Friday, April 30, 2021

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat) by Phaea Crede

Jacket Flap Copy from Book  

Jet is not like any other cat. But when a bird, frog and goat try to convince her that she must be some other type of animal, she finds that she doesn’t fit neatly into any of those boxes either. 

This sweet, zany story reminds us to enjoy the ways we’re unique.

The Story Behind JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT)

By Phaea Crede

Illustrated by Terry Runyan

Barefoot Books, May 1 2021

Jet and her love of swimming was inspired by my mom’s cat Eddie, who is obsessed with baths. Since loving water usually goes against everything cats stand for, I tried to imagine what other cats might think if they caught Eddie happily splashing around. I figured another cat (named Tom in the story) would look down on Jet, maybe even tell her she wasn’t a real cat if she liked water.

Tom reminded me of the phenomenon of gatekeepers—people who think they get to tell other people what they can or cannot be, and can or cannot like. Like most kids, I’d faced a number of the gatekeeping-type bullies in my day (one girl told me that my name couldn’t really start with a P if it sounded like an F!). Looking back, I suspect they all those would-be gatekeepers had something they were insecure about that they were trying to hide. And (spoiler alert) all Jet’s bullies do too!

Once I started drafting out Jet’s story, I realized the text was also speaking to something I’d buried deep inside myself: my dyslexia. I’d always loved writing stories, but my learning disability made it hard to master spelling and grammar as a child, and eventually I gave up trying to write creatively. I decided at age 8 that real writers didn’t have dyslexia. 31 years later I have officially proven myself wrong! 

As seriously as I wanted to take Jet’s struggles to figure out what she really was, I also knew I wanted to make the story funny. Since Jet spends the book trying out new identities, I latched onto the idea that the story could “restart” every few pages, getting sillier and sillier. Jet is a cat just like any other cat. Jet is a frog just like any other frog. Jet is a goat just like any other goat! The repetition also was meant to underscore how hard Jet was trying to be “normal”, which she totally rejects by the end. 

Fun Fact: In an early draft of Jet, she also becomes a Martian and a cat-faced dragon from Alpine Folklore!

Once I’d revised Jet the Cat (is Not a Cat) a solid 14 times (shout out to my critique group Friends with Words), I decided it was time to take the manuscript on submission. I was not agented at the time, but through the 2018 NESCBWI Agent/Editor day, I had the chance to submit a story to Lisa Rosinsky, senior editor of Barefoot Books. Barefoot Books is known for their beautiful, socially- conscious books and I suspected Lisa might like Jet. I was right! March 2020, Lisa officially became my editor and Jet the Cat stepped into her full glory thanks to the exquisite art of Terry Runyan.

Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat) is a story that means more to me than I even realized when I was writing it, and I can’t wait to share this spunky black cat with the world! Jet the Cat (is Not a Cat) will be published May 1 2021.

Author Bio

Phaea Crede loves writing silly picture books for silly kids. Serious kids, too! Her debut picture book Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat) will be published May 2021 by Barefoot Books. Phaea lives outside of Boston with her husband, two kiddos, two cats, and a slightly stinky dog named Gus. 

Website Link

Social Media Links 

Twitter: @phaeacrede

Instagram: @phaeacrede

Facebook Group!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

MASSAGING THE MUSE: Three's Company by Lynne Marie

Reprinted from The Writer's Journey, May/June 2007

The number three plays an important role in language, life and literature. As writers, we can try to use the strength, rhythm and logic (not to mention the magic) of the number three to our advantage. 

When things come in threes,  they tend to be funnier, more satisfying and more effective. It is a tried-and-true method to have the main character in a story make three (failed) attempts to solve the story problem before a final scene in which he/she either solves the story problem or comes/does not come to terms with failure. 

I've noticed that some stories, especially those by beginning writers, have one character. If this is true in your case, toss in two more characters (perhaps a friend and a foe) and allow them to interact to make the story come alive and increase tension. Consider Cinderella, who had three opposing forces working against her: the wicked step-mother and two evil stepsisters.  You may want to play around with the possibilities. 

Other uses of three in fiction: Have an action occur (1), and then get worse (2), and then get even worse, or just repeat three actions. See which works best. You may want to use three props, tangible or intangible, to focus your story around or to help achieve your main character's story goal. Others have successfully used wishes, beans, questions, stars, cities and roads to name a few. 

In nonfiction (and fiction), each time you mention a fact--like an actual person, place, or thing, or date--you must have three sources for the publisher to document/back-up that fact. Photocopy or scan or screenshot the cover page, copyright page and the page of the reference book in which the information appears. 

As you can see, three is not only magic, but it's also a writer's friend! 

Lynne Marie is the Owner and Administrator of Rate Your Story and The Picture Book Mechanic critique
and consultation services.  She's the Children's Book Insider (CBI) Editor and Agent Spotlight Feature Editor for Children's Book Insider. She's a multi-published author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten (Scholastic, 2011) -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011),

Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017),

The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018),

Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019) 

and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World --art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019),

American Pie(Dancing Flamingo Press, 2022) and another forthcoming. When she’s not searching for the magic of three, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident waterbirds.

Friday, April 2, 2021

PPBF: Animals in the Sky by Sara Gillingham

TITLE: Animals in the Sky


    Sara Gillingham

PUBLISHER: Phaidon 2020

FORMAT: Board Book 

SNIPPET: Every night when the sky is clear, it's filled with twinkling stars. But did you know that it's full of pictures, too?

If you draw lines between some of the brightest stars, you can find animals. 

Like me! I have two pointy ears and I love to hop. Can you guess what animal I am? 


1.    Although it has fold out sections, it is a sturdy board book and can be enjoyed by little ones. 

2.    The riddles are fun and simple. 

3.    Many kids love the sky, space, planets and constellations and this is a fun book that focuses on animal constellations. 

I'm personally excited about this book as I think my nephew will love it! Reach for your copy of this stellar book HERE.

NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Lynne Marie, Children's Author

Thursday, April 1, 2021



 C:\Users\Amy\Documents\H IS FOR HAIKU BOOK COVER PENNY CANDY BOOKS March 2018.jpg


The journey to the publication of H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z , started from a tragic occasion in my family: my mother Sydell Rosenberg’s sudden death from an aortic aneurysm one beautiful October morning in 1996.

As we were leaving the cemetery in Queens, NY, my sister-in-law, Debbie Rosenberg (married to my younger brother, Natha), said (I’m paraphrasing): “We will publish the children’s poetry book she always wanted.”

And thus began the road that took decades for me to walk. That road was anything but linear or smooth.

Syd was a teacher in NY and a published writer. More than anything, I think, she loved haiku. She was a charter member of the nonprofit Haiku Society of America in 1968 ( , an organization I belong to today. She studied, practiced, and wrote haiku for years, and just about up until the day she died.

Mom always wanted to publish a poetry picture book, preferably an alphabet reader. She had created a couple of manuscripts (not all are haiku), and I know she submitted them to publishers. Somewhere among her piles of papers and materials, I have some rejection letters she kept.

When she died, I became paralyzed with grief, depression, and fear. The messy ups and downs of life interfered, including having to figure out care for our father, Sam Rosenberg, who suffered from dementia. But I also allowed them to interfere with realizing her dream. They became my “excuse” for procrastination and inaction.

It took years to tackle my severe emotional inertia, thanks to a terrific therapist, as well as loving family, friends, colleagues, and writers.

Around 2011, I also became acutely aware that time was not on my side. I was now middle-aged. The burden of the goal Debbie had expressed in the cemetery was almost crushing. 

Still afraid, but with some determination, I finally undertook a number of projects to revive some of mom’s haiku for kids. I took small steps. I stumbled and backtracked and fell along the way, but I also made progress. It was hard work and sometimes painful -- but I also had fun, to my surprise. I enjoyed my endeavors and coming up with creative ideas.

In 2016, thanks to a haiku acquaintance, Aubrie Cox Warner, (, I learned about a new independent children’s publisher, Penny Candy Book ( Penny Candy was started by two poets, Chad Reynolds and Alexis Orgera. They were looking for a variety of fresh voices. They didn’t require agent representation. I subbed one of mom’s old manuscripts I had edited. On October 31, 2016, I signed the contract!

On April 10, 2018 – during National Poetry Month – H Is For Haiku was released. The vivid lettering and illustrations are by the extraordinary Sawsan Chalabi (  I wrote the introduction. Syd’s and my decades-old dream had at last come true.

Each haiku in this collection is like a little story, reveling in the small moments that make up our daily lives. The National Council for Teachers of English honored it as a 2019 “Notable Poetry Book.” It also was shortlisted for a 2018 poetry “Cybils” award.

C:\Users\Amy\Pictures\Even In the Air and First Library Card Haiku from H IS FOR HAIKU Sydell Rosenberg February 2 2020.jpg

I am not finished with our journey or reaching for dreams. In 2020, mom’s poetry chapbook, Poised Across the Sky, was released (

I have a second haiku picture book out on submission. This one combines both our work. I’m excited. We will see what happens!

I also have three of Syd’s short stories out to literary magazines.

And I’m pleased and proud to be a member of an extraordinary group of women who write children’s books with Jewish topics, themes, and values. The Book Meshuggenahs website is chock-full of resources, such as coloring pages, activities, and teacher guides. We even held a “chai-ku” contest last year, and received some lovely haiku entries highlighting aspects of Jewish culture and customs. We are conducting a second contest this year too! Please see our website for submission details and prizes, as well aslast year’s winners (deadline: May 31).Along this circuitous road, I learned how to slow down and linger over the little things we may overlook, but make our lives special. I am deeply grateful to many kind people who have helped me find this gift – including, of course, my mom – and gave me the support I needed to attain our dream.

I hope everyone has a haiku 2021, filled with bits of magic!C:\Users\Amy\Pictures\Amy Losak 2015 - I think - With Cardigan Mitch Vera House on LI.jpg


Amy Losak is an experienced public relations professional specializing in healthcare media relations. 

Thanks to her mother Sydell Rosenberg’s literary influence, Amy writes and publishes her own haiku today. Her publications include Acorn, Akitsu Quarterly, Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, brass bell: a haiku journal, Failed Haiku, Frameless Sky, Frogpond (the journal of the Haiku Society of America), Hedgerow, The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Newtown Literary, Tinywords, Prune Juice; and more. 

Amy’s and Syd’s work are also featured in several recent anthologies, such as All the Way Home: Aging in Haiku (edited by Robert Epstein; Amazon), behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19 (edited by Margaret Dornaus; Amazon), and Another Trip Around the Sun: 365 Days of Haiku for Children Young and Old (edited by Jessica Malone Latham;

Syd’s senryu (short and often wry poems about human nature) are featured in The Poetry of US: More than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States (edited by J. Patrick Lewis, former Children’s Poet Laureate; Amazon)

Some Links:

H Is For Haiku lesson article: 









H Is For Haiku from Penny Candy Books is available everywhere.