Meet Our Founder

MB Manion Morell

 

MB, a mother of three and a longtime school librarian, has spent years of her life lost in books - and bookstores.  She is fueled by espresso, has tried for years to re-create a Secret Garden in her backyard (but deer and bunnies keep eating it), loves a good hike and a good cocktail, and (according to her husband, friends and colleagues) bakes the best salted chocolate chunk cookies on the planet.

As a school librarian, she has developed a superpower: selecting books that delight and engage children.  She is motivated by putting just the right book into the hands of a reading skeptic and watching a love of books come alive.  She has spent hours reading to children and has seen first hand that carefully chosen books can spark joy and curiosity in all children.  

While she loved her role as a librarian in a well-funded school, she had a persistent, nagging feeling that she could be doing more to get diverse, great quality books into the hands of kids in underserved communities.  During the COVID lockdown, she had the opportunity to research and reflect on the best way to do so, and with the help of the financial minds in her family (namely her husband and son), landed on the idea for Lion & Dragonfly. 

A few facts about her, if you’re into that sort of thing:

Hometown: Currently outside of Washington DC, but has called Detroit, São Paulo Brazil, Milwaukee, and London home over the years.

Her literary weaknesses (apart from picture books): Cookbooks, Middle Grade Fiction, and anything recommended by Reese Witherspoon. 

On a rainy day, she heads into Politics and Prose or Kramerbooks, a pair of Washington’s most beloved independent bookstores.  

A hopeless globetrotter, her favorite international destinations include London.  Or perhaps Buenos Aires.  Or Melbourne.  Or Mumbai.  Or New Zealand.  Fun fact: when her last child left for college she took a Grown-Up Gap Year and gave her passport a serious workout.

During the COVID lockdowns she also took up quilting, dabbled in genealogy, developed a serious crush on Ted Lasso, and perfected reading to small children via Zoom.Before deciding to become a social entrepreneur.

10 Picture Books she never gets tired of reading to kids: 

  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  • Billy’s Booger by William Joyce
  • The Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
  • Food Truck Fest by Alexandra Penfold
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
  • If I Had a Dinosaur by Alexandra Barrows
  • Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
  • A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule 
  • The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

  • In fact, The Library Lion helped inspire our company name.  The book captivates kids absolutely every time she reads it.  It gently muses that sometimes breaking the rules is a good thing. 

    Dragonflies have recently become MB's "kindred spirit." She likes to think they teach us to love life, to rejoice and have faith even amidst difficulties - because that is what they did for her when she recently lost her beloved father.  Dragonflies also have wings and can transport stories from the library to children who may not have access to those stories.

    You can connect with MB on mb@lionanddragonfly.com