Home Page  

I write picture books, board books, poetry and middle grade fiction. Each of my stories holds a place in my heart.


TxtngMamaTxtngBaby book cover

Txtng Mama Txting Baby
Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN 978-1585368877

Sample Pages Texting Mama Texting BabySample Pages Texting Mama Texting Baby

It’s a Techy-Techy World 4 2day’s Babies. Smiley Face

Thanks to their parents’ smart phones, tablets and computers, Babies everywhere are tapping keyboards and finger-swiping screens, honing digital skills while living their Baby lives.

TXTNG MAMA TXTNG BABY playfully brings this newest of worlds to the sturdy pages of the ultimate hand-held device: the baby board book!
          Mama and Baby’s tuneful, texted through-the-day conversation engages and delights listeners and readers, adding that human touch to Touch Technology.  
         Child-friendly emoticons and familiar text phrases, (think: LOL, ICU and xoxo), keep Baby flipping (and swiping!) the pages.

It’s a Techy-Techy World alright 4 2day’s instant Digital Natives.

But no matter how the message is delivered, through txtng, talk, or hugs, Mama smile emoticon Baby!

* * *

“A charming new board book…a 16-page ‘opus’ consisting of a text conversation between a mother and her baby, colorfully illustrated by a couple of surprisingly expressive bright yellow faces. This is such an original and clever idea that a lot of people will sure fall into I-should-have-thought-of-that regret.  But they are just as sure to smile at such exchanges as:
Do not for a moment believe that this book is some sort of anti-literature ‘tome’; rather, it’s a playful take on these modern times.”
—Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune/Literary Saloon

* * *

“This board book, shaped like a cell phone, recounts a simple conversation between a mother and her baby, all relayed in text speak. It will feel familiar to toddlers used to seeing their parents texting and should find a niche as a gift book appealing to all those texters who prefer to keep their messages on the shorter side”
—Ann Kelley, Booklist, November 15, 2013

* * *

Watch the video review of Txtng Mama Txting Baby from timetoplaymag.com

* * *

“The format and size of this board book fits nicely in the hands of a very young toddler and as Mama is txtng - baby is occupied. A charming book that ends (on the back cover) with this: "No matter how the message is delivered (by book or phone or both!), Mama smile emoticon Baby. The text is very child friendly and a fun reminder to parents that there are special phrases that delight young learners. This is a perfect gift at a baby shower, in a new baby gift basket, and just for fun for any tech savvy parent of a young toddler -- or a special txtng aunt or uncle. Better yet, perhaps Hershenhorn (and her publisher) will consider some follow-up titles: Txtng Papa Txtng Baby; and special titles for aunties and uncles -- how much fun that would be? ”
—Sharon McElemeel, McBook Words, http://www.mcelmeel.com, December 1, 2013

* * *

Read more about TXTNG MAMA TXTNG AUTHORS at Kate Hannigan's Authorof… blog.

Click here to learn how a grandson-in-waiting opened his Luddite Grandma's eyes to 2day's Techy-Techy World.

Click here to learn even more about Babies, Toddlers, Texting and Technology.

Click here to find a fun texting Writing Activity (or two).

* * *

To purchase this book visit:


The Poetry Friday Anthology
Poems for the School Year
With Connections to the Common Core

Compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Pomelo Books, August, 2012
ISBN 978-1-937057-68-8

Poetry Friday Anthology

The Poetry Friday Anthology offers a set of 36 poems for each grade level, K-5 - a poem-a-week for the 9 months of the typical school year! Poem-specific, skill-based, developmentally-appropriate activities that connect to the Common Core standards for poetry instruction - accompany each poem. A K-5 TEKS version (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) is also available.

Iím honored to be one of the 75 poets who contributed original poems to this anthology.

To learn more, visit www.PoetryFridayAnthology.blogspot.com

* * *

The Poetry Friday Anthology For Celebrations
Compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Pomelo Books, March, 2015
ISBN 978-1-937057-41-0

Poetry Friday Anthology for Cele brations

This is the latest book in The Poetry Friday Anthology series, featuring poems in English and Spanish for 150+ holidays and celebrations, including Random Acts of Kindness Week, Childrenís Book Week, World Laughter Day, National Camping Month and more!

I am honored to be one of the 115 poets whose poems are included.

Click HERE to read more about this one-of-a-kind bilingual collection.

* * *

Little Illinois Book Cover

Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Glenn Munroe
Sleeping Bear Press
Little State series

Ten little riddles!
Each shares a joy
you can find
in Illinois!

In an easy-to-read board book format, LITTLE ILLINOIS shares ten rhyming riddles to introduce young readers to Illinois’ state symbols and identifying features.
           Perhaps the red-feathered bird that sings purdy-purdy-purdy.
           Or the city by the lake that stands sky-high.
           Or the coin that shows a President when flipped!
Young children will delight in the rhyming riddles, each framed by brightly-painted clues.

Ten little riddles!
Oh, the joy!
Clap and shout,
Hurray for Illinois!”

LITTLE ILLINOIS is part of the Little State series from Sleeping Bear Press.

* * *

To purchase this book:

Visit IndieBound (http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781585365371)

Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Illinois-State-Esther-Hershenhorn/dp/1585365378/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315256898&sr=1-1

Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Zachary Pullen
Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 978-58536-439-8

A is for the alphabet
our letters six plus twenty,
that build the words,
that build the tales,
we read and write aplenty.

Folks have been telling tales forever. But how
they came to write those tales for others to read is a
whole different story.

A true celebration of the Reader-Writer Connection, S is for Story: A Writerís Alphabet offers readers an A-to-Z journey through a writerís life and process. The iconic Sleeping Bear Press abecedarian format introduces in rhyme, then amplifies in expository text selected essential aspects of becoming and being and living as a writer. Additional mini-Writing Lessons, Writerís Tips, peeks at how writers work and treasured authorsí helpful words ready and inspire readers to tell their good stories well. Spotlighted topics include idea generation, revision, editing, character, plot, word choice, voice, journals, notebooks, letters and texting, fairy tales and genres, heroes and heroines.

M? Ah, M’s for Magic.
Writing’s simply that!
What if?, suppose,
stir words you chose,
pull stories from your hat.

I confess: S is for Story: A Writerís Alphabet is the book I wish Iíd owned as a little girl, when I tucked away my dream of writing childrenís books someday.

* * *

Among sleeping Bear’s growing collection of themed abecedarian titles for middle-graders, this engaging, instructive introduction to writing stands out. The concepts paired with each letter cover elements of story (plot, characters); technique (revision, journaling); and basic practices for fostering creativity (observe). Short poems; clear, enthusiastic explanations; tips; and quotes from well-known children’s authors appear on each page, and a “P.S.” includes more interesting facts. The large color illustrations, featuring sometimes oddly proportioned figures, don’t shine as brightly as the warm, substantive text, which both teachers and students will return to repeatedly for reference and inspiration.”  —Gillian Engberg, Booklist (Boxed review)

If you think alphabet books are for babies, think again. In recent years, alphabet formats have frequently been used for audiences ranging into middle school. Pullen's illustrations, with people, animals and landscapes often skew toward the quirky rather than the cute, ramp up the audience age. These attention-getting pages -- often featuring unusual angles on a scene -- slow readers to an appreciative pace for each piece of Hershenhorn's advice. Hershenhorn is experienced as an author and writing coach; that dual expertise shows. The words chosen for each letter are distinctive and strongly central for writers: She explains, for instance, "genre," "journal," "notebook" "revision" and "voice." She is not talking down. Her allusions are to a variety of writers children know and like -- Ann Martin, Richard Peck, Beverly Cleary, Sid Fleischman, as well as to Superman, Longfellow and text-messaging.”  —Mary Harris Russell, Chicago Tribune

"S is for Story" is Esther Hershenhorn's imaginative, alphabetic appeal to young would-be authors everywhere who only need a bit of encouragement or even just permission to begin their writing careers. Here you will find succinct, clear definitions of the basic tools and terms of writers, from "G is for genre" to "R is for revision." Brightly bouncing illustrations of Zachary Pullen enliven each paragraph and letter. She knew that writing could be so accessible even for the young? Who knew how much fun writing and reading could be? "S is for Story" may be read either as a preschooler's alphabet book or an elementary school age child's introduction to writing terms and techniques. "S is for Story" is sure to boost literacy scores and library usage everywhere.” —Midwest Book Review

"An Illinois author and writing coach, Hershenhorn has created one of Janet’s favorite alphabet books.  Complete with questions about writing from well-known authors, including Kate DiCamillo, Jacqueline Woodson, Katherine Paterson, and Richard Peck, A Writer’s Alphabet is a thoughtful exploration of everything from the development of alphabets and paper to the processes of journaling and revising.  Full of tips for any aspiring writer, Hershenhorn’s book provides curricular support and inspiration for writing instruction for students in grades 2 – 12.” —Janet Pariza and Deborah Augsburger, Illinois Reading Council Journal

"…a deceptively simple book on how to create good stories.  The solid advice…is suitable for elementary age children because of its picture book format, but the book contains much for an adult reader to savor. It offers a compendium of tools that smooth the way to writing a good story.  Writers could do no better than to follow the instructions in this book and, as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland advises, ‘Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”—Mary Dodson Wade, SCBWI Bulletin

"A through Z … this is the perfect writer’s alphabet book for young writers. This is an excellent book for a home library, public and school library. Let us develop this young generation of writer’s … and give each one of them a copy of this book!”—Debby Willett, Children’s Literature, Online Version


* * *


Named 2011 Annual Teachers’ Choice Awards for Children’s Books Winner, by Learning Magazine.

* * *

And, be sure to look for my article “ABC Easy? Well, Think Again!” in the March 1, 2010 issue of ALA’s Book, available online at http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/publishing/booklinks/index.cfm

To purchase this book visit:



For Teacher Guide, click here.

list itemspaceClick here to find Young Writer Extras
              (Opportunities to write, read and discover,
               at home, in school, or at the library)

list itemspaceClick here to listen to me talk about S IS FOR STORY: A WRITER’S ALPHABET, thanks to TeachingBooks.net


Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Holiday House
ISBN:  0-8234-1642-9  

“Hi! My name is Howard J. Fingerhut but everyone calls me Howie.

I am the author of the book you are reading. Some authors of how-to books make all sorts of claims right here on this first paragraph. I won't do that, except to say that my book, THE CONFE$$ION$ AND $ECRET$ OF HOWARD J. FINGERHUT,
will probably change your life.”

—Howard J. Fingerhut, Soon-to-be-announced Winner of the H. Marion Muckley Junior Business Person of the Year Contest, September 30

It was a no-brainer, at least in September: how could Howie not win the H. Marion Muckley Junior Businessperson of the Year Contest?  Didn't his lawn care business, A Boy for All Seasons, have $ucce$$ written all over it?  Why not chronicle his $ucce$$ September through June, then sell his journal as a how-to book for junior businesspeople!

Many how-to books offer advice, shortcuts and inspiration.  THE CONFE$$ION$ AND $ECRET$ OF HOWARD J. FINGERHUT offers that and so much more — humor, heart and a resilient spirit.

* * *

2004-2005 Crown Award Nominee 
Bank Street College/Best Books of the Year

“No one will be able to resist its spirit……” —Kirkus

To purchase this book go to:



TEACHERS: click HERE for classroom activities to use with your students!


Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger
Simon & Schuster
ISBN:  0-689-82665-6

It was a very nice Sunday in the middle of spring, in the middle of breakfast, in the middle of the morning. Rudie Dinkins heard his mama say that Rudie's sitter, Mrs. Gittel, had the flu.

Oy! Oy! Oy!

Rudie needs his after-school babysitter Mrs. Gittel good-as-new by the next afternoon!

Rudie decides he'll cook Mrs. Gittel chicken soup just the way she cooks it for him.  It just so happens he knows her Chicken Soup Secret: she stirs in very nice stories about her soon-to-be soup-eaters.

Rudie stirs in such nice (and sweet) stories.  How could they not save the Chicken Soup Queen?

* * *

Winner: The 2003 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers

“In this coziest and most comforting picture book, young Rudie saves his baby-sitter, the Chicken Soup Queen.....  Gouache, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations highlight the emotion in the warm colors, and special attention is paid to homey detail. Love and care radiate from the pages; this will surely inspire a lot of children to get into the kitchen so they can put stories in their own soup. An excellent recipe for chicken soup follows the story.” —*Starred Review - Booklist


To purchase books go to:



TEACHERS: click HERE for classroom activities to use with your students!

Now available! A Reader’s Theatre script for CHICKEN SOUP BY HEART!
See Toni Buzzeo’s READ! PERFORM! LEARN!, Upstart Books, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, for a 7-role script plus literacy enhancements.


Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Holiday House
ISBN: 0-8234-1603-4

Pippin Biddle did the only thing he could once he and his sisters were orphaned without warning.  He packed up his father's paints and readied for the road.

“Be brave!” he told the sweet three.  There was Emma, the oldest, and Lyddie, the littlest, and Martha, in-between. “I'll travel about and paint people's portraits, earning my keep as Father once did.  I promise by Christmas we'll have our own home.”

But the life of a limner was not as easy as Pip expected.  Spring turned to summer, summer turned to fall, and still Pip's paintings went unsold.  His young heart broke for his faraway sisters.

Little did Pip know that his faraway sisters had plans of their own, thanks to Pip and his portraits.

* * *

“Told with engagingly rhythmic language and the repeating structure of a folktale, this tongue in-cheek piece of Americana will delight a wide range of readers and listeners.” *Starred Review - Kirkus

“In sonorous prose, Hershenhorn spins a historical story about a young “limner” (a traveling portrait painter)…..Hershenhorn and Lloyd's collaboration is an unqualified success.” *Starred Review - Publishers Weekly

*Junior Library Guild Selection
*Bank Street College Best Books of the Year - *for Special Merit


To purchase this book go to:



TEACHERS: click HERE for classroom activities to use with your students!

Written by Esther Hershenhorn
Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
Holiday House
ISBN: 0-8234-1313-6

In all of Crumm County, past Piggott's Peak and Slocum's Bluff,
no one loved his Birthday better than Lowell.  No siree.

Lowell visions a May Birthday Party with wall-to-wall kin: Crumm Creek loggers from his Mama's side, Piggott's Peak barrel-makers from his Papa's side, plus a passel of Granny Slocum's grape-growin', fiddlin' relatives from up on Slocum's Bluff.

No matter that an Ozark rain storm is a-loomin' in the distance.  Lowell knows jest as sure as snakes crawl that even iffen red skies an' low geese  an' leafbacks mean rain, and even iffen that rain begets floods, slides an' twisters, no hard-workin', family-lovin', smart an' clever folk would a-miss a  kin's Birthday jest because of some pourdown.  No siree. They'd do what they had to.  Lowell's kin would a-chorus “Happy Birthday!”

* * *

“This rhythmic tale mixes Ozark weather lore and steadfast kinship…An appended list of weather proverbs adds to the book's value. A terrific read-aloud for groups exploring weather, birthdays or families.”—School Library Journal

To purchase this book go to:



TEACHERS: click HERE for classroom activities to use with your students!


Return to the Top