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Salina Yoon

Dreams Find A Way


Dreams Find A Way

Were you one of those kids who always knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?  Not me!  I entertained a lot of possibilities – nurse, business woman, pharmacist – but I ended up becoming a teacher.  I don’t think that I ever wanted to teach per se, but teaching allowed me the opportunity to be close to books.

 I have my mother to thank for my love of books. She was an avid reader and we went to the library every week. Until I was six and able to write my name, I had to check out books on her library card. This meant there was a limit on the number of books I could check out. What a wonderful day it was when I finally got my own card!  I no longer had to share but could take out the maximum number allowed. 

A few months ago, Newbery Award winning author, Richard Peck, spoke at our SCBWI-San Diego meeting. 

“No one but a reader wants to become a writer,” said Peck.

I’m sure that he shared other tidbits about writing, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember anything else. I was dumbstruck by what he said. I felt that he was speaking about me. Maybe being a writer is something that I’ve always secretly wanted. I certainly love books and admire authors. But I don’t think writing was every presented as a career opportunity.  Now that my first children’s picture book, A PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME, will be published by Doubleday (Spring 2015), I guess it is!  

Last Friday, my family and I had the chance to meet two local authors at their garden-themed book event at Yellow Book Road. Cindy Jenson-Eliott and Edith Hope Fine, read their books, Weeds Find a Way and Water, Weed and Wait to an enthusiastic crowd of children and parents.

Cindy’s book celebrates the unexpected beauty of weeds while Edith’s book pays homage to school gardens as a community building activity.

My daughter with Cindy Jenson-Elliott

It was a joy to watch Cindy and Edith read. My children and I also enjoyed the gardening activities that they planned. My daughter brought home a seed packet and dried fennel to replant.  I wrote a haiku poem.

Wind-sewn seeds aloft!

Sunbeams chase away the rain.

Beauty in the dirt.

On the car ride home, my family and I talked about what fun we had at the event.

My five year old daughter enjoyed meeting “Miss Cindy” and “Miss Edith”. 

“I want to be a "draw-er" (illustrator) when I grow up,” she said.

“Like Miss Salina?” I asked. (She met Salina Yoon at her book event at Barnes and Noble a few months ago)

“Yes,” she said. “And I want to write the words, too.  Like Miss Cindy and Miss Edith.” 

I knew that I was fortunate to be part of a writing community. SCBWI is filled with creative and enthusiastic men and women and the camaraderie is like nothing I’ve experienced before. But after last Friday’s event, it struck me that I should be grateful to my writing friends for something else - for being such wonderful role models for my daughter.  I want her to know that she can grow up to be anything she wants to be…including a draw-er (illustrator) and writer. It’s something that I didn’t know when I was a child. 

So thanks Salina, Cindy and Edith for planting the seed of a dream. I can’t wait to see how my daughter blooms and grows.


Take Your Child to A Bookstore Day with Salina Yoon


Take Your Child to A Bookstore Day with Salina Yoon

December 7th is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. My daughter and I celebrated by visiting our local Barnes & Noble. It must have been our lucky day because we got to listen to author and illustrator, Salina Yoon, read during story time.

I’ve been a fan of Salina’s work for years. Her holiday board books are some of the very first books I bought for my children. One Halloween Night, Spooky’s First Halloween, and Five Silly Turkeys are family favorites. Salina’s lively and engaging illustrations enthralled my children when they were babies and my 7 and 4 year olds still enjoy reading them today. Sometimes they are part of our bedtime routine, but more often than not, my kids read them to me (!) to practice their reading.


Salina has created more than 100 board books during her career but her first picture book is Penguin and Pinecone.  My daughter received Salina’s sweet friendship story as a gift from her preschool teacher last Christmas and today, we got to hear it read by the author herself.


Salina reads beautifully and her young audience loved answering her questions about the story. After reading Penguin and Pinecone and the equally charming sequel, Penguin on Vacation, Salina even brought out her art supplies to teach the children how to draw her charming main character.  Click on the arrows to see the pictures.  The slideshow allows you to view each picture for a few seconds.

I think I enjoyed story time as much as the kids. Having just completed Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) last month, it was interesting to hear how the seed for Salina’s story became a picture book. Penguin and Pinecone, you see, was inspired by her son, an avid collector of found things…rocks, sticks, stones and yes, pinecones. Penguin’s story begins with his discovery of Pinecone but that is only the beginning. I don’t want to ruin the wonderful surprises in store for you by summarizing the plot, but Salina’s comments got me thinking about the 35 story ideas that I generated during PiBoIdMo.

Ideas are not stories, but the seeds from which stories grow. And writers, like gardeners, need to nurture their ideas once they’ve become first drafts. Is your manuscript too long?  Does it have plot problems? Time to weed and trim! Or maybe you need to introduce another idea? That’s called grafting. Is your idea withering on the vine? Brainstorm with other gardeners – your critique group, book coach, or agent. Just plain stuck? Put the manuscript away for a few months - the most beautiful blooms flourish in the spring after laying dormant all winter.

Your imagination is fertile. You've rolled up your sleeves and gotten your hands dirty.  Now that the seeds are planted, tend your ideas well. Water, weed, and wait. Writing is really rewriting and I can’t wait to see what blooms.