Here are the Winners…

There have been several book give-a-ways this month and I am pleased to announce the winners to the following:

The winner of a signed copy of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY + a Skype or Zoom visit is Danielle Hammelef.

The winner of a Barnes&Noble Gift Card is Jeanette Mendell

Beth Schneider will receive a copy of Marissa Moss’s book BOARDWALK BABIES.

And, A signed copy of RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE  by Rajani LaRocca goes to Melissa Tanaka.

Rissy No Kissies  A signed copy of Rissy No Kissies, by Katey Howes goes to Rachelle Burk.

Please email me with your addresses so I can get the books and gift cards out to al of you.

Thanks for all who entered. I hope you enjoy the books. If you do, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It is a great way to show the author support and to share good books with the world.

Happy Reading!


On Earth Day and Everyday…We Can All Do Our Part to Stop Climate Change.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

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

treesA 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…

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Author Katey Howes Has a New PB on Consent and Bodily Autonomy. She’s Giving Away a Copy. Want One?

Award-winning PB author Katey Howes has a new book titled RISSY NO KISSIES that addresses the importance of consent and body autonomy with young readers. I’ve featured the book in a previous post, but today readers will have a chance to win a copy of this important book. It also happens to be a rhyming picture book in celebration of April being Poetry Month

Here’s my review for RISSY NO KISSIES:

When a love bird doesn’t like to get or give kisses, she wonders if something is wrong with her. How can she show those she loves that she cares?

With gentle assurances in words and illustrations, this story teaches young children and those they love, the importance of bodily autonomy and consent. It should be a part of every child’s library and is the perfect introduction for discussions about these important concepts.

If you ‘d like a chance to win a signed copy of this book, leave a comment and your name will be entered in the drawing. Share the post on social media (let me know where) and I’ll give you a second chance to win. One winner will be chosen at random from those entered and announced on this blog at a later date.

Author Rajani LaRocca Talks About Her Verse Novel RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE + A Chance to Win a Copy.

To celebrate Poetry in the Schools Month and National Poetry Month, I am featuring two give-aways for books written in verse. Today is a MG book RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE  by Rajani LaRocca. Next week I will feature a rhyming PB.

I recently did a Q&A with author Rajani LaRocca to talk about her wonderful MG novel-in-verse, RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE. Here’s Rajani:

Tell us three things we should know about the main character Reha.

  1. It’s 1983, and 13-year-old Reha feels torn between the worlds of her Indian immigrant parents and her friends at school. She adores her parents and wants to make them happy, but she also wants to fit in with her friends.
  1. Reha loves 80s pop music (especially Cyndi Lauper) and feels music connects those two worlds.
  1. She wants to be a doctor, but she faints at the sight of blood.

How did you know Reha’s story should be told in verse?

This story idea first came to me as a metaphor—the metaphor of blood, and all that it means in terms of heredity, community, and biology—and so it seemed right to tell in verse. But I’d never written a novel in verse before, so I did a lot of research and learning before I started writing.

In your Author’s Note you mention that the story has an autobiographical element. Would you care to share some of that with readers?

Like Reha, I was a teen in the 1980s and loved the music of that time. I was also an only child and an Indian immigrant, and the emotions Reha feels of being torn between worlds were very familiar to me. I also knew I wanted to be a doctor for a very early age, although luckily for me, I don’t faint at the sight of blood! My mom was injured in a car accident when I was a teen, and I shared Reha’s ambivalence about joining the world of medicine once I experienced what it was like to have a seriously ill family member.

Beyond the multi-cultural component, what other themes are important in the storyline?

Other themes include the nature of the parent-child, and especially the mother-daughter, relationship; how to deal with a loved one’s illness, and how to find hope, even when the worst happens; and the notion of belonging, and who decides that. RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE is a story about being caught between here and there, before and after, and finding a way to be whole.

What do you want young readers to take away from this important story?

I want young readers to know that although they may feel divided, that they can still become whole. I want them to know that their stories matter, and they should tell them, in whatever way seems best to them—in writing, or in the classroom, in a performance hall, or on a sports field. I want them to understand that those who love us understand us better than we might think. And finally, I want them to know that ultimately, we decide where we belong, and we find the people and communities who appreciate and love and support us.

Anything else you’d like to add or want us to know?

Music is a big part of this book. While writing, I listened pretty much nonstop to music from 1983-1984. I made a playlist that people can find on Spotify:

and a music video playlist on YouTube:

Reha thinks that song lyrics are poetry set to music, and I agree. One fun way for readers young and old to start trying to write their own poetry is to look at song lyrics and try writing their own.

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Red, White, and Whole (2021), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at and on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @rajanilarocca.

Rajani has agreed to give away one signed copy of RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE to one lucky reader chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this post. Let me know if you share it on social media and I will give you a second chance to win.

BOARDWALK BABIES: a New PB by Marissa Moss + Giveaway.

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

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.

Two Books That Celebrate Girl Power and Who Gets to Define Beauty.

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 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.

Positive and important messages for every girl.

WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY is One Year Old. Let’s Celebrate With These Prizes…

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.   WoCCover01

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.    hug

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.