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Illustrated by Clair Rossiter
Highlights Press, April 13, 2021
ISBN: 1644723417

Mouse is looking for a new house, but everything Bear and Squirrel suggest isn’t quite right. In this Level P Highlights Puzzle Reader, readers can join in the search for a house for Mouse and then find hidden letters throughout the book. The simple text has lots of picture support that will keep readers turning the pages, while the puzzle encourages re-reading. With a bonus matching activity to reinforce vocabulary, kids will love playing along in this forest adventure.

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Illustrated by Clair Rossiter
Highlights Press, September 21, 2021
ISBN: 164472460X

Fox is looking for a pet, but everything Bear, Mouse, and Squirrel suggest isn’t quite right. In this Level P Highlights Puzzle Reader, kids can join in the search and then find hidden letters throughout the book. The simple text has lots of picture support that will keep readers turning the pages. With a bonus matching activity to reinforce vocabulary, kids will love playing along in this forest adventure.

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Illustrated by Clair Rossiter
Highlights Press, September 21, 2021
ISBN: 164472457X

Bear and Mouse lost the scarf they want to give their friend, Squirrel. In this Level P Highlights Puzzle Reader, readers can join in the search for the scarf and then find hidden letters throughout the book. The simple text has lots of picture support that will keep readers turning the pages. With a bonus matching activity to reinforce vocabulary, kids will love playing along in this forest adventure.

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Illustrated by Clair Rossiter
Highlights Press, April 13, 2021
ISBN: 1644723387

Mouse and Squirrel can’t find their friend, Bear. In this Level P Highlights Puzzle Reader, readers can join in the search for Bear and then find hidden letters throughout the book. The simple story text has lots of picture support that will keep readers turning the pages, while the puzzle encourages re-reading. With a bonus matching activity to reinforce vocabulary, kids will love playing along with this forest adventure.

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Illustrated by Dave Mottram
Random House/Doubleday, January 7, 2020

Got a problem? Having a tough day? Maybe you need… EMERGENCY KITTENS!!!!!

Who needs boring ol’ superheroes who leap giant buildings and run faster than locomotives when your day can be saved by the cuddly, super-cute, full-on feline charm of Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs, aka EMERGENCY KITTENS!!!

Meet the EMERGENCY KITTENS, a trio of furry, gentle superheroes who come to the rescue with their incredible cuteness when the going gets tough. When bullies steal Sheldon’s ball in the playground, a pack of your usual, everyday, human caped crusaders leaps to the rescue. But when their showy feats of strength and agility fail to impress, some real heroes step in to save the day: EMERGENCY KITTENS!!! With their unending cuteness and unforgivably adorable purrs, this mighty trio of fluffy goodness turns any sticky situation into one of pure cuddles.

Pages of silly, good-natured giggles await any kid who loves superheroes, cats, or really funny read-alouds. And parents and teachers will like the gentle way this story subtly teaches that kindness and cuddles can often solve a problem that strength and muscle cannot.

Free Coloring Pages! Click the image you want.


“These kitties will win hearts with a glossy-eyed glance.”Kirkus

“In Emergency Kittens, readers meet Mimi, Twee-Twee and Adorbs who make everything better.  And one look at the cover and it is pretty clear why.

When a group of kids won’t give Sheldon his basketball back, it’s up to this trio of felines to save the day.  What is their super power?  Even this dog fan is mesmerized by their immense kitty cuteness. Shaffer’s text is so fun and Mottram’s illustrations are utterly adorable.”Beagles and Books

“When life serves up calamities that even costumed superheroes can’t handle, here come Mimi, Twee-Twee, and Adorbs—all perky ears, huge, HUGE dilated eyes, and radiant preciousness—mewing, “We make everything better!” Case in point: when his basketball bounces by accident into the hands of a trio of smirking bullies, naive young Sheldon first calls on a corps of spandex-clad crimefighters (“To the playground and beyond!”) for help, only to see them flummoxed by their adversaries’ b-ball keep-away skills. But stand back for the Emergency Kittens, who chase and pounce and stare so fetchingly with bottomless eyes that, in no time, Sheldon has his ball back and those punks are dazzled into bully goo. Even hardened skeptics will fall to helpless babbling at each glimpse of the fuzzy felines gamboling through Mottram’s bright suburban scenes. Perhaps not every disaster can be remedied by irresistible cuteness, but for those that can, remember the kittens’ tagline: “We’re always here FUR you!” Awww.” — John Peters, Booklist

“For real, these kitties will save you. And this story will knock you out with its hilarity, wit, and supreme pacing and voice…the first page, which begins the story with what I can only describe as one of the most perfect set ups I’ve ever read…I could read this book aloud over and over again (usually in an action film voice-over style), which is the true test of a picture book’s quality for me. The plot arcs in such a satisfying way (spoiler: the three dynamic heroes help a boy who’s being bullied), and with funny, madcap, and surprising language. And the ending…while it finishes this story, it’s totally apparent there could be other adventures for these Emergency Kittens. I certainly hope so.”       Alli Brydon, Author

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Illustrated by Claire Messer
Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, September 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534440814

It’s a Field Trip Coloring Sheet

Busy Bus takes a field trip—and becomes a little jealous of a shiny red fire truck—in a warm-hearted sequel to It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! This darling picture book offers a gentle exploration of jealousy and a reminder that we each have our own unique talents that make us special.

Today is Busy Bus’s very first field trip! He takes the children to a fire house, where they meet Engine Four, a big, shiny, red firetruck. Engine Four has a hose to put out fires, a ladder to reach tall buildings, and a loud and impressive siren. Busy Bus has none of these things. Will the children still like him?


“Will an earnest school bus get the recognition it deserves?

Colorful, digitally enhanced lino prints and clear, minimal text tell the tale of a yellow bus, aka Busy Bus, on his first field trip. Unfortunately for Busy Bus, the trip is to a fire station to visit a fire truck. To the bus, the fire truck seems superior in every way; it is red, shiny, and huge, with hoses, a ladder, and a siren. Busy Bus looks close to tears—until the station’s captain mentions that there are some things the fire truck can’t do that Busy Bus can: protect children with a stop arm, carry students to and from school, bring kids on trips. An accessible tale of the pitfalls of invidious comparison and the importance of appreciating differences, this deceptively simple description of the ups and downs of new experiences, first field trips, and the characteristics of different vehicles will especially appeal to toddlers and young preschoolers who love buses and trucks. The children are a diverse crew, and their teacher is a black man—a welcome sight, as is the fact that the (light-skinned) firefighter captain is a woman.

Caregivers will find this to be a good conversation starter on topics such as strengths and weaknesses, insecurity, differences, and competition.” (Picture book. 4-8)

School Library Journal:

“VERDICT Many preschool classrooms have a unit of community helpers, and this satisfying story will be perfect for such a unit.”

Sally James, South Hillsborough Elementary School, Hillsborough, CA , Jul 31, 2019

Full review here.

Unpacking the Power of Picture Books:

“As I wrote this draft and saved it to publish now, I had time to think about the importance of young children developing confidence and agency, how they learn to trust older and more experienced kids and adults. I marveled again at the skill in storytelling and simple imagery that brings BUSY BUS to life as so much more than a machine or a character. BUSY BUS is truly a friend to the reader, and a heroic model for the courage he summons despite his self-doubt.” -Sandy Brehl

Full review here.


It’s a Field Trip, Busy Bus! is a “fabulous book about field trips!” See review here.

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Illustrated by Claire Messer
Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, July 3, 2018
ISBN: 978-1481494670

FREE to download

BUSY BUS coloring page
Discussion and Activity Guide

It’s the first day of school! But is Busy Bus ready? Find out in this darling picture book that showcases the excitement and worries little ones experience as they prepare for their first day.

Today is the very first day of school! Busy Bus is excited, but he also has some first-day jitters. Will the children like him? Will he be homesick? What if he gets lost?! Luckily, bus driver Ben knows just what to do to make sure that the school year gets off to a great start.

Praise for BUSY BUS…

School Library Journal – PreS-Gr 1–Although Busy Bus is nervous about meeting the children, Ben the bus driver performs final preparations for the first day by checking the tires, windshield wipers, and other safety precautions to reassure Busy Bus before they pick up the children. The illustrations, created with lino prints, black ink, and digital colors, use rounded shapes and a soft, limited color palette. Each scene takes up the full page spread and the illustrations make good use of white space, especially when framing Busy Bus’s most intense moments of anxiety about whether he will miss home or make new friends. The words and pictures together create the gentle introduction to the school bus and leave readers with the knowledge that Busy Bus is safe, clean, and ready for a great school year. VERDICT An excellent read-aloud for young children, especially during the first weeks of the school year or if children have worries about riding the school bus. – Kelly Topita

Publisher’s Weekly full review is here! “Fans of stories about trucks and how things work will enjoy the behind-the-scenes action at the bus barn…”

Kirkus full review is here! “For vehicle enthusiasts just starting school.”

Youth Services Book Review is here! “A perfect back to school read aloud…This is the perfect addition to back-to -school themed story times or one on one sharing.”

Celebrate Picture Books
Everyday Reading
Unleashing Readers
Everyday Reading
Writing and Illustrating
Kirsti Call
Beagles and Books
Unpacking the Power of Picture Books
Bookworm for Kids
Working Mother
Amazon Book Review

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Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, Feb 20, 2018
ISBN: 9780399173882

FREE Download A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK Discussion and Activity Guide

A plucky pebble shows true grit as he travels the country trying to find out if he fits in with any of his famous rock-formation relatives.

Rocky comes from a long line of rock stars! Uncle Gibraltar, Aunt Etna, and Great-Grandma Half Dome are just some of the legendary rock formations he calls family. It’s no wonder he wants to matter in a big way too–but it’s not easy trying to get a foothold. Rocky gets tossed by The Wave and driven away at Devil’s Tower–but he’s determined not to allow these pitfalls to chip away at his confidence. Rather than feeling crushed, he keeps on rolling, hoping to become the rock-star he knows he’s meant to be.

Read the complete Kirkus review here
“Young readers will root for this less-than-pint–sized hero while he makes the most of his own personal talents…
Replete with wry, comic references and infused with a sense of adventure, this is a lighthearted tale that readers will certainly not “take for granite.” (Picture book. 4-8)”

Read the complete Publishers Weekly review here
“…Shaffer (Prudence the Part-Time Cow) comes up with lots of ways a rock can travel and uses every geological pun she can think of (“It was clear the two of them didn’t share the same sediment”). Rock hounds and teachers doing earth science units are a natural audience. Ages 5–8”

Let’s Talk Picture Books review here

Read. Learn. Repeat. review here

More reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal!

“Miyares’ vivid illustrations, painted in watercolor and acrylics, give this story momentum—paneled sequences depict stages of Rocky’s journey—and reflect the grandeur of many of America’s geologic marvels. An afterword on rock types and formations creates a natural segue for discussions on geology or geography, while the encouraging message of dreaming big grounds the playful story.”—Booklist

“Word play is peppered throughout the text. . . . The illustrations . . . depict amusing scenes of Rocky’s perilous journey and some impressive spreads of the majestic rock formations. This title may be a jumping-off point for a group discussion of perseverance in the face of obstacles as well as an introduction to famous rock formations.”—School Library Journal

Interview on Writers’ Rumpus here!

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…is a finalist for Missouri’s Show Me Award for 2019-2020!
…represented the state of Missouri at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. on September 2, 2017!

Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
Henry Holt, June 13, 2017
ISBN: 9781627796156

Download the Discussion & Activity Guide PDF
Print the Prudence Coloring Page

Prudence looks like a full-time cow—she wanders through pastures, she swats flies, and she lines up for supper. But Prudence is a part-time cow—she is also a scientist, an architect, and an inventor, studying and building and dreaming and creating. To the other cows in the herd, Prudence is a bit too part-time. She’s just too different to be part of the herd. At first Prudence tries to fit in, suppressing all her scientific smarts and imaginative inventing. But in a moment of inspiration—Cow Power!—Prudence realizes how to show the others that she can be a part-time cow and a full-time member of the herd. Funny and sweet, this is a story for anyone who’s ever felt a bit different.

July 11, 2017 Celebrate Picture Books
“Jody Jensen Shaffer’s moooving and funny story of a cow with a scientific bent will delight kids. Little ones who think differently will empathize with Prudence’s wish to be herself while also fitting in with the herd. As the cows stand around in a pond and huddle under a tree, Shaffer offers a wink to the crowd mentality and peer pressure that can foster inaction and clone-like behavior. Prudence makes a gentle, but determined role model as a thinker who won’t be cowed by others’ opinions. Prudence the Part-Time Cow would be a wonderful addition to school and classroom libraries as well as to home bookshelves.”

May 1, 2017 Publisher’s Weekly
“Shaffer (The Way the Cookie Crumbled) creates a sympathetic outsider in Prudence, whose dedication to self-betterment—and the sciences—should resonate with any reader who feels pigeonholed or underappreciated.”

School Library Journal
“K-Gr 2–Prudence looks and acts like any other cow, but in reality, she’s only a part-time pasture resident. A lifelong reader, she is also a scientist and architect, and she peruses the pages of Bovine Engineering in her spare time. The rest of the cows don’t see her as “normal” and certainly NOT “part of the herd.” Prudence calculates water temperature and wind speed while standing in the pond, counts the calves as they leave the water, and comes up with inventions to help her friends, but the other cows insist, “She’ll never be one of us.” Colorful digital art with cartoon humor gives readers plenty of visual clues while Prudence suffers humiliation and attempts to establish her place. It takes a bit of “Cow Power” as Prudence harnesses her creative strengths to find her role among the other cows. Readers will appreciate her newly expanded role and her determination to be a full-time member of the herd. VERDICT A recommended general purchase for libraries with budding scientists and persistent, late-night readers. This tale speaks to creative minds just trying to fit in.”–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano Independent School District, TX

May 15, 2017 Booklist
“Most of the time, Prudence doesn’t mind being a cow—grazing, lolling in the sun, and sleeping in the barn are all okeydokey—but the rest of the time, Prudence is eager to study her surroundings and build contraptions. The rest of the herd doesn’t have much patience for Prudence’s inventions, since her experiments often lead to mild mayhem in the barn. Soon, though, the other cows mock Prudence for her curiosity and odd devices, and the pink-coiffed bovine starts feeling downtrodden. She has a eureka moment, however, when she realizes she can build some contraptions to solve problems around the pasture, and the rest of the herd starts appreciating Prudence for her scientific mind. Laberis’ energetic, stylized illustrations of candy-colored, cartoonish cows perfectly capture the comical contrast between Prudence’s oblivious experiments and the subsequent havoc she wreaks on her fellow cows. Comics-style speech balloons and over-the-top reactions add to the levity, and the ultimate message of valuing differences is a great one. This merry, animated picture book will have storytime listeners rolling in the aisles.”
— Sarah Hunter

May 11, 2017 Jen Robinson’s Book Page
“Libraries looking for pro-STEM books, especially pro-STEM books with female characters, will definitely want to give Prudence the Part-Time Cow a look. Recommended!”

May 2, 2017 Unpacking the Power of Picture Books
“This is an original take on a non-conforming cow, incorporating elements of peer-pressure and bullying, expressing individuality, and adding a dose of STEM topics into the mix. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Prudence and her herd are cows you’ll want to meet.”

April 11, 2017 Little Crooked Cottage
“Snappy text + humorous details in the illustrations + a message of individuality (with some girl… er… cow-power thrown in) = a satisfying read.”

Kids Author Stays Busy During Fall, Winter, January 2019, Courier-Tribune


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Write What You Know (Unless Your Mom Knows Better)

You’ve probably heard the adage, “Write what you know.”

It’s good advice for those wondering if they have anything worth writing about. The point is that the people, information, places, and conversations you’re involved with are fair game for writing. Any topic can be made interesting, compelling, even fun or funny, if your treatment of that topic works.

But you might also want to write what you don’t know. Say you’d like to put something together about aliens invading earth, or weasels doing war dances, or tadpoles. But you don’t know the basics of how those things work. (Even in fiction, the reader expects some semblance of reality, whether or not that information makes it into the book.) What do you do? Ask an expert. Like my mom.

Let me explain. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but farm animals and farm scenes creep into my writing. Who can resist a wet-nosed calf or a litter of pink piglets? How do I get information about how farms work? I ask my mom. She’s my go-to farm girl, with loads of information on chickens and eggs, animal husbandry–that’s about animals having babies, to you and me–milking cows and other farmy things.

So today when a critique member (Hi Laura!) wisely asked how all the farm animals in my book were miraculously born in the spring, I called Mom.

“Hi, Mom. Are farm animals usually born in the spring?”

What followed was a story about the hows and whys of animal life on a farm, with a sidebar about the size of chicken eggs.

[In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, farmers plan for their animals to be born in the spring. Who wants to tromp through the snow in the middle of winter to check on a newborn goat when you can simply separate potential moms and dads until it’s warmer?]

So, I’d modify the standard adage, “Write what you know” to “Write what you know (Unless Your Mom Knows Better),” or unless you have other experts who can fill you in.

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