Speak Up

Written By: Miranda Paul

Illustrated by: Ebony Glenn

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Confidence, Friendship, Advocacy, Historical Figures, Empowerment, Social-Emotional Learning.


Happy Saturday! As you know, it’s time for #sweetsandsocialjustice and this week is a picture book all about how and when to speak up! This newly released book is illustrated by one of our favorites, Ebony Glenn, and the story follows a group of diverse kids throughout their school day. When I was in school, I used to dream about the summer because I loved camping so much. So I made a marshmallow cookie (actually by accident) to tide me over until I could escape to the woods.

Speaking directly to the reader, the book is full of tips to help readers know when they should speak up. Something I love about the illustrations is how the reader can piece together the situation and help figure out what to say. This is so empowering, and helps develop critical thinking skills! Some situations covered are hearing rumors you know aren’t true (like how a mysterious brown stain appeared on the back of someone’s pants) or inviting a new student to sit at lunch. Even if you make a mistake, speak up and apologize. Being able to advocate for yourself, whether that’s expressing gratitude, the mispronunciation of your name, or because a situation is unsafe, is an invaluable skill and one that will inevitably turn the tides more towards the equitable treatment of people. If kids (especially ones with privilege) are not taught to speak up when they witness a situation in which they should speak up, marginalization of others will continue. In the back of the book are some real-life examples of kids who spoke up! There are also helpful lists of situations where a person should speak up, and situations that can be let go (like when kids can solve the problem themselves). There’s also some options for speaking up without saying a word, like writing letters or volunteering. I love this entire book, and the additional resources in back. This provides so much opportunity for further discussion, and introduces a bunch of really cool kids that have changed the world by speaking up! I love this picture book a lot, and I think you will too.

This book was kindly sent to us by HMH Kids, but all opinions are my own!

Marshmallow Chocolate Cookies:


1c softened butter

3/4c sugar (I like maple)

3/4c brown sugar (I like dark)

2 eggs

1t vanilla extract

2 1/4c flour (I use King Arthur Gluten Free)

1t salt

1t baking soda

1 bag mini marshmallows

1c chocolate chips

flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top)


Preheat oven to 375. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dries, do not overmix. Add in marshmallows and chocolate. The cookie dough is going to be mostly marshmallows, but I promise it’s worth it! Scoop cookies onto sheet (I have a cookie scoop and I love it) and sprinkle tops with flaky salt. Bake about 12 minutes. The cookies will be very soft and slightly underdone, but the marshmallows will be golden and toasted on top. Let cool completely on the cookie sheet and the residual heat will finish the cookies without overcooking the marshmallows on top.

Miranda Paul

Miranda Paul is a award-winning children’s author of One Plastic Bag and Water is Water, both named Junior Library Guild selections. Her titles have received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly in addition to being named to several recommended and “best of” reading lists. 10 Little Ninjas alsowas named an Amazon Best Book of the Month (August 2016). Miranda makes regular appearances at schools, libraries, and bookstores, and has been a guest presenter at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center along with environmental activist Isatou Ceesay. Miranda also serves as Mentorship chair for We Need Diverse Books™ (www.diversebooks.org), volunteers for Books for Africa, and is a regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers (Wisconsin Chapter). She believes in working hard, having fun, and being kind. Learn more about her current and forthcoming titles at www.mirandapaul.com.

Ebony Glenn

Ebony is also the proud recipient of the 2018 Wonders of Childhood Focus Fellowship, an award given by AIR Serenbe, a nonprofit artist residency program of the Serenbe Institute in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.  We’ve even talked about Ebony before when reviewing the book Mommy’s Khimar as well as featured her on one of our Sound Off Saturday posts!

A passion for the arts, great storytelling, and advocating diversity in children’s books, she aims to create illustrations that will foster a love of reading in young readers.  She also loves to create joyful and heartwarming crafts to satisfy her endless need to always make new things.

When Ebony is not giving in to her creative itch of art-making, you may find her lost in the pages of a good book, learning some new hula-hooping tricks, or going on an adventure with her pups, Louie and Gabby.

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