Thursday, March 31, 2016

April means Earth Day and Geen Earth Book Awards: Circles of Hope

April 22 is Earth Day.  What better to celebrate than with the Green Earth Book Awards?  Circles of Hope was a winner in 2006. 

The award given by The Nature Generation is meant to help inspire Environmental Stewardship.  Circles of Hope is in the company of a selection of wonderful, inspiring and important books for children.  The list includes Picture books, fiction, non-fiction, Chapter books and Young Adult in a list of award winning books since 2005.

The short listed books for the 2016 awards  on Earth Day have been chosen. 

See the list here.  And go to The Nature Generation for their entire list of award winners. 

Get Reading and Sharing.  Encourage Stewardship of our earth.  Plan your celebration for Earth Day.

Young Adult Fiction
A 52-Hertz Whale, written by Bill Sommer and Natalie Haney Tilghman (Carolrhoda Lab™ - Lerner Publishing Group)
The Beast of Cretacea, written by Todd Strasser (Candlewick Press)

Children’s Fiction
Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue, written and illustrated by Paige Braddock (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Inc.)
Sydney & Simon Go Green!, written by Paul A. Reynolds and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Charlesbridge)
The Neptune Challenge, written by Polly Holyoke (Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group)
The Order of the Trees, written by Katy Farber (Green Writers Press)
The Thing About Jellyfish, written by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Picture Book
Crane Boy, written by Diana Cohn and illustrated by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press)
The Hornless Rhinoceros, written and illustrated by Robin W. Radcliffe (Living Fossil Productions)
The Seeds of Friendship, written and illustrated by Michael Foreman (Candlewick Press)
The Stranded Whale, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Melanie Cataldo (Candlewick Press)
Toad Weather, written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (Peachtree Publishers)

Children’s Nonfiction
Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, written by Karen Romano Young and Daniel Raven-Ellison (National Geographic Society)
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Millbrook Press)
Trash Talk:  Moving Towards a Zero-Waste World, written by Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers)
Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey (National Geographic Society)
What's the Buzz:  Keeping Bees in Flight, written by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox (Orca Book Publishers)

 “Since 2004, we have recognized over 136 books Green Earth Book Award winner and honor books that inspire our youth to protect the planet.  We are proud to promote these books through our reading and donation programs and see first-hand how kids learn about the environment through these beautifully-written books,” said Amy Marasco Newton, founder and president of The Nature Generation.   
The Nature Generation is an environmental non-profit that inspires and empowers youth to make a difference through innovative environmental stewardship programs in literature, science, and the arts. It relies on the generous donations of individuals and partner organizations, like Luck Companies, to implement its programs and create outdoor classrooms that benefit our environment and provide stewardship and educational opportunities for all ages.  NatGen thanks the Sustainable Partners whose contributions support its mission: Acorn Financial, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Cadmus Group, Chartis, The Council Oak, CSRA, Dominion, Kelly Drye Warren LLP, Luck Companies, Middleburg Bank, PPC, Salisbury University, and Tetra Tech.  For more information, visit

See the list here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Look what they are Reading in Zambia!

Check out this program!

Think about a donation.

Hard to resist!

. ProjectEDUCATE does some amazing work and we need your help to help ensure they continue to do so.

 No donation is too small and all contributions are tax-deductible. It is a great cause and you will be helping educate children in some of the poorest communities in the world. To learn more and donate please visit

 If you would like to support their environmental initiative, please visit

 Thank you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Honored To Have My Poem Included.

 As a judge for the Young Muslim Writers Awards I was asked to contribute to this lovely journal.

Who knew judging could be so difficult?

Six young poets, all ages.  Several submitting more than one poem.  All meaningful and well crafted.  A joy to read.

And I read them over many times.  Tried to be objective, even made a kind of grid for scoring different elements of the poems. 

But heart enters into all of it, the writing and the judging.  That is the beauty.

And here is my contribution to this years journal.  An honor to be included.  A diverse collection and lovely presentation.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reflecting: A Real Christmas This Year

I often find myself thinking back on years gone by this time of year...reflecting.  I also find myself sometimes wishing I had a blockbuster holiday book...any holiday would do.  One that comes out every year, say with a new cover, one that is a classic, part of the (in this case) Christmas tradition.

Well guess what?  I do have a Christmas book!  It was published in 1998 (around then I think) and it is out of print (this I definitely know for sure).  You can find it on Amazon though.  Just so you know.

Funny thing is I did not write this book as a Christmas book.  Yes!  Christmas is in the book.  So are a lot of other things.  A girl, Megan, and her handicapped brother, her family and a friend for starters.  And yes she does hope for "a real Christmas this year" (read that as normal).  But she also struggles with having a family member who is handicapped ( a little like me growing up but not the same). And she begins to realize that she might not be alone with her problems(a new friend, a boy,  has a sister who goes to the same school as her brother ).

I happened to go to Google to check on my Christmas titled book and see what is happening.  (It's not a bad idea to check up on your orphaned books once in a while).

Well the reviews are pretty great.  The teacher who reads it to her class every year.  Each student loved this book.  A tremendous ending.  Wow!

They got me thinking, remembering, even made me a little weepy.

 Made me remember the people who contacted me when that book came out and told me how much it meant to them.

By the end of the book Megan does get a special Christmas, her whole family does(she helps make it happen).   Not real or normal (whatever that is).  But special.  That's not a spoiler, just a tease. 

So I reflect (with the help of Google). I do have a good little book there.  Not a Christmas blockbuster.  Maybe not even a Christmas book.  A book that resonates with readers..makes them laugh...and cry. 

An all year 'round book with some Christmas magic.

A little reflection can go a long way.  My hope for my readers is for some time to reflect over the holidays.  I hope you, like Megan, find something special and maybe even a little magic...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Grateful to get it write(right).

A writer writes what she knows from her life, her own experiences.  She writes with passion and honesty.

If she gets it right she hopes she will connect with even one reader.

She is grateful when she does.  It is remarkable that our lives can intersect so profoundly with people we have never even met.

This week I had this note from a reader.  I am grateful that I got it right and grateful that she let me know.  Lovely that she contacted me during this season of Thanks.

This little book out of print and still brings joy to readers and to me.

I have always wondered what your experiences were that inspired you to write "When Africa Was Home." When curiosity finally led me to stumble across your website and bio, I felt like I should share with you how much your book has meant to me and my family.

My parents were missionaries in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. My sisters and I all grew up there and it was and is still our home. My mom tells us that when she first read a worn and tattered copy of your book one night in a missionary guest house, she finally understood what it was like for us kids. Every time that we went to visit America her and my Dad were going to their home, but we were leaving ours.

Ever since then your book has been a cherished book in our house. My sisters and I read it over and over again as children because it was the only book that told the story of our lives. Every experience that Peter had, we had. I remember my mom telling us about how we had to wear shoes in America, and that we could not longer eat with our hands. In America we played indoors, and there weren't any trees to climb. In your book. The first time that I heard a vacuum in America I leaped on my bed to get away from it.

Thank you for writing your book and telling our story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankful for Diversity in my Life

Counting my blessings and shamelessly self promoting!

Check out this video discussion about books for children about refugees featuring Four Feet Two Sandals and My Name is Sangoel.

Coffee Break Confidential: Refugee Revelations
Posted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. on November 19, 2015 in Coffee Break Confidential, Eerdfolk | 1 Comment

And the interview with yours truly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Where is Beatrice Now?

Sometimes our dreams change.  Beatrice did go to college but she did not train to be a nurse.

At Utali College she majored in Hotel Hospitality.

Now she works in the Hotel industry in Nairobi.

She is also continuing her education.

Here is Beatrice now.
What a lovely hard working young woman!  Courageous and determined.

And here is what Wendy Stone the photographer who illustrated Beatrice's Dream has to say about the journey:

Beatrice's Dream:  I first met Beatrice in 2006 when she was 13 years
old living in Kibera slum. I met a well known children's book writer,
Karen Williams, when she was a visiting author at my daughters school in
Nairobi. She was eager to write a book about a child living in a slum.
We found Beatrice through an NGO that I worked with in Kibera. Karen met
with her and wrote her story.  I spent one day with her photographing "a
day in the life of Beatrice".  Karen already had a literary agent for
her other books. We put together a proposal but it took 2 years for the
agent to find a publisher who was interested in the book.  Finally she
found one, and the publisher wanted many more photos of Beatrice. This
was in 2008 to 2009, right after the political riots in Kenya. Large
areas of Kibera burned to the ground and Beatrice was nowhere to be
found.  I had to take more photos. So I took the photos of Kibera and
her school and teachers and friends but without Beatrice being there. 
It worked! The publisher loved the photos and they approved the book.
But then the next hitch was that they needed her to sign a release
giving them permission to publish her story and photos. It took us one
year to find her. Finally in 2010 I managed to find her through an ad
that I ran in the daily newspaper with her photo titled Missing Child.
The next morning I received an anonymous phone call informing me that
Beatrice was a student at State House Girls Boarding School in Nairobi.
Fortunately she had a sponsor who was paying for her private schooling.
I went to visit her that same day but the school refused to let me see
her without the presence of her social worker, who was her guardian, at
the time. It took several attempts before I managed to meet with her. 
It was an emotional reunion and I was relieved to see her looking so
well.  The school would not let Beatrice sign a release form for the
book since she was still a minor and her social worker guardian was very
suspicious of my motives, most probably thinking that I was eager to
make money from this book. I had to hire a lawyer to intervene in the
case. The lawyer met with the Social Worker and finally he approved the
book. This happened just two weeks before the publisher's deadline, over
a period of several months. I met with Beatrice to show her the first
draft of the book for her final approval. She asked that I omit two
photos of her brother, which I agreed to.  After the book was published,
Beatrice graduated from school and lived with her guardian's family. I
was still living in Kenya at the time and was able to assist her in
visiting colleges and making decisions about her future.  The royalty
from the book paid for her education at Utalii College where she majored
in Hotel Hospitality.  She is now working in the hotel business in