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🎧 The Reader's Heart | Guest: Debbi Michiko Florence

Updated: 7 days ago

The first time I met Debbi Michiko Florence was during a broadcast of "Book Joy Live." For those who may have missed it, Book Joy Live was a weekly Facebook webcast, hosted by Mr. Schu, that celebrated story as a conduit to joy and connection during a time when so many of us felt isolated and alone. I am not sure how many times I was a guest on Book Joy Live, but I know that at one time I held the record for the most appearances on the show. The episode featuring Debbi is one of my favorites, because it gave me the chance to fangirl over her and share my love for her latest book (at the time!) Stay Cool, Jenna Sakai. It's been a joy to watch Debbi continue to put tender books focused on friendship, families and first crushes into the world. I was delighted to chat with her for this week's episode of #TheReadersHeart. Not only did I love learning about her upcoming projects, but our conversation felt a little bit like a Book Joy Live reunion! The only thing missing was Mr. Schu!


Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of upper middle grade novels Sweet and Sour, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter, Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai, and This Is How I Roll. She has a debut middle grade series called Last Chance Academy coming in spring 2025 and several other projects in the works! She is also the author of three chapter books series including Jasmine Toguchi with four new books: book 5 Jasmine Toguchi Brave Explorer, book 6 Jasmine Toguchi Peace-Maker, book 7 Jasmine Toguchi Bridge Builder, and book 8 Jasmine Toguchi Great Gardener. Follow Jasmine as she travels to Japan on vacation! And Debbi co-authored a picture book biography, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites.

A former classroom teacher, Debbi has spoken on panels at conferences and book festivals, taught writing workshops for children and adults, and loves doing author visits at schools and libraries. She is on the faculty of The Highlights Foundation. She also co-hosts an Asian American Voices In-Community Retreat. For more info here is a podcast interview.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Debbi, who has a degree in Zoology, was a raptor rehabilitator, an outdoor educator, and a zoo educator. A third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in California, Debbi now lives in Connecticut with her husband and two rescue dogs, Kiku and Ponyo, where she writes in her studio, The Word Nest. She loves dogs, coffee, boba tea, running and hiking, and traveling with her husband and daughter.


Note: episode transcripts are generated by AI and are likely imperfect. Still, I hope you find them useful.


Please enjoy a special discount of 20% off the titles mentioned in this episode (or others of your choice) by visiting Bookelicious and using the code JENNIFERLAGARDE. Note: I do not make any money from the sales, but I am delighted that you get to save some!

Connect with Debbie


Rooted in the belief that our world needs the magic of children’s literature now more than ever, the Reader’s Heart podcast captures conversations with authors and illustrators about children's literature as a vehicle for empathy and joy in a dark world. I'm so excited about this project and it's my wish that it brings you as much light and hope as it has brought me.

Special thanks to Corinna Luyken for creating the beautiful illustration that will serve as the show's logo. I've always found Corinna's art so moving and she perfectly captured the spirit of what I am trying to do, which is to put warmth and love into the world during a time when so many are working to limit kids' access to the warmth and love inherent in children's literature. (Also, don't forget, you can use the discount above to buy Corinna's books from Bookelicious, too!)

Weekly episodes will drop on Tuesdays. Once you've had a chance to listen, I hope you will consider leaving The Reader's Heart a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review! Podcast reviews are one of the best ways to support your favorite shows and help others find these conversations.



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