Friday, June 10, 2016

School Library Journal Reviews Real Sisters Pretend!

PreS-Gr 2—In her author's note, Lambert describes how closely this story parallels the experience of her own adopted daughters. She was inspired to write it after overhearing how baffled they were by a stranger asking if they were "real sisters." Tadgell's lively watercolors depict Tayja, an African American girl of about seven, and Mia, a white preschooler with curly dark hair, who laugh at the absurdity of such a question. As they play, they imagine themselves as hiking princesses climbing up and down mountains, but when Mia says, "Let's pretend we are sisters," Tayja says, "No, Mia, we don't have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters." Mia happily recalls how Tayja welcomed her to the family and shared her stuffed lion. They both relive how the judge let them bang his gavel when Mia's adoption was finalized, and concluded that they understood about adoption. Their happy faces and whimsical game of make-believe will engage young readers, and children who live in families touched by adoption will likely find the underlying message positive and affirming. Revealed in the last few pages is yet another way this family could be considered different—there are two mothers. Momma's reaction to the woman in the grocery store who asks if they are "real" sisters is a simple, direct statement: "Of course they are!" The girls are secure in their knowledge that they are part of a real, loving family with both Momma and Mommy. VERDICT This is an appealing story, recommended for general purchase, especially where Patricia Polacco's In Our Mother's House and Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell's And Tango Makes Three are popular.—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA

Barnes & Noble Bookfair!

I'll be at the Barnes & Noble Saturday June 18th for a Bookfair & Fundraiser!

Saturday, June 18 from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Author/Illustrator Book Signings
AC Gaughen, Stacy DeKeyser, Karen Day, Donna Mae, MarcyKate Connolly,
Sharron Kahn Luttrell, Kim Harrington and Anna Staniszewski

Saturday, June 18 from 12-1 p.m. Story Time/Craft with Picture Book author
Donna Mae, author of The Wooly Adventures of Purl and Marshmallows Galore

Saturday, June 18 from 1 p.m.–3 p.m. Author/Illustrator Book Signings
Josh Funk, Melissa Stewart, Jane Kohuth, Nicole Tadgell, Heather Lang, Frank
Dormer, Jean Taft and Susan Lynn Meyer

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Odyssey Bookshop Launch - Coming Soon!

Megan Dowd Lambert & Nicole Tadgell, Real Sisters Pretend

Event: Megan Dowd Lambert & Nicole Tadgell, Real Sisters Pretend
When: Saturday, May 28, 11:00 am
Where: The Odyssey Bookshop

The Odyssey Bookshop is thrilled to welcome local author Megan Dowd Lambert and illustrator Nicole Tadgell back to the store for their new picturebook, Real Sisters Pretend. This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike. Event attendees will enjoy snacks and a storytime and are encouraged to add drawings of their own families on a mural to be displayed at the Odyssey. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rabbit in the Moon Blog

Special thanks to my friend Terry Farish for posting this lovely piece:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kirkus reviews Real Sisters Pretend!

Getting reviewed is awesome, and good reviews are even better!

Author: Megan Dowd Lambert
Illustrator: Nicole Tadgell

Review Issue Date: March 1, 2016
Online Publish Date: February 17, 2016
Publisher:Tilbury House
Pages: 32
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.95
Publication Date: May 1, 2016
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-88448-441-7
Category: Picture Books

An adoption story explores the concept of "real sisters." It is obvious that Tadgell's sisters are not biologically related: Tayja is black, her hair in a topknot ponytail, while Mia is lighter-skinned with bright green eyes and tousled, short dark brown hair. But nevertheless, the two are real sisters—adoption made them so. Lambert's purposive tale follows the two as they play a game of pretend princesses climbing a mountain (the sofa). Mia is still getting the hang of pretending (she thought the word was "betend"), so when she suggests they pretend to be sisters, Tayja holds Mia's face in her hands, the two touching foreheads, and states, "No, Mia—we don't have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters." She then helps Mia recall how they were adopted and became sisters and addresses the issue of outsiders' comments and queries. (Further pushing the diversity of this family, it is headed by two moms.) The story is told entirely in the color-coded dialogue bubbles between the two sisters, which means the girls sometimes sound stilted and unnatural. But their interactions and pure joy in togetherness are anything but in the watercolor illustrations. >Adoption is such an individual event that it is difficult for one picture book to address every situation and circumstance. This is best used as a discussion starter with adopted children and for the outsiders who don't understand that adoption creates families. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-8) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Real Sisters Pretend

Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert, Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. Published by Tilbury House, May 2016.

Told with simple words and playful illustrations, this book touches on the topics of adoption, two moms, and multiracial family life.

Modern families can look very different from the nuclear families of yesteryear, but as Lambert says in the book's introduction, No matter how a family comes to be, the most important thing is for everyone to feel loved, safe, and cared for. Real Sisters Pretend is a great vehicle for sharing that love and reassurance.

Coloring Pages Here!

This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author's own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them real sisters even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike. I liked how they took care of one another in their pretend-play scenario about climbing a mountain, Lambert says, and I loved how they also took care of one another s feelings as they talked about adoption. Real Sisters Pretend captures these interactions perfectly and movingly.

Advanced Praise for Real Sisters Pretend: 
“Where was Real Sisters Pretend when I was growing up as an adoptee? This heartfelt and loving story is essential for those in the adoption community. It’s a positive reinforcement of the simple truth that people can look different and still be a family unit. A must-have picture book, especially in today’s world of varying family structures.” —Chris Soentpiet, illustrator of Jin WooAmazing Faces, My Brother Martin, and other books for young readers

“In this joyful story, two adopted girls climb imaginary mountains together as they play, forging a life-long sisterhood. What an apt metaphor, given that non-traditional families scale mountains, big and small, daily. Real Sisters Pretend empowers adopted children to find belonging and strength in the loving nests of new siblings and unique families.” —Anne Brennan Belden, M.Sc. (Human Development/Family Relations), Adoption and Parenting Coach, adoptive mom

Sunday, February 07, 2016

An Unlikely Story Event!

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents:
Leap into Reading
Authors * Illustrators * Book Signings
An Unlikely Story Book Store and Café
111 South St.
Plainville, MA 02762
Saturday February 27 from 12:30-3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, February 27, from 12:30-3:30 p.m. An Unlikely Story Bookstore and Café will be partnering with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators* to present “Leap into Reading,” a special event featuring eleven authors and illustrators of children’s books. 

Young readers and their parents, as well as aspiring writers and illustrators, are invited to meet authors and artists who represent a range of genres from fiction to nonfiction, picture books to young-adult novels. The event will include a scavenger hunt for young readers, and a “Writing for Kids 101” table with information for aspiring children’s book writers. Authors’ books will be available for purchase and autographing. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact An Unlikely Story at (508) 699-0244.

Linda Crotta Brennan, author and organizer of this event, says, “We’re just as thrilled to meet our audience as they are to meet us. As an author, it is so inspiring to watch a kid interact with your book.” 

*The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ( is the professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. Its mission is to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world. 

Featured Authors/Illustrators: 

M.P. Barker Author of two young-adult historical novels: A Difficult Boy (winner of awards from PEN New England and the International Reading Association) and Mending Horses ( a 2015 Massachusetts “Must-Read” Book).

Lisa Rose Bauer Bauer remembers the childhood joy of the school library and the extra delight of book fairs, holds MA in children’s literature from Simmons College in Boston. She lives in Rhode Island near the ocean where searching for shells and seaglass has always been a gift.

Mark Binder An award-winning performances storyteller and author whose mission is transmitting joy with story.

Linda Crotta Brennan The award-winning author of over twenty books for young readers, including When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story which was selected as a Best Science and Best Social Studies Book of the Year by the Children's Book Council.

Joan Duris Duris enjoys discovering new places tucked away in the corners of New England. She lives in central Massachusetts, where she chases black bears away from her birdfeeders.

Cathren Housley A RISD alumni and award winning artist & writer, escaped to the world of children's books in 2004; their enthusiasm and energy inspired a three-year project funded by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and now Cathren is bringing the art of children alive in animated film. 

Heather Lang Lang writes picture books about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. 

Nancy Tupper Ling The author of My Sister, Alicia May (Pleasant Street Press), Double Happiness (Chronicle Books), The Story I’ll Tell (Lee & Low Books) and several poetry books.

Ammi-Joan Paquette A senior literary agent with EMLA, as well as the author of PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE HOURGLASS and many other books. She lives with her family in the Boston area. 

Nicole Tadgell Award-winning illustrator of more than twenty picture books, including First Peas to the Table, In the Garden with Dr. Carver, and Lucky Beans. 

Jean Taft A New England writer who loves weather! She grew up in Vermont and now lives in Rhode Island with her family and one very happy dog. 

First Peas to the table named Foundation for Agriculture's Book of the Year!

‘First Peas to the Table’ named Foundation for Agriculture’s Book of the Year!  by the American Farm Bureau.

Jan. 10, 2016 - The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture presented its ninth annual Book of the Year award to Susan Grigsby for "First Peas to the Table." In this lighthearted story, a little girl, Maya, and her classmates learn about gardens and peas, as well as Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello.

Grigsby, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, is the author of three picture books, as well as poetry. She teaches creative writing in schools, museums and nature centers, often integrating the lessons with science, social studies and art.

"I am so happy that, thanks to this recognition from the American Farm Bureau Foundation For Agriculture, more children will have access to 'First Peas to the Table,'" said Grigsby. "I sometimes help students set up their own school gardens and am always inspired by the sense of wonder that develops as the children discover the infinite number of variables involved in turning one tiny seed into a plant that can feed a family."

"After reading the agricultural-related correspondence and journals of Thomas Jefferson, I was struck by the passion that he and others had in regards to experimenting to figure out which plants, previously grown on other continents, would grow best in each of the diverse environments spread across the country," she continued. "I wrote the book to celebrate how every gardener, young and old, learns through experimentation, through failures and success and with a joy for the wonders of nature."

The Book of the Year award springs from the Foundation's effort to identify accurate ag books, a collection of nearly 500 books for children, teenagers and adults that accurately cover agricultural topics. Book of the Year selections are educational, help to create positive public perceptions about agriculture, inspire readers to learn more and touch their readers' lives, as well as tell the farmer's story. The accurate ag books database is available at:

To accompany the "First Peas to the Table" book, the Foundation has created an educator's guide and a School Garden Ag Mag. Again this year, the Foundation is offering a Spanish text version of the Ag Mag.
In honor of  Grigsby's recognition and the host city of the American Farm Bureau Federation's 97th Annual Convention, the book's publisher, Albert Whitman, has generously donated 100 copies of "First Peas to the Table" to the Orange County library system. In addition, the Foundation is donating $1,000 to the library system.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Real Sisters Pretend coming in May!

Thanks to Megan Dowd Lambert and Tilbury House Publishers!

This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike. “I liked how they took care of one another in their pretend-play scenario about climbing a mountain,” Lambert says, “and I loved how they also took care of one another’s feelings as they talked about adoption.” Real Sisters Pretend captures these interactions perfectly and movingly.

Hardcover, $16.95
ISBN 978-0-88448-441-7
9 x 10, 32 pages, color illustrations
Ages 4–10

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Cancer Days


It's November! Happy book birthday to my newest picture book:
My Cancer Days by Courtney Filigenzi
Published by the American Cancer Society. ISBN 978-1604430912

Helping children with cancer cope with their illness, this illustrated book approaches their emotions from diagnosis through treatment in a way that they can easily understand and can help describe what they are feeling. In the story, a young girl uses color to express her full range of emotions as she undergoes cancer treatment. Some days she's sad, some days she's happy, and other days she's scared or angry. The girl comes to realize that these ups and downs are perfectly normal for her situation. The book assures children with cancer that they are not alone, and helps them understand that it's okay to let out their feelings.

There's a beautiful interview of the author by Stacy Simon on the American Cancer society's website  here, and a video as well here.

This book was an amazing experience for me. Special thanks go to Danielle Perron and David Hagan of Why Me, for taking the time to talk with me and let me be involved in experiencing the lives of children and families in cancer treatment.

Dr. Naheed Usmani and the graduate students of UMass Memorial, and Child Life services were also very helpful. I can only hope my small part provides a bit of help and understanding for kids, friends and families.

The most wonderful thing I experienced was how overwhelmingly positive the kids were. Kids are amazing. They have the ability to develop acceptance quickly, and they live with such grace and joy.

I also made some coloring pages! Click here!

Neviyah was the perfect model!
A visit to the New England Aquarium was excellent inspiration!
I used a limited color palette for each of her "days". This day is blue.
I felt that keeping the watercolor especially loose worked well. I love how the light from the balloon tints her face and hands.

Rough pencil sketch for a wraparound cover.


Inspirational Photo for Sisters art

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Friday, May 01, 2015

Tai Chi and Qigong

I started my first Tai Chi class in August 2014. Since then, I've lost weight, become more fit and flexible. I feel more balanced mentally, physically and spiritually. This year I missed World Tai Chi and Qigong day (I was on my way to Rochester for a school visit), but next year for sure.

As an artist and graphic designer, I spend a lot of time sitting. I had lots of muscle pain, took ibuprofen almost every day. Now I rarely take pain medication. There is different muscle soreness from working out in class, but it is an excellent trade off. As someone who never participated in any sports, not a gym rat or runner, this fitness program works for me.

I highly recommend Tai Chi and Qigong!

My teacher, Laoshi Karim-Ben Saunders is amazing. His experience, patience, and cheerfulness are something I look forward to every week. He's written an extensive article on the health benefits of Tai Chi. (link here). He is really too modest. It's a joy to watch him practice the forms, he makes it look so easy and graceful.
He teaches out of Shaolin Kung Fu Centers in Worcester, and at Spencer Yoga Home in Spencer.

Lucky for both of us, Karim was looking for a logo for his group, so I volunteered to work with him to come up with this nice one:

Our Full Circle group celebrating Chinese New Year

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Visit to the Susan B. Anthony House

Wonderful visit to the Susan B. Anthony House Museum in Rochester, NY. This was in April, 2015. Photos from my dear friend Lara - we'll be friends at least as long as Susan and Frederick were.

Looking forward to visiting the Frederick Douglass museum site in D.C. someday!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Visit to the Susan B. Anthony House!

Coming up soon - A Visit to the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, NY.
Sunday, April 26 2-4pm.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pequot Library Today!

Today I'll be in Southport, CT at the Pequot Library! It's going to be quite an awesome day, they have so may great things - even Irish Step Dancers!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

23rd Annual African American Children's Book Festival!

It's coming soon!

And this year I am going to be there! I'd love to meet my Philadelphia friends. I'll be there with my newest titles; Friends for Freedom: the Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass and With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School both written by Suzanne Slade.

For more info, visit the festival website at:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friends for Freedom on Publisher's Weekly!

African-American Interest Young Readers Titles, 2014–2015

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's in a name?


The spelling of my name–- both my given name and nickname – has been shaped over my lifetime, much to my amusement.

Apparently I've taken liberties with the spelling of my own name since the beginning. "Nichole" was written on the birth certificate by the nurse, who thought of course Nicole had an H. My mother passionately disagreed, and worked for 10 years to have this corrected.

I came across old letters such as this one while working on preserving old family items by scanning. Clearly shows Dad spelled my name this way.

But Mom spelled it "Nickie". This is how she taught me to spell my name, and I happily signed my drawings with it, too.

Sometimes I used both. Was I trying to make both my parents happy?

Mostly I spelled my name "Nickie". When Prince's song Darling Nikki came out in 1984, I adopted this spelling for awhile. When I met a friend who spelled it that way all her life, I returned to the old spelling. I also played with my middle name. I sometimes signed artwork with "Samara Nicole", reversing middle with first name. I even put that as my name on the inside of my high school ring. 

Playing with my name was a form of self-identity. When I became involved in role-playing, here was a chance to play with who I could be. "Meadow" would became my name in those circles of friends for twenty years.

Joining the workforce after college, I dropped my nickname entirely, asking coworkers to only call me Nicole. Easy, since they did not know me. Nicole sounded much more professional than Nickie anyway. When my picture books became published, I used Nicole as well. 

Over twenty books later, the distance and formality of Nicole from Nickie sometimes leaves me with a sense of lonely disconnectedness, and now I savor being called by my nickname by friends and family. No matter how it is spelled.