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Occasional Journal Notes from Author Cynthia Grady

A Little Bit about Hummingbirds


in their pale green dresses;

they rose, tiny fireworks….”

                      –from “Hummingbirds” by Mary Oliver

I’ve been volunteering at a wildlife rescue clinic for more than a year now and still, after all this time, every bird that comes in needing rehabilitation reminds me of a poem, or a collection of poems. Michael J. Rosen, a prolific poet for children and adults, has his Cuckoo’s Haiku, and in it he portrays how perfectly birds and haiku go together.


I now rehabilitate injured and orphaned hummingbirds at home. When the first hummingbirds came to the clinic I was immediately reminded of the lovely Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems, written by Kristine O’Connell George and illustrated by Barry Moser.

The hatchlings above were brought in by a family who discovered them on the ground alone—with no mother to care for them. Have you ever seen anything so small that wasn’t a bug? The beautifully woven nest, lined with cottony softness, is smaller than a quarter in diameter.

Here is the opening of “The Hummingbird Nest” by multi-award winning poet, Pascale Petit:


I bring you a hummingbird’s nest, woven

from seed-down, thistle head,


bound with lichen and spidersilk,

shaped by a mother who presses her breast


against the cup, uses her rump, chin,

the curve of her wing, who stomps


her claws on the base to check it’s

windproof under this leaf porch….


Hummingbirds, the smallest birds on the planet, are native only to the Americas. There are more than 300 different species. But in North America, we would be lucky to see 20 species of hummingbirds. New Mexico is one of the best places in the U.S. for hummingbird spotting, where 17 of the 20 have been documented. In central New Mexico, where I live, 4 are most common: black-chinned, broad-tailed, calliope, and rufous. (The final three photographs below can be found on Wikimedia Commons and were taken by Dick Daniels, Francesco Veronesi, and Vicki J. Anderson, respectively). Like many bird species, male hummingbirds tend to be more colorful, while females dress in shades of gray, green, and brown.

. . .

The hummers arrive in New Mexico from South America in April and May. They build their nests, breed, and stay for the summer before they journey back to their winter home. Nestlings and fledglings, the wee ones blown from trees during our monsoon winds and rains, and others, who are injured by other means, are brought into the clinic by caring citizens.


But because hummingbirds must feed every 20-30 minutes from sunup to sundown, beyond the operating hours of the clinic, they need to be provided for by homecare specialists.


Small But Mighty

Hummingbirds are named for the sound their wings make in flight. These birds are amazingly strong. Their wings beat between 50 and 200 times per minute. So much muscular activity requires a strong heart. A hummingbird’s heart is five times the relative size of a human heart and beats 1200 times per minute during the day. At night, when they go into a deep sleep, or torpor, their heartrate slows way down to 50 beats per minute.

This tiny bird can do things that no other bird can. As they beat their wings in a figure-eight motion, they can fly backwards and forwards. Straight up and straight down. They hover in place. They can even fly upside down. They can fly up to 75 miles per hour. And from a speed of 25 miles per hour, they can come to a dead stop on a finger.


Nurturers of the Environment

Hummingbirds are attracted to all brightly colored flowers, but red flowers are their favorites. An estimated 150 plants depend on hummingbirds for their pollination and survival.


As a foster hummingbird parent, I use a specific protein-rich food that I mix together, but here is a basic recipe that you can put in a feeder outside your window:



Boil 4 cups of water for 20 minutes.

Add 1 cup of sugar.

Stir and cool.

Store in refrigerator. *


*Add just a little to your feeders at a time because it will spoil in the hot sun.

As long as you use a 1:4 ratio, you can make this in smaller or larger batches.

June 20, 2024



The birds are arriving!

Lots has been happening in the rescue clinic AND at home…Yesterday, we had fifteen doves and pigeons, a crow, an egret, several finches, a couple of house sparrows, and a hummingbird who all needed our hydrating, feeding, and/or nursing care.

Here is a pair of orphaned hummingbirds brought in last week. We hydrated them, fed them, and they are now in the care of a home rehabber and doing fine! With hatchlings, it is touch and go for a while, but so far, so good.

June, 2024


Springtime in the wildlife clinic …

The busiest time at the wildlife clinic is May-August, but April is when it all begins. Babies are being born out in the wild, and concerned citizens bring them in when they see someone in danger. Four baby cottontails were brought in, and a baby finch. All will be transferred to home care wildlife rehabilitators until they are old enough to feed on their own and be released. None of these happened to be injured, but they were in danger of dying in the wild, as they were left on their own.

April, 2024


The cottonwood trees are leafing out . . .

So we won’t be able to spot the porcupines for much longer!

April, 2024


For the birds…

Here is another bird quilt I’ve been working on, a Gambel’s quail. The top is near finished. I have the binding ready. I just have to get it quilted. I no longer quilt by hand– it is too time consuming and I am too eager to see things finished. And my machine is very basic; it will not do the machine quilting I’d like. So, I will send it out to be quilted. I hope to have it done by the end of summer. But professional quilters, like picture book illustrators, get backed up, and I may have to wait. 


     Speaking of picture book illustrators, I may have some happy news to report soon… 



Women in History…

The only thing better than announcing a new book deal of my own, is to recommend and promote the new books of writers I admire. I’d like nothing better than to spread far and wide, the news of Susan Wider’s YA biography: It’s My Whole Life: Charlotte Salomon: An Artist in Hiding During World War II.

Susan has been writing for years, her work published in art journals, science and nature journals, and plenty of other places in print and online. This book was her debut last summer, and right out of the gate, so to speak, it won the 2024 National Jewish Book Award for Young Adult Literature.

The artist, Charlotte Salomon, created a series of 1300 paintings between 1940 and 1942 while hiding out from the Nazi’s in southern France. As she saw her world collapsing, she had the wherewithal to pack and send her paintings and sketches to a friend where they remained safe. Soon afterward, Charlotte was sent to Auschwitz and did not survive.

This is the first book about Charlotte Salomon written for a young audience. It contains numerous color plates throughout, documenting Charlotte’s life as she would have wanted her story told.

“A gripping … biography of Charlotte Salomon, and an ode to how art can capture both life’s everyday beauty and its monumental horrors.”

“Charlotte Salomon’s painted memoir has been compared to Anne Frank’s universally famous work as a visual analog to Anne’s diary. It tells a compelling story—not only of the war and the Holocaust, but of a passionate, creative young woman hungering for a place in the world and the ability to express herself. In It’s My Whole Life, Susan Wider charts Charlotte’s life and illuminates her work in a distinctive first biography for young readers.”


March, 2024

Baby Birds in January?

This is the first completed quilt in a new series I’m working on. I saw the lovely, talented quilt artist, Pat Bishop, give a demonstration on The Quilt Show a week or two ago, and I am hooked! I’ve begun my third quilt in this series. Come back to visit to see the rest over the next few months!

January, 2024


On my walk this morning, this last day of 2023, I came across some horses. This blonde beauty stood in this position for many minutes as I waited to see if I’d be rewarded with a visit. Take a look at that rear leg.


And, indeed, I was rewarded. I spent a good long time visiting. Tomorrow, I’ll bring a carrot or two with me.

Some years I track what I read, and some years I don’t. In 2023, I didn’t write anything down after the first few months of the year, so I have no idea how much I read. I DO remember love, love, loving Ann Patchett’s TOM LAKE. A pure pleasure. And I also loved BABEL by R.F. Kuang, which I read for pleasure and research for my latest novel. I read lots of poetry this past year, and sold some too, which always feels good. Here’s to a joyous new year.






Like many of you, I love autumn, especially since I’ve moved to the desert Southwest. Cool nights are a blessed relief as the bosque begins changing colors. Cottonwoods are beginning to turn their gorgeous yellow. In another week, they will be brilliant!

Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago about autumn and love. 



It’s a little like love, don’t you think?

The way those leaves, those blowy leaves,

tumble alongside you? Then surround you


and spin in gusts behind your back,

where you can’t even see them? Leaping,

lifting into the air … all those leaves.


How they flutter, red-rust-yellow-purple-brown,

like butterflies all around. Those leaves.

Those crackly leaves, scattering down the street,


tap-dancing around your toes.

Those steadfast leaves.

They’re not as close as they sky,


which is everywhere, nor the wind, so nearby.

But those leaves, those leaves are there:

apple, aspen, pomegranate, peach,


walnut, willow, cottonwood, plum.

All those leaves. Is there anything friendlier

than how the trees let go their leaves,


and those leaves, they spend their days

swirling, whirling, twirling, waiting …

… waiting just for you?

                                             –Cynthia Grady

October, 2023


On August 1, 2023,  I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY  arrived in paperback after a long 11-year run. I am so thrilled! Illustrated by the talented Michele Wood, and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, it is just as beautiful as the hardcover. 


Latest Rescues!

At the wildlife clinic yesterday, we worked with extremes. Four hawks came in, an injured mama hummingbird, her nest and eggs, and some baby sparrows and house finches. I fed hawks for the first time. Quite thrilling!



As some of you know, I’ve drafted several manuscripts since I began working in the clinic. Here are a few of my favorite birds books of late: 


Book cover: The Big Book of Birds

.   Hawks, Kettle, Puffins Wheel- and other poems of birds in flight by Susan Vande Griek Cover.    The Nest that Wren Built, by Randi Sonenshine CoverOne Dark Bird, Liz Garton Scanlon Cover







In early June, I had the good fortune to attend a writing retreat with a dozen or so colleagues at Norbertine Abbey in Albuquerque. It was an amazing weekend and I got a tremendous amount of work done. I am ever-grateful to New Mexico Writers for awarding me a grant that enabled me to attend. I’m also grateful to writer Chris Eboch and others who worked hard to pull the retreat together.

Some of you know I am pulling together and polishing several manuscripts taking place in and around the Southwest, and I have to say the wildlife around the monastery was spectacular! So many birds! The jackrabbits were giants! And the clouds, as always in New Mexico, were breathtaking.


Here are some favorite nature, desert, sky books of late:

Zap! Clap! Boom!: The Story of a Thunderstorm by Laurie Purdie Salas, illustrated by Elly MacKay

Dark on Light by Dianne White, illustrated by Felicita Sala

Whale Fall by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

The Tree and the River, by Aaron Becker




Upcoming Events

April 22-23: St. Pius, Albuquerque. Book sale and signing, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Wildlife Rescue

I’ve begun work in a Wildlife Rescue Clinic and baby birds are my charges. In the short amount of time I’ve been in training, I have generated 3 manuscripts! I am so excited to be doing something new, something useful, and something that feeds my creativity. And, it’s spring. What can be better?

Baby Birds

baby birds at 3 weeks

April 2023

Research and Writing

In recent weeks, a couple of writing colleagues and a former student have asked what my process is, and whether it is the same for fiction as when writing nonfiction, and is it the same for writing picture books as it is for longer works. I can certainly develop a long piece about my process, but in a nutshell it looks like this:

  • Content Research

  • Drafting

  • Image Research (if necessary)

  • Market Research

  • Revision

  • Query package

  • Revision, Revision, Revision

Of course, it isn’t this neat. I research, I draft, I research, I draft….. but, this is close to what I do. I have different ways of researching, which is another post or two or three. As I get back to blogging, I may post more if you are interested!

Water …

Nature Center

What I read feeds what I write and vice versa. I’ve been writing about water, which has led to reading about water, which leads to more writings about water. Will my water writing become a collection of poems? A nonfiction book about the water crisis? A story set on the coast or a river? All three? Something else entirely? I’m in the place I love– immersing myself in a topic, brainstorming, scribbling, daydreaming… all about water.

Sun over Morro

January, 2023

Reading List

One of my younger brothers recently texted a list of books that he read in 2022—a long, impressive list! So, I thought I’d do the same here. A number of the books on his list are on my list because he texts me the book covers of everything he’s reading and likes or wants to talk about. And I do the same—a two person book club.

2022 was a fairly busy, and also, a somewhat slow, reading year for me, because of research I’m doing for my next book(s). I took lots of notes on my natural history reading. In 2022, I read way more nonfiction than fiction, a change for me. I don’t track the audio books I listen to. Nor do I record the picture books that I read, of which I read hundreds each year, but maybe I will in 2023… nah, who am I kidding? 

I went on a John O’Donohue binge last year, an Irish poet, philosopher, and thinker I admire. And my natural history research has been so illuminating and fun. In total, these are the numbers, though, for a librarian, I am not the best record keeper in the world …

2022 Reading List

Adult Fiction: 10

Adult Poetry and Plays: 8

Books on Writing Craft: 5

Other Adult Nonfiction: 35

Middle Grade and Young Adult (fiction, nonfiction): 15

So there you have it. I don’t have a plan for 2023’s reading, except to finish my research (and writing the novel based on that research). We’ll see where the year takes me.

January, 2023

Ten Years as a Published Author and Counting …

This past year, 2022, marked my ten-year anniversary as a published writer. In ten years, I have gone from working full time and writing on weekends, to writing full time. I have had three picture books published, and I have written at least ten more picture book manuscripts. I have written dozens of poems, and have two novels in progress. I have had poems and essays published in anthologies and journals. I have won three literary prizes, two for published books, and one for an unpublished picture book manuscript. I have received more rejections than I can count and have attended classes, retreats, conferences, and webinars.



1. To have time to write is a privilege.
2. Publication is riddled with ups and downs.
3. Word-of-mouth publicity is your best friend.
4. One creative act leads to another.
5. It’s necessary to replenish the creative well.
6. No writing is ever wasted.
7. There is room for everyone. 
8. Mentors are all around us.
9. Kindness will be returned.
10. Generosity moves mountains.

Like many of you, I hope to have a contract or two, or three in hand by the end of 2023, but I will not count on it. 

January, 2023

The Biggest Little Farm

If I could have one wish for the future, it would be that everyone under the age of 75 view this film: The Biggest Little Farm.

Saving the earth is possible. Nourishing our soil is possible. Growing healthy food with sustainable practices can be done. Sharing our lives with other living beings is right and just. We only have to do it. It can be done.

Visit Apricot Lane Farms for more information. 

I have done my small share, by changing the landscape of my front yard, from nothing but rock mulch and a few native grasses, to a bird-friendly, pollinator-friendly yard with  trees, bushes with winter berries, groundcovers the gophers like, and herbs and other plants that repel the gophers enough to keep them from digging up everything entirely.

Organic mulch nourishes the soil so that each year, more grows. I tuck herbs and vegetables in between the native plants. At any given time I have 500 gallons of rainwater, here in the high desert, so I am not using more city water than I need for the household. Monsoon rains no longer run off the property and into the street each summer; they sink into the ground and quench the thirst of everything beneath our feet.

Root Crops

Featured at N.N. Northern Lights

My first book of poetry, I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY is featured this month over at N.N. Northern Lights in their books for Middle Grade readers.

As a former sixth grade teacher, I have always loved picture books written for older readers, and I’m glad I had mine published before that changed!

Stitches Canada Middle Grade YA

New Poem!

Better than Starbucks

I am delighted to have a new poem published in Better than Starbucks. You can read “Late Summer Nights” and many others right here.

If only I could make this a “scratch and sniff” photograph.

This one Spanish broom has the whole street smelling heavenly.

And I love the roses.

They begin as peach buds, then bloom and fade to pink.

It’s April, it’s springtime, it’s National Poetry Month …

Hold your hands out to the sky.

            Bend into the morning light

                        the way a musical note bends into silence.

Who’s to say we don’t tend toward love.

Day of Remembrance

This weekend, museums, parks, and civil rights organizations are commemorating and honoring the survivors of the unlawful imprisonment of more than 120,000 Japanese American citizens as the US entered World War II. February 19, 2022 is the 80th anniversary of FDR’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which allowed such a miscarriage of justice.


February 2023

I have much to be grateful for and much to celebrate these wintry months:

My first published book, I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY is ten years old in February! 

I’ve heard from classrooms and individuals in grades three through twelve from all over the country– students performing the poems, classrooms creating quilts, individuals writing their own patchwork of poems around a given theme.

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery   Like a Bird

My second book, LIKE A BIRD: THE ART OF THE AMERICAN SLAVE SONG, has gone into another print run– hardcover, paperback, and a new digital edition — at the beginning of January! Thank you, readers, for your interest, commitment, and loyalty!

A new favorite line by poet and philosopher John O’Donohue:

” … a book is a path of words, which takes the heart in new directions.”


Some Amazing News!

Run River Certificate

I can finally announce that a poem I wrote placed as a finalist in the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest. I had completely forgotten that I’d entered the contest a year ago, and lo, you let something go, and it comes back to you.

Congratulations to every finalist and winner! 

View the Awards Ceremony here!

I am especially proud of this accolade because I have never doubted this manuscript. I wrote it after a particularly lovely hike along the Rio Grande, then revised it over the next year two years. I’m indebted to my writing groups and early readers and look forward to sharing it on a larger scale.

The Rebellious Miss Breed

San Diego Public Library and the Japanese American Incarceration (September 2021 – January 2022)

I will be a part of this enormous grant funded program undertaken by the San Diego Public Library, which will include, too, a Postcard Exchange with Fresno Public Libraries: “Writing is Rebellious.” Take a peek here at all the goings on to celebrate Miss Clara Breed of San Diego.

The Occasional Book Review and Recommendation

Whenever a picture book written by Marion Dane Bauer is delivered to my doorstep, I wait before reading it. I wouldn’t call it ritual, exactly, but I make sure I have some hot tea or lemonade nearby. And plenty of time before I sit down to read. I don’t even read the flap copy. I wait because I want to immerse myself in the entire experience from front flap copy to the end, savoring every rhythmic sentence and its companion art throughout.

Just the other day, when I went out to the front courtyard to see how the roses survived the latest monsoon rainstorm, lying on the table beside the front door, was a package stamped “media mail.” I hadn’t heard the familiar chime alerting me to someone at my door, so I don’t know if it was delivered that day or the day before.

The Animals Speak

It was a new picture book: The Animals Speak: A Christmas Eve Legend, written by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Brittany Baugus, and published by Beaming Books. It will release in October, and I’m telling you, it is a gem.

There are numerous legends and stories about animals being granted the power of speech, often at midnight. Ms. Bauer has retold the story of the animals that speak the night Jesus, the Christ Child, was born.

The story is familiar, the animals are familiar, but Bauer’s spare, sonorous retelling, and Baugus’s luminescent illustrations make it new again. Bauer’s repetition of “Long and long the story has been told …” with all those “o’s,” a favorite vowel of mine, gives the story the gravitas it requires. 

And here, “ … angels, sheep, the wooly sheep” and “..of … magi, camels, the swaying camels ….” These rhythmic, repeating asides slow the story down, getting us ready for midnight, the first Christmas Eve, a night filled with “silent awe until the animals found words of praise.”

Interestingly, the animals do not speak in the text, except for one “Rejoice!” though they speak in the illustrations. It is not only the sheep and cows and camels around the manger that gather to rejoice. Animals on every continent gather, from elephants on the savannas to whales swimming in the seas. Bauer, too, brings the story into the present with the story told in churches today, and including the pets in our homes, rejoicing, thus connecting all living creatures past and present, who celebrate the Christmas season. 

Marion Dane Bauer is a master of the prose poem, those stories with the concision and intensity of poetry. I urge you to seek out The Animals Speak: A Christmas Eve Legend for the children in your life. The story has been told and retold, but this retelling is worth its weight in gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We all saw a rabbit …


Commemorate and Celebrate Juneteenth!!

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery   Like a Bird

A new chapter …


There are writers who teach and teachers (and librarians) who write. I’ve done both. For the first part of my working life, I taught and then later became a librarian. I wrote in the summers and on school breaks. During that time I had numerous poems, essays, and articles published, and finally, my first book of poems: I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY. Also during that time, I wrote professional book reviews, sat on award committees, and later started a poetry blog. I stopped reviewing around 2007, stopped blogging around 2012.

In 2015, I became a writer who teaches. I left my day job, and began writing full time and teaching poetry workshops for adults and tutoring middle schoolers in reading and writing, part-time. I’ve had more poems published in print and online, and two more books were published: LIKE A BIRD: THE ART OF THE AMERICAN SLAVE SONG and WRITE TO ME: LETTERS FROM JAPANESE AMERICAN CHILDREN TO THE LIBRARIAN THEY LEFT BEHIND.

I am at a crossroads again. The pandemic has changed many of our lives, including mine. I’m not sure what’s coming next. As my mom would say, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

One year later …

Joseph’s Coat climbing rose … our first pandemic project, along with the trellis …

A surprise delivery from UPS yesterday!

Japanese version of Write to Me

Write to Me

Write to Me is now available in Japan, published by Hyoronsha

As part of the 2020 One Book One San Diego celebration, I had TWO television spots: a short segment on CBS 8 Morning Extra, and I was part of a one-hour program on KPBS!

Las Cruces Public Library BIG READ 2021

Every year on February 19th, the Japanese American community, along with its allies, note this anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the sweeping roundup and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans.

Homes, farms, and businesses were stolen, vandalized, and destroyed over the next 3 1/2 years of World War II. The political climate and the racism seen today parallels that of the 1940s in many ways. 

It is important to learn and remember our history so that we can evolve into a better people, a better nation, a better world. Join the Las Cruces Public Library in their BIG READ 2021 this month to honor, commemorate, and remember the national tragedy.

I’m interviewed here by Carson Williams, Youth Services Librarian in Las Cruces. We talk about the war, the children from San Diego who were incarcerated, my work as a librarian, and how I came to write my most recent book, Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind.

I had wonderful news this week!

The city of La Mesa, in San Diego county, has issued a proclamation that January 30 shall be known as the FRED KOREMATSU DAY OF CIVIL LIBERTIES AND THE CONSTITUTION.

La Mesa is one more city joining numerous cities and states across America honoring the civil rights work and legacy of Fred Korematsu and his family as they protested the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.

Write to MeThey Called Us EnemyWithin the proclamation, the public is urged to read Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind, along with George Takei’s graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy.

Truly, One Book, One San Diego has become the gift that keeps on giving!




“may the blessing of light be on you  …”

Sandhill Cranes

sandhill cranes

step into the light

    as if wrung from the morning rain …

—Cynthia Grady

Today is the day!

Today’s the day!

One Book One San Diego has chosen Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind as their 2020 children’s book selection.

Write to Me   They Called Us Enemy

he Adult/Young Adult & Spanish language selection is George Takei’s graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy– the first time all selections have been on the same topic.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books is going virtual this year. Read all about it here and here and here.


Celebrate! Read books! Buy books! Support the Festival!

In these dog days of summer, we have watermelon!


Almost ready to be picked!

Celebrating African American Music Appreciation Month

Did you know that each poem in I Lay My Stitches Down contains a musical reference or a line from an African American spiritual? Part of the joy of reading poetry is discovering unexpected pleasures.

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery


Can you name the spiritual contained in this poem?

Birds in the Air

At morning’s hush, when stars begin to fall,

she’ll toss a pan of corn down behind the

quarters, whistling pure and sharp. Like the wren’s

song, she hits the grace note just so. Soon, we

see wings aquiver; sky fills with birdsong.

Through a thick weave of Western clouds comes a

feathery carpet of birds. In makeshift

nests, they leave us their eggs. She makes her way

to the Big house to work, but not ’til we’ve

given thanks for her heavenly breakfast.

Happy Juneteenth!

Commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, June 19, 1865, when those enslaved in Texas were the last to be freed.

Like a Bird

It is June, 2020, and many of us are still…

sheltering at home because of corona virus and COVID-19; we are still grieving and protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and so many other African Americans whose lives have been cut short by police brutality; it is the month the LGBTQ community would be celebrating with PRIDE their own lives and protests against discrimination.

The presidential election campaigns are about to ramp up and it is almost a given that the campaigns will be unforgivably mean; teachers and their administrators are meeting and planning to figure out if and when the school year should begin; parents don’t know how their children will be cared for when they return to work if the schools do not open; recent graduates, from high school, college, and graduate school do not have the opportunities that they normally would have.

There will be an end to this chaos, confusion, and fear. But until then, here are a few links that may help you get through the next few months.

The Brown Bookshelf

Smithsonian’s Book List to Help Children Understand Race and Anti-Racism

More Children’s Books on Race and Racism

How to Talk to Your Children about Race – Age-by-Age

Children’s Books to Comfort Kids During Quarantine

Teachers, Parents, Friends!!

As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month draws to a close, be sure to catch me reading Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children from the Librarian They Left Behind over at the Charlesbridge website. It will be up through the month of June. Lots of Charlesbridge authors are reading their work!Check them all out.

You can find me about halfway down on the right. 

Write to Me

The first roses make their appearance, just in time for a mid-April snowfall.

Joseph's Coat

Courtyard Rose

In times of uncertainty … 

… I like to keep busy. Keep my hands busy. I’ve been cleaning, gardening, painting, gardening, playing ping-pong, gardening, and petting our rabbits. When it warms up, we’ll paint the garage with some leftover paint from another project. So far, my family and friends remain healthy, though I’m worried about a few.

To my readers, I wish you good health, hope, love of family and friends, and something to do that soothes your heart.

Early March
Late March

Tsuru for Solidarity

New Mexico friends!

Come see Gospel star, Kelontae Gavin, and accompanying Gospel choir (of which I am a new member, along with a few other writers) singing Sunday, February 16, to mark New Mexico Black History Month.

Kelontae Gavin

And while you’re at it, consider purchasing
either one
of my first two books–still in print!!

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery   Like a Bird

And after that, wander over to Erica’s at What Do We Do All Day? for more books to celebrate African Americans.

Remembrance Day

February 19 marks the anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, when more than 120,000 Japanese American citizens were imprisoned by the US government for the duration of World War II.

In honor and remembrance of this day, I will be reading, signing, and speaking about Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind.

Friday, February 7:  Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary, Albuquerque

Saturday, February 8: Special Collections Library, Albuquerque. Program begins 10:30 a.m.

Making Change – Courage and Compassion: Shared Stories of New Mexico’s Japanese American WWII Experience.

Write to Me

Wishing you a warm and safe holiday…
see you in the new year

Frosty scene

I have one more event scheduled in 2019!

December 7: Barnes and Noble, Coronado Mall, Albuquerque

On this anniversary of the bombing of Peal Harbor, I’ll be sharing Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind.

Not only did the US enter what would become known as World War II on this day, but the lives of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans would be changed forever.

While you’re here, shop around.

The New Mexico chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) will receive some of the day’s proceeds, which enables us to provide scholarships to conferences and offer free workshops on writing and illustrating.


I’m excited to announce that Write to Me will be released in paperback in mid-October, and released in Japan in November!

It has recently received two awards: Virginia Library Association’s Jefferson Cup, and the International Reading Association’s Social Justice Award.

Write to Me

Over the next couple of months, this is where you’ll find me:

September 17: Albuquerque, NM –  Bachechi Open Space, teaching Poetry through the Seasons – Autumn

October 23-24: Norfolk, VA – Virginia Library Association Annual Conference – Jefferson Cup for Children’s Biography!

October 27: Albuquerque, NM – Page One Books, 3 pm.

November 16: Albuquerque, NM – Return of the Crane Festival, Open Space Visitor Center – Migration and Poetry Workshop, 10:00 am-2:00 pm.

December 4: Albuquerque, NM – Bachechi Open Space, Poetry through the Seasons – Winter


Offline for the rest of summer ~ enjoy.

Next week . . .

Poetry through the Seasons (Summer)

Bachechi Open Space, Wednesday, July 17, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Albuquerque, NM

Celebrate the moon…


Celebrate the 50th(!) anniversary of the first lunar landing with Moonstruck! Poems about Our Moon, an anthology of poems for young readers. Twenty classic moon poems and 20 new poems, including one by yours truly. Available June 1.

Pre-order now:

Indiebound BooksBarnes & NobleAmazon


Upcoming Appearances:

4 February:  Adobe Acres School, Albuquerque, New Mexico

29-30 March: New Mexico Historical Society Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico

13 April: Gallup Book Festival, Gallup, New Mexico

18 April: Back to Adobe Acres!

24 April: Poetry Workshop — Bachechi Open Space, Albuquerque, NM

27 April: New Mexico Battle of the Books, Rio Rancho, NM