12 x 12 Member Joanne Sher

I am a firm believer that once you set an intention, especially one pertaining to writing, a path appears before you. So I love the story today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, Joanne Sher, has to tell about how she ended up in our community. Like all good stories, it involves determination, overcoming hardship, and finding mentors who help you while you get your hands steady on the wheel. I hope you find the story as uplifting as I did. Please welcome Joanne!

I love my computer: It’s where all my friends live.

For the last decade or so, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But only in the last year did I decide to write picture books. And it all happened because of the Internet. NO – really.

You see, I’d been writing devotionals and short stories, a nonfiction book, and even made a bit of headway on a novel – but I wasn’t engaged. I dabbled in writing, but not with passion – at least not regularly.

But then a couple friends I’d met through two different organizations whose primary presence is online (American Christian Fiction Writers and FaithWriters) offered to give me $900 (YES – you read that right!) to go to a writers’ conference. My husband is on disability – and has been for over ten years now. I’m a stay-at-home-mom with a ten and thirteen-year old. Needless to say, money doesn’t grow on trees. So I can honestly say there is no way I could have afforded a conference if it weren’t for my friends. (By the way – one of the “donors” had never met me in person!)

So I researched (on the Internet, of course!) writing conferences, and ended up attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May of 2013. It was a wonderful experience (where I had a chance to meet the lovely lady who helped me get there :D) – and I took a four-part practicum on picture book writing (led by the lovely Pam Zollman) that woke a desire in me to write for young children.

So once summer was over (had to spend time with the kids, yanno), I started searching the Internet for information on picture book writing. First, I found the Kidlitosphere, which sent me scanning hundreds of children’s lit blogs. And I discovered Tara Lazar and her WAY fun PiBoIdMo, which I dove into last November with reckless abandon (ended up with 47 picture book ideas). And one of the guest posts during that month was…wait for it…

Julie Hedlund. And on that day, my fate was sealed. I WOULD learn as much as I could about picture book writing. I WOULD write twelve picture book drafts in twelve months. I signed up the very first day that I possibly could.

And here I am, halfway through the challenge, and what do I have to show for it? Eight picture book drafts. Incredible resources – both human and material – to keep me motivated, on the right track, learning, and growing in my writing skills. A sense that I am writing what God WANTS me – what He has led me – to write. People who GET ME. Incredibly talented folks who probably realize by now that I’ve never met a picture-book-writing challenge I haven’t at least tried. (Can you say Start The Year off Write? ReviMo? RhyPiBoMo? Debut PB Study Group? Summer Sparks? PPBF?)

Does it matter that 99.9% of the people and resources that have helped me get to this point disappear when I turn off my computer? (You DO believe that, don’t you?) I don’t think so. Cuz though I would LOVE to meet these folks face to face, their impact on my life – on my writing journey – is no less important. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m not ready to send my babies out into “the real world” yet, but with the help of 12 x12 in ALL its facets, I will some day.

Joanne Sher is a Jew by birth, a Christian by rebirth, and a children’s writer by gift. A native Southern Californian, she now lives happily in West Michigan with her husband and two school-aged children. In addition to writing, she is also a freelance editor, the blogger at at the FaithWriters blog, and posts monthly at Jewels of Encouragement, The Barn Door, and Internet Cafe Devotions. Visit her at www.joannesher.com or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Perfect Picture Book Friday, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


My selection for this week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday is one of our family favorites, and is written by our February 12 x 12 featured author Wendi Silvano.

Turkey Trouble Turkey Trouble

Written by Wendi Silvano  Illustrated by Lee Harper

Two Lions (October 1, 2009)

Suitable for: Ages 6-8

Themes/Topics:  Thanksgiving, Holidays, Friendship, Humor

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon: “Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving . . . and you’re the main course. But Turkey has an idea–what if he doesn’t look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead?
After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever!”

Activities: Wendi has a link on her website to more than 20 teacher-created teaching packets for Turkey Trouble. Another great idea is to have kids draw a turkey and give him a disguise as the children in this classroom did.

Why I Like This Book: Simply put, this book is hilarious. It takes what could be considered a tired theme and makes it brand new. The illustrations are amazing and I’m not sure who finds it funnier – me or my kids. We read it when we need a pick-me-up at any time of the year – not just Thanksgiving. I also like the very subtle message about taking responsibility for your actions. When Turkey inadvertently puts his friend in danger as a result of his attempts to save his own skin, he gets creative about how to rectify the mistake in a humorous way.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , ,


There are so many books by Linda Ashman I could select for Perfect Picture Book Friday. Not only are we huge fans in our house, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Linda several times over the course of my writing career. In a fantastic example of the circularity of life, I once cried on Linda’s shoulder at a workshop after MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN got completely trashed in a first pages session. She then took the time to walk through the manuscript with me and give me tips for making it better. Several years (and MANY revisions later), this past week she was able to give me an endorsement for it as part of my Kickstarter campaign.

Linda is also our 12 x 12 featured author for November, and if you haven’t read her post on bad beginnings (and how to fix them), you should go straight there – AFTER you read this post of course. Then I highly recommend you nab her ebook, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Lastly, you should check out more of her award-winning, critically acclaimed books. Now – let’s get on with the show, shall we?

M is for Mischief - Ashman M is for Mischief

Written by Linda Ashman and Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Dutton Juvenile (July 3, 2008)

Suitable for: Ages 6-8

Themes/Topics: Poetry, Consequences, Rhyming, Manners, Alphabet Book

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon: “Clever cautionary poems, raucously illustrated, about 26 children you’d rather read about than meet.

Here are twenty-six brats you’d never want to babysit: Catastrophic Coco, Gluttonous Griffin, Impolite Irma, and Quarrelsome Quincy, just to name a few. Linda Ashman’s perfectly crafted ditties about kids from Angry Abby, who is “apt to argue at any time and any place,?” to Zany Zelda, who “zigs and zags through all the rooms” are paired with hilariously energetic digital collages by Nancy Carpenter. Kids will relish the chaos these naughty tykes create and also the comeuppance many of them justly receive.”

Activities: Linda has a phenomenal teaching guide for this book on her website. As a bonus, she even offers an exercise for writers to learn how to scan the meter of one of the poems.

Why I Like This Book: As a writer and fellow rhymer, I love this book because it showcases how brilliant Linda is at writing rhyme. Internal rhyme, consonance, assonance, alliteration – it’s all here. Not to mention that each character’s personality jumps off the page. No easy feat to accomplish by itself, much less to write all in rhyme! My kids love the book because ALL kids love to read about naughty children. Especially naughty children who are MUCH naughtier than themselves. They express the same kind of glee over some of the consequences the children face in the book as they do for the brats in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. AND – without even realizing it, they are learning about good manners while reading about and considering these children with their bad manners. The book is a perfect jumping-off point for more serious discussions about behavior and consequences.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Parenting, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,


I have been so long awaiting this book, TEENY TINY TRUCKS, written by my friend and colleague Tim McCanna. I couldn’t be more excited or honored to share it this week for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Teeny Tiny Trucks

Written by Tim McCanna and Illustrated by Keith Frawley

Little Bahalia Publishing LLC (October 15, 2013)

Suitable for: Ages 4-7

Themes/Topics: Trucks, Transportation, Animals, Rhyme, Helping others

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon: “Slugs in traffic jams, busy bees and caterpillar bridges you never know what you’ll encounter with Teeny Tiny Trucks! Teeny Tiny Trucks hits the road with a convoy of micro-sized rigs as they trek through a treacherous garden, down a grassy landscape, across a wide stretch of sidewalk and into the great beyond. Will they deliver their teeny tiny cargo on time?”

Activities: Luckily, there is an ENTIRE website with coloring pages and more to come! I also suggest you check out the interactive app version of this title, which includes a “trucker song” set to the lyrics by the author himself! I also love the glossary of trucker terms at the back of the book, which makes a great jumping off point to discuss why certain groups of people would develop special words and phrases, and ask if they could think of any others. Since the trucks are “teeny tiny,” the book could also be used as part of a science discussion. What other plants, creatures, objects would teeny tiny trucks encounter in various environments.

Why I Like This Book:

I LOVE this book because it is FUN! The rhyming is impeccable, the art really gives these teeny trucks personality, and the ending (I don’t want to spoil it) is perfect! It’s just an all-around adorable book that is sure to make children (and their adult readers) smile.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.


Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Mr Tiger Goes WildThanks to everyone who commented on last weeks Perfect Picture Book Friday post for a chance to win Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown! I so enjoyed reading all of your anecdotes of times you broke free and went a little wild yourselves.

And now for the winner! Let’s put our paws together for….

Deborah Holt Williams!!


Deborah, please email your address to me at julie (at) juliehedlund.com


Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Giveaway, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , ,


I can’t think of a better way to welcome Perfect Picture Book Friday back from it’s summer hiatus then with a brand new book from our September 12 x 12 featured author Peter Brown.

AND, because Amazon let me down on my pre-order of this book, I didn’t get my copy before I went to Peter’s event at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I bought one there so I could have it signed. Two days later, the Amazon copy arrived, which I am now going to give away to one lucky reader! See the end of the post for information on how to enter. ROAR! 

Mr Tiger

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Written and Illustrated by Peter Brown

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 3, 2013)

Suitable for: Ages 3-99

Themes/Topics: Self Discovery, Friendship, Self Acceptance, Self Expression, Individuality, Being Yourself,

Opening/Synopsis: From AmazonAre you bored with being so proper? Do you want to have more fun? Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild. But does he go too far? From Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown comes a story that shows there’s a time and place for everything…even going wild. 


This book is so new I haven’t found any “official” activities or lesson plans associated with it yet. However, I think the best activity is to ask children to write, tell or draw stories about times they felt or acted like Mr. Tiger. Peter, in his presentation to kids, talked about how, as a child, it was hard for him to settle down after playing kickball at recess. All children bristle sometimes at the multitude of rules they are expected to live by, and this story gives them a chance to act out some of those instincts in a safe way. Better yet, ask them to write, tell or draw stories about times they WISH they could act like Mr. Tiger. What a great outlet for kids to vent frustration and let their energy and silliness loose.

Why I Like This Book:

For a book so spare in text, Mr. Tiger spins a powerful tale about the importance of being true to yourself, even if it means breaking away from others’ expectations. The reason I listed the age range as 3-99 is because this story is equally relevant to adults who want to act on their innermost life dreams as it is to kids who are learning to live within the confines of what is expected of them. It’s a timeless parable. We can embrace our inner spirit, our wildness, our sense of adventure and creative freedom. At the same time, we also need to respect (and sometimes embrace) others’ points of view and life choices. Striking that balance, reaching compromise. Somehow Peter Brown has managed to create a book about the meaning of life in a way that children will understand. No small feat. And those illustrations!! Goodness.

But perhaps my favorite thing about this book is the treat that awaits under the dust jacket. I’m not going to tell you what that is, however, because I don’t want to ruin it for you. 😉

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

To win a copy of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, please leave a comment stating a time when you either acted on your wild impulses (keeping in mind this is a kid-friendly blog) or wished you had. I will choose a winner randomly and announce on Monday, September 16th. Good luck!

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , , , ,


I am SO excited to share a book by our June featured author — Deb Lund — for Perfect Picture Book Friday today! We own all three books in the Dino series and, despite the conventional wisdom that sequels are never as good as the original, Deb’s series defies that wisdom completely, as each is better than the last and leaves us wanting more!

Dinosauring cover


Written by Deb Lund, Illustrated by Howard Fine

Harcourt Children’s Book June 2012

Suitable for: Ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: Dinosaurs, Aviation, Airplanes, Teamwork, Imagination, Travel, Rhyme, Friendship

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon:

These daring dinosaurs have conquered land and sea—now they’re ready for the sky! But to get airborne, they need a plan. They dinoblow. They run, push, leap, flap—and take flight! The sky becomes their stage, as they join an air show. Zipping and zooming and dancing on wings, the dinos are soon upside down and dinosick! They decide to bail, hoping their dinochutes will work. They dino-do!
In this exuberant follow up to Dinosailors and All Aboard the Dinotrain, the rollicking rhymes and paintings of reckless reptiles are dinofabulous.


One of the things my kids and I always talk about after we read one of Deb’s “dino” books is, “Why, when they get into so much trouble each time, do the dinosaurs keep going on adventures?” I love that the books capture that longing for new experiences and conquering new horizons. Have your kids write their own stories about what the dinos do next. Or have them draw themselves having their own crazy adventures. This is a great book for getting kids to open up about their biggest, craziest dreams.

Or you can just draw dinosaurs on paper airplanes and fly them around! 🙂

Why I Like This Book:

I think I already answered the question in the activities section! My kids say they like the clever ways the word “dino” is made into so many clever words. They LOVE the rhyming, which I agree is brilliant. The illustrations by Howard Fine bring out the dinos’ personalities so well that by the time you get to Dinosoaring, you feel like you already know them. It’s like having a reunion with some old friends.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , ,


I’m delighted to feature ONE of our favorite books by author Jean Reidy, also this month’s 12 x 12 featured author, for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.. It was difficult to select just one because we love all of her books, but here is today’s choice!

Jean Reidy Light up the night

Light Up the Night

Written by Jean Reidy, Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Hyperion Book CH, October 2011

Suitable for: Ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: Nighttime rituals, Cumulative Story, Bedtime, Space, Geography, Family, Home

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon:
When it’s time to sleep, it’s nice to know there’s a place that’s safe.  In a cozy house, in a comfy bed, under a blanket that’s white and red under stars so bright they light up the night in your own little piece of the universe.


Jean has a whole series of fantastic activities for Light Up the Night on her website, including a curriculum guide for teachers. My kids also enjoy ending the story with their own town, home, special toy.

Why I Like This Book: 

This book is brilliant in bringing a fairly complex subject – of going from the huge expanse of the universe right down to your own home, own room, own bed, own blanket – down to a child’s size. The book is not “message-y” at all, yet subtly communicates that we are all connected in this big, wide world, and that we all belong. The rhyming verse is impeccable and very soothing for bedtime. We all enjoy reading it over and over and over.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Childhood, Children's Books, Creativity, Family, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


In honor of both our April 12 x 12 featured author David Harrison and poetry month, I decided to feature one of our all-time favorite collections of poetry — Cowboys! Not only the poems evocative, funny, and thought-provoking, the illustrations are phenomenal. You will swear looking at some of them that they are photographs. This book is a great way to round out Poetry Month!



Written by David L. Harrison, Illustrated by Dan Burr

Windsong, April 2012

Suitable for: Ages 7-9

Themes/Topics: Cowboys, Poetry, Old West, Horses, Books for Boys

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon: The life of a cowboy driving a cattle herd was hard. It took a person with grit to drive a thousand head of longhorns along the Chisholm Trail. Cowboys faced badlands, lightning storms, and deadly twisters. But they also found time to swap stories around the campfire. David L. Harrison has created a cast of tough-as-leather cowboys who speak their minds in twenty-two entertaining poems, brought to life by Dan Burr’s dramatic paintings. Readers follow the cowboys from roundup on a ranch in Texas to the one-thousand-mile trek to market in Abilene, Kansas, where they finally let loose.

Activities: First, have your kids watch this video of David reading a poem from Cowboys on the amazing No Water River poetry website. You could have kids write their own cowboy poems using another of David’s Books, Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight, as a guide. Another great exercise would be to ask kids which poems are their favorites and why, as there are many different styles and topics in the book. Finally, I think it would be great to have kids pair up and write response poems!

Why I Like This Book: It is true that the illustrations by Dan Burr in this book are strikingly beautiful, but equally beautiful are the stories David paints with his words. This collection of poems kept my fidgety son riveted and asking many questions about vocabulary and meaning. I love that children are both drawn in by the poems and also challenged by them. The poems are so evocative and run such a range of topics and emotions, there is truly something for everyone. I’ve read from this book to my kids’ classes and it’s never failed to be a hit. And why not? It’s a treasure of a book.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , ,


I am so delighted to feature a book for Perfect Picture Book Friday that my daughter and I shared as a favorite for several years. Even better, this book was written by our March 12 x 12 Featured author, Carmela LaVigna Coyle.

hiking-boots-350Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?

Written by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, Illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon

Cooper Square Publishing LLC, February 2003

Suitable for: Ages 3-7

Themes/Topics: Self-acceptance, Princesses, Nature, Self confidence, Self Esteem

Opening/Synopsis: From Amazon: Every inquisitive little girl wonders what it is really like to be a genuine princess. At the heart of Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? lives an energetic, spirited, and contemporary child who has lots of important questions for her mom. Do princesses ride tricycles, climb trees, do chores, or have to eat the crusts of their bread? The mother’s voice is timelessly reassuring as she answers her daughter’s questions and advises her that being like a princess has to do with what we are on the inside.

Activities: The best activity would be to put on hiking boots and go “play” princess or prince! My daughter and I also used to talk about other activities she liked to do and we’d discuss whether princesses would do them too. Once we even created a version of this story based on my daughter’s favorite pastimes.

Why I Like This Book: When my daughter was 2, we moved to Colorado and I was looking for books I could introduce her to that would inspire a love of an outdoor and active life. This book not only fit the bill for that, but also as a way of showing her that she was special and unique just the way she was. Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? remains one of our all-time favorite books.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software