! Already he was breaking land speed records. On
April 1st, we were thrilled to have Running Press Kids as our
publisher. Yes, it was most definitely not April Fool’s Day at the Chriscoe
house. The entire process took two weeks.    Gotta love a
fast race car!
I’ll say! Do you have a
favorite line or spread?
I do! Of course, as the author, I love all of the lines. 🙂 But I have to say my favorite is “He’s sleepy and full and ready to read. He chooses a book that’s all about speed.” The idea of a race car not only getting ready for bed, but reading a bedtime story of his own, is unique in its portrayal yet so normal in a child’s bedtime routine.
As for my favorite spread, it
actually coincides with my favorite lines. It’s the Speedy Reads Library scene
where Race Car is choosing his book all about speed. I remember the first time
I saw the little tree library and thinking it was just the cutest thing I had
ever seen. I now have it displayed on my website.
What are you working on
now? Anything else in the pipeline?
My editor, Julie and I recently
wrapped up book two in the series. Here’s a summary of BULLDOZER DREAMS which
releases in the fall of 2017: After a day of pushing, scooping, and clearing, a
bulldozer shifts down his gears and prepares for bed. As he lifts his blade and
his spotlights turn on, he rolls through the gate and heads to the
Wiggle-and-Shake for a bath, the Sip-and-Slurp for a fill-up, and the
Mighty-Reads Library for a bedtime story . . . and soon happy cheers fill his
dreams as children swing, slide, and race on their new playground.
As for what I’m working on now,
let’s just say that there will be more of the vehicle dreams books hitting
shelves in the future.
Ooh, a mystery! Where can
people find you online?
I can be found on my website at www.sharonchriscoebooks.com and my blog where I regularly update any exciting news at www.sharonchriscoe.wordpress.com
Thanks, Sharon. It’s been great
hearing all about your books!
Thank you again for having me Jody.
It’s been so much fun!
Friends, Sharon has agreed
to give away a copy of RACE CAR DREAMS! Just leave a comment below to enter.
The winner will be chosen September 30! Good luck
Sharon Chriscoe may not vroom around
a race track, but she does zip and zoom around in a bread truck with her
husband, Ricky. Fueled with fresh bread, snacks, and writing tools, Sharon has
made this her mobile office! She and her husband live in Pilot Mountain, North
Carolina. They have three children and one grandchild on the way, as well as an
assortment of dogs, cats, bunnies and occasionally a groundhog. In addition to RACE CAR DREAMS, she is the
author of BULLDOZER DREAMS (a companion book to RACE CAR DREAMS, Running Press
Kids, 2017), and THE SPARROW AND THE TREES (Arbordale Publishing, 2015). She is
also a contributor to several magazines such as Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac
for Kids
. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
and is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She is represented
by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. To learn more
about Sharon, her books, and future events, visit her website: www.sharonchriscoebooks.com

Benjamin Banneker: Self-Made Man

Hey Everyone!

Benjamin Banneker was a man ahead of his time. He was born in Maryland on November 9, 1731. Unlike many blacks at the time, he was free. As a child, he helped with the crops and livestock his family owned. He only went to school during the winter. Eventually, he worked on the family farm full time and stopped going to school.

But he never stopped learning. Benjamin loved to read and would devour any books he got his hands on. He also loved to tinker with mechanical things. He built a clock that rang on the hour every hour for 50 years!

He also loved to look at the stars, and he loved math. These interests helped when he wrote his first almanac in 1791. Eventually, Benjamin became known for his ability to survey and calculate. He was the only black person chosen to work on the new Federal Territory, what would become Washington D.C. He helped survey the land and place cornerstones which still stand today.

Benjamin continued to publish yearly almanacs until 1797, when his health began failing.

If you’d like to read more about this amazing man and his accomplishments, pick up a copy of BENJAMIN BANNEKER: SELF-MADE MAN, just out from Teacher Created Materials.

Delicious Launch!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see me yesterday at the Barnes & Noble at Zona Rosa! It was lots of fun! And thanks to Barnes & Noble for hosting (and for providing the yummy cookies and fun craft)!


Photo courtesy Sue Gallion

Photo courtesy Sue Gallion

COOKIE Out and About

Hey, everyone!

Two super nice people have interviewed me for their blogs this week, Laura Sassi and Kathy Temean. You can find the interviews here and here.

Also, if you’re in the Kansas City area on Saturday, July 16, I’m doing a book signing (with cookie crafts and actual cookies) at Barnes & Noble/Zona Rosa from 1-3pm. Details here. Hope to see you and your young readers Saturday!

One more thing! My COOKIE giveaway on Goodreads goes until July 21st. Enter to win a signed copy of The Way the Cookie Crumbled here!

Have a great day!


Goodreads Winners Announced!

And they are….

Susan S, Pennsylvania

Rachel B, Kentucky

Elizabeth S, Michigan

Enjoy, ladies. Your copies are in the mail!


Goodreads Giveaway for THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED! July 6-July21

Hey, everyone,

Yummy news for cookie lovers everywhere! I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway, and you can enter to win one of three copies of THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED! Enter now! Here’s how.


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    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Way the Cookie Crumbled by Jody Jensen Shaffer



          The Way the Cookie Crumbled

          by Jody Jensen Shaffer


            Giveaway ends July 21, 2016.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

    Enter Giveaway

KCPT’s K-3 Writers’ Contest Celebration

Hey, everyone,

I was delighted to speak Thursday to a group of young authors/illustrators and their adults at a celebration hosted by KCPT for their annual Writer’s Contest. The event was held at the Woodneath branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri. Around 100 people attended this great occasion which recognized these young writers/illustrators.

My thanks especially to Kathy Van Lieshout, mistress of ceremonies/Community Engagement, and her KCPT co-workers for putting on such a fun event and to MCPL for hosting. Keep writing, students!

Photos courtesy of Gary Brock

Where I share my writing and illustrating
efforts as a 10-year old

School Library Journal previews THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED!

Hey, everyone,

A friend just informed me that School Library Journal has previewed THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED as a Simon & Schuster summer reading choice! Woot!

It’s all about the history of cookies, from their beginning over 10,000 years ago in Persia as dry, tasteless crackers through today’s delicious variations of yummy. I hope you’ll check it out this summer and let me know what you think. The book releases on July 5, perfect timing for the young readers who attend your Fourth of July celebrations.

And if you’re in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 16, I’ll be doing a book launch from 1-3pm at the Barnes & Noble at Zona Rosa. Please stop by and say hello.

Delicious summer reading to you!


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