Free Bookmarks for Readers…and a Review Request


The talented Sierra Fong designed these gorgeous Over in the Wetlands and Blue Birds bookmarks for me, and I’d love to send you a set! I also have stickers of both covers. If you’d like one of each, simply drop me an email with your mailing address (caroline starr AT yahoo) and I’ll send them along. I’m happy to give you any combination you’d like: four Wetlands stickers, two Blue Birds stickers and two Wetlands bookmarks — whatever you choose.

Teachers, librarians, homeschool families, book club folks, I’m also offering a class set (for lack of a better term) to the first ten people who contact me. This would be up to thirty bookmarks and stickers of your choosing. Again, tell me what would best serve your group, and that’s what you’ll get, whether it’s a Blue Birds pack, a Wetlands pack, or some combo in between.

And now for the request I have of you. I’m not one who feels especially comfortable asking for this, but fair or not, I’ve learned how vital this thing can be to a book’s life and success. The thing I’m talking about is the Amazon review. I have to admit I’ve never liked being asked directly for a review. There’s pressure and expectation and a bit of ickiness all rolled into one. So if you feel as I have, you are utterly free to ignore this. But if you’ve read any of my books and enjoyed them, I’d be super grateful if you took a moment or two to write a quick note on Amazon.

Here are quick and easy links to find my books there:

May B.
Blue Birds
Over in the Wetlands

Thank you, friends, for your faithful support and enthusiasm. I look forward to sending out oodles of bookmarks and stickers.

A Hurricane Katrina Reading List for Young People

hurricane books

I ran this post just last month to point readers toward books similar to my Over in the Wetlands: A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story. With the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina upon us, it felt like the right time to share it again.

This list includes picture books and novels about Katrina, “the single most catastrophic disaster in US History,” stories about other storms, and a collection of books about the wetlands.

Picture Books about Hurricanes and Storms

Hurricane! by Jonathan London
Blue on Blue by Dianne White
The Storm by Kathy Henderson
Big Wind Coming! by Karen English
Waiting Out the Storm by JoAnn Early Macken
Clifford and the Big Storm by Norman Bridwell

Novels about Hurricanes

Storm Runners by Roland Smith
Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale
The Night of the Hurricane’s Fury by Candice Ransom
The Great Storm: The Hurricane Diary of J. T. King, Galveston, Texas, 1900  by Lisa Waller Rogers

Katrina Picture Books

A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg
A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Shadra Stickland
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson

Katrina Novels

I Survived Hurricane Katrina by Lauren Tarshis
Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Hooper Finds a Family: A Hurricane Katrina Dog’s Survival Tale by Jane Paley

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie Lamana
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods
Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

Picture Books about Wetlands

Deep in the Swamp by Donna M. Bateman
Liza Lou And The Yeller Belly Swamp by Mercer Mayer
Everglades by Jean Craighead George
Here Is the Wetland  by Madeleine Dunphy
Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs And Leaping Frogs by Anthony D. Fredericks
Babies in the Bayou by Jim Arnosky

Novels about Wetlands

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little
The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Here are a few more titles in listings from Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal .



Protecting Creativity


I spent fourteen years as an author in training, and while I learned many things in that time, I’m finding there are a slew of different lessons on the other side of publication. One key facet of my writing life is figuring out how to protect my creativity — how to let it grow and expand with a new project, how to feed it, how to keep it from being damaged during the fragile moments a story is finding its way.

Please join me at Kirby Larson’s blog to read the rest. I’d love to hear how you go about protecting and nurturing your creativity.

Classroom Connections: MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES (99% True!)

age range: 8-12 years
setting: 1895; Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
teacher’s guide
Alison DeCamp’s website

Please tell us about your book. 

It’s the winter of 1895. Eleven-year-old Stanley Slater finds himself stuck in a lumber camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his meddlesome cousin, Geri (who insists on diagnosing him with all sorts of 19th century diseases), his evil granny, his sweet mama and a variety of unsavory characters like Stinky Pete (who may or may not be a Cold-Blooded Killer).

What inspired you to write this story?

I grew up with family stories, as we all do. I have always been particularly fascinated by my Great-Grandmother Cora who made her daughter (my grandmother) get married at 15. My grandmother ended up having a baby, naming him Stan, and then raising him as a single mother, working in a variety of places, including a lumber camp.

I also always thought my great-grandmother was incredibly mean. She was the inspiration for my characters’s crabby granny. Obviously. Click through to see her.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I researched everything from 19th century outhouses to 19th century slang terms. Google, of course, is great for this, but I also contacted people who are experts in the history of lumbering. I read all sorts of books (many no longer in print) and my 86 y.o. father and I took a field trip to Hartwick Pines, a fascinating state park about 1-1/2 hours from my house.

One of the things that I found interesting is that the Paul Bunyan tales may have been oral history in some camps but that they weren’t universally well known until around 1916. For that reason, I chose not to include references to Paul Bunyan in the book. I was also surprised with the hours lumberjacks put in on a daily basis, the fact that alcohol was not permitted in most camps, and that talking wasn’t allowed during meals—too readily this would lead to fights. Also, cooks were paid really well because a good cook would often be a lure to get the best men. And, finally, lumberjacks didn’t really like being called that in the early history of the job—being a “jack” was somewhat derogatory in the 1850s – 1870s—which is why they are also called Shanty Boys. They did embrace the term more toward the end of the 19th century, however.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

I think it’s challenging to write historical fiction accurately with enough detail and authenticity without being too didactic (as in defining every term or historical event). I also found the little things difficult—how far would it take to get somewhere via wagon, for example. Or how much did 25 cents buy in the 1890s? Some homes had telephones, others didn’t; some streets had electric lights, some didn’t. How were homes heated? Where did water come from? Even if I never specifically used these details in the book, it’s important to at least know the answers since it’s the world where our characters are living.

What makes your book a perfect fit for the classroom? 

One of the things I’m excited about (and what I would have loved as a teacher) is the inclusion of all of the images. Many of them are accessible from the Library of Congress website ( and would be a great start-off point for additional research and/or a non-fiction tie-in.

I’ve also included some actual songs and recipes from the time period, which could lend themselves to Common Core standards. And the historical fiction is based on true stories so the connection to CCSS in history/social studies in the middle grades is definitely an option.

New Use for Old Manuscripts

My boys and I just re-discovered this particular book. Thought it would be fun to share with all of you again!

Cut in half.

Rustle up some silly kids.
Spread out on the kitchen table.
Set up a chart.

Number your pages.

Create a Choose Your Own Adventure Story.

(Ours is called THE BLACK DOOM and includes a haunted castle with a parking lot, an eyeless lifeguard [who later gets olives as eyes], lots of gorillas, a pool full of raspberry Jello, and an annual haunted castle pizza party).


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