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!

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?

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.

The Hummingbird Christmas: A Short Story

As the west coast rain fell outside, I bubbled with excitement.  I loved Christmas Eve and though a little snow, would be lovely, I was content.   I watched out my window as carolers gathered. Soon, it would be time for cookies and milk; I had written my note for Santa.

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is a little sparkle of magic so I can know in my heart you are real. 

Your friend,


My friends told me Santa did not exist.  I wanted them to be wrong.  If I could just see something magical at Christmas time, that would be enough.  Would Santa bring the magic?

I stared at the Christmas tree.  The decorations sparkled but they weren’t magic.

I could smell shortbread cookies in the oven.  Delicious, but not magic.

I stepped outside, hoping to hear the carolers’ singing.  The rain sprinkled lightly on my face.  Then something pink and shiny caught my eye.  I heard a hummmmm of beating wings.  A hummingbird darted into view.  I stood completely still.  I saw a most surprising sight.  The hummingbird fed its babies with nectar from its beak.  I watched as it flew from the neighbor’s bird feeder to the nest. The mother hummingbird placed her beak into the mouths of the two babies; they were tiny and perfect.

Baby hummingbirds in winter… it had to be Christmas magic! Maybe Santa is real, I thought.


This short story was submitted to: Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest 

Planning a Children’s Book

I thought it would be fun to share a bit of my process in creating a picture book.  I wish I had this idea when I was making my first picture book, Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker!  Honestly, this was not my own idea but I have adopted it and it really works.

You may be aware that picture books have a 32 page format.  So I just use 32 sticky notes to represent the pages and then when I get to the point where I’m ready to work out the page turns… voila!  All I do is make notes about where the images will go and plan out the book.

The page turns need to be in just the right places to add interest and create suspense.   Here’s a peek at my current project in partnership with Paula Nasmith as illustrator…IMG_6266

As you may have noticed, this is not the entire story planned out but a portion of the story (only 24 pages shown).  I just love the ease of the sticky notes; I can easily replace or move them around to get the story and page turns just right and it is so quick and easy to make up.

My Latest Review!

Yay! Just read another positive review for my new picture book, Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker.  If your children love Jillian Jiggs, then they’ll love Katie Shaeffer too!  You get a book with a catchy rhyme to engage young readers and you get a recipe included for super yummy pancakes too! Here in Canada, we’re getting into the perfect season for making pancakes. And by the way, if you’ve read the book and want to leave a review, it would be much appreciated.


Amazon Review

Recipe Card: Katie’s Perfect Pancakes

Hello Readers!

I’m happy to be back to blogging after a long break.  I hope you will continue to stick with me as there’s been lots going on in my word of preschool, family, and children’s book writing! Not much time for photography lately but will get back to that too, I hope.

For now, here’s a new recipe card I’ve created to help launch my Katie book!  If you’d like a recipe card, let me know your mailing address and I’ll happily send one out to you! You can email me at  Want to show your appreciation?  Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. IMG_5983

Here’s a photo of the front of the card; recipe is on the back!

Don’t have a copy of the book yet?  Get one here or try Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you prefer. Happy weekend to all!