Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh

I am one excited guy! My very first children’s book became available for sale this week. It’s entitled “My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh,” written by yours truly, and illustrated by my wonderfully talented brother-in-law, Scott.

Scott and I self-published this book, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. It’s a collection of sing-song-y rhymes about ten African animals that come alive in a young boy’s imagination. Scott really brought the rhymes to life with his illustrations and the book turned out great!

Having three young boys of my own, I have read a boatload of children’s books, and the ones that my boys and I seem to gravitate toward have a common thread. They either have a storyline that goes beyond just silly stuff, or they have challenging words or rhymes.

With “My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh,” I did something that I haven’t encountered in other children’s books, and it really makes it unique. I developed a repeating rhyme format and combined it with multiple-word rhyming. Here is the first rhyme to give you an example:

My Hippopotamus makes a-lot-of-fuss
when we play in the mud and muck.
And it requires quite a-lot-of-us
to get her feet un-stuck.

All ten rhymes carry the same sing-song format and most employ the multiple-word rhyming scheme, as in, “hippopotamus” and “a-lot-of-fuss.”

Younger children naturally pick up on the sing-song format, allowing them to easily memorize the verses as you read to them. As they do, they are learning a new dimension about rhyming that is most likely not being taught to them at school. The book also combines mostly plain and simple language with some more advanced words. This makes it an excellent book for children who are just learning to read on their own, as well as the older, more advanced readers.

I always thought it would be fun to write a children’s book, but I was never really motivated until my oldest boy was about three and a half. We had a pretty advanced comic-book-like story called “Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery” by Kevin O’Malley. My son had checked it out from the library, no doubt based on the fabulous cover art by the illustrator, Patrick O’Brien. What three-year-old can resist space dinosaurs that fly in rocket ships? We liked it so much, we bought our own copy, and one night it happened. When I turned the page to continue reading about how the dinosaur crew, led by the fearless Captain Raptor (who sounds like John Wayne when I read it), was about to encounter a strange-looking group of aliens, my three-and-a-half-year-old son reached up and grabbed my arm and asked, “Daddy, can I do this page?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, to which he responded, “No one notices as a huge, menacing shadow passes over the clearing.”

He had just repeated, verbatim, the next line in the book.

That was the moment that I truly began to understand the power of a child’s brain and their capacity for information, and that was the day I decided to actually write a children’s book. I wanted to make sure that I contributed, however slightly, to helping children learn as much as they can in their formative years by challenging and stimulating those big, big brains they all possess.

We know you and your kids (or grandkids) will enjoy it, and we hope you will buy a copy or two to help me and Scott reach our goal of not having to go to those silly jobs of ours every day, so we can do this for a living! (We’re already working on the next book!)

You can get your copy of “My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh” today at, or you can get it at a 25% savings by purchasing directly from the publisher at

Thanks! You’ll love it!


About the Author

Marc Schmatjen (pronounced “smidgen,” as in, just a smidgen of this or that) and his wonderful wife Sandra reside in Rocklin, California where they spend most of their time trying to keep up with their three rambunctious boys.

Marc was born and raised in Northern California and has been writing weekly articles since 2008, providing humorous commentary on life in America from a common sense perspective.

This is one of thousands of children’s books that Marc has read to his boys, but the first one he has written.

About the Illustrator

M. Scott Arena and his fabulous wife Jill call Lake Oswego, Oregon home. They have a gorgeous little girl, and are constantly amazed and delighted to see the world through her eyes.

Scott grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and has always been an artist, although this is his first professional endeavor as an illustrator.

He has a natural talent for bringing words to life, to the delight of young audiences everywhere.

See you soon,

Copyright © 2010 Marc Schmatjen


  1. Can't wait to receive the books I ordered this morning! One of them is going to be in the Rafiki Village children's library in Uganda! :)

  2. So far, between England and Uganda, I'm going to have to start calling "My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh" an international self-publishing sensation!

    Thanks, Gail! I am thrilled we'll have a copy in Rafiki!

  3. I am going to have Joe pick up a copy of your book so that I can read it and share it with Lyle. I have so enjoyed the blogs you post. You are the bomb!

  4. Thanks, Lady Gebert! Joe will get a signed copy, for sure. I hope Lyle gets a kick out of it!

  5. Congratulations. I'm putting in an order

  6. Thanks, as always, for your support, Bob. I hope things are going well for you with your book sales. I have no doubt that they are, judging by my family's acclaim for your latest thriller, "Enemies Among Us."

    Do me a favor and see if Col. North wants a few signed copies of "My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh" for his grandkids!

    All my best,

  7. Congratulations, Marc & Scott!

    Am ordering a copy for my 5 year old neice, Caitlyn (Corey's granddaughter.)