Coming October 2016

*Kirkus Starred Review* *Booklist Starred Review* *PW Starred Review* *Junior Library Guild selection* 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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School Visits

I love to talk to kids and other writers about the creative, practical, multi-faceted writing process. Let me customize a presentation or workshop for your particular audience.

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Donna Janell Bowman


Jim Key Pledge of Kindness.  See that blank space in the pretty purple heading above? That will soon contain a very special illustrated downloadable document for use in classrooms. During the years William “Doc” Key and his horse Beautiful Jim Key performed, spreading the message about kindness, an estimated two million children signed the Jim Key Pledge to be kind to animals. It seems fitting to revive the pledge for use today. So that’s what we’re doing. And we’re expanding the pledge to include kindness to each other, too. Please check back. And consider using the pledge when reading the book to your children or your students.

Official-Sounding Bio:

Fave 2 IMG_1627a 5 x 7 72Donna Janell Bowman, a native Texan, is the author of nonfiction children’s books for trade and education publishers as well as articles and short stories in nationally acclaimed children’s magazines. Her soon-to-release narrative picture book biography, STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS (Lee and Low, October 2016), illustrated by Daniel Minter, has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection for fall 2016. Kirkus awarded STEP RIGHT UP a starred review, declaring it “An incredible story that ought to be widely known—a must-read.” Two additional picture book biographies are forthcoming: EN GARDE! ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree, spring 2018), and KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: WHEN THE GREAT BLONDIN RULED NIAGARA (Peachtree, spring 2019). Donna is currently completing her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has other fiction and nonfiction projects in the works. 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 fences, 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 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. I am now 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 and with writers of all ages. 

Because I believe in always learning, I am currently working toward my master’s degree (MFA) in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I should graduate in January 2017. Woohoo!

You can read more about me here:

Interview for Austin SCBWI.

Interview about rejecting rejection from The Writing Barn.

Cynsations, October 12, 2016, re: Step Right Up

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


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.” If you’ll be there, please say hello.

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

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? Me!


Latest Blog

Launching Step Right Up with a Charitable Outreach

Thursday October 13, 2016

Launch celebration for Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness Sunday, October 23, 2016 3pm. Book People—603 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX   In two days—October 15, 2016—Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness officially releases. While I celebrate the culmination of this [Read More]