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

    Who are we?

    Lion & Dragonfly curates collections of amazing children’s picture books that captivate readers.  These collections make perfect gifts for the children and grandchildren in your life.  And, because we at Lion & Dragonfly believe deeply that every child should have access to great books, we will, for every five books we sell, donate a culturally relevant book to teachers in underfunded schools.  Our vision is that those teachers will read our books to their students, inspiring a life-long love of books.

    What is our “secret sauce"?

    Our founder and CEO MB Manion Morell has, over nearly two decades of working with children, developed a magical power – choosing just the right picture books to inspire children to read.  Nothing makes her happier than picking a book that turns a non-reader into a reader.  She also has an understanding of the growing need for books in underfunded schools as well as the best way to get those books to these schools so that they will be read to the students.

    Why the name “Lion & Dragonfly?”

    “Lion” is inspired by the wonderful lion statues that guard the entrance to the main branch of the New York Public Library and by The Library Lion, a “new” classic picture book published in 2007.  It completely captivates kids.  It gently muses that sometimes breaking the rules is a good thing – if done in service of a greater cause.

    “Dragonflies” have recently become MB’s “kindred spirit."  She noticed them around her repeatedly in the immediate aftermath of the loss of her father in the fall of 2020.  The dragonflies she now sees flitting around her garden on a peaceful morning remind her to love life and have faith even amidst difficulties.  MB believes dragonflies are wonderful and mysterious creatures that, for her, evoke the extraordinary worlds envisioned by many children’s books authors.  And, to MB, the wings of dragonflies signify the ability to transport books to children who would not otherwise have access to them. 

    Why picture books?

    We think picture books are the best possible gift one can give young children.  For parents, they create the opportunity to bond with children during story time, creating life-long memories.  For children, they build vocabulary and comprehension, instill curiosity, and teach important lessons about self-worth and treating others with respect.  And they’re FUN.

    Are the books hardback or paperback?

    We only offer hardback books.  In MB’s experience as a school librarian, hardback books last longer, staying in great shape for many story time readings.  And children just like the feel of a hardback better than a paperback!

    What ages are your book collections for?

    The books in each box will delight readers of all ages, but they are especially well-suited for children ages 2-8.  They do make wonderful gifts for babies - it’s never too early to begin reading to children, and of course to begin building a picture book library!

    Do you offer board books for even younger children or chapter books for middle grade students?

    We love books for every age and stage of development, but we wanted to keep our company small at the beginning to ensure we can deliver on our vision.  And picture books seemed the best place to begin.  We may consider board books and chapter books as we expand.  

    How do you choose the books in your collections?

    Our book boxes include thoughtfully considered books designed to delight and engage young readers.  We aspire to offer mirrors into children’s lives and windows in experiences in the world around them.  We hope our selections will spark curiosity and wonder.

    As MB curates these collections, she brings years of experience as a school librarian, and she considers the following:


    Will the books delight and engage children and their families?

    Do the books represent a diversity of perspectives? 

    Are the books well-written and beautifully illustrated?

    Will the books inspire a joy of reading?

    Do the book collections include emerging authors and illustrators?

    How often will there be new collections of books?

    At least one new collection of books will be released each month.  Sign up for a subscription if you would like to be the first to experience a new collection!.

    What are the purchase options?

    You can make a one-time purchase of a book collection or you can sign up for a subscription.

    When you sign up for a subscription, simply decide how many books you would like to receive (1, 3 or 5) with each shipment, choose your subscription length (every month, every three months or every six months), and then enjoy surprise selections of curated books that we’re crushing on at the moment.

    What comes in each box?

    Each Lion & Dragonfly book collection comes in a super-cool, custom-designed box and includes a Lion & Dragonfly bookmark as well as a letter from MB describing what she finds special about each book in each collection.  We also offer Lion & Dragonfly tote bags for a small fee.

    Can I order a single book collection box or a book subscription as a gift?

    Of course!  When checking out, just enter the gift recipient’s residence as the shipping address and let us know if you would like us to gift wrap the books (for a small fee).  We can also package them in a tote bag.  If you would like to include a note with your gift, we will enclose a lovely hand-written card.

    Can I swap out books within a collection?

    Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate book substitutions.

    How long after I place an order will it ship?

    One-time purchases will ship within one business day of purchase.  Subscription collections will be mailed between the 1st and 3rd of every month.  So, new subscriptions ordered after the 4th of the month will begin the following month.  That means, for example, if you sign up for a subscription on August 4th, your first delivery will arrive in early September.

    Shipping

    How long do orders take to ship?

    We offer standard shipping (2 to 8 business days) and expedited shipping (1 to 2 business days).

    Can I track my delivery after I place an order?

    Yes.

    Do you ship internationally?

    Yes!  But please be aware that shipping costs will be higher and delivery times longer for international purchases than for domestic purchases. 

    Are your materials recyclable?

    Yes!  Our box and packaging materials are completely recyclable.  We want all children to grow up in a world not threatened by climate change or other environmental degradation.

    What is your return policy?

    We can only accept returns of books that arrived damaged.  In such a case, we would be happy to replace the damaged books.  Please send an email to us at lionanddragonfly@gmail.com
    with a description of the damage, a photo, and we will get back to you as soon as possible with instructions on how to proceed.  

    If you already have a copy of a book that you have received from Lion & Dragonfly, please consider gifting it to someone else in your world. This might be your local elementary school or your child's classmate for a birthday party.