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MoonHouse: Written by Kids!

Written by Kids is a weekly podcast full of Kids’ writing performed by professional actors. They invited me to come on the pod and chat with young author Neil, age six, about some tips for inspiration, tackling writer’s block, and… my flock of chickens? Yup!

Chatting with Neil was a great way to be reminded of how simple and satisfying being a writer is. Writers write!

Come listen to our chat on Spotify!

And be sure to check out Neil’s piece What I look Forward to Most in 2021 performed by John Noble Barrack. It’s full of joy, hope, and enthusiasm, just like Neil. If you know a young writer who would like to submit, check out MoonHouse’s submission guidelines!

Happy writing everyone,

‚̧ Robin

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America, My Love, America, My Heart

America, My Love, America, My Heart, by Daria Peoples-Riley

Coming April 6, 2021

America, do you love me?

I usually love the anticipation that comes from pre-ordering a book and waiting for it to arrive. That cover! That hook! I love my own impatience! But when I read a review of one of my eagerly awaited books in a respected journal, a pretty nice review, one sentence gave me pause. Made me and several other writers wonder, Is this review racist?

I prodded a friend and received an advance copy. Advance copies are another thing I honestly love. What’s even better than pre-ordering and anticipating? Peeking around the corner and getting a glimpse into the future.

Reading America, My Love, America, My Heart, by Daria Peoples-Riley, gave me a pins-and-needles flush of feeling from the first pages. The end papers are covered with the careful and childlike script of the pledge of allegiance over a painting of the US flag. It is impossible not to know that the covenant of those words, with liberty and justice for all, does not hold true for every child in America. And the refrain of the book ‚ÄúDo you love me?‚ÄĚ feels immediately answered. The adult reader already knows. The children depicted on the ensuing pages know too. Not everyone. Not well enough. Not completely.

The children depicted in the book along with their families and teachers are painted in shades of gray, though they are all clearly children of color. Peoples-Riley colors them in with her words:

Do you love my black?

Do you love my brown?

Do you love my throne?

Do you love my crown?

The use of red, white, and blue… and grey to color the book is a choice that conveys powerful emotion. A choice that feels thoughtful as the contemplative expressions of the children watching their flag sideways. A choice with visual echoes of the past but depicted as the present. A choice that calls the reader to see the truth in black and white.

That truth is moving and painful.

As joyful and reflective and watchful as the children in this book are, as the children in our world are, they are still not loved well enough. Not invited to be their full and vibrant selves.

Which brings me back to the review in School Library Journal. It reads, ‚ÄúThe patriotic symbolism is evident, but because color is used so sparingly, and the narrative arc so muted, the sequencing can start to lag.‚ÄĚ Is that what the sparing use of color does? Is this a fair critique of the book‚Äôs use of paint? I feel like I already know. And I‚Äôm lovingly calling on School Library Journal, as many others have done, to do better.

The review gives weight to the use of red, white, and blue, to evoke patriotic symbolism, but does not critically consider the use of grey to depict Black and Brown children in any meaningful way. Painting kids in grey evokes the reality in which Black and Brown kids are not seen, and this review does that again.

It is hard to linger (to ‚Äúlag‚ÄĚ) in pain and hard truth. Our discomfort with that as a nation, our impulse to rush past things many think of as being captured in a black and white past before we‚Äôve really reckoned with them has just gotten us nowhere to be proud of. Has not moved our institutions to love black and brown children as their full selves.

Denying that truth is racist.

Needing to rush past those feelings is racist.

An unwillingness to interrogate biases and assumptions in reviews is racist. 

I want to be able to trust our publishing institutions with reviews of books for children of color. Pretending like we consistently can is not going to move us toward any kind of a more vibrant and just future. But this book‚ÄĒreading it aloud in laps and classrooms and on library rugs while someone silently counts to ten before turning each page so that everyone has a chance to feel every image and word‚ÄĒcould.

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Instagram Live


Hey, distance learners! Everyday at 1:30 pm PST I’ll be reading from OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS, answering questions, and doing show and tell on Instagram live.

Static videos will be available here! Email me for your teacher password: robin@blueeggbooks.com!

I’ll share something new and interesting everyday! It could be a pet, a specimen from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, or a favorite book.

Monday, March 23: The Strawberry Iced Classic

Tuesday, March 24:  The Banana Slug Bar

Wednesday, March 25: The Chocolate Rainbow

Thursday, March 26: The Turkey Talon

Friday, March 27: The Golden Galaxy

Click HERE for Related Writing Activities

OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS is a perfect fit for young fans of cozy and quirky mysteries. It’s sweet, odd, and uplifting!

See you on Insta!

‚̧ Robin


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Inspiration is a Hoot!


Last month the Mixed Up Files posted a fun interview all about my inspiration, my obsession with owls, and my love of the natural world.

I gave them a backstage tour of one of my favorite places at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History–the Nature Collection!

It was a hoot!



Barnes & Noble



Lerner Books


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A Secret Scene…


Now that Mattie and my eco-crime fighting owl Alfred are officially out in the wilds of libraries and bookstores, I’m in the mood for donuts.¬†LOTS OF DONUTS!

I’ve written a secret scene about a very special donut. You can unlock the scene in several ways:

  1. Tweet a donut picture or gif to @RobinYardi, please do indulge!
  2. Tweet a picture of the cover of OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS on a wild bookshelf!
  3. Follow my blog and comment here, and please DO tell me your favorite flavor!!

A perfectly baked PDF can be delivered to greedy readers via DM or email!

Happy reading & happy eating!



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Camilla Cartographer Cover Reveal!

Today I’m so happy to host the cover reveal for Camilla Cartographer! It was a pleasure interviewing Julie Dillemuth and Laura Wood about their new book, which is their third author/illustrator collaboration published by Magination Press.

From the publisher: Camilla loves maps, especially ones of her forest home. But when a huge snowstorm comes and covers all the paths and landmarks, even her maps can’t help her find her way to the creek! Camilla realizes this is the perfect opportunity to make her own maps…forging new paths and discovering her forest all over again!

Camilla Cartographer is a delightful book about finding your way, even when it’s not on any map!

I loved how the book chronicled Camilla’s transformation from a collector of maps to a creator of them. The story illustrates the beautiful moment of transition that kids go through again and again as they grow, from knowing to doing. From dreaming to being. This story is sure to appeal to kids moving toward mastery in all sorts of skills. And who doesn’t like making maps?

Questions for Julie Dillemuth

RY: After I read I wondered if you have ever had a happy realization, like Camilla, that you suddenly knew what you wanted to do… and to be?
JD:¬†I was lucky enough to have an ‚Äúa-ha!‚ÄĚ moment of figuring out what I wanted to¬†do with my (career) life in my mid-30s,¬†with writing for kids. I had struggled¬†with wanting to write creatively for a long time, but an idea for a picture¬†book came to¬†me one summer and something just clicked for me with that genre.¬†Also at that time I kept running across people who¬†had switched careers right¬†around age 40; for example, Julia Child, who took her first cooking class in¬†her late 30s.¬†Those kinds of stories gave me courage, and about 4 months after¬†writing that first story I decided to get serious about a¬†writing career. I‚Äôm¬†grateful that I found my passion!
RY: What is your favorite moment in the text (I know mine) and why?
JD: My favorite line comes right after Camilla¬†realizes that when the snow melts, all the paths she made will be gone — it‚Äôs¬†that moment we‚Äėve all experienced when you‚Äôre losing something and you realize¬†your going to have to let it go. Camilla¬†is hugging her map and Parsley is¬†hugging Camilla, and the line is, ‚ÄúThe snow made the silence especially quiet.‚Ä̬†She‚Äôs¬†being with those feelings and having a coming-to-terms moment, and the¬†illustration captures the emotion so beautifully.
She jugged the map
But I also love the scene where she comes¬†running out of her house all geared up for exploring and mapping — she has a¬†vest full of pockets and they‚Äôre brimming with all kinds of supplies; she even¬†has a pencil tucked behind her ear… I can¬†completely relate to that!
RY: What’s your earliest (or best) map related memory?
JD: My first experience with real cartography¬†was in college, when I was an archaeology major. In field school we learned¬†different techniques for mapping a site — compass and tape measure, plane¬†table and alidade, and transit. The¬†instruments were totally cool, but it was¬†difficult and I remember feeling very inept and doubtful. When we finally ended¬†up with a map that looked right and that I knew was accurate, it was a great¬†feeling of accomplishment. There‚Äôs¬†something satisfying in all the measuring¬†and mapping a landscape; maybe that‚Äôs because I‚Äôm kind of an organizational¬†and¬†control freak!
I also worked on projects that combined¬†historical maps with satellite imagery, which was really exciting — and this¬†was¬†about 25 years ago, when we didn‚Äôt have anything close to the resolutions¬†we have now in imagery. The length of a pixel¬†represented 30 meters on the¬†ground, and the best resolution we had was something like 10 m, and that was in¬†black¬†and white! GPS was around then, but there was a deliberate, built-in¬†error that would change daily — accuracy for civilian¬†use was purposely¬†degraded. Can you imagine? It was so cutting-edge then, but nowhere near what¬†we do with location¬†services today.
GPS is pretty fundamental to surveying and mapping now, but I’m happy I got a chance to learn old-school methods. I think that experience was part of what inspired Camilla’s fascination with early explorers and cartographers.

Questions for Laura Wood

RY: You’ve made three books about maps and spatial thinking with Julie Dillemuth and I wonder what you’ve learned about maps along the way that ended up inspiring the finished art in CAMILLA?
LW: While working with Julie on three books about maps I surely had the opportunity to look at lots of different kinds of maps! And yes, I feel like I definitely learned something about them.
For example, I learned that a map doesn’t have to be a complex to be effective, the importance of a good legend and the effectiveness of symbols.
Also, some vintage maps I encountered gave me the inspiration for the colour palette of Camilla’s book which ended up being warm, limited and muted.
RY: Do you have a favorite image (I certainly do) and can you tell me about creating it?
LW: It’s hard to pick one favourite image from all the ones in the book since I usually consider a book like one single unit.

But if I have to pick one that I particularly enjoy looking at myself, it would be the opening one, where the reader is introduced to the main character, Camilla, and to her little world.

I wanted to make the image fun and engaging so that the reader could be thrown straight into the story and her world.

Here people can start getting to know her for the first time, having a sense of who she is and where she lives.

It took me a while to get this image right. Before getting to the final sketch I drew a few different versions until I was happy enough and I had the right composition to fit the story and the text.

RY: What’s your earliest (or best) map related memory?

Nowadays my maps are all on my phone, but my earliest memories go back to when maps were still on paper!

In particular, I remember when as a child I used to make maps myself about the world I was living in: a map of my room, my school, my building, etc… I was fascinated by them!

To be honest not much has changed ūüôā

Thank you both for letting me ask my nosy questions! Brava, ladies!

Julie Dillemuth is a children’s author with a PhD in geography. Her books LUCY IN THE CITY: A STORY ABOUT DEVELOPING SPATIAL THINKING SKILLS (Magination Press) and MAPPING MY DAY (Magination Press) promote spatial reasoning skills by encouraging readers to tune into their surroundings, think about where they are in relation to other things and places, draw maps to tell stories, and more. Her most recent book, LOVING COMFORT: A TODDLER WEANING STORY, helps toddlers and mothers through the emotional process of weaning from breastfeeding. Julie lives in Santa Barbara, California, where the west coast faces south. To find her online, navigate to http://www.juliedillemuth.com or @JulieDillemuthBooks on Facebook.

Originally from a small town in the north of Italy, Laura Wood studied illustration in the wonderful city of Melbourne, Australia, where she started her illustration career. After a few years of seeking adventures and travelling around the world, she currently lives and works in Milan, Italy. She creates her art digitally using lots of textured brushes and a fun color palette. Visit her online at www.laurawoodillustration.com or find her on Instagram @laura_wood_illustration!