Thank you, Tara Lazar

The 7th annual Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) came to a close yesterday and I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the challenge.

I’d also like to thank Tara Lazar, the PiBoIdMo founder and organizer. For those who don’t know, Tara spends countless hours each summer and fall lining up guest posts, contacting agents for prizes, organizing a Cafe Press store (where she donates all proceeds to Reading Is Fundamental – RIF), moderating registration, managing the PiBoIdMo Facebook Group, sorting out and awarding prizes, and probably a dozen more things I don’t even know about.

She does this all for us. PiBoIdMo is completely free. For everyone.

And while all of this work does give Tara’s books some exposure, that exposure doesn’t count for much unless we, the PiBoIdMo participants, take action.

So this holiday season, I encourage everyone to purchase at least one (or more) of Tara’s books, all of which are terrific favorites in my family. If not for yourself, then perhaps as a gift for a child in your life or your local library or school.

While I am a strong supporter of independent book stores (see yesterday’s post), I’ll make it easy for you:

Little Red Gliding Hood

(under $11 at press time)

little red gliding hood

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

i thought this was a bear book

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

The Monstore

the monstore

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Normal Norman

(available for pre-order only, releases 3/1/2016)

normal norman

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Two for You

See the four for you above.

7th Annual Picture Book Idea Month Is Here!

Why is November 1st one of my all-time favorite days of the year?

No, it’s not my wife’s birthday! (or is it?)

November 1st is the start of Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)! According to the FAQ (found here), “PiBoIdMo is a free November writing challenge for picture book writers and illustrators. The object is to jot down one picture book concept daily. By the end of the month you’ll have at least 30 bright & shiny new ideas! You can then refer to these ideas throughout the year to jumpstart your creativity and write new manuscripts.”

Registration for PiBoIdMo is now open (click here)! It’s free and it’s awesome. Every day throughout November a different author or illustrator will post on Tara’s blog in order to inspire and ignite your creativity. I posted last year (see here) and I’ll be posting this year again (on November 2nd!). Here’s the calendar for the entire month:


What a lineup, eh? And what a logo! PiBoIdMo founder and organizer Tara Lazar works tirelessly every fall to organize this event.  And today happens to be the book birthday for her third picture book, Little Red Gliding Hood. So let’s give Tara a hearty congratulations! I’d also like to congratulate Little Red Gliding Hood illustrator (and PiBoIdMo 2015 Artwork Creator), Troy Cummings.

tara lazar

Congrats to Tara & Troy!

And as I do at the conclusion of every blog post, here are two recommendations for you:

Two for You (Tara Lazar Edition)

1. The Monstore written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks


Just in time for Halloween, pick up this family favorite, Tara Lazar’s debut!

2. I Thought This Was a Bear Book written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Benji Davies

i thought this was a bear book

Alien crashes into a bear book. Hilarity ensues. Meta at its finest!

Rhyming Picture Book Revolution: Best in Rhyme Award

19 awesome rhyming picture books (and Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) were recently nominated for the first annual Best in Rhyme Award. This award will be presented at Angie Karcher’s Rhyming Picture Book Revolution Conference.


It’s such an honor to be listed with these 19 other fantastic books:

  • Circus Train written by Jennifer Cole Judd & illustrated by Melanie Matthews
  • City Kitty Cat written by Steve Webb & illustrated by Magali Le Huche
  • Duddle Puck written by Karma Wilson & illustrated by Marcellus Hall
  • Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) written & illustrated by Josh Schneider
  • Interstellar Cinderella written by Deborah Underwood & illustrated by Meg Hunt
  • It’s Only Stanley written & illustrated by Jon Agee
  • Jampires written & illustrated by Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell
  • Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast written by Josh Funk & illustrated by Brendan Kearney
  • Monkey and Duck Quack Up written by Jennifer Hamburg & illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
  • Monster Needs Your Vote written by Paul Czajak & illustrated by Wendy Grieb
  • Monster Trouble! written by Lane Fredrickson & illustrated by Michael Robertson
  • Outer Space Bedtime Race written by Rob Sanders & illustrated by Brian Won
  • Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime written by Marcie Wessels & illustrated by Tim Bowers
  • Smick! written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Juana Medina
  • Snoozefest written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Kristyna Litten
  • Spots in a Box written & illustrated by Helen Ward
  • Stick and Stone written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
  • There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight written by Penny Parker Klostermann & illustrated by Ben Mantle
  • What About Moose? written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez & illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi
  • Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story written by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Jill McElmurry

What is Angie Karcher’s Rhyming Picture Book (or RPB) Revolution Conference? It’s a conference dedicated entirely to writing rhyming picture books. Faculty include all-star rhyming authors Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Lori Degman, Karma Wilson, Corey Rosen-Schwartz, and the Kidlit TV-ers! More info on the conference and registration can be found at Angie Karcher’s RPB Revolution website here.


And as I do with every blog post, here are two recommendations for you (in addition to the 19 up above):

Two for You

1. Under a Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit (A Mixed Up Book) written by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Chuck Groenink


My new favorite book. So clever and meta and funny!

2. Ally-Saurus & the First Day of School written and illustrated by Richard Torrey


Very cool layered first day of school imagination book! The illustrations add a ton to the story.

My First Podcast Interview: Let’s Get Busy with Matthew Winner

Just a quick note today: if you’ve never listened to the Let’s Get Busy Podcast with Matthew Winner, you certainly should. And today you have TWO reasons … because I am the featured guest on Episode #193 talking about Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast!


In this interview I:

I highly recommend you subscribe to the Let’s Get Busy Podcast if you haven’t already. Matthew Winner has so many amazing interviews with fabulous guests in the previous 192 episodes (and many more lined up to come!). And certainly check out his new home for the podcast – All the Wonders, a home for readers to discover new books and to experience the stories they love in wondrous ways.

Also, I decided today to start a new tradition. Because so many of my blog posts are about me, I’d like to share two favorite books by others at the end of every post from this day forward. I’ve decided to very creatively call this:

Two for You

(two books I highly recommend)

1. Boats for Papa written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

boats for papa

I love everything about this book. Get the tissues ready, cause it made me start crying in the middle of a bookstore.

2. Snoozefest written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Kristyna Litten


Great rhymes and illustrations, and starring a sloth.

How to Buy a Picture Book (without Buying a Picture Book)

My first book comes out on Tuesday. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. You’re probably tired of hearing about it by now, so lucky for you, I don’t plan on talking about it in this post.

Today it’s how to support picture book authors and illustrators.

One of the best things you can do is buy their book(s).

But what if you’re not in the market for picture books at this time in your life, so the idea of buying one doesn’t really interest you? Maybe it doesn’t fit your budget. Or maybe you have an irrational fear of cute animals and anthropomorphic breakfast foods.
Book Shelf with Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

Here are ten ways to support picture book authors and illustrators:

  1. Give the book as a gift. You probably know someone who might like it. Give it to her/him. Or donate it to your library.
  2. Request that your local library purchase a copy. This can be done in person or often in an online form.
  3. Reserve and borrow it from the library. Increased circulation of books is noticed by librarians. They are smart people.
  4. Review the book. On goodreads. On Amazon. On Text reviews are even more valuable than just star-ratings.
  5. Talk about the book with librarians and booksellers. There are a lot of great books out there. Get this book on their radar.
  6. Talk about the book with friends. Or parents of your child’s friends. Or your child’s teacher. Or strangers on the street.
  7. Share the book on social media. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Post on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, MySpace, etc. about it. Share the cover image. If you see it in the wild, snap a picture and share that. And tag the author or illustrator (or both). We love that!
  8. Share the author or illustrator’s posts on social media. Follow them on social media sites and share with your networks.
  9. Read the book in public. Like at the park. Or in a restaurant. Or the airport.
  10. Make your own fan book trailer. And post to YouTube. If that’s your thing.

Note: I’m not the first to write a post like this. Here are a few other posts which have similar and more detailed info. Please check them out:

Also Note: These ideas can apply to any type of book, not just picture books.

Thanks for reading. And thank you very much for supporting picture book authors and illustrators, however you choose to do so.

nErDcamp rEcap

Brace yourself: this post is gonna be long. If you’re like me, you might want to just look at the pictures.

I spent last Monday and Tuesday at nErDcamp in Michigan. What is nErDcamp? It’s a conference for educators focused on reading and literacy founded by members of the Nerdy Book Club (if you don’t know what that is, stop reading this and go here now). Over 900 educators from all over the U.S. and Canada attended the two day conference.

So let me tell you what happened with pictures.

Sunday morning I flew from Boston to Detroit.

Boarding Flight from Boston to Detroit
Early Morning jetBlue flight

After chilling at the airport for a bit, I hitched a ride with educators Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi (author/illustrator of Where Are My Books?, illustrator of I’m Bored and Naked – two separate books). We stopped at Bob’s Big Boy for a snack on the way from Detroit to the Hampton Inn in Jackson.

Josh Funk at Bob's Big Boy
Jason, Big Boy, Lesley, & me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

Debbie did one of her found art doodles (see more of her found art doodles here).

debbie ridpath ohi's found art doodle of josh funk on the way to nerdcamp
Red Pepper Boat to #nErDcamp

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

After checking in at the hotel, we met up with my good friend Jess Keating (author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied, How to Outswim a Shark without a Snorkel, this October’s How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue, and next February’s Pink Is for Blobfish, AND member of #TeamKrush) and her husband who shall henceforth be referred to as #NerdyPhotographer. Along with Debbie, we headed over to the high school where nErDcamp would take place starting the next day. We stopped by the rock for this photo:

nErDcamp Rock with Josh Funk
Debbie, me, & Jess

Then we headed into the school

Welcome to nErDcamp 2015
the steps into the school

where I dropped off some swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits

and a little more swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks

and offered (Jess and Debie) to help.

Jess Keating and Debbie Ohi breaking down boxes
Jess and Debbie breaking down boxes

We met nErDcamp co-creators/founders/planners/chairs Colby Sharp, his wife Alaina Sharp, and Suzanne Gibbs.

Jess Keating, Debbie Ohi, Colby Sharp and Josh Funk meet
Jess, Debbie, Colby, and me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

We met other conference volunteers (also twitter friends) including Jen Vincent, Niki Ohs Barnes, & Ryan Hanna, before heading to the infamous Olive Garden for dinner to meet up with even more educators (also also twitter friends) Kacie Rodgers, Kurt Stroh, Sara RalphMichele Knott, Kathy Burnette, Amy RalphMichelle Simpson, Melissa GuerretteCarrie Davies, Ann King DiBella, and more!

Josh Funk at nErDcamp pre-dinner at the Olive Garden
Mingling after my eggplant parm.

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi]

While hanging out in the Hampton Inn ‘bar’ for the evening, I shared Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast with several new friends who hadn’t seen it before. I also took the opportunity to share Dear Dragon and Pirasaurs! sketches, and it was a blast to see these readers’ reactions. And then I went to bed…

only to be woken up at 6:30 by the fire alarm which quickly shut off. When it came back on for the second time three minutes later, I headed to the lobby to check it out and it (apparently it was a malfunction), but I stayed to eat breakfast, only to receive this at 7:17:

Followed by the #joshdidit hashtag starting to trend (for the record, I didn’t do it). While the alarms continued to blare on and off (until about 8:30), I split a waffle with Debbie,

Sharing a waffle with Debbie Ohi
Sharing a waffle with Debbie

and I had a nice chat with debut author Cassie Beasley (Circus Mirandus).

Cassie Beasley eating breakfast and drawing an elephant's butt
Cassie Beasley drawing an elephant’s butt

We arrived at nErDcamp and headed to the ‘Green Room’ for presenters where everyone had a fantastic gift bag filled with homemade boutonnieres that Mrs. Sharp made out of an old Robinson Crusoe text, along with a bunch of other great stuff. I met several awesome authors over the next few hours including authors Edith Cohn (Spirit’s Key), Kristen Kittscher (The Wig in the Window), Tracy Holzer (The Secret Hum of a Daisy), Erin Soderberg (The QuirksPuppy Pirates), Aaron Zenz (Chuckling Ducklings), Ruth McNally Barshaw (Ellie McDoodle Diaries), Louise Borden (Baseball Is …), Leisl Shurtliff (Rump, Jack), Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut), Tricia Springstubb (Cody and the Fountain of Happiness),  Jerzy Drozd (Warren Commission Report), Lisa Graff (A Tangle of Knots), Lauren Castillo (Nana in the City), Philip C. Stead (Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat), Erin E. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Matthew Cordell (Wish).

Josh Funk, Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell at nErDcamp
me with Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell

[Photo by Lauren Castillo]

Yeah, I managed to sneak into a picture with a few of these all-stars! Nearly 1,000 people filled the auditorium

nerdcamp auditorium
Filled to Capacity

for Nerd Talks by Ruth Ayres, Sue HaneyDonalyn Miller, Lisa Graff,

Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff's Nerd Talk
Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff’s Nerd Talk

and this awesome 8 minutes from Pernille Ripp,

I wasn’t scheduled until session 2, so I grabbed a quick bite to eat in the teacher’s lounge and hung out with Donalyn Miller’s awesome family. And then I led the “Picture Book Panel” featuring NINE Picture Book Pros: Miriam Busch (Lion, Lion), Larry Day (Nanook & Pryce), Matthew Cordell, Philip C. Stead, Erin Stead, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Lauren Castillo, Deb Pilutti (Ten Rules of Being a Superhero), and Matt Faulkner (A Taste of Colored Water).

#nErDcampMI Picture Book Panel
Busch, Day, Cordell, P. Stead, E. Stead, Ohi, Castillo, Pilutti, Faulkner

[Photo by Aliza Werner]
And there I am standing at the edge of Debbie’s view from between the pair of Team Caldecott:

What a thrill it was to lead this panel with such a stellar cast! And it went very well! Everyone got a chance to speak, and we even had a few laughs (I think it was with me, not at me…).

After session 2, I went to see Mr. Schu talk about his favorite books of the year so far. He started with picture books, and had so many on his list, he got as far as … some of the picture books (sorry Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Graphic Novels).

So this post is taking forever to write, and I’ll bet almost nobody is actually reading this far, and it’s Saturday night, and my wife wants to spend some time with me (yay! she loves me!), so I think I’ll just post some pictures with captions for the rest of the way.

Donalyn Miller Mr. Schu John Schumacher
Donalyn Miller & Mr. Schu

Picture by Debbie Ohi
Jess Keating Troublemaker Jess Keating as Lauren Castillo’s Troublemaker

Photo by Debbie Ohi

colby sharp, lauren castillo, mr schu john schumacher, travis jonker, team81
#Team81 (Colby, Lauren, Schu, & Travis Jonker)
Publishing Panel
Publishing Panel Closer Up (I’m drinking water)
Nerd Camp Publishing Panel
Ruth McNally Barshaw’s amazing sketch of everyone on the publishing panel! We got #Barshawed!
Josh Funk Jennifer L. Holm
Jennifer L. Holm, bunny ears, and me

Nerds in a Car Josh Funk Lauren Castillo Debbie Ohi
Nerds in a Car (me, Lauren Castillo, Debbie Ohi, Jason Lewis, Melissa Guerrette, Lesley Burnap)
Melissa Guerrette & Jillian Heise being suspicious
Everyone at Dinner After Day 2

So, all in all, nErDcamp was amazing. I met so many awesome educators and authors and friends.

I’ll end with this tweet (you may recognize one of the images):

See you next summer!

Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast was named in two Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015 lists today (see the posts from Unleashing Readers here and Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook here). I sure hope the fabulous authors of those blogs enjoy the book when it eventually gets released. And I can’t really explain what it feels like to be listed alongside four Newbery Medal Winners (Kate DiCamillo, Jennifer Holm, Katherine Applegate, Rebecca Stead), two Caldecott Medal Winners (Kevin Henkes, Brian Selznick), a whole host of other awesome authors, and a literary legend (Harper Lee).

Since I was on two lists, I thought I would pay it forward by listing my TWENTY Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015 (in order of release date).

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton (June 16th) ben clanton

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Uranium Unicorns From Uranus written by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat (June 30th) ricky ricotta

I’m with Cupid by Anna Staniszewski (July 7th) i'm with cupid

First Grade Dropout written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (July 7th) first grade dropout

Princess Juniper of the Hourglass by Ammi-Joan Paquette (July 21st) princess juniper

Mind Your Monsters written by Catherine Bailey and illustrated by Oriol Vidal (August 4th) mind your monsters

Baba Yaga’s Assistant written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll (August 4th) baba yaga

Double Happiness written by Nancy Tupper Ling and illustrated by Alina Chau (August 4th) double happiness

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson (August 4th) zack

Your Alien written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Goro Fujita (August 4th) your alien

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs written by Rebecca Colby and illustrated by Steven Henry (August 11th) bats and frogs

Boo-La-La Witch Spa written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Isabel Roxas (August 18th) boo la la witch spa

Monster Needs Your Vote written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Wendy Grieb (August 25th) monster needs your vote

What’s Up with This Chicken? written by Jane Sutton and illustrated by Peter J. Welling (September 15th) what's up with this chicken

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York by Geoff Rodkey (September 29th) tapper twins

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue by Jess Keating (October 2nd) outfox

Lenny & Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead (October 6th) lenny lucy

Sunny Sweet Is Not So Scary by Jennifer Ann Mann (October 13th) sunny sweet

Little Red Gliding Hood written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Troy Cummings (October 27th) tara lazar

Bird & Squirrel on the Edge by James Burks (October 27th) bird squirrel

Wow! August is gonna be a busy month for the bookstores (especially the 4th). What’s on your list?