Monday, October 31, 2022

Ride, Roll, Run: Time for a Fun Giveaway!

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate! No tricks from me today, but I do have a treat -- a giveaway of the fabulous new picture book Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! by Valerie Bolling and Sabrena Khadija! Leave a comment at the end of this post to enter, and make sure to subscribe to the comments to find out the results. I'll choose a random winner when the giveaway closes at 11:59 pm EST on November 7th!

Children's author Valerie Bolling burst onto the scene in 2020 with her debut picture book, Let's Dance!using joyful rhythm and rhyme to celebrate dance and diversity around the world. Her new picture book, Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! is another joyful ode to childhood, this time celebrating community and friendship. you can tell from the's full of movement! 

The book begins just as a school day ends, and a diverse group of students make their way into the neighborhood for a fun afternoon. They play on skateboards, bikes, and jungle gyms. They make music and dance, play double dutch, and shoot hoops. They partake in nearly every activity you might imagine children would enjoy outside in the streets!

The beautiful digital art by Sabrena Kadija adds a retro flair to the book. Maybe it's the color palette, or the big-rimmed glasses some of the children are wearing, but the art combined with the concept of the book transports me back to my own my own memories of playing outside with my brothers or other neighborhood kids for hours on end after school or on the weekends. 

Perhaps I am in a nostalgic mood, but reading this picture book also brings back memories of the many hours I spent watching Sesame Street as a child. The diversity, the childhood innocence, and all that neighborly love! 

Sesame Street holds a very special place in my heart, and now Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! does, too!

So...I know I said "no tricks from me" at the beginning of this post, but I may have misspoke. I do have one little trick...I'll give you an extra entry in the giveaway if you answer this question in the comments: Which movement from the title of the book do you prefer? Riding? Rolling? Running?

Thanks for reading all the way through!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

A Celebration of Women...and a Giveaway!

For so many families, the past two years been tumultuous--saturated with unexpected changes, necessary adjustments, and a heavy dose of soul searching along the way. That's how it's been for my family, so unfortunately my blog didn't get much attention during the thick of it all. But...I am back. I am ready to reboot my blog. I am ready to talk some more about picture books and dance!!

Since it is International Women's Day, what better way to celebrate than to feature a picture book full of women who both made history and informed the future, helping pave the way for so many who came after them. And this is Picture Books & Pirouettes, after all, so this book must be about dancers :)

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy is a compilation of 27 stories of Black ballerinas who fought back against discrimination throughout the past 100 years and influenced the career of the book's author, Misty Copeland, who made history herself as the first Black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Each story in the book is very personal, with Misty describing not only biographical information about each dancer but also detailed thoughts and feelings about her own connection the women. I actually got goosebumps reading some of the stories!

Each story is accompanied by a full-page drawing of the featured dancer by illustrator Salena Barnes. The art is contemporary and whimsical, with a wonderful sense of movement and joy and a soft pallet of greys, golds, pinks, and blues. Each illustration is also accompanied by an inspirational quote by the dancer. Although this picture book is not intended for the youngest children, it is a powerful book for older children through adults interested in dance, history, and the strength of women.


Luck was on my side not too long ago when I was browsing the children's section of a book store and came across a copy of Black Ballerinas that was signed by Misty Copeland. Of course I snapped it up. And today I would like to offer it to one of you!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and either follow up with the comments or leave your contact information so I can reach you if you win. One idea is to leave a comment about a special woman (past or present) who has influenced your own life. 

The giveaway will close at 12:00 am EST on March 16, 2022, and I will use a random number generator to choose the winner. Good luck, and Happy International Women's Day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackStoriesMatter

I'm still looking for words for what is happening in our country right now. Our youngest daughter, who is 13, is also looking for words. I think she is off to a good start with the sign she made below. We're planning to attend the outskirts of a peaceful demonstration in our hometown on Friday, and these are the words she will carry with her...

I haven't made my sign yet but am going to include this incredibly beautiful tribute (below) that our friend in Chicago, Meenakshi Dash, painted. She has given permission to share it, with or without credit, so feel free to do so if you are as moved by it as I was. Her painting has helped calm me amidst the turmoil and allowed me to begin thinking about how I can take action in this time of change...

Painting of George Floyd by Meenakshi Dash (2020)

Earlier today, a Black colleague at my workplace offered suggestions on how all of us can be part of the change. (Thanks, Shawnda!) Stand up immediately if someone says or does something racist, whether that person realizes it or not. Push through the awkwardness you might feel. Make and display a sign, like my daughter did. Attend a protest. Educate yourself about racism, African American history, police brutality. Start a conversation with family and friends.

I would like to add that you can read or share a book by a Black author or a Black illustrator. Here are a few whose picture books I have featured on my blog. If you click on the author and illustrator links, you can learn more about the creators and see some of their truly amazing portfolios. The book links take you to my blog posts, some of which include interviews or stories about meeting the creators...

Author: Michelle Meadows
Illustrator: Ebony Glenn
Book: Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins
Book: Hibernation Station

Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III
Foreword: Misty Copeland
Book: Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

Author: Valerie Bolling 
Book: Let's Dance!

Author: Connie Schofield-Morrison
Illustrator: Frank Morrison
Book: I Got the Rhythm 

Author: Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
Book: Mirandy and Brother Wind 

Here are a couple other fantastic resources for finding children's books that feature Black characters and voices:

The Brown Bookshelf 
"Brown Like Me" Books

If you have particular Black authors or Black illustrators you admire, or other websites you recommend, please give them a shoutout in the comments below. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackStoriesMatter

Friday, March 6, 2020

Let's Celebrate Dance and Diversity!

Happy book birthday -- on March 3, 2020, to be exact -- to the new picture book Let's Dance! by author Valerie Bolling and illustrator Maine DiazI've been in contact with Valerie and am excited to both tell you and show you more about her lively new book and how it came to be!

Author Valerie Bolling

In only about 60 words of rhyming text, Let's Dance! manages to introduce readers to 10 types of dance and spread the messages that dance is fun and dance is for everyone. Valerie says she knew from the very beginning that she wanted this book to celebrate diversity and wanted her words "to promote a world in which marginalized and/or underrepresented children can see themselves and feel valued and heard." 

Luckily Valerie's editor Jes Negron agreed and expanded on her vision by making the theme more global. "Where I saw Tappity-Tap/Fingers Snap as tap dance, she imagined flamenco from Spain," says Valerie. "I envisioned the electric slide for Glide and Slide/Side to Side, but Jes suggested long-sleeve dancing from China. I was thrilled with her ideas!"

As you can see from the two images above, Maine Diaz really delivered on Valerie's vision of diversity and the global theme. Her 20 amazingly vibrant illustrations, including images of a boy in a wheelchair and a child in a tutu whose gender is not discernible, really pop off the page.

Maine also weaves different shapes into her illustrations -- like large and small circles and curls in the two images above and triangles, stars, and more in many others. When the smaller shapes scattered throughout the book are combined, they add a celebratory feel, acting like confetti!

Let's Dance! is Valerie's debut picture book, and she's busy writing more. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram, and of course you can celebrate dance and diversity by reading her book!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Art and Heart by Dow Phumiruk

Valentine's Day has passed, but it's always a good time to share a poem about love. Here's a short verse about loving yourself by artist Dow Phumiruk, accompanied by adorable ballerinas holding hearts. You can see more of Dow's beautiful portfolio of art and creativity at Art by Dow. Enjoy!

Maybe you'd like to share your heart.
Love yourself first. That's the best place to start!

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