Friday, March 22, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 16: Author Keila Dawson Reads the Whole Wide World

by Keila V. Dawson

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror.” - Excerpt from Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State University (1990)

The five books I've chosen are windows children can look through and into the world. Those windows become sliding glass doors they can step through and explore. Maybe they will go someplace unfamiliar or learn something new. And most importantly, these books are mirrors so children can see positive images of themselves in their worlds. And their reflections enable others to see them too. 

UNDER MY HIJAB is written by Hena Khan, an American Muslim author, from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent female family members wear their individual headscarves in work and play. The art by illustrator Aaliya Jaleel, also an American Muslim, is playful and detailed. I adored the henna she drew on the character's hands!

In WE ARE GRATEFUL: OTSALIHELIGA children get to look at modern Native life through the eyes of author Traci Sorell, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Illustrator Francé Lessac traveled to Oklahoma and spent time with Cherokee citizens to learn about their way of life which provided the knowledge and inspiration for her artwork.

A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR by author-illustrator Grace Lin celebrates the love between a mother and child while showing faces representative of her Asian culture that is also a part of everyday American life. 

In THANK YOU OMU author-illustrator Oge Mora created a story that celebrates the caring and sharing she witnessed through her Nigerian grandmother's kindness. 

In JULIÁN IS A MERMAID author-illustrator Jessica Love uses sparse text accompanied by her detailed and thought-provoking artwork to tell the tale of a boy who does not conform to society's traditional gender identity. Others get to see him as he sees himself.
Books that are mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors honor the history, customs, and traditions of all groups. And they expose children to the reality of the multicultural and multifaceted world we all share. 

Keila is giving away one copy of The King Cake Baby to one lucky winner. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

Keila's hiked the rice terraces in the Philippines, climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan, and Mt. Sinai in Egypt. She finds adventures in picture books too. When she isn’t traveling, researching or digging in genealogical archives, Keila is reading, writing, and visiting schools. She enjoys sharing her love of Louisiana and world cultures with others. 

Her debut picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing Co., Inc. January 2015), highlights the unique cultural tradition of eating King Cake during the Mardi Gras. A companion book will follow. 

Keila, Jeanette Bradley, and Lindsay Metcalf are co-editors of the forthcoming picture book, TAKING THE MIC: Fourteen Young Americans Making Change (Charlesbridge 2020).

Thursday, March 21, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 15: Editor/Author Emma Walton Hamilton Breaks the Rules

As a picture book author, editor and writing teacher, I spend a lot of time thinking about the “rules” of the craft. Several new picture books suggest that the rules are becoming more flexible. Here are five of my favorites that chart new territory and inspire me to think outside the rule box:

      Little Brown (Marla Frazee) – A shelter dog wonders whether being friendless makes him cranky, or is the result of his crankiness.

      BROKEN RULES: Disagreeable protagonist, existential concept, unresolved ending.

I Will Not Eat You (Adam Lehrhaupt, Scott Magoon) - A dragon considers who is meal-worthy, and why.

BROKEN RULES: Passive protagonist; unexpected, quirky take-away


   The Stuff of Stars (Mariod Dane Bauer, Ekua Holmes) – A poetic exploration of the Big Bang.

   BROKEN RULES: Philosophical non-fiction; abstract (but magnificent) illustrations 

The Iridescence of Birds (Patricia MacLachlan, Hadley Hooper)
 – Biography of Henri Matisse.

BROKEN RULES: 2nd person narrative voice; advanced vocabulary

Tie: I Need a New Bum (Dawn McMillan, Ross Kinaird) and Monsters New Undies (Samantha Berger, Tad Carpenter) Fun with backsides and underwear.

BROKEN RULES: Risky content, language and illustrations (these books might get banned – but kids love them!)

Emma is giving away one Editor in a Box for Picture Books revision kit to one lucky winner. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. 

Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, editor and writing coach. She serves as director of Stony Brook University’s Children’s Lit Fellows certificate program, now in its 7th year, as well as the annual Children’s Lit Conference. A co-founder of Picture Book Summit and The Complete Picture Book Submissions System, Emma also hosts her own writing courses and resources for writers online at