Monthly Archives: January 2021

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 Reviews: Mermaid Tales: Fairy Chase & Quigley the Quiet Hedgehog

Spotlight Reviews

Theme: Being Brave

I’m happy to once again be a reviewer on Multicultural Children’s Book Day! As part of this annual event, I was gifted two books to review, in order to provide my honest opinion. Read on to discover more. #ReadYourWorld

Mermaid Tales #18: Fairy Chase

by Debbie Dadey

Illustrated by Tatevik Avakyan

Published by Simon & Schuster

Debbie Dadey’s mer-velous Mermaid Tales series features third-grade mermaids Shelly, Echo, Kiki, and Pearl, along with classmate merboy Rocky, in fantastical underwater adventures. In this eighteenth installment, Fairy Chase, Echo’s Aunt Crabella visits her, with long, black-tipped braids, bead and bangle-decorated arms and dress, and red-clay covered skin. She shares with Echo the tale of the tricky Hairy Fairy, who tangles mermaids’ hair while they sleep. Echo’s black, curly hair is often twisted into these fairy locks by morning, so she is determined to catch the Hairy Fairy to prevent this and receive some of her treasure. But are fairies even real? Though Echo isn’t sure, and despite her nervousness, she’s determined to find out. So she and her friends make a plan to catch one, and what they encounter on their fairy chase surprises both them and the reader. Filled with fun “mer-words”, ocean facts, a glossary, plentiful illustrations, the Mermaid Tales song, and even informational True/False quizzes about sea birds, Fairy Chase allows readers to immerse themselves in life under the sea with a diverse and delightful cast of characters.

Quigley the Quiet Hedgehog

by Claudine Norden

Illustrated by Bonnie Wiegand

Published by Hoberman

In an extrovert world, kids need to see it’s okay to be quiet, and that quiet doesn’t necessarily mean submissive or bored. Quigley the Quiet Hedgehog aims to do just that with its story of Quigley, who prefers reading, pretending alone, and other solitary ventures to large crowds and loud gatherings. Told in rhyme and featuring gentle watercolor illustrations, Quigley is written for preschool and early elementary school students. With lines such as, “I am quiet, and I am free,” and “In big crowds I don’t need to shout, I am seen…I have clout,” author Claudine Norden captures the bravery shown by introverts who just want to live their lives in a way that makes them feel happy and safe and reveals why it’s so important for all of us to see introversion as an equally delightful worldview and personality trait as extroversion.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (

Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media.

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, Capstone, Hoopoe Books, KidLit TV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell, Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & Intrepids, Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author MiaWenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The PagePublishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series.

For more details and resources for teachers and parents, please visit

Making the Most of Your Kidlit Writing or Illustrating Mentorship

When I first heard IN SCBWI was going to have a picture book mentorship in 2020, I might have squealed just a bit. I’ve heard of others having mentorships with famous, and not-so-famous, writers who benefitted greatly from the guidance and encouragement, and I was at a place in my pre-published writing career that I needed just those things. Then, when I heard the name of the incredible, award-winning writer who was to be the picture book mentor, I might have also jumped up and down. Being a huge fan of this writer’s lovely poetry, I knew I could learn so much even in just six months. Imagine my surprise and joy when I was chosen.

Now six months later, my mentorship has ended, and I wanted to share a few general insights I have gained—and others I have learned about from researching mentorship best practices online—which might help others during a writing or illustrating mentorship.

  1. Do your due diligence. Be sure you are pursuing a mentorship through a reliable and trustworthy source, such as SCBWI, Pitch Wars, and Author Mentor Match. Don’t be taken in by those looking to cash in on your naiveté.
  2. Establish ground rules. Once you have made your mentor/mentee connection, be sure to follow guidelines set up by the mentor or mentorship program. For instance, how many times will the mentor be responding to your revisions, and in what program does he or she work, such as Word or Google Docs? Will the mentor be providing general feedback or more detailed edits? Are there set time limits for responding (within reason)? Will you ever be face-to-face, in person or via Zoom or Skype, or will all communication be via email only?
  3. Have realistic expectations. You and your mentor probably won’t become best friends (though if you do, consider yourself the rare exception and so very lucky), and he or she won’t be introducing you to his or her personal agent, editor, or other special contact (again, if this does happen, consider it the rare exception and yourself so very lucky!). Know the boundaries of your relationship up front so you aren’t disappointed (or embarrassed) later.
  4. Keep communication open. If you don’t understand a suggestion, or need to ask a specific question, get in touch with your mentor (and be patient for a response, as your mentor is also a writer or illustrator with deadlines and commitments). If you truly feel your mentor is not upholding his or her part of the mentorship, reach out politely to see if new guidelines need to be agreed upon. Or, in worst case scenarios, reach out to the sponsor of the mentorship for guidance and help.
  5. Trust the process. Sometimes it can feel as if you aren’t making as much progress as you had hoped, or as quickly as you had hoped. Take the time of your mentorship to fully engage with this learning opportunity by studying your mentor’s books for writing techniques and reading widely in the genre you are writing in, then using what you’ve learned in your writing and revisions. Or for illustrators, study your mentor’s techniques or new ones that inspire you. Know also that your mentor might have a plan/timetable in mind to follow when working with you, with specific plans to move through areas of concern in your story, instead of tackling the entire manuscript at once. Accept that your mentor is the most experienced one in the relationship, and that this process will work out in the end for both of you if you follow his or her lead.
  6. Maintain mutual respect. Just as your mentor should respect your ideas and questions and time, you should respect his or her time, effort, and commitment to your success by keeping things friendly yet always professional. Also, remember you are currently mentor/mentee, but eventually will (hopefully) become writing or illustrator peers, so keeping up a positive and polite relationship can only benefit you in the long run.
  7. Be accountable. Life always seems to throw wrenches in our schedules (hello 2020!), but it’s important to follow through when and how you have agreed to with your mentor. This allows both of you to work the mentorship into and around your already busy schedules and prevents undue stress and frustration.
  8. Learn to say no, too (nicely). You know your work best, and sometimes a mentor might offer a suggestion which doesn’t match with your vision of your story. A good mentor knows this is the case, and is okay with you saying, “I see what you mean here, but I prefer my way of phrasing (or illustrating) that because…”. If you have a solid reason for not making a change, and it’s not because you just can’t bear to “kill your darlings,” say so politely and back it up so your mentor can help you make the most of what you’ve decided to keep.
  9. Take your time. Don’t forget how important it is to set your work aside to let it “simmer” or “bake.” Taking a week, two weeks, or even a month to consider your mentor’s suggestions is sometimes necessary in order to prevent knee-jerk reactions and to help you absorb the new ideas into your personal way of thinking and writing or illustrating.
  10. Say thank you. When your mentorship is over, be sure to offer your heartfelt gratitude in a hand-written note, if possible. A small gift is also appropriate if you feel moved to do so.