Laura Alary

Laura Alary

Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

All the Faces of Me

A playful yet profound take on the phrase “I contain multitudes”

A little girl admires her nana’s wooden nesting dolls that sit side by side on the windowsill. They all look exactly the same: pink cheeks, frilly aprons, and big smiles—except for the tiniest doll, which is small and unpainted and looks like a raw peanut. The girl thinks the matching smiles of all the other dolls don’t feel quite right. After all, she has many different faces and feelings inside of her, and the dolls should too!

Starting with the peanut, the girl draws new expressions on all the dolls’ faces, from toothy grins to grimaces. But when Nana sees what her granddaughter has done, she’s furious and says the dolls are ruined. The girl disagrees. “If those dolls were me,” she says, “no two would be alike.” When Nana considers what her granddaughter is telling her, she slowly begins to understand. With a hug, and a warning to ask before embarking on any more art projects, Nana proudly returns the dolls to their spot.

This bright, uplifting story about honoring and acknowledging emotions also touches on communication skills, creative self-expression, and conflict resolution. Written with humor and honesty, it reminds readers that, just like nesting dolls, there’s more to us than meets the eye.

Written by Laura Alary, illustrated by Salini Perera, published by Owlkids Books

Publication Date: October 15, 2023

Available now for preorder

Here: The Dot We Call Home

When a child finds clues that others have lived in her house before her, she begins to wonder about them, and about those who will come after her. The more she wonders, the more her sense of home expands, stretching to include an entire planet. 

With her thoughtful approach and her unique ability to make big concepts engaging and personal to children, Laura Alary invites readers along for the ride, zooming through time and space to the outer reaches of our solar system for a new perspective on the planet we share. The child marvels: How can something so big seem so small? But also: How can something so small seem so big? Overwhelmed by the mess that humans have left behind, in the end she realizes that there is only one thing to do: start where she is. 

In spare and simple words, Here: The Dot We Call Home helps children begin to think of themselves as both descendants and ancestors, and to comprehend that people of every place and time share one home, and the task of looking after it. 

Order from Paraclete Press or Amazon or your favourite local bookseller.

A discussion guide is available as a free download from Paraclete Press.

Reviews:

“This is a book I wish every child everywhere could have read to them when they’re young, then read to themselves when they’re older, and then read to their children when they’re much older. The book your child, grandchild, or student needs is HERE!” —Brian D. McLaren, author of Corey and the Seventh Story

“In Here: The Dot We Call Home, Laura Alary reminds us that home is the daily spaces we inhabit, the history we are a part of, and the universe that holds us. In this book, she beautifully weaves humanity into relationship with the creatures around us and the Earth herself, reminding us that while we can’t fix all the problems we encounter, we can be present to the life we’ve been given. That is enough. I’m so grateful for this book and what it will teach kids and adults alike about how to practice kinship and belonging.” —Kaitlin Curtice, award-winning author of Native

“Laura Alary’s The Dot We Call Home, teaches children to be co-sustainers in a real place, right where they are. What could be more important, loving, or more human than that?” —Randy Woodley, author of Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth

“Alary’s book draws us into the intimacy of our immediate home and then expands us out into ever widening circles to our biggest home—deep time and deep space. What a terrific message for children to learn…and feel!” —Jennifer Morgan, President of Deeptime Network
“Creation care starts at home as Laura Alary shows in this beautiful, delightful, and heartwarming book.” —Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Professor of Theology and author of Invisible

“Amidst climate catastrophe, how do we lovingly prepare kids for all that is to come? Perhaps the first step is to invite children to fall intimately in love with the place that nourishes their bodies. And to remember that we are part of a story that has gone on before us and will continue after we are gone. Laura Alary invites us into this beautiful work through the eyes of one child offering joy, memory, and imagination about our place on this planet.” —Lydia Wylie-Kellerman, editor of The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World

A perfect book for anyone who cares about the Earth and children! Laura Alary offers a vision of hope at a time when many kids feel powerless. With lyrical writing and beautiful pictures, The Dot We Call Home invites people to find love and possibility.” —Amelia Richardson Dress, author of The Hopeful Family: Raising Resilient Children in Uncertain Times

“How can a young child come to understand their place between the microcosm of quarks and the macrocosm of vast space? How can they begin knitting together the complex relationships between the present moment, their ancestors’ lives, and future generations? These are enormous questions, and Laura Alary — who has a background in theology and biblical studies — does not hesitate to approach them. She offers clarity and gentleness suited to five-to-ten years olds’ sensitivity about where they belong in the grand scheme of things.” —Patricia Campbell Carlson, Spirituality and Practice (Read the full review here)

The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell

Perfect for fans of STEM, this inspiring picture book biography tells the extraordinary story of pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell.

Maria longed to travel beyond her small island of Nantucket. But she wasn’t sure how. Her father taught her to look to the stars for guidance. If you knew how to read them, he said, the stars could tell you where you were, and where you needed to go. They spent hours scanning the night sky together through a telescope on the roof. Maria learned how to use astronomers’ tools to measure and track time by the stars. But what could she do with her skills? Then, one day, she heard that a prize was being offered to the first person to find a new comet. Could this be the opportunity she was waiting for?

This absorbing picture book biography by Laura Alary tells the fascinating, though not well-known, story of a remarkable nineteenth-century woman scientist and women’s rights advocate. After winning that prize for discovering a comet, Maria Mitchell would go on to become the first professional female astronomer in the United States, first female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and one of the first female college professors.

Beautifully illustrated with lovely textured artwork by Ellen Rooney, this is a well-told story with a teachable STEM component, supporting both science and social studies curriculums, that supports a growth mindset. It’s also a wonderful guide sure to inspire readers to find their own way in the world. It includes backmatter that further describes Maria’s impressive life and achievements.

Available from your favourite bookseller or through Amazon.

There are some excellent resources about Maria Mitchell for students and teachers available on the website of The Maria Mitchell Association.

Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal (Starred Review)

Canadian Review of Materials

Mutually Inclusive Books

Awards and Honours:

Texas Topaz Reading List 2023

CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens 2022 (starred review)

Rise: A Feminist Booklist 2023 Honoree

Sun in My Tummy

The cooking of a healthy breakfast moves from parent-child bonding to an eloquent conversation about energy, the growth of plants, and the miraculous ways the sun’s light nourishes us all. 

It began with the sun,
Who showers the earth
With heat and light—
Tiny packets of energy.

How does a home-cooked breakfast give a little girl the energy she needs for a brand-new day? In gently expressive language, her mother takes readers on a journey into the earth where sleepy seeds are tickled awake and grow into golden oats; into blueberry patches, where green leaves break apart water and air to build sweet sugar; and into a pasture where sun becomes grass, becomes cow, becomes milk.

Author Laura Alary’s free verse breaks big ideas into child-sized pieces, making Sun in My Tummy an accessible introduction to the concepts of matter and energy, and how the sun’s light becomes fuel for our bodies through the food we eat. Andrea Blinick’s mixed-media illustrations pair the cozy and homelike with the glowing and dramatic as she takes readers from the kitchen to the farm field and to the sky and back. A concluding Author’s Note shares further information about photosynthesis for young readers.

Available now through your favourite independent bookseller or Amazon.

A downloadable Teaching Guide is available from the Pajama Press website.

To learn more about the background to Sun in My Tummy, here is an interview from Open Book.

Reviews and Awards:

School Library Journal (starred review)

Quill and Quire (starred review) [Jan/Feb 2022 edition]

CanLit for Little Canadians

CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens 2022 (starred review)

The International Educator

CM: Canadian Review of Materials (Highly Recommended)

Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost, and the Growing Time

2 Comments

At the heart of Breathe lies a puzzle: How can Jesus go away, yet promise to be with us always?  Can we trust someone who comes and goes so mysteriously?

In the style of Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter and Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and ChristmasBreathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost and the Growing Time explores the comings and goings of Jesus and the Spirit through retellings of the biblical stories of Ascension and Pentecost, interwoven with contemporary reflections from the point of view of a child.

Moving beyond long ago and far away events, Breathe guides children to wonder about and watch for the presence and work of the Spirit here and now, in practices of prayer and mindfulness, and through acts of justice, generosity, and the sweet taste of kindness.

In the end, the young narrator arrives as a satisfactory solution to the puzzle: the Spirit that was in Jesus is in us too. We are his body now, his way of being in the world. Whenever we choose the way of love, Jesus is there. Always.

Order your copy from Paraclete Press.

A downloadable activity guide is also available through Paraclete Press.

What Grew in Larry’s Garden

Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world.

(more…)

Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas

Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas presents Advent as special time for waiting and watching—paying attention—to the ways God comes to us.

(more…)

Make Room Cover

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter

An invitation for children to wonder about the Lenten story.

(more…)

How Do I Pray for Grandpa?

A gentle exploration of how children might pray, and how adults can help them understand some of the mystery of prayer.

(more…)

Victor’s Pink Pyjamas

A story that explores what it is like to make choices that are different from the cultural norm.

(more…)

Jesse’s Surprise Gift

A story about not holding on to things too tightly, and the surprises that can happen when we dare to let go.

(more…)

Mira and the Big Story

Imagine a story big enough to include everyone.

(more…)

Is That Story True?

A story about what we mean when we say something is true.

(more…)

Rise: A Feminist Booklist 2023 Honoree

January 19, 2023

Rise: A Feminist Book Project has been promoting quality feminist literature since 2002 as part of the Feminist Task Force and Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.

Every year, the project compiles a list of “well-written and well-illustrated” books which “celebrate girls and women as a vibrant, vital force in the world.” It is important to the committee that the books selected focus on protagonists who consciously call out and work to eliminate sexism and other systemic prejudices, empowering and striving for the rights of others.

I am thrilled that The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell (written by me, illustrated by Ellen Rooney, and published by Kids Can Press) has been selected for the 2023 list.

One of the things that drew me to Maria Mitchell was how her sharp wit and critical thinking skills were bound together with generosity of spirit and a keen social conscience. She sought not only her own advancement, but that of her students and others who faced unjust limits on their growth and freedom.

As a professor and advocate for the higher education of women, she pushed back and spoke out against unreasonable rules and restrictions imposed on women. But she also challenged women themselves to set their expectations higher, and helped her students realize they were capable of more than they sometimes allowed themselves to imagine.

I’m grateful to Rise for helping make her story—and this book—more widely known.

You can see the full list of 2023 honorees here.

Sun in My Tummy in CanLit for Little Canadians

January 10, 2023

I try to keep on top of reviews of my books. I also try to keep on top of other Canadian books being published–and Helen Kubiw’s CanLit for Little Canadians blog is one of the best ways to do that.

However, somehow I completely missed this review when it came out in May. I found it today and decided to share to here because it is so thoughtful and thorough in its description of what I sought to do in this book. For example:

“Too many children and adults have a disconnect between what they eat and where it came from. They either don’t know about milk cows and grains and fruit and how they are raised or cultivated or harvested or cannot see the connection between farms and how the food gets into the stores from which we often buy. By associating the sun of our environment with the warmth in our belly from hearty food, Laura Alary relates science concepts like photosynthesis, energy and life cycles with the familiar events like waking in the morning, having breakfast, and growing. Connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar is always an important means to forge learning.”

You can read the full review here.

Talking with Valerie Ellis of Our Everyday Parables

November 17, 2022

It was a real pleasure to chat with Valerie Ellis of Our Everyday Parables.

Writing books is a fairly solitary pursuit, but promoting them is certainly not. Without the hospitality and enthusiasm of bloggers and educators and instagrammers, it would be much more difficult to reach the people who might be interested in my work.

Valerie invited me specifically to talk about my latest book, Here: The Dot We Call Home, and a seasonal favourite, Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas. But we also talked about my journey to becoming an author, what the season of Advent is all about, the significance of being both descendants and ancestors, and more.

You can watch and listen to our conversation here.

For more ideas, resources, and book recommendations, check out https://oureverydayparables.com/

Spirituality & Practice: Review of Here

November 17, 2022

I began taking online courses from Spirituality & Practice years ago. Writers like Cynthia Bourgeault turned my comfortable ideas inside out and upside down; Jane Vennard transformed my understanding of prayer; Maggie Oman Shannon opened up my prayer practice in new and meaningful (even playful) ways. I love how Spirituality & Practice invites people to explore the life of the spirit with creativity and compassion.

I also love their book and movie reviews.

For years I have hoped that one day I would have a book reviewed on their website.

Well, guess what happened yesterday?

“How can a young child come to understand their place between the microcosm of quarks and the macrocosm of vast space? How can they begin knitting together the complex relationships between the present moment, their ancestors’ lives, and future generations? These are enormous questions, and Laura Alary — who has a background in theology and biblical studies — does not hesitate to approach them. She offers clarity and gentleness suited to five-to-ten years olds’ sensitivity about where they belong in the grand scheme of things.”

You can read the full review by Patricia Campbell Carlson here.

Here: Review on Picture Book Theology

September 23, 2022

Back in 2015 I stumbled upon a blog called Picture Book Theology. Not only did the author, Hanna Brown Schock, clearly share my passion for picture books, she also demonstrated a wonderful openness to the way all sorts of books–not just explicitly faith-based ones–can nourish the spirits, hearts, and minds of readers of all ages. I sensed she might be a kindred spirit, so I sent her a message and told her about the sorts of books I write. She had a bit of trouble tracking them down at first (this was almost eight years ago so my American distribution was more limited). But once she did, she invited me to be part of her very first Guest Author post on PBT.

Since then, our paths have crossed online and–at last–in person!

Hanna brings great depth and sensitivity to her reading and interpretation of texts of all kinds, including picture books. I respect her opinion, so was particularly happy when she chose to feature Here: The Dot We Call Home on her blog.

After summarizing the movement of the story outward from a child’s room to the far reaches of the solar system, Hanna writes: “Our intelligent tour guide ends this thought exercise with a far view of our globe; Dot can look very small from space. She lovingly wishes she could care for all of Earth for the people who are to come after her. “But it is too big. And I am so small.” So she engages in a beautiful practice! When feeling overwhelmed by the issues of our globe, she says to herself, “But I can love this… and this.”

Mindful moments and small acts of creation care serve to boost her hope about the resilience of our home and its inhabitants.”

She concludes:

“Alary & Peterslund offer a remarkable construction of the breadth of the subject of home and the details that give it beauty and meaning. Through a thoughtful imaginary journey to the past and consideration for the future, the narrator models how to sense a calling for the present! The clarity & detail of the illustrations tell stories beyond the words so be sure to spend some time exploring those images. This keen-eyed girl invites all to gaze gratefully. She may be small and the subject of her worries big, but her vision and agency are expansive. Let her encourage your own children to care for our Dot so that we don’t leave so much ugliness behind.”

You can read the entire review, including suggestions for further discussion, here.

Books That Spark: An Interview

September 9, 2022

When Terrie Hellard-Brown invited me to be a guest on her Books That Spark podcast, it was to talk about Here: The Dot We Call Home. As it turns out, we spoke about many books, including some of mine, and others that are dear to me.

Terrie even asked me to name my favourite picture book! I did manage to narrow it down to one small masterpiece that I return to over and over, and another exquisite story about the earth that is a beautiful accompaniment to Here.

To find out more, listen to our conversation here.