Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 7, 2021

Book Giveaway: PLANTING FRIENDSHIP by Melissa Stoller

Melissa Stoller with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman has written a picture book, PLANTING FRIENDSHIP, illustrated by Kate Talbot and published by Clear Fork Publishing is out now. Melissa has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Melissa, Callie, Shirin, and Kate.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


This book is an interfaith friendship story about three girls – Molly is Christian, Savera is Muslim, and Hannah is Jewish – who meet on the first day of school. Through a class planting project, they realize that, although they are different, they have more similarities than they thought.

As their plants bloom, their friendship blossoms. Our goal with the picture book series is to help bring more understanding, connection, and peace to the world. Peace, Salaam, Shalom.


First, Kathy, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog to chat about the inspiration and writing process for our new book, PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM (co-authored with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot, Clear Fork Publishing, October 2021). We are so excited that this book of our hearts is finally out in the world!


I will be forever grateful to Shirin for bringing the idea for this project to Callie and me. Shirin envisioned a book written by three women co-authors of three different faiths – Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. I was lucky to spend an entire day in Chicago where Shirin and I met in person and spent the day at the Museum of Fine Art, enjoying lunch and the beautiful surroundings. During that day, we brainstormed about what the book could be. I have also met Callie on numerous occasions, both in Texas where she lives and in NYC where I live. Somehow, our time together also always involves art museums and food! We all knew right away that we wanted the book to feature three girls of the same faith tradition as us, who would notice their differences but also eventually find common ties and similarities that would lead to a deep friendship. And when illustrator Kate Talbot joined the process, our #DreamTeam was complete! Kate brought the story alive will her brilliant artwork and detailed research about all three cultures. Through our words and illustrations, we hope to show diversity, cultural representation, and interfaith understanding and connection. We are thrilled with this collaboration!



We really enjoyed the writing process! Callie, Shirin, and I met almost weekly for two years to brainstorm, write, edit, revise, and polish the manuscript. We wrote everything together and worked hard to make sure the manuscript would have one voice. We had so many interesting and meaningful conversations about our religions, heritages, families, customs, rituals, food, and more. Through these conversations, we realized that we are all so alike in so many ways, even though our faith traditions and backgrounds are different! We tried to bring that spirit of connection to the story. And we are still working together as we write and plan for the next books in the series and beyond!



 Right now, Kate is illustrating the second picture book, BUILDING BRIDGES: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM. In this story, Hannah, Severa, and Molly try to find a way to help save the bridge that leads to Peace Park where they planted their trees. And we are writing the third book now! I’m excited to share more details about these projects and more so stay tuned!


Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Return to Coney Island and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; and Sadie’s Shabbat StoriesPlanting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot), released from Clear Fork Publishing on October 19, 2021.

Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs resource group. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and spending time with friends.





Kate is a Children’s Book Author and Illustrator who has a passion for quirky stories, especially when told in rhyme. Her first ever children’s picture book (written at age 8) was a reinterpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, which promptly landed her in detention for its cheeky nature.

Since then she has focused her talents on bringing a smile to her two sons’ faces, through mischievous characters and vibrant illustrations. She has a degree in filmmaking and spent several years as a Film Producer (the highlight of her career was spilling an entire tray of drinks in Russell Crowe’s lap before falling butt-first into a fountain).

In 2011, she made the shift to children’s writing and illustration, when she moved to Germany with her Spanish husband. Until recently she lived there with her family, but has now relocated to New Zealand.

Melissa, Thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love how you created a book that show three little girls with different religions and how they form a friendship that makes them see they are more alike than different. And I love Kate’s fun illustrations. They really add to the story. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Such a wonderful and timely book. Best of success to it and all of you! XOXO [Newsletter subscriber.]


  2. What a lovely story. Congrats!


  3. Love this story and those who brought it to life! (subscriber)


  4. Everything about this book looks wonderful! I can’t wait to read it. Congratulations to all! I shared this on Twitter and subscribe to your blog, Kathy. Thanks for the opportunities.


  5. Love Love Love this book…and of course, Love Love Love the three authors – and Kate’s illustrations are perfectly engaging! I’m sharing on Twitter and Facebook and of course, I subscribe to your blog, Kathy and I actually tell every critique client that subscribing to your blog is a must-do!


  6. Brilliant way to bring a story together! Can’t wait to read it. (subscriber)


  7. Such a pretty looking book with a very important message. I’d be thrilled to have a copy. Thanks!
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day!


  8. Love this!


  9. What a fabulous collaboration! We have a diverse faith population here and this book will be a wonderful and needed addition to our libraries. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  10. This looks really sweet and the illustrations are gorgeous. Thanks for the post. I am a subscriber.


  11. I love everything about this book and can’t wait to share it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This book has been on my TBR shelf since I first heard about it. Congratulations to all involved. I’m a subscriber and shared on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love the concept of this book! I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations to all! 🙂

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post. Thanks, Kathy!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congrats to Melissa, Callie and Shirin! Your book is SO needed in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. LOVE the story of your book’s collaborative journey, so true to the story’s message of cultivating relationships among people of different backgrounds. Shared with the Principal as well as Dean of Students at the VERY diverse charter school from which I retired and I’m a newsletter subscriber. Wishing Melissa, Shirin, and Callie great success with PLANTING FRIENDSHIP!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What a lovely story! I can’t wait to read it in entirety!

    Liked by 1 person

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