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We're serving up creativity with inventive STEM and cooking projects!

Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan: A Place at the Table

An after-school cooking class forms the basis of an unexpected friendship between two girls in this dual point of view collaboration.
CHB KIDS: What was it like to co-write with Laura? Did you know each other before you started writing this book? 

Saadia Faruqi: It was a lot of fun to write a book with Laura, and also a tremendous learning experience for me. This is my first middle grade novel, whereas Laura has written two earlier books. So I gained a lot of knowledge about craft as I worked with her. We had known each other a little bit before this project, but our friendship really flourished during the writing of this book. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity!

CHB KIDS: What was it like to co-write with Saadia? 

Lauren Shovan: Saadia and I met when she applied to an author mentorship program called PitchWars. Although the novel she was working on wasn't selected, Saadia and I stayed in touch. Through the process of writing A Place at the Table together, we became very close friends. Our writing styles are different! Saadia is a plotter and I'm a pantser [write by the seat of my pants]. She prefers drafting and I love revision. Because of those differences, we learned a lot from each other and grew as both writers and people.

CHB KIDS: Sara and Elizabeth meet at a cooking class and throughout the book we see food unify the characters in friendship, love and allyship. Do you have a favorite recipe that you love to make?

Saadia Faruqi: It's funny, because I actually don't like cooking. But I did choose easy recipes for the book that I myself wouldn't mind making if I had to. I think chicken curry is my go-to recipe because I can make it without a major mishap in my kitchen!

Lauren Shovan: One of my family's favorite dishes to make together is gnocchi, a potato-based pasta. I have wonderful memories of everyone gathered in the kitchen, sharing stories as we roll out the gnocchi and shape it into its distinctive shell design. My favorite recipe to make from A Place at the Table is the first one Elizabeth learns from Mrs. Hameed—Tahari rice. It's simple and delicious!

CHB KIDS: In what ways are you like the character you wrote? In what ways are you different?

Saadia Faruqi: I am like Sara in the way she's introverted, and doesn't need to be around a lot of kids at school. I'm different from Sara in my artistic talents, because I cannot draw or paint to save my life!

Lauren Shovan: Elizabeth comes from a bicultural family, and so do I. Like her, I was really proud of being British, American, and Jewish, but sometimes those identities made me feel like an outsider. (People really did call me and my brothers "Yank" when we visited England.) I love how outgoing Elizabeth is. She learns to speak up to her peers, and to the adults in her life, when she thinks someone is being treated unjustly. I wasn't that brave when I was a sixth grader, but I hope I am now.

A Place at the Table fulfills the "character who is into cooking" square on this year's Summer Reading bingo board! Get a copy here>>
POLL OF THE WEEK: Stump a bookseller!
Tell us THREE things you love to read about and challenge our Children's Book Specialists to find all of them in ONE book. 
If you can manage to stump a bookseller, you'll automatically win a prize!


Be A Maker

Excerpts from Make This! by Ella Schwartz courtesy of Penguin Random House.
Try This At Home!
It's far too hot to make s'mores over an open fire, but you can put that heat to use and make s'mores in a solar-powered stove you build yourself.
Follow these instructions>> 
to make the Arizona sun work for you!

For more awesome experiments for budding engineers and creators, check out from Make This! by National Geographic Kids.

Email us a photo of your creation for a raffle entry* and a chance to be featured in the next newsletter.

No Problems, Only Solutions
What is one totally annoying problem in your life? Design a machine that will ensure you never have to worry about that problem again. If you have the materials, see if you can make your plans a reality.

Email us a photo of your design for a raffle entry* and a chance to be featured in the next newsletter.

Home Chef
What's your favorite meal to eat at a restaurant? Find a recipe for it and recreate it at home!

Email us a photo of your delicious dish for a raffle entry* and a chance to be featured in the next newsletter.

Earn a BONUS RAFFLE ENTRY by sharing the recipe with us!
*Raffle prizes must be claimed in person. Pick up available at either of our locations.


Erin Entrada Kelly: We Dream of Space

Three dissimilar siblings navigate life before, during, and after the Challenger tragedy in the latest novel from award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly.

CHB KIDS: What drew you to use the Challenger launch as a central event in the story? 

Erin Entrada Kelly: It was the first major news event of my childhood. It left an indelible impression on me and many other children of the 1980s.
CHB KIDS: Cash, Bird, and Fitch each have a distinct voice. What were the touchstones you used for each character when writing their point of view? 

Erin Entrada Kelly: I'm not sure I had specific touchstones. I spend a lot of time with my characters in my head. When I sit down to write, their voices come to me somewhat organically, because they've lived inside my imagination for so long. My main goal is to stay true to who they are, remember the things that are important to them, and respect how they view the world.
CHB KIDS: Judith Resnik was one of two women on the Challenger crew and a trained electrical engineer, software engineer, biomedical engineer, and pilot. She makes Bird believe that a future in science is possible. Why is it important for girls and women to be represented in the sciences? How can we encourage girls to pursue STEM-based interests? 

Erin Entrada Kelly: Misogyny, oppression, and sexism have excluded women from many fields, including STEM. When we shirk those antiquated, regressive belief systems, everyone wins. The key to encouraging girls to pursue STEM-based interests is to make sure they understand that it's a realistic path for them, despite its history of exclusion. Books can help us do that. There are many books out there—everything from picture books and beyond—that celebrate female scientists. We need to put those books in the hands of young girls . . . and boys, for that matter.

We Dream of Space fulfills the "female main character into STEM, coding, or solving puzzles" square on this year's Summer Reading bingo board! Get a copy here >>  


For recommended titles with a main character who is into cooking, click here >>
For books featuring a female main character into STEM, coding, or solving puzzles, click here >>

In last week's newsletter, we asked:
What is the BEST picture book and why?

Clarke, age 8 from Tempe answered:

          "Moody Cow Meditates, because it helps calm me down."
Congrats, Clarke! You've won a Changing Hands prize pack with books and swag. Participate in this week's challenges for YOUR chance to win!     
SHOW US | We Love to Hear From You
Email us at and you could see yourself in the next Summer Reading E-Newsletter!

Our tween Lil' B.I.T. reviewers share
their favorite reads! 

QUINTESSENCE is a coming-of-age book with a sci-fi twist. Twelve-year-old Alma just moved to the seemingly normal town of Four Points. Life hasn't been easy with her brother going off to college and Alma starting a new school with no friends at all. She acquires a quintescope, three new friends, and becomes a member of the new astronomy club at school in just a matter of a weeks. But her quintescope comes with a mysterious mission, whose meaning will have to be discovered. She has to find the elements, grow the light, and save the starling. This story is about seeing your true self and finding where you belong.  - Eli F., 11
Can Piper win the Exceliator Award and get a plaque next to her mom at a school full of kids that excel, or will she fall behind into the shadows? Just like all of Chris Grabenstein’s books, SHINE! captured my attention with an amazing story line that is loving and relatable. It's so cool how Piper is caring, loves outer space, and always supports her family. SHINE! shows that you can overcome anything, and that there are friends everywhere. I wasn’t able to put this book down and neither will you!  - Giuliana, 11
More #LilBIT recommendations here!
Keep exploring this week's themes with these online resources!

Become an at-home chemist with Kate the Chemist* in this episode of NBC Nightly News Kids' Edition. She'll teach you how to make a bubble snake>>

Want to create digital art, explore aquatic worlds in Minecraft, or learn how to be a #furturetechboss? Check out the July virtual workshops and summer camp sessions at Black Girls CODE, an organization dedicated to helping young girls of every color master coding and programming>>

Turn your living room into your own science lab with these experiments from Janice VanCleave's Big Book of Science Experiments>> (Grab your own copy of the book here>>)

Does ocean life fascinate you? You could become a marine biologist, like Inka Cresswell. Check out her list of resources>>

Put on your thinking cap and join Ada, Iggy, and Rosie to solve a #QuestioneersChallenge>> 

Go on an adventure with Jack and Annie of the Magic Tree House series! Featuring activities, crafts, recipes, games, and more>>

Our favorite scientist Bill Nye tells us why wearing a mask is important>>

*The winner of this week's raffle will receive a set of Kate the Chemist safety goggles along with a prize pack!

Check out our other Programs for Kids!

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PHOENIX | 300 West Camelback Road, 85013 | 602.274.0067
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