Kid Lit Love: A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu and Christina Forshay plus a bonus interview with the author

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members! So here is February’s book: A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu with illustrations by Christina Forshay.

This book, published by Lee and Low Books,  is the winner of the New Voices Award!

I was expecting to appreciate this book, but honestly, the writing and illustrations just shine beyond what I had imagined.  I plan to use this as a mentor text for myself as a new writer and would recommend it for other new writers out there.

A Morning With Grandpa follows Mei Mei, who is eager to learn tai chi from her Grandpa while he is practicing in the garden. Mei Mei has her own unique style, performing the movements with youthful enthusiasm.  Then Mei Mei teaches Grandpa the yoga she has learned at school.  The stretchy poses are a challenge but Grandpa is a willing participant.


The book celebrates relationships with grandparents and the joy of being physically active together.  Sylvia expertly uses similes and metaphors in a child friendly way, introducing emergent readers to the richness of language.  A truly beautiful picture book to share with a child.

I had the fortunate opportunity to interview Sylvia Liu for this post. Here are my questions along with her answers.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I love how everything that happens or that I read about is fodder for my writing. And I never feel guilty when reading for pleasure, because I can justify it as doing writerly research.
What is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
How difficult it is to write really well. How do writers get to the point where their writing is so seamless that the reader forgets they are reading and just becomes immersed in the story? I’m still trying to learn that.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Keep actively learning your craft, which means finding mentors, teachers, and critique partners to give you feedback on your work. Take writing classes and read craft articles and books. And never give up – remember, only you can tell your stories in your own way.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book, A Morning With Grandpa?
It’s never too late to learn a new skill and to spend time with your loved ones.
Which books are on your reading list?
I’m writing a middle grade cyberpunk novel, so I’m reading a lot in the genre, from classics in the adult arena (William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick) to recent MG and YA novels like Armada, by Ernest Cline and the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
Have you got a picture book you love? I hope you’ll post a review.  Amazon and Goodreads are great places to post.  Let’s spread the love around!

It’s Family Literacy Day!

Yes, today is Family Literacy Day!  How will you celebrate?

-Look for events at your local library.

-Read a book together

-Read a recipe and cook something

-Write a letter and send it in the mail

-write a grocery list and go shopping

-learn a new game by reading the rules


Have a wonderful day!

Little Steps

I wasn’t sure if I should share this news here but I’m bursting with excitement so here goes….I’m hopeful that there’s an exciting change on the horizon for me.


So right at the beginning of January, I came across a publisher’s wish list for picture book manuscripts.  It felt like my lucky day as two of the items on the wish list matched one of my manuscripts.  I sent my query and a few days later, I received a request to read my manuscript!  I’m told that it takes around 6 weeks to hear back about a manuscript so I don’t expect to know anything for awhile but cross your fingers for me! It is the first time ever I feel like I actually have a chance to become a traditionally published author.

I’d love to give more details but it is really still a very long shot so it may come to absolutely nothing but right now, there’s hope!

Hope with me, okay?

Kid Lit Love: The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I loved.  So January’s book is right here: Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi.

There is something about walking through the woods that goes along with stories.  Like tea and crumpets, cookies and milk or peanut butter and jam.  Anyway, this gentle story has a few unexpected twists and turns that keep the pages turning.  The book can be enjoyed for its delightful surprises and re-read for its kid appeal.  Who wouldn’t want to attend a tea party in the woods?


Kikko, a  winsome main character, wants to deliver a pie to her grandmother’s house.  Simple idea, but when her father leaves in advance, all she has to go on are some footprints in the snow and a figure in the distance. The story has a dreamlike quality with an appreciation of bravery and independence.  The black and white illustrations with splashes of colour are delightful and different.  Reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood, it is full of fun, friendship, encouragement and whimsy.  A sure hit with little people and their significant adults! I’m happy to add this one to my library.

Appreciate what you’re reading here?  I’d be happy to have your twitter follows and facebook likes. Thanks and have a great day!



Pancake Day: February 13, 2018

Hello Lovely Readers!

This year pancake day will be on Tuesday, February the 13th?  Pancake day is sometimes called Shrove Tuesday and it is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  It goes back to the tradition of eating up any remaining rich foods before fasting.

I have my own tradition of making pancakes with my preschoolers on pancake day.  They love to measure the ingredients, stir up the batter, and flip the pancakes.  Of course the best part of all is eating the pancakes. What a treat!


For fun you can watch the Great Spitafield’s Pancake Race where Londoners go to celebrate.  Perhaps I ought to try something like this with my preschoolers.  And here’s a sweet little pancake song!


Finally, don’t forget to order Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker a fun little story about friendship, creativity and ingenuity and lots and lots of pancakes.  It is the perfect little story to read on pancake day.

Poke around my blog to find links to all sorts of yummy pancake recipes from some wonderful food bloggers out there in the blogosphere.

If you ask me, any day is a good day for pancakes 🙂

Writing Success in 2017

Resolutions have never been a thing I’ve really believed in.  The problem is that they’re too easy to break and the result is I finally end up feeling badly after I haven’t met the goals I’ve set out to achieve.  So instead of resolutions, I give you my success stories of 2017…

  1. Joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book challenge
  2. Posted 4 stories in the 12 by 12 forum, received feedback and revised.
  3. Joined my first ever online critique group.  Love my new critique partners and hope we can keep it going into next year.
  4. Watched every 12×12 webinar at least once.
  5. Submitted short stories to three contests:  Vivian Kirkfield’s 100 word story contest; A. LaFaye’s 50 word short story contest; and Susannah Leonard Hill’s 250 word holiday short story contest
  6. Won the 50 word story contest by A. LaFaye with my story Friendship Soup!! She sent me a hardcover copy of “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen.
  7. Participated in the summer reading challenge by Rena Traxel; read 43 new-to-me picture books during July and August.
  8. Self-published my first ever picture book: Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker
  9. Revised several manuscripts this year. Revise. Revise. Revise.
  10. Wrote a total of ten picture book drafts this year.
  11. Did my first ever preschool visit as an author.
  12. Got Scrivener so that I can better organize my writing and start working on MG and early chapter books.
  13. Joined Tara Lazar’s Storystorm.
  14. Joined CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers).
  15. Submitted an entry to SCBWI’s Work in Progress writing contest.
  16. Submitted picture book manuscripts to publishers and received two surprisingly kind rejections.
  17. Submitted entries to CANSCAIP’s writing for children competition.
    What are your success stories of 2017? I encourage you to make a list.  You may surprise yourself as I did!

    Here’s me reading to my outdoor preschool group.

December’s Kid Lit Love: Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay

Hello Lovely Readers!

Now that I have published a book myself, I can better understand the importance of book reviews posted on Goodreads and Amazon.  Blog posts help too 🙂

Though I don’t typically make resolutions, I have decided on one goal for myself this year: to review one amazing picture book each month on my blog, Amazon, and Goodreads.  Yes, I’m on a mission to spread my love for picture books. so if you have little people in your life, or simply love picture books, here we go!

I was lucky enough to come across Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay a couple of months ago at Chapters Bookstore in Victoria, B.C.  The illustrations are so enthralling and the time and detail put into each one is incredible.  It is worth having a look at Elly’s process for creating illustrations, which involves careful cutting of paper, painting, setting up of scenes and then photography.  The images are whimsical and colourful with a balance of clear and soft focus.

Moving to a new town, the main character must leave behind the things she loves.  She  particularly misses the butterflies and must find a way to adapt and make friends in her new town which at first, appears quite bleak and grey.  By the end, she creates and discovers friendship and beauty in Butterfly Park. And she finally feels at home in her new surroundings.

The story and images work together beautifully.  The page turns are suspenseful and the story is totally relatable for young children.  The story is a celebration of friendship, community, beauty, and change.  It is memorable for children and adults alike.

Thanks for reading!  And by the way, I’m hoping a few more people can review my lovely picture book, Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker so if you’ve read it, please take a moment to leave a review.  To enter to win a copy, head over to Goodreads; giveaway closes on January the 27th, 2018!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker by Cynthia Mackey

Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker

by Cynthia Mackey

Giveaway ends January 27, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway