Filed under: A Picture Book & A Project, Art Lessons, Doll-E, Free Stuff • March 29, 2018

Learn to draw Doll-E and Blutooth characters from my new book, DOLL-E 1.0! Just print and enjoy! Happy drawing!

Nice work, Andre!

Filed under: Doll-E, Free Stuff, Uncategorized • February 28, 2018

Feel free to COLOR! Just click on a thumbnail for a large, printable version. ENJOY!

Filed under: Doll-E, Free Stuff • February 28, 2018

Feel FREE to print these Doll-E 1.0 posters on 8.5 x 11″ card stock. Then, trim and laminate to use in your classroom, library, or anywhere. Enjoy!

Filed under: Events, Illustration, Shanda's Journey • February 28, 2018

Before the details of this awesome trip to NYC slips my mind, I wanted to write about it here.

Every year, Little, Brown hosts a Picture Book Event where they invite media, book stores, and librarians, etc. to see original art from their upcoming Spring books. They also get to meet 2 author-illustrators tat are a part of that Spring list. Caldecott Medalist, Sophie Blackall, was the main attraction as she spoke about her beautiful upcoming book HELLO LIGHTHOUSE. And the other author-illustrator was ME! I spoke about myself as a new kid on the block and my debut book, DOLL-E 1.0. (My anxiety meds work well, because I wasn’t nervous!) Let’s just say, the attendees got to know the real Shanda – southern accent, tripping up on several words, a few tears and everything when I shared about my eye struggles. Why not? This is me :)

The space where the event was held was decorated with my characters and Sophie’s too! Each place setting had Doll-E and Lighthouse Valentines, sweet hearts candy, and a magnifying glass to find clues in the presentations. It was the cutest! And I finally got to meet the team I’ve been working remotely with in person: Andrea Spooner (my editor), Hallie Tibbetts (Andrea’s assistant), Jen Keenan (my art director), and Saho Fuji (art director) among others! I felt so welcomed and celebrated. It was a breakfast (and lunch) I’ll never forget, because I know this doesn’t happen to everybody, and it may never feel like this again … but that’s why this blog post is here … to document this wonderful moment in my journey!

Shanda “like panda” slide sketch in my presentation.


Me and Sophie

Office of fun!

Signed my very first book!

Filed under: Coolness, Shanda's Journey • November 12, 2017

See this face? This is the face of a REAL LIVE HERO! His name is Austin, and he and his family went out of their way last Sunday night for some strangers (us) that lived nearby to help us find our sweet buddy, Charlie (a 15 year-old deaf terrier). Charlie had gotten spooked by some unfamiliar faces that were trying to take care of him while we were out of town for the weekend, and he ran far away into unfamiliar territory. The temporary caretakers (my husband’s parents) were so scared of what could’ve happened to Charlie, but thanks to Austin and his kind family (who searched in dark woods with flashlights) Charlie was safe and found!

I am so grateful to my in-laws, my neighbor- Burt, and Austin’s family who all played a part in Charlie’s rescue! I sure do love our little city of Ball Ground and the people who make it such a sweet place to live!

Filed under: Cover Reveal!, Doll-E, Illustration, Shanda's Journey, Sketchbook • October 30, 2017

Ta-da!!! The final cover:



I’m really proud of this cover … my FIRST cover! We (me, Andrea Spooner, Jen Keenan, and Saho Fuji) experimented with several cover ideas before we came to this perfect conclusion! Since this was my first book, I was really intrigued by the process of working with a team that wanted the cover to look cool as much as I did. I am very lucky an honored to have worked with these women who knew much more than I did about great cover design.

Here’s a few of our ideas that didn’t pan out, looked too busy, or worse – looked a bit SCARY …



Doll-E 1.0 comes out May 1, 2018 and is available for preorder now!

I sincerely thank each of you who are cheering me on and reading this post! I hope you’ll join me in the countdown to book release day by signing up for my email newsletter (at the bottom of my website), so you’ll be sure to know where I’m doing story-times and book signings to celebrate next spring!

With love and excitement,


P.S. What do you think of the cover? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Filed under: Book Reviews • October 10, 2017

This book is a lovely one! It’s written in a neat parallel way with sparse text. My little girls and I enjoyed seeking out the different personality trait clues in the pictures and relating to one sister or the other. The kitchen scenes were especially great! I also liked the author’s choices of words describing various snow activities. This is a sweet little read, especially when snuggling with your little girls! This book hits the shelves in January! Available for pre-order now (which is the best way to support a book)!

Filed under: Favorite Picture Books, Gifting Books, Growing Up Reading, Parenting • September 21, 2017

I got a great response from my original post about “Gifting Books To Kids (the cool way)!” So, it gives me an excuse to put together and share more book/gift ideas – which makes me happy :) I hope it inspires you.

I love Halloween like a little kid. Nothing too scary, but everything else about it is SO MUCH FUN! So when I saw a couple Vampirina Ballerina books ($18 each) (illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Luyen Pham) in the bookstore, I grabbed them up! I found a headband ($2) that looked similar to Vampirina’s and a black tutu ($5) to go with it, a fun little make-up set ($3) and a plastic set of vampire teeth ($1). A $27 gift if you include one book or a $45 gift if you include two books :)

The next idea is very simple, inexpensive, and still lots of fun! “Boo!” by Leslie Patricelli ($8) is visual Halloween candy! I paired it with a couple of giant googly eyes ($2), a headband ($2), and 2 Cuties ($1) that I drew Jack-O-lantern faces on with a Sharpie. A $13 gift for a young Halloween lover!

I’d love to see or hear about what you come up with!

Happy Fall book gifting!


Filed under: Parenting • August 29, 2017

Checklists beside my kiddo’s bed. (Beware of toddlers drawing on the wall with the marker.)

My daughter started second grade about a month a ago. She’s a good girl who enjoys school for the most part, but she has her fair share of issues that will probably challenge her for life. For one, she’s the youngest in her class, yet the tallest. And she was delivered 3 weeks early when she was born. I think that may play into her actual “age” a lot. So she’s young. It can be difficult for her to focus. Reading hasn’t come as easily to her as it has to most of her peers, but she’s constantly getting stronger and stronger. That’s ALL that matters to me. But I see her little confidence wavering sometimes, and that can be tough to watch as a parent. So when I see her light up with empowerment over something in her life – it’s GOLD! Which is the case with 2 simple checklists we started using at the beginning of this school year.

They are nothing more than a basic “getting ready for bed checklist” and a “getting ready for school checklist”, but they have truly given her the success in independence she craves! When her alarm goes off in the morning, she gets up and starts checking things off the list. So simple. She’s usually ready for the day with a smile on her face before I even stumble down the stairs. I no longer have to yell or repeat “did you brush you teeth?” a thousand times. I used to be the angriest morning mom, and now I’m much cooler (and so is my daughter :) It’s night and day from last year’s school mornings!

So, I’d love to share these with you if you think they may help your family too. They are FREE! Just print them out and laminate at a UPS Store or somewhere like that (I used a friend’s small home laminator that he got for $30), then hang a dry-erase marker next to the list tacked on the wall for your kiddo to start checking things off :)

I’d love to know how it goes if you give it a try.

So simple. So powerful.

Cheers to a great school year!



Filed under: Favorite Picture Books, Gifting Books • August 14, 2017

I have 2 little people running around here, so I feel like I know a little about how they react to the gift of a book and how their friends at birthday parties do too. 

I’ve given my kids, my family’s kids, and kid friends gifts over the years. And as a general observation in my small slice of life here in north Georgia, books don’t often get given at birthday parties. It sort of surprises me, because you’ll never hear – “My kids just have too many books.” Or “That book will just end up in a yard sale in a few months.” This is the stuff you will hear about toys though. And I love toys, don’t get me wrong- I’m worse than a kid at Christmas in a store’s toy section! But I think there’s a cool medium if you combine a book AND a toy into a little themed gift! Seems simple enough, but not many do it. Maybe because it takes a little extra thinking, and new books aren’t cheap, or maybe you think the kid will be disappointed when he/she unwraps a book, and maybe book choices are a personal thing? I get it. 

All I know is that my girls really enjoy picture books – even my seven year old. 

Author/illustrator, Kelly Light said, “Picture books are like an IMAX movie to a little kid.” And I agree!

Sure, you may not get the same huge reaction when your kid opens a book gift versus say … a drone or a Barbie pool, but I’d bet they will actually enjoy it longer and it will mean more to them in the short AND long term. Heck, it may even be the book that they remember after they grow up and share it with their own kids one day. It might be the book that makes them fall in love with stories, art, and words for a lifetime of adventure, learning, and thinking. Or it might just be a sweet story that they enjoy nestled in bed next to their mom or dad. Or they might just get lost looking at the pictures in wonder. Any of these is awesome, and that’s why I adore finding the perfect book for a kid and pairing a small toy along with it. It’s so fun!

More reasons why it’s cool to gift kid books:

  1. It puts a new book in the hands of a kid to keep forever.
  2. It supports authors, illustrators, agents, and publishers to make more books!
  3. If you buy at a brick and mortar store, it supports those bookstores or book sections in bigger stores. 
  4. You’ll find yourself knowing more about what’s out there in books currently. 
  5. You will be deemed “a great gift giver” by your circle :)

Typically, I prefer modern kid books over dated ones or classics. Current kid books are better tailored to the modern kid and the world they live in. But this is just from my personal opinion and experience. It really depends on the kid you are buying for. Always think of the kid first!

Here are a couple book gift ideas (Under $25) that my girls helped me come up with. These ideas are on the girly side for sure but I’ll mix it up as I post more :)

  1. The first is hot off the press! Tea with Oliver by Mika Song and a tea set. My husband found this tea set at Walmart for $5. Can’t beat that!
    $18 book + $5 tea set = $23 sweet as pie gift!

         2. This one is from author-illustrator, Samantha Cotterill. No More Bows is a winner in our house! And paired with a toy puppy covered in hair bows that she can use on her hair too is so much fun!
$18 book + $5 toy + $2 bow set = $25 cute gift!

So when you have a kid gift to buy, I challenge you to try giving a book gift (the cool way :) I’d love to see or hear about what YOU come up with!

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author