Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


Picture Book Writers: Let Your Creativity Loose with PiBoIdMo!

New writers, writers new to picture books, or any writers seeking good advice and encouragement should get themselves quickly over to Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo. Picture Book Idea Month is a picture book-centric homage to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). But rather than writing 50,000 words of a novel in a month, the goal is to come up with at least 30 ideas for picture books. PiBoIdMo includes a daily guest blog from traditionally published picture book authors offering words of wisdom. I had the honor of being one of Tara’s guest bloggers last year.


A common challenge for picture book writers is: how do I come up with good ideas? The trick is to let your creativity loose. Turn off your super-ego. Don’t self-critique initially. Get in touch with your inner child. Give yourself permission to generate fun, outlandish, bizarre ideas. Only afterward, go through the sifting process to see which ideas are gems sparkling with potential to be transformed into a polished story.

Try this exercise: Below are some delightful cardboard silhouette images by John Marshall (posted on Bored Panda). Generate some picture book ideas based on each photo. How can you not!?


Enough with the begging. This is why you do not feed pets at the table.


While I was watching the sunset tonight, I couldn’t stop blinking. “Hey. Do I have something in my eye?” I asked Keith, my chameleon friend.
“Yeah,” Keith said. “It’s a bug.”
“Can you get it out?” I asked.

The Pose

“In the yoga world, we call this the Standing Tree Pose,” I said.
“Oh. In the flamingo world, we call this standing,” the flamingo replied.

What’s That Smell?

Today, I was enjoying a sunset banana down by the lake when the most amazing thing happened. All of a sudden, this warm breeze started blowing across my neck and it smelled just like bananas too.

The Rock Dragon

So I was walking on the rocks tonight, looking for the tiny elephants, when a flash of light caught my eye. Though they are exceedingly rare, especially in Maine this time of year, a baby rock dragon was testing his fire breath right in front of me! Good thing I had a net.

Fish Bouquet

When I finally got up the nerve to approach the beautiful mermaid down on the beach, a friend suggested I bring her a bouquet of roses. But I had a better idea.


The problem with Troll Haircut Day is the brutal monotony of it all.
“Tapered to a point?” I asked for the 74th time.

Rhino Ring Toss

I can’t think of a better way to wind down at the end of the day then with a little Rhino Ring Toss. For anyone interested: All you need is a rhinoceros and a ring and you’re good to go.

The Woodchuck

Today I finally answered a tongue twister I learned as a kid. I was just walking on the beach when I heard this little chop chop sound. It was a woodchuck.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“Chucking wood,” he answered.
“Really. How much can you do? I’ve always wanted to know.”
“Start counting, big boy,” the woodchuck said with a high-pitched laugh, then lifted his tiny axe and got to work.

Dining With A Bigfoot

I was sitting at the only restaurant on the island tonight when I heard a waitress talking to man at the table next to mine. It was the man’s name that got my attention. I couldn’t see his face, but even from behind I could tell he was around eight feet tall and covered with hair. He ordered two rare steaks and three chicken platters.

When the waitress walked away, I gathered my courage and leaned a little closer to the giant’s back. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. “I’m sorry to bother you but…why DO they call you Bigfoot?”

Jumping Practice

It’s hard enough to earn the trust of a wild baby lake dolphin. But to get one to jump through a hoop on command so close to shore… It makes all the years of patient training seem worth it tonight.

Epic Battle

This may look like just a still picture, but trust me: it was an epic battle, with all kinds of crazy flips and twists that went on and on. Stuff you’ve never seen before; really quality light sabering on both sides. But when it was all over, just when it looked like the bad guy was going to win…I came up with this killer move and saved the day. It was a good sunset.

Special Delivery

When Mars House of Pizza says: WE DELIVER ANYWHERE, they mean it.

My Hero

It’s pretty cool when you get to meet one of your childhood heroes. It’s even better when he agrees to sing “The Rainbow Connection” with you.

Tiny Elephants

What I love about the tiny elephants that you find all over the island is how friendly they are. At sunset, I could see them all over the rocks, and a few of them ran up to me when I approached. Now, granted, I was wearing peanut butter-scented lip gloss at the time, but I doubt that had anything to do with it.

Rock Hopping

Just a word of caution to the kids out there. I know dinosaur riding is becoming more and more popular, but it can be extremely dangerous. Believe me: It’s hard enough to ride one of these beasts on the sand, but rock hopping takes an experienced Dino-Wrangler. So…just be careful.


KidLit Creature Week 2015 Launches!


KidLit Creature Week 2015 has launched! KidLit Creature Week is a free illustrator collaboration displaying an online gallery of monsters, creatures & other imaginary beasts suitable for children’s literature. In addition to creatures from 12 Guests of Honor, starting January 15, we will start revealing the other participants’ creatures, roughly five per day. The first batch is below. View ALL the images at http://www.birchtreepub.com/kcw/


‘Sup by Kathryn Ault Noble


Fredlet by Julia Shahin Collard


Nimpentoad by Sean Eddingfield


Little Witch Muffet by Abigail Larson


Atlas & Tarf by Shirley Ng-Benitez


Scroffie Fondu by Karen Santhanum


Flowerbot by Toni Yuly


Queen of Dreams by Lisa Woods




KidLit Creature Week Guests of Honor

KidLit Creature Week is an annual online gathering of creature illustrations for children’s books or comics. It offers a great opportunity to see others’ work, network, and even win some signed swag. We will start revealing the participant illustrations on January 15, 2015. Full details on the free event. You can also join the Facebook page.


Contributions from the 2015 Guests of Honor are below. Enjoy!


Emilio & Buster by Joe Cepeda


Faun Troll by Pat Cummings


Old Monster by Rebecca Emberley


Rex by Molly Idle


Qwerty by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Cuddle by Luciana Navarro Powell


Bailey and Blaine by Peter H. Reynolds


Leaf Monsters by Elizabeth Rose Stanton


Mister Terrific by Brian Won


Frosto Snowksi, Floe, Snowy Joey, Sheldon by Dan Yaccarino


The Dark by Emma Yarlett


Blip by Salina Yoon

KidLit Creature Week was created by Henry Herz and is sponsored by Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, due out Feb. 7, 2015 from Pelican Publishing Co.


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Announcing KidLit Creature Week


KIDLIT CREATURE WEEK is a free online collaboration starting January 15. Prior to that, illustrators are encouraged to submit an illustration to our gallery of monsters, creatures & other imaginary beasts suitable for children’s literature. This year’s guests of honor include:

  • Pat Cummings
  • Rebecca Emberley
  • Molly Idle
  • Mike Kunkel
  • Debbie Ridpath Ohi
  • Luciana Navarro Powell
  • Peter H. Reynolds
  • Brian Won
  • Salina Yoon
  • Dan Yaccarino

Who Can Participate?

Anyone! It’s fun. Be inspired by others’ art. Promote your work by sharing it with others in the KidLit community.

What Can I Submit?

Submit before January 1 an image of any creature you’ve illustrated. It need not have been traditionally published. “Creature” is defined in this context as any sentient being not found in nature, e.g. dragon, ninja rabbit, muppet, talking crayon, elf, and so on. The artwork may be in any media, but submit a 72 dpi JPEG no more than 7″ wide and 5″ high.

How Do I Join The Fun?

1. Paste the small KCW participant badge on your website, with a link to the KCW website.
2. Email me your JPEG with the info listed below (Oscar shown for illustrative purposes). By submitting, you are agreeing to these terms.

  • Creature Name & Genus: Oscar the Grouch
  • Home: Garbage can
  • Personality: Grumpy. Just wants to be left alone.
  • Appears in book(s): Grouches are Green, Sesame Street Grouchy Hugs (not required)
  • Link: link to the book or your website
  • Your name

How Do I Tell My Friends?

1. Tweet about #KidLitCreatureWeek on Twitter.
2. Like the KCW’s Facebook page so you can network with other artists and discuss their creatures.

But Wait, There’s More!

All participants are automatically entered in a raffle for signed art, books, and other swag.