I am beyond thrilled to share Rainbow Boy by Taylor Rouanzion with you all today, because it’s the perfect pick to discuss something that has been weighing on my heart a bit lately.
Last week, I was speaking to someone I love very much, and she told me that her son (who is expecting a child) “would not let” the child have a yellow blanket if it is a boy. Yellow. The color of taxis, bananas, ducklings, and lemons. Not appropriate for a boy? I was floored. I couldn’t help but hope his child arrives and challenges every notion this man has about gender.
This is, of course, just one example of the ways we put our children into boxes before they are even born. If we offer or refuse things like books, toys, clothes, and colors according to our child’s assigned gender, we are not only limiting their horizons, but reinforcing harmful stereotypes that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Books like Rainbow Boy are the perfect way to challenge these stereotypes at a young age.
This lovely picture book introduces us to a young boy who is often asked “What’s your favorite color?” As a former child who also hated this question, I love our young narrator’s answer. He tells us how much he loves every color in the rainbow, and how he has a new favorite for every day of the week.
Rainbow Boy was one of my most anticipated titles of 2021, and it did not disappoint. This is a great book to teach the youngest readers about colors and the days of the week, but it also presents an opportunity to have deeper conversations about gender. Rainbow Boy provides the perfect example of a young boy who loves pink or blue, and dolls or basketball. His interest are his own and are not based on society’s expectations for him.
The gorgeous illustrations from Stacey Chomiak capture our Rainbow Boy’s personality and imagination in such a fun way. And of course, the colors are stunning.
You can grab your own copy of Rainbow Boy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)
Taylor Rouanzion is a children’s book author who was inspired to write to ensure children like her gender non-conforming child can see themselves in the books they read. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at taylorrouanzion.com.
Stacey Chomiak is an artist and illustrator who identifies as a gay Christian and loves to advocate to the LGBTQ community. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at staceychomiak.wixsite.com.
I would like to thank Beaming Books for providing me with a review copy of this amazing book. I can’t wait to add it to my arsenal of supportive books to teach my son to unapologetically love the things he loves, even when the world tells them they are not for him.
Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s time to talk about new releases again!
I’m so excited to share the all the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all. 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.
A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams, Illustrated by Gina Maldonado (Bookshop | Amazon)
“As if being new to the United States wasn’t hard enough, Isabella’s first day of school is canceled due to snow!
Isabella has recently arrived from Colombia with her mother and abuela. She misses Papa, who is still in South America. It’s her first day of school, her make-new-friends day, but when classes are canceled because of too much snow, Isabella misses warm, green, Colombia more than ever. Then Isabella meets Katie and finds out that making friends in the cold is easier than she thought!”
Don’t miss my full review of A Thousand White Butterflieshere.
The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, Illustrated by Sean Rubin (Bookshop | Amazon)
“It’s the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel’s family hard. Her father has lost his job, and her family barely has enough food most days, let alone for a Passover Seder. They don’t even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah’s ceremonial cup.
With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle, a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah. But who was this mysterious benefactor? When Muriel sees Elijah’s ceremonial cup is empty, she has a good idea.”
She Caught The Light by Kathryn Lasky, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Ever since Williamina Fleming was little she was curious, and her childhood fascination with light inspired her life’s work. Mina became an astronomer in a time when women were discouraged from even looking through telescopes. Yet Mina believed that the universe, with its billions of stars, was a riddle—and she wanted to help solve it.
Mina ultimately helped to create a map of the universe that paved the way for astronomers. Newbery Honor–winning Kathryn Lasky shares her incredible true story.”
Alabama Spitfire: The Story Of Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird by Bethany Hegedus, Illustrated by Erin McGuire (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Nelle Harper Lee grew up in the rocky red soil of Monroeville, Alabama. From the get-go she was a spitfire.
Unlike most girls at that time and place, Nelle preferred overalls to dresses and climbing trees to tea parties. Nelle loved to watch her daddy try cases in the courtroom. And she and her best friend, Tru, devoured books and wrote stories of their own. More than anything Nelle loved words.
This love eventually took her all the way to New York City, where she dreamed of becoming a writer. Any chance she had, Nelle sat at her typewriter, writing, revising, and chasing her dream. Nelle wouldn’t give up—not until she discovered the right story, the one she was born to tell.”
Maryam’s Magic: The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani by Megan Reid, Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (Bookshop | Amazon)
“As a little girl, Maryam Mirzakhani was spellbound by stories. She loved reading in Tehran’s crowded bookstores, and at home she’d spend hours crafting her own tales on giant rolls of paper.
Maryam loved school, especially her classes in reading and writing. But she did not like math. Numbers were nowhere near as interesting as the bold, adventurous characters she found in books. Until Maryam unexpectedly discovered a new genre of storytelling: In geometry, numbers became shapes, each with its own fascinating personality—making every equation a brilliant story waiting to be told.
As an adult, Maryam became a professor, inventing new formulas to solve some of math’s most complicated puzzles. And she made history by becoming the first woman—and the first Iranian—to win the Fields Medal, mathematics’ highest award.”
Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Marissa Valdez (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Anyone who’s ever been underestimated or overshadowed will find inspiration in this empowering new picture book from Meena Harris, New York Times-bestselling author of Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, which is based on a true story about her aunt, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and her mother, Maya Harris.
When a young girl sees a strong woman on TV labeled as “too assertive” and “too ambitious,” it sends her on a journey of discovery through past, present, and future about the challenges faced by women and girls and the ways in which they can reframe, redefine, and reclaim words meant to knock them down.”
The Aquanaut by Jill Heinerth, Illustrated by Jaime Kim (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Through beautiful, spare text, Jill Heinerth tells her story about a girl who feels too young, too little and too far away from her dreams. But you don’t need to wait to grow up. It doesn’t take much to imagine all the things you can do and be. What if your bedroom were a space station? What would it be like to have flippers or tusks? In your own home you can explore new worlds and meet new friends.
Jaime Kim’s luminous art transports readers back and forth through time to see how Jill’s imagination as a young girl laid the pathway to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer.”
You can also read my full review of The Aquanauthere.
Rainbow Boy by Taylor Rouanzion, Illustrated by Stacey Chomiak (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A story about a boy with a heart too big for one color alone.
A little boy attempts to answer one of grown-ups’ all-time favorite questions: “What’s your favorite color?” But with so many wonderful colors to choose from, he doesn’t know how to answer. He loves his pink sparkly tutu, bright red roses, soft yellow baby doll pajamas, and big, orange basketball. How will he ever pick?”
You can also read my full review of Rainbow Boy for more detail.
Together We March by Leah Henderson, Illustrated by Tyler Feder (Bookshop | Amazon)
“March through history and discover twenty-five groundbreaking protest movements that have shaped the way we fight for equality and justice today in this stunningly illustrated and sweeping book!
For generations, marches have been an invaluable tool for bringing about social change. People have used their voices, the words on their signs, and the strength in their numbers to combat inequality, oppression, and discrimination. They march to call attention to these wrongs and demand change and action, from a local to a global scale.
Whether demanding protective laws or advocating for equal access to things like voting rights, public spaces, and jobs, the twenty-five marches in this book show us that even when a fight seems impossible, marching can be the push needed to tip the scales and create a movement. This gorgeous collection celebrates this rich and diverse history, the often-overlooked stories, and the courageous people who continue to teach us the importance of coming together to march today.”
Mr. Summerling’s Secret Code (The Treasure Troop #1) by Dori Hillestad Butler, Illustrated by Tim Budgen (Bookshop | Amazon)
“From Edgar Award Winner Dori Hillestad Butler comes a new chapter book mystery series, The Treasure Troop! Join Marly, Isla, and Sai, three code-cracking kids on the hunt for an old neighbor’s hidden treasure.
Marly always knew Mr. Summerling as her friendly neighbor living in the big, old house next-door. Sure, he walked around with a metal detector and talked about being a “treasure hunter,” but she didn’t think much of it. But when news of Mr. Summerling’s death arrives at her doorstep, Marly is brought into a treasure hunt of her own. In Mr. Summerling’s will, he’s left a treasure for Marly and her two classmates, Isla and Sai. The catch? They have to solve a series of riddles, puzzles, and clues to find its location. And not only that, they have to work together on it — which Marly is not looking forward to. But with no other choice, she, Isla, and Sai set off on the hunt. Can the three kids come together to crack the code? And even if they do solve the clues… what could Mr. Summerling possibly have left them?”
“E. L. Shen’s The Comeback is a heartfelt, #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ―in figure skating and in life.
Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however―she’s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?”
“Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.
So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.
Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.”
“Larry’s got a few problems. In school, he’s one of those kids who easily gets lost in the crowd. And Grimm, Larry’s best friend in the whole world, has ghosted him. Literally. One minute Grimm was saving a cat in a tree during a lightning storm, and the next, he’s pulling pranks on Larry in his new ghostly form.
When the two best friends realize that there’s something keeping Grimm tethered to their world, they decide that finishing their Totally To-Do bucket list is the perfect way to help Grimm with his unfinished business. Pulling hilarious pranks and shenanigans may be easier with a ghostly best friend, but as Larry and Grimm brave the scares of seventh grade, they realize that saying goodbye might just be the scariest part of middle school.”
“Magic is closer than you ever thought possible in this madcap middle grade adventure perfect for fans of James Riley and Chris Grabenstein.
For Mason Mortimer Morrison, life isn’t so magical.
His dad was just sent to jail, his grades have been plummeting from meh to yikes, and, oh yeah, two officers from some organization called Magix just showed up to arrest him in the middle of fourth period.
Talk about bad luck.
Mason knows he’s innocent. But in order to clear his name, he’s going to need the help of a plucky Magix junior detective and a cantankerous talking bunny—and a little bit of magic.”
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!
Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!
It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that I’m one of those people who love the New Year. I really enjoy the opportunity this holiday gives us to look back at our accomplishments and challenges from last year, while we also look forward and make plans for the year we are moving into.
Like many of you, I’ve been doing a lot of looking forward this year. 2020 has been particularly challenging for so many of us, and I know we are ready to put it behind us, so today I want to look forward. I want to share the 21 titles I am most excited about in 2021!
The best part is you can already preorder these titles, so you don’t have to remember to buy them when they come out later this year. I’m not the only one who preorders books to be “surprised” when the release date sneaks up on me later, am I?
Please note: This list will contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission allows me to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
So without further ado, here are my most anticipated titles of 2021, in no particular order!
Rainbow Boy by Taylor Rouanzion, Illustrated by Stacey Chomiak – January 26, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A story about a boy with a heart too big for one color alone.”
“A little boy attempts to answer one of grown-ups’ all-time favorite questions: “What’s your favorite color?” But with so many wonderful colors to choose from, he doesn’t know how to answer. He loves his pink sparkly tutu, bright red roses, soft yellow baby doll pajamas, and big, orange basketball. How will he ever pick?”
Anita and The Dragons by Hannah Carmona, Illustrated by Anna Cunha – April 6, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Anita watches the dragons high above her as she hops from one cement roof to another in her village in the Dominican Republic. But being the valiant princesa she is, she never lets them scare her. Will she be brave enough to enter the belly of the beast and take flight to new adventures?”
The Old Boat by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey – March 2, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Off a small island, a boy and his grandmother set sail in their beloved fishing boat. They ride the waves, dreaming, catching fish, and seeing the wonders of the ocean. But soon the boy is sailing the boat himself, venturing further from shore as the waters grow dirty and polluted. When a storm washes him ashore and wrecks the old boat, he sees home in a new light. He decides to turn the tides of his fortune, cleaning the island’s waters and creating a new life with a family to call his own. With an eye-catching design and masterfully detailed illustrations, The Old Boat is an exquisite story about caring for the places we call home.”
Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis March 30, 2021 – (Bookshop | Amazon)
“An immigrant family embarks on their first camping trip in the Midwest in this lively picture book by Ambreen Tariq, outdoors activist and founder of @BrownPeopleCamping.
Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.”
Kindness Is A Kite String by Michelle Schaub, Illustrated by Claire LaForte – April 1, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Watch empathy ripple through the community… spreading happiness like sunshine, connecting diverse groups like a footbridge, and lifting hope like a kite string. How can YOU lift others with kindness?”
We Are Still Here by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac – April 20, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!
Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future.”
My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Illustrated by Erika Meza – August 24, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy’s life on the U.S.-Mexico border, visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.
My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, with illustrations by Erika Meza, is the loving story of a father and son’s weekend ritual, a demonstration of community care, and a tribute to the fluidity, complexity, and vibrancy of life on the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States – April 13, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A moving picture book for older children and families that introduces a difficult topic, amplifying the voices and experiences of immigrant children detained at the border between Mexico and the US. The children’s actual words (from publicly available court documents) are assembled to tell one heartbreaking story, in both English and Spanish (back to back). Each spread is illustrated in striking full-color by a different Latinx artist. A portion of sales will be donated to human rights organizations that work with children on the border.”
The Tea Dragon Tapestry by K. O’Neill – June 1, 2021 (Amazon)
“Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!
Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.”
In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel, Illustrated by Hatem Aly – March 23, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome here. From grandmothers reading lines of the Qur’an and the imam telling stories of living as one, to meeting new friends and learning to help others, mosques are centers for friendship, community, and love.”
Send a Girl!: The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY by Jessica M. Rinker, Illustrated by Meg Hunt – March 9, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Brenda Berkman was often told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl. When she grew up, she longed for a job that was challenging, different every day, and required physical and mental strength. In 1977 when the New York City Fire Department finally complied with the Civil Rights Act (from 1964) by allowing women to take the FDNY exam, Brenda jumped at the chance.
But the FDNY changed the rules of the exam so women wouldn’t be able to pass it. Even a lot of men couldn’t pass this new exam.
So Brenda Berkman took the FDNY to court. “
When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Aaron Asis – May 18, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“In an evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define summer for one young girl, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.”
“From the way a body jiggles to the scars a body bears, this picture book is a pure celebration of all the different human bodies that exist in the world. Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its cheerful illustrations and exuberant refrain, this book will instill body positivity and confidence in the youngest of readers.”
Bindu’s Bindis by Supriya Kelkar, Illustrated by Parvati Pillai – March 2, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This charming picture book is about a little girl who loves her bindis (and the many creative shapes they come in!). The bindis are also a connection to her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit Bindu and brings the bindis to her, it is just in time to wear something new to the school talent show. Bindu and Nani work together to shine their brightest and embrace their sparkle, even when they stand out from the crowd.”
Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, Illustrated by Isabel Roxas – March 16, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.”
All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger – May 18, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“ME can be WE. YOU can come, too. In a lyrical text that travels the globe, National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine shows young readers how the whole world is a community made up of people who are more similar than we are different. With stunning, cinematic art by Alexandra Boiger, the illustrator of the She Persisted series, this is the perfect read-aloud at bedtime or for story time. Perfect for fans of All Are Welcome and Be Kind.”
Families Grow by Dan Saks, Illustrated by Brooke Smart – August 3, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This warm appreciation of love invites the youngest readers to share in the joy and excitement of expecting families. The lyrical, rhyming text subtly references pregnancy, surrogacy, and adoption, gently touching on the different ways a family can grow. The book’s celebratory yet comforting tone incites both appreciation and understanding, leaving readers with a lasting message of unconditional familial love. Includes a simple glossary at the end.”
I Am The Subway by Kim Hyo-eun, Translated by Deborah Smith – August 3, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A cinematic journey through the Seoul subway that masterfully portrays the many unique lives we travel alongside whenever we take the train. A poetic translation of the bestselling Korean picture book.
Originally published in Korean and brought to English-speaking audiences with the help of renowned translator Deborah Smith (The Vegetarian), I Am the Subway vividly reflects the shared humanity that can be found in crowded metropolitan cities.”
“This wonderful book celebrates diversity and the interconnectedness of nature through an Indigenous perspective, complete with a glossary of Cree words for wild animals at the back of the book, and children repeating a Cree phrase throughout the book. Readers will encounter birds who chase and chirp, bears who wiggle and wobble, whales who swim and squirt, owls who peek and peep, and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting:
We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna
A beautiful ode to the animals and humans we share our world with, We All Play belongs on every bookshelf.”
Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins, Illustrated by Nicole Wong – March 9, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Where do poems come from? This beautiful picture book about a young aspiring poet and his grandfather shows that the answer lies all around us–if we take the time to look.”
Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King by Daniel Haack, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis – April 27, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Our brave and dashing heroes, the prince and the knight, are happily married and their kingdom is prospering, but soon, a fog of darkness that blocks the sun spreads across their land. They get word that the cause of this is a dark and mysterious Shadow King, and they rush off to find and stop him, but encounter many obstacles along the way. Will they be able to restore the light to their kingdom?”
I hope you all enjoyed this list and found a book (or a few, if you lack self control like me) to add to your little one’s shelves in the next year.
What books do you have your eye on in 2021? Make sure to share in the comments below!