shy-slide01If you’ve been paying attention to the Mock Caldecotts that teachers are running this year, chances are you’ve seen a classroom that has voted for SHY to win illustration’s top honor in the United States. All those votes led me to be curious about why children love this book so much. So, I bought a copy. And, as usual, the kids’ recommendation is spot on. This book is heartwarming, beautiful, and an excellent example of how art can support and enhance text to create a successful picture book.


The first spread of the body of this picture book is fabulous. In it, Freedman uses the physical form of the picture book to illustrate the emotion and meaning of the text. Freedman calls attention to the gutter in the most eloquent ways, using both text and simple illustration. This is one of my favorite spreads in any picture book I have read this year. I love books that break the 4th wall. And, I love that this is a book that won’t work well on an e-reader. It requires the physical form of a book to make any sense. I could write a whole essay on this spread, but there are other good things I want to say about SHY. So, moving on…


Let’s talk about color selection. First, the dusky background and muted earth and jewel tones perfectly reflect the simple and warm text. But, more importantly, the entire plot of the book can be seen reflected in the background colors of the pages. For the most part, wherever Shy (the main character) is, the background is yellow. Wherever Florence (a very important character) can be found, the background is sky blue. And as the end of the book, when Shy and Florence are together… where Shy is, we get a green background for the very first time. Shy is no longer without a friend, and the colors explain it all.


The more I talk about this book, the more I love it. You should go find a copy, and experience SHY, by Deborah Freedman, for yourself. Happy reading!

Great Peace MarchI discover so many wonderful books every day, but sometimes the greatest comfort comes from a book I have treasured for most of my life. THE GREAT PEACE MARCH by Holly Near, illustrated by Lisa Deimini, enchanted me when I was a child. The lyrical words with their swaying rhythm, the gorgeous illustrations… they drew me in, so that I read the book over and over to myself. As an adult, this book is healing to read.


THE GREAT PEACE MARCH is actually a song written by Holly Near that was inspired by a 1986 march for Nuclear Disarmament.  As a picture book, it crosses the boundary of time with its enduring message of hope, unity, and determination to walk forward in the face of difficulty. There is no information about the specific peace march it refers to other than in the backmatter– which is just as beautiful and hopeful as the rest of the book.


If you are looking for a book to talk about social justice, racial equality, and environmental activism without digging into the complexities of a specific cause, or for a book that will help you cope in a tumultuous time, this one is for you.

I’m putting together a shipment of items on the Sacred Stone Camp supply list (http://sacredstonecamp.org/supply-list/) to send with messages of solidarity and support to help them through the winter months. What I send in the shipment will largely depend on how much money I have to buy things. Many of the Top Needs items are both expensive and necessary to help keep members of the camp safe during frigid temperatures. I’m hoping that, together, we can send along some much-needed warmth! If you are interested in contributing (any amount helps) or adding an item, letter, or card to the shipment, please contact me.  If you know others who may be interested in contributing, or who want to help the Sacred Stone Camp and need a place to start, please share this with them.

EDITED TO ADD: I just learned that a loved one will soon be departing for the camp. Anything we raise will be sent as supplies with them, and given directly to Sacred Stone Camp.

EDITED AGAIN TO ADD: Ways to give include: meet with me in person to give items/money (I will get them to the right place), send what you want to give in the mail (make sure it arrives by November 10), and my loved one’s paypal. To help protect personal information, please contact me at sarahgtuttle@yahoo.com for addresses.


As I continued in the work of collecting donations for this effort, I received a request from the organizers of a supply caravan (who had direct information from Standing Rock medics about their needs) to focus on sending natural remedies. So, in addition to purchasing a -40 degree sleeping bag to send with my loved one who is going to Standing Rock, we organized a drive for natural remedies. The outpouring of support was incredible.

We raised over $1100 raised plus many physical donations, resulting in over 165 pounds of honey and 2.5 U-Haul book boxes full of urgently needed medicinal herbs on their way to Standing Rock!

I am so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support from all of you who participated and are continuing to do the good work of supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock. It has been a beautiful, healing, and inspiring experience to be a part of this effort.

In response to the expressed wishes of the community, I am going to be doing a monthly shipment of natural remedies to Standing Rock based on their urgent medical needs. This is one of many ways to stand with the water protectors for the duration of the Standing Rock effort. If we all pool our small contributions each month, we can send along a shipment, cut down on shipping costs, and increase the supplies they receive. If you are interested in contributing to a monthly effort, let me know!

I went away from my Patreon for a bit as other things took priority, but I want to share this resource I posted to my Patreon this summer with all of you. It’s an activity sheet with accompanying answers and explanations, suitable kids in middle school and up. For children below 6th grade, I suggest going through the explanations together, or using the explanations as talking points. Click on the link below to view the PDF, and enjoy!




This activity sheet is part of my Patreon campaign to make resources for helping city kids connect to nature.  For more information, visit my Patreon page by clicking here.





y648It’s Poetry Friday! Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for hosting this week. To celebrate poetry today, I’m reviewing a fabulous new book.


During fall, we watch the trees. But, in WONDERFALL by Michael Hall, a tree watches us! Short, action-packed poems detail what the tree notices through the progression of the Fall season- such as the first school bus, seasonal activities, and nearby wildlife. For fans of wordplay, the poems have titles that replace the suffix”-ful” with the word “fall,” in the same way as the title. This adds a playful (and seasonal!) twist to the poems right from the start, and the rest of the book follows suit. From the light-hearted text of the poetry, to the bright illustrations and silly squirrels on each page, this book is pure delight to experience.


Speaking of those squirrels, for those of you following along on my posts about connecting city kids to nature, this is a particularly great book to read with city kids. The squirrels in the book are every bit as amusing as the squirrels in real life, and city kids will be able to recognize the behavior of the squirrels in their own neighborhood in the illustrations. When, towards the end of the book, the squirrels are building their nest, adults can help children draw connections between the squirrel nest in the book and the nests in their neighborhood.


Have a WONDERFALL autumn everyone, and check out the book trailer here!


Love to You

I took these photos at a small memorial my partner and I held at the pond near my home this morning to honor and remember the Orlando victims. Please feel free to share them if you wish. And, most importantly, love to you all.










17270515SERAFINA’S PROMISE by Ann E. Burg is a middle grade verse novel about a young girl growing up in Haiti during a time of repeated natural disasters. It won a whole host of awards, and deserves every one. This book is an absolute treasure.


Burg’s writing flows easily, and readers are swept into the story of Serafina’s dreams and reality as her family struggles with the trials of poverty amid personal and national disasters. The story is gripping. Serafina feels like a girl you could meet in the real world: she has courage, determination, and flaws. But, the main reason I want to recommend SERAFINA’S PROMISE to everyone is the absolutely incredible ending. Burg’s ending not only allows the story to continue, but demands it. And even more impressive, by ending the book the way she does, Burg manages to highlight the most important emotional themes of the story and engage readers more intensely than ever before just when we expect to be able to put down the book.


That’s it. I won’t say another word. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read SERAFINA’S PROMISE yourself. (If you do, or already have, I’d love to hear from you so we can talk about the ending!)