Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 27, 2022


Today you have the opportunity to win a copy of Antoinette Truglio Marting middle Grdae book THE DREAMS OF SINGERS AND SLUGGERS, cover illustrated by Penny Weber and published by Red Penguin Books. Antoinette has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

Just 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 how you shared the good news. If you follow my blog and have it delivered daily, let me know in the comments 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 AT and Penny.


The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers is the second book in the Becoming America’s Stories series. The story picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists left off.

It is 1911 in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Nine-year-old Lily, an American-born daughter of Sicilian immigrants, has to do EVERYTHING. She bakes Daily Bread, minds her thumb-sucking little sister, hangs laundry on the roof, and finishes home chores on her big sisters’ list. She even fetched a nurse from the Henry Street Settlement to save Mama and the new baby. Now the bossy public health nurse, who visits each day to attend to somber Mama and the bawling baby, sends Lily on errands throughout the Little Italy streets. Like most immigrant kids in the neighborhood, had to navigate around bullies, bigotry, and intimidation. Things look up when Lillian Wald, the Henry Street Settlement head nurse, hears Lily’s powerful voice. Miss Wald invites Lily to sing in the Children’s Choir, but Lily must sneak to the choir and the forbidden play yard with tag-along Gigi on Wednesday afternoons. Her schemes unfold when she needs permission to sing with the choir at the New York Highlanders Fourth of July baseball game at Hilltop Park. The Yanks need a morale booster, and Lily and the choir may be the ticket to keep fans cheering and buying beer, Cracker Jack and ice cream. More trouble arises when a mean girl wants Lily’s solo, and the “Black Hand” terrorizes the neighborhood.


The heart of The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers came from my grandmother and her sisters telling and retelling versions of their childhood at the dinner table. Stories grew from each teller, and time shifted perspective and facts. My grandmother, the eldest, was born in Sicily and immigrated in the steerage section of a steamship. She traveled with her mother to join her father across the ocean to the promise of a better life in America. Four American daughters were soon born to the family, and they lived in a Lower East Side three-room tenement apartment for fifteen years.

My grandmother and her sisters had heated sessions around the table, hashing out the early family history years. Many of Grandma’s stories revolved around the wrongs and trespasses acted against her. Grandma always worked. She sewed piece work at home as a small child, and at age twelve, she was pulled out of school to operate machines in the dress factories six days a week, ten hours a day. Grandma claimed that she never had a childhood. The sisters had their own spin and burdens. Forgiveness may have been possible, but no one ever forgot. I hated the high-pitched hollering and the hand-slapping on the table, but the stories were so fantastic, I quietly stuck around, listened (never daring to say a word even as an adult) and remembered.

The other side of my family was also Sicilian. They also worked and endured hardships, but their stories were kind and happy. Their recounts conveyed simple joys and escapades that ended in chuckles. They were grateful to be in America and proud to be Americans. Yelling was never necessary.

The contrast was not lost on me. As I grew older, I asked questions and retold the stories around my table. There were few artifacts to verify their lives in the tenement neighborhoods. Family photographs during those early American years were scarce. There were no diaries or stacks of letters to browse through. My imagination began to form what-ifs scenarios.

I sifted through records and documents that confirmed facts, yet I wondered how the politics and prejudices of the time affected the lives of these new American children. How did their parents’ old world traditions and expectations effected their experiences as new Americans? I wondered how they went to school, if they went to school. Where did they play and what did they play? What was it like to live amongst the squalor and disease? Their beginnings set the stage for their lives as adults, which, in turn, influenced the beginnings of their children—our parents. The oral stories gave the property deeds, death certificates, and census color and drama.

Used for inspiration

Writing historical fiction involved collecting data and facts while my imagination ran loose. I fell into rabbit holes, devouring volumes of historical material. The internet offered me archives, newspaper articles, and academic studies. These resources formed the canvas for my stories. The Tenement Museum on Orchard Street and the Henry Street Settlement graciously opened their doors (with pandemic precautions) and answered my flood of questions. I walked the blocks my grandparents probably walked, found the church they attend, and maybe the elementary school they wanted to remain in or happily played hooky from. The Little Italy neighborhoods on Mott street and Mulberry Street had changed from over a hundred years ago. Thanks to listening to the stories, my imagination saw the peddlers’ hand carts, the opened windows adorned with lines of hanging laundry, and heard the cacophony of shouts of different tongues, the horses clopping, and the backfire of innovation-motor cars on cobbled streets.

New York City’s Lower East Side in 1911 was a time of reformation and progress that affected newly arrived immigrants and generations of Americans. I was drawn to mission of the early public health nurses who ventured into the bowels of the Lower East Side neighborhoods, bringing care and hope to the poor.

Lillian Wald, founder of public health nursing and the Henry Street Settlement, instituted a series of social and health programs to benefit the tenement communities. Labor unions, women’s suffrage groups and the budding NAACP sat around the dining room table discussing solutions. There were classes for young mothers, sponsored dance and music performances, and a safe play space for children. Miss Wald and her dedicated staff petitioned school boards to hire nurses, offer lunch programs and create welcoming public education environments for all children. They marched for peace and were powerful voices on the long road to women’s suffrage. Lillian Wald, and her nurses provided rich characters and plot twists to my stories. How fortunate that the Henry Street Settlement was and is still located about a mile from my protagonist’s home on Mott Street.

Baseball was another compelling rabbit hole. My father and uncles had many stories about their stickball games in the streets and alleys. They followed teams and players like family. Back in the early 20th century, baseball was already the American game and became the universal language shared by all tongues and social classes. Before radio, the newspapers were the media outlet that stories of the game, the players, and the state of the fields. Baseball sold newspapers and became the source of good news that was read out loud with the family.

Baseball quickly fed into the tenement neighborhoods and onto the streets. Stickball was a favored and affordable means to play the game in the alleys. Boys organized themselves, collected cardboard and garbage can covers for bases, and “borrowed” their mother’s broomsticks. Although girls were rarely invited to play, many probably stopped to watch, jeer, and cheer.

I weaved my characters into scenes and situations that were laced with facts and the spirited stories that were and still are told around the family table.


Antoinette Truglio Martin is a children’s book author, memoirist, and blogger. Becoming America’s Stories (Red Penguin Books), a Middle-Grade Historical Fiction series, debuted in 2020. The award-winning first book, The Heart of Bakers and Artists (formally titled Daily Bread), takes place in 1911 and follows nine-year-old Lily Taglia, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, coming of age in a crowded New York City Lower East Side tenement. The novel earned First Place in 2021 Purple Dragonfly’s Children’s Book Award in Historical Fiction and Moonbeam’s 2021 Children’s Book Award Gold in Pre Teen Historical Fiction, and was a finalist in the America’s Best Book Festival. The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists leaves off. Lily, her family and friends reach for their dreams as new Americans. Be sure to read Becoming America’s Food Stories, where there are always good stories around good food.

Antoinette was a teacher and speech therapist for forty years and proudly holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature. Be sure to browse her website and blog, Stories Served Around The Table at, and read about past and present family adventures, book happenings, and life musings. She lives on Long Island with her husband, surrounded by the sea and the people she loves.


Penny Weber is a full time illustrator for the children’s book market. She began her life in art designing greeting cards and painting murals for children’s rooms. She still does portraits, caricatures and pet portraits to independent clients.

After years of working traditionally, she now draws and paints digitally on Photoshop producing a traditional watercolor look. She has illustrated many books for both the trade and educational market. She taken classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City,  but says she is mostly self taught.
In 2007 signed with Wendy Mays and Janice Onken from WendyLynn & Company that is when she started working as a professional freelance illustrator. Since then she has illustrate many, many wonderful picture books for the trade and educational  market.

Penny Weber lives in Long Island, New York with her husband, three children, and their fat cat, Tiger. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2010. Click her to view her early work.

Antoinette, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. This looks like a wonderful series of books that brings to life the early 1900’s. I love that it allows children the opportunity to step back in time and observe how difficult it was to grow up in an era that was common for young children to attend to school, while also having jobs and helping with family responsibilities. Penny’s illustration of the book cover is wonderful. Hope this book stays on the market for many years.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This book sounds fascinating and full of historical flavor. Congratulations, Antoinette!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy. 🙂


  2. Thank, Kathy, for the wonderful opportunity!


  3. Your book is wonderful. I’d love to read it to my class. Joan Ramirez, MG/ESL teacher. You’ve inspired me regarding my own historical in progress. Joan Ramirez,


  4. Would be honored to win and read


  5. Love this cute little story and the illustrations are marvelous. Would absolutely love to win a fabulous copy.


  6. My, what a beautiful story within a story, and the artwork is amazing. Thank you for sharing, and I am receiving my emails. Thank you.


  7. This book sounds so heartfelt & informative. What a special story. Congrats!!


  8. Congrats, Antoinette! I’d love to win a copy of this book.


  9. I’d love to read this and learn more about this time in history. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  10. I have a copy of Antoinette’s first book and as a lover and author of historical fiction, I really enjoyed hearing about her research process and results. I shared this on twitter, FB, and reblogged.


  11. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Historical fiction lovers will appreciate the research Antoinette went through for her books. Fascinating.


  12. Kathy, thanks for introducing us to Antoinette and this great story. I tweeted the post.


  13. Sounds like a wonderful book and I love the book cover by Penny Weber! Lee


    • P.S. I reported Antoinette/Kathy’s post on FB.


  14. I tweeted and posted to FB and Pinterest.


  15. Love historical fiction. Look forward to reading this. Will post of FB and Twitter.


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