STAY SWEET ~ Rich in character, satisfying in substance


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Summer, ice cream, and friendship…

It doesn’t get more quintessentially summer than that. Except this sweet read starts there, and then sweeps you off on an unexpectedly delicious ride.

STAY SWEET, by Siobhan Vivian

Stay Sweet, coverMay 3, 1945…

When the young men of Sand Lake went off to war, Molly Meade started making ice cream to cheer up her heart-broken friends.

What began as a feel-good whim turned into an unexpected success. The small town clamored for the flavors Molly created with her own secret recipes and surplus from her family’s dairy.

Molly started a decades-long tradition. Summer in Sand Lake wasn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand she founded in 1944.

From its founding, the Meade Creamery stand was managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably bonded into a sisterhood of best friends. The summers seventeen-year-old Amelia Triple scoop ice cream coneworked at the stand had been life changing. It’s where she met her best friend Cate and learned the essentials of life: who the best teachers were, how to dodge parental restrictions, and how to make the perfect sundae.

When Amelia is finally chosen as “Head Girl” for the summer—an honor she’s secretly dreamed of since her first day as a Meade Creamery Girl—she expects it to be the best summer of her life. That is, until Amelia finds Molly passed away on the floor of the stand the first day she’s in charge.

The stand is doomed to close, until Molly’s grandnephew, Grady, comes to town for the funeral. He’s inherited Molly’s property, including the stand, and is determined to take over where his great-aunt left off. Grady is the first guy ever to work at Meade Creamery, and he threatens to everything, including Amelia’s heart. Grady depends on Amelia to help save the business, and their budding romance ultimately stresses Amelia’s friendship with Cate and the other girls to the breaking point.

Home Sweet Home for the soul

This story had the same effect on me as Meade Creamery’s secret Home Sweet Home ice cream had on its patrons for decades: deliciously satisfying, mysterious, invigorating, and mesmerizing. What started out as a simple summer best-friend story, turned into a page-turning ride I didn’t want to end.

The intertwining threads from Molly Meade’s World War II era diary entries and the present-day experiences of Amelia, Cate, and Grady, offer a rich comparison of social expectations and mores. This, combined with the universal theme of believing in yourself and finding the confidence to pursue your dreams, is a testament to the indomitable spirit of true passion, no matter the times.

4 ice cream cones

Road trip! ~ Who paved the way for the American tradition?


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Car on a mapSummer and road trips are synonymous, with millions of Americans taking to the road in the spirit of unbridled adventure. Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel, On the Road, fueled a generation with the romance of the open road.

But HOW did it all start?

WHO was the first to pave the way for this American tradition, WHEN, and WHY?

A Bet, Two Men, and a Dog in Goggles

On May 19, 1903, a heated debate at the exclusive University Club in San Francisco resulted in a $50.00 wager taken by Horatio Nelson Jackson. Horses and carriages were the main mode of transportation, and many thought the horseless carriage was a passing fancy of the well-to-do. Certainly not reliable enough to withstand a dangerous cross-country journey. Jackson had a grander vision and recruited Sewall Crocker to prove the automobile nay-sayers wrong.

Horatio Nelson Jackson in the VermontOn May 23, 1903 they set out to complete the trip from San Francisco to New York City in less than 90 days. [Horatio Nelson Jackson in the Vermont]

They packed a second-hand 20 horsepower, cherry red, Winton touring car (dubbed the Vermont) with sleeping bags, cooking gear, and supplies, then started on their daring journey. Crocker was a former bicycle racer and gasoline engine mechanic, skills they would need in the days ahead. At the time there were fewer than 150 miles of paved roads nationwide, no road signs, or gas stations. With the rigorous terrain, automobiles often breakdown. The Vermont was no different.

The Winton crossed streams and traversed winding mountain roads better suited for Bud the dog, with gogglesmules than man. They suffered mechanical failures early and often, and had to rely on stagecoaches to ferry new parts and blacksmiths to make repairs. In short, their trip was one obstacle after another, devoid of the amenities we take for granted on cross-country journeys today.

With mechanical fiasco after fiasco, it took 19 days to reach Idaho. There they met a bull-terrier named Bud, fitted him with motoring goggles to protect his eyes from dust, and hoped the new addition to their party would bring them luck. Bud wore his goggles, navigating from the front seat for the rest of the journey, but luck wasn’t quick to follow. [Bud sporting his motoring goggles]

Throughout bad directions that sent them days out of their way, getting stuck in a swamp, then lost in the Wyoming badlands, the team maintained a spirit of optimism. Possibly, due to the tremendous receptions they received along the way. For many, it was their first encounter with an automobile.

Fanfare swelled to a crescendo as they rolled into Chicago on July 17, and then Cleveland a few days later. In spite of the hoopla the adventure ignited along the way, the epic road trip ended as humbly as it began. The Vermont, and its three passengers, quietly rolled down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday, July 26, 1903, at 4:30 am. The 4,500-mile journey had taken 63 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes. Jackson won the $50.00 bet, but it cost him close to $8,000.00—including the price of the Winton, and all its repairs along the way.

Jackson, Crocker, and the adorable Bud in his motoring goggles became celebrities, pictured in newspapers across the country and featured in Winton advertisements for years to come. They proved a cross-country road trip was an attainable American dream, even if (at the time) it was beyond the means of any but the wealthy.

Route 66 became a reality decades later. After World War II, the American highway infrastructure expanded to support cross-country travel and cars became affordable for the average person. The dream of free spirited independence lived on, becoming a cultural ideal and American tradition. Vintage Route 66 poster

Moon monikers ~ Why so many names, and what do they mean?


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This week’s Strawberry Moon made me wonder: WHAT is a strawberry moon, WHY are there so many names for our moon, WHAT do they all mean, and WHERE did they originate? Alas, the hazards of being a writer.

Moon over lake

What is a Strawberry Moon?

The full moon in June was called a Strawberry Moon by the Algonquin tribes (one of the most widespread North American native tribes), because it signaled the time for harvesting wild strawberries. The June full moon has also been known as the Honey Moon, Mead Moon, Hot Moon, and Rose Moon by other tribes and cultures.

Strawberry moon

WHY so many names for ONE moon?

In the United States, Native Americans created the full moon names—nicknames—we know today to help in tracking the seasons. There’s a nickname for a full moon each month, even though the tribes observed the seasons and lunar months, not calendar months as we do.

Some tribes defined a year as 12 moons, others as 13. Certain tribes added an extra moon every few years, to stay in sync with the seasons. The following is a list of traditional nicknames for the full moons.

  • JANUARY—Wolf Moon—This moon appeared when wolves were hungry and howled in outside villages.
  • FEBRUARY—Snow Moon—This moon appeared when the snowfall was the heaviest. Hunting was most difficult during this time and Native American tribes also called it the Hunger Moon.
  • MARCH—Worm Moon—This moon appeared when the ground softened and earthworms reappeared, bringing the return of robins. This moon was also known as the Sap Moon, because it was time for the annual tapping of maple trees.
  • APRIL—Pink Moon—This moon appeared with the first spring flowers, wild ground phlox. This moon was also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
  • MAY—Flower Moon—This moon appeared when flowers bloomed in abundance. It was also known as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
  • JUNE—Strawberry Moon—This moon appeared when it was time to gather ripening strawberries.
  • JULY—Buck Moon—This moon appeared when a buck’s antlers were reaching full growth. This full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon, because of the frequent thunderstorms during this month.
  • AUGUST—Sturgeon Moon—This moon appeared when the sturgeon in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most abundant. This moon was also called the Green Corn Moon.
  • SEPTEMBER—Corn Moon—This moon appeared when it was time to harvest the corn. Likewise known as the Barley Moon, because it was time to harvest barley.
  • OCTOBER—Hunting Moon—This moon appeared when the game was fattest. It was time to hunt and store provisions for winter. This moon was also known as the Travel Moon.
  • NOVEMBER—Beaver Moon—This moon appeared before the swamps froze and it was time to set beaver traps. The colonists and Algonquin tribes depended on the furs of beavers and other animals for warmth during the winter. This full Moon was also called the Frost Moon.
  • DECEMBER—Cold Moon—This moon appeared when the winter cold had set in and the nights were longest. This full Moon was also called the Long Nights Moon.

Moon over sea

Special Moons

Several moon occurrences are extremely rare and therefore have special names:

  • Blue Moon—There is a Blue Moon controversy regarding the true meaning. However, typically this is the second full moon in a calendar month.
  • Black Moon—This is a month in which there is no full Moon. It can also refer to a second new Moon occurring within a calendar month.
  • Harvest Moon—This is the full Moon nearest the start of fall (autumnal) equinox, anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the equinox. The moonrise comes soon after sunset bringing in an abundance of bright moonlight, which helped farmers in harvesting their crops.
  • Supermoon—A full Moon is a Supermoon when it is reaches the point in its orbit that is closest to the Earth.

Super moon

Keeping it real ~ Tackling tough topics for the youngest readers


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The sweet innocence of childhood should be cherished and preserved for as long as possible, but shielding children entirely from harsh realities doesn’t do them a service. There are levels of truth. The youngest readers shouldn’t be unnecessarily exposed to gritty topics. However, there are plenty of stories that address tough topics in a way that builds empathy and understanding.

The two books I want to focus on here broach the topics of discrimination and homelessness in a gentle way.

The Bat Boy and His Violin, cover

The Bat Boy and His Violin

By Gavin Curtis, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

The Bat Boy and His Violin, illustration by E.B. LewisReginald loves to create beautiful music on his violin. But Papa, manager of the Dukes, the worst team in the Negro National League, needs a bat boy, not a “fiddler,” and traveling with the Dukes doesn’t leave Reginald much time for practicing. Soon the Dukes’ dugout is filled with Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach — and the bleachers are filled with the sound of the Dukes’ bats. Has Reginald’s violin changed the Dukes’ luck—and can his music pull off a miracle victory against the powerful Monarchs? 

Gavin Curtis’s beautifully told story of family ties and team spirit and E. B. Lewis’s lush watercolor paintings capture a very special period in history. [Synopsis]

The Negro Leagues were United States professional baseball leagues comprised predominantly of African-Americans, beginning in 1920, with a final season in 1951. On the surface, this story is a view into racial discrimination and segregation in the United States prior to the Civil Rights movement.

On a deeper level, this story addresses the all too frequent discrimination of the arts over sports. Reginald serves as a heroic role model, in that he honors his father’s wishes without giving up his true passion. In the end, father and son strengthen their bond through their acceptance and new-found appreciation of one another.

E. B. Lewis won the Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrations for his rich and nuanced watercolors that enliven this moving, heartfelt story.


By Katherine Applegate

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And Crenshaw, covernot much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything? [Synopsis]

Katherine Applegate tackles a tough topic in Crenshaw, shedding light on the realities of hunger and homelessness. As difficult as this topic is, Applegate artfully infuses the story with empathy and lighthearted humor. I was sold with the opening paragraph:

I noticed several weird things about the surfboarding cat. Thing number one: He as a surfboarding cat. Thing number two: He was wearing a T-shirt. It said CATS RULE, DOGS DROOL. Thing number three: He was holding a closed umbrella, like he was worried about getting wet. Which, when you think about it, is kind of not the point of surfing.

Told from the viewpoint of nine-year-old Jackson, we watch as he shields his younger sister from the terrifying reality of their family’s financial uncertainty, and feel the shame that threatens to cut him off from his best friend. Applegate masterfully shows how the family’s problems play out through Jackson’s eyes, and finally resolve in a safe and satisfying ending that is true to the story’s premise.

The tone is warm and, occasionally, quirkily funny, but it doesn’t sugarcoat the effects of hunger and vulnerability. This novel adds a middle-grade perspective to the literature of imaginary friends and paints a convincing and compassionate portrait of a social class―the working poor―underrepresented in children’s books. ―The Horn Bookstarred review

What books that touch on tough topics
would you recommend for young readers?

Wisdom of Richard Peck ~ Writing for young readers


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Richard Peck was an influential voice for me when I started writing for young readers, and with good reason. A Long Way From Chicago, coverHe was a National Book Award finalist TWICE, as well as claiming the Newbery Honor (A Long Way From Chicago) and Newbery Medal (A Year Down Yonder). Richard Peck was nothing short of a master and commander in the art of writing for young readers.

Before becoming an author, Richard Peck was a teacher. His classrooms were filled with the young audience he’d later write for. He admitted that, “Junior-high teaching made a writer out of me.” Peck may have left teaching, but he never stopped sharing his wisdom.

I was fortunate to have heard Richard Peck speak at a couple of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conferences. SCBWI even recorded a video Masterclass with Richard Peck on writing the novel for young readers too, that you can purchase for a reasonable price.

A Year Down Yonder, coverRichard Peck shared his wisdom on craft  through essays, as well. The essay he wrote on importance of beginnings—October/November 2006, Horn Book Magazine sparked a writing epiphany for me. In it he said, “The most important secret of writing . . . you are only as good as your opening line.

At first I thought that was kind of harsh, so I did extensive research. I went to bookstores and libraries, reading ONLY first lines of books. As it turned out, he was right! The books with great first lines I took home and read.

Don’t confuse a great opening line with over-the-top drama, though. A great opening line shouldn’t be about shock-value. When done right, it sets the tone of the story, reveals character, conflict, and theme. It’s the promise of the premise…distilled into one line. Richard Peck would revise his first chapter 24 times (or more), well after he’d completed the manuscript, to make sure it was right.

A Season of Gifts, cover

Short stories comprised Richard Peck’s first published works, covering the gamut of comedy, tragedy, historical, and contemporary. In fact, his short story “Shotgun Chentham’s Last Night Above Ground” was the inspiration for his Living in Chicago series: A Long Way From Chicago, A Year Down Yonder, and A Season of Gifts.

Peck’s collection of short stories, Past Perfect, Present Tense includes insights and advice for aspiring writers, along with some of his own notes. In the introduction, Peck reminds us that “fiction isn’t real life with the names changed. It’s an alternate reality to reflect the reader’s own world.” He also warns burgeoning writers that “a short story isn’t easier than a novel.” In truth, short stories require a type of samurai self-editing that is not for the weak of pen or faint of heart.

Writing lessons learned from Richard Peck

  • Before you write a single word, know your audience. Who will want to read the story you have to write?
  • A story isn’t what is. It’s what if?
  • Fiction is never an answer, always a question.
  • A story, of any length, is about change. The characters can’t be the same in the last paragraph as they are in the first. If there’s no change, there’s no story.
  • The essence of the entire story should be encapsulated on the first page.
  • The first chapter is the last chapter in disguise.
  • The story’s beginning should answer each of the following questions with a satisfied “Yes”: Does it intrigue? Does it invite? Does it work?
  • Strong, colorful characters win over readers, like the quirky, audacious, and warm-hearted Grandma Dowdel in a Long Way From Chicago.
  • An outrageous comic outhouse calamity is often the reason a story is recommended, word-of-mouth over and over again. Memorable scenes create loyal audiences and inspire lifetime readers.

Serving fish milkshakes to elephant seals at The Marine Mammal Center


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elephant seal headshotLike many, I’ve paid my dues as a waitress. I have to say that of all my customers, the ones I loved serving were the elephant seal pups at The Marine Mammal Center.

In the early 1990’s, I spent a year volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) in Sausalito, California. Being a part of an organization that rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals (of all kinds), then releases them back into the wild, was nothing short of life changing.

I was a member of the Sunday night crew responsible for animal care. Each Sunday night we fed and treated a wide range of marine mammals. My favorite were the doe-eyed elephant seal pups. (Yes, I still have our squad sweatshirt!)

Marine Mammal Center Sunday Crew sweatshirt logo

The elephant seal pups in our care had been separated from their mothers, and as a result were undernourished. Our job was to get them healthy enough to release back into the ocean. That meant they had to gain weight. A lot of it.

What do you feed an elephant seal so it packs on the pounds…but is also nutritious and tasty? You might be sorry you asked. I can’t reveal the “secret-recipe“, but it involves whipping together (literally) frozen fish, heavy cream, and a mix of nutritional supplements. A delectable milkshake! Kind of (?) gross, but it works!

The Marine Mammal Center elephant seal

The pups needed to be fed every 3 or 4 hours, and some nights during the El Nino year we had 200 elephant seal pups to feed. This required multi-gallon batches of fish-mash (secret fish milkshake), and three people to tube-feed a single elephant seal pup. One to straddle and restrain the 100+ pound pup, another to guide the tube down its throat and into the abdomen (not the lungs!), and a third to pour the fish mash into a funnel and work it down the tube. *Current pictures and videos show they’ve streamlined the tube feeding procedure so it only requires two people.*

There were some long nights, but it didn’t faze us. I loved the direct Tube feeding an elephant seal pupcontact that came with restraining the elephant seal pups for tube feeding. When I was in a place of calm, the pup responded with trust. Experiencing that type of connection with a wild animal is everything.

You can visit The Marine Mammal Center and see the amazing work they do up close. The center is just North of San Francisco in the Marin Headlands. Check the web site for visiting hours. (PC: The Marine Mammal Center, except the photo of the sweatshirt which I took myself)

The Marine Mammal Center
2000 Bunker Road | Fort Cronkhite | Sausalito, CA 94965-2619

What’s on the menu at The Marine Mammal Center?


Girls with Game…how they changed baseball…& the world


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Girls today are encouraged to participate in almost any sport. It wasn’t that long ago when that was far from true. At the turn of the 20th century, girls were discouraged from having careers outside the home. So you know their playing professional sports was frowned upon. Remarkably, in the early 1900’s two girls in Philadelphia made their mark in professional sports, changing baseball…and the world: Edith Houghton and Effa Manley.

The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton

By Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Steven Salerno

The Kid From Diamond Street coverEdith Houghton was born in Philadelphia in 1912, and she always said she must’ve been “born with a baseball in my hand.” Which may have been true.

Edith was playing baseball at the age of 3, and by the time she was 6 she was magic on the field. At age 10, Edith heard about the Philadelphia Bobbies, an all-female baseball team, she tried out, and was so good she made the team.

The Bobbies were named for the bobbed haircuts the team sported. Edith was by far the youngest and smallest member of the team, and soon got the nickname The Kid. Because the Bobbies were one of the only female teams, they played against men’s teams all over the country.

The Bobbies were such a sensation, they were invited to tour Japan and play against the men’s teams there. It was quite an adventure. Vernick highlights the girls’ personalities during their travels, weaving playful scenes through the narrative of their spirited fun, enriched by Salerno’s lush illustrations.

In so many ways, the Bobbies were goodwill ambassadors for the United States and the equality of women. Later in life, Edith continued to break new ground for women in sports by becoming the first woman scout for a professional baseball team.

In May, 2006, Edith’s love for baseball was immortalized in the Diamond Dreams Exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

An engaging story that reminds readers that baseball isn’t just numbers and statistics, men and boys. Baseball is also ten-year-old girls, marching across a city to try out for a team intended for players twice their age. –Horn Book


She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

By Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Don Tate

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story coverEffa Manely loved baseball. She played sandlot ball with her bothers as a young girl in Philadelphia in the early 1900’s. Sadly, this sparked racial prejudice because her bothers had darker skin like their father, and she had the light skin of her mother.

Effa loved watching baseball as much as playing it. So it was perfect that she met her husband at Yankee Stadium. Together they organized labor protests in Harlem and founded the Negro League team, the Newark Eagles.

Even after becoming a team owner, Manley sat in the stands “where the seats vibrated from foot-stomping excitement.” When the score was close, she’d get so excited that she’d have to peak between her white-gloved fingers, as delightfully portrayed in Don Tate’s rich illustration.She loved baseball

From her groundbreaking role as business manager and co-owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right.

She fought for fair salaries when some of her Eagles players moved to newly integrated major-league teams. In later years, she lobbied for her players’ recognition in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Then in 2006, Manley became the first woman to ever be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Manley was a trail blazer, fighting racial injustice throughout her life, and clearing a path for women’s equality a male-dominated field.

Story ~ Organic symbolism & the language of flowers and trees


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Symbolism deepens the emotional core of a story, enhancing the three-dimensionality of characters and their relationships. It’s pure magic when done well, but it’ll ooze like a didactic plague if not.

Spring flowers, bouquet

An elegant way to weave symbolism organically throughout a story is through the use of flowers, plants, and trees.

Say it with flowers

It may surprise you that flowers have secret meanings. From Victorian times, and earlier in the Middle East, flowers were used to convey messages due to social mores that dictated suppressed feelings. Society’s stringent rules created a secret language of courtship, love, and friendship through the use of flowers.

For example, daffodils represent new beginnings, lily of the valley imply a return of happiness, bluebells stand for constancy and everlasting love, and tulips (especially red tulips) symbolize perfect love.

Evermore, coverThrough the secret language of flowers, you can layer added depth to a character’s feelings and intentions. But be aware that the colors of certain flowers carry their own significance.

Take tulips, for example, red tulips are associated with true love, while purple symbolize royalty, and white tulips are used to claim worthiness or to send a message of forgiveness.

Alyson Noel used red tulips to portray the quality of the love between the characters in Evermore: The Immortals series.

There are numerous resources for the hidden meaning of flowers. I’ve offered links to a couple of botanical codices below, and there are any number of web sites dedicated to the language of flowers.

Tell it with trees and plants

Tree and plant symbolism was woven through Egyptian and Celtic cultures, and is still influences us Wishtree, covertoday. If flower symbolism doesn’t work for the characters and theme of your story, trees and plants may be an option.

The maple tree is a symbol of strength and endurance. While the willow tree represents mystical powers and a spiritual alignment with the moon, because it thrives near water.

Katherine Applegate used a red oak as the main character in her middle grade novel, Wishtree. An appropriate choice, since the oak is a symbol of wisdom. To the ancient Celts, the oak also represented durability, purity, and constancy.

Stacey Lee weaves an expertly rich tapestry of botanical symbolism throughout her evocative coming-of-age novel, The Secret of a Heart Note. Mimosa is one of the two remaining aroma-experts (aromateurs), and she uses her mystical sense of smell to help others fall in love—while protecting her own heart at all costs.

At once, hopeful, funny, and romantic, Lee’s lyrical language brings the characters and plants to life. You might even catch a hint of the poetically rich aromas as they find their way off the pages and into your heart.

Botanical codices

red tulips

The Heart of Fiction <3 Learning compassion through reading


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You step into the shoes of the characters when you read a story, and see the world through their eyes, live their experiences, and feel what they feel. Through this process your world expands, as does your sensitivity to others. Being able to understand what another is going through and sympathizing with their situation is a direct result of reading fiction. It is the heart of compassion.

Book with pages folded into a heart

Embracing the heart of fiction

A New York Times article, “Your Brain on Fiction”, by Annie Murphy Paul, brought to light studies that prove reading fiction helps us to make sense of the world, teaching us how to cope in positive ways. In this way, empathy and compassion are learned through fiction.

The titles I’ve highlighted below are just a few of the shining examples in children’s literature that embody acceptance, compassion, and empathy. You can ask for a more extensive list at your local library or indie bookstore.

The Big Umbrella

Amy June Bates cowrote this heartwarming story of acceptance and inclusion with her The Big Umbrella, coverdaughter, Juniper, while they were walking to school in the rain. Later, she enhanced their story with her lush illustrations.

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn’t matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn’t matter how many legs you have. Don’t worry that there won’t be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room. (Synopsis)

“A subtle, deceptively simple book about inclusion, hospitality, and welcoming the ‘other.’” —Kirkus Reviews

Each Kindness

Jaqueline Woodson (author) and E.B. Lewis (illustrator) demonstrate how each kindness Each Kindness, covermakes the world a better place, in this bittersweet story that resonates with all ages. Each Kindness won the Coretta Scott King Honor Award and Jane Addams Peace Award. Jaqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya. (Synopsis)

“Combining realism with shimmering impressionistic washes of color, Lewis turns readers into witnesses as kindness hangs in the balance. . . . Woodson . . . again brings an unsparing lyricism to a difficult topic.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review


Katherine Applegate penned this endearing story of kindness, friendship, and hope Wishtree, coveras a balm for the wave of hate that has spread across our nation in recent years. Wishtree is a fable about a tree named Red, who brings a neighborhood together in compassion and inclusion—with the help of the other woodland residents—when it’s threatened to be torn apart by hate.

Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever. (Synopsis)

The lyrical trailer below showcases the deep and tender warmth of the story, combined with the innocence and beauty of Charles Santoso‘s illustrations.

“Never lose hope. Wishes have a way of coming true.”

From the Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan.

Literary Lepus ~ Rascally rabbits & their hare raising tales


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Bunnies are synonymous with new beginnings. They symbolize the start of Spring, and heralded the beginning of children’s literature as we know it today. A rascally rabbit named Peter was responsible for opening the door for the children’s book market, at the hand of Beatrix Potter.

The misadventures of rascally rabbits enthrall young readers just as much today as they did in Beatrix Potter’s time, as is proved by just a few of the current popular children’s book titles mentioned below.

Beatrix Potter’s rascally rabbit

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was a trailblazer for children’s literature, women, and the environment. Her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (published by Frederick Warne in 1902) established the genre of fiction for young readers. As if that wasn’t enough, she pulled off this groundbreaking achievement in the late 19th century, when it wasn’t proper for women to work, especially in a professional field. Miss Potter (the 2006 film) provides endearing insights into the whimsical imagination of Beatrix Potter and the societal pressures of her times. It is delightfully inspiring. You can watch the trailer for the film below.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, coverBorn in Kensington, London, Beatrix later moved to Hill Top Farm in Cumbria. A biologist and naturalist at heart, she bequeathed her beloved far, along with 13 other farms and over 4000 acres of land, to the National Trust on her death.

Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated 28 books that have been translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100 million copies. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is still Potter’s most popular and well-loved tale. It’s the story of a mischievous rabbit and the ensuing trouble he finds in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden!

The Black Rabbit

Rabbit has a problem. He’s got a creepy companion he just can’t shake.cover art

There’s a large black rabbit chasing him.

No matter where he runs—behind a tree or over the river—the shadowy rabbit follows.

Finally in the deep, dark wood, Rabbit loses his nemesis—only to encounter a real foe!

Kids who love to be in on the secret will revel in this humorous look at shadows and friendship. (Synopsis)

Written and illustrated by Philippa Leathers, this charmingly adventurous tale will capture your heart.

WANTED! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar

cover artSome rabbits dream about lettuces and carrots, others dream of flowering meadows and juicy dandelions.

NOT Ralfy! He only dreams of books.

In fact, he doesn’t just dream about them, he wants to read them ALL THE TIME—even if it means he has to STEAL them. Soon his obsession sends him spiraling into a life of crime! (Synopsis)

Written and illustrated by Emily MacKenzie, this heisty hare will have you laughing out loud!

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover

Meet the newest early-reader odd couple: fussy, compulsive Rabbit and overly logicalcover art Robot.

The hearty ridiculousness of a machine and animal hanging out together provides plenty of laughs as Rabbit tops his pie with carrots and lettuce, while Robot prefers bolts and screws.

Let’s not forget Rabbit telling Robot to turn down his Volume Knob anytime he yells, and the sight of Rabbit and Robot both wearing Rabbit-shaped pajamas, because Robot forgot his and had to borrow a pair. (Synopsis)

Written and illustrated Cece Bell, this delightful story of friendship is destined to be an all-time favorite.

Miss Potter ~ The inspirational life of Beatrix Potter