Arlo Draws an Octopus

An empowering picture book about creativity, making mistakes, and changing your perspective.

When Arlo decides to draw an octopus, he can’t help but think that maybe he’s just not an octopus drawer. His drawing has a head that looks like a hill and eight squiggly arms that look like roads. It’s an octopus disaster-piece! But just as Arlo vows to never draw an octopus again, he makes a discovery that changes his perspective about his drawing . . . and much more.



"No man now ever says of any difficult thing that I could not do it." —Isabella Bird

Away with Words, the Daring Story of Isabella Bird


Parent's Choice Recommended Award Winner 2019

One of Nonfiction Detective's Best Books of 2019

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People/NCSS/CBC/2020

“Sure to inspire the explorers of tomorrow … The crux of this unforgettable tale is that if you can dream big and be brave, anything is possible."—Bookpage

“Mortensen distills a very full life into a condensed but readable narrative for primary grade children... Children who hope to forge their own paths can take heart from this picture-book biography.”—Booklist

“Mortensen writes in a precise, poetic manner... This volume captures the spirit of a woman who embraced new experiences and played by her own rules."—Publishers Weekly 

"An engaging biography for intermediate grades."—School Library Journal

“Author Lori Mortensen writes of fearless Isabella in delicious words and phrases that practically melt in your mouth and keep the pages turning. This story is a treat for young, independent and adventuresome souls.”—Tulsa Book Review




Chicken Lily

South Carolina Association of School Librarians  2018-2019 

South Carolina Book Award Nominee

"Nice addition to story times and good ... for anyone who's a little chicken."—Kirkus Reviews  

"Every classroom has its shy kids, but this picture book thrusts one into the spotlight and lets her shine."—Booklist

"Lily is literally and figuratively a chicken ... Filled with seamlessly incorporated poultry puns and idioms ... the wordplay makes this title a good choice for schools and public libraries."—School Library Journal




Cindy Moo

Scholastic Book Club Selection

Texas Library Association 2013 2x2 Reading List

One of HarperCollins 11 Essential Books for Newborns


"[This book] . . . stands out for its clever heroine who just won't give up."—Kirkus Reviews

"As fresh as newly churned butter, this takeoff on "Hey Diddle Diddle" is mighty clever. . . Mo(ooo)ve aside your other cow tales, because this lovable bovine really does take off."—Booklist

"A determined cow thinks outside the box to prove that she can jump over the moon in this bouncy barnyard rhyme . . . Underneath its silliness, Mortensen's energetic verse offers readers a can-do message about finding different ways of looking at a challenge."—Publishers Weekly




Come See the Earth Turn, The Story of Leon Foucault

Winner of 2011 NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for K-12

Smithsonian's Notable Book for Children 2010



"Readers will marvel ... at the genius of this little-known scientific wizard."—School Library Journal

"An atmospheric picture book."—Wall Street Journal

"It should enchant not only science lovers, but any child who has felt awkward and dreamed big."

—Publishers Weekly




Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg

2016 Charlotte Award Nominee

One of Amazon's Best Picture Books of 2013

Winner of 2013 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award

One of Bank Street College's Best Books for 2014


"This is a story that begs to be read aloud with a twang drawl, perhaps  as part of a Western or farm-themed story time. Plumb funny, fer sure."Kirkus, STARRED Review


"A first purchase for most libraries."—School Library Journal, STARRED Review


"Not so fast, pardner! Turns out Cowpoke Clyde is better at lassoing cattle than wrangling his flea-ridden friend Dawg into the tub. Austin's exaggeratedly slim Clyde and highly animated animals should round up even reluctant readers."—New York Times 


“[Mortensen]offers here another humorous, rhyming picture book, this one filled with clever language and anticipatory page turns that will delight young listeners …This makes a good choice for story hours or one-on-one sharing.”—Booklist





Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range


Rhyme Revolution's Best Rhyming Picture Book of 2016

2018 Grand Canyon Reader  Award Nominee


"The pitch-perfect rhyming text is filled with amusing, old-fashioned expressions in Clyde's strong cowboy voice, just begging to be read aloud. . . Another doggone funny cowboy caper chock full o' chuckles."—Kirkus, STARRED Review 

"Mortensen's melodic and twangy couplets beg to be read aloud. . . .it's clear this isn't Mortensen's first rodeo."—Booklist

"Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range is a fun read-aloud book with rhyming and cowboy language that will keep readers laughing and coming back for more. Mortensen's first Cowpoke Clyde book won an Amazon's Best Book of the Year award, and this new rendition is sure to tickle the funny bone of all who read it or hear it aloud. Appropriate for preschool and primary aged children, listeners will surely soon catch onto the rhythm of the story and crave the next line."—Children's Book & Media Review





If Wendell Had a Walrus

ILF (Indiana Library Federation) Young Hoosier Award Book



"A 'stupendiferous, cosmically colossal' good time for all."—Kirkus Reviews


"A breezy and lovely ode to friendship and imagination."—School Library Journal

"Mortensen's pitch-perfect child humor combined with Phelan's knack for body language and facial expressions brings the pair's joy clearly to the pages ... A surprise twist at the end leaves room for kids to imagine what happens next."—The Horn Book

"A delight to read and re-read."—San Francisco Book Review





In the Trees, Honey Bees!


2012 California Readers Collection Winner

2010-2011 FL Reading Association's  Children Book Awards Nominee

2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner

2010 NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Book K-12 Winner

2009 Silver Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Winner

2009 IWLA Book of the Year Award Recipient

2009 iParenting Media Awards for Outstanding Product

Gold Mom's Choice Award Winner


"A wonderful choice for a sharing aloud."—School Library Journal

"Vibrant colors, lyrical rhyming couplets, and accurate science all make this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2010 ideal to share with younger students."—NSTA Recommends



"This book] brings us a close-up look at the lives of honey bees . . . Lori Mortensen's text dances neatly between a very simple rhyming text for younger readers ("Sisters fly through the sky") and more in-depth prose notes explaining the science involved. That back-and-forth makes [this book] an ideal book for kindergarten and early-elementary schools."—Boston Globe

"Simple rhymes and striking full-bleed illustrations introduce the daily lives of honey bees to very young readers and listeners."—Kirkus Reviews

"Children may never view honey bees in the same way again."—The Children's Hour




Mousequerade Ball, A Counting Tale



"A surefire story time selection."—School Library Journal


"Mortensen's verse text sets an upbeat rhythm and a jovial tone . . . a good counting book for classroom settings as well as individual reading."—Booklist


"It is an enchanting evening to remember (and a fine reminder that even a primary concept can get dressed up."—Kirkus Reviews

"Lewin’s loose, breezy watercolors tap into the blend of elegance and comedy in this diverting animal fantasy." —Publishers Weekly


"The rhymes are sweet and the words are perfect for toddlers and Ms. Mortensen excels at capturing toddler attention and even keeping adults entertained (while reading again and again, I might add). Highly recommended for babies and toddlers."—The Children's Book Review





NONSENSE! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

Amazon Best Books of the Month March: Nonfiction for Kids


"A stellar biography, as creepy and fun as its subject."—Kirkus, STARRED Review

"This playful picture book biography is a wonderful and unique introduction to Edward Gorey's life and work."—School Library Journal,  STARRED Review

"Mortensen's stylishly poetic prose calls attention to the element of fun in Gorey's work. Illustrator Bristol's (the Winterhouse Mysteries series) pencil and digital art evokes the sketchy black lines used by Gorey himself. Text and illustration together paint a satisfying picture of an eccentric who developed an endearing (and unusual) way of expressing himself."—Shelf Awareness, STARRED Review

"[Bristol duplicates] Gorey’s style throughout with remarkable conviction, capturing his long, rail-like human figures, their haunted expressions, and their elegant clothing."

—Publishers Weekly 


"Author biographies in picture book form are difficult to do well, but Mortensen and Bristol have partnered to make this one as good as it gets. Do not miss this book!"—San Francisco Book Review



"[A] quiet affirmation that being different is interesting—and interesting stories are the very best kind."—Booklist

"Chloe Bristol’s wonderful autumn-hued pictures evoke Gorey’s
figures—the elongated bodies, the hollow, exhausted eyes—in this buoyant biography for children ages 5-9."—Wall Street Journal

"How odd and how lovely: a picture book biography about an author who is unlikely to turn up in the school curriculum…. Bristol complements the mood with deep earth-toned illustrations that pay tribute to Gorey’s own work and to writers and artists he influenced.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books




Copyright @ 2020 Lori Mortensen - All rights reserved. 

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon