Introducing…Picture Book Debut Author Andrea Loney

AndreaJLoney.jpegAndrea J Loney in three scenes:

  1. She is the 2017 picture book debut author of BUNNYBEAR, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña and published by Albert Whitman & Company. It’s a story about a bear who believes in his heart that he is truly a bunny, but neither the bears nor the bunnies understand until he makes one special friend. BUNNYBEAR features themes of acceptance, individuality, and friendship.
  2. She is also the Lee & Low 2014 New Voices Award Winner for the 2017 debut picture book TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE, illustrated by Keith Mallett and published by Lee & Low Books. It’s a biography about an innovative photographer named James Van Der Zee who spent over 70 years creating portraits of the people of Harlem. TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE features themes of perseverance, creativity, and community.
  3. Andrea J Loney grew up in a small town in New Jersey with many bunnies and few bears, and could usually be found behind a stack of her favorite books. After running away with a circus, she worked in film, television and education. Now she writes and teaches in sunny Southern California, and lives with her family and their wacky pets.


Find Andrea at and @andreajloney on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.Bunnybear cover 150.png

BUNNYBEAR will be available January 31, 2017, wherever books are sold.

TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE will be available Spring 2017, wherever books are sold.

Readers Just Wanna Have Fun

On the Scene in 2016 Picture Book Debut Author Diana Murray shares with us about the importance of connecting reading and play.

When given a choice between “reading” and “playing”, what would most kids choose? Most of the time, I think the majority of young children would say they prefer “playing”. But what if they realized that the two are not mutually exclusive?


When my daughter was little, she enjoyed a book called OCTAVIA AND HER PURPLE INK CLOUD (by Donna and Doreen Rathmell, illustrated by Connie McClellan). After reading the book, she loved to act out some of the scenes with her toys. A hungry shark would come along and each sea creature would use a defense against it. She read the book and played this made-up game over and over again, adding new characters and plot twists.  My other daughter loved a book called THE MONSTORE (by Tara Lazar, illustrated by James Burks). It inspired her to make up her own monsters and draw them or sculpt them with play dough. And both of my daughters teamed up for some around-the-house detective work, peppering all of the “suspects” with questions, after reading A GRISWOLD AND WILCOX MYSTERY: THE CASE OF THE MISSING CARROT CAKE (by Robin Newman,

DORISCOVER.jpgillustrated by Deborah Zemke). I always loved it when reading books resulted in this kind of extended play.

It was that observation that led me to write DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS. And the specific character of DORIS was further inspired by this YouTube video of an adorable, vibrant,
young book fanatic:

In my story, I wanted to show how reading can inspire play, imagination, and curiosity. For kids who are reluctant readers (like Doris’s feisty little brothers), seeing the connection between reading and playing can help increase their interest.

Also, when it comes to reluctant readers it’s sometimes just a matter of finding the right book and/or listening to a book being read out loud to get the ball rolling. And once that ball does get rolling, they may be open to trying lots of other types of books, too. And that’s another thing. There are so many different books out there, from joke books to fairy tales–truly something for everyone.

While learning to read is hard work, reading doesn’t have to be a chore. It turns out reading and playing go perfectly together!


Diana Murray grew up in New York City and still lives nearby with her husband, two daughters, and a spiky bearded dragon who loves listening to stories–especially about dinosaurs. DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS (Imprint/Macmillan), illustrated by Yuyi Chen, will be released in July, 2017. Some of Diana’s other picture books include GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH, NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE, and CITY SHAPES. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Highlights, High Five, and Spider.