Thursday, May 11, 2017

Circles of Hope Now a Scholastic Bookclub Selection!

 So this is the writing Life.   You write and rewrite and rewrite and submit and write and wait and wait and wait to hear from an agent or publisher.  Sometimes you get fan mail.   That keeps you writing.   Sometimes you get rejections.   You keep writing and submitting.  (OK you might cry or scream or rant or threaten to quit).  A royalties check arrives!  You may have forgotten about those because really?  You are deep into the next project(hopefully). 

You write some more and wait some more.  Sometimes you sell a book and sign a contract and wait.  Wait for the edits, the check, wait for an illustrator.  Keep writing and wait.

I am currently waiting for the art for two new picture books to be complete.   One forth coming from Lee and Low and another from Eerdmans Publishing.

And then this little piece of news shows up in the mail.  Circles of Hope has been around for a while
a solid little book has been picked up by Scholastic Bookclub.

I do a little mental dance and continue to write.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

School visit makes the news!

What a great day at Severn School in Arnold Maryland, outside of Baltimore!  Treated like a celeb by the news media.  A full day left me feeling appreciated.

Check it out here in the Capital Gazette.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A new Spin on Galimotos: It's all about problem solving.

I wrote the book Galimoto nearly thirty years ago and kids at schools where I travel to as  a visiting author are still making galimotos.   In the book, Kondi searches his village in Malawi, Africa to find enough wire to make a toy car that has moving parts; axle, wheels, and a steering wheel that all work.

The children I saw in Malawi used whatever they could find to make these parts for their toys, which for me, are like works of art.  The wheels might be made out of wire pounded with a rock around a pipe to make them perfectly round.  Or maybe the children used discarded bottle caps found in the market area, saved up until there were enough for 4 wheels.  I have seen the wheels of galimotos made out of thin vines woven around and around and twisted together to make wheels.  Slices of yams made wobbly wheels and sometimes the styrofoam-like material under the skin of cornstalks worked too.

But when I visited Severn school last week, I saw a new spin on wheels for galimotos.   The children had plenty of pipe cleaners used to fashion their toy vehicles but when it came to wheels they could not find anything in the classroom that might work.

No problem! With a three-D printer they were able to turn out enough round plastic discs to make wheels for everyone in the class.

It took me a while to digest this solution and the connection between play in an African village and this high tech world of a classroom in the US.    Galimoto is, after all on one level, a story about a boy whose uses recyclables to make a toy.  In a place where toys are not available.  There are no building materials to buy and no money to buy them with.   Kondi is resilient, creative, independent, persistent and determined.  Just like the children I met in Malawi.

But then this hit me, it's all about problem solving.  Kondi is a problem solver and so are the kids in the school I visited.  They, like Kondi were using whatever was available to them to do what they had set out to do.  Create a galimoto.

We need problem solving abilities  more than ever.  Everywhere in the world today.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


You see this letter about Sangoel?  It was written on October 25, 2016.  This reader likes the part about how Sangoel writes his name in rebus on his shirt.  "I think it was a creative solution."   I love it!  I did write back.  But I have not posted anything in a long time.  Recent events have dragged me down.  FB can be a scary place.  The whole internet, the world too.

But the sun is out and the sky is blue, completely blue.  Not a cloud.  And kids are reading.  and responding.  And believe it or not I am still writing.

Recent works in progress include picture books about Albert Schweitzer,  and the environment.  I cannot let go of my passions so I am also working on two more books about refugees.  One is coauthored by a young woman who was herself a refugee.

I am getting more response to my books about refugees than ever before.  It is great that kids and teachers and parents and librarians are reading.  It is sad that this subject needs to be addressed.  But I am pleased to be a small part of the dialogue for our most important readers.

And the reviews are good too.  Here are a few recent blogs you should check out.  Not just because they praise my books but there are many other good books mentioned too.  Important books that need to be heard.

Read and Write.  It is one way I know to connect and share and maybe make a little difference in a difficult  world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How Did I Miss This! Thankful For The Recognition!

Four Feet Two Sandals mentioned in the Fall 2016 Bulletin  of SCBWI!  The Journal of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator.

In an Article Picturing Immigrants and Refugees Four Feet two Sandals is mentioned as on of "A few recent standouts that demonstrate the range and richness of contemporary immigrant picture books".

Always thankful for the recognition.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

And This Just in From Sweden

And this just in from the publicist for Four Feet Two Sandals:

A piece of happy news:  Afghanistannytt, the journal of a Swedish charity called Afghanistankommittén (may sound small but in fact it's very established -- I've heard that they're the largest employer in Afghanistan because of their many schools, health centers etc), has a full page on Four feet, two sandals.

They asked a well-known children's author and activist, Monica Zak, to interview a 13-year-old girl in a small town about the book.

She fled with her family from Afghanistan at age 10 and is now 13. She says she'll bring the book to school because everybody should read it!

This makes me smile!


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Beatrice's Dream: Where is Beatrice now?

Many readers write and ask about Beatrice.  Where is she now?

 So here is an update with Beatrice's permission.

Through hard work and perseverance, Beatrice graduated from college with a degree in the service industry. 
She got a job!

And now?  She is married and has a baby girl.  

Meet Ariel!

Beatrice continues to work and to dream.  She hopes to continue her education and see where her dreams take her.

If you want to send your best wishes to Beatrice you can email it to me  and I will make sure she gets your note.

Beatrice wants you all to keep dreaming!