Our Books

The Heart of It Collection Anthology Set


3 Book Set

Written & Illustrated by Maya Gonzalez
with 58 New & Emerging Diverse Children's Book ArtistAuthors

Paperback – 3 Book Set, 264 total pages
5.5″ x 8.5″
Intended Audience: Ages 4-11/Grades K-5

Everyone is an Artist. Everyone is a Storyteller.

more book details below

The Heart of It Collection consists of 3 books and includes stories, poems, and art from 58 new & emerging diverse voices in children’s books. Over two thirds are POC, Indigenous and/or Queer.

Each book revisions the anthology format by nesting the ArtistAuthor’s spreads within a larger narrative of story and art from award-winning children’s book author and artist, Maya Gonzalez. They sail the dark sea, reflect the bright moon and finally rise from the deepest part of the heart. All connected, but each book can also stand alone.

WhaleheartWhaleheart begins the journey by calling in the heart, and not just any heart, but the largest heart on the planet! Why the largest? So we can feel our connection with everyone and understand in a personal way that all stories are important, because all stories are connected. In the back it touches on the specific process of creating a children’s book.

By the Light of the Rabbit Moon is next and looks at listening and how our lives and our own stories are made richer by each other’s stories. This book explores the use of symbol, subtext, nonverbal vocabulary and our connection to each other. In the back it touches on how stories can grow.

Unfurling: Voice is a Revolution ends the trilogy and brings us back to self and the origin of voice. Raw, experimental, playful and symbolic, it dances with silence and expression in yet another way to use and push the limits of children’s books as a radical tool of transformation.

This collection inspired the Write Now! Make Books free series for kids which includes over 2 hours of video, downloads, templates and more to teach kids the process of creating picture books.
Visit: www.writenowmakebooks.com

Featured AuthorArtists in the 1st AnthologyFeatured ArtistAuthors: (in alphabetical order by last name)
Ovid Amorson, Ale Barahona, Crystal Azul Barr, Michelle Biyal, Victoria Bruno, Debbie Burran, Indelisa Carrillo, Jim Cartwright, Cecille Cervancia, Samantha Matalone Cook, Adrianne Beth Galvez, Nicole Davis, Summer Edward, Silvia Garcia, Lauraine Gibbons, Erika González, Priya Gopal, Carol Green, Virginia Grise, TeMika Grooms, Jill Guerra, Kelly Jimenez, Teresa Lakier, Robert Liu-Trujillo, Rosalind Lord, Nguyen Louie, Danielle Lucas, Janine Macbeth, Ann Magee, Katherine Mahler, Melina Mangal, Laurin Mayeno, Sanata Nacro, Innosanto Nagara, Judith Nasse, Shanimarie Ogilvie, Gayle E. Pitman, Elana Ponet, Bernice Avella Popp, Melissa Reyes, Nashanta C. Robinson, Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, Nataša Savelli, Karen Simpson, Marianna Singwi-Ferrono, Roxana A. Soto, Carole Stedronsky, Yoly Petra Stroeve, Karen Su, Kenji Tanner, Jorge Tevalan, Chantra Tham, Sonal Vyas, Cynthia A. Weber, alida cardós whaley, Robyn Wolfe, Laura Yohualtlahuiz, Laurie L. Young – view more about ALL of these amazing ArtistAuthors on the “Featured ArtistAuthors Bios” tab above.

About MayaAbout Maya Christina Gonzalez: Maya is an acclaimed fine artist, educator, and the illustrator of more than twenty award-winning picture books, several of which she also wrote. Her book My Colors, My World won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award Honor from the American Library Association. Her picture book, Call Me Tree was listed in Kirkus’ Best Picture Books of 2014 that Celebrate Diversity. She is passionate about inspiring others to create books, because she believes that creating children’s books has the potential to be one of the most radical things you can do! Wanting to do more than just pass on her knowledge, Maya decided to use her online children’s book course as a springboard to begin mentoring and publishing ArtistAuthors right away through the anthologies. (more about Maya on her website: mayagonzalez.com)

About The Heart of It Collection:

The Heart of It Collection

The Heart of It Collection is a 3 book anthology series in direct and immediate response to a lack of equitable and relevant representation of the people in traditional children’s books.

After taking Maya’s course, The Heart of It: Creating Children’s Books that Matter, aspiring and emerging ArtistAuthors are invited to put the teaching into real life practice through the process of creating one full spread for The Heart of It Anthology for that year. Over the course of 4-5 months students are guided through developing their story and art to be published. Step-by-step submission packet and videos, scheduled reviews by Maya as well as encouragement to review course materials support students to more deeply integrate the process of creating art and story for children’s books. The whole experience offers the opportunity to learn the balance between creative expression, honing one’s craft, and the ability to follow through and how important that balance is to making truly powerful books for our children.

Emerging and established authors and artists who shared their wisdom through the course’s Community Spotlights are also invited to submit work.

The final book is then used as a tool to support ArtistAuthors in getting their work out into the world and transform who creates children’s books and how.

Sales of the book also support future ArtistAuthors as proceeds are put towards offering more scholarships for The Heart of It course providing a cyclical environment of mutual support.

a return of storytellers and artists...


The Heart of It Collection is intended to:

  • create a space for ‘first voice’ expression
  • provide real life experience in a supportive environment to create one full spread for a published children’s book
  • support participating ArtistAuthors in getting their work out into the world, and into the hands of children
  • model a viable alternative to traditional publishing routes
  • encourage the development of VOICE for those traditionally silenced in our society
  • reclaim and free the power of personal and communal storytelling
  • explore that all stories are important because all stories are connected and so connect us
  • share that coming into our own creative power strengthens us and by extension strengthens our community when shared
  • highlight that EVERYONE is a storyteller and EVERYONE is an artist

So let this book remind you to

begin listening to your own story and feel the power of your own voice
and your innate ability to create your own image!

Pass it on!

Write Now! Make Books - free series for kids

For Kids! Want to get started on your own book?

Visit Write Now! Make Books to download your field guide and get started sharing your story and art!

Weight 17 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 in
Date of Publication

Full Set available Feb 2018.
Whaleheart 2015
By the Light of the Rabbit Moon 2016
Unfurling 2018

No. of Pages

264 total pages
Whaleheart 88 pages
By the Light of the Rabbit Moon 100 pages
Unfurling 76 pages


Paperback; Full Color

Intended Audience

Children Ages 4-11, Grade Level K-5


JUV038000 – Juvenile Fiction : Short Stories
JUV057000 – Juvenile Fiction : Stories in Verse


English w/ some Spanish

Featured ArtistAuthors Bios


Learn more about the 58 featured ArtistAuthors
from the Collection:
(in alphabetical order by last name)

Ovid AmorsonOvid is a playful beacon whose Divine Powers include Honoring Children and Nature, Shapeshifting, Sassmouthery, and Being Creative, True, and Very Wiggly. Enhanced by these Powers, Ovid prances boldly through Life Preserving and Sharing Stories which are now Growing into Books.
Ale BarahonaBara likes to listen and watch the world around her, especially nature. An Illustrator with a quirky sense of humor, she has exhibited all around the world and also been part of a couple of coloring books though this is the first story she has written and illustrated. www.alebarahona.com
Crystal Azul BarrCrystal is a lover of rainbows, flowers growing in the cracks of the city, and making up songs. She is an artist-healer and has the pleasure of teaching art at a middle school in Fruitvale. She lives in Oakland with her partner, the Poetic Librarian, and their 2 cats.
Michelle BiyalMichelle loves meeting others who enjoy celebrating the miracle of life with art, music and dance. She is especially inspired by Tibetan Thankas, and Islamic and Celtic art.  She has made beeswax candles for the Oakland Museum Store in California. She looks forward to painting pictures on bee hives. www.BeeallDesigns.com
Victoria BrunoVictoria Bruno was born and grew up in Chile. Educator and self-taught artist. Enjoys…creating and teaching through arts. Believes…in the freedom of expression and the abilities of each child as unique. Dreams…of a just and peaceful world where children can play and fly feeling free.
Debbie BurranDebbie loves all colors of people and colorful painting. At five she was painting clowns and going to the circus. The different people, colors and acts were amazing. She thinks joining the circus would be exciting, but teaching children to love all people would be her dream and fantastic!
Indelisa CarrilloIndelisa grew up in a house full of stories and mariachi music filling the rooms. She is an educator currently working with immigrant children and their families. She hopes to one day release all the stories she has written and painted into the world and into the hands of children.
Jim CartwrightJim lives in San Francisco with his husband Jorge. He works with kids as both a creative writing teacher and a speech therapist. Jim has published poems in various anthologies and is a member of CPITS (California Poets in the Schools). He has released three CDs of his music.
Cecille CervanciaCecille is a mother, artist, teacher, writer, and musician. She was inspired by her own experiences to write and illustrate stories that reverberate in the hearts of those who can relate. Cecille is passionate about life, and shares that zeal where a rainbow of colors and descriptive storytelling meet.
Samantha CookSam is a maker, hacker, artist, teacher, writer, seeker, and mother of three kids. She loves to explore history through culture and learn about all the ways humans express themselves. Sam lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she runs a hackerspace designed for and by kids and families. www.samanthamatalonecook.com
Nicole DavisNicole loves quiet. She believes that quiet time is essential to staying connected to one’s true self. She encourages you to take a moment and let the silence hold you. What will you discover about your true self?
Summer EdwardBorn in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Summer grew up enjoying her grandmother’s cooking and eating delicious street foods from coal pot vendors. She created and runs Anansesem Caribbean children’s literature ezine. Her writing for adults has appeared in various journals and this is her first published work for children. www.summeredward.com
Adrianne Beth GalvezAdrianne has always enjoyed listening to, reading, and writing stories. She loves her family, children, bilingual education, animals (especially cats, dogs, and elephants), the beach, ice cream, dancing, traveling, photography, music, and yoga. She believes in love, peace, kindness, mischief, questioning, life-long learning and growing. Adrianne lives in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Silvia GarciaSilvia was born in Guadalajara. She’s an entrepreneur and storyteller and loves to reflect life events with her kids through art. This is her first collaboration, created to be used with kids about acceptance. Her illustrations use “mistakes” with the idea that everything is art and you can find it! www.siyogalo.com
Lauraine GibbonsLauraine grew up in Houston, Texas. She’s always had a keen love for animals and nature. She is an Emmy award winning art director & designer. This is her first foray into picture book writing and illustrating, and, hopefully, not her last.
Erika González Erika was born in Eagle Pass, Tx, border to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mx where she learned to honor water and the ancestors. Her poem was written for PODER, en environmental justice organization. Erika currently teaches Kindergarten at Roses in Concrete in Oakland, Ca, is an Aztec dancer, and a mother.
Carol GreenCarol fell in love with children’s books while reading to her now grown son. A cartoonist, television producer, writer and production publicist on movie sets throughout the U.S. and Canada, she now takes her own baby steps through the labyrinth of children’s books to impart love, hope and self-esteem.
Virginia GriseVirginia likes to wear chanclas, likes to make up stories, likes to dream in the middle of the day. She currently lives in the Bronx with a butcha from Texas who likes to wear cowboy boots. This is an excerpt from her first children’s book. www.virginiagrise.com
Photo credit: Emily Mendelsohn
TeMika GroomsTeMika, a star gazer, loves to create art that makes the sky dance. She has illustrated nine books and this is her first publication as an author. TeMika uses art to remind us that we are powerful and she is excited about the stories she will release into the world. www.temikatheartist.com
Priya GopalPriya dreams of a writing career, living in New York and owning a piano. When she’s not writing, she loves reading, yoga, movies, drawing, nature, and dreaming. She wonders what it would be like to own a magic wand.
Jill GuerraJill loves teaching mindfulness to youth and is in her thirteenth year as an Oakland classroom educator. She is the author of, Long Hair Don’t Care – A Poem About Boys With Long Hair. She is grateful to have been raised in the open-minded and embracing Bay Area.
Kelly JimenezKelly uses meditation and creative expression as a way to be in tune with her heart. She works with kids and adults, providing them with guidance and tools to connect and uncover their unique heart colours. Kelly’s first picture book, Lily from colourless to colourful, is now out into the world.
Teresa LakierTeresa finds inspiration in the beauty of children. Her whimsical style and her look at the intricacy of our environment blend together in a way that may help children find a road to learning about what is out there in the great wide world that awaits them. www.illustrationsbyteresa.com
Robert Liu-TrujilloRobert is a father, husband, and lifelong artist. He has illustrated three picture books, one of which he is self publishing called Furqan’s First Flat Top. Robert is honored to be a part of “The Heart of It” anthology. He loves and supports the movement of independent storytellers. Robdontstop.com

(Robert was one of our Community Spotlight interviews in The Heart of It course)

Rosalind LordA tech person for many years, Rosalind is now branching out into illustration and writing children’s books. She has also illustrated greeting cards and other gifts, some of which have won awards. Her writing experience includes reviewing books. You can also find her dancing lindy hop in her spare time.
Nguyen LouieNguyen is Chinese Korean American. She was born and raised in Oakland, California. She spent most of her life coping with dyslexia and overcoming the stigma of being called a dumb, slow “Sailboat Reader”. Her brain is hardwired differently. Nguyen celebrates multifaceted narratives and likes to tell stories with pictures.
Danielle LucasAn Advertising Art Director born in Florida but grew up in Spain. Danielle has since followed the moon to far away lands, living and traveling around Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia. Her playful and inquisitive four year old has inspired her to venture into children’s books.
Janine MacbethJanine loves the adventure and discovery of family tree climbing. The only thing she loves more is making books, which is why she started Blood Orange Press, a publishing company that spreads dignity, diversity, and joy. Janine is of mixed Asian, Black, white, and Native descent. www.bloodorangepress.com

(Janine was one of our Community Spotlight interviews in The Heart of It course)

Ann MageeAnn loves how the caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly is a metaphor for life. Because she’s an identical twin, she values individuality and understands the struggles of trying to be yourself. She loves being a mom, educator, poet, photographer, children’s author, and life-long learner.
Katherine MahlerKatherine always wanted to be an artist and a teacher so she became an art teacher! She currently teaches and is working on inspirational curriculum tools for teachers and students in the hope of demystifying the creative process. Art is for everyone and can be made by everyone!
Melina MangalWhen she isn’t working in a school library, Mélina enjoys biking, hiking, reading, writing, and watching karate movies. This is her first illustration. Ever.
Laurin MayenoWhen Laurin was a child, she wrote about a Little Star who was sad about being different. Now a mother, Laurin has written about Little Star seeing things in a new way. Laurin likes to tell stories about being different so people will be kinder to themselves and others. www.outproudfamilies.com

(Laurin was one of our Community Spotlight interviews in The Heart of It course)

Sanata NacroSanata loves her curls – and she wants to spread this love and appreciation for black hair and curls into the world. She is an aspiring illustrator and is just creating her first children’s book. She lives in Germany and is a big dreamer, art-lover and eater of licorices. www.sanatanacro.com
Innosanto NagaraInnosanto is the author/illustrator of A is for Activist. Originally from Indonesia, he moved to the US to study zoology and philosophy but instead became a graphic designer and activist founding Design Action Collective, a worker-owned cooperative dedicated to Social Change. Inno and his family live in a cohousing community in Oakland. www.aisforactivist.com

(Inno was one of our Community Spotlight interviews in The Heart of It course)

Judith NasseJudith loves books, children, and nature, including outer space. When she was young, girls couldn’t have dreams like being an astronaut. Now she encourages all children to not only dream, but to also find ways to fulfill those dreams. She is a published writer-illustrator.
Shanimarie OgilvieShanimarie grew up in Jamaica and has a passion for teaching. She is also an elementary educator and instructional coach who enjoys learning and laughing with her students. She remembers with joy, hunting for crabs in Jamaica. This is her second literary contribution and has other writing in the works.
Melissa ReyesMelissa loves her Nana and the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Her spread is a tribute to them. Melissa is a teacher, writer, and artist living in Oakland, California. She is publishing her first children’s book, I Am Sausal Creek, and she can’t wait to share it with kids! www.meliwings.com
Gayle PitmanGayle is constantly trying to find outlets for her subversive creativity. She gets “into the zone” when she’s writing, knitting, sewing, drawing, or all-around crafting. Her first children’s book, This Day in June, won the 2015 ALA Stonewall Award. Her favorite color of the rainbow is “all of them!” gaylepitman.com

(Gayle was one of our Community Spotlight interviews in The Heart of It course)

Elana PonetElana’s a dreamer, a stargazer; she loves to dance, to sing. All children delight her. She recognizes the child within herself and within everyone she meets. In Connecticut, she’s been Director of a creative Sunday school program for many years. How exciting to share her first poem with her children’s children.
Bernice PoppBernice loves children, gardens and books. A retired first and second grade teacher, she believes children need to plant gardens where they can read books and feel close to nature. Bernice is happy to be part of this anthology.
It has been her life-long dream to write a children’s book.
Nashanta RobinsonNashanta loves to write stories and read books.
As a young author, she won many story writing contests in school. She also likes to draw even though she is shy about showing others her art. Today, she works as an educator and has three children of her own.
Sonia Alejandra RodriguezSonia has been telling cuentos since she’s been very young. She loves stories about family, unity, and love. Sonia is a teacher by day and a writer by night. Sonia is from Juarez, Mexico and from Chicago, IL. The story in this collection is based in true events.
Natasa SavelliNataša is an artist, storyteller, healer and mum. Melding soulful art with healing colour, Nataša’s magical, endearing children’s stories hold a space of graceful wonder where hearts open, beauty lives and wholeness is felt. Her message is ‘Live in your heart’s freedom and grow your deepest, truest self from here’
Karen SimpsonKaren’s favorite books as a child were always about horses. Writing, fabric art and working with animals are her passions. She is an acclaimed quilter and has taught quilting to both children and adults for over twenty years. Karen is also the author of an award-winning novel.
Marianna Singwi-FerronoMarianna is an Oakland Spanish dual-language teacher. She grew up in Evanston, IL and moved to California in large part because of her love for the ocean and sunshine. Her sister, childhood friends, and students inspired her to write and illustrate this story.
Roxana SotoWords are Roxana’s favorite thing in the whole wide world. She’s written so many of them that she’s lost count! Recently, she discovered that art is pretty cool too and now she’s working on her own children’s book, which she can’t wait to share with the world!
Photo credit: www.florblakephoto.com
Carole StedronskyCarole loves play-full art and writing. Her service dog Hazel helps by retrieving pens and pencils when they drop on the floor. After finishing the illustrations for the picturebook You Are The Artist, Carole and Hazel will be working on their Hazel The Service Dog books.
Yoly StroeveYoly is an artist, mother and teacher who enjoys getting messy and creative. She has several published works but this is the first published piece she has created specifically for children. She is waiting for her wings to dry off before she heads off on her next adventure.
Karen SuKaren lives in the Arts District of Oak Park, IL where she met Tia Etu. Watch this video to see Tia busy in her studio: Watch Video. Karen is sharing Tia’s story to inspire all young artists to create whatever comes to mind. Karen would love to see your creations!
Kenji TannerKenji grew up looking at the sky and imagining she had invisible friends. She adored the beauty all around her. Kenji is an acclaimed fine artist and educator who is currently developing children’s books that encourage young people to appreciate their unique beauty and build confidence for a bright future. www.kenjiartdesign.com
Chantra ThamChantra loves hamsters and jasmine green tea. Her favorite stories to write are ones that celebrate culture and language. She also loves to doodle in her spare time. Her dream is to create many more characters that help others in their journey of self-discovery.
Jorge TevalanJorge grew up in a Mayan village in Guatemala, and came to the USA walking through the desert. He loves the pyramids because they are mysterious. He also likes to draw and write short stories. He works in a bakery as a cake decorator.
Sonal VyasSonal is an adventurer who loves to explore near and far. As a school social worker, she nurtures children’s development as they explore and discover who they want to be in the world. Sonal aspires to set free her first children’s book.
alida cardós whaleyalida loves singing sacred songs underneath grandmother luna and ancestral stars. alida creates space for gender self-determination with her gender fluid child, a’lialei. alida practices her storytelling craft in Milwaukee and homelands of her family, Yucatán and Panamá. alida dreams of publishing radical books for Indigenous, Black, and Brown gente.
Cynthia A. WeberCynthia is a believer and seer of magic. She sees it in her garden and each one of us. As a writer and artist, Cynthia shows this magic in her work.
Robyn WolfeAn early career as a park ranger and tree-hugger led Robyn to her life-long love of illustrating and education. She has been involved in both for over 20 years, including homeschooling her two children and creating online art lessons for homeschooling families.
Laura YohualtlahuizPronounced (Yo-wall-tla-weez). As a child, Laura admired the moon and stars, knowing no matter what she would always be connected to her family across the border under the same sky. Her upcoming children’s book series introduces the Toltec/Aztec teachings of Tezcatlipoca as a tool for overcoming obstacles in order to shine bright!
Laurie L. YoungLaurie has always wanted to fly, but her arms proved to be aerodynamically insufficient. Instead, she decided to write books and draw pictures. She has written six preschool books, including the best-selling I See A Monster. In her spare time, Laurie is a graphic designer, making books for other people.