March 2022

March 31, 2022

Spring… into books!

Image by Heather Brockman Lee



Cover art by Jay Bendt

Happy Book Birthday


Pura Belpré Award-winning
Ernesto Cisneros

(Quill Tree Books / HC)

Also available in an Audio CD
HarperCollins B and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition
Narrators: Timothy Andrés Pabon and
Gary Tiedemann

Jr. Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Harper UK
Thorndike Striving Reader (Large Print)


A School & Library Lead Title

In Children’s Basketball Books



“…Cisneros’s story not only captures the anxiety—and at times, humor—of trying to measure up to expectations, it also tackles delicate subject matter, such as parental absence and alcohol reliance, with profound sensitivity and nuance. A narrative slam dunk for fans of Donna Barba Higuera and Meg Medina.

Speaking of Meg Medina, thank you for the shout out on Today!

“18 books by Latino authors
you’ll want to read in 2022”

 “… repudiates toxic masculinity and encourages collaboration and generosity … an ideal pick for sports fans and will reel in reluctant readers.”

“The boys’ bond of friendship is the core of the story.”

Click above to watch video.

“Cisneros has once again written an inspiring story that will have an immense emotional effect on all who read it.”  

A well-told story of family, friends,
basketball, and life.
—Horn Book

Click above to watch video.

Ernesto Cisneros’s FALLING SHORT is
“amazing… a page turner… so stinkin’ good!””

What inspired you to write this book?

Falling Short is a book close to my heart because it addresses the I’m-not-good-enough syndrome many of us tend to feel growing up. Personally, I remember marveling at how much better than me other students seemed to be at just about everything. 
Like my main characters, I too struggled to find my niche in the world, something that I could excel at… something I thought would make my parents proud. 
Writing this book is my way of taking the struggles and negative experiences from my life and changing them into something more positive … something that might help readers avoid these same pitfalls. The way I see it, if my experiences help others, they become good regardless of how they felt at the time. 
—Ernesto Cisneros

Andre Jesus Martinez; Photographer

“Thank you to my students for making this FALLING SHORT Unboxing extra special.”

Click above to watch video.

Ernesto visited Erin Dealey’s Book Birthday Blog to kick off the celebrations—
followed by a 3.29 virtual event along with author Sonja Thomas, hosted by Annie Bloom’s Books…

and a 3.30 Virtual event along with Kelly Yang
(rescheduled to April 12th)

Additional Events

Click above for Teacher Guide.

Ernesto Cisneros is the acclaimed author of EFRÉN DIVIDED, which won the Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award, the CALIBA MG Award and was named a Best Book of the Year by KirkusSchool Library Journal, ALA Booklist, NPR Books, the New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Project Lit.
Stay tuned for 2 more MG titles to come
from Quill Tree, with a huge shout out to Rosemary Brosnan!



Pete the Cat

as of 3.27


(11 weeks)


(30 weeks)

Marking East/West’s

281st week

as of 3.24



as of 3.17


PNBA/Pacific Northwest


(week ending 3.20)



The Armchair Publishing House, in conjunction with Modan Publishing House, has licensed exclusive Arabic Language Rights in Israel and the Palestinian Authority Territories (West Bank and Gaza) – to Antoinette Portis’ debut, bestselling and award-winning NOT A BOX. On a retail level, distribution will be free to Arabic-speaking children.

Sibert Honoree Patricia Newman’s RIVER’S GIFTS (upcoming from Millbrook/Lerner) is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Happy Book Birthday



 NYT bestselling creator

Gianna Marino


Babel Publishing
(Complex Chinese / Taiwan)

NYT bestselling illustrator Gianna Marino reveals the enduring importance of family in a picture book perfect for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day!

“When everyone is sleeping, all I can hear is Papa’s heart. Boom-Boom-Boom. My papa loves me.”

It’s deep winter in the Antarctic and a little penguin baby waits in the cold and snow for its mama to return from her long journey to find food. But all the while, the baby is protected and kept warm by its papa, until Mama returns with food … and love.

With stunning illustrations and a spare but powerful story, Gianna Marino captures the icy beauty of Antarctica and the wonders of a penguin family that thrives there.

“Marino’s gorgeous artwork is on full display in this sweet book… Marino’s expressive penguin faces and Antarctic landscapes in blue, pink, orange, yellow, and white pair perfectly with the brief, well-balanced prose, making this perfect for repeated readings, one-on-one and during story time. Back matter includes further information. 
A first purchase for all libraries.”

We got a wonderful sneak peek of this beautiful book at our recent ZOOMtacular featuring Gianna and Viking Art Director Jim Hoover. You were with us in spirit, Tracy!

The illustration for the jacket is often a new piece that the illustrator produces—but not this time:  Jim suggested a perfect wrap-around cover that highlights one of the interior spreads:

It was fascinating to see the tiny post-it note sized dummy Gianna begins with. By way of example:

And check out these sketches and color study from about a year ago:

Gianna Marino has written over a dozen award-winning books, including Meet Me at the MoonToo Tall HousesFollowing Papa’s SongNight AnimalsNight Animals Need Sleep TooIf I Had a Horse, We Will Live in This Forest Again and she is the New York Times best-selling illustrator of Don’t Let Them Disappear, written by Chelsea Clinton.

Just announced:  
Gianna’s 4th 
three-book deal with Tracy Gates, 
marking their 12th collaboration!


First Day of Spring
Image by by John Ledda


Happy Book Birthday(s)

to FOUR 

Anna Dewdney

concept Board Books in the new “Learning with Llama” 6-book early education series.

Illustration by JT Morrow


A is for alphabet
B is for books we read

From crayons to ice cream to kisses, Llama Llama introduces you to all of his favorite things!

Upcoming in a Spanish edition


Llama Llama, la serie narrativa infantil de Anna Dewdney y selección de la lista de grandes éxitos en The New York Times regresa con un nuevo libro de cartón para aprender los números y a contar poniéndolo todo en su lugar.


Launched by:



A Push-and-Pull Book

(Grosset & Dunlap)

LLAMA LLAMA’s in a brand-new format in this push-and-pull board book, the 2nd in a series.

in Children’s Time Books

Join Llama as he experiences all the different times of day by pushing and pulling the slides on every page. Perfect for the youngest of readers curious about Llama Llama’s world!

Launched by:

Stay tuned for another classic LL hardcover, coming soon!



Happy Book Birthday


by D.J. Butler and
Aaron Michael Ritchey

A new novel in the Cunning Man series from Dragon Award-nominated author D.J. Butler and Aaron Michael Ritchey.
Butler and Ritchey return to Depression-era Utah for a second thrilling tale of murder and folk magic (after The Cunning Man)… This well-crafted historical fantasy is sure to please.



by D.J. Butler and
Aaron Michael Ritchey

“An amazing tale that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go!
& Ritchey are a literary force to be reckoned with! Hit that download button and grab your copy now! The Cunning Man will never let you go!”
—Sherrilyn Kenyon,
#1 New York Times Best-Selling Author


Happy Book Birthday

by author/photographer

Kelly Crull

(Millbrook / Lerner)

A portion of the proceeds from
this book will be donated to

Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi formed Washed Ashore and started gathering trash from beaches and using it to create incredible sculptures of wildlife. These sculptures travel the country to teach people about the importance of these animals―and the problems caused by plastic pollution.
Check it out!

Click above to watch video.


in Children’s Sculpture Books

A great STEAM title, focusing on biology, the environment, and art

Author and photographer Kelly Crull highlights fourteen spectacular sculptures, along with hints to find common objects hidden among the debris. There’s information about each ocean animal as well as tips for how you can reduce your plastic use, hold a beach cleanup and make your own plastic art. Be inspired to get creative in protecting the world’s oceans!

Jawsome news!

“Readers at the younger end of the grade range will enjoy searching the images for the items shown beneath each photo and learning how to make their own art from trash, while a section of more advanced activities, such as keeping a field journal, might appeal more to older students. An excellent work on an unusual topic and a must for school and library shelves.”

Engaging… Each spread includes fascinating facts about an animal along with common sense actions that even kids can take to reduce the pollution of our oceans. A seek-and-find feature adds an extra layer of engagement while also highlighting just how many ways we incorporate plastic into our lives. … VERDICT: A visually and factually compelling call to environmental action that will speak to children.” 
–Jan Aldrich Solow

  • Back matter includes instruction for how readers can collect plastic trash and create their own sculptures.
  • Features an infographic showing the life cycle of a plastic water bottle and how the choices we make matter.
  • Each spread with a sculpture has a seek and find element along the bottom, encouraging readers to look closely for different items used to create the sculpture.

See Kelly’s interview on Erin Dealey’s Book Birthday blog here.

“When people read my book, I hope they realize that small acts can create big change. We can use whatever it is that we like to do, even making art out of trash, to solve real problems. I wonder what it is that you love to do and how that activity might help solve the problems you see around you.”
Fun facts:  

  • Since 2010, over 14,000 volunteers have processed 39,000 pounds of plastic collected from beaches.
  • Washed Ashore has built more than 80 giant sculptures of the most iconic marine animals.
  • Children will have hours of fun searching for over 90 different household objects hidden among the marine debris.

Text from Kelly’s Author video/
Day of Dialogue

“My favorite part of the book is that along the bottom of each page is a series of images of ordinary, household objects that you can search for in the sculpture on that page. It’s a game, and kids love it. They come back to the book again and again to look for those objects, which provides a natural way of talking about the plastics we use in our homes and how they affect the environment.” 


East/West is out of the bubble—and (safely) WASHED ASHORE in Bandon, Oregon, with Kelly Crull.

Kelly Crull is an author, illustrator, and photographer. His writing career began in the second grade when his teacher gave him a blank picture book and told him to tell a story. He filled an entire bookshelf at the library at his school in Iowa. His joke book even had a waitlist!

Kelly is the author of a short stack of children’s books including, most recently. Washed Ashore: Making Art from Ocean Plastic. Kelly’s lively school visits have been known to include reenactments of the Running of the Bulls and La Tomatina, the world’s largest food fight. Crazy fiestas like these happen every day in Spain where he lives with his wife and three children in an old stone house between a castle and a palace.

Happy Book Birthday



 Illustrated by


Mehrdokht Amini

written by Hena Khan
(Chronicle Books)

The third book in the Concepts of the Muslim World series
celebrating Islam’s beauty and traditions

From one sun to countless stars, this gentle introduction to numbers also celebrates the many diverse traditions of the Muslim world, encouraging readers young and old to reflect upon—and count—their many blessings.

“Exquisite, colorful mixed-media illustrations depict a setting that could be Iran (Amini’s ancestral homeland) and showcase the aesthetics of Islamic art, from textile patterns to architectural ornamentation … A creative, fun introduction to Islam.”

Counting and culture come together in this stunning companion to

Happy Book Birthday

to the launch title of the series:


A Muslim Book of Colors
now in a board book format


  • A 2013 ALSC Notable 
  • PubWest 2013 Book Design Awards Gold Winner
  • Parents’ Choice Approved Book
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2013
  • CCBC Choices 2013

Book two in the trilogy:


A Muslim Book of Shapes

  • A NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book, 2019
  • A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year


Mehrdokht Amini received the 2016 Children’s Africana Book Award for CHICKEN IN THE KITCHEN, selected for the White Ravens Honour List, and has been nominated for the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal.

Mehrdokht Amini is an Iranian British children’s book illustrator living in London. She has a degree in graphic design from Tehran University, where she worked for children’s magazines and books while still a student.

Check out her Illustrator Highlight


Our March Illustrator Highlight

features images by

Kirk Reedstrom 


See full Highlight here.



March BOOK Madness!

Heather Brockman Lee, Grand Prize Portfolio Showcase Winner, SCBWI Big Five-Oh! 2021,
was chosen to illustrate the cover of SCBWI’s new publishing guide.
Thank you, Sarah Baker – and CONGRATULATIONS on your new position!
Upcoming: 3 books from Heather, including HATTIE HUGS HUGS (Beaming Books), her debut, next month:


Thanks, Dow, for the advance endorsement!
HATTIE HATES HUGS is a beautiful, colorful book addressing a child’s right to say no to hugs. While Hattie is excited to attend a family gathering, she dreads being hugged by well-meaning relatives. Lee’s illustrations share expressive, diverse characters throughout the book, and a heartfelt, satisfying resolution completes the story. It reminds us that not everyone appreciates this form of human touch, even in light of enjoying human interaction. More importantly, children will be encouraged to advocate for themselves when uncomfortable with a situation.  It’s a great book for huggers and non-huggers alike.
—Dow Phumiruk


Alexandra Alessandri, on yet another Florida Book Award – this one a GOLD medal!

Alexandra’s debut PB garnered a Silver Medal from the Florida Book Awards,
along with a Bronze Medal from the International Latino Book Awards.



This time to Laura Kerstein
HOME FOR A WHILE is a 2022 CCBC Choice best-of-the-year!






Click here to read Jeanne Walker Harvey’s blog post on the book.

(Ella Schwartz, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, Christy Ottaviano Books)

“Most parents in colonial America thought girls should only learn to cook, sew & take care of the house, but Mary Katharine’s parents disagreed.  As a young girl [she] realized that knowledge made her powerful.”


“Superb … Harvey’s poetic text is imagistic and deftly placed.”

The Horn Book | Nonfiction picture books for Women’s History Month 2022 (

Jeanne Walker Harvey‘s ABLAZE WITH COLOR (Loveis Wise, Harper Collins)
was featured in SFChronicle’s Datebook:

Roundup of 6 kids’ books honoring unforgettable women

“Bright digital art pays homage to her unique style and status as the first Black female painter represented in the White House,
thanks to Michelle Obama.” 

Walker-Harvey’s ABLAZE WITH COLOR was also featured on SLJ’s
including great extensions for teachers.

“This stunning book holds beautiful lessons about the power of women, art, nature, education, and joy.”   


2022 ALA LLX Book Buzz – YouTube

See the transformative life cycle of a sunflower play out from page to page
in this bold read-aloud by Sibert Award-winning Antoinette Portis.

“Employing spare language and sunny, stippled multimedia spreads that belie their quiet complexity, Portis gracefully traces a sunflower’s cycle from seed to sprout to plant—and back again. … In addition to incorporating mention of the seedling’s early needs (soil, sun, rain) and maturation phases (bud, flower, seed), text and image hint at the plant’s external effects (for those who “nest in the leaves// in the tops of trees”)—and, poignantly, its place as participant in the natural world.
It’s a volume almost as jam-packed as a seed itself.

As to Antoinette’s board books:


A child delights in being “up” in this visually spare nighttime board book. As a yellow sun half-dips below the bottom of the opening page (“The sun is down”), a light-brown-skinned child, whose hair visually echoes the sun’s rays, peeks up from the facing page (“but I am up”). … Portis’s spongy illustrations capture a child’s transition to sleep with a pleasing simplicity that’s easily graspable by those developing first slumber-time routines. Publishing simultaneously: I’m Up! “

Brynne Barnes was featured in Schoolcraft College’s My Story, My Voice:
“What I most want my community to know is that the Black diaspora is not just one thing, one person, or even one experience. In reference to Maya Angelou’s words, I stand as 10,000. This is the notion of what my latest book, BLACK GIRL RISING (illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Chronicle Books, June 2022), honors – the journey of many through the journey of one. Black history is not something that we study; it is not in a book or one month out of the year. It is something that we live – and create – every single day.”

This enduring anthem for Black girls celebrates their power, potential, and brilliance—for themselves and for the world.
Advance Praise:

“With nods to poets who have celebrated Black womanhood, BLACK GIRL RISING is modern ballad steeped in metaphor, music, and magic. From its gold-dusted jacket to its melodic verses, this is the song Black girls need now.
—Carole Boston Weatherford
Newbery Honor winning, NYT bestselling author

“A stunning ode to Black girl magic!”
Tami Charles
NYT bestselling author of All Because You Matter

Preparing for Earth Day?

Alma Fullerton’s NO MORE PLASTIC (Pajama Press) and Sibert Honor award winning Patricia Newman’s PLANET OCEAN (Millbrook / Annie Crawley) and are on the 
NatGen Green Earth Book Award Longlist!

Where’s East West?

Halli Gomez (LIST OF TEN) and Shannon Hitchcock (The Storytellers’ Series) were featured speakers
at the Virginia Festival of the Books.


NYT-bestselling author Stacia Deutsch was part of a MIDDLE GRADE MAGIC virtual event hosted by SLJ.

Deutsch has given the Boxcar Children franchise a modern twist but retains salient features of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s original series in creating her version of Greenfield. A case worth cracking.”



10:05 – 10:55 AM ET | Cloudy, with a Chance of Rain
Meet a group of awesome tweens & tweens weathering challenges on multiple fronts.

Alma Fullerton, Flipping Forward Twisting Backward (Peachtree), and others.


“This novel in verse points out that learning disabilities and mental capabilities are two separate issues … The interspersed black-and-white illustrations add energy and forward motion to the text … the short poems, liberal use of dialogue, and the focus on gymnastics make this a high interest, quick read that would make an excellent choice for both beginning chapter book readers and reluctant readers.” 
—School Library Connection


Ana Crespo was a guest on Tandem Bay Area’s recent panel, talking about her book LIA & LUÍS: WHO HAS MORE? (Charlesbridge) and on PBS SoCal’s blog: “How Two Brazilian American Kids Are Inspiring Little Ones to Love Math and Reading” 


Pura Belpré Winner Ernesto Cisneros
zoomed with the North Texas Teen Book Festival  

Sarah Scheerger gave numerous presentations throughout the month of March to students in Hong Kong
as a part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.

Dow Phumiruk joined Grace Lin on her podcast, Kids Ask Authors.
Listen in here.

Jeanne Walker Harvey was part of the virtual Smithsonian event featuring Alma Thomas,
hosted by the Postal Museum, Smithsonian and Hirshhorn Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art. 


Coming in April:

Megan E. Freeman (ALONE) will present a craft workshop at The Wandering Jellyfish (April 2nd) 

Patricia Newman (PLANET OCEAN) and Erin Dealey (DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5) are teaming up with librarian Ro Menendez for a Texas Library Association panel in-person on Making Earth Day Everyday. (April 26th)

Books “in the wild”

Hicklebee’s spread the word about Anna Dewdney’s EVERYTHING WILL BE OK (illustrated by Judy Schachner, Viking)

And Erin Dealey’s PETER EASTER FROG (illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
was sighted in Hicklebee’s Easter display:


PETER EASTER FROG is also part of the March Barnes & Noble displays nationwide, along with
PETE THE CAT Big Easter Adventure (Kimberly Dean & James Dean).



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