*Kirkus Starred Review* *Booklist Starred Review* *PW Starred Review* *Junior Library Guild selection* NEW! 2017 Orbis Pictus Recommended Book* ALA/ALSC Notable book——— A Horse that can read, write, and do math? Ridiculous! Find out how former slave and self-taught veterinarian Dr. William Key, with his "educated" horse Beautiful Jim Key, overcame racial prejudice and skepticism to prove that, with kindness, anything is possible.

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Step Right Up Illustrator Process Video

You don't want to miss this! What a rare treat to have a video of illustrator Daniel Minter discussing what kindness means while demonstrating his linocut/woodcut art process for Step Right Up.

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About me / Interviews / Upcoming appearances

Official-Sounding Bio:

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Donna Janell Bowman is the author of children’s books for trade and education publishers as well as articles and short stories in nationally acclaimed magazines. Her newly-released picture book biography, STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS (Lee and Low, October 2016), illustrated by Daniel Minter, has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection, earned multiple starred reviews and is an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. Two additional picture book biographies are forthcoming: EN GARDE! ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree, spring 2018), and KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: THE GREAT BLONDIN (Peachtree, spring 2019). Other fiction and nonfiction projects are in process. Donna has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She is represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Unofficial-Sounding Bio:

IMG_0595-225x300When I was a kid, I lived on a horse ranch in central Texas. While my city friends rode bikes and hung out with neighbor kids, I was busy with ranch chores, taking care of animal friends, and training for upcoming horse shows. I mucked a lot of stalls, gathered a lot of eggs, helped with a lot of fence mending, moved a lot of hay. I also groomed and rode a lot of horses—which made me happiest of all. During quiet times, amid the wide open spaces, my imagination was cultivated. I wrote poetry and stories in spiral notebooks, then later on a portable typewriter tucked into the corner of my pink and purple bedroom. On that ranch, so long ago, the first seeds of my writing interests blossomed. As a grownup, I detoured into the corporate world for many years, but I eventually found my way back to writing. and I completed my MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I am proudly represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Today, I write for young readers, because I believe they are the most important people in the world. I aim to write stories that inspire, while making kids and teens laugh, think, learn, feel. While I love all genres, I have a special love of history and nonfiction, because true stories can be awesome, exciting, and just plain cool! Through school visits and other author presentations, I enjoy speaking to writers of all ages. 

Because I believe in always learning, I just finished my MFA in Writing, with a concentration on Children and Young Adult literature from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

See my author page on Amazon here.

Interviews with me:

Interview for the VCFA launchpad, January 2017

Interview for Lee and Low Books about writing Step Right Up, November 10, 2016

Interview for The Booking Biz, November 1, 2016

Cynsations New Voices interview, October 12, 2016, re: Step Right Up

EMU’s Debuts interview, October 10, 2016, Step Right Up

EMUs Debuts interview with editor Louise May re: Step Right Up, October 11, 2016

Interview for Austin SCBWI, July 30, 2015.

Interview about rejecting rejection from The Writing Barn, November 2014.

Upcoming Appearances:


May 4, 2017—Step Right Up presentation for tweens- Round Rock Public Library

April 29, 2017— 1pm-6pm  Pflugerville Book Pfestival

April 19-20, 2017—Texas Library Association Conference, San Antonio, TX.

January 2017—Guess who’s graduating from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing, with a concentration on Children’s and Young Adult Literature? ME!


April 19, 2016 — Texas Library Association (TLA) conference. Houston. I’m honored to be on the 2pm panel, “What’s new with Texas Authors and Illustrators for Elementary Readers.”

May 14-15, 2016 — Austin SCBWI conference. I’ll be on a panel about writing work-for-hire books.

May 20, 2016 — School visit – Old Town Elementary

July 22, 25, 26, 27, 2016—Varius Austin locations—Author presentation—Four creative writing camps for 3rd-12th graders.

October 15, 2016—Official release of Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Taught the World About Kindness.

October 16, 2016—2:00pm Elgin, Texas Public Library presentation.

October 23, 2016—3:00pm book launch celebration for Step Right Up. Book People, Austin.

November 5-6, 2016—Texas Book Festival, Austin. I’ll be speaking on a panel, open to the public. Please come.

December 1, 2016—School visit – Houston, Texas. Reading Rock Stars

December 3, 2016—Three-hour workshop on creative approaches to Picture Book Biographies. The Writing Barn.

Latest Blog

Illustrator Daniel Minter Process Video – Illustrating Step Right Up’s Kindness Message

Sunday February 19, 2017

When I first learned that Daniel Minter had signed on to illustrate Step Right Up, I was over the moon excited. I was already a fan of his work. As is typical, we did not have contact during the years-long process of evolving the manuscript into a book. Except that I did introduce myself to [Read More]