By Leslie Lindsay Casey's Bright Red Christmas

Calling all cookie lovers and tractor fans! That’s right–we’re bringing the farm to you this holiday season with this delightful storybook for children ages 4-8. CASEY’S BRIGHT RED CHRISTMAS.

Books for the youngest tractor fans

Real equipment and cartoon characters converge in new children’s series that makes
modern farming the hero. 

In a fabulous new series, we spend the holidays on Happy Skies Farm with Casey, Tillus and friends and their beloved farm. But there’s so much to do with regular farm chores, plus decorating, cocoa and carols, that the task seems almost impossible…and where’s Casey?

Readers will delight in the bright, colorful illustrations, as well as the classic message of slowing down to enjoy the festivities. Oh, and that cookie? Well, there’s a lovely frosted sugar cookie recipe at the back of the book…cause ya know, all of those farm chores sure works up an appetite!

Got a farm guru on your hands? How about a little person who loves tractors, combines, and cultivators? Maybe you live on a farm?! Check out the rest of the fabulous titles from Octane Press.

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Meet the Author & Illustrator:
Holly Dufek
has spent nearly 15 years writing and working with educational curriculum for publishers such as Holt McDougal, National Geographic Education and Riverside Publishing. Holly has worked to develop content to enrich the National Common Core Standards for elementary through high school classrooms. She holds a master’s degree in Education and lives in Kenosha, WI, with her husband,Matt, and their three children.

Paul E. Nunn is a full-range artist who has worked for Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street. He lives in Racine, WI, with his wife, Amy, and their two children.

For more information: 

[With special thanks to PRbytheBook] 

Books On Monday: Meet the 10 year-old author of COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

By Leslie Lindsay

‘Tis the season when Christian families start looking forward to the fun and festivities surrounding the birth of Jesus. Of course, children get very excited about the celebration to come (hey, I once passed out and had to spend a portion of Christmas Eve in the ER; I was fine just over-stimulated and dehydrated). But really, do the kids in our lives understand why Christmas is such an exciting celebration? Countdown to Christmas

Meet, Theresa the 10 year old author of THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: The Jesse Tree Tradition. Theresa comes from a big family–seven in all, including mom and dad. But Jesus came from a big family as well. Every year, Theresa’s family celebrates the Jesse Tree tradition, here’s why:

“First, the Jesse Tree is a small Christmas tree with paper ornaments on it. Each ornament has a picture of a different person from the Bible. The ornaments are really pretty, but the reason the Jesse Tree is so important to us is simple. The Jesse Tree is a family tree. It is His family tree, the tree of the Son of God.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Beginning on the night of December 1st, gather your family and read a story from the Bible.
  • Sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
  • Hang a paper ornament on a tree to honor a person in the story. There’s Adam and Eve, Sarah and Noah, and Abraham, David…and a host of others.

But THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: The Jesse Tree Tradition is so much more than that. It’s a beautifully illustrated companion book to your holiday traditions (or the start of a new one!), which includes sturdy punch-out ornaments that can be preserved for seasons to come. Each day, a story is presented telling you exactly what to share with your family. It’s a timeless piece of Biblical history and family tradition all rolled into one. Plus, it’s designed by a 10-year old girl, “I wrote this book because I wanted to share the Jesse Tree tradition with you. It is treasured by my family, and good things like this should be shared. I hope you like it, and I hope you might want to make the Jesse Tree part of your family’s Christmas tradition.” 

Check out my interview with Theresa:


Leslie LindsayDo you remember when you first had the idea to write COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS, what inspired you?


Theresa Seidltz: I was 10 yrs old and my Dad kept trying to find kids story books for Bible Stories that we were using for our Jesse Tree. I started to write the story for us to use. I would read them in the bible and then write the stories for my Dad to use when we put the ornaments on the tree. One day we started talking and thought,“hey this should be a book.”


L.L.: Did you always want to write a book?

Theresa Seidltz: Yes, I have always loved writing since I was very young. I also love telling stories.


L.L.: What do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of books do you think you would write if you became an author?  


Theresa Seidltz: I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but I know I want to write I especially would like to write fantasy books, but right now I am more focused on comedy related to my family and friends.


L.L.: What was your favorite part about writing this book?


Theresa Seidltz: Looking up the stories because I like finding out what happened to the characters in the bible.


L.L.: What do you think the hardest thing about writing a book is?


Theresa Seidltz: The work!! Putting all your thoughts down on paper. It takes time. It is really hard not to give up.


L.L.: What advice would you give to other kids who want to write books?

Theresa Seidltz: Don’t give up!! Keep at it, it is a lot of work but if you keep going, eventually you will finish.


L.L.: What are some of your favorite books to read during Christmas season? I have so many books I like to read at Christmas time.


Theresa Seidltz: I like the book “The New Advent book of Traditions” that have the stories behind all the things we do in December like Christmas cards and candy canes. I also like a book called “The Donkey’s Dream, “St Francis and the Christmas Donkey,”  and “Merry Christmas Curious George.”


L.L.: Which story is your favorite story in Countdown to Christmas? What is the important message that it shows?


Theresa S of COUNTDOWN CHRISTMASTheresa Seidltz: The Nativity is my favorite story. I think it shows patience because throughout the whole Bible, people are waiting for Jesus to come. They go through a lot of difficult things. Then He finally comes and it is a happy


For more information, or to purchase please see: 

  • Canter Press, the publisher of THE COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
  • Follow Canter Press on Twitter  using this hashtag: #countdown2christmas
  • Buy on Amazo


BookS on MondaY: Meet the author & Illustrator of Bestselling Children’s Books THE POUT-POUT FIST

By Leslie Lindsay 

If you’ve been around children’s literature of late, you’ll know this grumpy little fish has some dreary, weary days. Well, he’s back this holiday season but can’t seem to find any suitable gifts for the folks (fish), on his list…sigh!

Today, I am honored to have bestselling author-illustrator duo Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna with us to have a merry little chat. NOT VERY MERRY POUT POUT

Leslie Lindsay: How did you come up with the original Pout-Pout fish book in 2008?

Deborah Diesen: The story grew out of an actual pout! One day many, many years ago, when my elder son was a preschooler, he was having a very grouchy afternoon. Hoping to amuse him, I made an exaggerated pouty face at him. He smiled and then pouted right back, which got us both laughing. “We look like fish,” I said. “Like pout-pout fish!” As soon as I said that out loud, it became a story idea. I jotted the idea down and I started writing The Pout-Pout Fish that same day. Years later, I started sending the story to publishers, and in 2005 it was accepted at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers. The book was published in 2008 and began a series of stories, all featuring Mr. Fish, his friends, and their adventures.
L.L>: What is Mr. Fish up to now? Does he have a case of the “dreary wearies” in the latest book, too?
DEBORAH DIESEN: Mr. Fish’s newest adventure is called The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. In it, Mr. Fish is in a bit of a holiday panic, searching for perfect gifts for all of his friends. His shopping trip is unsuccessful, and Mr. Fish is sure that he’s let all of his friends down. But his friend Miss Shimmer reminds him that the best gifts of all come straight from the heart, and she helps him craft simple and meaningful presents to bring to the holiday party. His friends are delighted with their presents, and together everyone celebrates peace, joy, and love – what a very merry gift!
L.L: What do you hope young readers (ages 3-6) will learn from The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish? Is there a message here for grown-ups as well?
DEBORAH DIESEN: I hope that Mr. Fish’s latest tale will help children to realize that presents don’t need to
be expensive or complicated or splashy. Simple, heartfelt presents that connect us to one another are the best gifts of all. A drawing; a craft project; time spent together; even just a smile! These sorts of gifts are the most cherished and the most enduring. It’s a lesson we grown-ups have to re-learn periodically as well.
L.L.:Do you have any tips for parents of toddlers about the joy of giving presents, rather than just receiving them, this holiday season?
DEBORAH DIESEN: Kids love to give presents, and they especially love having an active role in the process of
creating the presents. Try a craft idea or project that’s extremely simple and stress-free, and then let your child have at it with a minimum of help. The more messy, lopsided, and imperfect the results the better! Have fun with the process, and as you do you’ll create not just gifts but memories as well.   

Leslie Lindsay: Since the first book, we’ve seen Mr. Fish go to school, learn to smile, face the dark, discover how to dream and play hide-and-seek. What do kids (and their parents) love most about the series?
DEBORAH DIESEN: I think one of the things that makes Mr. Fish an appealing character for many kids and parents
is that kids and parents alike can identify with his experiences. Toddlers sometimes pout; so do adults! Preschoolers have things they’re scared of; so do adults! Kindergarteners get nervous about starting something new; so do adults! Mr. Fish’s experiences provide a way for kids and grown-ups to explore those issues together. In addition, the stories have rhyme, repetition, and wordplay, which are fun in a read-aloud book. And Dan Hanna’s illustrations! They’re fantastic.They truly bring the stories to life.
L.L.: Ooh, what a wonderful segue…Dan, what’s your  advice for aspiring picture book illustrators?
DAN HANNA: Buy one thousand parrots and place them in a room with a looped recording saying something like: “Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Then release the parrots, using a helicopter, over each of the major publishing houses. When the editors leave for lunch they’ll hear the parrots in the trees screeching,“Aaaaccck, Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Now I know this scheme seems rather elaborate, but it worked for me.
L.L.: Do you enjoy researching or do you prefer working totally from your imagination?
DAN HANNA: Initially I let my imagination run wild. Then I knock it out with a tranquilizer dart while I do some research.
Finally, my groggy imagination re-awakes, snarls angrily and then runs wild again. I’ve found that this approach works best for me.
For more information, teacher resources, order books, find activities, and more, please pop over to the POUT-POUT FISH website. 
Deborah D POUT POUT FISHDEBORAH DIESEN currently works for a small nonprofit organization and has also worked as a reference librarian and a bookseller. She lives in Grand Ledge, Michigan. You can learn more at her website
Dan POUT-POUT FISTDAN HANNA has over ten years’ experience in the animation industry, and his work has appeared on BBC America and the Cartoon Network. He lives in Santa Barbara, California. He is the illustrator of the Pout-Pout Fish books.You can learn more at his website
[Author/illustrator/cover images provided by A.Wike at PRbytheBook]