About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jan 19, 2021); PEDAL, BALANCE, STEER: Annie Londonderry, First Woman to Bike Around the World (Cawkins Creek/Boyds Mills & Kane, Spring 2023) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

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: https://www.erindealey.com/

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: https://www.familyeducation.com/earth-day/10-eco-friendly-earth-day-crafts-for-kids

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: https://www.erindealey.com/books/dear-earth-from-your-friends-in-room-5/

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.

LAURA GEHL: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies





I love it when I get to feature kid-lit friends I’ve met in person. Last November, I had lunch with Laura Gehl at the NCTE – we had a ball chatting. And so, when I heard that she just launched a book that is perfect for the upcoming holiday season, I asked her if she’d like to Write for Cookies…and lucky for us, she said YES!

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