Mining for Heart: “Make Your Readers FEEL SOMETHING” by Tammi Sauer

I’m so honored to host the amazing Tammi Sauer, a children’s author who has been tickling funny bones for years. Though Tammi has many new picture books, my all time favorite is still CHICKEN DANCE from 2009. Thank you, Tammi, for sharing how you keep us chuckling!tammisauer.authorphoto


When writing picture books, I always aim to make the reader FEEL SOMETHING. I want the reader to connect with my main character and get emotionally invested in the story. To provide some examples of this, I decided to shine a spotlight on my three latest picture books.



In But the Bear Came Back, illustrated by Dan Taylor, I wanted readers to feel the boy’s growing annoyance when a big bear keeps showing up at his house, and I wanted readers to feel the boy’s eventual pang of missing that bear when the bear does not return. By the book’s end, when you-know-who makes a welcomed return appearance, my hope was for readers to experience the oh-so-gratifying feeling of love.



My book GO FISH!, illustrated by Zoe Waring, also reels in the feelings. My goal was
for readers to feel the anticipation of a fun day, the disappointment that comes along when things don’t go as planned, and the satisfaction of things working out even better than expected by the story’s end.



In KNOCK KNOCK, illustrated by Guy Francis, a bear named Harry is getting all set to hunker down for hibernation, but his woodland friends have other plans. Readers can feel Harry’s sleepiness. They can also feel his growing frustration as more and more friends unexpectedly show up at his house. Best of all, readers can experience Harry’s sense of delight when he finally realizes why all of his friends are there.

It’s not always easy, however, to get emotion to come across in a story. I always want it to ring true and not feel forced. Putting myself in my character’s shoes helps. Using just the right words helps. Showing instead of telling helps. Analyzing other picture books helps. Enlisting feedback from my critique group helps. And being open to working on revision after revision after revision? Well, that helps most of all!

Strive to make readers connect to YOUR books by including USE EMOTION  in your picture book writing toolbox.


Tammi Sauer is a full time author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. She has 23 published picture books with major publishing houses including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic Press, and Sterling. In addition to winning awards, Tammi’s books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical and is currently on a national tour, Wordy Birdy was named a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month, and Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was recently released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French which makes her feel extra fancy.  

You can learn more about Tammi Sauer and her books at her WEBSITE




9 thoughts on “Mining for Heart: “Make Your Readers FEEL SOMETHING” by Tammi Sauer

  1. Great post Beth and Tammi, you do an amazing job of “reeling” in all your readers. I’m looking forward to reading BUT THE BEAR CAME BACK. It reminds me of the song (The Cat Came Back) about the “old grey cat” that I heard as a child. Thanks for filling our lives with humor. Can’t wait to see/read what you do next. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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