Friday, November 27, 2020

Three 2020 Favorites To Keep us Keepin’ On!

I titled my very first 2020 TeachingAuthors post “One Writer’s Rx for 

Achieving 20/20 Vision in 2020!”

Look backward, I prescribed. Probe inward.  Press forward. Reach 

outward. Gaze upward.  And finally, continue onward

Eleven months later, I admit: despite those Unexpected Kodak 

Moments and Silver Linings COVID-19 revealed, my endeavors 

and I experienced somewhat of an ophthalmological jolt. 

Indeed my eyes seek refraction on a weekly basis.

Nevertheless, I still see Endless Possibilities.

So, I, for one, continue onward, ever-encouraged by this year’s 

hope-filled children’s books.

Here are three favorites that both inspired and enheartened me.

Consider them my gift to keep you, too, keepin’ on.

This Charlesbridge collection offers poetic verses in a variety of 

forms by award-winning poets, including Nikki Grimes, Carole 

Boston Weatherford, Janet Wong and G. Neri.  All together, the 

poems pay tribute to 14 young activists who “stepped up to make a 

real difference in the world, who opened hearts, challenged minds, 

and changed our world.” As the collection’s editor Lindsay H. Metcalf 

writes in the introductory poem “Amplify,” 

“No voice is too small

to solve a problem

that’s big.”

Jeanette Bradley’s beautiful illustrations bring each activist’s 

efforts to the pages. Accompanying biographies and inspirational 

quotes strengthen the book’s take-away for young readers - namely, 

the impact young people – and indeed, people of all ages, can have 

when they use their voice, small or not, to speak up and out.

2020 gifted me with young Heroes and Heroines aplenty, including 

Lauren Wolk’s Ellie from Echo Mountain and Jacqueline Woodson’s ZJ 

from Before the Ever After.  Ten-year old Delicious Nevaeh Roberts,

known as Della, however, and her older sister Suki, now hold a 

permanent place in my heart.

The flap copy for Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s Fighting Words (Dial) 

describes the two as, “.. sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must 

find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.” 

Sexual abuse has finally found its way into middle grade fiction. The 

book’s dedication underscores its importance.

          “For any child who needs this story: You are never alone.”

In speaking their fighting words, their truth, their stories, Della and 

Suki not only model for young readers how they can do the same when 

push comes to shove. They give them the courage to do so.

The subtitle of author-illustrator Hannah Salyer’s debut picture book 

Packs (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) says it all: STRENGTH IN 


Yes, there are collective nouns galore gathering gorgeously-illustrated 

groups of animals, familiar and not so familiar to young readers. A 

flamboyance of flamingoes. An implausibility of wildebeest.

But it’s the underlying sentiment that’s truly gorgeous, especially since 

the “we” represents human beings, too.




                and pods.

Together, we are better.

The host of verbs available to humans and non-humans alike when they 

do all come together leaves me hopeful. Harvest. Speak.  Nurture.  

Work.  Sing.  Build. Dance.  Bask in the sun.  

     Pack’s ending words end my year-ending post perfectly.

All together…we are better!

Thanks to Carol’s Corner for hosting today’s Poetry Friday.

Here’s to Endless Possibilities whilst continuing onward in 2021!

Esther Hershenhorn


I’m currently seeking the perfect collective noun to describe the talented 

writers who appear within small ZOOM squares on my laptop’s screen 

when I remotely teach my Writing for Children workshops.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Alas, the collective nouns glory, marvel and blessing – which are so 

appropriate, are already taken by unicorns.


Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for sharing your favorites, Esther--the third, Packs, is new to me. I'll have to check it out.

Bobbi Miller said...

O! I LOVE these book choices! Very inspirational post. Thank you!