Mr. Joao and Dindim the Penguin finds a home with Kids Can Press, plus writing contests and why you should enter.

In March of this year, I entered Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Word Contest with Mr. Joao and Dindim the Penguin and I am thrilled to announce that it will be published by Kids Can Press (www.kidscanpress.com) and illustrated by the incredible Mr. Pierre Pratt (www.pierrepratt.com).  I cannot wait to see how he will bring this story to life!

Dindim announcement

What I love about writing contests is they give you an opportunity to dig through your ideas notebook, research a little or a lot, share your writing with our wonderful Kidlit community, and most importantly get your precious words onto paper!

My vignette was based on the true and remarkable story of Dindim, the Magellanic penguin, and Mr. Joao Pereira de Souza. Joao found the bird washed up on the beach covered in oil near his home in Rio de Janeiro, he saved him, their bond grew and Dindim regularly makes the long trip back to visit his best ‘penguin’ pal.

Vivian’s fifty word limit allowed me to really focus in on the bones of my story, which later grew into the story that will find its home in book form in fall 2020.

In 2016, I was lucky enough to win Vivian’s contest! The prize, a critique from the wonderful Essie White of Storm Literary Agency, gave me my biggest wish of finding an agent. I cannot thank Essie enough for believing in those first 50 words and making a dream come true.

So, to all of you aspiring children’s book authors…make sure you get that idea book out and get your stories on to paper and out into the world, because you just never know where that story may lead.

Here are a few places to check out:

Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!



My Bologna Book Fair Diary 2018

Monday morning started early! As I boarded the train for Bologna, coffee in hand, I was excited to finally be heading to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, a mecca for illustrators and book lovers alike. My illustrator friend, Fiona Halliday (SCBWI Austria/Germany) and I had been talking of this for months!

After joining the queues of people entering the Fiere, we headed for the Bologna Illustrators’ Exhibition. The 77 chosen finalists’ work was showcased in rows of glass cabinets for everyone to enjoy and will be published in the 2018 Bologna Illustrators Annual to be shared across the publishing world— what great exposure!

Next were the illustrator walls! WOW! Business cards, flyers, and postcards of fabulous art adorned walls and doorframes everywhere! The walls oozed creativity, and so much talent! There was even one creative attracting lots of attention by wearing a hat dangling with business cards.

There were six halls to visit so comfy shoes were a must! Dotted through the fair were workshop spaces like the Illustrators Survival Corner, Illustrators Café, Authors Café, and Translators Café as well as approximately 1,300 exhibitors and 26,000 visitors! The Guest of Honour country this year was China, so there were displays, exhibitions, and stands promoting China’s publishing houses.

Fabulous books were everywhere and in every language! Publishers raced from one meeting to another and illustrators queued patiently to share their portfolios and new projects with potential publishing houses. A great tip for illustrators and authors is to sign up for meetings in advance, wherever possible. Some publishing houses required artists interested in reviews to connect with them a few weeks prior to the fair, but they had to act quickly as time slots filled fast. Other publishers had open sessions that were advertised on the day and the queues were long. For those whose timetables clashed, many stands had business card drop-off boxes.

I was delighted to meet with my US/Canadian publishers. It was great to connect faces to the people I had been emailing for many months, and begin to build more personal relationships. I also had the opportunity to meet with Suzie Mason, the illustrator of my board books Little Tiger and Little Panda, which will be released by Amicus Ink in spring, 2019.

photo 2 (2)(Suzie Mason and Julie at the Amicus stand)

The SCBWI booth was a welcome hub, and friendly faces greeted EVERYONE! The Duelling Illustrators competition took place here, as did some portfolio reviews and of course the BIG (Bologna Illustrators Gallery), in which one of my agency sisters was a finalist. Congratulations Cheryl Pilgrim!

But I mustn’t forget my ‘fangirl’ moment . . . the Drawing Masterclass with former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell! He talked with great humour while drawing pictures on an overhead screen to a mesmerized crowd. He shared his books, his love of music, and the importance of daily sketch diaries—and he gave me an idea! I had an empty notebook with me, so I hung around afterwards and asked if he would like to be my first doodle. He willingly obliged and honoured me with his trademark mouse in a raincoat and my Doodle Diary was born . . . and what a great birthplace! There were super-friendly illustrators EVERYWHERE! I met them in queues, on crowded public transport, in restaurants, and on the stands—so watch out SCWBI illustrators . . . next time I see you I will surely have my Doodle Diary with me!

(Special Thanks to Chris Riddell, Roberto Innocenti and Elizabeth Dulemba for their doodles).

It was wonderful to see that children’s book publishing is thriving. Fiona and I spent two fabulous days at the fair. It was inspiring and exhausting, but we would definitely go again—and next time we’ll make sure we are there on the last day to take home a whole pile of books!


Mister Joao and Dindim the Penguin #50PreciousWords Challenge 2018

Everyone knows how much I love Vivian’s #50PreciousWords contest. It’s fabulous!!


Here is a little background information for you all. March 2nd is the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known to young readers as Dr Seuss, who was challenged by his publisher to write a story using only 50 words. Not so easy! Once again Vivian(www.viviankirkfield.com) is hosting her own 50 precious words challenge!

The goal is to write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total unique word count for the story is 50 or less. For more information pop over to Vivian’s website https://viviankirkfield.com/2018/03/02/50preciouswords-2018-writing-challenge-is-open/

My entry this year is based on the true and remarkable story of Dindim the penguin and Mr Joao Pereira de Souza, who saved him from an oil slick. Every year for the last four years, Dindim has made the long journey back to spend time with his best ‘penguin’ pal. Photo credit TV Globo.

Fisherman Mr Joao Pereira de Souza and Dindim


Mr Joao and Dindim the Penguin
by Julie Abery

on submission…


Thanks everyone for stopping by. And see you all over at http://www.viviankirkfield.com


When your Llama needs a haircut by Susanna Hill


Good morning Perfect Picture Book Friday bloggers!

I am delighted to be able to participate in PPBF today with Susanna Hill’s latest board book When Your Llama Needs a Haircut…and boy does he need a haircut now! He arrived in the mail yesterday, tightly stuffed into a padded envelope! It is a long journey from Blueberry Hill to Switzerland and although he doesn’t look too bad, he does not look his best!

So, ever prepared, we have exactly what he needs!


A hairdresser’s kit! Perfect on such occasions!

And, just to make sure he doesn’t feel too self-conscious, I have found a few other friends that need a bit of a make-over too! We can turn the nursery into a hairdressing salon today! How about that kids?



Now, I have locked the scissors in their box for this activity, otherwise we may find the Barbies will have buzz-cuts too! But, what fun the children had with a baby bath, some bubbles and a few towels!

When Your Llama Needs a Haircut

Written by Susanna Hill

Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

Little Simon, January 2018

Age 2 – 4 years

When Your Llama Needs a Haircut is a laugh out loud read! The children loved the vibrant, simple illustrations. We loved poor llama’s expressions, all the different haircuts, styles and colours and the fabulous twist at the end. Such fun! Congratulations Susanna and Daniel!

This is the third book in the series that the children and I have read and used in the classroom! It was another hit!

I hope you all enjoy the book as much as we did!

Thanks for popping by!




It’s Susanna Hill’s 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest!



Aaahhhrrroooooo!  Yippee and tee-hee-hee! It is Susanna Hill’s Annual Halloweensie Contest and my Teensy-Weensy Witch is back for another adventure!

The challenge is to write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children under the age of 12 (title not included in the 100 words) using the words candy corn, monster and shadow (candy corn will be counted as 1 word).  More details can be found at https://susannahill.com/2017/10/27/the-7th-annual-halloweensie-contest-aahhhrrrooooooooo/

Remember…you have until 11.59 PM EDT on Tuesday 31st October to get an entry written and posted!


The Teensy-Weensy Witch’s Trip and Treat (99 words)

The Teensy-Weensy Witch was leaving town at Halloween,

for a New York City weekend filled with fun.

She packed her best, long shadow in her pointy purple hat,

feeling sure her costume wouldn’t be outdone!

She spied the cutest monster munching sacks of candy corn,

but that’s when things got tricky, I’m afraid.

She coyly sauntered over, tripped and landed on his belly,

sending candy corn all over the parade.

Her teensy-weensy shadow tangled tightly round her legs,

what an absolutely funny looking sight!

The monster disentangled her, they danced the Monster Mash

and stayed to watch the moonset at daylight.


Thanks for popping by!

Happy Halloween!










Little Tiger and Little Panda to be published!


In March 2016, I entered Little Tiger into Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest. To my delight, Vivian fell in love with the story and awarded it first place! My first contest win! I was over the moon!

This contest led to signing with my wonderful agent Essie White (www.stormliteraryagency.com). She had offered a prize to critique a story. I jumped at the opportunity and she loved Little Tiger and offered representation.

A good few months passed and an editor showed interest in Little Tiger. She suggested I write another ‘Little’ story. I gave it some thought and decided on a snow based setting, to differentiate a little from Little Tiger’s jungle home. I looked into panda behaviour, made my notes and Little Panda was born. In the end the original editor passed, but she kindly sent the stories onto a colleague. When Amicus Ink approached my agent to ask if I would consider publishing Little Tiger and Little Panda as board books, I could barely control my excitement. “Yes” I replied to Essie! “YES, YES, YES!”

Here is the announcement which appeared in Publishers Weekly a couple of weeks ago.

I am thrilled that Suzie Mason will illustrate these books. Please take a look at her amazing artwork here http://thebrightagency.com/artists/view/690?page=1

And keep an eye on http://www.viviankirkfield.com. She has wonderful picture book reviews every week and, of course, the third 50preciouswords contest will be coming up next spring.




The Road that Trucks Built by Susanna Leonard Hill #trucksontour


Hi Everyone,

Yippee! I am the first stop on Susanna Leonard Hill’s #trucksontour!

The incredible Susanna Leonard Hill has been on a whirlwind blog tour these past few weeks. Firstly with When your Elephant has the Sniffles and When your Lion needs a Bath and now The Road that Trucks Built.

Based on the classis nursery rhyme “The House that Jack Built”, this adorable book is a truck fan’s delight! Published by Little Simon with an age range of 4 to 7 year olds, a team of happy, hardworking vehicles created by Erica Sirotich, work together to shove and forge, smooth and even, spread and flatten, paint and create a new road. A handy key of all the vehicles concludes the book.

As I have a few truck fans in my class, I decided to create an activity based on the book to share with you all today.


Ta – dah!

This is what we did…

We used different sized plastic trucks to paint the tracks on the roads.


Then I attempted to draw the trucks (thank you Erica for making the trucks as cute as pie, and apologies to you for my less than perfect drawing skills)! Finally, the children coloured them to complete our road – and a bright and new display!


Don’t forget a prize will be given for sharing on social media. Every time you share a post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #trucksontour you will get an entry into a raffle where 3 winners will each get a $25 Amazon gift card.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy #trucksontour, Susanna!!



It’s Susanna Hill’s Blog Tour! When Your Elephant has the Sniffles – recipe (1)



Hello everyone,

I am thrilled to welcome Susanna Leonard Hill and her two book babies to the Little Red Story Shed.

Susanna is an inspiration to so many picture book writers. Her Monday Funday Short & Sweets, Would You Read it Wednesdays, Perfect Picture Book Fridays and writing contests are FABULOUS!  If you aren’t already following her blog, you should nip over and follow right now (susannahill.com)!

Welcome to Switzerland, Susanna.
Come on in…cup of tea?
Milk? Sugar? Elephant ear cookie…?


Perfect recipe for your new book When Your Elephant has the Sniffles, don’t you think?

Oh, I knew you would like it. Please help yourself to another while I tell everyone how the kids and I made them.


1 rectangle of puff pastry
1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup of sugar mixed with
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon


Cut the rectangle of puff pastry into two smaller rectangles.



Sprinkle the first half with 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture.


Starting at the short side, roll the pastry towards the centre.


Then do the same starting from the other side.


Which leaves you with this…


Repeat this process with the second rectangle of pastry.

Cut each roll into approx. 12 slices and place the slices cut-side down onto a baking tray.


Whisk the egg with a fork.


Brush your elephant ears with the egg mixture.


Bake for 12 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.


Leave to cool on wire racks.

Well, there you go – elephant ears! Quite simple and fun to make. Hope you and your preschoolers enjoy this recipe. Susanna and I are going to have another cup of tea and a few more elephant ears.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to scroll down for more fun activities and the book reviews! Oh..and if you share this post using #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!

Happy, happy blog tour, Susanna!






When Your Elephant has the Sniffles – elephant collage and review (2)


Well, as you know, Susanna popped by the Little Red Story Shed for an afternoon tea and elephant ears. I am pleased to say we also managed to show her our elephant collage before she had to fly.


The kids had great fun making this poor sniffly thing by cutting and pasting lots of blue pieces onto the outline drawing.

Here is how they did it…

Neat huh… they had fun making this.

Here is our review:


Written by: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by: Daniel Wiseman

Publisher: Little Simon (Board Book Edition – 11 July 2017)

Ages: 2 – 4 years

When your Elephant has the Sniffles is a fun read-aloud for little people. The children laughed as the elephant was marched to bed by his little girl and they loved her attempts to keep him occupied and sneeze-free, most especially making shadow puppets on the wall.  Written in very few words, allowing the illustrations to shine, I loved the humorous text, the unseen narrator and the twist at the end. As we ate our elephant ear snack the kids were telling each other to drink their water as it is ‘important for fighting the sniffles’. We loved Daniel’s colourful, fun illustrations and thought the elephant and his little girl were wonderfully expressive! Big thumbs up all around!!

Scroll on down to the last #whenyourbooks post and a scrumptious lion pancake activity. Don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks!  Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!






When your Lion needs a Bath – review and lion pancakes (3)


My preschoolers and I have had such fun with these two books and I am so happy to be part of Susanna’s blog book tour!


Written by: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by: Daniel Wiseman

Published by Little Simon (Board Book Edition – 11 July 2017)

Ages: 2 – 4 years

When your Lion needs a Bath is laugh out loud funny! Lion is smelly and his little boy plots and schemes to get him in the bath! Once again Susanna has written this in very few words, with a charming twist at the end. It has perfectly balanced text with colourful and expressive illustrations by Daniel Wiseman. This book is excellent for sharing with little people! We loved it!

And…of course, as with When your Elephant has the Sniffles, I decided a fun food activity was the way to go to extend this book with the kids – they loved it!

Here is what we did…

We sat very quietly and watched my assistant Melanie making pancakes…yummy.


We chopped nectarines, pineapple and cherries.

We gave our lions fruit manes, cherry eyes and a whisker or two of red licorice …

then we stepped back and admired our creativity…


Finally, of course, we ate them for our snack! What fun!


Thanks for popping by and don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks. Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!