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The Building Blocks of Becky Scharnhorst

This month, we'll be highlighting the Donors from Our Rate Your Story *Build-A-Story* Contest (August 1 - 31st). Each will share a little bit about themselves and the building blocks of their career, tell you about their latest project and leave YOU a building block to help build your stories! Be sure to check them out! AND don't forget to enter our contest (more info here) to be eligible for prizes!


I’m a children’s book writer from Wisconsin who writes mostly humorous picture books. Funny books are my favorite ones to read and write, though I do enjoy a good heartfelt book that makes me cry. In addition to writing, I work part-time at my local library. Part of my job is to help with children’s acquisitions and cataloging, so I get to read all the new books that come in before anyone else. Despite this rather fortunate situation, my holds list is still out of control. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably hiking through the woods, baking something sweet, or watching Ted Lasso for the 27th time.


As a child, I carried a book with me wherever I went, and I would often lie awake in bed at night making up stories in my head. However, it never occurred to me that I could be a writer until much later in life. Shortly after college, I worked as a children’s bookseller at Barnes & Noble and fell in love with children’s literature. But again, it didn’t occur to me to write my own book. After listening to me blather on and on about how cool kids’ books were, my older sister started gently prodding me to write. But I didn’t listen. It wasn’t until I had kids that I started seriously considering it. I fell in love with children’s books all over again during our three-hour bedtime routine. When they finally started sleeping, I started writing.


My most recent book, called HOW TO GET YOUR OCTOPUS TO SCHOOL, is about a young girl getting her octopus ready for his first day. However, he would much rather stay home and play hide-and-seek or dress-up, so first, she’ll have to find him. It addresses those nervous jitters in a humorous way, and it also showcases a lot of neat things octopuses can do. For example, the octopus is using his camouflage to hide in several of the spreads, which make it almost like a seek-and-find book for the reader too.

Jaclyn Sinquett did an incredible job with the illustrations and came up with some really unique hiding places. I feel so lucky to have made this book with her! Personally, I think octopuses are one of the coolest creatures on the planet, and I hope kids feel the same way after reading our book.

[NOTE: You can buy Becky's Book HERE.]


One of my favorite books from 2023 is The World’s Best Class Plant, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, and illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao. It’s about a classroom of kids who wish they had a cool class pet like all the other classrooms rather than a “mostly green, hardly growing, never moving plant.” I was immediately drawn to this book because I’m a plant lover and I thought the concept sounded hilarious. It did not disappoint! Reading this book is like taking a master class in writing humor. Some of the devices that were used were repetition, use of threes, and humorous asides. Also, the voice is fantastic! I laugh every time I read this book, and I’ve read it a lot. So, on top of everything else, it has re-readability. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!


Opening Paragraphs - If you’re writing a narrative picture book, your opening should introduce you to the main character, establish the voice, and hint at the problem. It should also give some indication of where this story takes place. That will help your reader know if the story is grounded in reality (setting = a normal neighborhood) or is a fantasy (setting = an undiscovered planet). In a picture book, all this sometimes happens within the first sentence, but certainly within the first 2-3 spreads. It’s also important to remember that the setting could be conveyed in the illustrations alone.

BECKY'S PRIZE: A picture book OR a critique!

We think Becky's books are the boss and so are her critiques! One lucky winner will definitely have a tough choice to make! CONNECT WITH BECKY:

I love connecting with parents, teachers, writers, and librarians online! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @beckyscharn, though these days I’m most often on Instagram. You can also connect with me through my website at I have several different resources and activity pages available on my website, including an upcoming Educator Guide for How to Get Your Octopus to School that will be posted in August. Thanks so much for having me on the RYS blog!

The Rate Your Story 2023 Contest Team thanks Becky for her prize and for being a valuable part of the KidLit Community!

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