Gearing Up for 12 x 12

12 by 12


Julie Hedlund is facilitating 12 x 12 again this year. Writers are tasked with writing one new picture book each month for 12 months. I figure I’m up to the challenge, so I signed up. I have 30 new picture book ideas thanks to Picture Book Idea Month in November.

Here is my plan for 12 x 12 in 2013:

JanuaryDavid Shows the Way: The second book in my faith-filled journeys for kids brand is the story of Reuben, who is bullied by the older, bigger boys in town. But when he hears David, the youngest son of Jesse, plans to fight the Philistine giant, Goliath, he hopes he can gain some courage from him.

February – Everybody’s Home for Christmas: The story of a young boy missing his father who is stationed overseas. The little boy prays for his father’s safe return, which happens to come with a surprise return on Christmas Eve.

March – Crabby Cathy: Cathy is a grumpy girl. She’s grumpy all the time. But one of her classmates plots to change her attitude.

April – Untitled: One of Cinderella’s step-sisters gets to tell her side of the story.

May – Untitled: The story of an ingenious turkey who comes up with unique and funny ways to avoid being part of Thanksgiving dinner.

June – The Candy Store: A young boy dreams of what it would be like to own a candy store.

July – Happy Valentine’s Day, Not!: A girl tries to avoid the boy who gave her a Valentine’s Day card. But when he rescues her from the class bully, she discovers he’s not so yucky after all.

August – Easter Bunny Socks: Tired of people wanting him to deliver healthy snacks instead of chocolate eggs, the Easter Bunny decides to take up knitting.

September – Flag Day Fiasco: Students discover the school’s flag is missing and must try to find it before their annual Flag Day celebration kicks off.

OctoberMixed-up Holidays: What would happen if suddenly all the holidays were mixed up? Easter in November? Valentine’s Day in July? Christmas in March?

November – Adventures of an Evil Babysitter: The ridiculous adventures of a mean babysitter.

December – You Think It’s Easy Being Santa Claus?: A humorous rundown of what it’s like to be the jolly old elf.


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 35,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Thanks to everyone for their support. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2013!

Interview with Anna Alden-Tirrill, Author of A Cat Named Mouse

Callie and me2

Anna Alden-Tirrill was born in Virginia and grew up as an Army brat. As a pre-teen and teen, she lived in Paris, France and Frankfurt, Germany where her father was stationed. Returning to the States, she graduated from The American University in Washington, DC. As a graduate student, she taught a French class. She returned to her alma mater later as an Adjunct Professor of women’s studies and counseling. Since then she has worked as an elementary school teacher, a counselor for women, and a director for Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship. Anna began writing for publication in 2005. Her women’s devotional series—The Secret Places Series—of four devotionals is available (, as well as her series of children’s books, Annie’s Adventures Series. The first in her series is A Cat Named Mouse (

Thank you for joining us today, Anna. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Native to Virginia, I now live in the Minneapolis, MN area so I can be near family. I’m a full-time editor, interior book designer, cover designer, and book publisher working from my home office. I get lots of enjoyment out of helping authors get their books into print. I have a passion about my work. In my spare time, I do my own writing and have been published since 2005—so far twelve books.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote my first screenplay with a neighborhood friend. In high school, I was in the literary club and loved writing poetry for English class. I’ve always loved to write. After being the managing editor for several newspapers, my writing style took on more of a journalist approach. My devotionals are based on research and include quotes from women of faith down through the centuries on topics relevant to us today. My children’s books are all based on true stories and thus also are storytelling of real life events.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

Children have a natural curiosity and an open mind to new ideas. As adults, we need to be ever mindful of what we introduce to these young open minds. Writing books that include Christian themes that are biblically based, and offer a strong Christian role model is a sacred trust and I take it very seriously. I want to attract parents who are looking for ways to share with their children the Christian message that is on their own hearts. My books are intended to help open dialogue between parents and their children.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

Absolutely, because of the diligence and trust parents place in what their children read. It is imperative that what I write reflects the truth of Scripture. I don’t write from any denominational point of view, but a general traditional Christian viewpoint. It takes careful diligence to make sure that what I’m offering children is solidly biblically based and something that will help them to grow in their own spiritual journey.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Sharing with them and showing them how they can be all God created them to be—fulfilled, joyful, hopeful, and trusting Him as their loving Heavenly Father. A message written to encourage and inspire one child, one reader, is what it’s all about.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?cat-named-mouse-book

In my Annie’s Adventure Series, Annie is a twelve-year-old seventh grader. She tells the story of how her tabby cat named Mouse went missing because a large animal pulled the screen out of the window where she was sitting. Annie becomes worried because her cat had never been outside. She realizes that Mouse was vulnerable to predatory animals, storms, and the high July heat. Will Mouse ever return home? Will she end up the victim of a coyote or some other wild animal? Will she die of exposure or starvation? Annie and her family speak about prayer and trusting God to bring Mouse home.

This story is an excellent vehicle for families to use to highlight such themes as prayer, thanksgiving, praise, faith, and trusting God in challenging times. Annie serves as a positive role model with lots of friends in the neighborhood, at church, and at school and is outgoing in sports, the children’s choir, and Sunday school.

What inspired you to write it?

As I said, it was a true story. When my cat Mouse went missing, God took the opportunity to teach me many things and draw me closer to Him. As a direct result of this experience, I wrote the women’s devotional series, so that I could share with other women the biblical truths that I had learned. Then I decided to share these same truths with young readers in a way they could hopefully understand.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The book is available at our website, www.CatNamedMouse. It is also available as both a printed book and an e-book at Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and (Nook). It is also available as an e-book at Kobo. A search by author name will bring them up.

What is up next for you?

I’ve just finished my next book in the Annie’s Adventures Series, called My Gray Stray. It’s also based on a true story. Annie learns a lot about sharing God’s loving-kindness with those around her who are lonely, sad, discouraged, and need a loving hand and to know that God loves them.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Anna. We wish you much success.

I Have a Sister/I Have a Brother by Smiljana Coh

sisterCelebrate siblings in these two books from author/illustrator Smiljana Coh.

A big sister talks about life with her new baby sister. She remembers what it was like when she was small and she likes to make her smile. She also looks forward to the day they can do things together.

I Have a Sister canhelp your daughter adjust to the arrival of a new baby. With adorable artwork and meaningful words, your child will see that a new baby is a great addition to the family, and will learn the fun of being a big sister.

In I Have a Brother, a young boy talks about his new baby brother. While considering the things he used to like when he was small, this big brother likes to make the baby laugh and looks forward to showing him all the things he can do when he’s

You can’t go wrong with these books. Big brothers and sisters are reminded just how wonderful a new baby can be. I truly enjoyed how Coh had the older sibling look back to how things used to be when he/she was the same age as the new baby. And with Coh’s lovely artwork adding so much to the story, these are books you’ll want to read over and again.

Great gift idea for child who is or will soon become an older sibling.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589251253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589251250
  • SRP: $9.95


  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589251245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589251243
  • SRP: $9.95

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

With All My Heart by Brian Rock

heartWith All My Heart by Brian Rock is one of my favorite picture books of the year!

Jacob and Casey are two bear cubs with one important question on their minds: they want to know who Momma bear loves best.

I wish I had this book when my kids were younger. I just about cried as I read it.Momma bear provides a perfect answer for the burning question her little ones pose to her, leaving them knowing she loves them both. My girls (11 and 9) still ask from time to time if I love one more than the other. Perhaps it’s time to sit down and read this book together, even if it is meant for younger ones.

Samantha Chaffey’s stunning artwork is a lovely complement to the story. The warm colors, the colorful contrasts, and the emotions she captures make this book extra-special.

Highly recommended.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589256484
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589256484
  • SRP: $12.95

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

I Want A Pet by Cathy Morrison

petWhen a little boy decides he wants a pet, he knows not any pet will do. But maybe the best pet is right under his nose the whole time.

Author/illustrator Cathy Morrison brings this adorable rhyming story about pets to life with her lyrical prose and charming artwork. The little boy visits the zoo expecting to find the perfect pet, but soon discovers the giraffe is too high and the moles are too low. On he goes through the zoo, until he stumbles upon just the pet for him in an unexpected place.

Morrison gets right to the heart of a child with this one. Kids and pets go hand in hand. I Want A Pet celebrates that relationship in a wonderful way. With silly moles and a swift cheetah, along with other zoo animals drawn to perfection by Morrison’s accomplished hand, this book will be one your child reads time and again. The illustration on the last page is perhaps the best.

I Want A Pet would make a great gift for your little animal lover.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 158925113X
ISBN-13: 978-1589251137

SRP: $12.95

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.