PPBF: Whitney Wins Everything

Happy April, dear readers. Today I'm still thinking
about the amazing blanket of bluebonnets that are 
in full bloom down here in Texas right now.

Aren't they just SO beautiful? The Paintbrushes are breathtaking, too.

We consider it a win when we find patches where
 they're mixed together for an eye-catching bouquet.

Speaking of winning, check out today's PPBF.

Title: Whitney Wins Everything
Author: Sasha Graham
Illustrator: Angelia Valieva
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press
Birth Date: April 5, 2022
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Themes: teamwork, growth mindset, compassion
Brief synopsis: Competitive Whitney is a passionate, athletic girl who tends to win. At everything. But when she's excluded from a birthday party because of her competitive nature, she's confused. Isn't winning at everything ... everything?
Opening page: Whitney was a passionate little girl who loved a lot of things. Crunchy dill pickles, glittery birthday parties, icky, sticky science experiments, and her snuggly kitten, Mac.

Resources: Read a review {here}.
Visit the author's website {here}.

Why I like this book: Just like those beautiful wildflowers, this newcomer is wildly colorful and eye-catching. I'm drawn instantly to the precocious main character and want to know more about her need to win. I was also super intrigued about her Tiny Ninja, so I caught up with author Sasha Graham to inquire about the Tiny Ninja inside all of us and she was kind enough to share this Q&A with us.

Q: Why and when did you decide to write children's books? 

A: I think that almost everyone who enjoyed books as a child has at least a vague idea of a children’s book they’d like to write someday. Some of these ideas are content to curl up by the fire of your imagination like a cozy little kitten and never go much of anywhere. But others of them might start cozied up by the fire, but then they just keep growing and growing, and then they start scratching the couch and howling at the back door until you finally can’t stand it one second longer and you let them burst out for all of the world to see, and that’s what happened to me. 

Q: What inspired your vision of a child’s inner Tiny Ninja? 

A: Ok, so imagine you’ve just put on new shirt. It feels great, you look in the mirror and you like what you see, then you turn to your partner and ask them what they think and you get a lukewarm response. What do you do? Every single day we each make countless decisions about how we spend our time, how we talk to other people, how we talk to ourselves…. A few years ago I got to thinking, what if we learned early on to trust our own inner voice as much as we do all of those outside ones? And further, what if that inner voice were personified as something quiet and smart and strong? Whether or not we wear the new shirt may not have a lot of impact on our life, but it’s easy to draw the line between learning to trust our inner voice, our Tiny Ninja, with the less serious things and listening to our Tiny Ninja when it comes to making much more serious or important decisions.


Q: What makes listening to that inner-voice especially relevant today?

A: It is impossible to deny that social media has had a massive impact on all of us. There are some really wonderful things that come from the opportunities for connection and information that we never had before, but there is also the darker side of its effect, particularly on our kids. Prior to the advent of Instagram and TikTok and YouTube there was just a lot less noise in all of our lives and it was easier to find a quiet moment to ourselves to reflect. Now there are so many voices coming at us all the time it can be difficult to take a breath and ask, “What do I think? Who do I want to be? How do I feel and what do I want?” 

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Whitney’s story? 

A: First and foremost, I want readers to have fun. Whitney is a firecracker and I hope readers fall in love with her and her ferocious passion for competition. Second, I would love for readers to take away that we all have it in us to change course when we realize that the way we’ve always done something no longer serves us. Too often we just keep doing things out of habit even when they are no longer making us happy. In Whitney’s case her Tiny Ninja helps her realize that she doesn’t need to give up the thing she loves, which is winning, but that there’s a way to do it that is going to bring her a whole lot more joy. Finally, I hope Whitney helps readers remember the life changing magic of being part of a team. Humans are social beings and working together for a common goal, having people to cheer you on, and also cheering other people on just feels really, really good. 

Q: Do you have further plans for the Tiny Ninja Series? 

A: So many plans!! My illustrator, Angelina Valieva, does a remarkable job of bringing the Tiny Ninja Books characters to life on the page. Now I would love to see them developed further as animated characters in a television series or a feature length movie. There is also another Tiny Ninja Book on the horizon. I have several Tiny Ninja stories ready to go and some of them are waiting more patiently than others. A couple of them in particular are really jockeying for position right now to be the next Tiny Ninja Book so we will see soon which one elbows its way to the front! 

Take a picture walk through this beautiful book before reading the story aloud. Talk with your students about the word win. Find out if they think winning second place feels like losing. Survey them about which is better, second or third. Note: Articles have been written about how third-place winners are actually more often happier than second-place finishers.

Find out what they think of Whitney and Landon.
See if they can predict what'll happen before it does.
Why do they think that Whitney let Landon score that goal?
Is an assist just as important as a scoring stat?

Compare and contract the book with Evie's Field Day

As a follow up, I think it'd be super fun to have your learners write and illustrate a story that includes their Tiny Ninja as a sort of muse or mentor. Does their Tiny Ninja ever steer them wrong? Maybe that'd be an interesting angle for their story. Or maybe they have a story to tell about a time that they thought they knew better, so they didn't listen to their Tiny Ninja's wise counsel. What were the consequences of dismissing what their Tiny Ninja was advising?

Check out this compelling tale of competition and compassion, 
then head to Susanna Hill's blog for today's other PPBF picks.


  1. I love Whitney's passionate nature to win. So much to work with in reading this story to kids. And, I love the author's comments about how we each need to change course. I can think of some things I need to work on. Great to hear from Sasha about what she hopes her story accomplishes! Great pick today. Love that cover.

  2. Thanks for the lovely flower photos! I also appreciate an author who is so passionate about their readers!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!