Get out your pencils, crayons and journals – you’re going to want to write after you read this book.   It makes you feel like everyone can have fun writing a book and even illustrating!!  My Perfect Picture Book pick is…..

Title:  Bunny Loves to WriteBunny Loves to Write (Parragon Read-Along)

Author:   Peter Bently

Illustrator:   Emma Foster & Deborah Melmon

Publisher: Parragon Books 2013

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age:  2-10

Themes/Topics: Creativity/Friends

Opening Sentences: One day, Buster was going out to play.  “Always carrying a book!” chuckled Mom.  “What is it this time, Buster?

Synopsis: Buster Bunny has  to write a story for school.  He can’t think of any ideas until his friends give him plenty of ideas.

Why I like it:  Mr. Bently has written a wonderful story that inspires creativity using everyday things around us.  When I read it to my grands they immediately wanted to draw and write.  Buster  and his friends write a story together and illustrate it in his journal.  The journal becomes a story within a story.  The illustrators use beautifully bright, large watercolor illustrations combined with a collage feel of photos and textures.  The journal looks like a real handwritten journal and is illustrated with line drawings.  It even inspired me with an idea for a classroom project.

 Activities & Resources:   Give your child a simple journal or blank book and let them write their own story.  Cut out some magazine pictures or textures and let your child glue them in the journal to illustrate their story.

Here is a link to some wonderful story starter pictures for young children.

Availability:  Major Booksellers.   Also available as a Nook book from Barnes & Noble.

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Enjoy the read and blessings on your creativity today!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

I hope no one is allergic to cats – but even if you are….grab a kleenex and enjoy this wonderful little book.   You’ll probably have to grab it at the library – but you will enjoy the wonderful illustrations.

Title:   Cats Know Best

Author:   Colin Eisler

Illustrator:   Leslie Anne Ivory

Publisher: Dial Books, 1988

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2-8  

Themes/Topics: Cats

Opening Sentences: Cats know the best places to be.  Where to stay warm…or keep cool.

Synopsis: A simple story of the sometimes silly, lazy, indifferent behavior of cats and their day complemented with beautiful illustrations.

Why I like it:  At only 103 words, it is a lovely, quick read that leaves you with a cozy feeling.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  Ms Ivory loves cats and you can tell. I’m sure I hear purring every time I read it.   The backgrounds vary from quilts and rugs and trees and barnyards to indoor parlors and china teacups to outdoor kittens and snowflakes.   Each page invites paying attention to details.  On the quilt page for instance my grandgirls have to find the hidden pictures in the quilt.   My grandchildren know this is a special Grandma’s book and they like to ask for it.  They enjoy tracking and finding all the little kittens and their particular favorite cat.  They range from tuxedo cats, to tabbys, longhair, to Siamese.  There are kittens in dresser drawers and cats in the barn.  The cats on the inside covers beg to be counted each time.  And if you want to know all the names of the cats,  those are listed under the author’s thank yous.

Activities/Resources:  Catly activities of course.  Here is a link to cat crafts, cat games, cat math, cat science and even cat treats!

Availability: This is an older book but well worth seeking out at your library or used book store.  Some used (inexpensive paperback)and new (pricey) copies are available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

 (Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Enjoy the read!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

boo boo kiss no script

A week or so ago hubby wasn’t feeling up to par and he went to bed early.  When I went to bed later I did not turn on a light so as not to wake hubby.  Big. Mistake.

Earlier that day I’d been folding clothes and putting them away – but failed to close a dresser drawer. You guessed it.  I ran into it in the dark…twice….!  Yeah…it’s complicated.   (But I didn’t wake up hubby, but I scared the dog.)

Anyway I wound up with a technicolor shin bone and two big scrapes.  Fast forward a couple days to Sunday.  Grandkids were here.  My oldest grandson (22 mo) had a sore finger which he showed me. I promptly kissed it for him.   Then I showed him my shin bone.  He looked at me with his big blue eyes then leaned over and kissed my sore leg.

It touched my heart so deeply.   He recognized a hurt and quickly did what he thought would help.    

There’s a friend of mine with a little boy having brain surgery-again- in either October or November.  I believe this is the 4th  surgery for a severe epilepsy.    Their  expenses to stay near the hospital, commuting and meals are enormous.   There is a fundraising site set up for them.  If you could help by donating or spreading the word it would greatly bless them and help alleviate one part of their worries.  The links to the site are below Renn’s pic:

Donations:  Renn’s Medical Bills and Family Lodging

Renn’s Story:  www.thebrainofajedi.blogspot.com

Your caring and compassion will be a blessing.

Thank you, Laura (grandmamiller)

Toddler Dance

Toddler Dance

Hi everyone!   I’ve been uber busy with a couple of projects (i.e.  deadlines).  July turned out to have some unexpected detour activities – that’s life!  We made a trip to Arkansas to lay a dear friend to rest.  The trip took 4 days – but we also got to visit for an hour with my niece in Dexter, Mo and then my Aunt and cousin in Chicago.   There is nothing so bad that some small good can’t come from it as Ma Ingalls used to say.

Anyway – one of the projects has been to finish sketches I did during SkADaMo (November) and  Doodle Day May.  Thought it might be fun to show you my progress and experimenting.

The sketch above  is  based on this sketch from November.  SkADaMo 011

The original idea was from my daughter’s dance recital when she was 2.  That costume was so stiff and prickly she did not want to put her arms down.  Every time she wore it she kept her arms out straight.

Added the color in photoshop elements.  Tried a few new features to get the netting on the tutu and used a gradient for the background.  I even learned how to do a cutout with the lasso.  (only took 3 tries).

Just looking for a story now for this to go with.

Blessings on your creativity!

Laura (grandmamiller)

I’m so thrilled to host today’s Doodle Day prompt, but I am terrified of drawing it.   It makes me hide in fear.   Are you sure YOU want to draw this doodle??  You do?  All right – I guess it’s time I conquer my fears….  (After all, my almost 2 yr old grandsons are not afraid of these. )

…the Doodle Day prompt today is…….  [gulp]….


…as in VEHICLES of Transportation….Family movers….from vacation carriages…to moon rovers…fun and silly, sleek and fast,  ….. Duckmobiles….Charactermobiles….Inovativemobiles….

So why am I afraid of and so bad at drawing Cars?    I think I try to be too literal with them.  We have preconceived ideas of what cars should look like and we stifle our creative side.  Alison Hertz (our Doodle Day Founder) and I were discussing it.   Here’s a bit of our conversation:

Alison: (who you may recall was a toy designer):   “I agree, cars are scary and I created the Chunky trucks toy line years ago – I also created the star wars pod racers.  Still scary.  When I was a middle school art teacher, I heard [‘I can’t draw’] from adults all the time – my response was “Who told you that?” The general public thinks that an ability to draw means creating a masterpiece fit for a museum – silly. They put too much pressure on themselves. Look at a 4 year old – they just draw – no pressure, just do it and enjoy it. Grown ups lose that along the way for fear of judgment. Society is too judgy – people should stop worrying.”

Me: I love that.  When I was younger (just a few years ago by the way),  I never thought I could draw or that I was ‘worthy’ of saying I could – because of what you just said….because I judged MY work by the quality or style of someone else’s work. We can certainly admire someone else’s work but we don’t have to be them – because then we would only ever be a second best. But we can be the best US! Doodle Day has been liberating for me…thanks to you, Alison!

So when you start to doodle your car, try not to use a picture or preconceived image in your head…don’t overthink –  let your imagination take you on a doodling car trip…..  You could even try a scribble or zentangle and put wheels on it.  Pick a critter to mobilize with wheels….or jet packs….or….?   Try a series of circles or shapes…add a horn and wheels…Voila!

Questions to get the creative juices bubbling…

  • Where will this vehicle be taking you (or your character)?
  • What ‘era’ is it?   (stone age, pre-auto, space age, futuristic)
  • How many and what kind of people/creatures does it hold?
  • Does your car have a unique feature  (a pool, library, barbecue…)?
  • Are you exploring, or on a leisurely drive or racing off to somewhere?
  • Does your car have its own personality or quirks?

Have fun!!!  And here are a few famous ‘personality’ cars to inspire you.

Oh – and if you have a blog or website – share the info in the comments so we can all check out each other’s sites along with our Doodle Day Group page.

Stay relaxed-remember no stress… and doodle away!!!

Thanks, Alison, for this opportunity – I had a great time.

Blessings on your creativity!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

P.S.  I now have to play doodle delay catchup..I was gone all week…

The Flintstones by Hanna Barbera

The Flintstones by Hanna Barbera

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Beverly Hillbillies Jalopy

Beverly Hillbillies Jalopy

Mrs. Armitage by Quentin Blake

Mrs. Armitage by Quentin Blake

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine

Love Bug

Love Bug

Speed Racer

Speed Racer

Formula ONe

Tiny car

The Jetsons by Hanna Barbera

The Jetsons by Hanna Barbera

If I Built A Car by www.chrisvandusen.com

If I Built A Car by

(super book by the way)

Fishcar by Sylviagarza.wordpress.com

Fishcar by Sylviagarza.wordpress.com

47 passenger elephant car

47 passenger elephant car



Cat In the Hat's Car

Cat In the Hat’s Car



The Batmobile

The Batmobile


Oscar Meyer Weinermobile

Oscar Meyer Weinermobile




And my grandsons’ favorites….


For all the Doodle Day prompts go to http://alisonhertz.blogspot.com/ and check out the Blog archives.

Here’s a short little mystery story about helping.  I wrote it for 2 reasons.

1) for my 4th of July lesson for my Jr. Church class (it’s based on actual events that took place at our Memorial Day carnival…with a little artistic license!)

2) My friend Susanna Hill is hosting a writing  contest.

I added a few quick sketches to go along (they are not  part of the contest).    The story could only be 400 words, had to be a mystery of sorts, and had to be about the 4th of July.  To read all the other stories by my very talented writer friends, and for rules and prizes click here.

The Missing Prize Bag

Everyone was busy at the church getting ready for the 4th of July parade and carnival.   The men were setting up the bounce house while the ladies set up the welcome table.  The Sunday School classes were tying streamers to theballoons back of the parade float.  Teens were blowing up balloons and the senior ladies were putting up military posters of men in uniform around their booth.

 “Mama, what can I do to help?” asked little Jilly.  She wanted to help with something important, but everyone kept telling her she was too little.

“Just sit right there and be good while I set up the bake table,” said Mama.

Jilly frowned.  That’s not really helping she thought, but she obeyed.  Then suddenly they heard a shriek and a loud “OH, NO!”

It was Mrs.DeMoss one of the senior ladies.  She was nearly crying, “The bag of prizes is gone! I’ve searched everywhere.   The whole bag of red, white, and blue necklaces and pins is missing.  They are thank you gifts for people who donate for the military Care Packages.  It’s the special part of our 4th of Mrs DeMossJuly carnival!”

People were gathering around asking questions, ‘”Where did you last have the bag?  What color is the bag?   Pastor came over and said in his big voice, “Let’s stay calm. Mrs. D last had the  bag when she was helping paint carnival signs in the gym. God will help us.  Let’s spread out and look.”

Jilly asked her mom, “Can I help?  I’m a good looker even if I’m little.”  Her mother smiled, “Yes, you can help.”

It was getting close to parade time and the prizes had not been found.  Jilly asked, “Mama, why doesn’t God just make the bag appear?”

“Sometimes God needs us to help,” Mama said as they went in the supply room. Mama looked around, and sighed, “Not in here, I guess.”


But Jilly noticed a tiny piece of blue plastic sticking out from a bottom shelf between bottles of red and blue paint.  “Mama, look!” she said as she

They moved bottles of paint and brushes aside.  There, stuck to the shelf  was the bag of prizes!   They grabbed it and went running to Mrs. DeMoss.   She hugged Jilly and said, “The littlest one found the prize bag!”

Jilly smiled and said, “No God did, I just helped!”

jilly found

#  #  #  the end

My class which ranges in age from 4 yr to 6th grade did not know much about our forefathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence.  So I gave them a little history and explained that one person could not have accomplished what they did together.

Together they shared the burden.   Galatians 6:2 says “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”  We all become stronger working together.

Grandma's Feathered Bed by Laura Anne Miller after John Denver's Song

Grandma’s Feathered Bed by Laura Anne Miller
after John Denver’s Song

I was going through my art cabinet, purging and sorting when I happened on this old colored pencil drawing I did a few years ago (prob. 2009).  John Denver was a favorite singer of mine (yes, I know, I’m telling my age) and one of my favorite songs he did  was “Grandma’s Feather Bed.”

The song makes me smile every time.    I think because it reminds me of when family would get together at my maternal grandmother’s farm in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.   They had mostly cows, pigs, chickens, and once in a while a horse, a couple of farm dogs and lots of cats.  (We never “stole a piggy from the shed” tho’….ewww)

There were my three girl cousins  up from Chicago,  some of my other ‘local cousins’ and some younger cousins I don’t even remember their names.  At night all of us kids would pile into a huge bed with a high head board. The little ones had to be boosted into it. It had the creaky kind of bed springs (really fun to jump on).   We would giggle and squeal, argue about blankets, have pillow fights and tell ghost stories.

Sometimes the neighbors would come over for singing.  Grandpa got out his harmonica and spoons.   The neighbor lady had an accordion.  My dad had a guitar.  We kids got to sing and learn a little square dancing. Once my grandma even grabbed an empty pop bottle and started blowing into it.  The treat was when my grandpa started doing a little Irish jig.   Usually we were sent to bed before the party was over.  HOWEVER,  that didn’t stop us from watching.

Grandma’s house didn’t have a forced air furnace.  It was heated by an old coal furnace.  There were huge grates in the upstairs floor to let the warm air rise.  We would crowd around the grates, laying (lying?) on our stomachs and peering through to the going on’s below.  We’d start arguing about who was hogging the space and yelling ‘move over’   when one of our parents would yell, “Are you kids out of bed?”   Of course we’d all scramble back in bed (creak-creak-creak) and yell “Noooo!”

“It’d hold 8 kids, and 4 hound dogs, and a piggy we stole from the shed…

We didn’t get a lot of sleep, but we had a lot of fun in Grandma’s feather bed.”

It’s been several years since I did the picture and I’ve taken several art courses since, I think I may try reworking this in both watercolor and digital.

And by the way I HIGHLY recommend these  courses: Mark Mitchel’s   “How To Be a Children’s Book Illustrator” and Will Terry’s online Folio Academy courses on “Digital Painting.”   Folio Academy has many more courses available – I’ve just taken the digital.

Thanks for sharing some memories with me today. (oh-by the way, make sure you find all 4 hound dogs, the piggy and 8 kids [see if you recognize me])

Blessings on your creativity!

Laura (grandmamiller)