Writer for children and young adults and creator of quality, affordable, project-specific, supplemental materials connecting people with literature. As an educator and fellow author, I am skilled in navigating the needs of both worlds.

ReaderKidZ contributor - A website dedicated to provide teachers, librarians, and parents with the resources and inspiration to foster a love of reading in kids, K-5.



Simple Saturday is a proud member of Kidlitosphere, active bloggers writing in the area of children’s and young adult literature, and/or writers and illustrators of such literature.

Deb is represented by Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC.


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    Featured Guide of the Week - The Secret Side of Empty

    This week I’d like to showcase a guide I made for Maria Andreu’s incredible A Secret Side of Empty, an important story about a good girl’s downward spiral and rise back to an authentic life.   

    Here’s how Running Press Kids describes A Secret Side of EmptyAs a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

    With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a “normal” future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

    This book is rich with depth and emotion – the perfect fodder with which to develop angsty, heart-felt discussion questions. I recall feeling such compassion for M.T., a bright girl who had done all the right things as a student and a friend, all under the guise of keeping her undocumented status a secret. For a time, the poor kid just gave up trying. It was painful to witness M.T.’s steady steps toward self-destruction. There are tons of kids who can relate to her struggle. What’s the use, right?

    Click HERE to access the Discussion & Writing Prompt guide all-prettied up by Running Press’ graphic artists. Also, click HERE if you’d like review the others I’ve made for them.

    Stay tuned. There will be more where these came from!


    Featured Guide of the Week - Girl in Reverse

    It is no wonder why NPR included Girl in Reverse (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014) as part of their Best Books in 2014 list. Folks, this is so much more than a gorgeous cover (Isn’t it stunning, though?). Friends, author Barbara Stuber created a masterpiece. It’s powerful and tender, poignant and thoughtful, unbelievable and unforgettable. Historical fiction at its best. I swear.

    Here’s a short synopsis of this great book pulled from Simon & Schuster’s website: Being adopted isn’t easy—especially when you’re seen as a national enemy. When Lily was three, her mother put her up for adoption, then disappeared without a trace. Or so Lily was told. Lily grew up in her new family and tried to forget her past. But with the Korean War raging and the fear of “Commies” everywhere, Lily’s Asian heritage makes her a target. She is sick of the racism she faces, a fact her adoptive parents won’t take seriously. For Lily, war is everywhere—the dinner table, the halls at school, and especially within her own skin.

    Barbara gave me many themes to work with in this book– poetry, history, family, the need to belong, isolation, friendship, and more. These topics are explored in the Discussion & Writing Prompt Guide through discussion questions and in-depth writing prompts for grades 6 to 12. In addition, there is a list of linked research topics that add even more depth to the reading experience.

     And, I must say that partnering with Barbara on this project was a delightful experience. She’s generous and kind. It’s no wonder she penned such a remarkable book as this one. I’m honored to not only have created a guide for her, but to call her my friend.

     Smart NPR. They know a good thing when they see one, right?

    Yay, Barbara!!!! I'm so very happy for you!


    Follow-up Guide for Picture Day Perfection

    Don’t let this silly face on the Picture Day Perfection cover fool you in any way. Author Deb Diesen’s hilarious book is picture perfect to teach advanced elements of story and that’s just what we did in a follow-up guide crafted for grades 3 to 5. This book, pared with the attached guide, will make teaching the complicated (and sometimes kind of - yawn - boring) topic of elements of story fun, as well as unforgettable!

    Practice comprehending literary terms with Picture Day Perfection Bingo.This guide is rich with literary terminology such as rising and falling action, exposition, climax, resolution, and aspects of the three act structure. Being that Picture Day Perfection’s intriguing circular plot line has such a clever twist at the end; students of all ages will delight in returning to the text with the intent of connecting the action on the page to the classic story arc.  And, for the ultimate opportunity to practice the application of skills, students can participate in a Readers’ Theatre production. The script is divided into specific acts and scenes, all correlating with the elevated concepts presented in the guide.

    I have to say that creating two age-appropriate guides for the same book was a fascinating experience. We went from sequencing the months of the year in the proper ordinal pattern to chatting it up using high-level literary lingo.  Please take a moment to download the guide and see what I mean.


    Anywhere but Paradise - Available April 2015

    Title: Anywhere but Paradise

    Author: Anne Bustard

    Publisher: Egmont USA


    From IndieboundMoving from Texas to Hawaii in 1960,12-year-old Peggy Sue faces a difficult transition when she is bulled as one of the few haole (white) students in her school. This lyrical debut novel is perfect for Common Core classroom connections.

    It's 1960 and Peggy Sue has just been transplanted from Texas to Hawaii for her father's new job. Her cat, Howdy, is stuck in animal quarantine, and she's baffled by Hawaiian customs and words. Worst of all, eighth grader Kiki Kahana targets Peggy Sue because she is haole--white--warning her that unless she does what Kiki wants, she will be a victim on "kill haole day," the last day of school. Peggy Sue's home ec teacher insists that she help Kiki with her sewing project or risk failing. Life looks bleak until Peggy Sue meets Malina, whose mother gives hula lessons. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, leaving Peggy Sue at Malina's, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Peggy Sue is knocked unconscious and wakes to learn that her parents safety and whereabouts are unknown. Peggy Sue has to summon all her courage to have hope that they will return safely.

    Folks, the guide will be made available after this great book has launched! And, a great book this is. Believe me. I'm excited to show you the super lessons and activities the guide is comprised of - one in particular. Alas, we'll have to wait until April to do so. Until then,"Aloha!"


    School Visit Overview - Self Esteem with K. A. Barson

    Title: 45 Pounds (more or less)

    Author: K. A. Barson

    Publisher: Speak Teen (Penguin)

    Synopsis: Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

    She is 16.
    And a size 17.
    Her perfect mother is a size 6.
    Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 2 months, and wants Ann to be a bridesmaid.
    So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less).

    Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, endless run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—and some surprises about her not-so-perfect mother.

    And there’s one more thing—it’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin—no matter how you add it up!

    Download a .pdf copy of an overview of K. A. Barson's school visit programming and follow-up lessons and activities.