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  • Who wants to be the Easter Bunny?

    I grew up thinking I wouldn’t want to be an Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. The latter, because who wants to look at wayward teeth put into a glass of water or under a pillow? Sure, the Tooth Fairy gets away spending meager quarters (my childhood) or dollars (our kids’ take) and doesn’t have to play in the same league as Santa Claus, but think about her job. The poor thing has to serve children who have just been terrorized by parents threatening to tie their loose teeth to door knobs. Worse yet, nobody agrees on what The Tooth Fairy even looks like! In our country, she may look like a beautiful being with delicate wings. But in Europe and Latin America, she is a small, sneaky MOUSE! EEEEEK! 

 As far as Santa Claus, well, yeah. Sure he’s overweight and is only notable one night per year. Yes, he has to squeeze down chimneys and not tear his skin tight red furry pants. But think of the joy associated with a mere mention of his name. The history of Santa dates back to 325 in Turkey, when a nice man saved three girls from poverty and a life of prostitution. This man was known for acts of kindness and became the patron saint of children—St. Nicholas. Who doesn’t love the generosity and kindness of such a gent?

 I don’t have a clue why the Easter Bunny evolved. People like me have had to swallow our reservations about him—a rabbit hopping around on our kitchen counters looking to lay eggs in a basket? EEEK! But, let’s face it: the fact that he’s been a thing since the 1700s, when German immigrants brought the tradition of an egg-laying hare to Pennsylvania, is actually amazing. Obviously, most people don’t think too hard about why he lays eggs—after all, he’s a male mammal, so what are the chances? Despite the absurdity of it—and despite my childhood reservations about him—the Easter Bunny is STILL delivering. Much to their delight, kids are still thrilled to see their Easter Baskets filled with not only eggs, but candy and all kinds of treasures—toys, money, clothes, books. So here’s an idea for YOUR Easter Bunny: Ask him to order Ozzy Ox books for all his Easter deliveries! Available online at Amazon, Walmart or Barnes and Noble, Ozzy Ox books will deliver long after the fake grass is coaxed from beneath your sofa. The perfect gift for kids 2-8, Ozzy Ox books, available in both hard cover and paperback, deliver entertaining stories that pack good life lessons. Your kids will love the vibrant illustrations —and you’ll replace the thought of those rabbit tracks on your counters with memorable snuggles. Happy Easter!

  • What do you wake up to?

    It's a New Year, but here's a statistic that hasn't changed: Some 95 percent of our brain activity is unconscious. So next time you wake up with something weighing on your mind, realize that your brain has already been working tirelessly on it for a long time! Mine apparently has been thinking of the welfare of the world -- thoughts that go beyond Ozzy's Land of Ox. I've put those awakening thoughts to verse and wonder, is it just my subconscious that thinks of this stuff, or do you have similar concerns?

  • Reading and trying not to scare the children

    This Saturday, Dec. 9 at 10:30 AM, Illustrator Emily Hagen and I will be signing books at The Story Nook (next to Babb’s Coffee) in Jamestown. We’ll be reading the last of the four Ozzy Ox books I have written so far—Ozzy Ox Stands Against Socks. Our competition is going to be powerful: Santa himself! I just love Illustrator Emily’s reaction when I asked her whether she thought we should commit to book signing at the same time as Santa will be in the house. She said, “Oh, that’ll be the best time! Who’s not happy where Santa is concerned?” That’s the spirit, Emily. You can tell she’s an upbeat creative who will shine in the frenzy! As far as the question: “Who isn’t happy where Santa is concerned?” I think we all have memories of someone being PARALYZED with fear with Santa in the house. Here’s our grandkids (now almost all teens) shining right up to Jolly Old Saint Nick. Do you have a similar picture or memories like these? I just want to cry thinking of them! But I think they go with the territory. Which is why there is hope for me this Saturday. Alongside a portly, bearded, white-haired chap who wants you to share his lap, I just might seem a little tiny bit less annoying to a child. I’m not counting on it though—so I’m bringing Ozzy Ox bookmarks and coloring pages to hand out. Emily is bringing her beautiful illustrations to show. Hopefully they won't have to become a refuge from the terror of Santa. But they sure won't hurt! Hope to see you Saturday--and if you are in Mandan this Thursday, Dec. 7, check us out at 4:30 PM at Mandan Public Library. Reading Ozzy Ox, and trying not to scare the children!

  • Happy Birthday, Ozzy!

    A moment or two ago, I received notice that the fourth Ozzy Ox book, Ozzy Ox Stands Against Socks, went live on Amazon. Ironic, isn’t it? Today marks exactly ONE YEAR that Emily Hagen and I struck a deal to publish four Ozzy Ox books. And what a year it’s been! First of all, both Emily and I came into this project as newbies. Emily had painted for years, and had previously illustrated a couple of books. But she had never created a cartoon character before Ozzy Ox. I had published works - feature stories, opinion articles, informational articles, advertisements, annual reports. But I had never written a book before. That we published four in just one year is a little loony—because releasing an entire series of books in one year is nothing that the book industry recommends. It was also a little miraculous, because the world of self-publishing is a maze of tangled trails with no clear path. But, somehow, we found our way. We did it! And not only did we do it, but we created quite a leading lad! Ozzy Ox books have been received favorably — and Ozzy seems to be exactly the character we hoped he’d be: the typical kid who learns life from living it. He encounters no social justice themes, no political footballs, no underlying societal causes. Instea, Ozzy is free to be a kid -- to stumble and struggle and then get back up -- like children do. We’ve heard from some readers that their children are notably impacted by Ozzy. That they remember the lessons he learns, that they relate to his transgressions. That they want to hear about Ozzy over and over. Nothing could be more rewarding than hearing that Ozzy is making a difference. Happy Birthday to the affable, rascally Ozzy! To celebrate his one-year milestone, we are going to draw for the hardcover Ozzy Ox edition of your choice. The winner will be announced here on this blog on December 3—which (in Japan) marks the Day of the Ox! To enter, simply go to callenkropp.com and click “contact.” Leave Ozzy your name and email address and a "Happy Birthday, Ozzy!" And, if you haven’t invited Ozzy into your life yet, go to this link. You’ll also see Ozzy books in the Story Nook and Dakota Store in Jamestown, and Ferguson Books in Fargo and Bismarck. Thank you so much for inviting Ozzy into your heart!

  • Ozzy Ox: Toy Trauma To the Point!

    Reviewers say it is direct and to-the-point, but is that the point of a rhyming children's picturebook? This is one of the most direct and to-the-point tales I have read in a long while.” These are the words of Rosie Malezer of Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, who gave Ozzy Ox: Toy Trauma a FIVE-STAR review! Her words are music to my ears. Writing children’s books — especially rhyming children’s books — isn’t as easy as it might seem. The children’s picturebook genre comes with expectations. In 300 to 1,000 words and 32 pages, you must deliver a storyline that has a distinct “arc” or rising action, peak action and falling action. Because your 32 pages must make room for a title, dedication, copyright and end pages, you actually have only 12-14 double-page spreads to achieve your mission. I try to keep my manuscripts to around 500 to 600 words because research says that is most effective—and allows room for the illustrations to do their part. In Toy Trauma, Illustrator Emily Hagen saw to it that the illustrations definitely did their part and our reviewer agreed: Emily Hagen's illustrations brought Ozzy Ox: Toy Trauma to life beautifully and ensured that each and every reader would become immediately engaged with the characters. I couldn't have been more delighted with those illustrations! Check out Nurse Nate as he dances with MomOx, DocOx and his patient--they make you want to get up and dance with them! That the illustrations did their part to move the story along--but what about the rhyming manuscript itself? The book industry doesn’t encourage debut authors like me to publish rhyming books. Why? Because poetry has a tendency to lengthen a story arc -- to go in search of rhyme that ultimately drags out the story. When you only have 500 to 600 words and 24 pages to achieve the arc of a story, each word matters. Each must lend to the story—and not to the rhyme itself. Do you see why Rosie Malezer’s review of Ozzy Ox: Toy Trauma means so much to me? Here’s what else she said: “Quite often people tend to over-explain things, but Callen Kropp has kept the story and the message simple, making it very easy for all readers to learn and understand how to avoid such accidents - keep the room tidy." Thank you, Rosie Malezer for more of your encouraging words: "I liked that the sequence of events from the noise caused at the beginning to the cleaning-up message at the end gave this tale a very realistic feel. Ozzy Ox: Toy Trauma is a children's book that should be kept in every home library for young readers so that they learn how messiness, no matter where you are, is an accident waiting to happen. I look forward to reading more of Ozzy Ox's stories in the future.” Love it! But don’t take Ms. Malezer’s words for it—you can order Ozzy Ox Toy Trauma on Amazon, Walmart or Barnes and Noble—and then review it yourself! Or shop for it at Story Nook or Dakota Store in Jamestown, or Ferguson’s Books in West Fargo and Bismarck.

  • Friday the 13th brings good news!

    It might be Friday the 13th, but I am feeling very lucky! I have received word that our book Ozzy Ox: Moody Morning has received very positive reviews by professional reviewers whose job it is to identify books that are outstanding in their genres. The only thing better than these reviews are those from readers who describe a child’s reactions! Those reviews—by you, the reader—are actually what will determine the life of Ozzy Ox on Amazon. So don’t feel your review has to be anything more than a few words describing your (and/or your child’s reactions to the book. If you don't do Amazon, it's easy to submit a review on Goodreads by clicking here. Reviewing Ozzy Ox is worth your while too— I just FINALLY got paper copies of Ozzy Ox: Moody Morning and am working to get those books out to all who reviewed the first book, Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash. If I haven’t heard from you regarding a Candy Stash review, please send me your address and I will get those out—hopefully in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, pinch me as I ponder these excerpts from three professional reviewers: "Callen Kropp's storytelling and the vivid illustrations make this book an invaluable addition to any child's library, leaving a lasting impression about the power of kindness, responsibility, and the enduring strength of friendship." -- Demetria Head, "A Look Inside" Blog, 5 Star Review "Ozzy Ox learns an important lesson about friendship, kindness, and caring for others. We all make poor choices, but everything that is broken can be fixed again, even friendships. This is a great story to encourage young people to be accepting of others and ready to forgive and, most importantly, to make better choices..." - Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Reader's Favorite, 5 Star Review "The storybook will have your children laughing out loud as they learn valuable lessons about how words & actions impact those around them." - Kameron Brook, Reedsy Discovery But, despite the accolades, it is the little listening ears--and the people reading to them--that I cherish the most. I find SO MUCH reward when hearing of the children that are enjoying and learning life's great lessons from Ozzy Ox. Thank you to ALL for your words! Five- Star Reviews from Amazon buyers: - "Fun Story to read to my grandkids, and the illustrations are so entertaining: This is the 2nd book in the series. It sure kept my grandkids attention and the 3-year-old thought the pictures were so much fun to look at while I read. We will look forward to book 3 and see what Ozzy Ox will be up to next." - "Fantastic book! This is the 2nd book in the series. Love them both well written and illustrated. Grandkids love them, can’t wait for the 3rd book to be released." - "Another fun book! Ozzy wakes up in a bad mood, and the day unravels from there! It's a great book about the effect we have on others, and how we can make it right. The pictures are fun and keep your attention on the story!" - "Wonderful book! This book is wonderful. The pictures are even more wonderful and sure to catch the eye of every child." - "Fun to read!" Another fun yet educational book from this author. And if the story doesn't capture your child's attention the colorful pictures certainly will!!" - "Another fun book! This is another great book by Callen Krapp. It teaches an important life lesson. The illustrations are wonderful! I highly recommend this book for youngsters and those of us who love to read to our children and grandchildren!" - "Love Ozzy Ox series so far! I am buying the Ozzy Ox series to share with my grandchildren. Love the message and the lovely artwork. Looking forward to the next release."

  • Second Ozzy Ox book now out of the gate!

    Moody Morning—could describe today for me. We’ve had a whirlwind couple of weeks and it’s tempting to sit back and try to get a grip. But the excitement of releasing our second children's picture book in the Ozzy Ox series is energizing. Illustrator Emily Hagen and I have SO been looking forward to sharing Ozzy Ox: Moody Morning. When I first shared the manuscript with my critique group, they responded, “that’s a great story, but how are you going to illustrate THAT?” NEVER FEAR. Emily knocked it out of the park. The expressions on Ozzy and the many characters in this book are priceless. She has done her best work and I am so proud of this book! Not only is it a lot of fun, but it packs a message that every family will want to share with their children: that their WORDS and friendships MATTER! Ozzy Ox: Moody Morning is now available in paperback (discounted to $7.99 now through the end of September), hard copy and Ebook at this link. And beginning Monday, Sept. 18 through Friday, Sept. 22, YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK FOR FREE! All we ask in return is an Amazon review. As in all books released on Amazon, it is the REVIEWS that determine the life of the book. So please take a minute - go to this LINK when you can!

  • First book signing--thank you Story Nook!

    With a whole lot of gratitude and humility, I experienced something entirely new to me last week. I signed books! I couldn’t have had a better place to have my first book signing (thank you, Jamestown’s The Story Nook!), and I couldn’t have had better people there to support me. Thank you to ALL who came out with their kids, brought their families, brought in their books to be signed, and most of all, thanks to the kids who sat there so intently listening to my nasal tone as I read the first book in the Ozzy Ox series, Ozzy Ox, Candy Stash. (See photos and video here!) While I read, Illustrator Emily Hagen showed off her originals, the beautiful illustrations that grace the book. I was so grateful Emily joined me in this book signing—she and her husband Brian are wonderful people and I am so glad we’ve gotten a chance to know them! I’m also grateful to a couple other “Emilys” present that day. “My” Emily Krapp was there with our Leo and Eddie. And the little girl that was born the same week as Ozzy Ox Candy Stash was released was also there! The third Emily—Steele, along with her husband, Brandon Steele, own The Story Nook. I have no qualms in saying it’s likely the best kids’ book store in North Dakota. The space is attractively arranged and the books are displayed beautifully. And that setting is where Storytime for kids is held EVERY Saturday at 10:30 AM. It’s also the space where all kinds of books and stories are celebrated. Books about the farm brought real, live farm animals INTO the store, for example. In between these book celebrations —Unicorn Day, Dinosaur Day, Frozen Day, etc, The Story Nook holds painting and craft classes, “theme” days and so MANY fun events. I don’t know if Jamestown knows the treasure they have in someone as entrepreneurial and creative as Emily Steele. I know I sure do! Thank you, Emily and Brandon and The Story Nook!

  • Reading and Signing Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash at The Story Nook 10:30 AM, Sat. Aug. 26!

    It's been a couple weeks now that we opened the gate on Ozzy Ox. He's found his way online on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. And now he's knocking on the doors of local bookstores. Our first reading--and book signing-has been scheduled for Sat., Aug. 26, 10:30 AM at THE STORY NOOK in Jamestown, ND (109 First St. West). Every Saturday at 10:30 AM, Story Nook owner Emily Steele hosts Reading Time. We'll not only be reading Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash, but Illustrator Emily Hagen will be there too! We'll bring a few of her real life illustrations along so that she can show a little about the wonderful process that she uses to bring Ozzy books into living color! Emily and I will be all set to sign any Ozzy books already out there--and we'll have plenty of copies at the store for you to purchase as well. So set your calendar for Sat.. Aug 26, 10:30 AM at The Story Nook. -- just west of Babb's Coffee Shop, or east of Gun and Reel!

  • Ozzy Ox: "Thank YOU! And "How am I doing?"

    We were humbled and honored to see Ozzy in the Jamestown Sun, Foster County Independent, KVLY/ North Dakota Today and North Dakota Now! Thanks so much to each of these entities for introducing Ozzy to the world! Such publicity has helped Ozzy become the #1 New Release in its category on Amazon. Your reviews will help keep it there! If you have submitted a review, thank you SO much! If you would still like to, you can always go to Amazon at this link: This is a super helpful way to help Ozzy answer the question: "How am I doing?" But there are several other ways to submit reviews, too: (Note-you do not have to purchase from these sites in order to review). 1 - Submit to Goodreads here: 2- Submit to Barnes and Noble here: (once there, scroll all the way down) 3- Fill out our form right here on our site on the Contact page. 4- Email to: info@callenkropp.com (we also appreciate PHOTOS of our book as you share them with your children!) 5 - Go on any of our social media accounts (see links on this page) and submit photos or comments. We are on most platforms as @callenkropp or @CallenKropp. Any way you submit, we truly appreciate your support! Thank you SO much!

  • A beautiful beginning

    Last week, as you can imagine, I was working on a big day—the debut of Ozzy Ox. We were exactly halfway to Christmas, July 25. And six days from Ozzy Ox Launch Day. But a much more coveted occurrence debuted on July 25—one that eclipsed that rascally ox debut infinitely. We welcomed our NINTH grandchild to the world! Rosalyn Mary is a beauty, and is our second granddaughter. She joins two big brothers that apparently will have to get used to having a sister. On the day they first met Rosie, they were clamorous as usual. Until the doctors came in, that is, and began disrobing their little sister for a physical exam. I noticed that suddenly, the room had become quiet. I looked over at the boys, and the picture below says it best: they covered their eyes! No doubt, those brothers will take good care of their little sister. They’ll teach her everything she needs to know! Will she grow up hearing tall tales from them? Will she grow up reading Ozzy Ox? I’m sure there will be a copy or two around here somewhere with her name on it! But more importantly, she will grow up with zany story time with her father and papa and reading picture books with Mom and Grandma. There is not a better investment in the life of a chid! And speaking of reading to children, it is my hope that you will embrace the first of my Ozzy Ox books—Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash -- now that it is launching. Read about the whole Ozzy series on callenkropp.com/ozzy-series. Or go straight to Amazon here! Beginning on Wed., Aug 2 through Sunday, August 6, using the Amazon link, you may download the Ebook for FREE! All we ask is that you leave an Amazon review. In fact, AFTER you read any format of Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash, we ask for an HONEST review on the Amazon site. Doing so will help Ozzy Ox debut in children's hearts all over the world!

  • Where's YOUR candy stash?

    I saw a post on Facebook the other day: “Feeling guilty because last night I helped my husband look for the chocolate that I ate.” So why are visions of opened chocolate chip bags tucked in the far reaches of my freezer floating through my head right now? Along those lines, have you seen Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween show in which he calls for videos of parents breaking the news to their children that they’ve eaten all their Halloween candy? It’s bittersweet—a part of you feels bad the kids are so heartbroken. But you can’t help but laugh at their reactions: down right desperation. So, what’s your candy stash story? Everyone who knows him realizes my husband, Oren, stashes his sweets in a slot on the inside of his pickup door. I don’t know if it’s a throwback to the years he thought he was fooling our kids, but he still acts like an undercover sleuth sneaking up on a meth lab when he taps into his “secret” candy stash. The same guy who overwhelms the surround sound in a movie theatre when retrieving popcorn from its paper bag manages to soundlessly slip from the crinkly wrap in the slot in the pickup door complete fistfuls of gum drops-- undetected! The candy man, at it again. 

 And here I am, at it again too—bragging about the release of my first children's' picture book--Ozzy Ox: Candy Stash. Coming July 31 on Amazon. You can check out my Author Page (still a work in progress) ahead of time at authorcentral.com/callenkropp . 
 In the meantime, it’s late. At night. Do you know where YOUR candy stash is?

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