My Books

The Sketchy Stage – when I feel most like an author and illustrator

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!

I Made A Mistake, BUT It Drove My Point Home!

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 :)

2023 Gift Guide!

Filed under: Gifting Books,My Books,Parenting | November 20, 2023

Three Printable Activities to go along with reading Nubby by Dan Richards and Shanda McCloskey

A book that fits in a stocking!

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’s Books + Fun Holiday Gift Guide 2022

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.)

Peek into the art process for NUBBY

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.

It took three years to publish this book

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!

A First Look at Little Red and the Big Bad Editor!

Little Red and the Big Bad Editor written by Rebecca Kraft Rector, illustrated by Shanda McCloskey (me!) and published by Aladdin, will be published September 6.

I’m just giddy about this book! It’s a book-smart vs. street-smart kind of story, and it was a blast to illustrate. Not only is it packed with fun and action, but also full of learning how to craft a proper letter— finger spaces between words, when to use capital letters, a greeting, and a closing. (Truth be told, my 11-year-old could benefit from this book :)

In this clever and playful fractured fairy tale picture book, the Big Bad Wolf is so distracted by Little Red’s poorly written thank you note to her grandmother that he keeps missing the chance to eat her!

Here’s a peek inside the book!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the book!

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR will swoop into stores on September 6, 2022.

Mark as Want-to-Read on Goodreads, or pre-order now from your local bookstoreBarnes & Noble, or on Amazon.

Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author