Monday, November 28, 2016

We have a Winner! Interview (and Giveaway!) with GILLY'S TREASURES author, Julie Murphy!

Hey, everyone!

Congratulations to Sue Lowell Gallion, winner of Julie's Gilly's Treasures!
Thanks to everyone who entered!


Today, debut fiction picture book author Julie Murphy joins us to talk about her recently released book, Gilly's Treasures (Cedar Fort). Welcome, Julie, and congratulations!

Thanks, Jody! It is wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me over.

First, tell us about you. You live in Australia, right?
Yes, I live in Melbourne, which is a major city in southeastern Australia. Melbourne is located near the coast. I love the sea, and have a few favorite coastal spots that we regularly visit for family holidays.

It looks amazing! How did you come up with the idea for Gilly's Treasures?
It was a combination of my love of the beach, and my feelings about advertising constantly bombarding us with messages that we will be happier if we get more stuff. Seagulls can be greedy for anything edible, and my character Gilly takes it a step further. He likes finding shiny, pretty things, and can’t stop wanting more.

Sounds really cute, and relatable! Did the writing come quickly, or did you write several drafts?
The story has been with me for so long that it is actually quite hard to remember! I think the general story came fairly quickly but I have no doubt that, as with all my stories, I then revised it ad infinitum. I actually entered it early on as a short story in a Fable (for adults) competition and it got an honorable mention, which was encouraging. So then I developed it into a picture book. I remember it took me ages to even settle on a name for my main character. For a while I was quite attached to “Gulliver.” I thought “Gulliver’s Treasures” had a certain ring to it. In the end, however, the name didn’t flow well in the text, and I thought the joke probably wouldn’t work with most children. (GULLiver, and the classic story "Gulliver's Travels." Get it? Okay, never mind.)

Ha! Once you finished writing, how long did it take to sell it? Cedar Fort is a US publisher, right?
Right. Cedar Fort is a Utah-based publisher. Many of its books are LDS-oriented, but they also publish general books that are uplifting and help people to think about what’s important in their lives. I discovered Cedar Fort when I read a tweet from their then Commissioning Editor, Ashley Gephart, on Twitter’s Manuscript Wishlist (#MSWL). She said that she was looking for “uplifting/family values” stories. So I sent off Gilly and quickly got a favorable reply. My pitch went something like: While out fishing, Gilly the seagull finds a beautiful, shiny treasure. He loves it so much he can’t help searching for more…and more. Will he ever be satisfied with what he has? My experience just goes to show how important it is to target manuscripts to appropriate publishers!

Wow! Social media to the rescue! Did you work with your editor on further revisions?
Yes, some very minor ones - only changing a word here and there.

What would you like kids to take away from your book?
Great question! I would like kids to take away a number of things. Firstly, a love of story and reading…although hopefully they already have that! I’d also like them to spare a thought about what matters most to them, and to be encouraged to get out and experience nature for themselves. And lastly, I hope they enjoy the fun and playfulness in Illustrator Jay Fontano’s striking artwork, which offsets my story really well. Jay has introduced a great little character too – a friendly crab – who children will have fun spotting on many pages.

What else is on your plate?
Oh, I always have lots on my plate, but I generally enjoy the juggling act. Right now I have several stories at different stages of development; most are picture book manuscripts (fiction and non-fiction), and there is an early reader also calling for my attention. My next book to be published is a non-fiction illustrated picture book for 4-8 year olds, about fascinating feet of the animal world. It will be called I’ve Got Feet! - from Amicus Ink (distributed by Chronicle) in 2017. I also have more deals in the pipeline that I can’t talk about yet. I am almost bursting from wanting to spill the beans! Rest assured that when the time is right I will happily reveal all on my website and Twitter - follow me via the links below to stay in touch!

Ooh, secrets! Sounds great, Julie! And now, readers, for the giveaway:
Cedar Fort has generously provided a copy of Gilly’s Treasures to give away to one lucky US reader. To enter, tell me your favorite beach activity in the comments below. The winner’s name will be posted on this blog and on my Twitter (@jodywrites4kids) on December 12.  

You can visit Julie at
Facebook (with book preview):

Gilly’s Treasures is available from many on-line book stores and Cedar Fort’s sales site, Books & Things (which offers free postage to most parts of the USA) -

Thanks, Julie, and good luck with Gilly's Treasures!
Thank you, Jody! It has been an absolute pleasure.

Friday, September 16, 2016

RACE CAR DREAMS by Sharon Chriscoe

Hey, everyone,

Today we're joined by Sharon Chriscoe, author of the just-released RACE CAR DREAMS from Running Press Kids. 

Sharon, thanks for joining us. I had a chance to read RACE CAR DREAMS, and it’s really cute! I predict a huge first place finish with little readers everywhere. Tell us about your book!

Aw! Thank you so much, Jody! And thank you for having me on your wonderful blog! RACE CAR DREAMS is a rhyming bedtime story about a little race car getting ready for bed. After his high octane filled day at the track, he washes his rims at the Tickle-and-Wash, fills his tummy with oil at Guzzle-and-Gulp, and chooses a book from the Speedy-Reads Library that’s all about speed. Then, once toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!
Where did you get the idea for the book?

A couple years ago while I was reading the super-talented Jane Yolen’s HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT? for around the tenth time, I found myself wanting my very own unique twist on a bedtime story. After much brainstorming, and some trial and error, it hit me . . . full throttle! A race car! Kids love race cars and I had never read about a race car getting ready for bed. I spent the next few weeks in my mobile office drafting those first words.

Yep. That’s right, my office is not only mobile but it’s the passenger seat of a bread truck in which I work alongside my super supportive husband on our bread route.

It took almost another year of tweaking the story, revision after revision, draft after draft (nearly 50 in total!) before Race Car became a book that was submission worthy. And I am so thankful to my wonderful critique partners and the SCBWI Blueboard members that encouraged me and helped me to get him all polished and shined.

How did Race Car Dreams end up at Running Press Kids?

My amazing agent Jessica Sinsheimer sent RACE CAR DREAMS out on submission March 18th, 2015 and right away we received a lot of interest in our little race car. We actually had an "I'm taking this to ed board" note in 35 minutes! Already he was breaking land speed records. On April 1st, we were thrilled to have Running Press Kids as our publisher. Yes, it was most definitely not April Fool’s Day at the Chriscoe house. The entire process took two weeks.    Gotta love a fast race car!

I'll say! Do you have a favorite line or spread?

I do! Of course, as the author, I love all of the lines. :) But I have to say my favorite is “He’s sleepy and full and ready to read. He chooses a book that’s all about speed.” The idea of a race car not only getting ready for bed, but reading a bedtime story of his own, is unique in its portrayal yet so normal in a child’s bedtime routine.

As for my favorite spread, it actually coincides with my favorite lines. It’s the Speedy Reads Library scene where Race Car is choosing his book all about speed. I remember the first time I saw the little tree library and thinking it was just the cutest thing I had ever seen. I now have it displayed on my website.

What are you working on now? Anything else in the pipeline?

My editor, Julie and I recently wrapped up book two in the series. Here’s a summary of BULLDOZER DREAMS which releases in the fall of 2017: After a day of pushing, scooping, and clearing, a bulldozer shifts down his gears and prepares for bed. As he lifts his blade and his spotlights turn on, he rolls through the gate and heads to the Wiggle-and-Shake for a bath, the Sip-and-Slurp for a fill-up, and the Mighty-Reads Library for a bedtime story . . . and soon happy cheers fill his dreams as children swing, slide, and race on their new playground.

As for what I’m working on now, let’s just say that there will be more of the vehicle dreams books hitting shelves in the future.

Ooh, a mystery! Where can people find you online?

I can be found on my website at and my blog where I regularly update any exciting news at

Thanks, Sharon. It's been great hearing all about your books!

Thank you again for having me Jody. It’s been so much fun!

Friends, Sharon has agreed to give away a copy of RACE CAR DREAMS! Just leave a comment below to enter. The winner will be chosen September 30! Good luck

Sharon Chriscoe may not vroom around a race track, but she does zip and zoom around in a bread truck with her husband, Ricky. Fueled with fresh bread, snacks, and writing tools, Sharon has made this her mobile office! She and her husband live in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. They have three children and one grandchild on the way, as well as an assortment of dogs, cats, bunnies and occasionally a groundhog. In addition to RACE CAR DREAMS, she is the author of BULLDOZER DREAMS (a companion book to RACE CAR DREAMS, Running Press Kids, 2017), and THE SPARROW AND THE TREES (Arbordale Publishing, 2015). She is also a contributor to several magazines such as Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. To learn more about Sharon, her books, and future events, visit her website:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Benjamin Banneker: Self-Made Man

Hey Everyone!

Benjamin Banneker was a man ahead of his time. He was born in Maryland on November 9, 1731. Unlike many blacks at the time, he was free. As a child, he helped with the crops and livestock his family owned. He only went to school during the winter. Eventually, he worked on the family farm full time and stopped going to school.

But he never stopped learning. Benjamin loved to read and would devour any books he got his hands on. He also loved to tinker with mechanical things. He built a clock that rang on the hour every hour for 50 years!

He also loved to look at the stars, and he loved math. These interests helped when he wrote his first almanac in 1791. Eventually, Benjamin became known for his ability to survey and calculate. He was the only black person chosen to work on the new Federal Territory, what would become Washington D.C. He helped survey the land and place cornerstones which still stand today.

Benjamin continued to publish yearly almanacs until 1797, when his health began failing.

If you'd like to read more about this amazing man and his accomplishments, pick up a copy of BENJAMIN BANNEKER: SELF-MADE MAN, just out from Teacher Created Materials.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Delicious Launch!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see me yesterday at the Barnes & Noble at Zona Rosa! It was lots of fun! And thanks to Barnes & Noble for hosting (and for providing the yummy cookies and fun craft)!


Photo courtesy Sue Gallion

Photo courtesy Sue Gallion

Thursday, July 14, 2016

COOKIE Out and About

Hey, everyone!

Two super nice people have interviewed me for their blogs this week, Laura Sassi and Kathy Temean. You can find the interviews here and here.

Also, if you're in the Kansas City area on Saturday, July 16, I'm doing a book signing (with cookie crafts and actual cookies) at Barnes & Noble/Zona Rosa from 1-3pm. Details here. Hope to see you and your young readers Saturday!

One more thing! My COOKIE giveaway on Goodreads goes until July 21st. Enter to win a signed copy of The Way the Cookie Crumbled here!

Have a great day!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Goodreads Winners Announced!

And they are....

Susan S, Pennsylvania

Rachel B, Kentucky

Elizabeth S, Michigan

Enjoy, ladies. Your copies are in the mail!


Goodreads Giveaway for THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED! July 6-July21

Hey, everyone,

Yummy news for cookie lovers everywhere! I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway, and you can enter to win one of three copies of THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED! Enter now! Here's how.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Way the Cookie Crumbled by Jody Jensen Shaffer



          The Way the Cookie Crumbled

          by Jody Jensen Shaffer


            Giveaway ends July 21, 2016.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

    Enter Giveaway

Saturday, June 4, 2016

KCPT's K-3 Writers' Contest Celebration

Hey, everyone,

I was delighted to speak Thursday to a group of young authors/illustrators and their adults at a celebration hosted by KCPT for their annual Writer's Contest. The event was held at the Woodneath branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri. Around 100 people attended this great occasion which recognized these young writers/illustrators.

My thanks especially to Kathy Van Lieshout, mistress of ceremonies/Community Engagement, and her KCPT co-workers for putting on such a fun event and to MCPL for hosting. Keep writing, students!

Photos courtesy of Gary Brock

Where I share my writing and illustrating
efforts as a 10-year old

Friday, May 27, 2016

School Library Journal previews THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED!

Hey, everyone,

A friend just informed me that School Library Journal has previewed THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED as a Simon & Schuster summer reading choice! Woot!

It's all about the history of cookies, from their beginning over 10,000 years ago in Persia as dry, tasteless crackers through today's delicious variations of yummy. I hope you'll check it out this summer and let me know what you think. The book releases on July 5, perfect timing for the young readers who attend your Fourth of July celebrations.

And if you're in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 16, I'll be doing a book launch from 1-3pm at the Barnes & Noble at Zona Rosa. Please stop by and say hello.

Delicious summer reading to you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SCBWI Summer Reading List 2016 now available!

Hey, everyone!

It's almost summer, so it's time to get your reading list pile started. Here to help is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and their summer reading list! It's compiled by geographic region, so if you want to know what's being published in your neck of the woods, use the Table of Contents to direct you to the right page. Or just thumb through the entire list for great books for babies through young adults. And most of all, enjoy your summer reads!

P.S. My book, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED, (Simon & Schuster) is on page 46. :)


Friday, May 6, 2016

Clubhouse Jr Publications

Happy Spring, Everyone!

In my neck of the woods, the sun is shining, there's a light breeze, and baseball is in the air. What could be better?

I've had the good fortune of having two pieces published lately by Clubhouse Jr. In the March 2016 issue, my poem "Easter Hope" was printed. And today I received complimentary copies of the April issue with my rebus "Sandbox Day." Fun!

I hope your spring is filled with hope and sandboxes and maybe even a little baseball.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Interview on author Barb Kramer's blog

Happy March, Everyone!

I'm delighted to tell you that children's author and blogger, Barb Kramer, has posted an interview with me today on her blog. We chat about my recent nonfiction biographies of Frederick Douglass and Sequoyah, among other projects, including my upcoming book about the history of cookies and my forthcoming picture books. It was great fun to chat with Barb. Stop by and give it a read, then let Barb and me know what you think!

Have a great day!


Thursday, January 28, 2016



I've got something delicious to show you. The cover of my new book from Simon & Schuster, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED!

It's all about the history of cookies. Scrumptious! It will be available July 5.

Here's a description from my publisher's website:

C is for cookie in this fact-tastic nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read that explores the history of cookies, part of a series about the history of fun stuff!

Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I used to have gingerbread cookies molded into the shapes of her favorite advisors? Or that Girl Scouts used to bake the cookies they sold themselves? Or that if you stacked all the Oreos ever made, they would reach to the moon and back five times? Become a History of Fun Stuff Expert on the super-sweet history of cookies and amaze your friends with all you’ve learned in this fun, fact-filled Level 3 Ready-to-Read!

A special section at the back of the book includes Common Core–vetted extras on subjects like science, social studies, and math, and there’s even a fun quiz so readers can test themselves to see what they’ve learned! Learning history has never been so much fun!