The BiblioFiles Presents: Christine Day

Just posted! An interview with Christine Day, author of middle grade novels I Can Make this Promise, and her most recent release, The Sea in Winter. She was also a featured writer for Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted series, specifically writing about Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina and citizen of the Osage Nation.

In I Can Make this Promise, we meet twelve year-old Edie, whose creative project with two friends leads to the discovery of a box in the attic of her house. Inside the box are photographs, postcards, a notebook, and letters that make her realize that her family has been hiding something major from her. The more she investigates, the more she learns about her mother’s past, and the complicated history of her family tree. I Can Make This Promise was listed as a best book of the year by NPR, and was a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, as well as an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book.

The Sea in Winter is a story about Maise, who is devastated after she injures herself in ballet class. Ballet is her life, and she grapples with not only the pain of her injury, but the loss of the joy dancing brings her, as well as her connection to her friends. When Maise’s family takes a road trip, she finds herself confronting what her identity, both ballet and beyond, really means to her.

Day’s work has many layers. One layer is the story of her main characters as they struggle and overcome difficult and emotional experiences. Another layer is how these characters connect to their families for support and guidance. Yet another layer is how her characters connect to their identities as Native people. Day blends these layers together flawlessly and compassionately, allowing the reader to deeply engage and empathize. There are difficult truths in these books, but in Day’s talented hands, the reader gets through them, and, like the characters, emerges in a better, stronger place.

In addition to her novels, Day has contributed her work to two collections, Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, and Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview


Image courtesy of Christine Day

Good Day, Sunshine Bread

Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven? And thanks to a truly adorable book and recipe, you can also get a little sunshine front and center! Let’s head to Katie’s test kitchen for a look!


It was a snowy day, when the New Jersey skies were dark and gray, that I rediscovered the book Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven (Dutton Children’s Books, 2001 – read here by Camp WildWoodz). In the story, the animals of the town have experienced a long hard winter. They are all ready for the seasons to change and for the sun to return. The local baker decides to mix together her own sunshine from the cozy comfort of her bakery. The end result is delicious hot sun bread, which she shares to the delight of the town and their joy awakens the sun from its winter sleep.

I was surprised that my copy of Sun Bread did not have the recipe, which apparently was not included in later printings of the book. After a quick online search, I was able to find the recipe, along with a few personal minor adaptations and suggestions, in a blog post written by Lisa at Story of a Kitchen.

Bread is relatively easy to make. It just takes time, strong hands and a little patience to allow the yeast to work its magic. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry, so I got to work. I followed the instructions exactly as written by mixing everything together and kneading the dough, adding additional flour along the way.

After letting the dough rest and rise for an hour, I deflated and kneaded the larger ball of dough for a second time. I cut the dough ball in half and started creating my sun face. I decided to make the corona of my sun into simple little swirls.

I left the doughy sun to rise for another hour and then slid it into the oven to bake. I checked the bread after 10 minutes and I’m glad I did because it was already a nice golden brown and perfectly cooked through.

It didn’t take long for my teenager to descend upon the kitchen and ask to try a slice of sun bread. It was absolutely delicious! We tried it plain, with butter, and with a variety of different jams. It didn’t matter what we used as a spread, it was wholesomely good. I wish I could tell you how sun bread tastes the next day, but it didn’t last that long. My family snacked on it throughout the day, and we finished the small amount that was left that evening as garlic bread with our spaghetti dinner.

The sun bread recipe is ideal for parents to make with their children. It’s a super simple recipe to follow, you can be creative designing the sun face and corona, and the end result is scrumptious. And let’s be honest… any day is a good day to brighten your spirits with fresh sun bread!

Saddle Up and Read

caitlin gooch saddle up and readIn the beautiful fields of North Carolina, you will find some very well-read horses.

They are part of Saddle Up and Read, a non-profit organization founded by Caitlin Gooch. In 2017, Caitlin noticed the low literacy rates in North Carolina and how they disproportionately affected children of color. Concerned, she reached out to her local library and proposed an incentive. If kids checked out 3 or more books, they could spend a day at her father’s horse farm and share a book with an equine friend!

The response, of course, was unbridled enthusiasm. Caitlin’s idea bloomed into a full-scale operation that has earned national recognition as a program of excellence, both on the farm and in the community. Recently, I caught up with Caitlin to learn more about her amazing organization.


Can you take up through a typical day on your farm?

A day on the farm is never the same. My husband and I have four daughters so I plan things around what we can do. Typically I get myself and my children ready for the day. Once that is squared away, I’m either running errands like checking the mail, going to the bank, checking my emails or picking up books. At the farm I am not solely responsible for cleaning out stalls but I will if I need to. I wash water buckets, pick up trash, and check the water troughs in the pastures. Next, I spend time grooming my horses. Sometimes in their stall or out in the round pen. If I am expecting kids to visit, I lay out everything we need. Books, activities, tack and horse treats.

What came first, your connection to books? Or to horses?

Oh! This is a great question. Based on my memory alone (without asking my mom lol) I believe it was my connection to books. I was an early reader. Reading books was something I could do independently. Unlike with horses, kids have to be supervised. We have always had horses but I don’t really remember how often I was at the farm as a kid. I know when I was 6 years old I asked my dad if I could move my bed into the horse stall.


.What are the names of your horses and ponies?

I have 6 horses and 1 miniature horse. Their names are Barbee, Ardent, Ruth, Khaya, BLM Rare Doc Leo, Rainbow and my mini’s name is Man Man. My childhood horse, GOAT just passed away last year. I miss her so much. She was a huge part of Saddle Up and Read.

Tell us a little bit about the readers who come to your programs!

The sweetest and funniest kids you could ever meet! Most of the readers are of elementary age. More so 3rd to 5th grade. They love to lend a helping hand around the farm. As long as horses are involved, they are for it. We have a very diverse crowd of readers. Majority of the readers are Black and Hispanic, need encouragement to read or practice reading, or they love to read. The programs are open to all children but we do emphasize on children of color because statistically they have lower reading scores.

You are building a library of books featuring Black equestrians. What are your current favorites?

Yes I am! I started collecting these books around the same time I started Saddle Up and Read. Two of my favorites are Let Er’ Buck! George Fletcher the Peoples Champion and Black Cowboy Wild Horses. From my collection I have created a coloring book series called Color & Learn. The first volume is out now. It is titled Black Equestrian Coloring Book Volume 1: The Trail Blazers. It is available on my website and Amazon.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite moments in this program, big or small?

Wow, I have so many. I wish I had a running list of all the people to thank for supporting Saddle Up and Read. Not just the celebrities like Oprah, LeVar Burton and Soledad O’Brien, but everyone who has taken the time to show love. The power of social media has helped us get a truck, a horse trailer, over 2,000 books, and so many donations.

Picking a favorite moment is hard but I’ll say at the end of any event we have, there is always one child who doesn’t want to leave. Sometimes they are crying, “No, I want to stay here.” It makes me both happy and sad. Happy because it means they are having a great time. But sad because I wish they could stay as long as they need to LOL.


All images courtesy of Caitlin Gooch, Saddle Up and Read. And if you want to see some serious adorableness, check out their Instagram!