Hugs and Hurrahs

Hugs and Hurrahs! 

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.

July-September 2017

Happy fall everyone! It’s time for apple picking, pumpkin carving AND Hugs and Hurrahs! Our members have been more than busy over the last three months raking up mounds of happy publishing news. So settle in with your favorite cup of tea and celebrate with these amazing Michigan SCBWI members: 

Heidi Sheffield was recently awarded the 2017 LA Mentorship Award during the summer SCBWI conference! Heidi also just signed with Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. We are so proud of you, Heidi!

Deb Gonzales is thrilled to announce that she sold her nonfiction picture book, PLAY LIKE A GIRL: THE ROAD TO BREAKING BARRIERS AND BASHING RECORDS, to Julie Bliven at Charlesbridge Publishing. The book is slated for a spring 2019 release. We’re giving you a standing ovation Deb!

 Rhonda Gowler Greene sold two picture books this summer! The first book, THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON, went to Sleeping Bear Press and is scheduled for release in 2019, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Rhonda sold the second book, HERE WE COME, CONSTRUCTION FUN! To Zonderkidz. Rhonda is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first two books— BARNYARD SONG (Atheneum) and WHEN A LINE BENDS…A SHAPE BEGINS (Houghton Mifflin), this month. Both books are still in print. We’re doing a big happy dance for you Rhonda!

Congratulations to Sara Kendall, the winner of SCBWI- Michigan’s 2017-2018 Illustration Mentorship 2017-2018! Sara will spend the year learning from the fabulous Kirbi Fagan. And congratulations to this year’s runner-up, Basya Cohen! We’re so proud of both of you. Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s contest.

Lori McElrath Eslick recently participated in the National Assessment of Education Progress Grade 4 Writing ALS and was selected for one of the Nov. 2017 group. Way to go, Lori!

Hats off to Lindsey McDivitt who recently sold a picture book biography about Michigan nature artist and environmentalist, Gwen Frostic to Sleeping Bear Press. The book is scheduled for release in 2018. Lindsey also sold a second picture book biography to Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers about Nelson Mandela and his fight to free South Africa from Apartheid. So happy for you, Lindsey!

Congratulations to Rebecca Brockington who recently won 3rd place for her chapter book manuscript in the Kidlit College contest. Way to go Rebecca!

Cathy Gendron is happy to announce that she’ll be illustrating author Paul Czajak’s upcoming picture book, TREES MAKE PERFECT PETS. Sourcebooks is the publisher and the book is set for a spring 2019 release. So proud of you, Cathy!

Buffy Silverman won the 2017 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in nonfiction for her photo-essay, "Magical Monarchs." The article, which was inspired by her experience raising monarchs, appeared in the October, 2016 issue of Ask. That’s awesome, Buffy!

Lisa Rose is excited to announce she’ll be writing a chapter book serried for Rourke Educational Media. The series has a total of six books. So proud of you, Lisa!  

Danielle Hammelef’s puzzle "How Do You Live?" was published in Pockets July 2017 issue, and her poem "School Starts Soon" was published in Pockets September 2017 issue. Danielle’s short story "Sharing Berry" will appear in Pockets October 2017 issue. The story is dedicated to her own soon to be 13 year-old golden retriever named Berry. Danielle writes, “His birthday is 10/16 so the timing of publication couldn't have been any better.” Way to go, Danielle!

Neal Levin just published his 25th "10 Facts" feature for Fun For Kidz. 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’re awesome, Neal!

Kristi Gatchel is happy to announce that she’ll be blogging about her new Independent Study project on translated picture books. Kristi, a Children's Lit major at Eastern Michigan, will be blogging about the translated books she’s found, the need for translated books for children, and the industry. You can follow her journey here: Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristi!

Amy Leskowski recently won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA Category for her picture book, TRAFFIC JAM. Amy also won a First Place Georgia Peach Award from the CAG – for the same manuscript. Way to go, Amy!

Our amazing RA, Carrie Pearson, recently sold her picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, to Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge publishing. The book is scheduled for a fall 2018 release. You’re awesome, Carrie!

And I’m (Patti Richards) doing my own happy dance because my picture book manuscript, CUPINE’S PERFECT DANCE PARTNER, won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA category! Woo Hoo!

That’s it for this edition of Hugs and Hurrahs. What an amazing group of talented writers you all are. You make our Mitten proud!  

Send all your happy publishing news to Patti Richards,


  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.