Author Dianne Salerni Presents A Spooky MG novel: THE CARREFOUR CURSE + a Chance to Win a Copy

Today I am really excited to feature a new book by middle grade author DIANNE SALERNI. THE CARREFOUR CURSE (Holiday House) is one of the most uniquely entertaining books I’ve read in awhile. I couldn’t put it down, and I had to ask Dianne how she came up with the idea for the story.

carrefour 2

Here’s my review:

This middle grade story is a clever and engaging page-turner that had me hooked from the first sentence: “You’ld think spitting up frogs would be a lot like the worst stomach flu you’ve ever had, but it’s surprisingly different.” Who wouldn’t want to read on after that hook?

There is so much that is fresh and original in this ghostly tale of power, charm, curses, and magic.The use of gemstones and their properties as chapter titles adds another layer of intrigue and originality to this kid-friendly and delightful story. Will there be a sequel? Sure hope so.

I asked Dianne a few questions about the novel. Here is the interview:

What do you want readers to know about the story?

The Carrefour Curse is my homage to all things gothic, but especially Dark Shadows, the supernatural soap opera from the 1960s and 70s. I used to watch this show as a preschooler—from behind a sofa—while I was supposed to be napping. I thought I was being sneaky, but my mother now tells me that she knew I was there and simply gave up trying to put me back to bed. One can probably pinpoint this show as the reason I have always loved creepy mansions, family secrets, ghosts, and time travel.

How did you decide on the plot/storyline using the gemstones as chapter headings?

As is typical for me, I outlined the first half of the plot and pantstered the rest of it. This resulted in a rather important character inventing herself in Chapter 23, inserting herself into the climax in Chapter 27, and forcing me—in later drafts—to weave her very existence into the first half of the book.

As for the chapter headings, they were a rather late addition. I wanted to provide more background into the kind of magic Garnet, my main character, performs with gemstones in a way that didn’t bog down the story. The chapter headings felt like the best way to do that because readers can skim them, read them closely, or ignore them at will. So far, early readers have reported enjoying both the glimpse into the mystical properties of gemstones and the hints that these headings provide on what might be coming up in the chapters.

That’s one of the things I enjoyed! What kind of research was involved in the story?

Well, first and most extensive was the research into the mystical properties associated with certain stones and gems. There’s a lot online, and I have a couple books on the subject. I also visited a local metaphysical shop called Find Your Harmony. In most cases, the properties attributed to various stones are so broad, I could pick and choose what best suited the story.

Additionally, I wanted a model for the crumbling Carrefour family mansion and eventually found what I was looking for in the abandoned Summerwind Mansion in Wisconsin. You can find photos of the dilapidated mansion at this website. The house burned down in 1988, so I had no idea what the interior was like and spent a great deal of time trying to track down floor plans or photographs. I gave up when a man in a discussion group claimed to have the floor plans and offered to show them to me if I met up with him in person. That sounded like a recipe for getting murdered, so I used the exterior of Summerwind as my model for Crossroad House and created my own interior design.

Encountering a spooky character while researching the story certainly added another layer of intrigue. Tell us a bit about the background/setting and how you developed that.

I was deliberately vague about the geographic location when I wrote the book, only mentioning New England once and having a character use the slang word wicked to mean extremely. But I definitely had Dark Shadows in mind, which was set in Maine.

Action centers on the crumbling, semi-sentient family mansion, Crossroad House. Garnet’s relatives tell her repeatedly that the house is not alive, but she overhears them saying things like, “The house is always listening,” and she herself feels as if she’s being watched.

Just like in the soap opera, there are also nearby ruins of an older family house, the original Carrefour manor that mysteriously burned down in the 1890s. On Dark Shadows, the Collins family referred to “the old house,” and I borrowed that language when I had the Carrefours call their ruins Old House.

Bad things happen at Old House, events I modeled after the eerie happenings in Ambrose Bierce’s 1889 vignette, The Spook House, in which two men stumble upon a house on a rainy night and discover a room full of dead people.

The Carrefour Curse was hard to put down, and it was also hard to say goodbye to the characters you created (every author’s dream!) Do you envision a sequel?

Until a couple months ago, I would have said that this is a standalone mystery. But several early readers have mentioned that there’s ample material for a sequel, so now I’m considering the idea. The time-traveling element means I can delve into the family’s past as well as their future. If the original book is successful, I might start poking around in the Carrefour family tree for a new conflict and a new villain.

What theme/message do you want readers to take away from this book?

Although my books tend toward speculative genres—fantasy for the Eighth Day series, ghosts for Eleanor, Alice, & the Roosevelt Ghosts, and science fiction for Jadie in Five Dimensions—my themes always seem to revolve around the same realistic one: families that rally together despite differences and estrangement. In The Carrefour Curse, I explore intergenerational trauma. The generations preceding Garnet have lived with the “curse” inflicted on them by an ancestor’s mistake, accepting dire consequences as unavoidable. Not so Garnet, who, along with her cousin Ash and others in her young, get-it-done generation, sets out to break the curse and make things right.

Diane has agreed to give away a signed copy of THE CARREFOUR CURSE to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post and share it on your social media. A winner will be drawn at random from those entered and announced later this month.


DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of eight YA and middle grade novels, including Junior Library Guild Selections Eleanor, Alice, & the Roosevelt Ghosts, Jadie in Five Dimensions, and The Carrefour Curse, as well as the state award nominated Eighth Day series. Dianne was a Pennsylvania public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend time hanging around creepy cemeteries, attending ghost hunting classes, and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research. In her spare time, she volunteers at her local animal rescue shelter, walking dogs and serving the needs of the feline overlords.



MIRROR TO MIRROR: Book Review and Interview With Newbury Honoree Rajani Larocca + A Chance to Win a Copy!

It was my thrill and privilege to read an ARC for author RAJANI LAROCCA’s newest middle grade novel in verse MIRROR TO MIRROR. Rajani won the Newbury Medal Honorable Mention for her previous verse novel RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE. In her new book, she explores the connection between identical twins, not only in the physical sense, but the emotional connections as well.

mirror cover

Here is my review of this amazing and timely book:

This lyrical novel in verse captures the pressure and anxiety of striving to be perfect in order to live up to the expectations of others. Raw and spare verse cuts to the heart of alternating voices of the twin sisters who despite their love and devotion to one another, grow further apart as they try to give each other space to shine.

This story will open up dialogue regarding mental health and the importance of speaking up and sharing feelings with someone so we don’t feel alone. Silence can often hurt and do more damage than words shared in love and understanding. Highly recommended.

I asked Rajani some questions about MIRROR TO MIRROR . Here is the interview.

I love the idea of twins telling the story in alternating voices. How did you settle on this format and the title for the book?

I knew this book would be dual POV from the very beginning. Dual POV is challenging to pull off, especially with identical twin characters, because it’s important to keep the characters’ voices distinct and make sure that each POV moves the story forward. In my first draft, I wrote Maya’s voice in verse and Chaya’s in prose, but I felt jarred going back and forth, and found myself writing chunks of the story at a time rather than alternating the voices as I wrote.

In revision, my editor suggested that I write both POV’s in poetry . . . and she was right. I still had to work hard to make the voices different from one another using the content and attitude in the poems, as well as structure, imagery, and word choice. The book starts with a couple of short paired poems, each titled “She’s the One,” where the twins express how they think about each other. These poems were drafted during that first revision, and I thought they vividly set the tone of the book and established the viewpoints of each twin.

The name of this book changed while I was revising! It was originally called Switch, but the story isn’t only about the twins switching places. Given the importance of mirrors in the book, my editor suggested Mirror to Mirror, and I thought that title worked really well.

How did you decide the time was right for a story like this?

It’s not easy to write about anxiety and mental health. But given the events of the past several years, anxiety is something that many people, including children, have had to contend with. As a doctor, I’ve seen my patients with anxiety and depression have worsening symptoms in recent years, and even some of my patients without a prior history of anxiety have developed it. And rates of anxiety and depression among young people have skyrocketed.

I wanted to explore anxiety and mental health in a poetic way. I wanted to show that people can struggle not only with symptoms, but also with telling others that they are struggling. I wanted to depict the helplessness that comes with seeing someone you love going through something difficult.

I love the emotional contrast between the girls and their parents, how each seems to take after one even though they begin the story doing everything together/the same. What kind of research/reflection did you have to do in order to make Maya and Chaya’s voices ring true?

Thank you! I did a lot of research for Mirror to Mirror. I interviewed several sets of identical twin sisters, and it was fascinating! Not only were they closer than other siblings, but some described each other as “soulmates.” They told me stories about eerie connections they had, and how no matter what else was going on in their lives, their bond was unshakable.

But there is room for misunderstanding even in the closest relationships. I tried to create a story where each twin thinks she’s doing something to help the other, but instead drives a wedge between them.

What do you want young readers to understand about these complex and often scary emotional experiences we all have and you so artfully portrayed in this story?

I hope that young readers understand that we all go through difficult times, even when we are surrounded by friends and family. I hope they learn that although we may sometimes struggle with anxiety and depression, we don’t have to deal with these feelings alone, and it’s important to share with those we love and trust, because only through sharing can we start to get help.

What is one of the ways this book can be used in the classroom?

I have some ideas for using poetry in a classroom:

  • Take someone you know well — a real person, or a character from a book or a movie — and write a poem about a secret or hidden side to that person
  • Write a poem about a secret or hidden side to yourself

I also hope educators can use the story to start a discussion about mental health and self-care.

Anything else we should know about MIRROR TO MIRROR?

Music plays a prominent role in many of my books, including this one. I used the titles of some real pieces of classical music in the story, and I also made up my own musical—and had a great time doing so.

Rajani has agreed to give a signed copy of her amazing new book to one lucky reader of this post chosen at random. To enter, leave a comment. USA only.

Rajani_LaRocca__Author 2Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young people, including Red, White, and Whole, which won a 2022 Newbery Honor, the Walter Dean Myers Award, Golden Kite Award, and New England Book Award. Her other books include: Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), Where Three Oceans Meet (2021), My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris (2021), The Secret Code Inside You (2021), I’ll Go and Come Back (2022), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at and on Twitter and Instagram @rajanilarocca.

MY TENDER HEART BIBLE: Capturing the Essence of God’s Story in Rhyme with Author Laura Sassi + a giveaway

Today it is my pleasure to feature one of my favorite picture book authors: Laura Sassi. She has a new book titled MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, and I asked her how this unique collection for the very young came to be.


Here’s my review for MY TENDER HEART BIBLE:

This picture book for young children is a beautiful introduction to the Bible and many of its beloved stories. Told in gentle rhyme, each story features a heart moment – a simple prayer for sharing the message conveyed in each story. This addition, along with the colorful and inviting illustrations, gives children a moment to reflect on each lesson and talk about them. A thoughtful addition to Christian books for the youngest children that invites readers to welcome and nurture a relationship with God.

Here’s LAURA:

My newest book, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, introduces littlest ones to twelve of my favorite stories from the Old and New Testament rendered in poetic rhyme which both individually and together point to God’s redemptive love. Each retelling is accompanied by a Bible citation, a beautiful illustration by Sandra Eide, and a Heart Moment of prayer. The book is inspired by memories of sitting with my own children when they were little to read or re-tell (in my own words so they could understand) Bible stories so they could grasp just how much God loved them. 

Darlene, you invited me to share my process, first for capturing the essence of each story and, second, for putting it into rhyme. I am so glad you asked me this!  It may be the deepest question about my writing and my faith that I have ever been asked and I hope my answer does your excellent question justice.

For me, capturing the essence of each story was a spiritual, prayerful process. This is because, unlike most of what I’ve written, I wasn’t just writing any story. Rather, I was conveying, for little ears, the essence of God’s story, and wanted to make sure I got it right. In creating the collection, I spent hours reading my own Bible, looking things up in various concordances and then cross-checking Scripture against Scripture. I also had several Christian colleagues and friends read the stories with a critical eyes towards honoring the Biblical text.

Once I felt each story was well-grounded, it was my joy to put it into rhyme. Those who know my writing well, know that rhyme is my favorite way to write. With this collection, I had four guiding principles.

First, the story, not the rhyme, needed to come first.

Second, the versification I selected for each story needed to fit the feel of each story.

Third, the story told in rhyme needed to be short enough to appeal to the toddler audience, while also appealing to older siblings (up to age six or so) who might also be joining in the reading.

Fourth, I decided early one that each rhyming retelling would be accompanied by a non-rhyming “Heart Moment” of prayer, because, when we encounter God, it touches our hearts and begs us to respond!

Thank you, Darlene, for asking me to ponder these deep writerly thoughts today. I hope my reflections inspire any of your followers who may be seeking ways to connect their writing with their faith. Blessings, all!

I have a signed copy of Laura’s beautiful book for one lucky reader. If you’d like to be considered, please leave a comment at the end of this post. i will draw one name from those entered.

LAURA SASSI: Children’s book author and poet  thumbnail_Laura Sassi with Sunflowers

Three Cheers For Tuscaloosa Academy! My First Classroom Visit in 2023.

I always look forward to a new year because that usually means a chance to connect with students and teachers through author visits. Last week I had the pleasure of a virtual visit to GINGER STEWART’S 7th and 8th grade classes at TUSCALOOSA ACADEMY,  in Tuscaloosa AL.

alabama school visit

The classes were in the middle of reading  WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY and had some wonderful questions to ask about the book.

They were eager to share their enthusiasm about the story, and their favorite characters. Mrs. Stewart had them read sections each day and then they talked about it and shared their thoughts.

They also did character studies regarding the traits and behaviors of each character.


It was so gratifying to see the students enthusiasm for the story. It was also music to my ears when Mrs. Stewart said the class liked the book better than their previous read aloud CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN.

Thank you students for an enjoyable visit and for the book love! I hope I can visit your wonderful classroom again some time. And a BIG thanks to Mrs. Stewart for choosing to share WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY with her students.


I Resolve to…Cut Back on…

…PLASTICS! Stories about the plastics floating in our oceans and waterways and the dangers this poses to marine life seem to fill headlines. One statistic stated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than marine life.  That’s a pretty sobering statistic.

Many communities banned plastic straws and some even eliminated plastic bags as an option when shopping for groceries. At the start of a new year, when our minds are focused on “resolutions” and starting fresh, I am resolving to work on cutting back on the use of plastics in my life.

I already use cloth bags for groceries. I have stopped asking for straws at restaurants. I try to recycle as much plastic as I can. I also try to store food in containers that can be reused. I have a stainless steel bottle that I take to the gym and refill. I also use a pitcher with a filter in it for drinking water, so I don’t buy those plastic bottles. (FYI: bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline when you buy it in those portable bottles. Think of how much money you’d save each year if you went to a filter system.)

I know there is more…much more that I can do.  If healthy oceans and marine life are important to you and your families, maybe you’d like to know what YOU can do to cut back on plastic use.  

One company is making a difference. 4ocean cleans up ocean plastic from oceans around the world, collecting and recycling it into bracelets that support and help pay for the continued clean up effort. You can help by buying  a bracelet. Each bracelet purchased pays for the clean-up of one pound of ocean trash.  Visit:


Visit:   for 100 IDEAS and WAYS to get rid of plastic in your life.

May 2023 be a healthy year for all of us!

Author Katey Howes Presents: A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU + A GIVE-AWAY

Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of receiving a signed copy of a new picture book by award-winning author KATEY HOWES. This book is so lovely I wanted to share it with all of you.

poem inside you cover

Here’s my review for this gem:

A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU by Katey Howes Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee

A beautiful story of how the seed of imagination – once nurtured and given expression – grows into a poem, using the metaphor of a seedling sprouting, being watered with imagination, and growing as we take a chance sharing our poem with the world. Joyful and animated illustrations accompany the tender and thoughtful rhyme. A treat for the eyes and ears. A wonderful introduction to all the magic of poetic expression.

I was so intrigued by the idea of a seed growing into a poem, I asked Katey about it.

Where did A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU come from?

Several years ago, author/poet Laura Shovan shared a story. I think it was on Twitter, maybe Facebook.  I wish I could hunt down the details – but you’ll have to bear with my flawed memory instead. As I recall, she posted that a student had come to her a year after having had class with her, to share a poem with her. He had held onto the idea generated in class for a long time, but hadn’t felt ready to write it down. It had lain dormant in his heart until he had what he needed to bring it to life. And when he finally did, he brought it back to Laura to share it with her.

This little window into that student’s experience touched my heart deeply. I had absolutely felt the same way about ideas many times, especially for poems. I know well that often a person needs to be in the right space emotionally, physically, and even spiritually to tackle some topics in their writing. We aren’t always equipped to process the emotions and experiences life gives us- but when we are, poetry can be such a beautiful and healing way to do it.

I held onto the idea of a seed of a poem, planted in the heart, for quite awhile. Checked on it. Dreamed about what it would grow into. Supplied myself with the tools I needed to  nurture it into life. Found its rhythm. And then I began to write.

What do you hope readers will take from A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU?

I hope readers will recognize that ideas aren’t always ready to grow right away – that they can lie dormant inside us until conditions are right – and then bloom in beautiful and unexpected ways!

If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is!

I am giving away a signed copy of A POEM GROWS INSIDE YOU to one lucky person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post.

katey howes

Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She’s also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at

Gingerbread Houses Are Welcome Holiday Treats by Marilyn Ostermiller

Gingerbread houses are a treasured Christmas tradition, dating back to the early 1800s in Germany after the fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel” was published by the Brothers Grimm. The original tale included the line, “When they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes, and the window was made of transparent sugar.”

It’s easy to imagine how magical that sight would be to children. It would be almost impossible not to reach out to discretely grab a corner of the roof to taste or pluck a gumdrop from the door.

nut house

Gingerbread Houses can be lots of fun to make. An online search reveals easy-to-follow video instructions

Getting together with friends for a group gingerbread house construction project can become a holiday tradition. Everyone brings their own dough, royal icing, and candy for decorating. A basic homemade gingerbread house starts with patterns for four walls and a peaked roof. Printable gingerbread house templates are available online.

gingerbread templates

After the gingerbread is baked, cooled and cut to order, royal icing is the edible “glue” that olds it together. Royal icing is made from softly beaten egg whites and powdered sugar. The usual proportions are 2 egg whites to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon glycerin (to prevent the icing from setting too hard) and about a pound of powdered sugar, according to


Lots of different candies are used to decorate the houses, including peppermint sticks, licorice, and gumdrops.

pretzel house

Children especially like to be involved. A Plan for the Gingerbread House: A STEM Engineering Story, is a book for ages 4 through 12. The plot revolves around a Gingerbread man and woman who need a new house. A team of kids struggle to create the perfect gingerbread house for them. Darcy Pattison is the author, and John Joven, the illustrator.


As for the original inspiration for gingerbread houses, “Hansel and Gretel” books are available in versions for all ages.

Anyone who is in the vicinity of Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., through Jan. 2, 2023, can view the entries in the National Gingerbread House Competition. Whimsical and elaborate, these handmade gingerbread houses come in a variety of sizes, shapes, complexity and theme. There are rustic cabins, gumdrop-adorned castles and sugar spun landscapes. The entrants compete for more than $40,000 in prizes. Here’s the link about the winners of the 2022 competition.


Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who especially enjoys writing for children.

Are You SHIPSHAPE? An Interview with Author E.E. Dowd + A Give-away.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a new author during an online event called DrawOff hosted by Legit KidLit. We authors shared our books and had some fun drawing from some prompts and sharing the results. Erin Dowd shared her debut novel SHIPSHAPE. I was intrigued by the premise, so I read the book. wrote my review,  and asked Erin a few questions.

My review:

A kid-friendly tale of robots taking over the school to the detriment of creativity, diversity, and anything other than testing. Perhaps a cautionary tale of what can happen when we are too focused on running schools as if they were businesses and ignoring the unique talents and expertise individual teachers bring to their classrooms. Kids will love the “tech-centered” plot of robots taking over and the kid-friendly steps three friends take toward solving the crisis. A quick read with some great themes for class discussions. Sure to be a classroom favorite.


What inspired the story SHIPSHAPE? Where did you get your idea?

I’m not really sure where I got the idea for Shipshape exactly. I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo years ago after I left teaching. I had gone through a rough time, so I think writing the book was my way of getting through. I took a lot of my experiences both positive and negative from when I was a teacher and poured them into the book. As for the rest of it, well, I love mysteries, solving puzzles, and putting clues together.

What was the writing process like? Did you have to do any research on the topic of robotics?

The writing process was very very long for this book. As I mentioned, I wrote the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was able to write 50,000 words in one month, so I had the first draft. It had a very long way to go. For the next few years, I would work on the novel a little bit at a time. As I was doing that, my life changed. I started working with technology companies, so I learned a lot about coding and AI (Artificial Intelligence). But I also had to research to make sure I knew what technology was available and try to push it a little further.

When I started writing, the things I thought could never happen in schools like cameras all over, actually started to happen. I had to adjust some things as time went on and add more complex technology. The tracking bracelets were a later edition because I read an article about a study that was being done with something similar. Then fitbits and apple watches became popular. I figured it wouldn’t be long before students had them in school too. Eventually, the pandemic hit, and I decided it was time to finally finish writing and get it out into the world. It had been eight years of writing and revising when I found a publisher.

The book changed a lot during that time. Characters had different names, there were a lot of extra scenes that got cut eventually. But I’m glad it took the time that it did. It followed me through my life and a little bit of each part of me is in the pages of Shipshape.

What message do you want readers to take away from this story?

I wrote this book for two audiences: kids and adults, so what I want them to take away is different. For the adults I want them to realize that everything is not what it may seem in school. What you see on the news, what you hear from your kids, and what is actually happening (good and bad) are going to be different. I want adults to read this and think about the ethics of technology, what teachers are expected to do, and how they can get involved in productive ways. The adults in the book, except for Ms. B. are intentionally disconnected. They think they are doing what is right or what will have the best result, but they never bother to find out how it’s impacting the kids. I think this happens often in life.

For my younger readers, I wanted a story they could both relate to and get lost in. I want kids to feel that they can make a difference in their schools and communities no matter how difficult it may seem. When you see something wrong, do something about it. Everyone can be a change-maker.

Please share anything else you’d like us to know about SHIPSHAPE.

While Ben is seemingly the main character, Ellie is really the star. Ben changes and grows throughout the story, but Ellie is the anchor. She knows who she is and what she’s about. No one can tell her what girls “should do.” She knows about technology far above what a fifth grader should know, and she’s proud of it. Ellie often has to wait for her friends to catch up, but she is kind and supportive even in difficult situations. Ellie is a complex character, and I hope readers take the time to notice her more than just being Ben’s friend because she is really the core of the story.

I also added what the tech world would call Easter eggs into the book. These are little surprises that aren’t directly explained. In video games, they might be a secret level or hidden prize. In Shipshape, they are subtle, but if you find them, they give you more information about a character or the plot. I included some Easter eggs throughout the book. One of those ways is through names. I won’t give any more information about that. You’ll just have to read to see if you can find them.

I’m going to have to go back and look for those Easter Eggs! What are you working on now? Any other books in the works?

I have started a few different projects recently. I’m most excited to dive into a new middle grade story for NaNoWriMo this year. Since I live in Costa Rica part of the year, I’m going to see what sort of mysteries unfold around me while I’m here. I have a few ideas, but I’ll have to see where they take me.

Erin has agreed to give away a signed copy of her book to one reader randomly chosen from those who leave a comment (US only please.)

thumbnail Erin Dowd
E. Dowd is an educator, consultant, and the author of her debut middle grade novel, SHIPSHAPE. She believes that wonder and creativity are the foundations of making positive change in the world and that everyone can be a change-maker. When she’s not writing, she can be found exploring the world with her partner Tim or snuggling with her cranky cat Pita in New Hampshire.

Contact info:


twitter: @eedowd27

instagram: @eedowd


Draw Off with Legit Kidlit!

On Saturday October 22, 2022, I had the delight and pleasure of sharing the spotlight with fellow authors Sam Subity and Erin Dowd for a LEGIT KIDLIT  Episode #111 of AUTHOR DRAW OFF!

Here is the link if you’d like watch us talk a bit about our books and attempt to draw mash-ups from random prompts provided by our hosts. It sure was fun! Thank you Tiffany and Alexis!

Book Review: OUT OF A JAR by Deborah Marcero

I have been a huge fan of Author/Illustrator Deborah Marcero ever since she came out with the book IN A a jar

“A marvelous picture book, charmingly written and beautifully illustrated, about the power of memory and the magic of friendship.

Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?”

So, I knew I was in for another wonderful trip with Llewellyn in this sequel to the story.
Instead of collecting wonderful things in the jars, this time Llewellyn puts his feelings into jars and hides them away.
out of a jar
Here’s my review for this amazing book:
Llewellyn doesn’t like to feel afraid, so he locks his fear inside a jar and hides it away. He does the same thing with all his other feelings, until he walks around feeling nothing at all.
But  when there is no more room to hide his feelings, they break out and crash around him.
This is when Llewellyn learns something important. The best way to handle feelings is to feel them, share them, look them in the eye, give them a hug, and let them go.
This is an important and beautiful book to share with anyone who has feelings that can sometimes seem overwhelming. Its lesson is valuable for all of us.