Filed under: Gifting Books, My Books, Printable Activities • November 28, 2022

What gift fits in a stocking but arrives after the holidays??

NUBBY of course!

I hope you’ll consider pre-ordering NUBBY written by Dan Richards and illustrated by me (Shanda McCloskey) as a gift for your littles :)

BONUS: Print out the foldable card above to slip it into a gift bag or stocking!

Warmest wishes!

-Shanda

Filed under: Gifting Books, My Books • November 16, 2022

Yay–It’s gift giving season! I hope you’ll take a look at my 2022 holiday gift guide, get ideas, and grab some kids’ & teachers’ gifts too! (Some links in the guide are affiliate links that help support my work.)

Filed under: Illustration, My Books • October 11, 2022

NUBBY (written by Dan Richards) is my next illustrated book! It comes out January 3, 2023. It’s about an under appreciated stuffed bunny who sets out on a long journey (just around the culdesac) to find a better life. It’s a sweet story about home and family (even though they can be maddening at times).

I related well to this story because my family (especially my kids) drive me insane half the time, but there’s really no where else I’d rather be! Truth be told, I drive them nuts too :) And I’m so grateful they take me back after I lose my marbles, over and over again.

or these illustrations, I drew the line art on Procreate on my iPad.

Then, I printed the line art onto watercolor paper and traditionally painted the values (lights and darks) using only black.

Last, I scanned in the black and white painting and brought it back into Procreate on my iPad to colorize the brush strokes using a “color” layer. Finishing touches were added in Photoshop.

I think this book might be my prettiest yet. I really enjoyed drawing and coloring digitally while still being able to do some traditional painting too. The lines seems sharper and the colors less “muddy” than some of my illustrations in previous books.

Filed under: Lessons of an Artist, Shanda's Journey • October 7, 2022

I got asked this question several times at the Decatur Book Festival this past weekend. And I have such empathy because I once asked this question too.

Let’s back up to 2006. I was a new high school art teacher, and I wasn’t all that happy. It had nothing to do with the kids, the facility, money, or the administration. It was just me. I felt very stupid, ungrateful, and spoiled, but I was not being fulfilled. I knew deep down it was because my real dream was to make kids books. I even felt like a fraud, telling some of my artsy teen students that it was possible to follow their dreams in a creative field after graduation (when I wasn’t doing the same).

The truth is, having a creative career isn’t a straight line. You don’t typically graduate with a “job” waiting for you like many other careers do. It’s a risky venture of your heart and your finances. This choice isn’t for everyone, but I think you just KNOW if it is … because you just can’t shake it.

If this is you and your dream is to publish children’s books, do these 3 (not so easy) steps:

  1. Join (SCBWI.org) The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators
  2. Go to their conferences and practice what you learn
  3. Expect a long road but an absolutely awesome one with incredible people and adventures

This is exactly what illustrator Michael Austin told me when I cold-emailed him in 2007 and asked, “How does one publish a children’s book?” He simply said to join SCBWI. So I did, and it worked :)

-Shanda

Filed under: Uncategorized • September 7, 2022

Today is the book birthday (release day) of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR, and I can’t wait for you to see it! In fact, I’d like to see it myself- I haven’t received my illustrator copy yet. So, let me know what you think when you get yours on InstagramFacebookTwitter, or by leaving a review on Amazon.

Spread Thanks by Writing a Letter (and actually delivering it)!

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR is a wonderful model about how to write a thank you letter (and edit it). Below is a printable page to make this activity easy-peasy!

Filed under: Events, Gifting Books, My Books, On My Mind, Shanda's Journey • September 1, 2022

It takes sooo long for a book to go from deal to release day. I signed the contract to illustrate this book in March of 2019. At that time, we had never heard of covid, and we still wouldn’t be affected by it for another year! And when it did hit the US, I was in the middle of working on this book. The world shut down in March 2020.

It was weird. All of a sudden, I couldn’t get in contact with the publisher. Months and months went by in silence. But I just kept working. I didn’t know what else to do.

Eventually, the publisher reached out and said that Little Red would need to publish later than originally expected, which was fine with me. And here we are!

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR releases on Tuesday, Sept 6th! I hope you consider ordering a copy (or two) from my favorite indie bookstores below.

If you order at least two books, Little Shop of Stories will ship for FREE! And with the holidays coming up, consider purchasing 2 copies of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (one for your family and one for your child’s teacher/classroom).

If you fancy SIGNED (by me) copies, then definitely place your order of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR with Read It Again Books! Be sure to request that it be “signed by Shanda” in the notes section of the order.

If you’d like to come see me in person (because I sure want to see you) I’ll be at the Decatur Book Festival on October 1st with Little Shop of Stories and then with Read It Again Books for a fun family launch event on October 8th!


According to (Creativity in the Class), Fractured fairy tales are a retelling of popular fairy tales but with changes to the characters, setting, or by changing the villain into the hero.

In fact, it was a fractured fairy tale at the book fair (when I was in third grade) that set me on a path forevermore to be in awe of picture books! That book was THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS.


I was absolutely delighted how the author turned this story on its head and wrote Wolf as a misunderstood victim instead of a villain. And the illustrations portrayed the pigs as just plain wolfists who judged Wolf without really knowing him! So, Wolf didn’t even have a chance when he asked his pig neighbor for a cup of sugar to make his dear old granny a birthday cake and then accidentally sneezed and knocked the pig’s house down.

Later in life I came across this cute story: LITTLE RED WRITING. The characters are pencils and pens and the big bad wolf is a pencil sharpener!


After I became a parent, I had a blast reading SLEEPING CINDERELLA AND OTHER PRINCESS MIX-UPS with both of my girls! These characters rewrite their own stories to suit them much better :)


After I experienced a major bout of depression (after some eye health stuff), this book resonated with me very much… AFTER THE FALL: HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN.


And one of my dearest book friends (Shelli R. Johannes) just released this STEM/STEAM genius- PENNY, THE ENGINEERING TALE OF THE FOURTH LITTLE PIG.


And one of my dearest book friends (Shelli R. Johannes) just released this STEM/STEAM genius- PENNY, THE ENGINEERING TALE OF THE FOURTH LITTLE PIG.


Shop these fractured fairy tales here on Bookshop.org! (Sleeping Cinderella is not available on Bookshop but is available on Amazon).

Fractured Fairy Tales in the Classroom for all ages


Rebecca Kraft Rector says, “A fun and useful skill taught as early as kindergarten is to compare (what’s the same?) and contrast (what’s different?) a fractured tale with the original tale. Children can compare/contrast characters, setting, themes, and even illustrations.”

Rebecca and I put together some fracture fairy tale lessons and activities in the Little Red and the Big Bad Editor – Educator’s Guide! These lessons can be tailored to Kindergarten up to higher elementary.

It’s so true.

Yesterday, my husband (Ben) texted me the image (below left) and said “You’ve come a long way in 10 years”.

side by side old work and new work

These postcard images were created by the same artist (me) and had the same theme (little red riding hood) with a frizzy red-haired character. The difference is 10 years.

That first image is odd, right? Not very kid friendly and extremely stiff. It humbles me to look back at this, because now I remember what a beginning beginner I was!

Sometimes I forget. But looking back at this reminds me how patient and kind other creators and industry professionals were with me at conferences or other bookish events. They didn’t dismiss me and say “you just don’t get it”. Thankfully, they found tidbits of good in my work and praised those things while also giving me gentle nudges to improve over and over and over again.

My dreams were never crushed, and I’m so grateful for that.

Little Red and the Big Bad Editor cover

Just 2 weeks until Little Red hits shelves!

Preorder below!

Read It Again Bookstore (Suwanee, GA) Request a “signed by Shanda” copy in the order comments.

Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA) Order 2+ books for free shipping!

Bookshop.org

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Book Depository (International)

I invite you and your family to join me at Read It Again Bookstore in Suwanee, GA on Oct 8, 2022, 12-2pm. This in-person event is perfect for Kindergarteners, 1st graders, 2nd graders, and their teachers. We’ll be reading, drawing, coloring, and writing a thank you letter just like Little Red!

Everyone will get a bookmark and stickers, and of course I’d love to sign a book for you or your class :)

Teachers: I’ll be giving away one FREE in-person writing workshop for students! All attending (K-5) teachers will be eligible.

Read It Again Bookstore
3630 peachtree pkwy, suite 314
Suwanee, GA 30024

Thanks so much for reading!
Love, Shanda

Filed under: For Teachers, Growing Up Writing, School Visits • August 4, 2022

Hello friends!

Here in north Georgia our school year has just begun! This past Monday, my girls started 7th grade and 3rd grade. I can barely believe it! Our Summer (full of broken bones, birthday parties, puppies, swimming, fireworks, and a friend from Hungary) swirled by like a twister! But now I am ready for Fall.Every Summer, I give my school visit materials a facelift. And depending on my experiences/feedback from the previous year, I might add, adjust, or even take away a presentation. Sometimes prices need to be adjusted or maybe I want to implement a new logistical strategy in my school visit workflow. Each year is different!


What’s New For My 2022-23 Visits?
For this new academic year I was inspired to add some writing workshops to my school visit program menu, partly because I love seeing students streeeetch their minds to create a completely unique story of their own, and partly because I got the “writing workshop scoop” from my author friend, Lola. (See podcast below)



Photo: 11-year-old young author and I at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, 2022, UAE.

Two New Writing Workshops!


Thank You Letter Writing Workshop
Best for grades K-3rd (45 minute session)

NEW! This workshop uses LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR to model how to write a thank you letter (complete with punctuation, capital letters, finger spaces, as well as a greeting and closing)! Shanda will read the book, brainstorm with students about who they could write a thank you letter to, walk them through writing it, and encourage them to actually deliver it!



Cheesy Comics Writing Workshop
Best for grades 3rd-5th (2 or 3 one hour sessions)

NEW! This silly educational workshop (part 1) starts with students imagining, drawing, and creating a main character (that also happens to be a slice of cheese :) with unique wants, fears, histories, and problems. The next session (part 2) will focus on telling the character’s story by creating a short comic with the cheesy character pitted against its greatest fear, whatever that may be! A third session (part 3) may be added for students to give/receive constructive feedback using the “critique sandwich” method then revising their stories to be even better!





New Podcast Episode!

Educators: If you’d like to know more about bringing an author to your school for a writer’s workshop (and possibly even earn some PD), check out this latest podcast episode where I interview my author friend, Lola Schaefer, about just that!Authors: If you’ve ever thought about doing writing workshops with kids, this episode is a must!


Go to the episode

I can’t wait to start visiting schools this year :) Let me know if you’d like to set something up! Visit my school visit info page for all programs, pricing, and available dates.As always, thanks for reading!

Filed under: Uncategorized • August 2, 2022

The fine art of letter writing is in danger of becoming a lost art!

True story: In the middle of making the illustrations for this book, I asked my 11-year-old to write a letter (an apology for being rude to a friend of mine … ah preteens), but I was taken back when she handed me a printout of a note typed and printed from her phone. All the text was squished to the top of the paper and the words strung in long horizontal lines. No breaks, no paragraphs, no formatting, not even a signature or name. My daughter saw nothing wrong with her letter.

It dawned on me that my girl hadn’t really been taught proper paper formatting. I guess it’s similar to the now rare skill of writing/reading cursive. Regardless, my middle school daughter certainly didn’t know how to format a letter, story, report, or a printed paper of any kind. LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR is aimed at early elementary students, but I think older kids would enjoy/benefit as well. Big kid story time for the win! Letter formatting aside, anyone is sure to get a kick out of Little Red’s street smarts as she dodges the Big Bad Wolf and takes advantage of his editorial side!

One way to teach your students how to properly write a letter is to read them LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR and then let them practice writing a thank you letter of their own with the printable below (and actually deliver it)!

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author