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.