Banned Books Week

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular,” as stated on the American Library’s Association (ALA)’s website.

Here is the list of the top 10 most challenged and banned books of 2021 and the reasons cited for censoring the books:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and profanity and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and violence and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and use of a derogatory term
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sex education and LGBTQIA+ content
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

To celebrate this week, add these books to reading your list! As the theme of this week says, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

Happy Book Birthday! 🎉

Happy 1 year to Turtle Tube: An Erutuf National Park Novel! 🎈🐢📚

It’s been a wonderful year from seeing the printed book in person for the first time to reading sweet reviews to meeting new fans to visiting my book in an actual bookstore and receiving an award! I’m really looking forward to year 2 and also book 2 coming out!

For those of you on Instagram, I am hosting a giveaway to celebrate the one year of publication by giving away 6 signed copies of my book. Head over to my Instagram account to check it out and enter the giveaway which ends on 8/25. Good luck! 🍀

If you haven’t had a chance to review my book, please take a few minutes and just write a sentence or two online for it. Each review makes a huge difference in the algorithms online!

Thank you all for your support!!! 🐢📚❤️

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Happy 106th to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

On August 1, 1916 the United States Congress adopted a bill to establish a National Park in the Territory of Hawaii. According to the National Park Service, the newly formed Hawaii National Park included the following land areas on Hawaii Island: 1) the Kīlauea Section (35,865 acres); 2) the Mauna Loa Section (17,920 acres); and 3) a strip of land to connect the two aforementioned sections. This Hawaii National Park also included Haleakalā on Maui which became a National Park on August 21, 1961.

In early June this summer, we spent a week on the Big Island, Hawaii, and got to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

It was so cool to see Kilauea! In 2018, the summit of Kilauea collapsed making the caldera sink. Today, you look (from afar) to see the activity in the crater. Here’s a chart from NPS showing the 2018 caldera collapse.

Credit: NPS

Check out a few photos from our day at this national park. Volcanoes continue to fascinate me!

During the day, you only see smoke coming up.

Day view

At night, you can see the glow from the lava inside it. It’s so beautiful. The photo doesn’t really do it justice.

Night view

At the south side of the national park, you can see former lava flow from previous eruptions along the Chain of Craters Road.

This national park contains such unique sites, hikes, and drives to enjoy! Highly recommend visiting this national park if you’re on the Big Island in Hawaii!

Exciting Book News!

I have some book news to share….

Turtle Tube: An Erutuf National Park Novel won three Honorable Mention Awards for the Middle Grade Fiction, New Author: Fiction, and Green Books/Environmental categories in the Story Monsters 2022 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards Contest! 🏅 Yay!! 🎉

So honored and grateful! ❤️

Click here for more information on my book.

Virtual Tours

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail thanking me for my information about national parks virtual tours as it helped out Amanda and Grace for their “Exploring the World from Home” workshop at the Rutland County Library in Vermont.

In their research, Amanda found a couple of great online resources that I wanted to share:

Take a virtual trip and see some amazing architecture throughout the world through by clicking here. I really like how you can scroll to a particular place and click to check it out.

Take a virtual reality trip by clicking here. On this page, you can time travel through virtual reality. For example, you can step onto the Titanic as it looked like when it left Great Britain.

Thank you to Amanda and Grace for sharing these really interesting online resources! Good luck with your workshop!

I’m going to take a virtual tour now to check out Anne Frank’s house! Happy online traveling!

Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth National Independence Day!

Today celebrates the date of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people of African descent located in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from the slavery system in the United States.

While the Emancipation Proclamation granted freedom and was signed on January 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln. Texas was the farthest of the Confederate states, and slaveholders there made no attempt to free the enslaved African Americans they held in bondage. President Lincoln’s proclamation was unenforceable without military intervention, which eventually came nearly two and a half years later.

Juneteenth is an important date on the timeline of slavery history in the United States and now a federal holiday just signed into law last year.

Take a moment today and reflect on the importance of this holiday.

“Sheer brilliance….An empowering, transformative read. Bravo.”—Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys

Arthur Weasley

“Bless them, normal people will go to any lengths to ignore magic, even if it’s staring them in the face.”
— Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets

In a group of great fathers in literature, you have to think about Arthur Weasley from The Harry Potter Series.

Arthur truly loves his family and takes on Harry like his own child. He’s a great family guy and also a hard worker. I love his curiosity and awe of the world that he demonstrates to his children.

🙂

Cheers to all the dad out there today! Hopefully you get some time to read a great book today!

Flag Day

Happy Flag Day! This holiday commemorates the date in 1777 when the United States approved the design for its first national flag.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Did you know that the designer of our current flag was a 17-year-old Boy Scout named Robert Heft? What grade do you think he received for this look? A grade of B-minus. His Ohio teacher said the design was unoriginal, but offered to raise it to an A if the design was accepted nationally. So, the boy wrote to his congressman and the rest is history. And yes, he ended up with an A.

Happy Flag Day! 🇺🇸

Another Decade

Cheers to another lap around the sun!

As I enter a new decade in my life, I can’t help but reflect on the past ten years (and beyond). If you don’t know or really want to know which decade, ask my children or ask my older friends welcoming me to this club. I plan on answering that I’m 36 years old again. 😉

The previous decade flew by! People always warn you how fast the time with your children goes and these last 10 years really did go fast! Our children are both double digits now with one entering high school and the other only has one more year of elementary school left. I blinked and it flew by! I’m pretty proud of our two kiddos and the adults they’re becoming!

When I think back over these last 10 years, I really think about a time of growth as a family and adventures together.  I even wrote and published a children’s book! 😊

I feel very lucky! Over the last ten years, I made a number of new friendships; watch older friendships grow; reconnected with past ones; and said good bye to those whom we lost.

In these last ten years, I have seen three very, very, very different men get elected and serve as Presidents. Kamala Harris became the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American to be Vice President. The United States legalized same-sex marriage across all 50 states. The #MeToo movement went viral. Fidget spinners were a craze. The Paris Agreement, an international treaty, was created to focus on climate change. We experienced a total eclipse. Space-X launched astronauts to the space station.  The Black Lives Matter movement started. Astronomers were able to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. The U.S. established June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. COVID-19 spread around the world. And of course, the Chicago Cubs broke the curse and won the World Series in 2016!

While I enter this next decade with some angst, I also welcome the next ten years of adventures and life. In fact, I feel very, very grateful!

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou