Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 26, 2021


Heart & Soul in KidLit

Hey ho, fellow Creatives!

Because 2020 was so tough, everyone is looking for good stories with heart and soul to balance the sometimes-overwhelming negatives many of us are still going through. Not just for ourselves but also for younger audiences. We want kids to find and read stories that reflect goodness and a spirit of community. So, we looked to our published former students for a much-needed dose of heart and soul.

Here are four former students and panelists from the Writing Picture Books with Heart and Soul panel in the upcoming Picture Book Palooza, happening September 18th and 19th. Each one of them has different experiences creating books that speak to readers on a deep heartfelt level. It’s not easy writing books that speak to a person’s soul, but these four have created wonderful books the whole family will love.


Multi-award-winning author Donna Barba Higuera knows that life can be complicated. She likes to deal with these issues in a heartfelt way, mixing heart and soul and culture to help children deal with their own problems. Her book El Cucuy is Scared Too! Is about a boy named Ramón who has just moved and is starting a new school. Everything is too scary for Ramón. He meets El Cucuy, aka the Mexican boogeyman, who is also scared. Ramón helps El Cucuy to be less afraid which helps Ramón deal with his own fears. Donna will be sharing techniques and presenting on: Combining Heritage, Humor and Heart.

Rosie Pova has always written from the heart, and her most recent picture book is no exception. In Sunday Rain, Shy Elliott has just moved to a new neighborhood and longs to play with the other kids frolicking in the puddles on a rainy day. Encouraged by his mother, he takes his toy boat outside for some imaginary and wet adventures and soon feels at home with new friends who restore our faith in the inherent kindness of children. Rosie’s books often leave readers in tears, which is a good thing. She’ll be sharing techniques and speaking about: Writing Stories That Touch the Heart


Karen Yin devotes her life to helping others with things like her Editors of Color and Conscious Style Guides. Her debut picture book Whole Whale is about making space for everyone. There are lots of animals of every shape and size, but what happens when a huge blue whale comes along? If all the animals work together maybe they can make space for even the biggest mammal. She’ll be sharing techniques and presenting on: Hearts Wide-Open to Care for Others, sharing techniques and her and other’s books.

Rita Loraine Hubbord believes you are never too old to learn. In her book The Oldest Student, she recounts the tale of how Mary Walker learned to read when she was over 100 years of age. In this book Rita answers the question of why Mary Walker didn’t learn to read until she reached the age of 116. This is a touching story sure to pull at your heartstrings. Rita will be sharing about: Writing Social Justice Biographies with Heart and Soul

We hope these examples of heartfelt and soulful kidlit creativity inspire you to look for fictional and real-life examples of kindness and goodness to share. We’ll be exploring this topic even more in a panel dedicated to picture books full of heart during our upcoming Picture Book Palooza. Running 2 days (September 18-19th), this lovefest and kidlit extravaganza will feature 6 panels, more than 26 presenters, giveaways, handouts, and so much more.

Whether you’re at the idea stage, ready to begin planning your story, or you’re an established author who wants to expand into new areas of KidLit (and maybe even pull in extra profit while you’re at it), you’ll find lots of helpful materials at this low-cost, fun-filled, lovefest & learning extravaganza AKA the Picture Book Palooza.

Hope to see you there!

Sending much heart and soul,
Mira & the CBA gang xoxox

PS Each of these authors is a former Children’s Book Academy graduate paying it forward to others, and each, apart from Karen Yin, who will be, is an award-winning multi-published author.

Mira’s bio: And here’s my keyword bio to save time. Multi-published, award-winning, children’s book creator with over 600,000 copies sold, CBA director, currently acquiring Editor and Art Director at Spork, former kidlit agent, former kidlit and art ed university professor, PhD in Education and Cultural Studies focused on kidlit. Students have been very successful. I love what I do. Mira is over the moon excited to be co-teaching the up-coming illustration course with multi-published former student/wonder woman Larissa Marantz who helped design the original Rugrats, and exquisite Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director Andrea Miller.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. the love the concept of whole whale


  2. Thanks for this sample of authors and books to have on hand for the Webinar. Posting on FB and Twitter.


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