Who we are, why we’re here

What goes into building a great picture book? Why is this one successful and that one … not? That’s what we’re here to explore – how one element of a picture book’s story or art manages to grab us or wow us or strike an emotional chord. We hope you’ll follow along and feel free to comment anytime. We are:

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Linda Ashman is the author of more than 35 picture books including, most recently, ELLA WHO?, illustrated by Sara Sanchez (Sterling), HEY, COACH!, illustrated by Kim Smith (Sterling), HENRY WANTS MORE!, illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes (Random House) and ALL WE KNOW, illustrated by Jane Dyer (HarperCollins).  She’s also the author of The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a “how to” handbook for picture book writers. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband, son, and two rascally dogs. For more, visit www.lindaashman.com.


Kevan Atteberry is an illustrator/writer living in the Seattle area. He has designed and illustrated many things including award-winning children’s books. Among them are FRANKIE STEIN and FRANKIE STEIN STARTS SCHOOL, by Lola Schaefer, and TICKLE MONSTER and BOOGIE MONSTER, by Josie Bisset. His first authored picture book, BUNNIES!!!, came out in 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books, the follow up book, PUDDLES!!! came out in 2016. And yes, he illustrated them too. His next book, I LOVE YOU MORE THAN THE SMELL OF SWAMP GAS will be out in 2017. Up until now, Kevan’s biggest claim to fame is creating Clippy the paperclip helper in Microsoft Office which still annoys millions of people every day. Learn more here:  www.kevanatteberry.com

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Jill Esbaum is the author of 13 picture books. Her newest are How to Grow a Dinosaur (Dial) and Frankenbunny (Sterling). Her I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! won a 2015 Crystal Kite from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Other books include If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Teeny Tiny Toady, Elwood Bigfoot – Wanted:  Birdie Friends (all from Sterling), I Hatched! (Dial), Tom’s Tweet (Knopf), Stanza (HMHarcourt), To the Big Top (FSG), Estelle Takes a Bath (Holt), Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’! (FSG), and Stink Soup (FSG). She also enjoys writing a variety of nonfiction books for National Geographic Kids. Jill lives on a farm in Iowa. Learn more at www.jillesbaum.com


Pat Zietlow Miller wanted to be an author ever since a teacher read her square-dancing essay and said: “This is the first time a student paper has given me chills.” (Thanks, Mrs. Mueller! You rock!) Pat’s first book, Sophie’s Squash, was illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf and published by Schwartz & Wade. A sequel, Sophie’s Squash Go to School was released in 2016. Also out in the world are: Wherever You Go (from Little, Brown, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler); Sharing the Bread (from Schwartz & Wade, illustrated by Jill McElmurry); and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville (from Chronicle, illustrated by Frank Morrison). Books in process include: My Brother, the Duck (with Chronicle); Be Kind (with Roaring Brook Press, to be illustrated by Jen Hill);  Wide-Awake Bear (with HarperCollins, to be illustrated by Jean Kim); Remarkably You (with HarperCollins, to be illustrated by Patrice Barton); and Brave (with Little Brown, to be illustrated by Eliza Wheeler). Learn more at www.patzietlowmiller.com


Jennifer Black Reinhardt is an illustrator/author whose recent children’s book titles include: Blue Ethel (Margaret Ferguson Books, FSG)Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs (Clarion), The Inventor’s Secret (Charlesbridge Publishing), Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons (Charlesbridge Publishing), The Adventures of a South Pole Pig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Footer Davis Probably is Crazy (Simon and Schuster). Her work often appears in Cricket, Baby Bug, Ask, and Spider magazines. Jennifer graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University and currently lives in Iowa City, Iowa. For more about Jennifer: www.jbreinhardt.com

Tammi Sauer is a former teacher and library media specialist. She has sold 29 picture books to the following houses: Bloomsbury, Disney*Hyperion, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling. In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do great things. Both Chicken Dance and Nugget & Fang have been developed into musicals. Mostly Monsterly was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program. And Your Alien was recently released in Spanish, Korean, Italian, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. When Tammi is not reading or writing, she is most likely eating out or checking her email. Learn more about Tammi and her books at www.tammisauer.com

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Suzanne Slade is a self-professed nerd and the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books. A Mechanical Engineer by degree who worked on rockets, Suzanne likes to write about space topics and women in STEM. She also enjoys sharing fascinating, little-known facts about famous historical figures. Some recent titles include: A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon (2019 NSTA Best STEM book), Astronaut Annie (read by an astronaut on the Space Station), Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue and The Inventor’s Secret. You can learn more about Suzanne and her books at: www.suzanneslade.com

Mike Boldt is an author and illustrator from Alberta, Canada. With more than 15 books in the wild, he’s authored titles such as 123 versus ABC, Colors versus Shapes (HarperCollins), and his latest, A Tiger Tail (Simon and Schuster). He’s also the illustrator of Dev Petty’s I Don’t Want to be a Frog!, I Don’t Want to be Big, and There’s Nothing to Do! (Doubleday). You can learn more about Mike at www.mikeboldt.ca


  1. So glad I found you! Yes, I do want to know why one PB is successful another, not. You are now in my favorites.

  2. Hello – wonderful resource! Is there a way to subscribe? I’m not a techy!

  3. What a great new blog! I look forward to learning so much from all of you! Congratulations!

  4. Hello!
    Are you guys willing to review? I have 3 newly published picture books on Amazon: Dress Up Day, Grandparents’ Day, and Zoo Day.


    Tina Marie Kaht

  5. Oooh – what a find (thanks to Elaine). Following RIGHT now 😀 Thanks for sharing what you know with us learners 🙂

  6. What a wonderful thing you are doing here! It will be fascinating to hear your insights on creating picture books.

  7. Thanks, Vonna! Come back often. 🙂

  8. What a great resource! And, yes–please let us know when we can subscribe!

  9. You can subscribe now, Bonnie, from our home page. 🙂

  10. Wow, so glad you all are working on this blog. I am really looking forward to learning with you all; quite a stellar line up!

    Thank you,
    Todd Burleson

  11. Hooray! I found you, too! Looking forward to reading more posts.

  12. Thanks, Todd, and Patty, good to see you here! 🙂

  13. Thanks to Bonnie Adamson for letting us know about this site. As a writer of many unpublished picture books, I look forward to learning from the pros.

  14. Thanks for joining us, Sarah. 🙂

  15. If it’s about picture books, then I’m in! Just subscribed!

  16. Happy to have you here, Lauri!

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    Megan Wagner Lloyd

    What fun! Linda Ashman’s RAIN! is one of my favorite recent picture books. Can’t wait to glean wisdom from you all!

  18. Subscribed and ready to learn! Yay! 🙂

  19. Welcome, Emma and Shar!

  20. Wow! I’m so glad you I found you all! I really look forward to this.

  21. Welcome, Anne!

  22. Wow, such a great group of writers and amazing insight! So glad I came across this 🙂

  23. So are we, Katrina. Welcome!

  24. Linda, I am so happy I discovered this site. I will visit often! Maybe ALL WE KNOW can be on here one day!

  25. So thrilled to have been given a heads up regarding this site. I love it! I will be back often.

  26. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. As a fairly new children’s illustrator, this will provide some great guidance, wisdom, etc in what’s found in a good children’s book. Thanks so much!

  27. It was great to see at least 3 of you at the Wild Wild Midwest Conference! My first midwest conference after leaving Seattle. Miss you Kevan!

  28. So great to make those connections, Kathryn!

  29. Great website. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it. We love you, Jill!

  30. Thanks, Beth! You’ll find lots of gems here, and I’m not just talking about the books. 😉

  31. I’ve been meaning to jump on here for years. At last, joining your many fans!

  32. Happy you’ve joined us, Wendy! I used DON’T LICK THE DOG in a slideshow once when I was showing covers of books with terrific titles. 🙂

  33. This is one of my favorite blogs! I use most of the books you review as mentor texts! Thank you for your reviews and interviews.

  34. Thanks, Mary!

  35. Hi,
    Just to let you know that the Home page of your site, and via the tab, currently comes up as an ‘access denied’ page.

  36. Hello! Great blog. Love it. How do you decide which books to review?

  37. Thanks, Anne! The books we talk about are simply stories we each find and admire, for one reason or another. Our goal is to highlight one story element we think is especially strong.

  38. I frequent your website. Thanks for the valuable information.

    I also blog about specific picture books every Friday at http://www.jeanmatthewhall.com

    I recently decided to use your “Our Latest Books” for my posts over the next 2-3 months, beginning this Friday. I would love to link back to this blog and/or your individual blogs/websites at the bottom of each post. Is that okay? Also, can you share your header jpg or other picture file with me so I can include it with each post.?


  39. Ooops! Would one of you consider writing a guest post for me about PBB? Thanks.

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    Just saw this! I think I can safely speak for the group when I say that we’d love it if you included our books on your blog, Jean. Thank you! And yes, you may link back to our blog and websites. I think you can just copy and paste our headshots from this page. And sure, I’d be happy to do a guest post about PBB. Just email me anytime (through my website). -Jill

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    Cynthia Levinson

    How do I subscribe to your blog?

  42. Somehow, I had missed this fantastic blog. Congratulations to the entire crew of PBB on reaching 5 fabulous years. I wish you many, many more.

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