Birds of different feathers

Wildflowers and garden seedlings aren’t the only things that brighten our spring. All the birds that return to our area to breed bring us great joy, too. Here are just a few of them.

Baltimore Orioles are sunsets with wings.
Gray Catbirds are far bolder than they would seem likely to be at first glance.
If paintings came alive, they would be Indigo Buntings.
Every year, the Eastern Phoebes build a nest above our back door light and poop all over it.
Their “FEE-bee” calls are distinctive as are their markings and tail-wagging.
I would be more annoyed at their poopy messes if they weren’t so darned cute.

But it’s not just the fancy out-of-towners; some of the locals are pretty cool, too.

Some people don’t like Common Grackles but we think they’re fascinating with mesmerizing eyes.
One of our favorites is the Eastern Towhee. With their adorable “drink your teeeeeea” call and their chicken-scratching moves, they are always fun to watch. Last year, we had a Spotted Towhee on our property and people swarmed from all over to see it.

What are some of your spring favorites?

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, 2023

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and, every year, I like to give a special shout-out to Dr. Wu Chien Shiung, the amazing woman whom I wrote about in the picture book biography, Queen of Physics. This book actually won the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association 2019/2020 Picture Book Award!

Over at the Shepherd site, some authors whom I admire name it as one of their favorite books.

Shepherd is a new site, but their mission statement is really great, so be sure to check them out if you’re a bibliophile!

I also talked a bit about Wu and Queen of Physics over at Dr. Diane’s Adventures In Learning blog and podcast. It was a blast to chat about my writing journey with her!

Author Teresa Robeson Presents: WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER: The 14th Dalai Lama + a chance to win a copy

Thanks to Darlene for featuring my latest book on her blog!

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

Today it is my great pleasure to feature the latest book from award-winning author TERESA ROBESON. WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER: The 14th Dalai Lama is a slight departure from Teresa’s previous picture books since it is a graphic novel that tells the story of Tibet’s exiled leader the 14th Dalai Lama.

Here is my review for the book:

This graphic novel tells the important historical account of the leader of TIBET, THE 14TH Dalai Lama, who was forced into exile in 1959 by the People’s Liberation Army of China. Tibet’s “Precious Protector’s” harrowing escape is easy to read and understand thanks to the graphic format and the periodic history and cultural lessons sprinkled throughout the story. The book provides a summary of Tibet’s ongoing fight for freedom and autonomy. A perfect addition to a multicultural library.

dalai lama Here is my interview with Teresa and her exciting new book.


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It takes a village to promote a book

Marsha Diane Arnold, an author friend of mine, has a new book coming out on May 9th…yes, in 4 days! Here are a few of her other delightful books.

Well in advance of the release, she asked a group of us to be a part of her launch team. It’s a tactic authors are encouraged to perform in order to give a book a great reach. These days, it’s hard to have a career in publishing if you’re not actively out there promoting your book. No longer can one be a reclusive author, like Harper Lee, and still sell a bazillion books.

Maybe the idea behind a launch team is for viral spreading via chain communication like that 1980s Faberge shampoo commercial? I honestly don’t know if it works but I’m willing to help.

So, a very happy upcoming book birthday to ONE SMALL THING! You can buy it at your favorite bookstore.

A New STEM Picture Book From Author Laurie Wallmark + A Chance to Win a Copy

Having been an amateur astronomer since 1980, I’m always delighted to see books about astronomers and astrophysicists! Pop by Darlene’s blog to win a copy of Laurie’s newest book.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

maria mitchell cover

Today I am happy to feature the latest STEM biography from author LAURIE WALLMARK.

HER EYES ON THE STARS: Maria Mitchell, Astronomer

(Illustrated by Liz Wong)

Here is the blurb for the book:

Maria Mitchell’s curiosity about the night sky led her to spend hours studying the stars. She discovered a comet as a young woman, winning an award from the King of Denmark for being the first person to discover a new comet using a telescope.

Now famous as “the lady astronomer,” Maria went on to become a professional astronomer, an unheard of achievement for a woman in the 19th century. She was the first woman to get any kind of government job when she was hired by the United States Naval Observatory. Then as the first woman astronomy professor in the world, Maria used her position at Vassar College to teach young women to set their sights on…

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Got glasses?

I lament that I’m at times a careless reader, especially when confronted with a wall of text (I’m a huge fan of short paragraphs and bulleted/numbered lists; they work well with my short attention span). But the more I interact with people, the more I realize that many of them are even worse readers than I am.

The good news is that realizing this has made me more determined to be a better reader. The bad news is that I battle with myself daily as to whether to argue with someone over their faulty reading comprehension or to let it go because it’s, most times, not my monkey, not my circus.

So, I made this comic…mostly to get it off my chest.

Happy book birthday to meeeee!

SQUEEEE!!! In just 4 more days, my first ever biography in graphic format will be out in the world. I can’t wait for readers to see Angela Poon‘s gorgeous art!

For more information and how to order, go to Penguin Random House page.

The importance of (NOT) being earnest

The other day, the Spousal Unit referred to the Wheel of Time series as “that earnest Orcs show.”

I mean, he’s not wrong. It does remind me a lot of The Lord of the Rings minus the joyful humor of Hobbits.

That may be fine for some people, but we like a dose of humor to go along with drama. It’s not to say we’ll stop watching the show (we only just started after all), but it would be nice if there was some comedy to be found…or least a bit of levity.

Granted, not all things can have humor. There’s nothing remotely funny about the horrific Holocaust and so Schindler’s List, for example, has to be serious. But Wheel of Time is a fantasy, and if Tolkien can infuse humor in his work, I feel like WoT can, too. (Tangentially, I feel like 90% of fantasy is far too earnest.)

As for what we find funny, we don’t care for comedy that involves yelling or being mean for no reason (I’m looking at you, Fawlty Towers and The Honeymooners). The more subtle, deadpan, or verbally clever the humor, the better.

It’s interesting to me that this wasn’t something that the Spousal Unit and I talked about when we were dating, but in retrospect, it should have been! Married life for me would be a lot less fun if he didn’t also like humorous shows and movies (and sci-fi and superheroes stuff).

What about you? Do you and your partner have similar tastes in entertainment? What’s your favorite genre?

Author and Illustrator Q&A on Debbie Ohi’s Blog!

WHO IS TIBET’S EXILED LEADER? THE 14TH DALAI LAMA releases in less than a month and so now is the time for blog tours!

Our first stop is at Debbie Ohi’s blog. Debbie is one of those incredibly kind and super talented people who has made it huge in the world of children’s literature and has been giving back to the community ever since. Illustrator Angela Poon and I are thrilled to be featured in her blog to talk about the creation of our upcoming book.

Pop on over to read the post and to feast your eyes on Angela’s gorgeous art!

A Zoom with a view

I had been wanting to do this comic for a while because after 3 years of Zoom meetings, it’s hard not to think about it. And it was such a big hit over at IG, I thought you might want to see it, too. 😉 Allow me to present to you…The Zoom Face Bunch (and you have to sing The Brady Bunch theme song in your head)!

From top to bottom, and left to right:

The turtle – half the head is better than one

The profile – having two computers means one has the camera and you’re looking at the other

The spewer – sometimes you just have to eat and chew with your mouth wide open…not

The wanderer – just another lost soul

The abyss – hello darkness, my old friend

The starlet – professionally photographed profile pic that look nothing like the actual person

The nostrils a.k.a. abyss 2 – the view from your laptop

The poke-an-eye-out – the Lilliputan view of Gulliver’s fingers

Which one are you?