Bears, the Keepers of Dreams

In southeastern Texas where I live, it gets cold now and then, but rarely freezes. Right now I’m spending the holidays in New Mexico where it gets colder. I see snow through the window. My breath makes smoke clouds when I go outside. I need a hat and thick socks. This weather makes me want to sleep late.

Bears also sleep more in the winter. A lot more. They snooze for an entire seven months, all day and all night, in a state called hibernation. If you were a bear you’d miss Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day. No food, no water, no holiday parties.

However, I can see that if I had to live outdoors without food when it’s really really cold, curling up in a hole and nodding off until it got warm might be a good idea.

While researching my book A BEAR’S YEAR , which follows a mother bear and her cub through the seasons, I watched a lot of bear videos.  Here are some of my favorite about the time of the year when bears sleep and dream.

This one shows a mother bear and cubs getting ready to hibernate and explains beautifully why and how bears hibernate.

Here is a bear preparing his den for the winter. He spends an awfully long time gathering leaves, but it’s worth watching all the way through.

Here is Spirit Bear hibernating…

…and then waking up in the Spring!

Scientists believe that bears dream like we do. Sleeping as much as they do, they must have a lot of dreams. Maybe that’s why the Cherokee people say bears are the keepers of dreams.

As for me, I’m thankful I can stay awake to experience the season, as well as sleep in when I want to dream a little longer.

Wishing you a Happy 2017!


Katmai Bear Cam

I was excited to find that during bear season every year there is a live bear cam in Katmai National Park and Preserve where you can watch bears going about their business. The cam is active from mid-Spring through early Fall.

Here is a video from the bear cam from last year showing bears catching and eating fish.

Katmai National Preserve is at the southern end of the Alaskan Peninsula, 300 miles south of Anchorage. There are 13 volcanos in the park, including 5 that are active. On June 6, 1912 Novaropta erupted, the largest eruption of any volcano anywhere in the 20th century. As a result, acid rain burned clothing lines as far south as Vancouver, British Columbia, 1400 miles away. Locally, a lantern held at arm’s length couldn’t be seen for days. The crater was called Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Here is what it looked like after the ash had settled.

Here is what it looks like today.

A Bear’s Year Across the Curriculum

Recently I skyped with first graders at Tallwood Elementary in Virginia Beach. The visit was arranged by Literary Specialist Karen Kaas. It was a Q & A session and the students were well prepared and asked excellent questions. They used A BEAR’S year to study seasons, bears and hibernation.

One of the class projects was to create a video retelling of A BEAR’S YEAR.

Here it is!

Nicely done!

I was happy that Ms. Kaas gave me permission to share this. She said, “The kids loved doing it. It really was great for bringing science in with reading, writing, and oral language.”

I love hearing how picture books are being used in classrooms from K-high school for multidisciplinary integration.

My 15 minute Q & A Skype visits are free. All teachers have to do is read students one of my books and help students prepare questions for me to answer. If you would like a virtual visit by an author, email me at I’d love to visit your classroom.

A BEAR’S YEAR Story Time Kit

Story time is in full swing!

I’m having a great time sharing A BEAR’S YEAR story time kit.


Bear cubs being creatively colored and put to sleep in paper bag dens.


Using the kit, children’s cubs can hunt for seasons to create a season’s wheel.


Kids can wake up the bear cubs from their winter sleep by singing Wake Up Little Bear included in the kit.

For a fun story time, download the A BEAR’S YEAR Story Time Kit here.


Happy Birthday, A BEAR’S YEAR!





A BEAR’S YEAR launch day is finally here — Yay!

(Imagine fireworks, a parade, hundreds of balloons released)

I’ve written stories about bears that live in houses, wear clothes, decorate Christmas trees, and trick or treat. Now I’m so proud to be able to share this book about real bears doing what real bears do throughout the year. There aren’t any bears where I live, but I was awed seeing them when I visited Alaska. They are amazing animals, and the mother bears are so caring of their cubs.

There are so many people to thank for turning my poem about bears into this beautiful book. Gerry Turley’s illustrations are so perfect for this story. I love his lively bears, the beautiful palette, and tiny forest creatures that peek out of each page.

My editor, Lee Wade, with her amazing eye and attention to detail, helped me tweak my poem to be its very best. I’m so lucky that she was my editor. I’m grateful to her and all the staff of Schwartz & Wade for their part in creating this sweet book.

Of course, none of this would have happened if my agent Erin Murphy hadn’t loved these bears first.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all those who made this book possible!

To celebrate, I want to share a few of my favorite bear videos. I’m moved by how mama bears care for their cubs.

Mother bears teach their cubs what they need to know!

Bear mothers are so loving!

When these babies play in the road, it stops traffic!

Mama gets her cub out of a tough spot!


Here’s a mama teaches her cub how to mountain climb!

This bear knows where the eatings good!


Cubs like to play just like kids.






PreOrder Event!


The launch of A BEAR’S YEAR is just around the corner on October 27!

Up until then Blue Willow Bookshop is hosting a PreOrder event.

If you are looking for a gift for a little one, or you yourself are a wildlife/and or beautiful illustration lover, you can pre-order from them here:

I will sign your books in the store before you pick them up or have them mailed, and you will receive free bear goodies!

Thank you, Blue Willow!

A sweet and satisfying look at the natural world. School Library Journal




Congratulations Gerry Turley!




I just got the wonderful news that Gerry Turley will have art from A BEAR’S YEAR exhibited in the annual The Original Art Exhibit of the Society of Illustrators for illustrators of “the best children’s books of the year.”–Featured-Artists.aspx

This honor doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve loved Gerry’s art since I first saw his lovely prints of bears that were shown in the Bologna Book fair several years ago.

‘Just perfect’ are the words that come to my mind to describe Gerry’s illustrations. They are both child-friendly and sophisticated, with an inviting warm palette. The illustrations elicit my memories of being in Alaska, seeing mama bears with their cubs.

Just lovely.

Congratulations, Gerry, and thank you for making this book so special.





It’s Here!

No more waiting!

I arrived home from vacation and a real bonafide copy of A BEAR’S YEAR was waiting for me. I can hold it, and I can read my story accompanied by Gerry Turley’s wonderful illustrations. Gerry and the folks at Schwartz & Wade did a bang up job of taking my words and turning them into a beautiful book.


Happily, I can now share A BEAR’S YEAR with you. You can pre-order it at your favorite indie or other preferred source and receive it when it launches on Oct. 27.

So now I’m waiting again, for the best perk of being an author. Meeting readers. Right now I’m scheduling visits to schools, libraries and bookstores. Thankfully this waiting won’t be long 🙂









Yes, I’m waiting.

On October 27 my new book A Bear’s Year will launch.

The story started as a spark, a thought. Do bears dream?  That spark turned into a poem about a mother bear and her cubs in their winter den, then turned into a longer story that follows the bears through an entire year. I was thrilled when this story sold to Lee Wade at Schwartz & Wade.  These bears were going to be dealt with in style!

Talented UK artist Gerry Turley created the lovely whimsical illustrations that show the bear’s journey. I feel so lucky that this story found him. Once on a trip to Alaska, I saw a mother grizzly and her cubs (not too close!) fishing by a river, and Gerry’s illustrations took me back to that memorable experience.

After the fun of writing— and rewriting— and more rewriting (thanks to Lee’s sharp eye and sensibility) I finally saw Gerry’s sketches. I loved them and couldn’t wait to see the final art. But I had no choice except to wait. When the publisher mailed me an F&G (the printed pages, not yet bound into a cover), I danced around my house, so happy  to see that completed art was even more beautiful than I’d imagined.

But the waiting isn’t over yet. The stages of publication require time and so many people to nurture the process along. Soon, however, the waiting will be over and I’ll hold this book in my hands. I’m sure there will be more dancing, much more dancing.

Imagine! From a spark to a book! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

So while I wait for the production to be complete, I’m busy thinking about sharing this book.  I’m planning a super story time and already have a stack of bear paw tattoos for kids to enjoy. A major perk of being an author is the fun of sharing your book with kids, and showing them that a spark within them can turn into something tangible and wonderful whatever their dream might be.

So this waiting is a busy time.

And of course, there’s always more writing and waiting to be done.

Update: The reviews are coming in!

Tend Your Writing Garden

Spring is here at last!

The gloom is gone, the sun is out. In my garden, plants are waking. It’s time to water, feed, trim, weed, and plant.



If you’re anything like me, your writing garden  needs some extra-special loving care, as well.

What better way to give your writing life a boost than inspiration from a conference or workshop to inspire new ideas, revise completed work, and to decide what belongs in your garden and what doesn’t. Do you need to weed to give space in your mind-garden for new ideas to take root and sprout?


IMG_1073Yes! I need to weed!

Fortunately for those of us here in Houston there are some great opportunities for tending our writing garden this month.

On April 18, the annual HOUSTON SCBWI CONFERENCE will give writers all kinds of nourishment for their work. Opportunities for learning, smoozing, and fun abound!

On April 25, I’m offering my workshop, MAKE IT SHINE! a revision workshop for picture book writers at Writespace, a great new writing venue in Houston. Maybe you have a new manuscript you want to polish up for an agent or editor, or maybe you have one in that drawer that you need to re-pot. 🙂  I’d love to see your work in progress progressing!

IMG_1069Plant new stuff!


IMG_1070 Make it bloom!!

Let’s gather some tools, find some really rich soil and interesting seeds and plant!