Showing posts from 2009

Middle Children ROCK!

Lee's a middle-kid who finally expresses his frustration (for him, it's with a guitar and blues riff) in a big way. Now it's your turn. Middle kids near and far, come stand on your soap box. What's the worst thing about being a middle child, and how did you survive? Or...what do you notice about your middle child/ren that is interesting?

Watch The Middle-Child Blues trailer! Click here.

Meeting my Secret...errrr....Literary Agent

It happened on Friday night. (Mission Impossible music starts now.) My Ford Flex slowly hummed as it approached the airport pick-up curb, and there she was... my agent, standing in her black trenchcoat and dark sunglasses. (Okay, she wasn't really wearing dark sunglasses, but I thought they might add to the general effect.) "Have you got them?" she asked after I rolled down my window.

"Got them," I said. Then she scanned the area with her mini-binoculars and climbed into her seat. She slammed the door. We were off -- off to the Patrick Moore Gallery in Salt Lake City. But first, we took a detour to discuss the plans. We stopped at a Rumbi Island Grill, and over two chicken and shrimps over rice, we plotted out a strategy. A strategy for me to disassemble and reassemble my novel. It was going to be a very tricky, complicated process.

After going over the plans, we put on disguises and crept into the art gallery, where dozens of chic authors dined on cupcakes and m…

The 2009 Utah Book Awards, Children's Division

Near the end of October, I attended the Utah Book Award Ceremony, where my picture book COOL DADDY RAT was a nominee in the children's division. The other two nominees in this category were Alison Randall, author of THE WHEAT DOLL, and Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale, Authors and Illustrator of RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. Shannon and her husband were running a tad late (no doubt due to her UBER busy schedule) , and Nathan had a last minute work deadline. but I was able to stand beside Alison as our books were recognized.

The winner turned out to be the Hale trio for RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE. Alison and I were bummed we didn't get to stand beside them on the stage and bask in their glory. But we still received cash awards and a nice plaque for being nominated. Afterwards there was a catered reception with live music, and overall, it was a very nice evening.

All Hail, Hail, Hail (Hale, Hale, Hale) RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE!

The Middle-Child Blues - School Library Journal Review

My editor just forwarded me the School Library Journal review for Middle Child, and I thought I'd share:

CROW, Kristyn. The Middle-Child Blues. illus. by David Catrow. unpaged. CIP. Putnam. 2009. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24735-4. LC 2008030591.
K-Gr 2–What middle children haven’t sung the blues about their place in the family hierarchy? Lee is stuck between his older brother and cute little sister. There’s just not much to do in between, even when the family goes to the fair. He’s too young to hang out with his brother, too old for the things his sister wants to do. He’s definitely in a sulk. But then he picks up his guitar and begins to sing: “I’ve got the low-down,/big-frown/sulkin’-all-around-town/bummed-out/mid-kid blues.” Soon a crowd gathers, and Lee is the center of attention. His parents and passersby join in, saying that they are middle children themselves, and admit that they have forgotten how rough that can be. Catrow’s trademark pencil and watercolor illustrations are…

Having a blast with School Author Visits

Last Friday I had a wonderful time visiting Rowland Hall - St. Mark's School in Salt Lake City. The children were so well behaved and attentive! The prior Friday I visited West Haven Elementary in Roy, Utah. It is SO fun meeting with kids and sharing my stories and talking about reading and writing! These pictures were taken by a fabulous photographer from Rowland Hall. As soon as I get her name to credit her, I'll post it here.
The kids have a lot of fun playing rhythm instruments along with BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP. This is my drum section, the "BOOMs."

As you can see, I get a bit animated during my presentations. Right now the younger kids are echoing back my refrain, "SPLISH SPLASH RUMBA-RUMBA BIM BAM BOOM!" And we're all scared of the swamp monster.

I bring a whole lot of instruments and also do a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of my books in various stages of production. I tell the kids some funny things about myself and my family, and…

Ten Fun Activities to Go Along with COOL DADDY RAT by Kristyn Crow

Teachers or Parents: Choose any of these fun activities to experience the snappy book COOL DADDY RAT with your children in a big way!

Purpose: To help children learn to appreciate jazz music as an American art form, to help them recognize and use improvisation in language and music, and to encourage individual creativity and a love for reading. 1. Visit my blog online with your class,, go to my September 11th 2009 post, and watch a few clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Jason Mraz, and other musicians scatting.

2. Read Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop, by Chris Raschka. Students can invent their own musical interpretation of the book. Other fun jazz books to read: Before John was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, by Carole Boston Weatherford; Jazz by Walter Dean Meyers, Jazz Fly, by Matthew Gollub. Talk about the history of jazz and its American roots.

3. Play jazz music in the background while you read COOL DADDY RAT aloud. Have the children “echo” back the …


Image're reading COOL DADDY RAT, and your kids seem puzzled. What are those funny lines of nonsense text, anyway? SCAT? What is that? Well, children know scat--they've heard it even as babies. They just need to be reminded. Here is the famous Louis Prima scat from the Jungle Book. Have your kids raise their hands when they hear the scat. (NOTE: You must actually be at my blogsite to hear/view these clips. ) Or join in:

Now, Ella Fitzgerald was a great jazz singer from the 1960s. She was the queen of scat, and here's why. (You won't need to watch the whole clip to get the idea):

So now that we're getting familiar with scat, have your kids watch this fun clip:

Yep, scat is cool. Scat is fun. Scat is for everyone!

Now just in case you thought scat was ancient, old, and dried-up, oh no, no, no. Scat is alive and well. It lives and breathes in some of our best current musicians:

So now you know why Ace just had to make his scattin' deb…
My editor at Putnam just sent me my first official review of "The Middle-Child Blues." It's from Kirkus:


Being stuck in between a big brother and a younger sister has put Lee in touch with the spirit of the blues. A family trip to the amusement park provides a vivid reminder of why being the middle child can be so bad. Their day begins with Lee, guitar in backpack and sporting a perfectly coiffed pompadour, being left in the driveway. Even getting lunch is no fun: “Ray can order a ‘Big Bun,’ / and Kate’s meal has a toy. / I get a plain cheeseburger / since I’m just the middle boy.” Catrow’s vibrant palette and frenetic style aptly depict this active family and their environs. His keen sense of proportion and angle keeps a scowling Lee at the center of the double-page spreads of bustling crowds and park rides. A series of humiliations ensues until the blues cannot be restrained. Lee breaks into his song of woe that attracts a crowd of bir…

Aspiring Writer in Utah? Come to the TREEHOUSE MUSEUM!

WRITING FOR CHARITY: Sponsored by Utah Children's Book Authors and Deseret Book Get writing tips from published authors, buy autographed copies of books, and shmooze with the Utah writing community!

Saturday, August 29, 2009 • 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Treehouse Children’s Museum
347 22nd Street • Ogden, UT • 801-394-9663

$50 per person ($45 before August 21)
Includes morning snack and lunch
Please make checks payable to: Treehouse Museum
Announcing the 2nd Annual Writing for Charity Event, sponsored by Utah Children’s Book Authors and Deseret Book. This special workshop event features more than 20 published children’s book authors of both picture books and young adult fiction.

The Writing for Charity Event, a workshop for aspiring children’s book writers (age 13 and up only, please), will provide participants with professional advice and the opportunity to have their work evaluated by one of the event’s participating authors. The event includes the opportunity to purchase books and have…

What Came Out of the Swamp?

I had a terrific visit yesterday with Crescent Elementary School. I gave four presentations to the students, and we had some fun playing rhythm instruments to BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP. The kids asked some great questions and were a wonderful audience. Here are two bulletin boards displaying art the students created for BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP. Without hearing the end of the story, the students were asked to predict what came out of the swamp.

Each child was asked to draw a picture of his or her prediction. Only one student guessed it was "the mom," (see the picture just beneath the "P"). They all had some fun guesses, and one student even said it was his teacher coming out of the swamp. (See upper right picture.)

Bravo! What a great idea. I really enjoyed myself yesterday and have probably officially wrapped-up my school visits until next fall. I love going to elementary schools and hope to visit many more.

Congratulations, MIKE!

I just learned that MIKE LESTER won the National Cartoonists Society Award for Book Illustration for COOL DADDY RAT! BRAVO! BRAVO!

Read about it here:

Congratulations, Mike! I am honored to have had access to your amazing talent. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication on this book!


Today I had a terrific time gathering with fellow authors at the Provo Children's Book Festival. Pictured above are: (From left) Anne Bowen, myself, Carol Lynch Williams, Emily Wing Smith, and Ann Dee Ellis. If you can name the mysterious man hiding in this picture, I will send you an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice). That is, if you're the first one to respond correctly. (Rock canyon writers excluded.)

The read-aloud was fun--especially reading to my neices and nephews. I feel very blessed to have family members who are so supportive. I thought, man, these kids have heard my stories so many times, do they really want to hear them again? But they listened and played along with me. It was great! The festival had face painting, puppet shows, classes, readings, free books, food, and more. There was a bit of frustration for everyone when the fire alarm was pulled by a child and the whole building flashed and screamed like it was WW IV. The alarm kept going for quit…

Broken Glass and Potential

This picture was taken at the Provo Marriott Hotel on Saturday, April 25th. It's hard to tell, but that's me speaking to a group of writers about picture books. Sharlee Glenn and I prepared a presentation to help picture book writers self-critique their manuscripts. Speaking and making appearances is something I never really thought about when I dreamed of getting published. I am so grateful for the advice I received from some seasoned writers who told me that, while I was waiting for my first book to be released, I should begin working on some presentations. PowerPoint is a wonderful thing. I really enjoyed the conference and got to see a few old friends that I haven't been in contact with for many years. I also sold enough copies of Bedtime at the Swamp and Cool Daddy Rat that I depleted my personal supply. Sometimes an author doesn't sell too many books from these events, so I was pleased.

I have my first return school visit this Wednesday, which should be fun. And …

Gettin' JAZZED about READING!

Every once in a while I open up my email and get a wonderful surprise. Last Monday I heard from Ritt Henn, a professional jazz bassist from New York City. He often performs at elementary schools to help promote music and literacy in the community. This year, his group, the JAZZMEN, chose COOL DADDY RAT as their featured storybook. They read the book, played their instruments, and even turned the scat lines into call-and-response bits for the children. Oh, how I wish I could have been there! What a way to get kids "jazzed" about reading!

Pictured left to right: Frank Wagner, Jerry Sokolov, and Ritt Henn. (Photo by Isabella Caputo.) The Jazzmen received letters from the children, and they shared a few with me:

A big thanks to the Jazzmen for sharing my book with children in such a cool way. If you'd like to read more about Ritt Henn, here is his website: And here's a website for Frank Wagner:

Words and Bricks

Writing can be a tedious, frustrating task. I think it's a little like laying bricks. You start to build up a few words, which build upon more words and more words. Days, weeks, or months later, you've got structure. You've got something to look at, something to design and plan. You keep going, not knowing exactly how the thing will turn out, but you have hope. So you dig in. You try staying focused. You take breaks because you start to go a little bonkers. And finally, voila! After a lot of hard labor, you've got a creation to be admired, and also scrutinized.

But oh, you are not finished. This is where feedback comes in. You get some people to inspect your work--people who know all about brick laying, design, and layout. And they examine what you've done very carefully. Now imagine if EVERY time they do this, they tell you that something needs reworking. This is what happens in writing. You've done well, and bravo for your efforts, but you've got to fix s…

Smiling Ladybugs

I’m very happy to learn that Bedtime at the Swamp is a 2009 Ladybug nominee. It’s in the company of some very delightful books, and I’m thrilled to have it be considered. To read about it, click here.
My kids are all packing up to leave tomorrow for spring break. All, that is, except my youngest. (She’s the only one who escaped the awful “musical houses” fate.) Things are going to be very quiet around here, so you’d think I could get some writing done. But sometimes it’s even harder to work when my youngest is all alone without her siblings. She needs LOTS of attention.
I’m working on a novel, but I have such a bad habit of second-guessing myself! I get going , and then I’m really on fire, when suddenly I decide that the whole premise is stupid. I start thinking of new novel ideas, and talk myself out of the current one. Bad news. Having a great idea is half the battle sometimes. I wish I were Stephenie Meyer, and that I could dream something fabulous to write about.
I submitted a new…


A few things…

Last week, I got short mentions in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Standard Examiner. I had a very busy week. I did seven presentations at Majestic Elementary, then a signing at Ogden’s Treehouse Museum. On Saturday I spoke to 450 people at Springville’s Young Writer’s Conference, and taught three workshop sessions. On Monday I presented at Weber State. Phew! I’m ready for a break!

I also learned that Mike Lester was nominated for an award from the National Cartoonists Society for his work on COOL DADDY RAT. Here is the blog that mentions his nomination, under BOOK ILLUSTRATION.

GO, MIKE! You deserve it! WOOOO-HOOOO! ZOW! I’m crossing all my fingers that you win!! (And it’s getting difficult to type…)


Letter from a Little Girl at The Nebo Young Writer's Conference

Dear Abby,A tap dancing puppy? What a fun idea! You could create all kinds of great rhythms with a character who tap dances. I love puppies too! This is definitely something for me to consider, however, by the time the book came out I think you'd be reading Harry Potter or James Dashner's 13th Reality series. I promise you this, if I ever write a book about a tap dancing puppy, I will dedicate it to you.Sincerely, Kristyn Crow

The Gift in a Moment

Last Thursday I had one of the greatest moments of my life. Not that it compares with the births of my children, my marriage, or speaking at my mother’s funeral. But it was one of those rare moments where I felt utterly fulfilled and joyous as a human being. And this is what happened:

I was standing inside an elementary school where I had just given a full day of presentations, and had a wonderful meal with eight students who had been selected for the privilege of having “lunch with an author.” It’s almost surreal being honored in this way; I actually felt like somebody besides a frantic, scatterbrained wife and mom--like I might even be somebody special to some kids besides my own. I had packed up my rhythm instruments and was saying goodbye to the school administrators who had been so very kind to me. Suddenly I looked across to the end of the hallway from where I was standing, and saw a father who had bought one of my books, sitting in a chair against the wall. He had BEDTIME AT THE…

Back to the Revision Board Blues

At the end of last week, I received revision requests from my new Skeleton Cat editor. I also heard back from my agent, who is requesting revisions on another manuscript that a different editor likes. Now, pretend you can actually hear me across the internet waves and listen closely to this sound…. SIIIGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Did you hear me exhaling for five minutes? Huff. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I think Skeleton Cat has been rewritten so many times it’s like an old friend who keeps reappearing over and over again on my doorstep, and although I love the guy I'm getting a little annoyed.

Putnam sent me the completed cover jacket (with flaps) for The MIDDLE CHILD BLUES, and it’s really terrific. (I can say that since I'm referring to the illustrations.) The picture above is Lee, the middle kid, crankin' up the volume. Check out David Catrow’s VERY slick website (click here). This will be a fun book to read aloud!


Here are some scenes from outside my window right now. This is bundle-up-in-a-blanket-and-drink-hot-chocolate weather.

I know exactly what it's like to live inside a snow globe. And the pictures don't do it justice.

It's Zhivagoland. I remember my mother loved the movie "Dr. Zhivago," especially the score and the winter scenes. There's something about that abandoned house with the big porch, frozen-over inside and out, that is very romantic.

And Dr. Zhivago is a writer. Here's a scene from the movie, when spring has finally come (I can relate to his obvious joy):

Presenting...The MIDDLE CHILD BLUES!

Ta-DAH! Here is the cover for my next book, coming this fall. I am very excited, and hope middle kids everywhere will be, too. A big thanks to Dave Catrow and his serious SKILLS.

Being in the middle is RUFF RUFF RUFF.

Yesterday I received the “proofs” for Middle Child Blues, which means the illustrations are set, glossy on the page, with text in place. No folds or binding. Just flat sheets in a stack. It’s always a bit like Christmas when I get to see the illustrations for the first time. They arrived in a big white Fed-Ex envelope, and I wasn’t expecting them. A nice Wednesday surprise. Here is the illustration for the back cover. It will have the caption, “Being in the middle is rough.” From what I understand, Dave Catrow loves to draw dogs. And he does it so well. The dog in the middle here is a bit of a “star” in the book. He dances the watoosi on more than one occasion.

Tomorrow I get to see the cover image, and I'll be posting it for you to see.

Congratulations to the 2009 ALA Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, King, Geisel, etc. Award Recipients

ALA Awards 2009

John Newbery Medal:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

John Newbery Honor Books:

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
Savvy by Ingrid Law
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal:

The House in the Night illustrated by Beth Krommes

Randolph Caldecott Honor Books:

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Coretta Scott King Author Award:

Kadir Nelson, “We Are the Ship”

King Author Honor Books:

Hope Anita Smith, “Keeping the Night Watch
Joyce Carol Thomas, “The Blacker the Berry”
Carole Boston Weatherford, “Becoming Billie Holiday”

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award:

Floyd Cooper, “The Blacker the Berry”

King Illustrator Honor Books:

Kadir Nelson, “We Are the Ship”
Sean Qualls, “Before John Was a Jazz Giant”
Jerry Pinkney, “The Moon Over Star”

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New…

A Fabulous Visit to Syracuse Arts Academy!

Last Tuesday I got to visit Syracuse Arts Academy! Illustrator Will Terry and I were scheduled to do a joint assembly in the morning, then break into workshops throughout the rest of the day. As soon as we arrived there were huge banners with our names, welcoming us to the school. Then in the entry the children had made “books” out of cereal boxes and had created them based on the themes of our books. I was just sick that with all my equipment I had forgotten to bring my camera. Before students filed into the gym, we quickly hooked up my laptop to the school’s projector and got the screen image centered, etc. Then Will and I were introduced, to thunderous applause. Wow, what a treat.

Weeks earlier, Will and I had emailed photos back and forth and created a PowerPoint “How-well-do-you-know-Will-and-Kristyn quiz show.” In the assembly we had the students raise their hands and guess which one of us played piano as a child and which played cello, which one had seven kids, which one was add…

Stuff Crows Do

I drove home one afternoon and there were some crows in the street in front of our house. We don't see crows around here all that often and it was a little peculiar. They just seemed to be taking a stroll.
This Crow (meaning me) is preparing for an assembly at an arts academy in Syracuse. There's a lot that goes into planning an assembly, like organizing pictures and animations in a PowerPoint presentation, arranging and packing up my rhythm instruments (I have nearly 100), getting my technical gadets ready, etc. Today I was able to puchase a remote control which will advance my PowerPoint slides in the presentation. This has been a problem in the past, when the schools had PowerPoint projectors and I had the laptop, but there was not a remote which would function with it. So I had to position myself next to my laptop and click, which isn't a terrible thing but not the ideal situation. Hopefully everything will run smoothly. I'm very excited to be presenting with illust…