Author Archives: Keila Dawson

About Keila Dawson

New Orleans native, author, educator, ex-pat, world traveler, military spouse, chocolate lover, tennis player, and family historian

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Register for Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented author and illustrator Sophie Blackhall! Read the author study to learn more about her and while there register for the virtual conference.

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July 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Nikki Grimes

July 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Nikki Grimes

It’s time for another Coronavirus Creative Mentor Text Author Study post!

In August 2018, I wrote a mentor text author study featuring poet and author Nikki Grimes. Since then, Grimes has released two new picture books this year. Let’s look at those books. Read more at the Reading for Research blog.

Happy reading! Stay safe!

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NO VOICE TOO SMALL Book Trailer

NO VOICE TOO SMALL Book Trailer

The book trailer of the day on Shelf Awareness is NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History! Video by Jeanette Bradley.🎤 Jeanette, Lindsay, and I are so excited to get this book into the hands of kids. 👊

Releases September 22 from Charlesbridge Publishing.

You can preorder the book today anywhere books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

Book trailer created by Jeanette Bradley

Charlesbridge Publishing, September 22, 2020
Nonfiction picture book for ages 5-9
ISBN: 978-1623541316

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June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

This month I discussed informational picture books and looked at at Give Me Back My Bones by Kim Norman, illustrated by Bob Kolar over at the Reading for Research blog. What a fun read!

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No Voice Too Small Review

No Voice Too Small Review

Children’s book creators know all too well that feeling of waiting for reviews to come in. The first review of No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History is in. And it’s amazing! Read the review here, written by bloggers at The Tiny Activist. My co-editors Lindsay Metcalf, Jeanette Bradley, and I are over the moon!

This book is a testament that one person, one voice, one action can make a difference. And together, we can make the world a better place than it is today.

Graphic created by Lindsay H. Metcalf

And a huge thanks to all the activists featured and talented poets who wrote about them.

Featured activists:
Judy Adams | Ziad Ahmed |Noah Barnes | Jasilyn Charger | Mari Copeny | Marley Dias | Levi Draheim | Cierra Fields | Samirah “DJ Annie Red” Horton | Jazz Jennings | Nza-Ari Khepra | Viridiana Sanchez Santos | Adora Svitak | Zach Wahls

Featured poets:
S. Bear Bergman | Joseph Bruchac | Nikki Grimes | Hena Khan | Andrea J. Loney | Guadalupe García McCall | Lindsay H. Metcalf | Fiona Morris | G. Neri | Lesléa Newman | Traci Sorell | Charles Waters | Carole Boston Weatherford | Janet Wong

You can preorder the book today anywhere books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

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Remote Learning with Authors & Illustrators

Remote Learning with Authors & Illustrators

Children’s picture book, middle grade, and young adult authors and illustrators are rallying to help during a time when schools are closing and students are challenged to study remotely due to COVID-19. We know parents will be challenged, too.

In addition to what schools are providing, here are some additional resources and homeschooling help.

I hope you find something useful!

Check back for updates!

Story Seeds kids use their own story ideas and pair up with real authors. Together they collaborate and “grow” their ideas into original short stories.

Picture book and middle grade author Kate Messner created Read, Wonder, and Learn! Favorite Authors & Illustrators Share Resources for Learning Anywhere are videos featuring picture book and middle grade authors and illustrators on her website. And it’s growing daily.

Authors Everywhere! is a YouTube Channel focused on providing content for kids like read alouds, writing prompts and writing exercises.

Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka created “Draw with JJK” that will air every weekday at 1:00pm Central or catch the videos on his YouTube channel. 

Picture book and chapter book author Grace Lin created Ask Authors podcast, that launches March 17th. She plans to have a weekly 5-10 minute podcast featuring a guest author who will answer one question from a child reader. Episodes will end with a book review or a joke. Read more about the podcast in this article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Nonfiction science Picture book author Melissa Stewart created mini-lessons on her website addressing content from her nonfiction picture books.

Musician Emily Arrow creates fun songs for many popular picture books. 

#StoryMarch includes illustration prompts by The Greater Boston Illustrators Group.

And I created a study guide for my picture book, The King Cake Baby that includes activities comparing and contrasting it to it to the classic Gingerbread Man story. And here’s an easy kid-friendly king cake recipe and the movement and song 5 Little King Cake Babies for preschool and Kindergarten aged children.

Explore the world of children’s literature on KidLitTV. Read alouds, author and illustrators interviews, crafts and cooking.

Picture book author Mac Barnett will begin reading his picture books on InstagramLive out loud at noon Pacific Time on March 15, 2020. The recording will be up for 24 hours.

Picture book author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers will read one of his picture books online starting this Monday, 2pm EST. Details coming!

Picture book author-illustrator Arree Chung will offer a month long Creativity Camp and focus on writing, drawing and storytelling if he gets enough interest. Find the details on his Facebook post here.

Picture book Author Tara Lazar will broadcast LIVE from her YouTube channel daily at noon Eastern time reading her books and giving writing tips.

Author/illustrator Mo Willems hosts LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems on his YouTube channel. Go check out Mo’s Studio!

Author/illustrator Katy Kelly is hosting virtual author visits to 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes reading one of her books every day until it’s finished. Connect with her at http://www.katykellyauthor.com/.

FREE Young Writer’s course for ages 6-10 from the fabulous folks who teach writing at Children’s Book Insiders!

Scholastic Learn At Home offers activities to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing while at home.

Picture book author and dance instructor Connie Dow has ideas for learning through movement activities, built around picture books for young children on her blog.

Picture book author/illustrator and former homeschool mom Danna York’s blog has ideas that incorporate books, nature, classic movies, art and more.

Find MORE resources on this Google Doc with of other creatives helping out. And check out the hashtag #kidlitquarantine on Twitter.

Other children’s book resources:

Storyline Online has picture books being read by celebrities. Each book includes supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.

Brightly Storytime is a read-aloud video series for Babies and Toddlers to Teens.

Free access to ebooks and audio books at Mims House books during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Librarian Bookends presents all things books! #UnitedByBooksCOVID19 – brilliant elementary and middle grade book resources from authors and illustrators, and publishers.

An Open Book Foundation is a nonprofit that brings authors and illustrators to qualifying D.C. schools to support literacy created a list of resources here.

Hope you found this post helpful. And feel free to share with others who have kids affected by these recent school closings.

Stay healthy!

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Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

GREEN LIGHT!

I am so excited to announce my latest book deal! And I am thrilled to be working with my agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary, Beaming Books, editor Naomi Krueger and the talented illustrator Alleanna Harris to bring the story of Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book to young children. Stay tuned.

BEEP! BEEP!

Coming to a shelf near you on January 19, 2021

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Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Ever wonder why there’s a baby in a King Cake? Or how the tradition of eating King Cake during the Carnival season came about? Read my guest post over at Alphabet Soup to find the answers.

Comment and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of my picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY!

Happy Mardi Gras!

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FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. 

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. All kids should have access to diverse books like the one I reviewed this year.

FREEDOM SOUP by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara was sent to me Candlewick Press at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Published December 10, 2019, the book has earned four starred reviews! Read those reviews from Kirkus, SLJ (School Library Journal), Shelf Awareness, and Publishers Weekly.

Food is a wonderful way to celebrate culture and history. That’s exactly what Charles does in her story about the Haitian dish, Soup Joumou, also known as Freedom Soup. An intergenerational story, readers follow along as a young child and her grandmother cook together.

Every New Year’s Day Ti Gran makes Freedom Soup but on this day she is teaching Belle how to make the soup, just like she was taught when she was a little girl.

Readers can sway to the rhythm of Charles’ lyrical language and Alcántara’s colorful, expressive illustrations filled with movement. Both text and art will entice children to  dance like Belle and tap their toes like Ti Gran while imagining the sounds of the Haitian kompa music.

As they cook, Ti Gran teaches Belle the history of Haiti, the place where she was born.

“Know why they call it Freedom Soup” Ti Gran asks.

“Because it’s free?

It’s the same answer I always give. Ti Gran laughs her loud, belly-deep laugh.

“Oh, Belle. Nothing in this world is free, not even freedom.”

Charles recounts the country’s history of slavery so children understand what it meant to be enslaved. Ti Gran explains, “Freedom Soup was only for the free.”

As the soup cooks Belle and Ti Gran dance their way through the rebellion that lead to the revolution and cheer for Haiti’s independence.  Charles provides a recipe for Freedom Soup and an author’s note with background information on Haiti and her personal family connection to the story. FREEDOM SOUP is a fun and engaging story but it also introduces young children to the true history of a country and the people who resisted slavery and won their freedom.

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

 Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link CloudJerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, , Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book seriesGreen Kids Club, Inc.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

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Easy Peasy King Cake Party!

Easy Peasy King Cake Party!

January Mentor Text Author Study: Julie Abery

January Mentor Text Author Study: Julie Abery

Today I looked at books by Julie Abery for my January Reading for Research Month post. What a wonderful way to start 2020!

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November Author Study: Cece Bell

November Author Study: Cece Bell

Newbery Honor–winning author-illustrator Cece Bell is well known for her graphic novel El Deafo, the autobiographical book about living with her hearing loss from childhood. In this post, I look at Bell’s picture books and how she uses imagination and more to connect with a younger audience.

Read more at the Reading for Research Month blog…

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Picture Book Critique Fest 2019

Picture Book Critique Fest 2019

Head over to PBSpotlight and enter their 2019 Picture Book Critique Fest for a chance to win a picture book critique. Check out all the participating authors, illustrator and agents, oh my! Deadline to enter is October 25th.

A good critique must take into account the structure of your story. For example, in a classic story structure a character has a problem they attempt to solve, faces obstacles, has a dark moment where failure looks inevitable, but ultimately they figure out how to solve the problem and in the end has grown or changed in some way.

A critique of a manuscript like this may address:

The opening/ first line(s). 

The first 50 words.

The problem and if clearly stated.

The inciting incident.

The main character’s traits.

The words that indicate the story’s tone and voice.

The dialogue, if any.

The secondary characters.

The pacing.

The stakes.

The tension.

The transitions.

The scenes.

The story’s narrative arc.

The room left for the illustrator.

The resolution.

The ending.

Good luck!

https://www.pbspotlight.com/pbcritiquefest

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King Cake Baby Needlepoint

King Cake Baby Needlepoint

At my annual physical with my doctor we had this conversation:

DOC: How’s the book biz?

ME: Busy with an upcoming release.

DOC: Oh good, I bought your last book. My son lives in Manhattan and needlepoints in Central Park. He made a King Cake. Look, he added the baby! 💜💚💛👑😍⚜️🎭

How cool is that! KCB in NYC.

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August Author Study – Susan Verde

August Author Study – Susan Verde

This month’s Reading for Research author study takes a look at books by Susan Verde. Read how she connects with kids and invites them to learn and grow. Her books address compassion, empathy, mindfulness and community.

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Picture Book Summit 2019 – Author Study #2

Picture Book Summit 2019 – Author Study #2

Coming this October: Picture Book Summit – all the content of a conference, in the comfort of your home! I took a look at the books by this year’s presenters. Time to look at books by Matthew Cordell!

Register here for Picture Book Summit 2019. See you there!

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Picture Book Summit 2019 – Author Study #1

Picture Book Summit 2019 – Author Study #1

Coming this October: Picture Book Summit – all the content of a conference, in the comfort of your home! I took a look at the books by this year’s presenters. First up is author Samantha Berger.

Register here for Picture Book Summit 2019. See you there!

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July Author Study: Ashley Spires

July Author Study: Ashley Spires

In this month’s Reading for Research Author Study I took a look at picture books by Ashley Spires. She is one witty woman!

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May Author Study: Anika Aldamuy Denise

May Author Study: Anika Aldamuy Denise

My picture book mentor text author study features the very versatile and talented writer Anika Aldamuy Denise. Check out my post on the Reading for Research (RefoReMo) blog here.

Anika writes fiction, nonfiction, and diverse books. What a package!

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