Penny’s Two Cents Video Chat Winners!

Recently I posted about my new venture, Penny’s Two Cents. I announced that I’d give away two 30-minute video chats. Anyone who commented on that blog post or shared on social media was entered in the giveaway. If you did both, you were entered two times. I gathered all the entry names, numbered them, and then used a random number generator to choose the winners! And the winners are . . . . . . 

Linda Hofke!!


Colleen Murphy!!

Please contact me HERE and we’ll find a time to chat!
For anyone who missed that post and would like to know more, just click HERE and you can read all about it.

Thanks so much to everyone who commented and/or shared about Penny’s Two Cents!
Happy writing!

Frankenbunny by Jill Esbaum + a GIVEAWAY!!!

Today I’m excited to have Jill Esbaum on my blog. Jill has written a slew of amazing picture books and Frankenbunny is her latest release. It is a delightful book that I have read many, many times since it arrived in the mail.

Jill has agreed to have a conversation about Frankenbunny. But first, the synopsis:

“You know monsters aren’t real, right?”
Brave is easy in the sunshine. Brave is easy near Papa. But can Spencer the Bunny learn to be brave ALL the time—even when his big brothers try their best to scare him?
Spencer the Bunny’s big brothers ALWAYS frighten him with scary monster stories. And the most terrifying beast of all is Frankenbunny, with his crusty fangs, flashing red eyes, and ginormous paws. But when Spencer discovers that his brothers made the whole thing up, he hatches a plan to turn the tables on them and conquer his own fears . . . forever.
Any child who has ever worried about a monster in the closet or felt scared in the dark will love this humorous story about learning to be brave.

And this nice snippet from Kirkus Reviews:

“A good choice for younger sibs terrorized by older ones or for kids who need a reminder that monsters aren’t real.”

Now for the inside scoop from Jill 😀

Penny: I’m impressed at how expertly you captured the universal childhood fear of monsters. Even though as children, we’re told they aren’t real, and logically we don’t “think” they are real…all it takes is a sibling (or a kid in the neighborhood or a kid at school) to raise doubts. I have three sisters and I can tell you that there were plenty monster stories creeping around our house. So I can relate.

Jill: Oh, man. Me, too! My older brother was soooo good at making me rethink truths … like the fact that I KNEW there was nothing in our basement at night that wasn’t also there during the daylight hours. But ask me to go down there alone after dark? No way! Not after the time he sent me down there for something, then flipped off the light, slammed the stairtop door, and called a spooky, “Wooooooo…” to freak me out. Forever after, I was afraid something would grab me down there, even in the daytime. When I HAD to go to the basement, I’d get whatever I needed (quickly) and be halfway back up the steps, congratulating myself for surviving, when it would occur to me that somebody/something could still reach BETWEEN THE STEPS to grab one of my ankles. My feet could not carry me up fast enough! I went around with skinned shins more often than not.

Penny: Frankenbunny is a genius title. When I think of bunnies, I think “cute and cuddly,” which is the exact opposite of monsters.  Because of that, the thought of a monster bunny seems unconventional and funny. It’s a title that drew me in and made me want to read the book and find out more. So how/why did you decide that the big, bad, crusty-fanged, ginormous-pawed, red-eyed monster would be a bunny?

Jill: Thanks, Penny. I’ve wanted to write a “scary” story for a long time. But every time I tried to write one with human kiddos, it got TOO scary. Finally, I decided to try one with the most harmless creatures I could imagine – sweet little bunnies. That’s when the title came to me. A bunny-monster, I hoped, would be terrifying to bunnies, but not so scary to kids.

Penny: One of the hardest things about writing for children is making the story relatable. These lines are some of my favorite lines in the book!

“Brave is easy in the sunshine.”
“Brave is easy around Papa.”
“Brave is hard in the dark!”

They’re perfectly placed in the story and are seriously relatable. Also they bring so much “heart” to the story. I’m curious. Did these lines come to you in early drafts, or did you find your way to them as you revised?

Jill: Thanks, Penny. Those lines didn’t come to me until many, many revisions into the story, when I realized it needed a framework, and yes, more heart. Honestly, I worked on this one for a couple of years before I got to a manuscript that felt right. Older versions were submitted and rejected. Rejection: the great revision motivator.

Penny: Along the same lines … “heart” is the thing that brings readers back to a picture book for multiple readings. It’s the elusive element that every writer strives for. Do you have a way of assessing your manuscripts for the “heart” factor? Or any tips for those writers who struggle with bringing “heart” to their stories?

Jill: Yikes, good question! Heart is a tough story element. It isn’t something you can just stick it in somewhere. It needs to be infused throughout the story. The best way to find a story’s heart is to really put yourself into your main character’s head. You have to feel the emotions s/he’s experiencing. Get your protagonist’s false belief/fear/yearning in line, and heart will arise organically.

Penny: The illustrations in this book by Alice Brereton couldn’t be more perfect. They’re incredible and fit the tone of the text to a tee. Most of the time the editor at the publishing house picks the illustrator. Was that the case with Frankenbunny? Did you see early sketches or did you see the art later in the process? What was your reaction when you saw the art?

Jill: Yes, my editor picked Alice to illustrate this story. When I saw her early sketches I was overjoyed – and, of course, trying to picture them in color. I could do that, sort of, by looking at Alice’s work on her website. She has an uncanny ability to capture whimsy and darkness simultaneously. Exactly what FRANKENBUNNY needed.

Penny: Now that you’ve all heard about Frankenbunny I’ll be you are thinking what I’m thinking . . . Frankenbunny would make a great Christmas gift for a child!! And speaking of books for children, one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been immersed in the world of children’s books is that many people aren’t familiar with newer titles. I have friends that are constantly asking me for picture book suggestions for their children or grandchildren. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be fun for you to spread some cheer by recommending current books by other authors that could be wrapped up and put under the tree … along with Frankenbunny, of course 😀
I know there are a bunch of great ones, so how about giving us five recommendations?

Jill: My current favorite is Creepy Pair of Underwear. For other favorites, just read back through my posts on my group blog, Picture Book Builders. 

Penny: Wow! If you read through Jill’s blog posts over at Picture Book Builders you will find plenty of book recommendations.
Thanks for coming by and telling us more about Frankenbunny, Jill.

Jill: Thanks, Penny. I always love visiting with you!

GIVEAWAY! Lucky readers! You can win a copy of Frankenbunny. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment below by midnight December 21st. (CST)
Those who enter must have a US address.

You can learn more about Jill Esbaum and her wonderful books on her website.

Vote in the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook-Off Plus 5-Book Giveaway!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Exciting things are happening in the magical land of fairy tales!! Read on to find out about the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook-Off! Find out how to cast your vote to help choose a winner. Find out out to get your name in a drawing for a chance to win one of five copies of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale.

Win one of five copies!

Notice you can get your name in the drawing more than once!!!

Since William (of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale) mistakenly turned fairy tale ingredients into delectable dishes and cooked up several new happily-ever-afters, the magical land of fairy tales has gone wild for cooking.

For weeks they binge-watched cooking shows and then decided to have a cooking competition of their own. They threw around some ideas and the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off was born.

They named Goldilocks as judge since she has a very picky palate. The competition became very heated when the Big Bad Wolf gobbled Little Red Riding Hood’s dish right out of her picnic basket before Goldilocks had a chance to sample it.

Also, the witch from Hansel and Gretel built a gingerbread house that might’ve won the competition hands down had she not been trying to lure the competing chefs into her room-sized oven. When Goldilocks told her that she was disqualified, she became boiling mad and stomped off shouting, “I’ve been burned!”

Despite the trouble, Goldilocks was able to narrow it down to the three final chefs. Now it’s up to you to read about their entries and vote for your favorite chef by commenting below.

Not only will a First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off winner be named after the votes are tallied, but your vote will land your name in a drawing for one of five signed copies of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale. Voting will end at midnight CST on November 30th so be sure to comment before then or your coach will turn into a pumpkin and . . . oh wait . . . that’s another story. **But if you don’t vote by then you won’t be a part of choosing the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off winner. You know you want to be a part of this happily-ever-after!

Want your name in the pot two times? Then visit my page in the SCBWI BookStop and sign my guest book! Just click HERE to go my page. My guest book is right under my photo. While you’re there browse around. There are so many great books to view!

Want your name in the pot a third time? Share this on Twitter with one of the two prepared tweets below. I’ll be tracking hashtags. Just copy and post to Twitter! Easy Peasy!

Fairy Tale Cook-Off! Fairy Godmother vs Giant vs Little Pig! Plus 5-Book #GIVEAWAY! #SCBWIBookStop #fairytalecookoff

Vote: Fairy Tale Cook-Off! Little Pig? Fairy Godmother? Giant? And 5-Book #GIVEAWAY #fairytalecookoff #SCBWIBookStop

Now for the finalists of the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off!

Little Pig

Little Pig’s entry was inspired by his house which was blown away! 

Straw House Treats


  • 18 oz white chocolate
  • 3 cups pretzel sticks, broken into pieces (as if the Big Bad Wolf has blown down the stick house)
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  • 1½ cup Craisins


  1. Place white chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and repeat until melted and smooth. (You can also melt chocolate in a double boiler.)
  2. Stir pretzel sticks, peanuts, and Craisins into chocolate.
  3. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper.
  4. Cool and enjoy!

Fairy Godmother

Fairy Godmother has outdone herself and she didn’t even use a wand! 

Pumpkin Patch Pudding


  • 1 box Instant Chocolate Pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 packages Oreos
  • 1 package Green Sour Straws Candy
  • 1 package Pumpkin Candies


  1. Make the pudding by following directions on the box (whisk together pudding mix and 3 cups cold milk).
  2. Use a food processor to crush the Oreos until smooth.
  3. Layer the Oreos and chocolate pudding in a clear cup. Oreos, pudding, Oreos, pudding, and top with Oreos.
  4. Top with a Green Sour Straw candy cut in half (the pumpkin vine) and three pumpkin candies.
  5. Serve with a spoon!


Giant came through in a BIG way with his entry! 

Giantly Delicious Cloud Cake


  • 9 oz. angel food cake (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 ½ cups of Cook Whip
  • 6 snack size Kit Kat bars, chopped
  • Cocoa powder, optional
  • Chocolate syrup


  1. Cut angel food cake in half horizontally
  2. Stir chopped Kit Kat pieces into Cook Whip
  3. Spread Cool Whip, Kit Kat mixture on bottom half of cake
  4. Lay top half of cake on top of mixture
  5. Dust with cocoa powder if desired
  6. Slice and serve with chocolate syrup drizzle

Now it’s your turn to vote and help pick the winner of the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off! Leave your comment below with your choice—

  • Little Pig
  • Fairy Godmother
  • Giant

*****Remember Three Ways to Get Your Name in the Drawing For One of Five Copies of
A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale.

  1. Leave your choice of winner below.
  2. Leave a comment in my SCBWI BookStop guest book found right below my photo. Find that by clicking HERE.
  3. Tweet one of the prepared tweets below! Easy peasy!

Fairy Tale Cook-Off! Fairy Godmother vs Giant vs Little Pig! Plus 5-Book #GIVEAWAY! #SCBWIBookStop #fairytalecookoff

Vote: Fairy Tale Cook-Off! Little Pig? Fairy Godmother? Giant? And 5-Book #GIVEAWAY #fairytalecookoff #SCBWIBookStop

I hope you’ll spread the news of the First-Ever Fairy Tale Cook Off far and wide! I think it should go viral, don’t you?

Thanks so much for coming by!!!



Winner of Marsha Diane Arnold’s Baby Animals Take a Bath!!!

Marsha Diane Arnold joined me on my blog on September 1st to collaborate with her four-year-old granddaughter Gráinne. It was a delightful collaboration featuring poetry and art! If you missed their collaboration, you can see it HERE.

Not only did readers get to enjoy the collaboration but they also had a chance to win a signed copy of Marsha’s newest board book, Baby Animals Take a Bath. All they had to do was leave a comment on the blog post by midnight September 8th to be in the drawing.

And we have a WINNER!

The signed copy of 

Baby Animals Take a Bath 

goes to


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes!!!


Congratulations, Michelle!

Thanks, Marsha!
















Susanna Leonard Hill!!!!

I do believe we actually have two winners because these two are always together!



Genevieve Petrillo and Cupcake! A-rooooo!

If you missed the post about about THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT, you can go right HERE and read my interview with Susanna. If you weren’t a winner just click on the book cover and you can buy your own copy 😀

GIVEAWAY!!! Two Copies of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale! Plus Book Signing and Pre-Order Information

Yes! A Goodreads giveaway. Easy to enter! I’ll send a signed copy to each of the two winners. US residents only. Simply click on the cover of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale and you will be taken straight to the giveaway. Good luck!

I hope you’re able to join me at my signing to celebrate the release of my new book, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale (on-sale date 9-5-17). See synopsis and reviews below.

Book Signing with Penny Parker Klostermann
Tuesday September 5th • 4:00-6:00 pm
Texas Star Trading Co.•174 Cypress St.•Abilene, TX
**See convenient Pre-Order Details below

If you’d like a copy of my book please take advantage of the pre-order price of only $15.00 (Regular retail price is $17.99) by giving Texas Star Trading Co. a call at 325-672-9696. They’ll reserve a copy for you and it will be waiting for you when you arrive. You can even have it signed ahead of time if you choose. Just give them the personalization details when you call to pre-order. Copies will be available at the book signing for the special, pre-order price of $15.00

Even if you can’t make it to the signing you can take advantage of the pre-order price through Sept. 5, 2017. Go straight to their website by clicking HERE, add your personalization details per website instructions, and have your signed book shipped to you.

If you are going to pick your pre-ordered copy up from Texas Star Trading Co. instead of having it shipped, then you should call to pre-order and let them know your personalization details at that time.

Synopsis: From the creators of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight comes a fun fractured fairy tale about an aspiring chef who mistakenly turns story ingredients into delectable dishes. . . . Uh-oh!

In the magical land of fairy tales, William doesn’t quite fit in. He’d rather poach pears than pursue princesses, and he values gnocchi over knighthood. . . .

When he stumbles on a delivery of food destined for Fairy-Tale Headquarters (a pumpkin, apples, and a few measly beans), he decides to spice things up and whips the paltry ingredients into delectable dishes. But as you might have guessed, Snow White’s wicked stepmother doesn’t exactly want her magic apple baked and drizzled with caramel.

The team that brought you There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight delivers a hilariously fractured, whipped, and souffléed fairy tale that is chock-full of delicious details and jokes to satisfy every appetite!

Praise for A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale:

KirkusKlostermann’s triple-twisted tale is a cute concoction that children familiar with the traditional stories will enjoy.

School Library Journal~ a fine recipe for a fractured fairy tale—blend familiar storybook characters with lots of dialogue, add a pinch of disharmony, and stir in a happy-ever-after ending.

Road Trip! Trucks on Tour With Susanna Leonard Hill + a Giveaway!

Road Trip! Yep! That’s right . . . a road trip with Susanna Leonard Hill and her new book, The Road That Trucks Built! On this road trip we will explore interesting tidbits about the construction of her book!

Pick your favorite from below!
Start your engine. Let’s go.

Speaking of Road Trip, Susanna’s book has been on a road trip of sorts. It’s been on a blog tour. Later in the post there’s a list of all the places it’s been. And guess what . . . A special prize will be raffled off among anyone who comments on every single blog tour stop, so don’t miss a single fascinating installment! I’ve left handy links below.

Now let’s start that road trip and hear from Susanna.

Me: Susanna, I just finished reading and rereading and rereading, etc. THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT. I’m completely in love with this book. The cumulative structure is just right for your story. The trucks are perfect — mighty, but adorable and friendly.

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich Used by permission of Little Simon

Susanna: I know! Aren’t they cute? Er, I mean tough!

Me: And the cover is a toy! Genius! (A cardboard wheel is part of the cover and readers can turn it to make the trucks move in a circle!)

Susanna: I wish I could claim it was my genius… but it wasn’t really. It was the editor’s (although I may have nudged his genius with my genius because my original conception for the manuscript was a pop-up book or a book that had moving parts… 🙂 )Me: I predict this book will be movin’ on down the road into the homes of many young truck-loving readers!

Susanna: I sure hope so! It seems like it would make an excellent car seat companion 🙂

Me: One very special thing about picture books is the marriage of text and art. As I mentioned above, the trucks are perfect. Erica Sirotich did an amazing job of making your wonderful text come to life. It was delightful to spend time with each spread and take it all in. In doing this I quickly noticed that the art not only includes hard working trucks, but also includes hard working, hardhat wearing birds! They’re just as adorable as the trucks and I love the fact that little birds are helping big trucks build the road. They’re certainly not birdbrains and add much fun to the visual story.

I thought it would be interesting to compare some of the work these hardhat wearing birds are doing to the work that has to be done to bring a book to life.

We could call it . . . Book Construction: Not for Birdbrains!

Let’s start with the yellow bird that is carrying a rock. This reminded me of digging for an idea. On the same spread there is an orange bird surveying the road. We must have ideas for stories … but beyond that we must survey (carefully consider) the idea in terms of story. When did you realize your idea had enough “story” for a book?

Susanna: Hmm… let me just adjust my thinking cap hard hat… I think I knew it from the beginning. The idea was the story of trucks working together to build a road. It was more a question of execution – how to tell the story. I wanted to keep it fairly simple for young readers, but not “dumbed down” (if you’ll forgive the expression 🙂 ) I wanted to call all the trucks by their proper names and teach a little about the jobs they do, and I wanted to tell it in a way that was fun but also interesting and educational. The cumulative structure and engaging read-aloud rhythm of The House That Jack Built seemed like a nice model to build on.

Me: On another page, there is a pink bird observing the road building progress and a blue bird clearing debris.

Did this story progress easily or were there times when it was messy and you had to clear debris and clean things up as far as rhyme, meter, word count, or other details?

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill Illustration copyright © 2017 by Erica Sirotich Used by permission of Little Simon

Susanna: The actual story was pretty clear in my mind from the beginning. But yes, there was definitely mess! There is always mess. Really. I am never inviting any of you to my office lest you grow faint at the sight of my “filing” system:-) I’m not sure how easily your rhymes come to you, Penny, but for me there is always a great deal of experimentation. I went through MANY versions of the rhyme, because I wanted it to work smoothly without feeling forced and without adding unnecessary words or lines just to make the rhyme and meter work. So I tried a lot of different ways of saying what I wanted to say, switching the words and ideas around until I got a balance between story, rhyme and meter.

Me: One of my favorite bird characters is the green bird that wears a traffic cone as a hat and appears to be totally enjoying himself. I know that writing is extremely difficult and can be frustrating. But was there a part of this book journey that was especially enjoyable for you?

Susanna: Well, I have to admit… I like big trucks and I cannot lie 🙂 (Me: That cracks me up, Susanna!) As I’ve mentioned in other interviews, I did plan (at age 3) to drive a steam roller, and although I ended up taking a road less, umm, flattened? 🙂 , my love of trucks is long-standing. So it was enjoyable to write about trucks. I also really like telling a story of how something works, in this case, building a road. I liked learning about it myself, and I like the idea that kids could enjoy learning about it too, through the story. But probably the most enjoyable part was that I wrote this book for my son, so it was something I got to do for him and share with him even before it was published. (A long time before it was published, actually, since I wrote it when he was under 5 and now he’s 21! 🙂 ) Also, I don’t know about you, but when I think of trucks, I think of truckloads of good things… like chocolate… 🙂

Me: Later in the book two of the birds are riding on the Paint Marker truck. They seem very happy with the stripes being painted on the road. Maybe they think of it as “road art”. 🙂 Describe how you felt when you first saw Erica’s art for your book?

Susanna: I was thrilled! I think her art really suits the story. I love how colorful it is. I love how each truck has its own personality and facial expressions. I love all the little details, like the flower in the bulldozer’s smoke stack. And I LOVE the construction worker birds! The one with the cone on his head is probably my favorite too 🙂

Me: Her details are amazing. Let’s face it . . . the whole book is amazing and kids are going to treasure it!
I appreciate you sharing about the construction of this book. I can tell that both you and Erica put a lot of thought and hard work into making it so delightful. Hearing about your process is useful to writers and reader alike.

Susanna: Thank you so much for having me on your blog (again!), Penny! I so appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers, and I’m so grateful to you for helping spread the word of my new books. Plus, you gave me an idea! You know how, on the highway, you see those signs that say ROAD CONSTRUCTION AHEAD? Well, I think I need one over my desk that says BOOK CONSTRUCTION AHEAD! 🙂

Me: That’s a wonderful idea! Perfect for a writer’s desk.

As promised, here is a look at where Susanna’s trucks have been and I’ve made it easy for you. Here are the links to every single stop. Just click, enjoy, comment, and move on down the road to the next one because remember . . . someone is going to win a special prize. Comment on each of these blog posts and you’ll be in the running. But do it today because I’m the last stop on the tour 🙂

Blog Tour Kickoff

Book Review/Arts and Crafts Activity   

Book Review and another Arts and Crafts Activity  

Activity Kit Reveal

Interview With Illustrator, Erica Sirotich – Giveaway

Q&A With Susanna – Giveaway

Guest Post by Susanna – Giveaway

Interview With Susanna


Interview With Susanna 

Interview With Illustrator, Erica Sirotich

Giveaway Winner Announced

Book Review, Craft  – Giveaway

Publishing Life and a Recipe

Interview With Susanna With an Art Emphasis

I’m the last stop on the tour 😀

GIVEAWAY: Readers! Lucky you! Susanna is giving away one signed copy of The Road That Trucks Built! All you have to do is leave a comment below. Leave your comment no later than midnight (CDT) Sunday, August 20, 2017 so that I can draw a winner! ***You must be in the United States to win.

And don’t forget to share on social media.  The hashtag we are using to promote the book is #trucksontour.  Every time you share a post on FaceBook, Twitter or Instagram using #trucksontour you will get an entry into a raffle where 3 winners will each get a $25 Merritt Bookstore and Toystore gift card.

Meet Susanna: Susanna is the award winning author of over a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner and an Itabashi Translation Award Finalist.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one forthcoming in Chinese.  Her newest books, When Your Lion Needs A BathWhen Your Elephant Has The Sniffles, and The Road That Trucks Built will be published by Little Simon in July 2017.  When Your Llama Needs A Haircut (Little Simon) and Alphabedtime! (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books) are forthcoming in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 respectively, with additional titles coming in 2018 and 2019.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

Places to Find Susanna: Website:
Face Book Author Page:
Making Picture Book Magic (online picture book writing course):