Weird Stories from the Lonesome Cafe

Fall 2013

Coming soon--Ukulele Hayley!

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best list 2012

Oregon Book Awards 2012

Ukulele Lady

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

Summer Reading

Word by Word

Exciting New Opportunity

August 27, 2015

Tags: Diane Kidd, Judy Cox, Weird Stories from the Lonesome Cafe, children's books, chapter books

Judy Cox and Diane Kidd at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Recently I took a trip to Washington D. C. where I was fortunate to meet Diane Kidd, the illustrator of my book, WEIRD STORIES FROM THE LONESOME CAFE. Diane works at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

You might know that WEIRD STORIES FROM THE LONESOME CAFE, published by Harcourt in 2000, is now out of print. The rights have reverted to us, and so we are pursuing the opportunity to bring out a new edition.

And--(drum roll, please) we are planning to publish a sequel as well!

This is an exciting new venture for us! I'll keep you posted as things progress!

The Power of Fan Mail

January 26, 2015

Tags: judy cox, children's books, ukulele hayley, the secret chicken society, writing, fan mail, authors, kid lit, Mrs. Millie

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I recently got a couple of fan letter—emails, actually—about my Tails of Frederick and Ishbu books:

“Are you going to make any more Frederick and Ishbu adventure books? I read both of those books in two days, so could you at least think about it?”

For those of you who don’t know, there are currently two books in the series. The first, THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT came out in 2007. It introduces rat brothers Frederick and Ishbu, who live in a cage in Miss Dove’s fifth grade classroom. Ishbu loves marshmallow treats and carrot sticks, and Frederick loves geography. During their sojourn in the class, Frederick has learned to read. When the two rats are called to save the world from the evil mastermind (a blind, albino opossum named The Big Cheese) Frederick’s reading skills—and the fifth grade education he’s received—save the day.

The second book, THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED PROFESSOR, came out in 2009. It can be read on its own, although it includes several continuing characters. The lovable rats must again save the world from the Big Cheese and his gang, the Bilgewater Brigade.

The books are part adventure, part mystery, and total fun. Cultural references range from Edgar Allan Poe, to the Maltese Falcon.

Both books received good reviews and THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT was awarded “Book of the Month” at a library in Wellington, New Zealand! Some fans in Prince George, BC invited me to come and visit their schools, and I had a marvelous time.

I loved writing those books, and I was heart broken when my publisher decided not to publish any more in the series. According to them, the books didn’t sell well enough.

Fortunately, I have options. With new technology, I don’t need a publisher; I can bring the third Frederick and Ishbu book out on my own. It’s truly a labor of love.

At the time of this writing, THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED PROFESSOR is still in print and is available from Amazon.com and all leading bookstores. THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT went out of print in hardback, and I brought it back out in a paperback edition with my own cut paper artwork on the cover. It’s also available on Amazon.com.

I hope to have the third book finished by this summer. (Keep your fingers crossed!) So keep those cards and letter coming, folks. You inspire me.


Welcome to the Blog Hop!

August 13, 2013

Tags: Ukulele Hayley, children's books, Bruce Hale, Judy Cox

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:
Bruce Hale

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!

The Secret Chicken Society Awarded Oregon Spirit Award

May 19, 2013

Tags: The Secret Chicken Society, OCTE, Oregon Spirit Book Award, Judy Cox, children's books, chickens, Portland

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

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!

January 16, 2013

Tags: judy cox, next big thing blog tour, children's books, snow day for mouse

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
Erik Brooks
Linda Benson
Margaret Fuller
Donna Peterson

the secret chicken society honored

January 10, 2013

Tags: the secret chicken society, backyard chickens, judy cox, children's books, chicago public library, fiction

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:

http://www.chipublib.org/forkids/kidsbooklists/bestofbest_list.php

Next week, I'll be part of The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, so stay tuned to this channel!

The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot

November 14, 2012

Tags: mystery, rats, burmese, backinprint, adventure, Judy Cox, children's books

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!

Happy Spring

April 3, 2012

Tags: chickens, crafts, Easter, chicks, the secret chicken society, amanda hayley, preschool projects, spring

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!



The Snuggle Factor

January 25, 2012

Tags: learn to read, read aloud, reading development, Judy Cox, picture books, cuddle, snuggle, help your child learn to read

Bookends!
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!

Oregon Book Award Finalist

January 24, 2012

Tags: Oregon Book Award 2012, Judy Cox, Nora and the Texas Terror, Oregon Book Award finalist, Nancy Coffelt, Eric Kimmel, Cynthia Rylant, Graham Salisbury, Oregon Literary Arts

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…)

Selected Works

Award
Bank Street College of Education Best Books 2014
New Books
Join Mouse on his fourth adventure--a romp in the snow!
Mrs. Millie's Kindergartners surprise her with a pun-filled birthday party!
Mouse is back in a Halloween adventure.
Nora's rowdy cousin from Texas is coming to stay. Is Ellie as bad as Nora remembers? Junior Library Guild Selection
Award Winners
Oregon Spirit Award
Bank Street College of Education, Best Books of 2011
Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2011
TIME magazine Best Children's Books of 2009
Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award 2009
Children's Choices list 2009
TIME magazine Best Children's Books of 2005
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award 2004
Nevada Young Readers Award 2002