#SOL19 Day 5: Happy Birthday(CJ and books)

Happy Birthday, CJ. I’m so glad you shared the story of how everything you thought you knew unraveled, starting on your birthday. At first I was impressed by your unusual savvy for handling the business end of your aunt’s shows. What just-turning-12-year-old can navigate cross country with nothing but an atlas? For that matter, how many 12 year olds still know what an atlas is? But your complete disregard for learning other, shall we say more traditional subjects disappointed me. I’m with Jax on this one. You may be able to teach him to drive stick, but he’s got a point.

Anyway, as I read the beginning of your story about how your Aunt Nic was a psychic who spoke to people’s dead relatives, I felt a little uncomfortable. I mean, I don’t believe in all that. But I told myself to just wait for now and see what you believed. You really believed! And it did seem like the universe, you’d call it Spirit, was giving you these weirdly helpful (if sometimes misleading) hints. Sometimes it does seem like something out there, Far Away, might be trying to make a point. Like lights on the highway blinking off and on–they could be my memere waving hello as I drive by–but probably the bulbs are just loose or something.

And you might have just left it at the fluffy chocolate frosting, but I’m glad that your story was more like the messy mango icing. There’s more to the truth than what we might want to see from our own point of view. My own son reminds me of that pretty regularly. I remind him that no one forces us to do anything–we always make choices, whether they’re the ones we wish we had or not.

Am I from Spirit? Nah. I’m just a teacher, a mom, and a reader. Nice to meet you!


Response to Far Away by Lisa Graff, released today by Philomel Books an imprint of Penguin Young Readers.

Far Away

Happy Book Birthday also to One Speck of Truth by Caela Carter, published by Harper Collins. Neither of you knew the truth about your family. Sometimes one speck of truth changes everything.

One Speck of Truth

#SOL19 Day 4 & It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR

So much!

I’ve been fortunate to find myself under a virtual waterfall of books for the past month. It’s been so much fun opening boxes of book orders at school, being approved for E-ARCs on Eidelweiss, receiving bookish care packages in the mail from authors and publishers and friends!

Have you ever had so many books that it started to feel stressful?

I’m not entirely drowning in books, but I’ve had to make myself a reading calendar to plan how I’ll fit in some of these books before their book birthdays. And after the initial woozy glee of opening boxes of books at school, I refrained from tucking multiple titles in my bag for the weekend.

Weird, right?

But as much as I’m feeling some reading pressure, I’ve also been enjoying the books I’ve been reading! Want to see what I’ve read in the past few weeks? Me too, but since half of them are digital I don’t have a nice #shelfie to share. Instead I’ve made this reading calendar to keep myself organized.

Screenshot 2019-03-04 at 10.38.08 PM

Which brings me back to a print vs digital book debate that I’d set aside for a couple of years. Since I’m someone who shares so many of the books I read…with students, with colleagues at school, with virtual colleagues through bookmail…I really enjoy having physical copies of books that I can carry in and say, “I was reading this and it made me think of you. Would you like to borrow it?” I like physical books because my TBR stack builds a sense of anticipation. The covers form a visual memory onto which I can anchor my impressions and memories of the book. I can sort the books I’ve read into text sets or categories to remind me whether I want to buy book club sets, or get a copy for my personal library, etc. With digital, I love that I could finish a book and start a new one without a moment’s delay…especially with books in a series. My e-reader is light and slim and easy to carry…but the battery runs low eventually and my charging cord isn’t long enough to charge and read at the same time without awkward acrobatics.  I also haven’t figured out how to strategically place books on different shelves on my device to plan or structure my future reading.

I’m leaning toward actual print books…but I have about fifteen more E-ARCs on deck for the next couple of months…and a long trip with limited luggage space.

However you choose to read, Happy Reading!


#SOL19 Day 2 Isn’t That What We Want?

The momentum had shifted.

Midway through the second period the Wings were up 2-0 over the toughest competition in the tournament. The boys settled into their game after reacting for much of the first period.

Down in the offensive end, they were keeping the pressure on New York’s defense. The puck poked between ten pairs of skates. Sticks tipped it under and through until it popped out to the point.

He was open. Stick raised behind him, he swung through the puck.

It flew, just below shoulder height, through defenders and teammates alike and found the back of the net.

For a moment, time stopped.

Then he was surrounded by teammates. The four of them nearly lifted him off his feet in their celebration.

A minute later the buzzer sounded and both teams returned to their benches. Once again he was surrounded, this time by the whole team. Arms reached over the group to pat his helmet. Bump his shoulder. Bring him in.

All goals feel good. Tournament goals are especially exciting. But this one was intoxicating. Q’s season ended last week.

When his 14U team was knocked out of their state tournament in the playoff rounds, another coach invited him to play…for his brother’s 18U team.

This was Q’s first weekend of games with boys who shave and drive. They could have ignored him as a newcomer, a middle schooler, a kid. Instead they brought him in.

Yesterday after the first game Q shared his favorite part of the night. “I was saying to Drew, ‘I really appreciate playing on your team.’ But Mom, Donny came over and bumped my shoulder. He said, ‘Nah, it’s our team.'” Both Donny and Drew have already graduated high school.

Isn’t this what we want for them?

It isn’t the extra ice time. It isn’t even seeing him playing alongside his brother for the first time (although that was something special, too). It’s watching our children stretching themselves to try something that challenges them. Seeing them work through struggles. Glimpsing their success. And most of all, witnessing the joy that comes from acceptance.




Slice of Life Challenge Day 1- Getting a Late Night Pantser Start

This is my third year in the challenge. Although the frequency of my posting has declined of late, I begin this year’s challenge already feeling like a writer. As Harry Potter said, “I knew I could do it this time because I’d already done it.”

This year I don’t worry that I’m not a writer, or that I won’t be able to think of things to write about. I generated a list of 8 different slices inspired by moments today alone. My brain was too tired this afternoon to craft any of them into something beyond a bullet point and a moment of visualization, but they were there.

This year I begin the challenge with confidence, but also an awareness that a choice to slice may be a choice not to continue blazing through books. I’ve read about 10 middle grade novels in the past 3 weeks, plus a handful of picture books. In addition to planning to slice this month, I’ve set myself an ambitious reading calendar. There are about 15 more ARCs I’m trying to read this month before they’re released. Each of those deserves at least a brief review.

I think what I’ve worked out as I wrote this, is that I’m looking forward to slicing and being part of a community of writers. I’m not willing to do it instead of reading and being part of a community of readers…so this month will become about balance.


I know I can do it because I already have. You all keep me coming back.

Now, tomorrow’s an early morning and I still have 160 pages in the book I started today. Time to read.

Good night, fellow Slicers.

#IMWAYR Without Refuge

Published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, and recognized by Amnesty International Ireland for contributing to a better understanding of human rights.


It is likely that few middle grade readers know much of anything about the Syrian Civil War. Within a few pages of opening Without Refuge by Jane Mitchell, that will no longer matter-nor be true. Mitchell crafts a gripping and humanizing account of what could convince an ordinary family to leave all they’ve known and face unimaginable dangers. While the news often holds the human aspect of the refugee crisis at arm’s length, Mitchell sets readers into the heart of Ghalib’s struggle. Not only will readers care deeply about Ghalib, his little brother, and his older, once annoyed, sister, they will come to feel that Ghalib is just like them.

The book is important for that reason. We are not so different, though circumstances divide us. Ironically, many gatekeepers of books will argue that the violent conflict in Syria is too much for our American readers to handle, that it would be too upsetting. The author’s note revealing that every name she used in in the story was the name of an actual Syrian child killed as a result of the conflict. Real children are living experiences like the ones in this book. Surely we, and our children, can open our hearts from the safety of our homes and schools by reading their realities.

If you believe, like I do, that books are an important and safe way to catch glimpses into some of the grittier challenges life confronts us with, then read Without Refuge and consider making it available to young readers you believe can handle it. This book would pair well with Escape from Aleppo  by N. H. Senzai which focuses on the more immediate escape from the city of Aleppo itself. If you’re interested in offering readers multiple perspectives of refugees from across time and cultures, also consider sharing Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood, and Refugee by Alan Gratz. I’ve heard about a few others that are in my TBR stack as well. The truth is, children and families have been pressed into the terrible choice of leaving their homes for a chance at safety and survival across the centuries (or millenia). Refugees should not be vilified and othered. They share the same dreams for themselves and their children that any of us have.

OK, it’s actually Tuesday, but I read the book cover to cover last night between hockey practice and (a slightly extended pre-snow-day) bedtime, which was still technically Monday. And incidentally, the undies of this book are exquisite. Treat yourself to the hardcover and undress it.

#ReadYourWorld Review of Rice and Rocks

Thank you to author Sandra L. Richards for sending me a copy of Rice and Rocks, her picture book, illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan. This book was released by Wise Inc. Creative Publishing in 2017.picmonkey collagetemplaey

Rice and Rocks is a little story that packs in round-the-world adventure a la Magic Treehouse all inside the covers of a picture book. It explores the culinary links between Jamaica, Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Japan.

Jasper is some parrot! He can shrink his companions and fly them around the world where Giovanni can learn a lesson and still be back in time for a traditional dinner of rice and beans with family and friends.

I liked the vibe of the art from the very first pages. At once it evoked music and motion. Giovanni looked like a boy who knew what he enjoyed and had room to follow his heart. Only after finishing the book and turning back to the opening pages did I fully appreciate all the tiny details Sullivan tucked into her illustrations.

Magic Treehouse readers would enjoy this picture book. They will be familiar with characters leaving home to learn something that makes them appreciate home more in the end.   

blogger button

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram Kim,Author Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia Liu,Feyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen Rahming,Blythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesDescendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

#IMWAYR Time Jumpers

Time Jumpers by Wendy Mass and illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Have you been looking for an entry level fantasy book for readers who are just transitioning into chapters? At 90 pages with ample picture support, Time Jumpers will spark readers’ interest in adventures with a bit of time travel magic. It will set them up to become readers of Magic Treehouse books and Time Warp Trio stories. This new series is part of Scholastic’s Branches line for early chapter books. Consider them for your newly confident second grade readers or older readers striving to make their way into high interest chapter books.

#IMWAYR Max & the Midknights

Fans of Big Nate or graduates of the Time Warp Trio will enjoy this medieval misadventure by Lincoln Pierce. At nearly 300 pages it feels hefty in the hand, but reads fast.

10 year old Max and friends set off to save Conrad the Kind King. Their quest features a wicked usurper king, an evil sorceress, a bumbling old wizard, dragons, kindly knights, swords and a tall tower.

I’d say you’d have a hard time deciding where to shelve this book– humor or graphic novel, fantasy perhaps–but once your readers catch sight of it, it’ll never be on the shelf anyway. It’s the kind of book that will be claimed straight from the returns bin.

Happy belated book birthday (1/8/19) to Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Pierce!