Children’s Fiction

For the past 20 years, my writing has focused on nonfiction, with an emphasis on curriculum for sustainability and social justice. But all the while, I’ve been busy cooking up fiction as well, learning the craft as a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). While the works are in-progress and/or in the query stage, I’m ready to bring them out of the shadows.

See more of the  spot illustrations .

See more of the spot illustrations.

the shape of change

Curvelia is a land where everything is formed from living, growing shapes—including body parts. Have a worn-out arm? Harvest an oval to replace it. Need new toes? Grab some shapes from the triangle tree. But death by decay awaits those stricken with Early Crumbling, an incurable wasting disease. 

Fifteen-year-old Ruji knows the illness all too well. She lost her mother to it, and now she’s determined to cure the illness to redeem her mother’s spirit and win the heart of her depressed and distant father. Mentored by Darshon, the leader she idolizes, Ruji develops a promising therapy. But the byproducts are toxic and deadly, a fact Darshon conceals to poison his rivals while exploiting Ruji’s invention. But when the shapes stop growing and children start crumbling, Ruji digs deeper and uncovers Darshon’s true intentions and his sinister role in her mother’s death. To stop his deadly plans and save her mother’s spirit, Ruji must risk it all to topple his lies and find her truth.

Complete at 40,000 words with optional spot illustrations, this young adult novel weaves together the social awakening theme of Esperanza Rising and the ecological perils of Pixar’s WALL-E.

The novel was a runner-up in the 2018 Michigan SCBWI Novel Mentorship competition.

balloons gone bad

With twisted verse and illustrations up to the task, this picture book is about a band of rebel balloons who must rethink their ways when their grand ideas go very, very wrong.

Up in the sky, a flock of pointy-beaked birds jostle for space with a gaggle of balloons. A few pecks, and the balloons are dead.  Determined to banish the threat, the balloons suck up all the air, morphing into mounding masses of bulges, tufts, flaps, twists, and tails that leave no room for their adversaries. Delighted with the victory, the bloated heads revel in their greatness. But when the good times become smothering, it’s a race against time to deflate—and the balloons can’t do it alone. 

Children love balloons, but everyone hates sappy stories about them. Balloons Gone Bad will delight children and adult readers with cheeky humor redeemed by a sweet ending.

(Dummy is in progress.  See some of the sketches .)

(Dummy is in progress. See some of the sketches.)

Hounded by his fans, Rodger daydreams of curling up under a leaf with a good book or a getting away from it all to go fly hunting.

Hounded by his fans, Rodger daydreams of curling up under a leaf with a good book or a getting away from it all to go fly hunting.

rodger the chameleon learns the serious business of being a tie

This chapter book tells the story of Rodger, a superstar chameleon of infinite colors and designer patterns who must decide where home truly is. 

Plaids, stripes, and geometric shapes. Black to white in under ten seconds. Rodger, the superstar chameleon, can do it all. Talented and ambitious, Rodger’s the idol of every reptile in the garden, but sick of entertaining his simple fans and bored with his grass-colored friends who—at best—can darken a few shades. Fed up, he takes off in search of challenges befitting his gifts and an audience sophisticated enough to appreciate them.

But the wider world is not what he expected. A scrape with a dog’s tail, a plaid couch, and a denim-clad butt land him in a closet where the ties and shirts teach him their secrets. If Rodger-as-Tie can master the business lunch, he’ll earn the status he knows he deserves. But to stake his claim in this new world, Rodger must choose between walking the red carpet and being true to his colors.  (In-progress.)