Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 21, 2023

Book Giveaway: THE STRONGEST THING by Hallee Adelman

Today we have Author Hallee Adelman’s picture books, THE STRONGEST THING! illustrated by Rae Zhai and published by Albert A Whitman. She has agreed to share a giveaway for  signed copy of THE STRONGEST THING! to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. If you Re-blog, Tweet, Post on Instagram, or talk about it on Facebook with a link, you will get additional chances to win. Let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reblogging and writing a review on Goodreads or Amazon, really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping to support children’s books and Hallee and Rae!


A sensitive, hopeful story about breaking the cycle of bullying and abuse.

Sera doesn’t always like being at home, where her dad’s anger feels like the strongest thing. School feels better. But when Sera gets into an argument with a friend and finds herself acting like the bully at home, she discovers that the strongest thing isn’t loud or angry at all.


I author the Great Big Feeling Series with titles such as Way Past Mad, Way Past Jealous, and Way Past Worried. I love being a small part of helping kids identify and navigate their emotions in everyday and difficult situations. In addition to the Series, I write other small books about big feelings and challenges. These titles stem from my life experiences. In fact, my very first book, My Quiet Ship, is a story of a little boy who became commander of an imaginary rocket ship whenever his parents started yelling. This was both personal and written from the heart. Growing up with an under-the-desk rocket myself, the book was my way of saying “you’re not alone” to children who grow up in homes with yelling.

When My Quiet Ship launched, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and posts from readers. Kids and parents expressed how they tried to build their own quiet ships, how they created fort-like structures in their rooms to quiet loud sounds, or how they used headphones or played instruments when their parents’ yelling made them feel afraid. Out of all the comments, one stuck with me the most. A loving grandmom who loved My Quiet Ship wrote to me online: Can you please write a book for kids who live with a parent who has anger control issues? My grandson needs that so badly.

I’m not one to overlook a loving grandmother’s plea. I thought back to the many times I’d be at my best friend’s house growing up. We’d be hanging out, and his father would bust in after work, acting angry and violent for no apparent reason. He would yell, break things, and come after the family members. To us, my friend’s dad felt so strong and powerful and mighty. I pictured us back then, curled in the corner or hiding to stay out of his way. My stomach always dropped from the conflicted feelings of wanting to run out, but also being too scared to leave my friend in his own home.  It wasn’t until years later as an adult, that I realized his father was troubled, and that my friend and his mom and brother were the ones who were strong. They were loving and kind despite everything they faced at home, and they were all determined to not mirror the father’s actions. Almost immediately, the title The Strongest Thing came to mind.

I set out to write a sensitive and hopeful book about redefining “strong” and about breaking the cycle of behaviors that can hurt. Kids needed to see that they were not at fault for someone else’s harsh actions. They needed to see “helpers” or adults who could offer support, like their teachers. Children needed to know the places where they felt safe. I used language to contrast how school felt compared to home, with school standing “like a shining castle on the hill” and home feeling “squished and dark and icky” like the “middle of an old sandwich.”  I wanted kids to understand that they can feel anger, and react to it differently than a parent who might act aggressively. Throughout the day, the main character, Sera worried about going home, and she “stomped, and bumped and broke during recess and library and science.”  But after Sera acts like her bully at home and sees her feelings on the face of child she had screamed at, Sera knows that power does not come from yelling or hurting. Through Sera, children reading can see the strength in love and kindness—and most of all, in themselves.

I care deeply about kids and the words and messages we share with them. So before I finish any title, I make sure to share it with child therapists. I also share the books with others who have had similar experiences. A close colleague who had grown up in a home with physical abuse read the book and started crying. She spoke lovingly about wishing she had had a title like this when she was younger so she didn’t have to feel so different and embarrassed about her home life. My writing group also reads my work. They are amazing and ask deep, reflective questions. Other great minds lean in as well. I was lucky to work with Albert Whitman editor, Jonathan Westmark, on this title—he shared thoughtful ideas and he and the art director helped bring Rea Zhai and her powerful illustrations to the book. Sera huddled with her mind spinning is one of my favorite images. It is authentic and careful and takes me back to my childhood moments with my friend.

The book was named a Mom’s Choice award winning title. Dr. Koslowitz @dr.koslowitzpsychology did a special cover reveal and talked insightfully to parents about how to use the book. I was also honored with a blog entry about The Strongest Thing by writer and therapist Vasilia Graboski (  Her post is not only powerful but Vasilia created an activity, “My House is Like a Sandwich,” which springboards off of my sandwich metaphor that opens the book. Vasilia’s activity encourages kids to talk about how it feels to be at home by building a feelings sandwich. After cutting out paper bread, she encourages kids to fill the sandwich with “lettuce love,” “tomato anger,” “pickled fear,” “cheesy silliness,” or whatever else they feel reflects the emotions of living in their own homes. It is simple and brilliant. Of course, I’m always grateful to Kathy Temean for sharing my books and for her continued work to lift authors, illustrators, and children’s books. I met Kathy when she was the RA for NJ-SCBWI and I would not have had the opportunities to learn and grow without her efforts for the chapter.

The Strongest Thing launched in Spring 2022. A few months before, I sent a copy with a personal note to that brave grandmother. She is the reason why kids will be able to read this title and know that no matter what they are facing at home, they are the strongest things.


Hallee Adelman is a children’s book author who writes small books about big feelings. Some of her titles are a part of the Great Big Feelings Series including Way Past MadWay Past Worried, and Kirkus-starred book, Way Past Jealous. Hallee is also a documentary filmmaker and executive producer on award-winning projects such as Our American FamilyThe Social DilemmaWriting with Fire,  and Us Kids.

Hallee Adelman is a children’s book author, filmmaker, producer, and mom, who works to better the lives of children and families through education and story. With a PhD in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, she has taught elementary through university students and was nominated twice for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award. In all of her work, Hallee strives to better the lives of children and families through education and story. With a PhD from Drexel University in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, she has taught elementary through university students and was nominated twice for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award. Her goal is for children, teens and storytellers to have opportunities to imagine boundlessly, discover strengths, and create conversations for a better world. Hallee lives in Haverford, Pennsylvania with her two college-aged daughters, two silly dogs, and her husband David.


Since 2015, Rea Zhai started to work as a freelance Illustrator and began to create different kinds of works, but mostly focus on Children’s book illustration. Her pieces embody some of her life experiences and inspirations from her life. She received a BFA in Media Design from China Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China, and MFA in Academy of Art University. She loves drawing landscapes, characters, and cute stuff. She is now living in Beijing, China. And, She has already fully prepared for starting her new career!!

Rea Zhai was born and raised in China with a great passion for drawing, music and cats. After working as an interaction designer for several years, she finally decided to focus on illustration. Inspired by the people she has met, the places she’s travelled to, the songs she loves, and the time she has spent with her cats, she feels that drawing is the most direct way to express herself and to share her happiness and inspirations with the world. When not working, Rea is also a bass player in a small blues band. She currently lives in Beijing, China with her husband and their three cute cats.

Hallee, thankyou for sharing your book and journey with us. I admire your courage to write books that deal with the emotional problems that children face in their lives. I love that you tackle the difficult subjects. I’m sorry for the children caught up in an abusive family like Sara in your book, but so happy that your book is out there for children to read and see they are not the only ones dealing abuse. Every library should buy this book. Every teacher should share this book. It is sure to start a conversation and open the door for children who are holding these painful things inside. I’m glad your book shows, Sara finding a teacher at school who provides a safe happy place for her. I hope it will land in the right little hands and spark the idea of trusting someone who cares and will show them the love they need.

Rae, did a wonderful job creating the illustrations for your story. Good Luck with the book.

Talk Tomorrow,



  1. This book belongs in the hands of every librarian in the country. And the hands of a superintendent that I know. Wow. Thank you for writing this series!


  2. Your book looks spot on and satisfying for kids dealing with every level of parental anger. Congratulations!


  3. Looks looks like a much-needed book! Congratulations and thanks for sharing. I shared on Twitter.


  4. Hi Hallee, What a story. I had a hard time reading through the book’s journey. I can relate to Sera. Thank you for writing this picture book. What a blessing and a gift to children and adult children who experience and have experienced these situations at home. I can already tell the story gives comfort, hope, validation and so much more…


  5. This looks like a really important book for kids. I will check it out. Thanks for the post.


  6. I enjoy this author’s books and can’t wait to read this one too. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and tumblr.


  7. Such a powerful book for children and families. Thank you, Hallee and Rae, and thank you, Kathy, for bringing this book to life!


  8. A difficult subject for a much-needed book. Congratulations!

    I follow by email and tweeted this post. 🙂


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