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

Read, Discuss, and Do: BLUE by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

by Marci Whitehurst

Perhaps you’ve pondered the origin of language, but have you ever stopped to think about the history of color?

Staring at a blue sky, it’s hard to think of color having a history, but in early civilizations there were artists, seeking to capture the colors of the world.

BLUE, by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, explores the earliest moments of this primary color beginning with:

“The color blue is all around us.
Have you ever wondered where it comes from?

It’s in the sky, but you can’t touch it.
It’s in the sea, but when you cup it,
it disappears.”

The history of the color began as early as 4500 BC, as evidenced by diggers who found blue rocks called lapis lazuli in Egyptian civilizations. Artists have created the color for centuries to use for special reasons—even the drapes in King Solomon’s temple. The color spans time and cultures and connects us all to not only the visual aspects, but also the feeling of blue. The emotions behind this color are also part of the history of Blue: we use the color to describe feelings using phrases like “I’m blue.” The rich history of this basic color goes beyond what we see every day.

READ: Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter

  • What is your earliest memory of the color blue?
  • What is your favorite color? Do you know why?
  • What emotion do you feel when you see the color blue?
  • Have you ever felt “blue”? What makes you feel better?
  • Play “I Spy.” How many different things can you find that are the color blue?
  • Go for a walk: where do you see the color blue outside other than the sky?
  • Look up the history of your favorite color. When was it first man-made?
  • Create a work of art using only shades of blue. You can use crayons, markers, paint, or a mixture of the three. Here's a tutorial for a blue watercolor landscape. See Rebecca's example below!
  • Make a batch of blue play dough. Here's a simple recipe:
    • Mix together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 teaspoon alum.
    • In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup hot water and 1/2 cup oil.
    • Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Knead it to make a workable dough. As you're kneading the dough, add a pouch of blue Jello and work it in completely.
    • Optional: add sequins or glitter for sparkly dough.
Rebecca's blue watercolor painting