School Visits

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 :)

Cheesy Comic Books that Couldn’t Be Cuter!

Filed under: Coolness,For Teachers,School Visits | October 27, 2023

I had a blast working with some fun third graders making CHEESY COMICS together! Then, we compiled them into a hardcover book for their library. They look SO good, and I couldn’t be more excited to mail these off for the students to see their work published!

If you are interested in having me come do a CHEESY COMICS WORKSHOP with your students, get in touch! I like to spend about 2-2.5 hours with the same students spread over 1, 2, or 3 days. I am happy to work with group sizes of 10-60 as long as each student has a desk or plenty of table space to create.

In the workshop, we talk about character creation, story, the unique medium of comics (art+text, panels, and word balloons), and the comics creation process (sketches, pencils, inks, and color). By the end of our workshop, the students each have a zinger of a cheesy comic to go in an anthology hardcover book for the library or classroom that will “melt” you into a goo of joy :)

My School Visit Stats!

YOU DID IT! (or you’re reeeeally close)

Look at you! You made it through another school year and so did I! I’m definitely ready for a break from early bed times and early wake times.

My girls are finishing up their last week of 3rd and 7th grades (7th almost killed me but that’s another story) but I had my biggest, busiest school visiting year yet thanks to all the wonderful people who invited me to their schools so I could share my love of stories! I know it takes extra effort to organize an author visit, so I am deeply appreciative of those who went that extra mile for their students and for me.

Visiting schools is one of the best parts of my work. It’s just so cool to connect with so many different people in various places … all because of a book. 

Here are my stats for the year…

“Our staff and teachers felt like you did an amazing job keeping the kids engaged and were an amazing presenter. It was so enjoyable to have you visit! All parts of the presentations were amazing and very well planned to keep the students focused and excited about writing and illustrating. Thank you.” – Sandy, Media Specialist, Canton, GA

“I loved how you were able to bring the presentation down to a level that even the Pre-K and Kindergarten were engaged. I also loved the way you encouraged the students to look at the illustrations and explained that many times the illustrations have an effect on the meaning of the text. Our students and teachers alike loved the presentations.” – Angelia, Media Specialist, Demorest, GA.

“We loved the presentation! Our students loved drawing along with you! I really enjoyed working with you from our first email until the last session was over today. You have thought through every aspect of your visit to make it as smooth as possible. Thank you!” – Jennifer, Media Specialist, Canton, GA

I’m booking for the 2023-2024 school year now! If you’re interested, take a look at my presentations, pricing, and availability calendar here and let’s get something set up!

H.A.G.S. (Have a good summer :) – Shanda

High Schoolers Dig Author Visits Too!

While they didn’t laugh (as much) at my cornball jokes or appreciate my robot-voice-changer as much as the elementary kids I typically visit do, we had a fantastic time anyway–making CHEESY COMICS at Union County High School!
This 2-day writing/illustrating workshop began with cheese drawing lessons and students created their own “cheesy” character (a literal slice of cheese). This worked well because a slice of cheese is basically a square and is drawable at any skill level. Then, we interviewed our characters to find out their wants, fears, strengths, weaknesses, personality, best friend, etc.
On the second day, we wrote a cheesy story (based loosely on 7-step storytelling) for our cheese character by putting them up against their greatest fears or biggest enemies! Last, we folded zines and filled them with our cheesy comic stories and shared them aloud :)
I was impressed by many of the concepts that came thru in the students’ short comics. There were silly stories, love stories, and even tragedies (which circled back to funny because it was cheese :)I love how Jae (below) barely used any text at all and told her story mostly through pictures.
An Author’s Valentine…If you loved one of my books, would you pleeease write a short (seriously, it can be super short) review on Amazon?

Kids Writing Workshops and Author Visit Programs for 2022-23

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!

My Book Inspired A Makey-Makey Maker!

Photo by Colleen Graves

Photo by Colleen Graves

So many cool things have happened as a result of the writing/publishing of DOLL-E 1.0. I am so humbled to be a part of a circuit of creatives! So many hands touched this book from its conception to birth … critique groups, editors, art directors, publicists, my husband, my kids, my mom, sales departments, educators, librarians, bookstores, etc.!


And now another creative hand has tinkered with this book and made its existence even cooler … a real coder and “maker” … a girl named Colleen Graves! She creates activities and guides for Makey-Makey (that appears multiple times in the illustrations of Doll-E 1.0). So, Colleen was charged up to create an activity guide for creating your own doll or robot from spare parts and a Makey-Makey, then adding words to its database using Scratch! It. Is. RAD!


If you are a STEM or STEAM teacher, I truly hope you check this out and share your creations with us! It’s reading, creating, problem solving, programing, electronics, engineering, and fun all in one! Colleen suggests this project works best with grades 3-6. So without further adieu, here is the guide:


And here is Colleen’s blogpost about the inspiration behind creating the guide:

Making and Literacy Guide for Doll-E 1.0




Artist/Writer in Residency at Sonoraville Elementary!

Filed under: Events,Growing Up Writing,Parenting,School Visits | October 1, 2018

All last week, and for the first time ever, I had the pleasure of working with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders of Sonoraville Elementary School in a writing and illustrating workshop! It was so much fun and very successful I thought! (But my feet thought otherwise :) I was definitely reminded how hard teachers and media specialists work for our kiddos. Much RESPECT.

Mrs. Beth Mitchell, the Media Specialist there, was awesome to plan and scheme with. She almost never sits down and remains die-hard-patient with her students. I was impressed an encouraged to be more patient with my own kids after watching her. Our whole Artist in Residency concept began with her approaching me and just throwing the idea at me. And because I’m local to her school, it worked out really well and simply.

In order to maximize the potential of our program, Mrs. Mitchell spoke with the teachers of the grades we wanted to involve and asked those educators what they would like to see covered in the program to help reinforce skills their students are already working on. After that, Mrs. Mitchell and I developed the 3 day curriculum, and I worked hard to add in some good ‘ol cheesy fun too. We put it all to the test last week, and I think we have a winner!

If you are interested in me doing this 3-day workshop at your school, click here and scroll to the bottom.


This sheet was inspired by Debbie Ohi’s character sheet on!

Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author