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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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 Quick Navigation: Where Are My Books? Home - Blog - TEACHER'S GUIDE - Libraries and Librarians - Activity Sheets and Print-Ready Goodies - For The Love Of Reading - How Where Are My Books? Was Created - Spencer's Animal Facts - Videos - Miscellanous - Press - Site Map


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


All proceeds from Where Are My Books? tote bags will go to FirstBook


After I posted a photo of my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? tote bag online (a total stranger on the subway asked me if I was a librarian, which made me happy for so many reasons) and also while I was wandering around the OLA Super Conference, I had a number of people ask where they could get their own tote bag.

When I created the tote bag via Society6, it was just for my own ability to get the bag. I would have kept the listing private except you can't on Society6; the item has to be available for sale. I didn't publicize the link at all.

But since people have been asking, here's the link. The bag I've been carrying around is the Medium size, and I find it's a good carry-around bag, especially if you plan to carry around books. :-) There are also smaller and larger sizes. To those in Canada: be warned that the shipping/customs is crazy-expensive; in addition to the shipping, you'll also be asked to pay a customs charge when the package arrives.

13" x 13" - US $18 + shipping

16" x 16" - US $22 + shipping

18" x 18" - US $24 + shipping

Since Society6 doesn't allow me to sell the bags at cost, I've priced the bag as low as possible. I will also donate the US $1 profit I make from each bag to First Book, a non-profit which helps provide new books for children in need. If you're a school or organization who serves children from low-income families, I encourage you to register at First Book.


Call all book-lovers! Help me celebrate the launch of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? by contributing to my crowd-sourced video slideshow

Thanks to my friends at Ookla The Mok for writing a "Where Are My Books?" song for me! I love it so much that I'm going to use it as the soundtrack to my very first crowd-sourced slideshow video project.

For more info about the project and how to submit your photo or video, see the WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Crowd-Sourced Video Project Page.


WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? got a starred review in Kirkus!!! Plus some Kirkus history

The first official review of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? comes from Kirkus Reviews....and they gave my book a STAR!! I am thrilled, grateful and truly honored. You can read the review here.

For those not familiar with the publication, Kirkus Reviews is a U.S. book review magazine that is often used by librarians and booksellers when they are deciding how to stock bookshelves. They review more than 9,000 books per year.

According to Kirkus: on average, Kirkus' editors award the Kirkus Star to 10 percent of all the books they assign review. "Their decisions are based on their long-running, deep knowledge of contemporary trends in publishing and their appreciation for exceptional writing and illustration." The editors work closely with their reviewers to determine whether a book receives a Star, but the decision belongs ultimately to their editors."


Kirkus Reviews was founded back in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus, who headed a children's book department at Harper & Brothers (which eventually became HarperCollins). After she was told by her bosses that her department was going to be axed, she established her own book review service. Fascinating to read about the history of Kirkus; Virginia sounds like an amazing businesswoman with a ton of energy and determination. Apparently she read and reviewed nearly a thousand books in her first year of business! She worked alone for the first six months, writing all the reviews and mailing the bulletin herself.

To find out more about Kirkus reviews, check out their website and free weekly newsletter,, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. The website has info about how to get your book reviewed, whether it's for a traditional publisher or self-published.


Creative inspiration: NARWHALS!

Spencer, the main character in WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, loves narwhals.

Insider fact: I was inspired to put narwhals in my story after hearing "Narwhal Pet" by Debs & Errol:

I found myself wandering around the house humming the chorus for weeks!

To hear more Debs & Errol, visit their website: (lyrics are all family-friendly, so feel free to listen to their fun geeknerdy songs while young people are in the room)


How WHERE ARE MY BOOKS Was Made (Part 2): Thinking visually with a thumbnail sketch template, plus free print-ready template for picture book writers and illustrators

Making Of A Picture Book posts so far: Main Index/ResourcesPart 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Back to Where Are My Books? Bonus Page


I spent a lot of time revising the manuscript text; I estimate I revised it at least 40-50 times in total through the whole process (only a few of these were on the request of my editor). Anyone who thinks writing picture books is easy IS OUT OF THEIR MINDS.


Don't get me wrong -- writing picture books is also tons of fun! But it also takes a lot of work; if you haven't already, do read Part 1.

I did some writing and revising via a plain text document on my Mac, some using Scrivener, but ended up going to plain paper so I could scribble and doodle at the same time. Here's why:

Even as I agonized over the text, I could tell that something wasn't right. At one point Justin suggested putting aside the mss and working on figuring out how to tell my story visually in very rough thumbnail sketches -- knowing that would help determine my text. He told me not to worry about character sketches yet.

I loved the idea. To help accomplish this, I created a template which fits on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. In case any of you would like to use it for your own picture book planning, I've provided a print-ready PDF version (click thumbnail below):

Click image to download PDF (approx 1 MB)

There seemed to be many different templates for book dummies out there, but I wanted to make sure I was using one that Justin approved since I was going to print out multiple copies for me to scribble on. Justin said the endpapers were separate for a 32-page book.

[Updated November 6, 2015: Also see my updated post with free picture book thumbnail templates for picture book authors and illustrators, including templates that let you brainstorm different layout options for a single spread.]

I filled up nearly a dozen of these sheets with my scribbled thumbnails. Working out a story with small thumbnail sketches is GREAT for exposing bad pacing and other storytelling problems; it's well worth spending time on small thumbnail sketches in the beginning than pouring hours into finessed sketches.

As I worked on these thumbnail sketches, I realized that the mss I sent Justin just didn't work. I worked non-digitally for these sketches using just a pile of printed sheets, a mechanical pencil and a big eraser. The eraser got a LOT of use. :-)

Here are some other sources of finding picture book dummy templates:

Tara Lazar's Picture Book Dummy/Construction Layout Tips

Sara McIntyre's Book Dummy

How To Mock Up A Picture Book - by Darcy Patterson, from a writer's point of view

FAQ: Making A Picture Book Dummy - by Tina Burke

How To Make A Storyboard - by Uri Shulevitz

Even if you don't draw but are just writing a picture book story, I still recommend you try this method. Just use stick figures or a scribbled phrase (e.g. "Sam throws marmite at Emma" etc.). As much as I love digital tools, I do find freedom in being able to write and draw freeform with just an ordinary ballpoint pen on cheap paper. Plus I don't get as easily distracted by email or social media that way.

Continued in Part 3