You Never Know…

One of the best things about being a kids’ writer is that you are always learning new things. In the past year alone, I have researched and written nonfiction books about ogre-faced spiders, assassin bugs, goblin mythology, bizarre medical practices through history and many other topics. I’ve also written about Moses and Pythagoras. Artwork throughout the ages related to these topics was fantastic!

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Ogre-faced Spider

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One of the great things about researching for my World Adventures fiction books was the armchair travel travel I did to Italy, India, and Egypt. It was tough not to stuff my face with pasta as I researched cooking schools in Tuscany. And I’ve definitely added many new destinations to my bucket list!

Cooking School in Tuscany shot

Cooking School in Tuscany

I’ve just turned in two manuscripts related to zombies in the natural world. The research was disgusting at times…but I definitely learned a lot. Next up, a project on South Dakota. More wanderlust is bound to be filling my head!


Latin@s in Kid Lit Review

Here’s what reviewer Marianne Snow had to say about Francisco’s Kites on the excellent blog Latin@s in Kid Lit:

MY TWO CENTS: I love how Alicia Klepeis so deftly and unassumingly weaves together a variety of topics in this dual language book. With themes like homesickness, immigration, recycling, ingenuity, and family, Francisco’s Kites might easily become cluttered or scattered, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a simple story about a boy who creatively channels his past experiences – flying kites in his former home in El Salvador – to establish himself in windy Chicago, spend quality time with his mom, meet new people, and work on saving the earth. Readers will enjoy following the inventive Francisco, learning about kites, and maybe even picking up some information about Salvadoran food (pupusas – yum!). Meanwhile, Gary Undercuffler’s charmingly retro – but still fresh, clean, and colorful – illustrations add to the airy, buoyant tone of the book.

Another perk of this book is its message about recycling, which is delivered clearly without being heavy-handed. As they observe Francisco resourcefully collecting trash and other used objects to make kites, readers will learn about repurposing, a recycling strategy that anyone can try. These days, we know about the benefits of recycling, and no doubt children constantly hear about it at school. But many neighborhoods, towns, and even larger cities don’t have accessible, user-friendly services and resources like curbside pickup or community recycling bins. If kids don’t have access to these services at home, it’s important for them to learn about other options – like repurposing, which can provide them with fun, easy ways to help the earth and feel like they’re making a difference. When young readers pick up a book like Francisco’s Kites, who knows how they’ll be inspired?

There are tips for teachers as well. Want to see more?

Great review of Francisco’s Kites

I just received a lovely review of my book Francisco’s Kites on the Spark & Pook blog. Here are a few tidbits from the review:

“This book is recommended for children ages 4-8, but I think you could easily extend it up to age 10 or so.  This would be a great book to add to a collection of high quality bilingual children’s books, but I think it would be great for all children. I would also recommend it to teachers and parents teaching about Hispanic culture or recycling.”

Want to see the other things the reviewer liked about the book?

The Fun of Proofs

Sometimes it can seem funny how a kids’ book gets put together. An editor gives you an assignment with word count, style guidelines, and so on. Then you’re off to the races…frantically gathering information from as many sources as you can find. Being a child of the 1970s, I love inter-library loaning a huge stack of books as a way to get information and inspiration. The internet can be super-helpful too, of course, but there is something magical about leafing through the pages of a real book. Earlier this spring I was thrilled when a research librarian was able to get in a first edition book about British Goblins — even signed by the author.

Months, or sometimes even years later, an email arrives saying that it’s time to look at the proofs for your work. It can seem like a foreign entity to you if the wait is long enough. But I am always grateful to see how the editors, layout and design team take a Word file and turn it into a thing of beauty. Photos that match the text I wrote? Cool. Illustrations an artist created especially for my story? Awesome. And while it may be embarrassing to admit, I also get excited to see my name on whatever design of cover has been chosen for my work.

Recently, I have seen my name in close proximity to a coffin for my vampires book, below a man having his head drilled for a book on bizarre medicine, and nearby a group of freaky-looking goblins for a mythology book.

Vampire book cover Cairo, Camels, and Chaos cover

Some authors may dread the proofs but not me. Bring them on!

New Amazon author page

As August 1 approaches, I’m getting super excited. Why? I have 5 new books all being released on that day. So I have updated my Amazon author page where anyone who’s interested can see the new book covers and find out more about these titles. Interested in vampires? Check out Vampires: The Truth Behind History’s Creepiest Bloodsuckers. Like wacky history? Take a peek at Bizarre Things We’ve Called Medicine.

Vampire book cover

If you or someone you know likes fiction and adventure stories, I have three new ones coming out this week. One is set in Egypt, another in India, and the last in Italy.These beautifully illustrated chapter books are about 100 pages each and are geared for readers in grades 3-5. Here’s the cover of Cairo, Camels, and Chaos

Cairo, Camels, and Chaos cover


To see all the covers, check out the following link:


Francisco’s Kites event — August 1

On Saturday, August 1  the Colgate University Bookstore in Hamilton, NY is hosting an event to celebrate my new picture book, Francisco’s Kites.

Francisco's Kites poster

Since the book in bilingual, I will read the book in English. My good friend Pilar Mejia Barrera, who teaches Spanish at Colgate, will read the text in Spanish. We’ll also be making kites.

Homemade kite image

We’ll have a book-related treat…it’s a surprise so please come and find out what yummy delight awaits! I hope to see you there!

Here’s the official press release for the event:

Francisco’s Kites Press Release

The World’s Strangest Foods event — Success!

On Thursday, July 2 I hosted an event at the Hamilton Public Library to celebrate my book The World’s Strangest Foods.

Strange Foods book cover

I brought all kinds of unusual food from countries including Japan, England, Ecuador, Germany, and many others.We started out with horned melon from New Zealand, and dragon fruit from Vietnam. I offered about 19-20 different items, which varied from the tame (British candy and coconut soda) to preserved eel (in a can),  and Limburger cheese. I never would have expected so many kids to try every item on the menu!

Culinary options at the Strange Foods event

Culinary options at the Strange Foods event

Horned melon from New Zealand

Horned melon from New Zealand

While I’d been expecting about 15 kids to attend, we ended up with more like 35-40 kids. They ranged in ages but there were lots of tweens and teens and many boys in the audience. I read segments from the book and got the requisite oohs and aahs at some of the more bizarre culinary offerings (fermented shark meat, anyone?).

I would love to bring a presentation like this to other libraries and schools. We had a terrific time!

This is what Library Director Hilary Virgil had to say about the event: “Limburger cheese, dragon fruit, canned roast eel, seaweed crackers, lychee candies, coconut soda and more! We had a fabulous feast exploring foreign foods with local author Alicia Klepeis…and we learned our teens are fearless! Thank you, Alicia!”

Library Board of Directors member Maureen Wallace said, “What a fantastic event. I cannot believe how attentive and willing the participants were to try everything! Alicia did a wonderful job!”

Having Fun With Ice Cream

Whether you’re a homeschooling family or a family that has kids on summer vacation, everyone likes ice cream. And we as parents know that even if kids don’t admit it, learning is often fun. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse that was a unit of study all about ice cream — the science behind it, the history of it, and of course how to make your own. My own children had loads of fun with the activities. Here’s the link to the original article:

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Kids Making Ice Cream from Scratch


I was also thrilled to discover this morning that my article was featured on the Modern Homeschool Family website: Cream Unit Study

21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference

I recently returned from the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference held at Manhattan College, New York. It was my third time attending the conference and, as always, I had a terrific time. I was able to attend some incredible sessions by several of my favorite authors, including Melissa Stewart and Steve Swinburne. Steve’s talk about the intersection of poetry and nonfiction was great fun and he showed how to roll even when technology goes awry.  I love that he takes risks and is willing to have a sense of humor — singing one of his poems inside a seaweed-filled tidepool. I was also inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of presenters such as Heather Montgomery. Her book How Rude! 10 Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners is bound to be a popular one with kids of all ages.

As anyone knows who’s ever attended a conference, connections with people are what really make an event stand out. As I headed to the evening mix and mingle, I sat down at a crowded table and –lo and behold — the editor who’d just worked on three of my adventure chapter books was sitting across from me. She was fun and great company to hang out with!

I can’t wait to go back next year to the 21CCNFC and make even more new friends and connections!


Want to learn more? Here’s an article from Publisher’s Weekly:


World’s Strangest Foods event at Hamilton Public Library on July 2

Fear Factor Food Challenge with Local Author Alicia Klepeis (Ages 10+) 

Hamilton Public Library from Hamilton
Photo from Hamilton Public Library

Are you afraid of far-out foods, or do you find the unfamiliar fabulous? Ages 10 and up are invited to sign up for our “Fear Factor” Food Challenge and visit with Alicia Klepeis, author of The World’s Strangest Food, on Thursday, July 2nd from 3-4pm. Participants will be offered opportunities to taste of a variety of foods from around the world! If this is not your kind of fare, feel free to come and watch the festivities. Please stop by the Library in advance to register for this event and pick up a parental permission form.