Welcome to my website!  NEWS


Sheep Go to Sleep

Cover reproduced with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.   All rights reserved.

Sheep are baaack--and this time they're tired, but they can't seem to nod off. A new friend helps them get to sleep. Click here to see more.


The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra commissioned Joshua Penman to write a concert piece based on my book Raccoon Tune. The piece has been performed twice in family concerts.

Hear a sample from Josh's work!
Raccoon Tune music 2007 by Joshua Penman.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Click here for Raccoon Tune activities from the Library of Michigan's Michigan Reads! program.

Elena's Story

Cover reproduced with permission of Sleeping Bear Press. All rights reserved.

I am happy to announce Elena's Story, a new book from Sleeping Bear Press.   It is illustrated by Kristina Rodanas.

My book is part of the Tales of the World series. For more about the series, see discovertheworldbooks.com.

To print off activities that go with the book, see ElenasStory.pdf.

"Useful for students learning about life in other countries, and an entertaining story in its own right."                                --Kirkus Reviews

Shutta Crum's interview covers the writing of the new book, and its relation to my rhymed writing.

Nancy I. Sanders interviews me on how the story came together and my journey as a writer.



Elena lives near a small town in western Guatemala. She lives with her mother, her younger brother, Luis, and her baby sister, Ana. Her father is far away, working on a plantation.

 Elena struggles to keep up in school. Her teacher says she needs to practice her reading. Elena can get books from the local library but it’s hard to find time to read. She must help her mother with the cooking and housework, as well as the hard work of planting and weeding their garden.

 As the big sister Elena is also in charge of watching over Luis to keep him out of mischief. It isn’t always easy and she gets impatient with her little brother.

 But at the end of the day, when Elena shares a book with Luis, carefully sounding out the words, she comes to better understand and appreciate her role in the family.

To learn more about this story, and this part of Guatemala, see my Elena's Story page.


The sheep discover customer service in their short adventure, "Sheep Phone It In," part of my essay in My Bookstore. The book is an anthology of over eighty authors paying tribute to their favorite places to shop, each a unique locally-owned bookstore.

To find an independent bookstore near you, use the locator feature of IndieBound.