Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

PiBoIdMo Is Back!

piboidmo2013-participant-214x131I debated long and hard about whether to do the Picture Book Idea Month challenge again this year. Granted, it is not nearly as all-consuming as the infamous NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but coming up with thirty picture book ideas is nowhere near as easy as it sounds to the uninitiated. But it is (1) inspiring, (2) a wonderful community, (3) a great impetus, and (4) something I can do for myself.

Inspiring has turned into quite a cliché in my world, but it’s true. Without a challenge now and then, I would not be able to function in creativity land. I see the struggles and triumphs of my fellow writers and it sparks new ideas in my head. My ability to look at ordinary objects and situations and see extraordinary views is re-born.

As in most writing pursuits, I am constantly amazed at the magnificent writers and illustrators I’m surrounded by. Generous to a fault, each and every one willing to share and to help others. I am honored to call many of the challengers my friends and wish them all great success.

Picture books are not my only love, but working on a challenge such as this helps keep the writing bug alive. Right now, I’m working on two other major projects, neither of which is a picture book, but I bore easily. With a daily reminder that I need to come up with something, I think this will move the other projects along too.

Very few of the things I do any more are NOT related to my writing, but it seems I neglect my own creativity in favor of my many other pursuits. As Co-Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV region of the SCBWI, there are not many days where I don’t have something come up. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Also, I have a suite of websites under, which post reviews of books by everyone else. Again, loving it. Just not my own writing. So this is an excuse to put my writing at the top of the list, where it should be anyway.

Since the pros outweigh the cons, I will be pulling those ideas to the surface again. Stay tuned for the highlights.

Check out the PiBoIdMo blog at You don’t have to join to read about it. The guest bloggers are a who’s who of picture books.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Virginia to see how the MidAtlantic region runs a conference. The keynote is by Cynthia Lord, author of Rules and Hot Rod Hamster, a fine person and brilliant writer. Can’t wait.


Each Little Task

In the wake of a lot activity, I’ve finally had time to catch up on some of the tasks I’ve been putting off. Top of the list, of course, is books that have gathered dust since I bought them at conferences. This week, I was able to fit in Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles. A short review appears below.

Friday, we attended Amy Hankin and Jim LaFarr’s wedding in Baltimore. Not only was the event fun, but their chosen venue was the George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University. OMG, what a beautiful building! And it contains some of the best rare research materials in the world. Gotta love a wedding among books.

Yesterday, we finally showed up at our grandson’s soccer league – something we’ve been trying to arrange since the beginning of September. Unfortunately, five inches of rain also showed up. We had a nice lunch with that part of the family.

Next Sunday, regional members Sarah Davis Maynard and Lisa Pires will be hosting a kickoff event for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), both of which are in November. Contact Sarah ( or Lisa ( for more information.

The Mid-Atlantic fall conference is less than two weeks from now. I can’t wait to see Cynthia Lord again, who spoke at a Maryland conference a few years ago and has become a friend. Not only is she a superb writer, but she’s a super-nice woman who champions causes near to my heart. Of course, the rest of the lineup also looks excellent.

The date for early registration for the NYC SCBWI Conference was announced this week. Registration: October 25, 10 AM. Conference: February 21-23, 2014 ( I will be there with bells on. As will my Co-RA.


Each Little Bird that Sings


Filled with down-home humor and heartwarming life events, this award-winning gem of a story more than lives up to my expectations for the author. Comfort Snowberger is growing up in the local funeral home with an extended family and a dog named Dismay. Comfort’s great Uncle Edisto dies at the beginning of the book. Through his death, the reader learns about Comfort’s ability to write life notices and about the way the whole family works together to make the funeral as pleasant as possible. Comfort’s friend, Declaration, is less than thrilled with the antics of cousin Peach, who is demonstrably distraught. Just a few months later, great-great Aunt Florentine also dies, setting into motion an unusual series of events.

Readers learn a lot about life, death, and what it means to be a caring human.

Each Little Bird

TITLE: Each Little Bird that Sings

AUTHOR: Deborah Wiles

PUBLISHER: Harcourt, 2006

REVIEWER: Sue Poduska

FORMAT: Paperback,

GENRE: Middle grade novel, Family

ISBN: 978-0-15-205657-5

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MD/DE/WV Region’s Lucky 13 Conference a Success

Claggett MonocacyHall

Bishop Claggett Monocacy Hall

Two weeks ago saw the first two-day conference which I organized together with my wonderful Co-Regional Advisor, Sue Peters. Even the weather cooperated. (Saturday was a little wet, but Sunday was gorgeous.) I got through the entire weekend without a headache, though I was beginning to feel a little like a firefighter.

The faculty for the first big event for the Two Sues region came together as strangers but parted as friends. I’ve never seen such an instant bond within a group.

Two themes emerged – no censorship and social media. I know I learned a thing or two.

Keynote speakers Chris Crutcher and Floyd Cooper could not have been more open and personable. Chris had them laughing and crying at the same time. When we lost a speaker in the last week, he stepped up to help us fill her time slot with an off-the-cuff talk about censorship. (He’s against it.) He also did a breakout.  Floyd can only be described as amazing. One comment came back that Floyd asked if he could join their table at lunch. Was there ever any doubt?

Audrey Couloumbis was wonderful, in spite of her nerves.

Local writers and artists included former RAs Edie Hemingway  and Mary Bowman-Kruhm. Both were well-received. Rebecca Evans, Susan Stockdale, and Tim Young  also conducted breakout sessions. All three were great.

Agents Cheryl Pientka (Jill Grinberg Literary Management) and Marie Lamba (Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency); editors Jenne Abramowitz (Scholastic), Jessica Garrison (Dial Books for Young Readers),  and Laura Whitaker (Bloomsbury Children’s Books); and creative director Martha Rago (HarperCollins Children’s Books) not only gave good breakout sessions, but were tireless in providing critiques and portfolio reviews.

Of course, as usual, a lot of the success was due to our devoted committee and generous volunteers. RAE Lois Szymanski was a huge help with speakers. Plus Lois and Edie left us with that great committee.

Loretta Carlson was tireless in providing a well thought out schedule for the critiques. None better. In her first effort at the post, Linda Jeffries-Summers was a great registrar. Working with a convoluted system, she had fewer problems than I expected. Our blog ladies, Laura Bowers and Susan Mannix, did a great job on the social media panel and in presenting recognition to conference prep challenge participants. Tracy Gold organized our social media panel quickly and efficiently. Shelley Koon convinced many unsuspecting attendees that they need critique groups. She’s right, by the way. We all need a little constructive criticism. Rebecca Evans and Susan Detwiler were everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. Baltimore to Braddock Heights to Buckeystown. There were several other volunteers who stepped up to do special jobs.

I was a fun and exhausting two days.