Foreword features interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators, Maine educators, educational researchers, nonprofit leaders and more.

Listen to the episodes below, or automatically get new episodes directly to your devices by subscribing to Foreword on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play Music!

Author Alexandra Hinrichs
March 24, 2021
Author/illustrator Stephen Costanza
September 09, 2021

Author/illustrator Stephen Costanza talks his newest picture book, “King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin,” out September 14

Author/illustrator Eliza Wheeler
July 28, 2021

Eliza Wheeler, author/illustrator of Home in the Woods and Miss Maple’s Seeds among many others, talks about her career, work and inspiration.

Gigi Georges, author of “Downeast: Five Maine Girls and the Unseen Story of Rural America”
May 27, 2021
Caldecott-winning author/illustrator Sophie Blackall
April 28, 2021

Children’s book author and illustrator Sophie Blackall talks about the inspiration behind If You Come to Earth and her two forthcoming picture books: Negative Cat and The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo.

Author Samara Cole Doyon
February 16, 2021

Author Samara Cole Doyon talks her Coretta Scott King honor-winning book, Magnificent Homespun Brown, the inspiration for the poem, her heritage and her forthcoming children’s book.

“Let’s Celebrate Ashley Bryan!”
February 03, 2021

Dan Mills, director of the Bates Museum of Art, talks about the exhibition “Let’s Celebrate Ashley Bryan!”, featuring his fine art and original illustrations. Dan talks about Ashley’s life and career, and how to view the exhibition virtually. Listen to the interview then view the exhibition here:

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc with tips for writers
November 11, 2020

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, writer, poet and executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, talks challenges facing writers today, tips for beginning writers, great kids’ books coming out of the Maine publishing scene and more!

Challenges facing Maine libraries
October 28, 2020

Kara Reiman, children’s literacy specialist at the Maine State Library (MSL), talks about the challenges librarians are facing during the pandemic, how the MSL supports schools and families, and more

Author Elizabeth Atkinson on “Fly Back, Agnes” and middle school struggles
October 14, 2020

Author Elizabeth Atkinson talks about her latest middle-grade novel, “Fly Back, Agnes,” which was awarded the 2020 International Book Award for Children’s Fiction; overcoming the struggles of middle school and how she comes up with her quirky characters.

For “Fly Back, Agnes” readers who want to read the special epilogue to the story, and educators who would like to Zoom with Elizabeth, visit her website at or email her at [email protected]

Abdi Nor Iftin on his refugee experience and new memoir
September 30, 2020

Author Abdi Nor Iftin discusses his harrowing adolescence as a refugee in Somalia and Kenya, the unexpected injustices he discovered living in the United States and his memoir, Call Me American, recently adapted for middle-graders and young adults.

Anica Mrose Rissi on her latest YA novel, writing tips and story time
September 16, 2020

Author Anica Mrose Rissi talks about her newly-published young adult novel Nobody Knows But You, shares her tips for writing and reads part of her most recent picture book Love, Sophia on the Moon.

Back to school book recommendations
September 02, 2020

Island Readers & Writers (IRW) volunteer and children’s book lover Jenna Beaulieu shares her picks featured on our summer reading list: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough; The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu; and Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang.

The power of books with Debra Lay
August 19, 2020

Dr. Debra Lay, IRW Board of Directors president and library director of the Vose Public Library, talks the power of books, her career as an educator and library director, and the book that shaped her adolescence.

Val Peacock of Rural Aspirations Val Peacock of Rural Aspirations
August 05, 2020

Val Peacock, education design specialist with the nonprofit organization Rural Aspirations Project, talks about Community Learning for ME, a collaborative effort that aims to support students, families and educators during the uncertainty surrounding education in the time of the pandemic. Online resources and professional development opportunities available at

Russ Cox talks illustrating
July 22, 2020

Maine author/ illustrator Russ Cox talks about how his career as an illustrator began, his illustration process, and the benefits of destroying a new sketchbook.

John David Anderson talks “One Last Shot”
July 08, 2020

Author John David Anderson talks his latest middle-grade novel, “One Last Shot,” empathizing with middle schoolers, connecting emotionally with characters and more. Anderson is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novels “Mrs. Bixby’s Last Day, “Posted” and more.

Author Padma Venkatraman
June 24, 2020

Author Padma Venkatraman discusses her most recent middle-grade novel, “The Bridge Home,” her path to becoming an author and representation in literature.

Engaging kids with picture books in three simple questions
June 17, 2020

Island Readers & Writers Director of School Programs Alison Johnson shares the picture books she recommended for this summer’s booklist: “The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family” by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly; “Truman” by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins; graphic novel “Cub” by Cynthia Copeland and “Rise: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou” by Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Tonya Engel.

Alison also talks about how IRW programs are incorporating Visual Thinking Strategies and how to engage kids with picture books using three simple questions.

Maria Padian talks “How to Build a Heart”
June 10, 2020

Maine young adult author Maria Padian talks about her latest book for teens, How to Build a Heart, diversity in storytelling, depicting racism and more.

Great summer reads for kids
June 03, 2020

Southwest Harbor Public Library’s Melissa Haas chats about three books she recommended for Island Readers & Writers’ summer booklist: “Pluto Gets the Call” by Adam Rex, with illustrations by Laurie Keller; “My Friend Earth” by Patricia MacLachlan, with illustrations by Francesca Sanna and “Snapdragon” by Kat Leyh.

On writing with author Lauren Wolk
May 27, 2020

Newbery Honor-winning author Lauren Wolk talks about her newest middle-grade novel, Echo Mountain, what inspires her, how she comes up with stories, how she makes time to write and more. Plus, she reads an excerpt from Echo Mountain.

Exploring Vernal Pools with author Kimberly Ridley
May 06, 2020

Science writer and children’s book author Kimberly Ridley talks to Foreword about how and where to explore vernal pools, a springtime phenomenon in New England that is teeming with all sorts of exciting creatures!