July 31, 2019

Have Swag Will Travel: MY QUIET SHIP, by Hallee Adelman

by Hallee Adelman and Sonia Sanchez
I'm excited to bring you another post in my blog series, Have Swag, Will Travel: Tips for Planning Book Events.

Today's guest, author Hallee Adelman, shares her school visit experiences related to her picture book, MY QUIET SHIP, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez (Albert Whitman & Company, 2018).

Have Swag, Will Travel
by Hallee Adelman

My debut picture book, My Quiet Ship, launched October 2018. Since I love sharing the book with classrooms, Dawn asked if I could provide a glimpse of my school visits with tips for other authors.  Thanks, Dawn!

For some background, I have taught elementary through university students, so I always think of any book as both the story on the page and the “after-page” reflections, activities, or impact. That’s why when I visit a classroom my goal is not only to reach as many students as possible with the text, but also to go beyond sharing my book. I strive to encourage students and maybe even their teachers to write, read, create, or wonder.

My Quiet Ship touches on a sensitive topic: yelling in the home. While all students might not have heard their parents yelling, all of them understand the feeling of having a sound that they wish they could quiet down.  For this reason, the students and I begin by sharing bothersome sounds: barking dogs, loud siblings, chirping birds (this one surprised me), speeding cars, and even funny snores. Together, we make those sounds in a playful way.*

*School visit tip: Before doing anything with students that requires noise-making or movement, I’d recommend starting by setting the tone with the class.  Often, I start by doing a clap back. I clap a pattern that kids need to repeat. We do lots of patterns which is not only fun, but also useful if the class needs a reminder that we’re going to move on to the next activity.  I also let the students know when we are going to start the sounds by saying something like “When I say 1,2,3,GO we are going to make the sound of a speeding car.” After our cars are roaring loudly, I can then use the clap back technique to get the students’ attention again and allow for us to keep moving forward.

After we’ve honked and zoomed and arff-ed, I share that when I was a little girl, the sound that I wished I could quiet down was the sound of my parents’ yelling. Some kids nod as if they understand and others listen attentively.  I explain that it was my wish, combined with my former students facing their own parents’ yelling, that inspired me to write My Quiet Ship.

Before we read the story, I show the students two random pictures: a penny and a heart. I tell them that by the end of our time together, they will know how these two things can help them select their own topics for writing a story.  Shifting gears, we discuss the parts of the book (front cover, back cover, spine) and the name of the book’s illustrator and its publishing house. Since the amazing illustrator of My Quiet Ship, Sonia Sanchez,  is from Spain, I ask if anyone knows how to say “Thank you” in Spanish so that we can send a loud “Gracias, Sonia,” overseas.*

*School visit tip: If there is a topic like “parts of the book” that ties into student curriculum and is an easy tie-in for me to mention/reinforce, I like to make that  connection. Students who speak other languages are often excited to share their native language’s phrases with their peers.

Then we read as if we were all part of a performance. I have different students play different parts (e.g. Quinn, Pilot, Mom, etc.) and the rest of the class becomes my “crew.” They help to make other sounds from the book--like the rumbling of the rocket ship or the countdown to blast off. When we are finished reading, the students and I make a nice, soft, quiet sound together. This contrasts the beginning sounds we made and also gets the students ready for a calm, reflective discussion.*

*School visit tip: I type out reading parts like a simple script and cue the students before they read. Often, I’ll send this script in advance to the teacher so that he/she/they can select students that will feel most comfortable reading those parts in front of the class. For schools that have projectors, I made a digital/power point version of the book that I can show on screen. 

Post-reading, we talk about the idea of a “Quiet Ship,” a space like a fort or a pillow tower that can help if things feel noisy or uncomfortable or can provide a quiet place for someone to think, color, or imagine. Many students describe what their already constructed “Quiet Ships” look like and how they built theirs. Others report how they use one, perhaps to get homework done or to get away from loud sounds.

Then we get back to those pictures of the penny and the heart. Students make guesses about what the images have to do with picking a topic for their own writing. I remind them about what I said earlier: When I was a little girl I __ __ __ __ ed that I could quiet down the sound of my parents yelling.  Students help fill in the blank. They often realize that a penny reminds them of making a wish. So we discuss the difference between a regular wish that is easy to get (e.g. I wish I had a pencil, I wish I could brush my teeth) vs. a “PENNY WISH”--or a most important wish that if someone had ONLY ONE penny to throw in a fountain, that is what he/she/they would wish for.  In order for a wish to be a “PENNY WISH” it must pass a “HEART CHECK”. These heart check questions are: Would I make this wish from my whole heart? Would I try almost anything to make it come true? Is it hard to get? Does thinking about it make me feel a very strong emotion?  We talk how penny wishes can make good starting points for a story because if they pass a heart check, and someone has so many feelings around it, then most of the time readers will feel something from their hearts too. Together we stand up and take our imaginary pennies and throw them into imaginary fountains as we launch our penny wishes.*

*School visit tip: I like to find moments where kids can stand up or perhaps switch from a carpet area for reading to their desks for additional discussion. I’ve found that these “resetting” or “resettling” moments make nice transitions and allow students to stay engaged or get ready for new information.

After all the launches, from “Quiet Ships” to “Penny Wishes,” I take questions from the students. Questions range from “How old are you?” to “Have you written other books?” to “How long does it take you to write a book?” to  “How does your writing get turned into a book?” Because of some student questions, I’ve created additional slides and images that show how things progress from idea to manuscript to finished product. Depending on the age of the group, I love mentioning my writing group, agent, editor and the other amazing people on the publishing/sales/marketing team so students see 1) that being a writer requires a lot of great minds, and 2) that it’s not just their teachers who say revision is important.*

*School visit warning: If you are older than 19, the kids’ mouths might drop open in full shock/horror at the sound of your actual age.

By the end of our time together, some students will start thinking about their “Penny Wishes” and future writing topics, while some will be drawing or brainstorming their own quiet ships. Others might feel proud that they helped with the reading, or that they asked a question, or that they taught me something new.

In addition to leaving the class with a piece of my heart, I also leave behind a “Penny Wish” brainstorm page for students who like to write; “My Quiet Ship” drawing sheets so students can playfully draw or imagine where their quiet ship would go; and some fun swag that includes a kazoo. Maybe if they make enough noise, and it drives someone else crazy, they’ll be able to share the idea of quiet ship for someone who needs one. 


This is such an excellent post, Hallee. I learned so much from you. I loved your book before, but now I really, really connect with it. It is so obvious that you have experience teaching learners of all ages, and now everyone who reads this will benefit from your expertise. I especially appreciate how any educator (e.g. a teacher, librarian, community educator, or a parent) could easily lead a lesson around your book just by following your detailed notes and tips in this post. For this reason, I will also add this post to the lesson plans featured in my Start to Finish Story Time series. 

Readers: Hallee is offering a giveaway! Comment on this blog post or share it on social media and tag @DawnProchovnic and @HalleeAdelman by August 7, 2019 to enter the giveaway of a signed copy of My Quiet Ship book and a Pop up Rocket Play Tent.

To make your own quiet ship or to download a free lesson plan, head over to www.myquietship.com. Hallee’s next book, Way Past Mad, steams out in Spring 2020. 

Hallee Adelman is committed to bettering the lives of children and families through education and story. With a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, Hallee has taught university and elementary students, having been nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award on multiple occasions. Hallee has also served various organizations related to children and/or education such as Franklin Institute, Please Touch Museum, and Simon’s Heart. My Quiet Ship (2018) was her debut picture book. Her next book, Way Past Mad, is due out Spring 2020. Hallee loves sharing writing tips with educators, children, and teens. She is married with two children and two dogs.

Random fact: Hallee does work in film and is the producer/director of an upcoming documentary (Our American Family, 2020).

Have Swag Will Travel is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (forthcoming, 2019), and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

July 26, 2019

The Learning Part of the Writing Life: National Day of the Cowboy and the Cowboy (Cowgirl) Code of Conduct

When I visit schools, libraries, and professional development conferences, one of the things I like to mention is that book writing always leads me on new paths of learning.

Some of these paths are somewhat logical and to be expected. For example, in writing my forthcoming books, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? and Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, it isn't too surprising that while researching these books I found myself watching YouTube videos about western and coastal animals' potty behaviors, or that I'd eventually curate some of these videos into playlists such as "Humorous Animal/Potty-Related Videos," and "Fascinating Toilet/Potty/Animal/Poop Science." 

It's also not particularly surprising that I'd research "cowgirl lingo" and "pirate lingo" and curate my cowgirlpirate, (and even potty-humor-related) discoveries on a Pinterest page.

It was while I was doing this book-related research that I met a singer, songwriter and performing musician by the name of Marshall Mitchell, (who wrote an amazing song for my Cowgirl book that I can't wait to share with you ... soon!) and with whom I've now become friends. This research and subsequent friendship has put me on many new paths of learning.

It all began with internet searches on terms such as, "cowgirl music for kids" and "cowboy music for kids." I was trying to curate some music that would tie into my Cowgirl book that I could incorporate into my author visits and other book events and that I could share with my readers. One of those searches led me to Marshall's website. Based on the info I could glean from Marshall's site and related links, it looked as if I had found just the right resource. I wanted to purchase the music via download, but I couldn't find a way to do that, so I reached out to Marshall using the contact feature on his site.

Soon after, I received a response from Jennifer Michaels, Marshall's booking agent, and thus began the beginning of a friendship--first with Jennifer, then with Marshall.

Through this friendship, I learned that Marshall has spent his lifetime creating music (for adults and children), and I learned about the Clean Water Rangers, a music-infused science program that teaches children about the importance of taking care of the environment, particularly, the watershed.

I also learned about the Cowboy Code of Conduct. Marshall incorporates the elements of this code of conduct, which is about human decency, into his concerts for kids. Elements of the code include honesty, respect, integrity, responsibility, courage, perserverence (something MY cowgirl knows a little something about), and wisdom.

It is also through this friendship that I learned about the longtime efforts of cowboys and cowgirls like Marshall and Jennifer to draw attention to cowboy/cowgirl culture and the pioneer heritage through a national observance called National Day of the Cowboy. The goal is to hold this as an annual observance on the fourth Saturday of every July, which happens to be Saturday, July 27th this year. There have been efforts to bring this observance forward at a national level, but now the focus is on working at the state level, state by state. Oregon, my home state, was the 6th state to pass legislation acknowledging National Day of the Cowboy, (back in 2013), and this past year, Arkansas became the 13th state to pass this legislation. Marshall and Jennifer were both active volunteers on this project in Arkansas.

Just last week I learned that Marshall Mitchell was recognized as a recipient of the 2019 Cowboy Keeper Award, which is a very high honor. He will be celebrating with his family and many of his friends, including Jennifer, at the "music house" on his property in Arkansas. According to Jennifer, the music house is "set up with a small recording studio in one room and storage for equipment and props in another room. The rest of the house is used for having folks over, usually for his song circles the 2nd Friday of every month." He also uses the space for hosting house concerts for traveling musicians. Jennifer says it is a space filled with "music, fellowship, storytelling, and food."

It is in this space that my friend Marshall recorded a most wonderful gift to me and to young readers: the song that will accompany the book trailer for Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? I can't wait to share it with you! Stay tuned, folks, it's coming SOON!

I encourage you to get to know Marshall Mitchell and the beautiful music and life lessons he brings to our world. Happy National Day of the Cowboy, Marshall, and congratulations on your recent recognition as a Cowboy Keeper. Yee-Haw!

July 24, 2019

Birth Stories for Books, THAT'S FOR BABIES (and other books), by Jackie Azúa Kramer

I'm so pleased to bring you another Birth Stories for Books interview. This week's guest is Jackie Azúa Kramer, author of many wonderful books for children. Today we'll be focusing on the story behind her path to publication for her latest book, THAT'S FOR BABIES (illustrated by Lisa Brandenburg, Clavis Books, June 2019).

Jackie just returned from her daughter's wedding and a road trip through Oaxaca and the Yucatán in Mexico, so I feel especially grateful that she was able to find some time to chat about her publishing experiences.

Dawn Prochovnic: I can’t imagine watching one of your babies get married and launching a book into the world all in the same month, but that’s what you’ve done! Your most recent book, THAT’S FOR BABIES, arrived in bookstores June 25. Can you tell us a little bit about your path to publication for this particular story? I know from reading Tara Lazar’s blog that the idea for the book likely arose from something your daughter, Daisy, said back when she was in kindergarten, but I’d love to hear a little bit more about the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this story and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor.

Jackie Azúa Kramer: Thank you! The wedding was a joyous and celebratory event!

(Click here and here to see some photos from Daisy's wedding.)

Hard to believe so many years ago, she was the inspiration for That’s for Babies. The process for that book and timeframe between initial idea and submission was lengthy. I submitted the story to a guest agent via 12x12. I was fortunate enough to receive a reply in which the agent liked it, however, suggested some ideas towards a revision. I enthusiastically agreed and got to work. Long story, short—they unfortunately, still passed.

Here’s what—this business is subjective. One editor’s rejection may be another’s acquisition. I felt confident with the new revision to submit elsewhere. And, the rest as they say, is history. What I learned from this experience is that everything happens for a reason. Hard work with great intention is not wasted energy. It’s not always clear at the time where your path will lead you. As a result, Clavis Books not only acquired one story, but two more. If You Want to Fall Asleep (2018) and Miles Won’t Smile (TBD).

DP: Thanks for sharing those lovely photos from Daisy's wedding, Jackie. I especially love the picture of you and Daisy together. Thanks also for the important reminder that "hard work with great intention is not wasted energy." Reflecting on the journey from idea to published book, is there any one moment along the way that you credit with opening the door for this particular story to find its way to publication?

JK: Meeting Philippe Werck, Publisher at Clavis Books at Book Expo America. Out of Belgium, Philippe publishes beautiful picture books in many languages. After a lovely conversation where I shared some of my stories and piqued his interest, Philippe asked to see them. It goes without saying, I was over the moon! If You Want to Fall Asleep is now in five languages including Simple Chinese and Russian. It’s exciting to think of little readers around the world reading my books. I look forward to where That’s for Babies and soon Miles Won’t Smile, will travel to.

If You Want to Fall Asleep, by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Lisa Brandenburg

DP: That IS exciting! I also think it's exciting that you went to Book Expo! 

When you look back to your earlier published books, THE GREEN UMBRELLA, and IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP as compared to this book, what were some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each?

JK: I often pinch myself and think about the serendipity of the publication of my books. I read an article in Publishers Weekly in 2015 about the Swiss publisher, NorthSouth, expanding their footprint in the United States. This was before I had an agent and I contacted NorthSouth for their submission requirements. I almost fell off my chair when they replied suggesting I should send whatever I felt were my best stories and subsequently, published The Green Umbrella (2017). Similar to my experience with Clavis, both happened as a result of discovering opportunities, however and whenever, they present themselves.

Interior Image from The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Maral Sassouni

DP: It sounds like your hard work and pursuit of opportunities (coupled with a pinch of serendipity) has been the recipe for success for you! 

Is there a genre within picture books that you prefer to write in? For example, quiet books, nonfiction, fractured fairytales, bedtime, poetry, humor, folk tales, lyrical, rhyming, concept, biographies, character driven?

JK: Simply put, no. I feel I continue to grow, change and evolve in my writer’s journey. I’ve written lyrical stories like The Green Umbrella. If You Want to Fall Asleep is a bedtime story and That’s for Babies which is a humorous, character-driven story.

I believe this is why I chose my agent, Stephen Fraser. We have a good working relationship because I don’t fit into any box and he gets it.

For example, The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla, is about loss and love (Candlewick, 2020); I Wish You Knew taps into my Latina culture. The story is about deportation, empathy and diversity in a school setting (Roaring Brook Press, 2021); We Are One is a 260-word poem that shares the synchronicity and connections between each of us and the natural world (Two Lions/Amazon, TBD). I’m very excited about my first non-fiction biography tentatively called Herbert and Dorothy-- The Story of a Postal Clerk and Librarian and the Largest Priceless Art Collection in One Small Apartment (Cameron Kids, TBD).

Image Source

DP: That image says it all! Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on?

JK: I keep a long list of ideas, titles, themes, characters any little seed that inspires me. Two of these seeds have begun to bloom. Without giving away too much—one’s about space and the other a child’s magical thinking. It’s sometimes a surprise to me what the harvest brings.

DP: One more question: I see in your bio that you enjoy globe trekking. I have the travel bug, too. Where are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled, and what’s next on your wish list?

JK: WOW! Tough question to answer for myself who loves to travel. Everywhere I’ve been has had something memorable and beautiful—whether it’s the people, culture, food, history, geography, art, music, language, to name a few things.

I’ve travelled to five continents; however, I tend to fall in love with the last place I visited. I just returned from a road trip through a tiny part of Mexico, and I say tiny because Mexico is HUGE! We travelled in Oaxaca and the Yucatán. In Oaxaca, I wielded a machete cutting agave plants for Mezcal.

Most impressive were the women entrepreneurs who sold their artisanal wares or food at the markets.

In the Yucatán, we drove to the breath-taking, Chichen Itza, the Mayan city built around 550 AD, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I swam with Whale Sharks in the Yucatán Peninsula! What an honor and pleasure to explore some of Mexico and I hope to return one day.

DP: Thanks for stirring some wonderful travel memories for me, Jackie...my husband and I visited that same part of Mexico over 30 years ago. Thanks also for sharing your publishing experiences. You've provided a lot of inspiration for those in the trenches waiting for their first, "Yes" to open the door of publishing adventures. 

Jackie Azúa Kramer studied acting and voice at NYU and earned her MA, Queens College, Counseling in Education. Jackie has worked as an actor, singer, and school counselor. Her work with children presented her an opportunity to address their concerns, secrets and hopes through storytelling. Now she spends her time writing children’s picture books. Her picture books include, the award-winning The Green Umbrella (2017 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year), If You Want to Fall Asleep and That’s for Babies. Upcoming books- The Boy and the Gorilla (Candlewick, 2020); I Wish You Knew (Roaring Brook, 2021); We Are One (Two Lions, 2021); Miles Won’t Smile (Clavis, TBD). Jackie lives with her family in Long Island, NY. When not writing, you’ll find Jackie reading, watching old movies and globe trekking.

Visit: Jackieazuakramer.com
Twitter: @jackiekramer422
Facebook: Jackie Azúa Kramer
Instagram: Jackie Azúa Kramer

Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (forthcoming, 2019), and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.

July 17, 2019

Birth Stories for Books, I LOVE MY DRAGON (and other dragon books), by Jodi Moore

Make way for Dragons! And make way for another installment of Birth Stories for Books.

I Love My Dragon by Jodi Moore and Howard McWilliam
Today’s guest is Jodi Moore, author of a heap of dragon books, including her latest, a board book entitled, I LOVE MY DRAGON (illustrated by Howard McWilliam, Flashlight Press, 2019).

Fun Fact: Jodi's publisher, Flashlight Press played a role in my path to first publication. As I've shared before, David Michael Slater was the author who helped me connect with my first publisher, Abdo Publishing Group. The reason I first came to know David's work was because of his book, The Ring Bear, which was published by Flashlight Press! Cool beans, huh?

Well, let's get back to dragons, and hear directly from Jodi:

On Inviting Dragons to “Move In”
by Jodi Moore

My lifelong passion for stories began on my mother’s lap.

Like many parents, my mom worked outside the home when I was a toddler. Each night, she’d bring home a different book for us to share. It was only natural that I would learn to associate books with love.

Jodi Moore with her Mom
As soon as I could hold a crayon, I began crafting my own. First, in pictures, then, as I learned to write, with words. As a child, I’d spend hours creating characters and adventures. And as a teen and young adult, I’d draft stories to help me make sense of the world.

I read everything I could get my hands on. “Library” was my favorite day of the week.

When our two sons were born, my husband Larry and I couldn’t wait to fill their shelves with books. (Truth? We enrolled them in book clubs before they were born.) Reading bedtime stories became the time to relax our bodies and ignite our imaginations.

It also reignited my passion for writing stories. I began to read books on craft, attend conferences and write manuscripts. I submitted some of them.

I got rejected.

When I look back on them, I realize they were “positive” rejections, what we call “champagne” rejections, highlighting I had talent, but that my particular story was “not right” for them. Some asked for more.

But I only saw the “no.” And because I felt rejected, I became dejected.

I stopped writing picture books.

However, I did keep writing for trade journals and magazines. And I immersed myself in raising our boys. How I loved encouraging our sweet sons to live their dreams! “Dad and I believe in you,” we’d tell them. “Don’t let yourselves get discouraged. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

Then, as children do, they grew up. They left for college.

Empty nest hit hard.

“It’s time to do what you’re meant to do now,” my husband said. “Write those picture books.”

My mind flooded with memories of rejection. “I can’t…it’s too hard.”

“Really?” Our boys challenged me. “Have you been lying to us all these years?” (Don’t you love it when your kids parrot your own words back to you?)

So, my husband and I made a deal. I would commit the next four years to writing. Serious writing. Like “I’m going to work to get a story published” writing.

I became more active in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), attending conferences. I joined a critique group. I connected with other writerly people (who, in every sense of the word, became family.)

That first Labor Day was admittedly tough. Larry and I visited the beach for the first time (since the boys had been born) without them. But my hubby, being my third child, brought the sand toys anyway and began building a castle. Several toddlers in the vicinity decided he needed “help.” One little guy stuck a strand of seaweed in the mouth of the castle. Larry said, “That looks like a dragon’s tail. Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in.”

by Jodi Moore & Howard McWilliam
The heavens opened, and the angels sang…and the idea for When A Dragon Moves In was conceived.

When I submitted the manuscript to various editors, I was asked, “Is the dragon real or imaginary?”

“I’d like the readers to decide,” I answered.

Rejections followed.

Until I sent the story to Flashlight Press.

I won’t deny that my brilliant editor, Shari Dash Greenspan, asked that same question. However, when I expressed my desire for the reader to decide, she was intrigued rather than negative. “But…how do we draw a character that may or may not be there?”

Hmm. That did pose a challenge.

We researched for a year, looking at the way other books handled “imaginary” friends. I worried each subsequent email would bring the ultimate rejection.

But, I’m thrilled to say, it didn’t. Shari shared my vision. And when she presented the project to brilliant illustrator, Howard McWilliam, he took it to heights I’d never imagined! His artwork not only dazzles, amuses and pulls on the heartstrings, it offers a dual explanation for every action on each page, truly allowing the reader to decide for themselves.

In 2011, our two young men graduated from college and When A Dragon Moves In (my debut picture book) was released into the world. I’m thrilled to say that readers loved the idea that they could decide for themselves…and debated passionately for their position!

by Jodi Moore & Howard McWilliam
Many asked if there would be a follow up, and in 2015, we welcomed When A Dragon Moves In Again (a humorous, yet emotional take on sibling rivalry, where a baby “moves in” to the family and charms the dragon away from our boy.)
by Jodi Moore & Howard McWilliam

Later this summer, I’m excited to report I Love My Dragon, a board book for the youngest dragon enthusiasts, will wing its way into the book world…and hopefully into your hearts! It’s available for preorder now, through your favorite book seller.

Here’s the thing. They say it only takes one “yes,” one person who embraces your vision and is willing to take that chance. I’d like to extend that a bit.

You see, while writing is a solitary act, publishing a book is not. It takes the support of book professionals and sellers. Of critique partners and writer buddies. Of librarians and teachers. Of readers.

And even before that first word, it takes the support (emotionally and often financially) of beloved family. I couldn’t have done any of this without my husband and our boys. Without extended family members. Without my mom and dad.

Sadly, my mom battled both mental illness and alcoholism, and passed away before she ever held one of my books. This past December, I lost my beloved father, whose strength and love held our family together when everything seemed to fall apart.

The dedication on I Love My Dragon reads: 

For Mom, who placed that first book in my hand, and for Dad, who helped turn the page. 

Because I shall forever associate books with love. And with them. 

Jodi Moore with her Dad

Oh, Jodi, you have me in a heap of dragon tears. What a beautiful dedication, and what a beautiful birth story. I, too, was lucky enough to have heaps of books put into my hands as a child, and I too, equate books with love. (And my nest is only half empty, and even THAT is hitting hard!) 

Thank you for vividly sharing with us the importance of surrounding ourselves with "writerly people" and being persistent in the face of disappointment...and for reminding us that that sometimes the best advice is to listen to the advice we've been handing out to others for years.

Jodi Moore is author of the award winning WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN, I LOVE MY DRAGON and GOOD NEWS NELSON. She writes both picture books and novels, hoping to challenge and inspire her readers by opening new worlds and encouraging unique ways of thinking. Jodi is the proud, (admittedly) neurotic mother of two talented young men and never ceases to be amazed at how far the umbilical cord will stretch. She lives in Boalsburg with her husband, Larry, their dove “Bake,” and an ever-changing bunch of characters in her head. Visit Jodi at www.writerjodimoore.com.

Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (forthcoming, 2019), and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to Oregon Reads Aloud and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.