Critique Group Members (L-R): Sharon Reidenbach, Keeley Leim, Jessica Reed, Mary Pat Kanaley, Lauren Harris, Sandra L. Barnett, & Terri Griffin.
Here are Sandra and Sharon holding their new book, Royalty or Shepards? Written by Sharon Reidenbach and illustrated by Sandra L. Barnett
Author, Lauren Harris, sharing her books at a local event.
by Sharon L. Reidenbach
The Northside SCBWI seven-member picture-book critique group is booming with activity! Meeting once a month we encourage, offer insight into each other's ‘fantastic’ stories, share good places to publish, and hand out tissue for those rejections!
If you are an illustrator needing inspiration, a must-read is Ponies in the Park, illustrated by our own Mary Pat Kanaley, and written by Nancy Louise Carpenter. The SCBWI Newsletter pictured Mary Pat and shared her story with you some months ago.
Lauren Harris, a former classroom and homeschool teacher. began her publishing career as a contributor to a Scholastic reproducible workbook, writing under bylines for six years as a regular newspaper correspondent, and a local magazine feature writer. And now the author of two traditionally-published historical fiction PBs: The Plum Neighbor (Go For Broke National Education Center, 2019), and A Place for Harvest; The Story of Kenny Higashi (South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2022; Spur Award Finalist, WWA, 2023; And honored as a Library of Congress Great Reads from Great Places selection to represent the state of South Dakota, 2023). Currently, she is working on three NF biography manuscripts and several picture book fiction manuscripts. But Lauren says, “Although, I’d love to complete an MG chapter book and a YA novel!” She lives with her husband, and three children and lives in Spokane in a vintage farmhouse with their orange cat and corgi.
Sandra L. Barnett always loved art and used it to enhance her children’s studies when she homeschooled them. Later, she worked in a special needs classroom planning and creating art projects with the students. Sandra now combines her great illustrations with her writing skills producing two wonderful books: First, Beach Day Today! for 3-7 year olds, centering around three kids and one playful puppy having the best day at the beach. What makes this little book wonderful is the unique way Sandra crafted a short activity at the conclusion to do on the drive home!
The second book, One Day I Picked an Apple, is for 4-8-year-olds, taking the child to a sheep farm where Lou lives. She’d love to have a lamb for herself. But those mama sheep kept a sharp eye out for protecting their lambs. Until one day Lou discovers a tiny abandoned one. She claims her and names her apples. But Lou soon learns it is much harder to keep the lamb than to find it! One Day I Picked An Apple, is a 44-page picture and activity book. (Both are available on Amazon)
After college, Sharon L. Reidenbach challenged her students to look at the world and its people beyond the obvious. Later this led her to wonder how the angels felt announcing Christ’s birth to shepherds and smelly sheep. The result? Royalty or Shepherds? A Christmas Story, illustrated by our own illustrator, Sandra L. Barnett. It’s a different twist as to what the multicultural angelic choir and orchestra did after the King asked them to announce His Son’s birth to His Special Royal People to hear the message first. The angels practiced till their wings drooped. It’s a fast-moving lyrical romp following the antics of the angels (and the Maestro) searching for the King’s Royalty and the surprise they discovered. Discussion questions follow leading the reader to think how easy it is to judge people and how we are all special. There is also an activity book included. The book will make its debut in about four weeks: e-book, paperback, and hardback.
Other outstanding members are Keely Leim who is in The University of Whitworth’s MFA program. Though busy, we still are privileged to hear her poems and readings. Jessica Reed has an intense desire to help children laugh and enjoy life through hard times by writing her wonderful uplifting stories. She is our amazing ‘go-to-lady’ for how to maneuver the net in sending manuscripts. And last, but not least, is Terri Griffin, also an outstanding illustrator, is the group's cheerleader and a gifted lady in the ‘how-to’ area of publishing. Look for her art around town.
Truly, the Northside SCBWI critique group works hard to make this world a better place for children by creating wonderful literature for children!