Welcome to My Castle!

Barbara Jean Hicks, Children’s Book Author

I never asked to be a queen—

And I certainly didn’t start out as a princess.

I was quiet, shy, often tongue-tied as a child. A shrinking violet who avoided crowds, conversation, and especially cameras. I kept my head down. I found cubbyholes where I could hide away and read.

And write, of course.

And then one day—magic! I sold a story I had written. And then another. And another. Thirteen novels and novellas for adults and eight children’s books. So far.

One of my picture books is even about princesses. A pair of very famous princess sisters, in fact. (Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. Maybe you’ve heard of them.)

Mayor's ChoiceIt’s just plain crazy that I make my living now not only writing, but speaking.

I deliver programs to crowds of kids, teachers, librarians, writers, readers. I speak at community events and festivals where hundreds of kids and parents come to talk to me, have books signed, and (horror of horrors) take pictures! Of me. Wearing a gown and tiara.

It’s out of my hands…. I simply am the Queen.

And since you’ve found your way to my castle, come on in. Please. Pop into the royal library to see the books I’ve written, the pressroom to find out how I ended up a queen, the playroom for videos, coloring pages, fun activities. Sit down in my kitchen to find out who’s helping the Queen eat healthy, and how. (The kitchen, my blog, is stocked with food art, coloring pages, kid-friendly recipes and other fun stuff, too.)

Send me a note. Take the secret passage to my Facebook page and “Friend” me! Invite me to your school, your conference, your bookstore, your celebration. Unlike many queens, I am at your command.

Happy Exploring—

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Veggie-Medley-detail2Detail, “Veggie Medley,” © Ben Mann 2016. www.mann-alive.com



(Cooking Up Some Healthy Fun for Kids!)



If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be writing a blog dedicated to healthy foods, healthy cooking and healthy eating, I would have said you were crazy.

I mean, I’m not known as the healthiest of eaters. (My family, friends and housemates will corroborate.) Sometimes I skip meals. Sometimes—especially if I’ve skipped a meal—I stop at a drive-through for a burger. Sometimes I open a can for dinner and call it good. I have a weakness for pie and ice cream. Red wine. Dark chocolate. And I’ve never thought of vegetables as my closest friends…. [READ MORE]



Do your kids know where healthy food comes from? (Hopefully they realize it’s not from a convenience store or the drive-up window of a fast food restaurant!)

One of the best ways for children to learn about where the good food on your family table originates–and one of the best ways for them to learn to love it–is to grow it themselves.

Think about it: How much more likely is your daughter to eat a salad she makes herself–from ingredients she grew herself–than a salad plopped down in front of her…. [READ MORE]



A book that starts in an orchard and ends in a pie…. Now that’s farm-to-table!

Some books just stay with you. Each Peach Pear Plum, aimed at the very young, first debuted in 1978, 25 years after I was the right age to have it read to me. But when I discovered it as a university student studying early childhood ed…. [READ MORE]



Perhaps you planted a zucchini start and didn’t realize it would spread 40 feet and produce a veritable mountain of squash. Perhaps your neighbor sneaked the zucchini they didn’t know what to do with onto your porch under the guise of being friendly. Or maybe you purchased a box of zucchini because they were such a great deal, you couldn’t resist.

Now what to do with all that zucchini?!

Zucchini latkes are one great, kid-friendly solution. Your kids will have fun getting their hands messy making these little veggie pancakes–and when the pancakes come out of the frying pan and cool, kids can eat them as finger food. Fun! [READ MORE]



Today’s coloring pages come from Ben Mann, my good friend and the illustrator for one of my picture books. No pears in Once Upon a Parsnip, though–unfortunately, since he paints pears so beautifully! Maybe the next book….

In fact, no story has been written about this giant pear–and surely there’s a story here!

Get out the crayons and ask some leading questions to help kids come up with a story for the painting: How did the pear grow so enormous? Who’s the guy in the hat and boots? What is he…. [READ MORE]


The Vegetable Stall, William York MacGregorFUN WITH VEGGIES

Does your child turn up his nose at vegetables? Would she rather miss out on dessert than finish her greens?

Check out these activities, coloring pages, books and videos and share them with your children. Make veggies familiar to and fun for your kids. Maybe they’ll ask to try a food they haven’t tried before? It doesn’t hurt to dream! [READ MORE]



Kids are like the rest of us: we all like to think we’re in charge. If not all the time, at least once in a while.

One day a week, have your kids take turns acting as “food cop” at the dinner table. Let the chosen one have fun with it. Find a cap with a badge at a costume shop and let him wear it at the table. Pin a star to her shirt. Give him a whistle. (Or not. Personally, I’d rather not have a whistle interrupt my dining experience!) [READ MORE]


Book-Cover-BannerVisit the Story Queen’s Library.