Brianna Justice heads to Osceola County Florida!

A stilt walker entertains visitors at the 2012 Miami Book Fair.
A stilt walker entertains visitors at the 2012 Miami Book Fair.

Brianna Justice and her friends have been pretty busy. Since President of the Whole Fifth Grade was named a Sunshine State Young Reader Award winner for 2012013, Brianna and the gang have been very busy. Author Sherri Winston, who happens to know Brianna very well, will head to Osceola County in Florida to visit several schools. The excitement is very HIGH. This is Big news!

Who knows, maybe after Ms. Winston talks to the students about Brianna, Sara, Lauren, Becks and Weasel, not to mention Mrs. Nutmeg and the lovely Miss Delicious, maybe some kid right there in Florida will decide, “Hey, I’m a good person. I want to be rich and famous. Hmm . . .maybe I can start my own business, too! I want to be a leader just like Brianna Justice!”

Author Sherri Winston gets a hug from former her former English teacher during a November 2012 visit to the Muskegon Heights Library in Muskegon Heights, Mich.
Author Sherri Winston gets a hug from former her former English teacher during a November 2012 visit to the Muskegon Heights Library in Muskegon Heights, Mich.

Or at least, maybe a few readers will enjoy being out of regular class for a little while talking about a pretty cool book and a great group of friends!

Want more Justice? Get your copy of President of the Whole Fifth Grade ($6.99, Little, Brown) at your local bookstore, online or through your schools book fair.

To find out how Brianna does in her latest school appearance, stay tuned! (That’s TV talk for please come back and read some more!)

Signed, sealed, delivered!











Book signing Westchase Elementary Westchase 2 Westchase students

Had the pleasure of visiting Westchase Elementary School in lovely Tampa, Fl. What a wonderful time I had. Most of the kids had read the book,

so our time together in the media center felt more like a true book chat. They were energetic, cooperative and fully engaged. And if that isn’t enough,

had the chance to make a new friend, meeting wonderful media specialist, Vicki Bollinger. Thank you, Westchase! And remember, readers make the

best leaders. So check out a book and conquer the world!


White House First

Born April 13, 1743 in Virginia, this President had many nicknames including the “Sage of Monticello” and “the father of the University of Virginia.” He was also the first President to live in the White House. Do you know who he is?










Thomas Jefferson

It’s new! It’s fabulous! It’s coming soon…


Brianna Justice and the rest of the gang get a new look this fall with the paperback release of President of the Whole Fifth Grade ($6.99, Little, Brown). The original cover was awesome, but the new paperback cover is — well — EVEN awesome-eeeeeer! Hey, that can be a word, right?

As soon as the paperback edition hits Florida bookstores, readers, teachers and all the cool people will find the book on the recommended reader tables thanks to its designation as a Sunshine State Young Reader Award book.

I’ve waited all my life to merit placement on the special table. Now I’m gonna’ be on the special table. Woo-hoo!


Stamp of Approval

Hey, if your school is anything like mine, your teacher probably bugging you about research papers and essays. Mrs. Nutmeg is freaking out about social studies. You know, making us learn all kinds of stuff  about the Presidents because it’s almost President’s Day.

Well, don’t worry. I’ve got an idea. If you’ve gotta’ do social studies instead of important stuff like shooting hoops or playing Mario Kart, might as well enjoy it. Did you know that many Presidential dudes had hobbies like the rest of us. If you’re looking for someone to research, try this guy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

He collected stamps and autographs. His stamp collection had nearly 1,250,000 stamps, including official approved stamp design sketches. Roosevelt suggested some stamp subjects and even designed a few himself. After her died, 150 of FDR’s stamp albums sold for about $250,000. The chief executive also collected signatures from famous people attending important events.

Cooking up a mystery!

July 8, Who Stole Grandma’s Million Dollar Pumpkin Pie?

One thing mystery writers know for sure, if you don’t have a good puzzle to solve, you don’t have diddly. Well, maybe diddly isn’t in the mystery writer’s handbook, but you get the drift. And building suitable, engaging puzzles in mysteries geared toward children is essential.

What I loved about Martha Freeman’s book, Who Stole Grandma’s Million Dollar Pumpkin Pie, A Chickadee Court Mystery ($16.95, Holiday House), was the clever engaging way she blended mystery and humor. What really impressed me and got my old writer’s juices pumping was how she absolutely left the mystery solving to the kids.

Alex Parakeet and Yasmeen are eleven-year-old neighbors and friends. The pair have already established themselves as being mystery solvers when a few days before Alex’s dad is set to appear on a live television broadcast reproducing his mother’s delicious pumpkin pie, the recipe disappears from the binder.

Who among them could have taken it?

Alex and Yasmeen are determined to get an answer. Some interesting facts to take away from the story to use in your writing:

Pay close attention to the almost farcical names of people and places. Freeman does a great job of getting just to the edge of going over the top, then pulling back. The town’s big football team is called the Knightly Tigers. The fancy important chef who is set to host the show on which Alex’s dad plans to appear is Zooey Bonjour. What reader could forget a name like that?

Then there is the structure of the mystery, which hinges around the disappearance of grandma’s recipe. Alex’s dad is a great cook and an awesome dad, but he’s also a bit scatterbrained. Which is why, even though he’s made the pie before, he can’t for the life of him remember grandma’s secret recipe.

Alex and the gang take us along in a fast-paced race to find the recipe, nab the culprit and decipher grandma’s code for the missing ingredient.

Freeman delivers a delightful blend of food, family, fun and friendship. Young mystery fans are sure to be pleased. Novice mystery writers should come away with an encouraging recipe for building a tasty tale any publisher would be proud to have on its menu.