The Top Ten Picture Books Written by Nerdy Chicks Who I’ve Laughed With

Good books aren’t always written by good people. For example, Roald Dahl was rumored to be a terrible racist, and Charles Dickens threw his wife of 22 years out of their house, even though her youngest children were 9 and 6. But in the case of these Ten Nerdy Chicks, we’ve got great books coming from greater people. Here’s a Picture Book 10 for 10 that combines some of my favorite books with some of my favorite people.

boybotAme1. Ame Dyckman, Boy + Bot: One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun. But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don’t help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep. Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

BandVaudrey2. Audrey Vernick, Bogart and Vinnie:  When Vinnie, a crazy-happy dog, gets lost while visiting a nature preserve with his family, he finds comfort in the company of Bogart, a big, lazy rhinoceros. Vinnie loves his new friend, but Bogart would rather just take a nap. A friendship soon blossoms-even if Vinnie’s definition of “friendship” is very different from Bogart’s-and when word of their unique situation spreads, Bogart and Vinnie are a worldwide sensation! But as soon as their fifteen seconds of fame ends, what’s left is a bond even Bogart can’t ignore.

monstoreSAMSUNG CSC3. Tara Lazar, The Monstore: The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her.

beesaaf4. Alison Ashley Formento, These Bees Count: How do bees count? The bees at the Busy Bee Farm buzz through the sky as one big swarm, fly over two waving dandelions, find three wild strawberries bursting with sweetness . . . As the children in Mr. Tate’s class listen, they learn how bees work to produce honey and make food and flowers grow. Bees count–they’re important to us all.

cpmmaya5. Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maya Was Grumpy: Maya wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, tangled in her blanket, and in a crispy, cranky, grumpy, grouchy mood. She doesn’t want to color or wear her favorite shorts or go outside to play. What’s worse, she’s determined to share her grumpiness with everyone as she glumps, clumps, and thumps around the house. But when Maya growls at her grandmother, she graciously takes Maya’s mood in stride, and even has a solution: Gramma suggests a series of unusual activities that Maya will probably not want to do since she’s feeling grumpy—and then dismisses her own silly suggestions before Maya can reject them.

joyce cupcake6. Joyce Wan, You are My Cupcake:  A scrumptious board book, filled with sweet terms of endearment. This bite-sized board book is an ode to all the names we call our children: cutie pie, sweet pea, peanut, pumpkin. With a candy-colored palette and irresistible art with glitter and embossing, this is the perfect baby shower gift!

Magic-Brush-Yeh-Kat-9780802721792 297310_10150320631406460_1375238351_n7. Kat Yeh, The Magic Brush: Combining a heartwarming family story, a magical adventure, and a multilingual primer on Chinese language, The Magic Brush tells the story of Jasmine, a young girl who learns Chinese calligraphy from her Agong, or grandfather. As Jasmine learns how to paint the characters for dragon, fish, horse, friend, and more, she and Agong are magically transported to the wondrous world they are creating. But when Agong passes away, Jasmine must find a way for their special paintings to live on. Could her baby brother Tai-Tai be the key?

anne mariesleepover8. Anne Marie Pace, Vamipirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover: Before Vampirina can host her very first sleepover there are a few things she must keep in mind: be polite and offer her guests food (like blood pudding); plan some games like scavenger hunt (but keep the clues simple so no one gets lost); and don’t forget to dance! Vampirina may be a little nervous at first, but by following a few simple rules she will host the Best Sleepover Ever.

onster tiff9. Tiffany Mayro Strelitz, The Monster Who Lost His Mean: Everyone knows that the M in “monster” stands for MEAN. But what happens when a monster can’t be mean any more? Is he still a monster at all? One young monster’s attempts to live up to his name go hilariously awry as he discovers—with a little help from new friends—that it’s not what you’re called but who you are that counts.

dog gone leeza10. Leeza Hernandez,Dog Gone: When a playful pooch goes a little overboard with a stuffed animal and gets in trouble, he decides it’s time to run away. But being a “dog gone” isn’t as easy (or fun!) as it looks, and soon the pup misses his owner and home. Luckily, even though he’s made a mistake, his human best friend is always waiting with open arms.

The Quotable Nerdy NJSCBWI

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators conference in Princeton, NJ. I will be posting more from the weekend, but here are some quotes that really inspired me from (mostly) chicks at the conference:


“Listen—we writers are one. We all share a common goal—to tell the best story we possibly can. I strive to do that every day, and so do you. There is no divide.” Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore

“I get my ideas from living.” Peter Brown, creator of The Curious GardenChildren Make Terrible Pets and You Will Be My Friend!

“Reading books is fantastic homework.” Ame Dyckman, author of Boy + Bot SAMSUNG CSC

“Writing every day helps you build up a tolerance for it. Kind of like drinking every day.” Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and the Delirium series


“Like moving deck chairs on the Titanic.” Simone Kaplan of Picture Book People, on trying to change only words in a flawed manuscript

SAMSUNG CSC“If you want to be big, think big.” Joyce Wan, creator of You are my Cupcake and We Belong Together

“We are in the golden age of children’s non-fiction.” Betsy Bird, librarian and blogger extraordinaire

“I’m on muscle relaxants.” ANONYMOUS

Do you have any quotes from the conference that inspired you?

Nerdy Chick and Picture Dude: Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino

If you don’t follow Ame Dyckman on Twitter, you should. Her tweets are a breath of fresh air in a barrage of informational tweets. I started following her because we are both part of a group of 2012 debut authors called The Apocalypsies. When her picture book Boy+Bot, was released, I knew I wanted to interview her for the blog. The first thing she did when I asked her for an interview was to ask me a question in return. She wondered if it would be okay if she shared her interview with the illustrator of Boy+Bot, Dan Yaccarino.

Hmm. A man on NCR? Well, why not? I can hardly claim to embrace flouting social norms if I don’t allow my interviewees to flout Nerdy Chick Norms. Plus, this is Dan Yaccarino, creator of Oswald, one of my son’s favorite cartoons, and creator of many other outstanding characters too! Boy +Bot is receiving rave reviews. Clearly, Ame and Dan are a super team. I’m thrilled to welcome them both to the blog today!

 If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

AME:  I’d tell my younger self that when I (we?) say, “I want to make books!” and Those People say, “It’s never going to happen,” do not listen!  (Also, do not get that perm in 7th grade.)

DAN:  Buy stock in Apple.

AME:  That’s a good one, too, Dan.  But if I could only choose one more after Follow Your Book Dream, it would still be Do Not Get That Perm.  (I looked like a poodle for months!)

Interesting. Dan is the first interviewee to give financial advice! Ame, I was told I’d never make it at one point too. It’s fun to say  Ha!, isn’t it?  What social norms are you fond of flouting?

AME:  Besides the ever-changing hair color (currently blue), I often wear a costume just to make running errands more interesting.

PIRATE AME:        ARR! A pound of yer finest sliced turkey, or you’ll be feelin’ me hook!

DELI CLERK:           Smoked or oven-roasted?

AME:                          Oh.  Oven-roasted, please.  I mean, ARR!

DAN:  Apparently I’m flagrantly flaunting at this very moment by being a man appearing on this blog!

AME:  (giggling) Manly flaunting!

You both get an A+ in flouting!  From the perspectives of both author and illustrator, what is the best thing about having a robot as a main character?

DAN:  There are entirely too many reasons to list here.

AME:  But I’ll list three of the biggies:

1.  At signings and school visits, you get to talk like a robot, and it makes kids laugh.

2.  At signings and school visits, kids draw robot pictures for you, and that’s awesome.

3.  If hostile robots take over the planet, they’ll spare Dan and me.

Hmm. Good point with number 3, Ame. Wonder if I should work a robot into my work in progress. How is brain power an asset to your careers (as a writer, and as an illustrator)?

DAN:  Huh?

AME:  Dan!  You left the cap off the Sharpie again!

I’m not buying that! I know you’re both super smart.  So tell me, what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being nerdy?

DAN:  I’ve collected lots of robots and let me tell you, it isn’t cool. The only people who think it’s cool are quite nerdy, too. Possibly nerdier than me, if that’s possible.

AME:  I think it’s cool!  I… oh.  Me?  In high school, I got invited to join the Academic Decathlon team.  (Glad I did.  That’s where I met Husband Guy!)

What’s cool about being nerdy?

DAN:  You can do whatever you want and not care what anyone else thinks. I’ve pretty much spent my life being a nerd and after a while, I stopped caring if I got anyone’s approval and I still don’t care, which actually may make me kind of cool, but probably not.

AME:  Nerds love to learn stuff.  Learning stuff is cool.  Ergo, nerds are cool.  (So is saying, “ergo.”)  To quote Schoolhouse Rock, “It’s great to learn, ’cause knowledge is power!”  To quote the PSAs at the end of G.I. Joe, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”  To quote Mister Owl from the Tootsie Roll commercial, “Let’s find out!”  Plus, there’s the secret nerd handshake.  That’s cool, too.

I agree with both of you 100%. I especially love what Dan said about not caring what anyone else things. It is definitely freeing. Yes, I think you get cool points for that! Can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness?

DAN:  I saw Revenge of the Nerds about 100 times.

AME:  I’m 99.44% pure pop culture/lit culture nerdiness!  Three examples:

  1. Every time I see a Toyota Highlander, I shout, “There can be only one!”
  2. I named my dragon fruit plant “Smaug.”
  3. I’m working on a paper comparing the five factions in Divergent to the five main characters in Fraggle Rock.

Cool points revoked! Cool points revoked! I’m kidding of course. You guys are super cool. What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

DAN:  All nerdy activities are fun.

AME:  Word, Dan.  Personally, I’m a museum nut.  Display anything with little information cards next to it, and I’m so there.  (I’ve even been to the National Mustard Museum!)

I agree with both of you here too. Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!

DAN:  Sadly I have no hobbies, unless you consider writing and illustrating a hobby, but it’s what I do for a living. I would write and illustrate even if I was an accountant. Maybe you need to ask me what my job is because I think I’ve been spending all my time on my hobby.

AME:  I collect books and original children’s illustrations.  (Yes, I have a few Yaccarinos!)  And lately, my family and I are all about collecting random stuff, too.  The random-er, the better!  Just this past weekend, we acquired a theremin, a fencing rapier, and a statue of a warthog we’re naming “Bob II.”  (“II” because we have a replica shrunken head we already named Bob.”  At least, I think it’s a replica…)  Next week, I’m making little information cards!

I think the world of children’s books and cartoons is thankful that your hobby is your job, Dan. Ame, sounds like a cool collection. I had to look up what a theremin is. Do the rest of you nerdy chicks know?

Thank you Ame and Dan for joining us today. It is so wonderful to see Boy+ Bot taking off!  To learn more about Ame, visit her website (designed by Nerdy Chick Donna Farrell)! And you can find Dan’s gorgeous website here.

Check out the trailer below to get a glimpse of what Boy +Bot is all about! Links to Ame, Dan, and Boy +Bot online follow the trailer. Enjoy! 



BOY + BOT: (in progress)