Dynamic Book Duos: Channeling Emotions and Growing Empathy

Please welcome authors Jackie Morera and Arlene Abundis to Dynamic Book Duos – a blog featuring two books that pair together in a meaningful way along with educational activities to strengthen reading skills. This week’s pairing focuses on channeling emotions and growing empathy!

PERFECT PAIR: Channeling Emotions and Growing Empathy!

Into the Mighty Sea, written by Arlene Abundis and illustrated by Cynthia Alonso, and Abuelo’s Flower Shop, written by Jackie Morera and illustrated by Deise Lino are books about growing empathy and recognizing how those around you might be feeling. These picture books take readers on a journey of self-discovery, memories, and healing. Both main characters, Elena and Mariel, learn to channel their emotions to better relate to the world and their families. The authors Arlene and Jackie share some things in common too. They’re both first-generation Cuban Americans, debut authors, and their books came out on the same day—June 4th!

Book 1: Into the Mighty Sea:

Mariel’s family is a big POP of color! But when her tíos, tías, and cousins arrive for her hermanito’s birthday party, their many besos, noises, and colors start to feel overwhelming. As Mariel’s tears grow into an ocean, she paints a boat to stay afloat and dives into the mighty sea.

When an island calls to her through the swells, she discovers sights, smells, and sounds on its shores that bring back memories of the people she loves the most to guide her back home.

Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Into the Mighty Sea is about a girl with big emotions who learns that sometimes taking a step back can be exactly what you need.

Book 2: Abuelo’s Flower Shop:

“Te recuerdo y te extraño.” I remember you, and I miss you.

Elena is finally old enough to sell flowers with her abuelo in his shop. But she notices that many of the people who visit have tears in their eyes. Abuelo tells her the shop is the last stop before people visit the garden beyond the gate. A place for telling the ones you’ve loved and lost, “Te recuerdo y te extraño,” I remember you, and I miss you.

Tender and insightful, Abuelo’s Flower Shop celebrates the beauty of intergenerational love while gently teaching readers about grieving the loss of a loved one. Grandparents and grandchildren will delight in Elena and Abuelo’s heartfelt relationship, and readers of all ages will be inspired to find their own ways to say, “I remember you, and I miss you.” This thoughtful story is the perfect resource for navigating difficult conversations about grief.


Activity for Into the Mighty Sea:

Using the online resource of your choice have students make a paper sailboat. Paint and discuss how the colors represent different emotions.

Activity for Abuelo’s Flower Shop:

Activity Prompt for Both Books:

Activity 1: Writing/Reading Comprehension

Read Both Books and Discuss:

  • What are the similarities? What are the differences?
  • How are Mariel and Elena alike? How are they different?
  • What did Mariel and Elena learn by the end of each story?

Activity 2: Social-Emotional

Draw a memory of your family. Include a loved one you miss in the drawing and write a sentence/paragraph explaining what you miss most about them. 

Activity 3: Craft

Make flowers, cards, or other creations to give to someone you love.

Activity 4: Geography

Learn about Cuba!

  • Locate Cuba on a map or globe.
  • Read other books set in Cuba, or written by authors of Cuban ancestry, and discuss.
  • Identify the Spanish words in both books and translate them.
  • Compare what you’ve learned about Cuba to where your family is from. What is similar? What is different?


Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is an award-winning nonfiction children’s book author and former elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds. Suzanne’s first nonfiction picture book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks, debuted in April 2019 from Warren Publishing. Her second book Mighty Mahi launched from Doodle and Peck Publishing in March 2022. Suzanne enjoys speaking to schools about writing, leadership, and how kids can make a difference in our world. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion Ziggy. When she’s not dreaming up new writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking the trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu