Hugs and Hurrahs

Hugs and Hurrahs! 

April- June 2018

Happy summer! It may be time for vacations and evenings by the firepit, but Michikid authors are still hard at work producing amazing stories resulting in lots of happy publishing news. We’ve got tons to celebrate around here, so let’s get right to it!

Lisa Rose is proud to announce the release of her six-volume chapter book series, STAR POWERS, with Rourke Educational Media, today! The series is about a second-grade girl named Star Powers who wants to be an astronaut and uses a wheelchair and includes science experiments in the back matter. Lisa recently attendad ALA in New Orleans and did a signing for STAR POWERS! 
Happy Dancing with you, Lisa!

Kathie Allen’s vividly-colored board book, THIS BOOK, (Albert Whitman & Company) was released in March. The book is chock-full of preschool concepts and was illustrated by Lizzy Doyle.
We’re giving you a standing ovation, Kathie!

Monica Harris recently sold an activity called "Hocus Pocus: Crayon Mind-Reading Trick," to Highlights Magazine. Monica also recently completed eight pieces for Data Recognition Corp, including fictional and informative listening passages and a biography.  
Way to go, Monica!

Josef Bastian’s, EXCERPTS FROM AN UNKNOWN GUIDEBOOK: BOOK 1: PHASES OF THE MOON, was recently named a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards in the Children’s Fiction category.
We’re so proud of you, Josef!

Neal Levin is happy to announce that his poem, “It’s Summertime,” was published in the June 2018 issue of Pockets Magazine. His poem, “Rumble-Grumble Storm,” is in the July 2018 issue of Highlights for Children.

Way to go, Neal!   

Jordan J. Scavone's second picture book, THE MUD PRINCESS, is now available on Amazon! Follow Georgia, a girl who defies the looks and ideals of her princess peers. When the other princesses are captured by a dragon, Georgia must decide if she should help those who shunned and mocked her. Jordan also has a downloadable companion coloring page on his website.

So happy for you, Jordan!

Ruth McNally Barshaw illustrated the middle-grade novel about two Latino sisters who love softball, THERE’S NO BASE LIKE HOME. Written by two-time Olympic medalist and ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza and her English-teacher sister Alana Mendoza Dusan, the book officially released June 19 by publisher Lee and Low. This story is for 7 to12 year-olds who like sports, love families, or just want an exciting read.

Happy Dancing with you, Ruth!

On March 10, Janet Ruth Heller spoke about “Nine Tips for a Successful Book Signing Event” for the Motown Writers Network Monthly Meet Up at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. On Saturday, March 17, Janet also spoke about “Recent Multicultural Literature for Children” for the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Detroit. On April 13, Janet and Miriam Bat-Ami conducted a workshop called “Writing and Revising Religious Poetry and Prose” for the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Three cheers, Janet!

Lindsey McDivitt is thrilled to share that her PB bio, NATURE'S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY, officially released in July from Sleeping Bear Press. And Lindsey did her first book tour in early July and visited book stores in Northern Michigan. This is Lindsey’s first picture book!

We’re so happy for you, Lindsey!

Pat Trattles’s activity, “Welcome Game,” will be published in the November issue of Pockets Magazine!

Way to go, Pat!

On June 30, 2018, Jean Alicia Elster was the guest speaker/presenter for the 3rd Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm Writing Workshop, sponsored by Detroit Working Writers. Her workshop presentation was titled “The Tyranny of Reality (Revisited).” Jean was also one of the off-panel authors interviewed in The Documentary, World Book Cafe: Detroit, a production of the BBC World Service. The segment aired on international radio on June 23, 2018.

We’re proud of you, Jean!

September sees the release of the 11th book in Lisa Wheeler’s Dino series for CarolRhoda/Lerner (illustrated by Barry Gott). DINO-CHRISTMAS will be the first of 4 titles that share how the dinosaurs spend their holidays. Dino-Sport fans are eager for this one!

We’re giving you a standing ovation, Lisa!

Deb Pilutti is happy to report that her illustrations for IDEA JAR, written by Adam Lehrhaupt, were awarded merit in the 3x3 International Children's Book Show and will be published in 3x3 Magazine's Illustration annual #15.

So happy for you, Deb!

Special congratulations go out to Kristin Lenz, the winner of the PAL Novel Mentorship with Leslie Connor for her novel, THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN. Congratulations to runners-up Charlie Barshaw for his novel, AUNT AGNES, and Margaret Mason for her novel, IS MY NAME.

Congratulations to Kristin, Margaret and Charlie!

Kathryn Madeline Allen's picture book, I AM A BABY, (Photos by Rebecca Gizicki, published by Albert Whitman & Co.will be released as a board book edition on Sept 1!

That’s awesome, Kathie!

And I have some happy news of my own to share! My poem, “Alice Thanks her (Looking) Glasses,” will be part of a poetry collection called THANKU: POEMS ABOUT GRATITUDE, edited by Miranda Paul, published by Lerner/Millbrook and scheduled for a fall 2019 release. And my picture book manuscript, WHAT THE SEASHELL SAID, recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature at Hunger Mountain. The piece will be published in their winner’s collection in the coming months. So very happy! 

Didn’t I tell you we had lots to celebrate?! For every piece of good news, there are hours, days, months and years of hard work, and we are proud of all of you!

Send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards, at  


January-March 2018

Happy Friday Michkid Friends!

As I’m putting the finishing touches on this installment of Hugs and Hurrahs, it’s a beautiful sunny and breezy day in the Mitten. The first in a long, long, LOOOONNNGGG time! So it seems only right that it’s time to celebrate our happy publishing news from the first three months of 2018. Be sure and adjust your sunglasses, because as always, Michigan kidlit folk are shining brightly!

Here we go. . .

Hats off to Joe Kimble who was interviewed about his picture book, MR. MOUTHFUL LEARNS HIS LESSON, on Michigan Radio in January. Here’s a link:

Joe also spoke at several elementary schools in Phoenix and San Diego this winter and had a book signing at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix.

Way to go Joe!

A big hurrah to Janet Heller, who recently presented “Nine Tips for a Successful Book Signing Event” for the Motown Writers Network Monthly Meet Up at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. Janet will also be speaking at the Festival of Faith and Writing on Friday, April 13, about “Writing and Revising Religious Poetry and Prose.”

That’s awesome, Janet!

Congratulations to Neal Levin who won the latest Saturday Evening Post “Limerick Laughs” contest. His winning limerick is announced here:

So proud of you, Neal!

A big round of applause for Lisa Wheeler, whose new book, PEOPLE DON'T BITE PEOPLE, was released April 3rd, 2018, and has received two starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. AMAZING!

In other news, Lisa’s book, THE CHRISTMAS BOOT, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, (Dial Books for Young Readers) has been translated and released in China with TB Publishing. Also, 8 of her 10 Dino-Sports books, illustrated by Barry Gott, (Lerner Publishing) have been translated and released in Korea by Woongjin Think Big Co. Ltd.

You’re an international star, Lisa!

Hop! Hop! Meeehh! Meeehh! Clomp! Clomp! Oink! Oink! Buffy Silverman's four new titles for Lerner Publishing's Little Pets series are now out. Read all about these cute critters in Dwarf Rabbits, Pygmy Goats, Mini Horses, and Mini Pigs. Buffy also ventured into the World of Gaming with two other Lerner books: The World of Pokémon and The World of Mario Bros.

You’re amazing, Buffy!

Woo Hoo for Erin Fanning! Her hi-lo novel, CLOUD WARRIOR, about bravery and rediscovering old friendships during a kayaking disaster, was published in January by Saddleback Educational Publishers. Here's the URL:

Way to go, Erin!

Hats off to Monica Harris who recently sold SIX writing pieces (3-fictional and 3 informational) to Data Recognition Corp / Michigan Department of Education.

That’s awesome, Monica!

Kevin Dangoor (writing as Barnaby Quirk) indie published his third middle-grade novel, Virtual Grunt, on March 9th. Kevin and Chris Africa and will be talking about indie publishing at the next Ann Arbor SCBWI Shop Talk on April 21, where Kevin will share some of how the book came to be.

So excited for you, Kevin!

Hat’s off to Jack Cheng, whose untitled middle-grade novel was recently acquired by Dial Books, following his award-winning debut, SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS. His new book takes place in a near-future Detroit, is set partly inside a video game, and follows Chinese-American seventh-grader Octavia Lu and her burgeoning friendship with Dante, an African-American boy newly "bussed in" to her suburban school in a self-driving car. Publication is set for spring 2020.

Way to go, Jack!

Three cheers for Rhonda Gowler Greene, who has a new picture book coming out with Bloomsbury in May— LET’S GO ABC! THINGS THAT GO, FROM A TO Z, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk.

In other good news, the text from Rhonda’s book, SING PRAISE, was commissioned several months ago by St. John’s Cathedral of Knoxville, set to music, and sung at their February 4th treble choir festival.  Sixty kids (3rd grade - high school) from area Knoxville churches made up the choir, and Rhonda got to attend the performance!

That’s so inspiring, Rhonda!

Students around the state recently voted for the 2017-2018 Great Lakes Great Books Award. Lisa Wheeler's picture book DINO-RACING was the winner for grades K-1, and Kristin Bartley Lenz's YA novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was one of the two honor books for 9-12th graders. See the complete list of winners and honor books for all ages here. The 2018-2019 nominees have also been announced, including Jack Cheng for his middle grade novel, SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS. See all of the nominees and voting instructions here

So proud of you Lisa, Kristin and Jack! 

Anita Pazner is celebrating! She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January.

That’s quite an accomplishment, Anita! 

And finally, I did my first school visit entitled, ARE YOU MY FRIEND? based on my book, ALL ABOUT SOCIAL NETWORKING, in North Carolina just a few weeks ago. We had about 60 kids attend, and we talked about what true friendship looks like, the differences between real live friends and social media friends and how to stay safe online. It was so much fun (and I think the kids liked it tooJ).

Isn’t it great to be part of such an inspiring group of children’s writers? And remember, no matter where you are on your publishing journey, we think you’re pretty special!

Send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards, at  

October-December 2017

Happy New Year! We’re shaking things up this month at the Mitten and starting the year off with your happy publishing news. You heard it right- it’s time for Hugs and Hurrahs! You were busy writers during the last three months of 2017, and we salute you all for your hard work and commitment to craft. Drum roll please. . .  

Hats off to Maria Dismondy! Her bestseller, SPAGHETTI IN A HOT DOG BUN is now available in Spanish and will be released in Chinese later this year. Her book CHOCOLATE MILK, POR FAVOR is being published in Korean and is now traveling the country as a children’s musical. Way to go, Maria!

Congrats to Kathryn Madeline Allen! Her book, A KISS MEANS I LOVE YOU (Albert Whitman & Co.) won GOLD in the Moonbeam Awards board book category. Launched in 2007, the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to celebrate children’s books and life-long reading. That’s amazing, Kathryn!

Three cheers goes to Rebecca Grabill! Her first book, HALLOWEEN GOOD NIGHT, was released this past July from Atheneum/Simon and Schuster. Congratulations, Rebecca! 

Standing ovation goes to Supriya Kelkar! Supriya was recently interviewed by the Washington Post about her middle grade historical fiction, AHIMSA. So proud of you, Supriya! Here’s a link to the interview: 

Neal Levin has been at it again! His poem, “Saturn’s Rings,” was published in the October 2017 issue of Spider Magazine, and his poem “Smells Like Chicken Noodle,” is in the January issue of Spider. Neal also recently published his 25th “10 facts” feature for Fun for Kids Magazine. This is a regular two-page color cartoon he creates for each issue of the magazine, providing ten fun illustrated facts relating to the issue's theme. You are awesome, Neal!

Big congrats to Lindsay Moore! Her narrative nonfiction book, SEA BEAR, was recently purchased in a two-book deal by Greenwillow Books for a winter 2019 release. That’s amazing, Lindsay!

Three cheers for Debbie Taylor! At the Nov 5 Ann Arbor Library Fifth Avenue Press Book Release Reception, it was announced that the next author they will be publishing is Debbie Taylor. Her book will be coming out this spring. Congratulations, Debbie!

Hats off to Heather Shumaker! Her first middle-grade adventure story called THE GRIFFINS OF CASTLE CARY, was recently purchased by Simon and Schuster for a March 2019 release. This is Heather’s first book for children and introduces the three Griffin children, their ginormous, tongue-drooling Newfoundland dog, and a bit of a ghost problem. Being billed by the S&S editor as a charming book with “Penderwick-y style and Neil Gaiman themes.” So happy for you, Heather!

And here’s a standing ovation for Lisa Wheeler! Her newest picture book, PEOPLE DON’T BITE PEOPLE (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon Schuster) debuts on April 3. The book is illustrated by the award-winning Molly Idle! So proud of you, Lisa!  

Congratulations to Sondra Soderborg! Sondra just signed with her “dream agent,” Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Erin will be taking Sondra’s first MG novel to market next year. So happy for you Sondra!

Three cheers for Ruth McNally Barshaw! Coming in June 2018: NO BASE LIKE HOME, written by ESPN broadcaster and two-time Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza and her sister, Alana Mendoza Dusan, in which an eleven-year-old tries to live up to her legendary older sister's softball skills on her travel ball team. Stacy Whitman at Tu Books is the fantastic editor on this project. Way to go, Ruth!

Happy dancing for Claudia WhisittBROKEN LINES, the third book in the Kids Like You Series garnered a silver medal in the 2017 Moonbeam Awards in the pre-teen historical/cultural category. So happy for you, Claudia!

Congratulations goes to Lorelle Otis! Three of her mindfulness painting/poems have just been published in the online poetry publication, Willawaw Journal. Her work appears on the cover, back cover, and page 4. The poems are from her A Few of the Ten Thousand Things, project she has been working on for four years. That’s awesome, Lorelle!

Hats off to Joseph Kimble! Joseph, a law professor who has written three law books, recently published his first children’s book, MR. MOUTHFUL LEARNS HIS LESSON. Way to go, Joseph!

Three cheers for Jacquie Sewell! Jacquie’s book, MIGHTY MAC, THE BRIDGE THAT MICHIGAN BUILT (Peninsulam Publishing) is now available on Amazon (with a sneak peak!) or through the publisher:
So happy for you, Jacquie!

A special congratulations to Nancy Shaw, Kelly Dipuchio, Lisa Wheeler and Patricia Polacco! These amazing authors are part of the Michigan Album Quilt of Authors and Illustrators unveiled last fall at The Clarkston Independence District Library. The quilt was started in 2011, with participants signing fabric squares to go into the design. Other authors/artists for young people are Gary Schmidt, Gloria Whelan, Janie Bynum, Margaret Hillert, Devin Scillian, the late Nancy Willard, and Robbyn & Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. Other libraries will be displaying the quilt, too. Standing ovation to these amazing authors and what they give to the children’s literature community!

And finally, my story, “The Christmas Candles,” appeared in the December issue of Highlights Magazine, and the joy I felt was pretty much overwhelming!

I hope this issue of Hugs and Hurrahs has you celebrating with your friends and finding new inspiration to get those drafts polished and submitted! You can do it! And when you do, we’ll be right here to celebrate you!

Happy Writing!

THIS JUST IN: Author Jack Cheng has won the SCBWI Goldne Kite Award for Middle-Grade Fiction! Please join us in congratulating Jack Cheng, the author of SEE YOU IN THE  COSMOS, on this special honor. The Golden Kites are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. The awards will be presented at a gala during the SCBWI New York Winter Conference on Friday, February 2 at 7 PM at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Featured guest Chelsea Clinton, humanitarian advocate and children’s author, will make a special presentation at the event.
Big Michigan congratulations, Jack!
Carrie Pearson and Leslie Helakoski

Send all your happy publishing news to Patti Richards, Our next Hugs and Hurrahs deadline is March 28, 2018.


  1. Wow! So much good news. Excited for everyone. It's so great to see so many Michigan SCBWI members with good news.

  2. Way to go all you Michigan members. Great to read about everyone and everything. A big thank you to Kristen, Patti, and Nina for all this editing! You're doing a great job!

  3. Congratulations to all who have published this year (well, in any year). Such greatness in this membership.