Announcing KidLit Gems!


Elise, our E in KEMs, will retire from KEM Gems to make time for a good cause: creating children’s picture books. Her début title, If You Ever Want to Bring Your Alligator to School, Don’t!, comes out July 14, 2015. Plus she’s writing new stories, all  while illustrating The Magic Word, written by Mac Barnett. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), she no longer has time to review books.

Kristi Janikula Herro

Kristi  Herro

Me, Anna Marras

Me, Anna Marras

Louise Aamodt

Louise Aamodt

Kristi Janikula Herro, co-owner and editor of SpotOn Editing, Minnesota SCBWI Meet-up Coordinator, and Literacy Volunteer of America  will continue reading, reviewing, and recommending Gems with me.

We’re pleased to announce that critique buddy, Louise Aamodt, 2015 MN Book Awards judge for Children’s Literature, runner-up of the 2011 Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Contest, and bilingual ESL teacher, joins us to form KidLit Gems. We think you’ll agree, Lou has the perfect qualifications to serve as a children’s literature ambassador.

We chose our new name because KLM Gems sounds too much like an airline and MLK Gems . . . well, you get the gist.

To properly close our KEM Gem Chapter we awarded a “thank you” gift to our most faithful KEM Gem supporter, Randy Holland.

The Grand Poobah of all KEM Gem supporters, Randy Holland. Kidlit Gems supporters, there will be more awards to come. Just sayin . . .

To properly close our KEM Gem Chapter we awarded our most faithful KEM Gem supporter, Randy Holland, a “thank you” gift of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Lucky for us, Elise will still be a constant in our lives as a critique partner, but we will miss her keen illustrator’s-eye  appreciation for the visual artistry of each Gem. We hope she’ll continue to educate us with regular cameo appearances in the Comment Section.


Elise Parsley

Elise Parsley

“I want to thank Marlys for hosting our Gem reviews for the past year! Personally, I tend to stick to short, funny books with lots and lots of illustrations. Marlys and Kristi, however, have pushed me to read a wider range of titles than I otherwise would, and I’ve learned much from their unique perspectives and book choices. I’ll do my best to keep up with the monthly KidLit titles reviewed on this blog, and I hope you’ll do the same.



To have a coffee-style chat about children’s books and the elements that make them shine.


It’s just like KEM Gems with a twist. Each month Kristi, Lou, and I will recommend three books that match a theme. We’d like to hear your selections, too!

Gems can come from any children’s genre–picture book, chapter book/easy reader, middle grade, graphic novel, or YA.

MARCH’S THEME (A tribute to all illustrators out there!)

Illustrative Gem

What illustrative gem would you recommend?

Critique friends Elise Parsley. Kristi Herro, Alicia Schwab, Louise Aamodt, and me. Elise will pass the Gem reviewing torch to Lou, starting March 15th.

Critique friends, including Alicia Schwab, center. Elise says, “Here’s the torch, Lou! Thanks for picking up my slack!”


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