News, Reviews, and Events



Play This Book — School Library Journal’s 2018 Picture Books list

Play This Book — School Library Journal’s 2018 Picture Book Readalouds list

Play This Book — Nominated for the 2019 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award

Play This Book — Nominated for the 2019 Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) Bell Awards in the category “PLAY”

Pet This Book — Amazon Best Book of the Month for May

Play This Book — BookRiot’s list of “50 Must-Read Preschool Books

Signed books: Order signed/personalized copies of Play This Book or Pet This Book at Parnassus Books (they ship!):
(Or see other ordering options on the PLAY THIS BOOK/PET THIS BOOK page.)

About Play This Book and Pet This Book:

There are lots of ways little hands can make music or take care of animals. Each page of these interactive books invites readers to TAP, STRUM, CRASH — PLAY or PAT, FEED, BRUSH — LOVE! With delightful rhyming texts and engaging illustrations, these books are full of instruments — and animals — who can’t wait to play. The only thing they need is YOU! Just use your imagination, turn the pages, and PLAY THIS BOOK/PET THIS BOOK!

A clever combination of interactive elements and good old-fashioned read-aloud know-how. Whether it’s storytime for a large group or one-on-one laptime, just try and stop kids from following this book’s titular encouragement. — Kirkus Reviews (PLAY THIS BOOK)

Music-loving kids will go nuts for this interactive book. . . . Wiseman’s illustrations shine with bold strokes and bright colors and an inclusive cast of kid musicians. The book ends, of course, with thunderous applause. — School Library Journal

Written in snappy, bouncy rhymes and featuring pictures on expansive spreads, this book is an excellent choice for group sharing. . . . The illustrations . . . feature bold, bright colors, making it eye-catching for young readers. . . . A fun, interactive read-aloud perfect for a pet-themed storytime.School Library Journal (PET THIS BOOK)

The inclusion of lively sound effects for each animal will indeed encourage interactive participation . . . and the bold illustrations make this a natural for read-alouds. — Booklist (PET THIS BOOK)


Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — Nominated for the 2017-2018 Washington Library Association’s OTTER Award

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—Digging for Dinos — Nominated for the 2017 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award (SYRCA) Shining Willow Award

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — New York Public Library’s 100 Best Books for Kids 2016

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2016, Ages 6-8

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — #1 Editors’ Pick on Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2016 So Far, ages 6-8

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — Working Mother‘s Best Children’s Books of the Year So Far, ages 6-8 2016

Haggis and Tank Unleashed—All Paws on Deck — New York Public Library’s Staff Picks Fall 2016 and Winter 2017


Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens, Spring 2016 edition

Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens, Fall 2015 edition

2015 ABC Best Books Catalog

Empowering Books for Girls Ages 9-12

3 Spunky Heroines to Share With Your Daughter for Women’s History Month

Imagination Soup’s best books for young readers


2014 Marion Vannett Ridgway Award

2014 Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title

2014 Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, Children’s Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education

Texas Library Association’s 2014 2×2 Reading List

2013 Library of Congress/Center for the Book’s 52 Great Reads

Nominated for the 2016/2017 Volunteer State Book Award; the 2015 Ontario Library Association’s Blue Spruce Award; the 2016 Ladybug Picture Book Award; the 2014/2015 Abilene ISD Mockingbird Award; and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators 2014 Crystal Kite Award

Ontario Library Association’s Best Bets 2013

Toronto Public Library’s 2013 First & Best Booklist top ten picks for preschoolers

Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens Spring 2014 edition

Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California (ACL) 2014 Distinguished Books

Best Books of 2013, San Antonio News-Express

The Atlantic Wire‘s 2013 look at fall picture books

Booked for the Evening 2013 Panel Picks list, St. Catherine University

School Library Journal’s list of picture books related to emotions

The New York Public Library: Color Philosophy and Synesthesia in Literature

Pairing of colorful picture books on This Picture Book Life


Books for Kids Blog Spy Guy review

Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California’s Bay Views review of Spy Guy

Diapers & Daydreams review of Spy Guy

San Francisco Book Review of Spy Guy


Interview with James Burks on Haggis and Tank Unleashed

Interview with Charles Santoso on Spy Guy

Spy Guy‘s wonderful illustrator, Charles Santoso, featured on 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog

Interview with Chapter 16 (Humanities Tennessee)

Interview with Julie Danielson on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog

Interview with Elizabeth O. Dulemba on My Blue is Happy

Interview on Celebrating Debutantes 2013 blog

Interview with Chapter 16 (Humanities Tennessee) on My Blue is Happy

Interview with Frog on a Blog

“Celebri-Dots” project for International Dot Day — a celebration of creativity that was inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ book “The Dot.” See my happy blue dot, and make a “dot” of your own!

Read some reasons I love picture books for Candlewick’s 20th Anniversary “We Believe in Picture Books” initiative.



Kids dipping a toe into the waters of early chapter books will find themselves challenged by the text while simultaneously enticed by the alluring art. These salty sea dogs put the bite back in buccaneering. — Kirkus Reviews (Whole review here.)

Odd-couple antics, loads of goofy humor, and an appealing comics/early reader format make for an all-around entertaining read.Publishers Weekly (Whole review here.)

The spare, easy-to-read main text describes the events, and the stylized, full- color cartoon illustrations, complete with amusing speech-balloon conversations and asides, expand the story. Tank and Haggis have many homophone-related miscommunications . . . which both helps aid reading comprehension and boosts the funny factor. . . . The animated, distinctly drawn characters . . . will have kids seeking their future adventures. Booklist

A must-have for the difficult-to-fill niche for readers transitioning from picture books and beginning readers to early chapter books.School Library Journal

The word play is both funny and educational . . . an attractive little book full of funny dialogue from two very appealing doggie protagonists. Prereaders will be entertained by a read-aloud full of animal characters, a pirate theme, and silly sound effects and scenarios. Older children reading for themselves will enjoy the graphic-novel layout, the sophisticated word play, and the character development. Chapter 16


Tank, a Great Dane with a nose for excitement, and Haggis, her smaller, saner Scottish terrier companion, are pulled into another adventure thanks to a book on dinosaurs. . . . This sequel is far from a dinosnore; here’s to joining these two pals on all their future adventures. Kirkus Reviews (Whole review here.)

The dog pals are back for another exciting, imaginative playtime adventure. . . . The narrative’s simply constructed sentences describe events, while the colorful comics panels, lively dialogue in word balloons, and amusing commentary and wordplay further extend the story and add fun detail. Once again, the delightful pooch duo shines in this entertaining, fast-paced, and fun read. — Booklist


Loaded with comparative homophones, onomatopoeia, and puns, each page becomes an opportunity for linguistic discussion and delight. . . . The real subject of Young’s charming series is the transporting power of imagination and the joy of language. Early readers and their parents will love catching a ride on the Fearless Flyer with the lovable Tank and her trusty copilot, Haggis. Chapter 16


My Blue is Happy is a great title for talking with kids about how they view the world, and introducing the notion that we don’t all see things in the same way. This may be a debut, but Young’s confidence in her thesis is strong and her voice follows suit. It’s definitely a title that will spark creativity in even the most seriously grounded youngsters (and grownups). . . . The visuals are strong and impactful, and the message is one that will resonate with kids: being yourself can mean that you have a different view of things, and that’s where the beauty and variety of life reside. For little ones just starting to find their independence, Young’s message is reassuring and supports the importance of individuality. Hey, even librarians don’t agree all the time—though I think most would find My Blue is Happy stands out all on its own. Sprout’s Bookshelf (Whole review here.)

The fresh associations and vivid, concrete descriptions of abstract feelings and ideas will surely inspire young readers and listeners to think about new ways to describe what they see, think, and feel. Cooperative Children’s Book Center

In this delightfully original picture book, author Jessica Young takes a fresh look at familiar colors, using them as the foundation for a story that celebrates individuality and the pleasures of living in a world informed by multiple perspectives. . . . Young brings a poetic sensibility to this imaginative tale. . . . Her brief, verse-like sentences are enlivened by Catia Chien’s expressive acrylic illustrations. Together, they’ve created a book that encourages kids to think independently and creatively. Remember: Keep those crayons handy! BookPage (Whole review here.)

It’s at once a celebration of the world and its colors and a book about feelings and perceptions, contrasting the differences between the way two people see the same thing. . . . Readers and young listeners can have some good conversations about their own color perceptions after sharing this warm, deceptively simple concept book. The Horn Book Magazine

Blue is sad and red means angry, right? Not for a thoughtful girl who sees colors less conventionally than those around her. . . . Young. . . gently introduces the idea of opposites and invites children to consider the different feelings colors can evoke. Publishers Weekly

Art teachers will gravitate toward this upbeat title to let children begin to explore the importance of color. . . . Having children compare their notions of the same colors would make for some great conversations. This child knows her own mind and feelings and isn’t about to have someone else’s associations color her world. School Library Journal

I love Jessica Young’s My Blue Is Happy! I’m adding it to my list of must-have books to inspire creative thinking. Catia Chien’s vivid art is delightful, while really driving home the book’s much-needed message about thinking beyond stereotypes. Highly recommended not just for art teachers, but for any teacher or parent wanting to inspire children to think more creatively about color, art, and our world. Peter H. Reynolds, author of the Creatrilogy series: The Dot, Ish and Sky Color

Besides being heaven-sent for a bedtime story, a library circle or for a gentle introduction of metaphor in a classroom, this work is oddly subversive (maybe the book creators know it, see the little girl winking on the cover?), and surprisingly evocative, both in its beautiful language and Chien’s washy spreads (already a huge fan of this illustrator since she decorated Dashka Slater’s THE SEA SERPENT AND ME). Blue, in this case, is definitely happy, embracing out-of-the-box thinking and the collapse of cliché, this returns proprietary rights to the reaction of color—and the world—back to individuals, where it arguably belongs. — Esmé Raji Codell, author and certified Readiologist™ (Whole review here.)

MY BLUE IS HAPPY is a fresh, engaging story that encourages young readers to celebrate seeing the world through their own unique lens. . . . This is a lovely book with an important message that is perfectly written and illustrated in a way that will capture young readers. I highly recommend it. — YA and Kids’ Books Central

I can’t tell you how much I love this book! But here are a few reasons: 1. It introduces similes to young kids in a very easily understood way. 2. It helps them see the world on so many levels. Color has power, emotion, and we all see it differently. 3. It’s a great mentor text that gives kids an easy structure to replicate. 4. It has a great message that everyone sees color in different ways. . . . Kids are amazing and such natural poets. We just have to really listen and pay attention to them. And then expose them to great mentor texts like My Blue is Happy! — Mandy Yates, The Picture Book Academy (Whole review here.)

In this cleverly structured book, we get to explore the unique ways in which we each experience colour and emotion. . . . This would be a great book for any budding artists out there or even simply for helping someone scared of the dark to see black in a more reassuring way. It opens up our minds to new ways of seeing the world, and that’s surely a valuable skill for any child to develop. Kids’ Book Review (Whole review here.)

There are many books about colors, but this more nuanced look is a welcome addition. . . . There will be lots of uses for this title, not the least of which is giving kids the opportunity to discuss how each color makes them feel. — Booklist

The book is about different ways people think, different colors, and ways the colors can make a person feel good or bad. There are a lot of really great pictures and readable words. The start of the book is really good because the character is thinking differently about the color blue and that made me want to read more. Besides the pictures, this is a book I like to try to read entirely by myself. It’s a happy book to me and I love it! The book is good because there are lots of colors, you get to think about the colors in a lot of different ways, the pictures are good, and colors can make people feel different things. My favorite part of the book is the part about the color pink. I think pink is good and it’s funny that the girl thinks pink is bad because it reminds her of bug bites and gum — which is true, pink does that too! The book is special because I like all of the pictures showing the different colors. I also like that I can read most of the book by myself and then think about the pictures, think about the words, and think about the story. The main person is a girl like me and we both see things differently than other people. 5++ stars Charlotte P., age 5, Denver


Third-grader Finley Flowers stars in this entertaining series opener, in which she is trying to win her school’s cook-off competition. Young’s story, told in 12 chapters, focuses on Finley and her best friend Henry as they experiment with a slew of culinary mashups. . . . As friendship and family dilemmas spike the plot, Young avoids handing easy victories to her determined and undeniably creative heroine. Publishers Weekly (Whole review here.)

This is a light, endearing story of friendship that will work well as a read-aloud or for a newly solo reader. — Booklist

Full of fun and flavor, Original Recipe is a book that my girl could really sink her teeth into. . . . So if you know a little girl like mine, remember that her books don’t have to be filled with damsels in distress. Find her heroines with some spunk and gumption, and you’ll create a young reader who’s well on her way to discovering her own sense of power and potential. — Booktrib

Young writes in a spirited style that displays Finley’s seemingly unbounding optimism, but she also shows that her bravado masks a lack of confidence. . . . Recipes don’t always turn out as planned, but Finley discovers her strengths and what matters most in life. — Canadian Review of Materials


Fluffy fun that promotes visual literacy and will make a positive addition to interactive storytime collections. — School Library Journal

Children who love to play at being spies in their own homes and neighborhoods will appreciate the question posed by this hilarious and heartening book. . . . Santoso’s wonderfully noirish illustrations make this book fun and engaging, as do Young’s rhyme schemes and wordplay. Booklist

This is a fun blend of savvy parenting and on-point comedy. — BookPage

Santoso’s art conveys broadly comical action, and his slightly retro palette and exaggerated cartoon style are well-suited to the undercover prowess Spy Guy seeks. — Kirkus Reviews

Santoso’s crisp images and liberal use of white space keep the focus on domestic comedy . . . but it quickly turns into a tribute to savvy parental mentoring. — Publishers Weekly



February 21: University School of Nashville Evening Class, Nashville, TN

February 24: Children’s Writing Presentation, SCBWI Midsouth, Bowling Green KY

March 12: Tuesdays for Tots Reading, Activities, and Signing, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

March 23: Reading, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

March 30: Reading, Activities, and Signing, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

April 19-20: Spring Art Hop, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

April 26-27: Southern KY Book Festival, Bowling Green, KY

July 16: Guelph Public Library, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

September 14-15: Midsouth SCBWI Conference, Franklin, TN

September 20-21: Heartland Book Festival, Elizabethtown, KY

October 21-24: School Visits, Louisville, KY

November 8-9: EpicFest, Charlotte, NC

November 21: NAEYC (Publisher Spotlight Booth Signing), Nashville TN

November 22-24: NCTE (Panel and Publisher Spotlight Booth Signing), Baltimore, MD


February 6: University School of Nashville Evening Class, Nashville, TN

February 15: Read to Be Ready, Franklin, TN

February 20: Read to Be Ready, Knoxville, TN

March 1: Read to Be Ready, Jackson, TN

April 14: Storytime in the Gardens, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

April 21-22: Southern KY Book Festival, Bowling Green, KY

May 5: Prince William County Schools Reads 2018, Manassas, VA

May 8: Read to Be Ready, Nashville, TN

May 10: Read to Be Ready, Nashville, TN

May 19: Children’s Festival of Reading, Knoxville, TN

May 20: PLAY THIS BOOK/PET THIS BOOK launch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

May 22: Tuesdays for Tots, Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

June 18-22: Vanderbilt SAVY Program, Nashville, TN

August 18: Song and Story Time, Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN

August 28: Imagination Library Carnival, Mountain City, TN

September 10: Tennessee Association of School Librarians, Murfreesboro, TN

October 12-14: Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN 

October 20: Books by the Banks, Cincinnati, OH

November 8: Barnes & Noble, Chattanooga, TN

November 10: The Bookshop, Nashville, TN

November 15: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Washington D.C. (signing in Publisher Spotlight booth)

November 17: Kentucky Book Fair, Lexington, KY

November 24: Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN


January 21: ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, Atlanta, GA

January 31: Southeast Library STEAM Club, Nashville, TN

February 6: University School of Nashville Evening Class, Nashville, TN

April 8: Nashville Symphony Children’s Series Green Eggs and Ham (pre-concert story time), Nashville, TN

April 21-22: Southern KY Book Festival, Bowling Green, KY

May 13: Haggis and Tank Unleashed — Howl at the Moon launch party, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

August 27: Barnes & Noble, Brentwood, TN

September 24-25: Tennessee Craft Fair, Nashville TN

September 28: Tennessee Association of School Librarians Conference, Murfreesboro, TN

September 29-30: Midsouth SCBWI Conference, Franklin, TN

October 14: Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN

November 17-18: Kentucky Book Fair, Lexington, KY

©2013 Jessica Young. All rights reserved.