Britta Stromeyer Esmail

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Britta is a writer and a mom passionate about raising resilient girls to find their own voice. The mother of two girls lives in Northern California. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, horseback riding and reading with her daughters Maya and Anya.



BY Britta Stromeyer Esmail • POSTED ON

Not all kids love hugs, and one little girl learns that’s it’s OK to speak up about it in Esmail’s debut picture book with watercolor images by Cooke.

Raina doesn’t like celebrating birthdays, and instead of getting excited when her mother mentions gifts she might get, “her stomach is in knots.” Specifically, Raina isn’t comfortable with her family members’ hugs and kisses on such occasions. Old Pa gives her a close hug and his bristly beard pokes her face, and a large uncle’s squeeze makes her feel embarrassed. Auntie’s touch makes Raina think of tentacles, and a cousin with a runny nose is told to give Raina a kiss. It’s all too much, and she yells that she hates her “unhappy birthdays.” Alone in her room, she speaks to her stuffed rabbit, who encourages her to tell the truth because her own feelings matter. She finds more comfortable ways to express love to her relatives, and this may inspire similarly sensitive readers to ask others to meet them on their own terms. Esmail offers a protagonist with whom cautious youngsters will identify, and the soft pastels of the watercolors create a comforting tone. Cooke also deftly creates unpleasant images from Raina’s imagination that readers won’t find threatening.

An excellent book for sensitive young readers.

Pub Date:

Page count: 15pp

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Why I wrote this book

Awards, Press & Interests


Singen, Germany

Favorite author

Too many to list but here is a sample of a few I like: Sadie Jones, Anthony Doerr, J.K. Rowling, Alan Furst, Todd Parr, Michael Ende, Goethe, Tom Rob Smith, Virginia Woolf, Günter Grass, Thomas Mann

Favorite book

Too many to list ...

Day job

Writer and Chief Family Organizer

Favorite line from a book

"Recognition, as the word itself indicates, is a change from ignorance to knowledge, leading either to friendship or to hostility on the part of those persons who are marked for good fortune or bad." - Aristotle's Poetics

Favorite word

Yes, I can! (Ok, that's 3 words, but they are great words:-)

Unexpected skill or talent

Time management

Passion in life

Reading and horseback riding

Mom's Choice Awards Gold Seal

Readers Views Choice Honoree

Inside Scoop Live, 2019