When the Rain Comes

It is time to plant the rice crop in Malini’s Sri Lankan community, and the little girl is both excited and nervous to help for the first time. What if she does it wrong? Will she be responsible if the crop fails? When the oxcart rumbles in loaded with seedlings, she reluctantly agrees to watch the big, imposing animal while the driver takes a break. Suddenly, the skies go dark with monsoon rain.

Under The Mesquite

Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse. When Lupita learns Mami has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don’t always understand, become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami’s life. While her father cares for Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her seven younger siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she takes refuge in the shade of a mesquite tree, where she escapes the chaos at home to write. Forced to face her limitations in the midst of overwhelming changes and losses, Lupita rediscovers her voice and finds healing in the power of words. Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita’s journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume IV, Issue 4

Jamari’s Drum

Little Jamari loves the sound of the great village drum and often sits at drummer Baba’s feet. “Why do you play every day?” he asks. “The drum is the keeper of peace in the village,” Baba replies. Time passes and many of the village elders pass on. One day Jamari agrees to take over the beating of the drum, to keep the peace. But little by little, he forgets his promise until disaster looms. What will Jamari do to bring back peace? Featuring acclaimed artist Baba Diakité’s gorgeous illustrations, Jamari’s Drum offers a simple, compelling lesson about duty and the greater good.