Break on Through to the Other Side!


My choices this year revolve around the idea of a character (not always the protagonist) having a breakthrough… Whether it’s accepting yourself and learning to connect with others like Auggie in “We’re All Wonders,” or Humpty Dumpty in “After the Fall” realizing his potential after a literal breakdown…

Some have it forced upon them, like Yertle when his throne collapses from little Mack finally letting go, to Meshka who contracts the “Kvetch’s Itch” and is at the mercy of the words from her own mouth.

Other characters rise to the occasion, like the grandfather and his grandson in “Drawn Together” who battle boredom and the cultural divide, to Gerald (also a pick last year) who finds his own music and inspires the rest of the jungle animals with his groovy moves.

Still there are others, like Jabari who finally jumps in with both feet (literally), to Mr. Knox who ends up schooling the “Fox in Socks” in pulling off a  tantric tongue twisting feat.

Finally there are those who learn from circumstance, like the feuding families on “Rivington Street” who learn there’s more than one way to make and sell a knish, to the Junior Scientist who realizes “normal” might not be what it’s cracked up to be.

Below is a list of my picks:

  • We’re All Wonders — R.J.Palacio
  • After the Fall — by Dan Santat
  • Yertle the Turtle — by Dr. Seuss
  • Drawn Together — by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance — by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
  • Jabari Jumps — by Gaia Cornwall
  • The Knish War on Rivington Street— by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jon Davis
  • Normal Norman — by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Stephan Britt
  • Meshka the Kvetch — by Carol Chapman, illustrated by Arnold Lobel
  • Fox in Socks — by Dr. Seuss

Happy reading!!!


Press Pause

Lovely Dina is on the left.
Lovely Dina is on the left.

Sometimes, I get so excited when I’m writing that I just want to share it with the world asap. And then I’ll send it to my critique partner, and original wombmate, Dina. (Don’t know of many kidlit writers lucky enough to have been born with their critique partners who are also writing kidlit. It’s a pretty magical thing…) 🙂

I’ll expect her to be just as excited as I am… and then she’ll say she likes it, but isn’t quite sure about something.

So even though I might grumble to myself a bit, I’ll put it aside for a short time (oftentimes a day is enough… just to let it sit a bit). When I take that moment to pause, I find with fresh eyes there’s always something new to add, take away, or invent.

And that’s what any good critique partner/agent/editor sometimes must do–press pause to give a writer the room to find “it”… whatever that may be.

It’s been said many times by others in the industry: You don’t necessarily want someone as a cheerleader for a critique partner–you want someone who will push you to create your best work.

So grateful and lucky to have Dina in my corner!


WIP Water Works

Yesterday, while working on the penultimate chapter of my WIP (work in progress), I felt so much emotion…

It was hard to start–for I knew it would be a challenging chapter. But once I started, it was hard to stop! It was the action that the entire story had been working towards.

When I was done, I could barely read through it again… I was lucky my critique partner, partner in life, and beautiful twin sister, Dina, was there to read it aloud to me. I almost wore a path into her kitchen tiles, I was pacing so much!

I was even luckier that she was there to hold me as I burst out crying at the end–literally shuddering and sobbing. It was a tough chapter, people! One of the characters made an amazing sacrifice… and though I had an earlier inkling that it needed to happen, it was still tough watching it happen.

It was an incredible build up, with a much needed release!

I’m hoping that readers will enjoy reading it…


My Laughing Place

I managed to do this in a class years ago... I felt this kind of happy today!
I managed to do this in a class years ago… I felt this kind of happy today!

I did child’s pose today!!! It is my favorite pose, and always has been… but I hadn’t done it for the last two years, after hurting my knee dancing with my son in my arms. (No regret here… if it was going to happen, glad it happened while I was enjoying life with one of the loves of my life.)

I avoided surgery and did therapy in the pool with an amazing therapist. (Thanks, Erol!)

Recently, I’ve started doing yoga like I used to…and today, I thought I’d give it a try… I was nervous, and promised myself I’d only hold the pose if I was comfortable… It wasn’t the deepest stretch, or the longest, but it was the first of many.

And it made me happy!

Here’s to finding your happy today!


A Side of Greens

From the New York Botanical Garden
From the New York Botanical Garden

The other day I was just not motivated to query, write, edit… I was a little down… The only thing I felt like doing was watering my plants (of which I have a few, but am always looking to add more).

It turned out to be just what I needed! Taking care of living, thriving, beautiful beings (besides my son and husband of course), helped lift my spirits. Remembering how big the plants were when I first got them, to the sizes they’ve all grown into now reminded me how miraculous nature is –and how wonderful it is to nurture something over time.

Even if you have a “black thumb” when it comes to plants, I’d encourage others on this path to find and surround yourselves with different things in your life in addition to writing–interests you can cultivate that can bring you joy, so you have something else to draw from when the well of inspiration/motivation seems to have run dry.


The Big 4-0!


Earlier this year, I turned 40. I resolved I’d give others a gift, and decided I’d review 40 picture books this year. I’m on Goodreads and Amazon as Sue Hodara.

I’m sharing the books that moved me… and so if you see high praise in all of my reviews, it’s for a reason…

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to find fault and call things out in a variety of channels. Sometimes it’s a challenge to read/hear/see the good in the constant cacophony.

As the books I’m reviewing spoke to me, I hope my reviews will help others find books that speak to them.

Good books are always a great reason to celebrate!

Happy reading!



#50 Precious Words

Vivian Kirkfield set forth a challenge, and I chose to accept it: Write a story with a beginning, middle, and end in only 50 precious words.

Friends, here is my story, based on a true story:

An Unlikely Pair (44 words)

A crow became smitten
with an orphaned kitten.
Mama bird took such good care of the cat in need,
that the unlikely pair became best friends indeed.
Little Fur and Big Feather always stuck together–
playing their days away in all kinds of weather…

Below, enjoy the video that inspired the story…


Not What I Had In Mind… Even Better

My first post was not the one I had in mind, but what I finally ended up posting seems to have struck a chord with people.

I had a completely different list in mind, and a different first blog post in mind, but technology was not working with me last week… though try as I might (over and over and over again–literally losing most of the day)… and so I happened upon the idea of resilience, and how important that is to encourage and instill in our children.

As a mom and teacher, I find kids learn best when they infer things for themselves, by experience, or reading/watching a beloved character going through a similar experience. It’s not just an empathy thing, as wonderful as that is…

It’s more about having the distance to watch a situation play out because kids aren’t directly involved in it. That distance gives kids the safety to try the lesson on for themselves in their own ways, in their own time, with as many readings/viewings as they want.

One of my favorites on the list (and my son’s too) is Giraffes Can’t Dance. Seeing Gerald fall in the first few pages, and then proving to himself and others that he can overcome what he felt was impossible is euphorically triumphant, no matter how many times we read it.

The lyrical language builds momentum and gains power as the story progresses–emboldening Gerald and the readers. The illustrations mirror this progression with a major shift in Gerald’s facial expressions and postures. Not only do they work in perfect harmony, but both keep getting better with each read, making it a book we’re happy to read again and again. (And resilience is all about “going for it” again and again!)

Whenever I have the chance, whenever we see a giraffe in a picture or a play with a toy, I mention Gerald, and my son instantly smiles, because after so many readings, that feeling of triumph and resilience is the association we both make.

If you have any suggestions for other books to inspire resilience, or read any of the books mentioned in these last two posts, feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear from you.