Thursday, July 6, 2017

Visiting places of inspiration...

Through the years, my young 'California Cousin' connected to her Cocca family through my books. Recently she made the trip East and visited the places that inspired two of my family stories. 

Here she is standing in front of my parents' house, (my childhood home) in Everett, MA. She's opened to the page which depicts the exact house. It's still on a bus route......The Book- BUS ROUTE TO BOSTON: 


Below she's standing in front of our family home in Hull, MA...
the setting for CLAMS ALL YEAR. 
Since I wrote and illustrated these books, the family has grown and aged and many members, including my mom, are no longer with us. These books are the stories of our lives, growing up in a big Italian family. From bus trips to Filene's Basement...visits to the North End to buy cannoli, Summer days clam-digging with my grandfather and sharing the feast that followed...this is our family history, which, hopefully, will be passed down through the generations.

(Thank you for embracing the memories and the stories. 
Why didn't I ever think of doing this!?)

Have a wonderful Summer everyone and enjoy making your own family memories!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Growing Season

It's Spring and flowers are starting to POP. 
It's Perfect Timing for inspiration and research.
I'm just beginning the sketches for my upcoming picture book, 
"Growing Season" which is about El, a late bloomer and her 
friend, Jo, as they discover patience and friendship.
"El- character sketch"

"Jo- Character sketch"
(Growing Season will be published by Sterling Books.)
Happy Spring!
(All illustrations Copyright 2017- Maryann Cocca-Leffler)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sing JOY! Happy Holidays!

Sterling Books 2016
Written & Illustration by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mr. Tanen’s Ties- Creating Patterns & Designers in First Grade

I love hearing from teachers to learn how they creatively use my books in their classroom curriculum.  Mrs. Cora Turner, a first grade teacher from Evergreen Elementary School in Drayton, Valley Alberta Canada, used my books Mr. Tanen’s Ties, Mr Tanen’s Tie Trouble and Mr. Tanen’s Ties Rule to introduce the students to patterns and designing.
Mrs.Turner reading Mrs. Tanen's Ties to her first graders

Over the course of several weeks, students in her class became clothing designers and designed a tie with a repeating simple pattern for Mr. Greg Wedman, their Deputy Superintendent. The unit began with a study of different kinds of patterns with 3-4 attributes.  After reading Mr. Tanen's Ties, Mr. Wedman came to the classroom to share his magnificent tie collection. The students began studying and sharing patterns, (including keeping a pattern design book). They then interviewed Mr. Wedman to find out personal information to help them design him THE perfect tie. Finally they designed and colored a one-of-a-kind tie. The project culminated with a “Tie Celebration” where the students got to share their ties with the class. Mr. Wedman capped off the project by reading another Mr. Tanen Tie Book.

Mr. Wedman surrounded by students, all with ties!

Thanks to all the students for sharing their awesome ties! A big thank you to Mrs. Cora Turner and Mr. Wedman for developing this creative project and encouraging important skills including; pattern design, critical thinking, communication skills and problem solving. You may even have encouraged your students to seek careers in art and design....(and maybe writing too!)

Much Thanks- Maryann

(All photos used by permission of Evergreen Elementary. All rights reserved.)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cats In Hats

This is my illustration which is included in the "Cats In Hats" Exhibit at the 
Springfield Museums to honor Dr. Seuss and celebrate the soon to be opened
My piece, along with 45 other amazing works by talented 
Children's Book Illustrators are on view NOW. 
The Exhibit runs until April 2017- Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Janine Book- Give Away!

Being a Winner is not always about being Number One 
is the message in Janine and the Field Day Finishwhich publishes on Oct 10.  
It’s another inspirational story based on the childhood experiences 
of the REAL Janine, my daughter, Janine Leffler.
The event that inspired the book was actually not on a field BUT in a pool. It went like this…because of CP (cerebral palsy) Janine had difficulty with all sports. When she was about 8 yrs old, after years of physical therapy and private swimming lessons, she finally learned to swim. At the local pool “Swim Meet” she was determined to swim one length of the pool. It was a relay race. Janine was dead last and soon the only child left in the pool. Most people cheered her on…but I heard several negative comments…”Who let her on the team?” “Now they‘re going to lose”. As a parent, I was saddened by these remarks. When Janine touched the end of the pool, we were all thrilled, especially Janine. She did it!  I then noticed that several kids were crying because they didn’t win. That was the moment that stuck with me. For Janine and for many children, it is not about winning…it’s about finishing… it’s about good sportsmanship and supporting each other…it’s about trying your best. In Janine and the Field Day Finish you’ll discover the true meaning of a WINNER. 
We hope you like it!
Review from Booklist:
"With a heartening lesson about friendship, competition, and what constitutes winning, this encouraging picture book nicely demonstrates the value of confidence and generosity."  

      BOOK GIVEAWAY      
To celebrate the publishing of Janine and the Field Day Finish we are sponsoring Book Giveaways in October through this blog and soon on Goodreads.

(signed copies of BOTH Janine Books: Janine & Janine and the Field Day Finish.)

HOW TO ENTER:   Send an email to
DRAWING DATE:   OCT 10, 2016 
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD! -  We would love it if you’d help us spread the word about our books and our message by sharing this blog on Facebook, tweet about it, write a review or just tell a friend! 

Be Spectacular!
Maryann & Janine

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy Spring.

JANINE'S Field Day Finish won't publish till Fall 2016...
but we are thinking warm weather and SPRING.
Janine is ready for Field Day...She even added a "J" to her shirt.
(Did you know?...the REAL Janine's nickname was J9!)
I look forward to sharing the NEW JANINE book with you.
Stay tuned.