Interview with Madelyn Rosenberg, author of HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW

Deb: Hi Mhow to behaveadelyn and welcome to 32 Zoo. First of all congratulations on the release of HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW. It’s great to see Julia, Charles and of course the MacKagan brothers back together for another adventure.

As much as Alberta likes to ask questions, she’s off and running getting ready for fall. I told her I’d be happy to cover. Alberta agreed, with the stipulation that I ask lots of questions. So to start off, I’m curious, what inspired the idea for the HOW TO BEHAVE series and specifically HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW? Is there anything you would like kids to know about this book? Parents? Pets?

Madelyn: Thanks so much, Deb (and Alberta)! The series was inspired by watching my own kids when they were younger. They both had such distinct ideas of the way things should be, and those ideas were completely at odds. For example:

Daughter: I know! Let’s play fairies!

Son: How about war fairies?

Daughter: How about war fairies who are friends?

I loved watching them try to navigate and compromise. I still do.

As for dog show: I entered my own dog in a pet show when I was little, and that was certainly a big part of the inspiration for this. And somewhere in the back of my brain I kept hearing that commercial from years ago, the one where the kids sing “my dog’s better than your dog.” ( The reason was allegedly because said dog ate Ken-L-Ration, but it also gave voice to the fact that all kids think their pets are the best. And you know what? They are the best. And those kids are the best, too. Not in the everyone-gets-a-medal way, but in the way that everyone is really great at something. Every pet. Every kid. Every parent, too. You might be the best at burping the alphabet. Or drawing pictures of brain-sucking zombies. Or making your friends feel better when they’re sad. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what the “something” is, but it’s there.

Deb: You are so right. Everyone has their own special talent that only they are going to be the best at. Just like you were the best person to write this book. So speaking of writing, I have to ask you a question my children are always asking me. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

Madelyn: I knew I wanted to be a writer in fifth grade! I wanted to be other things before that, though, including a singer and a ballet dancer. I also wanted to be an advertising agent, like Darrin Stevens on Bewitched. And I still want to be an inventor and a product designer. Writing gives me a chance to be all of those things from time to time.

Deb: It sounds like you were always interested in creative professions and I have to say I loved Bewitched! But how do you keep your creative juices flowing? I noticed that you hosted a series of writing prompts on your blog over the summer. Do those play into your creative process? And now that we are in back to school mode, do you have any tips for parents on how to keep the fun creative spirit of summer going for their children?

Madelyn: Mostly, writing prompts just keep me writing. They seem bite-size. Chewable. Doable. I think one of the things that makes writing hard for some kids is that they imagine it’s hard. So I try to come up with ideas that make it easy for kids (and adults).

This summer I was big on making sure kids knew that complete sentences weren’t necessary to get an idea on paper. (I actually think not using complete sentences forces them to think of specific “trigger” words, and finding the right word is much more important than the obligatory complete sentence.) My favorite writing prompt from the summer was one I called “Drop and Give Me 10,” where you come up with 10 words or phrases (or a combination) to describe the scene you’re in at any given moment. I like that because it helps you create postcards, of sorts, of wherever you happen to be – the doctor’s office or the beach. And because you can use the same prompt again and again. My tip for parents to keep things fun during the school year would be to keep things bite-size. Also, lots and lots of popsicles.

Deb: “Drop and Give Me 10.” That’s great. I definitely think finding 10 words or phrases is better than pushups too. If you had to find your favorite, can’t miss, picture book every parent should read to their children what would that be?

Madelyn: Oh, gosh, there are so many. The stories that were my favorites to read to my own kids were The Snowy Day at the beginning of winter and The Little Fur Family at the beginning of fall. We also loved Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, The Witch Next Door (a favorite of mine when I was a kid), and lots and lots of Seuss. But there are always so many wonderful new things coming out, and so many classics that are classic for a reason. What I really think is that parents need to experiment and find their own can’t-miss book – a book that is their book with their kid, the way they found their song with their high school boyfriend or girlfriend. (Well, sort of.)

Deb: While we are talking about favorites, I know that dogs and of course meerkats, would be at the top of the list at my house but what about your house? What is your favorite animal?

Madelyn: Along with dogs and meerkats, we adore cats, capybaras, lemurs, sea turtles and narwhals.

Deb: Okay, even though Limburger can be a bit touchy about this subject, I have to ask. There was an incident in the book with a skunk, that came with a shall we say, certain odor. Was that encounter based on a real life situation?

Madelyn: (Close your ears, Limburger.) Growing up, my dog certainly got sprayed – I think every dog in town did, because it was the 70s and there weren’t as many leash laws. We’ve enjoyed the company of skunks while camping as well.

Deb: Of course Alberta left a couple questions for me to ask. She wanted to know if you have any other ideas for a sequel? What about How to Behave at a Zoo? How do you choose between all the ideas?

Madelyn: I do have a long list of ideas and I hope I am fortunate enough to be able to follow up! I would like to say I have a method for choosing, but I’m going to have to plead “instinct” on that one.

Deb: I couldn’t end the interview without mentioning that you also have another sequel out,nanny x returns NANNY X RETURNS. After everyone reads HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW and they are looking for a longer read they can pick this up. How does it feel to have two books coming out at once? Do you have any special ways you like to celebrate the release of a book or two?

Madelyn: Thanks for the plug! Any time I have a book come out, it feels (for a moment, at least) that anything is possible. And, because I’m me, it also feels terrifying — the whole idea of putting your work (and yourself) out there. Having two is doubly exciting and doubly terrifying. As for celebrations: I always preach “CELEBRATE EVERYTHING.” Publishing is so up and down, you really do have to celebrate all of the good parts when they happen. But in spite of my preaching, I’ve never established any traditions. Maybe it’s time I developed some? I ordered Indian food to celebrate once. If Alberta has other suggestions, I’m all ears.

Deb: Thanks so much Madelyn. It’s been fun chatting with you. We’ll be celebrating with you on the release of your new books! On behalf of Alberta and the 32 Zoo we would like to thank Madelyn for visiting.  Make sure to check out How to Behave at a Dog Show (Official Trailer) and if you have a pet that’s best in something, you’ll want to take a look at Madelyn’s new tumblr 

Madelyn: Thanks so much to all of you!


As a journalist, Madelyn Rosenberg writes about colorful, real-life characters. As an author, she makes up characters of her own. She lives with her family in Arlington, Va.

Book Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner! One lucky person has won a signed copy of Penny Parker Klosterman’s new book, There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight.

DRAGON cover

Congratulations to . . .  Linda Phillips!

We’ll be in touch soon to send you this fabulous book.

Thanks to all who stopped by 32Zoo and left a comment.


Who Knew in the Zoo: Animals at Night

night animalsOne of the things I love most about summer are the long days.  Even though we get to stay up later than normal, I’ve always wondered what happens after we are tucked safely in our burrows for the night. When I saw the book NIGHT ANIMALS by Gianna Marino I had to read it.

In this book, there was a possum who kept passing out in fright, plus a wolf and a bear among others, all running around at night. It was a great book but I couldn’t help wonder, why are those animals awake while the rest of us are sleeping? Plus I know some things can be frightening in the dark, but why did the possum keep passing out every time he got scared? Did that have something to do with him being up all night? Of course I had to know. Guess what I found out.

Animals that are up during the night are called nocturnal. You probably knew that but did you know that there are many reasons why animals are nocturnal? Some of those reasons include the following:

  • There are fewer predators out at night.
  • There is less competition for food and water.
  • In hot climates it is much cooler to be out under the moon than under the sun.

As for the possum passing out…I found that had nothing to do with being nocturnal but rather with being scared. When a possum is threatened, its body has a defense mechanism that makes it fall into a semi-conscious state making it appear to be dead. Not to worry though, in time the possum’s body will return to normal and he’ll go on about his business.

The next time the sun starts to go down and I’m ready to go to bed, I’ll definitely remember that there is a whole group of NIGHT ANIMALS just getting up. Who knew?


Oldie But Goodie: The Fat Cat

I love trying new food. Whether it’s visiting a restaurant I’ve never been to or taking a new recipe for a spin, it’s always exciting to taste something different. But even “new” can get old, and sometimes I just want one of my favorite meals.

It works the same with picture books. Digging in to the latest book is great, but sometimes you just want to curl up with something you’ve read a million times.


One oldie-but-goodie of mine is THE FAT CAT, by Jack Kent. Based on a Danish folktale, the story follows an unassuming housecat whose appetite for new food gets a bit out of control. It all starts when an old woman asks her cat to watch over the gruel she’s cooking while she steps out for a moment.


I was never sure what “gruel” was exactly, but obviously, cats like it. The cat eats the gruel, and the pot.


But he doesn’t stop there.


The cat makes his way out into the town, coming across residents with names like “Skohottentot” (probably Dutch for “Should have stayed in bed today”) and “Skolinkenlot” (probably Dutch for “I’m more of a dog person, really”). He eats both of them.



The cat comes across a group of dancing girls at one point. You can probably guess what happens.


Finally, the cat comes across a woodcutter.


I won’t give you any spoilers, but if you’re familiar with the stories like Little Red Riding Hood, the violent nature of woodcutters, and my use of “finally” in the previous sentence, you can probably guess how the story ends.

I loved this book as a kid. From the tongue-twisting Dutch names, to Kent’s illustrations transforming the cute, jacket-wearing cat into a town-devouring behemoth, The Fat Cat kept me coming back for more.

But a big part of the book’s charm for me was the ending. Not the expected, dark ending of the cat’s fate at the woodcutter’s hands. Kent had a little more compassion for his young readers and for his cat protagonist. The final illustration of the book provides what I considered the real ending. Normally I wouldn’t post a spoiler for the end of a book, but since The Fat Cat is out of print, I think it’s ok. But I’ll make you click through to see it, in case you’d rather avoid the spoiler. Take a look here, and remember not to let your appetite get the best of you!



Do your little calves love Fancy Nancy?

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Here’s a fun game to get them all yelling “Moo-la-la!”

  1. Read your favorite Fancy Nancy book together. Or, if you have a long summer day stretching out in front of you, read a whole bunch of Fancy Nancy books.
  2. Divide into two teams. You and your child could each be a team, or you can have larger teams if you have a whole group of kids.
  3. Make two piles with equal numbers of fancy accessories—anything that Nancy would love! Hats, glasses, jewelry, capes, eye patches, fairy wings, etc. Just make sure the accessories are one-size-fits-all.
  4. Choose a starting line. Put each pile of accessories a nice long distance away from your starting line.
  5. Each team should assemble at the starting line. If you have multiple players per team, form lines.
  6. When you yell GO, each person at the front will run to a pile, grab an accessory, put it on, and run back to the starting line.
  7. If you are playing with only two players, each player will touch the line and then run back for the next accessory. If you are playing in larger teams, each returning player will tag the next player in line.
  8. The first team to use up every accessory in the pile and tag the starting line again wins!   Make sure to snap a picture of you and your little calves all fancied up. I’d love to see them.  MOO-LA-LA!



Coach Cow

Monster Interviews Old Dragon + A Giveaway!


Monster excited. Monster interview Old Dragon from THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, by Penny Parker Klostermann and illustrated by Ben Mantle. Plus we give away SIGNED COPY of book. (*Book not signed by Dragon, but by Penny Parker Klostermann, which is still cool.) 

DRAGON cover

It is a funny retelling of nursery rhyme, The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. But, in this case, it a dragon who swallow knights, squires and a whole bunch more. Monster like very much.

For chance to win signed copy, please leave a comment below. Winner will be chosen randomly.

Now here interview:

Welcome, Dragon. First of all, congratulation for starring in new book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT.  I like all the swallowing of humans. Is good. So what it like to be a character in a book?

Delicious. Scrumptious. Fulfilling. Satisfying.


Do you think illustrator, Ben Mantle, do good job depicting your likeness? What he get right? What he get wrong?

Tasty cook!

Tasty Cook!


Ben Mantle got it all right. He depicts my handsomeness, my fearlessness, and my awesome dragon hunger. And Ben is funny. Did you see me peppering the cook as the cook was peppering whatever goodness he was cooking up in that pot?

Ben thought that up and that’s funny! And did you see that he gave me a bib to wear while swallowing the castle? Ben again. Funny again. Yep, he’s great.


Did you ever consider swallowing Ben?

No! I’d never swallow Ben no matter what. He made me a star. That’s gotta count for something, Dude.


If you could have written this story instead of Penny Parker Klostermann, what would be different? What would you change about story?

I would not bring manners into the story. Who says a dragon should be polite? I rule! No etiquette for this old dragon. So I would change this:

ThereWasOldDragon It's not polite!

Dragon prefers rudeness.

There was an old dragon who swallowed a knight.

I don’t know why he swallowed a knight.

“It’s not polite!”


There was an old dragon who swallowed a knight.

It doesn’t matter why he swallowed a knight

and it doesn’t matter if the dragon’s polite.

I know that messes up the meter but it is my book!


You swallow many thing in this book, from a knight to squire to castle. What your favorite thing to swallow? What worst thing?

My favorite thing to swallow was the knight. I love knights. Fried knights. Boiled knights. Grilled knights. Sautéed knights. Baked knights. You get the picture? And the worst was the steed. No doubt. Oh how I wished that steed would stop the clippity, clippity, clop! But he didn’t. It gave me indigestion! Heartburn! It was enough to drive this dragon crazy!


Dragons, like monsters, are usually portrayed as bad evil creature. Any truth to stereotype? Why the bad rap?

Bad? Evil? Why no. No truth to that. Humans probably say this because I swallow lots of things, including them. But have you watched them? Always stuffing their mouths. I bet they would swallow me if I didn’t swallow them first. Then they would be portrayed as bad evil creature.


Now you famous dragon. You star in book. Do you meet other well-known dragons? Like at party? Give gossip! What Puff really like? Do he really do magic? Have you met Smaug yet? 

I’m just starting to get invitations so I’ve met a few. There was a red carpet event last week at the Luxurious Lair (famous dragon hangout). I did get to speak with Puff and it was pretty magical. He made my tail disappear. It scared me for a minute, but then POOF! it was back. Haven’t met Smaug yet. I hear he’s pretty smug. I think the fame may have gone to his head.


As many reader of blog know, Monster love burping. And this book contain one of the **spoiler alert** greatest burps in all of children’s literature. It a thing of beauty. Make me teary-eyed just thinking about it, it so magnificent. Did you do anything special to prepare for this epic belch?

Thanks, Monster. Thanks a bunch. I’m so proud of my burp. It is epic, huh? I spent a lot of time preparing and trying to get it just right. Finally I discovered the tail twist. You should try it, Monster. Ready? Concentrate. Twist. Twist. A little more . . .


WOW! Great job, Monster. I think that was an epic burp, too.


Thanks. So what is next for Dragon? Any more plans to swallow stuff?

Well, you may have noticed a few bones and skulls in the book so you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you this wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been doing this a long time. And every time my book is read I will go on another swallowing spree. That’s my plan. One good knight after another. Oh! And I guess it’s OK to share this. I’m going to have my own reality TV show. It’s called So You Think You Can Burp? I hope you’ll be a guest. Have your guy call my guy.


Thank you for a great interview, Dragon!

Thanks for having me, Monster.


PPK_0615_RGB_HR_02Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too. Penny lives in Abilene, TX. Find out more about Penny on her website-




To win a copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT signed by Penny Parker Klostermann, please leave a comment below before August 31! A winner will be chosen at random.

Who Knew in the Zoo: Talking Birds




One morning when the sun told me it was time for me to climb out of my burrow, I decided it was a good time to read. When I saw a parrot, a dog, and a cat all on the cover of a book called GOOD MORNINgood-morning-to-me-9781481403696_thG TO ME, by Lita Judge, I had to read it. I settled into the morning sunbeam and cracked open the book.

What I saw next, I should’ve expected, but I didn’t. There, right on the first page, the parrot talked. Words. Human words. And it kept talking through the whole book. But how and why would a parrot talk? Of course I had to know. You’ll never believe what I found out.

  • In the wild, parrots mimic each other’s calls in order to socialize and communicate.
  • When a parrot comes to live with a human, it naturally wants to fit in. Therefore a parrot will mimic the sound of the human’s call or words and begin talking.
  • Parrots don’t have vocal chords like humans, but they are able to “talk” using the same method that they use to make the native sounds of chirping and squealing. Parrots use their throat muscles to direct airflow to make certain sounds, including “talking.”

I guess if a meerkat can run on two feet like a human, it shouldn’t be surprising that a parrot can talk like a human. So the next time I hear a parrot say “Good morning to me,” I’ll say “Good morning to you too.” Who Knew?

Easy BugaBees Crunchies


Greetings, friends! Meet the BugaBees: Cricket is allergic to peanuts; Beetle is allergic to milk; Ladybug is allergic to fish; Caterpillar is allergic to wheat; Butterfly is allergic to shellfish; Firefly is allergic to tree nuts; Bumblebee is allergic to eggs; Dragonfly is allergic to soy. In THE BUGABEES: FRIENDS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES, by Amy Recob, readers learn about eight little bug friends and how they cope with their food allergies. The back of the book also has activities and talking points for kids. A portion of the proceeds from each sale helps fund food allergy research, treatment, and prevention! Hooray! In honor of my little buggy friends, I present a yummy allergy-friendly recipe: Easy BugaBees Crunchies! Get ready for a special snack that is free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, and peanuts.



  • 1 can of chickpeas (***Check the label carefully! Some brands of chickpeas are processed on equipment with allergens.) 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas.
  3. Using a clean towel, pat the chickpeas until dry.
  4. In a small bowl, mix chickpeas and olive oil.
  5. Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet or stoneware.
  6. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and garlic.


Enjoy, friends! CHOMP, CHOMP!



Do you all know The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort, with illustrations by the fabulous G. Brian Karas?

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This book is perfect for getting kids moooving!

First, read the book with your little calves.  Ask them what other animals could be added to the song.  The cows on the bus, perhaps?  “The cows on the bus go moo moo moo….” Or “The warthogs on the bus go snort snort snort.”  Or maybe “The dinosaurs on the bus go stomp, stomp, stomp” (But my friend Listasaurus wants you to know that she doesn’t stomp–she struts).

After singing through any extra animals you want to add, tell your calves that it is time to switch to moooovements!

Here are some examples: “The animals on the bus do jumping jacks, jumping jacks, jumping jacks.”  Or “The animals on the bus all run in place, run in place, run in place.”  Or “The animals on the bus jump up so high, up so high, up so high.”

Act out the movements together while you sing.  Soon you will all be moooving and grooving!


Coach Cow



Rude Cakes

by Rowboat Watkins

(Chronicle, 2015)



Monsters love all things rude. Bad behavior. Insults. Not saying please. I especially like belching at inappropriate times. These make Monster so happy.

So you can imagine how excited I be when I find book Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins. I snatch it right out of little kid’s hand. Hahahaahaha! That girl not happy. She cry. But book about being rude, so is okay.

So what you think a book called Rude Cakes be about?

Rude cakes, of course. What else you think? Is right there in title. Sheesh.

And it no disappoint. Starts right off with a pink cake being rude. He not say please, he take things, he no take turns. He my hero. Of course, kids reading book will think is funny. The ruder the cake behaves the funnier it is. Plus, did I mention, it a cake! A cake. Being rude. ‘Nuff said.

But then things take turn. Cake is in for rude awakening. Giant Cyclopses arrive to teach him a lesson. Turns out these giant cyclopses LOVE rude cakes. But not how you expect. In a very silly twist that I won’t ruin here, the cyclopses demonstrate how to be nice and polite.

Monster can hardly believe this. Polite monsters???? I need to sit down. My world is shaken.

Despite the fact that this book has polite one-eyed monsters in it, this monster LOVES Rude Cakes. And if you like silly, absurd, hilarious books, you will, too.

Maybe I should give book back to little girl I took from?

No. HA HA HA. Trick question. This monster prefer <BELCH> his cakes to be rude.