Summer is SOOO close! And my daughters and I have already been curating our book stacks for the breezier months ahead.

My summer selections:

I’m diving into the deep end of graphic novels, stellar storytelling, and unique characters!

My 14-year-old’s summer picks:

This is teen girl bliss :)

My 10-year-old’s Summer stack:

She’s definitely into a certain type of book these days, and I love it!

Come June, I’ll be mailing out the Summer 2024 Issue of The Pencil Pusher to kids who receive it at their homes with several surprise vinyl stickers and an art contest!

The summer issue doesn’t get mailed to schools or classrooms (obviously), BUT I included a PDF of it below in hopes that you teachers/librarians will use it for some end-of-year fun with your students.

It’s a book-related personality QUIZ (a throwback to those magazine quizzes we all used to do for fun) called: “What Kind of Summer Reader Are YOU?” I had a lot of fun creating it and hope it helps start great, no-pressure conversations about maybe enjoying a book over summer break. I mean who doesn’t love a silly personality quiz, right?

Your students can also enter the contest by printing, cutting, and pasting these Pencil People to create a summer scene! Teachers/parents can submit the art to the contest at

Did you take the quiz yourself?

What kind of summer reader are YOU?

Filed under: Illustration, Lessons of an Artist, My Books, On My Mind, Sketchbook • April 7, 2024

My January-March was packed full of racing to finish up final art for SMASH, CRASH, TOPPLE, ROLL (a book about Rube Goldberg, written by Catherine Thimmesh) and 12 school visits in three states! I got to visit the wide-open rolling hills of northeast Missouri and several little new-to-me towns in Georgia and South Carolina. 

Ben (husband) can work anywhere, so he goes with me when it’s more than just a day trip. It’s great. He drives :) And our girls and pup get to live it up with my mom (Didi) who is much cooler than me. 

Now I’m back home … April begins … it’s a little calmer, and it’s time to start a new book project… Anything is possible at this stage. It’s when I feel most like an author and illustrator. 

I spend some mornings at Barrel House Coffee shop sketching thumbnails (small loose images) of the whole book, LILIBET MAKES A FRIEND, by Kersten Hamilton. And while I make decisions about which words should fall on which pages and what the images on those pages might look like, I also listen… 

A group of men gather at a table next to me, talk about the best way to make hummus, and how one of them renders some sort of building plans at no charge for fun. They talk a little about politics and new things coming to our little town, even though they are “not at liberty to say”. 

Another group forms around another table. They’re local real estate agents and insurance people. They brainstorm ways they can work together to navigate the tough market. And it occurs to me that we’re ALL just trying our very best to make it in this world, battling imposter syndrome or interest rates. 

I love working at the coffee shop. It reminds me that I’m a part of a community and I’m an author-illustrator in that community. I’m not alone in the struggle of life and work and trying to be something. Many things feel possible. I am creative, fluid, and imperfectly lovely … just like my sketches. 

I Talk About My Mistake on The Lil’ Leaders Podcast

After my last post about making a big, embarrassing art mistake in Little Red and the Big Bad Editor, I was invited to talk about it on The Lil’ Leaders Podcast!

T-Bone the Drone Update

Publisher Little, Brown recently informed me that my book, T-Bone the Drone, is sold out in the warehouse but, unfortunately, they are not going to print more. Soon, T-Bone will only be available as an e-book. So snag a physical copy before they’re all gone! Amazon,, and Read It Again still have a few. 

I’ll always love my little drone book and how excited kids get when they discover Charlotte, Doll-E, and Blutooth (from DOLL-E 1.0) are a part of this story too!

Pencil Pusher schedule changes…

I’m elated that so many classrooms and families are enjoying the Pencil Pusher newspaper for kids! This newspaper is a project of my heart and I want to continue to make it the best it can be. So I’m changing up the sending schedule a bit to fit us all better. Starting now, schools/classrooms/libraries will receive 2 issues per year (Fall & Spring) and individuals/families will receive 3 issues per year (Fall, Spring, AND a summer edition with surprise stickers)!

Just a schedule change. There’s no need to do anything. But if you’re not already signed up, you can do that at the link above, or if you need to change your subscription for any reason, email me at

Friends with New Books!

Shelli Johannes co-wrote and recently released the Farm Friends series! (Think STEM + agriculture, early readers).

Bethanie Merguia’s Wagnificent (a young middle-grade graphic novel about Sage and her dog, Thunder, who juggles with being a perfect pet and a wild animal from wolf ancestry) comes out in July! Preorder and get a cool set of stickers too

Vicky Fang’s 3rd in her Best Buddies series just dropped! This series is a favorite of my cousin, Paisley (age 7)!

Kristen Tubb’Fowl Play (middle-grade novel) will be hitting shelves in July!

Shannon Anderson’s newest picture book, B is for Belonging, comes out in August!

Jannie Ho has illustrated the second early graphic novel in the Fry Guys series! This “punny” book comes out in October!

McCall Hoyle’s middle-grade novel, Millie, just released! This book is the 3rd book in her beloved dog “series”.

Randi Sonenshine’s 3rd book in her Built Series, The Den that Octopus Built comes out in May!

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 :)

Filed under: Uncategorized • February 3, 2024

Thank you to the Georgia Center for the Book for this award!

Filed under: Uncategorized • December 6, 2023
Hello friends,
Here we are in the last month of the year! I’m trying to be as simple as I can which still isn’t all that simple, but I’m trying :) My girls are 13 and 9 and I am very aware that my littlest won’t be a “kid” much longer, but for now…
(This comic was inspired by a moment with my 9-year-old. She even asked for a new Barbie Dream House this year!)
We visited my husband’s family in Colorado for Thanksgiving and exchanged Christmas gifts while we were there. My sister-in-law gave me a book called, “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus”. It’s an Advent devotional that is moving me to linger in the awe and wonder of Jesus in a way I haven’t in a long while. It’s very simple, and that’s just what my heart needs right now.
Also while visiting, this happened (between my 9-year-old and her grandma) but my daughter says that what reeeeally happened was that her grandma didn’t hear correctly. At any rate, it’s funnier this way! …
We also got to see some snow while we were there! And a little snow is a BIG snow if you’re a Georgia kid (or a worm)! And yes, we obviously do not know how to dress for such weather.
When we got home, it was time to send out those holiday cards (since we happened to have survived getting family pics taken in early November).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, y’all! It’s such a gift to me that YOU are here!
Need a bookish gift idea? Here are 6…
If you’d like a SIGNED (by me) book, order here. They’re on sale FOR $12 each!  I ship quick too :)
If you enjoyed one of my books, I hope you’ll write a review on Amazon. Reviews truly help the discoverability and sales of books like mine.
Write a letter to Santa!
It’s a great time to practice writing letters (to Santa!) and Little Red and the Big Bad Editor can help make it extra fun to review things like using finger spaces, capital letters, and a greeting/closing. 
Here’s a free printable to color and write a letter on!
See ya next year!
Your Friend,
Filed under: Illustration, webcomic • November 28, 2023
Filed under: Illustration, webcomic • November 28, 2023
Filed under: Gifting Books, My Books, Parenting • November 20, 2023
Filed under: webcomic • November 20, 2023
Filed under: webcomic • November 20, 2023
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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author