Filed under: Lessons of an Artist, My Books, School Visits • February 29, 2024

It was a lovely day for a school visit in southern South Carolina. I was on my last presentation of the day. The gym was filled with curious 3rd and 4th graders, hanging on my every word. They liked me! I could tell :)

As my presentation came to a close with the reading of the twist ending in LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR the audience gasped and laughed. My shoulders lowered and I thought… Shanda, you’ve done it again, you crazy kid. Great job! Now, it was time for questions!

Many hands raced upward, and I called on a girl in glasses. She told me that she did not have a question, but instead had a comment. So, I let her continue. This 3rd grader looked concerned and proceeded to tell me that I had omitted an important detail (that she described) in some of the illustrations in the book.

“I did?” I asked. With the whole group watching, I flipped back through the story slides and sure enough, she was right! I gasped this time. I couldn’t believe I had missed this. The publisher missed it too. No one had ever mentioned it to me before. But this kid saw it and was brave enough to call it out.

The room went quiet. The kids didn’t know what I was going to say. But what could I say? I threw my hands up and said … “Oops!”. Then the whole room, including me, burst into laughter! I mean, what are the odds that a book about editing could have such a mistake in it? It is kinda funny :)

Sure, it was a little embarrassing, but I’m the first to admit that I make mistakes all the time. We all do. It’s human. It’s something I discuss at every school visit, and this one was no different. We had already talked about why we need to “edit” our work because no one gets stuff “perfect” the first time or sometimes even the 20th time (and in this case, my work STILL has a huge, published, out-there mistake in it)!

BUT at this moment I was able to demonstrate in real life what I preached. I stood humbled on that stage, dripping in my imperfections. And it was perfect! This was a remarkable moment between me and those kids. We were the same. All students of life. Just imperfect people trying to do our best, even if we don’t succeed sometimes. And you know what? It’s okay and still totally worth it.

Can you spot it?

I challenge y’all to read LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR! Check it out from your library or maybe even purchase a copy. (I promise it’s still a great book despite my faux pas :) Can you and your kids/students find the missing thing that I left out of several illustrations (including the cover)?! If you figure it out, reply or comment to let me know. Don’t worry. My pride isn’t bruised too badly :)

Maybe you could use this as a springboard to talk to your kids/students/self about making mistakes, owning them, but getting back up and dusting yourself off, then learning and growing into a better version of yourself after them. You can bet I’ll have an eagle eye on my illustration work from here on out!

You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

Hooray!! LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR is a nominee for the 2024-2025 Show Me Readers Award in Missouri, and I’m super excited to be visiting 4 Missouri schools in a couple of weeks! I have no idea if these visits came about because of this book being on this state list or not. Either way, I love how a book can bring me to different parts of our country (and the world) to meet so many cool kids and educators. If you’re interested in me making a fool of myself speaking at your school, check out my info here.

This book is also the featured title for One Book Habersham in Habersham County, Georgia! It’s a cool community initiative that brings together a whole county through one book…

Read the book. Talk it up. Ask your neighbor, “Have you read ​Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf Editor?” Let’s see how many people in Habersham County we can get to say, “Yes!”

Books will be available at all public libraries and schools throughout the community for you to read, enjoy and share with others. Look for copies – in restaurants, banks, doctor’s offices, etc.

What have you goofed up lately? Do tell! It’ll make me feel better :)

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author