Thursday, September 10, 2015

Two New Holiday Books!

Now Available:

I'm so happy to announce that the Tappletons' ARE BACK! 
By popular demand, Harpercollins has re-issued this Thanksgiving classic 
in both Hardcover and Paperback.
I first illustrated,Thanksgiving at the Tappletons',written by Eileen Spinelli, 
in 1982, then re-illustrated in 1992. 
It was loved and read for 23 years. Now it’s back.
Did you love this book as a kid? Please tell me about it.
Now you can share it again!

AND....Introducing my new Christmas Book (available Oct 1):
Published by Albert Whitman & Co.
I'm hoping, A Homemade Together Christmas will inspire children 
and their families to turn away from the commercialization of Christmas 
and focus on the important STUFF-  being together. 
I think you'll absolutely LOVE my new character Luca:

"This pleasing story might well inspire some homemade 
Christmas gifts or even an outdoor Christmas morning breakfast." Kirkus Review

I plan on a Book Giveaway Soon...Keep Checking!
As Always- Thanks for your support-

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Continues into the New Year

New Character for Christmas 2015 book 
Christmas continues for me, as I finish up the illustrations for a Christmas 2015 book I wrote called, A Homemade Together Christmas, which will be published by Albert Whitman & Co in the Fall of 2015.  It looks like it will be Christmas all year for me as I jump into a new Christmas book which I just sold for Christmas 2016. This one is a novelty Christmas book with flaps and pop-ups. Fun and challenging, and I love a challenge. (It's too soon to post the publisher and title on that one.)

Talking through walls, from A Homemade Together Christmas

The New Year will also bring the release of my new book,  JANINE. (March 1, 2015). My Spring is lined up with lots of school visits, presentations, book signings, travel and a Publishing Launch party. I'll be posting all of the details soon. In the meantime, I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. 
Publishing March 1!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hooked on my book- A Father's Letter

On a very hot summer day I received a heartwarming and humorous letter about my cold-weather book, Let It Snow. A Dad had written me about his daughters' love (obsession?) with my book. There are days, as I sit in my studio, that I wonder if what I create will have a connection with children. It's gratifying to know that my books make their way into the hands and hearts of kids and parents. With permission, I have posted this beautiful letter below. Enjoy. And yes- that tattered and torn book will be replaced with a new autographed copy!  

Dear Maryann, 

I wanted to write to thank you for your book Let it Snow. When my oldest daughter was born, four and a half years ago, someone gave us the book, and we have read it so many times now that the corners of the pages are wearing thin (see attached photo).

"Swirling twirling first snowflakes, skating spinning on frozen lakes" – MaryAnn, let me tell you something: I wrote that from memory, and my memory's not even that great. But seriously, there's no way I'm going to forget that book.  

I've read Let it Snow to my child in the voice of a kindergarten teacher; I've done it in the voice of rapper Snoop Dogg; and I've read it as quickly as possible because it's the second time through (again); and I've read it until I didn't want to read it anymore - but there was just one problem: my daughter wanted to keep reading it, and then we had another child, and she wanted to read it too.  

A couple of months ago, I realized that the book was special to us as a family, and here's why: because when I look back on my own childhood and remember the pages of specific storybooks, I realize that they have become the snapshots of my childhood feelings.  Let it Snow is now one of those books for my little girls.  

Maybe one of these days when my girls grow up, they'll still remember the back-and-forth "but then" rhythm of the book; maybe they'll remember all the times we searched for the doggie and the teddy bear in each picture, sometimes finding one, usually both.  But even if they don't remember the specifics, I'll bet they're going to remember flashes of a few lovely pictures from the book and the feeling of being in Mom and Dad's arms as we read it to them.

So that's my extended way of saying thanks for writing a great book.  It has not only become a favorite of my daughters', it has become a favorite of mine.

Joshua Rogers


Thank you so much Joshua. Looks like your girls will be receiving the Seasons series. Get Ready to READ (and read and read and read)!- Maryann

Monday, June 23, 2014

Welcome to the Writing Process: An Author/Illustrator Blog Tour

I was invited to join this Blog Tour by the very talented Jennifer Goldfinger.  I met Jennifer through a professional Author-Illustrator list-serve where we discuss the mysteries and secrets of the children’s publishing world. (Well, not really). Jennifer and I finally met in person at the recent SCBWI New England Conference…

Now on with the tour:

It has been an extremely busy few years for me. I took a year off from illustrating in 2013 to focus on bringing my Princess K.I.M. books to the stage in Princess K.I.M. The Musical. (Read more about our Upcoming Summer show!)

2013 also brought the publication of two books, which I wrote and illustrated:

What am I currently working on?

I am back at my drawing desk working on an exciting project, one which has a very personal connection to my life and that of my daughter. My next picture-book, is called JANINE, and was inspired by my daughter Janine! Along with the book, Janine and I are developing a corresponding website; (The site is live, but we are still filling it with content- so continue to check back.)

My daughter has given me permission to develop a character based on her life as an individual with disabilities. My real life Janine is now 28 years old and is quite an inspiration. Despite her challenges, she faces each day with optimism. Janine, the main character in the book, is a spunky, endearing child who happens to be on the Autism Spectrum. The basic theme, without giving the story away, is about embracing differences, staying true to who you are, and standing up for others.  
Here is a Mock-up cover. Janine publishes in Spring 2015 by Albert Whitman:

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is the first time in my career where I am hoping to use a book and it’s website to inspire social change. Our mission for the book, Janine, and the website is to help change public perception of children with disabilities and increase awareness and acceptance through children's literature, poetry and film. (Changing public perception has become a family passion. Please view my daughter Kristin's awarding winning documentary short on the subject: FOLLOWING FLAME.)

My daughter Janine and I hope to tour schools together in the Spring. STAND UP. INSPIRE, INCLUDE and INVITE will be our theme. Janine is an amazing role model, not only for kids with challenges, but for all children, their parents and teachers. Yes, she was teased and bullied, and the book is based on a real incident, but through it all, she learned to embrace who she is, and focus on the things she can do, not the things she cannot. Janine hopes to   use her own experiences and stories for positive good and encourage children to stand up for eachother.
Book Janine.
Real Janine. (@ 1993)

Why do I write what I write?

I have wanted to write this story for years, but it took me awhile to figure out how. As a parent of a child with disabilities, I became an advocate, helping Janine to navigate through school, social situations and now life. We have kept our journey private, while sometimes enduring negative attitudes of society towards people with disabilities. When Janine was a child, there were not many books where the main character was disabled. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any. Publishers have recently been open to publishing more on this topic, (we are including a list of books on the website). Publishing has come a long way in 20 years, but I am hoping more books are created on the subject of disabilities. ALL kids want to read about themselves in books.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

1. Inspiration.  2. Words.  3. Dummy.   4. Submit.  5. Sell.  6. Create Art. (With a lot of edits, waiting, and revisions  in between!) Those who know my work, know that many of my stories, including Janine, are connected to experiences in my own life or that of my children or people I met along the way. The difficult part is finding the right publisher. Fortunately, this book sold fairly quickly to Albert Whitman, who has a long history of publishing topics which other publishers shy away from. My gratitude to my Editor, Kelly Barrales-Saylor and Albert Whitman for sharing my vision. 

Though it sold quickly, this story had been simmering in my head for years and years. I struggled with HOW to show a disabled child with autistic-like traits without saying the word disabled, autism or CP in the text. My goal all along was to show the character for who she IS, without a label, and I think I accomplished that goal in Janine.

Here are some views of my illustration process.
Dummies, sketches and finishes for JANINE 
A messy desk after a day of painting.

Janine was an easy character to develop on paper. After all…I brought up the real Janine, a happy child who is now an inspiring adult. In Spring of 2015, I’ll get to share JANINE with the world…you are going to LOVE HER!

Thanks for visiting!

The tour continues next Monday with a friend and former Massachusetts College of Art classmate, Author and Illustrator Teresa Flavin
Teresa now lives in West Yorkshire, England. Her final book in her MG trilogy from Candlewick publishes this July;

Happy Summer!