All posts by lockehardy

We are married educators living in Massachusetts who are passionate about bringing anti-bias and social justice narratives to children of any age!

Corrie was on Once Upon a Tech!

Happy Wednesday folx!  Today, I (Corrie) had the privilege of being on a really rad podcast called Once Upon a Tech!  If you’ve been following for awhile, you might recognize one of the hosts Ms. Fitz, from one of our Sound-Off Saturday’s last year.  The Morning Meeting series that I was a guest on are quick 15-minute episodes, and includes a list of resources at the end.  If you have some time, please check it out! We talked about the mission behind the website, our beautiful online community, and why it’s important to learn as much as we can.  I had so much fun, and they’re a lovely bunch of humans!

You can listen to the episode Corrie was on here!

A bit more about the podcast creators:

kimsarah-2copy-1_origSarah FitzHenry, aka Ms. Fitz, is a K-8 librarian and founder of Fitz Between the Shelves. She believes that libraries should be technology, research and innovation hubs designed by and for students. Find Sarah on Instagram at @fitzbetweentheshelves.

Kim Wilkens, aka Miss-Bit, is a K-8 computer science educator and founder of Tech-Girls. She is passionate about transforming technology users into creators, collaborators and activists. Find Kim on Twitter at @MissBitBytes.

You can find more episodes of the podcast itself here.

Gut Garden

Written & Illustrated by: Katie Brosnan

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Microbiology, Human Body, Pint-Sized Professor. 


This is a really cool book that discusses all aspects of the human microbiome.  By going through all of the different types of microbes (like fungi, protists, bacteria, and so much more!) in the human body, the reader learns all about the different processes taking place inside everyday without our knowledge.

Gut Garden is cleverly drawn and designed so the microbes speak to each other and have personalities, making the book read like a comic book rather than a dense scientific textbook.  It’s really bright and detailed, going through the body to show the variety of life in different parts.  It’s packed with fun facts like the differences in human microbiomes that have pets at home and the humans that don’t!  The reader learns about antibiotics, fermentation, and a recipe to make your own sauerkraut.  Overall, I learned a whole bunch and really enjoyed seeing all of the adorable microbe drawings that represented all the wonderful goings on inside my own body!

This book was published by Cicada Books but it was generously sent to us by our friends at Publisher’s Spotlight.  All opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

unnamed-6Katie Brosnan is an author and illustrator based in the UK. She has an MA from the Cambridge School of Art.

David Jumps In

Written by: Alan Woo

Illustrated by: Katty Maurey

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Games, Friendship, Social-Emotional Learning, Moving, New School, Own Voices.


It’s David’s first day at a brand new school and he’s feeling a little anxious about making friends.  The book follows his wander around the playground seeing what everyone else is doing, and looking for someone to play with.  But David has something in his pocket that might be able to help him.

I like how the title is descriptive of the game David has in his pocket, and also a metaphor for being in a new environment.  The illustrations of the playground are pulled back, making it seem almost endless.  David doesn’t necessarily seem scared, but he takes his time checking out the new playground and deciding who to invite to play the game he has in his pocket-elastic skip (also known as Chinese jumprope or Elastics, there are many different names) and make some friends.  This is a sweet and gentle book that also introduces a game to play, which would be a fun extension activity for a classroom!

This book was kindly sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

alan_wooAlan Woo was born in England, came to Canada when he was a young boy and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he still lives. He always wanted to be a writer, and gets his inspiration from his Chinese-Canadian heritage, friends and family, reading lots of books, going to live theatre, meeting new people, traveling and playing with cats! His work has been published in Ricepaper magazine and Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine.

katty_maureyKatty Maurey is an illustrator working from Montreal.

Born in Paris to a Chinese mother and a French father, she grew up in Hong Kong and later Paris before calling Montreal her home. She has always loved illustrated books and make-believe worlds. As a young girl, she could spend hours absorbed by details in the pictures that made stories come to life. Loving both nature and the city, Katty developed a fascination for the vivid colors around her. In her subtle way, she strives to express the small things in life that turn our everyday world into a fantastical one.

Later on, she studied graphic design at UQAM. She then went on to work professionally as an illustrator for various books published by Kids Can Press, Owl Kids, la courte échelle and la Pastèque. Her books are published in both French and English, and have been translated to Spanish, Catalan, Korean and Japanese. Among other distinctions, she was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for French-language children’s illustration.

When not in her garden, Katty spends her artistic time between illustrations for books and working on multimedia shows, coming up with fun costumes and lavish set designs where she can let her imagination run wild. Among the many things that occupy her time, she always tries to make room for her lazy dog and her very slow-blooming orchids.

Following an extensive stay in Rome in the winter of 2019, she is currently working on an illustrative
project that draws inspiration from Greek mythology, Roman history and tales of the ancient world.


I Am Brown

Written by: Ashok Banker

Illustrated by: Sandhya Prabhat

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning, Diversity, Empowerment, Own Voices. 


Folx, this book is beautiful inside and out.  I Am Brown is a celebration of the many complex and intersecting identities of having brown skin, and it is stunning.  Told solely in “I” statements, many voices blend and meld together to showcase the range of diversity within the classroom illustrated.

This lyrical book could be read mantra-like, going through the different languages spoken, houses lived in, as well as different characteristics like eye and hair color.  I love the way that so many differences are mentioned and everyone is celebrated for being exactly who they are.  Especially in clothing, we see a (presumed female) child wearing a business suit and a (presumed male) child wearing a prom dress.  This normalization is beautiful and gives some lovely clothing vocabulary too, showing kids wearing a kurta, lungee, and lehenga among others.  I especially liked the page mentioning all the places these children prayed, and having two characters praying “everywhere” and “nowhere”.

The inclusion in this book is stunning, happy children partake in a huge variety of activities and celebrate both their differences and similarities. I loved it, and non-white children need this sort of representation in books that exist as a mirror for them.  I Am Brown is absolutely worthy of a spot on your shelf!

This book was published by Lantana Publishing, but Publisher’s Spotlight was generous enough to send it to us! All opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

3387850ASHOK K. BANKER is the author of more than sixty books, including the internationally acclaimed Ramayana series. His works have all been bestsellers in India and have sold around the world. He lives in Los Angeles.





Sandhya-PrabhatSandhya Prabhat is an Independent Animator and Illustrator based in the Bay Area, California and is from Chennai, India. She holds an MFA Degree in Animation and Digital Arts from NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from Stella Maris College.

Trees Make Perfect Pets

Written by: Paul Czajak

Illustrated by: Cathy Gendron 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Pint-Sized Professor, Environment, Sustainability, Nature, Girls Outdoors, Love, Pets, Biology. 


Trees Make Perfect Pets is a story about a girl named Abigail who wants a special pet for her birthday-a tree!  She’s given that matter a lot of thought, and in her opinion they are the perfect pet.  Abigail adopts a tree and names it Fido, and she takes him everywhere in a wagon.  Eventually, with her devotion and attention, Fido grows too large to stay inside the house!

This book is incredibly adorable.  Abigail absolutely loves Fido, and is undeterred when various people try to convince her that a tree isn’t a real pet.  I also love a good story that has a character that reveres trees as much as Abigail does.  Not only with the environmental aspect of respecting trees and wanting them to thrive, it’s a wonderful message to send to readers that are perhaps allergic (or have allergic family members) to animals.  Having a plant to nurture could be a good replacement, or for folks who live in small apartments where an animal wouldn’t have enough room.  At the back of the book is a list of websites where readers can go and find tree friends for themselves!  I relate a lot to Abigail and her love of trees, but unfortunately have never had a wagon to pull one around in.

This book was sent to us by Sourcebooks Kids, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

DSC_3384.JPGPaul Czajak is the author of this lovely book.  He has a fascinating and rambling biography (which you should definitely read) on his website, which you can find here



Website_About_DinoSomewhere in the last century, Cathy Gendron stumbled out of college with a BFA and a serious need to draw. Landing unexpectedly in the ad department of her local newspaper, she discovered editorial illustration, which perfectly connected her love of reading with a passion for art. A short stint as art director for the Detroit Free Press taught her that she really didn’t enjoy the management side of the business. She quit and has been making pictures ever since.

Working traditionally, Cathy applies thin glazes of oil color over a casein underpainting. Her images have appeared in numerous publications for the editorial, book and corporate markets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, US News and World Reports, Utne Reader, Seventeen, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Kensington Publishing, IBM, Target and Saatchi & Saatchi.

In 2015, she designed and painted a 4,000-square-foot mural in Ann Arbor, “Enduring Roots”. That same year, she made her debut as a children’s illustrator with The Nutcracker Comes to America, written by Chris Barton. Her second illustrated book, Trees Make Perfect Pets by Paul Czajak, is slated for publication in the spring of 2020.

Cathy’s work has won awards from Communications Arts Magazine, Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Print Magazine, Society of Publications Designers and the Detroit Creative Directors Council. She has exhibited her paintings in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Lansing and after 30 years, she is still sending countless art students into the unknown from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

The Undefeated

Written by: Kwame Alexander

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Black Identity & Culture, Resilience, Trailblazers, History, Oppression, Enslavement. 


Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to review The Undefeated.  It’s beautiful and powerful and required reading.  For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week I’ve paired some baked donuts and the oh-so-trendy whipped coffee (seriously it is delicious) with this book.

Told as a letter to Black America, this story wends and weaves throughout history to the present and reminding those today to persevere and continue to create good.  The book is a call to action and an ode to history, not shying away from the atrocities both from history and current day.  Humanity is unstoppable, but moreso is Black America.  The systemic oppression that has been baked into the country from day one is hellbent on the failure of so many marginalized folks (read: non-white, not heterosexual, transgender, etc.), and this book calls out the great trailblazing voices of Black America.  These verses are both powerful and difficult, filled with emotion and hope.  It is packed with historical figures and additional information in the back with every person mentioned in the book.  The Undefeated is a wealth of information and feeling, and my words cannot do it justice.  It can be read again and again and readers will every time gain new appreciate for the lilting words by Kwame Alexander and stunning artwork by Kadir Nelson.  Please, if you haven’t done so, do yourself a favor and find a copy of this book.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

image001.5c896a606fccdKwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books, including THE UNDEFEATED, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, HOW TO READ A BOOK, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, SWING, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, and, his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. Some of his other works include BOOKED, a NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Nominee, THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO HELP YOU AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME OF LIFE, and the picture books SURF’S UP, and OUT OF WONDER, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award, The Dominion Energy Strong Men and Women of Virginia, and The 2018 NEA Read Across America Ambassador. Kwame’s belief in the power of poetry and literature to inspire, engage, and empower young people is the guiding force behind the #AllBooksForAllKids initiative he created in partnership with Follett. Kwame is the Founding Editor of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers whose mission to Change the World One Word at a Time. He’s led cultural exchange delegations to Brazil, Italy, Singapore, and Ghana, where he built the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded.

site-bio-photo2-2Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) is an American artist who currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. His paintings are in the private and public permanent collections of several notable institutions including the Muskegon Museum of Art, The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the International Olympic Committee, and the US House of Representatives. Nelson has also authored and illustrated several award-winning NYT Best-Selling picture books including, “WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball” and “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans.” Nelson states, “I feel that art’s highest function is that of a mirror, reflecting the innermost beauty and divinity of the human spirit; and is most effective when it calls the viewer to remember one’s highest self. I choose subject matter that has emotional and spiritual resonance and focuses on the journey of the hero as it relates to the personal and collective stories of people.“

Professor Astro Cat’s Deep Sea Voyage

Written by: Dr. Dominic Walliman 

Illustrated by: Ben Newman

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, Natural World, Ocean, Sea Life, Pint-Sized Professor, STEM, Biology, Environmental Activism, Pollution, Self-Empowerment. 


This is the newest installment of the incredible Professor Astro Cat series!  Grab your nearest ocean enthusiast and settle in for 60+ pages of aquatic adventure.  So this book came out in the beginning of April and honestly I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to finally sit down and write a review.  The book is incredible, I’m obsessed with the Professor Astro Cat layout (which you know if you’ve read any of my other reviews about the series) which reads part compendium and part comic book.  There are tons of small details to pore over while exploring maps of global oceans and sea phenomena.

Deep Sea Voyage covers a huge amount of information between its covers, taking the reader through kelp forests, scaling underwater mountains and exploring coral reefs.  The book covers factoids about animal wildlife as well, not just the ecosystems they live in.  Do you know why polar bears sniff the ice? How about what the biggest jellyfish is? Going through this book readers learn this and so much more, including how the oceans and seas were formed in the first place!  Importantly too, in the back, is information about how the oceans are in danger because of global warming and pollution.  Briefing the reader on oil spills and microplastics, we also learn what we can do to help offset some of these effects.  I love the way this series empowers young scientists to learn as much as they can and take their education into their own hands, one eye always on the environment and sustainability.  An amazing addition to this series, I truly can’t wait to see what STEM topic this dynamic duo tackles next!

This book was kindly sent to us by our friends at Flying Eye Books, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

dominicwalliman-2Dominic Walliman is a physicist, and award-winning science writer. He is co-creator of the Professor Astro Cat science books with illustrator Ben Newman.

Dominic received his PhD in quantum device physics from the University of Birmingham, and currently works at the quantum computing company D-Wave Systems Inc. As well as writing, he enjoys making films and animations to explain science and has produced a series of online videos communicating D-Wave’s groundbreaking quantum technology and his own videos about general science.

He has been writing science books since 2011, and he aims to give children super fun and clear explanations of science through the adventures of Professor Astro Cat. He grew up reading science books and remembers vividly the excitement of discovering the mind boggling explanations that science gives us about the Universe. If he can pass on this wonder and enjoyment to the next generation, he will consider it a job well done.

desk-shot-2Ben Newman has developed a distinct aesthetic over the years; a contemporary fusion of bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters which has been described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, including the Tate Modern, New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Google and The New Yorker. His practice extends outside of commercial work into worldwide exhibitions, paintings and three dimensional collaborations. Nowadays, he spends the majority of his time collaborating on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with his longtime friend and scientist, Dr Dominic Walliman, which are published by Flying Eye Books and have been translated into 18 other languages.

Concurrent to working as a freelance illustrator, Newman lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe.