New Release Round Up – May 4, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! The first week of May has a TON of new books hitting the shelves, so it’s time to talk about new releases again! Let’s jump right in!

As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Board Books

Glow by Ruth Forman, Illustrated by Geneva Bowers (Bookshop | Amazon)

A joyfully poetic board book that delivers an ode to the beautiful light of African American boys.

I shine night too
smooth brown
glow skin

This simple, playful, and elegant board book stars a young boy who joyfully celebrates his dark skin with a bright moon at the end of a perfect day.”

The Gay B Cs by M. L. Webb (Bookshop | Amazon)

Now in board book format, a joyful alphabet book of LGBTQ+ vocabulary for kids of all ages!

A playdate extravaganza transforms into a joyful celebration of friendship, love, and identity as four young friends sashay out of all the closets, dress up in a wardrobe fit for kings and queens, and discover the wonders of their imagination. In The GayBCs, M. L. Webb’s playful illustrations and lively poems delight in the beauty of embracing one’s truest self—from A is for Aro and Ace to F is for Family to T is for Trans.”

Mermaid Dreams by Kate Pugsley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Mermaids come in all shapes and sizes! In this sweet picture book, a shy little girl goes on a magical underwater adventure filled with adorable mermaids, silly sea creatures, games with new friends and wonderful surprises!

One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed . . .

When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature?

This adorable picture book will delight the youngest daydreamers and shows us that making new friends may not be as hard as you think — if you have a good imagination!”

Picture Books

Many Shapes Of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed (Bookshop | Amazon)

In this modern-day fable about grief, diversity, and family connections, a young girl discovers the joys–and pain–of the creative process.

Eisha lives with her mother, a ceramic artist, who helps her make a special shape out of a piece of clay. The shape reminds Eisha of her father, of the ocean, of a lemon. As Eisha goes through her neighborhood doing errands with her mother, the piece of clay hardens and then shatters into pieces when Eisha taps it. In poignant and powerful words and pictures, Kenesha Sneed shows how Eisha learns to live with the sense of loss and of the joyful power of making something new out of what is left behind. Illustrated with Sneed’s bold colors, graphic lines, and gestural textures, the book celebrates diversity and shares a gentle message that we all have the ability to heal and create.”

You can also read my full review of Many Shapes Of Clay for more detail.

Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani, Illustrated by Holly Hatam (Bookshop | Amazon)

A Sikh father and daughter with a special hair bond proudly celebrate and share a family tradition in this charming story perfect for fans of Hair Love and I Love My Hair!Every morning Papa combs through his daughter’s waves like he does his own—parting it down the middle, using coconut oil to get all the tangles out.

Some days he braids her hair in two twists down the side of her face. Other days he weaves it into one long braid hanging down her back, just like a unicorn tail. But her favorite style is when he combs her hair in a tight bun on the top of her head, just like the joora he wears every day under his turban. They call this their hair twin look!”

Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion by Maya van der Meer, Illustrated by Wen Hsu (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Two sisters discover the power of love and the true meaning of compassion in this princess-adventure story based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Miao Shan isn’t your typical princess. She likes to spend her time quietly meditating with the creatures of the forest or having adventures with dragons and tigers. Miao Shan’s heart is so full of love that her dream is to spread happiness throughout the land and help people endlessly. But her father has other plans for her–he intends to have her married and remain in the palace. With the help of her little sister Ling, Miao Shan escapes and begins her journey to discover the true meaning of compassion.

During their adventure, Ling and Miao Shan are eventually separated. Ling must overcome doubts, fears, and loneliness in order to realize what her sister had told her all along–that love is the greatest power in the world. After the sisters’ reunion, Miao Shan realizes her true calling as Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion. A princess-adventure story like none other, this ancient Chinese tale of the world’s most beloved Buddhist hero is a story of sisterhood, strength, and following your own path.”

We Move The World by Kari Lavelle, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (Bookshop | Amazon)

An inspiring and empowering picture book about the small things kids do that have the potential to change the world!

Meet some of the world’s most beloved movers, shakers, scientists, activists, dreamers, and doers from the past and present who model what every childhood first can lead to! Neil Armstrong, Misty Copeland, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more were once kids—they grew up to lead us to the moon, dance in the ballet, and break barriers.

From first steps to solving puzzles and learning the alphabet, all the small things are only the beginning: they can lead to future activism and innovation that just might change the world!

Featuring fresh and accessible text paired with vibrant illustrations, We Move the World gives young readers a chance to see how much is possible just because of the things they already do. Includes robust backmatter that gives further context on each figure and historical moment, including the most recent COVID-19 pandemic.”

Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz, Illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Bookshop | Amazon)

Musa has the perfect idea for his special Jummah treat, but things don’t go according to plan. Will Musa be able to get a yummy Jummah treat for his family?

Every Friday after Jummah prayer at the masjid, Musa’s family has a special Jummah treat. They take turns picking out what the treat will be, but recently the choices have been . . . interesting. Week one, Mama made molokhia. It’s perfect for sharing, but gives us molokhia teeth for days! Week two, Baba burned the kufte kebabs on the grill. Week three, Seedi made his favorite riz b’haleeb-creamy rice pudding with pistachio sprinkled on top with an unexpected ingredient. Last week, Maryam brought jellybeans. . . . Finally, it’s Musa’s turn to pick, and he picks his favorite-halal hot dogs! But actually getting to eat this deliciousness turns into a journey riddled with obstacles. Will he ever get his favorite tasty treat?”

Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory by Julie Abery, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme.When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children — and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water’s natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto’s guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true — Olympic gold!”

You also read my full review of Sakamoto’s Swim Club for more detail.

Josie Dances by Denise Lajimodiere, Illustrated by Angela Erdich (Bookshop | Amazon)

Josie dreams of dancing at next summer’s powwow. But first she needs many special things: a dress, a shawl, a cape, leggings, moccasins, and, perhaps most important of all, her spirit name. To gather all these essential pieces, she calls on her mom, her aunty, her kookum, and Grandma Greatwalker. They have the skills to prepare Josie for her powwow debut.

As the months go by, Josie practices her dance steps while Mom stitches, Aunty and Kookum bead, and Grandma Greatwalker dreams Josie’s spirit name. Josie is nervous about her performance in the arena and about all the pieces falling into place, but she knows her family is there to support her.

The powwow circle is a welcoming space, and dancers and spectators alike celebrate Josie’s first dance. When she receives her name, she knows it’s just right. Wrapped in the love of her community, Josie dances to honor her ancestors.

In this Ojibwe girl’s coming-of-age story, Denise Lajimodiere highlights her own daughter’s experience at powwow. Elegant artwork by Angela Erdrich features not only Josie and her family but also the animals and seasons and heartbeat of Aki, Mother Earth, and the traditions that link Josie to generations past and yet to come.”

Our Shed: A Father Daughter-Building Story by Robert Broder, Illustrated by Carrie O’Neill (Bookshop | Amazon)

A sweet, nostalgic father-daughter story, Our Shed celebrates DIY families as well as the unique creativity and spontaneity of each individual child.

This lovely story is about a father teaching his daughter how to build a backyard shed for storing the necessities of family life–a lawn mower, sprinkler, sleds, kid toys. For each practical element the dad brings to the project, his daughter adds her own imaginative creative spin. In the end, they are both happy with their collaboration.

And, just as dad passes building skills on to his daughter, so does his daughter eventually pass those skills on to her own son when they fix up the peeling shed at the end of the story.

Kids love tools, building things, and spending time with parents. This story hits all those points with love and humor.”

On The Trapline by David A. Robinson, Illustrated by Julie Flett (Bookshop | Amazon)

A picture book celebrating Indigenous culture and traditions. The Governor General Award–winning team behind When We Were Alone shares a story that honors our connections to our past and our grandfathers and fathers.

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago — a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.”

Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortenson, Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. (Bookshop | Amazon)

An empowering picture book about creativity, making mistakes, and changing your perspective

When Arlo decides to draw an octopus, he can’t help but think that maybe he’s just not an octopus drawer. His drawing has a head that looks like a hill and eight squiggly arms that look like roads. It’s an octopus disaster-piece! But just as Arlo vows to never draw an octopus again, he makes a discovery that changes his perspective about his drawing . . . and much more.
This endearing and relatable story gives readers of all ages a gentle reminder that we’re better than we may think. Sometimes all it takes is a second look.”

The Neighborhood Surprise by Sarah van Dongen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“All the children in the neighborhood like Mrs. Fig. She tells them stories, makes them costumes, and bakes delicious cookies. When children find out that Mrs Fig is leaving for a nursing home, they organise a surprise street party for her. Only to find out she’s moving to the other side of the street! Food brings the neighborhood together in this charming book about life-styles, veganism and vegetarianism.”

Two Grooms On A Cake by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Robbie Cathro (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This is the story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell and their inspiring story becoming the first married gay couple in the US fifty years ago.

Long before marriage equality was the law of the land, two grooms stood on a wedding cake with their feet firmly planted in fluffy white frosting. That cake belonged to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed on September 3, 1971, becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story of LGBT history. This beautiful book celebrates the love story of two pioneers of marriage equality for all through the baking of their wedding cake!”

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julián and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown, Illustrated by Mirelle Ortega (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An informative, inspirational picture book biography about twins Julián and Joaquin Castro, who rose from poverty to become leaders for positive change in America.

The story of political powerhouse twins Julián and Joaquin Castro began in the small room that they shared with their grandmother Victoriana in San Antonio, Texas. Victoriana crossed the border from Mexico into Texas as a six-year-old orphan, marking the start of the family’s American journey. Her daughter Rosie, Julián and Joaquin’s mom, was an activist who helped the barrio through local government.

The strong women in their family inspired the twins to get involved in politics. Julián and Joaquin have been working at the local, state, and national level—as a former presidential candidate, mayor and member of President Obama’s Cabinet, and a U.S. Congressman, respectively—to make the country a better place for everyone.

Acclaimed author Monica Brown and illustrator Mirelle Ortega depict the Castros’ political and personal accomplishments in this must-read picture book biography.”

Chapter Books

She Persisted Nellie Bly by Michelle Knudsen, Illustrated by Gillian Flint (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!

In this chapter book biography by New York Times bestselling author Michelle Knudsen, readers learn about the amazing life of Nellie Bly–and how she persisted.

Nellie Bly was a journalist and one of the first investigative reporters ever. She went undercover to expose wrongdoing and famously raced around the world so she could write about the experience for her newspaper. Reaching for her dreams wasn’t easy. But Nellie never gave up, no matter how many obstacles she faced–and she helped others along the way.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton!”

Home Sweet Forever Home (The Invincible Girls Club #1) by Rachele Alpine, Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Lauren and her three BFFs find creative ways to help shelter dogs get adopted in this first installment of the relatable and empowering The Invincible Girls Club chapter book series—featuring backmatter with profiles on real-life animal activists!

Lauren is a huge dog lover and is over-the-moon excited when she gets to go to the local shelter to read to the dogs. While there, she learns that the older dogs are often not adopted, so she and her friends set out to find them homes.

Together, Lauren, Ruby, Myka, and Emelyn create a brilliant event, where attendees can eat delicious cupcakes while meeting adoptable dogs. But on the big day, it seems like everything goes upside down. Can the girls save the event and make sure their four-legged friends get a chance at their fur-ever homes?”

Stoop Sale Treasure (Hand Me Down Magic #1) by Corey Ann Haydu, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Bookshop | Amazon)

DEL loves LOTS of things! The Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe. Ginormous family dinners. And of course, her best-friend-cousin, Alma.

ALMA loves her abuelita’s tasty empanadas. Her old home by the lake. And soon, she’ll love living in the same place as her best-friend-cousin, Del.   

Yet despite having Del by her side, Alma isn’t quite sure she fits in with their family at 86 ½ Twenty-Third Avenue. It’s a new life and it’s all so different. When Del finds a special item at a neighbor’s stoop sale, she gets so excited by the magic luck it brings—but doesn’t see that it’s driving the two best friends apart. Will family, friendship, and maybe a little everyday magic be enough to make things right again? 

Brimming with adorable illustrations and short, easy-to-read chapters, this is sure to be an instant favorite for fans of Ivy and Bean and Dory Fantasmagory!

Middle Grade

Last Gate of The Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes an Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.

Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.”

Her Epic Adventure by Julia De Laurentiis Johnston, Illustrated by Salini Perera (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Thrilling true stories of female adventurers who never stopped believing in themselves — and achieved the unimaginable! Throughout history, women eager for adventure have long faced obstacles and opposition. But here are the stories of 25 remarkable women — from pilots to mountain climbers, deep-sea divers to Antarctic explorers — who defied expectations and made their mark on history. Included are Bessie Coleman, famously known as the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license (two years before Amelia Earhart!). But readers also learn about lesser-known women, such as Diana Nyad, who, at age 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest. The women’s experiences are all different, but they have one thing in common: they didn’t let anything get in the way of their dreams! This highly readable and inspiring book — organized by sky, peaks, ice, land and water adventures — describes the achievements of a diverse group of female adventurers from around the world, including women of color, Indigenous women, LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities.”

I hope you all enjoyed reading about these new releases, and hopefully you found one or two to add to your young reader’s shelves!

Which titles have you been looking forward to the most? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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