I am Here Now

a novel in free verse

Set in the 1960s, Barbara Bottner’s I Am Here Now is a beautiful novel in verse about one artist’s coming of age. It’s a heartbreaking, powerful and inspiring depiction of what it’s like to shatter your life—and piece it all back together.

You can’t trust Life to give you decent parents, or beautiful eyes, a fine French accent or an outstanding flair for fashion. No, Life does what it wants. It’s sneaky as a thief.

Maisie’s first day of High school should be exciting, but all she wants is to escape.

Her world is lonely and chaotic, with an abusive mother and a father who’s rarely there to help.

So when Maisie, who finds refuge in her art, meets the spirited Rachel and her mother, a painter, she catches a glimpse of a very different world—one full of life, creativity, and love—and latches on.

But as she discovers her strengths through Rachel’s family, Maisie, increasingly desperate, finds herself risking new friendships, and the very future she’s searching for.

 ISBN 978-1-250-20769-2


Praise! Critical Acclaim! BUZZ!


Starred Review From Horn Book: 

“Bottner’s “somewhat biographical but mostly fictional” first-person novel in verse is rife with teen-appealing domestic and relationship drama. Maisie’s big emotions are splashed messily across every page, much like the Pollock paintings she admires. Her stormy relationship with her mother is heartbreakingly rendered….”

From Booklist:

“Bottner’s novel in verse is a vivid trip through a girl’s early teen years, showing that adolescent needs and wants remain constant through the decades. Maisie is a strong narrator who rings true, especially facing the totality of her challenges. Perfect for readers who are struggling to figure out their place in the world.”

Patricia Volk, Author of Shocked and  Stuffed+++:

Not since The Catcher in the Rye has there been such a riveting depiction of adolescent angst. But unlike Holden Caulfield, Maisie Meyers embraces her disappointment in the adult world, turning her loss of innocence into a launching pad for the examined life. I Am Here Now is important and utterly riveting.”

Kirkus StarFrom Kirkus Review:

“Packing numerous themes of evolving teen self-identity amid the cityscape of a broken home, this turbulent, plot-driven tale shows how a miserable home life transcends ethnic, historical, and socio-economic bounds. Timeless lessons in how to find one’s self-worth in the face of parental abuse.”

Michael Cart, Author, “Carte Blance” Column, Booklist: Author/Edit of 22 Books:

“A deeply felt, beautifully written novel in verse about a fractured family and a gifted young woman’s coming of age. Altogether captivating and compelling.”

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“Best known for her picture books, Bottner draws on all five senses to evoke Maisie’s chaotic world, using expressive verse to portray ‘what it’s like for me,’ from the dark atmosphere of her home to the bright environments of Rachel’s house and her mother’s art studio. [T]he book’s subject matter and themes remain timeless.”

Patricia Volk, Author of Shocked and  Stuffed+++

“Not since The Catcher in the Rye has there been such a riveting depiction of adolescent angst. But unlike Holden Caulfield, Maisie Meyers embraces her disappointment in the adult world, turning her loss of innocence into a launching pad for the examined life. I Am Here Now is important and utterly riveting.” 

Rob Bittner, PhD, Vice President, BC and Yukon Book Prizes:

I Am Here Now is beautiful, heartbreaking, affirming, and in many ways, horrifying. But it’s very much a positive approach to an eventful and complex lived experience. The voice is sincere and the overall narrative is nuanced and engaging. I thought it was beautifully done!

William Schwalbe, Author, The End of Your Life Book, former Editor-In-Chied, Hyperion:

I Am Here Now is simply heartbreaking, inspiring, and gorgeous. These characters will live with me forever. And your prose is literally poetry. Richie, Davy, Rachel, Kiki, Judith and of course Maisie. Indelible. Along with the other marvelous characters. And I love how art is a character too—Joyce, Pavel T, and Maisie’s own. What a stunner of a book!!! Thank you for this gift to us all.

School Journal Library:

-I Am Here Now is a heart wrenching story about a 1960’s aspiring artist trying to find her place in the world as those closest to her let her down repeatedly.


Check out my interview in Writer’s Experience Podcast: “Writing Free Verse 101”!




Check out my interview in BooksbyWomen.org

Authors Interviewing Characters: Barbara Bottner


Where’s My Turtle

 Where’s My Turtle? Kevin has to think like a turtle to find his turtle,

Archer’s pet turtle is missing! Mom is sure he’s somewhere in Archer’s messy bedroom…or the back yard… or somewhere in the house. Archer looks everywhere inside and out but can’t find his turtle until he learns to think like one! However, sharp-eyed young readers will easily find the missing pet hiding throughout the messy pages of this book.

By Barbara Bottner

illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

 ISBN 9781524718077

Publisher: Random House




The Crankypants Tea Party

Can Clarissa convince her stuffed animals to forgive her and have one of their magnificent tea

It’s tea time at Clarissa’s house, but her guests are not in the mood for a party: Elephant is upset about the ice cream Clarissa dropped on his head. Rabbit is still damp from being left outside. Pig has a rip that’s yet to be repaired. Monkey is miffed over being put to bed when he wasn’t even tired. Bear has been forgotten all week long. And, the stuffies declare, Clarissa thinks she’s Queen of the Universe! So instead of a tea party, Clarissa finds herself at a crankypants party! Can Clarissa and her stuffed animals make up before their tea gets cold, or will they continue to steep in their crankiness?

By Barbara Bottner, illus. by Ale Barba

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 

ISBN-10: 1481459007


“What a Cold Needs”

“Your child has a cold?
Well along with the chicken soup

they might welcome this book!”


By Barbara Bottner

illus. by Chris Sheban

ISBN 978-0-8234-4172-3


By Barbara Bottner, illus. by Michael Emberley
(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy; ISBN 978-1-4814-5897-9; 3/07/17; Spring 2017 catalog)


“… the perfect heroine for our times.”

Priscilla Gorilla

Publishers Weekly

     In a funny, empathic, and refreshingly unsentimental take on childhood, the team behind Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) and other titles introduces Priscilla, a gorilla-obsessed first grader. Priscilla’s passion goes far beyond a mastery of fun facts: gorillas “always get their way,” she tells her mother, and this perceived ability to call the shots speaks deeply to Priscilla’s independent spirit and skepticism of authority—especially when that authority is her put-upon teacher, Mr. Todd. But Priscilla’s silverback act soon starts taking its toll on the classroom—so many peers emulate her that everyone ends up doing time in the euphemistically named Thinking Corner—and something has to give. Emberley’s watercolors, which channel the mischievous intelligence of Sendak, are wonderful at conveying personality through body language: a single drawing of Mr. Todd putting on his coat while announcing a field trip instantly communicates that this is a teacher with a solution to the Priscilla problem. And Priscilla, with her outsize confidence and (eventual) willingness to see a different perspective, is the perfect heroine for our times. Ages 4–7. 


“Bottner’s tale of ape adoration is sweetly spot-on.”

Kirkus Star  Kirkus Review 

     Priscilla is not a gorilla, but she sure loves everything about them. Six-year-old Priscilla has made her dad read All About Gorillas to her a “million skillion times!” When her mom asks why she loves gorillas so much, Priscilla responds, “They always get their way.” Her mother opines that Priscilla gets her way a lot already. But at school, Priscilla’s enthusiasm for simians sometimes gets her sent to the Thinking Corner. When, on picture day, Mr. Todd has the class give reports on their favorite animals while in costume, Priscilla wants to keep her gorilla jammies on for the picture…and ends up out of the picture and in the Thinking Corner. Her classmates follow her lead, though, and soon the Thinking Corner is pretty crowded. Her parents point out some cooperative traits common in gorillas, sparking a change in behavior if not in heart. After Priscilla apologizes to Mr. Todd (sort of), the class trip to the zoo is a gorillastravaganza. Bottner’s tale of ape adoration is sweetly spot-on. Primary schoolchildren will identify with Priscilla, her obsession, and her multiracial classmates. Emberley’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations telegraph every emotion, from childish exuberance to patient parental love. The four pages of the famous gorilla dance at the close are worth the price of admission. Priscilla and her dad have black hair and light brown skin; her black-haired mom’s skin is a shade pinker



A fine bedtime book that may actually help kids go to sleep.”

 Feet Go To Sleep 

 Kirkus Reviews “2015-02-16″

When every inch of you is bone tired, why not try falling asleep bit by bit? That’s what little Fiona, weary from a tiring day frolicking with family at the beach, does—and it works. She dispatches each body part off to dreamland, reminiscing as she goes how each part, starting with her toes and proceeding upward, was especially suited to enjoy a day bursting with activity and fun. The watercolor, gouache, fabric, and digital illustrations are bright and cheerful, neatly conveying a perky child and her warm, happy memories of a day spent with loving, multiethnic relatives.  Children and their special grown-ups should find this an endearing prelude to bedtime after their own very busy days, especially if enlivened by discussions of how kids’ body parts figured into their activities.



Miss Brooks' Story Nook

  “A hilarious companion to the New York Times bestselling.” 

  Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) 

    Amazon’s Best of the Year list

    *  It’s Bank Street – “The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition”

      Missy loves her librarian, Miss Brooks. And she loves to go to Miss Brooks’ before-school story time. But to get  to Story Nook, she has to pass Billy  Toomey’s house— and she does not love Billy Toomey. Billy always tries to  steal her hat and jeers, “I’m going to get you!” It’s vexing. Then one rainy  (and hatless) day, Miss Brooks changes  story hour to storytelling hour. She teaches the kids about characters and plot and action and satisfying  conclusions and encourages them to make up their own tales. And that’s when Missy has a brainstorm. She sees a  way to use her made-up story to    deal with her real-life bully. In this terrifically funny ode to inventiveness and  ingenuity, Barbara Bottner & Michael Emberley celebrate the power of  stories and how they can help us to  rewrite our own lives 

     Click here to watch the Story Nook  Promo:utube