Wednesday, October 19, 2016


"Oh, Janet, you have SUCH an imagination!" my mother used to say.

She didn't mean it as a compliment, but I'm happy to have an active imagination.

My neighborhood friends and I used to pretend to be all sorts of things while we played outside. At times I was a princess, a horse, a space alien, etc., etc., etc.

Unfortunately, today lots of kids stop pretending when they're young because they always have adults supervising them. Sometimes the only way they use their imaginations is with video games.

But I still have an active imagination, which is one reason why I write books for kids. And when children - or grown-ups - get involved in good books they're carried away to adventures and different worlds and experiences.

Some of my books include ordinary kids taking risks to reach important goals. One is about an imaginary creature - a giant talking worm. Another book takes readers to the past, and one helps them understand people who are different from themselves.

I believe providing fiction for kids to read is an important task.

What else can we do to help kids use and develop their imaginations?

(P.S if you want to know more about my books go to my website,

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mrs. Betsy Fieldmouse Borrows an Egg

The first time I saw the cover of this book I was charmed by the cute illustration. And the title sounded interesting.

I'm glad I took the few minutes needed to read the book, because I enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure lots of little kids will, too. (Okay, I admit I'm still a kid on the inside.)

The plot about a mouse borrowing an egg to bake a cake is unique, but Barbara Bockman followed a pattern used in many classic picture books in writing it. She's a great writer and Elexis King is a great illustrator.

 Anyone who has or knows little kids should consider getting this book when they do their Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Statue of Liberty

Recently I saw a copy of the poem engraved at the feet of the Statue Of Liberty.

It made me think of my own ancestors, who came to America before Ellis Island. Some came here as indentured servants in the 1500s, one came from Ireland to avoid starvation by getting paid to fight for the South in the Civil War. Others came over from England, Scotland and Germany during the gold rush, most of them to escape from poverty.

Here's a copy of that famous poem by Emma Lazarus:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Where did your ancestors come from?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mom, Is There A Santa Claus

When I was a kid and asked my mother if Santa Claus was real, she replied, "Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas."

This book, by Susan J. Berger, is about a boy named Luke who asks the same question. His mother tells him Santa is the spirit and joy of giving to others at Christmas.

Later Luke experiences that joy by helping a younger boy keep his belief in Santa Claus.

If you've read my own book, Secret Service Saint, you know the real man, Saint Nicholas, did secret good deeds and later became known as Santa Claus.

Both my book and Mom, Is There A Santa Claus help kids understand that Christmas is about giving and helping others, not about being greedy and getting things.

And the baby whose birth is celebrated at Christmas shared the same message with His life.

This book would be great for any kids who are wondering about the reality of Santa Claus.

K.C. Snider's illustrations are perfect for the story. Some of them could be on Christmas cards.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lee Roddy

A writer I've met, Lee Roddy, is the author of books for kids that might be considered classics.

I think he started getting his books published in the 1970s, though that could have happened even earlier, and today's kids are still reading them.

Dozens of his books are still in print and some of those have been written more recently.

I have lots of them on my own shelves

Kids love Roddy's books because they're full of action and adventure. Some have girl protagonists, but a lot of the main characters are boys.

Since the stories take place in various locations and time periods, their young readers are learning information at the same time they're enjoying the exciting plots.

I found his website, and in case anyone reading this blog post is interested in learning more about his books, here's the link:

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Recently I've posted about things I remember from my childhood. I often post about books for kids, because I enjoy reading - and writing - those.

In many ways I'm still a kid on the inside. I love playing with my dog, taking walks in the woods, and using my imagination.

But would I want to go back to being a child?

It would be nice to have my mother do the cooking and shopping, but would I want her always telling me what to do again?

It would be fun to play imaginative games with my friends, but I can still share things we imagine with people in my critique groups.

And would I want to give up my own memories of becoming a wife, raising my kids and all the other things I've experienced and learned? NO!!

As the old song about childhood says, "Once you've crossed its borders you can never return again."

But it might be fun to go back once in a while and experience life through a kid's eyes for a short time. Come to think of it, that's what I do when I read and write books for kids.

What about you? Would you like to become a kid again?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Marin Junior Theater

I was always a good kid, but in the summers when I performed with Marin Junior Theater I usually played the part of a villain, and loved doing that.

The first year I played the part of Lady Precious Harp from a play called The Land of the Dragon. The play took place in China. I forget the plot and wish I could read the script again but I've searched unsuccessfully for the title online.  The play would probably be considered racist now.

The next year I was the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. All summer when I saw kids from the theater group downtown they'd call to me, "Hi, Witch!" That always made me feel proud.

The third year I decided to be a good character and became Cinderella's fairy godmother, but that wasn't nearly as much fun as pretending to be bad.

Besides performing in the plays, two of those summers I got to go to San Francisco with the other main characters and appear on the local TV Channel 5 to publicize the plays. I was famous! Well, sort of.

A few years ago I realized nearly all the other kids who got important roles in the plays had mothers who were active as volunteers for Marin Junior Theater. Maybe I was a good actress to always get big parts even though my mother wasn't involved. She had a day job because she was widowed, so maybe the other women who ran the group just felt sorry for me.