• Why Verse? Why Writers Write Verse Novels and Why Readers Love Them

    In celebration of Poetry Month I’m re-posting an article I wrote for School Library Journal on why writers write verse novels and why reader’s love them.

    Here’s the link to Why Verse? Poetic Novels Are a Natural Fit for Historical Fiction, Displacement Stories, and Struggling Readers

    https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=why-verse-poetic-novels-are-a-natural-fit-for-historical-fiction-displacement-stories-and-struggling-readers

    Here’s a story about librarians who tell about their young readers and the novels in verse that they love. Librarians on Verse Novels

  • Brave in the Water

    Brave in the Water by Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar, is a picture book about a small boy who takes his first steps down into a pool. He had been so afraid. But despite his fear, he dips his face into the water. This was his first step in learning how to swim. I wanted to write about Brave in the Water because in my work with refugees, I’ve learned that many children and their parents who come to the US had not learned to swim in their home countries.  In Nepal, for examples, the rivers aren’t for swimming, families told me.  They are for bathing or for sacred rituals.  Brave in the Water shows how a boy and his grandmother give each other courage. Grandma works on her balance with Diante, her grandson. Diante learns a strong way to breathe. With his breath, he learns to put his face under water. It’s fun and he feels like a fish.

    Even more, this book is about a bond between a grandson and a grandmother. Diante and Grandma trust each other. The illustrations show Diante as Black and Grandma as white. I read that Wildman, the author, also wrote Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America, (NYU), a book that has been reprinted in an updated edition this year. Wildman wrote it in collaboration with Margalynne Armstrong, Trina Grillo, and Adrienne Davis. The book develops the term “color insight” to better understand the profound impact of all skin colors including white on US society. In an interview with WNBA, Wildman and Armstrong said that collaboration across racial lines based on trust deepened their thinking in the book. Maybe Wildman was building on the idea of trust across racial lines in Brave in the Water.

    Lawley Publishing who published Brave in the Water also published it in Spanish, Valiente en el Agua, translated by Cecilia Populus-Eudave.

  • Newsletter, July 2021

    The summer reading theme in New Hampshire is “Tales and Tails.” It’s a beautiful theme for any season or state if you love animals and stories. Here’s a writing workshop for children I offer that connects to both. Programs are virtual or, in some cases, outside in person.

    The Pig’s Tale, the Dog’s Tale, the Cat’s Tale, A Storymaking Workshop

    Me and my dog. Her name’s Clara.

    Description: We’ll read aloud from The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup, looking for clues to understand the characters. We’ll look at word and gesture to help us infer meaning and practice reading between the lines. This is a very fun workshop about cats and dogs and longing and patience and rewards. After we read about ways characters handle their feelings, a pig (he’s large but stuffed) will come to visit. The pig has a range of emotions about missing his friends and I’ll invite everyone to become the storyteller of an animal’s tale. Resources for you: “Stellar Mentor Picture Books from many Cultures,” a handout for teachers and librarians.
    Goals: Build skills in interpretation of stories and exploring the emotional world of characters; identify ways that characters solve problems; practice writing or telling using elements of narrative. Details at https://www.terryfarish.com/school-and-library-programs/

    Writing a Picture Book” a workshop for adults

    Terry’s presentation style is lyrical, engaging and her love of the medium was infectious.” Laura Horwood-Benton, Public Programming & Community Relations Librarian, Portsmouth Public Library.

    I’m offering this Online workshop especially for libraries. Thank you, librarians, for doing essential work this past year and a half to keep kids and all of us connected with the books we need. The workshop fee is negotiable. tfarish@gmail.com

    Description: Picture books for children are poems with pictures. They can be funny. They can bring a family memory to life. Maria Popova describes picture books as “stories that tackle with elegant simplicity such complexities as uncertainty, loneliness, loss, and the cycle of life.” What makes a story one that children will love?  What are the components that blend and form the structure and beauty of a picture book story?  I’ll offer prompts and guidelines for participants to write their own picture book. This can be a one or two part workshop. Here’s a link to a full description of the workshop and testimonials:  https://www.terryfarish.com/2020/12/online-workshop-writing-a-picture-book/

    Outstanding International Books

    I’ve been reviewing Outstanding International Books for USBBY, the U.S. Board of Books for Young People. These books from many countries have been published in the U.S. and offer a way for children to read the world through stories. Here is the full list of the 2021 Outstanding International Books. I wrote a post about some of my favorites over the past years

    Read for Refugees

    The UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, has developed a program called Read for Refugees. Here’s a pdf with a list of young adult books to help readers meet refugees through stories. I’m glad to tell you that The Good Braider is here in the company of extraordinary books.

    https://cdn.unrefugees.org/u4uweb2020/media/u0adi5vr/read-for-refugees-ya.pdf

    Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival

    The work of Ken Daley, illustrator of Joseph’s Big Ride, is vibrant in color and energy. Because of the power of his work, Joseph’s Big Ride was selected to be one of the books featured in the 2021 Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, a celebration of black writers and illustrators. The festival is named in honor of Ashley Bryan‘s book, Beautiful Blackbird and of Mr. Bryan who is beloved in Maine. News of the 2021 event is coming soon.

    Coming soon!

    We can’t wait to tell you more. Ken Daley, OD Bonny, and I have something new coming from Groundwood Books.

    To book a program or ask a question, contact me at tfarish@gmail.com The standard workshop fee is $200, but I’m open to negotiation this year especially for libraries with small budgets. Welcome to my site to read about more programs and books. https://terryfarish.com

  • A Feast for Joseph Honors Grandmothers

    In a Feast for Joseph by OD Bonny and me, Joseph imagines the day when his grandmother will travel from South Sudan to Portland, Maine where he now lives. Illustrator Ken Daley makes the grandmother ever present in the book as Joseph imagines the day she will come. Here’s a sneak preview of Ken’s illustration. I met a grandmother in Portland in 2001. She had recently fled from South Sudan, to Cairo, then to Portland. Her name is Ludia and she introduced me to her sons, her daughters, her grandchildren, who were just beginning to make their homes in the United States. Ludia minded the grandchildren when her daughter found work. Over the years, Ludia herself took a job, studied English, and got her US citizenship. My dedication in A Feast for Joseph is to Ludia.

    Illustration by Ken Daley from A Feast for Joseph by Terry Farish and OD Bonny, Groundwood Books, Sept. 2021

    A Feast for Joseph is about a boy who yearns to bring people together,
    and he does! “Cooked up right, food can foster a community.” News about our book launch is coming soon and it will surely include food! Learn more from Groundwood Books and pre-order here: https://bit.ly/3eMyHpu


    Would  you like to create a first draft of a picture book this summer? 
    I’m offering “Writing a Picture Book” at two public libraries:
    Manchester Public Library  (New Hampshire)
         two sessions  June 24 and July 1,  6:30 – 8 p.m. 
    Worcester Public Library
         one session on August 21, 2:30 – 3:30

    For handouts and full description please visit
    Terry Farish’s “Writing a Picture Book” Workshop.


    I write a blog on children’s books from around the world. You might find some books you’d love for your summer reading. Check out Rabbit in the Moon.

    Happy Reading.
    Terry