Perfect Picture Book Friday: OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and the Green Book PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I’ve always loved road trips. When my husband and I were first married, we were both teachers, and with the summer ahead of us, we’d plan a road trip. Twice we went cross-country…and many times we drove up to Canada or down to Washington, DC. We worried about money. We worried about weather. But we didn’t worry about whether it would be safe for us to be in a certain town after dark. And we didn’t worry about finding a place to eat or sleep. That’s because we were white. Traveling back in the day wasn’t so easy for people of color. In fact, it could be downright dangerous. Then Victor Hugo Green created the Green Book.


Written by Keila V. Dawson

Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Published by Beaming Books (January 26, 2021)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Discrimination, ingenuity, equality

Synopsis: From Amazon:

“Hungry? Check the Green Book. Tired? Check the Green Book. Sick? Check the Green Book.”

In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn’t visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could be safe in New York City. The guide sold like hot cakes! Soon customers started asking Green to make a guide to help them travel and vacation safely across the nation too. With the help of his mail carrier co-workers and the African American business community, Green’s guide allowed millions of African Americans to travel safely and enjoy traveling across the nation.

In the first picture book about the creation and distribution of The Green Book, author Keila Dawson and illustrator Alleanna Harris tell the story of the man behind it and how this travel guide opened the road for a safer, more equitable America.

Why I love this book:

  1. A story of ingenuity and courage – Victor Hugo Green was a simple ordinary man who did something extraordinary – something that helped many – he was a visionary!
  2. The text is so well-written – lyrical and full of drama – and true!
  3. The illustrations are fabulous – Alleanna Harris is pure genius!


Make a road map or neighborhood map with your children. For detailed instructions:

Here are some important talking points about the book:

  1. Tells the virtually unknown story of Victor Green’s contribution to history 
  2. Fresh material for Black History Month
  3. Introduces children to another “hidden figure” in the fight for social justice in the United States
  4. Accessible and engaging material for lessons on civil rights
  5. Great foray into lessons on equity and equality for young learners
  6. Engaging facts and additional information about The Green Book and Victor Green are included in the book
  7. Illustrated timeline of historical events about travel as the civil rights movement unfolded in the United States
  8. Ties in to national trend of inspiring nonfiction picture books
  9. Perfect for home, school, and library collections

This is a much-needed book because it opens our eyes to how things were in this country not that long ago…and we realize that although laws have been passed prohibiting discrimination – and the doors of hotels and restaurants are open to people of all colors, there are still many hearts that are closed. We can do better. We must do better.

I’m so excited for this book – I saw early drafts of it and can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands. And one of you lucky people has the opportunity to WIN a copy, thanks to the generosity of author Keila Dawson. Just leave a comment below – maybe you can tell us your favorite road trip destination – and then share share share on social media for extra tickets in the giveaway hat. The book launches January 26, 2021 and is available for Pre-Order. You can also put it on your Want-To-Read Shelf on Goodreads and review it. Then tell all your friends about it and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.

If you’d like to find out more about Keila and her amazing books:

Keila V. Dawson is co-editor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY, along with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, September 2020) and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG:YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE also with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, Spring 2023). She is the author of THE KING CAKE BABY, illustrated by Vernon Smith (Pelican Publishing 2015) and the forthcoming OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books, January 2021). Dawson is a New Orleans native, has lived and worked in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find her on TwitterInstagram,  Pinterest, or her website.

For more wonderful picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book link up.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday, December 5th at Noon-1:30pm Eastern time, I’ll be presenting on the 21st Century Nonfiction Panel of Picture Book Palooza – hope some of you will be tuning in.

Cover Reveal: SAKAMOTO’S SWIM CLUB: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory

I’ve always been thankful for teachers. Having been one, I appreciate how much dedication goes into being one – it’s not just a job…it’s more like a calling. These days, we are all giving thanks to teachers who are helping kids adjust to new ways of learning. And today’s post is about a particular teacher who inspired kids to dream and who helped them build that dream into a reality. It’s a COVER REVEAL FOR:

SAKAMOTO’S SWIM CLUB: How A Teacher Led An Unlikely Team to Victory

Written by Julie Abery

Illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Published by Kids Can Press (May 4, 2021)

The book has already been named a JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION for 2021 in the Sports Elementary Plus category, and here’s a little bit about the book from the blurb on Goodreads (where you can go to put it on your ‘Want-to-Read’ list:

The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme.

When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children — and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water’s natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto’s guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true — Olympic gold!

In a unique approach that makes for a moving read-aloud, Julie Abery uses limited rhyming text to tell the little-known story of Coach Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club. The stunning art of award-winning and highly acclaimed Chris Sasaki perfectly complements the lyrical storytelling. This inspiring picture book offers excellent lessons in perseverance, believing in yourself and not letting others define you, while wonderfully capturing h
ow one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others. An author’s note with photos and more information tell the fuller story of Soichi Sakamoto and his Three-Year Swim Club.

I’m SO excited about this book…it’s written by a dear friend, Storm sister, and critique buddy, Julie Abery, one of my long-time judges for #50PreciousWords and the author of the award-winning Little Animals Friends Series, including LITTLE TIGER, LITTLE PANDA, LITTLE MONKEY, and LITTLE HIPPO with more coming in 2021! And the illustrator is award-winning Chris Sasaki who gave this amazing interview about four years ago:

As a lover of nonfiction picture books, I’m a huge fan of SAKAMOTO’S SWIM CLUB – and I am excited to get my copy. The book is available for PRE-ORDER and launches on May 4, 2021! And please remember that the best way to help our favorite authors and illustrators is to review their books, buy their books, tell friends about their books, and ask local libraries to purchase copies for their collection.

I hope everyone has a great week! Please take care and stay safe. And make sure to come back on Friday for our Perfect Picture Book – another new book that is launching January 26: OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND THE GREEN BOOK by Keila Dawson.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: DEAR EARTH: FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN ROOM 5 Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. Yesterday was Thanksgiving – I feel blessed to be able to share my writing journey with all of you and I love sharing my favorite picture books also. And today’s story is one of them…it launches in just a few days…so you are getting a sneak peek right here – plus a chance to win a copy! This book is a tribute to teachers everywhere – another thing many of us are thankful for…great teachers!


Written by Erin Dealey

Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Published by HarperCollins (December 1, 2020)

Ages: 4-8


Synopsis: From Amazon:

When the kids in Room 5 write to Earth asking what they can do to help save our planet, they are delighted to get a letter back. This beautiful picture book is a celebration of every child’s ability to connect with the environment and make a positive impact .

A monthly exchange of ideas between the kids and Earth becomes a lasting friendship in this affectionate story about how to be an Earth Hero, lyrically written by Erin Dealey and gorgeously illustrated by Dilys Evans Founder Award-winning illustrator Luisa Uribe.

Young readers will learn about environmental conservation, along with simple things they can do to help care for the planet—like recycling and reducing energy consumption. There is even a reversible jacket cover that features a poster printed on the inside with twelve months of Earth Hero activities. These fun and interactive activities will encourage children to help protect our planet year-round.

Dear Room 5,

Your letter arrived on the wind.

A whisper of hope in the night.

I’m thankful for helpers who care for their planet…

Praise for DEAR EARTH: “A well-thought-out presentation of an important environmental message.” —Kirkus

To connect with author Erin Dealey or to find out more about her wonderful books:

Why I love this book:

  1. Fabulous unique concept – letters between Earth and a class – kids will love this and the content of the class letters feels very authentic.
  2. Fantastic illustrations will keep kids engaged.
  3. Wonderful lessons on environmental awareness and what each of us can do to help are seamlessly woven into the story.


Photo courtesy:

Try one of these eco-friendly crafts here.

More info about DEAR EARTH: FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN ROOM 5 including a downloadable template for a letter your kids can write to the Earth:

Please remember to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of DEAR EARTH…and don’t forget that the way to insure the success of a book you love is to buy the book if you can, review the book, tell friends about the book, ask your local library to purchase copies of the book for their collection.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please stay safe and well.

Next week I start my blog tour for FROM HERE TO THERE: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves. I’ll be visiting with Tara Lazar on Thursday and with Sandy Breuhl and Beth Anderson later in the month. And then in January and February, I’ll be visiting a bunch more blogs. If you haven’t checked out the Picture Book Palooza, please take a look – the money raised will go towards access and equity scholarships. And if you take a peek at the first panel on the top left, perhaps you’ll see someone you recognize. I’m on the 21st Century Nonfiction panel along with Alice Faye Duncan, Nancy Churnin, and Sue Heavenrich – we’ll be moderated by Carol Kim – and I am totally excited for it!

And for more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday linkup.