Environmentalist Isatou Ceesay Larger-Than-Life at the Climate March


It’s every publisher’s dream to see a three-foot bust of the subject of one of their books paraded down the National Mall among thousands of people.

And last month, that’s exactly what happened.

A sign featuring Isatou Ceesay, the notable environmentalist featured in the 2015 picture book One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, was brought to the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC.

The sign was made by Ingrid Crepeau, a puppeteer who has made “Big Head” signs of notable people (including Mae Jemison, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Neil deGrasse Tyson) for other protest marches. So for the Climate March, Ingrid decided to create signs of people who have championed sustainability, including Isatou.

Isatou has been working to recycle plastic bags and reduce waste in The Gambia for more than 20 years. In 1997, she founded the Recycling Centre of N’Jau with four other women, and from that the Women’s Initiative Gambia (WIG) was formed. WIG helps women not only learn to recycle and reuse but also teaches financial planning.

Ingrid Crepeau’s partner in the project, Michele Valeri, found Isatou while looking for women environmentalists to feature online.

“I was so excited by her WIG collective and a few of the interviews with her on YouTube that I knew we needed her to be at the March,” Michele said.

One Plastic Bag author Miranda Paul was excited to see that Ingrid created a “Big Head” sign for Isatou.

“To see Isatou Ceesay’s likeness alongside recognized environmental heroes and activists was a hopeful sign for me—a sign that in our global world, our diverse heroes will have their legacies carried on,” Miranda said.

Want to learn more about how Isatou became an advocate for recycling and a leader in her community? Check out One Plastic Bag, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

You can also watch Isatou discuss her work with WIG in this 9-minute documentary video.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Do you have a poem in your pocket today? I’ll confess that the day snuck up on me. Fortunately, I have a number of poetry books close at hand.

I reached for Dear Wandering Wildebeest by Irene Latham, and after flipping through it, I settled on the final poem:

And if you prefer to listen to your poetry, you can hear to Irene read the poem here.

Want more? Check out some of our other wonderful poetry collections!

Independent Bookstore Day 2017


This Saturday, April 29, is Independent Bookstore Day! More than 450 bookstores in the United States will be joining the fun—click here to find your nearest participating bookstore.

Here in the Twin Cities, 18 bookstores will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day with treats, readings, prizes, and more. And, anyone who visits all participating bookstores will be entered to win a grand prize. Find more details here. (Not able to get from Excelsior to Hudson and everywhere in between? Hit 5 of the participating stores and receive a limited edition Twin Cities indie bookstore map.)

We asked several of our local authors to talk about some of their favorite stores in Minnesota—here’s what they have to say:

“Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul is by far my favorite indie kids’ bookstore. I bought books for my own kids at Red Balloon when they were small, celebrated my author-friends’ readings over the years, and hey, had a great time doing my own reading of Sachiko in January. An international peace site AND a bookshop, Red Balloon knows that children can discover peace in books. Thumbs up, Red Balloon!”

Caren Stelson, author of Minnesota Book Award finalist Sachiko

“The Red Balloon has an amazing selection of picture books, and it does so much to bring authors and readers together!”

Laura Purdie Salas, author of If You Were the Moon

“My favorite bookstore is Red Balloon Bookshop because the wonderful owner Holly Weinkauf and her terrific team support local authors, provide a great selection of children’s books, and can help you find new favorites.”

Trisha Speed Shaskan, author of the upcoming Q & Ray series

“I love so many independent bookstores in the twin cities area: Excelsior Bay Books and Wild Rumpus have always been great and both organize fun themed trolley rides for kids, Magers and Quinn host great events like one of my favorite artists Daniel Clowes, Addendum is run by the two nicest people and it is the little bookstore that could, and the Red Balloon for their over-the-top and outgoing support of local authors and illustrators.”

Stephen Shaskan, illustrator of the upcoming Q & Ray series (launching this fall!)

“My friends and neighbors Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl run Moon Palace Books—a spot in South Minneapolis that somehow manages to homey, professional, community-oriented, and erudite at the same time. I love that place; although I can never get outta there with just one book.”

Shannon Gibney, author of Minnesota Book Award winner See No Color

“There are so many great indie bookstores, but my favorite is Addendum. Why? Its audience (YA folks), as well as its owners, Katherine and Marcus, two really incredible YA advocates.”

Kirstin Cronn-Mills, author of Minnesota Book Award finalist LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field

“They say the best things come in small packages and it holds true for children’s bookstores, especially for Addendum Books. Although Addendum is a tiny shop, owners Marcus and Katherine support kids, literacy, their community and local authors with the biggest hearts imaginable.”

Jane O’Reilly, author of The Secret of Goldenrod

“My favorite indie bookstore nearby is Lake Country Booksellers in downtown White Bear Lake. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and always ready to pass along another fantastic recommendation.”

Tracy Nelson Maurer, author of Noah Webster’s Fighting Words

“My absolute favorite bookstore is the Bookstore At Fitger’s in Duluth. The location is unique, charming, and literally just a few steps away from one of the best viewing spots on Lake Superior. It has a great selection and an amazing children’s section, with not just books, but a huge collection of games and toys. They have Muppets. And candy. Lots and lots of candy. The staff is really cool, and they treat their local authors really well. You can get lost in this store for hours.”