I Did It! Completion of a Master’s Program

This spring, I celebrated with my family the completion of my Masters of Education/Reading and Literacy with a focus on children’s literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

This program offered abundant opportunities to explore the research on children’s literacy and literature.  I studied with incredible professors including Dr. Miriam Martinez, a children’s literature researcher, former Caldecott Medal selection committee member and my advisor; Dr. Roxanne Henkin, Director of the San Antonio Writing Project; and Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the instructor in my Multicultural Literature for Children Class and State Poet Laureate of Texas; among other stellar faculty members.

Through the master’s program, I conducted picturebook research, both on my own and with others.  My independent research article “Examining the Actions of Child Characters in Historical Fiction Picturebooks” appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of The Dragon Lode, a peer-reviewed publication of the International Reading Association’s Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group. http://www.clrsig.org/dragon_lode_current.php

I was also fortunate to conduct illuminating picturebook research with Dr. Miriam Martinez and Dr. Lori Ann Falcon.  The article based on this research, “Judging a Book by Its Cover: An Investigation of Peritextual Features in Caldecott Award Books” was published in February 2016 by the peer-reviewed Children’s Literature in Education http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10583-016-9272-8

While pursuing this degree, I had the amazing opportunity to create children’s works while researching kid’s literature.  I released three new children’s books while enrolled in the program, including WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! (Sleeping Bear Press), the WWII historical fiction picturebook that inspired my independent research topic.

Additionally, through my completion of the exciting and intense summer institute of the San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP) held at UTSA, I became a SAWP teacher consultant.

Guest speakers (in person and through Skype visits) at various programs associated with UTSA included children’s authors/illustrators Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Yuyi Morales, Karen Cushman, Deborah Wiles and Pat Mora.  How fascinating to hear about their writing and research practices!

I am grateful to my family who encouraged me and to all the UTSA staff and faculty who guided me along my academic journey.  Today, I look forward to continuing to create children’s literature, now with an increased understanding and appreciation and fresh insights developed through this remarkable program.

DoSeum Kids’ Creative Writing Workshop Explored “Heroes Among Us” at Saturday Program

What fun to facilitate the “Heroes Among Us”

Creative Writing Workshop at the DoSeum with fellow San Antonio Writing Project teacher consultants. The DoSeum is San Antonio’s new, amazing children’s museum. On July 25, young writers learned about The Hero’s Journey and spoke with real life heroes to inspire their own hero stories!  Visiting the DoSeum that

day were all kinds of heroes, including those who work to keep others safe, protect wildlife, and help kids to learn and grow.  To meet some of these amazing heroes visit: http://www.thedoseum.org/heroes-everyday-meet-heroes/

The Queen Mary Hotel and Attraction Book Giveaway

  
Just learned that last month, the Queen Mary staff hosted a giveaway, and gifted one winner (who liked their post on Facebook) with a copy of WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! in honor of International Children’s Book Day.  I hope the recipient enjoys both this story, set on the Queen Mary in 1946, as well as the gorgeous illustrations of the interior and exterior of the great ship by Doris Ettlinger.

Inspiration for a Story


Illustration by Doris Ettlinger

I received a most gracious invitation to contribute to WGRT’s “Entirely Women” feature, “52 Real Women.”  I found at this site some wonderfully inspiring essays – and how pleased I am that my own appeared on July 28, 2014.  For my part, I chose to write about the amazing WWII event that inspired a picturebook in a piece titled “Time-Honored Sisterhood” at http://wgrt.com/entirelywomen/?page_id=2

Title Receives Honor


Champ is a champ!

Happy to announce that the historical fiction picture book Welcome to America, Champ! by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger was named a 2014 Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year for Children!

In this WWII era story, young Thomas, his mother, and baby brother journey from war torn England to a new home in America aboard the great ship The Queen Mary. During the 1946 “Brides and Babies” voyages, thousands of war brides just like Thomas’s mother embarked on transatlantic crossings to the U.S. to join the American servicemen they married during the war — and begin a new life in a new country.

For more info on this title, visit
https://sleepingbearpress.com/shop/show/11592

An Unforgettable Day on the Queen Mary


Each time I glimpse the lovely Queen Mary, I am filled with awe at the majesty, beauty and history of this celebrated ship.

 

On February 15, I had the great privilege of returning to the Queen Mary –the setting for my historical fiction picture book Welcome to America, Champ!–this time as a guest for a “Greet the Author” event.

Welcome to America, Champ! with stunning illustrations by award-winning illustrator Doris Ettlinger, takes place on the Queen Mary following WWII and during the “Brides and Baby” voyages.  At that time in 1946, an armada of ships took part in what was also known as “Operation Diaper Run,” transporting tens of thousands of European war brides and war babies of American and Canadian servicemen to North America. The Queen Maryalone transported 22,000 war brides and babies in a seven month span.

The Stacks onboard shop hosted the “Greet the Author” event during the Queen Mary Scottish Festival, with thousands in attendance.  I met people from many parts of California — and the world.  Thrilling bagpipe music played that day as kids stopped by to create their own Queen Mary craft.  You can see here some of their creative work.

Lovely weather, a festive atmosphere and a remarkable location made for a most memorable day.

Kids designed their own take-home Queen Mary crafts

MEET ME AT THE QUEEN MARY!

 
I am so excited to be the guest author at a book signing on the Queen Mary, now a hotel and attraction in Long Beach, California.  My historical fiction picturebook, Welcome to America, Champ! takes place on the Queen Mary, just after WWII during the “Bride and Baby Voyages.” It will be like stepping into the book – award winning illustrator Doris Ettlinger created the lovely illustrations for this title. I’ll be conducting the book signing from noon – 4 p.m., February 15, during the Queen Mary Scottish Festival – 10,000 people attended this two-day event last year.

This month marks the anniversary of the Queen Mary’s first “Brides and Baby” voyage, transporting the European (including Scottish) War Brides of American and Canadian servicemen to North America.  Many ships took part in these “Operation Diaper Run” voyages, but the Queen Mary alone transported 22,000 War Brides and Babies during a 7 month span in 1946.

What an honor it would be to meet some of these WWII War Brides and Babies that day!

Another Tea Party…

In 2007, my poem for children, “When Jean Forgot to Say ‘When’” first appeared in Highlights Magazine with lovely, whimsical illustrations by David Galchutt.

In this story-in-verse, Jean is invited to the castle

for tea with the Queen.  The proper Queen asks Jean to say “When” as she pours her tea.  Jean, however, is so giddy to be in the palace and so distracted by the sights that she forgets to say “When.”  And so the Queen pours, and pours and pours…

Flash forward to the summer of 2013 and the trip of a lifetime to Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and England.

In Scotland, we had the chance to visit Edinburgh – and I found out one could be served tea at the lovely and majestic Edinburgh Castle.  I was every bit as thrilled as Jean! I felt giddy, too, that my life was imitating a tiny bit of the story I had created years before.  After all, I was having tea (and some scrumptious pastries and delectables) at a real castle!

Edinburgh Castle

A Brand New Bug Book: WHAT’S BUGGING NURSE PENNY?: A STORY ABOUT LICE by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

This just released picture book, dedicated to school nurses everywhere, offers both information and assurance about an all too common pest:

Nurse Penny is a fun and funky school nurse who wears honeybee earrings and a butterfly smock and carries a ladybug purse. But there’s one kind of bug she’d rather not have around. . .head lice! So she calls a special school assembly to talk about those pesky critters–what they look like, how to avoid them, and how to get rid of them. After all, lice can happen to anyone–even the school nurse!

An information note outlines facts about lice.

Kirkus calls this colorful picture book “entertaining” with “good instruction for prevention” and notes the “expressive and bright” illustrations by talented illustrator Suzanne Beaky.

Kids Design Queen Mary Ships on Memorial Day Weekend

Here’s just a sampling of the work of the creative kids in San Antonio!  Lots of young readers stopped by to take part in the book signing/kids crafts at San Antonio’s

Barnes and Noble at San Pedro Crossing on Sunday, May 26. With the release of my new WWII era picturebook WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! and in observance of Memorial Day weekend, kids had the opportunity to decorate their own ships.  Much of WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! takes place on the Queen Mary, an impressive

Postcards of the Queen Mary

ship (larger than the Titanic) that played an important part in WWII.  Some kids based their designs on the real Queen Mary — we had plenty of postcards and the lovely book illustrations by Doris Ettlinger as examples.  Other young designers chose to go with their own whimsical motifs.  No matter the approach, the results — as you can see –were amazing!