zinnia and the bees cover!

It’s here! The cover of my debut middle grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees, is really here! I’m thrilled to share it with you (and promise to go back to regular blog programming tomorrow).




I owe an enormous thanks to Laura K. Horton for her brilliant illustration as well as a giant thank you to the design team at Capstone.

Vibrant and quirky, I couldn’t be more pleased! (Not to mention that it matches this blog perfectly.)

One of my favorite parts is that Zinnia is upside down—like her world is turned at the very start of the story. Right when she was expecting things to be the best ever, her yarn bomb flops. Next, her older brother—aka her best friend and yarn-bombing accomplice—leaves with no explanation. And then, to massively top off a whopper of a last day of seventh grade, a colony of honeybees lands in her hair!

The cover also captures the magical realism quality of the book as well as the important role the bees play: they actually collectively (and comically) narrate their own side of the story!

If you’d like to add the book on goodreads, you can find it here. Look for the Zinnia and those bees August 1st.



this picture book life turns three + giveaway!


This Picture Book Life is three years old this month. Woo hoo!

The Importance of Being Three by Lindsay Ward (2016) is a joyfully good book to celebrate threes. And while a perfect toddler birthday gift, I think it works pretty well for a picture book blog third birthday too.

“Three bears, three pigs. Three kittens, too!

Three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue…

I’ve learned so much since I was two.”

To thank you for reading along here, I’m giving away a copy of The Importance of Being Three. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win.

(Open to N. America only; ends Saturday, July 23 at midnight PST.)


And cheers to the next year of picture books brought to life! I hope you’ll join me.

all the wonders: a new place for kids’ books and another place to find me

Have you heard? There’s a new website for children’s literature called All The Wonders. It’s “a home for readers to discover new books and to experience the stories they love in wondrous ways.” And I’m happy to be a contributor!


You’ll still find me here at This Picture Book Life on Tuesdays of course, but you’ll also find my crafts and book lists over there sometimes too. I’m delighted to be part of the stellar team and I hope you’ll come along to relish the wonders of books through songs, podcasts, studio visits, storytime posts, videos, and more from these talented folks!


You’ll find picture book songs from Emily Arrow, Matthew Winner‘s conversations, art and book posts from fellow blogger Carter Higgins, videos from Blake Hamilton, and animation from Mike Cicciotello.



your-alien-crafttimeMy latest picture book craft up today: Make Your Own Clay Alien to celebrate Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Goro Fujita. And Emily Arrow’s got an amazing, adorable song with my little green guy in the video!






And my latest list: 12 Delightful Picture Books with Diverse Characters.


I hope you’ll come see All The Wonders


Big thanks to Brian Won for designing the gorgeous logo and custom artwork for the site that I’ve included here. 




two giveaways for two years of This Picture Book Life

This Picture Book Life turns two this month!

To celebrate, I have two special giveaways to thank you for stopping by here and reading!  THANK YOU!

Enter to win one of two sets of three picture books.  One batch is three super sweet books published by Penguin; the other, three books from Chronicle that explore nature in some way.





3 SWEET PICTURE BOOKS published by Penguin:

Knit Together by Angela Dominguez.

There’s This Thing by Connah Brecon.

Little Baby Buttercup by Linda Ashman, illustrated by You Byun.





3 NATURE PICTURE BOOKS published by Chronicle Books:

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, art by Christopher  Silas Neal.

In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway



10th Annual Redcat International Children’s Film Festival

Over the weekend, I visited REDCAT in Downtown LA for an event I’ve been meaning to go to for years. And it did not disappoint. In its 10th year, the REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival is three weekends of short films, animated and live action, from all over the world. Sure, they’re meant for children, but the filmmaking, particularly in animation, is sophisticated enough for any movie-lover. (A lot like picture books!)

And with three showtimes each weekend day, that adds up to a lot of wonderful films! I went to one program last Saturday and I just might have to head down again for another, different installment of international shorts.

My favorite of the bunch I saw? Anatole’s Little Saucepan (2014), from France (based on the book, La petite casserole d’anatole).



La petite casserole d’Anatole (extrait) from JPL Films on Vimeo. (The screened films have English subtitles.)


It’s exquisite, inventive, and profound. A boy has a saucepan. He just does, without explanation. The saucepan makes life difficult and makes people view him differently. But he’s artistic and sensitive, this boy. But still, things aren’t easy carrying a saucepan around. You see how the saucepan functions as a metaphor, right? Stick in any number of issues or ailments or differences, and there’s your saucepan.





Plus, things turn out alright for Anatole in the end. He may not be rid of his saucepan (who ever is?), but he learns from someone else how to cope with it. And how to play badminton with it too!

The sound effects, the story, and the sets and handmade  characters are all standouts in this one.


Next, Notebook Babies: Someone Who Gets You, was a close second and entirely different in scope and tone! It’s a super funny crowdpleaser:

The creator, Tony Dusko, is a fifth grade teacher who puts up animated shorts on a YouTube channel called Notebook Babies. And they’re fabulous!



So, if you’re in L.A., check out some films like these! Each showing will cost you $5 a ticket. May 9 & 10; May 16 & 17.

And if you’re not in L.A., the trailers are pretty satisfying too!