Archive - 2013

A Shark in Minnesota?
Family-Friendly Ideas for New Year’s Eve
Christmas Week Wish List
The Free List – Decemember 27 – 29, 2013
The Weekend-Prior-to-Christmas Wish List
Wood From the Hood
Childish Films: Gruffalo’s Child
The Great Santa Chase
Weekend Free List for December 14 – 15, 2013
Introducing Deborah Jo Larson, Local Author of One Frozen Lake

A Shark in Minnesota?

Less than a mile from my house is the biggest snow scultpure I have ever seen.  It literally covers an entire front yard.

And it’s a shark.


A 16 foot high shark.

Built by 19 year old Austin, 15 year old Connor, and 18 year old Trevor the massive shark is their 2013 labor of snow love.  This isn’t their first endeavor.  In the winter of 2011, the Bartz boys (then 17, 13, and 16) debuted their first work of art — a giant puffer fish — in their front yard.  Last year, they built a 15 foot walrus. And this year their 16 foot shark.

They determined that creating this sculpture has taken them at least 95 hours, and they have been working on it for the past month hauling snow in their sleds from their neighbors’ yards.  Those 95 hours do not include the planning time.   They usually  look online for their inspiration.  The guys want something that takes a lot of creativity and is distinguished so as you drive past, you can easily see what it is.  And each year they get bigger.


Along with building the shark, the Bartz brothers have also created a viewing area for the public, and they welcome the public to come check it out.  They love to make people happy, and if there is one thing this shark does is make people happy.

Even my sister-in-law visiting from North Carolina ventured into the subzero temperatures, the shark luring her out of the van and into the elements to get a closer look.

They have been featured on the local news stations and even on the Today Show. 

photo 5

Plans are already in the works for next year.    These guys are proof that kids still like to play outside!

Thanks, Austin, Trevor, and Connor for the innocent, creative, and exciting family fun you bring to the Twin Cities

Just take a look at how their Snow Shark Progression Video.


If you want to check out the Bartz’s Giant Snow Shark in person, you can find it on the 2700 block of 16th Street NW in New Brighton, just west of Silver Lake Road.

If you want to see their past creations, you can check out these WCCO Interviews.

The Puffer Fish

The Walrus



Family-Friendly Ideas for New Year’s Eve

Seeking out a few places to celebrate New Year’s Eve before the little ones crash? Here are a few ideas of where to party before bedtime:

Re’ZOO’lution: Como Zoo’s Noon Year’s Celebration
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
December 31, 2013 & January 1, 2014
10am – 1pm; FREE!

Ring in the New Year with two kid-friendly celebration at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Visitor Center. Radio Disney will provide live entertainment on 12/31; KidsDance performs 1/1. There will also be crafts, dancing, giveaways, animal talk and a special ball drop at noon!

Toddler Tuesdays: New Year’s Eve Toddler Bash
Mall of America
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
10am – noon; FREE!

The longtime Toddler Tuesdays program gears up for the New Year this week at their regular timeslot with treats, party favors and a toddler countdown at noon. For older partygoers, Nickelodeon Universe is hosting a Moonlight Circus from 6pm – midnight. It appears the ball drop, games and live entertainment are free; add an unlimited ride wristband for (significantly) more ($30.99).

Wells Fargo WinterSkate
Landmark Plaza, 75 5th St, St. Paul
Open New Year’s Eve until 1am
Free skating, skate rental $2 or free with
Wells Fargo bank card

Skate into the New Year in beautiful Rice Park, Downtown St. Paul.

New Year’s Eve ‘Ohana Lū’au
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Tuesday, December 31 • 5 – 9 p.m.
$10/member, $14/non-member

Celebrate this New Year’s Eve at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Hawaiian style. Dance to live music from Will Hale and the Tadpole Parade, create your own lei, construct a one-of-a-kind sand castle, and countdown to our 8 p.m. beach ball drop. Dress up in Hawaiian attire if desired. Registration is recommended; space is limited. A party meal (sandwich, drink, carrots, fruit & cookie) is available for $4 plus tax  per person from 5 – 8.45pm.

Candlelight and Ice
Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lake Shore Dr., Richfield
Tuesday, December 31, 6 – 9pm

Celebrate the New Year at Wood Lake! Follow hundreds of candle-lit luminaries on a walking trail through cattails and trees while on the lookout for deer, fox, and owls. Enjoy roast marshmallows and hot cocoa. Make a craft, play a game, or just sit back and relax.

Christmas Week Wish List

It’s the weekend between Christmas and New Years Day.  Things tend to be quiet this weekend, but there are a few things on my Wish List going on this weekend.

pippiPippi Longstocking Movie

American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Saturday, December 28, 2013 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Price included with Museum Admission
$9 / adults $7 / ages 62 and above $5 / ages 6-18 and full-time students with ID
Free/ ASI members and kids ages 5 and under

We are into all things Swedish this Christmas.  Pippi Longstocking is a 9 year old Swedish girl, so this is a perfect time to introduce her to my third-grade daughter.  The American Swedish Institute is showoing the Pippi Longstocking movie on Saturday.  Afterwards, children can make a “thing finder” to explore the museum with.  I thought this would pair nicely with a trip to the Red Balloon Bookshop or The Wild Rumpus to get a copy of Pippi Longstockings to read.  They both carry the paperback version (that looks like the picture to the left) for $6.99.

ChooChooBob_365x200Choo Choo Bob’s Great RiverCentre Train Show

Saint Paul RiverCentre – Exhibit Hall A, 175 West Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Saturday and Sunday, December 28-29, 2013; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Admission is $8.00 and children ages 7 and under are free.

Everyone who is anyone will be going to the Choo Choo Bob Train Show at the RiverCentre this weekend. this weekend.  It’s so stock full of cool train activities, it’s got to be every little boys dream.  Tickets to this would have made a good stocking stuffer (doh!).  Some of the activities your family can enjoy are:

Model railroad displays in all gauges.

  •     Model train vendors.
  •     Three FREE inflatables…jump ’til you drop.
  •     FREE ride-on train for the kids.
  •     Multiple Thomas the Tank Engine play tables.
  •     Children’s activity area.
  •     Railroad museums and authors will have displays.
  •     The Choo Choo Bob Show will be performing live on stage. Meet the cast members, sing along to your favorite songs and enjoy the live show.

MCM_ExteriorCreativity Jam

Minnesota Children’s Museum, 10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102
Ends January 26, 2014
Admission: $9.50/pp

This exhibit is coming to and end soon.  There is one more Free Sunday before it’s done and January is not a bad month to attend the Target Free Third Sunday.  But since this is my Wish List.  I would like to visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum once when its not a free day.  This exhibit appeals to me more than the licensed character exhibits that have been popping up more and more often.  MCM wants our hlep in developing exciting, unique programs and exhibits. While you are there give them input and feedback on experiences while exercising your own critical thinking skills.  Some of the hands-on areas include:

  • “Change”: Over-sized art and construction projects encourage children to communicate, work together and to build off and add onto others’ work. Visitors can use stickers, paint, lights and other materials to transform a “big white room” into what they imagine or hunt through a clean and safe “junk yard” to find the perfect object take apart and put back together again.
  • “Make”: In a “maker space,” children design, engineer and build projects of their own choosing using authentic tools and materials. Adults and children can create something new with sewing machines or get an up-close look at how electricity works with circuits, batteries and conductors.
  • “Create”: A unique arts programming and exhibit hybrid will get minds and hands moving as families participate in recycled cardboard challenges or ramp play where children can use ramps of all sizes and objects to test how things roll, move, slide and fall.
  • “Collaborate”: Families can test out new exhibit concepts, provide real-time feedback and insights, both offline and online, and share their own experiences and ideas as they contribute, collaborate and co-create in a “Museum Lab.”

Joy Peters is a co-creator and writer for

The Free List – Decemember 27 – 29, 2013

This is a good weekend to avoid shopping unless you are a power shopper.  We’re still eating Christmas leftovers, so we’re not even going to grocery shop this weekend.  There’s always cleaning and laundry, but who really wants to do that?  Here are a few fun things to do — even if you blew your budget on Christmas.


S’mores & More – Outreach –  Outdoor Fun!

Gro Tonka Park,  17003 Prospect Place, Minnetonka
Friday, December 27, 2013; 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
My family goal is to spend more time outdoors this winter.  So far, I’m not doing too well — although the kids are getting out there.  This looks like a great way to get outside this weekend.  The Hopkins-Minnetonka Recreation Service and Three Rivers Park District are teaming up to offer a night of  ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing and kick-sledding with hot chocolate and s’mores by the fire. Bring your own skates and a chair to sit by the bonfire. Registration is not required and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate.  If you are unsure, call 952.939.8355 to check on any weather cancellations.





State Capital LEGO® Model Display – History with a Playful Twist

Minnesota State Capital, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155
Saturday, December 28, 2013; 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Tours: 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Visiting the Minnesota State Capitol has been on my bucket list for some time now.  Seeing the LEGO® model is only part of my incentive.  This weekend is a good weekend to do this in my household as we have an overseas house guest.  However, just getting there for ourselves would be interesting.  Besides the LEGO® replica of the capitol, I would like to go on one of thef free guided tours of the building.  That part will probably be of most interest to the adults and maybe the grade schooler, but the little ones get to see hte LEGO® model, so hopefully it will go well.   😀  Image Credit:


Make Yourself A(t) Home

North side of University between Hamline and Syndicate on the former Midway Chevrolet site
Saturday, December 28, 2013; 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This is a last-minute addition.  I just happened to see it in my Facebook feed.  The Facebook invite says “Invite only”, but I checked and it is a public event.  Stop by or, if you want an invite, go friend Leo’s Loft and ask for an invite.   This is the information from the invite:

“Free event to celebrate HOME! Make projects in a giant inflatable structure, Play Yard games in the snow and Create a cardboard replica of the 108 affordable Housing units that PPL will build on this very site this spring! Leonardo’s Basement in partnership with ARTIFY – Bringing the Arts to Hamline Station and Irrigate and Project for Pride in Living and Springboard for the Arts The fun will happen on the former University Avenue Midway Chevrolet site (Hamline and University Aves, across from Target).  Puppets ‘n’ People will be there as well doing a project called Seven Steps Around the House! Come help make a puppet show, take in some giant puppets, and do some fun projects.”

eastmanRecycled Bird Feeders – Something to do with Your Milk Cartons

Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Road,  Dayton, MN 55369
Sunday, December 29, 2013; 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Eastman Nature Center is hosting a drop-in event on Sunday. Bring a milk carton (or 3) and turn them into birdfeeders.  You can even learn which birdseed attracts which birds. This program is recommended for ages 5 and up, but I’m sure there is something for the younger crowd to do while the older ones make birdfeeders.  Image Credit: Three Rivers Parks.Org

I know I’ve shared this often, but it is cool.  Click the picture below to go to an Interactive Bird Song Poster courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.  This would be fun to have nearby while you watch the birds in your new bird feeder.

Birds variety all backyard



The Weekend-Prior-to-Christmas Wish List

Anticipation is in the air and you are probably trying to get your holiday traditions started or your presents wrapped.  I know for me, I went crazy baking today.  I was going nowhere but my kitchen.  However, this weekend hopefully all but wrapping will be finished (dare I say I will have my husband’s gifts purchased?), so the holiday festivities can begin.

And the weekend has some great ideas to start the celebrations off right!

giftstore christmas treeA Victorian Christmas at the Ramsey House
The Alexander Ramsey House
Friday, December 20, 2013 10:00 am-3:30 pm
Saturday, December 21, 2013  10:00 am-3:30 pm
Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:00-3:30 pm
Tour the Alexander Ramsey House , listen to the Steinway piano, taste cookies baked in the wood stove, examine original ornaments and gifts enjoyed by the Ramsey family.


1475887_10152064339954120_1408700883_nHide and Seek with Tomte
American Swedish Institute
Saturday, December 21, 2013 10:30 am and 1:00 pm
$10 (morning hunt for preschoolers and afternoon hunt for ages K-2)
Search for Tomte and learn about this Swedish tradition through stories, crafts, and activities.

Winter Solstice Celebration
American Swedish Institute
Saturday, December 21, 2013  3:00-8:00 pm
Included with museum admission $5-$9
Bonfires in the Enchanted Forest, tours of the mansion, and FIKA (read food) will be available for purchase during the extended hours for Winter Solstice.


Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
St. Mary’s Basilica
Friday, December 20, 2013 8:00 pm
Go here to get more information about tickets.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Closing Weekend
Steppingstone Theatre
Friday, December 20, 2013 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 21, 2013  2:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Sunday, December 22, 2013 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Monday, December 23, 2013 7:00 pm
You aren’t going to want to miss this.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wood From the Hood

woodfromthehoodcollageHere’s another unique idea for Christmas that you may want to consider.  While it’s doesn’t have many kid-friendly products, your family is not solely children and you would be hard-pressed to find something this unique.

Let me introduce you to Wood From the Hood.


Rick and Cindy Siewart began Wood From the Hood in 2008 with their partner Jon Buck when an Ash tree was taken down from their yard. They didn’t want to lose it to a landfill, so instead they chose to repurpose it.  They had 25 years in the commercial cabinetry business and had an idea to save the trees in the metro.  Save them in an unconventional way.

Trees from the neighborhood may need to be removed, but they can be reclaimed and used for high-quality wood products.

  • Custom-made tables,
  • flooring,
  • picture frames,
  • cribbage boards,
  • cutting boards,
  • growth charts,
  • Minnesota ornaments
  • and more.

growth chart2One of their best sellers is the growth chart.  Since they can use almost any type of wood, the growth charts are all unique, and the customer can choose the style they like best.  They measure from 18 inches to six feet, four inches.  They are  six inches wide at the base, made of natural wood, and are available finished and unfinished.  All the mounting hardware comes with your purchase.  These growth charts are a simple and yet beautiful addition to a bedroom or a family gathering room.

Cindy explains how they came up with the idea for the growth charts. “When we bought our house, the previous owners had measured their children on the door jam(like so many people do). We told them we where remodeling and they where welcome to take the door jam with all the memories of their children’s height. They didn’t remove it so we took it off and stuck it outside. It stuck up along the fence for awhile so we looked out at it often. Then one day our idea was born.”

It was difficult for Cindy to choose a favorite product, but after some hemming and hawing, she finally settled on their cutting boards. She chose them because they get used the most frequently and they are so unique and similar all at the same time.

The one thing that sets Wood From the Hood apart from other companies is that they take each of their products from the log all the way through manufacturing.  And their stuff is high-end quality.

You can purchase their products from Wood From the Hood’s website store or a variety of retailers around the twin cities including



images are courtesy of Wood From the Hood, used with permission


Childish Films: Gruffalo’s Child

gruffalo's childChildish Films – The Gruffalo’s Child
Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Doors open at 10 am for seating, snacks, and hands-on activities. Live pre-show performances begin at 10:30 am.

Childish Films is one of my favorite ongoing family activities in the Twin Cities.  It can get a little crowded and the overflow room is NOT as much fun as Pohlad Hall.  Family activities tend to be scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings.  I have to assume this is a great time for most families — not mine.  The addition of aiming to get their early so we can get good seats makes this a much less frequent activity for my family than I would like, but when we do get there it is a fun, relaxed outing.  Afterwards, we can hang out in the children’s section, explore downtown or just hop a bus home.

Another reason to get there early — besides the good seats — is cookies!!  You and your child can decorate cookies with Whole Foods before the show.  Whole Foods also provides snacks.

This month’s show is The Gruffalo’s Child — a sequel to the Gruffalo — both based on books by Julia DonaldsonCommonsense Media gives this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommends it for age 2 and up (with slight reservations on scariness for the very young and consumerism).  You can read the full review HERE.

Since we haven’t seen either of these films, I was hoping to catch the first one on Netflix before Saturday.  It’s not available.  However, you can find portions of it on YouTube along with a reading of the book.  Plus you can see the trailer for The Gruffalo’s child.  See below.

If you would like to make a full Gruffalo day, Toddler Approved has 20 Gruffalo Themed Activities HERE.  These activities range from costumes to games to recipes,

Childish Films @ the Library is a free program of children’s cinema and arts for all ages. Each screening features a pre-show activity, an educational introduction, and complimentary healthy snacks. Admission is free with open seating to the public. Most films are best enjoyed by ages 3 and older, but children and people of all ages are welcome to attend. If you have specific questions about the content of a particular film, please e-mail our curators. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 612.543.8107 for more information.

Joy Peters is a co-creator and writer for

The Great Santa Chase

We don’t always get everything right here on Family Fun Twin Cities.  We try to be accurate as possible, but when we have 11 children, a full-time job outside the home, Christmas preparations, and other daily activities, we sometimes get things wrong.

And for that, I sincerely apologize.

But sometimes even the mistakes can be a lot of fun. Case in point–our weekend adventure.

I was postive the Twinkle Parade in Stillwater was rescheduled for Saturday.  Joy posted the reschedule date for Sunday, Anne had posted the reschedule date for Sunday, and I–Gianna–went on KTIS and said it was Saturday.  I was so convinced it was Saturday that I bundled 3 of my 4 children into their snow gear, dropped the fourth at her friend’s house, and drove out to Stillwater.

After I parked the car, woke up my three year old snoozer, and loaded my backpack onto my back, the four of us trekked across the snow-covered parking lot, snowpants swishing with each step.

The meeting location looked a little too desolate for a parade, but we continued until we reached the restaurant.  That’s when I saw the sign.

“Twinkle Parade has be rescheduled for Sunday, December 15 at 4:00.”

“Aww!  Really!?”  I felt the defenses of a mom who just drove 30  miles to give her children a fun and unique Christmas experience rise to the surface. “Okay, guys.  I guess it’s tomorrow.  That’s a bummer.”

A chorus of disappointed sighs followed me as we turned on our heels, but for once, no one complained.  They dutifully followed me back to our vehicle.  Then, I heard a little voice, “so we don’t get to see Santa?”

Let me just be honest right now.  My children do not believe in Santa Claus.  We think it’s a very fun story and  like the make believe of it, but my children know it’s a tale.  In fact, my three year old has told me multiple times that the real Santa is dead  (I just go along with it since St. Nicholas IS dead).  But even so, the Twinkle Parade followed by a visit from Santa Claus is just too exciting to not be a part of.

I tucked everyone back into their seats, and we drove out of the Stillwater parking lot.  I was not exactly sure what I was going to do to make it up to my little ones.  As we pulled to a stop at one of the intersections of downtown, I saw Santa in front me.  Just walking across the street!  He was waving at every car and pedestrian and calling out, “Merry Christmas!”

DSCF8684“Jack!  Jack!  Do you see Santa?”  I asked.

“Where?”  Jack was frantic.  He couldn’t see the jolly old elf.

It was then I made my decision.  We were going to get to Santa!  My kids would get a special visit from him.  No matter what it took.

I pulled out of the intersection and around the block hoping to cut him off before he got too far away.  We were 20 yards away when we thought we had him cornered, and suddenly he disappeared out of sight.  I thought he had gone into a building.  We drove through another parking lot to turn around when Tori, who is seven, yelled.

DSCF8683“I saw him!”

“Where is he?”

“He’s back there!” Tori said.

“Back where?” I asked.

“Back there!”

“Tori, I have no idea what back there means!”

“He’s back where we were, Mom!” she exclaimed, angry at me for not believing her.

I whipped around a corner and Dash shouted, “I see him!”


“He’s right over there.  I saw a big blob of red! Really!  I did, Mom!”

By this point I had given up hope. My children were delusional.  They wanted to see Santa so badly that they were just seeing things.

“I believe you, Buddy.  But I think it’s too late. I don’t know if I can find him anymore.”  I resigned myself to the fact that it was a lost cause.

I started to head out of Stillwater passing yet another parking lot when I glanced over my shoulder and something red caught my eye.

‘There he is!”  I skidded into the parking lot and drove straight at Santa.

My van crunched to a stop on the packed snow, and I hopped out. “Can my kids say hi?”

“Certainly!”  Santa said as he strolled forward to our van.  The parking lot was empty except for a few cars.

It was just us and Santa.


I opened the door for him and he was assaulted with giddy smiles.

“What do you want for Christmas?”  he asked.

One by one he was given the answer “An IPad.”  Really?  When did my children become so worldly?

Santa looked at me and said, “Looks like its IPads all around, Mom!”

After taking the time to listen to each one of my kids, he was on his way. The Christmas magic had settled into our hearts, and we drove in peace for a couple minutes.

The spell was soon broken when I heard, “Mom!  I have to go to the bathroom.”


Merry Christmas, Santa!




Weekend Free List for December 14 – 15, 2013

Have some downtime this weekend between the holiday preparations and shopping? Here are a few ideas for spending it before things really get crazy:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Free Pancake Breakfast with Santa
Chatterbox Pub
800 Cleveland Ave S., St. Paul

9 – 11am (reservations required)

Bring along a gift donation to Toys for Tots or a food shelf item to enjoy free pancakes with Santa. RSVP required for this fun annual event – call 651-699-1154. Keep in mind that Chatterbox St. Paul also does a delicious Sunday brunch and entertains kid with shelves of board games and old-school Nintendos.

Free Second Saturday at
The Bakken Museum

3537 Zenith Avenue S., Minneapolis
11am – 4pm

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this freebie before — it’s so worth a trip to this quirky museum that explores electricity and magnetism. This Second Saturday is all about bridging art and science with hands-on (and possibly messy) fun!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa’s Workshop
Landmark Center
75 5th St, St Paul

1 – 2pm

Kids can craft homemade holiday gifts for family and friends right along with Santa Claus. Plus, learn about holiday customs around the world.

Stillwater Annual Twinkle Parade
begins at the Dock Café
425 Nelson St E., Stillwater, MN
4 – 6pm

The Teddy Bear Band kicks off the festivities at the Dock Café, then all are invited to march the parade route to the Lowell Park Gazebo for the tree lighting ceremony and Santa’s arrival on a fire truck (a Stillwater thing?) Free treats provided.

Target Free Sundays
Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul
9am – 5pm

Check out the Minnesota Children’s Museum’s newest exhibits — Blue Man Group: Making Waves and Creativity Jam — for FREE this Sunday courtesy of Target. And if the grandparents are still pondering what to gift your little ones with this Christmas, consider a Children’s Museum membership for a year’s worth of free admission!

As always, please check out our Free Calendar for more fun family activities this weekend and beyond.

Introducing Deborah Jo Larson, Local Author of One Frozen Lake

I know we are getting down to the Christmas wire.  Less than two weeks away.  Some of us may be frantic to find the perfect gift for our little ones.

For those in deep need of a meaningful gift–for any age– I present the perfect gift.

I know right now you are saying, “Of course, you think it’s perfect, Gianna!  It’s a book.  You think all books are perfect!”

You are right.  I do.  And I am right.  They are.

So now that everything is cleared up, let’s continue.

main_ImageDeborah Jo Larson has written the most beautiful book ever written on one of the most deplorable past-times known to man–ice fishing.  My husband loves it.  My dad and brother love it.  There are millions of men around the world who love this sport.  I cannot understand why anyone in their right mind would choose to go sit on the ice for hours on end (it doesn’t even matter how nice the shelter is), drill a hole in the ice, and put a line in the water through that hole.  On top of everything, you are expected to be overjoyed when you catch a wee bass.

I don’t get it.  But even so, I love this book.  And if you have an ice fisherperson or a child or someone who wants to understand the mind of a Minnesotan better, this is the book for you.  It really is beautiful.  The word pictures and the illustrations are gorgeous.  And by the end of the book, even I, the skeptical-you-are-never-getting-me-to-ice-fish person that I am, wanted know if they were going to catch a fish.

Deborah Jo Larson has quite a story to tell about how she became an author.

She is a native Minnesotan who began her writing career on stage, but I’ll let her tell you about it.

I was born in St. Paul, MN. I began my career as a playwright and puppeteer, enjoying a string of sold-out performances in my parent’s garage, only to learn later in life that the audience came mainly for my mom’s free popcorn…  But I continued my creative journey nonetheless and was thrilled to sell my first picture book, One Frozen Lake, to the MN Historical Society Press, a mere 40 years later.

Currently, she is self-employed consultant for PR, Marketing, and Events which allows her the flexibility to continue writing. She lives in Woodbury, MN with her husband, two teenage children and a “bossy Miniature Schnauzer named Oliver.”  

I spend my free time reading, gardening, antiquing and enjoying the outdoors. I bait my own hook (except for leeches – I have to draw the line somewhere!) 

Her journey as an author has not been all peaches and cream. She began writing by taking classes through the Loft Literary Center (I have been doing that recently and am so happy to have met her Deb Larson personally!).  After taking classes for 10 years, Deb’s story looks like this: 

I won a Shabo Award for picture book writing from the Loft  in 2007. 

My first fiction story (Halloween on Hickory Street) appeared in Stories for Children Magazine in 2009.  This story is very special to me as it is based on my childhood best friend, who passed away of a brain tumor at a very young way (20).  I believe that somewhere, somehow she had something to do with the story’s publication which sparked my journey as a published author.  Since then I have had another story published in Stories for Children Magazine, Don’t Look For a Moose.  

Then in 2012 my first picture book, One Frozen Lake, was published by the MN Historical Society.  The book went on to win the 2012 International Reading Association Book Award, a tremendous honor for which I thank everyone involved with the book (Editor Shannon Pennefeather and illustration team of Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher).
My first e-book, Where is Apple Pie, is schedule for release this month by Meegenius Publishing.  I have two other manuscripts undergoing the editorial review process.  The waiting game does not get any easier!
Why do you like children’s literature, Deb?
First, I love the rhythmic language – it’s a lot like writing poetry.  I have also loved seeing my text brought to life through illustration by the incredibly talented artists I have worked with.  And I love telling the stories about my favorite childhood memories as well as those of my children.  Finally, it is so much fun to read my book to children, experience their wonder and field their interesting questions (“Do any dinosaurs live under the ice?”, “No”, “Not even T-Rexes?”) 
Tell us more about yourself! 
  • What work are you most thrilled about?  Both One  Frozen Lake, as my first picture book, and Halloween on Hickory Street as a tribute to my childhood best friend.  I am also pretty excited about a middle grade book I am currently working on.
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?  I wanted to be a teacher.
  • What do you like best about living in the Twin Cities?  I love being a short drive to parks, lakes and rivers, yet have access to plenty of culture, arts and delicious restaurants.  Plus the anticipation for each of the seasons, even winter.  
  • What are some of your favorite activities to do as a family?  
    My children are teenagers now, so shopping is high on the list…  When they were young, we loved to take car trips – be it just for a weekend on the North Shore or all the way to Yellowstone.  A 12-hour car ride is a great way to bond.  We laugh a lot.  
  • What is your favorite restaurant in town? There are so many it’s hard to pick one!  Right now I am craving San Pedro Cafe in Hudson, WI.
  • What is one thing you would never be caught dead doing?  Buy a store-bought costume. 
  • What is one thing you have always wanted to do but have never been able to?  Travel to Europe.  (I knew I liked this lady!)

The pictures in One Frozen Lake were created by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher who worked on Dr. Suess’s My Many Colored Days.  And they are really gorgeous!  You can pick up One Frozen Lake on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or one of our local bookstores– Wild Rumpus, Red Balloon Bookshop, The Bookcase.

Did I mention that it’s a perfect gift?


book_coverOne Frozen Lake 
by Deborah Jo Larson
Published by Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012

images courtesy of Deborah Jo Larson, used with permission


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