Three Questions For Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Writer's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate).

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in reading (16)


The Freedom To Read: Free, print-ready poster of one of my favorite Judy Blume quotes #BannedBooksWeek



In honor of Banned Books Week, I've illustrated one of my favorite Judy Blume quotes:

"Having the freedom to read and the freedom to choose is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me."

I was lucky that way, too. My father used to take the whole family to our local public library every week, and we kids could choose whatever books we wanted. My parents never questioned my choices, and I will always be grateful to them for that trust.

You can download a free, print-ready poster here.

Also see my Print-Ready Archives as well as my Illustrating Judy Blume resource.


Free, print-ready poster: "Reading Lets Your Imagination Soar"

Added to my For The Love Of Reading resource for teachers, librarians, booksellers and young readers: a free, print-ready "Reading Lets Your Imagination Soar" poster. For all my free, print-ready material, please see Debbie's Print-Ready Archive.

Click to read more ...


Free print-ready poster: Tim Federle quote about books

I've added a new print-ready poster to my For The Love Of Reading page:

You can download the poster here.

For more free print-ready literacy posters, activity sheets, bookmarks and more, see For The Love Of Reading. You can also browse my full Print-Ready Archive for teachers, librarians and young readers.


Free print-ready poster: "Be A Reading Ninja!"


I've added a new print-ready poster to my For The Love Of Reading page: "Be A Reading Ninja!" It prints on an 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper.

Download it here. This is also now available as a "Be A Reading Ninja!" greeting card.

You can find ALL my free, print-ready bonus material in my print-ready archives.



Pernille Ripp's Reading Myth #1: "This is a girl/boy book"

I was so inspired by Pernille Ripp's talk at Nerd Camp earlier this year and just discovered (duh, why didn't I look for this earlier?) that she has a blog! I was inspired to illustrate a quote from her recent piece, "Stop Feeding The Beast - The Reading Myths We Pass On As Truth."

You can find out mroe about Pernille at, on Twitter at @pernilleripp and on Facebook at Passionate Learners.


Keiko: Wild Rumpus

For more Keiko, see my Keiko comic archives.


KEIKO: The First Time

Anyone else purposely slow down near the end of a really, really good book?

Also see my previous Keiko comics.


Books About Town, Narnia BookBench, and giving credit to Pauline Baynes

EDITED 9:49 AM: Books About Town just tweeted to me: "So pleased you like the concept of Books about Town. We’ve now added the credit to the bench page. Thanks for highlighting!" Wow, thanks to the organizers for their quick response! Do check out their website for more info about their public art event.

If I were able to visit London right now, I would SO be checking out as many BookBenches as I could find. Books About Town on display in London from July 2 - September 15, 2014. What a wonderful celebration of London's literary heritage and reading for enjoyment!

I was especially delighted to see a bench devoted to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (see above). I clearly remember receiving this book as a Christmas gift from my Aunt Agnes when I was nine years old. I LOVED this book and immediately read all the other books in the series. 

The illustrations were a big part of the story experience for me, as I’m sure it was for many other young readers.

Anyway, the Narnia BookBench had lovely art by Mandii Pope, but I do wish the BookBench description had also given credit to the illustrator of the original book edition, Pauline Baynes, since the BookBench art was clearly an homage to the original.

Pauline baynes

Above: Photo from the 2008 obituary for Ms. Baynes in The Independent.

Did you know that Pauline Baynes illustrated some of Tolkien’s early work, and that he had hoped she would illustrate The Lord Of The Rings? The project ended up being too huge to include illustrations, but she did create beautifully drawn and coloured versions of Tolkien’s maps for a later edition of LOTR.

C.S. Lewis was a friend of Tolkien’s, and Baynes became the illustrator of the Narnia books. I love her diary entry for one of only two meetings that she had with C.S. Lewis:

“Met C.S. Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes."

You can read more about Pauline Baynes on Wikipedia and in The Independent obituary.

And you can find out more about Books About Town on their website, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Making time to read (and a new Will Write For Chocolate)

Updated Will Write For Chocolate.

My life has gotten progressively busier over the past few years, and I'm finding it more necessarily to actually schedule in pleasure reading time. Sounds stuffy and formal, I know! But if I don't do that, my reading time gets cut way down.

By "pleasure reading," I mean reading just for the joy of it. Not because the books are written by people I know (even though it's likely I'll love those books, too) or books I've promised to review or books to improve my craft or business. I mean stories that I'm reading JUST FOR FUN.

And I'm thinking it's time for another of my own Secret Dates very soon. Happily, my husband understand. :-)


Poll Results: How Many Books You Read At The Same Time

Last week on Twitter and Facebook, I asked how many books people were reading right now. I specified books that you were at least partway through and planned to keep reading within the next month. What I hadn't taken into account: the number of editors out there -- several of you said you didn't answer the survey because you were in the midst of reading a LOT of manuscripts. :-)

I was relieved to find out how many others have multiple books on the go. I have at least one print book in pretty much every room in our house, plus I also read books on my iPhone, my Kindle and my iPad.

Most of you have at least 2 books on the go, with 3% having more than 20 (!!!). The majority are in the midst of reading 3-10 books.

@janhoffman29 says that all the book she's reading (5) are about improving her writing, illustrating or teaching methods stronger, or for her understanding of the app generation.

@edenza says she's actively into 3-4 and has at least 3 on "standby," which is her usual. 

From my friend @randbellavia: "26 on my Kindle alone -- I didn't even bother to count the physical books." The other respondent who checked the "More than 20" answer choice was @Aimeeereid.

@nobilis says he's reading 5 and adds: "It's really too many. Reading books by @planetx, @riznphnx, @teemonster and @philippajane, @cmpriest and LeGuin."

Several of you also posted comments on Facebook but I didn't include them here because I wasn't sure if you minded me sharing them. Always comment via my survey form if you don't mind your feedback being shared; you can remain anonymous or you can include your name/Twitter id/website.


You can also see other current and past surveys in the Inkygirl Survey Archives.


The Joy and Angst of Reading A Good Book

I'm in the middle of reading DOLL BONES by Holly Black, illustrated by my friend Eliza Wheeler, and enjoying it so much that I find that I'm starting to purposely slow down my reading pace so the book will last longer.

Comic originally posted on Writer Unboxed a few years ago.


Looking forward to reading these Sara Zarr books

I've been wanting to read Sara Zarr's books ever since hearing her speak at the SCBWI Winter Conference in 2011. I was blown away and inspired by her closing keynote (you can read about it on the SCBWI Conference blog). I generally have way too many books on my "really want to read someday" list, however, and it was only recently that I bought Sara's first book, STORY OF A GIRL.

I'm only halfway through the book but love the writing so much that I had to buy two more of Sara's books: How To Save A Life and Once Was Lost. Looking forward to reading both.

I tend to get most of my MG and YA novels in ebook form because that's how I do most of my reading these days, but I bought these in print because I was planning to get them autographed at the Niagara Retreat/Conference. Unfortunately the conference has had to cancel its illustrator track, but I'm still hoping to get the books signed in person by Sara someday. :-)



In The End, It's All About Young Readers

The whole I'M BORED adventure has been amazing and continues to be amazing. Whenever things start to settle, something else happens that reminds me all over again to appreciate every moment.

I was floored about how it all began, with a rejection and a friend's encouragement. Then came the Simon & Schuster BFYR book illustration contract and the SCBWI Illustrator Mentorship program. Then the fun and immense satisfaction in collaborating with my editor and art director on the project.

Because I had been so focused on just trying to get published in past years, I underestimated how much joy I would get from reader feedback. Wow. 

Experienced authors and illustrators out there are likely much more used to this, but I'M BORED is my first children's book project and I'm still getting used to the fact that people out there -- people who aren't related to me and don't know me -- are looking at my illustrations in a published book they bought or borrowed.

From Paula Speer White, who sent me the photo above: "This book is excellent for teaching verbal irony at the secondary level and self-efficacy at the elementary level~I give it a 10! Humorous, courageous, and witty!"

I've heard from some parents whose children have learning challenges or who are slow readers, who delight in the humor and want to read the book over and over again.

Parents tell me that their older children are enjoying the book as well, reading it on their own.

Librarians tell me that I'M BORED has become a favorite with their young readers. I so love the idea of a copy of the book eventually becoming battered and dog-eared because of constant use. 

I think about a young person sitting down with a copy of I'M BORED, or perhaps having the book read to them by an adult, and try to imagine what happens as they listen to the story. Does it make them laugh out? Does it engage their imaginations? Do they identify more with the little girl or the Potato? Does the experience engage them enough to encourage a greater love of books and reading?

Does it change them for the better, even in a very tiny way?

Oh, I truly hope so.

What I've come to realize: While it's good to keep the market in mind (particularly if you want to get your work accepted by a traditional publishing house), remember that it's all about young readers. In the end, we create the magic for them, not the industry.


For more fun photos, see the I'M BORED In The Wild reader gallery. If you'd like to submit a photo, here's how.

Teachers: if your class sends me snaimail about I'M BORED, I'll write back (with doodles!).


Halloween Cartoon Caption Challenge


Any suggestions for a caption?

I'm also open to suggestions for the titles on the books being read.


Cheering For Books at the Festival Of Trees / Forest Of Reading (Ontario Library Association project)

Thanks to author Lois Peterson for inviting me as a guest to the Festival Of Trees event today.  I had a ton of fun wandering around the event, seeing authors give workshops and talks, attending some of the awards ceremonies, chatting with other attendees.

And WOW, I've never seen kids SO EXCITED ABOUT BOOKS. Seriously. The audience reaction reminded of a rock concert crowd...except these kids were cheering and screaming about BOOKS. How cool is that? So inspiring and exciting.

Also great to finally meet Arthur Slade, Monica Kulling, Christie Harkin and Sharon Jennings in person after exchanging tweets/posts with them online, meeting Jill Maclean, and Sylvia Olsen. Talked iPads with Eric Walters, who is taking his iPad with him when he climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro this summer (!).

For those who aren't familiar with the Forest Of Reading project, it's a program where students read a selection of books nominated by professionals from schools and public libraries across Ontario, and then vote for their favorite. Unlike most literary awards, these awards are chosen by young readers.

Congrats to all the Forest Of Reading nominees and winners!

You can find out more about this Ontario Library Association project at


Cartoon Caption Challenge