Laura Alary

Laura Alary

Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside

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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.

Talking Maria Mitchell With Book Time

August 29, 2022

When Lisa Day invited me to talk about The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything on her blog, Book Time, I was delighted. I don’t often get an opportunity to say so much about a book, but Lisa really did question everything!

This picture book biography about Maria Mitchell is about so many things: the history of science (not only astronomy, but navigation too); the development of women’s rights, especially in the areas of education and science; finding your vocational path through trial and error; the benefits of practice (and boredom); the power of mindfulness to give us insight into ourselves.

Some of my favourite questions were:

  • What was it about her story that made you want to tell others about it?
  • What is the goal of telling Maria’s story?
  • What do you hope kids–and adults–will take away from Maria’s story?

You can read the responses–and the rest of our conversation–here.