Chicken Soup for a Children’s Book Author on the Mend: The SCBWI’s 20th Annual Winter Conference

2019_NY_conf-home-5.jpgI must confess that I’ve been a tad delinquent about the blog lately. I do have an excuse. It’s a good one too! On January 13th, I had a second seizure. I never thought I’d say this but the first seizure went more smoothly. I was sleeping when it happened. The second one wasn’t as kind. I was standing in the kitchen, thinking about two upcoming author visits and revisions, and the next moment that I remember is sitting on the kitchen floor with two EMTs in front of me asking me questions. And you know you’re having one of those no-good-really-bad days when you get to the E.R. and the doctor warns you that the swelling and black and blues on your face will only get worse over the next couple of days. (Apparently, I had fallen flat on my face and broken my nose.) The bump on my forehead has been wickedly determined to stick around, but I am very happy to report that I’m on the mend. I’d like to shout out a VERY HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for your good wishes.

Now, there’s no better chicken soup for a children’s book author on the mend than the SCBWI’s Winter Conference. It was DY-NO-MITE! I attended three incredible workshops: one on writing picture books (never hurts to go back to the basics) and two on author visits. (Unfortunately, I missed the Golden Kite Gala Awards and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s speech.)

Here are a few photographic highlights:


Welcome and Introduction by Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver


Opening Keynote Speaker: Jarrett Krosoczka


Picture Book Workshop taught by Allyn Johnston, Rubin Pfeffer, and Marla Frazee. 


Women were well-represented at the conference and this little attention to detail was much appreciated (although the sign should be edited to say, “Gentlemen” rather than “Gentleman”). 


Me and Linda Sue Park


Meg Medina introducing keynote speaker, Elizabeth Acevedo.


Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Acevedo


Me and the amazing Elizabeth Acevedo

(I so hope every teenager gets to hear her speak. Wow!)


Upping Your School Visit Game Workshop taught by Phil Bildner.


Closing Keynote Speaker: Christopher Paul Curtis


Happy Birthday, Jane Yolen! 


Peter Brown


Floyd Cooper


Laurent Linn


Elizabeth Acevedo


Angela Dominguez

Thank you SCBWI for all that you do for each and everyone of us. Fingers and toes crossed I will make it to my first summer conference in L.A.

Special Delivery for Santa



Dear Santa,

What a wonderful surprise to see you at the Princeton Club of New York last Saturday! And let me tell you, you look marvelous! Was that a new suit? You know, not a lot of people can wear a bright red suit but on you it looks fantastic.

I hope you enjoyed story time with the amazing Roxie Munro, Laura Schroff, and Rocco Staino. I managed to take a few photos.

Now, I know you’re quite busy these days but I’ve been a reasonably good author this year. Okay, I’ll confess that I didn’t write every day but I can honestly say that I did mull over my stories and revisions daily. Then, I felt extreme guilt for when I wasn’t writing. Does that count for anything?

My list hasn’t changed much since last year. Here goes:

  • I’d like world peace, an end to poverty, famine, disease, universal access to education, and a special place for every child to call home.
  • Book deals for all of my author and illustrator friends.
  • And any chance you can make all of my books New York Times best sellers? Three books? How about just one? (Figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.)

Also, if you’re looking for last minute gifts, might I recommend some AWESOME books from the KidLit Authors Club?


For more information about these wonderful books,

please visit the KidLit Authors Club.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday! Here’s to a great new year of reading and writing.

Much love,

Robin xo

Ask Phil, Jim & Harry!


© Chris Ewald. All rights reserved.

Dear Phil, Jim, and Harry,

Do you have any advice for surviving the Thanksgiving holiday?

Your Feathered Friend,


Dear Gobbles,

Thanks for your letter. As you know, these are perilous times for turkeys—and for birds generally.

None of us should have to live in fear of becoming the early bird special on Thanksgiving. Did you know that before our arrival on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, a peacock had disappeared during one Thanksgiving holiday? Coincidence? We think not!

If you haven’t done so already, pack your bags, put on a disguise (but be sure to stay away from dressing and stuffing), and get out of town fast!

And can we talk turkey? Be sure to let the turkeys in Congress know that you want to change Thanksgiving Day to Happy Eat-More-Beef Thanksgiving Day!

Your Proud-as-a-Peacock Friends,

Phil, Jim, and Harry






Yesterday James H. Boyd Intermediate School in Huntington, New York was invaded by those unusual creatures known as nerds.


For those unfamiliar with nerds, they come from the dweeb genus and the nerdasaurus phylum (pronounced nerd-a-sau-rus). They have unusual and distinct characteristics, including, but not limited to, bags under their eyes from staying up way past their bedtimes to finish a book; bruises from crashing into walls while reading a book they can’t put down; and they often experience heart palpitations when their favorite librarian sets aside a book they’ve been dying to read. 🙂



So, what are nErD Camps? Great question. nErD Camps are free “unconference” education camps focused on literacy. They are participant driven by teachers, librarians, authors, and illustrators. Upon arriving, participants are given post-its to fill up a session board with topics for discussion. Anyone can create a session, participate in a session, or leave a session to attend another session of interest. It’s a day of free flowing ideas with the single goal of figuring out how we as teachers, librarians, authors, and illustrators can inspire kids to become lifelong readers.



This is my third nErd CampLI. This year I had the opportunity to take part in a wonderful session on author visits. I also attended three fabulous sessions, one by David Neilsen about “Inspiration is everywhere! Unlocking Students Imagination,” and another by Jackie Azua Kramer focused on “I wish my teacher knew … The question that can change everything for kids.” There was also a “mini” session about #KidsNeedMentors.


David Neilsen 


Jackie Azua Kramer 

#KidsNeedMentors is the brainchild of Jarrett Lerner, Ann Braden, Kristen Picone, and Kristin Crouch. The program pairs authors with schools for an entire year. Once a month, authors touch base with their schools where they share books and their thoughts on reading and writing. I have been paired with third graders at Locust Valley Intermediate School and Longridge Elementary School. It’s been an absolute privilege to work with these AMAZING third graders.


Kristin Crouch, Ann Braden, Kristen Picone, Jarrett Lerner

If you are an author interested in participating in #KidsNeedMentors, please send an email to or There are still many schools interested in participating that have been waitlisted.


I received this wonderful letter is from Locust Valley Intermediate School third graders. 

Here are a few photographic highlights from nErD CampLI ’18:


Artie Bennett, Timothy Young, JoEllen McCarthy



Members of the KidLit Authors Club

Timothy Young, Artie Bennett, me, David Neilsen, Jodi Moore, Laurie Wallmark 

I would like to shout out a HUGE THANK YOU to the superhero organizers of nErD CampLI, JoEllen McCarthy, Alison McDermott, and Kristen Picone, and to all of the teachers and librarians who arrived at 8 am and gave up their Saturday to be there.

I can’t wait for nErD CampLI ’19. And be sure to save the date for nErD CampNJ on May 18, 2019 at Chatham High School.

The Carle Honors Annual Benefit and Art Auction

On September 27th, I had the privilege of attending The Carle Honors Annual Benefit and Art Auction. The benefit and art auction raise funds for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. The evening also celebrates four honorees who have made lasting contributions to picture books, arts education, and literacy in the following areas:

  • Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field;
  • Mentor, editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form;
  • Angel, whose generous resources are crucial to making picture book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; and
  • Bridge, individuals who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields.

This year’s incredible honorees were: Paul O. Zelinsky (Artist), The Sendak Fellowship & Workshop, represented by Lynn Caponera and Dona Ann McAdams (Angel), The Bologna Children’s Book Fair, represented by Elena Pasoli (Bridge), and Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop (Mentor). The event was hosted by the amazing Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Here are a few photographic highlights:

Eric Carle and the Funkrust Brass Band

from Brooklyn, NY.


Leonard S. Marcus, Founder of The Carle Honors


Andrea Davis Pinkney


Paul O. Zelinsky


The Sendak Fellowship & Workshop

Represented by Lynn Caponera and Dona Ann McAdams.


The Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Represented by Elena Pasoli.


Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop


Steve Light and Christine Cincotta


Illustration from Swap! by Steve Light 


Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street

Represented the Bank Street Writers Lab, a 2017 Carle Honor recipient.


Fran Manushkin, Kwame Alexander, Samantha Berger


Joyce Wan 


Tara Lazar and Margery Cuyler


Jane Yolen and Tara Lazar 


And an AWESOME loot bag full of books. Best. Giveaway. Ever.

If you are interested in supporting The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, please visit their website.





Interview Alert: Robin Newman

Happy as a lark (I mean peacock!) to be interviewed by the amazing Lauri Fortino at her wonderful “Frog on a Blog.” Lauri is the author of The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated Bong Redila (Ripple Grove Press), a beautifully written story of kindness that everyone is sure to love. Please hop on over and check it out on Amazon:

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Today, I’m excited to feature an interview with one of my long-time kid lit pals, author Robin Newman! As many of us do in the kid lit industry, I met Robin virtually, when she became one of Frog on a Blog’s very first followers, and she has remained one ever since. She’s watched this humble space change (through at least four WordPress themes) and grow over the years, and she’s been so kind to share my posts.

Robin’s fourth book NO PEACOCKS! was recently released. And it’s the perfect time to learn more about the book, about Robin, and about the beautiful peafowl who inspired her.

peacocks Cover_FINALQ. I know that you were once a practicing attorney. When did you decide that writing children’s picture books was what you really wanted to do? And what do you like best about writing children’s books?

R.N. I had gone from being a miserable Workers’…

View original post 1,098 more words

By rnewman504

International Dot Day – Sep. 10 -15, 2018 – #Make Your Mark #Dot Day

Make your mark! Happy International Dot Day and thank you T.J. Shay!

Children's Books Heal



This week is the 15th anniversary of Peter H. Reynold’s international bestselling book, The Dot, about a girl named Vashti, who doesn’t think she can draw. Her teacher believed in Vashti and asked her to make a dot. She stabbed her dot on a piece of paper and handed it to her teacher. Her teacher asked her to sign it. A few days later, Vashti saw her “dot” framed and hanging at the front of the class.
Fifteen years later, Vashti’s act of courage continues to inspire children worldwide.

It is also the 10th annual celebration of International Dot Day, started by teacher T. J. Shay. Nearly 13 million students from 177 countries will be participating. Each year is bigger and better. It will be a fun  week for children worldwide to read The Dot in 12 different languages…

View original post 136 more words

By rnewman504

A Flying Start for No Peacocks! Launch

No Peacocks! was off to a glorious flying start with its launch party at The Corner Bookstore on September 6, 2018. Fans of Phil, Jim, and Harry, the superstar peacocks from The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, flocked to the store for the book’s feathered-tale debut.

Here are a few photographic* highlights:

I would like to squawk, honk, and screech a SUPER HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who made the celebration extra special, including but not limited to: The Corner Bookstore; my amazing agents, Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris-Dontzin; the Bryn Mawr Club of New York City, with special thanks to Helen Thurston, President of the Bryn Mawr Club of New York City; Bebe Bakes (cupcakes) and Dean Lawrence Bake Shop (cookies, THANK YOU, Liza!); and to friends and family for your encouragement and continued support.


*Photos provided by Liza Fleissig, Joanne Kaplan, Ellen Fisher, Marcelino de Santos, and Nancy Armo.