The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books
author • speaker • teacher • volunteer

Books full of Butterflies for Nature Kids

When I was doing research for my Lanie books for American Girl, I fell hard for monarch butterflies. Wings like little stained glass panels! Now possibly disappearing from the Earth! Of course Lanie had to do a citizen science project and get involved with helping save them. Lots of other authors have clearly felt the

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Mary Anning

The earliest dinosaur explorations + fossilized poo

Once there was a kid named Jane (only her family called her Janie) who visited Dinosaur National Monument. Once there was another kid named Karen who fell in love with nature in places like Yosemite National Park and who became a park ranger and eventually a paleontologist who studies dinosaur poo. The Jane (me) never

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Abay: Mighty Nile River

Mention the mighty Nile river, and most people think of pyramids and mummies. Many of us learned as kids that the Nile made ancient Egypt’s soil rich and fertile. Most of us didn’t learn that the rich dirt was swept to Egypt from the highlands of Ethiopia. Anyone who has ever visited thundering Tis

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Saving Birds Bees Butterflies One Yard at a Time

Who visits your yard? Earth Day is every day for those of us who love citizen science and keep looking for what we can do to save birds and bees and butterflies and worms and other little beings that share our world.Here are 6 + 1 things I’ve been doing with my own yard that

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Black History: Religions in Ethiopia

Many visitors to Lalibela, Ethiopia, have felt–in some mysterious way–that they are on holy ground, a place where devotion and faith have soaked into the rocks that somehow were shaped into amazing ancient churches as people started at the top of cliffs and crafted their way down. But Ethiopian history is a story of devotion

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Ethiopia in Black History Month

There’s only one problem in trying to take a quick peek at Ethiopian history.  It’s long and complicated! Ethiopia has its own calendar, its own alphabets,  its different regions and kingdoms that gradually became one modern country. Some of the earliest agriculture happened in Ethiopia. Some of the first ways of writing music began with

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Yoga on the loose

Wowee zowie! When I saw Lucia Heffernan’s yoga chicks on Instagram, I thought, my chick needs to take lessons! I also immediately messaged Lucia to ask if it was okay to share her art. Luckily for me, she said yes. I met my yoga teacher through my niece, shown here with her baby bump and

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The Runaway Injera bilingual Amharic


Plot challenged? Me too! I tell my students in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Children’s and YA Literature that other elements of writing–characterization, voice, word play, sentence rhythms–come to me much more naturally. Luckily, that means I have lots of ideas for coaxing plots out to play.  For my first book published

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Who Wants Kids to Read About Poo?

My children–and later my grandchildren–went through their potty humor phases. I’m not claiming I didn’t roll my eyes and hope they quickly discovered another type of wit. But as our hearts all clench over pandemics and climate change, I’ve moved into a different camp. Now I think it’s great to use what kids find funny

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Rounding up Chicken Books

So many chicken books!  One of the fun things about having a new book in the world is getting a glimpse of all the book ambassadors out doing their excellent work. Here are some of the other picture books that have been recommended to go with Chickens on the Loose. Leading a story time for

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