Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I stopped visiting Goodreads quite a while ago, but needing a break from drawing yesterday, I found this review of Randall de Seve's wonderful book.

Very sweet! Not sure I'd want to decorate someones heinie though...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oliver hits a list

I just received news that Oliver and his Alligator made BookPage's best of 2013 list for picture books!


Yay Oliver!

they keep coming

Another very nice review of Oliver, this time from Shelf Awareness:

Paul Schmid's (A Pet for Petunia) hero Oliver, a cute-as-a-button, pastel-pencil blob of a boy, is scared of the first day of school. Clutching an apple and staring, pink-cheeked, at a long, scary sidewalk that leads to school, Oliver feels that his "brave [isn't] nearly as big as it [needs] to be." So he decides to bring along an alligator to protect him. If facing your fears is too hard, why not ingest them?

Oliver cues the alligator with a command to "Munch, munch!" when he encounters the teacher, a friendly girl, the rest of the class, the classroom decorations. But once they have all been swallowed, Oliver begins to feel... lonely. The alligator, an expressionless reptile consisting of a green outline, three stripes down its middle and small feet, swells so large it can no longer fit on the page--and yet, it keeps munching, right up to the book's deeply satisfying conclusion. --Allie Jane Bruce, children's librarian, Bank Street College of Education
Discover: A boy, unable to face his fears, picks up an alligator to ingest them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

a very nice summary of Oliver

From the Books For Kids blog:


When is an alligator not an alligator?

When it’s the first day of school and a very small boy feels as if his “brave” isn’t up to facing all the strangeness alone.

With his fantasy guardian at his side, Paul feels more in control of the situation. When a strange woman who looks nothing like his mom asks his name, all he has to say to his alligator are two words:


The lady is gone, and Oliver’s alligator is a little plumper. A girl who tries to talk to him gets the same message.

Oliver begins to feel a lot better, as his magic words make all of the bright colors and commotion in the classroom go away. His pale green and pink alligator is now as roly poly as a beach ball, and all the activity and noise are gone. Oliver pulls up a stool beside his rotund alligator in the empty room and waits for school to start. It’s very quiet.


Then Oliver hears singing and laughter. Somewhere nearby kids are having fun, and it’s all happening inside his alligator. School is on the inside!

It’s time for Oliver to say “Munch Munch!” one more time and put himself into the scene where the action is, in Paul Schmid’s first-day tale, Oliver and his Alligator (Hyperion, 2013).

Schmid earned a 2010 fellowship to study with the late Maurice Sendak, and it shows in this rather quirky tale of dealing with the first day jitters. While Schmid’s storyline shows the Sendakian hand (cf. the personification of Max’s angry feelings as Wild Things, in Where the Wild Things Are,) Schmid’s illustrations, done in soft, grainy pencil lines and pastel colors, are another matter. His “wild thing,” is a fuzzy-ish alligator who seemingly has no mouth or teeth with which to munch anybody, and Schmid’s narration is as non-threatening as his little first-day-of-school hero, who finds a way to face his fear, just as Max tamed his anger. Some children deal with an intimidating situation by daydreaming, mentally removing themselves, and Schmid’s subliminal message of how to put themselves back into life will find its mark.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

book launch party!

Come on down to Secret Garden Books in Ballard Tuesday night, June 25th to help celebrate my new book 'Oliver and his Alligator'. There will be treats and beverages (adult beverages too,) and signings and readings and other fine party things.

7 pm
Secret Garden Books
2214 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107

Monday, June 3, 2013

A star from Kirkus!

Little Oliver gets a big starred review from Kirkus:

Going into the darkness beyond Petunia Goes Wild! (2012), Schmid enters the tongue-in-cheek metaphorical alligator/crocodile waters of Candace Fleming (Who Invited You?, illustrated by George Booth, 2001) and Joe Kulka (My Crocodile Does Not Bite, 2013).
Oliver isn’t too sure about starting school—will his “brave” be big enough?—so he stops by the swamp and picks up his own tough: an alligator. “Just in case things got rough.” When he is asked his name by a lady (not his mom) and can’t remember, two little words take care of the difficulty: “Much, munch!” The same happens to a friendly little girl when Oliver’s answer gets stuck. A classroom full of noisy kids? Decorations that intimidate with all Oliver must learn? Not a problem for the now-rotund alligator. But now the problem is, “School is maybe kind of a little boring.” But where is that singing and laughter coming from? And can Oliver solve his newest quandary? Munch, munch! The simple, spare pastel pencil and digitally colored illustrations masterfully use both white space and the page turn to add to the humor. Retro pinks, yellows, blues and greens highlight details in the otherwise gray-and-white illustrations, while the three stripes on the alligator (and his never-open mouth) give him an appealing, nonthreatening look.

On the first day, both the light and the dark sides of kindergartners will go to school, their kissing hands clutching a stuffed alligator, self-confidence soaring. (Picture book. 4-7)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is a long post.

I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It primarily affects the spine, and causes pain and decreased mobility.

I’ve had AS since 1993. My pain and stiffness increased over the years from a mild annoyance to a disturbing level of daily pain. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my ribs frozen into place, leaving me barely able to breathe. I could not do even one sit-up because my back would not flex. Simply rolling over in bed was an exhausting ordeal. Visiting a dentist, it would take at least five minutes for my spine to relax enough so my head would hit the back of the chair. But worst of all, pain occupied my mind almost constantly.

My doctor who diagnosed me clearly looked upset as she informed me there was no cure and handed me a prescription for mega-doses of ibuprofen.

Eventually I was on pain suppressants round-the-clock. By 2001 there was a growing list of things I could not or simply did not want to do. I looked gaunt and sickly.

! Let us all now praise the internets!

While reaching something else, a Doctor Ebringer in London discovered that if his AS patients stopped eating starch, their pain and stiffness diminished. (I’ll save you from the explanation why...)

A few of the people who found relief this way publicized it on the web.

So in October 2001 I started a no starch diet. I was able to stop taking all pain killers by March of 2002. By 2006 I had gained back all my spinal mobility and to this day experience no pain at all unless I eat a basket of fries or some of that really fabulous double chocolate cake.

But wait.

Most sufferers of Ankylosing Spondylitis are not experiencing this relief because their doctors will not suggest the diet. If asked, doctors will inform you there has been no research to prove the diet’s effectiveness.

Yes, there has been no research done on this cure for AS symptoms. Drug companies fund research. I have been off drugs for my AS these last 11 years. 

Ooops! What’s wrong with that scenario?

I have informed doctors and rheumatologists that I am on a diet which has eliminated my pain and stiffness and have received patronizing nods but no questions. A patient’s real experience is clearly not as valid as a drug company’s brochure.

So that is why I am writing this very long and boring post. In the hopes that a fellow AS sufferer will find it and begin their life again, as I did. Or perhaps someone reading this knows a friend or family member who has the disease and will email a link.

Because you will not hear about it from your doctor. They will hand you prescriptions for mega-doses of drugs, and sadly tell you that is all you can do.