Wednesday, April 26, 2023

I’m An American by Darshana Khiani Launches May 2, 2023! by Kathy Halsey

Book Review by Kathy Halsey

I’m excited to share author Darshana Khiana’s new book, I’M AN AMERICAN, debuting May 2 with amazing illustrations by Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree Laura Freeman. Together words and pictures make a compelling statement about how we all are Americans through the eyes of children and the contributions all of us make together.

This book is thoughtfully and cohesively woven together from the introduction on making sure that readers know that only a small group of ethnicities are included in this picture book but there are a myriad of groups who make up this diverse country. The message is clear there is so much more than one narrative!

I love the direct yet lyrical language used throughout the text that explores and explains that “one must read widely, since no group can be defined by a single story.” The picture book begins with a question to draw readers into the conversation of what makes a person “American.” 

History, cultural pride, families' past experiences taken from classroom children draw out the sometimes difficult encounters facing each group of immigrants who came to America and make it what it is today. Having children speak their truth lends an immediacy and poignancy to each story.  

Strong back matter includes maps that indicate countries of origin and Darshana’s own immigrant story are not to be missed. A bibliography and further reading sections make this a great pick for teachers and librarians. Although the recommended grade range is pre-school to third grade, older elementary students will enjoy this book, too. By using layered text to structure the book, Darshana has created a book for many readers at different reading and interest levels. This is a book for our times. 

I met Darshana at a nonfiction writing retreat in Georgia when we were both new writers with dreams to reach children with our work. It is a joy to see the books Darshana has given young readers!

Craft Chat with Darshana Khiani


Kathy:  I love the emphasis on the multitude of narratives that make up the immigrant story. Was that always a theme for I’m An American? What other throughlines did you want to emphasize in this book?

Darshana: When I started envisioning the story as a concept book, I knew that it would be a diverse classroom with each child telling their family’s unique story. One of the main throughlines is immigration history and what were the reasons that brought immigrants to America. I hope readers see that while we have these American values in common, we can’t take them for granted and must rise to the challenge to uphold them.


Kathy: I’m An American has such strong back matter. Did you add back matter as you wrote? Did you, the illustrator, or your editor suggest the maps that indicate country of origin? Do you see adults or readers as the audience for this section?


Darshana: I wish I had written the backmatter while writing the story. Since I didn’t have any experience with an informational book and there was an eagerness to get the story out, we sent it on submission without backmatter. Plus I had heard that backmatter is subject to the editor’s discretion because it increases the book length. Once the book sold (nearly two years later), I started investigating different types of backmatter I could include and then ran it by my editor. Having to re-hash the research years later was painful. I highly recommend writing the backmatter along with the story. My critique partner, who is a school teacher, suggested having a map. The book is for ages 8 and up. The backmatter is probably for older kids and adults. 

Kathy: Take us through the creation of this book. Where did you get the idea? How many versions/revisions?

Darshana: My initial inspiration came in the Summer of 2017, I watched a YouTube video of a White man conversing with an Asian man about being American. Even though the Asian man answered every question with an answer that was similar if not the same as the White man’s answers, it didn’t matter. The White man would not “see” the 4th generation U.S. born ethnically Chinese man as an American. I was flabbergasted. When is one considered an American? Initially I wrote a narrative story about a biracial child questioning his identity. Unfortunately, the draft didn’t feel like a picture book and had veered from the heart which was “If America is your home and you believe in the ideals/values of this country then you are American, regardless of color, ethnicity, or even citizenship."  From a conference critique, I received a suggestion to create a concept book with layered text, set in a diverse classroom. The American values would be prominently featured in the main text with the student’s family backstory in the secondary text.

Once I was on the right path, there were 9 revisions before it went on submission. Another small revision while it was on submission (between rounds). After it sold, another 6 revisions with my editor. 


Kathy: Did you set up the refrain early in the writing process?  Did it change over time?

Darshana: The setup of the main text with the refrain was there from the beginning. The one refrain that changed after a sensitivity read was the Muscogee one. It was changed so that the girl identified with her tribal nation first and then the United States. I think this change is quite powerful and exemplifies that tribal nations are nations too. It also has the effect of pausing the reader to stop and think.

 Kathy: How is this book different/like your other books?

Darshana: I write broadly. Three books with different story voices and target markets. They have one thing in common, a theme of persistence.

HOW TO WEAR A SARI book has a 2nd POV direct approach, light and funny and is more for the commercial market. I’ve heard it makes a good “gift book”. In this book, a young girl persists through the challenges and drapes a sari on herself, which is quite an achievement. 


I’M AN AMERICAN is an informational book with layered text. It’s all about teaching more serious topics, best suited for discussions at home or in the classroom. This one is for upper elementary through adults. In this story, the reader learns about the diverse groups that call the United States home and how they have persisted in making a better life for themselves.

BUILDING A DREAM uses lyrical language and is based on a true story. It’s a feel-good, inspiring type of book. The boys in this book tackle environmental and societal challenges and build themselves a floating soccer field that enables them to become one of the best youth soccer teams in southern Thailand.


Kathy: What are you working on now?

Darshana: My next book BUILDING A DREAM: How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions releases in September 2023. Beyond that, I’m revising an older picture book manuscript that is near and dear to my heart, searching for new picture book ideas, and doing exploratory work for a novel that I hope to write someday.

Biography and more!

Darshana Khiani is an author, engineer, and advocate for South Asian children’s literature. She is infinitely curious about the world and enjoys sharing her findings with young readers. If she can make a child laugh even better. Her debut picture book, How to Wear a Sari (Versify), was an Amazon Editors’ Pick. Learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @darshanakhiani.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Third Annual GROG Arthropod Roundtable

hosted by Sue Heavenrich
Welcome to the Third Annual Arthropod Roundtable! This year I’ve got a whole new bunch of folks who have books featuring bugs of one sort or another: Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, who wrote Animal Allies: 15 Amazing Women in Wildlife Research which came out about a year ago; Betty Cully, author of the novel The Natural Genius of Ants, which came out last year; Fran Hodgkins and her humorous buggy picture book, In a Patch of Grass published last month; Mary Boone who may or may not eat Bugs for Breakfast, which came out about 18 months ago; Sue Fliess, whose Cicada Symphony hits shelves next month. Even my new picture book, The Pie that Molly Grew (releasing mid-August) includes a cameo for busy buzzy pollinators.

I’ve been counting pollinators as a citizen science volunteer for the Great Sunflower Project since … wow! This will be my 15th summer! I love to follow bumble bees and other bees as they make their way from one flower to the next. And here’s the thing about pumpkins: they absolutely depend on bees to pollinate their flowers. No bees, no pie! I really love pie, so I wanted to write something that included bees as an essential part of the story.

And that got me wondering why – and how – other folks ended up writing books about bugs. So I asked ‘em.

Fran: As a kid, I used to watch ants, roly-polies, and spiders in the back yard; they never scared me like they did some people. I watched Jacques Cousteau and Marlon Perkins all the time on TV. Living in the city, insects and birds were the closest I could get to wildlife (well, there were squirrels, too) and I loved to watch them. Then I lived in Maryland for a little while, where I got to see insects that I’d never seen before, such as praying mantises and cicada killers, which are these huge wasps that prey on, you guessed it, cicadas! Fascinating stuff!

Betty: I live in rural central Maine on 85 acres of woods and fields. My middle grade and young adults novels are partly inspired by the nature right outside my front door or in my area. For instance, my first young adult verse novel, Three Things I Know Are True is set along the mighty Kennebec River, which runs through the towns near where I live. My inspiration for The Natural Genius of Ants was very close at hand! Every year in early summer, almost like clockwork, a line of ants makes its way into my house. The more I researched about ants, the more fascinated I became, which led to me keeping several ant farms and caring for a carpenter ant queen and her offspring. The ants in my book are a little more extraordinary than the ones that visit my house, but those are also still pretty amazing!

Elizabeth: I love animals and I had all kinds of pets when I was young, but now I prefer enjoying animals in their native habitats. I have an insect hotel in my garden and I really appreciate all the local pollinators. I think one of my most memorable insect encounters was when a friend asked me to babysit her monarch butterfly caterpillars!! I had to feed and clean and watch over 20 different caterpillars for her. It was truly a lot of fun.

Mary: I’m a naturally curious person so, when my daughter and I traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago, trying roasted insects was on the list of things I wanted to do. I did it. I went home, told people about it, and didn’t really envision ever eating them again. But then I started to think about the fact that people were eating bugs in other places on a regular basis. So I started doing research: Where were they eating bugs? Why were they eating bugs? How long had people been eating bugs? Which bugs were they eating? And I quickly learned there’s a name for the practice of eating bugs or insects: entomophagy.

Sue: As a young girl, I was always interested in nature, and watched those cool nature programs on TV with my dad. I had a toy called a Bug Eye, a box with a magnifying glass built in on top so you could observe the insects you caught, before releasing them, of course.  My first experience with cicadas was in 2014 when we moved from California to Northern Virginia. I had heard of them, but never seen one in the wild. There was one in my backyard and I remember thinking it was enormous! I also thought it was dead, and when I got close to it and tried to flip it over with a leaf, I got the surprise of a lifetime. It made a loud buzz and flew right past my head! I may or may not have shrieked. These would come in small numbers every year, but when we heard that a brood was about to emerge in 2021, Brood X (a 17-year brood), I got very excited! That bug-loving girl was "emerging." After many walks with my husband observing the brood, he encouraged me to write about them. So I gave it a shot!

Me: I usually write nonfiction, so I was surprised when The Pie that Molly Grew came out of my pencil as a story about a girl and a seed. How did you find your way to your book?
: I write picture books, so I knew Cicada Symphony would be a picture book. And the cicada lifecycle is mysterious and fascinating, so I knew I wanted it to be nonfiction. We literally walk above these creatures for years until they emerge. There was something strange and creepy about that, at least to me! I did a ton of research, and when the first line came to me, it set the tone for a rhyming book: Bugs are lurking down below.

Fran: I began In a Patch of Grass while I was at a Highlights retreat a long time ago. In its original version it was a very quiet book – 180 degrees from what the finished book is. It was lovely, but … boring. I had it in my files for a long time before I dug it out and shared it with Tilbury House. I decided to rewrite it and pulled out all the stops and just had fun.  Being a journalist demanded that I write in a very particular way, to be impartial and serious. So embracing my goofy self in the rewrite of Patch was very freeing!

: I love writing for middle grade because it is the same age of reader that I was when I started writing my own stories. Some of my favorite books from that time in my life were biographies, and especially biographies of incredible women. I used to imagine myself not flying around the world or discovering a new element, but instead creating a book about a person like that – a book readers would read it over and over and over again. Writing Animal Allies was like making a childhood dream come true! And I really liked being able to write about so many different scientists.

MaryBugs for Breakfast is middle-grade nonfiction. As I was doing research, I kept coming across facts that blew my mind. Facts about how the U.S. government regulates how many insect parts can be in foods we’re already eating and how much water it takes to produce a pound of beef (1,800 gallons) versus a pound of crickets (1 gallon). As a kid, I loved learning stuff like that – I still do – so I knew I wanted to share as much as I could in an accessible but factual way. But I also want to make sure no one is eating bugs from their own yards or garages. You need to know how a bug lived and how it died before you eat it.

: I've always loved reading middle grade books, even as an adult, maybe because they contain truths about what it means to be human. Growing up, those 'middle-grade' years felt like a time when anything was possible and the world was filled with mystery and magic. It was also a time I felt very much connected to the natural world around me.                               
Me: Insects and their arthropod kin are facing tremendous environmental pressures from habitat destruction to climate change. What can we – and the kids we write for – do this Earth Day and every day to help make our backyards and neighborhoods a better place for bugs?

Mary: In my own yard, I avoid using pesticides and harsh chemicals. If I have an aphid problem, for example, I bring in some ladybugs who will help control them. To keep bugs away from our deck, I plant borders of marigolds; they’re pretty and they have a distinctive smell that repels mosquitoes and other pests.

Fran: Even though my book is called In a Patch of Grass, I’m not actually a big fan of lawns. They’re not suited for the climate we have in North America, and as a result they require a lot of resources – water, nutrients,  and so on – while they crowd out native species. I love our yard, with its wild plants, including lots of milkweed. Seeing the caterpillars of all sorts makes me so happy every year.

Betty agrees with avoiding pesticides and herbicides. She adds: Kids can encourage their parents to avoid those chemicals. Also, planting perennials that benefit pollinators is always a fun and rewarding thing to do. If you live in the city, you could get involved in protecting and taking care of green spaces, and be part of a community garden.

Elizabeth: I try very hard to create a welcoming place for my insect neighbors. We don’t use pesticides, and I try to talk to my human neighbors about not using pesticides. As I mentioned, I have an insect hotel in my garden and I try to plant native plants that support insects. I think everyone can do a better job protecting habitats for insects and we can start in our own yards.

Sue: Be careful where you are digging, even if you are planting something. In the case of cicadas, you could dig up larvae and not even know it, so do a bit of research on what insects are native to your area so that you are aware. And of course, we all know pesticides are dangerous not only for the plants and pets, but honey bees and butterflies too. So let’s go organic whenever possible!

 I know I could talk about arthropods all day long! But my coffee cup is empty and it’s a perfect day for bug-watching and flower-planting. Please drop by our websites and blogs, and remember to go outside and make friends with members of the jointed-appendage phylum.
Find out more about Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan at
Betty Cully wrangles ants and words at
Check what’s rustling in the tall grass with Fran Hodgkins at
You’ll find more than bugs on the menu at Mary Boone’s site
Buzz on over to Sue Fliess at
I hang my bug net at

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The Tale of Tilbury

Tilbury House Publishers recently became an imprint of Cherry Lake Publishing, beginning a new phase of life for a publishing company that began in the 1970s. I got the chance to speak with Jonathan Eaton, who with his business partner Tris Coburn bought the company in 2013. At the time of the purchase, Tilbury had an extensive backlist of regional titles for adults, including well-regarded books about Maine history. The company had also published some groundbreaking children’s books, including Say Something by Peggy Moss.

Jon recalls, “We learned at the New England Independent Booksellers Association conference in October 2012 that Tilbury House was for sale. We knew and respected the imprint. I knew Jennifer Bunting, the publisher, from her days as managing editor of WoodenBoat Magazine years ago. Tris and I were eager to build something, and we thought acquiring Tilbury House would help us do it.”

Both men had a publishing background – Tris at Simon & Schuster and Jon at McGraw-Hill, so they knew what they were getting in to. Or did they? “It’s one of those adventures like renovating a house while you try to live in it. If we’d known what we were getting into, we probably wouldn’t have done it,” Jon says. “Or maybe we would have—na├»ve optimism is a powerful force.”

They purchased the company from its owner, Neal Rolde, and soon moved the company from Gardiner, Maine, to Thomaston, Maine, setting up the office not far from Jon’s home (Tris lived just a couple of towns over), and close to that publishing essential, a good coffee shop. Three titles were slated for publication in 2013: E.B. White on Dogs, an anthology of the writer’s canine-related essays assembled by his granddaughter Martha, and two nature picture books, The Secret Pool and The Eye of the Whale. Picture books accounted for 40 percent of sales.

 The Secret Pool, which received a Kirkus Star and the Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association, bridged the transition between former and new management at Tilbury House.



The books did well, which was encouraging, and backlist titles contributed to the coffers. Steve Kowit’s In the Palm of Your Hand: A Poet’s Portable Workshop, for example, has sold over 100,000 copies and continues to sell year after year.

Yet the publishing industry is not predictable, unlike other businesses, and the first few years were challenging. “Cash flow kept me awake at night,” says Jon. “There wasn’t enough money coming in to cover overhead. [Tris and I] had to make annual contributions from our retirement savings in the first few years.” Fortunately, the former owner was willing to provide them with owner financing. “Eventually we were able to obtain bank financing but had to secure it with personal guarantees that put our homes at risk.”

Scary? You bet. “Publishing is an absurd business from a cash-flow point of view—all the investments in a book have to be made before any money starts to come in, and the national accounts demand extended payment terms. The cart is perpetually ahead of the horse. Which is probably why Tilbury House had no new titles in the pipeline after 2013—a fact that failed to register with Tris and me before we made the purchase.”

There was much to be done, and quickly. “We urgently needed to sign new titles, to build the frontlist and backlist. We needed to secure national distribution.” At the time, Tilbury House was distributing from its own warehouse and lacked the order volume to absorb the overhead. “We needed to hone our identity—to decide what our mission was and figure out how to support that. We had to build the boat while learning to sail it.”

Jon credits Bunting and children’s book editor Audrey Maynard with providing a strong backlist. He says they “showed us that there was an underserved audience for message-driven picture books. As years passed, this became more and more our focus.”

In addition, Jon extended the list to science and nature titles – as predicted by those two picture books released in 2013. Trained as an oceanographer, Jon enjoyed finding manuscripts that would share with children the joy they can find in the natural world.

The science/nature and message-driven books have succeeded and carried the company through what Jon calls “the thousand cuts of publishing”—those unexpected setbacks that range from a printer going bust and leaving a frontlist title unbound to negative reviews by critics who don’t get what a book is trying to do.

As he prepares for retirement, Jon is proud of what they’ve accomplished. “We succeeded against the odds, which were stacked against us more than we realized in 2013. We managed to build the boat while sailing it. We never missed payroll. And we’ve published books we—and our authors and illustrators—can be proud of.”  The children’s list has earned starred reviews, national awards (including a Coretta Scott King honor for Magnificent Homespun Brown, written by Maine’s own Samara Cole Doyon), selections to many best-of annual lists, classroom adoptions, and ongoing backlist impact. “We did this from midcoast Maine!” Jon says. The titles are now nationally distributed through W.W. Norton.  Ellen Myrick and her staff at Myrick Marketing & Media handle school/library marketing representation.


After Magnificent Homespun Brown received a Coretta Scott King Honor, the number of submissions Tilbury received skyrocketed!

 Tilbury sold its adult list to Rowman & Littlefield in 2022, and the children’s list is now an imprint of Cherry Lake Publishing. “The Tilbury House imprint name will continue. It’s the best possible outcome and a source of great satisfaction. We’ve built something lasting and good! I’m working with the experienced editors at Sleeping Bear Press, our sister children’s imprint in Cherry Lake, to ensure a smooth assimilation of the Tilbury House list with its personality intact,” Jon says.

 “Empowering, affirming, challenging, comforting children’s books will always be a worthy mission. There will always be new stories to tell and new ways to tell them. There will always be a need.”

To learn more about Tilbury House and see the books they’ve published, visit

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

PoemCity, Madness!Poetry and More for Poetry Month ~ by Christy Mihaly

Happy National Poetry Month! 

It's April! Time to celebrate poetry. 
Are you looking for Poetry Month ideas? I've surveyed some poets and rounded up a few suggestions (with many links for more resources). 

Feel free to share other ideas in the comments. And be poetic! ❤
PoemCity Reading 2023


I am feeling very fortunate that Vermont's state capital, Montpelier, is hosting its annual "PoemCity." It's an April-long shindig organized and run by volunteers and the hard-working staff of Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Poets from around Vermont are invited to submit poems. Selected works are printed and posted in shops, restaurants, and other establishments around town. These poems will also be compiled into a PoemCity anthology. (I'm happy that my poem, "Who Cooks for You?" -- about a barred owl -- appears in the Capital Kitchen cooking supply store.)
Shop window poetry

Second grade haiku -- can't beat it!
"Brazil nuts irk me.
All they do is take up space,
and they taste like dirt."

Work by local students appears in a special display, always a highlight. (Check out that Brazil nut haiku!) 
PoemCity also offers free events, including readings, lectures, workshops, craft projects, ekphrasis (using artworks to inspire poetry in an improvisational collaboration), and  parties. 
Poetic paradise!
Montpelier's beloved Kellogg-Hubbard Library

Madness! Poetry

If you can't make it to Montpelier, you can still join in the fun at Madness! Poetry. This online poetry tournament, created by poet Ed DeCaria, is a wild competition modeled after March Madness. "Kids' poetry under pressure!"
Brackets begin with 64 poets ... er ... "authletes." Each pair of competitors is assigned a word, and each individual must write and post an original poem for children, using the word, by a posted deadline in 48 hours or so. When the poems are posted, readers review them and cast their votes to determine which poet will move to the next bracket and repeat the process with a new word. See this year's schedule, here. Special programs encourage teachers and classes to participate. Sign up, as an authlete, a class, or a voter, here.

I can attest from experience that being an authlete is a bit of a sleepless ordeal, but, in the end, a great deal of fun. Anyone who appreciates poetry can sign up to read, vote, and cheer the competitors to greatness. This year, the application deadline is April 16, so there's still time. 

Poets Doing Madness! and Other Things

I asked a few compatriots at the Poets' Garage how they plan to celebrate this month. I'm happy to introduce them here (look out for their poems and books!), and share their thoughts:

Children's poet Kelly Conroy says she is going for the Madness! -- "I'll be consumed with all things Madness! Poetry: reading, critiquing, encouraging, commenting, voting, and possibly competing...eek! It's fast paced, it's for kids, and it is so much fun!" Mad good luck to you, Kelly!

Kelly's poems have appeared in two wonderful anthologies published by Wee Words for Wee Ones, 10.10 and Two Truths and a Fib; three anthologies --Things We Eat, Things We Feel, and What is a Friend? -- by Pomelo Books; and in online publications Better Than Starbucks and Poetry As Promised. We'll be watching for Kelly's poems, this month and beyond!

Poet and novelist Helen Kemp Zax, who recently completed writing a YA novel in verse, says: "I found the experience of writing in this form so satisfying, I’m planning to rewrite another of my novels during April in verse form. My writing days will look like NaNoWriMo but filled with poetry. Of course, I’ll be writing shorter poems to submit to blogs, magazines, and anthologies." Best wishes with the new novel, Helen!

Her poem “Wish” will be published this month in the Sylvia Vardell/Janet Wong anthology What Is a Family? Helen says, "I plan to support this anthology in April by taking part in Rochelle Melander’s 'Play with Poetry' blog posts. As always, I’ll share copies of this anthology with Reading is Fundamental." 

"Basant Panchami" by Helen Zax,
art by Nayantara Surendranath
CRICKET Magazine, April 2020
Helen is co-winner of the 2021 YorkMix International Children’s Poetry Prize, 2018 MG Katherine Paterson Prize winner, and 2019 Finalist. Her poetry appears in anthologies including Imperfect II, chasing clouds, and What is a Friend? and in magazines including Cricket, Hello, High Five, Launchpad, Touchdown, Hunger Mountain, The Caterpillar, and The Dirigible Balloon. She is particularly proud that her poem “Belly Butterflies” was chosen for a Poetry Teaching Programme anthology to be published by Oxford University Press. Helen lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, and Aussiedoodle Huckleberry Finn. 

Children’s author and award-winning poet B.J. Lee say she plans to "celebrate National Poetry Month by doing a blog post(s) with one or more of my poems to [Sylvia Vardell's] Poetry Friday, and sharing to social media." Thanks, B.J.-- and all the Poetry Friday poets! 

B.J. has published poems with Macmillan, National Geographic, Little Brown, Bloomsbury, Penguin, Wordsong, Otter-Barry, Pomelo, Cricket, Highlights, and others. Her latest poem to be included in an anthology is “Box Turtle: Pet for a Day,” in Blessings for Pets, edited by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and due out from Eerdmans next spring. 
B.J. has also published a picture book,There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth (Pelican Publishing, 2019). She is now hard at work on a YA verse novel. View B.J.'s poetry performances at her website here.

And finally, for Suzy Levinson, a talented New York-based children's author and poet, April means welcoming spring. She says, "One of my favorite things about Poetry Month is it coincides with Awesome Weather Month (aka April), when trees are blossoming, birds are chirping, and New York City looks halfway decent. I like to go on a lot of walks around my neighborhood and take it all in, finding inspiration for new poems wherever I look." Yay for Springtime strolls!

Also this April: Suzy is celebrating her debut picture book, Animals in Pants (Cameron Kids/Abrams, illus. by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell). It is a collection of silly poems about -- you guessed it -- animals wearing pants! It hits shelves April 11 -- check out this amazing cover.

Suzy's poems have appeared in such magazines as HighlightsCricket, and the School Magazine, and poetry anthologies A World Full of Poems (DK Children), I Am a Jigsaw (Bloomsbury), and Shaping the World (Macmillan). 

A very Happy Poetry Month, Suzy!

And Happy Poetry Month to all! May you find poetry all around you, this month and always.