Tag Archives: military action


Written by: Samira Ahmed

Cover Art by: art by Dana Ledl, design by Karina Granda 

For ages: YA 12 years and up

Language: English, some Arabic.

Topics Covered: Islamophobia, Internment, Violence, Military Action, Oppression, History, Subversion, Independent Thought, Activism, Friendship, Love, Growing Up, Relationships. 


For #sweetsandsocialjustice I wanted to make a pairing where the food was reminiscent of the book.  So I made these super flat and chewy chocolate oatmeal cookies to represent the landscape where the book takes place.  The dusty camp is in the desert, and the chocolate I used was super dark (I only had 73% cacao hanging around) and almost bitter.  I dubbed them “adult cookies” because they’re not very sweet and have a nutty taste from the almond flour.

I really enjoyed this book.  The plot takes events ripped straight from the news, and an unnamed bigoted American president has followed through on the Muslim travel ban.  Continuing on, Muslim citizens find themselves being fired from jobs and subject to a strict curfew.  Layla Amin is a teenager wishing things would go back to normal, when she and her Jewish boyfriend David were free to show PDA in school, and go out on dates at night.  However, one night after a close call sneaking back after curfew, Layla is in her room when she sees a van pull up in front of her house and a group of soldiers in unfamiliar fatigues.  Layla and her parents are taken from their home and transported to the first Muslim Internment camp, which the Director of the camp hopes to be a model for future camps to open all across the country.  At the camp, life is dismal.  However, Layla finds some friends.  Some are also interned with her, and some are in charge of keeping the internees subordinate.  Can Layla’s guard friend be trusted?

I read this book in a single day, despite it being almost 400 pages.  I really enjoyed it, and was hooked instantly.  Layla draws parallels between what is happening to her and the concentration camps of WWII, showing how white complicitness can lead to destruction.  I would have loved at least a chapter in between the end and the Epilogue, it felt rushed. But also, I was enjoying the book so much I would have gladly read the story split into 2 books, giving room for more story.  The book is a call to action to never become complicit, and specifically to those of us with white privilege to use it on behalf of marginalized groups.  In the back is a wonderful and emotional author’s note, which I urge everyone to read.


  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I use either Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur 1:1 if baking gluten free)
  • 1/2 c ground almond flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt (I use coarse kosher)
  • 1 c softened salted butter
  • 1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c maple sugar (white granulated is also fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. chopped chocolate (I like super dark to make it less sweet)

Combine dries (except oats) into a bowl and whisk together, set aside. Cream butter and sugars, adding eggs afterward one at a time.  Add dries and mix until just combined. Add oats and vanilla. Stir in chocolate. Pop dough in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or in the fridge for a few hours.  Scoop onto sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, allow to set on cookies sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.

About the Author:

ahmed_07Born in Bombay India and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois, Samira Ahmed spent countless hours at the library in her small hometown nestled in an oversized armchair next to an old Victorian fireplace with her nose in an Agatha Christie novel or re-reading Little Women, hoping that Jo would somehow end up with Laurie this time. Samira always loved to write—especially poetry–-but never actually dreamed of becoming a writer until she was an adult and an idea for a story captured her imagination and wouldn’t let go.

She received her BA and MAT from the University of Chicago and went on to teach high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and the New York City Public Schools. After she left the classroom, she worked in education non-profits, helping to create more than seventy small high schools in New York City and fought to secure billions of dollars in public school funding throughout New York State.

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filtersand the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage

Written by: Heather Camlot

Illustrated by: Serge Bloch

For ages: perfect for 8-12 years or grades 3-7

Language: English

Topics Covered: War, Nonviolent Action, Activism, Imagination, Peace, Military Action, Global Community, History, Historical Figures. 

Summary: Activism, Military Action, Nonviolent Protest, Peace, Creativity, Imagination, Social Justice, Kindness.

Today for #sweetsandsocialjustice we have a really neat book that takes whimsical and imaginative questions and pairs them with a real story, inspiring readers to take ideas they care about and use them to improve the world.  For a sweet snack to accompany the book, I’ve made toaster pastry pillows filled with blackberry jam!

Using questions as almost a section header, the book can then launch into how this question could actually solve a problem-and has in the past!  For example, asking about soldiers using a soccer field to play a game instead of fight each other lends itself to the example of Ivory Coast soccer star Didier Drogba.  When given a microphone to talk about the game that the team had just played, he used it instead to make a plea to the general public to stop fighting in a civil war and instead get along.  You know what? It worked.

That is the power of this book.  It takes fanciful questions or ideas that might seem silly, like Navy SEALS balancing balls on their noses instead of fighting, and connects it to a charity that sends clowns to visit kids at refugee camps (Clowns Without Borders). This book talks a lot of violent conflicts, and how ordinary citizens changed reality by leaning into their imaginations and working towards peace.  In the back is a wonderful glossary, list of sources and quotes used in the book.  Powerful and inspiring, it’s the perfect middle grade book for a reader that loves both history and social justice.

This book was generously sent by OwlKids Publishing, but all opinions are our own!

Recipe: Toaster Pastry Pillows filled with Jam

Pie crust: (our favorite recipe comes from Alana Chernila’s book The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making)


2 1/4c all purpose flour

2 sticks butter (the colder the better)

2t apple cider vinegar

1/3c water

pinch salt

To make dough: put water salt and vinegar together and into the freezer for 10 minutes. Cut the butter into small chunks and mix into the flour until it looks cut in.  Slowly stream in the water.  Once all the water is in, mix until it forms a dough but only until just then. Split into two disks and put in the fridge for at least an hour (will also keep up to three days there).

Roll out dough thinly and cut an even amount of the shapes you wish to bake. Egg wash the bottom piece’s edges and put a spoonful of jam or other filling, place top piece and crimp edges (I usually use a fork, but you don’t have to). I like to egg wash the tops to make it shiny, but that’s preference. Carefully poke a few holes in the top with a fork or toothpick. Bake at 375 until golden brown on edges.  Eat plain, or with sifted powdered sugar on top, or make a simple glaze.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

EmvqGeOb_400x400Heather Camlot is a Toronto-based writer, editor and translator who has covered a diverse range of topics in her 20-year career, including books, health, technology, travel, entertainment, décor and parenting.

She graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and from New York University with a Master of Arts in Journalism. She worked for numerous magazines and digital properties, including Ladies’ Home Journal, TV Guide Canada, Style at Home, Quicken.ca, MySweetBaby.ca, Microsoft Home Magazine and WorkLivePlayCafe.com.

Heather has written for The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Help! We’ve Got Kids, and Quill & Quire, among others, and was a columnist for Vu Magazine, Canadian Living.com, Homemakers.com, and Microsoft Home Magazine. She has translated French articles for English publications Owl, CAA-Quebec’s Touring, and Société Des Alcools de Quebec’s (SAQ) TCHIN TCHIN and Cellier.

Heather worked part-time for Toronto children’s bookstore Mabel’s Fables, where she did triple-duty as bookseller, French book buyer, and blog manager and contributor. Although she stepped down from in-store duties in September 2016 after two years, she continues to manage the blog and order French books.

A friend of the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP), she currently serves as the speaker coordinator for the organization’s annual Packaging Your Imagination conference. She was a judge for the Juvenile/YA category of the 2016 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Crime Writing and won the 17th annual Writing for Children Competition held by CANSCAIP and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Clutch is her first novel. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Marc, and her kids, Alexandre and Juliana, but still calls Montreal home.

portrait-fleche-648x429-1Serge Bloch is a French illustrator, born June 18th, 1956 in Colmar ( France).

He attended the Claude Lapointe illustration studio in Ecole Superieure des Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg, and, after his graduation he started working for the children and teens literature. In particular he has been visual chief editor of Bayard jeunesse.

He also works for the editorial world for newspapers and magazines such as New York Times, Boston Globe, Le Monde, Telerama, Psychologies, Le Nouvel Observateur, Liberation, etc…

He was  awarded several international prizes and gold medals in recognition of his work.

His contribution to the communication world has been constant. In this field he has worked with prestigious Firms such as Hermes, Coca-Cola, RATP( Paris Mass Transportation), Publicis (Paris),Samsung, Petit Bateau. The French Telecommunication Agency, La Poste issued in Automn 2010 stamps that Serge created.

His books are internationally translated and published. For his first Japanese book, Inochino Kazoekata (Chikura Shobo publishing)2010 he has collaborated with Kundo Koyama, script writer of Departure , 2008 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

He is sharing his time between NYC and Paris. He has expanded his area of expertise by entering the fine art world doing shows in Paris, NYC, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin…


M is for Movement: aka Humans can’t Eat Golf Balls

Written & Illustrated by: Innosanto Nagara 

For ages: Middle grades 

Language: English, Indonesian places, phrases, references. 

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Social Change, Protest, Activism, Young Adult, Growing Up, Military Action, Family, Own Voices.


For our next installment of #sweetsandsocialjustice we have a middle grade book by one of our favorite social justice authors, Innosanto Nagara. Because I am a snarky human, the recipe I made to go with the book was a modified almond crescent recipe to make edible golf balls!  Follow the link in our bio for the recipe, and tag us if you make them!

This book takes place in Indonesia, and follows the rise of a social movement to oust a corrupt Prime Minister.  The book is narrated by a child born in the eye of a hurricane and as they grow up, the child watches the changes that take place in their country.  It’s a fictionalized memoir, but much in the same way that The Handmaid’s Tale takes a plethora of true stories and combines them into one, M is for Movement does the same. This is a primer for social justice terminology, defining ideas like collusion and nepotism in an easy to understand way for readers. This complex and beautiful story doesn’t shy away from the intricacies and failures that can come with the long haul of working for change.

Since the book is a good size, it follows the beginning rumbles of revolution to when the regime finally falls…a span of 32 years!  This really exemplifies how long change can take, and the importance of sticking to a cause that will make the world a better place for future generations.

This book was kindly sent to us by Triangle Square, a division of Seven Stories Press.  Stay tuned for this book being featured again for a project we’ve got up our sleeves!

Recipe: “Golf Ball” Cookies aka Almond Crescents:

1c butter

2 1/4 all purpose flour, sifted (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gf ap flour)

1c ground almonds

1/2c sugar

1t almond extract

*can have a handful of something to mic into dough, like crushed almonds, cacao nibs, or maybe raisins*

Mix all ingredients together and shape.  If dough is particularly soft, refrigerate for a half hour.  Set oven to 350 degrees and bake 20-25 minutes. I have found that crescents or round balls work well, other shapes I’ve tried the dough breaks.  Get creative!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Children's book author Innosanto NagaraInnosanto Nagara was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, and moved to the U.S. in 1988 to study zoology at UC Davis. A couple of decades later, he is a graphic designer. He is a founding member of Design Action Collective, a worker-owned cooperative design studio in Oakland that is dedicated to “serving the Movement for social change”. He’s very lucky to be able to do what he does best (graphic design) for the people and organizations he respects the most (activists) who are working towards a better world.

Northwest Resistance [A Girl Called Echo Vol 3]

Written by: Katherena Vermette

Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson, color by Donovan Yaciuk 

For ages: 12 years and up

Language: English, minor French. 

Topics Covered: History, First Nations, Military Action, Growing Up, Family, Fantasy, Time Travel, Métis History.


This is the third installment about the time-traveling adventures of Echo Desjardins, a Métis teenager learning about her own history. Echo is transported to 1885 in the heart of the conflicts between the Canadian government and Métis and First Nations people.  This graphic novel builds on both the historical struggles of this time period as well as Echo’s own journey.  Although the collective identity of Métis people is different from both European and First Nations people, they are identified as Indigenous people under Canadian law.  There is a very helpful timeline of events in the back of these books, which help to place events that Echo witnesses in the greater timeline of this point in Canadian history.

This book, along with so many others that Highwater Press publishes, are fantastic.  The melding of history and fantasy that focus on Own Voices is something the publisher does beautifully.  The historical struggles of marginalized and oppressed peoples, like the Métis, are crucial to learn about and understand now.  This graphic novel series are quick reads and can be the catalyst for further learning and study (like they were for us)!  We love learning about Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis history, and if you do too then this is a series that can’t be missed!

This ARC was kindly sent to us by Highwater Press, but all opinions are our own.  However, the book is out now!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

IMG_0777.JPGKatherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her novel, The Break (House of Anansi) was bestseller in Canada and won multiple awards, including the 2017 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Her second book of poetry, river woman (House of Anansi) and eighth children’s picture book, The Girl and The Wolf (Theytus) were both released last year. She is also the author of the picture book series, The Seven Teachings Stories (Highwater Press) and the graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo (Highwater Press). And, along with a whole team of talented filmmakers, she co-wrote and co-directed the short doc, this river (NFB) which won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Short.

Vermette lives with her family in a cranky old house within skipping distance of the temperamental Red River.

scott_henderson-e1551823014971Scott B. Henderson (he/him/his) is author/illustrator of the sci-fi/fantasy comic, The Chronicles of Era and has illustrated select titles in the Canadian Air Force’s For Valour series and Tales From Big Spirit series, the graphic novel series 7 Generations and A Girl Called Echo, select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold, Fire Starters, an AIYLA Honour Book, and Eisner-award nominee, A Blanket of Butterflies. In 2016, he was the recipient of the C4 Central Canada Comic Con Storyteller Award.

donovan_400-e1551823557966Since 1998, Donovan Yaciuk has done colouring work on books published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse comics, and HighWater Press including A Girl Called Echo series and This Place: 150 Years Retold. Donovan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and began his career as a part of the legendary, now-defunct Digital Chameleon colouring studio. He lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada, with his wife and daughter.