Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Reading Week ~ #IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, help share and spread book-love, by hosting this fun meme.  

Today's reading plans were to read and reread picture books that have been receiving Caldecott buzz and start a middle grade novel or two that has been receiving Newbery buzz.  But that didn't happen.  My heart was stolen by a lovely new picture book.  One that I had planned to read but hadn't planned to have it steal my heart.  

I read constantly.  I mainly read children's and young adult literature.  I read all genres and all formats.  I write reviews both professionally and for me personally.  So, I read critically and examine the story as well as the illustrations.  I think about who would be the right reader to share a particular book with and what audience I might read a particular book to.  But sometimes, I read a book and it is pure magic - Sometimes you read a book and it touches your heart and soul more than you could've ever imagined.  This is what happened to me when I read the much anticipated, Be A Friend, written and illustrated by the amazing, Salina Yoon.  I read and reread this book many times.  Each time I read it, I discovered something different, both about the book itself and about myself.  

As I write this, on the evening before the ALA Youth Media Awards and the announcements of the latest book awards, I am thinking about the feelings of the many authors and illustrators that had published books in 2015.  Are they wondering if their books will receive a much coveted award?  Was it considered for one?  What did the committees think of it?  

I personally am grateful for all those brave souls that put their books out into the world!  I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to pour your heart and souls into a story or into the art or in some cases, both.  And then to wait for the response of its readers. 

As I thought about writers and artists, I realized that Salina Yoon's heart is visible within the breathtaking pages of Be A Friend.  Dennis isn't afraid to be who he is meant to be and Joy shares joy when she decides to be a friend to Dennis, the boy she sees herself in.  

This New Year, Salina shared an image of Dennis and informed us all that we were free to use the image as our Facebook profile, as long as we agreed to "Be Bold, Be Brave, and Shine!" in 2016 (and always).  This is exactly what Dennis and Joy do in Be A Friend.  I want to say a special thank you to Salina - for inspiring me to do exactly these things.  Her inspiring picture book is helping me on my own journey, as I continue to strive to be bold, brave, and always shine.  Each day, with words I read, artwork I admire, and my own words that I write, I am closer to telling my own story.   

My feelings for this book go very deep.  I know this book will be a very important book for me both personally and professionally, as I share with my students and colleagues.  I will be reading and sharing it with all of classes within the coming week.  And I know it will be one that recommend often this year and in years to come.  It will be a book that I give as a gift.  It will be part of my special collection of picture books that are near and dear to my heart and are located in a special, prominent location in my personal book collection.  

Salina touched my heart and brought tears of joy to my eyes when she sent me this most special heart pin.  

If you have not already, you must read the very important, Be A Friend . . . 

Make sure you visit Salina Yoon's website.  

You'll also want to watch the trailer for Be A Friend. . .

Thank you Salina Yoon . . . for Being a Friend.  


  1. Sometimes words aren't adequate. Dennis taught me that. All I want to do is reach out my hand... and for you to accept it in friendship. Thank you for this post.

    And do not worry about authors or illustrators wanting that validation of the big award. This isn't true really. Some may, but I must confess that it's not even something I want, let alone expect or anticipate. I don't like that kind of attention. (Though surprisingly, I did receive the Charlotte Award for Penguin and Pinecone, for which I see you are now a committee member!)

    All that matters to me is to reach out and connect with readers, both children AND adults. You've given me that, and more. Thank you, and let's be BOLD, BRAVE, and SHINE together in 2016 and beyond! (I still need to be reminded to be brave for so many things.) Your friend, Salina Yoon

    1. Thank you for such a heartfelt response! Your wonderful stories do reach so many readers & they love them! And I had the great fortune to hear you speak at the Charlotte Award dinner in 2014! I also was able to meet you & have you sign a Penguin book. 😊.

    2. Oh my gosh, Amy,... and you didn't mention that to me earlier?!? I'm so happy that we met already!!! But now I want to meet again. I hope we get that opportunity one day. —Salina

    3. I'll try to post the pic I had taken of us when you signed my book!

  2. Beautiful words for a beautiful story. Thank you.

  3. I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book!

    1. Thank you, Cheriee! This one is particularly special to me, so that means a lot! —Salina

    2. Cherie, don't walk, RUN to get a copy!

  4. Aww, what a lovely tribute to this new book. I really am looking forward to finding this title in our libraries soonest. :)