Coming soon--Ukulele Hayley!
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best list 2012
Oregon Book Awards 2012
Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011
200,000 people attended the National Book Festival.
Each state had a table at the Pavilion of States. Look closely, and you'll see CARMEN LEARNS ENGLISH.
Everyone got a map. Kids took the maps to each state's table to get it stamped. I helped stamp using Oregon's Ramona Quimby stamp (because Beverly Cleary is an Oregon author.)
We saw Giant Pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D. C.
After visiting Washington, D. C. we took the train back to Portland, Oregon--from sea to shining sea!
After three days on the train, I look a little bit tired. But happy!
Move over Rock Bottom Remainders! Here comes "Banned"! From left to right: Neysa, Monelle, Michelle, Judy (not pictured: Docena, Lucinda)
Keynote address at SCBWI--Southern Idaho/Northern Utah April 2011
Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011
Prince George, B. C. gets a lot of snow!
Fleur in Aberglen Castle (Div. 6 Highglen Elementary)
At Heather Park Elementary with Ishbu the rat puppet.
Frederick and Ishbu's first adventure!
The second book in The Tails of Frederick and Ishbu
August 13, 2013
Thanks to multitalented children’s author Bruce Hale for the invitation to this blog hop! Here’s a link to his website where you can read about his new picture book, CLARK THE SHARK and his School for Spies series for middle grade
What gave you the idea for Ukulele Hayley?
I knew that ukuleles were enormously popular, and that many schools were starting up uke bands and clubs. As part of my research, I taught myself to play ukulele and became completely hooked! The uke is a fun instrument—it’s light, portable, and inexpensive. It’s relatively easy to learn the basic chords, but the instrument is versatile enough for jazz and classical music. In the book, Hayley starts a uke club at school. I became so enthralled with ukulele that I started a ukulele group in my town, and I also teach uke classes for children at a local music store. It’s a clear case of Life imitating Art!
How does it differ from others in that genre?
Ukulele Hayley is an early chapter book with a lot of humor. There are lots of books for that age group, but I think mine differ in that they are a little bit deeper. I hope that my children’s books have “heart”—something you can take away after you finish the book—an idea that resonates with both children and adults. In the case of Ukulele Hayley
, I wanted to portray the power music has to bring people together.
Why do you write what you do?
I write humor because I see the quirky side of things. It’s my nature to make up stories; that just seems to be the way I think. I probably only get around to writing down a small portion of them! I was a bookworm growing up, and I remember all the wonderful books from my childhood and the joy reading brought me. I always wanted to be a part of that writing and reading world. Even after 26 books, seeing my books at a library or bookstore is a tremendous thrill.
What’s the hardest part about writing?
That’s changed over the years. When I was working as a teacher, playing in a band, and raising my son, finding the time to write was the hardest part. Now that I’m retired, and my son is grown, I still struggle with finding time--possibly even more so now that I don’t have a regular job to organize my time. I’d so much rather play the ukulele! But, once I sit down and get involved in my story, the words eventually flow, even if not quite at the same pace as they once did.
What are you working on now?
I have a new picture book, tentatively titled “WoolGathering” coming out in 2014. I’m currently working on the third book in my fantasy/animal/adventure series, The Tails of Frederick and Ishbu. The series includes The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot and The Case of the Purloined Professor. Frederick and Ishbu are brother rats who live in a cage in Miss Dove’s fifth grade classroom. Ishbu loves carrot sticks and marshmallow treats and Frederick loves Geography. In my new book, they are evicted from their cage and must find their way back home (and save the world from their nemesis, the Big Cheese—an evil mastermind who heads up the Bilgewater Brigade gang.
I've invited other children's authors to participate--I'll add them as they respond, so keep checking back!
May 19, 2013
The Secret Chicken Society won The Oregon Spirit Book Award in the Juvenile category. The award, sponsored by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, selects Oregon authors who make “a distinguished contribution to children’s literature or young adult literature that engages and encourages readers’ imagination, discovery, and understanding, reflecting the spirit and values held by Oregonians.”
Winners will be presented with the award at the OCTE Fall Conference on October 5, 2013, at Wilsonville High School.
THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY
$15.95 HC • 978-0-8234-2372-9
$5.99 PB • 978-0-8234-2765-9
January 16, 2013
The Next Big Thing is here!
What is it? It’s a terrific blog event that shines a spotlight on authors’ upcoming book releases. The event was originally launched in Australia and is now spreading around the world. I received my tag from children’s author, Lori Mortensen
, and at the end of my interview, I’ll tag several other writers who’ll share what their Next Big Thing when they blog next week.
Here's my interview about my Next Big Thing:
What is the title of your new book?
SNOW DAY FOR MOUSE
Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is the fourth picture book about Mouse. He began his adventures in ONE IS A FEAST FOR MOUSE: A THANKSGIVING TALE
; continued in CINCO DE MOUSE-O!
, and HAUNTED HOUSE, HAUNTED MOUSE
What genre does your book fall under?
My book is a humorous fiction picture book.
What is the synopsis of your book?
Hooray! It's a snow day. The family is baking cookies, and Mouse gets showered with yummy crumbs. But the real adventure begins when he accidentally gets swept out the door with the snow Dad has tracked into the house. Mouse is in for a wild winter wonderland romp with Cat close on his tail!
Who published your book?
Holiday House. They’ve published quite a few of my books, including the entire Mouse series. They are the oldest independent children's book publishers in New York City.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The idea developed over a few years, as I kept changing the holiday from Valentine’s Day to Christmas and finally settled on a book that would reflect winter rather than a specific holiday. The actual draft took only a couple of weeks.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Picture books with engaging animal characters such as Peter Rabbit, Olivia, and Angelina Ballerina, and of course my other Mouse books.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My husband likes to feed the birds on our back deck in the winter. We get wintering juncos, white-crowned sparrows, and house sparrows. Nothing as exotic as the birds that Mouse meets! We also have mice living under our deck, eating the birdseed that falls through the cracks. They occasionally dart out to steal seed the birds have dropped. I love watching them—and so does our cat!
What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There is a free activities page on the Holiday House website Holiday House Activities Page
And here’s what reviewers are saying:
"Readers will look forward to taking this snow-day romp again and again." --Kirkus Reviews
"Ebbeler's generously detailed acrylics brim with comedic details."--Publisher's Weekly
“This fourth story about Mouse perfectly sums up the euphoria of fresh-fallen snow. Cox’s text rhymes throughout, and reads aloud well.”--School Library Journal
What’s coming up?
My next “Next Big Thing” is a chapter book titled Ukulele Hayley, that will come out in Fall 2013 from Holiday House, with illustrations by Amanda Haley. It’s the story of third grader, Hayley, who saves her school’s music program when she starts a ukulele club. While researching the book, I taught myself to play the ukulele. Now I teach classes and run a ukulele group. I’m totally hooked! Watch for UKULELE HAYLEY
in Fall 2013.
Next week, check out these fine authors:
Pamela Smith Hill
January 10, 2013
Best of the Best 2012--Chicago Public Library
The Secret Chicken Society is now out in paperback, making a perfect selection for book clubs and literature circles!
It was recently honored with being named to the Chicago Public Library's "BEST OF THE BEST 2012" list of children's books:
Next week, I'll be part of The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, so stay tuned to this channel!
November 14, 2012
Now available in paperback--a new edition of The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot!
One of the hardest things about being an author these days is seeing a favorite book go out of print. In the olden, golden days of children's books, books stayed in print for decades, giving time for people to find the book and for the audience to grow. Not so anymore. All sorts of economic pressures conspire to put books out of print.
I cried when I found out that The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot was going OOP. I cried, and then I bought up as many copies as I could afford. And then I decided to do something else--something that was never available to me before. I brought out a new paperback edition of the book, through Authors Guild's Back in Print program.
Sadly, I wasn't able to obtain the rights to Omar Rayvan's gorgeous cover illustration, so I made a cut paper illustration of my own and used that.
Now, at long last, the first adventure of Frederick and Ishbu is available again. I hope you enjoy it!
April 3, 2012
Make these cute chicks after reading THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY
My new book, The Secret Chicken Society is now available from your favorite bookstore. Here's a brief description:
When Daniel finds out that his class is going to hatch chicks as a science project, he is thrilled. He's sure that his parents will let him adopt Peepers, who is his favorite. But who ever guessed that chicks could run amok and get into so much trouble? This warmheated chapter book about an environmentally-conscious family's experiment with poultry farming will provided plenty of clucks and lots of chuckles for young readers.
I've always loved the little bitty chenille chicks that you find at Easter, and here's a way to make your own. It's a fun and easy art project for kids to go with the book.
1. Use two yellow pom poms from the craft store. Glue them together. I used Alene's Tacky Glue. It's nice and thick and doesn't take long to dry.
2. Glue to a paper base. I punched a flower shape out of orange paper and then cut off two of the petals leaving two in front for feet and one in the back to help stabilize the chicks.
3. Cut a beak from a piece of orange construction paper. Glue to the top yellow pom pom.
4. Glue on two wiggly eyes, also from the craft store. You can use tiny black beads or pom poms instead.
5. Add a feather tail, or wings if you'd like.
6. Done! I told you it was easy!
January 25, 2012
Baby, it’s cold outside! I’m watching snowflakes drift past my window, a mug of steaming hot chocolate in my hand, carols on the radio. Time to cuddle up with a good book.
Speaking of cuddling, I have a theory about how children learn to read. I’m a reading specialist. Over the years, I’ve come up with a completely unscientific hypothesis about why some children learn to read seemingly without effort, while some children struggle. I have no evidence or proof—it’s just a gut feeling.
I call it the “cuddle factor”. Maybe children who love to read have somewhere, sometime, been cuddled as they read or were read to-- heads bent together over a favorite book, sitting on grandma’s or grandpa’s lap, curled up with mom or dad or a favorite aunt or uncle—even a caring babysitter.
I have no basis for this theory, but I like it. You don’t get cuddling from a video game, the computer, or TV screen! So while I’m teaching phonics, or decoding, or any of the thousand required reading skills I’m employed to teach, I make it a point to sit close to my students and share a silly poem, a nursery rhyme, a funny song, or a favorite book, in the hopes that some of my love of reading will “rub off” on them.
So on these cold, dark winter days, do yourself and your little ones a favor--cuddle up together with a good book!
January 24, 2012
I'm thrilled to announce that NORA AND THE TEXAS TERROR has been named a finalist for the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children's Literature, one of the Oregon Book Awards, for 2012!
Many of the other nominees in my category are good friends and colleagues, so it's a double thrill to see my name on the same page with writers I admire: Nancy Coffelt, Eric Kimmel, Cynthia Rylant, and Graham Salisbury. (more…)
December 31, 2011
Visit to Kenwood School
This has been an amazing year for me, both personally and professionally! Here are some of the highlights:
January--I sold a new Mouse picture book to Holiday House, tentatively titled SNOWMOUSE. It will release in Fall 2012.
I taught "Writing Your Life Stories" for Treasure Valley Community College. The senior citizens have amazing stories to tell, and I was proud to help.
February--My first International school visit to Prince George, BC was a lovely experience.
March--I taught a poetry workshop for Oregon Writing Project at Eastern Oregon University.
April--My mini-book tour of Oregon and Washington included school visits to Lincoln City, Dallas, Tacoma, and Vancouver, WA.
My first keynote speech for the Boise SCBWI conference
May--A trip to England with my sisters and their daughters! We visited Bath, Glastonbury, York, the Cotswolds, and London. More story material!
June--My son graduated from college. I am the proud mom of a college graduate!
July--August--Lots of belly dance performances, including my first solo veil dances. Also, lots of kayaking (lots of Advil, too!)A trip to Coos Bay, Oregon for a family wedding and a short story, "Dustbowl Journey", published in Cricket Magazine cap the summer.
September--National Book Festival. My husband and I flew to Washington, DC where I hosted the Oregon table. DON"T BE SILLY, MRS. MILLIE! was listed as a "52 Great Reads" book by the Library of Congress. We took the train home--a memorable trip across the country. Look for it to show up in a book someday.
October--HAUNTED HOUSE, HAUNTED MOUSE was released to good reviews. School visits in Sonoma, CA and the Humboldt County Author's Festival in Eureka, CA. A short story, "Dad Battles the Bat" published in Ladybug magazine.
November--A school visit to tiny Harper, Oregon, home of the Harper Hornets. My husband and I played lots of music gigs with "The Swingin' Four". Thanksgiving with our son.
December--I got the advance readers copies for "THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY" (releasing from Holiday House in February) and "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MRS. MILLIE!" (releasing from Marshall Cavendish in May). Christmas in Portland, OR with our son.
What a year! I hope your New Year is filled with joy, good health, and happiness!
December 7, 2011
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
When my son was young, our holiday tradition was to buy a new Christmas book every year. That, coupled with the books other people gave us, and all of the I-can’t-resist-this-one extras that I bought, soon led us to a HUMONGOUS collection. We kept the books in a special, decorated box (which soon became two boxes, and then three….). We got the books out every year on December 1st. In an effort to keep the holidays somewhat scaled back, we didn’t decorate our house until around Dec. 10, so the books were the only evidence of Christmas-is-coming for nearly two weeks.
Last year, I posted a list of my top favorite Christmas books. In the spirit of the season, I rummaged through my boxes again and came up with 12 more favorites:
1. Santa’s Beard is Soft and Warm by Bob Ottum and Jo Anne Wood. Remember “Pat the Bunny”? This is the Christmas version of a touch-and-feel book.
2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Great family read-aloud about the true spirit of Christmas.
3. Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin. This is OLD. I’ll bet I had this as a baby, too!
4. The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs by Carolyn Conahan. This is NEW. I bought it to give as a gift, and then couldn’t bear to part with it.
5. Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda. I love anything with mice. And cookies. Yum!
6. It’s Christmas by Jack Prelutsky. Jolly Christmas rhymes and jingles to read aloud.
7. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. A beautifully told story of wartime (WWI) Appalachian Christmas. I choke up every time I read it.
8. The Mole Family’s Christmas by Russell Hoban. What would a mole want more than to see the stars? Russell Hoban is a genius.
9. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden. An unabashedly sentimental tale of dolls and their wishes.
10. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. Found in the library discard pile, this one’s a keeper!
11. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett. I love the other stories told within Jan’s illustrated borders. A good one to pair with The Mitten.
12. The Mitten by Jan Brett. There are other versions of this classic winter folk tale, but her charming illustrations are not to be missed.
What books are on your Christmas list?