Category Archives: Uncategorized

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD is the true story behind the Green Book guide Black Americans used to travel safely during legal segregation and the mail carrier who wrote it. I was honored to reveal the cover of my upcoming release on author Tara Lazar’s blog. Click on the cover to see a sample spread from the book by the talented artist Alleanna Harris.

I also wrote about my inspiration, the story behind the story, and a little about my road to publication.

BEEP! BEEP! On our way, be there January 26, 2021!

And there’s a GIVEAWAY! Comment on the blog post to enter a chance to win a copy of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book.

Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8

Pre-order wherever books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

Reviews are coming in!

Reviews are coming in!

ALL THE FEELS! Check out this video review of NO VOICE TOO SMALL by Kirsten Williams Larson.🎤 Empower youth. They are are our future and our hope.

Check out other reviews by Kirsten on her YouTube channel where she dives deep into nonfiction books. Excuse me while I grab a tissue. 😭

August 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Kevin Henkes

August 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Kevin Henkes

Revisiting author/illustrator Kevin Henkes today over at the Reading for Research blog. Imagery, repetition, and alliteration, oh, my!

2020 nErDCampPA

2020 nErDCampPA

It was such a joy to spend time talking books with authors, educators, and kids at the first virtual nErDCampPA! I ended up on three panels, one about nonfiction, another about teaching activism through picture books and a storytime panel reading to the kids I write for.

Already looking forward to next year to talk about my new book!

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!

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

May 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Lesléa Newman

May 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Lesléa Newman

I took a look at Lesléa Newman’s latest book for our May Reading for Research mentor text author study!

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!

Best of 2019 from ReFoReMo

Best of 2019 from ReFoReMo

Head over to the Reading for Research Month blog to read about the stories ReFoReMo contributors picked for best picture book mentor texts of the year! Read on!

October Mentor Text Author Study: Yuyi Morales

October Mentor Text Author Study: Yuyi Morales

We’re celebrating Latin culture and Latinx Heritage Month over at the ReFoReMo blog today using books by the talented Yuyi Morales!

September Author Study: David Michael Slater

September Author Study: David Michael Slater

This month I look at picture books by by word whiz David Michael Slater over at the Reading for Research blog! His word play is filled with puns and idioms. And his humor is delightful.

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.

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!

June Author Study: Lesléa Newman

June Author Study: Lesléa Newman

Head over to my June post on the ReFoReMo blog where I take an in-depth look at books by the amazing Lesléa Newman!

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!

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

March Author Study: Five Favorite Mentor Texts

March Author Study: Five Favorite Mentor Texts

I chose five books to highlight during this month’s Reading For Research Month Challenge (ReFoReMo). They are, windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors.  Read more

Happy reading!

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!

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!

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!

January 2019 Author Study: Tim McCanna

January 2019 Author Study: Tim McCanna

January Reading for Research author study takes a look at books by Tim McCanna. Lots of rhythm, rhyme, humor and wordplay!

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!

King Cake and Mardi Gras 2019 Countdown!

King Cake and Mardi Gras 2019 Countdown!

100 days till Mardi Gras! Who’s counting? Moi!


Only 42 days till King Cake, baby!

 

💜💚💛🎺🎵🎷⚜️🎼🎺 🎭

 

Indiana SCBWI Summer Kick-Off Conference 2017 Re-cap

Indiana SCBWI Summer Kick-Off Conference 2017 Re-cap

Last Sunday I drove through rural Indiana on my way home from an inspirational weekend at the summer SCBWI Indiana writer’s conference when my eyes caught the light on my dashboard. This incident sent me on a journey to get gas fast. Thank goodness my GPS found a gas station nearby. I listened carefully to the directions, but drove and drove. The gas light began to blink. My first thought: what a great example of rising tension!

Believe me, there was panic, but my first reaction was about writing. I credit this SCBWI Indiana conference for that.  I just spent the weekend writing and thinking about writing. Thinking about character, and plot and story arcs. A weekend filled with instruction, inspiration and motivation.

Here’s a re-cap of the amazing faculty who presented.

Danielle Smith, founder of Lupine Grove Creative is an agent that represents picture books through young adult novels. She is such an inspirational force in this industry. I always enjoy listening to her honest appraisal of what it takes to be successful in this business.

 

The one and only author and indie publisher Darcy Pattison shared her wisdom with us. Pun intended! If you haven’t heard Darcy speak, put her on your bucket list and listen carefully to what she has to say.

What’s better than hearing author Tammi Sauer speak? Hearing her TWICE! Tammi gave a dynamic instructional presentation, er performance on story plot and structure. Her books are great to use as mentor texts because she is the plot whisperer!

 

Tammi is a role model for how teaching can be entertaining! She is as funny in person as the characters readers know so well in her books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troy Cummings is a mega talented author-illustrator. He shared tips for making a dummy to check and improve pacing and page turns. He is such a naturally funny guy. I would be very disappointed to learn he was shy as a child and not the kid that always kept others laughing.

 

 

Troy also shared the revision process for one of his soon to be released picture books that has that perfect combination of heart and humor. Pictured here is an example from one of his new releases.

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to Shannon Anderson, SCBWI Indiana Regional Advisor (photo), Mandie Anderson, Assistant Regional Advisor, and Sharon Vargo, Regional Illustrator Coordinator, for hosting and coordinating a fabulous event.

 

It’s always fun spending time with writers and meeting new talent. It’s exciting to finally meet writers in person you interact with in the virtual world. Here’s Emmie, me, and Manju.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King Cake Baby sold in the PAL Bookstore and some readers in and around Indiana will learn a bit about one of our Mardi Gras traditions.

This conference faculty was delightful and the venue at Potawatomi Inn in the state park was breathtaking. I am definitely looking forward to the next SCBWI conference hosted in Indiana.

Write on!

The 12 Days of Christmas starts today!

The 12 Days of Christmas starts today!

The 12 days of Christmas starts today. I know the song by the same name first played on the radio the day after Halloween. For some cultures, primarily in Europe and Latin America, the first day of Christmas started on December 25 and will end January 5. Here in the US, at least in creole Louisiana, the first day starts today, December 26 and will end January 6.

[spacer height=”10px”]

So what’s up with that song? We know it’s about someone getting lots of gifts, especially birds, from their true love. A wee research led me to a number of guesses about its origin. The earliest written version is from 1780 published as a children’s “memory and forfeits” game much like the game ‘I went to the market and bought’ where players are tasked with remembering and repeating what was said before them. Others hypothesize it’s an English Christmas carol, a French folk song from 1770, and even a ‘code’ persecuted English Catholics used to practice their faith back in the 16th-17th centuries. A century later it was described as a game played at a Twelfth night celebration.

[spacer height=”10px”]

Fast forward to the 19th-20th centuries and the parodies ensued. If “The 12 Days of Christmas” Happened in Real Life is a very funny video and 12 Days of Christmas parody of the Johnston family.

[spacer height=”10px”]

Although no one can say with certainty what the meaning is behind the song or the origin, today it’s rooted in both secular and Christian Christmas traditions. And it’s so much fun to sing! Whether there is a connection or not, there are 12 days from today till January 6th, also known Twelfth Night, Le Petit Noël, Little Christmas, Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day.

[spacer height=”10px”]

Whether the song is enjoyed for a secular or religious reason, we can extend the spirit of the season 12 more days. My plan is continue gift giving, but through acts of kindness. I hope you will join me!