Last week I joined in the Sleeping Bear Press 20thanniversary celebration by taking part in a mini-visit to St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Antonio.
The students and staff were incredibly kind and welcoming! After the nicest of introductions by Ms. Rosales, I shared a photo of a book I wrote in first grade and read my historical fiction picture book WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! (published by Sleeping Bear Press). Then students had some very interesting questions – “Do you get help writing your books?” “Do you tell the illustrator how you want the pictures to be?” I could tell that they put a lot of thought into these questions!
To mark their 20th anniversary, Sleeping Bear Press donated 20 new books to the school.
Thank you to the students and staff at St. Gregory the Great and to Sleeping Bear Press for a truly amazing day!
(or the Writing Resume I Wear on My Wrist)
As a child, I had a charm bracelet with charms that marked the places I visited and the important events in my life. As a grownup, I started a new charm bracelet – with each charm representing a part of my writing life. I call it “my writing resume on my wrist.” Instead of a traditional bio, I offer this…
The Queen Mary Ship
This charm represents my first historical picture book, WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! which takes place on the ship the Queen Mary. I conducted a book signing and was a guest at the WWII War Brides Reunion on this amazing ship, permanently docked now in Long Beach, CA.
Wrote two Holiday feature articles in Woman’s Day Magazine. As a freelance magazine writer, I published 25+ how-to, craft & feature articles in Woman’s Day Magazine.
Served as a newspaper columnist for 8 years for The Schaumburg Review newspaper. Also published articles in The Chicago Sun-Times, the San Antonio Express-News and other newspapers.
Published my first poem titled “When Jean Forgot to Say When,” a wild tea party tale-in-verse, in Highlights magazine.
Published three bug books, BUGS IN MY HAIR?!, BARNABY THE BEDBUG DETECTIVE, and WHAT’S BUGGING NURSE PENNY.
The White House
Published three presidential/election books, IF I WERE PRESIDENT, IF I RAN FOR PRESIDENT and TODAY ON ELECTION DAY. The White House Historical Association featured IF I WERE PRESIDENT in their gift shop.
For two short story romances in Woman’s World magazine.
Wrote a Hawaiian crafts feature and other articles for Children’s Playmate and Child Life magazines.
For my first novel, THE TERRIBLE SECRETS OF THE TELL-ALL CLUB.
For a sea shanties article in Highlights magazine. I published 25+ stories, articles and crafts in Highlights magazine (by the way, sea shanties are songs sailors sang as they worked).
For a book signing at Mount Rushmore. The sculpture also appears in the books IF I WERE PRESIDENT and IF I RAN FOR PRESIDENT.
Statue of Liberty
Wrote a family travel cover article for Woman’s Day magazine. That issue featured a photo of my kids in front of Lady Liberty.
Mascot of the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I conducted research on children’s literature and authored/co-authored 3 academic articles on children’s picture books during the completion of a Master’s Degree in Reading & Literacy.
Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics has announced the picture book IF I WERE PRESIDENT, by Catherine Stier and illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, is this year’s selected book for their Teach A Girl to Lead project.
Approximately 2000 copies of the book, described as “a great story that teaches an important lesson about leadership,” have been purchased and distributed in to “each woman in Congress, the women serving in all state legislatures, and four women governors” as stated on the Teach a Girl to Lead website at http://tag.rutgers.edu/teaching-toolbox/reading-day-if-i-were-president/
These elected women leaders are encouraged to share the book and discuss leadership issues with groups of children in their districts, and then donate the books to the school or organization at which they appear. And they have! New York State Senator Elaine Phillips, Hawaii State Representative Nadine Nakamura and Florida State Representative Tracie Davis are just some of the elected leaders who have shared IF I WERE PRESIDENT with children to date.
I am very proud that these women leaders are reading and discussing my book. I hope that its portrayal of both young boys and girls imagining themselves as POTUS will encourage all children to consider a possible future in positions of leadership.
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.
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/
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.
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
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
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.
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!