Greetings, Teachers and School Librarians,

What strange times these are, huh? I have been thinking of you all, knowing that whether you are distance teaching from home or in your school building, these times are full of unique challenges. There are plans that seem to change daily. There is uncertainty. There are times when you, as teachers on the front lines, do not feel seen and supported.

But you ARE supported. There are scores of us out in the world thinking of and praying  for you. I think teachers this fall must be experiencing the epitome of conflicting emotions. Thrilled to be in your classrooms and to see your kids again (if in person) but the worry of masks and social distancing and the unpredictability of…well, of it ALL. And those of you teaching online. Yes, it feels safer but it’s teaching without the very BEST part of teaching – the kids.

I love to visit with kids virtually, but it isn’t like standing in a gym with them. Walking up and down the aisles, high-fiving kids, asking their names, shaking hands with their teachers, visiting their library and signing things for them. Quiet conversations with kids who connect to my books in special ways; making memories.

YET…this school year is one your kids will LONG remember. They will remember how you showed up for them. They will remember how hard you tried. They will remember your efforts to connect to them such as a hand-written, (mailed if distanced) note. Yeah, something like that takes time but it will make a BIG impact on kids. If Lynda at 10 years old had you for a teacher this year, I would have need you. And if I knew you cared. That you saw me. I’d log in each day. I’d work very hard for you.

See the child before the student. Tend to their hearts and souls as well as their brains. Even in these nutty times, the HEART of teaching is STILL the Children. NO ONE expects perfection. Do the best you can. Take care of the child. At ANY age. You know, those big high school kids really need their teachers as well. This is sometimes forgotten.

I DO support you – as always. During the fall, I will be posting videos for you. I will also be doing giveaways for virtual visits and personalized videos. But, for the time being, I have teamed up with Kimberly Lynn, illustrator of FISH IN A TREE for the following giveaway. It includes an original piece of art which I find VERY hard to part with! SERIOUSLY. But for you, I WILL!

Here are the giveaway items. (Directions to enter are at the bottom of this post.)


Everything in these pictures:


An ORIGINAL color drawing by the illustrator of Fish in a Tree, Kimberly Lynn Hunt. I’m not going to lie; I’d love to keep this. BUT I WON’T! 🙂

25 signed FISH IN A TREE paperbacks for kids. One personalized hardcover for the teacher.

25 SIGNED paperbacks of FISH IN A TREE. And 1 personalized hardcover for the teacher/winner 🙂

Swag giveaway

TWO personalized posters (see below) 1 OFTM pen, 2 FIAT pens, 30 wooden nickels, 120 stickers total, 30 “Great Minds…” tattoos, 30 silicone bracelets, and a bunch of SIGNED bookmarks.

Poster 3 books

TWO Posters – personalized for your school or classroom.

satr oftm

One signed copy of each – One for the Murphys & Shouting at the Rain

book packs in bags

Each book is bagged with swag enclosed for each student. Easy, safe distribution.


Digital Download of a Teacher Planner


Digital Download of Teacher Planner/Calendar


NOTE: Digital planning pages generously offered by:

BEAR ISLAND CREATIVE  (Link to store) 


***IN ADDITION, I will choose some additional winners to get smaller “Just Swag Packs” OR “Just Stickers Packs”. 



The backstory of FISH IN A TREE. The Teacher who saved me. 



To ENTER, please retweet and/or post to social media with the hashtag #FIAT. ALSO, please include your twitter handle, if you have one!

ALSO, please comment below about some of the challenges and victories you are experiencing – whether they be virtual or in person. If I learn more about your experiences, it will help me find ways to help you.

I am planning to create more videos for the fall that you can share with your kids. Also, I have asked the illustrator of the Sketchbook of Impossible Things (found at the back of the paperback) to create activities for you to share with your kids – they will be coming in early September. If there are ANY specific activities you’d like made, PLEASE share that with me as well. WE WILL MAKE IT FOR YOU! Again, I would like to help, if I can.

NOTE: I will ship to a private residence, however, winner MUST be currently employed by a school system (and listed as such on their district website). ALL materials will come in ONE box. Winning teacher is responsible for distribution to kids. US and Canada only.

GIVEAWAY ENDS Tuesday night at 11:59 PM.

Bless you.

Thank you.

Stay well.




Okay, READER! I will be putting together videos for YOU! But I’d like your help on WHAT you would like to know!

In the comments section, please post questions. ***PLEASE BEGIN EACH QUESTION with a topic label in ALL CAPS so I can sift through them. For example…

ONE FOR THE MURPHYS Does Carley have similarities to you?

WRITING What do you like best about writing a book?

FISH IN A TREE Who is your favorite character from the book?

SHOUTING AT THE RAIN Why did you set the book on Cape Cod?

WRITING What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author one day?

SHOUTING AT THE RAIN You must really like anagrams, huh? Why do you think that’s so?

ONE FOR THE MURPHYS Do you like basketball or baseball more?

See how I did that? This will make it easier to sift through your questions to organize them. (I decided against multiple blogs for questions… We shall see how this goes.)

So…please post your questions below. BUT can we please give our TEACHERS and LIBRARIANS who are reaching out to you young readers a round of Applause!!!?





Well, another Valentine’s Day has rolled around. I have visited many schools so far this year and I am continually astounded by the teachers and librarians who I meet who are caring for the minds and hearts and souls of “their kids.”


I have met teachers who stay after school, work with kids at lunch, and create alternative curricula for children who need it. I see evidence of spectacular lesson and unit planning and rooms decorated to be welcoming places for children. I have met educators who are playing basketball with kids to connect, who greet each student with a smile every morning, and take the time to check in with kids as young people rather than just students.

know countless librarians and educators who take the time to organize book groups with young readers and discuss real world issues that kids are wondering about or grappling with. I have even met a principal who does laundry for students who would otherwise come to school dirty.

These people are teaching the curriculum but oh, they accomplish SO much more. They save children. They change perceptions. They give kids information and tools to improve their own lives. You know, sometimes it’s a matter of introducing kids to a side of life they simply didn’t know existed. Or seeing themselves in a way they didn’t think was possible.

Like Carley Connors in my first book, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS, I am not a crier but seeing these things happen does undo me sometimes. I am so, so grateful that there is an army of educators out there championing children.

In my latest novel, SHOUTING AT THE RAIN, there is a strong theme of Strong Shoulders (the title of this blog as well). Teachers, librarians, and all others who work with kids each day and buoy them embody this idea.

strong shoulder award certificate

SO, we authors and illustrators would like to THANK YOU for everything that you do. Every day. YOU are heroes.


***ENORMOUS thanks to my fellow authors and illustrators who are donating each book as well as the cost of shipping. This could NOT happen without each of them. 


SO…HERE are the 2020 giveaway books. (***INSTRUCTIONS on how to enter are at the end of this post.)













































































































































So a pretty cool line-up of signed picture books and novels, huh?

Okay–so to enter the SIGNED BOOKS Giveaway to win ALL of these books – THE KID LIT LOTTERY!!! ……

1) Make a comment on this blog about anything book-related, kid-related, a story to share about teaching, etc.. 🙂 *Please provide twitter handle or e-mail address with your comment* Also, if you share elsewhere online (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) please let us know here.

2) Share to Twitter with the hashtag #AuthorsLoveTeachers (I know–long hashtag 🙂 But it will help us find your entry!) ***Please include link!



Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 22nd at 11:59PM. Winner will be announced late the following day. (I am traveling until then)

1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner MUST have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school. (Sorry–only US winners this time.)

***2) We know that teachers do not always get the appreciation they deserve. This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate you. Yes—we write the books, but YOU are in the trenches every day. YOU get the books into the hands of children. Together, we create life-long readers.

And for that…we are most grateful.

Thank you.

An anagram is a word made from the letters of another words such as “listen” and “silent”. In my latest book, SHOUTING AT THE RAIN, all of the characters’ names are anagrams.

anagram listen silent


Click here to see my original blog post on Nerdy about the anagrams. 🙂

AS PROMISED, I am here to give my readers some hints as to the anagram solutions. Please see the list below.

Each line begins with a character’s name, followed by a hint. In some cases, I have included partial solutions or given the letter breakup of the answer. For example ” –5-  —6— means there are two words in the solution – the first word is 5 letters and the second word is 6 letters.

Here are your anagram clues!!

Shouting at the Rain – Three words that describe a beverage everyone in the neighborhood drinks

Strong shoulder – three words: (1) opposite of weak (2) group of elephants (3) –4—  

Delsie McHill – Who is she? ( —7—-  –5– ) 

Bridget Maeve McHill – ( Be  –4–,  deliver  –5— )  

Joseph A. McHill – Refers to his favorite shirt

Ronan N. Gale  –  Something Ronan will do by end of the book ( Gonna  –5— )

(Side note – Ronan means young seal in Celtic.)

Sherman Gale – Refers to story of the vessel lost under his command.  Uses synonym for fisherman ( —6—  –5— ) (On a side note, Sherman makes the last 7 letters of fisherman)

Aimee Polloch – Someone she is often with

Katrinka Schofield – Song title from Annie ( -3–  1  –4–  –5–  -4–)

Melissa “Mellie” Dawson McHill – Where has she been all this time? ( “Hi, call me Miss -3-  -2-  —6—,  ME” )   (ME is postal code for Maine)

Henry I Lasko – Describes both his looks and his character

Esmarelda – “Seal” of approval

Ruby Loren – How she sees

Olive Tinselly –  Refers to how she expresses love. Uses word “love” in anagram

Brandy Fiester – Something she does in the story   ( —-7—  —6— )

Tressa Bohlen  – A nod to one of my favorite Fish in a Tree characters

Michael Poole – Best friend

Saucepan Lynn – The name of my beloved editor at Penguin

One for the Murphys was published in 2012. It feels like both a lifetime ago and just yesterday.

As I worked on Shouting at the Rain over the last few years, Carley Connors and Toni Byers have never been far from my heart. Murphys was written with complete and open emotional honesty because, quite frankly, I never thought it would be published.

One For The Murphys NEW cover

My NEW COVER of One for the Murphys ❤

Murphys has a difficult and sad flashback of physical abuse that shows the reader why Carley was placed in foster care. But the rest of the book is about hope, and trust, and learning to love. And it’s about learning to be loved – which is hardest of all. It’s about resilience and grit. It’s about a middle school child learning to claim the life that she wants.

One for the Murphys could’ve been a dark and sad book. I worked very hard to ensure that it wouldn’t be. Not to say there isn’t a place in the world for dark, gritty books. There definitely is. Because sometimes kids who live with darkness are comforted by knowing that they are not alone.

But we authors often write the book we needed as children and I was not a kid like that. I would’ve liked to have known. Known for sure. That if I stood tall enough and worked hard enough and kept my sights on the long term that there would be light.

After One for the Murphys went under contract I was asked why I wrote it. At first I had no answer but, after a little reflection, I replied, “That book is a wish. I wish someone had taken me aside at thirteen and told me everything would be OK.”

I think that readers who read my work – or who have met me in person – know that while I am far from perfect, I am a champion for children. And so, I thought it important to tell the more difficult side of my story for them. But I wanted to do it with my chin tipped toward the light. And I wanted to do it in such a way that it wasn’t just merely telling a story but hopefully taking the hands of young readers who are struggling with their perceptions of themselves and the world and their emotions and help point them in the right direction. Toward the life they want.

71sIBgJAz8LI want kids to know that life hands us all a myriad of experiences. It hands us joy and sorrow. Success and defeat. As my readers live their lives I want them to embrace joy. And when life hands them difficulty, I’d like them to know that they can handle it. That although life knocks us down sometimes, we can choose to stand up. Keep our shoulders strong.

I want them to know that I think of them every day. I know that many of them are struggling in different ways and looking for a compass. I know many of them feel like they’ve been dealt a lousy hand. I’m so sorry about that. I really am. But, I hope they are digging into their bravery to strive to make connections with people who value them for who they really are.  For its these human connections that heal us.

I’d also like them to remember that a lousy hand played with courage and compassion can lead to incredible gifts.

blue strong shoulder jar

thank you sign satr



It’s THAT time again. Valentine’s Day – when we all take a moment to celebrate those we love. So, we authors want you — teachers and librarians — to know that we adore you for all you do for kids every day. We appreciate you. We KNOW that you are not celebrated the way that you ought to be. For you, there should be parades images (2)and fireworks and a national holiday.

Many know that my second novel, Fish in a Tree, is a love letter to wonderful teachers everywhere. As I think of a few teachers, in particular, I really wonder where I’d be had I not crossed paths with them. Many have heard about Constantine Christy, my sixth grade teacher, who was the inspiration for Mr. Daniels in Fish. But, few know the story of Mr. Berard.

Mr. Berard was my seventh grade social studies teacher. He clearly loved his job and “his kids”. Just as with Mr. Christy, it became important to me to impress him so when he assigned a big project in late fall, I decided I would blow his mind by building a colonial village.

In the basement of our apartment, I found a piece of plywood and began there. By the time my mom came home from work, I was mixing plaster of Paris with dirt on our dining room table. (Yeah, I know…) I made buildings out of inside-out food boxes and crayons. I used macaroni and cotton balls and legos and anything else I could find. In my own mind, it remains Smithsonian-worthy.

The heft of it made it hard to carry so, by the time I got to class, I dropped it on a desk, relieved to put it down. The noise got the attention of two unkind girls.

“What is this?” one asked.

“It’s my project!” I smiled, feeling a bit taller than usual.

“That’s not what we were supposed to do…” she responded with disgust. And then laughter. The kind of laughter that makes you shrink inside. And as I looked up, I noticed no other project in the room looked like mine. Not even close.

7b808d81bc9f5d62cc1d8300f3bd47d7By the time Mr. Berard stood at my side, I stared at my shoes, my ears filled with the girls’ snickering.

I messed up. I couldn’t believe it. I had blown it. Again. What was wrong with me? How come I had to be the person I was?

Mr. Berard was quiet while the girls told him how wrong I was. I waited forever for him to speak. And when he finally did, he said, “Well…you didn’t follow the directions, so…”

I wanted to disappear.

“…I’m going to have to give you an A minus…”

The girls argued but he told them to go. My head rose slowly so I could look at his face to see if he was telling the truth. And we locked eyes. His smile was sad. I don’t even think I said thank you. I couldn’t say anything.

If he had followed a rubric as we use now, I would have failed. Maybe I deserved that. But he would have undone everything that Mr. Christy had accomplished the year before. Instead, he chose to see the child before the student. Because of this, I looked at him with gratitude in the months that followed and the student worked very hard for him. And…was always careful to read the directions.

THANK YOU, teachers and librarians, for your keen minds, your strong spines, and your broad hearts. Every day, you have the opportunity to shape the world in ways that few other professionals can. WE SALUTE YOU. 

HUGE THANKS TO THE GENEROUS, TALENTED AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS who’ve donated their books for this giveaway. Of course, I couldn’t do this without each of you!

**Directions on how to enter are at the end of the post!

So, without further adieu…


This is a PRINT from the SHE PERSISTED PICTURE BOOK hand-signed by both author, Chelsea Clinton, and illustrator, Alexandra Boiger!!!

And here are the SIGNED BOOKS!:




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wishtreeTitanic coverWWMMPBcoverthumbnailYAE.coverthumbnailTrainOfLost_061617thumbnail (6)thumbnail (3)thumbnail (4)The One and Only Ivanthumbnail (1)thumbnail (2)The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaserthumbnail (5)smart_cookie_cover on lineREVENGE OF THE ENGINERDS copyRedwoodAndPonytail_CVR_for ARCs_finalmaking friends with billy wongMagic Ramen CoverLuckyBrokenGirl full cover-front Pura Belpré Award (2) copyLifeonSurtseyHRimage002Lemon Tree CoverGoodEnough coverFlamingo Keeper_FC Hi Resthe bridge home - cover

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image003IMG_1647Finding Perfect Cover Swartz


InTheWild_Jacket_JacketLayouts.inddcoversmallEngiNerds_cvr copyFalling-for-Wonder-Boy-GenericDenis Ever After (1)cover (1)CountdownConspiracy hcbubbles high resCCRCwawardArt of the Swap final(2)BigTopBurning815DtGodCjLBenefits of Being an Octopus, The716g5gRVU4L716AHKx6gDL91WrGdDnGcL91T355KQsbL91Sqy8MP0dL91S58RE0zCL91M8xYa9TTL91fbjR3qEkL91D7zfpc2GL91-VK9b2xVL (1)81rGV2oC5LL71bVbvrMNJL81qGdAiLx1L81iLAXFhKEL81H0Hpd36qL71nBx5MJ1rL61L1G5febiL71kCli7fRRL61EFhGwqLrL61I+p58JBBL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_51YuPuZ0efL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_61DrWQq2FbL51tWs3-k1nL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_51U9kjn8ZpL51WMhYUeFPL (1)51O60HiZvUL51Kqy9yoFjL51AVPwN4aNL51MCepYApDL (1)51O7E-yG2eL (1)_Mission DefrostableA19fqCDD4iLthumbnail (7)978168263096951npYm-awPL81DjryUN9JL81PGh8cBbIL91LIzAxTcyL

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So a pretty cool line-up of signed picture books and novels, huh?

Okay–so to enter the SIGNED BOOKS Giveaway to win ALL of these books – THE KID LIT LOTTERY!!! ……

1) Make a comment on this blog about anything book-related, kid-related, something to inspire or make anyone reading this smile. 🙂 *Please provide twitter handle or e-mail address with your comment* Also, if you share elsewhere online (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) please let us know here.

2) Share to Twitter with the hashtag #AuthorsLoveTeachers (I know–long hashtag 🙂 But it will help us find your entry!) ***Please include link, if possible!


Rules: ***Giveaway ends on Thursday, February 21 at 11:59PM. Winner will be announced the following day.

1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner MUST have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school. (Sorry–only US or Canadian winners this time.)

***2) We know that teachers do not always get the appreciation they deserve. This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate you. Yes—we write the books, but YOU are in the trenches every day. YOU get the books into the hands of children. Together, we create life-long readers.

And for that…we are most grateful.

Thank you.


Strong Shoulder Award Contest

satr cover final

While writing Shouting at the Rain, I’d periodically have this picture flash in my mind. A picture of my big brother, John, clasping his fingers together to create a step for me to get over fences. It’s a very literal memory for this idea of raising up the people around us. Helping them over their fences.

One of my favorite people in Shouting at the Rain is Esme. She helps my main character, Delsie, over her metaphorical fences. Esme has what I refer to as “strong shoulders.” She is rock solid. She is there for others. She keeps her promises and takes responsibility. She is leaned on, looked up to and trusted. The world is a better place because Esme is in it. There are some others in the book with strong shoulders, as well as some without them. All of these people make up Delsie’s world on Cape Cod.

MENTOR MONDAYI knew early on that Esme served some sort of beverage in mason jars; deciding upon tea was easy. My mum had many demons that she battled in her life. I know in my heart that she longed to be a different kind of mom but she just couldn’t get over her own fences. But, sometimes she would come to me and ask, “Should I put on some tea?” Even if I didn’t want any, I’d say yes. We never ate meals together. In fact, when she was home, she barely came out of her room. But when she made tea, we would sit at the Formica table in the kitchen and we’d talk. I’d make her laugh and she’d tell me that she wished I’d been twins. I’d do anything to relive one of those days now.

So, Esme serves what she calls, “that nourishing tea” in Strong Shoulder mason jars,jar 2 which were used about a hundred years ago. At one point, Delsie asks Esme why she calls her tea, “That Nourishing Tea.” After all, “…it’s just a bunch of dried leaves in hot water,” she says. And Esme tells her that it isn’t the tea. It’s what happens when people sit down across from each other and drink tea. They don’t just look at each other. They see. They don’t just hear. They listen. And these are the times when true human connections are made. When we listen and see and have the bravery to share pieces of ourselves that let others learn who we really are. The things we long for. The things we fear. Our hopes and triumphs and failures. (Grammy has some things to say about this, too.)

Every facet of this book is about CONNECTIONS. Every character is there to show us something about connections – including when to let go of them. Every subplot balances upon the foundation of connections – to each other and to ourselves. For everything that matters in this world is about connections. EVERYTHING.

And so I wrote this whole book knowing that if you take the letters of


And mix them up, you get


Because, making and fostering and appreciating the connections that make us feel whole is the heart of the book.

So, I’m offering the opportunity to celebrate someone you know who has strong shoulders. Who fits the description on the certificate. (And you will probably strengthen your connection when they learn you see them in this light.) So, I am launching The STRONG SHOULDER CONTEST.

strong shoulder award certificate

TO ENTER, use a blank piece of 8 ½” x 11” paper and do WHATEVER you wish to do with that piece of paper to celebrate this person. You may simply tell me why this person has changed the world. Or, perhaps, your world. You may create a drawing, a poem, a story or any other piece of art you wish BUT I must be able to understand WHY this person is so special. In the spirit of FISH IN A TREE, I encourage you to use your imagination. However, you may not do something with the paper and then film/photograph it and send me a link. IT MUST BE MAILED to the address below.


There will be TWO winners in each category:

ADULTS (One entry per person, please)

TWO Grand Prizes for adult entrants. Winners will receive:

  • An antique Strong Shoulder jar for both you AND your nominee.
  • Personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificates for you and your nominee
  • Signed copies of SHOUTING AT THE RAIN for both you and your nominee
  • Signed copies of both One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree for you.
  • A 45 minute Skype with me for your class or library.
  • Swag for up to 30 kids.


KIDS  (One entry per person, please)

TWO winners in each grade level (GRADES 4-8) for a total of ten winners.

The winning nominator (you) will receive:

  • a signed copy of SHOUTING AT THE RAIN
  • a personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificate
  • a T-shirt OR a jar
  • Swag (bookmarks, bracelets, etc) for your class of up to 30 kids.

The person you have nominated will receive:

  • a personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificate
  • a signed copy of Shouting at the Rain
  • AND a genuine antique Strong Shoulder jar.

*Prizes for both you & your winner will be mailed to YOU so you can present the prize.




CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE strong shoulder award contest ENTRY FORM  (If your computer is like mine, check for a tab at the bottom of your screen upon clicking on this. That tab will open a window from which to print)

You MUST print this entry form, fill it out, and then attach it to your 8 ½” x 11” entry. (NOTE: If you want to keep your original send me a copy. Entries will NOT be returned!) In fact, it would be great if **YOU kept the original and gave it to “your person.”

TEACHERS – if you do this as a class project EVERY entry must have its OWN entry form! However, they may all be mailed together. 

YOUR ENTRY MUST BE RECEIVED by MONDAY, MAY 20th. (Disregard other due date on entry form 🙂

Okay. Start THINKING. And get ready to celebrate someone who probably doesn’t expect it. WHICH IS SO MUCH FUN!


These students, along with their teacher, Kristen Clark Mimlitz, decided to get a jump on this idea and created their own event. How cool is THAT?! Teachers - feel FREE to print the certificate and use with your kids :-)

These students, along with their teacher, Kristen Clark Mimlitz, decided to get a jump on this idea and created their own event. How cool is THAT?! TEACHERS – feel FREE to print the certificate and use with your kids 🙂


The sign at the entrance to Delsie’s neighborhood 🙂



Hello, Nerds,

First of all, I am sorry that I have been so quiet online. In order to get my latest book, Shouting at the Rain, finished it was necessary to pull back. But, I have returned with bells on, as my mum used to say. 🙂

Often, when I speak with teacher groups, I tell them that I was “that kid.” You know. The pain. The one who was hard to help. When I was younger, I stood in the hallway a lot after diversionary tactics.

Because of the child I was, I knew that when I, the teacher, stood toe-to-toe with kids and told them how great they were, how much potential they had, etc., etc., that they weren’t hearing me. Often that kind of kid is thinking,

She doesn’t know me.

She’s a liar,

He has to say that; he’s a teacher.

I knew it was rare for those kids to let the positive sink in. But, sadly, they’d file the bad stuff in an iron vault. I do believe that a kid has to hear something good 150 times for every single negative thing. The bad stuff is easier to believe, I guess.

So, as a teacher, I ordered business cards like these:

BLOG cards
I would write ONE sentence that was specific. I included their names and my name. Because I knew it had to be written down. So, my students could read them without the pressure of having to look me in the eye. Without the task of weighing and wondering. Of preparing their deflection while I spoke. With these cards…they could read it 150 times if they wanted.

And they did.

It broke my heart, but the school psychologist told me that the kids she saw who received these messages told her that they’d sit and stare at my name while at home. Heartbreaking. And, I myself, saw multiple kids pull tattered cards from their pockets weeks later just to get a peek at it.

This past weekend at nErDcampLI in New York (A conference organized by the wonderous JoEllen McCarthy, Kristen Picone, Denise Toscano, and Ali McDermott based on the conference model by Nerdy Book Club Nerd Camp by fantastic founders, Colby Sharp, Donalyn Miller, and Cindy Minnich) , I spoke with some teachers about using cards to buoy kids. And this morning a wonderful teacher named Kristin Crouch posted this on Twitter.


My second book, FISH IN A TREE is a love letter to teachers. My forthcoming book, SHOUTING AT THE RAIN is not but it made me think a lot about these kinds of kids. The kids who think they’re flawed. Broken. Because of things that others have said and done.

And I was so happy to see Kristin’s post and the hashtag #TellThemTheyMatter that I decided to do a Ginormous giveaway. To thank you educators out there who are saving kids. Not much make me tear up but the thought of a brigade of educators standing strong for kids gets me every time.


Here are the giveaways:


~Signed poster
~Signed Murphys hardcover
~Signed FISH hardcover
~Two signed FISH paperbacks
~Wooden nickels
~Fiat/Murphys bookmarks
~SHOUTING AT THE RAIN bookmarks (shown below)
~A FIAT (front) and SATR (back) T-shirt (shown below)
~"I have GRIT AND STRONG SHOULDERS & Be someone's hero" bracelets 
  (pictured in first prize)
~GRIT tattoos
~BookTrain tote bag
~Small stack of cards to encourage your kids

BLOG everything



~Bracelets for your whole class 
~Shouting at the Rain bookmarks (shown below)
~Three "I have strong shoulders" lanyards
~Small stack of cards to encourage students
~A T-shirt (shown below) with FIAT on front and SATR on back

BLOG SATR ARC lanyards



~ONE T-shirt with Shouting at the Rain on the back 
      and Fish in a Tree on the front
~A set of SATR bookmarks for your class.
~A stack of cards to encourage your kids


BLOG shirt front fiat


BLOG shirt back satr


Blog bookmarks satr

BLOG cards


  1. Pledge to write a minimum of FIVE NOTES TO KIDS AT SCHOOL this week. (I’ll never know if you don’t But if you DO follow through, I promise you’ll like the results. Kids are worth it.)

  2. Make a comment below about anything you wish. BUT please include your twitter handle or email address so I contact you.

  3. Post this contest AS A LINK on Twitter/FB/ETC with hashtag  #TellThemTheyMatter

WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED the night of MONDAY THE 19TH (I’ll be away until then)




Hello, Teacher and Librarian WORLD CHANGERS!

A TOAST!  To you.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS!   ❤ Welcome to my fourth annual Middle Grade Authors Love Teachers and Librarians Giveaway!

teachersIt’s no secret to those of you who know me that I just adore and respect and cherish teachers and librarians who are out there every day with kids–reaching out to them with just the right book or just the right conversation and changing lives. As is often said in children’s literature circles, books offer both mirrors and windows to readers. We often discover things about ourselves and/or who we want to be through reading (mirrors). We also learn about the world–other cultures, ways of life, opinions and learn to empathize with others (windows) which is more important than ever. For some, a book offers a friend and the ability to revisit that friend as needed. Yes, we write the books. But YOU, wonderful teachers and librarians…YOU put those books into the hands of kids every day. We are a TEAM.
So…to express this appreciation and love for ALL of you heroes/teachers/librarians out there, I have banded together with some author friends (HUGE THANKS to these authors for their kindness and generosity!) to offer one GIANT giveaway for one lucky winner. The winner of this giveaway will receive a signed copy of every single book below. There are many you’ll recognize, I think 🙂 Even if you don’t win, though, please know you are appreciated. Every. Day.
Please see the rules on ways to enter at the BOTTOM of this post.

So…without further adieu, here are this year’s raffle books:








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51l7g10-HvL (1)








So a pretty cool line-up of signed picture books and middle grade novels, huh?

Okay–so to enter the SIGNED BOOKS Giveaway to win ALL of these books – THE KID LIT LOTTERY!!! ……

1) Make a comment on this blog about anything book-related, kid-related, something to inspire or make anyone reading this smile. 🙂 *Please provide twitter handle or e-mail address with your comment* Also, if you share elsewhere online (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) please let us know here.

2) Share to Twitter with the hashtag #AuthorsLoveTeachers  I know–long hashtag 🙂 But it will help us find your entry! ***Please include link, if possible!


Rules: ***Giveaway ends on Wednesday, February 21 at 11:59PM. Winner will be announced the following morning.

1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner MUST have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school. (Sorry–only US and Canadian winners this time.)

***2) We know that teachers do not always get the appreciation they deserve. (They deserve parades and serenades and major awards.) This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate you. Yes—we write the books, but YOU are in the trenches every day. YOU get the books into the hands of children. Together, we create life-long readers.

And for that…we are most grateful.

Thank you.

Hello, everyone!
I’m sorry for the delay. My computer froze and I had to find another one to use. 😦
HUGE thanks to all of you who entered my Great Mind *Don’t* Think Alike contest! I can honestly say that the judges and I were completely blown away by your work and making the final choices was very hard – hence the extra prizes added 🙂
First of all, there were hundreds of kids who entered – which made me SO HAPPY! You were also amazing. Truly. I may take some time off from riding this summer to invent a teleporting machine so I can come congratulate you all in person! 😊
The winners were chosen by taking several things into account – the projects themselves, the difficulty levels, the time it would take to create it, how unique/out of the box it is, personal notes written by the student and, finally, notes written from the entrants’ teachers. Some of these pictures do not do the projects justice; some have intricate stories attached to them. Each judge gave a rating to each project. When the ratings were all added up this is how it shook out…
So, without further adieu
School visit
school visit

We loved this sculpture of a fish created with different kinds of cut-up soda cans. WOW!

Bookmarks for everyone in the school (link below to student made video) 
Standup cardboard Tree and Fish Post-it notes
m&m picture

We loved this. There is SO MUCH GOING on here. This artist is obviously bright and has a wonderful imagination 🙂

Signed classroom set of Fish in a Tree books
likenesses of famous people

Loved this idea and the likenesses are so cool!

clay 2

Created out of clay. INCREDIBLE!! Love the sentiment as well ❤

clay 1

Created out of clay. INCREDIBLE!! Love the sentiment as well ❤

dyslexic girl pointy hand

Fantastic! Obviously someone very creative and bright! 🙂

Signed FISH IN A TREE for both student and his/her teacher
lauren signed book 4 kid and teacher

Isn’t the layering here gorgeous?! This is one talented kid!!

signed book prize


prize 2

These girls did project about their own brains and then showed us how they are connected. WOW!

Swag for Everyone in the Class
book based on The CAy

What a COOL story! We loved it. And a ton of work went into writing it. 🙂

swag 3

Loved this so much. Lovely story behind this picture 🙂

swag 5
Picture of class full of kids. People are drawn as individuals and placed in slots. Can be moved around. 🙂 Other cool notes as well!

50 hand-signed bookmarks
jackie poem

Incredible poem! ❤

spun own yarn
This girl made her own yarn out of cotton balls! How innovative is that?!

roller coaster

Roller coaster out of cardboard. Cool details when able to zoom in.

Signed poster for class


yellow hair guy random thoughts

Depiction of random thoughts. This artist is so talented, I had to include a signed book along with it. LOVE this.

The following classes did not have any individual winners but there were enough projects submitted from the classes that were so good, I want to recognize them as being fantastico. The following classes will receive small swag packs:
Mr. Nguyen – Greenwood elementary
Ms. Vargas – Garfield elementary
Melissa Vantil – Westside Christian school
Kathy Iwanicki – Seymour school
Nicole Weaver – Tariffville school
Mr. Deary – MacArthur elementary school
Kim Loveland – Tariffville school
PRIZES WILL BE MAILED by the middle of this coming week.
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