Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Category Archives: picture book month

I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.  According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books. That statistic is common in other developed countries as well.

That’s just plain wrong. But, we can help fix it.

no books

Last November I launched the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO). I encouraged people to donate new or gently used books to needy kids, locally, and to challenge friends to do the same. It caught on in the US, and we also had people “Passing it On” in the UK and Australia.  Many children’s book authors participated by giving local kids in need copies of their books.

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With a few exceptions, the PBPiO charge is being led by an all-female squad of super-heroes (a.k.a. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Picture Books).

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Frankly, I am thrilled to have anyone join me in getting picture books onto the laps of deserving kids. But, I’d like to welcome super-dads and picture book-loving dudes to join in the fun. Will you help celebrate the power of picture books and accept the PBPiO call to action?

hero

It’s as easy as 1,2,3…

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/. Share your pledge on your blog and on social media. Please include our badge and ‪#‎PBPiO‬

#3 Pass it on. When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO giving chain. Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

Please share your giving stories on this page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/. We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

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Learn more about Picture Book Pass it On:

https://michelleeastmanbooks.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/a-childs-picture-book-bill-of-rights/

We now have our own badge.  Please feel free to copy and paste the badge.  Add it to your blog, post it in your tweets, or use it however you see fit to promote Picture Book Pass it On.

PBPiO badge


I can certainly brag about this guy!

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Kevin Richter is the talented illustrator of my very first children’s picture book, AND he is currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie should be ready for release this fall. If you are not familiar with Dust Fairies, they are the little sprites responsible for the dust, crumbs, and other debris we try so hard to remove from our homes. Yep, they come out while we sleep and hold crumb-spitting contests, sprinkle dust, and leave behind their dust bunnies. It’s true-I read it in a book!

Aggie would love nothing more than to join the fairy band and play music while the Dust Fairies frolic and play. But, she has a hard time fitting in with the more dainty, girlie, Dust Fairies. Will she ever be good enough? Can she fit in AND stand out? Oh, did I mention she plays the bagpipes? You can follow Aggie’s progress and all things Dust Fairy at https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

KevToon_Aggie_v2

Waiting for the illustrations is both torture and bliss-I am like a little kid at Christmastime. Thankfully, Kevin is kind enough to let me peek into his creative world before the book is finished. Here are a few of his whimsical designs.

whisperband blow fairy spit

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What are you bragging about? I’d love to hear about your work.


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I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.  According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.  That’s just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

I recently launched the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO).  I encourage people to donate new or gently used books to needy kids, locally-wherever you are.  It has caught on in the US, and we also have people “Passing it On” in the UK and Australia.  Many children’s book authors are participating by giving local kids in need, copies of the books they’ve written.

With a few exceptions, the PBPiO charge is being led by an all-female squad of super-heroes (a.k.a. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Picture Book).  Frankly, I am thrilled to have anyone join me in getting picture books onto the laps of deserving kids.  But, I’d like to welcome super-dads and picture book-loving dudes to join in the fun.  Will you help celebrate the power of picture books and accept the PBPiO call to action?  It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your  #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO . We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

Learn more about Picture Book Pass it On:

https://michelleeastmanbooks.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/a-childs-picture-book-bill-of-rights/

Share your giving story on our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

We now have a shiny new badge.  Please feel free to copy and paste the badge.  Add it to your blog, post it in your tweets, or use it however you see fit to promote Picture Book Pass it On.

PBPiO badge


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November is Picture Book Month, and I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO)

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO)

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your  #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO . We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

UPDATE:  We now have children’s authors in the US, the UK, and Australia passing on autographed copies of their own books to kids in need.  How cool is that?!

PBPiO

We are donating a copy of one of our favorite picture books to Joshua Christian Academy.

I am Passing it On to @MulberryAndy


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A Child’s Picture Book Bill of Rights…

Never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture books read to him/her.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

When I look back on my early childhood memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.   Picture books were not a top priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either.

I guess that’s why picture books hold such a special place in my heart now. Perhaps that’s why, like a starved hyena, I gobble them up. Maybe it’s why I chose to write my own. I know it is why I jump up on my soapbox, touting the power of picture books.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

November is Picture Book Month, and I am celebrating the power of the picture book by starting an initiative called, Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO)

I hope you will join me by accepting 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new or gently used picture book/s to a children’s charity in your area.

#2 Post about your pledge.  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and #PBPiO

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your  #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO . We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

UPDATE:  We now have children’s authors in the US, the UK, and Australia passing on autographed copies of their own books to kids in need.  How cool is that?!

 

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The Girl with the Picture Book Tattoo

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Spoiler Alert…I don’t have a picture book tattoo. But, as I was driving my son to school today, the idea of a picture book tattoo popped into my head. A lot of weird thoughts pop in and out of there, so I didn’t give it much thought. But, imagine my surprise, when I later opened The Story Connection Daily and saw this article: 50 Incredible Tattoos Inspired by Books from Childhood. While I scrolled through the photos, I was reminded of the truly remarkable pieces of art picture books house.

But, I was most struck by the poignant simplicity of many of the choices.

I wondered why a person would choose to permanently mark herself with Lemony Snicket’s line, “The world is quiet here.” The answer, in her words, “the world is quiet here,” reflecting its dedication to keeping the world quiet, in other words, peaceful, knowledgeable and safe.”

Other choices needed no explanation: Shel Silverstein’s sketch of the old man from The Giving Tree, Dr. Seuss’ teetering stack of turtles, or Margret Wise Brown’s scampering Runaway Rabbit. One image said it all.

As I reflected on the imagery, conveyed by both text and illustration, I was reminded of the indelible imprint picture books etch on each one of us.

I may not have a picture book tattooed on my skin, but I proudly wear their marks on my heart.


Or, anytime, really. But, it wasn’t until I became a mom that I really began to savor that smell.

To be honest, I never knew it as a child. When I look back at my earliest memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.  Picture books were not a top-priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either. The weird thing is that I never knew what I didn’t have; I wasn’t conscious of the fact that my childhood was devoid of picture books. It wasn’t until my son came along…that it hit me-hard. I’ll never forget that night. We were curled up together, lights dimmed, reading our way through Goodnight Moon for the 100th time. He looked up, and asked me a very simple question, “Mom, what was your favorite bedtime story when you were little?” As I struggled to grasp hold of the memory, I could hear the sound of my tears, dropping onto the pages of the board book. I couldn’t answer; I didn’t have an answer.

Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a picture book, and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special picture book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be.

Imagine, never having that.

When I look back on my early childhood memories, I recall a lot-good and bad.  But, there is not a single memory of anyone reading to or with me.  I cannot name a favorite picture book from my childhood; I don’t have one.   Picture books were not a top priority for my teenaged parents.  Later, picture books were not on my single-mom’s priority list either.

I guess that’s why picture books hold such a special place in my heart now. Perhaps that’s why, like a starved hyena, I gobble them up. Maybe it’s why I chose to write my own. I know it is why I jump up on my soapbox, touting the power of picture books.

It’s Picture Book Month, people! So, crack open a picture book. Cuddle with your child or loved one. Take a whiff, and enjoy.

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I started a new literacy initiative called Picture Book Pass it On #PBPiO, giving free books to kids in need.  Learn how you can help kids in your area https://michelleeastmanbooks.wordpress.com/about/picture-book-pass-it-on-pbpio/

Share your giving story on our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO


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I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.

My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:

  1. Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child.  Reading picture books provides a time for parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on.  That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
  2. Picture books are funny.  Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?
  3. Picture books are serious.  Some of the heaviest social and personal issues seem more approachable when told through a picture book.  This can be a fantastic opportunity to explore situations, fears, and events that children might otherwise be reluctant to explore.
  4. Picture books are art. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the limitless artistic styles waiting to be explored within a picture book.
  5. Picture books are ideal for reluctant readers. The illustrations in picture books help children understand the story better by providing visual clues of what is happening in the story and what might happen next. While a chapter book, filled with lines of text, might be intimidating-a picture book welcomes us to step inside-no special skills required. And wordless picture books provide an excellent opportunity to explore a story, without reading a single word. Wordless picture books can also be a great tool when working with English language learners.
  6. Picture books teach. I challenge you to find a non-fiction topic NOT explored in picture books. From world cultures and traditions, to life-cycles, or politics, picture books have it all. Teachers often use non-fiction picture books to supplement a specific topic or concept.
  7. Picture books are accessible. There is a reason librarians place picture books in bins on the floor and on low shelves. Picture books can take it, they are meant to be handled.
  8. Picture books make kids better readers. When we read picture books with our children, we are laying a strong foundation for their emergent literacy skills. The simple text helps them become skilled at sounding out words. They learn about the context and structure of stories, and recognize the relationship between cause and effect. All of these skills are crucial to becoming fluent readers.
  9. Picture books are NOT just for young children. As children get older, reading becomes a solitary adventure. We often push them (too fast, too soon) into chapter books and novels. But your child should not be denied this sacred time with you just because he/she is “growing up”. No one, nope, no one is EVER too old for picture books.
  10. Picture books are empowering. Children depend on adults for so much. We tell them what to eat, how to dress, what to say, and when to play. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for children to feel empowered. Going to the library, and allowing your child to choose his/her own picture books, is a great opportunity for him/her to feel independent. Very young children are able to memorize their favorite picture book stories. I don’t believe there is any better feeling of accomplishment than when a child can “read” a picture book to his/her parent. Can he/she truly read the words? No, but “reading” what he/she has memorized means he/she is internalizing the structure of a story. He/she knows it has a beginning, a middle and an end. He/she knows how to hold the book, and to turn the pages at the appropriate time.  And this tiny person is reading, to you, all by him/herself!  How cool is that?!

I hope my top ten list encourages you to crack open a picture book, with your child or loved one, and enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment and share what you love most about picture books. I am interested to know how picture books impact you and your family.


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Too many picture books? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  I am offering a Goodreads Giveaway of my new children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre. The following recommendations were adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy .

I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

Happy Picture Book Month!

An Age-Appropriate Guide to Books:
Your bedtime reading routine will evolve as your child develops physically and intellectually.

Birth to Toddlers

  • Developmental Stage: As babies, children learn by using their five basic senses to explore the world. By age 2 years, a child can use his oral language skills to identify objects and communicate ideas.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Sing lullabies and songs.
    • Choose picture books with 1 or 2 pictures per page that are clear, simple, and filled with vivid colors. Repetition with these books helps foster language development by creating familiarity and associations.
    • Use board or plastic books and allow the child to explore the pages.
    • Help the child discover her senses through textured (e.g. Pat the Cat), scented (“scratch-n-sniff”), or squeaky books.
    • Play with rhythmic activities like clapping rhymes and knee bouncing.
    • Relate story time to nighttime/bedtime through simple “good night” books.
  • Recommended books:
    • Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (fosters early language development)
    • In the Small, Small Pond, by Denise Fleming (uses language that rhymes and repetition)
    • When Mama Comes Home Tonight, by Eileen Spinelli (introduces rituals)
    • Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long (details and reinforces the parent/child bond)

3 to 5 Years Old

  • Developmental Stage: Children in this age group learn that words represent objects and things. They are able to understand shapes, numbers, colors, and seasons. This is a time when children see themselves as the “center of the universe.”
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Read stories that repeat catchy phrases, inspire creativity and make reading enjoyable (rhyming, nonsense words).
    • Look for sturdy, pop-up and pull-tag books to help coordination.
    • Choose short stories that relate to everyday events.
    • Introduce books focusing on the ABCs, counting, colors, and shapes.
    • Kids this age love non-fiction. Read books about dinosaurs, trucks, and farm animals.
    • Select simple folk tales to expand a child’s world.
    • Begin to introduce longer stories and more detailed pictures.
    • Look for stories that can be acted out, such as The Three Little Pigs.
  • Recommended books:
    • On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frazier (story includes nature)
    • The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Relant (creates an association with family)
    • Cowboy Dreams, by Kathi Appelt (includes repetition, rhythm, and word play)
    • Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney (encourages different and new ways to express an idea)
    • There’s Something There!, by Mercer Mayer (ideas that center on the child)

6 to 8 Years Old (Beginning Readers)

  • Developmental Stage: This age group is “grown up” and has many capabilities. They have a good command of language, have well developed imaginations, and are able to describe feelings and events. They like to read about things and events that are real. This is when children start to be able to see things from another person’s viewpoint. Parents and teachers of this age group should encourage children to read on their own as well as with a parent.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Choose short stories with more words per page, pictures that match text, simple chapter books, and big print in chapter books.
    • Let the child choose books with subjects that interest her.
    • Begin to read real-life stories, simple biographies, and mysteries.
    • Have fun with joke and riddle books.
    • Introduce simple magazines.
  • Recommended books:
    • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flourney (story involves multi-culturism)
    • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter (one of the longer editions; introduces fantasies that seem real)
    • May We Sleep Here Tonight?, by Tan Koide (plot that focuses on fear and resolution).
    • The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss (story that involves stereotypes and encourages conversation)

Adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy


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It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre.  I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences.  I’ll also be participating in fellow-bloggers’ PBM events and challenges.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s book writers.  I shared a little about my self-publishing misadventures in a previous post, Pinterest Devoured my Soul, and All I Got was This Lousy Bookmark  In that post, I reveal the hidden horror behind self-publishing…BOOK PROMOTION!!!!

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Yes, I must try to convince other people that my children’s picture book,The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, is worth their consideration.  I invite you to sign up for my  Goodreads Giveaway but I’d also like to celebrate Picture Book Month by thanking the awesome bloggers who bless me with their posts and sense of community.

For the month of NOVEMBER, anyone who leaves a comment, on this post, sharing a a favorite picture book memory or quote, will be entered to win a copy of my book.  I will also donate a copy to a local children’s charity.   Oh, I almost forgot.  Promoting a self-published kids’ book makes a person do some cray-cray stuff.

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At the top of my cray-cray list is “adoptable Dust Bunnies”.  I created the “Dust Bunny Rescue Club” to raise funds for our local animal shelter. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is hosting my very first book signing event, on November 13. The margin on a self-published book isn’t great, and I was determined to give the ARL more than $1 per book.  So, I’ll be donating 100% of the $5 Dust Bunny adoption fee to the ARL as well. The winner of the WordPress drawing will receive a copy of my book and an adorable Dust Bunny, complete with adoption certificate and pet carrier.  The book and bunnies are featured in my super-professional  iPhone shots below.  Be sure to leave your comment about your favorite picture book.  Thanks everyone, and Happy Picture Book Month!

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“Is it hard?’
“Not if you have the right attitudes. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

Is writing a children’s picture book hard? It depends on your attitude.

Are you up for the challenge of telling a great story? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Can you capture a child’s interest, and get him vested in the story and the characters, right away? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Is the conflict quickly defined and played out, while the anticipation mounts? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Is the resolution a compromise or an absolute? Does the reader see it coming? Is it delicate, or deliberate? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Building a picture book is hard. But, it is also an honor and a privilege to write for children. So far, I’ve built one picture book. And with a little Zen, there is a persistent, profound, certainty that I will build another one.

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I like to look back at old posts from time to time. I find it gives me perspective on just how far I have come on my journey to become a published author. This is a post from the way, way back…

In his poem, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”  Most of us have dreams we’ve put on hold, or have given up completely.  No dream, however, completely leaves us.  The edges curl, and the colors fade.  But, they linger in that secret holding place…hoping to become real.  My dream was boxed, taped, and shut away.  It sat in a dark, forgotten place.  Every great once-in-a-while, I’d peel back the weathered strips of tape and try to breathe life back into its dilapidated remains.  With each botched attempt, I added a few extra strips of tape, and pushed the box back into the darkness.  My dream sat in that box for more than 20 years, enduring the cycle of my crude attempts to revive it and the negligence that followed.

My dream was to become a children’s author. I wanted to write books that find warmth in the laps of children, and inspire them to dream. I was moved to write my first children’s book for my 8 year-old son, who sees the beauty in even the smallest wonders. His penchant for spotting and collecting random objects, and hording them away as if they were museum-quality treasures, inspired the main character in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Artie, the Dust Fairy, has a habit of collecting tidbits from people’s houses. His fellow Dust Fairies have a knack for dirtying people’s houses. They fire soot from their slingshots and enter crumb-spitting contests. While we sleep, they spread dust everywhere. The other Dust Fairies don’t appreciate Artie’s collection of tidbits, so he spends his nights alone. One cold night, Artie’s loneliness leads to inspiration, and he creates something legendary. His story will have families looking at Dust Bunnies in a new light and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms. It is my hope that Artie’s story helps kids realize that we all have unique gifts and not everyone fits in with the crowd.

Update:  I officially launched The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale on November 13, 2014.  The good news is that I’ve sold over 300 copies.  The bad news is that only 11 copies have sold on Amazon!  I am happy to have my book on the shelves of our local libraries as well as our indie bookstore, Beaverdale Books.  I am also excited that our local Barnes and Noble book store has agreed to stock a few copies of the book.  I am glad I finally dusted off my dream to write a children’s picture book.  An unexpected benefit of my “dilapidated dream” is meeting so many awesome people via social media.  A year ago, my only online presence was an occasional Facebook post.  I now enjoy lively connections with fellow writers from countries throughout the world.  I am grateful for their support and inspiration.  May your dreams never get dusty…

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