Read Across America Day March 2nd

DSC_0680To celebrate Read Across America day, Parkplace Books sponsored  a wonderful guest author visit by Samantha Vamos, author of Before You Were Here, Mi Amor and The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred.
Students in kindergarten through second grade came to the library to listen to Samantha read her books and talk about what her life is like now as a writer. After her presentation, Samantha autographed copies of her books, including two for our library.
 The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred is Samantha’s latest book.cazuela It is illustrated by the Mexican artist Rafael Lopez. Together they have crafted a wonderful bilingual tale about five farm animals, their farmer and a farm girl who wants to make some Arroz con Leche.
Written in the style of “The House that Jack Built” Samantha’s book is already generating lots of positive press. A Kirkus Starred review and on Tuesday a rave raview from School Library Journal stating, “The artistry of this book makes it a must buy for all libraries.”


Many children had the chance to hold special Spanish word cards in front of the group as she read Cazuela.
The illustrator Rafael Lopez brings his Mexican surrealism to all his work. In 2010 he won the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award for his illustrations of Pat Mora’s Book Fiesta.
The United States Postal Service commissioned his work for a series of postal stamps on celebrated Latino music legends. Oprah Winfrey also hired him to paint three paintings for her school in South Africa.
 Samantha’s first book, Before You Were Here, Mi Amor is a colorful bilingual children’s picture book about the family time before one is born and the baby’s arrival into their new family.
 mi amorIt won the 2010 Washington State Book Award and was featured as “Best for Babies” in the 2009 Parent’s Magazine. Animator and artist Santiago Cohen applies his brightly colored folk-art style to this Latino story.
Samantha’s website provides book trailers, activity pages for children and discussion guides as well as more information about her life. Visit 
 More information about artist Rafael Lopez can be found at 
Read about Santiago Cohen at
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6 thoughts on “Read Across America Day March 2nd

  1. We were lucky to have this great author read her story to us. I like how she put Spanish words inbetween and I liked the colorful art. From, Josa

  2. Dear Josa,
    I agree with you. I learned some new Spanish words reading Samantha’s books. Now I have to work on saying the words correctly!
    I also like how colorful the illustrations are. I wonder if Rafael Lopez will earn a new award for this book. What do you think?
    Mrs. Hembree

  3. Dear Students and Ms. Hembree:

    Thank you so much for inviting me to read my books at your school on Read Across America Day. It was wonderful to visit and share stories with you. I thoroughly enjoyed your questions and everyone was so observant, polite, and responsive. You were a great audience.

    I’m really glad I had the opportunity to share and introduce “Before You Were Here, Mi Amor” and “The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred” with you. My favorite animals in “CAZUELA” are the duck/pato and the donkey/burro. I like that they work together to obtain ingredients (the burro carries the pato) and I love the little hat the duck wears and the boots the burro wears.

    There are a few Activities on my website that tie to each of the books and you might find them to be fun. There’s a Word Match, Word Search Puzzle, and a guide entitled “What Happened Before You Were Here?” where you can interview family members and write a story about you!
    Keep reading and writing.
    All best, Samantha Vamos

  4. Hello, we received your postcard yesterday. I am impressed with your blog site with its focus on reading. I very much like your photo peach book review post. I am going to get the older children in my school to produce something similar, some books will be the same and some books may be new to you. I might get the staff to produce some reviews as well.
    Have you come across the wonderful ‘Frog’ books by Max Velthuijs ?
    They are published in many langauges, but originally in Dutch.
    It is a pleasure sharing your work. I hope you might visit our blog site at

    Best Wishes

    Hawes CP School,
    North Yorkshire,

    • Dear Mr. Eldridge,
      I am thrilled that our postcard got to England already!
      It is fun making Photopeach shows. You can add music and have it play as a slideshow or turn it into a spiral. It depends on what you want to accomplish.
      I have moved our student reviews from now on to a separate page. You can find them in detail on the Student Book Review page on the left sidebar.
      We are not familiar with these “Frog” books. I will have to look into them. Another teacher in England recommended The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear and now some of my students are reading those two books by Walter Moer. It is fun getting recommendations from around the world!
      We will certainly visit your blog soon! Perhaps you can send us a postcard from England!
      Keep Reading!
      Mrs. Hembree

  5. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    How very lucky for you and your students are to have such a wonderful visitor.

    These two books really appear to be beautiful reads. I must take BB and I to the local library and see if we can borrow them.

    Your students are having a wonderful time with receiving a parcel from another part of the world and having a wonderful author coming in to visit your students.

    Your new blogging pal,

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