Piggy in Heaven: Full Cover Spread

Piggy in Heaven, releasing from Paraclete Press on January 8, 2019, is a story I wrote for my own family when our much-loved guinea pig died. We are a family who knows that love is love, no matter how small and furry the loved one is, and we needed help thinking about our Piggy in…

The Runaway Bunny as Christian Allegory

In this remarkable scene from Wit (2001, directed by Mike Nichols), Evelyn Ashford (Eileen Atkins) comforts her dying friend and former student Vivian (Emma Thompson) by cradling her gently and reading Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. At the 5:00 minute mark, these two grieving women, both academics, share a surprising discovery about the book. “Ah!…

Guest Post: Teaching from a Love of Language

Guest poster Melissa Naasko shares this fascinating look at the way she’s teaching reading, writing, and a life-long love of good literature as she homeschools her 11 children. I love words. I love the way that carefully chosen words capture scenes that are burned into my mind for years like tin-type photos, the way that…

First picture book you remember?

I love to hear quirky, detailed, real-life stories from people I know. I’ll ask a question about some little thing that doesn’t come up in an ordinary day. The answers are endlessly interesting – a person’s memories, and the ways they recount them, are full of clues about how they see the world and themselves….

The Happy Man and His Dump Truck, by Miryam

“A happy man thrills a group of farm animals when he takes them for a joy ride in his dump truck. This book is a true classic illustrated by the inimitable Tibor Gergely.” The Happy Man and His Dump Truck is one of my favorite picture books. The first time you read it, you think…

Illustrating the Story

My three most recent books all needed an illustrator, and I’m still meditating on the complex, enchanting, puzzling experience of watching another human being draw pictures of something I imagined. Here’s what it’s puzzling. All of my stories have an illustrator – inside my head. The story-maker in my brain provides vivid images for every…

Meh: A Story about Depression, by Deborah Malcolm

Meh: A Story about Depression is a wordless picture book with remarkably evocative, content-rich illustrations leading the reader on an emotional and spiritual journey through an episode of depression and recovery. The concept of using a picture book to launch a conversation about depression with a child is fascinating and brilliant, in my view. You’ll want…

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton

I can’t remember my life before Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. My mama read it to us, sitting on the big bed in her room. The bedspread was lemon yellow, with hundreds of tiny pom-poms all over it. I’m sure there’s a word for this kind of fabric, but I didn’t know the word….

Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman

“Grace loves stories, whether they’re from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. So when she gets a chance to play a part in Peter Pan, she knows exactly who she wants to be. Remarkable watercolor illustrations give full expression to Grace’s high-flying imagination.” Word person that I am, I’m still going to talk…