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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia #ReadYourWorld

Once again, I am participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day - MCBD 2019 (1/25/19). It's mission is to "not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries."

If you, or someone you know, likes mystery, ancient magic, and anthropologists, this is a great multi-cultural new series for upper elementary or lower middle grade (Hi-Low) readers.

Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia

Author: Jessica McDougle

Publisher: Plum Street Press (2017)

Ages: 8-12



Adventure, magic, mystery, self-determination, family, and greed.


Nadia Knox knows all about secrets, but nothing has prepared her for what the Eye of Zinnia will reveal! For as long as she can remember, Nadia and her younger brother, Chris, have been tagging along with their parents as they travel the world searching for the untold stories of ancient societies, including the Kamju, a civilization hidden deep in the wilds of Uganda.

Nadia knows how important this discovery could be to her parents, but she can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. After all, wouldn’t there be more than legends and whispers of magic if the Kamju actually wanted to be found?

Young readers and parents alike will love the Eye of Zinnia’s combination of magic, action, and exploration.

Opening Lines:

"Oh no," my brother said next to me on the plane, reaching for the white bag in the seat pocket. The airplane shook and dropped. "Nadia, I think I'm going to --" He leaned over the sick bag, and I covered my nose.

It wasn't exactly how I had planned to spend my summer vacation; stuck on a plane between my airsick brother and my dad who snores like a chainsaw.

Why I like this book:

When Nadia, a clumsy, thirteen-year old girl, is dragged off to Uganda to find the Kamju, a civilization believed to be extinct, by her parents and their documentary team, she is in for some really weird experiences.

Though a little slow to start, by the second chapter the story grabs your attention and is hard to put down. In addition to realistic family interactions and conflict, both American and Ugandan, there is an element of an ancient magic that tantalizes the reader. The book is full of action, emotion, and riveting descriptions, such as the Guardian Souls (nightmare creatures, twice as tall as a human that "looked like a warthog: big, widely spaced eyes on either side of a scruffy pig snout") and their human-headed companion birds. It explores both the fantastical and real beauty and danger of Uganda.

The story raises questions whether a civilization's desire for autonomy and non-interference from the "outside" trumps science's desire to know, catalogue, and explain everything in the world. When does our presence do more harm than good? Can there still be isolated cultures in the world today? If so, should we leave them alone? It also poses questions about the assumptions we all tend to make about each other and situations and when could our personal desire for an award or prize trumps the needs and desires of others.

Overall, it is an enjoyable, absorbing adventure, focused on the clash of cultures and beliefs, that will leave the reader eagerly awaiting Jessica's next book.

Plum Street Press kindly supplied me with the book for purposes of providing an honest review.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board! *View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: *View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here:

Medallion Level Sponsors (

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Author Sponsors (

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini, Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, and Queen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.


When: Friday, January 25th

Time: 9 pm to 10 pm EST

Where: On Twitter! Follow McChildsBookDay to participate

Sponsored By: Make A Way Media

And wait…that’s not all! There are free resources available for teachers and parents!


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Sorry for the long post, but there was lot of great information!

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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