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Happy #NationalMonsterDay! August 14, 2019

Posted by flashlightblog in Book Launchings, Book News, Flashlight Press, Holidays, Imagination, Monsters, Parents, Pinterest, Read Alouds, Upcoming Books.
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Celebrate by welcoming the newest member of our Monster family: “Are You My Monster?” – a board book companion for babies and toddlers!

Help Ethan compare his drawing to an assortment of amusing monsters. Do the colors match? Are their tails long or short? Are their nails pointy or round? Are their teeth big or small? Children will be thrilled when Ethan finds the perfect match – which turns out to be his beloved stuffed monster toy – just in time for bed.

“Little ones will enjoy the parade of silly creatures…while also learning colors and matching.The sweet ending shows that even those with sharp teeth and scratchy claws can be cuddly,turning the monster-under-the-bed trope on its head.” – School Library Journal


An author’s thoughts from the ALA Midwinter Conference February 14, 2019

Posted by flashlightblog in author appearance, Author Notes, Author Signings, Barnes & Noble, Book News, Flashlight Press, Imagination, Interviews, Monsters, Parents, Reviews, Upcoming Books.
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Guest blogger: Amanda Noll, author of I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster! and two more upcoming monster books!

In January, I had the unique opportunity to participate as an author at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle, Washington, The number of vendors and professionals was staggering, and the whole experience was tremendous. I was hosted by IPG (Independent Publishers Group), the awesome, hardworking team who distribute my books and the entire Flashlight Press line to bookstores.

Librarians began lining up even before it was time for me to start autographing the free copies, and that line didn’t end until we ran out of books, all 100 of them! I’ve never had people queue up to meet me; I almost felt famous! I credit IPG for creating the buzz: they promoted my signing front and center at the Friday night opening session, and that’s when the excitement started to build. Cynthia and the rest of the IPG team kept the line moving and made sure books were ready for the enthusiastic librarians awaiting them.

It was thrilling to be at an event where peers and professionals knew and loved my books, and were excited to meet me. I connected with many local librarians, and had a chance to greet and speak with librarians from as far as Brazil and Asia, and from all around the world.

The librarians shared countless stories of reading my books to their young library patrons or students, and to their own children at bedtime. They told me they were absolutely thrilled to see the upcoming board book Are You My Monster (July 2019) as well as the upcoming picture book prequel, How I Met My Monster (October 2019). Flashlight Press prepared gorgeous sell sheets, which the librarians eagerly snatched up.

Signing my books at an ALA conference was a defining moment in my journey as an author. I’m grateful that this milestone can now be checked off my bucket list.

Amanda’s monster books are available through IPG, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and your local bookseller.

My Long Journey to Becoming a Published Children’s Book Author June 25, 2018

Posted by flashlightblog in Author Notes, Book News, Flashlight Press, Imagination, Individuality, Interviews, Self-Esteem, Too Much Glue, Values.
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Written by Jason Lefebvre for Kids’ BookBuzz

TMG hi res

My first attempt at writing a picture book came in 1998.

I thought the story was amazing. It wasn’t.

Fortunately, I was twenty-two years old, I had just completed my Bachelor’s degree in English, and I knew everything. I spent the next year of my life making all the wrong moves, trying to get my story published. I submitted on my own to large houses that only accept agented materials, wrote stories that I labeled as picture books, but were five thousand words long, and put together ridiculous query letters daring publishing houses to pass on what was sure to be the next great work in children’s literature.

Almost immediately, I had a need for actual employment. I began working in a preschool surrounded by picture books that were actually good and got a part-time job as a Children’s Librarian to make ends meet. Slowly, I began to realize something awful. My stories weren’t good, and my way of getting them published was even worse. The twenty-two-year-old who knew everything had become a twenty-three-year-old who knew nothing. It was the perfect starting point.

The next few years were spent taking the business of writing and publishing seriously. There were groups to join and books to read. I joined SCBWI or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It was an amazing resource putting me in touch with people and organizations that understood from experience what it took to get something published. I read any picture book that I came across and borrowed from the limitless imaginations of the kids in my class and the ones that came through the library. If you want to write picture books, find a job working with children. It’s basically cheating.

While writing picture books was starting to make a little sense, the submission process was still frustrating. At a time when most houses still only accepted submissions via snail mail, a writer could wait six months to a year for a form letter response that basically said “thanks, but no thanks.”  I had begun to receive a few personalized rejections. In the world of submissions, a “no” that is personalized is viewed as a positive, so I kept at it. (more…)

Donate Your Fines March 8, 2018

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press, Maddi's Fridge.
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Maddi’s Fridge was featured in the Weekend Regional this week. Inspired by the book, the Brooks Public Library in Canada has a new program in place – accepting food donations in lieu of paying your library fines.

The program will continue until March 23rd, with each donated item acting as $1 of your fine.

ScreenHunter_229 Mar. 08 13.36


Author Jason Lefebvre on his experience at the International Literacy Associaton September 24, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Too Much Glue author Jason Lefebvre was a guest at the International Literacy Association. Here’s what he said about his time at the conference:

Jason Lefebvre photo 2.jpg“To say that I was excited to be a part of the International Literacy Association conference in July 2017 would be an understatement. Not only did I get to visit beautiful Orlando, FL for the first time, I also got to meet the hardworking Go Teach team from Newell brands, the parent company of Elmer’s Glue.

When my book Too Much Glue was published by Flashlight Press in 2013, we were thrilled to see that kindergarten and 1st grade teachers LOVED using it as an intro to teaching glue skills. (“Glue raindrops, not puddles!”) Soon after, Elmer’s Teacher Club created a free literature-based teaching guide, The World of Glue, featuring Too Much Glue. Fast forward 4 years, and Go Teach graciously invited me to appear at their ILA booth to sign copies of Too Much Glue over the course of the three-day conference.

When I arrived, I saw that Go Teach/Elmer’s had brought 500 books for me to sign! Being a prototypical, pessimistic New Englander, I immediately thought, “Oh no! What if no one stops by to visit me?” The conference began on Saturday morning, and a few people trickled into line. The trickle turned into a steady flow, and my pessimism hit again. “Oh no!” I thought, “What if we don’t have enough books for all three days?” I quickly realized that the Go Teach team had planned well, and I could settle in and enjoy the experience.

Being surrounded by educators is an amazing thing. They are the perfect audience to understand the creative chaos in Too Much Glue, and I was soon laughing, swapping stories and having an all-around awesome time. Hearing these people – who dedicate their lives to teaching our children – express how my story resonated with them blew me away and was a little tough to get my head around. What wasn’t hard to understand was the high praise they had for illustrator Zac Retz.  Countless people commented on what an amazing talent he is and how special it must feel to have someone, so unbelievably creative, work on a story you have written. They were right. I definitely lucked out when Flashlight Press chose Zac to illustrate my story.

TMG 1When the conference finally wound down on Monday, I wished it would go on just a little longer. It was a special three days. If you had told me five years ago that I would spend an entire weekend autographing a book that I had written, I would have thought you were crazy. Of all the remarkable things I have experienced since Too Much Glue came out in 2013, and fortunately there have been many, this ranks right up there. I am also keenly aware that none of this would have been possible if the people at Flashlight Press hadn’t seen something special in a bizarre manuscript about a kid who glues himself to a desk. I will always be grateful that they did.”

Six Things About Jackson the Mole (and his mole friends) You Might Want to Know July 17, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Jackson pg 16-17Jackson picks out his clothes in No More Noisy Nights, written by Holly Niner, illustrated by Guy Wolek. Flashlight Press, 2017

#1  In No More Noisy Nights, Jackson lives underground. Moles make their tunnel systems in grasslands, cities, gardens, and sand dunes. These critters can make a home anywhere that has soil, and are found on every continent except Antarctica and South America.

#2 Moles are fossorial, or “diggers.” Their large paws have six fingers that are adapted for digging large networks of underground tunnels where they sleep and eat. This is how they avoid predators like owls, buzzards, cats, and dogs, who might want to eat them.

#3 In the book, Jackson wears glasses. Real moles don’t wear glasses, but they cannot see very well. Instead, they have a bare area on their noses with many little pimples to detect the movement and scent of animals around them. This helps them find food in dark tunnels, and stay safe.

#4 Jackson moves into his new home at the beginning of the story. When moles are about one month old, they leave their parents to make a home of their own. This may seem

very young, but moles usually live up to four years. This means our Jackson is a young adult.

relaxing mole

#5 Jackson moves in alone because moles are solitary creatures. Jackson is a friendly mole who gets along with his “noisy new friends,” but real moles are territorial, and almost never live together.

#6 In the story, Jackson eats cereal and toast, but in real life, moles eat earthworms and a variety of nuts. Yum!


Don’t forget to sneak a preview of No More Noisy Nights — now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at your local bookstore!

Librarians Line Up for Author Holly Niner at the ALA Conference July 9, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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I loved my elementary school librarian and her wonderful quiet space filled with books waiting to be explored. She always knew just what to recommend and, when she saw that my appetite for books exceeded my weekly check-out limit, she suggested that a friend and I pick our books together and trade halfway through the week. For me, librarians know where to find all the answers and all the good books, so it was an honor to be invited to sign copies of my new book, The Day I Ran Away, and my upcoming No More Noisy Nights at the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, where so many lovers of books and knowledge gather in one place.

Although I’d seen the list of exhibitors online, I was awestruck by the number of booths, their size and scope, and the variety of publishers and industry-related products represented. As my husband and I wandered the halls prior to my signing, I pointed out publishers with whom I’d had contact over the years (too many rejection letters to count!) and looked for books I’d seen reviewed. I noticed some LONG lines of excited attendees waiting for an author’s signature, and then other authors with no line at all. I grew a bit apprehensive, as my signing time got closer. Would people want copies of my books?


We found the booth and were met by the wonderful staff of Independent Publishers Group (IPG), who distribute for Flashlight Press and hundreds of other independent publishers. The author who was signing before me did have a line, and in fact, ran overtime into my slot to give away as many books as possible. When the IPG staff member announced that they’d run out of her books, I piped up and suggested that folks wait, because I’d be giving away books in a few minutes too. Librarians love books, especially free ones! They asked what my books were, so we handed out two samples which they looked at and passed down the line to share.

By the time I began signing, I had my own line of excited librarians who were thrilled that they didn’t have to choose between The Day I Ran Away and No More Noisy Nights, but could have one of each. Although I had less than a minute with each librarian, it was exciting to speak with people from all over the US and Canada. With the ALA conference in Chicago this year, many attendees were from the Midwest, but folks also came from California, Texas, Utah, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Florida, Arkansas, and more that I cannot recall. There were public and private school librarians, university librarians, and public librarians. Many were gifting their free books to family or friends, and others were donating to their schools. I loved hearing their enthusiasm not only for my books, but for their work in sharing books with children.

Before I knew it, my time was up, and IPG cut me off! Several people then asked my husband if I could sign for them, so we moved to the corner of the booth and gave away a few more of the remaining books. In all, we gave away about 160 books!

One last highlight: the IPG booth was located near the Library of Congress booth, and it was heartening to see Carla Hayden, the new director, being treated like a rock star with interviews and people clamoring for a moment of her time! When my first picture book was released in 2004, my son was excited to point out that a copy would be forever kept in the Library of Congress. An amazing thing to think about!

0624171524_hdr-e1499257815209It was such an uplifting day! Thank you to IPG for hosting me at your booth, to Lauren at IPG for talking up No More Noisy Nights at the Morning Book Buzz, to Flashlight Press for creating great books, and to all the librarians who stood in line making me feel like a queen for an hour! Librarians know that reading is essential to understanding ourselves, our world, and our place in it. When we learn how to “find friends” in books, we are never alone. It is my hope that these wonderful librarians will create lifelong readers, and lifelong readers will help make this world a better place.

Blog post by Holly Niner, author of The Day I Ran Away and No More Noisy Nights.

Maddi’s Fridge to Come Alive on Stage! June 5, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Food, Maddi's Fridge, Play.
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Blog Post by Lois Brandt, author of Maddi’s Fridge


I have Google and Twitter alerts set to tell me when webpages or internet users are discussing Maddi’s Fridge. Sometimes I get great surprises, like when the Seattle School District teachers were striking and, to pass the time, read Maddi’s Fridge out loud on the picket line. I ended up visiting some of those teachers at Queen Anne Elementary, an inspiring Seattle school.

I also got an alert when a dad complained on twitter that his daughter asked him to read Maddi’s Fridge every night and it was “so depressing.” I tweeted to the dad that Maddi’s Fridge was like that. Parents get all teary-eyed and kids get empowered.

Last week an alert notified me that Childsplay in Tempe, Arizona, was going to put on a production of Maddi’s Fridge during their 2017 – 2018 season. Look at the company Maddi’s Fridge is keeping!

THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH: September 17th – October 15th, 2017
TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY: October 21st – November 12th, 2017
GO, DOG. GO! NATIONAL TOUR: November 25th – December 23rd, 2017
December 2nd – December 24th, 2017
THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS: January 21st, 2017 – March 11th, 2018
MADDI’S FRIDGE: March 31st, 2018 – April 8th, 2018
FLORA AND ULYSSES: April 22nd, 2018 – May 20th, 2018

When I checked in with Flashlight Press, they told me that they had just finalized the rights agreement.

Double wow! I am so grateful to Childsplay for discovering Maddi’s Fridge and turning it into a play. Years ago when I opened my best friend, Liz’s, refrigerator I felt that the entire world had failed me. What kind of world do we live in where my best friend and her little brother didn’t have enough to eat? But now, the people at Childsplay have found the story that my eleven-year-old self wanted to SHOUT OUT TO THE WORLD. Here, in one of the richest countries in the world, our friends and our neighbors are struggling to feed their children.

A big THANK YOU to everyone at Childsplay. I am so excited that you are sharing the story of Maddi’s Fridge.

Authors of the Future with Holly Niner May 21, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in author appearance, Author Signings, Book Launchings, Book News, Individuality, Read Alouds, The Day I Ran Away.
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Authors of the Future
Blog Post by Holly Niner, author of The Day I Ran Away

The release of The Day I Ran Away has given me some wonderful opportunities to connect with students.  While I’m not sure it’s deserved, the students are usually a bit wide-eyed that they are meeting an author.  In turn, I am inspired by their questions and their belief that they too CAN be an author!  While I often receive a thank you after the visit, I don’t get to see the student’s stories.  Until this year, when a unique opportunity was presented to me.

Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes and mother of 2nd and 4th grade students at Woodland Elementary in Perrysburg OH, was putting together a pilot Young Author program for the school and asked if I would be one of three (two authors and an illustrator) to speak to the 4th and 5th grade excel classes.  In May I would return to hear the student’s stories and do an author signing at her store.

So in February one author spoke about getting ideas, I presented on picture book construction and creating a “page turner” and an illustrator talked with the classes.  The students began writing…

Meanwhile, a second grade teacher was interested in having an author visit via Skype.  When I “appeared” on the big screen in the student’s classroom their faces were priceless.  They quickly positioned themselves on the floor so we could all “see” each other.  In spite of a few frozen screen moments, it was a success with students asking great questions.  The teacher summed it up:

Thank you for meeting with us Holly.  The boys and girls were so excited to Skype!  With all of the technology available to us, that is one thing they do not do.  It was a lot of fun and your conversation with them was perfect!  They heard things from a REAL AUTHOR that their boring, old teacher has said.  🙂

Then on May 6 I returned to Perrysburg where a wonderful day of celebration was planned for the young authors.  Throughout the day 30 of the 40 students read their book to family and friends and then signed copies for their families and a party for all followed in the evening.  It was a wonderful example of partnership between an independent bookstore and its community.

It was a treat to speak with these young authors and their families and to hear them read their stories. I was impressed by unique story lines, wonderful illustrations and soaring imaginations.  While the future is uncertain in many ways, rest assured there will be wonderful stories to transport you, created by the next generation!

Mom’s Choice Awards Interviews Holly Niner April 21, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in author appearance, Book Launchings, Interviews, Moms, Reviews, The Day I Ran Away.
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cover shrunk
Blog Post taken from Mom’s Choice Awards
Originally Published April 20, 2017

Today we’re sharing the second post in our new interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Holly L. Niner, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning children’ book, The Day I Ran Way. We loved hearing her perspective on writing, reading, and parenting. The full interview is published below.

MCA: The Day I Ran Away is about a little girl who throws a tantrum, gets banished to her room, and runs away. Why write a children’s book about this? What was your inspiration?

Holly L. Niner, author of The Day I Ran Away

The idea for The Day I Ran Away came from an America’s Funniest Home Video I saw on TV in the early 2000s. A little boy was outside his house with his back pack asking, “how can I run away when I’m not allowed to cross the street?” For me, that captured a dilemma of childhood. You want to be grown up, but you can’t. It captured a feeling that’s not just relegated to children; haven’t we all wished we could run away at some point? But maybe what we really need­­—as both children and adults—is just a “timeout” from our real or perceived troubles.Holly Niner: Story ideas come from many places. A little snippet of something seems to stick in the “what if” side of my brain and sometimes turns into a story.  I try to write those snippets down as they come to me or else the day-to-day of life may push it out of my brain forever. (more…)

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