Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ebenezer The Sneezer By DeCorey Hale-Book Review and Author Interview

Title: Ebenezer The Sneezer

Author: DeCorey Hale

Illustrations By: Lauren Lacy

Summary: Most of us have been overwhelmed with sneezing, whether it be allergies, a little sniff of pepper, or an unknown cause. The character in this story, Ebenezer, has a case that is worse than your everyday sneezing attack. The poor fellow sneezes on everything in his path. The author uses rhyming words and whimsical humor to tell the story of a man with the bad case of the "sneezies". Of course, the blogger in me likes this book because I love all the diversity that is defined. From the author, to the illustrator, we see both coming together to create a book for children that will be a favorite for many years. As a teacher, I gravitated to this book because it breaks the mold and opens up questioning that helps young readers engage in the story. The story gives a great connection for journal entry questions: What would you do if you could not stop sneezing? How would you help a person that could not stop sneezing? Do you think Ebenezer was allergic to something?

Interview: DeCorey Hale is from Sylacauga, Alabama, which is near my hometown Rockford, Alabama. Ever since the release of Ebenezer The Sneezer, he has made appearances at many different educational facilities reading Ebenezer The Sneezer and encouraging the love of reading. Mr. Hale is a man on a mission and wears many hats in his community. I am glad that he was able to take some time out of his busy schedule and answers a few questions.  The opportunity gives everyone a closer look into the man behind the book, Ebenezer The Sneezer.

Tell us a little about yourself perhaps something not many people know? 

Well I have a very big imagination. It never left me. And people can never guess my two favorite movies. They are The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

What made you want to write books for children? 

Well I actually wrote this book for my daughter, Nylah, when she was 2 years old . She is now 11. It started out as a bedtime story for her, and now it's my first book.

What was your favorite book or books as a child? 

Of course, anything by Dr. Seuss. I loved the Berenstain Bears. As well as James and the Giant Peach. It really opened my mind as far as my imagination goes. 

How did you get your ideas for this book. How did you prepare? 

Well, it was just on a while. I looked around and thought about sneezing for some odd reason. So I decided to write a story about someone who sneezes. Then I had to come up with a name that rhymed. Thus, Ebenezer The Sneezer was born. 

What do you plan on doing next in terms of children's literature? 

Well since this started out as a bedtime story, I had also written little follow up pieces here and there. So I'm strongly considering turning Ebenezer into a series. 

What advice do you have for young people who want to be writers?

 As soon as you think of what you want to write about, jot it down. Dreaming is half the battle. Then I say go for it! It took me 8 years, but here I am. 

Where can people buy your book?

It is available on my website,

What was one of the most surprising thing you learned in creating this book?

 Just how tedious is is to write,  then edit/correct. Then go back and do it several more times. It is quite a process. 

What were some of the challenges that you faced writing this book? 

Well, I have a full-time job, so that takes up a lot of time. I also co-own a beard care line, so that is time-consuming as well. So for me, just time management. 

Thank you, Author DeCorey Hale! I cannot wait to see what you come up with next!
And A Special Thanks to Dana Hale for the Photos in the Library! Dew4U Photography!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Miss T's Collection

Becoming a book blogger did not cross my mind when I decided to start a blog. My first idea was to start a blog that discussed activities in the classroom.  When I did my rough draft for the first blog, I was not satisfied. I felt like that blog was too similar to other classroom activity blogs, so I deleted that draft. After deletion and brainstorming, my mind went to my childhood and what I really enjoyed doing.......reading.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by BillMartin/Eric Carle

Books, Art, Dolls, and Science were always my favorite things during my childhood. My room was filled with these things, but I had more books than anything. The issue that I discovered was that books written by authors of color and books that feature children from different backgrounds were hard to find or people did not know about these types of books. 

First Ladies 

My curiosity on this topic started in college. Needless to say, I had a good experience and a bad experience dealing with diversity in children's literature during my college days. Both of those experiences formulated this vision for this blog. The other reason was my father and his love for books. If you know him, you know he has them everywhere, but I will save his story for another post : ).

Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco

Are you There God? It's Me Margaret. by Judy Blume

So because it is the one year anniversary of the #diversekidlit, I decided to do something different. I wanted to show images of my favorite books in my home collection. I am kinda of indecisive when it comes to a list of my favorite books. I know some of my book blogger friends can understand ; ).
We March by Shane W. Evans

Keep in mind I am not a Photographer, but I like playing with the camera.  Hopefully, I can hire a personal photographer one day. So just enjoy pictures of books and some magazines I have collected on my journey. I also have some of these favorites in my Miss T's Bookstore. You can click on it in the right hand corner! Please checkout all of the categories! Happy Reading!
EBONY cover done by Kadir Nelson

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

God Chicks by Holly Wagner

Coretta Scott King by Ntozake Shange, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Martin Big Words by Doreen Rappaport Illustrated by Byran Collier 

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr., Illustrated Floyd Cooper

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip-Book Review

"Anything worth doing is worth doing right."
-Grandma Lena in Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip

Spring is when all things become new again, a natural piece of artwork.  During my childhood, I remember this time as sowing, planting, and tending in my maternal grandmother's garden.  I was her little helper and I recall myself trying to learn everything I could about the art of gardening.  Her garden was a getaway for her, an oasis for her thoughts, and a way to take care of her family/community.  This type of art was apart of her life and her gardens were always so beautiful.
Gardening has become one of my hobbies and my oasis for myself.  I would not say that I am as passionate as she was, but I do love the feeling when my plants begin to grow and I can eat my product.  I experience a type of happiness from the tiny seeds that make an entrance.

My grandmother was faithful to her garden. Whenever she had an abundance of crops, she would share with the community and the community would share with her.  During her conversations with others, her gardens were always a hot topic.  She was definitely proud of her gardening skills and people enjoyed her advice about her favorite hobby. It is one of the many reasons I enjoyed Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip .   Author Denia Hester and illustrator Jackie Urbanovic take a old Russian folktale and switch it up with an African-American theme.  Grandma Lena, similar to my grandmother, was proud of her gardening skills and did not become afraid of a challenge. Before the story starts, Hester gives a little background knowledge about African-American cookery. She discusses how turnips are cooked in the African-American culture and served with cornbread. She gives small details about the different ways cornbread can be cooked. These details also reminded me of my grandmother and her cooking skills, I still own one of her cast iron skillets. 

In the beginning of the story, Grandma Lena is contemplating on what type of turnips she would like to grow.  There are many types of turnips and Grandma Lena wants to make sure she picks the right one. Grandma Lena was dedicated and believed in finishing the job she started. After her turnip grows, Grandma Lena is surprised that her turnip is enormous in size and she can not pull it out the grown. She utilizes her family's help to disengage the big turnip. The story demonstrates how Grandma Lena is involved with her family and community, and how she strives to help others with her "big ol turnip".

Friday, February 24, 2017

Gordon Parks: A Photograph of Racism and Poverty

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” – Gordon Parks ~ Segregation history, Gordon Parks. 

Pictures have always captivated me.......I liked them and the stories they can tell.  A photo can cause many emotions and rekindle memories.  Gordon Parks was a man that created those type of photos, these photos are heart wrenching, controversial, and they start great discussion even today.  Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas.  He was the youngest of fifteen children.  When Parks arrived stillborn, his doctor dipped him in ice water, which shocked his tiny body back to life.  He was named after the doctor that saved his life.  After his mother's death, he moved to Minneapolis to live with a sister at the age of fourteen. He worked many odd jobs to make money.  At the age of 25, he was looking at a magazine article about migrant farm workers and was inspired to buy a camera.  Parks probably did not expect that this camera would change his life.  After taking pictures of fashion, portraits, and struggling families in Chicago, he landed a job in Washington D.C., at the Farm Security Administration. 

American Gothic, from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

The photo above is one of Parks most famous photos titled, American Gothic. The lady in the picture is Ella Watson, she was a black charwoman who mopped floors in the FSA building where Gordon worked. Watson was raising three grandchildren and an adopted daughter on a salary of 1,000 a year.  Gordon followed her for weeks and documented her life through pictures, from home to church. Parks documented the struggles and the life of Ms. Watson. The pictures of her family and their day to day life depicted a clear picture of racism and poverty.  Parks would go on to document more families that dealt with similar issues and also the Civil Rights Movement.

A Harlem Newsboy from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

The New Yorker Dance Class at Fredrick Douglass from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

Gordon Parks photos have been in Life and Vogue magazines.  He is the creator of The Learning Tree, the book was published in 1963 and made into a movie in 1969, it is actually one of my favorite movies.  The movie shows a teenager and his experiences in Kansas during the year 1920. He deals with poverty, racism, friendship, family, and enemies.  He also created the movie Shaft (1971).  The movie Shaft played a big part in the blaxopolitation movie era.  He was not only a photographer and a director, but he wrote novels, poetry, and composed music.  When you get a chance please go to and learn more about him and his work.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America

Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family

A Choice of Weapons

Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Coloring Books that Highlight Famous African-Americans

Everyone loves to color! Coloring can be a stress reliever and a great pastime. Since this is Black History Month, I decided to highlight some great coloring books that talk about great African-Americans that have made a positive impact in history. It is a great thing to be able to have fun coloring and learn about history at the same time. These coloring and activity books are not just for kids, adults can join in the fun also! Happy Coloring!!!!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Dragon Likes to Read!

I believe in everything until it is disapproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real the here and now?- John Lennon

Book: Dragons Are Real
Author: Valarie Budayr
Illustrator: Michael Welply

When I was little, I had an impeccable imagination. Yes, I said impeccable because it saved me from boredom and it taught me a lot about myself.  I would pretend to be anything and anyone at anytime or place.  Children need more time for imagination and creative thinking. Children enhance their creative abilities when they are encouraged to use their imagination.   A creative child is able to increase their positive thinking and their positive self-image. When I started reading Dragons Are Real, the memories of my unique childhood came back to my mind.

In Dragons Are Real Valarie Budayr does a great job of transferring the magical world into the hands of young readers. She shows that dragons love to read, ice cream, riddles, and dancing. The magical world becomes even better with the great illustrations by Michael Welply.  He takes readers on an adventure through his colorful images.  My favorite illustration is the reading dragon surrounded by all the books. I love the details of the books on the floor and in the bookshelves, there is even a little mouse sitting down on the floor reading.   Dragons Are Real did not only change the perception of dragons for children, they changed my perception of dragons. I realized that dragons do not have to be fiery, dangerous, and scary creatures. Dragons can be naturally amazing friends.

Activity: Journal Entry About Dragons
Topic: If I Had A Dragon For A Day........
 After reading Dragons Are Real, give children this topic and encourage them to think outside the box.  Do not exclude the younger children, some people think that only older kids can do entries in journals.  Younger children can do entries by drawing pictures of dragons and they also can have a chance to explain their drawings to the class or group.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.

Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Delores Connors, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela TiscareƱo-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Words of Hope

"Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.."-Martin Luther King Jr. 

One of my favorite children's book about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. is called Martin's BIG Words, The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.  In the author's note, Rappaport discusses how King was determined to use "big words" as a young child. During this time, big words made Martin feel good.  He has always been known for his speeches, sermons, and articles. His speeches are and will always captivate people and give them hope during rough times.  Many people have dissected his historical speeches and published books about his dialogues and his discussions. I have heard song lyrics that have been written in honor of King's statements and his creativeness.

From Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Picture Story
During his speaking engagements, King would stand and deliver to many people, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, he spoke to a crowd of 250,000.   People believed in his rhetoric and his purpose to provide everyone equal rights. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in big words and he believed in big actions, his words made him a smart man, but his actions made him a great man!

Last Summer, I visited Washington, D.C., I was able to stand before the MLK Memorial. I was in awe of King's sculpture, but I was more intrigued by the 450-foot-long wall inscribed with 14 quotations from the famous orator's speeches, sermons, and writings. Those words are not only inscribed on that wall they will forever be inscribed in our books, homes, and our hearts.  Down below I have listed some books about Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and his fight for Human Rights.
(This post may contain affiliated links)