Tag Archives: books

Sound Off Saturday Featuring: Mama Tortuga!

Happy Saturday!  We are thrilled to have been able to connect this week with Johana, also known as Mama Tortuga!  She is a powerhouse of bilingual and herbal activism and knowledge, with a flair for business.  Johana is a hustler and has tons of fantastic projects that she’s currently working on.  We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!f70d4b_5e94206b839e4548ac290c241396f086~mv2_d_1836_3264_s_2

Mama Tortuga: Hello, hola!! I am Johana usually called Mama Tortuga. I have created a bilingual website called www.mamatortuga.org to support and provide resources to families around the world, that want to raise free, eco-conscious, multilingual, global citizens. Our perspective is multicultural. We love to create community and to support communities that are working to create a better and improved world!!! I have a very eclectic point of view, from music and arts, to activism, to freedom, our family is here to support this and amplify those voices that need to be amplified!!!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 12.01.17 PM
Johana and her family- Photo Credit: @R Dot Photography


MT: Very passionate about a wholesome approach to live!! From intersectional feminism, mindful parenting, sustainability, arts, and love!!! I am a student of life!! I am also a lover of nature and work alongside my family in our small backyard garden.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!


Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 12.05.09 PM
“Parenting is a spiritual practice. Social Activism is a spiritual practice”

MT: Right now I am working on creating ways to support myself, an immigrant Latina mother, and support other women in my community in learning and healing. Always looking for ways I can generate funds and spaces for us to grow!! Locally, I am offering Spanish and English social classes in the area of West Palm Beach, Fl. I am also on a local Spanish radio, where I support ancestral knowledge on herbals and multicultural traditions. Online, I am offering platforms to support resources for global and conscious families. Also, I am documenting much of my adventures, because I believe our voices are important, even if my English is not perfect!! Always showing solidarity with oppressed groups and searching for a different mindset for our world!!! Right now working on a class to be offered at the Florida Herbal Conference of next year in Spanish!!!


TTA: How can people support you on your journey?


“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”

MT: Thanks for asking this!! We offer a line of wonderful and original Mama Tortuga T-shirts on all sizes for you $21 for sizes S, M, L and $18 for children, includes shipping, we also offer custom orders for bigger sizes or special merchandise. Also, I would love to be offered jobs on translation, multicultural consultant and talks, that are paid. I had been doing a lot of these jobs in the past decade. Sadly, many times, we are not being acknowledged. Also, I would love to be part of online collabs and convos. It is about forming a supporting community!!!


TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

MT: So hard to choose!! Going to mention some: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, The Holly Wild by Danielle Dulsky and Jambalaya by Louisa Teish

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 11.55.22 AMTTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

MT: For my website to keep growing and new connections that make a reality the dreams I have about having a supportive community. That the passion that I have for justice and solidarity and healing can come to fruition in abundance of resources and love!!!f70d4b_6ed50d5703164302a09e00d41ac84851mv2.jpg


Stay Connected with Mama Tortuga!

Green, multicultural and mindful family

Spanish Conversational Groups 

Sound Off Saturday- Featuring: Tyler Vile!

Happy Saturday! There’s a heat wave hitting us here in New England, so unless we venture to go swimming in the river later (which is also one of our favorite places to watch the sunset with a cold drink!) we will be inside all day!  We are so stoked to feature Tyler this week, who is a dear friend of ours.

Lee and Tyler experienced the highs and lows of their late teens and early twenties together in the squalid co-cops of the University of Maryland and have been best buds ever since 2013!

The Tiny Activist: So we know who you are, but can you introduce yourself/your organization for our readers?

Photo credit: Justin Tsucalas

Tyler Vile: Hi! My name is Tyler Vile and I’m a writer, performer, and organizer from Baltimore, Maryland! I’m a founding member of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel, a radically inclusive synagogue. I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and I’m trying to get back into screenwriting and playwriting, and I’m learning to write scripts for comic books. Hinenu formed officially in 2017, and we often get asked what it means to be a radically inclusive synagogue as opposed to just inclusive. The best answer I can come up with is that we have disabled Jews, queer and trans Jews, Jews of color, and converts in our leadership, and we make our decisions entirely democratically. Many progressive synagogues will pay lip service to marginalized people’s needs and issues, but at Hinenu, we’re the ones making the decisions. We’re looking to the future right now with conversations about childcare, Hebrew school, and increasing learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We pray together, we celebrate together, we protest together. It’s incredible to have seen this grow from a rough idea to where it is right now.

Hinenu Members protesting against Migrant Concentration Camps

TTA: What are you passionate about?

TV: I’m passionate about so many things! Writing, of course, but also ritual, justice, human connection. My passions are a big motivator in my life. As a disabled person, it’s literally physically difficult to get out of bed sometimes. Everyone has to find that balance, that sweet spot between passion and rest. I have to remind myself all the time that it’s okay not to do everything I’m passionate about at once. Fear of missing out can be hard, but as long as you’re confident in what you’re doing long term, you don’t need to be at every show, every protest, or every event. 

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

Cover of Shprintze and the Golem, written by Tyler and illustrator Avi Roberts

TV: Glad you asked! Right now, I’m working on a poetic reinterpretation of Bereshit (Genesis), the first book of the Torah. There’s so much in there that I think we take for granted. One thing I’ve learned in working with these ancient characters is that people really don’t change over thousands of years. There’s still jealousy, anger, hatred, and struggle, but there’s also still joy, humor, compassion, and liberation. I’m also working on a collection of sci-fi short stories about disabled characters and adaptive technology. I’ve always been a huge sci-fi fan and thought that we as disabled people live the most sci-fi lives, but we’re barely represented in the genre. When we are, it’s either as the villain or there’s a deus ex machina that fixes disability all together. I want to look at the consequences of “fixing” disability, the relationships we have with adaptive technology, and how disabled people are going to survive the climate crises that are headed our way. 

Art based on the slogan used by South African disability rights and youth activists. By Ricardo Levins Morales.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

TV: You can make a tax deductible donation to Hinenu here if you feel so moved. My personal Paypal and Venmo are always open if you’d like to donate to the work I’m doing. You can buy my first book, Never Coming Home. While monetary donations help, they aren’t everything. If you’d like to book me for a poetry reading, writing workshop, or panel appearance, my email is authortylervile@gmail.com. Other than that, be good to the people around you, support local artists and activists.

I think the world is going to be saved by small actions, small organizations, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Think globally, act locally. Leave the world a little better than when you came in. That way, we can all support each other. 

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?


Cover of Making Spaces Safer by Shauna Potter

TV: It has to be Making Spaces Safer by my friend Shawna Potter. Shawna’s in a band called War on Women and is using her platform to make sure that public spaces are free from harassment and that everyone is afforded respect, dignity, and consent. I was a beta reader for that book and in offering feedback, I was blown away by how smoothly and directly she delivers some very necessary truths about the way we treat each other. I love the way she weaves other people’s narratives into the points she makes and invites readers to learn from what can go right as much as what can go wrong. 

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

TV: The Jewish New Year is right around the corner! September will be here faster than you think. It’s not just about celebration, although that’s a big part of it, it’s a whole season of self-reflection, forgiveness, and accountability. What I love about it is that it acknowledges that hardship and joy are equally likely and that even when we’ve made mistakes and missed the mark, we’re still worth it and can grow and change. So, I’m looking forward to growing, learning, working on my book and all the things I don’t even know I’m going to love yet!

Thanks so much for having me, I love you guys and I can’t wait until the next time we see each other! 

Stay connected with Tyler!  

Tyler-Vile_eDonate to Tyler’s Paypal and Venmo

to support her work!

Check out Hinenu, and

make a tax deductible donation

to the organization here!


Read Tyler’s first book,

Never Coming Home.


To book Tyler for a poetry reading, writing workshop, or panel appearance,

email her at: authortylervile@gmail.com


Introducing: Baby Ventures!

Happy Saturday!  Chag sameach to those celebrating Passover, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate tomorrow!  This week we are lucky enough to feature Golzar & Lisa!  These hardworking women run Baby Ventures, a book company based in Maryland.  Both of these women use their experiences in non-profit work along with travel & activism to inform their creative and literary endeavors!  We hope you enjoy the adventure of getting to know the wonderful and intelligent Golzar & Lisa!


The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!


Lisa & Golzar
Golzar (left) and Lisa (right)

Baby Ventures: Greetings! We are Golzar Kheiltash and Lisa Hall, co-founders of Baby Ventures™, a Maryland-based, women-run indie children’s book company creating diversity and adventure-inspired board books and artwork. We met while working at a nonprofit in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, DC in 2005, and have been close friends and collaborators ever since.


Golzar is an avid humanitarian and advocate. She trained as a lawyer and spent eleven years working on behalf of vulnerable populations at leading advocacy organizations worldwide. When motherhood entered the picture, Golzar started pouring through all the board books she could find to read with her daughter. Many of the “baby books” she came across featured oversimplified topics and images, leaving her to crave more for her budding bookworm. As co-author of all Baby Ventures™ books, Golzar is deeply committed to creating a more enriching, globally informed reading experience for young children.

Lisa has been a lifelong artist and traveler, visiting over fifty countries across six continents. Her travels include serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, backpacking by herself across Latin America and volunteering at orphanages in Bolivia and India. Upon returning home from each of her trips abroad, Lisa painted the rich diversity of people and places she’d experienced. As co-author and illustrator of Baby Ventures™, books, Lisa combines vibrant imagery with bold colors to bring her real-life adventures to life in each book.

The ABCs of Washington, DC


As avid travelers with a deep reverence for the rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and locales that make up our global village, we founded Baby Ventures™, in 2016, with one simple mission: to encourage children early on to explore all the people, cultures, and places that make our world the wonder-filled place that it is, one literary adventure at a time. Our inaugural title, the ABCs of Washington, DC, is an ode to the real-life adventures we had while living and working in DC!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

BV: While there are several key principles that drive us, one core tenet we are particularly passionate about is working to ensure that all children – regardless of income or circumstance – have equal, unhindered access to quality board books from an early age. Although we are a small company, we are dedicated to donating our books and time to organizations that are working tireless on behalf of children and families, with causes ranging from early literacy to life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Because reading with children is a proven way to foster early literacy as well as a lifelong love of books, we also prioritize hosting story times as often as we can. Last year, through collaboration with the Family Library at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, we were honored to host a very special story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC, which was broadcast live to patients throughout the hospital.

We are also big believers in the power of a library card – we strongly support local libraries nationwide, and we are working hard to ensure that our books are available for circulation at a number of public libraries across the US. We are thrilled to announce that our bilingual Spanish-English counting book, ¡Números, Baby!, has just been accepted for circulation at several branches of the Chicago Public Library!

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!


¡Números, Baby!

BV: We have just released our third title, ¡Números, Baby!, and are undertaking an ambitious and targeted distribution plan across the US.  ¡Números, Baby! is inspired by our own travels across Latin America and Spain, and introduces youngsters to the stunning beauty and linguistic, cultural, and geographical diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. Each page combines numbers and text with vibrant illustrations depicting the unique attributes of nine Latin American countries, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Spain.


¡Números, Baby! also embodies one of our core company goals: to encourage bilingualism from an early age. Studies have shown that learning a new language is invaluable for the development of babies’ brains. Beyond the science, we believe it is also a singularly powerful way to foster empathy and develop kinship with our global brothers and sisters.

World Central Kitchen (WCK)


We are also honored to help give back to local communities that inspired ¡Números, Baby! – a portion of all sales of this title goes to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit food assistance organization founded by chef and humanitarian advocate José Andrés.  WCK is doing exemplary work on behalf of vulnerable populations in Latin America and beyond – please visit their website to support their incredible efforts.  

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

BV: The publishing industry is changing drastically, even from just a few short years ago when we waded into this field. We keenly welcome the uptick in indie authors and publishers who are creating one of kind, timely books that are helping raise tomorrow’s compassionate, connected adults. Get to know your local authors, seek out indie authors who are tackling issues you want your children to grow up reading about, and most of all, shop at your local indie bookstore! Since launching our first book, we have had the privilege of having our books sold at a number of incredible indie bookstores in the greater Washington, DC area. Many of these indie bookstores are women-owned and/or run, and we couldn’t be prouder to collaborate with them. Throughout our indie literary community, women are lifting up other women in the most inspiring and empowering way. Support that by supporting them– go to Indie Bound and find your local indie bookstore!

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?


All Are Welcome

BV: That’s a very tough question! If we had to choose just two, they would be: All Are Welcomewritten by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, and Alma and How She Got Her Name, by author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal. We are voracious readers with our own little ones, and we find ourselves feeling both moved and hopeful when we read such inclusive, empowering titles with them.


TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

BV: While there are a number of opportunities we are excited for this coming year, top of the list is our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico! This incredible, resilient island inspired page 5 of ¡Números, Baby! and we feel strongly about going to visit whenever we can.  Leading up to our trip, we are striving to set up several book donation drives with our local partners in the US, to help bolster school libraries in Puerto Rico. If you would like to donate a new children’s book or Young Adult fiction or non-fiction book, please contact us at team@babyventuresbooks.com!

Loyalty Books


We will also be hosting several author events throughout this year, including this month: If you and your little ones are in the DC area, join us on March 23rd at newly opened indie bookstore Loyalty Books for story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC – we’ll be celebrating cherry blossoms and the global friendship they represent, and much more from A to Z in our capital city! Check out their website for more details!

Happy reading adventures,

Golzar and Lisa

Stay Connected with Baby Ventures™!


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Baby Ventures™ Website

Baby Ventures™ Instagram

Baby Ventures™ Facebook

Baby Ventures™ Twitter

Introducing Fitz Between the Shelves

Happy Weekend! We have another Sound Off Sunday post this week, because of another conference!  Both of us had an incredibly busy but educational time with conferences on back to back weekends.  We love to continue to grow and learn, which is why we absolutely loved talking with Sarah FitzHenry, who is the brains behind Fitz Between the Shelves.  Sarah gave us an amazing list of books to check out which will you have running to your local library too!  We hope you have as good of a time learning more about Sarah as we did!

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself! 

Screen Shot 2019-03-31 at 2.52.03 PMSarah FitzHenry: Hi! My name is Sarah FitzHenry, but my students call me Ms. Fitz. I’m a school librarian working with grades K-8 at an independent school in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m the voice behind Fitz Between the Shelves, my happy little corner of the internet where I talk about the power of school libraries, diverse stories, dynamic teaching and learning, and the amazing impacts these things can have on childrens’ lives. I’m also a tech geek, aerial yoga instructor, lifelong learner, lover of animals, puns, and board games, and a very dedicated and messy mistake-maker.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

SF: How much time do you have? I’m passionate about the way the right book at the right time can change a reader’s life. I’m passionate about the fact that libraries and librarians are critical tools for helping to create the next generation of leaders that will shape our world. I’m passionate about doing whatever it takes to make libraries safe, exciting, and nurturing spaces for every single child. I’m passionate about diversity and

“Books Are” by Grant Snider

representation in children’s’ literature, because every child deserves stories that act as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors. I’m passionate about empowering kids to show up, stand up, and speak up – to make sure they know that they’re never too young or too small to use their power and drive to make change. There’s more, but you probably have other things to do today, so I’ll wrap it up.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

SF: Books are such powerful tools to help kids think curiously and critically about the world around them, especially when they’re shared and discussed with a trusted adult. I’ve been working on a Family Book Club series designed to bring families together to talk about complex or sensitive topics that might normally be avoided around the dinner table, but that kids need guidance to understand. This fall we read Out of My Mind, by Sharon Out_of_My_Mind_novel_by_Sharon_Draper_book_coverDraper. At our Family Book Club meeting, we heard from Kara McClurken of Bennett’s Village, and she really lit a spark in my students about making Charlottesville a more inclusive place where all kids can play together. They are now determined to help build a playground that’s accessible and fun for everyone. They’re working on fundraisers, design projects, marketing strategies, and more. At our last lunch meeting, I watched them pitch a school-wide fundraiser to administration by explaining why the mission of Bennett’s Village is important. It has been really incredible to see how Bennett’s story has inspired them! I am continuously moved by my students’ big hearts and limitless empathy.

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TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

SF: I’d love for you to join the conversation on Fitz Between the Shelves, or to introduce yourself on Instagram or Facebook. The more people I connect with, the more I learn! Offline, we can all join in by reading books by and about people that are different than us in every conceivable way. Families, read ‘em together and talk about the big stuff (your kids can handle it, and it will make them better people). Ask questions, and actually listen to the answers. Use the libraries in your community. And never be afraid to change your mind and your behavior as you learn!

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?

SF: You know you’re asking this question to a librarian, right?! I read almost 300 books per year (not including picture books)! I’ll have to break it down into categories for you.


Books that I share with my readers over and over again, that they always love:

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusty Bowling

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 10.56.48 AMLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Books that have moved me the most in the past year, not including the titles above:

THE-POET-X-e1542251351500The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Forever or a Long Long Time by Caela Carter

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan

Pretty much anything by Gary D. Schmidt or John Corey Whaley

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

SF: There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that is always in the back of my mind:

Do the best you can,

until you know better.

Then when you know better,

do better.

This coming year, I look forward to knowing better, so that I can do better, in a million new ways.

Stay Connected with

Fitz Between the Shelves!

Screen Shot 2019-03-31 at 3.41.55 PMFitz Between the Shelves

Fitz Between the Shelves on Instagram

Fitz Between the Shelves on Facebook