What’s New & What’s Up


What’s New

John Deere, That’s Who! Now Available At Your Local Bookstore Or Online Retailer

John Deere, That’s Who!, a picture-book biography illustrated by Tim Zeltner, has already been named a Junior Library Guild selection, the Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Book of the Year,  and the Missourian (emissourian.com) newspaper's recommended Summer Reading. The original manuscript won the first Frances and Kermit Rudolf nonfiction scholarship award from Hamline University. Read more >

Noah Webster’s Fighting Words Now Available At Your Local Bookstore Or Online Retailer

Mircea Catusanu illustrated this picture-book biography using a lot of primary sources in a collage style and he adds a lot of humor to Noah's life story. The Scholastic Teacher's magazine included this title in its "Brilliant Summer Books" recommendations for Grades K-2. The original manuscript won the SCBWI nonfiction work-in-progress grant. Read more >


What’s Up

Picture Book Salon, Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN

Monday, December 4, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Join Sarah Warren (Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers), Mélina Mangal (Rita Williams-Garcia and more) and me (John Deere, That's Who!, Noah Webster's Fighting Words, Mike Trout, and more) for a panel on writing biographies for children.

4 x 10 Book Reading/Signing, Neighborhood Reads, 401 Lafayette St., Washington, MO

Saturday, November 18, 2017 • 10:00 a.m.

Four award-winning authors read for 10 minutes (or so) and talk about their books. The event features: Liza Ketchum (The Life Fantastic), Jacqueline Briggs-Martin (Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix and Creekfinding), Phyllis Root (Anywhere Farm) and me (John Deere, That's Who! and Noah Webster's Fighting Words). More info here: https://www.neighborhoodreads.com/

National Council of Teachers of English, 2017 Annual Convention, St. Louis, MO

Friday, November 17, 2017 • 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.

Liza Ketchum, Ann Matzke, Jacqueline Briggs-Martin, Phyllis Root, and I will be presenting on a panel called, "The Mighty Power of Picture-Book Biographies," in the America's Center Convention Complex 104. Learn more here.

Friday, November 17, 2017 • 11:30 a.m.

I'll be signing Noah Webster's Fighting Words in the Lerner booth.

Friday, November 17, 2017 • 5:00 p.m.

I'll be signing John Deere, That's Who! in the Henry Holt/Macmillan booth.

Saturday, November 18, 2017 • 12:30 - 2:15 p.m.

I'm hosting a table for Noah Webster's Fighting Words at the Children's Book Awards luncheon. Marilyn Nelson, Jason Reynolds, and Melissa Sweet are speaking. Wow!

School Visit, Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake, MN

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 • 8:00 - 10:30 a.m.

We'll talk about the writing process and nonfiction books with fifth-grade students at LILA. A special guest may be joining us for a reading of Noah Webster's Fighting Words!

Style Speaks Volumes IV, Fashion Show Fundraiser, Reve Bistro & Bar, 200 Chestnut St., Stillwater, MN

Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11 • 11:00 a.m.

A lunch and fashion show featuring local authors as guest models (!!) to benefit the Stillwater Public Library. Valley Bookseller will offer books to purchase/sign. More info here. Buy your tickets early (a portion is tax deductible).

Classroom Visits: St. Peter School, Lincoln, NE

Wednesday, November 7, 2017 • All day

We're talking about books and writing. Who's a reader and a writer? YOU are!

Classroom Visits: Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 • All day

We're talking about nonfiction books and writing at Sheridan Elementary (9:10 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.) and Kahoa Elementary (1:30 - 3:15 p.m.). True stories can be FUN stories!

Noah Webster's Fighting Words: Lincoln City Library, Walt Branch, 6701 S. 14th St., Lincoln, NE

Monday, November 6, 2017 • 6:30 p.m.

The ghost of Noah Webster might show up to help us read this picture-book biography! Activities follow the reading. More info here.

Classroom Visits: Black Elk Elementary, Omaha, NE

Monday, November 6, 2017 • All day

Research! Writing! Revising! Discover the FUN of creating nonfiction books and learn how books are made.

Book Signing, Beaverdale Books, 2629 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, IA

Saturday, November 4, 2017 • 10:00 a.m.

We'll read John Deere, That's Who! and talk about Noah Webster's Fighting Words. It's time to have fun with history! More info: http://www.beaverdalebooks.com/

Classroom Visits: Prairie Trail Elementary School, Ankey, IA

Friday, November 3, 2017 • All day

We're talking about nonfiction books and the writing process. Who's ready for bookish fun? YOU are!

John Deere, That's Who!: Family P.J. Party, Prairie Trail Elementary School, Ankey, IA

Thursday, November 2, 2017 • 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

A fun reading and signing event for everyone at Prairie Trail Elementary! Bring your favorite cuddle animal and let's have some fun with history!

Run to Read, Washington, MO

Saturday, October 14, 2017

• Run to Read Race at 8:00 a.m. followed by a book talk at the Washington Public Library, 9:00 a.m.

• Book Reading/Signing at 11:30 a.m. at Neighborhood Reads Book Store, 401 Lafayette St., Washington, MO

School Visits, Washington, MO

Thursday, October 12 – Friday, October 13, 2017

We're talking books and writing and so much more at Our Lady of Lourdes, Zitzman Elementary and New Haven Elementary!

School Visit, Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake, MN

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 • 8:45 - 10:30 a.m.

Third-grade students at LILA will talk about the writing process and hear a reading of John Deere, That's Who! in honor of Farm to School month.

Information and Technology Educators of MN (ITEM) Fall Conference, Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, MN

Friday, October 6, 2017 • 9:00, 11:20, 3:15 Book Signings / 12:45 Author Panel

The conference is two days (including a keynote with Newbery winner Kelly Barnhill on Saturday). The author signing day is Friday. Pens are ready!

Local Author Book Signing, Barnes & Noble - 3230 Galleria, Edina, MN

Saturday, September 30, 2017 • 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Let's read John Deere, That's Who! and talk about Noah Webster's Fighting Words -- we'll have fun with history!

Book Talk: Southwest Minnesota Reading Council Fall Reading Conference, Marshall, MN

Thursday, September 28, 2017 • 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. • Southwest Minnesota State University Student Center, 2nd floor

Educators, librarians, and children's literature lovers come together for an evening of books, books, and books!

Setting in Historical Nonfiction: Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, MN

Thursday, September 28, 2017 • 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. 

Guest lecture on setting as a literary element in historical nonfiction books for children and young adults for Dr. Sonya Vierstaete's course for teacher candidates.

History Makers: Minnesota Children’s Book Festival, Anderson Center, Redwing, MN

Saturday, September 16 • 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Enjoy an afternoon of books and crafting with Minnesota's incredible children's literature community. And there are reptiles to pet.

John Deere, That's Who!: Village of Yesteryear, Owatonna, MN

Tuesday, August 30, 2017 • 2:00 p.m.

The Steele County Historical Society invites you to a book reading and signing at the Dunnell House. Bring a blanket to spread on the lawn. Snacks are welcome. Free admission! Kid friendly (of course)!

John Deere, That's Who!: Book Reading/Signing, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT

Sunday, August 20, 2017 • 2:00 p.m.

Held during the annual “Cruisin’ on Main” car show, which benefits the Cancer Support Community (CSC), this "Meet The Author" event invites children of all ages to have fun with history! I'll be reading from John Deere, That's Who! and we'll have a song and activity, too. More info: http://www.countrybookshelf.com/event/meet-author-tracy-nelson-maurer

Who Made America's History Grow? John Deere, That's Who!, Hamline Midway Library, St. Paul, MN

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 • 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. 

Did you know John Deere did not invent the tractor? He developed a new kind of plow in the 1830s that changed farming—and a nation—forever. The picture book biography John Deere, That’s Who! engages young readers as they learn how one hardworking blacksmith helped America grow. Join us for a highly interactive reading of the book and fun activities. Details here: http://melsastpaul.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=81860&backTo=Calendar&startDate=2017/08/08

Local Authors Book Event, The Commons, Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, August 6, 2017 • 11:00 a.m. with Laura Purdie Salas

Two books, two authors...one good time outside in the park! Join us for two book readings (Laura will read her book If You Were The Moon and I will read Noah Webster's Fighting Words), songs, and a craft.

Local Author Book Signing, Lake Country Booksellers, White Bear Lake, MN

Friday, August 4, 2017 • 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Stop by the table at the White Bear Lake Friday Morning Farmers Market for treats and books!

John Deere, That's Who!: Hardwood Creek, Washington County Library, Forest Lake, MN

Thursday, July 27, 2017 • 1:30-2:15 p.m.

I'll be sharing my new book, John Deere, That's Who!, at my local library! Learn about history and have fun while doing it! Includes a reading and activity. For school age children, ages 8-12. This program is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Granite Threshing Bee, Granite, IA

Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, July 16, 2017 • 11:00 a.m.

Discover fun facts about John Deere with a reading from the book and an activity during this annual gathering. We'll meet at the vintage one-room school house and finish in time for the tractor parade!

Hamline University - MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, St. Paul, MN

Friday, July 14, 2017 • 1:00 p.m.

Guest Lecture: "Setting in Historical Nonfiction And Fiction"

After defining the sweet spot of historical nonfiction and historical fiction on the Author Presence Continuum, we'll discuss approaches to research to gather the setting details that enhance the literary aspects of your work. We'll also look at how exemplary authors have used setting to create structure, reveal character traits, and amplify theme—for examples.

Hamline University - School of Education Summer Literacy Institute - St. Paul, MN

Thursday, July 13, 2017 • 12:45 p.m.

Breakout session: "Seriously Fun Nonfiction" with Ann Henkens Matzke

Let’s have some fun with the truth. We'll explore humor in informational and narrative nonfiction books for all grades as a way to gateway to learning. We’ll look at what makes something funny and what's funny to different age levels, as well as how humorous books can enhance and complement your curriculum. You'll have an opportunity to analyze and review many of our favorite titles.

Anderson's Bookshop - Downers Grove, IL

Saturday, June 24, 2017 • 11:00 a.m.

It's a picture book party! Five of us from the Hamline University MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults will be reading and signing our books. I'll be there with John Deere, That's Who! and Noah Webster's Fighting Words; the other authors include Jamie Swenson (Big Rig), Miriam Busch (Raisin, the Littlest Cow), Tamera Will Wissinger (Gone Camping), and Kiel Phegley (Gumball's Guide to Science). More details here.

American Library Association National Conference, Chicago, IL

Friday, June 23, 2017 • 6:30 - 7:00 p.m.

I'll be signing John Deere, That's Who! in the Macmillan Booth #2711 in McCormick Place. Later, from 9:00 - 11:00 p.m., I'll be at the Macmillan Dessert Party at the Hilton Chicago.

Saturday, June 24, 2017 • 2:30 p.m.

I'll be signing Noah Webster's Fighting Words in the Lerner Booth #2825 in McCormick Place.

Family Fun Twin Cities BookHounds Family Book Club: Double Book Fun at Wishing Tree Play Cafe

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 • 10:00 a.m.

The FFTC BookHounds Family BookClub invites you to join us for its first meeting. I'll be reading John Deere, That’s Who! and talking about Noah Webster’s Fighting Words. We are also excited that Snapology will be there to give a mini class. FREE! Go here for more information.

Noah Webster's Fighting Words: Hardwood Creek, Washington County Library, Forest Lake, MN

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 • 1:30-2:15 p.m.

I'll be sharing my new book, Noah Webster's Fighting Words, at my local library! Famous for writing the first dictionary of the English language as spoken in the United States, Webster was known in his day for his bold ideas and strong opinions about, well, everything. Learn about history and have fun while doing it! Includes a reading and activity. For school age children, ages 8-12. This program is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Learn more here. Registration opens May 14.

Youth Writing Class: Postcard Flash Fiction, White Bear Center for the Arts, White Bear Lake, MN

Monday, May 22, 2017 • 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Let your creativity wander to faraway places to help you write fun short-short stories. Using actual postcards from around the world for inspiration, you’ll write flash fiction that combines all the usual literature elements—setting, plot, and character—in less than 500 words. We’ll talk about what makes a story and how to give it flair without a lot of fluff. Where will your writing go? Learn more here.

Independent Bookstore Day: Lake Country Booksellers, White Bear Lake, MN

April 29, 2017 • 1:30 p.m.

Signing and talking about Noah Webster's Fighting Words and John Deere, That's Who!. Learn more here.

Book Launch Party New York: John Deere, That's Who!, WORD Bookstores, Brooklyn, NY

April 23, 2017 • 11:00 a.m.

Discover fun facts about John Deere with a reading from the book and an activity. Also featuring Noah Webster's Fighting Words. Learn more here.

Book Launch Party Connecticut: Noah Webster's Fighting Words, Barnes & Noble, Blue Back Square, West Hartford, CT

April 22, 2017 • 11:00 a.m.

How did American English become different from British English? And why? Learn the story of American patriot Noah Webster and his influence on words and writing in America with a reading from Noah Webster's Fighting Words and an activity. Learn more here.

Book Launch Party New York: Noah Webster's Fighting Words, Bank Street Book Store, New York, NY

April 15, 2017 • 10:30 a.m.

How did American English become different from British English? And why? Learn the story of American patriot Noah Webster and his influence on words and writing in America with a reading from Noah Webster's Fighting Words and an activity. Also featuring John Deere, That's Who!. Learn more here.

Book Launch Party: John Deere, That's Who!, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN

April 1, 2017 (no fooling!) • 11:00 a.m.

Discover fun facts about John Deere with a reading from the book and an activity. Learn more here.

Book Launch Party: Noah Webster's Fighting Words, Red Balloon Bookstore, St. Paul, MN

April 1, 2017 (no fooling!) • 2:00 p.m.

Join us for a fun reading from the book (perhaps Noah himself will show up!) and an activity. Learn more here.

Hubbs Children's Literature Conference, St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN

February 18, 2017

Breakout session: "Back Matter Matters"

An outstanding day of discussions about books for children. Learn more here.

American Booksellers Association - Midwinter Institute, Minneapolis, MN

January 28, 2017

Meet & Treats Event Lakes & Legends Brewery

Co-sponsored by Lerner and Capstone, this is a fun event to introduce Noah Websters Fighting Words to booksellers!

Hamline University MFAC Alumni Weekend, St. Paul, MN

January 6-9, 2017

Saturday breakout session: "Back Matter Matters"

Washington County Local Author Expo, R. H. Stafford Library, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN

Saturday, Oct. 1, 9:30-12:30 for book signings; 1:00 - 2:00 for Kao Kalia Yang's talk

I'm joining 20 other vetted authors for a morning of book talk and book signings. Books are for sale. Sybil Smith is teaching a writing class at 11:00 (limited seating, register online) and Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer, will discuss her new book The Song Poet at 1:00. FREE! More info here.

Hamline University MFAC Alumni Weekend, St. Paul, MN

July 8-10, 2016

Friday, 12:30 breakout session: "Writers In Conversation: Writing For Hire"

Children’s And Young Adult Literary Conference, The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN

May 5-7, 2016

Saturday afternoon breakout session: "Seriously Fun Nonfiction"

Lighten up, nonfiction writers, and let’s have some fun with the truth. Explore humor as a way to make a nonfiction manuscript engaging and memorable. We’ll take some cues from the pros and experiment with techniques for tickling funny bones. No comedy experience required, but you’re highly encouraged to wear a smile to this session on Saturday afternoon, May 7.

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The Shire Literary Center / KLBB Radio Interview

March 30, 2016

The Shire Literary Center, Stillwater, MN

Young adult writers from the Shire interviewed me at KLBB radio in Stillwater. (!!) We talked about working with publishers—and whatever writing stuff comes up. It’s part of an ongoing podcast series inspired by the program’s participants.

To learn more go to: http://theshireonline.com/news/

Register online at: https://www.loft.org/events__programs/writing_conferences/

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