Monthly Archives: April 2017

Country roads

Last week I was in Kirksville, Missouri, for a children’s book festival. I’m pretty sure that, were it not for that festival, I’d never have visited that green, rolling countryside dotted with contented cows (cattle, I was corrected) or experienced the open-armed hospitality (home-churned ice cream over home-grown rhubarb crisp, anyone?) or met the zillion volunteers who make the festival happen for well over a thousand  kids, some of whom ride buses for over an hour to get there.

kirksville(These two were great storytellers themselves.)

I could say the same about Sheboygan, Wisconsin, or Houghton Lake, Michigan, or any of the other out-of-my-way places I’ve been lucky enough to visit, all because of dedicated librarians and teachers and community volunteers who work so hard to bring writers in.  It’s impossible to thank them enough, though I try.

Kids often ask me where I get my inspiration, and I always answer, “From you!” But festivals also give me the chance to talk to and listen to other writers, some of whom I’ve only fan-girled over from afar. Hearing them talk about their own struggles, laughing with them over best things kids have ever asked us, recommending each other books and movies–I mean. Conversations do not get better than these.


At Kirksville I met Leslie Connor, Ingrid Law, Chris Grabenstein, Natalie Lloyd, Rob Buyea, Liesl Shurtliff, David Schwartz, Fred Koehler, Michelle Cuevas, Katherine Hannigan…here we are, holding up the darling signs that decorated our dinner tables.

kirksville 2Being a writer has given me gifts I never anticipated.

Happy Birthday!

cody and the rules of lifeThe first two CODY books have a new sibling: Cody and the Rules of Life publishes today!

Rules is a story about conscience, and figuring out the difference between right and wrong, which can be surprisingly difficult, especially when it means a choice between Gremlin, your favorite toy, and Pearl, your perfect friend. Cody gets help from Wyatt, Spencer and of course her wise, long-distance trucker dad.  “Now and then, everyone takes a wrong turn,” Dad tells her. “They head down the wrong road. But you know what? Most times they hang a U-ey and head back in the right direction.”

Also in this book, Cody, a reluctant writer, learns the power of her writing voice. And helps Wyatt get back his stolen bike. And discovers some surprising things about the Meen Family. Not to mention makes friends with a lonesome Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Rules are hard. Rules are confusing. Now and then, rules are meant to be broken. But in the end, for Cody, love for family, friends, bugs, and plump sweet cats is the numero uno rule of all.

Happy birthday, little book! May you journey far and make many new friends.