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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Traditions Continue- Merry 'Together' Christmas

Growing up in a big Italian family, Christmas was always about family and FOOD!
My parents instilled in all of us the joy of being together. We still carry on the Italian Christmas Eve dinner tradition of the “The Feast of the Seven Fishes”. (Yes- we count them!) The most treasured gifts were always the “homemade” foods and presents.
This year, as I do every year, I carefully unwrapped the homemade ornaments and place them on our tree. This simple act was what sparked the idea for my book,” A Homemade Together Christmas”. The book is dedicated to my mother, Rose, who taught us that being together is the best gift of all. Though she won’t be sitting at our dinner table this Christmas Eve, she’ll be there, in our hearts as we celebrate togetherness. - 
(P.S.-Mom, we miss you. Guess what? -Kristin will be making your homemade butter-horn cookies!- Traditions continue!)  Have a Merry “Together” Christmas all!---OX Maryann
A Christmas Eve-Past
My Mom- Rose 
Kristin Making my mom's famous Butter Horns!
Homemade Ornaments on our tree.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Holidays means Togetherness

Here's my brand new Christmas book:
"A heartwarming Christmas-morning finale crystalizes the story's theme of togetherness, as the presents are enjoyed equally by all. Playful details in Cocca-Leffler's festive watercolors--Luca's impractical gift ideas scribbled on sticky notes; hair curlers Momma wears but scarcely needs--add a touch of    spice to the sweetness." Publishers Weekly

Download a Free Activity Sheet for A Homemade together Christmas

Warm Holiday Wishes!     Maryann

Monday, April 20, 2015

Have Book-Will Travel... IN & TX

I recently visited Battle Ground Elementary School in Indiana and received an unexpected "Royal" Welcome.  Thank you all for a great School Visit.
 JANINE graced the school's entrance 
My ROYAL Subjects

The Teacher's Pirate Skit...with me as the "Princess!" What a welcome! Fun!

My book "Rain Brings Frogs" inspired one of many projects.
What does RAIN bring in Indiana? ....I guess Tornados!
From Indiana, I made my way to the Texas Library Association Conference, where I met so many friendly Texan Librarians. 'You All' were great! Thanks for welcoming JANINE.

Signing JANINE at my publisher, Albert Whitman's booth.
I did dodge a few tornados and I'm now home gearing up for a few more local visits. Thanks Kids, Teachers and Librarians for embracing JANINE.
Remember- Be Your Spectacular Self!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Visiting Schools with JANINE

Janine signing books at Clark-Wilkins School Amherst, NH

The Kids Love Janine...An original from a Fan.
The REAL Janine joined me in Henniker, NH 
March has been filled with school visits. I surprised the Henniker Community School by introducing them to the REAL Janine! They were so excited to meet Janine (the inspiration for the book) and were shocked when they discovered Janine wasn't the first grader depicted in the book, (very funny). I was so proud to have Janine by my side talking to the students and answering their questions. They LOVED Janine and I know she made a lasting impact on their young lives.
The students surprised us by filling their school with kindness. We particularly loved the "Be Your Spectacular Self" sign, which is the message Janine and I want leave with the children.
Our Message- The Kid's Art! Love it. (Henniker, NH)

Kindess Quilt- Henniker, NH
Spreading MORE kindness (Henniker, NH)

Here's a few other photos from recent visits. Thank you Holliston, MA and Hampton, NH (pictured here) as well as all the other schools I have visited. I am so grateful for your warm welcomes and enthusiasm for JANINE.
Keep Being your SPECTACULAR Self!

Drawing "Janine" in Hampton, NH
A great visit in Holliston, MA
LOVE WHO YOU ARE! Hope to see you soon!
 XO Maryann and Janine

Friday, February 27, 2015

Introducing My New Book- JANINE!


My daughter Janine Leffler bravely gave me permission to develop a character base on her life as a child with disabilities. JANINE (the book)  was inspired by a bullying experience Janine had many years ago. Now, as an adult, Janine is an amazing role model, who focuses on the positives in life and wants to use her own experiences and stories to promote respect, tolerance & kindness. 

Like the character in the book, Janine has a contagious upbeat attitude and focuses on the things she can do, not the things she cannot. The book is about embracing differences, staying true to who you are, and standing up for yourself and others. 

Together Janine and I created a website, which is a resource for parents, teachers and students. It has links to inspiring films, lectures and resources, as well as a list of suggested Picture books, Middle Grade and YA novels, in which the main character has disabilities. The site also features inspiring poetry written by students and young adults with disabilities. The poetry link, which is opened for submissions, hopes to give a voice to children and young adults with disabilities.

In celebration we are giving away an Autographed book each Monday in March.
Please go to to Enter.
If you live near Southern NH, please come to our Book Launch Party:

 Order JANINE at your local Independent Bookstore ISBN# 978-0-8075-3754-1
We'd be happy to mail you a bookplate- Email me at
Thank you for your support!
Maryann and Janine