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 JimĂ©nez, 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

Picture Book Pair for a Fun Fall Story Time

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Pairing two or more picture books with similar themes can open up a world of discussion possibilities, and those discussions are great ways to connect with your children or students. It can be fascinating to see how different authors and illustrators approach different topics and themes. Pairing books with similar themes during story time will help children learn that everyone sees the world a little differently, and it's good to see other people's perspectives.

Read: Leaves by David Ezra Stein and The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater


  • What is the main theme in each of these stories?
  • How are these two books different? How are they similar?
  • What were Bear and Squirrel both confused about? 
  • Have you ever been confused or curious about something in nature? Talk about it!
  • What is fall like where you live? Do you see leaves changing, then falling from the trees? 
  • What other books about fall or leaves have you read? Are any of them similar to these two?
Do: Try one or more of these leafy activities!
  • Make leaf prints. Head outside and find some fallen leaves. Make sure they are still flexible, not dry and crinkly. Then get out some paint, such as tempera paints or craft paints. You will also need a wide paint brush and some paper. You may want to wear an old shirt so that you don't get paint on your good clothes. Use the brush to paint one side of the leaf, then carefully press the leaf onto the paper. Lift the leaf off the page and you'll have a lovely leaf print. Let it dry and hang it somewhere for all to see!
This leaf print was made with radish greens
  • Make leaf rubbings. Find fall leaves like you would for a leaf print. You'll need paper and crayons too. Set a leaf under a sheet of paper, and "rub" a crayon over it. It is easier if you remove the crayon wrapper and color with the side of the crayon.
  • Jump in leaf piles.
  • Make a leaf garland, like this one
  • Go for a fall leaf walk. What colors do you see? Collect one leaf of every color, then arrange them like a rainbow and take a picture.
  • Draw pictures of colorful fall leaves.
Looking for more fall fun? Check out this list of ten story time activities to pair with fall books