It’s the Not-So-Little Things: Six Picture Books with Big Feelings

I have big feelings about joining this wonderful group of children’s authors, illustrators, and multimedia artists responsible for Books Around the Table. My heart is full. Though I am none of the above, as a retired children’s librarian, I admire all of the work that goes into creating books for children that delight, inspire, spark curiosity, and awaken a sense of wonder about oneself and the world. Good picture books do that. I’m tickled to have a reason to open my eyes and ears again for the look and sound of what’s new. I look forward to reconnecting with old favorites that still pass muster and can be found on library shelves today. I imagine creating posts much like I put together story times back in the day…with a feeling, an event, an observation, and then a search for what’s out there to enlarge upon it…to cast a wide net and see what comes up! I promise there will be feelings…lots of feelings.

Kunoichi Bunny

Cassidy, Sara.   Illus. by Brayden Sato.  2022

Knuffle Bunny meet Kunoichi Bunny! This wordless delight features Saya and her stuffed ninja-bunny, Kunoichi, on a day of adventure with Dad. He sees only the aftermath of the duo’s good deeds when Kunoichi lies on the floor of the bus having cushioned a rolling stroller, is soggy from saving a duckling, and is mysteriously stuck in a blackberry bush far from his daughter but close to a ball field. It makes perfect sense that a story about a toddler and her ninja-bunny relies heavily on pictures, not words, so look carefully at Brayden Sato’s manga-style digital illustrations to get the full effect.

Milo Imagines the World

De la Pena, Matt.  Illus. by Christian Robinson.  2021

I love this collaboration between Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson so much! It hits all the right notes for me with its text and illustrations in perfect tune. Milo, our young storyteller, rides the subway with his sister to an unknown destination. As the train fills with passengers, he fills his notebook with observations and fantasies about each one. The whiskered man with the crossword puzzle must live in a cluttered apartment full of cats and rats. The woman in the wedding dress is surely on her way to a grand cathedral to marry the man of her dreams. And the boy in a suit and tie with spotless white sneakers is, no doubt, a prince. Milo wonders what people imagine about him from his face.

Their journey ends with Milo and his sister visiting their mother in a detention facility. In a masterful coincidence, the boy in the suit is there to visit with his mother, too. Our precocious narrator realizes that maybe one can’t really know people by just seeing their faces. He revises his assumptions of all the people he’s seen in fresh and inclusive ways.

What’s My Superpower?

Johnston, Aviaq.  Illus. by Tim Mack.  2017

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, a day to honor and celebrate the unique heritage, cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. I saw this gem of a picture book by Inuk author, Johnston, in the Canmore Library along with others by Indigenous authors and illustrators. To my delight it’s available in Seattle, too.

Nalvana lives with her mother in a small house in a small town in the northernmost Canadian territory of Nunavut. She appears in true superhero fashion, peddling her bike uphill, yellow cape flying and snowmobile goggles resting on her forehead. But she laments not having a superpower to go along with her super costume. Her friends all have them. One runs fast. Another holds his breath underwater for a long time.  A third sculpts perfect Arctic animals in the snow. Nalvana celebrates their special talents but wonders if she’ll ever find her very own. It’s her mother who lovingly suggests that making people feel good about themselves, like she does her friends, is a superpower, too…a very special one. A short glossary of Inuktitut words used in the story is included.

In a Jar

Marcero, Deborah.  2020

Llewellyn is a collector of things soft as a feather and small as a stone. He puts his treasures in glass jars so he can always remember the special places he’s been and the wonderous things he’s seen. One evening he meets Evelyn, and together they begin collecting—sounds, smells, seasons—things they didn’t imagine could fit in jars, but somehow, they do. When Evelyn moves away at summer’s end, Llewellyn’s sadness fills an empty jar. Not for long, though, as he spies shooting stars from his bedroom window and rushes outside to collect and then send them onto Evelyn at her new home in the city. She sends Llewelyn a jar of bright city lights and sounds in return. (Out of a Jar, published in 2022is a tender sequel about Llewelyn and his emotions.)

Still This Love Goes On

Sainte-Marie, Buffy.  Illus. by Julie Flett.  2022

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Cree folksinger-songwriter, pacifist, Indigenous Canadian and American human rights activist; and Julie Flett, Cree-Metis author-illustrator of children’s books that celebrate the life and cultures of Indigenous Canadians are mighty, hyphenated collaborators. Flett’s pastel and pencil illustrations capture the promise of boundless love across seasons and Indigenous communities. Sainte-Marie dedicates her song to all of us who are adopted, and those who have left space in their hearts to adopt us back into Indigenous communities. Share the book. Sing the song. Pass on the love with those near and dear to you.

A Way with Wild Things

Theule, Larissa.   Illus. by Sara Palacios.  2020

Poppy Ann Fields is a little girl with great big glasses and a special fondness for bugs. She knows their names, their ways, and most of all appreciates their quiet friendship. She’s less comfortable with people and tends to disappear into the background when they’re nearby. But when a dragonfly lands on 100-year-old Grandma Phyllis’s birthday cake at her backyard garden party, Poppy Ann comes out of the shadows and into the light to express her delight. She’s not a wallflower, as Uncle Dan suggests, but a wildflower, says Grandma, when the insect finds safety in Poppy Ann’s hands. She has a way with wild things. Palacios’s lively illustrations portray an extended Mexican American family celebrating their matriarch with gusto.

by Ann Dalton


Earlier this week I caught a feature on NPR about how five rules from improv can make you funnier AND more confident. As I listened, I realized at least two of the five ideas could be especially helpful to writers when drafting new work. They create an atmosphere of discovery.


As you probably know, the foremost, much-heralded, rule of improv is: “Yes, and…”

Were we in an improv group, whatever a troupe member suggested would be folded immediately into our ever-developing bit. We’d listen carefully to each other’s input and go with the flow, working as a group to grow and develop the sketch on the spot in real time.

Which is something like what I experienced with my grandson when he was three. We were sailing down a “river” (his bedroom floor) on a “boat” (blow up raft) at “night.”

Me: Look at the stars!

E: Look at the moon!

Me: I love the crescent moon.

(We pause and look at the ceiling.)

E: It’s a full moon.

I realize that last line is not a “Yes, and..”  But he was listening and responding to my input and it cracked me up.

The NPR story suggests that saying “Yes, and…” to life means making the effort to listen and understand what people are saying so you can build on it, thus building empathy and connection.

In writing, especially in drafting, “Yes, and…” means going down the bunny holes as your brain suggests them;  really paying attention and embracing whatever your imagination brings to the table. Where would your story go if you let it get wild? Revision is the time for shaping and cutting. Let drafting be a time of expansion, discovery. “Yes, and…”


The other improv rule from the NPR story that particularly applies to crafting a story is: Make room for play.  In improv this means generating lots of pretend characters and scenarios and letting loose.

How can this impact your real life? The story cites research that shows play reduces stress and contributes to overall well-being. “Tap into your inner child!” it suggests. “When we play, we create our own world and the space to imagine how the world might look…and the hope is that this feeling of agency, power and autonomy can translate to other parts of our lives.”

This could be a description of the process and benefits of creating a story. We get to conjure up the whole shebang, to play around with the world and the characters we are creating right down to the detail of the moon.

As I think about it more, maybe it was a full moon.

• • • • • • • •

Thanks to my sister Kate Harvey McGee for the beautiful colors she painted the moons featured above — from our books Island Lullaby (crescent moon) and Little Wolf’s First Howling (full moon).

The NPR story about improv and life can be heard here.

– Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Coloring with Pencils

During the pandemic closure I started posting coloring pages on my website. It was a way for me to give something to other people who were shut in, and it was a way to steady myself. I wrote about it here.

Three years later, I am still adding a couple of coloring pages every week. Now there are more than 425 pages to choose from (click HERE). I keep doing it because I enjoy doodling. Some of the pages are very quickly drawn.

Others are more elaborate. These are usually drawn when I am stuck on hold on the telephone, or on an airplane.

You can color in these pages with anything – markers, paints, crayons or pencils. Today I am talking about how to use colored pencils to draw from scratch, or to color in line drawings.

Colored pencils reward slowness. You can start by drawing a line, or several.

Margaret Chodos-Irvine drawing

But the true beauty of colored pencils comes when you slow down. The colors glow if you take your time and draw over and over an area with a pencil.

Birthday card by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, drawn with a multi-color pencil

You can create shading and volume.

Shapes drawn by Jennifer Kennard

Here is a sequence of a drawing in progress. I did this using one multi-colored pencil and one yellow pencil.

Colored pencils are more vibrant if you use them on a soft paper. A paper with some texture in it is sometimes called “toothy”. Those teeth hold onto the colors.

If you draw a hard line on soft paper with a light-colored pencil, and then shade over with a darker colored pencil you can create a layered look, like the wax resist lines in batik or pysanky.

Colored pencils can create a soft glow.

Fruit and Flower Lady by Julie Paschkis

Sometimes that glow is unearthly! These drawings are by Edward Deeds from his book, the Electric Pencil.

Edward Deeds
by Edward Deeds

Sometimes I color in some of my own pages that I have posted.

I hope you will dip your toes into the world of coloring – either starting from scratch, or coloring in my pages or anyone’s pages.

I would love to see your drawings – please send them to Thank you!

Julie Paschkis

Don’t worry about coloring inside the lines.

Eleven Years, 100 Books

[The images in this post reflect my eleven favorite Book Group books over eleven years.]

I discovered the other day that the book I’m reading this month with my book group (Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver – fascinating story based on David Copperfield by Charles Dickens!) is the 100th book we have read together. 100 books! Of course, we’ve been choosing and reading and discussing books since 2012, and we’ve been friends for longer than that (some of us have been friends reading books together since our kids, now in their 40’s, were in pre-school!)

It’s just fascinating to look over the list – some of the stories remain vivid in my mind, others require something that jogs my memory. Some I began but put down – just couldn’t go on, not for me. Some I chose that the group loved, others I chose fell flat. Some I expected to like and was disappointed by, some I had no initial interest in and ended up loving enough to look for other books by the same author or other books about the same subject.

No matter what the book, I’ve loved sharing our responses, and being part of a group has taught me to read more carefully, asking myself to be able to articulate what I loved, what I didn’t (sometimes both in the same book.) As a writer, I often have stronger responses to style than to story – I’m less interested in plot or forward movement. I respond to the way something is being said and fill my books with marginalia or post-it notes. And I’m a slow reader – reading text as if it’s being spoken slows me down. You learn a lot about books and a lot about yourself by being part of a book group.

To that end, and because choosing the book is often the hardest part of the whole process, I recommend an article titled “How to Be a Better Reader,” published in 2022 in the New York Times. Of course, “better” is a matter of opinion, shaped by your answer to the question, “Why do I read?” But the article talks about choosing books, about reading more deeply and more critically, and it has the best list of links to literary reviews I’ve ever seen. The link is below: read through the article and see what you think.

I especially liked this part:

“To read more deeply, to do the kind of reading that stimulates your imagination, the single most important thing to do is take your time. You can’t read deeply if you’re skimming. As the writer Zadie Smith has said, “When you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it….In ‘Slow Reading in a Hurried Age,’ David Mikics writes that “slow reading changes your mind the way exercise changes your body: A whole new world will open up, you will feel and act differently, because books will be more open and alive to you.”

Finding Spring

We’re behind most of the rest of the country. Spring is only just now reaching the Northwest and recently I browsed through my collection of images of books in art looking for something seasonal.

I have a lot of winter weather images: cozy fires and cups of tea and snow outside the window. A lot of fall images: leaves falling or flying in the wind, pages turning into leaves or leaves turning into pages. And plenty of summer images: summer beach reading, lazing with a book in a hammock, a kid in the deep shadow of a tree absorbed in a book. But I was surprised to find there weren’t that many images that evoked spring.

I found a few that definitely say spring:

Illustration by Josée Bisaillon

Illustration by Selcuk Demirel

Illustration by Yuki Shimizu

And then there were ones that just felt like spring; I think mostly because of their colors. Either way, it’s great to see the cherry trees blooming, the daffodils and crocuses and early tulips coming up and that lovely fuzz of early green on the trees.

Illustration by Memoo

Illustration by Lilly Piri

Not sure if these are spring flowers. Our Books Around the Table gardener, Laura Kvasnosky has a much, much better sense than I of when certain flowers come out–so she’ll have to excuse me if I’ve gotten the season wrong!

Illustration by Mila Marquis

Illustration by Alessandra Vitelli

Illustration by Jeff Woo

Okay this one is probably summer, but that thrilled dog feels like me walking out the door, suddenly feelings light and easy without my winter coat and boots!

Seven Picture Books About Longing and Belonging

Today we have a guest blogpost from my friend of 40 years, Ann Dalton. She was a children’s librarian for Seattle Public library for 30 years, filling many roles, including working in the Children’s Center during the planning, building and the first 10 years in Seattle’s stunning new downtown library. As she writes, her work included “Lots & lots of story times, lots & lots of picture books, lots & lots of hugs, some tears—not usually mine.”  Thank you, Ann, for sharing some of your latest favorite picture books. –LMK

I split my time between Seattle & Canmore, Alberta—20 minutes from Banff National Park in the Bow Valley & majestic Canadian Rockies. Whatever you’d call the opposite of snowbirds, that’s what Steve & I are. He lives to ice climb in the winter, & this is THE place on earth to be for that. We hike on frozen lakes, trudge up mountains, ride gondolas down mountains, XC ski (me-not so well, but the surroundings can’t be beat), entertain climbers who visit from near & far, practice my high school French..

Canmore has an amazing community center called Elevation Place. It’s hopping most hours of the day & evening & offers something for just about everyone in this small town, especially when temperatures plummet! It contains an Olympic-size swimming pool, climbing gym, art gallery, meeting rooms, fitness & wellness classes &, my favorite—the library.

I volunteer every Thursday afternoon shelving children’s materials. It’s a highlight of my week & where I do my best musing about what it means to belong to a community. Coincidentally, the books I’m sharing here have everything to do with belonging—or with longing or longing to be this or that. It’s the work of a lifetime, I know. These books were new to me & strike me as gems for exploring endless possibilities for belonging with young children.

De la Pena, Matt.  Patchwork.  Illus. by Corinna Luyken.  2022

Newberry winner Matt de la Pena is a revelation to me! This is the first book of his I’ve read, & it’s stunning in its bold & subtle messaging about expectation & possibility. A gender reveal can miss the mark for a boy, a dancer in pink may have her STEM skills underestimated, the class clown who can’t sit still may possess the empathy of a master teacher. Each of us is a patchwork of all we see & hear. We are not just one note, one color. Luyken’s illustrations beautifully amplify de la Pena’s text.

Eggers, Dave.  Tomorrow Most Likely.  Illus. by Lane Smith.  2019

I didn’t know Dave Eggers was writing picture books these days, but I did know he has a way with words. And a way with young people…& young people & words. Here the fun is in imagining what’s most likely to be seen, heard, & encountered tomorrow. From the mundane to the ridiculous in rhyme & Lane Smith’s illustrations, tomorrow never looked so silly–& appealing. We’ll all be there!

Howes, Katey.  Be a Maker.  Illus. by Elizabet Vukovic.  2019

A fun counterpoint to Eggers’s book about tomorrow, this one’s all about today. When you wake, what will you make, it asks? The possibilities are endless. In rhyming couplets & illustrations jam-packed with inspiration, we follow a young merry maker as she joins forces with a kindred spirit to contribute to a community playground. The entreaty to “Make a difference, shine a light. Make your town a team tonight.” is the stirring message here.

Maclear, Kyo.  Story Boat.  Illus. by Rashin Kheiriyeh.  2020

When is a cup or a blanket or an X drawn on cold, hard ground a home?  It’s when children & families are on a desperate march to find safety somewhere away from where they’ve been–yesterday, last week, last year. I can’t imagine a more beautiful–or heartbreaking–picture book about child refugees than this.  Hope is elusive, but a sense of belonging can be found in the familiar–a cup of something warm, a dream shared under a well-worn blanket, a song sung under the moon & stars. The illustrator dedicates her artwork to “all innocent Syrian children who have experienced horrible war & injustice at a young age.”

Singh, Rina.  Grandmother School.  Illus. by Ellen Rooney.  2020

This lively picture book by Indian-Canadian author, Singh, tells the true story of the Aajibaichi Shala, or Grandmother School, begun in 2016 in the Indian village of Phangane. A young girl shares her granny, Aaji’s, excitement for learning from morning till night—escorting her to the one-room bamboo hut where grannies in pink saris gather to learn to read & write, till the evening when they swap school stories & homework help. Aaji relishes her time learning & the new independence it affords her in the community. Her dear granddaughter celebrates each success with her.

Yang, James.  A Boy Named Isamu:  A Story of Isamu Noguchi.  2021

I thought the name was familiar. Noguchi’s sculpture, Black Sun, has been at home in Seattle’s Volunteer Park outside what’s now known as the Asian Art Museum since 1969. This spare story about the sculptor is as delicate as our hometown piece is dramatic. It imagines young Isamu preferring the company of nature to people, solitude to crowds. He’s drawn to the forest but also the nearby beach where he walks alone, carefully considering everything about the stones there. To Isamu (& the author-illustrator who admires him) to be alone in nature is not the same as feeling lonely. It’s a different & powerful kind of belonging.

Yang, Kao Kalia.  A Map Into the World.  Illus. by Seo Kim.  2019

This is a lovely collaboration between Hmong American writer, Yang & illustrator, Kim. As the seasons change, so does a young girl’s world. A meditation on all sorts of longing & belonging. There’s a new house; baby brothers she’s too small to tend & they’re too small to be fun; elderly neighbors—one of whom passes away during the snowy winter. It’s with the passage of time, a keen eye & a bucket of sidewalk chalk that she makes a friend of the lonely widower & eases the longing they’ve both felt.

Have Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is often considered a holiday for couples.

Okay. That is fine, but it should also be a holiday to spread love around more generally.

Share your heart with your brothers-sisters-cousins-children-stepchildren-nieces-nephews-Mama-Papa- old friends – new friends and neighbors. Share it with the friendly person at the grocery store, with the bus driver who waited an extra second, with the vendor in the rain at the farmer’s market.

Share your heart with whoever or whatever makes you happy.

Let your heart take a walk.

Share your heart even when it is a misguided or bad idea.

The heart is a muscle and gets stronger with use.

Share your heart with strangers who need it. All Hands and Hearts is a volunteer powered organization where you can donate to a Turkish earthquake relief fund HERE.

Share your heart with flowers and at all hours.

Share your heart with yourself.

Have Heart!

yours truly,

Julie Paschkis

P.S. All of the pictures on this post are heart images I’ve made over the years -papercuts and ink and gouache paintings.

And as usual there are free coloring pages that you can download by clicking HERE. The theme of the new pages is….

Wonderful Oaxaca

I’ve been in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the last month, enjoying the blue skies, the temperate weather, the delicious food, and the unseasonal (for anyone used to gray winters in the Pacific Northwest) bursts of color. When I’m writing poetry for adults, I get a bit cerebral; writing for children, I allow a little more room for the senses. But Oaxaca reminds me that writing almost always broadens and deepens its effect when it evokes one or more of the five senses. Here are photos from my trip – not over yet! – that involve sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. In Oaxaca, I wake up and tell myself each morning to use my eyes, my nose, my fingers, my ears, my tongue!

A Guayacan tree...

A Most Exclusive Workshop

“I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another.” George Saunders

To study under George Saunders, a writer could get into the creative writing program at Syracruse University and perhaps get into one of Saunders’ writing workshops–some having as few as five students. You could read his book based on his workshop on Russian short stories A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. You won’t find him on social media where he believes it’s “100% toxic for people to be firing off the top of their brains.” But you can sign up for his class, Story Club, on Substack. Parts of it are free, but if you want access to everything, you can pay $50.

Why would you do that?

Because there are few writers as good as Saunders at analyzing and understanding how reading and writing work. The author of numerous short stories and the novel Lincoln in the Bardo his honors range from the PEN/Malamud Award to finalist in the National Book Award to the Booker Prize and stops in-betweenHe’s won both a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowship. But not all award-winning authors can or will explain what they’re doing or what they see other authors doing.

Not only is Saunders an insightful, thoughtful analyst of what makes a story work, he has wonderfully generous attitude toward teaching and students. It reminds me of that rule in improv theater that you never say “no” to whatever is tossed your way. You say “yes, and…”  so the sketch keeps going and maybe turns into something magical. In that same way, Saunders bends the story analysis and reaction on Story Club toward mutual appreciation and discovery.

I also like that his focus as a writer and as a teacher seems to be about how a story becomes that black box of transformation. Isn’t emotional charge and transformation what any reader and writer hopes for? That’s what Saunders looks for in his own writing and that’s what he hopes to teach his students.

If you’re a reader who likes to talk about stories or a writer, I highly recommending checking out Story Club at:

Here’s a little more about Saunders himself:


Here at the beginning of a new year, I thought it might be fun to revisit my beginnings as a writer and share what I learned from those first attempts. It’s a story in three chapters.

Chapter one – The Music of Language, age 5

I am lying under the piano listening to my oldest sister practice when I find a silver letter opener on the rug. I am filled with an irresistible urge to scratch my name into the shellacked finish of the piano, but I know I will get in trouble if my mom finds it, so I carve ‘KATE,’ my two-year old sister’s name, instead.

LESSON LEARNED: Writing can be risky when your mom finds out.

Chapter two – A Dramatic Arc, age 10

I pass a note down our row to Denny Minners, the cutest boy in the fifth grade. The note says: “I like you. Do you like me? Check one: yes or no.”

Mrs. Hague confiscates my note as it makes its way back up the row. She reads it to the class. I bury my head in my sweatered arms, breathing wet wool. Denny’s answer makes it worse. He has checked “no.”

LESSON LEARNED: It’s dangerous to put your heart on paper.

Chapter three – Writing Lab, ages 15-18

Every Wednesday after dinner my dad and I go over the weekly column I write for his newspaper. My column is called Campus Letter and it’s full of news from my high school, like the Junior Statesmen of America’s straw poll (Hubert Humphrey beat Nixon 2 to 1), or the theme for the Christmas Ball (Tinsel Time).

My dad and I sit at the kitchen counter next to the just-washed dishes. He holds his black copy pencil ready. I offer up my small sheaf of freshly-typed pages.

And the lessons begin: crafting a lead sentence, writing tight, choosing the right word, checking facts – lessons usually offered with humor and affection, but sometimes freighted with his impatience which makes me cry. Dad drives home the idea that how you tell a story is as important as what the story is about. For three years we work together Wednesday nights in the kitchen. I come to know myself as a writer and as his daughter. I come to know the satisfaction of expressing myself through writing.

LESSON LEARNED: Writing is hard, but an exacting teacher who believes in you makes all the difference.

Eventually I figured out I came to the wrong conclusions in the first two chapters. I realized it’s okay to write stuff that your mom doesn’t approve of, and that stories are, truly, better if you put your heart on the page. But Dad’s weekly lessons stayed true and developed my ability to write my observations and life experiences into story.

•      •      •      •      •

I’m a believer in Maya Angelou’s advice, “When you learn, teach.” School visits give me a chance to teach kids to write their life experiences into stories.

Like the time I visited Vernonia, in the coast range of Oregon. This town of 2,200 residents had been ravaged by a catastrophic flood. Businesses and schools and hundreds of homes had flooded, requiring National Guard troops to rescue more than 200 people as the Nehalem River crested above flood levels. Teachers at the elementary school hoped I might encourage students to write about their flood experiences, to help them deal with the trauma.

I workshopped with kids in the primary grades. I talked about writing as a way to think things through. I demonstrated how I use drawing to center and generate a story before writing the text. Then I led a brainstorming session, urging kids to float back in their memories, to find a story that evokes big emotion – fear, laughter, love, anger, awe; to find a story that raised its hand to be told that day.

Surprisingly, many of the stories that offered themselves were not flood-related. Other stories loomed bigger for some kids, so, of course, that’s what they wrote about. There was a story about catching a big fish, another titled “The First Time I Jumped on my Horse Named Emily,” and another “My Mom’s Wedding.”

My favorite was “How We Built a New Rec Room” written by a second grade boy who was one of seven kids – “My dad decided he didn’t really need all of the garage,” the story began. The boy wrote how each kid helped with a part of the project. He had helped his dad with the mudding. It ended with an illustration of the whole family sitting on the sofa in the new rec room.

I was proud of these young writers who were willing to go with the memories that bubbled up and shape them into stories.

At the end of that long day of making stories with the kids at Vernonia Elementary, I was walking down the hall when a voice chirped ‘Mrs. Kaskasnosky.” I turned to see this little kid running toward me, his lunchbox in one hand, his coat hooked by the hood onto his head and flying out behind. He reached for my hand and looked up into my face. “I love you,” he said.

That’s what happens when you bring the stories that matter to the page. Happy new year and new beginnings to you all!