Saturday, July 18, 2020

Kansas State Notable Award for Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town!

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Astronaut Annie Blasts Off!!

Space X Launch happened this morning, May 4 at 2:48 am, carrying a copy of Astronaut Annie among many other items to the International Space Station! We are all beyond excited. We'll post more when the reading is available - probably several months for that!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town By A. LaFaye
Albert Whitman & Co. January 2018 ISBN 978-0807525357

Order from your local bookseller, or you can get your copy through the affiliate links - just so you know I will earn on those, thank you!

Annie Astronaut by Suzanne Slade
Tilbury House Publishers, March 2018
ISBN-10: 088448523
ISBN-13: 978-0884485230

Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert
Tilbury House Publishers. May 2016 ISBN 978-0884484417
Order from your local bookseller! Or buy it here.


My Cancer Days by Courtney Filigenzi
American Cancer Society, 2015 ISBN 978-1604430912
Order from your local bookseller, or buy it here.

Friends for Freedom by Suzanne Slade
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1580895682
Order from your local bookseller, or buy it here!
Also available on Amazon here.

With Books and Bricks by Suzanne Slade
Albert Whitman and Co., 2014. ISBN  978-0807508978

 In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby
Albert Whitman and Company, 2010. ISBN 978-0807536308
Order from your local bookseller, or buy it here!

First Peas to the Table by Susan Grigsby
Albert Whitman and Company, 2012. ISBN 978-0807524527
Buy it here!

Lie Detector by Matt Bridger
Heinemann, 2013. ISBN 978-0-325-03527-7

The Present by Matt Bridger
Heinemann, 2013. ISBN978-0-325-03466-9

Saturday Plans by Matt Bridger
Heinemann, 2013. ISBN 978-0-325-03418-8

The Trebuchet by Matt Bridger
Heinemann, 2013. ISBN 978-0-325-03465-2

Smack Dab in the Middle of God's Love by Brennan Manning and John Blase
Thomas Nelson, 2011. ISBN 978-1400317134

Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha
Albert Whitman and Company, 2010. ISBN 978-0807547823
Order from your local bookseller, or buy here.
Teachers click here for Scholastic rate!

No Mush Today by Sally Derby
Lee and Low Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1600602382
Buy it here!

Grandaddy's Season* by Gwen Lavert
Wendy Pye Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-160385417-7

Five Loaves and Two Fishes by Julie Stiegemeyer
Zondervan, 2006. ISBN 978-1601433916

Waterworks* by Elizabeth Pulford
Wendy Pye Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-60385-457-3 

Jammin', Rockin', Toe Stompin' on the Rooftop* by Gwen Lavert
 Sunshine Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-60385-315-6

A Day with Daddy by Nikki Grimes
Scholastic/Color-Bridge Books, 2004. ISBN 0-439-56850-1

Lights Out! by Angela Shelf Medearis (OOP)
Scholastic/Color-Bridge Books, 2004. ISBN 0-439-56868-4

Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren
Boyds Mills Press, March 2006. ISBN 1-59078-318-2
Buy it here!


Moving Day Surprise by Tina Stohlberg
Bebop Books, 2003. ISBN 1-58430
Buy it here!

I'll Fly My Own Plane by Jean Alicia Elster
Judson Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0817014070

I'll Do the Right Thing by Jean Alicia Elster
Judson Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0817014087

I Have a Dream, Too by Jean Alicia Elster
Judson Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0817013974

Just Call Me Joe Joe by Jean Alicia Elster
Judson Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8170-1398-9

Fatuma's New Cloth by Leslie Bulion
Moon Mountain Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-9677929-7-5
Now available on Amazon here!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Astronaut Annie to be read aloud by an astronaut in space March 2019

"Out of this world" news from author Suzanne Slade Astronaut Annie is going to Space!! 

Chicago's Daily Herald reporter Doug T. Graham writes: “A rocket on a resupply mission will carry the book to the space station where it will be read aloud by an astronaut. So far, about 20 other children’s books have been read by astronauts in orbit, all on video for children to watch.”

That article led to a bit on Chicago'sWBBM radio station, too.

Astronaut Annie is going up on the SpaceX CRS-17 launch. According to this schedule (which changes), the rocket will blast off from Cape Canaveral sometime in March 2019.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town

  • Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town
  • Based on the History of the African American Pioneer Settlement
  • By A. LaFaye
  • Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

  • When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning—this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.

  • If you'd like to buy the book, visit your local bookseller, or order from Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town Reviews

Deepest thanks for these wonderful reviews of our new book!


A little girl and her family join the Kansas land rush.
The cover welcomes readers into this story about Dede Patton and her family. Both of Dede’s parents work extra jobs, and Dede shines shoes at the train station, all in hopes of paying off their sharecropping debt so they can move west. But no matter how much they work, they don’t make enough (context on the sharecropping economy is provided in a note). An act of providence changes their fortunes when honest Dede returns a customer’s wallet and receives a monetary reward. Though not remarked upon, the fact that without this windfall the Pattons might never have realized their dream is chilling. The lovely, warm watercolor illustrations highlight the beauty of the prairie, particularly the wide expanse of grass and sky. In Kansas, the Pattons stake their land claim, but winter is harsh. Thankfully, when food and fuel run low, Ni-u-kon-ska (Osage) neighbors lend aid. Eventually more people arrive, African-American like the Pattons; their settlement becomes a town, and the Pattons’ dream of holding the deed for their land is realized. The closing note acknowledges the displacement of the Ni-u-kon-ska people—another opportunity for exploration. That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one.
Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8075-2535-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Whitman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2018

Growing up in the South during the 1870s, Dede dreams that someday she and her parents can stop sharecropping and start farming their own land. With hard work, long hours, and a bit of luck, they gather enough money to move to Kansas and claim “land for colored folks” near Nicodemus, a new town on the prairie. Treated kindly by their neighbors, they spend several years fencing, planting, and harvesting in order to prove their claim on the land. When they succeed, their community gathers to celebrate outside their dugout home. An appended note comments on sharecropping, the Exodusters, the forced removal of Native Americans from the Great Plains, and the history of Nicodemus. LaFaye, whose novel Worth (2004) won the Scott O’Dell Award, lets Dede tell her story and grounds it in engaging period details of her everyday experiences. In a series of emotionally resonant pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, Tadgell clearly expresses the aspirations, labors, and emotions of the main characters. An appealing picture book exploring a part of pioneer history that deserves to be more widely known.
Online: 11/28/2018
Print: 12/1/2018

Forward Reviews

In this story inspired by the many African American pioneers who forged new communities in the Midwest following the Civil War, young Dede’s hardworking family leaves behind a life of indentured servitude for the promise of free farmland in the heart of the prairie. The historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas, springs to life through expressive artwork done in softly fluid lines and hues, conveying all of the hope and joy of the movement.
Reviewed by Pallas Gates McCorquodale

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Astronaut Annie!


What does Annie want to be?
As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.
A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Tilbury House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2018

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) 

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