Join me at the Flight of the Puffin Launch Party!

I’m excited for the virtual Puffin Launch Party hosted by Bartleby’s Books on Tuesday, May 4th at 7pm EST!

I’ll be joined in conversation by Matthew Winner, host of the Children’s Book Podcast, and we’ll also get to hear from LGBTQ+ advocate & educator Amber Leventry about the best ways to be allies to kids who are transgender or nonbinary.


I hope you can join us!


For more information about how awesome Matthew and Amber are…

Matthew Winner is the Head of Podcasts at A Kids Book About where he leads the company in creating a podcast network dedicated to helping kids and their grownups have honest conversations by making podcasts about challenging, empowering, and important topics hosted by individuals from diverse backgrounds who know the topic first-hand. Prior to this, Matthew worked in education for 15+ years, first as a classroom teacher in an elementary school and then as an elementary school librarian. Matthew is the host of The Children’s Book Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. In 2013 Matthew was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker and was invited to the White House as part of the Champions of Change program. He wishes he was still on the Obama’s Christmas card mailing list. Matthew and his family reside in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Amber Leventry is a queer, nonbinary writer and advocate. They live in Vermont and have three kids, including twins and a transgender daughter. Amber’s writing appears in many publications including Romper, Longreads, The Temper, The Washington Post, and Parents Magazine. They are a staff writer for Scary Mommy and Little Things. Amber uses their words to influence and educate people on the importance of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. They also run Family Rhetoric by Amber Leventry, a Facebook page devoted to advocating for LGBTQIA+ families one story at a time. They provide LGBTQIA+ inclusivity trainings at schools, temporary housing shelters, camps, and businesses.

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @amberleventry. And visit their website to hire them for speaking engagements and LGBTQIA+ training sessions.

Pre-Order Giveaway!

When you pre-order Flight of the Puffin, you can enter for a chance to win a Puffin Prize Pack of:

  • Flight of the Puffin T-shirt
  • 50 Puffin Stickers
  • and a class set of personalized postcards from me!


Please note: Pre-orders from any source qualify, but pre-orders from independent bookstores count for TWO entries!

If you’d like a signed, personalized copy of the book, pre-order from Bartleby’s Books!




“Wow” — Colby Sharp


Don’t mind me, the puddle of Wonder-loving goo over here on the floor.

And  this video review!! The incomparable Colby Sharp put into words how I felt when I finished writing this book. It brought me back to when my heart was spilled out everywhere. All those kids who will read it!

But it’s not abstract anymore! It’s SOON! It’s less than 2 weeks until the #PuffinReadAloud starts, and now it’s COMPLETELY BLOWING MY MIND! Thank you so much, Colby Sharp!

The Flight of the Puffin Book Trailer!

I’m thrilled to share the Flight of the Puffin book trailer. I know how important a book trailer can be in getting kids excited to read a book, and I was lucky enough to get to collaborate with these four awesome kids to make one.


I’m grateful to Mr. Schu for revealing it on his blog. Check it out, and let us know what you think!



Announcing the FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN Read Aloud: Connecting Classrooms Coast to Coast

Have I got news for you!

I’m so excited to be teaming up with Penguin Random House to announce the…



Join author Ann Braden and classrooms around the country to read aloud Ann’s new book Flight of the Puffin together, and let kindness take flight!

Starting April 19th, for five weeks, Ann will be posting videos every week, including read alouds, ways to connect to a classroom in a different part of the country – and activities to reach out to those feeling isolated. Plus, you can start reading the sections for the first two weeks for FREE with our downloadable sampler!




*If you’re on school vacation for the first week (Hello, New England!), you’re welcome to start a week later. The structure allows for lots of flexibility. 




Download the FREE sampler with sections for the FIRST TWO WEEKS of the READ ALOUD!


What Happens When You Sign Up for the Flight of the Puffin Read Aloud?

  • You’ll decide if you’d like to be paired up with another classroom that’s also participating.  (If you choose to, you’ll get an e-mail introduction to the educator you’re paired with, so you can brainstorm ways you’d like to connect.)
  • You’ll be e-mailed a Flight of the Puffin Read Aloud Starter Kit with a schedule, discussion questions, and a template to print your own blank #PuffinsUnite postcards. We can also mail you a pack of 50 blank postcards if that’s easier for you.
  • You’ll have the chance to sign up for a 20-min Q&A with Ann at a special discounted Read Aloud rate. Each session will be just $50 for Read Aloud participants, and if you want to team up with other classrooms at the same time, you can split the cost.



Why read Flight of the Puffin with students?

It’s about four (very different) kids in different parts of the country who feel isolated. It’s about the power of a single small act of kindness from a stranger. It’s about how these kids start to recognize that they are awesome just the way they are, and that they’re not, in fact, alone.

This is a book about building bridges across divides: geographic divides, political divides, divides within families, divides within ourselves. When Ann wrote it, she never imagined the magnitude of the pandemic-induced divides we’d be facing – and how isolated we would ALL be feeling. This is a time for us to recognize how connected we all are, despite these divides.

Plus, it has super short chapters that make it accessible and easy to fit into schedules!

Beyond the Book: #PuffinsUnite

Inspired by the book, the #PuffinsUnite action will encourage readers to send postcards with encouraging messages to others, whether it’s students in other places or to organizations that support those who might need extra love: nursing homes, homeless shelters, Meals On Wheels groups, LGBTQIA organizations, racial justice organizations or simply individuals who could use a boost. It’s amazing how the simple act of sending a postcard can make us both feel connected – and to realize the power each of us has inside. Because we have the power to send out ALL KINDS of ripples of kindness into the world! (Find out more here.)


PLUS: Ann will be mailing each participating class a postcard! Hopefully by the end of the read aloud, it’ll be clear that even though we’re masked up and apart from one another, we’re all still connected — maybe even MORE connected than we were before. Because you’re not alone. And your students aren’t alone. And together we can let kindness take flight!


Places to Buy the Book:

Get the Audiobook:




The Inspiration (& Cover!!) for Flight of the Puffin

My next book FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN is coming out May 4th, and I’m so excited to share the cover with you. It was designed by artist Chanelle Nibbelink, and it takes my breath away. Here it is in all its glory!

Isn’t it amazing??? It’s the PERFECT cover for this book. I wrote about the inspiration for the book for the Nerdy Book Club‘s cover reveal, and I’m sharing it here. As you’ll see, this is a book of my heart.


The Inspiration Behind Flight of the Puffin

A book about…
connections that cross political divides
love over hate
kids discovering the power of their actions
and HOPE

I’ve always avoided conflict. Every day when I was in preschool, one of the other girls at the dress-up station would tell me, “You can wear the purple dress tomorrow.” I never pushed back. I never told the teacher. I also almost never wore the purple dress. (Except for one glorious day when that girl was absent.) Even as an adult, I avoid tricky left turns because of the pressure from the people behind me.

But back in 2013, with my newborn daughter strapped onto me, I stood at a podium, shaking with nerves, and gave a speech at a press conference about one of the most controversial issues in our country: guns. Because I cared more about finding common ground than avoiding conflict. Because all the yelling back and forth was doing nothing to change the situation. Soon, I was president of a brand-new grassroots organization and heading into absurdly polarized water.

Plunging yourself into the work of listening to two sides argue is its own education. You realize that underneath the yelling and the anger is often the same plea: You don’t understand me. You’re not hearing me. You’re not respecting me. The current divisions in our country are no different. So how will we ever find common ground? How can we stop judging each other?

With stories.

Stories—good stories—say this to the reader: You are seen. You are heard. You matter. Only when we hear those things will our clenched fists relax.

I have watched what can happen when a child feels seen by a book with The Benefits of Being an Octopus. But honestly, it doesn’t need to be a whole book to affect someone. Sometimes it just takes an index card and some colored pencils.

I’m serious. Stay with me here.

Four years ago, hate speech became more emboldened and public than it’d been in decades, and after a few weeks of sobbing and wringing my hands, I realized something: If regular people were perpetuating most of the hate, then regular people should be able to stop it. When I heard that the Islamic Society in my state had gotten hate mail, I decided we should send them postcards covered in hearts to show them they were loved. They ended up getting five hundred love postcards. That poor little hate message found itself drowned out—by a bigger, more powerful story.

We called ourselves the Local Love Brigade, and we started sending postcards to others who needed love: a nine-year-old girl who had been bullied for being Jewish, another girl dealing with a racist classmate, Syrian refugees resettling nearby, and many others.

Some of the people even wrote back. It was reading those letters that pushed me to recognize the power of what we were doing. And that sometimes one postcard—even from a stranger; sometimes, especially from a stranger—is all it takes for someone to feel seen, to feel heard, to know they matter.

The power of one small act of kindness from a stranger is what inspired my next book, Flight of the Puffin, coming out this May. It’s about four kids living in different parts of the country, and it explores political divides, gender boxes, and how a tiny action can send out ripples you’d never expect. I’m so excited for #PuffinBrigades to sprout up in schools and communities and spread kindness. Keep your eye out for more information about that coming soon.

Today, I am thrilled to be sharing Flight of the Puffin’s gorgeous cover with you. Artist Chanelle Nibbelink’s soaring puffin makes for such an inspiring image.

So, yes, there are deep divides in our country, but there are plenty of things that connect us. And when we take the time to let others know we care—and feel that they do too—that’s when there’s hope.

Here’s to all of us holding on to hope like the glorious, soul-filling sunrise that it is.

A 3-Part Video Series on Creative Writing

I’m excited to offer a 3-part video series on creative writing:

“What to Write When You Don’t Know What to Write (And You Don’t Think You’re a Writer)”

All ages of participants are welcome! I always tell students that if I can write, they can write — it’s just about breaking the process down into small manageable steps.  

The videos will launch at 1pm EST on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, and I’ll post the YouTube links right here.

If you or your students have questions about the writing process, comment below, and I’ll try to answer as many as I can!






Download the this worksheet with 13 Questions to help you figure out your story’s plot!


The Beginnings of the Local Love Brigade


It’s been almost three years since I helped start the Local Love Brigade, and it makes me so happy that it is thriving and growing (both Kansas and Florida have formed new chapters in the past week!) I just happened upon this video of our very first get-together to make love postcards. It was put together by the fabulous photographer Ezlerh Oreste, and it’s like seeing my kids’ baby videos!


Local Love Brigade Postcard Making

Local Love Brigade Postcard Making

Friday, February 24th, 2017

“Be Part of the Local Love Brigade! Come by and make postcards to send out in an avalanche of love to support victims of hate. You’ll be part of a movement that has begun to illuminate the power of fierce love.”

Posted by Ezlerh Oreste on Monday, February 20, 2017



My next book, THE FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN, was inspired by the Local Love Brigade and the way that the actions of a stranger can have ripple effects that go out and affect things in ways you wouldn’t expect. I’ll be digging in revisions of it soon, and it’s so important to reminder that even little actions — when they are based on love — can make a big difference.

Back-to-School Giveaways & New Ways for Students to SPEAK UP

Octopus in Paperback! Plus: A HUGE GIVEAWAY!

Later today the custom paperback edition of THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS releases from the non-profit First Book for just $3.85! If your school or program qualifies as Title I, you’re eligible to shop on the First Book marketplace and get fabulous discounts like this one. Here’s the link to the paperback of OCTOPUS, but it’s worth exploring their whole site because they stock amazing books for amazing prices.

To celebrate we’re doing a huge giveaway! FIVE DIFFERENT TITLE I SCHOOLS WILL WIN A CLASS SET OF THIRTY BOOKS EACH! The giveaway is happening on Twitter and Facebook. To enter: comment with your school name and retweet the original tweet and/or share the Facebook post to be entered! (Doing both means to get to enter twice!) The deadline is September 1st.


#TeamOctopus T-shirts for Everyone!

In June, the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union launched a community read of OCTOPUS, and as part of that a group of students decided to march in the July 4th parade to help spread the word. And something came up about how we should all have #TeamOctopus t-shirts… Well, thanks to many of you, we able to fundraise enough to provide t-shirts for all the kids that marched in the parade! And now those same t-shirts are for sale again, and the proceeds go to helping get the book into the hands of kids at Title 1 schools! 

Order your own shirt here!
(The sale ends on Monday, September 9th.) 

It is *quite* fun to meet up with fellow #TeamOctopus folks and all be wearing matching shirts! Here is a group of us at Nerdcamp in Michigan!


#TeamOctopus T-shirt GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a Class Read Aloud Kit including:
 – A CLASS SET of #TeamOctopus T-shirts for all your students!
Check out the brand new #TeamOctopus Forum for directions to enter the giveaway.

Brand New #TeamOctopus Forum

This month we launched the #TeamOctopus Forum! This is a place you can:

  • Pair up with other classrooms reading OCTOPUS this year
  • Get ideas for social action projects that connect to the book
  • Pose questions to other teachers who have used OCTOPUS
  • And, of course, enter the giveaway for #TeamOctopus T-shirts for your students!

Check out the forum here:



At schools, I’m always talking with students about importance of speaking up, so I’m super excited to give students who have read OCTOPUS a new chance to share their voice with others. For this school year, students are invited to choose one of these prompts, and share what’s important to them! Their thoughts can be shared either through writing, speaking, or art. Then, if they’d like, it can be published on my website.

  1. People at Zoey’s school don’t understand her as a person and what her life’s like. Describe one thing about you or your life that people at school don’t know or understand.
  2. If you could change one thing about your world, what would you change? Why? Who would you need to talk to to start making that change? What would you say?
  3. You get to write your own version of a sequel! In your mind, what happens next––or down the road? (Your thoughts as a reader are just as valid as the author’s!)

Visit to submit student work!
It can be either a text submission, a photo, or a video. I can’t wait to receive them. Students might even get a little #TeamOctopus love in the mail in response!

Finally, check out this except from a song written by a student in South Carolina, inspired by the book! Isn’t it AMAZING???