Today it is my pleasure to feature a new non-fiction picture book from author Marissa Moss titled BOARDWALK BABIES ( Illustrated by April Chu Creston 2021). Here are the reviews for this fascinating story:
“A thought-provoking telling of an unusual historical episode.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“In the late 19th century, hospitals didn’t know how to care for premature babies and believed they were “doomed to die.” However, one young doctor believed he had the answer. Dr. Martin Couney of Germany asked Empress Augusta Victoria to allow him to care for babies from her hospital in his newly invented baby incubators. Empress Victoria approved his request. Couney created a traveling showcase of the world’s tiniest babies, first in exhibition halls and world fairs, then finally settling into a permanent spot on Coney Island in 1903. Babies received the best care from a dedicated and trained nursing staff, paid for by the entrance fees to see the exhibit. Babies of all races, religions, and backgrounds were accepted. Couney generated as much publicity as he could. He hired carnival barkers to advertise the exhibit and emphasized the small size of the babies by dressing them in oversized clothes and bows. The public loved watching the tiny tots grow and thrive, but it was the hospitals that Couney hoped to convince—he wanted incubators in every hospital. Over the years, Couney saved 6,500 babies, many of whom came back to thank him when they grew up. Moss turns a little-known historical subject into a poignant and readable picture book. In particular, the direct and clear approach to explaining the needs and the care of premature babies is handled well. The soft illustrations and the heartwarming approach make this story beautiful and relevant to all families. VERDICT A moving must-have for every nonfiction collection.”
Starred Review, School Library Journal
”Moss (the Amelia’s Notebook series) surveys the use of premature infants as sideshow entertainment in this informative overview of pioneering pediatric history, which occurred on the Coney Island boardwalk from 1903 to 1943. To convince a highly skeptical medical establishment of incubators’ lifesaving value, neonatal technology advocate Martin Couney ran the Baby Incubator exhibit each summer. Staffed by medical professionals—including Couney’s wife and, later, daughter (born prematurely)—the exhibit saved 6,500 babies: “It didn’t matter what religion they were, the color of their skin, or how poor the parents were. Families weren’t charged anything… entrance fees paid for everything.” Chu’s (In a Village by the Sea) realistic illustrations in muted hues set a gentle tone.. . this narrative nonfiction account will prove absorbing. Ages 8–9. (Mar.)“
— Publishers Weekly
I am giving away a copy of this fascinating book to one person drawn at random from those who leave a comment on this post. If you share the post, let me know, and I’ll give you a second chance to win.
Marissa Moss is the award-winning author and illustrator of more than 70 children’s books, including her own graphic novel series, Amelia’s Notebook. You can see more of her work at http://www.marissamoss.com.
April Chu has won awards for her gorgeous illustrations. She studied architecture and infuses that knowledge of detail and perspective into her art. Her work has been featured in the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art show.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading two books that might seem different since one is a historical YA fantasy and the other a contemporary MG novel-in-verse. While each has a unique story to tell, both resonated with me because of the underlying message:
Who gets to decide what beauty is and what are acceptable ways for females to look and act?
STEPSISTER by Jennifer Donnelly is a re-telling of the Cinderella story from the point of view of one of her stepsisters. Here’s the blurb:
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe . . . which is now filling with her blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she’s turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she’s a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a bold girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
Evoking the original version of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.
STARFISH by Lisa Fipps is an MG novel in verse that is told from the point of view of Ellie. Here is the blurb:
Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.
These are two books that celebrate GIRL POWER. They emphasize the idea that no one has a right to label you, define you, tell you what strength and beauty are. “You would be pretty if…you followed these rules…”
No one has the right to bully you, make you feel small or less than, or put conditions on what behavior or desire is acceptable.
These stories let you know that you are already strong. You are already beautiful. You are already worthy. Just the way you are.
Last April, my middle grade novel-in-verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY made its debut. It was strange and very different to have a book debut during the pandemic to which many of my author friends will agree. And while I didn’t get to have a BIG in-person launch, I had some smaller events over the past year. Here we are, one year later.
I want to share my joy at having the book so well received by teachers and classrooms. Thank you to those educators who read the book to their students over Zoom and in classrooms. Thanks also to the NCTE for recognizing it as a 2021 Notable Verse Novel. And, thanks to all of you fellow authors and friends who have reviewed the book and shown your support this past year. I am grateful for all of you and appreciate your kind words and book love.
To celebrate the first birthday/anniversary of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY I am giving away a signed copy of the book, a Zoom or Skype classroom visit, and a Barnes & Noble gift card. Two winners will be drawn at random. One to receive the book and visit, a second to receive the gift card. To enter, leave a comment below letting me know one thing you are grateful for since this Pandemic began.
My love, and best wishes to all of you. May your blessing be many and your worries be few.
From chocolate bunnies to colored eggs, traditional Easter treats can be traced back to the 13th century.
The Easter Bunny tradition is thought to stem from the German myth of Osterhas, a rabbit said to have laid colored eggs in early spring. In anticipation of his arrival, children made nests for him, according to history.com
Decorated eggs date back to pagan festivities in the 13th century that also celebrated spring’s arrival. Easter is a Christian holy day marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s traditionally celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.
Recipes for festive Easter sweets abound. Easter egg bread, which involves baking dyed Easter eggs into braided loaves of sweet bread, are attention-getters. A word of caution, guests can eat the dyed eggs if the loaves are kept refrigerated from the time they are taken out of the oven, until they are served. Otherwise, display your Easter egg bread proudly, but treat the eggs like you would any nonedible decoration.
Chick and Egg Cupcakes are showstopper on the Easter dinner dessert cart. The recipe is available online on the Food Network app in the App Store.
Contemporary Easter egg hunts combine the traditions of searching for the eggs left by the Easter bunny with the practice of decorating eggs.
How to produce an Easter egg hunt:
Ask your invited guests to RSVP.
Find a backup location in case of inclement weather, especially if the hunt is for real eggs. Sniffing out an elusive rotten egg weeks later is no fun.
If you ask invitees to bring their own basket, offer a reward for the most original basket. Designate someone to anonymously judge the baskets before the egg hunt. Reward the winner. Maybe with a five second head start for the egg hunt.
If you do provide baskets, pails, gift bags or another festive container remember to keep the size relative to the number of eggs your hunters are likely to find. Basket is a relative term. Gift bags and pails work as well.
Include about a dozen eggs for each participant. Artificial grass to line the baskets is a nice touch.
Hide the eggs strategically based on the ages of the hunters. If the age range is wide, offer two hunts.
Some hunts rely on hard boiled eggs. Plastic eggs filled with candy, small plastic toys, or money are popular too.
Prizes are optional.
Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who enjoys tracing the history of traditional holiday foods.
Dusti Bowling has written a new chapter book picture book, AVEN GREEN SLEUTHING MACHINE, illustrated by Gina Perry and published by Sterling Children’s Books. It is available in bookstores April 13th and available for pre-order on Amazon now. Sterling has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.
All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.
Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Dusti and Gina.
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A 2019 study from the Swiss Institute of Integrative Biology suggested that planting 1 trillion trees would dramatically reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and significantly help stop global climate change. Mar 10, 2020
A trillion trees sounds like an impossible goal. But every time you plant a tree in your yard, on school grounds, or in your neighborhood open spaces, you reduce greenhouse gas because they are natural carbon absorbers (a mature tree can absorb up to 48lbs of carbon a year).
Every time you plant a tree, you are part of the solution for reducing and stopping the effects of global warming. For more information about planting trees visit:
There are other things you can do to take care of Mother Earth as well:
We can continue to recycle properly and phase out our consumption of single-use plastics (recycling just 1 lb. of plastic #1 saves 22.9 kWh of energy and 47.4 lbs. of CO2 emissions).
Support programs like www.4ocean.com whose products are made from reclaimed ocean plastics. One pound of plastic is removed from the ocean for every item purchased.
We can commit to reducing the 1/3rd of food that is wastedglobally by composting, shopping smart, and meal planning.
Switch to organic produce.The good news is that organic systems that emphasize soil health help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. … Organic systems do this by capturing and storing more carbon (CO2) in the soil (carbon sequestration). They also release fewer greenhouse gases. Apr 27, 2020
To learn more about how organically grown fruits and vegetables help the environment visit:
Contact local food banks or soup kitchens to see if they will accept your food donations.
We can incorporate more plant-based mealsinto our diets.
Every small thing we do makes a difference when each of us pitches in. Planet Earth is our home…the only home we have. We owe it to ourselves and to all the plants and animals we depend on to be good stewards of the earth. Please pass this on and share it.
As writers and book authors, we value the written word and our protected right to express our views without fear of imprisonment, censorship or various other punishments. Many people are not so fortunate. Today’s post celebrates our right to KNOW what takes place in this country we call a Democracy.
Take a moment to recognize what we take for granted: the right to demonstrate and express opposing points of view; the right to read whatever we want to; the right to ask our leaders to change laws we don’t think are working; the right to know what goes on behind the doors of government.
Freedom of Information Day 2021: Liberty and open access to all
On March 16, we celebrate the anniversary of former President James Madison. But that day, we also celebrate the legacy he and the founders of this country left us – open government.
Madison, known as the Father of the United States Constitution, once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
One question I get asked all the time is, “What inspired you to write this story?” My latest book, DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT!, was inspired by my son. Around the time when he was in third grade, he went through a terrible-no-good-very-bad phase where he used to think it was cool to say bad words. After all, these were words he wasn’t allowed to say that older children and adults did say. And he’d hear these words everywhere—in the lunchroom, at recess, and on the walk home from school. And once he learned a new word (even a bad word), he was more than eager to give his new-found word a test drive to the great delight of his proud parents.
My first drafts of Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!focused on using bad words. In fact, the book was originally titled, Bear Said a Bad Word. But as the book evolved in the yearlong revision process, it became clear that the story wasn’t just about saying a word that should never ever be repeated. It was about calling others names and the hurt feelings that ensued.
Name-calling, use of bad words, and gossip, not only sting in the moment they’re said, but they can cause permanent damage in how children see themselves and how others view them. I wrote DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT! to show children in a very gentle way the hurt that can result from one’s words.
In DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT, Bear is an extremely light sleeper. But if Bear doesn’t get his much needed 243 ½ hours of sleep (to be precise), he turns grizzly. So, Bear builds a brand-new door to keep the noise out of his den. As it happens, one of Bear’s neighbors is Woodpecker. He is a master carpenter with a speciality in real estate development. But lately, he’s been noticing that his houses are disappearing. One day Woodpecker discovers a trail of debris and this of course leads him to Bear’s new frontdoor. Words are exchanged. Feelings are hurt. And Bear and Woodpecker need to figure out how to resolve their problems.
We all have moments when we’re feeling grizzly. Books and activities that promote social emotional learning (SEL) can help students learn how to better manage their emotions. One such activity is teaching students how to craft an “I-Statement.” An I-Statement looks like:
I feel . ..
when . . .
because . . .
Hilary uses my favorite magic marker and often forgets to put the cap back on.
I feel sad when Hilary uses my favorite magic marker because she often forgets to put the cap back on and dries out the ink.
In conjunction with the above, students can collaborate just as Bear and Woodpecker did, by making and decorating their own bird houses. I found these wooden houses at Michael’s for $ 0.99 cents each.
For the activity, students will need a clean cardboard container or pre-fabricated birdhouse, construction or decorative paper, twine, glue and/or tape, scissors, hole punch, and decorating materials (paint, markers, pencils, glitter, stickers, buttons, twigs, beads, etc.).
More information on how to use DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT! in the classroom will be available in the teacher’s guide. Coming soon!
On March 13th at 3PM, Robin will be having her virtual launch at Books of Wonder via Crowdcast. Please join me for the fun!
Launch Event For Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! By Robin Newman – Books of Wonder Books of Wonder is delighted to host the virtual event for Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! by ROBIN NEWMAN on Saturday, March 13th at 3pm EST via Crowdcast! Celebrate the release of this amazing picture book with ROBIN NEWMAN as she shares her newest book and answers questions from the audience during the live feed! Ages 6 & Up, Saturday, March 13th at 3pm EST via Crowdcast.booksofwonder.com
The first 100 orders will also receive a free FUZZYBUTT giveaway!
Raised in New York and Paris, Robin Newman is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, bears, and peacocks. Author of the award-winning Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, she’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project’s Writers Council, the Bank Street Writers Lab, and PEN America, CYAB. Robin lives in New York with a motley crew of fuzzybutts, including a husband, son, and three spoiled dogs. She is represented by Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency. For more information, please visit www.robinnewmanbooks.com.
Robin is giving away a copy of DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT to one winner chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Winner will be announced on this blog at a later date. Share the post on social media for a second entry.