Cover Reveal: BABO: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day Plus Giveaway

I’m so happy about the new books that I am posting about recently. Whether it’s a Book Birthday or Perfect Picture Book Friday or a Cover Reveal, I’m seeing a lot of beautiful diversity. And today’s post is such a lovely example of that. Get ready! Get set!

TA-DA!!! Here is the Cover Reveal for Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day – written by Astrid Kamalyan and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan.

I love covers that invite me in like this one does! And I love covers that are fun and full of action…this one checks all the boxes on those two counts. I can’t wait to turn the pages of this book to see how Anait brings Astrid’s words to life!

And guess what? We are so fortunate! Author Astrid Kamalyan stopped by the blog to chat with us and share her inspiration and her hopes for her debut picture book. She also told me that she’s offering a DOUBLE GIVEAWAY! A giveaway for writers: winners choice of a picture book critique or a 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat. Plus, a giveaway for teachers: The first 3 teachers to pre-order for their class (12 or more) will get a free author visit. How generous…and what a wonderful idea! In-person author visits costs many hundreds of dollars – some authors charge thousands for a full day of presentations. And even a virtual visit can be difficult for teachers to fund. This way, the money goes to buy books that the children will own…AND they get an author visit that could have a life-changing impact on students.

BÁBO is the story of my heart and a dream come true on so many levels.

My writing comes from a place of happiness, warmth, and an unwavering, unbreakable joy that a childhood spent in Armenia has planted in my heart. My lovely babo (grandmother) and the memories of washing rugs with her and my siblings were the inspiration for this book.

The sunny Armenian memory-vignettes poured on a page as I was cozied up on the couch on a particularly cold autumn day in Chicago. Writing from the heart sounds like writing without a challenge, but that is not the case: how do you take that light and transfer it to the page? How do I share a childhood memory in a way that has a story that others will relate to? And as I was working on the backmatter, I was hit with the realization that I carry a big responsibility representing my culture to the world: this is the first time in the past 30 years that a picture book on Armenia is traditionally published in the US. How do I gather the courage to represent a culture that is so ancient, so rich and so deeply cherished? It was a lot to think about. Several critique rounds, a lot of work with an Armenian carpet-weaving expert, and a lot of love were weaved together to create a book that eventually resonated with an agent who signed with me, and a dream editor who is publishing my debut. After that, the most magical of the layers was added–Anait Semirdzhyan’s gorgeous illustrations, and the result is a little message of love towards our heritage that will hopefully resonate in the hearts of the readers.

Thank you so much, Astrid! I’m so grateful you shared this with us. I think that some people feel the stories of one’s culture must be so easy to write…but in fact, they are all the more difficult.

Sadly, we’ll all have to wait – we cannot find this book in bookstores yet because it launches September 19th…but we CAN pre-order it – and I definitely think we all need to! The book is already a Junior Library Guild GOLD selection!
Here are some links to do that:

Preorder from Volumes bookstore to get a signed copy
Preorder from Penguin Random House:

And if you’d like to find out a little more about this wonderful new author:
Astrid Kamalyan comes from a big, happy Armenian family where she is the oldest of five siblings. Childhood summers spent in Artsakh are what inspired her to paint with words. Astrid is a member of SCBWI and 12×12. She loves globetrotting with her husband and two sons. Astrid currently shares her time between Chicago and Yerevan, Armenia.

And here is a little bit about the illustrator:
Anait Semirdzhyan is an illustrator with a passion for children’s books. She grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in several countries with diverse cultures. Now she lives in the Seattle area with her husband and twin daughters. Anait enjoys afternoon walks with her four-legged shaggy friend.

Dear friends…isn’t it fun to get a peek at new books that will be launching this year? And it’s really special when the author stops by to share their path to publication AND offers a super cool giveaway. Please make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win the critique or the 30-minute Zoom chat with Astrid – maybe you can tell us what your favorite story is from your culture. Or perhaps you can share what folk tales you loved the best when you were a child. I loved Baba Yaga. If I close my eyes I can see the cover of the well-worn book that I read over and over again.
And teachers, if you’d like a FREE virtual author visit with Astrid, please pre-order at least 12 copies of the book for your class – the first 3 teachers who do this will win that author visit. Author visits can have a life-long positive impact on the children in your class.

Please stop by this weekend for Will Write for Cookies with Ellen Leventhal, author of DEBBIE’S SONG.


Cover Reveals for upcoming picture books are so special. It’s like going to a museum and getting a peek at a new piece of art. Covers of picture books ARE works of art…and just look at this one for AN OFRENDA FOR PERRO!

WOW! I love the BOLD VIBRANT COLORS that Carlos Velez Aguilera used to help bring to life this amazing story by Judith Valdes B. Kudos to Little Bee Books for acquiring this wonderful manuscript by Judith, bringing on Carlos to illustrate, and making this into such a beautiful book! I can’t wait to add it to my bookshelves!

Here’s a little bit about the book from the Amazon sales page:
Losing a pet is hard, but this picture book told through a Day of the Dead celebration will show readers that the love they have for their beloved companion will always remain.

Benito loves Perro. But when Perro passes away, Benito is heartbroken. During the Day of the Dead celebration, he tries to understand the meaning of the flores de cempasuchil, candles, pan de muertos, photographs, and sharing memories of departed loved ones. By creating his own special altar for Perro, he realizes that his love for his beloved companion, and the happiness Perro gave him, will always remain.

Told with honesty and hope, this heartfelt book is the perfect story for any child coping with loss, and for those who celebrate-or want to l more about–Día de los Muertos.

I’m excited about this book because I think it will bring comfort to many children out there who have lost a pet.

And when new books come out, it’s always nice to learn a little bit about the author and the illustrator:
Judith Valdés B is a Mexican-American writer and illustrator who holds degrees in Illustration (BFA), Business Administration (BA), and International Affairs (MA). She is a Children’s Book Academy graduate, as well as a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, she has lived in five countries across three continents and currently lives in Bangkok, Thailand with her husband and their three children. Find out more about Judith at

Carlos Vélez Aguilera is an illustrator based in Mexico City, Mexico. He graduated from the National School of Plastic Arts and has illustrated more than twenty children’s books including his graphic novel Salón Destino.

The book launches September 5th, but it is available right now for pre-order on

Life had definitely been busy…since we announced the Winners and Honorable Mentions for #50PreciousWords, my email has been flooded – and the Twitter post with the announcement received almost 100,000 impressions…does that mean that 100,000 people looked at it? Incredible! I’m having so much fun connecting the winners and the prize donors…I feel like a Fairy Godmother.

Please stop by tomorrow for another wonderful cover reveal: BABO: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day by Astrid Kamalyan.

Board Book Saturday: BUTTERFLIES SOAR Plus Giveaway From Me & Promotional Discount From the Publisher

It’s another Board Book Saturday! Last week I mentioned how important board books are in developing literacy skills of little ones including helping young children learn how to use a book. They are constructed so that babies and toddlers with limited fine motor skills can hold them easily and turn the pages, something most cannot do with the pages of a traditional picture book. And the sweetly rounded corners of board book pages are very kid-friendly.

Something else that is very kid-friendly are the two new board books in the Amicus Little Nature Explorers series written by one of my dearest kid-lit friends, Amber Hendricks and illustrated by Gavin Scott. And as we are just coming off of another sensationally successful #50PreciousWords with 756 fabulous entries, I thought it would be perfect to feature Amber’s board books because they started out as contest entries several years ago.

Continue reading