Read, Discuss, and Do with MARI IN THE MARGINS

By Marci Whitehurst The best books make readers feel like they aren’t alone. They’re seen. Understood. Our very own  Rebecca J. Gomez  accomplishes this flawlessly in Mari in the Margins , her new middle grade novel in verse, published by Bandersnatch Books. It releases May 14 th !  Here’s a snippet about the novel, which you’ll surely want to READ:   For Marivel Jiménez, life in her big family is full of chaos. Feeling overlooked by her parents and overshadowed by her siblings is frustrating, and it's even worse to have the constant attention of her annoying, mischievous three-year-old sister, Susana.  Caught between her need to be noticed and her dream of having time to herself, Marivel pours herself into poetry and, eventually, art journaling. When she hears of a school-wide poetry contest, she sees winning as a chance to escape the margins of her family and finally be seen. Doesn’t that sound amazing? That’s because it is. I was honored to read the book ahead of its release—and

JABARI'S POOL: A Read, Discuss, Do! Craft

Review and craft by Mindy Baker

Jabari Jumps, written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall, is a picture book about a young boy who has just passed his swimming test and is ready to jump off of the diving board. The only thing getting in the way is his fear. But little by little, with Dad by his side, Jabari takes the plunge and comes up exuberant. I think you will enjoy reading this book aloud with your child, and it is a perfect springboard into a discussion about courage and facing your fears. 


READ:  Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

DISCUSS: Jabari shows courage and faces his fear of jumping off the diving board. 


  1. What are some clues that help you to know that Jabari is feeling afraid? 

  2. How does Jabari feel when he finally succeeds at jumping off the board? 

  3. What are some things that helped him to have courage? 

  4. What are some common things that other kids are afraid to do? 

  5. What is something that you are afraid to do? 

  6. How do you think you would feel if you faced your fear?


DO: Make a shoebox pool with a diving board and act out the story.

You will need:

  • Shoebox

  • Small piece of stiff cardboard

  • 4 small craft sticks

  • Tape

  • Scissors

  • Blue cardstock or scrapbooking paper with a water design 

  • Cardstock of other colors (or you can use markers)

  • Plastic game markers or other small figurines (to pretend they jump off the board)


1. Cut a piece of cardboard for your diving board. Fold the cardboard to create 2 tabs. (Or cut along the seam of a box where the cardboard naturally has a fold.

2. Tape four craft sticks side by side to form the stiff part of the diving board on one tab. Adhere the other tab to the box with tape.

3. Measure and cut out blue cardstock or scrapbooking paper with a water design and tape it to the bottom of the box.

4. Cut more paper to decorate the sides of the box. (Or color with markers)

5. Cut a small rectangle and draw lines on it to make the ladder. Tape it to the outside of the box by the diving board. 

6. Use the figurines to “pretend” play. As you pretend, talk about the story and let your child express his/her own emotions about different topics.

7. Optional: Use other recycled items to make more pool toys such as an inner tube, slide, or ball. 

Extension: Read the story again as your child acts it out with the pool craft.