Danica Davidson Presents: I WILL PROTECT YOU: A Powerful Holocaust Survival Story for MG Readers.

I recently read an amazing first-person account of Eva Mozes and her twin sister Miriam who survived captivity at Auschwitz. holocaust bookWritten by Danica Davidson, I WILL PROTECT YOU is a harrowing and courageous story taken from numerous interviews with Eva and deserves to be shared with the kidlit community.

Here is my review of this important book:

This book for middle grade readers is a powerful and chilling firsthand account of survival from the brutal Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. Eva Mozes recounts the time she and her twin sister Miriam spent at the camp. Since they were twins, they were separated from the rest of the captives so that Dr. Joseph Mengele…the “Angel of death” could do experiments on them. Despite the cruelty, starvation, and deprivation Eva and Miriam were exposed to by Mengele, they survived. They emigrated to the US and lived their lives. Eva spent her later years educating others by sharing her story and spreading her message of forgiveness.  While there are many adult books written by Holocaust survivors, few are written for children. It is not an easy read. It makes the reader sad, scared, uncomfortable, and angry. But it is an important book about an important time in history. A time we should always remember. Because it is through the open minds of children that we can change points of view about the world for the better and stop such horrors from happening again.  Spare and well written, this book should be part of every classroom discussion about the Holocaust.

I had an opportunity to ask author Danica Davidson about Eva’s story and how she came to write it. Here is Danica:

I WILL PROTECT YOU is a remarkable firsthand account of twins who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. How did you discover this story?

I had experienced increased antisemitism in my life, especially in my work as a journalist, and I was trying to figure out something I could write that could possibly be helpful. I was reading a lot of Jewish books and seeing Jewish speakers, and one day an email came from my temple telling me that a Mengele twin was going to be giving a speech at a university about an hour from me. This was Eva. So I read up all about her and showed up for her speech. After she talked I introduced myself to her, hoping I could maybe interview her for a magazine, but when I mentioned I’d published sixteen kids’ books, she lit up and exclaimed she wanted to do a kid’s book about her story.

Why do you feel this story is an important one for young readers of today?

Eva said the only way to really fight antisemitism is to teach kids about it in an accessible way. She said that Holocaust education in schools usually starts at 12 (if at all), and by then it’s too late because the prejudices are already formed.

I agree with her. I knew all about the Holocaust in elementary school (mainly from my dad and from reading), and it’s been shocking to me over the years to realize how abysmal Holocaust education is, and how many people know next to nothing about the Holocaust. Knowing history helps us from repeating history.

You were lucky enough to interview Eva Mozes for this book. Tell us what she was like. What was it about her that resonated with you and made you want to tell her story?

Eva was vivacious, feisty, accessible, passionate, and strong. She was a relentless educator of the Holocaust, because she didn’t want it happening again. The horrible memories had taken over her life for years, but by the time I met her, she had faced her demons and was stronger for it.     Mozes Kor_Eva_no credit

I wanted to tell her story because I recognized how rare it is for a child to survive a death camp, and her child’s perspective would be a way to reach young readers about the Holocaust. After interviewing Eva and talking with her extensively, I would write chapters at a time and send them to her for her approval. She really liked how the book came together.

What message would Eva want young people to remember from her experience as a concentration camp survivor?

Eva would want young readers to know that you can accomplish amazing things, no matter what your age. She would encourage kids who listened to her speak to go out and do a good deed. What the good deed was, she left up to them, because there are many good deeds out there and people are talented in different areas. She also hoped that abused kids could find some solace in this book and understand that healing after trauma is possible, and that if you’re abused it’s not your fault. It is always the abuser’s fault, and you don’t have to carry that trauma with you.

What else would you like readers to know about this book?

I’d like readers to know that there is nothing else like this book on the market for the age range, and it’s meant to revolutionize Holocaust education and fill a gap. Eva hoped every child would be able to read this book. She passed away fifteen days after we accepted Little, Brown’s offer on the finished manuscript, and nothing is the same without her. But I’m doing my best to make her vision happen and have this book reach as many readers as possible.

danica

Danica Davidson is the author of eighteen books for young readers, ranging from serious nonfiction to 12 middle grade Minecrafter adventure novels, to comic books, to the manga how-to books Manga Art for Beginners, Manga Art for Everyone, and Chalk Art Manga. Please visit her website at www.danicadavidson.com.

Order info: I Will Protect You is available as a hardcover, ebook and audio book. You can find a list of places to order online here [https://www.lbyr.com/titles/eva-mozes-kor/i-will-protect-you/9780316460637/]. It’s also available in local bookstores.

Praise

“The gripping story and fast-paced chapters make this a valuable purchase for reluctant readers. In a world where most people who lived the Holocaust are no longer with us, this book is a sincere and truthful reminder of this horrific event.” —School Library Journal

“Powerful… Unflinching in its first-person telling, the narrative is carried by its narrator’s passionate conviction, per an afterword, that ‘memories will provide the necessary fuel to light the way to hope.'”—Publishers Weekly

“A compelling story of survival.”—Booklist

“Bright and compelling, Eva invites young readers to plant flowers of knowledge, love, and acceptance in their own minds. Moving and informative; a powerful resource for Holocaust education.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Few Holocaust survivors have had Eva Mozes Kor’s impact. Together with Danica Davidson, the story of this young girl is narrated in a manner that I would not have thought possible, faithful to the history and yet accessible to young readers. Read this work and meet a person you will never forget with a story that is worth telling and retelling.”—Michael Berenbaum, award-winning author; Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University; and former Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Research Institute

GET READY FOR: GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY! By Kim Pfennigwerth

                                                                                               

For the 7th year (Hooray!), Darlene and I are celebrating July 15th’s Give Something Away Day.

I have given away and donated many items over the years—to shelters, thrift stores, libraries, etc.

For our celebration, Darlene and I have given away different items and many books. Books on writing, kidlit books from author friends, and especially books by diversified writers and/or illustrators.

This year will be more of the same, but in case you didn’t know…

Give Something Away Day is the chance to clear out clutter, clean out closets or drawers, and donate to a shelter or food bank. Or you could give away something a little more magical. Give a helping hand, a smile, a hug, some thoughtfulness, or time. By giving something away, you can brighten someone else’s day and it works pretty well at giving yourself a lift!

The pandemic and social unrest has brought a lot of turmoil into our daily lives, schedules, and emotions. We have witnessed an unprecedented hike in racism, anti-Asian hate, violence, bigotry, and intolerance that benefits no one.

Like most people I know, I treasure feeling validated, loved, and receiving unconditional support. So does everyone in the LGTBQ community—our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. This year my giveaway is directed to support and highlight their talents. Whether a preferred pronoun use is she/her, they/them, he/him, zie/zim, give someone validation, recognition, and brighten their day. What better opportunity to give support than Give Something Away Day.

diverse-hands

This year, three lucky people in the USA will have a chance at one of our giveaways.

I am giving away:

One board book: WE ARE THE RAINBOW by Claire Winslow Illus. by Riley Samels

We are the rainbow

And one picture book: BLOB written and illustrated by Anne Appert

Blob by Anne Appert

Darlene will be giving away a: $25.00 Amazon Gift card.

This year, as in years past, I am including community links. I hope you explore some or all of them and possibly find a way to support one, two, or more. 

So give something meaningful away and make GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY a mood-lifting day for yourself and someone else!

To be eligible for the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us about a kindness you recently gave or received. It will give our day a boost reading your comments!

 

beachwalkWillKim

Kim Pfennigwerth lives in South Carolina and enjoys walks with her dog on the beach or going for a paddle in her kayak. She is a lover of books, animals, children, and kindness in no particular order. She is often spotted participating in writing workshops or in a bookstore or library reading piles of picture books while writing and revising her own manuscripts. 

 
 
Warm regards,

 

 

Gender Spectrum: https://genderspectrum.org/articles/understanding-gender 

The Matthew Shephard Foundation: https://www.matthewshepard.org/

PLFAG: https://pflag.org/

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Right To Be: https://righttobe.org/

The Innocence Project: https://www.innocenceproject.org/

The National Immigration Law Center: https://www.nilc.org/

The Loveland Foundation: https://thelovelandfoundation.org/

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: https://www.napawf.org/

Embrace Race: https://www.embracerace.org/

Books for Soldiers: http://booksforsoldiers.com/donate_to_the_soldiers/

Donate Books – Find your public library: http://www.publiclibraries.com/

Dress For Success: https://www.dressforsuccess.org/

Food Bank: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-localfoodbank/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Marissa Moss Presents: THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM: THE LIFE OF LISE MEITNER + A Chance to Win a Copy

I recently had the pleasure of reading the newest non-fiction book written by best-selling author MARISSA MOSS. THE WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM: THE LIFE OF LISE MEITNER is a detailed, and comprehensive account of an unknown female physicist who discovered nuclear fission but received little credit for her discovery.

TheWomanWhoSplitTheAtom(1)

Bestselling author-illustrator Marissa Moss tells the gripping story of Lise Meitner, the physicist who discovered nuclear fission. Here is the blurb:

As a female Jewish physicist in Berlin during the early 20th century, Lise Meitner had to fight for an education, a job, and equal treatment in her field, like having her name listed on her own research papers.

Meitner made groundbreaking strides in the study of radiation, but when Hitler came to power in Germany, she suddenly had to face not only sexism, but also life-threatening anti-Semitism as well. Nevertheless, she persevered and one day made a discovery that rocked the world: the splitting of the atom. While her male lab partner was awarded a Nobel Prize for the achievement, the committee refused to give her any credit.

Suddenly, the race to build the atomic bomb was on—although Meitner was horrified to be associated with such a weapon. “A physicist who never lost her humanity,” Meitner wanted only to figure out how the world works, and advocated for pacifism while others called for war.

The book includes an afterword, author’s note, timeline, select terms of physics, glossary of scientists mentioned, end notes, select bibliography, index, and Marissa Moss’s celebrated drawings throughout. The Woman Who Split the Atom is a fascinating look at Meitner’s fierce passion, integrity, and her lifelong struggle to have her contributions to physics recognized.  Recommended for ages 9-up

I recently interviewed Marissa and asked her how this amazing story came about.

  1. How did you discover Lise Meitner and what led you to tell her story?

My youngest son is a grad student in physics and he told me about Lise Meitner. He knows how interested I am in people (often women) who deserve to be better known but haven’t gotten the credit they deserve. He warned me Meitner could be tricky since her discover led directly to the atomic bomb, but she herself refused to work on it (though she was asked) and the more I learned about her, the more compelling I found her. 

2. How did you set up your research for such a complicated and technical project? What was the most difficult part?

I started by reading the two adult biographies written about her and followed up by going through her amazing archive of letters in documents, now in Cambridge, England where she spent the last years of her life. She not only had letters that were sent to her but copies of the letters she sent, so I could see both sides of the conversation. Most of the letters are in German, so I had to dust off my German language skills. It got easier the more letters I read as I became familiar with her writing style.

Two things were especially difficult — the first was to explain the physics involved clearly so a middle-grade student could understand it all. The second was not to sound too angry or outraged about Otto Hahn, her long-time partner who stole the credit for her discovery. I wanted to let the readers draw their own conclusions by simply describing what he said or did, but it was hard to keep calm whenever I wrote about him. Meitner herself was so generous and patient with him in all their many letters, even carefully explaining to him the momentous discovery which he didn’t understand at all, yet had no trouble taking full credit for. 

3. What important ideas do you want readers to remember about Lise and her life’s work?

I want them to know that she was a scientist who faced incredible obstacles, first as a woman, then as a Jew, but she was determined to do what she loved. And she did it with absolute integrity, pure science for knowledge’s sake, never as a tool of politicians or the military. 

4. Why this story and why now?

This was actually delayed due to covid (as so many things in publishing were). When I wrote most of it, Trump was president and the echoes of him and some of Hitler’s actions were positively eerie — the preference, for example, of relying not on experts for information, but on a trusted close circle. So when Hitler’s personal photographer dismissed the potential of atomic energy/weapons, Hitler agreed, rather than listening to the scientists in his government.

Now, with the Russian war on Ukraine, it seems even more timely, as the blanket German support of Hitler seems disturbingly parallel to the blanket Russian support of Putin. The German people thought Hitler was making their country stronger and that’s what mattered most. The average Russian seems to think the same of Putin. 

5. What else should we know about the WOMAN WHO SPLIT THE ATOM?

Meitner’s integrity is an incredible example for all of us to follow. She always did what was right, not what was easy.

**STARRED REVIEW** 
“Moss’ approach to this biography is notable in several ways, from the organization of facts into a very readable narrative to surprisingly clear explanations of Meitner’s scientific work and its significance. Even the back matter is uncommonly useful.”―Booklist

**STARRED REVIEW**
“A scorching profile of a brilliant physicist whose proper re cognition was long delayed thanks to sexism, antisemitism, and personal betrayal. . .A bright tale of a life dedicated to science, well stocked with dramatic moments and discoveries.” –   Kirkus Reviews

I am giving away a copy of this amazing book to one commenter chosen at random. Leave a comment below for one entry. Share this post on social media for a second chance to win.

 

marissa

Marissa Moss has written than seventy children’s books, from picture books to middle-grade and young adult novels. Best known for the Amelia’s Notebook series, her books are popular with teachers and children alike, using graphic formats to introduce history in an accessible, appealing way. Barbed Wire Baseball won the California Book Award, Gold medal and the California Young Reader Medal.

In 2013, Moss founded Creston Books. The small press has earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist, as well as awards. Each list balances picture book and older readers, debut authors and established names, showcasing the best in children’s books.

Book Review: AFRICAN TOWN by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Every now and then I come across a book that leaves me breathless and awed by its storytelling and power. AFRICAN TOWN african townby Irene Latham and Charles Waters is just such a book. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

Chronicling the story of the last Africans brought illegally to America in 1860, African Town is a powerful and stunning novel-in-verse.

In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and being hidden in the swamp lands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also fit into the place of captivity to which they’d been delivered. At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town, which still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, this powerfully affecting historical novel-in-verse recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

Here’s my review:

This YA novel-in-verse, inspired by the true story of the last African slave ship Clotilda, is not to be missed. Stunning in scope and breathtaking in detail, readers become part of the group of survivors who endure captivity aboard the ship, suffer brutality and deprivation as slaves in an unfamiliar country, and never forget their African roots. Told in alternating points-of-view, by characters named for the actual people who were kidnapped and brought to Alabama before the start of the Civil War, even though slavery was then illegal…on paper. At times heart-wrenching and uplifting, the spirit of survival and freedom resonates and endures in the hearts and minds of these courageous souls who create a new home away from home in a place they never chose to be. Beautifully written and respectfully told, this story will stay with you long after the reading is done.

If you haven’t read this book yet, I encourage you to do so and to pass it along to your friends and family.

REST IN PEACE PAULA COHEN MARTIN…Your Memory and Books Will Live on.

Paula zl

The children’s writing world has lost another champion at the recent passing of Paula Cohen Martin. As sad as that is, it is sadder still that she died before she was able to bring her first picture book out into the world. Her stories and amazing illustrations will live on.

To honor her memory and help her book reach the population of the young children she loved, It is my honor to feature the book on today’s blog.

big dreams small fish

In the new country, Shirley and her family all have big dreams. Take the family store: Shirley has great ideas about how to make it more modern! Prettier! More profitable! She even thinks she can sell the one specialty no one seems to want to try: Mama’s homemade gefilte fish.

But her parents think she’s too young to help. And anyway they didn’t come to America for their little girl to work. “Go play with the cat!” they urge.

This doesn’t stop Shirley’s ideas, of course. And one day, when the rest of the family has to rush out leaving her in the store with sleepy Mrs. Gottlieb, Shirley seizes her chance!

BIG FISH, SMALL DREAMS is a love letter to the American Ashkenazi immigrant experience in the 20th century, no small part of which entailed girls finding their voices and their power in ways they had never before been able to do. Protagonist Shirley, with a good head on her shoulders, is one of those girls. Paula was eager to include Yiddish in her text and to make sure it was as authentic and historically accurate as her images. It is a delight to read and a wonderful way to remember her.

Here is a review from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY:

 “This Yiddish-punctuated slice-of-life story, Cohen’s picture book debut, wears its nostalgia lightly; the narrator’s voice is as crisp as the illustrations’ black outlines. What really matters here is timeless: an indomitable protagonist and the loving family who dotes on her.” -Publishers Weekly

Cover Reveal: Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt by Kathleen Wilford

Today it is my pleasure to be among the first to see the fabulous cover reveal for a debut MG historical. Those who follow me know my love of historical fiction, so I was  excited when debut author KATHLEEN WILFORD contacted me about a blog post cover reveal.

So…without further ado, here is the gorgeous cover of CABBY POTTS, DUCHESS OF DIRT  and a short interview with Kathleen about her book.

Cabby Potts cover (no wrap)

Describe your book in 10 words or less.

Thanks so much, Darlene! How about this:

A sod house, a grand manor. A mystery, a match-making scheme. (That’s 11 . . .)

Tell us about your debut historical MG novel, Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt. When is it coming out?

Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt will be released September 1, 2022 with Little Press/Blue Bronco Books.

The book is set in Kansas in 1875, the year after the grasshoppers devastated the state. My main character, Cabby Potts, is inspired by some of my own favorite literary heroines, Laura Ingalls and the pioneer women in the novels of Willa Cather. Like them, Cabby is “outdoor kind of girl,” more interested in farming than fashion. Cabby’s struggling homestead is her first real home, and she’s desperate not to lose it, even if that means accepting a housemaiding job at stuffy, high-class Ashford manor. She’s also a bit naïve and has what her mother calls an intemperate tongue, qualities that get her in trouble after she hatches an improbable matchmaking scheme between her romantic older sister and the young lord of Ashford Manor. When her rash plot backfires, Cabby must use her voice to stand up for herself, a Native American friend, and her entire community.

How did you get the idea for this story?

I ran across a book called Prairie Fever, by Peter Pagnamenta, and I was intrigued to learn about the British aristocracy’s fascination with the American West. Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is based on the true story of Victoria, Kansas, an enclave of British aristocrats in the 1870’s. Victoria was designed as a “community of culture and refinement” where “the arts and graces of life” could be imported straight from London. I couldn’t imagine a bigger culture clash than between the English nobility and the hardscrabble American homesteaders who might have worked for them.

At the same time, I didn’t want to portray Americans as somehow free from the race and class prejudices of the wealthy English. One of the things Cabby wakes up to as she befriends a Kiowa boy is the pigheadedness, as she puts it, of her own community, beloved as it is.

The cover for this book is beautiful. Tell us about it.

 Thanks, I love it! The cover was created by Katie Kear of the Bright Agency. I think she captured Cabby’s character: curious, determined, a bit headstrong, and not very girly! That’s Ashford Manor at the bottom, a grand English manor plunked down on the windswept plains of Kansas. You’ll also notice a brooch and a mysterious document on the cover—there’s a mystery in this book that readers will enjoy helping Cabby puzzle out.

Here is the artist’s website to see more of her amazing work. Her name is Katie Kear, and the website is:

 Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

 I would describe my speed along the road to publication as . . . glacial. My first novel manuscript, which I still hope to revise one day, suffered from rookie mistakes like not considering marketability! I gained from experience, and I think that Cabby is a stronger book. Still, after a few close calls with editors and agents, I stopped submitting for over a year. I was still in that stage where a rejection seemed like a verdict. You know, “lousy book.”  

I will be forever grateful to Michele McAvoy of The Little Press for seeing the potential of the book based on a #PitMad tweet in the summer of 2021. After acquiring Cabby, Michele and her team have guided me through an editing process that has made the story as polished and strong as possible.

What are some of your favorite classic MGs? How about recent ones?

 I grew up with immersive fantasies like the Narnia books and The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Anything English seemed magical to me, but I also loved Beverly Cleary and The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. 

There are so many recent MG’s I admire, so I’ll just name some historical ones I think are amazing: Moon Over Manifest, The War that Saved my Life, Esperanza Rising, Front Desk, and anything by Linda Sue Park.

war

 What projects are you working on now?

I’m having a great time reading some super-recent MG’s like Cuba in my Pocket, A Place to Hang the Moon (more English magic) and Frankie and Bug. manifestAnd my fellow #22Debuts authors have some great things coming out!   

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same as you’d give to aspiring authors?

 My biggest advice to my younger self would be to start writing earlier, ha ha!

For aspiring authors, my first piece of advice would be to join a critique group. For a thousand reasons.

Also, read, read, read! Study the market and read in your genre. When you come across a book you love, study its structure, themes, characters, etc.

And be willing to learn. Don’t fall in love with your first draft. When agents or editors are “critical” of your work, try to understand why. Writing for publication is a skill not learned overnight!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

 No surprise, I was a READER as a kid. In fact, my memories of childhood are often pegged to books. Snuggling with my mother as she read out loud: Heidi (I cried.) Summer camp rest time: Rascal. Favorite Christmas present: my now worn-out boxed set of the Narnia books. There was never any question what I’d study in college and grad school: English literature. I taught middle-school and high school English, and I now teach writing at Rutgers University.

Several years ago, I started pursuing what had always been a background dream: writing my own books. I’m grateful to a friend who encouraged me to get started, to SCBWI for opportunities to learn from industry insiders, and most of all to my dedicated, professional critique group who help me conquer my self-doubt. It’s been quite a journey, and we’ve been on it together.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?  Kathleen Wilford head and shoulders

I was born in a place that no longer exists: The Panama Canal Zone, Panama. (The Canal Zone was once a U.S. territory but was formally returned to Panama in 1999.) I also lived in Costa Rica and Colombia. I can speak some Spanish, but I’m rusty.

Where can people find you online?

People can find me on Twitter by following @kathwilford. I also have a website at kathleenwilford.com.  

Congratulations on your first book Kathleen. Can’t wait to see it out in the world!

Author Tara Lazar Has a Word For You…More Than 750 Words to Be Precise.

I recently had the pleasure to read an ARC copy of Children’s Book Author Tara Lazar’s newest book ABSURD WORDS:A Kids Fun and Hilarious Vocabulary Builder for Word Nerds (Sourcebooks explore) and I am hooked! Not only is it a  classroom resource for writing programs, it is also a fantastical humdinger of a volume for anyone who loves words.Since I fit that category, I got a copy for myself. And I asked Tara to tell us how she came to wrote this unique tome. Here she is in her vivacious and effervescent style:

absurd cover

  1. I know you’ve been a word nerd for a long time. How did your collection of unusual words come about?
You know those people who sing along to a song but mess up all the words? Yeah? That’s not me. I’ve always been tuned into words not only for their meanings, but for their sounds. 
I was reading several years ago and came across the word “archipelago”. I thought to myself–I LOVE that word! And I hadn’t heard it in so long! So I wrote it down. I wanted to remember that I loved it, and I didn’t want it to disappear again for years. 
Then, each time I came across another fabulous word, I wrote it down. Soon I had a large word menagerie and I placed it online…where I added to it even more! It became one of the most popular pages on my website. (https://taralazar.com/2014/06/09/list-of-200-fun-cool-and-interesting-words/)
  1. The user-friendly format of this book is great. What led you to arrange the words in such a unique way?
That was my editor Bunmi Ishola’s idea. And it was brilliant! I had put the words in simple alphabetical order, but we knew that wasn’t right. It wouldn’t invite people to read through it in such a common, predictable order. These were AMAZING words and they needed an equally AMAZING format! She came up with the category format and I was immediately sold!
(But then it took weeks and months to figure out the categories!)     internal image
  1. What was the research process like?
Weeks and weeks at the library, among the reference materials–dictionaries and etymology books. I enjoyed digging in, except for the uncomfortable chairs. I had to bring along my own cushion!
  1. Use your five favorite absurd words in one sentence?
“I found zaftig Aunt Barbara’s pulchritudinous baubles–eureka!–in a labyrinth of tchotchkes at her bungalow in the willowwacks.”
That’s eight!
  1. What do you want writers young and old to know about this book?
This is the book I always wished I had. I made it fun and engaging so you could pick it up and spend hours learning odd words and odder facts–and not even notice the hours ticking by. In fact, it was such a long process between writing and the final product that I picked it up and spent hours with it myself!
  1. Anything else you’d like to add?
I hit a brick wall at the word “nudnik,” which is a Yiddish word for a numbskull. I had an etymology dictionary say it came into English usage after the movie “Nudnik of the North.” Well, that sounded like a comedy spoof of “Nanook of the North,” which is a fun fact, so I searched those references. Nothing. I contacted the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis and they had no records of “Nudnik of the North”. I even contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences–the Oscar people!–and they couldn’t verify the movie, either. Eventually I just left “nudnik” out of the book, which still bothers me!!!
 
Lucky for all you word nerds out there, Tara has agreed to give away a signed copy of the book to one randomly chosen winner. Leave a comment sharing one of your favorite underused words to enter. Share this post and get a second chance to win.

taraflowerscircleStreet magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been. Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books where anything is possible!

Tara’s newest book is BLOOP, about an alien who comes to conquer earth but believe the dogs are in charge. (Well, aren’t they?)

7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY was honored with the 2018 Irma S. & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature from Bank Street College of Education, chosen by thousands of children across the US. Her other titles include THE MONSTORE, I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK, LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD, NORMAL NORMAN, WAY PAST BEDTIME, YOUR FIRST DAY OF CIRCUS SCHOOL, THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN, and THE UPPER CASE: TROUBLE IN CAPITAL CITY, the sequel to 7 ATE 9.

Tara’s signature writing style is full of puns, wordplay, and goofy fun that makes both kids and adults giggle non-stop.

Discover original stories, book reviews and giveaways at her award-winning blog “Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)” at TaraLazar.com.

Tara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. She speaks professionally about overcoming disability to achieve your goals and dreams. Tara teaches writing workshops for SCBWI, Highlights Foundation, and schools across America. She’s Co-Chair of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature 1-on-1 conference and a former picture book mentor for We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and #PBChat, a social media writing community.

Tara lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and a skateboarding hamster named Ozzie.

GUEST POST: Sparking Conversations with BUNNY FINDS EASTER (and a Book Walk Activity) by Laura Sassi

Bunny Finds Easter by Laura Sassi, Board Book | Barnes ...

Thank you, Darlene, for having me as your guest today. You asked me to share how I came to tell this story in such a simple way and wonderful (thank you!) way. Here’s the scoop:

As a young child I was confused about what we were celebrating at Easter. I loved getting dressed up and hunting for colorful eggs, but it wasn’t until I was a tween that I made the connection that Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection.

Later, as a parent with young children, I tried to be intentional about connecting the wonderful traditions of Easter to the real meaning of the holiday. My favorite strategy was making simple, concrete connections. For example, while nibbling jelly beans with my little ones, we’d ponder how they were good, just like God, who in His goodness, sent us Jesus. Or, while oohing over ducklings at the park, we’d marvel at our new life in Christ.

Hoping others might appreciate a book like this, I set about writing BUNNY FINDS EASTER.  And after many, many rounds of revision, it was acquired by Zonderkidz. It’s my fourth book with them.

Here’s the link to the book trailer for this story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ltaGEWoeyk

Now, in the hopes that BUNNY FINDS EASTER will be used as part of Easter celebrations this year, here are instructions for creating a Book Walk with BUNNY FINDS EASTER at your church or faith-based preschool. (And special thanks to my publisher for creating this beautiful pdf with the instructions.)

BunnyFindsEaster_BookWalk_2022_2

Happy Easter season!

Laura has agreed to do a giveaway of this delightful book to one winner age 18+ with a US street mailing address (Not a P.O. Box). Please leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing. If you share this post on social media, you will be entered twice.

thumbnail_Laura Sassi with SunflowersLaura Sassi

Children’s book author and poet

GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, August ’14)

GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, October ’15)

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, Spring ’18)

LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, Fall  ’18)

EL AMOR ES BONDADOSO (Vida Zondervan, Fall ’19)

LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books,  Spring ’21)

BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, Spring ’22)

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http://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/

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https://www.instagram.com/laurasassitales/

Author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo Presents a New MG: EACH OF US A UNIVERSE + A Chance to Win a Signed Copy.

Today it is my absolute pleasure to share a book I recently read by middle-grade author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo titled EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. I asked Jeanne what inspired her to write this lovely story. Her answers follow as well as my review and a chance to win a signed copy. Here’s Jeanne:

Universe_FINAL (4)

  1. I love the title of your book: EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. How did you arrive at that title?

I did a great deal of research for this book especially in the field of astrophysics, cosmology, and meteoritics (study of meteorites). Neil deGrasse Tyson’s books and documentaries were incredibly helpful. Watching COSMOS, I came across Tyson’s quote: “There are as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe.” I found this so inspirational. It seemed to encompass Cal’s and Rosine’s journeys. It was also a concept that Rosine had begun to understand, and one Cal was just learning. It felt like the perfect title for the book.

  1. There is a lot of detail about the sport of mountain climbing. What kind of research did you have to do for the story? Where did your inspiration come from?

Tons of research! And it was so fun! Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport, but can be done safely with the right tools and instruction. I began by joining my local climbing gym and took several lessons. Universally, the climbing community is incredibly welcoming! My entire family also travelled to Mount Mansfield in Vermont where we had a lesson on outdoor mountain climbing at Smugglers’ Notch. It was really hard, but so rewarding!

  1. The mountain looms large in the story as a physical presence and as a metaphor for the struggles and fears of the main character. How did this come about?

I hike almost every day on our local (very small) mountain, Soapstone Mountain. Although mountain hikes can be challenging physically as well as mentally, there is something incredibly spiritual—even magical—about the experience. With all the struggles and challenges Cal and Rosine were facing, I wanted them to experience that magic. I knew the mountain was where they would find it.

  1. What are 3 things readers should know about the main character Calliope Scott and 3 things about Rosine Kanambe?

Cal has lived in the small, rural town of Bleakerville, CT her entire life.

She and her father are struggling with her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.

She is so much stronger than she knows.

Rosine is from Democratic Republic of the Congo but lived as a refugee in Burundi for — years before being resettled in the United States.

She is struggling with her sister’s sadness and desire to keep moving.

Rosine already knows how strong she is.

  1. What scene was the easiest to write? The hardest?

I loved writing the climbing scenes, especially the one where Cal thinks back to the time she scaled Ragged Mountain with her father. Ragged Mountain is a real place in Southington, CT that I have hiked with family and friends. It is a truly special mountain, and you can’t help but feel a combined sense of peace and joy when climbing it.

The scene in which Cal visits her father in prison was challenging in that it was so emotional for me. As a former public defender, I made hundreds of professional visits to clients in prisons. I’d wait in the waiting room, and then enter the facility alongside family members who were visiting loved ones. From the moment I’d enter the prison, I would feel the weight of those friends and family. Their nervousness was palpable. But I also witnessed happiness in those visits—the simple joy that comes from human connection. I wanted to bring that emotion to the scene, while letting kids who’ve had experience with prison visits know they aren’t alone. I also want them to understand that, like Cal, they are a great deal stronger than they realize.

Here is Darlene’s review for this amazing story of courage.

“Calliope Scott runs. She is always on the move, trying to escape from all the things troubling her in the small town of Bleakerville. Mountain climbing is her passion, something she did with her dad…before he went to prison. Before her mom got cancer. When a new girl moves into town, a girl whose love of the mountain is as strong as Cal’s, they set out to conquer Mt. Meterorite and the magic they both hope will save their families.

Will Cal and Rosine climb all the way to the summit? Will they find the magic said to reside there from local legends? Young readers will keep turning pages to find out in this heartfelt and honest story of a girl’s love of the mountain that looms large literally and figuratively in her life.

Themes of believing in yourself, the power of friendship, and how love can help you through life’s difficult and scary moments resonate throughout. Magic happens when you believe.”

Zulick Ferruolo Headshot

Jeanne has agreed to give-away a signed copy of EACH OF US A UNIVERSE. Leave a comment if you would like to be considered. One name will be drawn at random from all who enter. If you share this post on social media, I will give you a second chance to enter.

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo is the author of Each of Us a Universe, A Galaxy of Sea Stars and Ruby in the Sky, which earned two starred reviews and which Booklist called “quietly magical.” She is also a volunteer with IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut. She lives in Ellington, Connecticut, with her family.

Contact information

website: http://www.jzulferr.com/

email: jzulferr@gmail.com

Twitter:  @jzulferr

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jzulferr/

EACH OF US A UNIVERSE

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780374388683

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Each-Universe-Jeanne-Zulick-Ferruolo/dp/0374388687/ref=sr_1_1?crid=GU7Y47ES5EYE&keywords=each+of+us+a+universe&qid=1642614214&sprefix=each+of+us+a+universe%2Caps%2C75&sr=8-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/each-of-us-a-universe-jeanne-zulick-ferruolo/1138778045?ean=9780374388683

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

Indie Bound:  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250763266

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Galaxy-Stars-Jeanne-Zulick-Ferruolo/dp/1250763266/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3HLD33JS1MUMI&keywords=a+galaxy+of+sea+stars&qid=1642614252&sprefix=a+galaxy+of+sea+stars%2Caps%2C76&sr=8-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-galaxy-of-sea-stars-jeanne-zulick-ferruolo/1130769020?ean=9781250763266

RUBY IN THE SKY

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250233295

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ruby-Sky-Jeanne-Zulick-Ferruolo-ebook/dp/B07BF87NPF/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3PKHWDJQCOOYE&keywords=ruby+in+the+sky&qid=1642614317&sprefix=ruby+in+the+sky%2Caps%2C81&sr=8-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ruby-in-the-sky-jeanne-zulick-ferruolo/1128119440?ean=9781250233295

Traveling To Asian Art Museums: Merely a Click Away by Marilyn Ostermiller

(Third in a three-part series on how to accompany the children in your life on virtual visits to a variety of museums.)

Art is the universal language.

Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” speak to us through time and space.

Likewise, “The Great Wave” created by Katsushika Hokusai of Japan has cast its spell over generations of art lovers throughout the world. This is one of a series of 36 he painted of views of Mount Fuji.   Mount Fuji Photo from Wikipedia.

You don’t have to travel to expose your children to the wonders of the art world. A few Asian Museums offer virtual visits that include special features for children. Among them:

National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

https://theme.npm.edu.tw/npmonline/en/page-kids.html#menu

The National Palace Museum’s virtual experiences for children feature video adventures in English that feature artwork from its collections.

Its permanent collection of Chinese artifacts and artworks includes almost 700,000 pieces, including some that date back 8,000 years. Its Children’s Gallery online offers online activities such a game of “I Spy” that will help youngsters to explore an original painting, “Malay Fisherman at Changi Beach” by Chua Mia Tee.

Another activity starts with a montage of a typical breakfast that introduces them to a different, but similar, cuisine, and a riddle to solve.

A gallery tour, told by kid-friendly narrator, weaves traditional stories, in English, based on art masterpieces in the museum’s collection, beginning with King Midas and his golden touch.

 Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

In the United States, the Asian Art Museum based in San Francisco offers children’s virtual visits tied to grade level.

A video tale about celebrating the new year in tells the story of Jizo, a deity whose statues are popular in Japan along the roadside.

https://education.asianart.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/07/Elephant-5-600x450.jpg 1x, https://education.asianart.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/07/Elephant-5-1200x900.jpg 2x

Caption: One of many hands-on activities on the site available for kids of all age groups.

https://education.asianart.org/regions/china/

Here’s a link to the Coloring Pages Offered by the museum: https://education.asianart.org/resources/lunar-new-year-zodiac-animals-coloring-pages/

Another way to explore the Asian Art Museum is through the book, Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum,” by author Sue DiCicco. Appropriate for ages 4 to 9, this 48-page picture book travels from exhibit to exhibit inviting kids to picture themselves in a variety of Asiant countries as they ride a rhino, become a samurai or climb Mt. Fuji. It is available through at http://www.amazon.com

Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum by [Sue DiCicco]

 

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.