Proof that college pays off…

Hi everyone,

I just checked AND THE BULLFROGS SING on It isn’t due out until May 14 but as of a few minutes before I posted this it ranked as the #1 new release in books about zoology, #75 in books about reptiles and amphibians, #138 in books about environment, and #169 overall in books about zoology.

After earning two degrees in zoology, I think my professors at Drury and Emory would be proud of me!

A good way to start the week!

Hi everyone,

More good news for A PLACE TO START A FAMILY. Last night I received notice that the book has been selected a K-3 2019-20 Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Title.

Voting by students will begin in January 2020 and winners will be announced in mid March. Fingers crossed for a win, but just being on the list is high honor. The purpose of the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program is to promote reading of quality books by young people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to encourage teacher / librarian collaboration in young adult and children’s literature, and to honor authors whose works have been recognized by the students of Pennsylvania.

My gratitude to the librarians of Pennsylvania for selecting my title for the list.


Hi everyone,

Yesterday’s mail brought an f&g of my next book from Holiday House, AND THE BULLFROGS SING. I’d seen sketches and some finished art via email from my editor, Grace Maccarone, but this is the real thing.

I want to thank my gifted artist, Kate Cosgrove, for her sensitive and realistic portrayal of bullfrogs throughout their life cycle. This one was well worth the wait.

The book makes its debut on May 14 but it already ranks #223 in the category of Reptiles & Amphibians on the strength of pre-orders. You can place your order now at

To video or not to video

Hi everyone,

This past week I’ve spent time recording myself in three 3-minute promotional videos, one each for NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T; A PLACE TO START A FAMILY; and CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS. I’ve intended to do this for months and wasted time searching in vain for the program I used quite a while ago when Sandy and I made a video of me reciting one of my poems, “Practice.” Jeff finally came to my rescue and determined that my program had gone out of existence and must have been dropped during an update. He installed VSDC Video Editor, which is free and easy to use.

Making promotional videos is hard work, at least for me. I forget to smile. I scratch my nose. You can hear my breathing. It’s awkward holding up a book. I fail to include an important point. The light makes my skin look creepy. Etc. But yesterday I finally got a decent take on the third book so now they’re in the file ready to use.

Next I need to set up a new DropBox account so my publishers can share the videos and we can talk about ways to use them. It’s a whole new world out there baby.

The Boy with a Drum

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I spoke to The Hospitality Club at Twin Oaks Country Club in Springfield and enjoyed it very much. Shortly before leaving the house I received a note from a lovely woman named Amy Hebert that began, “rat-a-tat-tat, rum-a-tum-tum.” I knew at once she was talking about THE BOY WITH A DRUM, illustrated by the wonderful artist Eloise Wilkin. Amy told me that her daughter, now in her 30s, loved THE BOY WITH A DRUM when she was six months old and used to bounce and bob to the rhythm of the book. That, of course, made my day.

As we exchanged notes I also learned that Amy’s husband once gave a sermon based on the story. I smiled about that thought as I drove to Twin Oaks and on the way remembered that many years ago a friend of mine who died had THE BOY WITH A DRUM read at her funeral. I was there to hear it.

THE BOY WITH A DRUM was my first children’s book and came out on October 1, 1969. I was paid $350 outright for it and by 1979 it had sold 2 million copies. Later this year I’ll try to remember to have a small celebration on that date. This morning I visited Amazon to capture a picture of the book for this blog and discovered that it is still being reviewed now and then, one as recently as July, 2018. The only reviews that aren’t 5 stars are by people who bought used copies and weren’t happy about the condition of their book. Here’s a typical review.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Must-Have for Every Child’s LibraryApril 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase

This darling little book has gotten oodles of use in my family- so many fond memories. My sisters and I were read it growing up, and once our brother came along….well let’s just say we all STILL have it memorized even now that he’s all grown up and a talented drummer in a band, LOL. It has such a fun rhythm and rhyme to it while telling a story about a little boy playing his drum and meeting different animals along his way. By the end, they’re all following him. You can almost hear his rat-a-tat-tat, rum-a-tum-tum going off into the distance 🙂 Really gets everyone’s feet and hands tapping. Great pictures too. One of those books you won’t mind reading over and over and over…and you WILL 🙂 It’s as enjoyable to read as it is to listen to. I buy this book for every baby shower I attend and I haven’t met a parent, grandparent, or child yet (infant on up) that doesn’t love it (and I was a nanny.) What are you waiting for, buy it already!!

In a 2017 review I read that THE BOY WITH A DRUM was read to a sick infant who died after living only thirty days. The family read the book at his funeral. I’m deeply touched knowing that my simple little story has been so intimately involved in people’s lives.

THE BOY WITH A DRUM hasn’t been in print for decades except for anthologies such as LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK CLASSICS and FARM TALES. I’m grateful that my little boy is still out there, playing his drum and marching over the hill.