Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Updated: July 26, 2016

This is part of the super-fantabulous Bonus Page for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, Debbie's first solo picture book, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2015.

If you're interested in finding out more, please visit the Simon & Schuster website, the WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Bonus Page or follow my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Facebook page


Los Angeles Times lists WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? in "30 Summer Books That Kids Will Gobble Up"


Librarian's Quest review of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?

Thanks to Librarian's Question for the wonderful review of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? last week. Wow, what a detailed and thoughtful review. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Librarian's Quest is a place where students, educators and parents can exchange and express views about the best of books, new technologies and libraries.

To see what others are saying about my first solo picture book, please visit my Press Page.


WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 8): Final wrap-up, what I learned, what I'd do differently, things I learned to have with me at all times

For an index of all my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour recap posts, see

I'm NOT bored at Carol Stream Elementary! Photo: Gabriela Auld.

First off, thank you SO MUCH to Simon & Schuster Children's for giving me the opportunity to go on this book tour! I know author book tours are a rare animal these days, so I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Thanks to my S&S publicist Kelsey Dickson for organizing my Where Are My Books? book tour, and for supporting me throughout the week. And thank you to the bookstores, libraries and schools who let me visit them as well as those of you who came out to support me. 

In the space of five days, I did 14 presentations at 10 schools and two libraries in three states. I also visited four bookstores during the week-long trip

Sketching at Irving Park Elementary. Photo: Kira Larson.

Now that I'm back home and have (nearly) finished unpacking, I've had a chance to go through my notes and photos and have been thinking about what I've learned, and what I'd do differently next time.


- Even though I've always considered myself a nervous public speaker, I discovered that I forgot about being nervous once I was out talking with students about things that excited me.

- Upon arriving at a school, I learned to always confirm what was expected of me. What I found: sometimes communication lines had gotten crossed and that what was in my written itinerary had changed by the time I arrived at a school. One session got turned into two back-to-back sessions. A 45 minute session got turned into an hour. Finding out I was also expected to sign books meant I needed to shorten my presentation if I had a firm "must leave school by xxxx time in order to get to next event."

At Learning Community Charter School. Photo: Charlotte Kreutz.

- Before a presentation, ask if there are any special needs students in the audience. This gave teachers/librarians a chance to let me know of potential unexpected interruptions like yelling or other noises, so I wouldn't be surprised. Thanks to my media escort, Genene Murphy, for this tip.

- Having a good media escort makes a huge difference.

- I learned that YES, it was possible to hand-wash my presentation outfit and dry it using the hotel room blowdryer in 40 minutes. My outfit was still a tad damp by the time I had to leave for my first school presentation, but it dried quickly:

- Until the Apple Watch makes it possible to force the display to stay on, it does not make a good watch for a public speaker. Why? Because it's impossible to casually glance down and check the time; I would have to raise my wrist to get the display to turn on, and I didn't want to do that in the middle of my talk. Early in the week, there was one school where I could NOT see a clock on the wall, and I lost track of where my media escort was in the crowded room (she was going to give me hand signals when I got to certain time marks). I ended up switching to my old-fashioned analog watch after that.

- I discovered how much I love talking with young readers.

Students told me how much they loved to draw or to write. Some told me they couldn't draw very well, but I could tell from the way they said it that they wanted me to contradict them. They shyly handed me their drawings of the little girl in I'M BORED or the talking potato or the flamingo. They told me what books they loved and what books they were reading. Some hugged me fiercely, even they were only tall enough to hug my knees. Some wouldn't let go. :-)

- Many of the school tech staff people thanked me for sending such detailed info about my laptop and tech needs, so I'm definitely going to do the same next time. What I did: take a photo of the connector/adaptor ends, my laptop and the connector outlet hole thingies in my laptop. This seemed to be much more effective than just sending the text info, though I also included that as well. And as a backup, I also took a USB stick with my slideshow presentation in many different formats (static images, Keynote, Powerpoint, PDF) AND I brought some tabloid-size printouts of key slides just in case all tech failed.

Click to see larger version- I learned that you can do advance check-in even if you have no printer handy! At least you can for certain airlines, and especially if they have their own app. 

- I learned that no matter how tight my schedule is or how many people are talking to me while I'm packing up, I alwaysALWAYS need to do a thorough scan of my presentation area, before leaving the school. I very nearly forgot my iPhone in one school and an important adaptor cord in another.


- To ask for more of a time cushion between events, if at all possible. This not only makes me more relaxed for the presentation but also gives me a chance to chat informally with the kids and adults, even for just a few minutes. This also gives me a bit more leeway in case there is heavy traffic between two venues.

- Bring copies of some of my other books. I regretted my last-minute decision not to take I'm Bored or Naked! with me, to save on carry-on space/weight. There were several times when the I was asked about either or both of them, and it would have been great to read an excerpt. If I was still opting for just carry-on, however, I'd need to sacrifice something else in my luggage.

- Not sure if I'd bring my portable projector for trips when I fly with carry-on only. I never ended up using it, because my tech always worked with the school projector. A big help: Jeff made sure I had every possible type of connector/adaptor, so I never needed to rely on the projector. The projector itself took a big chunk of space in my carry-on, so I might save it for local visits.

- Even if there is no time to go to a convenience store, buy some granola bars or other on-the-go snacks as early in the trip as possible. Because cross-border food is frowned upon (especially since I use a Nexus card), I didn't have anything with me when I arrived in the U.S. and didn't have time to shop for snacks once things got started the first full day. On days when there was no time for lunch or I didn't have dinner until 9 or 10 pm, it would have been good to have SOMETHING to nosh on in the car between visits. I smartened up after the first couple days and got into the habit of ordering extra fruit with room service and buying granola bars at the hotel shop before heading off to schools.

- I won't bother printing out multiple copies of my itinerary in case I lose one, because the itinerary is likely going to be revised several times while I'm on the road. Despite my electronic gadgets, I ended up relying solely on one paper copy that got progressively more wrinkled and scribbled upon over the week. I took photos every so often in case I lost the paper copy.


- A copy of my book.

- Sharpies, for signing books. I find I prefer Fine Point but like to keep an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie handy as well, in case I need to sign in a smaller space, or if I want to add details.

- My iPhone, for taking photos.

- My itinerary.

- Small bottle of hand sanitizer. Tissues. The combo came in handy when my hands got sticky/dirty for whatever reason.

At the last minute, I took a small, lightweight cloth bag with a shoulder strap...and this turned out to be invaluable. Yes, I sometimes had several bags hanging off me BUT it meant that I had easy access to my passport, iPhone and itinerary in airports when I was lugging stuff around in a hurry, plus it made taking a quick photo easy.

In case anyone's curious, my carry-on consisted of:

- A Land's End Lighthouse 27" Hybrid Upright Bag: I love the wheels that can spin 360 degrees so I can roll the bag without tipping it. I only had to check it once, when I was flying in a very small plane and it was a full flight. On the plane, I tucked it under the seat in front of me and put my backpack in the overhead bin.

- Backpack. Inside the backpack, I kept a small purse backpack (I put it in the larger backpack in airports so the latter wouldn't count as an extra item), electronics like my laptop and projector.

Before I went into schools, I put my presentation stuff into my rolling bag and left my larger backpack in the hotel room, just took my small purse backpack.

I did not check any luggage.


And thus ends my Where Are My Books? Book Tour recap. Going through the photos has brought back some truly wonderful memories. THANK YOU, SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN'S!

As I mentioned up top, you can find links to all my book tour recap posts at


WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 7, New Jersey): Learning Community Charter School, WORD Bookstore, and board gaming

For an index of all my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour recap posts, see

With found object art that Learning Community Charter School students helped me create and name! Photo: Charlotte Kreutz.

The last school I visited during my Where Are My Books? Book Tour was Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, NJ. The LCCS is an independent public charter school "dedicated to using an innovative integrated approach to achieve the intellectual, social and emotional development of all students."

Thanks to Charlotte Kreutz, who is the Special Projects Coordinator at the school, for making me feel so welcome:

I had great fun chatting with the school's first- and second-graders:

Photo: Charlotte Kreutz.

Also really enjoyed doing a drawing demo and making some found object art with the students. Love the names that they came up with for our two characters: "Uh" and "Uh-Huh." :-D

Photo: Charlotte Kreutz.

Had some fascinating conversations with some of the students as I signed books. LOVED how keen they all seemed to be about books and reading!

Because I had no more visits scheduled that afternoon, I had time to visit with my board gamer friends Geoff and Susan Engelstein:

Thanks to the Engelsteins for their hospitality, for dinner and for playing Finca with me! If you're interested in board games, I encourage you to follow Geoff on Twitter -- he's a game designer, co-hosts a podcast about board gaming and is also a contributor to The Dice Tower.

The next morning and on the last day of my book tour, I visited WORD Bookstore in Jersey City.

SO wonderful to meet WORD's children's book specialist, Arielle Milstein. I love her enthusiasm and energy! 

The store was packed with parents and their kids, and Arielle seemed to know ALL OF THEM. What a wonderful community! 

Storytime at WORD Bookstore (Jersey City, NJ). Photo: Marcie Colleen.

My board gamer friend Gil Hova dropped by to say hi; he lives in the neighborhood. Thanks also to my friend Marcie Colleen for coming to my Storytime! Marcie, for those of you who don't already know, did the wonderful Teacher's Guide for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and my other book projects, but also has several children's books coming out from HarperCollins and Scholastic (yay!). She is incredibly supportive of other children's book authors/illustrators and is just as delightful in person as she is online.

Thank you, Marcie! And thanks for the photos, too. :-)

Drawing a WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? squirrel at WORD Bookstore (Jersey City). Photo: Marcie Colleen.

 And then it was time to head back HOME.

Next and final post coming soon: Final words, what I learned, what I'd do differently next time.



WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 6, New Jersey): Allentown Public Library, Monmouth County Library and an interview with Renee Fertig

For an index of all my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour recap posts, see

Visiting Allentown Public Library in Allentown, NJ. Photo: Renee Fertig.

In my previous post, I mentioned my worry that I wouldn't be able to arrive at Allentown Public Library on time. There was heavy traffic during part of the route but happily, I arrived JUST in time; parents and children were already seated and were waiting for me.


Librarian Renee Fertig already had the kids doing crafts. In the photo below, check out these masks that Renee printed out from my website and assembled herself, for the children to color. She had cut out all the eye holes using an exacto knife, and bought the sticks at Home Depot. PLUS she printed out some of my coloring activity sheets as well:

There was even a Where Are My Books? cake!

Thanks so much to Renee for making me feel so welcome, and all her hard work in the decorations, crafts and other setup for my visit. She even presented me with a Where Are My Books? t-shirt like the one she made for herself: 

With Monmouth County librarian, Renee Fertig

And thanks also to Renee for organizing my Monmouth County Library visit as well! I had so much fun at both. As I signed books at Allentown Public Library, Renee even made ham sandwiches for both me and my driver; I ate mine in the car on the way to the next library.

Fun Photoshopped image that Renee sent me :-)

Showing an early cover sketch for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? at Monmouth County Library (Manalapan, NJ)

Renee was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as part of a new interviews series I'm doing as part of my For The Love Of Reading bonus page.

Q. What have you done at the library to help encourage young people to read more?

It became clear since the first day of working in the Children’s Department at the Monmouth County Library that I had been given a unique opportunity to help children develop good reading skills. At every reading, I try to enhance each new book with my storytime visitors being active participants and not just complacent learners. I believe that storytime isn’t just about reading books aloud - it’s much more.

Reading to a certified therapy dog

Early literacy enhances math concepts, history and science lessons. It also develops human relations and artistic literacy. At every reading, I try to I turn every storytime into an interactive adventure - allowing the kids to help me read stories by chanting rhymes, predicting plots , identifying characters to a variety of different poems, books and literature.

Vacation Reading Club Incentives

By building on children’s natural interests that reflect their diverse and multicultural society and involving the caregivers so they can reinforce early learning skills with their children at home we can foster a love of the library and reading for years to come.

Q. What advice do you have for parents to help encourage young people to read more?

In answer to this question, Renee put together this fun document.

Q. Please finish this sentence: "Libraries...."  

Q. What books have you recently enjoyed?

I am trying to catch up on Paper Towns by John Green and the Maze Runner series by James Dashner before the release of the movie version this summer. I love foodie books and I love desserts so after reading The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh will probably attempt the food recipes at the end of the book. And of course I read anything from the World of Debbie Ridpath Ohi!

Continued in Part 7...