Roadtrips & Reviews

Our first two books are still feeling the love with two great reviews recently. Check them out:

The Pirate Tree's Lyn Miller-Lachmann writes in "Remembering the Struggles of the Elders: A Review of A Gift from Greensboro," "This brief but powerful book, by the young small press Penny Candy Books, is truly a gift – a gorgeous poem and a story for readers young and old to ponder."

On her blog, Much Ado About Adoption, Merrisa writes, "This sweet book does a wonderful job of breaking down adoption after infertility into an easy-to-tell story. My kudos and gratitude to author Tracey Zeeck and Penny Candy Books for bringing to life a highly relatable, important story that adoptive parents like me can use in this wonderful, challenging journey of adoption."

And, finally, Quraysh Ali Lansana found himself (with yours truly) in Yulee, Florida, last week, where he read and discussed A Gift from Greensboro with 300 third through fifth graders through the Authors in Schools program sponsored by the Amelia Island Book Festival. This was an amazingly attentive and insightful group of kids! Here's a photo of Q signing some books in the school library after the talk: 

Quraysh signing books



Chuck Young in Worcester's Telegram & Gazette

Check out the great article in the Worcester, MA, Telegram & Gazette about Chuck Young and The Day We Lost Pet.

I recently lost two pets, Pikey and Calvin, and this book has been such a balm for me. Not only are Chuck's words so poignant, comforting, and poetic, but Aniela Sobieski's illustrations are masterful, inviting, and other-worldly. Yeah, I know I'm the publisher, and I'm supposed to say nice things, but I can also say that Chad and I don't publish books we're not in love with, and this one has been extra impactful to me as a human. —Alexis

Some interior spreads:


Meet Hassan Manasrah

As part of our ongoing series introducing readers to Penny Candy authors and illustrators, we're happy to present Hassan Manasrah, award-winning illustrator of The Blue Pool of Questions (English-language version to hit the shelves in September!). Meet Hassan, then and now:

Hassan is a visual artist, illustrator, and comic creator. He studied interior design at al Balqa Applied University and painting at The Jordanian Fine Art Center. He also studied printmaking at the Jordanian Fine Art Museum where he concentrated on lithography, etching zinc and copper, and lino- and mono-prints. From 2008 to 2010, he worked as Assistant Art Director for the animated cartoon series Pink Panther & Pals. Since 2010, he has illustrated 25 children books. In 2014, the book Why Not? was shortlisted for the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature for best illustration and made the White Ravens list. In 2016, he won an Etisalat Award for best illustration for the Palestinian edition of The Blue Pool of Questions.


"Regarding my favorite book," Hassan writes, "it was Bahbahan Is Playing. Bahabahan is the name of a chubby blue elephant with a big red cheeks. I think it's my choice for favorite book because it was the only one I owned for a long period of time. As an adult, I did a little research and discovered that it is a book of poetry, published in 1981. But I only remember that blue elephant—and the large size of the book itself."



Meet Amy Losak

As part of our ongoing series introducing readers to Penny Candy authors and illustrators, we're happy to present Amy Losak. Amy's mother, Syd, as you'll read below, is the author of H is for Haiku, scheduled for release next April. It is with Amy's help and blessing that we're publishing her mom's work, as Syd is no longer alive. Here's a great photo of mother and daughter back in the day:

Amy Losak is a New Yorker (Queens) who now lives in Bergen County, NJ. A seasoned public relations professional (healthcare, corporate, nonprofit, arts/education, etc.), Amy has been on a mission for several years to revive some of her late mother’s literary works—especially her poetry, and most especially, her haiku and senryu for kids. Sydell Rosenberg (1929-1996) was a public school teacher, ESL instructor, and a published writer. She was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, established in NY in 1968, and her short poems were anthologized in journals, books, and other media over the years. Syd’s alphabet picture book, H Is For Haiku, will be published in April of 2018 (National Poetry Month). Inspired by Syd, Amy dabbles in short-form poetry too now. Some of her work has been published in print and online journals.

Two books had a transformative influence on Amy as she was growing up: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith and the Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery. According to Amy, “Francie and Anne are from vastly different worlds, each one with its own set of challenges. But they are, I think, 'kindred spirits' despite the disparities in their external circumstances. These amazing young women possess a singular vision, compassion, and imagination. They have a deep desire to learn and carve out their own place, their own destiny. Francie and Anne are strong, even indomitable—made of 'thin invisible steel'."

Amy continued, “I wanted to be like them—perhaps Anne, especially, with her feistiness, romantic views about life, and her love of language and nature—and yes, even her 'carrot'-red hair (though she yearned for 'handsome auburn' tresses!). I loved their grit and creative ideas and hopes. These great books (and others by Smith and Montgomery) had a profound impact on my life when I was a girl. My parents even took my brother Nathan and me on a 'pilgrimage' to Anne’s home when she came to live with the Cuthberts: Prince Edward Island. I think I was around 13 or 14 then. It was a wonderful adventure—a dream come true.”

An added bonus: one of Amy's own haiku:

sun clock . . .

my day unwinds

with low-flying sparrows

Meet Quraysh Ali Lansana

Another addition to our series! We've been asking the authors and illustrators of our current and upcoming titles about their favorite childhood books . . . and as a bonus we asked for photos of them as kids! Reacquaint yourself with Quraysh, then and now (with his best friend, Russ, in a 6th grade photo):

Quraysh has taught in elementary schools, high schools, and universities in Chicago, where he lives, and across the country. Known by many as Q, he has written eight poetry books, three textbooks, three children's books, and has co-written a book designed to help teachers teach poetry. Q has also edited eight anthologies of literature, most recently The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop (2015). He has several books forthcoming, two of which center around the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was his mentor. Check out a more in-depth profile at

About his favorite childhood books, Q writes, “I am the youngest of six, with 12 years between my oldest sibling and me, and four years separating the sibling closest in age. I spent much time in aloneness, a silence only tainted by television, the low hum of domestic violence, or Mama calling from work to check on me. I read a great deal of books.

The Enid Public Library was refuge and dream space.

My best friend Russ Hutchison and I spent every Saturday in the library for six years. All day, from opening to closing time. We loved The Great Brain series by John Dennis Fitzgerald. The escapades of T.D., the conniving and brilliant middle brother in the Fitzgerald family, always set our minds on fire. We likely even tried a 'Great Brain' trick or two on my unsuspecting younger cousins.”

Meet Maya Abu-Alhayyat

Another addition to our series! We've been asking the authors and illustrators of our current and upcoming titles about their favorite childhood books . . . and as a bonus we asked for photos of them as kids! Meet Maya Abu-Alhayyat, author of the upcoming book, The Blue Pool of Questionsthen and now:

Maya is an award-winning Palestinian novelist, poet, and children’s book writer. She has published three collections of poetry: Home Dresses and Wars (Dar Alahlyah, 2016), This Smile, That Heart (Dar Raya, 2012), What She Said about Him (House of Poetry & Qattan Foundation, 2007); and three novels: Bloodtype (Dar el-Adab, 2013), Grains of Sugar (House of Poetry, 2004), and Threshold of Heavy Spirit (Ogarit, 2011); as well as several children’s books. Her writing has been featured in international journals and magazines and has been translated into English, French, German, Swedish, and Korean. Since 2013 Maya has worked as the director of the Palestinian Writing Workshop in Birzeit, West Bank, Palestine. She currently lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children.

Maya has provided a list of her favorite children's books, but not ones from her childhood because, she writes, "I didn't have access to children's books when I was a kid." Maya goes on to explain, "I was raised in the diaspora without my father or mother, who were separated when I was one year old. I lived with my aunt, who was poor, and reading was not a priority. Later, I lived with my father in Tunis. He was afraid that books and reading would make me who I am today :-)." Maya's novel, Bloodtype, explains her complex story and is currently looking for a home with an English-language publisher. 

Maya's favorite children's books: 

Haltabis Haltabis حلتبيس حلتبيس  by Rani Sghair 

The Story of The Squash قصة الكوسا by Samah Idress

Is this a Photo  هل هذه صورة شمسية by Nadin Touma

Hazzur Umm Fazoura حزورة أم فزورة by Rula Sadeh

really really  حقاً حقاُ by K.Gray

Boulqash بولقش by Yara Bamieh

Unimportant Tips for The Young Reader نصائح غير مهمة للقارئ الصغير  by Anas Abu Rahmeh

Author photo by Salim Abu Jabal