Friday, February 7, 2020

Monsters vs. pepper

I got to talk with families about monsters last night. 

We built an exquisite community monster and talked about monsters in books. 

How monsters are stand-in for big and scary things in life. 

We asked kids & their grownups:

How do you defeat a monster? 

Their answers:
Do the floss & make everyone laugh.
Be brave.
Stand next to whoever the monster is targeting.
Speak up….

I read tons of monster books for this and noticed that often it’s creativity that beats monsters best.

Like small holes in armor, spears in the eye, or pepper.

So, here’s to the resistance: To courage. To standing with the oppressed. Paying attention. Speaking up. Yes! And...

Here's to creativity! 

To sharing our gifts. our light. our stories. art. music.

Let your creativity give life to others. 

Because …HOPE! 

Spreading hope and love and beauty.
Those things make us stronger and braver and ready to resist fight monsters.

And maybe some pepper and the floss might help, too.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Bookish Beauty

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

There are book celebrations all over the internet today, and I will tell you more about that in a bit, 
but first, I get to share a book review of this beauty:

MY GRANDMA AND ME - by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Lindsey Yankey, (Candlewick Press, 2019) 

MY GRANDMA AND ME is a gorgeous picture book about an Iranian girl and her grandmother. It’s about connection with loved ones, specifically a girl and her grandmother. 

“When  I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her too. “

Mina Javaherbin’s text is rhythmic and lovely. 
The mixed media illustrations by Lindsey Yankey are luminous with intricate patterns and palette. 

I love this window into the life of a Muslim woman and her granddaughter, 
and am warmed by the compassion, generosity, and love-in-action that the grandmother lives. 

At a deeper level this is about humanity and interfaith friendships.
There are two grandmother friends in this story who are of different faiths. Together they make blankets for people who are in need. Together, they share food and community.
And every night, each grandmother prays to the God she worships for her friend to go to heaven. 

And that’s what struck me most about MY GRANDMA AND ME. 

That underneath all of our cultures and faiths,  
at the heart we are mostly the same.

Woven of skin and bones, 
full of dreams and strivings,  
circled by friends and family, 
and each adorned with unique passions and perspectives
that put all together, make up a pretty stunning tapestry.

Love has a way of weaving us together, and I think MY GRANDMA AND ME shows this beautifully.

MY GRANDMA AND ME is about a grandmother modeling her way of life to her granddaughter, 
and it’s about humanity. 
About us. All of us.
And it reminds me in a gentle and powerful way that if we look deeper at each other, 
there is so much to love.

If you haven't yet, I hope you get to discover this book and love it, too.

And here's an exciting thing: because today is MULTCULTURAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAY, you can find heaps of "Read Your World" book reviews, teacher resources, classroom empathy kits, and other activities on the Multicultural Children's Book Day website.

If you do Twitter, there is a #READYOURWORLD book party tonight at 9 p.m. ET in which you can win books and discover more multicultural books to love. Find that party by searching the #READYOURWORLD hashtag.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for giving me this book to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.  

by Mina Javahherbin, illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
published by Candlewick Press. 2019. 
ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 0763694940 / 9780763694944

Friday, January 17, 2020


I have news! 
I am so excited to tell you about this. 
Can you tell!?!
I might be using more exclamation points than are allowed for a few weeks


 Ah. I am exuberant. 
I am ecstatic. 

Thank you, Molly O'Neill and Root Literary,
thank you, Nikki Garcia and Little, Brown 
for believing in this story and in me!  

So much of this joy is thanks to my agent Molly O'Neill, 
who talked me through the finishing of my first book 
(THE STARKEEPER which comes out with Random House in June!) 
and helped me face the beginnings of another one!  
Thanks to Molly, I found out that while making book number two is HARD!, 
hard is not necessarily a bad thing. 
See, if we didn't struggle, the end result wouldn't be so victorious. 
Which is sort of how PERFECTLY IMPERFECT MIRA has made her way here!

I can't wait for you to meet MIRA. 
This story is kind of about being a work in progress, 
and learning to love the journey of becoming. 
Which is something that feels very familiar to me. 
 Another fun thing is that during the time this story was in revision,  
 I took a writing course with Jolie Stekly "MINDSET MEETS CRAFT." 
MIRA's story is so much about mindset, and revision, too. 

When I had a stroke, then heart surgery, and other life surprises   - 
each time, I felt thrown for a loop. 
That was not the direction I planned. 
That was not the way my road was supposed to go.
 Or was it? 
Because if I hadn't had the stroke and kind of lost my way into writing, 
I wouldn't have taken a WRITING WITH PICTURES course, 
which opened up my heart to illustration and stories 
in a way I'd never dreamed of being able to do.
So, here's to the journey, my friends! 

Here's to the blooms that can come out of hard things. 
- and sometimes the blooms that come because of hard things! 

And here's to the work, day and night, 




Wednesday, July 31, 2019


We've had a bit of excitement this week.
First of all, the twins and Birdy are all having birthdays.
We are aswirl in cupcakes and magic.
And Birdy has mastered her solo glue gun skills, 
which means she is all set to conquer the world.
Having said that...
Chess pieces! 
But the sweet week is just getting started. 
See what arrived in the mail? 
Meet ONCE UPON A TIMELY, by Lynn Parrish Sutton, 
illustrated by...Faith Pray (!!!),
published by Kane Miller books. 

 What a magical feeling to see all of the art together in a book!

 It feels like an extra-special birthday gift - for all of us.

Especially because my very first illustrated book 
is dedicated to the wildebeests. 

I'm so grateful to them for putting up with my long work hours
and messy house and shoddy meals 
so that I can pursue this dream. 

To Lynn Parrish Sutton, 
Kira Lynn and the team at Kane Miller books,
and to Molly O'Neill and Root Literary,
thank you, 
with all of the adverbs I can muster. 

(The wildebeests made me this sign. Sweeties. I think we're all a bit excited.)  

is being sold here:

Friday, May 31, 2019

Illustrating June, and an interview!

Hello from the ducks.
We live below a wetland and we have ducks that waddle through every Spring, perch on the roof, and nap in our spongy backyard.
When I found out I was to be the featured illustrator for Puddle Jump Collective's June calendar, it had to be ducks.
At first, I thought I'd go back to my early 90's days and draw a punk girl.

But then I drew this braid girl,
and she seemed to want to be in this picture as much or more than the other girl.
So I put it to a vote on instagram, and braid girl won the polls
and ended up in the final illustration.
Puddle Jump also hosted me for an interview  and a mini studio tour. I hope you like it.

Friday, March 29, 2019

How To Spot a Stroke

Today is six years since I had a stroke.
Because I struggled to find my writing words after the stroke, I turned to art, hoping to find a way to be a writer again.

What do you call that?

A moment that diverts your course and sends you in a completely different direction?
A turning point? A boomerang?

At the time, it just felt scary, and discouraging.

Like when you go through a labyrinth, and you think you're getting close to the center, but instead, you find you have to go in the absolute opposite direction before you end up where you think you want to be.

But see?

How beautiful is it that hard things can become soil for new gardens?
Thanks to the stroke, I am here.
Making books!

Who knew?

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to say how thankful I am.
To be alive today.
Thankful for the way my community lifted me up during that time.
Thankful that this extra hard thing contained ingredients that helped me become an author and illustrator today.

Friends, for every hard thing you face,
I wish you courageous hope.

For every detour, I wish you creativity
that grows and blooms and heals.

And because I'm especially thankful for the people in my life, I made a little thing for you. Knowing the signs of stroke can save your life. 
Please feel free to read and share with your loved ones.
#strokeawareness #strokesurvivor #strokeinfographic


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