Friday, January 18, 2019

Kid Inventor Day - Ravenna Integrated Preschool

It is quite a challenge to come up with a unique storytelling experience. But, I love a good challenge!

Ravenna Integrated Preschool invited me to perform two storytelling events with the theme, KID INVENTOR DAY. After much thought and reading piles of books I decided that I would focus on Ohio Inventors. I chose the inventors; Harry Stevens (hot dog), Garrett Morgan (traffic signal), and Thomas Edison (light bulb) -- three Ohio inventors whose inventions would unlock my storytelling creativity.

The best hot dog book I found was Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems. I have a friend who made a pigeon costume for Halloween last year. I decided I needed to make a costume of my own.

The costume was rather simple to make. I purchased a blue surf towel from Amazon. Then, I sewed on some eyes, wore a baseball cap with a yellow bill, attached a piece of foam to a belt, and viola!

I was ready to eat the hot dog, but the duckling kept interrupting.
I think I have their attention. Weird guys in pigeon costumes will do that!

Mo Willems' books are great for paired reading. Two copies of the book is a must!
The best traffic signal book I found was Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen. The text is simple with rhyme. It was just what I was looking for.

I made a few traffic light props. I had student volunteers hold them up during our movement activity.
Stop the light is red! Now...the light is green, march, march, march. Now the light is yellow, march, slooooooow.
The best lightbulb book I found was Night Lights by Susan Gal. There is probably under 20 words in this book but it was the perfect book to introduce a shadow guessing game.

This is a simple but fun idea. I used a large light, a white sheet, and a bag full of items to create a shadow guessing game. A student volunteer held up the items for the others in the audience to guess. The first bag was full of kitchen utensils.
The second bag was full of winter clothing items. 
The third bag was full of stuffed animals.
This was the end of my prepared story time, but they wanted me to keep going...So, I said, "Wait...I am an Ohio inventor too, right? I invented a book."

They loved DODO!

I found this astronaut hat at a garage sale many years ago. It has come in handy when reading DODO!

I love wearing a clown wig!

I am so thankful Ravenna Integrated Preschool invited me to come read to them. It allowed me to try many new things and for that I very grateful!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Five Little Potties is a Memory Book Too!

My favorite part about Five Little Potties (besides reading WHOOOOOOSH went the pee and out went the poo!) is that it is a memory book too. There are seven pages to add memories and photographs of your child's potty-training experience.

I took a scrapbook-like approach for my copy of the book for my four children. I printed photos and text from our inkjet printer and used a glue stick to add everything to the book. This really makes the book special. After reading the story in the front of the book you can talk about the pictures and memories. So much fun!

The book is only $7.99 on Amazon + you get the Kindle eBook for free with the Kindle Matchbook program! Don't forget to leave a review of the book on Amazon. Thank you for your support!

Monday, November 26, 2018

My 10th Book -- Five Little Potties: A Potty Training Memory Book -- Now Available

Five Little Potties: A Potty Training Memory Book


A potty-training twist on a classic nursery rhyme. 

The Five Little Potties know Dinosaur needs to go potty. They tell him not to hide but to hurry! Dinosaur runs and runs and runs to make it to the bathroom in time. How will the Five Little Potties celebrate? Find out in this new twist on a classic nursery rhyme that will bring fun to your potty training adventures. Personalize your book by recording memories and adding photographs to the provided pages.

A must-own book for potty-training families!


Five Little Potties: Potty Training

Five Little Potties: Potty Training

Five Little Potties: Potty Training
Personalize your book with photos of your child.  Record stories to create a memory book!
7 total pages to personalize!


Friday, August 17, 2018

Writing is an Emotional Roller Coaster

My experience as a children's author and illustrator has been an emotional roller coaster.

The process of writing a new book is much like the fun and anxiety-filled climb to the top of the first hill.  Finishing a book and reading it for the first time to a group of children is like the feeling I have when I crest the top and start to fall. Weightlessness. Complete exhilaration.

Then, there is zoom to the bottom. The feeling of fear! Ahhhhhhhh! I reach the bottom and wonder if I will be able to do it again.

Thankfully, I have managed to make that climb to the top nine times. Nine books. I am very thankful.

This week, I was starting the climb once again. I was revising and revising and revising a few manuscripts I really love. The climb to the top with these manuscripts has been slow and I can't help but have my doubts.

Will these manuscripts ever become books?

I have come to expect this experience as another part of the emotional roller coaster.

Sometimes I meander. Twisting and turning on the track before I start to climb upward again. It just depends on my confidence. It is definitely easier to write when I am feeling good about my writing.

There is one thing that I have found that really helps send my writing roller coaster back on its upward trajectory... a little bit of reassurance. A little bit of reassurance that lets me know that the time and effort I am spending on writing for children is worth it.

I think the best kind of reassurance is the kind that surprises me and comes out of nowhere and confirms that I am doing good things.

This week I received an email for a reader that was very reassuring:

Hi Eric!

This email is a long time coming,  I've been meaning to write it for over a year now. Here I am ! :) 
We received your book as a gift when my son was born in 2016. I wanted to let you know how much joy and learning this has brought into my child's life. This was his first book, but even after receiving more books throughout the months, this one was (and still is) the favorite and go-to book. We learned our veggies and about bathtime with this book. It has gotten me through many bath times when my little one did NOT want to take a bath, and I thank you for that. Not to mention, the countless lunches and dinners it has gotten us through. As a father of four, I'm sure you can understand that lol :)
I have attached photos so you can see how much we love this book. It has been taped, eaten, drooled on, ripped, re-taped, glued and stapled (anything we can do to keep it going) :D it has some "happy wear and tear".

We now have an 8 month old that also enjoys this book and we are keeping the tradition going. The boys read this together multiple times, almost daily. Thank you for writing this book! It has had an amazing, positive impact on my boys' lives.
Hope you have a great day, we are!! 

Becky from Virginia

As if that wasn't enough there were three photos attached to the email:

(Photos used with permission.)
Wow! I could do nothing but smile.

Then I thought of one of my favorite children's authors, Richard Scarry. He once said, “I’m not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people have worn out my books or that they’re held together by Scotch tape.”"

Here is one of my Richard Scarry books from when I was a child. It is hard to see but it is held together with tape.

I cannot thank Becky enough for sharing her family's experience with Baby Beards! with me. To know that one of my books has been read and loved so much that it is held together with tape feels absolutely amazing!

It was just the pick-me-up I needed... reassurance I needed to continue my roller coaster ride.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


Dodo: Silly Bird. Silly Name. Silly Stories. is now available on Amazon!

Dodo: Silly Bird. Silly Name. Silly Stories. is my ninth book. In it you will find three silly stories, 62 full-color pages, and tons of laughs! 

The first story is Uh-oh, Dodo. Dodo is having a bad day. Many things are going wrong. It's raining outside. Dodo's tower of blocks fell down. Dodo forgot to charge his tablet too. Dodo is very sad until something finally puts on smile on Dodo's beak.

The second story is No. No. Dodo!. Dodo plays a dress-up guessing game. Will Dodo dress like a cowboy? A dinosaur? Maybe a ballerina? Dodo is very silly especially at the end of the game. It's fair to say that Dodo planned a grand finale for the last costume. 

The third story is Dodo Go-Go!. It is time to go-go but Dodo does not want to go-go in a car. He doesn't want to go-go in a boat, or a plane. How will he go-go? Hmmm...

So, how did I come up with the idea for these stories? Well it all started with a stuffed animal...

This is Ducky Momo. My son referred to his tiny stuffed animal with this name one night at bedtime. I loved the sound of the name Momo. I asked him, "Did you make up that name or did you see it somewhere?" I hoped he would say that he made it up so I could steal the name for a new book character but he said he saw it on the TV show Phineas and Ferb. (Darn it, Disney!)

I was disappointed but only for a few moments because my mind shifted to another bird that has a similar name -- a dodo. It is hard not to smile when saying momo and dodo and I realized that there were many other words like go-go, no-no, ho ho, so-so, yo-yo, and uh-oh that were fun to say too.

During my school visits I suggest to students of all ages, write all your ideas in a journal and you never know what might happen! Ideas are always safe in your journal. If you write them down you will always have them. Sometimes you will look back at the things you wrote down and think they are good. Sometimes you will think that they are not good, but it really doesn't matter in a journal. The important thing is to write them down. 

That night I followed my own advice and wrote in my journal about ducky momo, dodo, and the fun words. This ended up being an idea that was a good one and I wouldn't stop thinking about it until it became a finished book.

The page from my journal.
I thought about dodo for many months but never wrote anything more. I knew the idea had potential to be a book with three stories featuring the words go-go, no-no, and slow-slow (later changed to uh-oh). 

My best writing happens in my head and this is what happened with this book. I thought about Dodo so much that when I finally sat down to write the words it came out with ease.

I was on a school visit and had over an hour to eat lunch. The school visit was going better than expected. I was feeling really good. I guess I inspired myself. After talking with the students about writing all morning I wanted to write. My creative energy was at an all-time high.  I felt like I could do anything. After a quick lunch at Subway I went to the public library. I found a pen and a scrap piece of paper in my van.

I went right to the children's section of the library, grabbed a few of Chris Raschka's Thingy Things books to read before I started writing, and then I wrote three stories about Dodo. 

I loved it! All those random thoughts and ideas and words in my head actually came out in an organized, understandable, and workable manuscript. I couldn't wait to start on the illustrations.

My first drawing of Dodo. I thought it was too mean.
These illustrations of Dodo were more playful, but I didn't like them. 
I experimented with the stamping technique I used for More. More! MORE! Dandelions but I didn't like the results. 
I even tried googily eyes, but it didn't feel right.
I decided it would best to illustrate this book digitally like my Three Ghost Friends books. I knew from the moment I started working on the computer that it was the right choice. Below is the development of Dodo using Graphic 3.1 for Mac.

From this point on, I worked only on my desktop computer to create the illustrations and refine the text. 

Uh-oh, Dodo. (Silly story one.)

No. No. Dodo! (Silly story two.)

Go-Go, Dodo! (Silly story three.)

The most common question I get is, "How long does it take you to make a book?" 

Well, for Dodo: Silly Bird. Silly Name. Silly Stories. I worked on the illustrations for about a month. Then I spent another month editing and creating the final layout for publishing. (This is quicker than normal for one of my books!)

I am beyond happy with this book. I think you will like it too.

It is available in paperback and eBook (kindle only):

Thank you for your support!