Author Spotlight: Jody Jensen Shaffer

May 28, 2021

We are pleased to feature author Jody Jensen Shaffer and her latest early readers, WHERE IS BEAR? and A HOUSE FOR MOUSE, illustrated by Clair Rossiter (Highlights Press, April 2021).

Enter to win a copy of both titles!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

Like many who write for children, I fell in love with children's literature when my own kids were small. All those endless trips to the library, all those cozy days and nights spent reading together. So when my youngest started kindergarten, I decided to try my hand at it. I began writing rhyming poetry for children's magazines while I was learning the craft of writing picture books.

Congrats on your early reader books, WHERE IS BEAR? and A HOUSE FOR MOUSE! Tell us about them and what inspired you.

Thank you! These two are the first of a six-book series called Bear and Friends with Highlights Press. (Two books will follow each of the next two seasons.) They're for kids just beginning to learn to read, so there's lots of adorable picture clues, illustrated adorably by Clair Rossiter, to help with context. And because these books are published by Highlights, there's a puzzle element in each book, too. Kids can find hidden letters in the illustrations! This series is the brainchild of my editor, Michelle Budzilowicz. She asked if I'd be interested in writing a puzzle reader for beginning readers--no guidelines, just see what I could come up with--and I jumped at the chance!

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

My road to publication for the Bear and Friends books was fairly straightforward, thanks to Michelle. But my entire publishing journey? I'd say just enough short and sweet and just enough long and winding to make me appreciate it! In addition to magazine work and early readers, I write fiction and nonfiction picture books and (so far) one middle grade biography (Who is Jackie Chan?). My first book came out in 2012. I turned in manuscript 80 in March. 

What projects are you working on now?

I've always got a zillion projects going, but right now I'm revising a funny picture book about a toddler transitioning to a big kid bed. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same as you'd give to aspiring authors?

Trust your gut. Learn all you can. Find great critique partners. Join SCBWI. Keep your copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style close at hand. It applies equally to college term papers and to picture books.

What is something most people don't know about you?

I taught College Composition as an adjunct for a couple years. Also, I hate packing for trips.

Where can people find you online?

My website is, and on Twitter I'm @jodywrites4kids., 

Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than 80 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including PRUDENCE THE PART-TIME COW, a Missouri Show Me Award finalist for 2020, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT’S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, an Amazon best-seller and Amazon Prime Book Box pick for September 2019, IT’S A FIELD TRIP, BUSY BUS!, EMERGENCY KITTENS!, WHO IS JACKIE CHAN? and more. Jody’s poetry and fiction have been published in magazines like Highlights, Ladybug, and Clubhouse Jr. When she’s not writing, Jody can be found watching baseball or walking her rescue dog, Sophie. 

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  1. Hooray Jody! These readers look like a lot of fun to create AND to read!

  2. I think we'd enjoy these puzzles and the critters' quests ! What a delightful mouse!

  3. These books will make a great addition to our school library!

  4. Hi Jody! I love the puzzle concept and titles. I aspire to having an editor say to me "no guidelines, just see what I could come up with."

  5. These look adorable, Jody! I think my grandson will love them!

  6. Congratulations, Jody! I'm so happy for your continued success as a writer. Kids are so blessed to get your work into their hands. Prudence was one of my favorite books to give to my grandkids. I look forward to seeing these two new books of yours. (You know I love puzzles!)

  7. I enjoyed reading how your editor asked you to write a puzzle book story for beginning readers without guidelines and you took the challenge head on. This series sounds so much fun. Congratulations!

  8. Love the idea of a puzzle element. These both look charming!

  9. Congratulations, Jody! Looking forward to reading these books. They look delightful! My little ones love puzzles like this.

  10. These books are adorable! Can’t wait to read them!

  11. So adorable! Two of my grands are the perfect age for these. Congratulations!

  12. Adorable books! My students would love these!


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