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Historical Fiction
Picture Books
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Spaghetti Smiles
illustrated by David Harrington
Pelican Publishing, Fall 2014
ages 4-8

Jake must find a new neighbor for his Uncle Rocco's crazy, mixed-up Italian restaurant, but it won't be easy! Everyone loves to eat at the restaurant, but no one wants to move next door. When Jake discovers a new bookstore in town, he decides he has to find a way to convince the bookstore owner to be Uncle Rocco's perfect new neighbor.


Spaghetti Smiles is a charming children's picturebook about a family dilemma. Jake's Uncle Rocco runs a popular but slightly loopy restaurant. Rocco loves fun and games, perhaps a little too much; he has a reputation for being a mix-up! The restaurant needs a new neighbor, someone who likes to have fun; otherwise it will have to close down. But who would want to have their business next door to a man known for accidentally mixing Italian food into the oddest of situations? Jake investigates one business after another, without success. The down-on-her-luck bookstore owner is his last prospect; could reading and Italian food be a match made in heaven? Exuberant, playful illustrations perfectly set the mood of this boisteriously funny picturebook.

"This playful, lip-smacking story has been cooked up with just the right ingredients." (Read the full post.)

Margo is thrilled to have Spaghetti Smiles in Ambassador, the official magazine of the National Italian American Foundation. (Read the full review.)

Barnes & Noble
Aloha for Carol Ann
illustrated by Priscilla Garcia Burris
Marimba Books, March 2011

Beautiful palm trees, pretty flowers and a warm breeze are all waiting to welcome 8-year-old Carol Ann to her new school in Hawaii. But Carol Ann doesn’t want a new school. She doesn’t want new friends, or palm trees, or a warm breeze. She wants her old friends. She wants her old home. She wants things the way they used to be. How will she remember her new classmates’ names? Who will she play with at recess? How will she ever feel at home in this new place? Then the teacher introduces Carol Ann to the term, “aloha.” She says the little word means “hello,” “welcome,” and a lot more. Carol Ann finds out for herself just how much “aloha” means as she makes a place for herself at her new school.

Instructional strategies for Aloha for Carol Ann

Margo Says:
“Many multicultural children’s books often feature children of color who are the minority in the schools, but this book, based on my ten years living in Hawaii and teaching at President Obama’s alma mater, Punahou School, tells the story of Carol Ann, a haole third-grader, turning the tables on the usual multicultural tale. I wanted to explore what would happen when a third-grader had to move to an entirely new environment, where nothing was like what she was used to. I thought Hawaii would be the perfect background, and our family’s experiences with this aloha spirit inspired much of the story.”


"In this story of starting at a new school and making friends, not even a beautiful Hawaiian setting can conquer Carol Ann's unhappiness about her current situation: "She didn't want fluffy, pink flowers. Yuck! She didn't want warm trade winds. Nuh-Uh!" But with the support of her new teacher and her unfailingly friendly classmates, Carol Ann is soon saying "Aloha" with the rest of them. … the book should prove reassuring to children in similar situations—even those in far less exciting locales."

Aloha for Carol Ann
Barnes & Noble.com
eBook at Meegenius
Marimba Books
Powell's Books
Watch a video interview with Margo Sorenson on KESQ, ABC's Palm Springs affiliate.
Read Marimba Books'
interview with Margo.

Aloha, Priscilla Garcia Burris!
Thanks for the illustrations making Aloha for Carol Ann
as bright and colorful as Hawaii itself.

Learn more about Priscilla.

Read Marimba Books' interview with Priscilla.

Priscilla Garcia Burris
Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream
Illustrated by Katalin Szegedi
The Liturgical Press, Fall 2006
ISBN 978-0-8146-3004-4

How can Ambrose, the medieval mouse, stop his daydreaming long enough to help build the cathedral and earn the respect of his mouse cousins?

"Written for the enjoyment of children ages 4-10, Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream is a wonderful picturebook about a small mouse with big dreams. Ambrose the mouse yearns to follow the traditions of his mouse family and help build a gorgeous cathedral, but his daydreams prevent him from practicing the somersaults that startle tired workers and help them stay awake. Ambrose's dream is no less than to help William the Master Builder find his dream. A lavishly illustrated story about inspiration, courage, and the wonder of seeing architectural beauty gradually take shape."

Click here to read the story behind the story of Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream.

You may order Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream from Liturgical Press or . . .

Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream
Liturgical Press
Barnes & Noble
Ambrose and the Princess
Illustrated by Katalin Szegedi
The Liturgical Press, Fall 2005
ISBN 978-0-8146-3043-3

How can Ambrose, the medieval mouse, use his talent of paying attention to "the small things" to bring the new princess happiness so she won't leave, but will stay to help the convent schoolgirls?

"American Library Association award-winning author Margo Sorenson and 2005 Hungarian Illustrator of the Year Katalin Szegedi present Ambrose and the Princess, an enchanting fable about little mouse named Ambrose, who sees that the kind and wonderful princess of the land is unhappy. She is so distressed she might depart, yet the church, the convent, and the poor dearly need her kindness. Determined to make things right, Ambrose sets out on an adventure to help the princess and her all her subjects. The delightful color illustrations add the perfect charming touch to this original story in the style of a classic fairy tale."

--Midwest Book Review, 2006

Click here to see an illustration from Ambrose and the Princess.

You may order Ambrose and the Princess from Liturgical Press or . . .

Ambrose and the Princess
Liturgical Press
Barnes & Noble

I'm very fortunate to have
Katalin Szegedi illustrating
my Ambrose picture books.
You'll enjoy taking
a look at her website.

Click here!

Read Katalin's blog.

Copyright 2002-, Margo Sorenson. All information presented on these pages is the intellectual property of Margo Sorenson. Book excerpts are copyrighted by the publisher. Information and excerpts may not be used in any form—written, verbal, or electronically—without the permission of Margo Sorenson or her publishers. If you would like to quote any portion of the website, please contact the author or the publisher by using links provided on this site to request permission.
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