Archive for the ‘Children’s Book Writers’ Category

Hi!  I’m Laura Miller (AKA Grandma Miller)

I am so blessed that you stopped by today.

I’m a children’s author and illustrator, and I would love to keep in touch.

In my writing/illustrating groups we are advised to do some self-promotion.   I thought I would also offer you some coloring pages for your children, grandchildren, summer camp, Vacation Bible School….or just for relaxation for yourself.   So if you’d like to subscribe to my blog, you’ll have opportunity to download some coloring pages.

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And a Free Mini Coloring Book 

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If you enjoy the coloring pages it would bless me if  you took a moment to share this post with your friends on social media.

Blessings on your day and your creativity,

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Doing some catch up here – we’ve been so busy getting ready for our church’s carnival and participation in the Memorial Day Parade.  The parade was an honor to be involved in and the carnival was a wonderful event.  We had about 300 people attend and between 30 and 40 people from our church helping.  Seniors, adults, teens, tweens and even kids – giving a hand to set up, clean up, serve and be a part.

I’ve didn’t post my doodles from Alison Hertz’  Doodle Day May so on with the exhibit….

#25 was square.  Right away my grandma popped into my head.  She made quilts for all her grandkids, square by square.  She taught me how and I made a quilt for my daughter that took about 8 years!

Grandma's Quilt

Grandma’s Quilt

#24 was flame.  This was done in photoshop in about 40 minutes.  I couldn’t get the feel of the fire right away.  But now I’ve learned a new technique.  I’ve been working on some biblical art, so this was what popped in my head to try.

Pillar of Fire


#23 was veggies – which I couldn’t get into until I put my tongue in cheek


Well, thanks so much for stopping by.   Blessings on your creativity.

Laura (Grandmamiller)


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This was probably the most doodle fun so far – because I imagined the future…..

Window of the future

Window of the future

I looked at myself through the window sometime in the future.   Realistically,  my hair might be gray by this time….but no one will ever know thanks to my Aunt L’Oreal.

And I wish this moment for all of you too!

(Oh- just a side note:  I left yesterday’s doodle of my grandson’s hands taped to the wall.  It fell down – and all that now remains is part of the right arm and wrist….the bunny ate it (Click there and you’ll see why I should know better–scroll all the way to the bottom).  Glad I took a picture.)

This is all part of  Alison Hertz‘ (author of FLAP!) challenge to Doodle every Day in May.  Alison has created a FACEBOOK GROUP called DOODLE DAY MAY so join the challenge and the group.  It’s for ALL ages and ALL abilities.  You can even still join in the fun.

And….Don’t forget to stop by Susanna Hill’s blog to vote on your favorite jingle promoting her e-book.  Lots of prizes for the winners.  You can check it out here.  Voting  ends Thursday, May 16th at noon EST.

Thanks for stopping by and blessings on your creativity!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Itty-bitty Bounce

Itty-bitty Bounce

Regular PPBF readers will note a short addition to today’s post.  I’m also participating with  Alison Hertz‘ (author of FLAP!) challenge to Doodle every Day in May.  Alison has created a FACEBOOK GROUP called DOODLE DAY MAY so join the challenge and the group.  It’s for ALL ages and ALL abilities.You can even still join in the fun.

Here is today’s doodle from me (you can scroll backwards to see my other doodles.)

Now on to a delightful pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Title: Big Chickens Fly the Coop  Big Chickens Fly the Coop

Author:   Leslie Helakoski

Illustrator:   Henry Cole

Publisher: Penguin Books 2008

Genre: Hilarious Fiction

Audience Age: 2-8

Themes/Topics: Bravery, Chickens

Opening Sentences: Four big chickens sat on their nests and sighed.  It’s nice and safe at home in the coop said one chicken.  Yes, said the others.  We should always stay home.  We could always stay home.  We would always stay home except…we’ve always wanted to see the farmhouse.

Synopsis: This is a sequel to the cowardly Big Chickens.   Once again the fearsome feathered friends step out of their comfort zone to explore the farmyard.

Why I like it:  I have to admit that this was not a favorite when I read thru the first time by myself…but when I read it to my grandchildren  I couldn’t control my giggles and chortles and guffaws!  Right away they got the silliness of the caper and were delighted by the goofy getups the chickens wore (skirts, aprons, and even boots).   It has become a repeat request from my 3 yr old granddaughter.  She asks for ‘the big scared chickens.’   You can almost hear the squawking and flapping just by looking at the lively, bright and humorous illustrations.  The expressions are comical in their wide eyed, wide mouthed panic as they explore the farm and encounter dogs, dirty tractors, and stampeding horses.   And don’t miss what these laughable ladies use for nesting boxes.  It is a fun barnyard adventure.

Activities/Resources:  The author, Leslie Helakoski, has lots of suggested activities on her website, from songs, fingerplays, popup cards and even lesson plans for older students on modifiers and figurative language.

Availability: Major booksellers  

(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 don’t forget to take time to doodle!!

Blessings, Laura (Grandmamiller)

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My friend, Alison Hertz (author of FLAP!) doodles every day for inspiration and for fun.  She has created a new doodle challenge along with her daughter.  Alison says, “This morning, my 5 year old – who LOVES to draw in her sketchbook and paints every day – told me that she would like to do a “Doodle a Day”, too, so together we came up with a NEW CHALLENGE for artists, writers, parents, teachers, children, friends, friends of friends and anybody else who is ready to let their creativity shine.”


Let the REAL you out of the bag!!

Now notice there is NOT a requirement for age, ability, or professional experience.  Just doodle away and share.  When we draw we engage BOTH sides of our brain. Children become QUIET when they doodle.  And adults RELAX.  So pick up a pen or pencil or crayon or marker.  If you don’t draw people, draw trees, or make name doodles.  For instance, if you have a new character you’re trying to imagine – doodle their name, fill in the letters with what you think their character might like…polka dots, stripes, checker board, or stars….(here’s my personal name doodle).

Name Doodles 004



Alison gives us the guidelines:  “DOODLE DAY MAY:  From May 1 to May 31, create 1 or more Doodles everyday. These can take up to 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even an hour from start to finish but if you are spending more than an hour on a doodle, you are trying too hard. Don’t overthink it. . . For those of you who tell everyone that you are “not an artist” or “can’t draw”, I say BUNK! It is a doodle! It can be a squiggle, a tree, a flower, a rainbow, a person, a pet, a pancake or anything else you can think of. No one is grading you. No one is judging you.”

Alison has created a FACEBOOK GROUP called DOODLE DAY MAY so join the challenge and the group.
Thanks, Alison, for inviting us to be a part of the fun.
Blessings on your day and your creativity!!
Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Over my lifetime I’ve had 8 dogs.   Big dogs (and one little beagle).  3 German shepherds, an Irish setter, and 3 Labradors.    These dogs have been friends when I was in trouble (not last week – when I was a kid), companions on lonely nights, playmates, escorts, consolers to my sadness and celebrants in happiness.  4 of those dogs were rescues…truthfully, they rescued me.   So in their memory and celebration this post is dedicated to them….because, I LOVE DOGS.

Title:  Dogs


Author & Illustrator:   Emily Gravett

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2-6

Themes/Topics: Dogs

Opening Sentences:  I love dogs.  I love big dogs and small dogs.  I love tough dogs and soft dogs.  Dogs that bark and dogs that don’t.

Synopsis:  (From Amazon) Gorgeous canines of every shape, size and color are bounding through this irresistible book. Can you choose one dog to love best of all? With playful pencil and watercolor illustrations to delight children and adults alike, everyone will long to bark along with the Chihuahua and tickle the Dalmatian’s tummy. This is a wonderfully satisfying book with a twist in the tail.

Why I like it:  This is a delightful romp through dogdom.  From shabby to bald, stripy to spotty, huge to hairy. The fun surprise is who is actually telling the story – which I’m not going to spoil….but it makes it that much more amusing.   The illustrations are funny and as my 4 year old grand said, “Crazy” referring to the dog that was barking a lot.  My favorite illustration is the Great Dane with the teacup chihuahua.   This is also a good book for reluctant and/or early readers.  The words are few and the pictures descriptive so they pick up on them quickly.    My dog, by the way, gave it 4 paws up.  My beagle grand dog only gave it 1 paw up because of the ending, he felt snubbed…..nope-still not going to tell you.

Activities/Resources:    Some dog songs, puppet crafts, dog math and coloring pages here.    And here is a printable matching game from Emily Gravett herself.

Availability:  Major book sellers

(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)

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Spring is certainly somewhere out there, I’m seeing bunnies and lambs and yellow chicks in stores everywhere….especially the soft, squishy, yummy packages of Peeps…..Ahhh…..     Er, uh, anyway,  I chose a fun picture book about sheep and one little lamb in particular who does not follow the flock.

Title:   WoolburWoolbur

Author:   Leslie Helakoski

Illustrator:   Lee Harper

Publisher: Harper Collins 2008

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 3-8

Themes/Topics: Independence, Sheep, Creativity

Opening Sentences: “Woolbur had a little trouble with the herd today,” said Maa.  ‘What happened?” asked Paa.  “I don’t want to stand still with the sheep,” said Woolbur, “I ran with the dogs instead.”

Synopsis: Woolbur is a young lamb who is not just one of the flock.  He is his own shepherd, finding unconventional ways to do traditional things in a fun way. This worries his parents, Maa and Paa.     It’s all a happy ending when Woolbur’s creativity catches on.

Why I like it:  The story is fun and the artwork is delightful and captures the free thinking  spirit of Woolbur.  While I feel it is important to teach traditions and conventional ways, it is just as important to encourage ingenuity and creativity.   Woolbur, in his enthusiasm, does just that.  Rather than stand still with the flock, he wants to run with the sheep dogs.  Or instead of being sheared, he wants to keep his warm, fuzzy wool.  “But your wool is so long!”  said Maa.  “I know, ” said Woolbur, “isn’t it great?”  And in my favorite picture – instead of carding the wool separately he cards  himself into an enormous fluff ball.  He also dyes himself blue to his mother’s horror.  An then there’s the illustration of him after he weaves his own wool while it’s still on him (think Marie Antoinette hairstyle).  Every time he tries something new his parents response is, “but [spinning] is not supposed to be fun!”  To which Woolbur responds, “I know!  Isn’t it great?”   Although Maa and Paa worry about Woolbur’s nonconformity and pull their wool each night, Grandpaa (who looks to be old and wise while he does yoga) assures them they should not worry.

Maa and Paa finally tell Woolbur he MUST do what the flock does, whether it’s spinning, or dyeing, or carding or, shearing.  This keeps Woolbur awake all night until he comes up with another creative solution.

Activities/Resources:  Lee Harper, the artist for this book has some delightful coloring pages from Woolbur and even Woolbur masks.

Art is always a wonderful way to try new things.  Doodling can always generate new ideas.  Try this lesson plan

Also retelling a familiar fairy tale promotes creative thinking.  For instance in  “The 3 Little Pigs” what if the wolf was a nice guy?   Or what if the pigs got jobs to build new houses?  Ask your child ways one of the character(s) could  change something with a different reaction.  In Cinderella, what if the step-sisters were nice.  Would they get to move into the castle?  What if Curious George wasn’t so curious?  What is another way he might have met the man in the yellow hat?

Availability: Major bookstores.  (If you go to Amazon, you can see some of the book pages and art work.)

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

Think Spring and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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While my hubby was out of town for 10 days – in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip – I spent a couple hours at the library, children’s section of course, and checked out a stack of PBs to read and review.  (Don’t tell him, but I didn’t miss him  the whole time I was at the library….I guess I should have spent more time there – because I did miss him a whole bunch otherwise.)

So off the top of the stack – this was my first favorite…you’ll see the others in coming weeks…

Title: The Wonderful BookThe Wonderful Book

Author/Illustrator:              Leonid Gore

Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2010

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2 – 8

Themes/Topics:  Books, Reading, Imagination

Opening Sentences: “One sunny day, a rabbit saw something wonderful while hopping about in the forest.  ‘What is this?’ he asked.  ‘It will make a cozy little house for me!'”

Synopsis: A variety of forest animals discover a ‘thing’ in their midst.  Is it a bed, a house,  a table, maybe a hat?  No one is quite sure until a little boy comes along and reads from the ‘thing.’

Why I like it:  Of course, the picture on the cover caught my eye.  Who could resist a silly bear with a book on his head?  And out of the whole stack of books I brought home – this was the one my 4 yr old grandchild wanted first, because of the cover.  The story is delightfully simple, but imagination is the key.  Having never encountered a book before the forest animals have to imagine what it can be used for.  There is a rabbit, a bear, a fox, mice, and a worm that all discover different, humorous purposes for the book. When the little boy comes along all the animals cuddle up for a sweet read.  My grandgirls laughed and thought the animals were pretty silly.  After the story, they  tried a couple books out as a hat, like the bear.   This may be a story for a younger audience,  but the ending will encourage them to think about how they might tell their own story.  Leonid Gore’s illustrations are wonderful.  They are watercolor on heavily textured paper and almost have the feel of a collage.  (there is also a sweet little kitten on the book jacket you won’t want to miss).

Activities/Resources:  Click here to learn how to use this book  to discuss proper book care and use and for some fun activities too,   Also have fun making and  writing your own story about the forest friends by clicking here.

Availability: All  Major Book sellers,  Barnes & Noble, Amazon

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.  Also remember, Susanna is offering an online writing course-  Click here for more info.)

Blessings on your day and enjoy the book!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Grumpy Kitty

Grumpy Kitty

Exciting News!! After about a year of dedicated effort, classes like How To Be a Children’s Illustrator by Mark Mitchell, mistakes, redos and learning from so many other fellow artists….someone bought some of my  illustrations!!!  And even more exciting….she’s a published author….like…she  knows real people who can do real illustrations…but she picked one of mine!

Okay – time to act more professionally….I’m sorry I can’t.  There’s still some giddiness left inside….

All right….I’ll try again.  Susanna Leonard Hill is a wife and mom, former

Susanna Hill, Children's Author

Susanna Hill,
Children’s Author

special education teacher and a multi-published children’s author.  She has written Punxsutawney Phyllis, April Fool Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, Taxi, and Not Yet, Rose (which was just printed in German) to name a few of them.   Her popular blog is a delightful, funny read in which she shares her passion for chocolate as well as what she does so well:   encouraging and inspiring fellow writers.  She is also the creator of  Perfect Picture Book Fridays in which I’d started participating to try and be a better blogger.

Around the first part of November  I received an email from Susanna .  The memo line said, “teensy question.” Oh-oh, I thought I’d done something wrong in one of my PPBF posts.  Turns out she had a teensy question that gave me such a motivational boost and validation….  She had seen an illustration on my blog of “Grumpy Kitty” and wanted to know if she could purchase it for a project of hers!!!!

Adventure Girl

Adventure Girl

——–YAhhhhhhhh-ooooooo————-(sorry)   someone actually wanted an illustration!  Who would have thought???  I know, I know,  that’s what I was working for….but…Ahhhhhhh!   Okay – I think it’s all out of me now.    But you see, I couldn’t say anything at the time, because the project was still in the planning stage and still a secret, not yet ready to reveal.   (Well—I did share with my family…sorry, Susanna.)  At last, I can share with everyone – but more importantly tell you about a GREAT, NEW WRITING COURSE by Susanna Hill.

Anyway – longer story short…..Susanna  was going to launch a fabulous online Picture Book writing  course (who better to teach than such an accomplished author?).  She was seeking about 10 artists to illustrate the course curriculum.  I was included in the pool of talent.  Then just recently, she came back to us and asked for more illustrations!!!! (She likes me, she really likes me, er…uh…I mean us!)

Pink Polka Dot Rainboots

Pink Polka Dot Rainboots

Anyway, Susanna said some wonderfully encouraging things and asked for  a couple more of my illustrations, some of which I’m showing here.

Susanna’s online course, “Making Picture Book Magic”  is a 4 week course that will teach you how to write a picture book.  There are 20 lessons, each  designed to be completed in 15-30 minutes (how nice of her to fit it around our busy schedules – that is so Susanna).    Also there are 9 supplements to the lessons, membership in a private Facebook group, and opportunity for personal interaction and discussion with Susanna and other members of your class.  And at the end of the course Susanna will read your finished story and make some comments.   All of this is at a very affordable cost.  CLICK HERE to go to the direct link. Her first two month’s classes have already been filled.  (Smart people  register quickly!)

Also I must mention the 9 other uber talented illustrators who have contributed to Susanna’s course.  They are:  Dana Atnip, Dana Carey, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Hazel Mitchell, Heather Newman, Julie Rowan-Zoch, Loni Edwards, Martha South, and Tracy Campbell.  Please visit these ladies and you will be treated to beautiful art and inspiration.

I’ve shared  all this to say …..if you have a dream, a goal, then pursue it!!!

Follow Your Dream

Follow Your Dream

Do the work that is needed in any “teensy” amount of time you can squeeze it into.  Seek  professional advice from classes and networking, have an online presence….and work at your passion!   Along the way you’ll meet wonderful people like Susanna  and Mark  who share their talents and abilities and encouragement.  I waited til I was a grandma to pursue my real dream….now I’m determined to go all the way….

Imagine this commercial with me:    ” Laura Miller,  you just sold your first illustration…..what are you going to do next?   I’m going to ……….MY DRAWING BOARD and CREATE SOME MORE!!!!!

Blessings on your creativity!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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

 I must preface this review with a WARNing….while in the middle of reading the book you are going to want to get a sketchbook and colored pencils and create (whether you’re an artist or not).    Even the cover will inspire your creative side.

Title:  Dog Loves Drawing (A sequel to Dog Loves Books)

Author & Illustrator:   Louise Yates          Dog Loves Drawing

Publisher:  Alfred Knopf, 2012

Genre: Picture Book Fiction

Audience Age: 3 & up

Themes/Topics: Drawing & Imagination

Opening Sentences: Dog loved books!  He loved books so much that he opened his own bookshop.

Synopsis: Dog receives a blank book as a gift from his aunt. Realizing it is a sketchbook he begins to doodle and draw stick characters that come to life in his sketchbook adventure.

Why I like it:  What’s not to like?  It’s adorably cute with Dog, and his scribbles of stick people, a duck an owl and a crab.  The characters draw their adventure on a train, a boat and an island.  It’s action packed as they all grab  colored pencils and draw and doodle their way through the fun.  After reading this story to my grandgirls I brought out sketchbooks and a huge box of colored pencils.  They shrieked with delight and the 2 1/2 year old said, Now we can draw like dog!  One little caveat…there is a monster drawn at the end (not terribly menacing) who is restrained when Dog draws a barricaded door….but my 4 year old grandgirl got a little worried.  I had to convince her that it was just pretend and explained that it was funny.   I drew a monster in her sketch book and then she scribbled him out–which she then thought was hilarious.  And moms will appreciate that dog also draws a thank-you card to send to his aunt.  The drawings are delightfully simple at the beginning.  They become a little more elaborate as the story progresses.  They are  colorful and more than their eye appeal they make you feel like you can draw an adventure too!

Activities/Resources:  Instructions to make your own sketchbook,    a list of fun ideas to draw here,  and here’s a fun site to boost adult creativity even for non-artists.

Availability: Immediate from all major booksellers.    Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I am now going to get my sketchbook and draw a lovely overstuffed chair with lots of books beside it, a warm afghan,  a cappuccino with extra whip cream, and maybe even a dog in my lap (or a cat…).

Blessings and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandma Miller)

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