Archive for August, 2014

Meet Author Laura Thomas

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts introduces Laura Thomas AuthorLaura is married to her high school sweetheart, has three wonderful children, and an adorable English bulldog. Born and raised in England and Wales, she immigrated to Canada in her mid-twenties, and now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, where her authoring dreams have become a reality.

After completing thirteen years of home schooling her children, she is now able to focus on writing, and treasures the privilege of sharing her heart in the form of her published Christian teen fiction novels Tears to Dancing (2012) and Tears of a Princess (2013), numerous short stories and articles published in children’s magazines and online, her recently published marriage book Pearls for the Bride, and on her blog. Laura’s strongest desire is to provide wholesome reading for children, challenging books for teens, and encouragement as well as entertainment for her adult readers.

Twitter account: @Laura_Thomas_
Facebook page
Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Tears of a Princess by Laura ThomasMy latest published children’s book is a Christian teen fiction novel, Tears of a Princess. It was published last year as the sequel to Tears to Dancing, and I’m currently finishing the third book in the series, Tears, Fears and Fame. As you might guess from the titles, these books are rather emotionally charged! They are written for female readers aged eleven-plus, and press into some topical issues for teen girls, always offering hope amidst challenges and tragedies. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating believable, vulnerable characters, and have been incredibly encouraged by readers requesting sequels— that’s the best complement!

Tears Of A Princess at

Tears of A Princess at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

As a child, I was a total bookworm, and my favorite book was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. She brought the characters of all four sisters to life, and I particularly resonated with this, as I am one of four girls! Even though I had no grand illusions of being an author back then, and I was more of a reader than a writer, there was something incredibly inspirational about the sister Jo. In the story when Jo’s book was finally published, Alcott showed all her readers (especially girls!) that we should never underestimate ourselves, and that we can accomplish even our widest dreams. I am proof of that, as being an author was my pie-in-the-sky, all-out crazy dream!

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I have never met an author who found it easy getting their first book published. I started out writing short stories for children’s magazines, and the rejection was unbearable at first. In time, I learnt to develop a slightly thicker skin, and practiced the art of sending a story off and forgetting about it, rather than constantly fretting over it. My first novel took several attempts until it found my current publisher, Dancing With Bear Publishing. I can’t begin to explain how excited I was to receive an acceptance email— I had to re-read it several times, as I was so used to reading the rejections, and I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing for way too long! I still have numerous manuscripts out with potential publishers— picture books, middle grade, even Christian romantic suspense. Originally, I desperately wanted to be a Beatrix Potter clone and write purely adorable picture books, but here I am with teen fiction novels published. I would encourage aspiring writers to avoid boxing themselves into a specific genre— spread the net wide, don’t give up hope, and just keep writing.Tears to Dancing by Laura Thomas

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

To be honest, I was not that child who wrote essays for fun and penned wannabe books at the age of seven. I adored reading, and somewhere deep inside I dreamed of writing a children’s picture book one day, but I buried that secret desire for many years. It wasn’t until 2006 when I was having a coffee date with my husband, that I exposed my secret dream. He urged me to start the ball rolling right away (even though I was homeschooling my kids and volunteering and had zero spare time), so I enrolled with the Institute of Children’s Literature to take a correspondence course. I knew right away I had found my sweet spot, and haven’t looked back since. My husband has been my encourager, supporter, and number one fan every step of the way, and thanks to him I have been able to pursue my passion. What a guy!

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

If you watched me working on a book, you would probably be amazed at how bad my typing is! I am painfully slow for a “real writer”, but I always say it’s the speed my brain churns out the words, so it works perfectly for me! I like to work at my desk in my study, which is the only room where I can enjoy some hot pink accents (I live with all boys!) I start a novel with a chapter outline before diving into the actual writing, and I enjoy having some visual inspiration on Pinterest. Once I have written the whole story, I go back and revise and edit and add chunks and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t make sense— a somewhat painful yet rewarding process. Lastly, I send it off and wait to see if anyone else thinks it’s wonderful and worth publishing.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Being an author is rather surreal. Weird hours, poor income, wild imagination. But that moment you see your name on a shiny book cover containing words you wrote— it’s absolutely priceless. All writing is a joy to me. I love writing for little children, curious middle graders, searching teens, and for adults like myself journeying through life. I love that I can share my faith in written form, to weave it into novels or mold it into good morals in a young child’s short story, or encourage readers in my blog. A writer’s life is an unpredictable, exciting, sometimes tumultuous privilege, and I intend to live it to the fullest for as long as I am able.

Do you do school or library presentations?

I gave a school presentation with Raise A Reader, where I presented my first book Tears to Dancing, described my writing journey, and held a Q & A session with grade 5’s. I have also held book-signing events in various locations in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. but would be willing to go further afield.

Discover Classic Picture Book: No, David!

Posted on August 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book No, David! by David ShannonNo, David! written and illustrated by David Shannon
Classic picture book published by Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic

I have shared No, David! with dozens of preschool age children and, without exception, this is a picture book that they understand, appreciate and relate to. David is a child who can’t seem to do anything right. Whether reaching for a cookie jar, eating dinner, taking a bath or practicing his baseball swing, David finds himself in trouble. Parenting this boy must be quite a challenge for his ever-patient mom.

For a child who has had a rough day, David is the perfect antidote – another child who gets into trouble more often than he does. For parents, there is a reminder that mistakes happen and forgiveness is divine.

A wonderful starting point for discussions about rules and good behavior, No, David! is also an opportunity for young readers to make inferences and predictions. Most children will benefit from the opportunity to witness David making poor choices and yet still sharing an affectionate hug with his mom at the end of a tough day. Beginning readers will enjoy the predictable text and the repetition.

1999 Caldecott Honor Book
National Education Association Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children
SLJ’s Top 100 Picture Books

No, David! at

No, David! at

Our No, David! Pinterest Board

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board No, David! written and illustrated by David Shannon on Pinterest.

Meet Young Adult Lit Author Catherine Egan

Posted on August 21st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Author Catherine EganCatherine Egan grew up in Vancouver, Canada. She thinks it is a glorious city and there is no good reason ever to leave but, she left anyway. Since then she has lived on a wee volcanic Japanese island (which erupted during her time there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, an oil rig in the middle of the Bohai Bay (she still misses her little bedroom there), New Jersey, and now Connecticut, where she writes books and hangs out with her kids.

Shade and Sorceress won a 2013 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (Gold) in the Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. It was also named an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for 2012 in the Young Adult Fiction category.

Author website

Author Facebook page

Author Twitter @byCatherineEgan

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star by Catherine EganBone, Fog, Ash & Star is the third and final book in The Last Days of Tian Di series. It will be published by Coteau Books on September 1, 2014. The trilogy follows my hero Eliza from the age of twelve in the first book, when she is kidnapped by magical beings who want to train her to be a Sorceress, to the age of sixteen, when she sets out on an impossible quest to gather four ancient objects in the hope of saving her loved ones and changing the world.

As for who should read it: certainly anyone who has read the first two books – you want to know how it all ends, don’t you? It is a fast-paced adventure that should appeal to fantasy-readers from the age of around ten and up. I am most proud of my villain, the mostly-evil-but-sometimes-not Sorceress Nia – and perhaps more generally the ambiguity surrounding the ideas of villain and hero in the story.

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

There are too many favourites and resonances to name here, but I think the first time I was really aware of an author’s writing and how the style, the descriptions, the insights and turns-of-phrase could draw me in as much as the plot was when I read Louise Fitzhugh’s The Long Secret. I was eleven, and it changed my idea of how I wanted to write, or what it might mean to write a book. I wouldn’t have used the word genius then, but I think I was experiencing a brush with it, and it gave me shivers. It was also a very unsettling, uncomfortable read for me, because I recognized so much of my own childhood anger and self-absorption in Beth Ellen and Harriet.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

Once I knew that books were written by human beings, that was the sort of human I wanted to be. I wrote my first novel when I was six years old. It was about a bunch of kids who lived on a farm (I had never been to a farm) and ran races. The heroine was called Cathy, and every chapter ended thusly: “Cathy won the race again!” I showed my book to my grandmother, who had been married to a writer. She read it very seriously, and told me it was a good first draft.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?The Unmaking by Catherine Egan

The writing itself is a tremendous joy. I have occasionally felt a bit insecure about how much I enjoy it, having come across so many quotations by famous, brilliant writers describing writing as torturous. I wondered if my enjoyment of it might be an indication of my mediocrity, but now that I am a little older, I don’t care. It is frustrating when a story isn’t clicking, or when I feel that I am writing badly or stupidly, but all the same, there is nothing I like better than thinking of stories and writing them down.

If you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

Shade and Soceress by Catherine EganI have no talent at all for anything else, and no real desire to do anything else, but I have of course had a number of jobs. I taught ESL for many years. I don’t think I was a very good teacher, but I really enjoyed meeting so many interesting people from all walks of life, and it was a great way to support myself while living abroad. The job I think of the most fondly, however, was my stint as a waitress in a sushi restaurant. Waitressing goes very well with writing. You sit at a desk alone and write during the day, and then in the evening you are up on your feet, rushing around and talking with people. It gives you the human interaction that I think writers really need so that they don’t go crazy. I miss the people, and I miss the sushi.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Nancy Mitford. Or maybe Oscar Wilde. Imagine dinner with Oscar Wilde! That’s probably a very unoriginal answer, but both of them had a reputation for social brilliance as well as literary genius, and if I’m going to have dinner with someone, I want to laugh a lot.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I am open to doing school or library presentations but I live in New Haven, CT with small children and so my availability is limited.

Score with this Young Adult Mystery: Breakaway by Michael Betcherman

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts writes about young adult mystery: Breakaway by Michael BetchermanBreakaway written by Michael Betcherman
Young adult mystery published by Razorbill an imprint of Penguin Canada

Read our interview with Michael Betcherman

Those of you who visit our website regularly will know that I am a mother to two teenage boys and that one of my sons is a hockey player. Very often friends will comment about the challenges of encouraging teenage boys to read. We’ve been fortunate with our boys, they both enjoy reading and are good readers. Unfortunately, for some kids, it is not so easy. I often wonder if some reluctant readers simply have not found a book that matches their interests.

Last month, while on holiday, I had an opportunity to read Michael Betcherman’s first mystery novel: Breakaway. It was a finalist for the 2013 John Spray Mystery Award.

Set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Breakaway tells the story of a 16 year old Midget hockey player whose father is wrongly convicted of murder. Nick Macklin’s dad (a former professional hockey player) has been convicted for killing another former NHL player who once viciously cross-checked him in the head. and ended his playing career.

Nick is devastated by his father’s conviction and is determined to uncover the truth but it is not an easy job. Nick’s anger and disappointment with his dad’s conviction results in problems at school, the loss of good friends and his involvement with minor hockey.

He remembered something his mother once told him. “Tragedy is part of life. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. The trick in life is get as much joy as you can.” As long as dad was in jail, tragedy would be part of his life.

Bit by bit, as time passes, Nick begins to recover from the shock of his dad’s conviction. He starts to focus more on his schoolwork, he becomes more social and he resumes playing hockey but his obsession with investigating the crime and finding the murderer does not falter.

Young adults, especially those who play hockey will enjoy Breakaway’s hockey theme. The book references NHL, WHL and minor hockey teams, rinks and the dynamics of playing a sport at high level. At the heart, this is a story of loyalty and determination as Nick Macklin remains steadfast in his determination to uncover the truth.

Recommended for youth aged 14 and up.

Note: This book has been published with two different covers. The cover shown above is the American cover. This photo features the Canadian cover (adjacent to a rather nice pool).Breakaway by Michael Betcherman poolside

Breakaway at

Breakaway at

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Posted on August 19th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book, Chicka Chicka Boom BoomChicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster

It sounds like fun when lowercase letters A, B, and C decide to meet at the top of a tall coconut tree but the message spreads like wildfire and they are not the only letters scrambling up the tree trunk and hiding among the palm fronds. Before long, the entire lowercase alphabet is weighing down the tree branches and trunk. Slowly the heavily laden tree bends until it cannot support another thing.

Still more – W
And X Y Z!
The whole alphabet up the – Oh, no!
Chicka chicka…

Two coconuts crash to the ground and then all the lower case letters are thrown from the tree and land in a twisted heap. Moments later, adults (uppercase letters) rush to the scene, embracing their offspring and offering reassurance.

Bright, distinctive, bold illustrations nicely compliment the rhythmic, repetitious text. This is a alphabet book with many possible extension activities. It belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Kentucky Bluegrass Award for K-3 (1991),
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book – Honor Book (1990)
School Library Journal Top 100 Picture Book
New York Public Library 100 Great Children’s Books

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by John Archambault on Pinterest.

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Meet Author Karen Autio

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts interviews author Karen AutioAfter growing up horse-crazy and book-loving in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, Karen Autio now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, only a little less horse-crazy and far more book-loving. Karen graduated from the University of Waterloo and worked as a software developer for several years, then decided to pursue her long held dream of writing for children. She signed up for a “Writing Fiction for Children” course at the local college, joined a writers’ group, and began writing—and re-writing—her stories.

Karen is the author of a trilogy of historical novels for readers ages 10 and up: Second Watch, Saara’s Passage, and Sabotage. She loves to interact with students, sharing her journey to becoming an author and her passion for research and the resulting “jigsaw puzzle” of transforming historical facts into a fascinating story.

Author website

Author Facebook page

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Sabotage by Karen AutioSabotage, enemy aliens, paranoia, and German spies… in Canada? Sabotage is the third book in my trilogy of Canadian historical novels for young readers (all standalone reads) in which the courage and wits of siblings Saara and John Mäki are put to the test. The trilogy tells the adventures and mishaps of this Finnish-immigrant family living in Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, in 1914-15. From travelling on the palatial but doomed Empress of Ireland steamship, to tuberculosis sanatoriums, to the compelling untold stories of the home front in Canada during the First World War, these books bring history to life. Readers discover both how much has changed since the early 1900s and what remains timeless, such as fickle friends, new-immigrant experiences, the struggle to do the right thing, and family dynamics.

Sabotage is suitable for any age of reader from grade 4 up and is of equal interest to boys and girls. Partly that’s due to the story being told by both Saara and her younger brother John, in alternating chapters. I’m delighted that through doing research I learned the truth behind what I thought was a made-up story I’d heard growing up in Nipigon, Ontario. There actually were German agents at work in my hometown in 1915 plotting to destroy the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge.

Sabotage is a 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book Finalist and is shortlisted for the 2015 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Sabotage at

Sabotage at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Rosemary Sutcliff. Her historical novels drew me into their time periods. The characters and settings seemed so real, I felt like I was living the story. After immersing myself in one of her books for several chapters, I’d look around me, puzzled. Where am I? In particular I remember enjoying The Eagle of The Ninth and The Lantern Bearers. I’m not surprised that her writing resonated with me because of how historical fiction has become my favourite genre to read and write.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Second Watch by Karen Autio

Two experiences come to mind. At a recent presentation to elementary school students in an Ottawa public library, the majority of them had read my book Second Watch in which my characters are involved in the Empress of Ireland shipwreck. After my presentation, a boy handed me a piece of paper. He’d been so affected by the story and the tragedy, that he’d written and illustrated a poem for me about the Empress of Ireland. What a special gift.

The other experience resulted from my presentation in a school where I did a reading from Second Watch. Afterward, the librarian told me a student who hated reading informed her he just had to get my book and read it. A couple of weeks later I received an email from the librarian saying the boy’s attitude had changed from hating reading to “I can read this!” What an honour to have been part of that transformation.

How do you stay connected with your readers?

I have a website and an author Facebook page where I regularly post information relevant to children’s book publishing and writing, my book news, and photos from my book tours. I’ve had the privilege of going on several book tours, in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. I love meeting readers whether at school or library presentations or at signings in bookstores or at book clubs. My grade 5 student editors for Saara’s Passage became friends with me on Facebook and I still keep in touch with them that way (both just graduated from high school). Whenever a reader emails me, I’m happy to reply.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There is certainly joy and satisfaction in the writing, but I’d say my greatest pleasure as an author is to hear from readers about how they’ve connected with my characters and stories. One of my favourite emails from a young reader included her describing my books as “real page turners” and then sharing her response to my character Saara: “I think we would be friends if she was real.” Also, it’s such a delight whenever my books and presentations inspire writers of all ages and get kids reading who were reluctant or infrequent readers.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

As a kid, my future dream job alternated between children’s book illustrator and jockey! Although I still enjoy drawing, writing has become my passion. And before entering high school I’d already grown too tall to be a jockey. For several years I worked as a software developer, and since 2004 when I’m not busy writing I’m editing other writers’ manuscripts as a freelance copyeditor.

Saara's Passage by Karen AutioDo you do school or library presentations?

I welcome the opportunity to present to intermediate students in schools and libraries across Canada. I love sharing my passion for researching history and writing historical fiction, and talking about the writing process. During my 60-minute interactive presentation, I:
• engage students in Canadian history with a lively, visually appealing presentation
• spark enthusiasm for writing
• focus on the immigrant experience with curricular tie-ins
• read a brief excerpt from one of my books
• reveal how family stories inspired me to write novels
• unravel the process of publishing and book design
• include time for students to ask questions

Teacher resources are available for all of my historical novels and can be downloaded from my website. For more information, please visit

Classic Picture Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Posted on August 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Classic picture book first published by the World Publishing Company and subsequently published by Penguin Putnam

Beautiful, bright collage illustrations and intriguing die-cut pages complement this timeless story of a caterpillar’s remarkable transformation into a beautiful butterfly. Young children love the opportunity to poke tiny fingers through small holes as they follow the path of the caterpillar as he tries to satisfy his need for food.

Initially the caterpillar eats gorgeous, fresh fruit (apple, strawberries, pears, plums, oranges). He later turns to a pickle, salami, cheese and cake. Is it really a wonder that he eventually returns to a healthier choice, a dark green leaf?

Teachers find many ways to extend the learning with this classic picture book. Apart from talking about fresh fruit, there are opportunities to count and to learn about the days of the week. Children will thoroughly enjoy creating their own caterpillars and sampling the foods he enjoyed.

Available in many formats, my copy is a sturdy board book. A great story for children aged two years and up.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at

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Meet Author Lana Button

Posted on August 7th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts interviews author Lana ButtonLana Button is a children’s author, freelance writer and early childhood educator. She has enjoyed working with young children for over twenty five years. As a freelance writer, Lana has contributed to national magazines including Today’s Parent and Parents Canada. But Lana’s passion is picture books! Her first picture book, Willow’s Whispers (Kids Can Press, 2010) was nominated for a Blue Spruce Award, and a Shining Willow Award. Both the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee listed it as a ‘Best Book for Kids’. It was also listed as an Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities IBBY winner.

Lana’s picture book, Willow Finds a Way (Kids Can Press, 2012) was a Blue Spruce Award finalist, a Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Book” and was listed on Publisher’s Weekly’s ‘Bullying Resources: A Selected Listing’. Most recently, Willow Finds a Way has been shortlisted for the Rainforest of Reading Award.

Twitter account @LanaButton
Author Facebook Page
Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Lana Button's Picture Book Willow Finds a WayWillow Finds a Way is the second book about Willow, who is the quietest child in the class. The story, which is intended for children from pre-k through primary grades, begins when Kristabelle comes to class with a list of all the children invited to her birthday party. Everyone is invited! But in order to stay on Kristabelle’s birthday list, the children must follow her every command. Willow struggles to find a way to stand up for her friends and speak up to Kristabelle. In the end Willow discovers that actions sometimes speak louder than words!

I am so very proud that Willow Finds a Way has been recognized as an anti-bullying book. Although the terms ‘bullying’ and ‘bystander’ are never used within the story, it was my hope that it would spark this type of conversation!

Read our post about Willow Finds a Way

Willow Finds a Way at

Willow Finds a Way at

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I submitted and resubmitted my Willow’s Whispers manuscript for 6 years before finding an editor who was willing to work with me. So my strongest word of advice is- Don’t give up! And also keep in mind that ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no forever’ it just means ‘no, for right now’.Lana Button's picture book Willow's Whispers

I recommend to any aspiring author struggling to get that story published to find ways to get other material published, whether that be a short story in a children’s magazine or a freelance article for a magazine or local newspaper. Editors are more likely to take a chance on you if you’ve been published elsewhere before.

Writing groups and organizations can also be very helpful. I found lots of inspiration and great practical advice from the CAINSCAIP organization (check them out at when I first started out and I still look forward to their terrific Packaging Your Imagination Workshop in Toronto every fall.

Read our post about Willow’s Whispers

Willow’s Whispers at

Willow’s Whispers at

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

The best feedback I’ve had from my books have been conversations children have had with each other! After hearing Willow Finds a Way, a group of girls were overheard in the playground making a pact that they would be “Willows” and not be “Kristabelles”.

And at a different school a young girl nudged in front of another girl so she could be first in line. A third little girl was overheard saying, “Hey, don’t push in front of her! She hasn’t had a turn to be line leader yet. Don’t be a ‘Kristabelle’!”

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I visit children and read my books whenever the opportunity presents itself! It is one of my greatest joys!! I have visited many bookstores and libraries, and jump at the chance to visit classrooms. Scheduling weekday classroom visits has been a challenge lately, as I am currently in my own kindergarten classroom as an Early Childhood Educator, but I have made room for a few visits each school year, and have scheduled evening visits during school ‘open houses’. My favorite is when we schedule a ‘pajama party’ evening where everyone (including myself!) comes to school with pajamas and cuddly toys and we gather in the library for a story time chat!

I schedule book tours during the summer months whenever possible, and have toured throughout Ontario, into the Maritime Provinces and in different parts of the United States. I also love connecting with students and teachers through Facebook and Twitter.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

To be able to read my story aloud to a child is my greatest accomplishment. To know that the stories have inspired others is my greatest joy! I have been so fortunate to talk with children, parents and teachers who share their experiences regarding their personal challenges in finding their own voice, or helping a child find their voice. To hear that Willow has given others inspiration to dig a little deeper, take a brave breath, and speak out for themselves has filled me with overwhelming joy!

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I have been so very fortunate to actually meet some of my favorite Canadian children’s authors over the past few years. I found myself completely tongue tied when coming face-to-face with Paulette Bourgeois (author of the Franklin series) and was totally awestruck when trying to discuss the weather with the incredible Barbara Reid!

If I could dine with any author, it would probably be Maurice Sendak, as his Where the Wild Things Are is my all-time favorite picture book. I’d love to hear all about how he came up with such incredible characters and how he managed to create such a rich and vivid story with so few words!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I love doing presentations!! During my 45-minute presentation I discuss the unique writing process involved in creating a picture book. I read both books and discuss the importance of speaking up and speaking out. Both books are strongly based on empathy and self-assurance and I open us discussion around ‘the bully’, ‘the bullied’, and ‘the bystander’. I live in Southern Ontario (Canada), but have presented across Ontario and into the Maritime provinces. You can contact me through my website for more information.

Little Kid, Big Personality: What To Do If Your Toddler Is A Bully

Posted on August 6th, 2014 by AmyKWilliams


It just started with a shove or a frantic bite, but now your little kid is pushing her weight around on a regular basis.  Children fear her. Parents whisper. You’ve justified your toddler’s actions as a “big personality” or “kids being kids”, but now this undesirable behavior has transformed your sweetheart into a bully.

She’s figured out this behavior gets results-  exactly what she wants!

Toddlers are enjoying mobility. Developing friendships and building a vocabulary are new freedoms. They are navigating new situations, people, and expectations in a very short time. The toddler’s world revolves around their needs and wants.

Most children go through a “bully” stage at some point, but it is extremely common for toddlers. To overcome this development stage is to identify the problem and consistently deal with the issue as it develops. If you take control now, you will avoid serious problems later.

Storytime Standouts Presents What to do if Your Toddler is a Bully - A guest post by Amy K Williams

If you are reading this, you have identified a problem and want to tackle the issue head on.  

According to the Pacer Center, children who bully may suffer as much as the victims they target.  Bullies are likely to experience school failure, depression, violence, and crime.  It’s obvious that this behavior can’t be ignored.

Watch for these signs if you suspect your toddler is a bully:

  • they need control

  • they demand

  • they meltdown

  • they frustrate easily

  • they are “left out “ from groups

You may have noticed the negative behavior on your own, or perhaps another parent approached you.

If a parent initiates the conversation, be honest and acknowledge that your child is going through a phase. Mention a few techniques you are implementing to stop bullying. Chances are, they will encounter a similar situation someday.

What can you do to curb this from developing into a full fledged problem?

Talk with your child. Don’t underestimate your child. Young children are capable of understanding a wide variety of situations. Model appropriate behavior and role play situations with your little one. Read stories or watch their favorite shows and point out positive behaviors portrayed.

Use your words.” Toddlers are at a unique development stage. They are placed in situations where they don’t possess the right vocabulary to express their needs. Help label their emotions and encourage “words”. Keep the phrases simple-  “next?” is a great way to ask for a toy instead of grabbing.

Encourage empathy. Use teachable moments to help your child understand what it feels like to be the other person. At, Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen, recommends to “create a respectful home”.

Make your expectations clear, with consistent consequences. Hold your child accountable for their actions. If your toddler has a bullying event, follow through with time-outs or other age appropriate consequences.

Rule out a physical problem. Unfortunately, this is something to consider. Does your child suffer from a behavioral disorder? Are your toddler’s social skills limited? Is your child’s sight and hearing on target? If you suspect a physical problem, consult your pediatrician.

Avoid situations that trigger the behavior. Be diligent and supervise your child. Identify anger sources and try to avoid triggers. If you can’t avoid the issue, redirect the toddler’s attention to another object.

Apologize. Start early and encourage your child to apologize. A simple “sorry” with eye contact works or have the child sign “sorry”. At PBS Parents, they believe it’s important to have natural consequences for a toddler’s actions.

Seek support. Parents are not able to watch their children 24/7. Be honest with caregivers and teachers. Ask them to keep an eye on the situation and be aware of any incidents.

Be realistic. Let’s face it. Humans learn from their mistakes. It doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent or did something wrong. Take a deep breathe and decide to support your child through this stage. Be patient and teach your toddler how to navigate in the world around him.

It takes time and guidance to help your child become respectable citizens.

Bullying doesn’t have to define your child. This phase will soon pass. Your little sweetheart will quickly be making new friends and embracing life.

Amy K. Williams is am a mom of two and a former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral issues. She is passionate about parenting and determined to help put an end to cyberbullying. Please visit Practical Parenting for information about her work.

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