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

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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Kidlit for Christchurch fundraiser & auction March 24-27

Kidlit for Christchurch fundraiser & auction March 24-27

The #kidlitforchristchurch auction is live until March 27th at 11:59 pm! My donation is one copy of the middle-grade novel AMINA’S VOICE by Hena Khan, two Abo el Ela Co. Abu Ghazala Egyptian shawls made in Cairo, Egypt, one Navy Blue, one Burgundy, approximately 7ft x 3ft, all items are new. Bid on my items, #035 here!

What is this fundraiser about? Organizers wrote:

On Friday, March 15, a gunman opened fire in two Christchurch Mosques, Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid Mosque. During this terrorist attack, 50 people lost their lives and 48 people were injured.

As members of the kidlit community, we want to make a stand against hatred and Islamophobia, and show our solidarity with the victims and affected Muslim communities. The auctions and raffles on this page will support the United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings fundraiser, which aims to “help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families.”

The auctions and raffles will be open March 24th at 12:01 AM EST and close March 27th at 11:59 PM

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Let’s Play! by Keila V. Dawson

Let’s Play! by Keila V. Dawson

Every year author Vivian Kirkfield hosts the annual writing contest #50PreciousWords. The challenge is to write a story using 50 words or less for children under the age of 12. Below is my 2019 entry.

Anyone who has a canine family member will understand why I wrote this story! My fur son’s name is Casey.

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Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is UNDER MY HIJAB.

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, February 5, 2019

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics:  hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion

Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.

Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.

Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.

At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.

I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

Resources:

  • Resources: For more about Islam for kids, see the World Religions website.
  • See examples of modern hijabs at this London fashion show.
  • Watch this tutorial on youtube by a young girl on how to style different headscarves.
  • Read this interview on the Lee & Low Book blog with author Hena Khan.

To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

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A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu

A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu

A MORNING WITH GRANDPA by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay, published by Lee & Low Books is the book I reviewed for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day. The MCBD campaign founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom is in its 6th year! The mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity and get them in homes, schools and into the hands of young readers.

A MORNING WITH GRANDPA celebrates the loving relationship between Mei Mei and her grandfather, Gong Gong. Mei Mei finds Gong Gong practicing Tai chi and he attempts to teach her some of the motions, but she playfully shows off moves of her own.  When Mei Mei decides to teach Gong Gong yoga, he finds the twisty, bendy poses hard to imitate. But they still enjoy each other’s company despite their differences in physical agility, age, and experiences.

Liu’s use of metaphors portrays each character’s distinct personalities.  Forshay’s choice of earthy colors and expressive illustrations capture the warmth of their relationship.

“Gong Gong stepped from side to side and carefully moved his arms back and forth. He was a warm summer breeze gently blowing through the trees.

Mei Mei was a frisky fall wind tumbling with the leaves.”

The author won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award for this intergenerational story that features both Chinese and Western cultures. The text is also informative as Liu describes the positions used in both Tai chi and yoga for her young audience. Backmatter encourages readers to learn more about both forms of movement.

This is a delightfully diverse family centered story for young children ages 4-8 years.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Level Sponsors on board!

HonoraryChildren’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super PlatinumMake A Way Media

GOLDBharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra GoldBharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVERCapstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab World,Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and  Baptiste PaulRedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board!

HonoraryJulie FlettMehrdokht Amini,Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia Chu,CultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm,Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma Venkatraman,Patricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing,Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula Chase,Erin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution,Soulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

MCBD has the following CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial BookwormsBooks My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it,  Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Passed a good time at the Little Bookworm bookstore with illustrator Vernon Smith dancing, singing, reading THE KING CAKE BABY and of course eating King Cake! 💜💚💛👑🎭🎺🎵🎷🎶

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King Cake Season is here!

King Cake Season is here!

It’s Day 2 of the Carnival season and I’ve ordered my second King Cake! It’s just too tempting with all the varieties, favorites, and new versions. So I wrote a serenity prayer to get me through this visit!


The King Cake Prayer


God, grant me the serenity to accept these King Cake calories.

Courage to stop when I’ve had enough,

And the wisdom to choose wisely.


AMEN!

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King Cake Season is here!

King Cake Season is here!

On the first day of Carnival, I cut the first piece of our first King Cake and I got the baby!  It’s Day 2 of Carnival and I ordered my second King Cake! It’s just too tempting with all the varieties, favorites, and new versions. So I wrote a serenity prayer to get me through this visit!


The King Cake Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept these King Cake calories. Courage to stop when I’ve had enough, And the wisdom to choose wisely.
AMEN!

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Storystorm with Tara Lazar

Storystorm with Tara Lazar

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! STORYSTORM, author Tara Lazar’s story idea and writing craft event is coming to a computer screen near you soon! Visit her blog to read the rules and register. 

Last year I created an insertable text Storystorm calendar to collect my story ideas and jot down notes from the daily posts. That way, my ideas and craft tips from the amazing Storystorm contributors are always at my fingertips. If you think it will work for you, download a copy below. 

Thanks for hosting this wonderful writing event again Tara. And happy 10th-anniversary STORYSTORM!

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A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is…

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (January 2019)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: biography, poetry, African-American life

Brief Synopsis:

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks is about the African-American poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) who wrote about the urban African-American experience.

The book is part of the “People Who Shaped Our World” series. Alice Faye Duncan captured the life and work of Brooks, beginning in 1925 at age eight, ending in 1950, the year she became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Why I like this book:

Duncan writes in lyrical text and shows observations informed the poet’s writing, even from an early age.

The author also gives examples of the kinds of struggles Brooks faced as a young, gifted writer as well as the support she received from her family. Brooks struggled with her confidence and her words. A teacher once accused Brooks of plagiarism so her mother had the young poet write a poem in front of her. As a teen when others were looking for work, Gwendolyn’s parents supported her dream and allowed her to “sit and think”. And from all her years of hard work, an adult Brooks realizes her dream and became a professional writer.

Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, suggested readings by Gwendolyn Brooks and bibliography to learn more about one of America’s most influential writers.

I read the ARC for this review; the book release date is January 1, 2019. This book would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

Resources:

  • For more about poetry for kids, see the Poetry4kids website.

  • A lesson plan about Gwendolyn Brooks  (grades 3-12).

  • A lesson plan for Gwendolyn Brooks (grades 5-6).

To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

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Recipe: Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage Recipe

Recipe: Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage Recipe

I am often asked for my recipes after posting pictures. Here’s one for the cabbage I grew up eating in New Orleans. Folks in Louisiana do appreciate good food!

Bon appétit!

 

 

My Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage

 

Ingredients:

 

2 Tbls. olive oil

1 Tbl. butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 lb. ham, cubed

1 lb. andouille sausage or another smoked sausage, coin sliced

2-3 heads of cabbage, cored, cleaned and chopped

1 tsp. Louisiana Creole Seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • -1 teaspoon paprika
  • -1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • -1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • -1 tbl dried garlic powder
  • -1/2 tsp black pepper
  • -1/2 tsp onion powder

½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 cup white rice, cooked

Salt & pepper to taste

Cornbread (optional)

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Cut and clean cabbage leaves.

  2. In a 6 quart pot, fry bacon on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high, add ham, and sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes.

  3. Add oil and onion, cook until onion is brown. Reserve the meat & onion in a bowl.

  4. Use the same pot, add a little water, reduce heat to medium. Fill the pot with cabbage and cover. Check often, stirring cabbage until the cabbage wilts, adding water as needed.

  5. Continue adding more cabbage to fill the pot. Cabbage is cooked when all leaves are wilted and some turn light brown. Add Louisiana Creole Seasoning and cayenne.

  6. Return meat to pot, add garlic and butter. Do not cover. Instead, allow remaining water in the pot to evaporate.

  7. Serve over white rice.

 

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TAKING THE MIC by Jeanette Bradley, Keila V. Dawson, and Lindsay Metcalf

TAKING THE MIC by Jeanette Bradley, Keila V. Dawson, and Lindsay Metcalf

I am thrilled to be a part of this project! In addition to the amazing youth, look at the talent who will write about them. Nikki Grimes, Carole Weatherford, Greg Wray, Traci McClellan-Sorell, Janet Wong, Hena Khan, Charles Waters, Andrea J. Loney, Lesléa Newman, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Fiona Morris, Joseph Bruchac, S. Bear Bergman.

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