October 25 – National Animal Safety and Protection Month

About the Holiday

This month’s holiday was established by the PALS Foundation to promote safe practices of handling and caring for pets and other animals. There are many ways in which you can participate. If you have pets, make sure they’re up-to-date on all of their  health needs, ensure that they are microchipped and tagged in case they are ever lost, and spend time with your pet, which benefits their emotional and physical health. Wild backyard animals can also use your help. As cold weather approaches make plans to feed the birds and small animals that must rely on supplemented food during the winter. You can also visit a zoo, aquarium, or wildlife refuge and learn more about animal behavior and care. Volunteering at or donating to an animal shelter is another wonderful way to take care of animals in your local area.

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Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

 

By Wendy Wahman

 

There are “Dogs! Dogs! Everywhere!” Big dogs and little dogs, long-haired dogs and curly-haired dogs, purebreds and mutts. They’re bounding, leaping, wrestling, and bow-wow-wowing. Three kids come running into the park to meet all the dogs but before they do, a hand stops them. The children smile and ask if they can pet the woman’s six dogs. The woman appreciates that they are so polite and reveals that five of her dogs would love a pat, even the tiny Chihuahua sitting on her loooong, pointy shoe. But her sixth puppy, “Maddie might bite.”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

The youngest tyke jumps forward, eager to meet the soft poodle, but the woman’s elegantly gloved hand cautions, “Easy now, take it slow / when meeting dogs / that you don’t know. / Don’t stick your nose in Stella’s face— / until you’re friends, / she needs her space.” The woman also explains that dogs like to meet new people with a sniff and a lick and advises the kids to stand still while the dogs check out their shoes and curl their fingers in while offering the back of their hands.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Small pups like Bootsy are scared when “noisy kids arrive.” But if you pretend to be shy as well, “she’ll come to you; / just give her time.” Even if you’re excited to see a dog, gentle strokes are what they like best, and they will gobble up treats served from a hand held as flat as a plate. Dogs show their love with a “lick, lick, lick!” But when you find “too much is ick, / it’s all right to say enough / to all that sloppy kissy stuff.”

Some dogs like to jump and hug, but if this dance is not for you, “cross your arms and turn your back / when Jake jumps up and barks like that.” Just like people at different times, some dogs want to be left alone. If you hear a growling, grrr-ing rumble, you should know that “this spells trouble.” If you “stand up straight, / stay very still,” and “let her walk away, / she will.”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Yes, dogs are fun and like to play, but they “aren’t toys to…poke or chase or tug or tease,” they each have their own personalities. So show that you have good dog manners, and you’ll make lots and lots of canine friends.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt & Company, 2009 | ISBN 978-0805087338

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A Cat Like That

By Wendy Wahman

 

A sweet back cat sits on a flowered patchwork hill dreaming of the perfect friend: one who doesn’t “yell in [her] ear and knows “all the right games, with all the best toys, like a paper bag and catnip mouse, Ping-Ping balls and a twirly bird.” That friend would know just how to stroke behind her ears, under her chin, and right at the base of her tail. But no tickling tummies—that’s for dogs. Another no-no is experimenting to see if cats really do land on their feet—because sometimes, the cat says, she doesn’t.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

The sleek black kitty would “pick a friend who wouldn’t drag [her] around. I’m not a cat like that!” she thinks. A best friend would let her hide and not seek her out, and would let her “bask in the sun” for as long as she liked. A real pal would allow dining to be a solitary affair—well, just the cat and her prey. And her claws? She’d like to keep those to herself too. That friend would also give her privacy at her box and when bathing.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

A real friend would recognize her moods—the little flicks of a tail when happy and the big swishes when not. How would someone know they had been picked as a bestie? They’d feel that sweet kitty winding around their legs and purring, and she’d send them “a kiss with [her] eyes by blinking slowly…” And if the cat got a kiss like this back, she’d know she had found a forever friend. If that cat “could pick a best friend in the whole wide world,” do you know who she would pick? Yes, that’s right! She’d pick you!

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Every little one or older child reacts to dogs and cats in their own way. Some love to meet new animals while others are shy or even afraid of them. Wendy Wahman offers two excellent picture books that explain the rules that allow kids to form successful bonds when engaging with cats and dogs. In Don’t Lick the Dog, Wahman’s advice is shared in humorous rhyming verses that help readers remember the particular behaviors that dogs respond to.

Kids will love the park full of dogs with their distinct looks and personalities all drawn with Wahman’s singular sophistication and style. As the owner of the six dogs is revealed, readers will giggle at her long nose and pockets brimming with treats. Kids will also enjoy following miniscule Bootsy as she rides along on her owner’s shoe from page to page. Each behavior by dogs and children is shown clearly so that readers can fully see and understand how to approach any dog.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

A Cat Like That turns the adoption process around and reveals the inner thoughts of a feline contemplating the friend she’d pick—all in keeping with a cat’s personality. Wahman’s smart, bold, and vibrant artwork creates eye-catching portraits of a cat’s day. Shown in purple light against a black background the lithe cat playfully pounces on a ball, explores the inside of a paper bag, and chews a catnip mouse. She snoozes under a vivid yellow bedspread and lounges in the golden rays of the sun. As the happy cat winds her tail around a new friend’s leg and purrs contentedly in their lap, kids will wish they had a cat like that.

Both Don’t Lick the Dog and A Cat Like That would be valuable additions to home and classroom libraries to teach children how to approach and engage with cats and dogs, whether they are their own pets, friends’ pets, or animals that are unfamiliar to them.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt & Company Books for Young Readers, 2011 | ISBN 978-0805089424    

Discover more about Wendy Wahman, her books, and her art on her website.

Stop right there and watch this Don’t Lick the Dog book trailer!

You’ll love a A Cat Like That and a book trailer like this!

National Animal Safety and Protection Month Activity

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Homemade Dog or Cat Toy

 

With just a little bit of fleece, you can make a toy that both dogs and cats will love to play with! You can make one for your friend’s pets too!

Supplies

  • Fleece, 18 inches long or longer. You can use a single color or mix two or three colors or patterns.
  • Scissors

 

Directions

For throwing, tug-of-war, and joint animal/child play

  1. Cut three strips of fleece 1 to 2 inches wide and at least 18 inches long
  2. Holding all three strips together, knot them at the top by making a loop and pulling the ends through
  3. Braid the three strips together
  4. Knot at the strips together at the bottom as you did the top.

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For throwing or batting

  1. Cut three strips of fleece ¾ to 1 inch wide and about 8 inches long
  2. Holding all three strips together, knot them at the top by making a loop and pulling the ends through
  3. Braid the three strips together
  4. Knot at the strips together at the bottom as you did the top

Picture Book Review

September 28 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

As September winds down, there’s still time to feature one more new book for this month’s special holiday. Searching for and sharing new books—whether they are recently published or just new to you—is not only a fun way to spend a day together with kids, but an experience that pays big benefits now and in the future. Make a plan to add a few new books to your home library or visit your local library today!

Pony in the City

By Wendy Wahman

 

At the Pony Paddock, Otis met many children and he loved them all. He gobbled up the peppermints Dinah brought him, enjoyed having his mane brushed by Daniel, and “sprang to a gallop when Mel sang out, ‘Giddy-giddy-giddyup, Otis!’” While the kids got to see where Otis lived, Otis wondered about their lives. He “wanted to know… ‘do they gallop and kick? Do they nicker and neigh? Do they ever walk on all fours?’”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

The other horses in the paddock—Mosey, Whinny, and Derby—just shook their manes, stamped their hooves, and snorted when Otis started asking his questions. But Otis couldn’t stop thinking about how things were on the other side of the fence. Did kids “graze on grass and daisies?” Were their “manes brushed and braided?” And how did they sleep? Did they wear cozy blankets and stand in stalls?

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

One day, “saddled with questions,” Otis broke through his enclosure and headed into the city to find some children. He passed an apple orchard where he nibbled a snack, clip-clopped around a fountain, and said hello to some squirrels. He even walked by a group of horses dancing around and around to music. Suddenly, he saw them! The pasture was full of children! Everywhere, they were climbing and swinging and playing.

Otis hid behind trees and watched the kids “galloping and kicking. Nickering and neighing.” He even saw some “walking on all fours.” Otis followed a brother and sister home and was impressed with the sizes of the barns on the street. As he watched them eat their veggies at a table decorated with daisies, he realized they ate just like he did. Through the window of another barn, he saw a little girl having her mane brushed and braided, and a pair of baby twins standing in their stalls clutched their blankets and giggled to see Otis peeking at them.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Otis was getting tired; it was time to go back to Pony Paddock. He clippity-clopped down the street and turned the corner. Then he turned another corner. All the barns looked the same. He trotted down sidewalk after sidewalk, getting hungrier and farther away from home. Cars honked at Otis, headlights blinded him, doormen chased him away, and statues of lions and warriors frightened him. Finally, Otis was so exhausted that he lay down under a blanket of newspapers and fell asleep.

In the morning Otis heard “Clippity, clippity.” Could it be Mosey? He heard “Cloppity, cloppity.” Did Derby or Whinny come looking for him? No! It was Dinah, David, and Mel in their cleats on the way to soccer. They were so surprised to find their friend in the big city. “The children led Otis home with a song: ‘Giddy-giddy-giddyup, Otis!’” When they reached Pony Paddock, the three fed him, brushed him and tucked him in. But did Mosey, Derby, and Whinny let Otis sleep? No! They had so many questions…, and Otis answered them all “one by one. And then some.”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Wendy Wahman’s truly clever view of children through a pony’s eyes is sure to delight readers. As Otis thinks and wonders about the children who come to ride him, he only has his own experiences to use as reference. When he ventures out into the city, he discovers that he’s right. Wahman’s imaginative interpretation of a playground, meals, haircare, cribs, and even soccer cleats creates “Ah-ha!” moments of amusement while also spurring readers to insight about bigger issues of diversity and inclusion. With a deft wit, Wahman includes plenty of verbal and visual jokes, and puns.

Wahman’s art is always distinctive, and here her smart, sophisticated, and kid-pleasing illustrations are a treat. From the title page—where, while Otis passes a hat shop, his reflection dons a red chapeaux—to the dynamic playground scene, where all types of equestrian behavior are on display to the two-page-spread, lovey blue cityscapes that map out Otis’s route,  Wahman’s collage-style images create a vibrant world.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy of wendywahman.com

Little details enrich the story and add humor that kids will love to point out: crime scene tape crisscrosses the fence where Otis broke through, a child uses a tree for hiding at the park, just as Otis does, and the babies have horse-themed mobiles above their cribs. Readers will also enjoy following the adorable families of cats and chickens from page to page.

Pony in the City is a cute, endearing ride of a story that will enchant children. The book would make a perfect gift, especially for horse lovers, and would be a favorite on home bookshelves.

Ages 3 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1454922322

You can view a portfolio of books and art by Wendy Wahman on her website!

Gallop on over to watch this Pony in the City book trailer!

Read a New Book Month Activitycelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-horseshoe-bookend-craft

Horseshoe Bookend

 

Horseshoes carry a lot of luck, and it’s always a lucky day when you discover a new book! With this craft you can make a Horseshoe Bookend to keep all of your books neat and tidy and in their stall!

Supplies

  • Wooden decorative capital letter U sans serif, about 8 inches tall, available at craft stores
  • Gray craft paint (I used gunmetal gray metallic craft paint from Craft Smart)
  • Black craft paint
  • Decorative objects of your choice, such as stickers, charms, buttons, twine, glitter, etc. (I used red leather lacing, stickers, and small charms available at craft stores)
  • Paint brush or foam brush
  • Glue

 

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Directions

  1. Paint the letter U, let dry
  2. With the black paint, paint three or four small rectangles on each arm of the U to represent nail holes, let dry
  3. Attach your decorative objects on the front of the U with glue

Picture Book Review

April 14 – It’s National Garden Month and Q & A with Author/Illustrator Wendy Wahman

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About the Holiday

One of the wonderful activities of spring and summer is gardening. As the sun warms, farmers and gardeners till their land and plant seeds with eager anticipation of the harvest to come.  April is Gardening Month, and the second week is designated especially for vegetable gardening. Our meals would not be as tasty and nutritious without carrots, squash, peas, beans, peppers, potatoes, and all the rest of these colorful foods. Today’s container gardens give even reluctant gardeners great ways to grow their own—without the work of a large plot. Whether you enjoy gardening on a large or small scale, take the opportunity of this month to start planting the seeds of a rewarding hobby!

Rabbit Stew

By Wendy Wahman

 

“Rusty and Rojo toiled and tilled in their vegetable garden all summer long.” But now the crops have ripened, and the two foxes are ready to enjoy the bounty of their hard work—so are their neighbors, the Rabbits. As Mommy Rabbit and the bunnies nibble away in a corner of the garden, Rusty gently squeezes the tomatoes and finds them “plump, yet firm.” “Perfectly so,” Rojo agrees as he lifts Daddy Rabbit from the carrot patch. “At last,” Rusty and Rojo exclaim, “the time is ripe for our prizewinning Rabbit Stew!”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

While Rojo picks “lean, green runner beans,” the Rabbits look on worriedly. Daddy tries to hide, but Rusty spies him in the wheelbarrow full of purple kale. Then, when the family dives back into their cozy “hole sweet hole,” they find that their convenient carrot snacks are being abruptly snatched away—only to be added to the pot of “splendid Rabbit Stew.”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Next come raisins and celery “and roly-poly blueberries.” But what about those white and gray bits of fluff? Will they end up in the foxes’ buckets too? Of course “juicy red tomatoes, fresh sprigs of parsley, and sweet yellow peppers” are also musts for the foxes’ “finest-ever Rabbit Stew.” With the pot overflowing with colorful veggies, only one more thing is needed—“one…big…round…white…bowl…for our favorite Rabbit, Stew—and his family too!”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

With her fertile imagination and a clever play on words, Wendy Wahman offers up a delightful story that will have readers guessing until the very end. Along with the mystery and the yummy descriptions of each ingredient, Wahman presents a counting game for readers. As Rusty and Rojo pick their vegetables, children can count the ten runner beans on the trellis, nine purple kale leaves in the wheelbarrow, eight carrots from the burrow, and all of the other ingredients on down to one. But do Rusty and Rojo need one big white rabbit or something else? Kids will love the twist at the end and cheer to see Daddy Stew, Mommy Strudel, and their little bunnies—Dumpling, Biscuit, and Ragu—dining on the special meal grown and created just for them.

Everyone’s garden should look as deliciously vibrant as Wahman’s riotous patch of vegetables! The vivid colors jump off the page while providing texture and nuance to the illustrations. They also give kids another concept to learn and talk about. Little details, such as the tiny caterpillar and the yellow butterfly that follow the bunnies from page to page, as well as the fancy burrow lined with photos of friends and family will enchant readers. 

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy o f Wendy Wahman.

Welcome themes of friendship, diversity, and inclusiveness can also be found within the illustrations and the story.

Rabbit Stew is a bright, humorously sly story that would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library. The book also makes a perfect companion for trips to the farmers market, on picnics, or to spur interest in home gardening. The attention to the details of what rabbits can safely eat, as well as the number and color concepts provided in the illustrations, makes Rabbit Stew a great choice for school story times and spring lessons.

Ages 3 – 7

Boyds Mills Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1629795836

You can download a fun Rabbit Stew Activity Sheets from Boyds Mills Press!

Discover more about Wendy Wahman, her art, and her books on her website!

You’ll dig this Rabbit Stew book trailer!

National Garden Month Activity

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Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game, copyright Celebrate Picture Books, 2017

Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game

 

With this fun game you and your family and friends can grow gardens inside! Roll the dice to see whose garden will fully ripen first!

Supplies

Directions

Object: The object of the game is for each player to fill their garden rows with vegetables. Depending on the ages of the players, the required winning number of rows to fill and the number of vegetables to “plant” in each row can be adjusted.

  1. Print one Game Board for each player
  2. Print one set of Playing Cards for each player (for sturdier playing items, print on card stock)
  3. Print one Vegetable Playing Die and assemble it (for a sturdier die, print on card stock)
  4. Cut the vegetables into their individual playing cards
  5. Color the “dirt” on the Garden Plot with the crayon (optional)
  6. Choose a player to go first
  7. The player rolls the die and then “plants” the facing vegetable in a row on the game board
  8. Play moves to the person on the right
  9. Players continue rolling the die and “planting” vegetables until each of the number of determined rows have been filled with the determined number of vegetables.
  10. The first person to “grow” all of their veggies wins!

Meet Author/Illustrator Wendy Wahman

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Today, I’m really happy to be chatting with Wendy Wahman about her art, her books, her inspirations, and a really sweet school visit she had recently.

Your bio mentions that you worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer until 2009. Can you describe your work there?

I worked in the art department doing maps, graphics, info-graphics and illustrations for every section of the newspaper. Ninety percent of the work was on deadline, so I learned to think and draw fast.

Our poor beloved P-I. It was 146 years old when Hearst closed it down. About 150 of us went down with the ship. Best job I ever had. I miss the variety and culture and importance — and honesty — of journalism. I miss my P-I family, very much.

How did you get started illustrating and writing books for children?

I was really just snooping around for illustration work. I had an idea for a book on dog body language I wanted to do, but imagined ‘a real writer’ should write it. I sent out some of the dog body-language art samples and heard back from four major publishers. Laura Godwin at Henry Holt called me, and was so passionate about dogs and kids—and my art. She asked to see a dummy. What dummy, right? I had no dummy, just an idea and some art samples. I took two weeks off from the P-I and put together a dummy. Laura helped me tremendously, as did my brilliant writer husband, Joe Wahman.    

Don’t Lick the Dog is a how-to primer on being safe with dogs. We followed with the companion book, A Cat Like That. We never did do my dog body-language book. It’s sitting here patient as can be. “Good dog, book.”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

 

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

Your art is so varied—from humorous to infographics to striking, serious editorial work. You also work with crisp, clean lines and beautiful textures. Can you talk about your process and inspirations?

Thank you so much, Kathy. Well. I sit and think and read a lot. Mostly I just look and try to distract myself from thinking too hard. I like to thumb through my Thesaurus. When I’m stuck, I try to remember to move away. This can be physically—exercise or a walk; mentally—read or look through books; or emotionally—play with my dogs or call somebody. I say, try, because too often I sit rooted, thinking, thinking. Better to get up and move.

What was the inspiration for Rabbit Stew?

I feed my dogs a homemade stew of meat & veggies. Long ago, I was stirring up an enormous batch of dog food, when “rabbit stew” fluttered to mind. Rabbit Stew is also a counting book, counting down veggies from ten to one. It’s also a color book. It was a challenge to find ingredients safe for rabbits, in different colors and not give it away. Like, rabbits love dandelions and they’re very good for them, but I only know a couple of people who would knowingly toss dandelions into the pot. No potatoes; they are toxic to bunnies, and cabbage isn’t good for them either. 

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A happy fan enjoys reading “Rabbit Stew” with lunch! Photo courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

You give presentations at schools and libraries. Do you have an anecdote you’d like to share?

I did a school visit recently in southern California and got to take my mom to a presentation for 4th graders. I introduced her to the students, and they gave her a loud round of applause! Even more tender, when I was signing books (and the other stuff kids want signed), they asked if my mother would also give them an autograph. Is that the sweetest or what? Children can be so inspiring, healing, and wise. 

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Wendy reads “Don’t Lick the Dog” to enthusiastic kindergarteners in Kennewick, WA. Photograph courtesy of Wendy Wahman

You also teach bookmaking to kids. That sounds fun and fascinating! Can you tell me a little bit about these classes?

I’m so glad you asked about these little books, Kathy. I love making them and sharing the process. Anyone can make one. I’ve taught them to kindergarteners through seniors. I call them “Insight Books,” because what comes out can be surprising, revealing, and often cathartic. Random lines inspire images and ideas. Some people write, others write and draw. Sometimes we collage. Even if you do nothing at all put look, the lines may stimulate ideas. These book are fun to make with a partner too. 

What’s up next for you?

I’m very excited about my next book, Pony in the City (Sterling Publishers). Kevan Atteberry’s book, Swamp Gas, releases the same day, Sept. 9th, and we’re talking about having a co- launch party.

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman. Proofs of “Pony in the City” (Sterling, releasing Sept. 9 this year) courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

I’m working on Nanny Paws (Two Lions), a book inspired by my little white poodle, LaRoo, and the children next door. Here’s a picture of LaRoo and my other dog Jody with my friend Vikki Kaufman‘s poodles. Vikki is a breeder of beautiful silver and blue standard poodles. Vikki took the picture, can you tell?  Her dogs are staring straight at her. Poor LaRoo. She is a shy girl and just wants to get away from the masses.

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Wendy with LeRoo and Jody and Vikki’s TinTin, Nickel and Eureka.

I’m also working on a dummy for a beautiful story written by Joe, “One Bird” (www.joewahman.com). I’m doing the art for both Nanny Paws and Joe’s story in a new/old style for me: pencil and watercolor.

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Image from “One Bird,” written by Joe Wahman, illustrated by Wendy Wahman. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman

 Do you have a favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving.

Do you have an anecdote from a holiday you would like to share

If you come over for Thanksgiving, prepare yourself for a vegetarian feast. We don’t eat animals here — but we do make them big, round, splendid bowls of stew.

Thanks so much, Wendy! It’s been a lot of fun! I wish you all the best with all of your books!

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You can find Wendy’s books at these booksellers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Boyds Mills Press

You can connect with Wendy on:

BēhanceFacebook | LinkedIn | PinterestTwitter

Visit Wendy’s shops:

Cafe Press: http://www.cafepress.com/profile/109591016

RedBubble:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/wendywahman/portfolio

Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.com/wendoodles/products

Wendoodles coloring book: http://www.amazon.ca/Wendoodles-Wendy-E-Wahman/dp/1517403456

Picture Book Review