Backyard Olympics Here We Come!

The 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan began on Friday, July 23, 2021.  I am one of those people who normally ignore sporting events and televised games during the regular season.  But there is something about the Olympics that keeps me riveted to the screen.  I think it has to do with the premise of peaceful International competition.  So many countries coming together to share their best athletes with the world. Even with Covid changing the way athletes compete, I hope there will be memorable moments for all of us to reflect on and admire.

In the spirit of friendly competition, why not enjoy some Olympic inspired activities of your own?  Got a pool?  Try some water polo or synchronized swimming.  Practice backstrokes or have raft races.  Who can get the wettest in a splashing contest?  Young children can enjoy water fun as well: Set up the sprinkler.  Or fill up buckets of water and have toddlers “paint” the driveway to their hearts content.  What is more fun than a water balloon throwing competition?

There are lots of ways to enjoy water-free Olympic events as well. 

Sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, crab walk races and log rolling (using your body as the log) are guaranteed to bring on smiles and get everyone moving.  You can also set up games and events using balls, ropes, or other props.

Let you imagination go and enjoy exercising as a family by trying some “Backyard Olympics”.  For more fun ideas visit:

What are some of your favorite outdoor family activities?


Like MG Historical Fiction? Here are Two Winners by Author Tamara Bundy.

It has been my joy to recently read two books of historical fiction for middle grade readers. Author TAMARA BUNDY, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the #nerdcampPA virtual event earlier this month, is the author of both books which I highlight and review here.

The first one, her debut, is WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE.

Walking with Miss Millie by [Tamara Bundy]

“A memorable and lovely debut.”Kirkus Reviews
Walking with Miss Millie is full of subtle wisdom. Its ending is satisfying though sobering and there are elements of this story that stay with you long after the last page has been read.”–Karen English, Coretta Scott King Honor Award Author

My review:

Great historical fiction debut set in Georgia in the 1960’s. My favorite quote sums up the theme and message of the story: “What makes us different isn’t nearly as important as what makes us the same.” 

The second one is PIXIE PUSHES ON.

Pixie’s defenses are up, and it’s no wonder. She’s been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it’s not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements–and giving her classmates nicknames like “Rotten Ricky” and “Big-Mouth Berta”–hasn’t won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident–a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding–and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she’s not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she’s finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

My review:

“Set in the 1940’s during the last months of WWII. Ten year-old Pixie is grieving the loss of her mom. And now her beloved older sister Charlotte is in a hospital far away recovering from polio. Pixie has to learn to navigate a new life with Dad on her grandparents farm.

Period details put readers right into the era as we walk beside Pixie, going to school, doing her farm chores, and navigating the uncertain days. A story sad, hopeful, and glorious in the telling. Historical fiction at it’s best. ‘

Tamara Bundy

Tamara Bundy is a former columnist for the Cincinnati Post. Her regular column on being a mom also appeared on EWTN global Catholic radio. She is an adjunct instructor at Miami University-Hamilton and a mom of four. Bundy is the author of 5 non-fiction books and the middle grade novels Walking with Miss Millie and Pixie Pushes On. Her debut picture book, Lullaby Prayer releases November 2020. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband.

We Gave Something Away to These Winners…

On July 15, 2021, Kim Pfennigwerth and I hosted our 6th annual Give Something Away Day. We chose three picture books written by Asian authors. Here are the winners:

Barbara Messinger wins a copy of eyes that kiss in the corner_Darlene

Ellen Ramsey wins a copy of: outside inside_Darlene

And Amy R Sinn wins a copy of:

CONGRATULATIONS! Please email me with your address, so I can get the books out to you. 

Thanks to all who commented on this annual post and may you get as much kindness as you give.

Author Alexandra Alessandri has a new PB: Isabel and Her Colors Go To School.

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the second virtual #nerdcampPA, where I shared discussions with some amazing children’s book authors from all over the country. One of these authors was Alexandra Alessandri who shared her new picture book ISABEL AND HER COLORS GO TO SCHOOL. (illustrated by Courtney Dawson)

English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn–and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.


I enjoyed this beautiful and poetically written story so much, I wanted to share my review here.

“Written in English and Spanish and told in a lilting and lyrical voice that describes Isabel’s feelings using the colors she loves. “Mama’s voice, soft and amber like a ripened mango.”

Vibrant and fluid illustrations add another layer of depth to a simple but power story of friendship and connection that transcends language.”

The text and illustrations show the range of emotions that come into play with being in a new school where the language is different, but we learn that we also have many things in common that help us connect to one another.

This is a perfect book to begin a new school year and would make a wonderful addition to a young child’s library.

2019_Headshot1 alexandra

Alexandra Alessandri is the author of Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! (Albert Whitman) and the forthcoming Isabel and Her Colores go to School (Sleeping Bear Press). The daughter of Colombian immigrants, she is also an Associate Professor of English at Broward College and a poet, with some of her work appearing in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, Atlanta Review, and Young Adult Review Network. Alexandra lives in Florida with her husband and son.


Hooray! Five times we have given books and other items away to recognize this special day and we are back a sixth time to do it again!  After all, what is better for our hearts, our souls, and our spirits than to be part of giving something away.

So for anyone who hasn’t read my past posts on Darlene’s blog, Give Something Away Day is July 15th. I love a day that encourages us to give something away. After all, you can declutter, dejunk, and lighten your own load. You can also celebrate this day giving away a kindness. You can give away your time with a phone call, check-in on a neighbor, or share a lunch with a friend. How wonderful does lunch out sound after this past year of staying so secluded? Even a picnic lunch that maintains a social distance sounds delicious.

With the pandemic raging over this past year, it is important to still stay safe while also thinking of others. And sadly with this pandemic the news also shows the horrendous uptick in anti-Asian racism. That there has been so much anger, animosity, and racism is even more reason to reach out and give something away especially something heartfelt. 

After watching the Free Bystander Intervention Training by Hollaback! the amount of anti-Asian violence and harassment cannot be overlooked. I am convinced more than ever that giving away kindness is an absolute necessity. With that in mind, Darlene and I have chosen to focus our giveaway this year on books by Asian authors or author-illustrators.

Readers who leave a comment will have a chance to win one of three books. I will give away one copy of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho Illustrated by Dung Ho. It is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book that lyrically celebrates a young girl discovering her own beauty. eyes that kiss in the corner_Darlene

My second giveaway is one we can all relate to—a copy of LeUyen Pham’s Outside, Inside that celebrates essential workers and a community coming together to face the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

outside inside_Darlene

Darlene’s giveaway is WISHES, a picture book by Muon Thi Van.

“This rich and nuanced tale illuminates the closely held wishes of refugees the world over. It’s unforgettable.” ― BookPage, starred review


Darlene’s review: “A beautiful story, profound in its simplicity. Seventy-five words of heart-wrenching and soul-stirring wonder. Beautifully illustrated and tenderly rendered. A book that transcends time and should be part of every child’s collection.”

       To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us about a kindness you recently gave or received. Your name will be put into a hat and three winners will be drawn at random and announced later this month on the blog. If you share this post on social media, Darlene will give you a second chance to win.

Below please find links to learn about anti-Asian Intervention Training and more by Hollaback! and the links that can always use your time or donations. 


The Innocence Project:

The Trevor Project:

The National Immigration Law Center:

The Loveland Foundation:

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum:

Embrace Race:

Books for Soldiers:

Donate Books – Find your public library:

Dress For Success:

Food Bank:

Vietnam Veterans of America:

Volunteer Match:



Kim Pfennigwerth lives in South Carolina with her husband and bouncy boxer and is a lover of books, beach walks, family, kayaking, and kindness in no particular order! She is often spotted reading piles of books while revising her own manuscripts.


Want Great KidLit Books For Summer reading and Beyond? Check Out #NerdcampPA2021

For teachers, librarians, and anyone looking for great books for kids of all ages, you might want to check out the second virtual #NerdCampPA which goes live this Thursday, July 15, 2021 beginning a 9AM EST.

I have the pleasure and honor of being on two panels to talk about my books.

The first panel at 10 AM is:

Historical Fiction for a Middle Grade Audience: Empowering Students to Create Fictional Stories Using Pieces of History with authors Dianne Salerni, Jennifer Robin Barr, and Tamara Bundy.

The second one at 11AM is:

NerdCampPA_11am slide

There will be give-aways of books, curriculum materials, and lots of information to use in the classroom and beyond. Hope you’ll join me and check out this exciting FREE event. Feel free to share.

Slimy Summer Fun!

What Kid doesn’t enjoy a fresh pile of slime to play in?  On days when it feels too hot to play out in sand or make mud pies, you can still give your kids a tactile experience by making your own SLIME.  There are plenty of recipes out there.  Here are two that will help you create colorful slime for indoor fun.  One glows in the dark and has glitter.

Happy Sliming!

The first one is borax, glue and chemical free:   No Borax Easy Slime Recipes - LOVE Slime? Have NO glue? NO Borax? NO Chemicals...??!! Check out these AMAZING play safe (and often "taste" safe) Slime Recipes for Kids. Explore, discover and have LOTS of sensory fun!!! The best sensory slime play activities for preschoolers and beyond. #Safeslime #noborax #slime #noglue #slimerecipes  Glitter-glow-in-the-dark slime recipe