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  • Writer's pictureMélina Mangal

Frozen Dogwood

When I started this blog, I had the intention of writing more frequently. But “occasional” seems to have become biennial. Maybe I possess biennial bearing traits‚ producing ‘fruit,’ through my writing, every couple of years, just like the flowering dogwood...

Like many, I’ve been overwhelmed with Covid and its reach, the George Floyd murder, and with the racial reckoning we’re still experiencing here in Minneapolis and beyond.

I knew I could not go back to life as it was before. Rethinking life takes time. I’m still navigating through the best ways to move forward for our health, our youth, our planet.

One of those ways continues to be through storytelling. There’s an even greater need to tell truthful stories, and to share the stories of people who are making or who have made our world a better place. Another way is through librarianship. I’m fortunate to still be engaging directly with elementary students as a school library media specialist. I continue teaching students how to access, evaluate, and understand information, how to find amazing books they’ll enjoy reading, and how to question, curate, and create their own informational resources.

Unfortunately, more students rights are being limited by those who don’t want young people to read about BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people. Children’s authors, educators, and librarians are facing growing censorship battles. Please uphold Children’s Rights to Read by supporting your local school and public librarians.

I’m so fortunate that my picture book Jayden’s Impossible Garden, has been well received by young readers. It was recognized as a Blueberry Honor book by the Evanston Public Library for inspiring love of nature and action for planet earth, was named One of the Best Children's Books of the Year by Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, and was nominated for the Minnesota Star of the North Reading Award. It was also included on Social Justice Books Environment/Climate Books list.

Despite the many challenges of the past couple of years, I was fortunate to participate in school visits and a number of book events:

Behind the Book in Harlem

nErD Camp PA—Banned Books edition

American Library Association Conference: New Environmental Justice Titles Resonate with Kids and Teens with Carole Lindstrom and Patricia Newman

UNC-Chapel Hill reading from All the Songs We Sing with CAAWC

Walker Art Center Free First Saturday Garden Party

MN Children’s Book Festival

I’m thankful for:

Curious students who keep me on my toes with their questions.

The community of children’s authors who diligently create books to engage young readers.

Amazing teacher and librarian colleagues who care deeply for their students.

Kind neighbors who share their seedlings.

Readers like you!

I hope 2023 brings you health, happiness, and good reading!

Read widely. Give books as gifts. Plant seeds. Be kind.

Give yourself time to think. As with dogwood seeds, you may also need a deep freeze to germinate creativity.

What’s Next

My short story “Michelle and Yvette in Kaiserslautern” will appear in the Inkyard anthology Boundless, edited by Rebecca Balcárcel and Ismée Williams, June, 2023. For interested reviewers, e-ARCs are now on NetGalley and Edelweiss.

The second book in the series, Jayden’s Secret Ingredient, will be released on August 1st, 2023.

I may be coming to your school or library! Check my website for future events, or to arrange a visit.

What Else I’m Reading

Lessons from Plants by Beronda Montgomery

Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow

Happy New Year !

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