Meet Children's and Michigan Author Leslie Helakoski (Doggone Feet!)

Mar 12 2013 6:30 pm

From Leslie’s website ( 

"I grew up in Louisiana in the middle of 6 brothers and sisters.  Many of the things we did growing up come out in my stories.  Like smashing into tight places and running through cow pastures, for example.  Once, my sister convinced me that a nutria hole in the banks of the bayou would make a good camp and after I was in, wouldn't let me out.  See, lots of material. 

I was very good at imagining that I was someone else doing something else and I loved to read and draw.  As a teen, I thought about writing a novel and made several attempts.  The words always sounded better in my head than they did on paper. (This still happens). 

Growing up in a French speaking area increased my love for language in all forms.  I loved how the way a word sounded could make me laugh and how arranging letters and words in a particular order could make them funny or interesting or bizarre.  I think that it's possible to say anything or tell any story, as long as you phrase it in a certain way.  Since my words don't always come out of my mouth the way I want them to or even when I want them to, I write.  Because one of the things that delights me about writing is that I can come up with the right words later - - sometimes much later. 

I spent years working in my parent's "Thinking School", a specialized pre-school,  while I went to college and learned the importance of combining learning with fun.  I received a degree in Advertising from the University of Louisiana and went on to work in several cities. (See illustration below). 

Eventually, I  followed my heart to Michigan's Upper Peninsula where I got a degree in illustration from Northern Michigan University.  Raising my own children brought me back to picture books.  I heard how difficult it was to get published and chose not to listen.  (Something else I'm good at). As a child, when I dreamed of doing something, I was told "Of course you can do it!" This quote from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass is on my desk: "Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." 

Now I live in southern Michigan near Kalamazoo with my husband and our three children.  And I still like to hang around with people who tell me "Of course you can do it," now and then."

Doggone Feet! (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781590789339
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Boyds Mills Press, 3/2013
Ever wonder what's going on in the mind of a dog? Here is an entertaining look at life from the point of view of a family pooch--a canine with a tongue-twisting, fun way of talking, and some serious attitude. As the dog's "people family" grows, so does her dismay at having to share her space with so many new and noisy feet. But as she discovers, making room also brings new joy. With a happy surprise ending and charming illustrations full of humor, this is a heartwarming--and doggone funny--rhyming story that kids will ask for again and again.

Woolbur (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780060847265
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: HarperCollins, 1/2008
Woolbur's list of Do's and Don'ts: DO express yourself creatively… DON'T worry if you weave your forelock into a pot holder! DO march to your own beat… DON'T worry when Maa and Paa tell you to stay with the herd! DO be bold and brave… DON'T be afraid to BE YOURSELF! Woolbur is not like other sheep. He hangs out with wild dogs, cards his own wool to avoid the shearing barn, and even dyes his wool blue. "Don't worry!" says Grandpaa when Maa and Paa fret that Woolbur is different. But when they tell their son to follow the flock, the opposite happens—the flock follows him! Soon everyone is copying his wild hairstyles and taking turns on the spinning wheel. Leave it to Woolbur to find a new way to step ahead of the herd. Spunky, funky, and refreshingly distinct, Woolbur will strike a chord with anyone who's ever felt different. And that's all of us!

Big Chickens (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780142410578
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Puffin Books, 2/2008
When four big chickens see a wolf sneaking near their coop, they run into the woods to hide. But for a bunch of big chickens, running away from danger isn?t as easy as it looks. As they continue on their way, they wonder: What if they get stuck in a ditch? What if they hit an iceberg in the lake? What if they step into a cow patty? Eewww! Brimming with silliness and the kind of slapstick humor small children love, here?s a rollicking read-aloud with an uplifting message and a very satisfying ending.

ISBN-13: 9780142414644
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Puffin Books, 2/2010
The four big chickens who are afraid of everything are now feeling all cooped up, so they set off to find the farmhouse. Where is it? the hapless hens wonder. First they find a doghouse, then they run into a tractor, and then they stomp into the barn. Who knew the farmhouse was right under their beaks the whole time?

Fair Cow (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780761456841
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Cavendish Square Publishing, 8/2010
Effie learns what it takes to be a state-fair cow.

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