5 Ways to Read a Book

I've read a few books over the past few years. Everything from Margaret Wise Brown to Robert McCloskey. We’ve read classics from when I was a kid. We read books that friends recommend or that I heard about through a blog. We read books that my kids randomly pull off the shelf at the library and hand to me.
Along the way, I noticed a few patterns in the way we read the books. The patterns vary based on the age and interests of each child, but I’ve found five different stages so far:
1. Point at the animals I know people recommend reading to babies. My kids weren’t interested in stories until they were over a year old. Even then, 'reading' meant pointing at something on the pages, not reading a story.

"Look! A duck! Look! Another duck! Quack, quack."

2. Read it over again And again. And again. Need I explain?

I usually tell my kids we could only read a book once per day. That works most of the time.
3. Get bored; change the story.
Repetition can get a bit monoton…

Rocket: launch + giveaway

It's here!
Mars, rockets, robots, and adventure—all in a space-age nursery rhyme retelling of “The house that Jack built.”

I wrote this book for my own son, since he's been fascinated with rockets for the past year. As a family, we've been reading rocket books, watching the Space X rocket launches, and talking about rockets incessantly, besides creating many, many pictures for this book. I'm excited to share it with you now!

This week, I’m giving away 3 hardcover copies of The Rocket that Flew to Mars. I hope you will enter, and I hope you enjoy the story!

P.S. If you're excited about The Rocket too, would you mind helping me by telling someone about my book or sharing this post?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bookstore links:



The end of a book

Right now, I’m in the final stages of finishing a book. Make that two books?

One is my new rocket book, of course, which I set up and released as a Kindle book earlier this week.

I’ve got more on that coming up next Monday!
The other book I’m finishing right now is a sketch book that I’ve been using since I was a teenager. I don’t know how old this book is. It has chipmunks and squirrels from long-past camping trips, swans from practicing for the Junior Duck Stamp Competition, kid doodles, an attempt at drawing the Yosemite Falls, and even weird eyeball-bulging frog eggs.
This book hasn’t been my only drawing book over that time. (I mean—there’s even one just for sketching out my many attempts at a fantasy series.) This particular book has been around the longest, though, and it’s a bit strange to fill up the last pages and put it away.
Oh, and yeah, I’m way behind on some things—but The Rocket that Flew to Mars is ready to launch!
I’ll be back Monday with a giveaway and more about th…

World Space Week: Make A Solar System Model

Want to build a solar system small enough to fit on your table?
Apparently, October 4-10th is World Space Week. I’ve never heard of it, but I found out this year thanks to an ever-helpful search engine home page. We’ve been on a bit of a space binge this year anyway, so this solar system was a big hit for my family.
To start, I used the link here ( to calculate the sizes of the various planets. I set the sun’s size to 17 inches, about the size of a basketball. Here’s what you’ll need to translate those sizes into a 3D solar system:
·Basketball ·Sesame seed ·Two pea seeds ·Peppercorn ·Tennis ball ·Hackeysack ·Two small marbles ·Even more sesame seeds, if you want to mark out moons for the various planets, or even the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter
Once we laid out our solar system inside, we compared it with photos of the real planets. Did you know that the earth is about half the size of Jupiter’s red spot?
Then we gathered up our sun …

The animals in our back yard

Animals in the back yard?
Make that the front yard too.
A long time ago, I grew up in a small town. We told people, though, that we pretended to live in the country. We had an acre on the edge of town; we had a large garden; we had fruit trees, blackberries, and a lot that was mostly big, open grass field. No animals, though, beyond a couple of rabbits and a dog.
Except for the wild animals, of course. We occasionally had trouble with the raccoons showing up in the middle of the night to steal dog food. We had deer trek through our garden a couple times each summer. We had the occasional mouse in the pantry.  We even had the rare (and rather implausible) cougar scare. It felt like the country, at least to us city slickers.
I now live in a fairly large city. Our neighborhood definitely isn’t high rises, but it’s a fairly busy urban/metro area. I really didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife here when we moved in.
Two weeks after settling in, though, I spotted a rabbit in the front y…

Summertime Updates

I've had a lot of things going on recently.

Blogging hasn't been one of them.


So far in the last couple of months, we've flown once. We've seen lots of people, and we've made a few dozen library trips. I've also started working on a new book project.

Background: we tend to talk about rockets a lot in my family.

Translation: we aren't rabid aeronautics enthusiasts, but we do watch every SpaceX launch, most of them live. We've also watched that Top Gear episode where some guys try to turn a car into a rocket...and it crashes. We talk about that particular rocket almost every bedtime. The toddler's script goes approximately thus: "Today was a good day. :deep sigh: Sometimes rockets crash."

As a result, I'm now working on a book about a rocket that goes to Mars (with a space-age twist on the nursery rhyme 'The House that Jack Built'). If all goes well, I'll have all of the artwork done in another month and be able t…

Book Announcement: The Rocket that Flew to Mars