can you makeI have been anxiously waiting for September to arrive because I get the pleasure of hosting a really amazing children’s author and illustrator at the Joplin Public Library. Thanks to funding from the Bramlage Family Foundation, as part of the Library’s Bramlage Author Series, the library is hosting popular children’s author, Jan Thomas on Thursday, September 26th.

Jan Thomas is the creator of eleven well-known picture books, including “Rhyming Dust Bunnies” and it’s sequel, as well as her newest book entitled “Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy” that is one of this year’s Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award nominees.  If you have not had the pleasure of reading her work you should check out some of her books ASAP. Not only are they creative, humorous and interactive, but they are sure to make you a huge hit with any child you share them with.

“Can You Make a Scary Face” is my favorite Jan Thomas creation, though there are several others that run a close second. One of the things that make “Can You Make a Scary Face” so great is that if you are reading it in a group setting, it allows you to interact with the audience the whole time. This is achieved through a bossy ladybug—the story’s main character. In the story, the ladybug instructs the audience to do a selection of tasks, most of which involve pretending and moving about, and at the end, as is usual with Jan Thomas’ books, there is a surprise that is sure to garner much laughter.

And do not forget, not only does Jan write books, but she also provides the illustrations. Like all of her books, the ones in “Can You Make a Scary Face” are spot on.  While deceptively simple, children of all ages, readers and listeners alike, will identify with the expressions on the ladybug’s face. I got to see this in action over and over when I shared “Can You Make a Scary Face” to dozens of kindergarten classrooms a few years ago.  It was an instant hit!

Preschool and early elementary children love Jan’s books so much that we have made a yearly tradition of having a “We Love Jan Thomas” week as part of our storytime curriculum. And this year, the author herself will be here during that week to share her stories, interact with the children and parents and sign autographs.

Specifically, she will visit the library on Thursday, September 26th at 9:30 am and 10:30 am during our storytime sessions, geared for toddlers and preschoolers and then at 4:00 pm, she will present a special program geared for elementary-age children that showcases how she creates her picture books.

And if her visit was not exciting enough, Jan will sign copies of her books following all the events and a selection of them will be available for purchase thanks to Changing Hands Book Shoppe.

For more information, call the Joplin Public Library at (417) 623-2184.