The July Sky



Early in the morning on July 2, 2014, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 was launched into space from Vandenberg AFB on a Delta-II rocket. It made its 30-second launch window, achieved separation, went into polar orbit, and deployed its solar arrays. And I got to be there, or pretty close anyway.


*NASA JPL Image*

The satellite’s mission over the next two years will be to study Earth’s carbon cycle–watching Earth breathe! This year alone NASA will send five Earth based satellites into orbit to study our planet. To learn more about these missions click here: or follow #EarthRightNow, #OCO2, & @RobinEggWrites on Twitter.


To celebrate my viewing of the #OCO2 launch I put together a list of some of my favorite recent nonfiction picture books that call young readers to look UP into space… and keep them thinking down to EARTH! Check out my video of the titles: THE HOUSE IN THE NIGHT, THE EARTH BOOK (Todd Parr will be sending the winner a SIGNED copy!), STARS, LOOK UP, & MOONSHOT. If you or your library would like to enter to win one of the featured titles just post your favorite Earth or Aerospace fact in the comments down below, and go ahead and let me know which title you are interested in! I’ll pick the winners on Friday, July 18th!

HITN The Earth BookStars LOOKUPmoonshot

Beth Krommes Book Giveaway

Today I’m posting my interview with Beth Krommes, whose beautiful scratchboard illustrations won her a Caldecott Medal for The House in the Night. Beth’s most recent book with Joyce Sidman, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, is a breathtaking view of the natural world, a poem that begins with one word and spins around itself into a spiral. It will send you searching for spirals everywhere you go.


***BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS*** I’ll be giving away a beautiful copy of the book along with a scratchboard set for any young artist itching to try their hand at her style! All you have to do to enter to win is let me know what your favorite swirl is in the comments section, or send me a message on Facebook by Sunday, April 20th! ***BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS***


1. Hi, Beth! When I told my daughter we could ask you ANYTHING, she quickly asked for “any tips, like for drawing really well, because I don’t.” I think she draws beautifully, but DO you have any tips for drawing really well?

I was in 3rd grade when I discovered that I liked to draw. My parents bought me a drawing book of pencil sketches of horses, and a drawing pad and pencils. I spent hours laying on top of the pool table in the basement copying the drawings from the book onto my sketch pad. Copying other people’s pictures is a good way to train your eye to really look hard at something and to try to duplicate the technique that the artist used.

2. My daughter particularly noticed and liked that you use lots of overlapping.  How did you learn to do that?

I don’t just draw out of my head when I have to draw a realistic picture of a certain kind of plant or animal, like in “Swirl by Swirl.” I collect reference pictures from library books and images from the internet. When I need to design a picture like the endpapers on “Swirl by Swirl”, I spread all of my reference pictures out in front of me on my drawing table and just start loosely sketching on a large sheet of paper, overlapping the plants and animals. I use my eraser A LOT to change my mind about where something should go. I also start over about three or four times. I have a very full waste-paper bastket at the end of the day.

I work out all of the pictures for a book in detail in pencil before I begin the scratchboard. If you go to the homepage on my website,, and read the interview “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast”, you will learn much more about the stages of designing a picture book.

3. Do you ever make mistakes, and if you do, do you start over, or work around them?

It is hard to correct mistakes on the scratchboard. If I haven’t scratched too deeply, sometimes I can re-ink over the mistakes and try scratching the picture again. But I often have to start the whole picture over. There is a big picture of a walrus and a hunter in my book “The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish” that I did over seven times.

If I have a difficult face to draw on scratchboard, I’ll always do several trials on a small scrap piece of scratchboard first.

4. Sometimes you use lots of color, sometimes just black and white. Why?

An illustrator will do what the text demands. “The House in the Night” was a story about night, so black and white was the way to go. It was the brilliant idea of my editor, Ann Rider, to add the golden highlights to give more zip to the pictures.

“Swirl by Swirl” had to have full color because of all of the plants and animals. I prefer to work in black and white because of my background as a printmaker, but am becoming more comfortable with color the more I work with it.

5. Do you have a favorite swirl from the book, and do you have a favorite swirl that is not in the book?

My favorite pictures in “Swirl by Swirl” are the ocean wave and the tornado. I can’t think of a favorite swirl that is not in the book.

6. Even though the book came out two years ago, do you still see swirls everywhere you look?

I have always been fascinated with the spiral shape and I do see swirls everywhere! I am very proud of “Swirl by Swirl”, because I iniated the project before Joyce Sidman came on board as the author. The idea for the book came from a bunch of puzzles I was designing.  I noticed  all of the designs included spirals. I thought perhaps I could take some of those puzzle designs and turn them into a pre-school shape book about spirals. Ann Rider, my editor, wanted to see a book about spirals in nature–why things in nature are shaped like spirals. I tried to do the writing myself, but it was terrible. Joyce Sidman, also a spiral lover, heard I was working on this project and asked if we could collaborate. I said YES!!!!!! I sent her all of my sketches and notes, and she came up with the text. I had to revamp my sketches considerably, but was thrilled with the structure that her beautiful poetic text gave to the book.

7. I heard your next book, BLUE ON BLUE, is coming in fall of 2014. What kinds of beautiful blues will we get to see when it comes?

It is essentially a book about a rainstorm. It is a lovely simple text, and it was fun to come up with the story told through the pictures.  You will see lots of blue in the sky and water.

Thank you, Beth, for coming on the blog today! I can’t wait for BLUE ON BLUE and whatever beautiful book is coming after!

❤ Robin

Blue on Blue

***BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS*** I’ll be giving away a beautiful copy of the book along with a scratchboard set for any young artist itching to try their hand at her style! All you have to do to enter to win is let me know what your favorite swirl is in the comments section, or send me a message on Facebook by Sunday, April 20th! ***BOOK GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

The Kite That Bridged Two Nations



Today I’m posting my interview with Alexis O’Neil, one of my favorite picture book people! Writers, readers, librarians, and teachers all love her. She’s our Southern California school visit expert and an SCBWI Emeritus Regional Advisor! Her blog, School Visit Experts, guides writers and illustrators in developing meaningful, memorable, and fun school visits, helping them to develop their own fan base. She’s loud, she’s fun, and she’s fabulous! Here we go…

1. Hi Alexis, at my house we love your book, Loud Emily, but shhh — this blog is just for nonfiction. So, very quietly, can you tell us one FACT you uncovered while writing Loud Emily?

I had to uncover LOTS of facts for this tall tale adventure. For example, I looked at a map of where wealthy merchants and sea captains might have lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts to determine if Emily could have walked down to Front Street fairly easily. I also studied whale migration. There’s a line in the book that reads, “They [the whales] hastened from Baja, they raced down from Iceland, they speeded their way from the tip of Cape Horn.” These are all real migration routes. I found books with authentic sailing language and used phrases liberally. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons that Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut loves my book!) Also, the end papers have bit of actual sea chanties sung by sailors in the 19th century (and even today).  At the end of the book, the illustrator Nancy Carpenter and I both included historical notes. So, as you can see, there’s a need for research even in fictional stories!

2. The Kite that Bridged Two Nations is about a boy who gets to be a part of building a great bridge, which I think is such a powerful fact to share with kids. What do kids ask you when you tell them the story? I kind of wonder, do they tell you about their own accomplishments?

I think that this would be wonderful to do – thanks for the suggestion! What I do want kids to know is that an ordinary boy, Homan Walsh, earned an extraordinary place in American and Canadian history by doing what he loved to do.  For him it happened to be flying kites. But I hope this book inspires kids to think about what they know how to do well – or want to learn how to do well – and persist at that skill until they feel confident.

3. So I know you are a school visit expert. I feel like you must have quite a roadshow. Have you done many visits for the new book? What’s your act like?

Roadshow? Love that image! All I need is a bus, roadies and a country song!

Since the Kite book came out in September, I’ve been doing all different kinds of presentations: school visits, family fest events, social club talks, bookstore appearances, library programs, conference sessions, TV interviews and more. Each presentation is tailored to a particular audience’s needs, but I use many of the same set of props and images to help me tell the story. That presentation “story” might be about Homan Walsh himself (the kite flier), or about how the book came to be written, or how to use research skills to find and shape a story’s “voice.” And I always try to bring someone up out of the audience to become my main character which I do by dressing him in a cap and scarf and then handing him his kite, Union. This 3-D treatment helps make the presentation memorable.

Alexis, thanks for playing along!

To see more of Terry Widener’s lovely art, full of truth and heart, click here!




***Book Giveaway Details*** CONTEST CLOSED ***Book Giveaway Details***

Today I’m posting my interview with Patricia Hruby Powell, author of Josephine. Josephine is a verse picture book biography and I’m in absolute book love! This book has beauty, fun, fire, heart, and truth. It’s a visionary picture book. It’s perfect.

Just look & listen:

On the opening page Patricia writes, “America wasn’t ready for Josephine, the colored superstar. PARIS WAS.” Well, I think this book is a superstar too and yep, there are going to be some readers who are not ready for it. In the video above I showed you a page that details young Josephine’s experience in an East Saint Louis race riot. Patricia uses the words murder and rape in a book intended for 7-10 year olds. Those are big words, I know. But Josephine was a LITTLE girl when she heard them, and I believe the BIG star with the BIGGER heart that she became cannot be described without using them in the book. I also love that the beauty of Josephine’s life, and of this book, cannot be sullied or denied because of those words written on one page of a life. A strong and important message for young girls. Even seven year olds.

I’m so pleased that Patricia was willing to be interviewed! Here we go…

1. Hi Patricia! First of all, I think the book is absolutely AMAZING, words, pictures, design — it is a superbly put together book. I’m in love with it and I’m in love with Josephine. She moved me to tears. But the book is unique, unusual, maybe even going to be controversial. When you wrote the beautiful verse text did you envision it as an illustrated book for 7-10 year olds?

I first wrote Josephine as a 1000 word picture book. After getting editorial feedback at a workshop, I re-wrote it for a young adult audience in verse envisioning black and white drawings inspired by Paul Colin’s poster art. (Never mind that no such format really exists). Submitted that way, I was asked by Chronicle Books to cut the word count down from 7500 words to 3000 words and delete the more adult parts. I sold that Josephine, a 3500 word piece, and then my visionary editor started adding stanzas from the 7500 word manuscript back in—or asking me to do that. So the piece evolved.

2. I read Josephine to my seven-year old, who hadn’t learned the words rape or murder yet, and I have some thoughts on why keeping those words in is so important (see above). How do you hope the book gets read? Why did you choose to keep those words in?

I wrote, “WHITE RABBLE-ROUSERS spread lies—said Negroes were invading white neighborhoods/ to steal, rape, and murder. White folks got scared.  Those ugly rumors incited some white folks/ to beat, murder, and burn BLACK EAST SAINT LOUIS.”

Those lies were the ugliest scariest terms that whites could conjure up. If you analyze it to its core, the fear of black men sexually forcing themselves on white women, nothing could be more frightening—more debasing—to a white racist. And that’s what the rumor-mongers wanted—to scare and incite a riot. It worked. It’s history. It has happened throughout history and continues today.

I’d explain it to kids when they asked. And of course that’s done differently for each child, for each parent, for each classroom, and teacher.

3. You are a dancer too, just like Josephine. What did you learn about her when doing your research that really spoke to you as a dancer?

When I saw footage of the young Josephine Baker dancing I was smitten. She was wild, original—she was unique. She improvised herself. That is, her dancing was her personality. And that personality was charming, flirtatious, joyous, on fire.

Patricia, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and congratulations on such a beautiful, visionary book!

❤ Robin



PS – to see more of Christian Robinson’s amazing art check out his interview on the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog!

***Book Giveaway Details*** CONTEST CLOSED ***Book Giveaway Details***

Steve Jenkins Book Giveaway!



Post your favorite animal fact in the comments section to win a copy of Animals Upside Down or The Animal Book – a Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth!!


Today I’m interviewing Caldecott Honor Illustrator, Steve Jenkins, about two new books! All of Steve’s thirty books are filled with interesting animals, facts, and eyepopping illustrations. I love reading them and my kids love looking at them. My personal favorite is Actual Size, and my two-year old can’t get enough of Hello Baby, which is indescribably and joyfully sticky after so many readings. I was so excited to introduce my kids to Animals Upside Down and The Animal Book. Come take a peek…

Don’t shy away from buying either of these books for a younger reader (*Edited: So, ahem, my two-year old has been feeling a little “rippy” lately and the pop-up book is recovering on a high shelf. *). My two-year old and my seven-year old enjoy them each in different ways, but they both love looking, listening, and learning about all of Steve’s amazing animals. I’m continually surprised and grateful that artists like Steve are willing to answer my questions.

Well, here we go…

1. Hi Steve! Your book, Animals Upside Down, is a pull, pop, and lift book, your first one I think? Do you get to come up with all those cool paper engineering ideas or is that done by the publisher?

I made that book with Robin Page, my frequent co-author (and wife). She and I came up with all of the interactive elements of the book. When we proposed doing a pop-up book, we naively thought that we’d simply suggest engineering ideas and clever people somewhere would work out the details. As it turned out, we made functioning versions of all the pop-up elements by hand (many times). We’d send them to the printer, who would send back their interpretation of our dummied levers, flaps, and windows. It took a few rounds of this process before they understood what we wanted (the printer was in China, and I think there were some language issues). Robin did most of the actual engineering. Ultimately, it came out pretty close to what we had envisioned.

2. Where do you get all of those beautiful papers?

I’ve been collecting them for years. When we travel to other cities, I always visit art and paper stores, occasionally finding treasures. There is one store in New York City — it’s called New York Central — that has a fantastic paper department. It is the largest single source of my papers. Some of them are utilitarian: paper bags, wrapping paper, etc. I also make a few paste papers. These are Arches watercolor paper with an acrylic paint and wallpaper paste mixture that is rolled on, daubed on, splattered, and so on.

3. Do you have a favorite upside down animal?

I find the pangolin especially fascinating.

4. What do grownups ALWAYS ask you?

Where do I get my papers?

5. What do kids ALWAYS ask you?

How old were you when you wrote your first book? (40)

6. What is the most interesting thing you learned about an animal while doing your research?

Boy, it would be tough to narrow that down to one creature feature. I recently finished a book about animal eyes, and learned that the eyes of the mantis shrimp have 12 different color receptors (compared to our three). They can see all kind of things invisible to us.

See what I mean, you guys? That’s the kind of stuff that is in a Steve Jenkins book!



1. Post your favorite animal fact in the comments section to win a copy of Animals Upside Down or The Animal Book

2. Spread the word about the giveaway on any social media platform! Every time you blog, tweet, or Facebook about the giveaway you get another entry. Just send an email with a link to your Facebook page, twitter feed, or blog to: robin (at) blueeggbooks (dot) com.

3. I’ll announce the winners on Monday, March 3rd!



Stars, by Mary Lynn Ray & Marla Frazee

I love the winter sky!

While so many of our days’ hours are dark, it seems a shame to spend them all inside. I’ve spent some wonderful moments snuggled up in one big winter coat with a drowsy kiddo. You don’t need to know the names of the stars, planets, and constellations for that time to be magic, but it helps. The words themselves are a beautiful lullaby, whether you’re crunching across snow, littered leaves, or smooth sidewalks. The names can be sung, whispered, and giggled. Moon, meteor, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus. Spica, and Saturn. Sing them all while the earth makes it’s turn, round its axis, round our sun. It will be fun!

I’ve been using‘s stargazing guide and the month ahead looks to be lovely.

If you have early, EARLY risers like mine you might catch the Quadrantid Meteor Shower before dawn on January second and third.


On January 23 you can view the bright star, Spica, quite close to the Moon, with Mars looming above at around five in the morning EST.


And at sunrise, on January 28, we will see Venus close to the slender crescent of our moon!


Happy gazing,

❤ Robin

P.S. – We’ve been love, love, loving, STARS, by Mary Lynn Ray and Marla Frazee. Go catch a copy!


Interview with Terry Pierce


Banquet_187To celebrate my interview with author, Terry Pierce, I will be giving away two signed copies of her book, BLACKBERRY BANQUET! The book is a fun, cumulative, rhyming tale about all the woodland critters who share one blackberry bush. You can enter to win by commenting on the blog post any time during December. If you are a subscriber to the blog, or become one, I will count your entry twice!

1. Hi Terry! I love that you wrote BLACKBERRY BANQUET in rhymed verse. Does the poetic structure you used in the book have a name? How can we write a poem like yours?

Thank you, Robin! Great question! BLACKBERRY BANQUET uses a cumulative story structure, where the story builds to a point and then subtracts from itself. As far as the rhyming form goes, the overall structure doesn’t have a name; I developed the pattern as I rewrote the story in rhyme.

I opened with a quatrain (four lines) with the second and fourth lines rhyming, but then switched to a rhyming couplet (two lines) with a building text that followed each couplet (this is the part where the animals make their sounds). I purposefully broke the pattern when the bear appears to reflect a change in the plot. After that, I used single sentences (with alliteration and/or assonance) to reflect the ensuing chaos at the blackberry bush. The ending comes full circle with a final quatrain that is similar to the opening.

As far as how to write a story-poem like mine, this might sound odd but sometimes (for the sake of creative experimentation) when I want to try a new poetry form, I experiment by finding an existing poem that I like and then I try to rewrite it (down to the same syllables and accents) but using a completely different subject. For example, if you want to write a story-poem similar to that used in BLACKBERRY BANQUET, start by trying to rewrite the opening of the story but using a different story premise:

In a wee green wood

Near a stream so blue

Grows a blackberry bush

Shining bright with dew.

Here’s a quick example I just wrote up:

In the deep dark sea

In a world so black

Swims a firefly squid

Hunting for a snack.

You get the idea! It’s a fun method to experiment with words and poetic forms.

2. How is writing in rhyme different for you than writing in prose? Do you use different tools, or write in a different place?

Writing in rhyme and writing in prose begin the same way, but soon take a different turn! No matter what, I always start by roughly storyboarding my idea to make sure I have enough distinct scenes required for a 32-page picture book. After that, I write the story in prose. This is an important step in writing in rhyme because it’s so very easy to get carried away with rhyming and lose sight of the story itself. Once I have the prose draft, I then decide if the story should be written in rhyme (not all stories work in rhyme—in fact, most stories work best in prose).

Once I decide to go forward with the rhyme then I will use the prose draft as a sort of “roadmap” during the writing process, to keep me on track so I don’t get swept away with the fun of writing in rhyme (because it IS fun—much like working out a word puzzle). I do keep a rhyming dictionary on hand but try not to rely upon it too much. I also like to “test” my rhyme and rhythm by walking while reading my work aloud. It’s amazing how you can feel it in your feet when the rhythm is off!

Writing in rhyme can be a tricky venture and is harder to do than it appears. This is one reason why I offered to teach a new course for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, “Writing in Rhyme for Young Children.” The debut 8-week course will be offered this winter from Jan. 15- March 5.

3. What are you writing next? Is it about animals, like BLACKBERRY BANQUET, or about kids, like your book TAE KWON DO!?

I’m currently working on another easy reader about two insect friends. It’s a simple emergent-level story that I’m hoping new readers will enjoy the friendship between the two unique animals.

Thanks so much, Terry & good luck to everybody!

TerryBlackberry2010Terry Pierce is the author of 17 children’s books, including Blackberry Banquet, Tae Kwon Do! and the award-winning series, Mother Goose Rhymes. Her easy reader, Tae Kwon Do! was named on the Bank Street College Best Books of 2007. Terry holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. For more information, please visit her website at:

P.S. – Here is a little friend, checking out my favorite spread! Even upside down, there is no way that is a frown!


Pocket Full of Posies, by Salley Mavor

I love this Rabbitat video on Salley Mavor and her wonderful fabric relief artwork. Something about it is just magical! I watched it with the six-year old and we spent the day making art together.

RABBITAT from Daniel Cojanu on Vimeo.


We have several of Salley’s books at home, but Pocket Full of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes is our absolute, thimbles down, favorite collection of traditional rhymes! Take a peek at my favorite spread:


Happy reading!

❤ Robin

Charlie Russell, Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist

Russell Book Cover LVHarris where_the_best_of_riders_quit

Hi everybody! Today I’m interviewing Lois Harris, author of Charlie Russell, Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist. She’s written three lovely biographies of North American artists, perfect for use in the classroom. Charlie is a wonderfully appealing character, a painter, sculptor, and storyteller. I love that when he went west to be a cowboy he brought along a tin of beeswax for making little figures. I was so inspired I tried my hand at a little wax sculpting too!

1. Hi Lois, you have written three books about artists, which makes me wonder, are you an artist too?

I’m not a visual artist, but I’ve enjoyed looking at art since I was a girl and spent many Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Many of my friends are artists. I like being with creative people.

2. Do you have a favorite Charles Russell painting, sculpture, or story?


When I was researching for my book, I visited Montana where Charlie lived most of his life. In Helena, the state capitol, I saw the original oil painting of Laugh Kills Lonesome at the Montana Historical Society. Charlie was a working cowboy and his picture tells a story. It’s a moonlit night after a long day herding cattle, and cowboys gather round a crackling campfire under the big starry Montana sky. The firelight throws light on the cowboys and a horse while the cook wipes a pot. You can imagine someone is telling a funny story like Charlie used to. He was a great storyteller. He chose Laugh Kills Lonesome as the painting title because those cowboys weren’t lonely when they laughed and shared stories. I liked this picture so much, I selected it for a double spread (two pages) in my book.

3. Is there an interesting fact about Charlie that is not in the book?

Charlie became a famous artist, and his paintings and sculptures sold for a lot of money in Europe, Canada, and America. He could have lived anywhere, but he chose to stay in Montana. Charlie liked nothing better than getting together with his old friends. Charlie did not let fame or money change him and knew what made him happy.


  • Comment! In the comments section write the name of your favorite local museum.
  • Museum visit! Take your kids to visit a museum, ANY museum, and send me a picture of the back of your kiddo’s head, an excited pointed hand, or just let them pick their favorite piece in the gallery (we call this one ‘Favorite in the Room’) and send a pic of that to
  • Become a subscriber! If you click the link on the blog sidebar and become an email subscriber I will count your entries twice!