Ruth McNally Barshaw
Welcome to the website of Ruth McNally Barshaw, author, illustrator, cartoonist, & expert daydreamer

How nice of you to visit

Please have a look at my work. I write and illustrate children's books and travel to schools teaching students about art, the writing process, and the value of both imagination and revisions.

I've been busy lately. Check out My Isolation Journal 

and a new, free booklet on my New Stuff page.


Ellie McDoodle's little brother Ben-Ben doing a somersault

This is Ben-Ben, Ellie McDoodle's brother. 


My art

Recent work

Where I have been

Recent work

little baby using American Sign Language to tell parent she is hungry. Parent misunderstands.


Where I have been

Recent work

sketch of me working outside, papers flying in the wind

Where I have been

Where I have been

My early sketchbooks

Sketch of my mom when she was a kid. She loves hats.

My early sketchbooks

My early sketchbooks

My early sketchbooks

I drew this at age 14 when I was missing my dad, who died when I was 12.


My early sketchbooks


This comic strip ran online. My readers and I loved it, the comics syndicates passed on it.

My books

You can find my books in person at your local independent bookstore

and Barnes & Noble, and online at Indiebound and Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

There's No Base Like Home

There's No Base Like Home

There's No Base Like Home

The cover of There's No Base Like Home which is about softball

Find this terrific story in a bookstore near you! Written by 2-time Olympic medalist and ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza and her sister Alana Mendoza Dusan, and illustrated by me.  (I learned a LOT about softball)

Ellie McDoodle

There's No Base Like Home

There's No Base Like Home

The six books of the Ellie McDoodle Diaries series

Six books, tons of cool projects you can make yourself, a bit of word play and science, one truly frightening Mrs. Claus, a hundred pranks, a gazillion adventures, and a whole lot of fun.
Ellie McDoodle is published in 8 languages.

Leopold the Lion

There's No Base Like Home

Leopold the Lion

Cover of Leopold the Lion book, lion in bubbly bath

Like Ellie McDoodle, Leopold the Lion has carved out his own place on the Michigan best seller list several times. Parents and children will have a roaring good time reading about Leopold's adventures in Jack and Ella's house.

Cover of There's No Base Like Home, written by Jessica Mendoza and Alana Mendoza Dusan.

There's No Base Like Home

Great fun, and has my illustrations.

Written by Jessica Mendoza and Alana Mendoza Dusan, illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw

This will be twelve-year-old Sophia Maria Garcia’s best year ever: she’s trying out for the same championship softball team her sister played on at her age, and she’s starting middle school. New school, new team, new Sophia!

But all does not go according to plan. Sophia does not make the Waves softball team and her best friend is suddenly more interested in boys than Sophia. As the middle school blues set in, and her family is pulled in different directions, Sophia must reach deep down and find a little UMPH—the difference between being good and great—to figure out her own place, on and off the field.

ESPN Major League Baseball analyst and two-time Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza teams up with her sister Alana Mendoza Dusan for their first highly-illustrated novel for young readers, based on their own childhood softball adventures.

What I learned while illustrating this terrific book:

Softball is all about strategy, and there's a huge community of dedicated softball players that push themselves *hard*. Curve balls and rise balls are different. Batting left-handed gets you to first base quicker. And I learned that if I'd had a book like this available to 13-year-old me when I was on a team, I'd have been a better player. 

Buy this book!

Published by Lee and Low's Tu Books.


ISBN: 9781620145883 

Reading level: Grades 3 - 8 

Interest level: Grades 3 - 8

Themes: Families, Friendship, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Middle Grade, Sports

About the Authors

Jessica Mendoza

is a Major League Baseball analyst for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. She is the first female analyst in MLB postseason history and ESPN’s first-ever female MLB analyst. Jessica also serves as a contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America. She won gold & silver Olympic medals in 2004 and 2008, respectively, as a member of the US Women’s Softball Team.

Alana Mendoza Dusan 

was a Division 1 softball player at Oregon State University. She currently teaches high school English and lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries

Book 1

Book 1

Book 1


 The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 1
Have Pen, Will Travel

One girl. One sketchbook. 

One week of camping with the 

world's most annoying relatives!

Ellie McDougal (better known to her friends as McDoodle) is being held prisoner . . . by her aunt, uncle, three annoying cousins, 

and baby brother, Ben-Ben. 
Sentenced to a camping trip with them 

while her parents are out of town,
Ellie is absolutely, positively determined 

to hate every single minute of it. 
Thank goodness she at least has her sketch journal in which to record all of the excruciating (and, ahem, funny) details. 
But how will Ellie keep her journal from falling into Er-ick the Enemy's hands? 
And what will happen if -- inconceivable! -- 

she actually starts having fun? 
Part graphic novel, part confessional journal, part wilderness survival guide,
Ellie's story is a treat for young campers, vacationers, or any kid looking to
curl up with a great summer read.

What the reviewers say:

"A quick read with a lot of heart."
-- Becky's Book Reviews

"I am always on the lookout for great books to serve as models
for kids' own writers' notebooks. 

This is one I'll add to my collection."
-- A Year of Reading Blog

"Part journal, part graphic novel, all fun (with echoes of Harriet the Spy)."
--Kirkus Reviews

Price: $ 12.99 US
Reading level: Ages 7-12
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 "
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Reviews: Lots of great ones
Hardcover version:
176 pages, $12.99
Release date: May 1, 2007
Reissued May 28, 2013
ISBN 9781619631731
Paperback version:
192 pages, $6.99
Release date: May 27, 2008
Reissue edition (May 24, 2011):
ISBN-10: 1599907151
ISBN-13: 978-1599907154

Quick facts:
Ellie McDoodle book 1 was born: May 2007
Genre: highly-illustrated middle-grade novel
What that means: art on every page
Number of pages: 176
Number of pictures: Zillions!
Number of frogs: Bajillions!!!
Number of games, pranks & nature facts:
Let's just say LOTS!

Book 2

Book 1

Book 1


 The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 2
New Kid in School

What are the first two words of the story? 

“The End.”
So what do you suppose are 

the last two words of the story?

A back-to-school book for any kid who's ever felt like an outsider looking in.
When Ellie's family moves to a new town, she's sure she won't fit in.
Nobody else likes to read as much as she does, the other kids at school play
"new kid Bingo" behind her back, and even the teachers can't seem 

to remember her name.
But when the students need someone to help them rally against long lunch lines (and bad food), Ellie is on the case.
And with shorter lines and better food in sight, can friendship be far behind?
For any kid who's ever felt like an outsider looking in, Ellie's journal captures the frustration, the nervousness, and yes, the occasional happy surprises 

of making a fresh start.

Author says:
Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School gets great reviews from teachers, librarians and bookstore people. It's written from the heart -- I've been that scared new kid, I know the pain of not fitting in, and I know the happy endings that result from not giving up 

on something worthwhile. :)

 Quick facts:
Number of pages: 192
Reading level: Ages 7-12
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 "
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Hardcover version:
192 pages, $12.99
Release date: July 1, 2008
Reissued May 28, 2013
ISBN 9781619631748
Paperback version:
192 pages, $5.99
Release date: July 7, 2009
Reissued paperback edition (July 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1-59990-716-X
ISBN-13: 978-159990-716-1 

Book 3

Book 1

Book 3


The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 3

Best Friends Fur-Ever

Review From School Library Journal:
grades 2-4–
Ellie's family is obsessed with pets; her siblings can't agree on what they want, and their parents aren't sure they support 

any of their choices.
At school, Ellie is assigned a multimedia class presentation on an animal. Using a journal format with her doodles on
every page, she writes about bird-sitting her neighbor's African grey parrot and does research on the bird for her report.
Ellie at first dislikes but then befriends the son of the pet-store owners, loses the parrot, 

and keeps up with the menagerie 

her siblings bring home.
Interspersed in this story are instructions for games, yoga breathing, and crafts 

that add to the fun.
The book can be read alone, but readers of the first two books will get some of the jokes that are repeated throughout the series.
Exuberant black-and-white sketches and
dialogue balloons enliven the pages.
Recommend this one to fans of Sara Pennypacker's Clementine.
–Debbie Hoskins, 

Grand Rapids Public Library, MI 

From Teens Read Too:
When Ellie has to give a report on an exotic pet, she has a hard time picking a topic.
When the neighbor asks her to watch her parrot, Ellie decides this would make a perfect animal for her project. The bird, however, doesn't want to learn the lines Ellie is trying to make it speak for her report. Instead, it would rather fly around playing with Ellie's little brother and insulting Ellie. To make matters worse, the parrot flies out the window one afternoon. With the help of some unusual people - a zookeeper, a librarian, some good friends, and her pet-obsessed family - Ellie will try everything she can to get the parrot back.
Will Ellie succeed before her neighbor comes home? Will she do well on her report?
A fun, realistic fiction book...  
The characters are entertaining, the plot is interesting, and the illustrations complement the text well. Readers who like realistic fiction and animal stories will enjoy reading
Reviewed by: Kira M

Quick facts:
Number of pages: 192
Reading level: Ages 7-12

 Lexile Measure: 570L
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 "
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Hardcover version:
192 pages

ISBN-10: 1599904268

ISBN-13: 978-1599904269

Paperback edition:

192 pages, $7.99

 ISBN-10: 1599906570

ISBN-13: 978-1599906577

Book 4

Book 4

Book 3


The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 4
Most Valuable Player

One girl. One sketchbook.
One valuable player on the team:
Can it possibly be Ellie? 

She isn't good at soccer!

Poor Ellie. When her best friend, Mo, suggests they try out for soccer together, Ellie isn't convinced she's the athletic type. 

And sure enough, Ellie can't seem to get her head (or her feet) around the game,

 even with her dad's coaching. 

The truth is, Ellie would much rather be doing brain-bending puzzles with her school's Journey of the Mind club. But when both teams have a tournament on the same day, the race is on to see whether Ellie can be in two places at once and help her teammates bring home a win-- on and off the field!

Reading level: Ages 7-12
Book size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 "
Reviews: Lots of great ones
192 pages
Series: The Ellie McDoodle Diaries
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens;
Reissue edition (May 28, 2013)
Language: English

Hardcover edition
ISBN-10: 1619631768
ISBN-13: 978-1619631762

Quick facts:
Genre: highly-illustrated middle-grade novel
What that means: art on every page
Number of pages: 176 of story plus extras!
Number of pictures: Hundreds!
Weirdest sport ever: Ben-Ben Ball!
Who is evil Mrs. Claus? You will be surprised! 

Book 5

Book 4

Book 5


 The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 5
The Show Must Go On 

 One girl. One sketchbook. 

One whole-school production
and one very, very angry best friend.

When Ellie McDoodle signs up to help with her school's production of The Wizard of Oz, she never expected it to be so much work! There are sets to help paint, costumes to plan, and then there's casting. When her best friend Mo gets cast as Wicked Witch--and not the coveted Dorothy--Mo and Ellie have their first big fight. As the student director, Ellie should have helped her get the starring role, right? Mo thinks so.
Skip with Ellie through her first big drama production at school. Just like the main characters in Oz, Ellie and her friends will find courage, heart, brains, and that there's no place like home! 

Reading level: Ages 7-12
Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 "
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers
Reviews: Lots of great ones
Release date: May 1, 2013

Hardcover edition
ISBN-10: 1619630591
ISBN-13: 978-1619630598

Author's note:
The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of all time. Watch for echoes of it in the action in the book. In the beginning, Ellie's dog destroys the neighbor's garden just like Toto does in the film. But of course there's a happy ending.

Book 6

Book 4

Book 5


The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Book 6
Ellie for President 

One girl. One sketchbook.
Three opponents. One election.
And one school newspaper job which Ellie loves and has to give up.

When Ellie McDoodle starts a school newspaper, she gets the scoop on the upcoming class officer elections. Ellie's friends and family convince her to run for president, so she starts a campaign (with lots of creative posters and props, of course).
But when the competition gets tough, Ellie is nervous about running against her classmates and her new crush.

Right in line with mega-selling diary series, this book's personality-filled art is perfect for kids looking for their next diary fix. Readers will want to vote for Ellie as they follow the relatable emotions surrounding the class elections and Ellie's first crush.

Review from School Library Journal:
Gr 3–5—In this sixth installment of the popular epistolary series, Ellie's family encourages her to run for class president.
She quickly throws herself into the campaign, but soon becomes wary of competing against her friends—and her secret crush. Purchase where McDoodle fans thrive

Reading level: Ages 7-12
Published Sept 23, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens;
ISBN-10: 1619630613
ISBN-13: 978-1619630611


Ellie McDoodle is a maker kid who loves art, nature, and games.


What the reviewers say: 

"A quick read with a lot of heart." -- Becky's Book Reviews 

"I am always on the lookout for great books to serve as models for kids' own writers' notebooks. This is one I'll add to my collection." -- A Year of Reading Blog 

"Part journal, part graphic novel, all fun (with echoes of Harriet the Spy)." --Kirkus Reviews  



 What is so special about the Ellie McDoodle Diaries? 

Take a look inside! Each book is half art and half writing -- there's a mix on every page. t's great for not-yet-enthusiastic readers, visual kids, future artists and writers, and it's the best book for teaching students how to journal. You'll find lots of crafts and origami and games, plus nature facts, word play, and pranks woven into the story. 

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries are found in 8 languages around the world, sometimes with a very different title and cover. Ellie's name even changes! But the story and the art stay the same. The Bloomsbury team did a terrific job connecting with publishers from other countries to see if their readers would like to get to know Ellie.

Ellie McDoodle is often compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. They share a lot of qualities -- middle school protagonist keeps a funny, illustrated journal about life. 

The first Ellie McDoodle book came out one month after the first Wimpy Kid book! 

Amazing that we were both thinking of the same basic ideas at the same time. 

If you enjoy Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries, you’ll probably like Ellie McDoodle.


And if you like games, pranks, crafts, origami, and word play, you will LOVE Ellie. 

If you enjoy characters who are always tra-la-la happy and never have a rough time, um, you might not like Ellie. She’s a real girl with real world troubles. 

And when she does something wrong she gets in even more trouble.

But there’s always a happy ending. 

Buy the Ellie McDoodle Diaries

BUY the Ellie McDoodle books at your favorite local independent bookstore. 

Or buy it from my local indie store here: http://tinyurl.com/schulerbooks (shipping’s just $1 per book!) 

Ellie is also available at: http://www.powells.com , http://www.barnesandnoble.com , http://www.walmart.com/ , http://amazon.com , and many fine bookstores across the country and online. 

And it’s at several airport bookstores, too -- ask for it! 


Leopold the Lion

What I learned while illustrating this book: How to draw a lion from a 5

Book summary: 

When Jack and Ella come across a friendly--and talented!--lion in their backyard they are thrilled to take him in as their pet. And they're positive they know just how to care for their new pet, ignoring Grandpa's cheeky asides.
But soon Leopold the Lion grows despondent and chubby. Even the circus  who lost him won't take him back! Do Jack and Ella know what to do to get Leopold healthy again? 

A sweet story with a subtle commentary on making healthy choices.

What the reviewers say:


Keeping a lion as a pet is never easy. Jack and Ella find a lion in their backyard, a lion that can perform backflips and somersaults on the trampoline! They, of course, want to keep him. Sneaking him by their parents is simple (they are busy, and the role reversal portrayed in their jobs is refreshing). 

And although Grandpa seems to sense something is up, he lets them be.
Jack and Ella feed the lion a steady diet of chips and snacks. When they go to school, they make sure he is occupied with plenty of electronic games. Unsurprisingly, the once-boisterous lion turns listless and lethargic. Barshaw shows him tragically slumped on the floor, barely able to lift one claw to place on the touch-screen of his device. He has no desire to go outside and play.

Even when his circus past is discovered, Leopold does not want to perform anymore. Luckily, Jack and Ella (with some help from Grandpa) realize how wrong they were. Lions (and children, by extension) need a healthy diet and exercise. The lesson is obvious, but it's delivered with a light touch. 

Details such as the children's pictorial list of "good pets to get" and a packet of freeze-dried wildebeest ("made with pride") keep the illustrations lively.
Jack, Ella, and their family are portrayed with dark skin and hair, with no obvious ethnic markers, allowing for a wide range of identification. 

An essential look at the importance of an active lifestyle sneakily disguised as a fanciful feline tale. (Picture book. 4-7)
-- Kirkus Reviews, July 2015

Buy Leopold the Lion


Age Range: 6 - 8 years 

Grade Level: 1 - 3 

Hardcover: 32 pages 

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press 2015 

Language: English 

ISBN-10: 1585368288 

ISBN-13: 978-1585368280 

Book size: 10 x 10 inches  

Bring home Leopold the Lion from your favorite local indie book store!


Some of my favorites are: 

Book Beat in Oak Park 

Schuler Books in Lansing & Grand Rapids 

Book Bug in Kalamazoo 

Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo

Flying Pig in Vermont 

Online sellers:


Barnes & Noble


About Ruth


I was born loving books.

Charlie and I have the best family I could ever hope for.

Our children are all creative and funny and they're close friends with each other -- and they brought new partners into the mix who enrich our lives. From their sweet families we're lucky to have grandchildren to love. 

I loved drawing and writing my whole life.

People have asked which I love more. That's like asking which is my favorite ear. Actually it isn't -- I like the left one a little bit more. I like writing and art the same.

I've always considered myself a lucky person.

I've won lots of stuff. 

I never expected to be an author.

I love my job. Absolutely love it.

About Charlie


Charlie Barshaw wrote stories for his Aunt Lillian when he was in grade school.

In high school, he joined the school newspaper, and in senior year became a featured humor writer. In college, he joined the student newspaper staff, and then published his own literary magazine.

Then, a long series of years where he read profusely but did not write a word.

Until he met Ruth McNally in East Lansing, where she drew on a paper napkin.

When he found that Ruth had the same birthday (May 23) and the same number of siblings (8) and the same number of Peggys (1), their fate was sealed, and they fell in love and got married.

Charlie helped develop ideas for Ruth’s long-running MSU comic “College Is…”

They collaborated to publish three issues of the parody paper, “The Stale News”.

He also wrote scripts for two other comic collaborations, “Home Work” and

“Planets Collide.”

While he wrote for local newspapers and magazines, it wasn’t until he lost his job

in 2009 that Ruth encouraged him to write for kids and help with her growing school visit enterprise.

Since then, he’s had three short stories published with Amazon Rapids, and many articles published in The Mitten blog (where he’s now an editor). 

The Mitten promotes the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Michigan 


He’s also a member of the Advisory Committee for that group, planning

conferences, lining up speakers and arranging critques.

He’s got five middle grade or young adult novels in stages of completion. He

belongs to three critique groups, and has earned a red belt in the Korean martial art of Hapkido.

Charlie's website doesn't exist yet but when it does we'll link to it 


Contact us

Ruth's official author photo





Represented by Kevin Lewis at 

Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Charlie and Ruth 2017



Thank you for visiting!

Charlie holding our newborn grandson