It’s hard to believe that I was in New York City on the weekend of February 7-9 for the SCBWI conference – meeting up with friends for breakfast in the Grand Hyatt Hotel and attending crowded sessions. So much has changed since then; I am grateful for that weekend full of inspiration and books.

I especially enjoyed sessions on telling authentic picture book stories and creating memorable characters. One of the recurring themes throughout the sessions: “Write from a place that only you can write.” In the days after the conference, I thought about how much I adore the memorable Marisol McDonald picture books, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios.


1. The book is in English and Spanish. Each spread shows the English version of the text and the Spanish translation. Lovely!

2. Charming details show the main character’s personality. Marisol McDonald is mixed – with a South American mother and a North American father. With brown skin and red hair, Marisol keeps hearing that she doesn’t match. When a friend comments that her hair is the color of carrots, Marisol says her hair is actually the color of fire — a perfect detail for a spunky girl!

She wears green polka dots and purple stripes. She loves peanut butter and jelly burritos. She loves “speaking Spanish, English, sometimes both.” For example, she asks her parents, “Can I have a puppy? A furry, sweet perrito?”

3. When Marisol tries to match, her emotional struggle shines through. After a friend challenges Marisol by saying she couldn’t match if she wanted to, she decides to try matching. Clearly uncomfortable, she says it’s hard to find clothes that are all the same color. And when it comes to life, she doesn’t want to have to choose between one thing or another. Mixing things up feels natural. I love how the middle of the book shows the ups and downs of her struggle in a way that respects the emotions of children.

4. By the end, Marisol embraces and celebrates who she is. She is amazing, and she gets the puppy of her dreams. “He has one floppy ear and one pointy ear, one blue eye and one brown eye…He is mismatched and simply marvelous, just like me…”

5. The author and the illustrator provide touching notes in the backmatter. In her dedication, illustrator Sara Palacios thanks her parents for embracing her mismatches. “Because we don’t have to be like everyone else or follow their paths,” Sara writes. “Our own choices make us who we are.”

Author Monica Brown says, “Like Marisol McDonald, my cousins and I are mixed – indigenous Peruvian and Spanish mixed with Scottish and Italian and Jewish, not to mention Nicaraguan, Mexican, Chilean and African.”

My favorite line from Monica’s note: “My life (and I bet yours too) is bound up with the history of many people’s and like Marisol McDonald, I open my arms wide and embrace them all.” Yes, yes!

6. Marisol and this outfit are downright irresistible. This little girl makes me want to spice up my wardrobe. And staying true to herself, Marisol will never be limited or put into a box. And you know what? Neither will I!   


Thanks everyone & see you next time!

Congratulations to Terri Michels for winning THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON from my last post.


Michelle Meadows

Michelle Meadows is the author of many acclaimed books for children. She loves dreaming up new projects and telling stories with heart. Connection, compassion, and family are common themes in her work. Michelle's books include FLYING HIGH: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles and BRAVE BALLERINA: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle also contributed to BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland. Michelle graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and literature. Michelle is represented by literary agent Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio. Michelle grew up in Washington, D.C. and now lives near the beach in Delaware with her husband. To learn more about Michelle's books, visit her website:


  1. Thanks for sharing. I love books that highlight multi-racial families and this art looks super.

  2. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    I hadn’t heard of this book and can’t wait to find a copy. It looks adorable!

  3. Marisol reminds me of my granddaughter. Oh the combinations! And she loves it. Thanks for sharing this book.

  4. This looks fantastic. I can’t wait to find this one.

  5. Another book about self-love and acceptance -a great match for young readers (or readers of any age). Congrats!!

  6. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the illustrations, color, and message of this pb!!

  7. Janet Frenck Sheets

    Awww. Love the ending!

  8. My new prize book, THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON arrived ten minutes! I am so excited to see down with a cup a of tea and simply enjoy. Then I will invite all my grandkids to story time on facetime to share my new book with them. Should be a good afternoon! Thank you Michelle and Rhonda Gowler Greene

  9. This book looks absolutely charming and lovely. I love that Marisol and her new puppy are the perfect match!

  10. Brilliant! I love the relatability factor on this one.

  11. This book really is adorable! I want to be Marisol!

  12. Pat Zietlow Miller

    Great post! I’ve somehow missed these books. I will check them out.

  13. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Love the upside down cover! I’m thinking it evokes the spirit of Marisol.

  14. Love this post, Michelle! Makes me NEED to see this book. 🙂

  15. I love Marisol already and can’t wait to read this book! Thank you, Michelle!!

  16. What a fun character! Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

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