Wednesday, February 20, 2019

It's an Interactive Reading of "Lorena and the Magic Mocha Mirror"

Please join us for a FREE, family fun-day hosted by 

Studio Museum Harlem and NY Public Library.

Books, Authors & Kids - Sat, March 9, 2019, 1 – 2 PM

Learn more and register at EventBrite or the Studio Musem Harlem website.

Pre-order Lorena and the Magic Mocha Mirror, or another series title at the website:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Valerie's Vignettes Reviews a Re-released Classic and Something New, Multicultural Books for the New Year.

         It's a new year and time for a new selection of books to add to your reading list. To celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day 2019, Valerie's Vignettes has two great books to recommend.
     The first book, Rocks & Rice is a new story, a richly illustrated picture-book that highlights the universality of a particular culinary pairing, and demonstrates how food and dining rituals can serve as a surprising intersection of cultural understanding. 
     The second book is a rediscovered classic written by one of America's great literary voices. Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood was written by James Baldwin more than 40 years ago. Recently rediscovered, the book is experiencing a resurgence of interest and popularity. A unique and masterful work, the narrative is a celebration of childhood that audiences young and old can appreciate.  
      Each book is a wonder-filled adventure into the multicultural experience that offers literary soul-food for thought. Enjoy and #ReadYourWorld ! 


"Rice & Rocks"

By Sandra Richards,
Illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan

                             Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing         Published: 2016
                             ISBN: 978-1-940014-73-9                               Pages: 32         

     Food is the most popular cornerstone of culture, and Sandra Richard’s children’s story, “Rice and Rocks,” shows how this proves true for one special little boy.  In this delightfully illustrated children’s tale, young Giovanni is embarrassed that his grandmother plans to serve the Jamaican staple, beans and rice – which he un-affectionately calls “rice and rocks” – to his school friends during the family’s traditional Sunday dinner. 
     But when Auntie and Jasper, Giovanni’s mystical and wisecracking pet parrot, take him on a wondrous adventure that spans geographic and cultural boundaries, Giovanni learns that “rice & rocks” are nothing about which to throw stones! 
     Through their adventures, and his guests’ sharing of their own family traditions associated with flavorful favorite, including Japanese sekihan, Puerto Rican arroz con gandules, and New Orleans-style red beans and rice, Giovanni learns that the diverse dish is a celebration in itself. 
     Readers, 5-9, will learn how universal culinary culture can be in this tasty tale that offers myriad morsels of foodie fun facts as well as nod to Louis “Satchmo” Armstong, whose signature salutation, we learn was, “Red beans and ricely, yours.”
      “Rice & Rocks” is a story that teaches us all to sincerely savour our similarities. 

-Valerie Williams-Sanchez  

This book was provided by Wise Ink Creative Publishing  for
 2019 Multicultural Children’s Book Day review.

      "Little Man, Little Man: 

                                             A Story of Childhood"

          By James Baldwin, Illustrated by Yoran Cazac
Publisher: Duke University Press     Published: 1976
ISBN: 978-1-4780-0004-4        Pages: 120

     The indelible storytelling of one of America’s most prolific and polemic native sons, James Baldwin, is brought to life through the echoing prose and evocative imagery of Little Man, Little Man. Baldwin’s only published children’s book, it is one that captures the sights, sounds, and perspective of childhood. 
     Told from the vantage point of his niece, Blinky, 8, his nephew, TJ, 4, and their neighbor, WT, 7, Baldwin captures the ethos, vernacular, imagination, and carefree innocence of growing-up during the mid-70s in Harlem. We see and feel the pulse of life through the eyes of the kids, at their level. 
       Not a simple book; rather, it speaks simply and honestly of the realities of city life right down to the empty faces of the broken. Through the children's eyes we see the people they pass while they play, running to retrieve errant and bouncing balls down endless asphalt avenues. These intimate views expand beyond the concrete facades and into the living spaces of those who live on the block into homes and lives of the friends we meet through the book's pages.
      Following the threesome's interactions, Baldwin's signature narration gives voice to the humor and honesty, the love, laughter, and drama, the everyday adventures that unfold in the city. The community that emerges is tough yet tender, replete with equal parts love and despair, and abundant in nurturing wisdom for its youngest and most vulnerable.
     Accenting the author's narrative yarn, illustrator Yoran Cazac’s jazz-infused and impressionist pictures radiate the rich, vibrance of their urban village. From the rhythm in its voice to the colors of its imagery, Little Man, Little Man is not simply a picture book, rather, it is an authentic, masterfully crafted love letter about urban childhood that is worthy of a read by children and adults alike. 

-Valerie Williams-Sanchez  

This book was provided by Duke University Press for
 2019 Multicultural Children’s Book Day review.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board! *View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here:  and  *View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: Including: Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing . Also connect with us on social media and look for the official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The 6th Multicultural Children’s Book Day to Be Held January 25, 2019

The Annual Nonprofit Event Gifts Books For Classrooms  

Free downloadable poster. Artwork by Julie Flett.
(Dec. 10, 2018) -- It's nearly time again for Multicultural Children's Book Day. Now entering its sixth year, the fundraising event will again raise needed funds of which 100% of proceeds go towards gifting books to teachers for their classroom libraries. The event continues to experience a groundswell of interest which in its third day in 2018, reportedly achieved 3.2 Billion Social Media Share Impressions.  

The program is the brainchild of children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom, who teamed up to create the ambitious (and much needed) national event and non-profit initiative, as noted on the event website (                  

Author Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Online Publishing
to be a Featured Sponsored

In 2019, Author/Illustrator Valerie Williams-Sanchez will again participate in the Multicultural Children's Book Day. Different than in years past, Williams-Sanchez will not only serve as a reader/reviewer of other children's titles but also will be an Author Sponsor for this important reading and literacy event. Moving into the spotlight with a cohort of inspired and inspiring authors, Williams-Sanchez along with Valorena Online (VO), and Valorena Publishing -- the moniker for current and future children's book titles -- decided to learn more about the event that is an important literacy-building event. Ahead of the big day, VO chatted with Rebecca Flansburg (RF), the self-described writer, influencer, and project manager for MCBD, about how the initiative that grown and current trends in self-publishing.  Here's what we learned:

VO: Are the majority of the MCBD entries self-published?

RF:  I would say it's an even split between traditionally published and self-published with our MCBD Sponsors and Authors. There also been an uptick in Small-to-Midsized Boutique Presses like TimTimTom Books, Language Lizard, Starlight Books, Chickasaw Press, and Ohio University Press. 

VO: What makes self-published diversity books different than commercial diversity books?

RF: The thing I love about self-published books is those authors are not afraid to write books about important, but not-as-common, topics like foster care, anxiety in kids, adoption, and diverse religions, holidays, cultures, and traditions. Self-published books can also be produced faster which means they can get into the hands of readers quicker. Self-published books have gotten a bad rap for years because there are cases where the books are not well edited and don't have the "polish" of a traditionally-published book. Though there are instances of self-published children's books being a little rough around the edges, the amazing thing about book readers and buyers is that, if an author produces something subpar, they will certainly let the author and other readers know via reviews and social media! 

VO: What growth have you witnessed in self-published diversity books through MCBD?

RF: What I have noticed about self-publishing as a whole is the fact that it has grown in popularity. Authors who have struggled for years to find an agent or spent months querying publishers can now take matters into their own hands and with the vast amount of online tools and tutorials produce and publish the book they've always dreamed of creating. I would have to say that the quality of self-pub books has increased as well.  

VO: Are there any common stories, experiences, or motivations that self-published authors in this community share?

RF: Mainly that it can be hard to get traction and visibility for their books and even harder to get them into libraries. Self-published authors are their own marketing and P.R. team so it can be frustrating to try to find ways to be seen. That's another reason why MCBD is so helpful to all authors-it offers a unique opportunity to get their work in front of a huge audience of book readers and buyers. 
VO: How does this program compare to other programs that may be similar (consider organizations like WNDB)? 

RF: MCBD and WNDB have a common goal of raising awareness for the need to shine the spotlight on the kids' and YA books that let readers "see themselves" in the pages of the books they read. WNDB has been very instrumental is encouraging change in the publishing industry since many of their core members are diverse authors. MCBD is more a grassroots movement that works directly with readers, caregivers, parents, teachers, and librarians by getting multicultural books into homes and classrooms as a non-profit. There can never be too many folks advocating for change in the world :).

VO: What do you anticipate will happen with this industry in 5, maybe 10 years? Will it rival traditional publishing? 

RF: It's hard to say. Traditional publishing will always be around but the smaller and more nimble small presses and self-publishers will definitely give them some competition.

VO: What's the Male/Female breakout for MCBD authors? 

RF: Oddly enough, there seems to be a much stronger female presence, even though it does vary a bit year-to-year.

VO: Do you know what average sales are for your program participants? 

RF: MCBD never promises or guarantees book sales in any way shape or form. We use our reach, vibrant social media and core of parents and educators to raise awareness of an author or publisher's work. Visibility is so important in an online world that tends to be noisy and crowded. MCBD offers an effective way for authors and publishers to get their books in front of the eyes of their ideal customer.

VO: Is there an ethnicity breakdown for your authors? 

RF: Since every year is different, I don't have any stats on that.

VO: Are authors largely teachers/educators? What is the average length of time authors have been writing as self-published authors? 

RF: We've had quite a few self-published authors who are educators or former educators. We've also seen quite a few who are doctors or mental health professionals as well. Advice to Self-publishers: Spend the time and money making your diverse children's books the best it can be. Have it professionally edited several times and invest in a quality illustrator. If you want book-buyers to take you seriously and buy your book, you have to offer up only your best work.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cocoa Kids Collection Books™ Original Illustration Selected for New York Art Center Exhibition

Media Contact: Valerie Williams-Sanchez
Phone: (714) 654-6453

Cocoa Kids Collection Books™ Original Illustration
Selected for New York Art Center Exhibition

Palisades, New York (September 14, 2017) – Valorena Online, LLC is pleased to announce that an illustration from the forthcoming Cocoa Kids Collection Books© title has been selected along with works by a dozen other artists, to be featured in an upstate New York Art School show.

The piece, “Grandma Mimi’s Kitchen,” from the book, Lorena and the Magic Mocha Mirror© has been selected to appear in Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA) upcoming exhibit, “Home,” a show, which will be on view October 8 through November 19, 2017, and explore artists’ notions and expression of “Home.”

As described on the RoCA website:  

“Our home interiors create our environment and state of mind. It is often the place we associate with our identity. How does our interior home space affect our emotional and mental outlook on life? Is our living space affected by the outside environment? Or does the home environment affect how we interact in the outside world? Is it a sanctuary, a creative space, a place of conflict, new beginnings, endings, or memories?  The artists in this exhibit explore the home and its environment.”

In announcing its selection, RoCA acknowledged Valerie’s work for having captured the essence of the show’s theme. Her hand-drawn work, created to punctuate her books’ narratives, shows Lorena, the story’s protagonist, being body shamed by beach bullies until a trio of mermaids encourage her to love her body, while on vacation with her family.

In the artist’s statement, Valerie wrote:

“To create this “Home” scene, I meditated on my own childhood and days spent at my grandmother Mary Evelyn (a.k.a. Evie) Givens’ house.  Evie’s house was my home away from home, and time with Evie was always an adventure. Afternoons were spent in discussion of big ideas, learning and fun. It was Evie who encouraged me in my youth to “write something every day.” Scrabble was most always on the agenda at Evie’s, and day trips were frequent. An avid fan of the arts, Evie and I would travel by bus – Evie didn’t drive— to museums, galleries and gardens in my native Southern California, filling my childhood with vivid memories of love, laughter, and light. Even when no one was home, as was the case while she and I were out having adventures, Evie’s cluttered yet tidy home was a cherished space that I return to in my heart even now as an adult. Evie passed away in 2008. 

I called on these recollections of history to create an easy, breezy image that would evoke for my young readers the warmth of a summer day, and the love and comfort most often associated with home and family. These feelings are hinted at in the room’s details, like the family pictures on the walls and refrigerator. Also, I took a coloring book drawing approach to pull kids into the stories and to make the books more accessible, using a cheerful and bright palate, meant to appeal to young sensibilities’ developing visual literacy. I hope my books bring joy to my readers and inspire them to create and explore their own memories through reading and books.  

Artist Valerie Williams-Sanchez is the principal consultant for Valorena Online, LLC, a former daily journalist and writer who is the author of the Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, fictional tales that put multi-racial and minority children center stage in the self-published series that tackles big issues with wit, whimsy, and chocolate. The third book of the series, Lorena and the Magic Mocha Mirror© marks Valerie’s debut as an illustrator.  Valerie began illustrating her books out of a desire to perfect and fully articulate her creative vision. Markers were used for the book illustrations; however, Valerie’s preferred mediums are charcoal and watercolor.

A certified Project Manager Professional (PMP®), Valerie is Mom to Lorena, 21, Auntie to Isaiah, 9, and a former teacher to countless, at-risk, and special needs kids of all ages. Valerie includes creative writing and drinking hot chocolate among her passions. Learn more about Valerie and her books at