COVER REVEAL: Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

It’s a thrill to have Matt Tavares here with me today to share the cover for his Fall 2017 title with Candlewick, Red and Lulu. 

Tell us a little bit about Red and Lulu:

Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year, the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
thy leaves are so unchanging…

But then one day, something unthinkable happens and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again.

But luckily, it’s just the season for miracles.

Red and Lulu is a story about the joy of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: just how important it is to be surrounded by love.

Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

Red and Lulu grew from a few completely unrelated story ideas, over the course of several years. It began with a pair of cardinals who visited the bird feeder in my yard countless times, finally inspiring me to write a story about them. I was struck by their devotion to each other, and wondered how far one of them might fly to be with the other, if they ever became separated. Meanwhile, inspired by the magic of New York City at Christmastime, I was working on a different idea for a nonfiction picture book about the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. But neither idea was coming together- until it occurred to me that maybe the story about the cardinals and the story about the tree might actually work together.

This book was a labor of love that started back in 2011. And even though it’s the first book I’ve written that features main characters who are not human, it’s also the most personal book I’ve ever written. I wanted to write about what happens when your world is turned upside down unexpectedly and you are forced to focus on what really matters. It turned out that these two cardinals were the right characters to tell that story.

Is this a wordless book?

My first version of Red and Lulu had about a thousand words. Then my editor and art director at Candlewick asked if I would consider turning it into a wordless book. I was excited about that idea, and spent months rebuilding the book as a wordless picture book. I printed a dummy of that, and shared it with friends, but found that while people really seemed to connect with the first version, there was something missing in the wordless version- sort of an emotional disconnect. So I went to my editor with both versions, and we worked on creating a sort of hybrid by adding back some words where they seemed absolutely necessary.

The final result is a book that has about 450 words (I think). Most spreads have words, but some are wordless. I do think that the process of trying to tell the story with no words really helped the book, and was a great exercise for me as an illustrator. I feel like I learned a lot about visual storytelling, even though this is my 19th book and I should probably know all this stuff by now!


What are you working on now?

I’m at the very early stages of another fiction picture book with Candlewick, slated for Fall, 2019. I also have a nonfiction idea I’m working on, about a girls’ basketball team.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Sure, here’s one of the interior illustrations from Red & Lulu! Thanks, Dylan!


Interview with Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, author/illustrator of I AM (NOT) SCARED! PLUS GIVEAWAY!

Tell us a little bit about I Am (Not) Scared.

Anna & Chris: I Am (Not) Scared is the third book in the series of “Not” books starring our fuzzy creatures. In the first one, You Are (Not) Small, Orange Guy and Purple Guy argue with each other about their size; in the second one, That’s (Not) Mine, they argue over an object that they each consider “theirs.” For the third book, we wanted the story to reflect that they are now friends, despite having different perspectives. This time, the source of their conflict isn‘t each other, and they must rely on their friendship to get through it. 


Tell us a little bit about your process of working together.

Anna: I will have an idea or a draft of a story and I‘ll bounce it off Chris. He gives me honest feedback and I’ll either rewrite it or move on to another idea. This process keeps going until I have a final manuscript that we’re both pleased with.


Chris: As I’m drawing the characters or designing the layout, I’ll talk with Anna throughout the process and see what she thinks. We have similar sensibilities in terms of what we like in children’s books, so I value her input greatly. I think the continual conversation elevates both of our work.


Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

Anna: As a kid I loved to write stories, but I never did it too seriously because it didn’t occur to me that it could be an actual job. Going to film school for graduate school gave me the confidence to pursue it full time.

Chris: Yes, I always drew, painted, and cartooned as a child. All kids love to when they’re young, but over time, fewer and fewer keep doing it. I just never stopped, until one day, it became my career.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Anna & Chris: Hands down, the best part is connecting with kids, teachers, and librarians all over the world. It’s truly an amazing feeling when a child tells us that one of our books helped him or her learn how to read. It’s an enormous honor. Being able to work from home in pajamas is also a huge bonus.

What inspires your creativity?

Anna: My children, nature, reading books, going to the library or bookstore and browsing, Mike & Ike candy, naps.

Chris: My kids, other artists’ amazing work, the changing seasons, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Anna: I take great pleasure in shopping for bath mats, especially plushy ones.

Chris: When I was growing up, I wanted to be a ventriloquist. That dream ended the day I became scared of my dummy staring at me from the corner of my room.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Anna: Teaching.

 Chris: Cartooning.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Anna & Chris: WILL YOU HELP ME FALL ASLEEP? is the second story about our worried little frog, Monty. It will be published by HarperCollins in 2018; ERASER is a new picture book about a young eraser who feels unworthy compared to the other school supplies because she doesn’t create, she only takes things away. It will be published by Two Lions in 2018.

Chris: I am also illustrating Laura Gehl’s charming new book, MY PILLOW KEEPS MOVING!, which will be published by Viking in 2018.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Anna & Chris: To all the educators and parents, thank you for doing the most important job in the world. We were very fortunate to have both highly supportive parents and a few outstanding teachers in our lives. Everything we have achieved so far is thanks to them.

And to all the kids who might be reading this: be kind, stay curious, and read books. These three things will give you strength your entire life.


Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of two other books featuring these characters: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and That’s (Not) Mine. Christopher’s work can be seen regularly in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their Bich-Poo. Visit them at and

Twitter: @annakang27 @chrisweyant05

Instagram: annakangbooks; christopherweyant

Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant

For more information, and to download a free activity kit, visit, or download at:

One lucky winner will receive a set of squeezable stress balls, two adorable plush characters, and a copy of I AM (NOT) SCARED courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). All you have to do is Retweet this blog post with the hashtag #IAMNOTSCARED to be entered to win! Winner will be chosen on Friday March 31 at 10:00 PM (CST).

Interview with Matylda Bright and Tender Author Holly McGhee

Today is Matylda Bright and Tender’s book birthday! I am so thankful Holly is here to answer a few of my questions.


Hey Holly! Thanks for joining me here to talk about all you have in store!

Hi Dylan, it’s such a big honor to be here. Thank you for having me!  

Tell us a little bit about your newly released book, Matylda, Bright and Tender.

Matylda, Bright & Tender is my first novel; I wrote a chapter-book series and three pictures under my pen name Hallie Durand, but with Matylda and my future books, I wanted to simplify and integrate my life as a literary agent and a writer, so from here on out I’m using my given name, Holly M McGhee. Matylda is the story of Sussy Reed, her best friend Guy Hose, and their leopard gecko. Sussy and Guy are inseparable until the worst imaginable thing happens, Guy is killed while trying to save Sussy’s life, on a simple bike trip. Sussy thinks that if she can just love their lizard Matylda enough, she can hold onto Guy—it’s a story of love and loss, but most importantly surviving.

Matylda is not an easy book to read, and I know it won’t be for everybody. But it’s the book I had to write—as a kid, I was also in a terrible accident, and it took me decades to put my life back together; with Matylda, I wanted to reach kids who might be suffering too, and I wanted to let them know that they will survive, that there is a light on at the end of the tunnel, hard to see but it’s there if they can keep going forward. That as crazy as they may feel they’ll be okay. And I hope Sussy’s story helps its readers find hope more quickly than I did.

What were you doing before you started writing? What made you want to move into writing?

As a middle schooler, I sold a lot of sweet corn from my dad’s red pick truck at a local gas station ☺ But as a grown up, I was first an editor at HarperCollins before I opened the doors of the literary agency Pippin Properties, Inc. Nine years into my work as a literary agent (and as the mom of three very small children), I started writing my first book (under my pen name); it’s probably a natural outcome from being around creative people all my working life. I think of my writing as a passage to a deeper part of myself—Matylda is a work of fiction but with a plum line straight through my heart.

And I’ve heard buzz about a 2017 title you wrote, Come with Me. I love the premise for that. Can you tell us a little bit more?

Oh, thank you for bringing up Come with Me. I think Come with Me actually started with the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. At that time, my Belgian artist friend Pascal Lemaitre sent me and my daughter a painting of an angry grieving man planting a flag at the trade center site—on the flag was a big red heart. Pascal and I have worked together as literary agent and artist these years and then last spring, with the Brussels lockdown, he and I were emailing every day because I was worried about him and his family this time—he’d tell me what he was doing during the crisis, walking the dog, shopping at the Moroccan grocery as always, watering the garden. Going on. And the idea for Come with Me was born, fast and furious, the first draft done in one night. What do we do in the face of an angry, hate-filled world—what do we do amidst the Pulse nightclub killings, the shootings In Dallas, Newtown, Paris, Nice . . . what do we say to our children? We show them how to go on, that’s what we do. And that’s what this simple book is about. Every one of us has a part.


Have you always been into writing?

In some ways, yes, as an editor and an agent. But I never thought I would be a writer too. Now I am all three: editor of my authors’ books before submission, literary agent for authors and artists, and a writer. I feel like there is an ever-expanding universe in life, and if we allow ourselves to follow our hearts, if we don’t try to put people neatly into drawers and label them, we can do everything that calls to us. We can be free.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Far and away the most exciting part of my job as a literary agent is helping to create and share projects that resonate with me emotionally, first with publishers and then with the world, in book form, audio, television, film, theatre, everything! As a writer, the most exciting part is when the idea begins to gel . . . and you see the pieces falling into place before your eyes, you remember exactly where you were when you got that scene, what you ate that night, who said the thing that helped you along the way, what came to you in your dreams.

What inspires your creativity?

Paying attention. This past summer I was talking to the man who owns the fish shop on Long Beach Island, where we buy our seafood when on vacation. A five-foot high waterline from Hurricane Sandy is still marked on the wall. I asked him what he does in the off-season, this incredibly helpful, good-spirited, rotund young guy. He said “This” pointing to a picture of a man fishing, and “That” pointing to a beer can. I’ve been thinking about it ever since—this guy sells enough seafood during the summer to fish and drink beer all winter, and he is very, very happy. It makes me smile / he is a fully developed character in my mind already / he enjoys the simple pleasures of life. “This and that.” All to say anybody, any word, any pet, anything at all can be a source of inspiration if we pay attention.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

While I was writing the scene in Matylda where the lizard loses her tail, my own lizard lost his tail. Our geckos Midnight and Speedy used to share a tank, and they got along well, until one day when Midnight attacked Speedy, and Speedy dropped his tail. It was a terrible, terrible day and the coincidence was uncanny. It can’t be just chance. (Obviously Speedy and Midnight each have their own tank now.)

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

If I weren’t writing, I would probably represent even more writers and artists. I would cook more extravagantly too. Whenever I finish writing something, I head to the kitchen—I love chopping vegetables and roasting stuff.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have a couple of picture-book ideas in the vein of Come with Me I’m about to get serious with, I am working on a very crazy formatted book for adults, and I have the underpinnings of a new middle-grade novel . . . it’s beginning to take shape. But they may take years—you never know.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Just a shout out to say thank you for being a champion of books for children. Not everybody starts reading in kindergarten or even first grade, I know from my own three children. The oldest was a voracious reader from early on, but the middle child didn’t get hooked until second grade. And my son, the youngest, didn’t get the bug until third grade with Tin Tin. As long as we keep the books in front of the kids, I believe they WILL become readers—there is a book for everyone. I always tell my adult agent friends that there wouldn’t be a single reader of adult books without kid readers. Pay attention to children’s books; they’re essential.

Interview with Deborah Freedman, author/illustrator of This House Once

Deborah Freedman’s book, This House Once, comes out next Tuesday, February 28th. To help celebrate, Deborah has stopped by my blog to talk about the book and what else she’s been up to. Enjoy!

Hey Deborah! Thanks for joining me here to talk about all you have in store!

Hello, Dylan — I’m honored to be here!

Tell us a little bit about your new book, This House Once.

It is a meditation on a house and where its different parts came from. It’s very quiet and cozy, and suggests that readers be mindful of all that surrounds them.


What inspired you to do this book? It’s quite unique- and beautiful!

Thank you, Dylan! I’ve probably had this book in my head, at least unconsciously, ever since I trained as an architect over thirty years ago and learned about how buildings come together. After my daughters were born, I started playing around with children’s books, and naturally began by drifting through ideas that had something to do with architecture. Then my husband and I eventually bought our first house — which we have since added on to and altered, a never-ending work in progress — so we have both been thinking and talking about houses and homes for a long time. Also, I’ve always loved to spend time walking in the woods, and digging and planting in my rocky New England yard…

So buildings, children, the natural world — basically those passions all simmered for years, until they finally bubbled up together and out spilled This House Once.

Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

I’ve loved to draw and make things ever since I was a kid — always the “artsy” type — which is why I eventually ended up in architecture. But making picturebooks is way more fun than designing buildings, and the audience is cooler. IMO.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Connecting with my young readers. Nothing in my pre-published life prepared me for how moving that could be. Or how much they would make me smile!

What inspires your creativity?

Reading… looking at art… I majored in art history in college and have always loved to spend time in museums, almost always leaving them with some sort of spark. And, of course, I’m inspired by KIDS.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

I realized recently that several of my favorite childhood books have the word “house” in their titles: The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton; A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman; The Dolls’ House, by Rumer Godden; the Little House books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder… it must mean something!

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Do I have to do something else? I don’t want to do anything else!

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Hopefully, the unexpected… 🙂

COVER REVEAL: IT’S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor PLUS Interview!

Hey Edwardian & Josh! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your new 2017 book, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, and especially for the honor of revealing the cover here!

Dylan: Tell us a little bit about It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.

Edwardian: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk is a twist on its namesake fable.  However, we come in contact with characters that seem to have other ideas about how the story should be told.  It’s quite funny because we all know how the story goes, but our characters seem to take over their own story.

Josh: It’s not just a Mixed-Up Fairy Tale – it’s a META-Mixed-Up Fairy Tale – where YOU – the reader, the teacher/librarian/parent/grandparent/caregiver/2nd Cousin-three-times-removed – get to interact DIRECTLY with the characters in the book (and hopefully appear foolishly entertaining doing so).

Dylan: Tell us a little bit about your process.

Josh: As writing picture books isn’t my day job, I generally try to find time in the evenings, mornings, weekends, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and bathroom breaks to brainstorm ideas and write. Once get an idea that really excites me, I usually make the time to write a whole first draft in the following few days, sharing with my wife, kids, and cats throughout the process. Once it’s done, I’ll share with some critique partners and revise and then share with more critique partners and revise and revise and share with my agent and revise and then send it out to some publishers to be rejected a few dozen times. Every once in a while, though, I trick a poor editor into turning one of my stories into a book… (sorry, Marilyn).

For this story, specifically, my kids played a HUGE role in building the text. There are essentially three characters with speaking roles in the story (with one slight exception): Jack, the Giant, and the Reader. As I developed the story, I often played the role of ‘Reader’ while my oldest played ‘Jack’ and my youngest played ‘the Giant.’ It was a blast to read this with my kids around the dinner table, at family gatherings, and to the cats. I can’t wait to perform it at Readers’ Theater at their school next September!

Edwardian: For this book, I was given Josh’s manuscript to read.  This is to me the most important phase because of the exploration needed to figure out the characters and the world they live in.  My background is in animation, so I treated my rough sketches like storyboards, but keeping in mind the text would also play a part like a character in the story.  When you read the book, you’ll see that the reader is a part of the story so its text is purposely considered and placed within each composition. One thing I enjoyed at this stage was seeing what worked or didn’t work within the context of the story once the visuals were in place.  Josh was always open to ways to improve the story or to edit things as I was illustrating the pages.  I think that kind of collaboration is a fantastic motivator to me as an illustrator, because I feel like I’m contributing more to the story instead of just being limited as just the illustrator.

After the rough sketch phase, we dive into the rendering (color) pass.  This part tends to take the longest.  Since I also have to figure out the general colors for object, characters, environment there is lots of decision making I have to do make sure color pallets make sense and are still fun and whimsical.  Something I was mindful too was the use of lighting to tell time.  Since we are experiencing the story in a single day, having these differences in lighting to tell time helped aid to move the story along.

Once the color phase is finished, we move into final adjustments after the designer places the text in the illustrations.  Then Voila!  It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk is born.

Dylan: Edwardian, have you always been into Illustration?

Edwardian: Actually, to be honest, I kind of fell into it. I’ve always loved children’s books, but I had always thought it was something you had to go to school for.  But what I do as a visual development artist for animation is very similar in how I approach working on illustrations.  After having been let go at my last full time studio job, I had taken this as an opportunity to cast my net wide and see where else my art could take me besides animation.  I had applied to several illustration agencies, and I was fortunate to find my current agency The Bright Group.  I had been with them a couple weeks before I got my first book gig.  And each book I’ve worked on has been such a labor of love, especially It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.   I knew then that this was going to be an adventure into something I never imagined I could get to do.  But boy am I glad I had been let go from my old job, cause now (along with freelancing for animation studios), I get to do this rewarding and fun job of illustrating children’s books.

Dylan: Josh, have you always been into writing?

Josh: No! At least I never thought I was. I wasn’t a huge reader as a kid. But I married a voracious one (reader, not kid). While we dated, we read books out loud to each other (often kidlit, like Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket). I started listened to lots of audio books on my long day job commute in the early to mid-2000’s. And when I had kids, I read a ton of books to them. It was only about five and a half years ago when I wrote my first really really REALLY bad picture book manuscript.

However, ever since becoming an author, I’ve looked back and realized that I actually did enjoy writing. In middle school, B.J. Novak and I wrote a 150 page radio show script together, along with a few short stories. I also wrote some goofy editorials for the Newton South High School student—run newspaper (The Lion’s Roar). And in college I learned to play guitar and I wrote lots of songs (more They Might Be Giants-quirky than Eddie Vedder-poetic rock). So maybe the answer is ‘Yes?’

Dylan: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Josh: There are so many exciting things about being an author, it’s hard to pick just one. The first time seeing an artist’s illustrations of something I wrote is amazing! Having my name on the spine of a book on a library shelf is surreal. And sometimes, just cracking myself up with a silly joke that I’m writing into a story is exciting. But the most exciting? It’s got to be interacting with readers; whether it’s via skype or in person, talking to kids about reading and writing is my favorite favorite.

Edwardian: That’s easy, when I’m designing a new character for the book.  You’ll notice in this one that I took liberties on fairy tale character cameos in it.  There is even a kind of “Where’s Waldo” game to find all the fairy tale characters I’ve placed throughout the book.  It was my fun way of doing little Easter Eggs to make people go back and really look through the illustrations.

Dylan: What inspires your creativity?

Edwardian: When someone on social media tells me how much they look forward to seeing my posts every week and that it brightens their day, is gratifying.  I don’t need to be the most popular artist with the most followers, but having people that let me know I bring them joy is enough and makes me want to make more art.

Josh: Yes! I love Edwardian’s weekly posts from all the illustration challenges he does! If you don’t already follow Edwardian Taylor on Instagram, you MUST! Edwardian’s and other artist’s illustrations always inspire me! I love scanning through illustrators to see what they’re up to on social media. There is so much talent out there in the kidlit art world, it’s incredible!

Other things that inspire me include my kids, spying on people in coffee shops, reading other amazing picture books, and lots and lots of coffee!

Dylan: What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Edwardian: I’m a huge Meatloaf fan.  Not the meal (which is still good), but the actual rock star Meatloaf.  He actually lives in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.  But I’ve yet to have any run-ins with him.  I remember when I was little, my dad had Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell” on cassette tape.  I had kept it for myself, and would listen to it all the time on my boom box.  When I was in junior high my first CD purchase was Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell 2. I can’t help to sing along when one of his songs comes on.

Josh: Hmm… I’m kind of a sharer and don’t really hold much back (that’s not what readers don’t know – they probably already do – I’m just saying it’s hard to think of things that I haven’t already shared before). To stick with Edwardian’s theme, the first cassette tape I ever bought was The Coasters’ Greatest Hits (I was a big Yakkety Yak (Don’t Talk Back) fan in 2nd grade. The first CD I ever bought was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Homebase. And now I think I might have overshared…

Dylan: If you weren’t writing or illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Josh: Sitting in a cubicle (which I do do). Or maybe teaching ballet.

Edwardian: I’d probably still be working as a visual development artist for tv, games, and feature films.

Josh: Hee hee … I said ‘do do.’

Dylan: What can readers expect from you in the future?

Edwardian: My first book RACE! written by Sue Douglass Fliess comes out this year.  And I’m currently working on an unannounced book series with the writer of “Secret Life of Pets” and the “Minions” movies, Brian Lynch. I’ve also been working on studio projects with Sesame Street, Dreamworks TV, Universal Studios, and Out of Order Studios, so keep a look out for any announcements on social media for those.

Josh: Before It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk releases on September 19, 2017, THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH (sequel to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) will be served to readers on May 2! Have you ever opened the fridge and noticed that something didn’t quite smell right? In this episode, Inspector Croissant recruits the help of his uncle, Sir French Toast, and Lady Pancake to search for a mysteriously stinky culprit and save the fridge from destruction. And while nothing is announced yet, 2018 might be my busiest year so far …

Dylan: Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Josh: At this point, I think I’ve shared too much.

Edwardian: If you want to follow me on social media, I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr @edwardiantaylor  I also have my blog/website  And finally my online store, where I sell various prints, stickers and art books

Josh: Oh, yeah, you can follow me, too on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @joshfunkbooks or on my website at Thanks for reminding me, Edwardian! And thank you, Dylan for inviting us to reveal the cover of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.

Edwardian: Yeah. Thanks, Dylan!

And NOW…. here’s the cover!


Stacy McAnulty Interview and GIVEAWAY!

Hey Stacy! Thanks for joining me here to talk about all you have in store!

Absolutely. Let’s do this.

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s The Favorite.

Mr. Fuzzbuster was Lily’s first pet. It’s always been Lily and Fuzzbuster, Fuzzbuster and Lily. But now, there are new pets in the house, and they all think they’re Lily’s favorite. Fuzzbuster wants Lily to decide once and for all. Who is the favorite?


What inspired you to do this book?

My mom and my brother. I’ve always been my mom’s favorite, even if she’s never actually said, “Stacy you are my favorite.” I just know it to be true. My brother probably disagrees. When we were younger, we used to torment my mom, begging her to declare one of us the favorite. She would joke and say to me, “You are my favorite… (insert looooooong pause) daughter.” And of course, she’d say to my brother, “You are my favorite… son.”

Have you always been into writing?

Yes and no. I loved writing in 4th, 6th, 11th, and 12th grade. But I’ve always struggled with the basics of writing like spelling, grammar, and typing. That’s right. I’m admitting it here to you. I can’t type. So if I had English teachers who appreciated creativity, I was in heaven. If the class centered on sentence structure and spelling, I suffered through. I was naturally better at math, though writing has always been in my first love. To keep with the theme, I guess I should say, writing is my FAVORITE.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Selling a new manuscript is the heart-pounding, jump-up-and-down, all-7’s-on-the-slot-machine exciting part. What author doesn’t love to hear, “We want to publish your book!” And this doesn’t happen all that often. I get at least ten no’s to every yes. And some manuscripts never get a yes. The sale is the most exciting part, but it’s not necessarily my favorite part. (It’s in the top three.) I also love that moment when a story comes together. Whether it’s finally nailing the ending or rewriting the beginning. That’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I also love when a reader connects with one of my books. Positive reviews are nice. Stars are great. But when a kid says “This is my favorite book,” or when they send you a letter begging for a sequel, my heart melts.

What inspires your creativity?

  1. My kids.
  2. A general curiosity about life.

First, having kids has given me a new perspective on the world. Children see things differently and think all things are possible. Blow a big bubble, maybe I can fly. Kids imagine and believe.

Second, I think I’m a naturally curious person. I want to learn how the brain works. I want to know if dinosaurs had feathers. I want to try all the hot sauces at the taco bar. Curiosity leads to creativity in all things—writing, engineering, science, cooking, EVERYTHING.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

When I visit bookstores, I like to rearrange shelves. I’ll move one of my books or one of my friends’ books to a more prime location. Don’t tell the store owners. This is our little secret. (Also, I always buy a book—or three—when I go to a bookstore. I think it’s good karma. And I LOVE books.)

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I used to be a mechanical engineer. I designed first class airline seats. Engineering, like writing, calls for creativity. I would consider returning to engineering. Maybe I could work for Pampered Chef or OXO. I’d love to design kitchen gadgets. Other careers I’d consider: middle school science teacher, a writer for a late-night TV show, a neurologist (seriously, we know so little about the brain), a dog trainer, a paleontologist, or a bookstore owner. Life is too short, isn’t it?

Is 2017 as busy of a year for you as 2016 was?

I had six books hit shelves last year. This year, I only have five. I’m slowing down in my old age. I’m also working on my books that publish in 2018, including my first novel. Lots going on behind the scenes. I’m fortunate to be doing what I love.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Well, I just got a puppy in January, so I imagine a puppy book will be forthcoming.

More concretely, I have three chapter books in the Goldie Blox series coming out in 2017 (two in May and one in September). And a picture book titled Brave, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, will be available in October.



Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I think the world would be a better place if we all could…

* Read More Books

* Adopt a Dog or Two

* Volunteer for a Cause

* And Eat Doughnuts Every Friday with Someone Special

Maybe not the secret of life, but these activities can bring joy and grow our hearts.

Also, did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country. Maybe he will be your favorite.

More information can be found at


STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at

EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at


Two Lions is offering a copy of MR. FUZZBUSTER KNOWS HE’S THE FAVORITE to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses). All you need to do is retweet this blog post with the hashtag #MrFuzzbuster and you’ll be entered to win! Retweet by 10 PM  CST on February 10th!