My Joys and Pains at Boston’s Book Festival 2012


I met author and illustrator Kadir Nelson. He  spoke on a panel entitled, Why Picture Books Matter, with authors Anna Dewdney, and Harry Bliss; moderated by Leonard Marcus.   During the panel, he spoke about his uncle being one of his earliest mentors, and about being honest in your work. I took notes.

Let me transcribe the most relevant words, from my notes, for you below:

“Be present in your work because kids live in the moment, so as soon as you’re not in the present, you’re not being authentic.” – Kadir Nelson, BBF, October 27th, 2012.

“My purpose is to create a mirror for the reader to see themselves, to create a light for people to see themselves in the characters, pictures, and stories. So they resonate.” –   Kadir Nelson, BBF, October 27th, 2012.

“Be honest in yourself and in your books. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.” –  Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.

On Developing Empathy in Children via picture books: “Children should see themselves, feel better about themselves, and the world they live in, feel humanized.”  –  Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.

Panel information can be found here:

Although I have many of Kadir’s titles in my classroom, I didn’t bring any of them with me to the BBF. So of course, I had to buy two additional copies of Heart and Soul, for him to sign. I bought one for a colleague, and another for…The Picture Book Pusher.

This book is so appropriately titled. When I hold it to my chest, my heart thumps. My soul is affirmed when I read his words, because he uses the same language that I do in the classroom with my students.

    When my granddaddy took his freedom, he was a young man. – Kadir Nelson, Heart and Soul. Chapter 6. Page 47.

Oil painting by Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul. Page 38

Although, I admit, I don’t know why the author uses the word Indian to refer to Native Americans so prevalently in this book. Perhaps I will send him a direct message on Twitter, and ask.

“About one hundred thousand Indians were either swindled out of their lands by treaties the government didn’t honor or made to leave at gunpoint and marched hundreds of miles to live out in the middle of Oklahoma. ”  – Kadir Nelson, Heart and Soul. Chapter 6. Page 48.

I also purchased Kadir’s latest book, I Have a Dream, an illustrated picture book of Dr. King’s original “I Have a Dream” speech.  The book also comes with an audio CD of Dr. King’s original speech.

Ending just last week, Kadir’s oil painted illustrations from Heart and Soul were on exhibit in the gallery at The Society of Illustrators in New York, NY.  You can read more about the exhibit, and view paintings here:—The-Story-of-America-and-African-Americans.aspx

If you are not familiar with Kadir Nelson’s breath taking, soul-stimulating paintings, then you can check out his web page:


Hmmm. Well, let me say that I was not expecting the kinds of pains that I encountered this past Saturday at the Boston Book Festival, in Copley Square. I have four pains actually. They are below; compliments of Barefoot Books, Inc.


The Terrible Chenoo, The Beeman, The Boy Who Grew Flowers, and Ruby’s Sleepover are four, recently published, picture books that I will not be using in my classroom; even though I purchased them with the expectation that they were works of accurate and relevant literature. I will blog in greater detail, regarding their lack of authenticity and mindfulness, in a separate post. I’ll give you a hint, however, as to why they don’t meet my standard – because they completely contradict the intentions of the authors mentioned above, from the Why Picture Books Matter panel.

“Be honest in yourself and in your books. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.” –  Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.

Anna Dewdney is the author of the delightful Llama Llama series.

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher


New England Mobile Book Fair

My dear, long time, friend just had a baby girl. Tomorrow, I am going to meet Sarah for the first time. For a baby gift, I chose the best gift: books. I purchased 5 new board books, earlier today, from New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, MA. They also have a clearance room with oodles of titles to choose from.

I would share the titles of the board books, I bought but I had the books wrapped at the store, so I can’t remember them now. Typical me. 🙂  Well, I remember one title: Please, Baby, Please by Spike and Tonya Lee. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.


But wait….my story does not end here, of course I couldn’t help myself from purchasing books for my classroom. Don’t worry, I got them in the clearance room, so my wallet is still swollen.

I purchased:






Hardcover $8.98
So those are my purchases. Now, I must be honest. I am not a huge fan of New England Mobile Book Fair, other than their discount room.  I have never had a warm and fulfilling interaction with one of the staff. They usually have never heard of the titles that I ask about, yet they work at what some view as the Mecca of bookstores. Hmmph. My least favorite memory of New England Mobile Book Fair was when I asked if they carried Happy to Be Nappy by bell hooks.  At first, they hadn’t heard of it. Then when they looked it up in their system, they said that they do not carry it because it is offensive. After that comment I asked them if they also do not carry Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes because it is also offensive. They said, that of course they carry that beloved tale. Double hmmph!! Therefore, I have made a rule for myself. I will only purchase from their discount room, because those books are already priced out, and when I purchase them, the title does not register in their system. Does that make sense?
Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher. Now I must focus on watching this game –  USA women’s basketball team plays for the gold against France.

A Picture Book A Day: Day 10 One by Kathryn Otoshi

I had a meeting today with Dr. Carroll Blake, Executive Director for the Achievement Gap in Boston Public Schools. We spoke for over an hour. It was a mutual consultation to discuss the achievement of our black boys in Boston.  I was so incredibly grateful that he made time in his schedule to meet with me.

And guess what?  He gave me a brand new picture book. I told him about my blog.   He gave me the book,

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Published by: Ko Kids Books 2008.


I plan to read it after I cook dinner.  I am looking forward to it. It is a book that brings a new approach to dealing with bullies.

Two things are cool:

1. ) We actually exchanged picture books, Dr. Blake and I.  He gave me the book, One, to promote what should be being read in the classroom. I gave him a secondhand copy of Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes to expose what SHOULDN’T be read in the classroom.

2.) I found this picture on the web of my governor, Deval Patrick, reading One, to some school children.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher