It was a dark and stormy Day for picture books

It was a dark and stormy Day for picture books

It was a stormy day in Georgia …

So, my dogs were in and out of my office checking in with me.

I keep picture books all around me.

I left choices for the dogs from books I’ve recently read on the floor.

What books are the dog leaning into?

Maggie: Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry. by Fausto Gilberti. It’s a biography and very funny.

Chili: I’m Not Missing by Kashelle Gourley and Skylar Hogan. A great book for dog owners. Lots of fun humor.

I’m team Balderdash! John Newberry and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel and Nancy Carpenter. I re-read it this week. I’m trying to find a resource listed in the book. I need a super hero, so I’ll probably check in with a librarian soon!

Hope you find a good book to read on both stormy and non-stormy days.

One year away day: Debut picture book Before I Lived Here, set in Colorado

One year away day: Debut picture book Before I Lived Here, set in Colorado

My debut picture book BEFORE I LIVED HERE is scheduled to be published on April 29, 2025.

While that’s one year away, I know the date could be iffy. Why? Because a lot can change. Think disruption of supply chains. Paper shortages. Pirates boarding cargo ships.

Dates can change. Anything can happen. I understand and that’s part of the publishing process.

I saw rough sketches from Illustrator Victo Ngai late last year. Her work is gorgeous.

I made this video to mark the “one year away day” with images from the neighborhood and the state that inspired this story that’s taken many years to get to publication.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about this book with you over the next year.

Before I Lived Here is a picture book about the history of where you live. It’s set in Colorado. I hope young readers will be able to imagine the story of their own neighborhoods before they lived there when they read this book.

Before I Lived Here is a picture book set in Colorado. It’s about the history of where you live.

In Before I Lived Here, a boy peels away each layer of the history of his house, which
may look a lot like yours. Follow along from the construction of the neighborhood back
to the planning of it; from the ranchers and log cabins that predated its modern
appearance back to the region’s indigenous people and their eviction from the land . . .
all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Before I Lived Here reminds us that history isn’t something that happens far away, to
other people—it’s in our own backyards.

Busy parents: Check out time saving tips to find books at the library

Busy parents: Check out time saving tips to find books at the library

Yikes it’s been a minute (or million) since I’ve made a blog post.

I’ve been spending time writing, revising, and social media-ing.

I wanted to share a post I wrote for KidLit Works — a promo group of children’s book authors and illustrators with books being published in 2024 and beyond.

In the post, I share tips for busy parents to make the most out of their visit to the library. When my son was little we made weekly runs to the library to find books. I make several trips a month now as an author.

The post also includes a downloadable reading challenge and a reading recommendation list, so you can track books you want to find.

The library has always been a staple in my life. As a parent and writer, I save a lot of money by reading books from the library. I would never be able to purchase the number of books I read.

Hopefully, there’s a new to you tip in the post.

Happy Reading!

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting
Author: Michelle Robinson
Illustrator: David Roberts
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2016
Suitable for ages: 3-6


Theme/Topic:  Bears, Survival Tips, Humor


Opening Spread: Going for a walk in BEAR Country? You’d better make sure you know your bears.


Brief Synopsis: (from Amazon)
Do you dream of seeing some real, live bears? Then this essential guide to bear spotting, filled with offbeat humor and quirky illustrations, is for you!
In this perfect read-aloud, sure to delight kids and parents alike, a young aspiring bear spotter ventures into bear country . . . But coming face-to-face with the furry creatures themselves, whether black or brown, can be dangerous, and our protagonist–accompanied by a trusty teddy bear–might need to use some unconventional means to stay out of trouble and avoid being (gulp!) eaten.


Resources: The National Park Service has tons of information available on bears. Stuffed bears could also be used to act out scenes from the book.


Why I Like This Book: This books is funny from the first page! While the child is ready for an outdoor adventure, the narrator keeps warning the child about bears. As a person, who always hopes to avoid bears, I laughed out loud while reading this book. Michelle Robinson’s pacing is excellent and the second the narrator says “Don’t worry. Chances are you won’t even SEE a bear.” You KNOW when you turn the pages things will get more interesting. This book has been one of my favorites from 2016.


For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Title: Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes
Author: Tim Wynne-Jones
Illustrator: Brian Won
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
Suitable for ages: 4-8


Theme/Topic:  Action, Adventure, Humor, Imagination, How to Tie Your Shoes


Opening Spread: S.A.M. is digging for the Lost City of Raisins … He is tracking down the treacherous green spitting bug, balancing on high places, and stealing home.


Brief Synopsis: (from Candlewick)
Secret Agent Man (S.A.M.) needs new shoes. His mom — er, sidekick, “K” (short for Kay) — takes him shopping. But the operation will be dangerous: to start with, Shoe Store Man looks shifty. “Frisk him,” says S.A.M. With the help of a Team of Expert Spies and keen observation skills, will Sam find that his brand-new tiger-striped shoes convey a new superpower . . . and that he can now tie his own shoelaces? Imaginative play is the mission in this witty picture book with retro illustrations that cleverly merge S.A.M.’s escapades with the ordinary world. Roar!

Resources: Here’s a whole website on Top Spy Secrets. We may need to go around and rename parts of our house based on the spread I mention below.


Why I Like This Book: The first spread sets up agent Secret Agent Man or S.A.M.’s imagination as he plays and the second spread immediately lets us know the reality of his world. It’s a fun story from the first page to the last. My favorite spread is near the end as S.A.M. tries to find K (his mom). He looks int he Secret Chamber of Silence, the Holding Cell of Despair, Torture Chamber, Rocket Silo, and the Darkest Valley of Doom. Most parents will laugh at this. I was going to be secretive about what each item represents, but Illustrator Brian Won has this spread on his website. Take a look. I hope it makes you smile like I did. I discovered this one while searching the library’s online collection for shoe tying books.


For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Halloweensie Contest 2016

Halloweensie Contest 2016

Happy Halloweensie! It’s that time of year again when children’s writers gather ’round the cauldron to craft a story in 100 words or less. Author Susanna Hill is the gracious founder of the contest. She and her assistants deserve tons of treats for reading all the contest entries.
This year, each 100-word or less entry must contain the words spider, ghost and moon. Variations of the words are allowed. Stories should be kid-friendly and contain no illustration notes. Here are the rules, if you want to participate. You have until the strike of 11:59 p.m. EDT.
Here’s my 2016 entry:

Halloween Tracks 

By Stacy S. Jensen

Oliver saw the tracks every Halloween.
They were colorful with a sweet aroma and looked like scat. Oliver never ate it, but other owls did.
“Who?” he wondered made them. He flew over the streets in the moonlight searching
High,
Low,
And, in circles for the critter.
He saw bunnies, coyotes, and spiders and almost gave up.
Until, he heard …
SCRITCH.
SCRATCH.
SPLAT.
Oliver followed the noises to a little ghost.
“Your tracks!” Oliver screeched.
“My candy,” Ghost cried.
Oliver helped Ghost collect his spilled loot.
“Here’s a treat!” Ghost tossed a candy to Oliver. “Happy Halloween!”

Word tells me I’m at 98 words!

There will be plenty of entries at Susanna’s blog. I am always impressed by the very talented work created in this contest and also how similar our thought process can be. I’ve been a happy Halloweensie participant since 2011 — 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
I hope you all have a spooky, fun-filled Halloween!

P.S. I’ve been re-working my website in recent weeks between other projects. It’s not “done,” but decided Halloweensie is more important than “done.”