The following is a chatty, informal description of my school visits, but I’d be glad to personalize my presentations to your needs if you like:

I love school visits, and tend to channel my former elementary school teacher self! My presentation is entitled “Everything I know About Writing I’ve Learned from my Cats!”  Really. I use a hand puppet (yes, even with the older grades), tell personal stories about my writing childhood, and use a computer with my own projector to show a pretty jazzy slideshow (if I must say so myself) with music and video as well. I reveal the Ten Secrets of Every Writer, focusing on idea-gathering, the use of memory and sensory detail and research, and how the book develops from manuscript page through editing to printed copy. With younger children I have developed a humorous and interactive presentation in which they help me read my early readers.


Separate, shorter Writing Workshops may include writing exercises in which students gather stories from their memories by drawing maps of their own neighborhood. Or Fish for Inspiration for story ideas. Or use their senses to enrich their writing.

For my picture book I SAY SHEHECHIYANU, I present a lively presentation using my cat puppet and slides, review the prayer and its meaning, as well as take the audience through the production of the book from the idea stage and first scribbles to the final color edition. An interactive Shehechiyanu board game can be introduced, designed to be played in small or large groups. I also share hands-on activities encouraging children to become authors and illustrators as they create their own personal Shehechiyanu journals and collages.

My talks for adults focus on similar themes, and I also love expounding on my ideas related to the various genres of children’s literature and their relation to children’s developmental needs. (In this regard I channel my former clinical psychologist self. Please see my interview with Michelle Markel on the Home page of this website…)

I have also been thoroughly enjoying my Skype and FaceTime visits.

Contact Catherine Balkin, booking agent for author appearances.

Hope to see you in person soon!

What some have said:

“You are an excellent teacher and an inspiration to the students! They connected to you and your writers’ secrets…keep up the great work.”

Ronda Evans, South Bay Elementary, Humboldt County

 “I was very impressed by your preparedness, your classroom management skills, and your ability to ‘work a room’ using different props and media to appeal to all different kinds of student-learners. I honestly feel like I learned a lot of tricks from you! …thank you for all your energy, humor, and creativity.”

Natasha Moulin, teacher, Redwood Heights Elementary, Oakland, CA

 “Thank you again for one of the finest author visits I’ve ever seen (in many years of librarianship).  You had a very ‘lively’ crowd engaged and entertained while giving them excellent advice about writing.”

Marcia Lovelace, Tehiyah Day School, El Cerrito, California

 “We loved everything you did while you were at our school.”

Carol Raby, Librarian, Paseo del Rey Elementary School, Playa del Rey, CA

“You were fantastic. Thank you for being our first-ever author skype visit!”

Ann Hotta, Berkeley Public Library