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

The Shape of Change is a speculative, upper-middle grade novel about the social awakening of a sheltered girl who must unravel a web of environmental corruption while facing her own complicity in it.

Curvelia is a land where everyone and everything is made of living, growing shapes—a place where you harvest triangle-toes and oblong-arms from the mosaiced landscape. But death by decay awaits those stricken with Early Crumbling, an incurable disease that claimed the mother of fifteen-year-old Ruji. Now, with her father still depressed, science-obsessed Ruji wants to find a cure and free her mother’s spirit from the Shapeless Realm to reunite the family.

Mentored by Darshon, the leader she idolizes, Ruji develops a promising therapy. But the byproducts are toxic, a fact Darshon conceals to poison his rivals while exploiting Ruji’s trust. But when the shapes stop growing and children start crumbling, Ruji digs deeper and uncovers Darshon’s true intentions, his role in her mother’s death, and her father’s elaborate cover-up. To stop Darshon’s deadly plans and save her mother’s spirit, Ruji must shun the comfort of denial and risk the ultimate price..

Complete at 42,000 words with optional spot illustrations, this coming-of-age story blends the political backdrop of Esperanza Rising, the ecological reckoning in Pixar’s WALL-E, and the ethical questions raised in Double Helix..

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 horribly 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. 

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. See  more illustrations .

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. See more illustrations.

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 save his owner by camouflaging stains at a business lunch, he’ll earn the coveted title of Fashion Master. But before he can stake his claim among the elite, Rodger must choose between walking the red carpet and being true to his colors.   (In-progress.)