World Read Aloud Day Part 2

Yesterday, on World Read Aloud Day, I read to five classrooms of first and second graders in four different states via Skype. It was the first time I spoke to kids as a fiction author and it was a thrill!

I’ve always loved speaking with kids – starting from when I did school visits as a staff member at a raptor rehabilitation center, to my fresh-out-of-college job as an outdoor educator, to teaching fifth grade in Los Angeles, to my then-dream job of Associate Curator of Education at a zoo. My most rewarding moments were working with students. I did school visits for my nonfiction books, but yesterday was another dream come true – speaking as a fiction author.

The students were good listeners and asked great questions! Some of my favorites were — “Which was your favorite Dorothy and Toto book to write?” (Answer: Dorothy and Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present – I can’t answer in full here without a spoiler, but if you know me, you’ll understand why when you read it.) “What job did you have before you were an author?” ” When did you start writing?”

It was especially fun when kids told me they loved to write. I encouraged all of them to keep writing, drawing, and reading! The fifteen minutes flew by! I look forward to doing more Skype visits and actual school visits in the future. Thanks LitWorld for running World Read Aloud Day! And many thanks to my publisher, Capstone, for donating a set of my Dorothy and Toto books to each of the schools I spoke to!

World Read Aloud Day

I am absolutely thrilled to participate in World Read Aloud Day. I have the pleasure of doing author Skype visits to schools in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, and Alabama. I’ll be reading from my book Dorothy and Toto, What’s YOUR Name? (Picture Window Books/2016). I’ll check in tomorrow to share my experience. Happy reading everyone!

Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth Cover!

I’m so thrilled to share the cover of book 2 in the Jasmine Toguchi series, Super Sleuth!

It’s a big weekend for Jasmine Toguchi! She’s excited to celebrate Girl’s Daya Japanese holiday honoring women and girlswith her sister, mother, and best friend, Linnie. When Linnie comes over to plan for the Girl’s Day celebration, Jasmine’s neighbor lets them play dress up in her garage. But the garage is dark, which is kind of scary. And Linnie decides to go home early, which is kind of weird. And Jasmine’s big sister, Sophie, doesn’t seem to want to join in the Girl’s Day fun this year, which is kind of confusing. WHAT is going on?

As her big weekend plans start to unravel, Jasmine must use her sleuthing skills to spot the clues around her. Then maybe, just maybe, she can fix things and make sure the Girl’s Day celebration happens!

Both Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth will be available on July 11, 2017, but you can pre-order here.

Many thanks go to illustrator Elizabet Vukovic and designer Kristie Radwilowicz!


My Monthly Newsletters

I’ve started sending out monthly newsletters that include updates about my books and writing, a craft or activity related to one of my books, and a tidbit about Japanese culture. To see the December issue and have a chance to win an ARC of Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, click here. But if you want to enter the drawing, don’t delay as the deadline is December 30! You can subscribe by scrolling down and joining my mailing list. I know your time is precious so I promise the newsletters will be short and sweet. Thanks for all your support and I look forward to sharing more news very soon!

Mochi Queen Cover!

I’m super excited to finally be able to share the cover of book 1 of the Jasmine Toguchi series, Mochi Queen! Ready or not, here it is!


Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (FSG/July 11, 2017)

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

Big thanks and appreciation go to talented illustrator Elizabet Vukovic and awesome designer Kristie Radwilowicz! I’m so in love with this cover! The bright colors and overall design take me back to the manga I used to love to read as a child. And Jasmine – I just love her in her flamingo shirt and crown, holding a tray of delicious mochi.

I owe you all a long blog post about this entire process – it’s been so amazing and incredible. Every step fills me with great joy. I’m grateful to my editor, Grace Kendall, because she loves Jasmine as much as I do, and she makes me a better writer. I can’t wait to be able to share Jasmine and her adventures with you.

Believe it or not, you can already pre-order the books! Check out my Fiction page for the links to pre-order!



Thank you to Jenny Medford at Websy Daisy for the spiffy update of my web site. Thanks also to Roy Thomas of Black Dog for the author head shots.


Some of the new things you will notice are buy now buttons for my books and an author visit page. As a former teacher, I’m very excited about going to schools and talking with students about writing and books! And finally, I’m starting a monthly newsletter for parents, teachers, librarians, kids – anyone who loves books and reading. The newsletters will feature crafts, activities, and lessons for my books, as well as highlighting other books and authors. If all goes well, the first newsletter will go out the end of October (in time for Halloween).

If you sign up before October 15th, your name will be entered in a drawing to win a paperback set of my Dorothy and Toto early reader series. Sign up at the bottom of the page with your email address. Winner will be notified by email and announced in the inaugural newsletter. Good luck and happy reading!

Happy Book Birthday and a Giveaway!

I’m throwing myself a book birthday party and one lucky winner will receive the birthday gift! In celebration of the release of the Dorothy & Toto early reader chapter books that I wrote for Capstone, I’m giving away a full set of the hardcover library/classroom books. These books have reinforced binding and discussion questions at the end of each book and are illustrated by Monika Roe.

There are four books in total: Dorothy & Toto: What’s Your Name?, Dorothy & Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present, Dorothy & Toto: The Disappearing Picnic, and Dorothy & Toto: Little Dog Lost. For story summaries, click here. The paperback versions are currently available for pre-order (although some people have said they have received their pre-orders already). If you’d like to buy these books, order them at your favorite indie bookstore, or order online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound.

To enter the drawing to win a hardcover set of these books for yourself, a school or library, or a child or a friend, please comment by midnight Thursday, August 4th EST.U.S. mailing addresses only. I’ll contact the winner via email. I’d be happy to sign the copies if the winner chooses.

EDITED TO ADD: I used a random number generator to choose the winner of the set of DOROTHY & TOTO books. And the lucky winner is….(drum roll please)….Sharon Miner! Congratulations, Sharon! I’ve sent you an email requesting your mailing address and signing information. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and helped me celebrate! I plan to have another drawing for the set of paperback books later this fall (probably in late September/early October). I also plan to have a monthly newsletter filled with activities for kids, information, and more. Come back in the fall to sign up or comment below and I’ll add your name to the list. (If you receive a newsletter because you’ve commented here before and you’d rather not, it’s easy to unsubscribe.)

Thanks for helping me celebrate! Good luck and happy reading!


Dorothy & Toto Author Copies!

There is nothing better than getting a surprise package in the mail. Yesterday, I found a box sitting on my front stoop. When I peeked at the return address and saw it was from Capstone, I squealed! I immediately tore open the box and inside were my author copies of my Dorothy & Toto early reader chapter book series!

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HOORAY! I’m so excited to hold these books in my hands. I didn’t realize I would get copies of my library (hardcover) editions so this is a special treat indeed.

Just to educate those of you who are not in the industry, authors get a limited number of copies. They do not get free unlimited copies of their books. However, I plan to do a give-away of one set closer to the actual release date, so stay tuned. The library editions are available starting August 1, and the paperback editions will be released both in the U.S. and the UK on October 1st.

I think Monika Roe’s illustrations are absolutely adorable! I especially love that she drew me.


For details about each book:

You can also preorder the books from your favorite bookstore or online source:

Indie Bound or or Barnes & Noble.

Stay tuned for more when the books release. I plan to share some stories behind the stories!

Dorothy & Toto Cover Reveals!

Last fall, I was thrilled to be hired to write a series of early reader chapter books about the adventures of Dorothy and Toto in the land of Oz. I was given a lot of freedom to write these stories and I had a blast. Of course, both my publisher (Capstone/Picture Window Books) and Warner Brothers had to approve everything, but the entire process was smooth and enjoyable.

These books will be coming out very soon. In August, the school/library versions will be released, and then in October of this year, the paperback/trade copies will be available for purchase. I can’t wait!

I’m excited to share the covers of all four books, illustrated by Monika Roe. I think she did a great job of capturing the sweetness and the humor of the series. I was truly tickled to see her illustrations for the stories – she really brought it all to life.

Without further ado, here are the covers. For summaries, check out my fiction page. All the books are available for pre-order at your favorite indie store or online source, including Amazon.