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

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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Chickens and writers and illustrators oh my!

What is it about chickens? We dress up like them… We do art projects with them.   They amuse us in our back yards.    They amuse us as we imagine all the things they would do if they got the chance.   Explore some chicken books this week–in English or Ethiopian languages–for the wisdom and

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Bilingual Ready Set Go Book

Want this to be the year/decade/lifetime of the girl?

Me too! When I write or edit stories, I’m always looking for ways to help girls see themselves as the powerful beings they are. We’ve done that in many different ways with the bilingual Ready Set Go Books. Take this bestselling title! On the day the following photo was taken, I was brainstorming with a

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A Woman Walked Into a Picture Book…

After decades of publishing books that have sometimes been called lyrical and important and poetic, I’m about to publish a picture book that my friend Carmen Bernier Grand calls hilarious. Thanks, Carmen. Ironically, this book was born in a brainstorming session where my writer retreat friends and I were making each other laugh—and the idea

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