SCBWI Bologna 2006 Author-Illustrator Interview: Doug Cushman

From SCBWI Bologna 2006:

Doug Cushman will be speaking at the SCBWI Bologna 2006 conference in Bologna, Italy, March 25-26, 2006. Other speakers include: Authors and illustrators Scott Westerfeld (author interview), Justine Larbalestier (author interview), illustrator Sara Rojo Pérez (illustrator interview). Editors: Victoria Arms/Bloomsbury, Judy Zylstra/Eerdmans, Anne McNeil of Hodder UK, Mary Rodgers/Lerner. Agents: Rosemary Canter/PFD, Barry Goldblatt/Barry Goldblatt Literary, Rosemary Stimola (agent interview), and others. See registration information.

Doug Cushman is an author-illustrator with more than 100 books to his name. He is the winner of the 2004 Christopher Award for Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo, written by Karma Wilson (Little Brown, 2004). The annual Original Art Exhibit in New York City selected one of his illustrations from Mystery at the Club Sandwich (Clarion, 2004) for the 2004 show. Mystery at the Club Sandwich echoes his love of film noir and hard-boiled detective stories. Doug is best known for his I Can Read beginning series with characters such as Aunt Eater and Inspector Hopper. His investigative reporter easy-reader character, Dirk Bones, shows up on the scene this fall in Dirk Bones and the The Mystery of the Haunted House (HarperCollins, 2006). Doug joins Sara Rojo Pérez (illustrator interview) in presenting the workshop, “Draw Me the Same! Creating a Consistent Character for Illustrators,” at the SCBWI Bologna 2006 Conference. He was interviewed by Lawrence Schimel in February 2006.

Lawrence Schimel: How and why did you begin illustrating for kids?

Doug Cushman: I’ve always drawn pictures ever since I can remember, so it’s a natural part of me like breathing and eating ice cream. Like most illustrators, I grew up copying comics from the newspaper (Pogo Possum especially) and TV cartoons (Mighty Mouse was my special hero) and then began to create my own comics. During high school I “published” (with a typewriter and four sheets of carbon paper) comic books for my friends based on my teachers. Almost got thrown out of school for a day for it!

LS: Not having kids of your own, what do you do to find or recreate an authentic child’s point of view in your illustrations?

DC: To use the old cliché, I draw for the child I was. I’ve always believed that there is no drawing, no art, especially geared for children. It’s all either good art or bad art. I think it was Sendak who said “You cannot write for children…you can only write books that will interest them.”

LS: Name one book you wish you had illustrated.

DC: Impossible question as, if I had illustrated it, it would be a very different book and, perhaps, a better or worse book. Either way it wouldn’t be the same. The marriage between the text and art of a good picture book are so intertwined that to separate them would be to have the whole book fall apart, like taking the keystone from an archway. Can you imagine anyone else illustrating In the Night Kitchen or Good Night Moon or Charlotte’s Web?

LS: What is a favorite book from your own childhood?

DC: I grew up with a lot of the old Golden Books. I read the classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, etc. Of course my biggest influences were the newspaper comics and comic books.

LS: As an adult now, what is your favorite children’s book (as a reader)?

DC: I’m still a fan of Sendak of course. My heroes are Arnold Lobel and James Marshall to name a couple others. I love Gerald McDermott’s work, and Peter Sis is a great favorite too.

LS: What non-children’s book influences do you draw on for your work?

DC: Music, music, music and food with some travel and the occasional art gallery and museum visit thrown in. And sometimes music.

LS: Any advice for new illustrators?

DC: Patience! And never be afraid to utterly fail; one can learn more from one failure than a string of successes.

LS: Any advice for more-experienced illustrators?
DC: Don’t be afraid to try something new.

LS: Something you wish you hadn’t done?

DC: Drank all those margaritas last night…

LS: You’ve been living in Paris for the past few years. Do you draw differently depending on where in the world you are?

DC: I’ve had the chance to stretch myself and try some new ways of “putting marks on paper” as someone once told me. I’ve illustrated two books with a new way of working, for me at least, that I like. And of course, there’s the inspiration of a wonderful city. A ten-minute Metro ride to the Louvre or Orsay to look at all that wonderful art is fantastic.

LS: What are some of the differences in children’s publishing, and/or being a writer, in Europe as opposed to the US?

DC: Can’t say I’m any expert on that other than children’s books in Europe seem a little edger than American ones.

LS: What is your relationship with the writers you work with?

DC: None really, I rarely meet any of the writers I illustrate. Of course, one of the writers is my girlfriend so that’s different naturally. I’ll have a book out with Jack Prelutsky in July; I’ve known him for 20-plus years. But as a rule, I never meet any of the writers.

LS: Do you prefer illustrating your own manuscripts, or working in collaboration with another’s text?

DC: It’s all different. Another writer’s words will make me stretch my art a little more, which is good. I love to illustrate my own work, but I tend to write the same kind of book, as most authors do, so I tend to paint the same kind of pictures.

LS: What do you have up on the walls of your studio?

DC: A couple African masks I bought here in Paris, my cell phone number, and the conjugations of the verbs être and pouvoir.

LS: Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

DC: Why is it so hard to play barre chords on the guitar?

Cynsational Note

Though the interview doesn’t specify, I believe the book with Jack Prelutsky that Doug mentions is What A Day It Was at School! (Greenwillow, 2006).

Cynsational News & Links

NFforKids: a Yahoo group. “This list is for the discussion of the craft, marketing and publishing of Nonfiction for Children. No manuscripts may be posted on the list, but members are free to request off-list critiques or set up off-list critique groups.” Note: I’m not a member of the list, but I’ve seen it recommended on other listservs and it does seem to be quite active.

Author Update: Gail Giles

Gail Giles on Gail Giles: “I was BOI many moons ago. That stands for ‘Born On the Island.’ Galveston Island. I think the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico slipped into my veins because I am still called by the waves, the Gulf breezes, and the smell of salt. There wasn’t much of that, so I moved from Alaska where I lived for a six years.

“I was a bright, but disruptive student at La Marque High School (La Marque, Texas) and to keep from spending far too much time in detention, started writing when I finished my classwork. Snippets of description, character studies, scraps of dialogue.

“I wanted to be an actress, and these were exercises for acting. I went to college at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I used to say I went ‘East’ to school. East Texas. Drama major.

“But I got a teaching certificate and ending up teaching Remedial Reading at Angleton High School. For some reason, acting didn’t appeal anymore. But teaching kids who couldn’t read to finally see the wonders between the covers of a book did. I taught there for twenty years. I also taught Speed Reading and Creative Writing to juniors and seniors that were college bound.

“I still had that habit of writing little sketches. But, here’s the real deal. I couldn’t type worth a cat’s bark. Barely passed typing in high school. The idea of getting a whole book typed was mind-boggling. Then, I married Jim and he introduced me to that ‘new fangled thang,’ the home computer. So Gail Giles and several gazillion other people began submitting their previously hand-scrawled and hidden manuscripts to publishers.

“I was in my forties and my son was graduated from high school before I was published. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer and I type really slow.”

We last talked to Gail Giles after the publication of Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters (Roaring Brook, 2003)(author interview) and previously about Shattering Glass (Roaring Brook, 2002)(author interview).

What is new in your writing life since we last chatted?

I moved to Texas. I have a brand new grandson, Chase. I know that’s not writing, but you’re subjected to it anyway.

Playing in Traffic (Roaring Brook, 2004) came out. It’s out in paperback from Simon and Schuster this month. I changed houses and am now with Little, Brown and love being there.

Do you have a new/upcoming book(s) to tell us about?

What Happened to Cass McBride comes out in November from Little, Brown. It’s psychological suspense and a head game. I think it’s also a real look at what makes us a person and learning to accept that we act on our insecurities. But it should scare the socks off you while your thinking deep. At least I’m hoping so.

If so, could you give us some insights into how this book(s) came to be?

Now, there’s nothing about snow in the book, but my last winter in Anchorage, Alaska was a record year of snow. Over 18 feet. I’d look out the window and see snow over my head. I felt buried alive, claustrophobic. It all started there. That and something said offhand that had stopped my writing for months before made me think about the power of words, how we harm each other with words. How withholding words can do harm just as easily. About manipulation by using another person’s insecurities against him. All of that began roiling around and made it’s way into a character who started her story.

How about children’s or YA books that you’ve read lately? Which are your favorites and why?

Mary E. Pearson‘s A Room on Lorelei Street (Holt, 2005)(author interview). David Lubar‘s Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie (Dutton, 2005)(author interview). Wolf Brother by [Michelle] Paver (Katherine Pegen/HarperCollins, 2005) is an intriguing fantasy, and I usually don’t care much for fantasy. Freaks: Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause (author interview) was worth the wait. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is just a treat. Original, outlandish and outrageous fun that touches the heart.

What are your writing goals for the immediate future?

I have another book in the hopper (Right Behind You) that is ready for revisions, and I need to start something new. Make that settle in on something new. I have several things started.

Cynsational Notes

Visit Gail’s blog, The YA Novel and Me.

See more author interviews, Texas authors, suspense fiction, young adult novel recommendations, and YA links. Note continuing pages in sidebar.

Cynsational News & Links

My upcoming gothic fantasy novel, Tantalize (Candlewick), has been moved up from an anticipated August 2007 to an anticipated March 2007 release date. I’ll keep Cynsational readers posted as news develops.

Congratulations to Janee Trasler at Art & Soul on the sale of two books–Ghost Eats It All (2006) and Ghost Gets Dressed (2007) to Little Brown!

Take a sneak peek at the action-packed cover art for Linda Sue Park’s upcoming Archer’s Quest (Clarion, 2006)(see the March 1 LJ post). The illustrator is Greg Call–wowza!

ALA BBYA 2007 Nominees — Updated March 1, 2006: highlights include: Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November (Firebird, 2006); Freaks! Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause (McElderry, 2006)(author interview); and A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone (Random House/Wendy Lamb, 2006)(author interview).

2006 Books from Michigan Children’s Authors and Illustrators from Michigan SCBWI. Highlights new titles from such luminaries as Janie Bynum (author-illustrator interview), Lisa Wheeler (author interview), and Hope Vestergaard (author interview). I wish every SCBWI chapter offered a page on their website like this; consider that today’s hint to the universe. By the way, I lived in Ann Arbor when I was a student at The University of Michigan Law School.

Gallery: Raul Colón from Papertigers. Raul is the illustrator of Tomás and the Library Lady (1997) and Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart (2005)(recommendation), both written by Pat Mora and published by Knopf. Take a look at eight wonderful illustrations from Tomás and the Library Lady.

Interview with Milly Lee by Marjorie Coughlan from Papertigers. Milly is a former school librarian and the author of Nim and the War Effort (FSG, 2002), Earthquake (FSG, 2001), and Landed (FSG, 2006). All three titles are illustrated by Yangsook Choi.

The Power of Reading Children’s Books about Libraries and Librarians: a bibliography by Minjie Chen from Papertigers.

Young Adult Fantasy Author Cinda Williams Chima: author site features links and resources for authors, biography, novel excerpts, reviews, events and appearances; Chima’s books include The Warrior Heir (Hyperion, 2006)(PDF excerpt), The Wizard Heir (Hyperion, 2007).

SCBWI Bologna 2006 Illustrator Interview: Sara Rojo Pérez

From SCBWI Bologna 2006:

Sara Rojo Pérez will be speaking at the SCBWI Bologna 2006 conference in Bologna, Italy, March 25-26, 2006. Other speakers include: Authors and illustrators Scott Westerfeld (author interview), Justine Larbalestier (author interview), Doug Cushman. Editors: Victoria Arms/Bloomsbury, Judy Zylstra/Eerdmans, Anne McNeil of Hodder UK, Mary Rodgers/Lerner. Agents: Rosemary Canter/PFD, Barry Goldblatt/Barry Goldblatt Literary, Rosemary Stimola (agent interview), and others. See registration information.

Sara Rojo Pérez is an artist working in many different media. She was for many years the Artistic and Creative Director of Sopa de Sobre, an animations studio working in both publicity and film. She has illustrated over 30 books, including La Aventura De Cecilia y El Dragón (Candela/Bibliópolis), Misterio En El Jardín (Kalandraka), Mi Gata Eureka (Candela/Bibliópolis), Manual Práctico Para Viajar En Ovni (Candela/Bibliópolis), The Free and the Brave: A Collection of Poems About the United States (Compass Point Books), and The Flying Pilgrim (Aldeasa), among others. Her picture book No Hay Nada Como El Original (Destino) was selected by the International Youth Library in Munich for the White Ravens 2005. Lawrence Schimel interviewed her in February 2006.

LS: How and why did you begin illustrating for kids?

SRP: For many years, while I was working in animation, I had been asking my writer friends to write me a story for children to illustrate, but they were all so lazy! In the end, I sent my portfolio to a young Spanish publisher specialized in children’s books that I had liked, and they responded offering me a text to illustrate.

LS: You also illustrate for adults. Is it more challenging for you to draw for one age group or another?

SRP: It is more difficult to illustrate for children, but mostly because the editors (especially in the US) have so many rules and prohibitions. Lately, I am working more in graphic novels, and it is such a relief to have that freedom!

LS: Name one book you wish you had illustrated?

SRP: I have always wanted to illustrate a book about math, but no publisher has ever offered me one—not even when I have worked illustrating textbooks!

LS: What is a favorite book from your own childhood?

SRP: Jim Button and Lucas the Conductor by Michael Ende.

LS: As an adult now, what is your favorite children’s book (as a reader)?

SRP: As a reader, I find Tamora Pierce to be quite addictive, for her lively female characters.

LS: What non-children’s book influences do you draw on for your work?

SRP: My tastes and training in art are quite diverse, and I don’t distinguish between art for younger or older viewers, but rather whether it fulfils its intentions and, most importantly, if it speaks to me in some way.

LS: And from the world of children’s literature?

SRP: Quentin Blake is a favorite. I also like how Holly Hobbie manages to be cute without being too saccharine.

LS: Any advice for new illustrators?

SRP: Look at all different kinds of art and styles. And don’t get frustrated by any individual editor’s (or art director’s) response.

LS: Any advice for more experienced illustrators?

SRP: Try new styles, both to avoid burnout and to avoid being pigeonholed as only being capable of one particular style.

LS: You work in many different media. Do you illustrate differently depending on whether you are using a pencil, a paintbrush, or the computer?

SRP: The tool itself doesn’t matter so much as the effect or tone that the text I am illustrating requires. So many people think that computers are a mystifying and alien world, but they are just another tool to be used (or not) depending on what techniques are called for.

LS: What are some of the differences in children’s publishing, and/or being an illustrator, in Europe as opposed to the US?

SRP: For one thing, these questions! In Europe, illustrating for children is not so stratified or segregated as a subspecialty. In terms of publishing, however, the market (especially in Spain) is very dominated by translations from the English, and especially for picture books, co-editions with international publishers from the UK, the US, France, etc.

LS: What is your relationship with the writers you work with?

SRP: So far I haven’t killed any of them!

LS: Do you prefer illustrating your own manuscripts, or working in collaboration with another’s text?

SRP: So far I prefer working with other people’s texts. But who knows what the future may hold…

LS: What do you have up on the walls of your studio?

SRP: Drawings of mine, photos, a poster from Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree. The list of deadlines I need to worry about.

LS: Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

SRP: Bologna is great. Not only can one see so many different children’s books being produced all over the world, but the food is always superb!

Cynsational News & Links

Marc Aronson (author interview) has been selected by the History Channel to be their spokesperson for a program called “Save our History,” which provides grants to schools that do outstanding work on local history. He’ll be filming from at least ten cities this summer.

From Blogger to Published Author, for $30 and Up by Sean Captain from The New York Times. Find out about “new Book-Smart software from Blurb.” The software is scheduled to be offered for free by the end of the month at It includes a “Slurper” tool for downloading and reforming a blog post into a book, available for purchase online. [Thanks to Jennifer L. Holm, author of Babymouse (Random House, 2006), for suggesting this link].

Uma Krishnaswami (author interview) has been awarded a 2006 residency at Hedgebrook, an organization whose mission is to invest in women writers “by providing them with space and time to create significant work.”

Author D. Anne Love’s website has been redesigned by 2 Bad Mice Design. Check it out! D. Anne is the author of Semiprecious (McElderry, 2006) and Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia (Holiday House, 2006.)

2006 Green Earth Book Award Recipients

The Newton Marasco Foundation (NMF) yesterday presented its annual Green Earth Book Award to two books and their authors for their work in promoting environmental awareness and responsibility to America’s youth. The winners are: Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs and Leaping Frogs by Anthony D. Fredericks, illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio (Dawn Publications, 2005) and Flush by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, 2005).

NMF, in partnership with Salisbury University in Maryland, established the Green Earth Book Award in 2005 to promote books that encourage children to respect, appreciate and protect the natural environment. The book award is presented annually to authors in two categories: children and young adult. The winning books receive the Green Earth Book Award seal, and a monetary prize of $2,500 is split between the author and illustrator. In addition, a $500 donation is provided to the environmental organization chosen by each winner.

Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs and Leaping Frogs was selected for the children’s category. Through poetry about the many creatures of the wetland, the book focuses on the ecology of a wetland ecosystem and encourages stewardship. Flush was selected for the young adult category and follows the detective work of young adults in discovering the dangers caused by a casino boat illegally dumping raw sewage into the Florida Keys.

“This book award is one of the Newton Marasco Foundation’s most exciting initiatives, and embodies our goal of instilling environmental awareness in children,” said Amy Marasco Newton, president of Newton Marasco Foundation. “The winning authors were chosen for their efforts to inspire children to value the environment, and to help educate a new generation on the importance of protecting our environment.”

Review of the nominated books and selection of the winners is conducted by a diverse panel of professionals, including college-level professors, environmental professionals, environmentalists, and children’s literature professionals.

In 2005, the first recipient of the Green Earth Book Award was The Sea, The Storm, and The Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry. See more information about the Green Earth Book Award, a list of honorable mention books, award criteria and the 2006 review panel.

The Newton Marasco Foundation (NMF) is a national nonprofit organization with the mission to work collaboratively on issues related to environmental stewardship through the areas of education and greening. Headquartered in McLean, Va., they have chapters throughout the nation and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Cynsational News & Links

Children’s Writers in the Central U.S.: Those who in the past or present have lived in or near Kansas, Missouri, Iowa or Nebraska, check out kidlit_central. It’s a venue to share ideas, network, and promote children’s book creators from the heartland. [I was born in Kansas City, graduated from The William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas, Lawarence, and have lived on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the KC state line. I still have a great deal of family in the area and visit often.]

Presenting the First Carnival of Children’s Literature from Here in the Bonny Glenn–a don’t miss event!

Author Feature: Lynn E. Hazen

Lynn E. Hazen’s first novel, Mermaid Mary Margaret (Bloomsbury, 2004), written for middle grade readers, was hailed “a winner” by Kirkus Reviews. She followed her success with a picture book, Buzz Bumble to the Rescue (Bloomsbury, 2005). Her early reader, Cinder Rabbit, is forthcoming, and she is nearly finished revising her young adult novel, Shifty.

When Lynn is not busy writing, she enjoys visiting schools and libraries as a guest author. In fact, Lynn was a finalist in SCBWI’s “Idol” competition (highlighting her school visit presentation) at the 2005 National Conference in Los Angeles. Lynn earned an M.F.A in Writing For Children and Young Adults in 2004 at Vermont College, where she won the Houghton Mifflin Award for her YA novel-in-progress, Shifty. She also has an M.A. in Education and a B.S. in Applied Behavioral Sciences.

Let’s start with you! You splashed onto the children’s book scene with a middle grade novel, Mermaid Mary Margaret (Bloomsbury, 2004), and buzzed forward with a picture book, Buzz Bumble to the Rescue (Bloomsbury, 2005). Could you tell us a little about your path to publication, including the soaring moments and any stumbles along the way?

As a preschool teacher and director, I read zillions of picture books aloud to the children. So I always imagined my first book would be a picture book. I received many encouraging letters from editors but no acceptances until I tried writing a middle grade novel—Mermaid Mary Margaret was my first published book. And a year later, my first picture book was published, too.

What about your books? What was your initial inspiration for Mermaid Mary Margaret?

I had at least three inspirations for Mermaid Mary Margaret. One was imagining what several spunky preschool kids would be like when they were ten or eleven years old. Knowing these great preschoolers helped me create a believable character, Mary Margaret. I enjoyed spending time with her. My second inspiration was my grandmother who came to the U.S. from the Greek island of Rhodes. She never had a chance to go back to the “Old Country” as she called it, so I thought I’d send my fictional character on a trip to the Greek Islands with her grandmother. Finally, I was inspired by a workshop at an SCBWI conference given by Paula Danziger on “How to Be Seriously Funny.” One of Paula’s writing prompts launched me into the first few pages of what eventually became Mermaid Mary Margaret. The great thing was, I sent Paula a letter and a copy of MMM, telling Paula how her workshop had helped me get started. And she later called me on the phone, and told me she liked the book. That was a nice surprise and very cool.

What was the timeline from spark to publication, and what were the major events along the way?

For Mermaid Mary Margaret, it took about seven months to write a rough draft. I was lucky to have the first three chapters read by an editor for critique at our local Asilomar conference. Victoria Wells Arms liked it, had some great suggestions, and wanted to see it again. That was a major event for me.

My critique buddies also gave me great encouragement and advice. It took about two years from my first scribbled sentences to a signed contract. Then another year and a half for revisions, editing, copyediting, and the rest of the publication process before Mermaid Mary Margaret was on bookstore and library shelves. But it was worth the wait. (And of course there were many years of honing my craft prior to writing Mermaid Mary Margaret.)

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

Working full-time running my preschool while raising a family and juggling time to write was a big challenge. Not giving up, of course is certainly challenging at times for most writers, I think. Writing is fun, but hard work. Since I had never been to the Greek Islands myself (I still hope to go someday), I needed to research a bit. So I read books, surfed the Internet, and basically “pretended” I was there.

At one important point in my novel, Mary Margaret and her grandmother see a dolphin, and I wanted to make sure that was a true possibility, so I surfed the web and found a Greek scuba and snorkel trip captain. I emailed him my questions re: local sea life. When he kindly emailed back, that made the world seem smaller and friendlier, and my story all the more real.

How about Buzz Bumble to the Rescue? How did you get in touch with your inner bee? What are the main considerations in writing an animal (in this case insect) picture book?

Well, Buzz is a “new baby” sibling rivalry story dressed in bee “clothing” with the “garden” as a universal family setting. It was inspired by the fat bumble bees in my own garden, the preschool families again, and the very real emotions that children feel. The illustrator, Jill Newton, did a wonderful illustration of pitiful Buzz sitting on a daisy all alone after landing on his “bumble bum.” When Ansel Antennae, the famous photographer from National Bee Graphic Magazine, pays attention to cute little Baby Bumble instead of Buzz, poor Buzz feels horribly overlooked. That sums up my feelings when I get a rejection sometimes, so maybe the “inner bee” really is me.

My main considerations for any picture book are humor, emotion, just the right details, read-aloud-ability, pacing, page turns, and of course, plot. Something has to happen to your characters that young readers will care about and relate to. Oh, and you have to accomplish all that in as few words as possible, while creating plenty of illustration possibilities. No easy task.

What are you reading these days?

This week I am reading a stack of early readers, mostly the winners of the new ALA Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Why? I just had a new book accepted. It’s an early reader called, Cinder Rabbit. It will be out in a year or so and I had a lot of fun writing it. So I plan to write more early readers. And I’m always reading new middle grade and YA novels, because I have a couple of those projects in the works, too. I’ll keep you posted.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Read, read, read. Write and rewrite. Join a good critique group, take classes, and of course rewrite some more. Attend local writing conferences. Try new genres. Always keep perfecting your craft. Be brave. And don’t give up!

What can your fans expect next?

My early reader, Cinder Rabbit. I’m also finishing revisions on my new YA novel, Shifty. After that, an editor is waiting to see a graphic novel script. And then? More middle grade novels, early readers, and picture books.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Nope, that’s about it. Thanks, Cynthia. After rereading what all my next projects are, I’d better get cracking. Please check out my websites for news about my upcoming books as well as fun activities for kids and teachers at and

Cynsational Notes

See more author interviews as well as my bibliographies of recommended picture books, middle grade fiction, and fantasy. Note continuing pages on sidebar.