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I am so excited to review John Parra’s first book as an author illustrator, GROWING AN ARTIST, THE STORY OF A LANDSCAPER AND HIS SON! It has everything I usually love in his illustration work: pink skies, lovingly depicted and affectionate family scenes, hidden animals, insects, and airplanes in the sky. But what makes this book so special is that it is Juanito’s story!

“Today is a big day—the first time Juanito gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect! Throughout the day, Juanito sketches anything that catches his eye: a nest full of baby birds, a nursery with row upon row of plants and flowers, and more. Father and son travel from house to house, pruning, weeding, mowing, and turning overgrown and chaotic yards into beautiful spaces.“

But when a classmate sees Juanito at work with his father and pretends not to see him, Juanito’s heart sinks. Leaving him feeling awkward and confused.

This moment gives the book an emotional honesty that will be meaningful for so many young readers. The way the book resolves Juanito’s feelings is gentle and realistic. The resolution is inside Juanito, in the beautiful way he sees himself, his family, work, and the world around him, and most importantly… in his art!

Book Pairings and Classroom Ideas

Picture Book Artist Autobiographies: Pair GROWING AN ARTIST with THE ART LESSON and explore the young lives of two award winning picture book author illustrators.

Fathers and Children Exploring the Natural World: Pair with a reading OWL MOON and have students write about their own experiences with the natural world big and small, from daddy long legs in the closet corner to hearing owls at night. Where were they? Who were they with? What new experiences do they dream of having?

The Joy and Beauty of Hard Work: Pair with a reading of SOMEONE BUILDS THE DREAM and make a class list of all the wonderful jobs they know about and how they each make our world beautiful.

Illustrator Study: Can your students find themes and recurring images in John Parra’s work? Have them look for work, family, animals, food, machines, colors… 

Book Giveaway Details

John Parra grew up in Santa Barbara, which is my hometown too, so I especially loved all the Santa Barbara Easter eggs. I recognized the dump (if you’ve never been to the dump with your dad, you are honestly missing out), the train station, the Mission, and lots of familiar streets!  If you can tell me where this picture is in the comments, I’ll send you a signed copy of John’s new book! **Someone identified the mystery Santa Barbara spot on Twitter and has claimed the signed copy!**

If you need a hint, come read my interview with John about his illustrations in GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER. This is one of our all time favorite places in Santa Barbara and we talk about it in the interview!

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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 “Do you love me?” 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, “The patriotic symbolism is evident, but because color is used so sparingly, and the narrative arc so muted, the sequencing can start to lag.” Is that what the sparing use of color does? Is this a fair critique of the book’s use of paint? I feel like I already know. And I’m 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 “lag”) 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’ve 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—reading 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—could.

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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!