One World Play

One World Play Project:

Featured B Corporation of the Month

When I met Tim and Arnold, two big players behind One World Play Project, at the B Corp conference this past April (The company received an Edison award shortly afterwards—congratulations!), I was blown away by the sportsmanship they displayed during a presentation on small business ethics. They were team players: supportive, encouraging, and respectful. While we usually talk about sportsmanship within the context of sports, sportsmanship is a character trait that transcends fields, pitches, or arenas. Being a good sport is not about being a talented player; it is a valuable character trait that is cultivated through the act of play and helps us in every aspect of our life. One World Play Project exemplifies sportsmanship in every avenue of its business practice and cultivates sportsmanship in communities across the globe.

One World Play

It started with a simple concept: A ball. But not just any ball: the world’s first ultra-durable ball. “The One World Futbol is a simple yet major breakthrough in technology, dramatically improving the ability for children to play soccer among other activities. Unlike traditional balls, the One World Futbol never needs a pump and will never go flat even when punctured. It is made from unique (proprietary) cross-linked, closed cell foam that enables the ball to withstand harsh environments without wearing out, providing endless play where a standard football could not.” They began as One World Futbol Project in 2010 and have since expanded into One World Play Project. They make, sell, and distribute their innovative futbols and cricket balls.

Buy One, Give One: With your purchase of a One World Futbol, another One World Futbol is donated to a campaign of your choosing, including All Girls Can Play and Ethiopia Reads. You can also choose to simply give a ball, or purchase in bulk. You can even start your own campaign and raise One World Futbol donations for your own organization or another group that may need balls.

One Wold Play

Of sportsmanship: “Play is in our DNA—a need as important as food, medicine and shelter. It’s an intrinsic part of our lives, regardless of geography or culture, and through play we become stronger individuals, build better communities and create a more positive future.”

What is the power of play? “Play empowers and connects us. It enables hope, opportunity and optimism. To us, there is nothing more essential than play. Play doesn’t just belong on the schoolyard—it heals and rebuilds communities devastated by war, disaster, disease and poverty. Through play we help individuals and communities thrive and transform themselves and the world.”

In addition to play, giving makes up the backbone of sportsmanship— and the company. One World Play Project has partnered with thousands of nonprofits, community-based organizations and agencies worldwide to distribute One World Futbols. One World Play Project distributes their balls to organizations to be used as a shared resource accessible to the whole community. They carefully select communities with the greatest need that offer the greatest impact that are open to all, regardless of gender, race or political or religious affiliation.

They’ve changed the ball; now they’re changing the game.

Tell One World Play Project what play means to you on social media using #PlayIs. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


A Call for Manuscript Submissions,

Especially Middle Grade and YA Novels

One of the professional highlights for me each year is attending the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA. This year, I have the added privilege of being on the faculty and speaking on a panel moderated by my dear friend, co-author, and editor, Emma D. Dryden—SMALL PRESSES: THOUGH THEY BE SMALL, THEY BE FIERCE. Be sure to follow the excitement of the annual conference in social media—#LA15SCBWI. Little Pickle Press values the commitment to excellence in children’s literature and the strength of community fostered by scbwi. We would be especially thrilled to meet the author (and/or illustrator; our Art Director will also be there) of our next book at the annual conference. Setting that as our intention, here is what we are seeking currently . . .

The common denominators. All of the manuscripts that we select involve conveying meaningful messages to children or youth. They catalyze conversations between parents and children, teachers and students, about the topics that matter most to the generation of children we are shaping today. The manuscripts are well written, thought-provoking, progressive, fresh, distinctive, and, if a picture book, lend themselves well to not only illustration but also to extrapolation into other mediums, such as interactive eBooks, book apps, and animated shorts.

The heart of the matter. At present, we are most interested in receiving middle grade and young adult submissions. What subjects are most interesting to us at this point? They include (in no particular order and not exclusively):

  • Kindness—the power of it
  • Dare To Be Different
  • Choices: It’s Not All Black And White; Most of Life is Gray
  • Racism—the deleterious effects of it
  • Refugees
  • Adoption
  • Complex Family Structures
  • Anti-Princess Themes
  • Creativity­­­—the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship
  • Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Responsibility/Accountability/Moving Beyond Gen M Thinking
  • Taking Care of Yourself and Your Community/Planting the Seeds of Being a Locavore

What we don’t want are books with hidden messages to grownups. We want books that convey true messages to children and youth. It is also worth mentioning that we do not shy away from controversial subjects, and we are open-minded about the genres and literary vehicles employed to convey the messages.

First things first. As you consider submitting your manuscript, please learn a little more about Little Pickle Press and our new young adult imprint, Relish Media. Here’s a recent interview I did for our friends at Mom’s Choice Awards. We just launched our new submissions platform, powered by, which sets forth our submissions guidelines. Consider liking Little Pickle Press and Relish Media on Facebook. Please also consider following @LPP_Media and @Relish_Media on Twitter.

Our selection process. Once we receive your submission, our First Reader designated for the target age range of your work reads it within four months and sends the acquisition team his or her preliminary thoughts. If the First Reader has a favorable opinion of the manuscript, then we have another member of the acquisition team read it. If the second member of the acquisition team likes it, then we have a Junior Reader (a reader in the intended age group) read it. If the Junior Reader likes the manuscript, then it gets presented during the next acquisition meeting. If at any point during our process, a team member thinks that the work is not a good fit for us, then we let you know.

Thanks for your interest. I kindly thank you for your interest in Little Pickle Press and Relish Media, and for reading this post. If you elect to send us a submission, thank you also for considering us as your publisher. I know from experience all that you have gone through to get to this point, and I respect and honor you for it.


10 Books about Kindness—for Adults!

When we think about education, it’s usually kids that pop into our heads. We want them to learn about all of the ways to be good and smart and responsible. The lessons tend to stick, because let’s face it—our kids are awesome. That said, it never hurts to revisit some of those lessons from time to time, especially after a week of watching the news. Here are ten books for adults that discuss kindness, which is something that we all need.

  1. On KindnessAdam Phillips and Barbara Taylor: (from the website) Drawing on intellectual history, literature, psychoanalysis, and contemporary social theory, this brief and essential book will return to its readers what Marcus Aurelius declared was mankind’s “greatest delight”: the intense satisfactions of generosity and compassion.
  2. Small Acts of KindnessJames Vollbracht: (from the author) Before the movie “Pay it Forward”, was Small Acts ofKindness, which shows how one small act of kindness ripples through all of life and results in a surprising and moving great act of love.
  3. The Kindness DiariesLeon Logothetis: (from the author) Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers.
  4. Kindness, Clarity, and Insight—H. H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama: (from the website) Broad in scope and revealing the depth of his knowledge, these teachings display the range of the Dalai Lama and his message, covering a plethora of topics, including the need for compassion, the common goals of the world’s religions, karma, the four noble truths, the luminous nature of the mind, meditative concentration, selflessness, the two truths, and the fundamental innate mind of clear light that all the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism aim at manifesting.
  5. The Power of KindnessPiero Ferrucci: (from Amazon) In eighteen interlocking chapters, Dr. Ferrucci reveals that the kindest people are the most likely to thrive, to enable others to thrive, and to slowly but steadily turn our world away from violence, self-centeredness, and narcissism- and toward love. Writing with a rare combination of sensitivity and intellectual depth, Dr. Ferrucci shows that, ultimately, kindness is not a luxury in our world but rather a necessity for us all.
  6. Sidewalk FlowersJonArno Lawson: Though intended as a child’s picture book, the images in this striking volume will speak to the hearts of busy adults everywhere, reminding them to stop and smell the roses (and dandelions) once in a while.
  7. Charlotte’s WebE. B. White: Who can honestly say that they have not been moved after reading this classic story? The love of a little girl, the selflessness of a spider, and the eventual quiet greatness of a humble pig will teach readers of any age the value of kindness.
  8. The Seeds We SowGary Beene: (from the author) This booktells the story of the intertwined lives of George Washington Carver, Vice President Henry Agard Wallace, and Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug. It tells how their kindness and passion to feed the world was passed on and enhanced across generations.
  9. The Kindness of StrangersMike McIntyre: (from Barnes & Noble) Stuck in a job he no longer found fulfilling, journalist Mike McIntyre felt his life was quickly passing him by. So one day he hit the road to trek from one end of the country to the other with little more than the clothes on his back and without a single penny in his pocket. Through his travels, he found varying degrees of kindness in strangers from all walks of life—and discovered more about people and values and life on the road in America than he’d ever thought possible.
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—J. K. Rowling: On his eleventh birthday, young Harry receives his first birthday cake, possibly the first act of kindness that he can remember. The rest of the story is a key to a remarkable saga in which courage, loyalty, and yes, kindness, shape an entire world.

Have you read about kindness lately? What titles stick in your mind, and what lessons have you learned? Share your thought in the comment section, and don’t forget to visit the Little Pickle Press store to pre-order a signed first edition copy of What Does It Mean To Be Kind?, the perfect book to start the children in your life on the path to kindness.

be kind

Have Courage and Be Kind:

Lessons from Cinderella

As we continue exploring the topic of kindness, Little Pickle Press would like to welcome Melissa Roy. In this delightful post, she shares her thoughts on raising good little people.

I finally made it to see Cinderella with my girls after a major mommy fail in which I  misread the start time and we showed up a half hour late and missed ALL of Frozen Fever which was pretty much the entire reason we went to see Cinderella in the first place. And while my girls were understandably disappointed to miss Frozen, I was still excited to see Cinderella.

The original Disney animated Cinderella is one of my all-time childhood favorites and Drew Barrymore’s Ever After was top 5 during my teen years. Needless to say, the latest version had a lot to live up to in my eyes. But I’ll admit I was not disappointed. I thought the nuances in the story that deviated from the animated version (which any and all versions of Cinderella must stack up against for all of time) were well thought out and created a relatable, lovable and cohesive storyline which my girls enjoyed as much as I did.

But the clear point of the movie was one thing: Have courage and be kind and the point was certainly not lost on this mommy! Perseverance, confidence, compassion and respect are things that I value highly and that I am working every second of every day to instill in my children and I love that this movie helped demonstrate exactly the kind of people I want my children to be.

I routinely encourage my children to be courageous and try new things. I expect them to stick with something once they’ve started and I support them in trying new things. I want them to believe in the importance of learning new things and trying their best. And I want them to have the conviction to assert themselves and go after what they want in life (even if it is just asking the lady behind the counter at the ice cream shop for an extra spoon).

But most importantly in life, I want them to be good people. I expect them to be kind towards others but more than that, I want them to respect all other people. I want them to have compassion for every person and try their best to understand the perspectives, situations and feelings of others. I never want them to think it is okay to put someone else down and I want them to feel bad if they accidentally hurt another person’s feelings.

These are certainly not easy things to teach a six, four and two year-old, I’d rather just drill them on their ABC’s and addition facts but I know that these important life lessons are far more important in the long run. I encourage them daily, both at home and away, to be helpful and respectful. I expect them to help each other and strangers who need it by holding doors, picking up dropped things and helping any other way they can. I have taught them to say please, thank you and you’re welcome and they are expected to use them every opportunity they have.

We live in a world where we are constantly put down and it is easy to feel like you can’t do anything right. We live in a world where all too often people are more concerned about themselves than the well-being of others and their community. We live in a world where people no longer have the time or desire to be kind and courteous.

I teach my children to be courageous and persistent because they will need thick skin in their lives and will need to be able to think and fend for themselves. And I teach them to be kind and respectful not because I want to make the world a better place but because I want to make my children better people. I want them to always have confidence in themselves and never doubt who they are and what they stand for.

What does teaching kindness mean to you? What are some of the lessons you hope to share with the young people in your life? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Little Pickle Press would like to thank the people at Mamalode for the use of this post and the accompanying graphic.

teaching kindness

Teaching Kindness, Not Obedience

In this thought-provoking post from Mamalode, Kristina Agar takes a look at what truly constitutes kindness. Is it doing the right thing simply because you’re told to, or is it something more? 

When my oldest was born, I don’t think my husband and I really discussed what our parenting style would be. Thankfully, we are very similar in our views about what’s important and things just evolved naturally. From the time he was really young, we have taught him that the people around him are the most important things in the world. Not just his family and friends, but everyone he comes across. When the twins were born, we knew that we would instill those same values in them as well.

“You don’t have to be the smartest, fastest, best looking or most popular. You only need to be the kindest and hardest working. Those are the two things that will bring you happiness and success in life.”

That’s my motto. That’s what I want my kids to strive for.

I do not want my kids to do what I ask because I ask them to do it, I want them to do it because it’s the right thing to do. I want my children to be able to ask questions and disagree, as long as they do it in a respectful manner.

I’d be naive to think that children do not need discipline. My 4 year-old twins are not likely to always do the right thing. But when disciplining them I try to show them how their actions make other people feel. Are you talking during swimming lessons? How do you think that makes your coach feel? You took a toy from your sister, how do you think that made her feel? The older they get, the more I think they understand it.

Sometimes I see glimpses of kindness that make my heart swell with pride. Other times I see how much they still need to learn. I’ll continue to teach them kindness through my actions and my words, and hopefully someday I can look back and see that it made a difference.

Teaching kindness versus obedience: which one is being taught most widely today? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Little Pickle Press would like to thank Mamalode for allowing us to share this post and the accompanying photo.


my son

A Letter to the Mom of the Boy Who is Bullying My Son

As we continue to explore the concept of kindness, the Little Pickle Press team would like to share this heartfelt piece by Sarah DeNome, originally posted on the Mamalode blog. Image courtesy of Mamalode.

Dear Fellow Mom,

I have watched our two boys play together at school since the beginning of the year. From day one our children have gravitated towards each other. I remember being so nervous about sending my son to pre-school for the first time. The fear and apprehension that comes with letting your child out of the safety of your presence and supervision for the first time. I remember feeling such joy and relief when I picked him up after that first day and listened as he excitedly told me about his new friend. I was eager to meet you and your child and allow my smile to show my gratefulness that my son has found a new friend to make this big transition less scary.

At morning drop-off , I watch my child’s face light up when your son walks in the classroom. At afternoon pick-up, my son walks towards me with shoulders slumped, head hung low, and eyes toward the ground. I ask how his day was and he tells me about his day with your son. He shares how his friend pushed him on the playground or how his friend wasn’t nice to him in class. I listen, validate his feelings, and encourage him to use his strong voice to tell his friend how he feels.

I start to pay more attention at drop off and linger in the observation room each morning. From behind the one way glass of the observation room, I have seen my son’s smile turn into a look of fear and powerlessness when he is physically overpowered by your son. I begin to arrive early in the afternoon to observe their time on the playground. I see our children’s interaction and feel my child’s pain. I also see you.

From behind the observation glass I see that same look of powerlessness on your face. The look that speaks I am doing the best I can but my child is not listening and I don’t know what else to do. I see you drop your son off each morning and with love you kiss him goodbye. I see his nervous energy or how he clings to your leg sometimes. I see the look of worry and exhaustion on your face. With one child on your hip and your son clinging to your leg. I see your apprehension as you leave the room.

I see it because I know the look well as I have looked that way too. The exhaustion from transitioning from one child to two. The worry about if your son will have a good day. The apprehension you feel walking away and leaving him without your help and supervision. I see you because I am you. We are the same. We love our boys and want to help them through whatever tough time they are having. Whether the tough time is causing our child to act out behaviorally or whether the tough time is teaching our child how to assert himself when he is being mistreated. Each child is struggling and we want to fix their hurt. We want to understand them, teach them, and hope they make the choices we have instilled in them.

You see, you and I are the same. We want the same things. You and I are on the same team. We both want our boys to have friendships that are joyful, safe, and fun. We want them to have positive and appropriate social interactions with their peers. You want that for your son and I want that for mine. We want them to have this between each other. I believe you want that for your son and I hope you can believe me when I say that I want that for your son as well. I truly believe that each of us (child or adult) is doing the best we can with who we are and the resources we have in any given moment. Sometimes we just need a little extra time, resources, or help. It is okay to need that and it is okay to ask for it.

My fellow momma, I know our kids are doing the best they can in this moment. I know we are doing the best we can in this moment. I also know that our boys need our help. They need more time, tools, and resources. Which means we need each other’s help. I need you and you need me. It’s okay for us to need each other in order to help our boys. We are the same remember and we are in this together.

Now, what do you need from me? How can I help?

What would you need? How would you help? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library

What’s so great about Brooklyn? Well, gee. It’s only the home of Coney Island, Prospect Park, and the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge, for starters. There’s also the Brooklyn Public Library, a must-visit for any traveling bibliophile.

Created as a separate system from the libraries of Queens and New York City, the Brooklyn Public Library serves more than 2.5 million residents and visitors, both online and in person. Sit down for a free browsing session at one of a thousand computers, or wander through the stacks to choose from millions of titles.

Want to start your own company? The Business and Career Library will set you on the right path. Thinking of learning a new language? The Language Division has everything you need.

Families are a major focus of the Brooklyn Public Library. There are resources for parents as well as kids of all ages, with unique programs for youngsters with special needs. The BPL website even has a special page for teachers.

Another thing that makes the Brooklyn Public Library so amazing is the list of community-inclusive programs. Resume assistance, the Veterans Oral History Project, immigration and passport services, prison libraries, cultural presentations—there’s really something for everyone, and with sixty locations and a strong online presence, that something is easy to find.

What’s so great about Brooklyn? Come to the Brooklyn Public Library and find out!


10 Tales of Kindness

Whatever your taste in reading material, there is something out there to enjoy. Mysteries, histories, fiction of all sorts; there are instruction manuals for everything from apple picking to zoology.

Everything that we read leaves an impression. It might be the shivery feeling we get while passing by a darkened alley, or it might be an urge to visit a particular town. Wouldn’t it be neat if something in our personal library filled us with the desire to fill the world with kindness?

To that end, here are ten children’s books that will help to foster the ideal of—and the desire to act with—kindness.

  1. Wonder by RJ Palacio: (from the publisher) August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
  2. Gifts from the Enemy by Trudy Ludwig: (from the author) In this true and moving story, Alter Wiener, a teen survivor of five Nazi prison camps during WW II, transports young readers back in time when an unexpected person demonstrated moral courage in repeated acts of kindness toward him.
  3. ONE by Kathryn Otoshi: (from the author) One is an anti-bullying, number/color book that introduces the concepts of acceptance, tolerance, and what it means to stand up, make a difference, and count!
  4. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson: (from the publisher) Ordinary Mary—an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to her ordinary house—stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world.
  5. Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover: (from the publisher) Sarah Conover’s collection of traditional Buddhist tales leads us to the kind of implicit understanding of ourselves and others that only stories can provide. Following the Buddha through his various transformations, these clarified and often humorous narrative journeys open the ancient master’s profound and gentle teachings to persons of all ages, religions, races, and ideological persuasions.
  6. The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatowska: (from Barnes & Noble) Everyone knows a version of the Golden Rule. But what does it really mean? And how do you follow it? In this gorgeously illustrated book, a grandfather explains to his grandson that the Golden Rule means you “treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s golden because it’s so valuable, and a way of living your life that’s so simple, it shines.”
  7. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson: (from the author) A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.
  8. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe: (from Amazon) Mufaro has two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but Manyara is selfish and spoiled. When the king decides to choose a bride from among “The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land,” both Mufaro’s girls travel to the capital city. But only one can be chosen to marry the king.
  9. Good People Everywhere by Linea Gillen: (from the publisher) A soothing story to help children become mindful of the beautiful, caring people in their world. Each page delightfully unfolds with vibrant, engaging illustrations and endearing stories that warm hearts, evoke the imagination, and inspire young and old alike to create a world of compassion and beauty.

Of course, we couldn’t complete a list of kindness books for children without including the newest addition to the award-winning What Does It Mean To Be …? series from our own Rana DiOrio, What Does It Mean To Be Kind? To celebrate this soon-to-be-released title, we’re offering you a chance to pre-order a signed first edition! Click here for details!

Well, that’s ten. How many have you read? Which books would you recommend for teaching kindness? Tell us in the comment section!


Pubslush Pointers—and A Promo!

While Pubslush may sound like an adult beverage for a hot day, I can guarantee that it’s much cooler than any old alcoholic snow cone.

From the website: “Founded by mother and daughter entrepreneurs, Hellen and Amanda Barbara, Pubslush is a global pre-publication platform that offers crowdfunding and pre-order options for authors and publishers.”

A lot of you are probably familiar with the “slush pile,” the never-never land to which manuscripts deemed unworthy of publishing are consigned. The minds behind Pubslush decided that too many great stories were being tossed aside in this way, and created their wildly popular crowdfunding platform.

Here’s how it works: authors submit their work and create a campaign. The Pubslush team provides personalized service throughout the process, helping authors refine their work and get the word out. Readers can cruise the virtual stacks for whatever genre suits their fancy. Once they find something, readers can pre-order their chosen title, often receiving additional bonuses such as signed editions, photographs, and other goodies.

Folks of a philanthropic bent can choose to create or support fundraisers, both for the books themselves or for pet projects suggested by the author. The Pubslush Foundation is one such project, seeking to fight childhood illiteracy by providing books to children with little or no access to reading material.

Pretty awesome, right? Makes you wanna start looking for new books right now, doesn’t it? Well, we have a couple of excellent choices to whet your appetite. Behold!

What Does It Mean To Be Kind?

The 5th book in Rana DiOrio’s award-winning What Does It Mean To Be …? series shows that every act of kindness is also an act of courage, and how small gestures can make a big difference to other people, animals, the planet, and even oneself. Click here to see various packages, and to order a signed first edition for your child’s home library.

Breath to Breath

Uprooted from his home and sent to live with his estranged father, seventeen-year-old William’s world is feeling tenuous at best. When he’s unexpectedly dragged into a situation in which he has no choice but to help an abused four-year-old boy, William’s world is rocked to the core as he discovers the truth behind the mysterious young boy’s stories of extreme sexual abuse. He and this boy are connected in ways William can’t even imagine and as horrible memories begin flood his consciousness, William’s rage drives him to steal a neighbor’s guns, convinced he must kill those responsible for causing a boy so much pain and betrayal. How William finds the love and compassion he needs to make the right choices is the heart and pulse of this riveting verse novel. Inspired by a true story, BREATH TO BREATH explores what hurt and healing really mean: to survive you hold your breath, but to live you must exhale. Click here to read a PDF excerpt, and to pre-order your copy.


Featured B Corp of the Month: Elemental Herbs

I’m currently recovering from a cold and the only thing that has kept me going is my All Good lip balm from our friends at Elemental Herbs. I picked up a few tubes at our last B-Corp conference (we have the best conferences) and after digging them up out of my bag, I can safely say I am hooked on this organically grown, plant-based “goop.”

As a certified B-corporation, Elemental Herbs is driven by a beautiful mission: to harness the natural powers of the environment’s purest, most elemental ingredients and organic herbs in order to offer natural healing products that are good for people and good for the earth. They believe in the power of goodness: “feeling good, doing good, all things good!” in every aspect of production and life. Their organic products are the epitome of kindness: they are cruelty-free, developed in a facility run by solar-power, and printed, packaged, and shipped using recycled and recyclable materials. They sponsor activist athletes such as Alison Gannett and Forrest Shearer, and donate 1% of all sales to 1% for the Planet.


Elemental Herbs makes more than just life-saving lip balm. Their products include safe sunscreens, refreshing sore muscle recovery sprays, hydrating coconut oils, and gentle hand sanitizers. Arnica, Lavender, and Yarrow, oh my! These are just some of the carefully selected medicinal herbs that can be found in Elemental Herb’s product line.

The company began in Northern California and has since migrated down to Los Osos, but you can find their good stuff both online and in stores across the nation. The founder, Caroline Durell, a massage therapist and outdoor enthusiast, began making her signature goop for family and friends. Like the products, her business began organically. She eventually began evolving and selling her goods and we are glad she did!

Private labeling is also available for all of their products. How great would Little Pickle-flavored lip balm be?! I’ll take 100.

You can find them online here:

What Does It Mean To Be Kind

Review: What Does It Mean To Be Kind?

When my children were little, I found myself saying to them, time and again, the Golden Rule, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” But what do these words really mean to a four-year-old with limited life experience when it comes to dealing with others in considerate, compassionate ways? Saying this maxim is one thing; helping our little ones to truly understand what kindness actually looks and feels like, however, is quite another. That’s where What Does It Mean To Be Kind?, written by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch,  comes in.

This delightful picture book shows young readers that being kind is about having the courage to use your words and actions to help make our world a better place. And, as DiOrio shares in her book, those acts—whether small or large—do make a difference. Like a small pebble tossed in water, our acts of kindness have a ripple effect, modeling for others how they, too, can reach out in supportive, helpful, and thoughtful ways.

DiOrio further relays the important message that kindness isn’t something you only give to others; it’s also an important gift to give yourself. “Being kind,” she writes, “means allowing yourself to make and learn from your mistakes.”

With simple, straightforward text and adorable illustrations, What Does It Mean To Be Kind? is a great go-to resource for parents and caregivers to help children ages 4 to 8 easily understand what acts of kindness are all about. I highly recommend it!

Trudy Ludwig is a nationally acclaimed speaker and award-winning author of nine children’s books, including The Invisible Boy. Her work focuses on helping kids cope with and thrive in their social world. Trudy lives in Portland, OR, with her two great kids and kind hubby. You can find out more about her at

Ready to learn more? Click here to pre-order your own signed first edition of What Does It Mean To Be Kind? today!


Kindness is in the Air

In April 2015, I enjoyed the pleasure of having breakfast with my friend, Elke Govertsen, Publisher of Mamalode. As mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, and soul-sisters, we talked for just over an hour about stuff that really mattered to each of us. Among other conclusions to our discussion, Elke decided that Mamalode’s editorial theme for the month of June 2015 would be #Kindness.

Like clockwork, on June 1st, Mamalode announced Little Pickle Press as its theme partner and commenced running stories about kindness. Then, something almost magical happened, kindness seemed to be . . . in the air.

There was the release of the Harvard researchers’ Making Caring Common study that mapped the five child-rearing practices necessary for raising kind children.

Then, Penguin Random House partnered with Anti-Bullying Ambassadors and R.J. Palacio to launch the inaugural Kindness Day. To underscore the importance of and her commitment to kindness, Palacio wrote a compelling piece in The Guardian titled RJ Palacio: what is kindness? that is well worth your time to read in its entirety. “’We are made kind by being kind,’ wrote Eric Hoffer. ‘The more kindness we expend, the kinder we become. Practice, in the case of kindness, makes perfect.” She also highlights the evolutionary benefit to kindness as spelled out by Darwin.

That theory was reinforced in another article, Tapping Your Inner Wolf by Carl Safina, which appeared in The New York Times. In it, the Yellowstone National Park Service ranger who has studied wolves for 20 years, states, “If you watch wolves, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that perhaps no two species are more alike behaviorally than wolves and humans.” He goes on to note that the primary characteristic of alpha wolves is . . . kindness. “Strength impresses us. But kindness is what we remember best.” Indeed.

That leads me to the story of Konner Suave, the Valedictorian of East Valley High School in Yakima, WA who started an anonymous Instagram account and invested the time and energy to write a kind message to each and every one of his 657 classmates, revealing he’d done so at the closing of his Valedictorian address.

Finally, in a lengthy encyclical that is sure to have tremendous implications, Pope Francis implored the global community to address the threat posed by climate change. Why is the Pope weighing in on this issue? Because of its impact on the poorest populations, which is most of the people on earth. “A true ecological approach,” he writes, “always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” The Pope is asking us to be kind to earth and, by extension, to one another.

So, this month on the Little Pickle Press blog we are going to focus on, and continue the exploration of, kindness. Please engage with us and join the conversation.


ALA Wrap Up

The American Library Association held its annual conference in San Francisco this year. For Little Pickle Press that meant a short trip to the convention center. For out-of-towners, it was a ticket to the one of the most jubilant #SFpride weekends ever. From the opening reception Friday night, it was clear that #ALAac15 was going to be special. The exhibits were abuzz and #lovewins was in the air. From our home base in the North Hall, we handed out advance reading copies of Craig Lew’s Young Adult debut, Breath to Breath, and got to know librarians, authors, and our fellow Ingram Publisher Services booth-mates. See below for photos from the conference.

ALA by the Bay

ALA by the Bay

Our booth at IPS with our upcoming releases and award-winning A Bird On Water Street

Our booth at IPS with our upcoming releases and award-winning A Bird On Water Street

The Little Pickle Press and Relish Media Tower at IPS displaying all of our titles

The Little Pickle Press and Relish Media Tower at IPS displaying all of our titles

Welcome to IPS aka our fort!

Our fort

You could find us at Epic!, too

You could find us at Epic!, too

Rolling Terra-Skin posters becomes a group activity

Rolling Terra-Skin posters becomes a group activity

It was an awesome weekend in San Francisco

It was an awesome weekend in San Francisco

We're so proud to work with such an incredible organization

We’re so proud to work with such an incredible organization

Many oysters were consumed in the making of this weekend

Many oysters were consumed in the making of this weekend

There were many reasons to celebrate:

There were many reasons to celebrate…

Like to celebrate cover reveals with fellow Ingram publishers

Like cover reveals with Newbery winner Kwame Alexander and Nikki Giovanni

And enjoying beautiful speeches with great friends

Beautiful speeches with reviewer Sharon Levin

Love won

Love won

And getting books signed by your favorite authors, illustrators, and friends

And getting books signed by your favorite authors and illustrators

Did we mention the food?

Did we mention the food?

We hope you enjoyed ALA as much as we did! We can’t wait until next year! See you then.

Suggested Reading: The Printz Award

You have to love a literature prize called the Printz Award. Named for Topeka librarian Michael L. Printz, this award honors literary excellence in young adult literature. We’re pleased to share the 2015 winner and honor books, and hope that you’ll read and enjoy them for yourselves.

2015 Winner

Printz Award Winner

I’ll Give You the Sun

By Jandy Nelson

Published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company

Once inseparable, twins Noah and Jude are torn apart by a family tragedy that transforms their intense love for each other into intense anger. Timelines twist and turn around each other in beautifully orchestrated stories of love and longing.



2015 Honor Books

Printz Award And We Stay

And We Stay

By Jenny Hubbard

Published by Delacorte, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., a Penguin Random House Company.

Reeling from her boyfriend’s dramatic suicide, Emily hides her anguish at a new boarding school, where she finds healing through poetry. Hubbard’s gem-like prose beautifully balances Emily’s poetry.



Printz Award The Carnival at Bray

The Carnival at Bray

By Jessie Ann Foley

Published by Elephant Rock Books.

In 1993, Maggie is dismayed to leave Chicago and her beloved Uncle Kevin behind when she moves to a small Irish town. Yet it is within this evocative setting that Foley unwinds Maggie’s exceptional coming-of-age tale, where Maggie discovers music and forgiveness as antidotes for grief.



Printz Award Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle

By Andrew Smith

Published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

Historian Austin Szerba is in love with his best girl friend, Shann. He is also in love with his best boy friend, Robby. Mastermind Smith takes these tender facts and swirls them into a whirlwind tale of carnivorous praying mantises, the history of the world, the role of the individual, and the end of all we know.



Print Award This One Summer

This One Summer

By Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Published by First Second

Adolescence in its precarious first bloom is the subject of this sensitive graphic novel. The team of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki show and tell us of one special summer in Rose’s life, in a brilliant flow of pictures and text.

Summer reading

Summer’s Summer Reading


Ah the lazy days of summertime. What I wouldn’t give to be able to experience summer break again. But today’s teen has it even better—there is now an exploding genre of funny, frightening, heart-stirring, literary, inspiring books written just for them. No more pawing through the classics or sci-fi shelves to find something interesting. Just sticking a toe into the teen end? Here’s a list of ten books you should check out. It’s not necessarily the “top ten” or the ten latest releases, but ten books that should be read. The first five are particularly attuned to the season, the rest just incredibly good books. Happy Reading!



  1. The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt—I call this a bridge book since it is pitch perfect for kids waving good-bye to middle grade novels and taking their first steps into young adult.
  2. This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki—Award-winning graphic novel of two girls leaving adolescence behind as their annual summer vacation at the lake just feels different this year.
  3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray—Crazy, weird, hallucinatory road trip narrated by a wonderfully unreliable narrator with Mad Cow Disease.
  4. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson—Take this one to the beach. Or on a plane. Purely joyous story of the summer Scarlett spends covering for her older brother, and crushing on his actor friends, all while saving the family hotel from ruin.
  5. Ashfall by Mike Mullin—Two teens must survive an environmental apocalypse. Cliff hangers on every single chapter. Luckily it’s the first in a trilogy.
  6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—This year’s Printz Award winner was my favorite book of 2014. Poetic study of love and identity in all its forms. A masterpiece.
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell—I have wondered if the author secretly stole my high school diaries for research. I feel like I lived this book of finding first love and your place in the world set in the ’80s.
  8. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton—Hauntingly beautiful debut novel of three generations of women trying to break a family curse…or is it a blessing. Hand it to an adult friend, just don’t say it’s YA.
  9. Graceling by Kristen Cashore—High fantasy at its very best. Read all three in the trilogy. Then read them again.
  10. Grasshopper Jungle or 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith—I couldn’t choose between these two. Intense, gritty, raunchy, fresh, and true. No one writes a male teen voice like Andrew Smith.

Summer Laurie is a freelance editor and children’s specialist at Books Inc. The members of Team Pickle would like to offer a huge “Thank you!” to her for compiling this top-notch summer reading list. Which one will you read first?


Photo courtesy of

Robot Test Kitchen

Robot Test Kitchen

Can traditional sources of information such as libraries meld successfully with new and increasingly innovative forms of technology? At Robot Test Kitchen, the answer is YES!

With scientific knowledge advancing at an unheard-of rate, two of the best ways to learn remain the same: reading and hands-on experience. The librarians of Robot Test Kitchen know this, and have outlined their plan in a mission statement.

“We are Robot Test Kitchen, a group of Youth Services and Teen librarians. We believe that when imaginations play, learning happens. We aim to use simple robotics as a means to expand our learning experience for other new technologies. Our goal is to provide an entry point of simple robotics in a way Youth and Teen Librarians can understand.”

Kids love to try things for themselves, especially when it’s something really cool like creating mini-sculptures with a pen, or practicing computer coding by making robotic bees follow a maze. Robot Test Kitchen takes this enthusiasm and channels it into grand avenues of learning and potential.

You grow with what you know. By catching kids early on and giving them a love of learning and creating, we can open the door to a vast realm of possibilities. Organizations such as Robot Test Kitchen hold the key to that door.

The United States of YA

The United States of YA

(Cue anthem)

Reading is a portal into a new world—many times, that world is a fantastical realm or a faraway land. Sometimes, that place can be found on a map! The good people at Epic Reads put their cartography skills to use and mapped out a young adult book for every state in the Union.

Th United States of YA

I’ve only read four of the titles on the map. I’m going to pick up a copy of Mead’s Bloodlines because I now feel obligated to read the book from California (born and raised!).

The United States of YA—how many  have you read through?

Click here to enjoy the original post at Epic Reads! 

The Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan

As kids, we’re constantly told to keep our eyes open, our mouths shut, and our hands to ourselves. Then grownups wonder why we don’t relate to the world around us. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan has taken this into account, and built accordingly.

Imagine a whole museum full of cool stuff that you’re supposed to touch and rattle around and make a mess with! Though the many interactive displays and stations are sanitized regularly throughout the day, there is nothing sterile about the learning experience provided by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

For the preschool set, there’s PlayWorks™, a 4,000-square-foot installment that encourages creative play and establishes a foundation for a love of learning. Older kids will enjoy the EatSleepPlay™ exhibit, which gives families an up close and personal look at how our choices affect all aspects of our health. Energize a brain, feed a digestive system, and discover why play is a super power!

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan welcomes visitors of all abilities and learning levels. More than 350,000 people are served each year by the museum and its outreach programs, and new programs are in the works. If you’re planning a trip to New York, the CMOM is definitely a “must-C.”

Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle: A Visit with Kelley Allen

This May, the members of Team Pickle were delighted to be included in Humble Bundle’s first children’s bundle. To tell us more about the company (and to whet your appetite for future bundles), here’s Kelley Allen, Director of Books for Humble Bundle.

How do you describe Humble Bundle to people who have never heard of it before?

​At Humble Bundle, we put the power directly in the hands of consumers. You pay what you want for downloadable content and choose where your money goes. Through this model and the help of the Humble Bundle community, we’ve raised over $59 million for charity.

So how does it work? We put together bundles of games and books that can be purchased at whatever price you think is fair. Once you’ve chosen a price, you can choose whether you want your money to go to the game developer or book publisher, charity, or Humble Bundle.

Why did Humble Bundle launch an eBooks program?

​In 2012, Cory Doctorow curated our first Book bundle and it was a resounding success. Our cofounders decided it was time to expand into that vertical.   ​

To date, which bundle has been most successful?

In May of 2014, we launched the Humble Doctor Who Comics Bundle Presented By IDW. It went on to earn $563K over the course of two weeks! ​

To what do you attribute that success?

​The Doctor Who Comics Bundle was quite the event! It was the first bundle to be launched on our Book tab. I am most “unhumble” to admit that we signed up Doctors Without Borders (MSF) as a charity just for that particular bundle. Since then, we have worked with MSF on many other promotions, raising over $700K  for MSF since Doctor Who!

You’ve worked in digital publishing since 2000​. What’s the most dramatic change you’ve noted since then?

​The acceptance of eBooks as a format. Back in 2000, the eBook industry was a mere $10M worldwide! Only a few adventurous publishers and authors took the format seriously or had any interest. In those very early days, many of my (print) publishing peers used to encourage me to find another industry to work in since “eBooks have no future.” Now eBooks are a hot commodity with the eBook retailer wars raging.

Also, it’s encouraging to see all the new business models emerging as well, including Humble’s. We now have subscription models, charity as good business models, and more bundle models like Lootcrate. It’s still the wild, wild West in many regards.

What’s next for Humble Bundle?

​A-ha! Good question. There has been a lot of interesting discussions internally at our Humble offices in San Francisco as of late. I can’t say too much, except to say that we are looking into being a book retailer and perhaps becoming a subscription service as well.

Thank you for joining us, Kelley. Here’s to a long and happy future of beautiful bundles!

Forever Julia

First Friday Book Review: Forever Julia

Forever Julia is not your typical YA offering.

There is no stilted, forced dialogue. There is no endless parade of ultra-perfect high school students. There are no (thank heavens) zombies or sparkly vampires.

There is honesty.

Sometimes friendships can be tested to the breaking point. Sometimes terrible things happen to those we love. Sometimes the good guy isn’t so good after all.

And sometimes we can come through the fire without being burned.

Julia lost her father six months ago. Living with her mother over the bookstore hasn’t been easy, but Julia finds refuge in her fiercely close friendship with Annika and her blossoming relationship with Jeremy, the biggest catch at school.

As her romance with Jeremy deepens, Julia fails to see the warning signs as her family and friends are gradually sidelined. When his behavior becomes controlling and even dangerous, it’s a race between the mind and the heart to an emotional finish that not even Julia can foresee. Will she make the right choices? Will she make them in time?

Forever Julia is a solid, thoughtfully-crafted story that touches on loss, friendships, abuse, and self-esteem. The characters and situations ring true; the choices and consequences will have you nodding in agreement and shaking your head in sympathy. As a story, it sings.

As a window into the heart of Everyteen, it shines.

Partner violence and domestic abuse aren’t just plotlines. If you find yourself in an abusive situation and need help breaking free, there are people standing by. Call Kids Help Phone in Canada at 1.800.668.6868, or The National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US at 1.800.799.7233.

Forever Julia author Jodi Carmichael

Jodi Carmichael is the author of the award-winning Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. A native of Canada recently transplanted to England, she is an advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome. Find her online at Writing … and other life lessons.

Emma D. Dryden

A Chat with Emma D. Dryden

The world of Young Adult publishing is as complex and ever-changing as the audience for whom the books are intended. As Little Pickle Press moves into this world with a new imprint, Relish Media, we’re taking some time to consult with Emma D. Dryden, a leading editor and publisher, about the “once and future” state of YA.

Why is the Young Adult genre so important?

[EDD]  Young adult literature—YA—has, over the years, come to be categorized by publishers and booksellers as works for readers between the ages of twelve and eighteen, often simply labeled as “12 + Up,” in which protagonists are generally between the ages of fifteen and seventeen.

Teens between the ages of twelve and eighteen are going through some of the most complex growth of any other age. They are children transitioning to adults; they are moving from dependence towards autonomy; they are experiencing a myriad of emotional, physical, and psychological changes and developments; they are moving from concrete to abstract thinking. According to scientific study, teens are constantly confronting challenges, pressures, stresses, temptations, and asks in brains that are not yet fully developed. It’s not just that teens haven’t had the time and experience to acquire a wide sense of the world; quite simply, their brains haven’t physically matured yet. So, given all of this, it makes sense to me that the YA genre has flourished and is so important because teens are utterly fascinating. Not only are teens fascinating for writers to explore and dramatize, but they’re fascinating for teens to read about. Young adults often see themselves in YA books in ways they don’t feel seen by society, adults, their parents, or even their peers. Young adults often find inspiration to figure out ways to make decisions and choices and to sort out challenges and pressures in YA books that they can’t otherwise find or figure out on their own or by talking with adults or peers.

Teens become adults and define their paths in part by the choices and decisions they make under pressure. And let’s face it: Don’t all of us define ourselves and our paths in most part by the choices and decisions we make under pressure? It’s no accident that protagonists in stories are defined by the choices and decisions they make under pressure—and the greater the pressures, the more significant the choices and decisions a protagonist must make and the more we will relate to them at a deep emotional level. Teens are starting to figure out what “choice” and “decision” really mean to them and their lives; teens are starting to experience the (good and bad) repercussions of their choices and decisions; teens are confused at some level by what becoming an adult really means to them. YA books can and do offer up reflective pools to readers in which they can see someone like themselves following through on all sorts of choices and decisions, right and wrong, good and bad. YA books can and do offer up possible answers to the “What if?” questions with which teens are constantly grappling: What would happen if I did this? What would happen if I didn’t do that? And by so doing, a YA book at its very best provides a teenager with roadmaps he or she can use to assist in setting their course for adulthood. The importance of the YA genre becomes even more meaningful if we recognize how valuable these books can be to assist in the development and evolution of teens into thoughtful adults. It’s no surprise, either, that so many adults are gravitating towards YA books since very often YA books can be more complex and perceptive than books meant for adults.

How have you seen YA change over the years and what trends are you seeing emerge now? 

[EDD]  I don’t like to talk about trends; the moment a trend is happening, it’s over and we’re on to the next thing.

I think the topics being explored in YA know no bounds. There is nothing off limit in YA these days that I can think of. This wasn’t the case many years ago—when there wasn’t such a defined YA genre at all, actually, and when the lines between middle grade and young adult often blurred. It’s not that books for young readers being published in the 70s, 80s, and 90s didn’t feature characters making choices and decisions pertaining to sexuality, romance, alcoholism or drug addition, abuse, danger, violence, and what are considered “darker” subjects—they certainly did. But in my estimation, the ways in which these subjects and characters are being explored and put onto the page have become deeper, more graphic, more psychologically and emotionally complex—more real, if you will.

I have to pause for just for a moment here to wonder, why are real subjects—the subjects of life as it really is—called “dark” with a specifically negative connotation? Life is not all or always pretty or good or happy or easy; much of life is, in fact, gritty, ugly, confusing, complicated, and hard—and I think YA writers perhaps know better than most that these aspects of life—the very aspects that make us appreciate all that is pretty or good or happy or easy—are real and are particularly real to teens who are experiencing the complexities of life as it really is for the first time. This is not a matter of light and dark, it’s a matter of recognizing and contending with the grays and the textures in between. So what other obligation of the YA author is there than to offer a picture of life as it really is?

I’ve heard people claim the endings of YA books are too negative, too hopeless, not happy enough. I would argue that many YA books in the past did not have happy-ever-after endings by any means. Life isn’t wrapped up neatly with a bow; our books shouldn’t end this way either. But when it comes to teens, who, as noted above, are still figuring out how to be in this world and whose brains are not fully developed, I think we absolutely have an obligation in any books we offer them to get teens feeling safe and confident enough to keep going on into adulthood, and therefore the endings of YA books (and I’d say all books, really) ought to be hopeful—not in a saccharin “Don’t worry about anything!” way, but in more thoughtful and meaningful ways that encourage and inspire teens to think and wonder, to look ahead to their possibilities. I’m happy to say I am seeing these sorts of endings in most YA right now, where I may not have several decades ago.

Who are some YA authors you think everyone should know about?

[EDD]  This is a hard question to answer, as there are so very many YA authors creating extraordinary and important works. I hope anyone interested in writing for teens will read every YA author they can find, and I hope teens will do the same. I’ll list just a few authors in alphabetical order by last name, as I feel the works of these authors together represent a brilliant array of formats, writing styles, topics, emotional complexities, richly-realized protagonists and richly-explored degrees of humanity:

Sherman Alexie
David Almond
Laurie Halse Anderson
Judy Blume
E. E. Charlton-Trujillo
Sarah Dessen
Nancy Farmer
Neil Gaiman
Ellen Hopkins
Jandy Nelson
Meg Rosoff
Ruta Sepetys
Elizabeth Wein
John Corey Whaley
Ellen Wittlinger

You began your career in publishing and editing, but you recently co-authored a book. How does the former enhance or impede your creative writing?

[EDD] I’ve recently co-authored a picture book with Rana DiOrio that’s neither fiction nor non-fiction, but a wonderful hybrid—WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR? In working on that book as an author, it took all I had not to self-edit and second guess myself too much as I was writing.

At the same time, I found my experiences as a publisher and editor to be quite valuable because I felt totally confident when it came to knowing how children respond to language and concepts, how the book would be experienced being read aloud, what I could leave out for the illustrator to handle in the artwork, and more.

I will say it was wonderful having an author collaborator with whom to bounce ideas around and with whom to come to mutual agreement or comfortable compromise. We were able to support and encourage each other as we each contributed something new to the final text, and that’s a luxury most writers don’t actually have when they’re on their own with their text. Additionally, we weren’t working on a manuscript that necessitated significant character building or world building, so it was a much easier writing process overall than another sort of book would have been.

Writing is an exercise I have always loved, though a discipline I’ve never been confident about. Writing is hard! I know that as an editor and publisher; I experienced that as a writer.

Knowing my name is going on a published book is a thrilling experience and one that feels quite different from knowing I’ve had a hand in the publishing of a book from the background as editor and/or publisher. Reading reviews and wondering/worrying about sales of the book? That will be nerve-wracking indeed—much more personal on many levels than what I’ve experienced as an editor or publisher.

What makes (your latest YA project) Breath to Breath so compelling?

[EDD]  BREATH TO BREATH is a special project that came about in an unusual way, with a publisher meeting a man whose life she felt could inspire an important story for young adults. The man’s not himself a writer, so the publisher was in a position to bring together an author and an editor whom she trusted to figure out how to let this man’s life inspire a fictionalized YA story that would resonate with readers. It’s been exciting to be part of a hand-picked team of this nature—and it’s been a great responsibility and rewarding challenge to work on a manuscript that not only needs to resonate as a fiction with a deeply-realized protagonist, supporting characters, plotline, and subplots, but that also needs to honor the man whose experiences inspired the work to begin with.

There’s no question BREATH TO BREATH is a tough story. It’s a story about abuse, about survival, and about recovery. It’s a story about the choices we sometimes need to make when our very life is at stake. It’s a story that explores wrong choices and, ultimately, it’s a story about embracing the right choices. It’s to my mind a quintessential YA that explores a memorable sixteen-year-old protagonist as he finds himself on paths he never expected, as he discovers things about himself that are confusing and confused, as he determines right from wrong, and as he recognizes what he needs inside himself that will allow him to take the next breath towards his own future.

I’ve been lucky to know the author, Craig Lew, for a while and I think he’s a remarkably sensitive, creative soul. It’s exciting to be working on this project with him—his first full-length novel and his first foray into writing in verse. I love novels in verse, have edited and published a lot of them, and think this format is beautiful and significant for a story like BREATH TO BREATH, not only because the protagonist is a highly sensitive artist, but because tough stories can be tough on readers. In what some may find to be  an emotionally overwhelming story, poetry’s spare language, line lengths, and rhythms afford opportunities and strategically thoughtful moments for readers to reflect, breathe, regroup, and pause as they need to so they can ultimately experience the character and the story fully.

This is a book that’s not only a rewarding, emotional read, but a book that absolutely offers hope to anyone who thinks they’re in a hopeless situation and a reminder that support is available not only from others, but from within—if you only let yourself find and trust it. This book is not about the one right way to recover from abuse; this book is about one kid who figures out what he needs to start on a path to recovery—and in meeting this kid, readers may see themselves or they may see someone they know, or they may just gain some insights into life and how living life works. And what’s a better way to instill empathy than that?

Emma D. Dryden

Emma D. Dryden is the founder of drydenbks, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy firm which she established after twenty-five years as a highly regarded children’s book editor and publisher. She consults and/or collaborates with authors, illustrators, agents, domestic and foreign publishers, students, and with app & eBook developers.

During the course of her career, Emma has edited hundreds of books for children and young readers and during her tenure with Atheneum and  McElderry Books, many of her titles hit bestseller lists in USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and other national publications. Books published under Emma’s guidance have received numerous awards and medals, including but not limited to the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, and Caldecott Honor.

Emma speaks regularly on craft, the digital landscape, and reinvention, and her blog “Our Stories, Ourselves” explores the intertwined themes of life and writing. She is on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and can be followed online at Twitter (@drydenbks), Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.