Bibliography – Children’s Books

Amani, Mary Jo. (2012). Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read!. Traverse City, MI: Mackinac Island Press.

ISBN: 978-1934133521

Mary Jo Amani’s children’s book, Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read! is great fun and very clever. The illustrations by Lehla Eldrige are safari-themed—animals ranging from impalas and rhinos to dung beetles and elephants fill the uniquely drawn pages, documenting the plight of a young girl’s attempt to read in the midst of the daily busyness and fascinating distractions of the African bush. The young girl’s struggle to stay focused on her book is in earnest. Reading is so important that not even zebras should get in the way! The unique illustrations of African villages and landscape add to the appeal of each page. This winner of the 2011 National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Best Children’s Picture Book Award is a book that children will love—and one that their parents will enjoy reading over and over to them. Mary Jo Amani is the wife of USAID Foreign Service officer Todd Amani. She wrote the book as part of a series directed toward early readers (ages 2 to 8) for a community library program in Mozambique.

Crawford, Paul. 2019. Destiny’s Cradle. Create Space.

ISBN-13 978-1978367098.

Science fiction meets drama in this multidimensional novel for young adults. Based on scientific fact and inspired by “hard” natural sciences the book also features well-developed characters and a compelling story. Set in a biosphere contained within a single starship that is on a thousand year journey to colonize a distant planet, the story follows two teenagers and a stranger as they discover what they must do to protect the future of their own existence.

Retired FSO Paul Crawford joined USAID in 1983 and served 33 years promoting agriculture and naturel resources programs in Africa and Latin America. He now resides in Ann Arbor and his shorter sci-fi works can be found at

Normil, Monica Jean. Riley Explores Being a Diplomat. 2022. Independently published.


9-year old Riley is curious to see what “people like her” do for a living when they grow up. She befriends Kennedy who works as a diplomat for the “United Countries” and learns what a diplomat is and does and how to become one.

Haitian born Monica Jean Normil was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo and worked with the USAID WASH project in Ghana. She then joined the foreign service as an Information Management Specialist. She has also authored Road to Table: Cooking My Way Around the World.