New Release Round Up – May 18, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! Tuesdays are my favorite, because it’s new release day!

I’m so excited to share 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.

Board Books

A is for Astronaut: An Out-of-This-World Alphabet Adventure by Dr. Jennifer Levasseur, Illustrated by Vanessa Port (Bookshop | Amazon)

Blast off into space and learn the ABCs with the Smithsonian!

2021 NAPPA (National Parenting Product Awards) Winner
Inside this board book, little space explorers will learn out-of-this-world words for each letter of the alphabet paired with colorful illustrations on each page. From astronaut to zero gravity, this simple introduction to outer space and the ABCs is sure to delight babies and their parents! Author Jennifer Levasseur serves as the as the responsible curator for the National Air and Space Museum’s astronaut cameras and chronographs, as well as the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.”

Pink Is For Boys by Robb Pearlman, Illustrated by Eda Kaban (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An empowering and educational board book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful board book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages children to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

Parents and kids will delight in Robb Pearlman’s sweet, simple script, as well as its powerful message: life is not color-coded.”

Picture Books

When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Aaron Asis (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In an evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define a young girl’s summer with her grandmother, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.

For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, and of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit.

Summer is special. For her lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake.

When Lola visits, the whole family gathers to cook and eat and share in their happiness of another season spent together. Yet as summer transitions to fall, her lola must return home—but not without a surprise for her granddaughter to preserve their special summer a bit longer.”

And I Paint It by Beth Kephart, Illustrated by Amy June Bates (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A poetic picture-book biography about artist N.C. Wyeth’s daughter, Henriette, a talented painter in her own right

And I think of the girl I am and the girl I’ll be:
A painter, like Pa.
An actress (maybe).
A fairy with wings.
A father and daughter sneak away from their big, busy family to paint in the wild landscape. Together, they paint a lily, bright and white as a star; the green growing into the cap of a strawberry; the blue in the sky running pink. Henriette’s father is N.C. Wyeth, the famous artist, who encourages her to paint what she sees, to awaken into her dreams, and she does, in this poetic picture book inspired by a famous American family of artists.”

Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner by Angela Dalton, Illustrated by Jestenia Southerland (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This joyful picture book taps into the rich African American tradition of family reunions, with delicious food at the heart of the celebration. Perfect for fans of the Caldecott Honor Book Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons.

Once a year, each of Ruby’s relatives prepares a special dish to share at their family reunion. Daddy calls it their “signature dish”—and Ruby wants one of her own. She wanders through the bustling kitchen looking for inspiration. As she watches Pop-Pop’s chicken sizzling in the skillet, Uncle G slicing onions, and Auntie Billie cooking corn on the hot grill, she wonders if she’s just too young to have a signature dish. That’s when she finds it— the perfect solution!

Angela Dalton’s warm text is perfectly paired with Jestenia Southerland’s beautiful art in this sweet picture book, filled with the tenderness and warmth of this multigenerational extended family and the food they share.”

All Of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Bookshop | Amazon)

A beautiful book about community and love by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Alexandra Boiger.

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.”

The Incredible Ship of Captain Skip by Alicia Acosta, Illustrated by Cecilia Moreno (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Join Skip and her crew on their amazing journey across the sea. As you read the story, you’ll make your own paper ship with easy-to-follow instructions! Through her adventure, Skip’s ship will be damaged. At the same time, you’ll be tearing off pieces of your paper ship discovering a funny surprise in the end… the treasure of Captain Skip!”

Chapter Books

Ballerina Birthday (Ballet Bunnies #3) by Swapna Reddy, Illustrated by Binny Talib (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This new full-color chapter book series features the most darling dancers you will ever meet! For fans of the Magic Bunny, Isadora Moon, and Rainbow Magic series.

It’s Millie’s birthday and the Ballet Bunnies can’t wait to celebrate with her! The teeny dancer bunnies sneak into her bag and steal away to Millie’s house. When it’s time for Millie’s party, the bunnies secretly dash beneath tables and chairs to get a glimpse at all the festivities!

Spin and twirl with more Ballet Bunnies books! Ballet Bunnies #1: The New Class and Ballet Bunnies #2: Let’s Dance!”

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old (Twig and Turtle #4) by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Friendship woes and a visit from Grandma push Twig to find her voice in the fourth book in the Twig and Turtle chapter book series, perfect for fans of Ivy and Bean and Judy Moody.

Speaking up can be super hard.

Just when Twig thinks she’s finally found a new best friend, Angela’s former BFF, Effie, comes back to town. And to Twig, Effie is anything but friendly. With Effie hogging the spotlight and Angela’s time, Twig has never felt so alone. And while Twig’s little sister, Turtle, can be a lot of fun to hang out with, she doesn’t replace a best friend.

Then Grandma comes to visit, bringing with too much clutter and too many strong opinions for the tiny house, and it all becomes too much. Will Twig be able to find her voice without hurting anyone’s feelings?

The fourth book in the Twig and Turtle chapter book series, Make New Friends, But Keep the Old weaves themese of friendshipand finding your voice in a sweet package that fans of Ivy and Bean and Judy Moody will find hard to resist.”

Middle Grade

That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bollywood takes over in this contemporary, magical middle grade novel about an Indian American girl whose world turns upside down when she involuntarily starts bursting into glamorous song-and-dance routines during everyday life.

You know how in Bollywood when people are in love, they sing and dance from the mountaintops? Eleven-year-old Sonali wonders if they do the same when they’re breaking up. The truth is, Sonali’s parents don’t get along, and it looks like they might be separating.

Sonali’s little brother, Ronak, is not taking the news well, constantly crying. Sonali would never do that. It’s embarrassing to let out so many feelings, to show the world how not okay you are. But then something strange happens, something magical, maybe. When Sonali gets upset during a field trip, she can’t bury her feelings like usual—instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset!

The next morning, much to her dismay, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Things seem brighter, almost too bright. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal.

Sonali knows something has gone wrong, and she suspects it has something to do with her own mismanaged emotions. Can she figure it out before it’s too late?”

An Occasionally Happy Family by Cliff Burke (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Gordon Korman meets The Great Outdoors in this funny and moving debut about a boy who goes on a disastrous family vacation (sweltering heat! bear chases!) that ends with a terrible surprise: his dad’s new girlfriend.

There are zero reasons for Theo Ripley to look forward to his family vacation. Not only are he, sister Laura, and nature-obsessed Dad going to Big Bend, the least popular National Park, but once there, the family will be camping. And Theo is an indoor animal. It doesn’t help that this will be the first vacation they’re taking since Mom passed away.

Once there, the family contends with 110 degree days, wild bears, and an annoying amateur ornithologist and his awful teenage vlogger son. Then, Theo’s dad hits him with a whopper of a surprise: the whole trip is just a trick to introduce his secret new girlfriend.

Theo tries to squash down the pain in his chest. But when it becomes clear that this is an auditioning-to-be-his-stepmom girlfriend, Theo must find a way to face his grief and talk to his dad before his family is forever changed.”

Not All Heroes by Josephine Cameron (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Even though her family moved across the country for a “fresh start” after her little brother’s death, eleven-year-old Zinnia Helinski still feels like she’s stuck waiting for her new life to begin. Then she spots her new neighbor, Kris, climbing down the fire escape of their apartment building. He’s wearing a black eye mask! And Spandex leggings. . . . And a blue body suit?

Soon Zinnia finds herself in a secret club for kids who want to be heroes. The Reality Shifters don’t have superpowers, but they do have the power to make positive change in their neighborhoods. And a change is just what Zinnia is looking for!

At first, she feels invincible. Zinnia finally has friends and is on the kind of real-life adventures her little brother, Wally, would have loved. But when her teammates lose sight of their goals, Zinnia must find the balance between bravery and recklessness, and learn to be a hero without her cape.”

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris, Illustrated Michael Emberley (Bookshop | Amazon)

Fully and fearlessly updated, this vital new edition of the acclaimed book on sex, sexuality, bodies, and puberty deserves a spot in every family’s library.

With more than 1.5 million copies in print, It’s Perfectly Normal has been a trusted resource on sexuality for more than twenty-five years. Rigorously vetted by experts, this is the most ambitiously updated editionyet, featuring to-the-minute information and language accompanied by new and refreshed art.

Updates include:

* A shift to gender-neutral vocabulary throughout

* An expansion on LGBTQIA topics, gender identity, sex, and sexuality—making this a sexual health book for all readers

* Coverage of recent advances in methods of sexual safety and contraception with corresponding illustrations

* A revised section on abortion, including developments in the shifting politics and legislation as well as an accurate, honest overview

* A sensitive and detailed expansion on the topics of sexual abuse, the importance of consent, and destigmatizing HIV/AIDS

* A modern understanding of social media and the internet that tackles rapidly changing technology to highlight its benefits and pitfalls and ways to stay safe online

Inclusive and accessible, this newest edition of It’s Perfectly Normal provides young people with the knowledge and vocabulary they need to understand their bodies, relationships, and identities in order to make responsible decisions and stay healthy.”

Graphic Novels

The Princess Who Saved Herself by Greg Pak, Illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Welcome to The Princess Who Saved Herself, a children’s book written by comics writer Greg Pak, based on the beloved song by internet superstar musician Jonathan Coulton, and illustrated by artist Takeshi Miyazawa.

The Princess Who Saved Herself reinvents the princess myth for a new generation, telling the story of an awesome kid who lives with her pet snake and plays rock ‘n’ roll all day to the huge annoyance of the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road. Hijinks, conflicts, and a fun reconciliation ensues!

Based on the beloved song by internet superstar musician Jonathan Coulton, the new New York Times best-selling team of writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa reunite for an unforgettable adventure full of determination, bravery, and compassion for everyone!”

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce.

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.

Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.”

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!

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Daddy & Dada

When Ryan Brockington and Isaac Webster started looking for books for their daughter showing families with two dads (like theirs), they discovered the massive hole in the market for LGBTQ+ representation in children’s books. Fortunately for all of us, they decided to address the issue by writing their own book, Daddy & Dada, and I’m thrilled to share it with you all today.

This sweet picture book follows a young girl named Rumi as she introduces us to her family, including her two dads, baby brother, and dog. Rumi narrates in a straightforward, conversational voice (like most four-year-olds would) and highlights a number of diverse family structures, creating both a window and a mirror for young readers. Just in time for Father’s Day and Pride Month, Daddy & Dada is a wonderful celebration of all families, and the many combinations of people that make a family.

The illustrations by Lauren May are absolutely adorable. The bold colors reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons during my childhood. Lauren truly captured the love of a happy family and brought the warmth of a happy home to the pages.

Daddy & Dada officially releases tomorrow, but you can preorder your copy today 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

To learn more about Ryan, Issac, and their family, be sure to follow them on Instagram: @rybrockington and @realisaacwebster.

Lauren May is a freelance illustrator based in New England. Please visit her website at monstertea.party to learn more about her and her work.

Ryan and Isaac’s story really spoke to me, because it reminds me of my journey to create Mutually Inclusive to make a space for all families to find themselves in books. So I want to make sure I thank both Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Daddy & Dada, and Ryan and Isaac for creating such an inclusive book for children to see their families in. I’m so happy to “meet” their family and to share Daddy & Dada with families looking for representation in children’s books.

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Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion

If you’re looking for a unique picture book about princesses, sisters, or compassion, I’ve got you covered today! Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion by Maya van der Meer is a stunning retelling of an ancient Chinese Buddhist tale with a delightfully modern message.

Kuan Yin follows the story of Princess Miao Shan and her younger sister Princess Ling. Much to their father’s chagrin, Miao Shan has chosen a spiritual path for her life, rejecting the duties of her royal title. Her heart is filled with love and compassion, and she wants to share it with the world. Though Miao Shan and Ling are separated during their journey, their love continues to bring them back together. Ling overcomes her own doubt and loneliness while witnessing her sister’s path to enlightenment. Together they accomplish impossible tasks and realize the true power of love.

I really appreciated the relationship between the sisters in Kuan Yin and the way they support one another. As someone who didn’t learn to get along with her sister until adulthood, I love a positive example of sisterhood for young readers, and Kuan Yin does not disappoint.

The incredible illustrations by Wen Hsu are inspired by the Tang Dynasty, and they truly bring the sisters’ adventures to life. Every page is beautifully detailed, and the colors are absolutely stunning.

Kuan Yin is out now and available 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

I am also giving away a copy of Kuan Yin over on Instagram this weekend, so be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win!

Maya van der Meer is an author, educator, environmentalist, and long-time Buddhist practitioner based in Woodstock, New York. Please visit her website at mayavandermeer.com to learn more about her and her work.

Wen Hsu is an award-winning Taiwanese-Costa Rican illustrator who has illustrated stories for children in a number of countries, including Japan, Korea, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, and more. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her Facebook page.

I want to thank Bala Kids for kindly providing me with a review copy of Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion. This beautiful book is an absolute delight and I’m honored to be able to share it today.

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Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks

Sarah and the Big Wave by Bonnie Tsui is a wonderful picture book biography that tells the story of Sarah Gerhardt, the first woman to surf Mavericks.

Young readers will learn about Sarah’s journey to become a pioneer for women in surfing, including her challenges, such as finding gear in the right sizes and finding a welcoming group of friends to share her passion with. Sarah and the Big Wave shares a wonderful lesson of following your passions and persevering through challenges. And of course, this is a great pick for young surfing enthusiasts.

I really love the illustrations by Sophie Diao! The way she captured both the beauty and movement of the ocean was really stunning.

The back matter also contains a wonderful timeline of the history women in surfing from the 1600’s to 2020, making it a great resource for educators.

Sarah and the Big Wave is officially out next week, but you can purchase it anywhere 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Bonnie Tsui is an author and journalist who lives, swims, and surfs in the Bay Area. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at bonnietsui.com.

Sophie Diao is an artist and illustrator based in San Francisco, California. Please visit her website at sophiediao.com to learn more about her and her work.

I also want to thank Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for proving me with a review copy of Sarah and the Big Wave. I loved learning about Sarah, and I’m so glad to share her story with you all.

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New Release Round Up – May 11, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s time to talk about new releases again!

I’m so excited to share 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.

Board Books

City Baby by Laurie Elmquist, Illustrated by Ashley Barron (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bustling streets, lively squares and busy restaurants are baby’s playground when they are in the big city. So much to see and do as baby’s stroller navigates the crowded avenues or baby takes a break in a quiet park to blow bubbles and chase pigeons. Ashley Barron’s paper-collage illustrations are a joy to behold, bringing energy and life to this delightful board book. Rhyming verse from Laurie Elmquist takes the reader on a journey through a festive big city.”

Hello From Here by Pamela Kennedy, Illustrated by Mackenzie Haley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It’s difficult to be separated from those we love, and sometimes it’s hard to feel connected when we can’t be together in person. This board book helps fill that need to connect, with a simple message: I’m still here, even though I’m not right there beside you. A series of scenarios depicts a narrator employing various forms of communication—from video calls and letters to dolphin-messengers and skywriting—to say a simple “hello” to someone far away. Exploring the idea of connecting over distance, whether it’s through a pane of glass or across a continent, this book delivers its earnest message in a lighthearted way, engaging children’s imaginations in thinking of delightful new ways to say “hello.” The book will remind them that they are loved by those they can’t always see. Instead of emphasizing what we can’t do when we’re apart, this book takes a positive view and makes a game out of finding new ways we can communicate.”

Picture Books

Sarah And The Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks by Bonnie Tsui, Illustrated by Sophie Diao (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Have you ever seen a big wave? One that’s twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty feet tall? Here’s a better question: Would you ever surf a big wave? Sarah Gerhardt did―and this is her story.

This tale of perseverance and indomitable spirit is about the first woman to ride the waves at Mavericks, one of the biggest and most dangerous surf breaks in the world.”

Peace Train by Cat Stevens, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Bookshop | Amazon)

Hop aboard the Peace Train in this picture book adaptation of Cat Stevens’s legendary anthem of unity and harmony in time for the song’s 50th anniversary! With illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.

“Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Oh, I’ve been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it’s going to come”

Readers are invited to hop on the PEACE TRAIN and join its growing group of passengers who are all ready to unite the world in peace and harmony.

Featuring the timeless lyrics of Cat Stevens’s legendary song and illustrations by New York Times bestselling artist Peter H. Reynolds, this hopeful picture book inspires tolerance and love for people of all cultures and identities.”

A Day For Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Bookshop | Amazon)

A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper

Today is a special day. Eli knows it’s important if he’s allowed to miss one second of school, his “hard-earned right.”
Inspired by true events and told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the deeply moving story about what is regarded as the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. Eli dresses up in his best clothes, Mama gathers the mayflowers, Papa straightens his hat, and together they join the crowds filling the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with bouquets, crosses, and wreaths. Abolitionists, missionaries, teachers, military officers, and a sea of faces Black, Brown, and White, they march as one and sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.
With poignant prose and celebratory, powerful illustrations, A Day for Rememberin’ shines light on the little-known history of this important holiday and reminds us never to forget the people who put their lives on the line for their country. The book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper and includes archival photos in the back matter, as well as an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, and index.”

Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist by Laurie Lawlor, Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Bookshop | Amazon)

Scientist. Artist. Rule-breaker. The vibrant and daring life of Marianne North by the award-winning author of Super Women and Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World.

In 1882, Marianne North showed the gray city of London paintings of jaw-dropping greenery like they’d never seen before.

As a self-taught artist and scientist, Marianne North subverted Victorian gender roles and advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment was groundbreaking. The legendary Charles Darwin was among her many supporters.

Laurie Lawlor deftly chronicles North’s life, from her restrictive childhood to her wild world travels to the opening of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens to her death in 1890. The North gallery at Kew Gardens remains open to the public today.

Becca Stadtlander’s award-winning lush, verdant artwork pairs wonderfully with the natural themes.”

Nosotros Means Us: Un Cuento Bilingüe by Paloma Valdivia (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

If I were a sheep, you would be a lamb.
If I were a bear, you would be a cub.
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

Si yo fuera una oveja, tú serías un cordero.
Si yo fuera una osa, tú serías un osenzo.
Con su niño en brazos, una madre contempla cómo sería elamorentre ellos si fueran diferentes animales. Pero por mucho que cambien,no importa. Siempre serán“nosotros”. Este cuento bilingüe es una oda eterna al lazo irrompibleentre madre e hijo.”

Cranky Right Now by Julie Berry, Illustrated by Holly Hatam (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Sometimes we’re all cranky, and that’s okay! Cranky Right Now shows kids how to deal with those cranky days.

Cranky Right Now brings a much-needed message to kids: sometimes we’re all cranky. Maybe we’re tired, we’re hungry, or we’re just feeling grumpy. Dealing with emotions can be hard. Cranky Right Now is a fun and funny ride through the ups and downs of being cranky, helping kids process difficult feelings, frustrating relationships, and things that just make them mad.

Award-winning author Julie Berry talks about reasons kids can feel cranky and how to recognize those feelings and acknowledge them. She then gives simple practices for moving through crankiness. She shows that it’s okay to be in a bad mood sometimes―just not to take it out on others―and that cranky days will eventually give way to happy ones.

A companion volume to Happy Right Now, with Holly Hatam’s bright and playful illustrations, Cranky Right Now helps you embrace, understand, and move through cranky in a whole new way.”

Secret, Secret Agent Guy by Kira Bigwood, Illustrated by Celia Krampien (Bookshop | Amazon)

Send little spies to sleep with this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek lullaby set to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Dear Fellow Agents:

Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to join Secret, Secret Agent Guy on his bedtime assignment, code name: Operation Lollipop. Equipped with night-vision goggles, a jetpack, and grappling hook, he is prepared for every eventuality…or is he?

Will this 007-year-old complete his covert quest, or will he be outsmarted by an adversary he never saw coming?”

No Pants by Jacob Grant (Bookshop | Amazon)

Laugh-out-loud father-son drama in which the dad learns an important and timely lesson–pants are NOT for everyone!

Pablo and his dad are ready for a great day. It’s party day! A cookout with the whole family. All they need to do is get ready. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put on pants. And they’ll be ready to go!
Only Pablo has another idea: No Pants!
Suddenly it’s looking as if party time is a ways off after all.
Here’s a hilarious and warm-hearted look at a father-son relationship that shows there is more than one way of wearing–and thinking about–pants!”

Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist by Shahzia Sikander, Illustrated by Hannah Barczyk (Bookshop | Amazon)

Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander recounts how growing up as a tomboy in a multicultural home in Pakistan inspired her to become an artist

Growing up in a multigenerational, multicultural home in Lahore, Pakistan, where her family’s Muslim traditions are filled with food and rituals, Shahzia is surrounded by stories of all kinds. At the Catholic school she attends, she studies Western literature, and at home, her father regales her and her siblings with fantastical tales from a Russian storybook on animals. Shahzia’s love for books leads to a fascination with illustrations, like the ones she sees in illuminated manuscripts and South Asian miniature portraits, and she discovers a talent for drawing. Through art, Shahzia is able to create the different worlds she reads about, using her imagination to take her beyond the walls of the home she grows up in.
Written by artist Shahzia Sikander with award-winning author Amy Novesky, and featuring artwork, Roots and Wings is a colorful introduction to a multicultural perspective that will inspire young readers to use art and imagination to explore new worlds.”

Chapter Books

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Jason Reynolds, and Ibram X. Kendi, Illustrated by Rachelle Baker (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This chapter book edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America

RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word.
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Ibram X. Kendi’s research, Jason Reynolds’s and Sonja Cherry-Paul’s writing, and Rachelle Baker’s art come together in this vital read, enhanced with a glossary, timeline, and more.”

Mission to Mars (Astronaut Girl #4) by Cathy Hapka and Ellen Vandenberg, Illustrated Gillian Reid (Bookshop | Amazon)

Can Astronaut Girl save the day with a little help from science? Find out as she and her space crew blast off on new adventures in this chapter book series!

When Val’s teacher gives her class a science assignment to build terrariums, Val can’t wait to get started! She’s picked Wallace and her two friends, Ling and Abby, to join her group, and she expects to be in charge…after all, she is Astronaut Girl! But Val soon discovers it’s impossible for them to agree on anything. And things don’t get much better when the group and the Astro Crew zoom off to Mars for an outer-space adventure. Can the group finally put their heads together in order to save themselves from a giant sandstorm, or will they be stranded on Mars forever?

Exciting, easy-to-read books are the stepping stone a young reader needs to bridge the gap between being a beginner and being fluent.”

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend (Jo Jo, 1) by Dawn Quigley, Illustrated by Tara Audibert (Bookshop | Amazon)

Hello/Boozhoo—meet Jo Jo Makoons! Full of pride, joy, and plenty of humor, this first book in an all-new chapter book series by Dawn Quigley celebrates a spunky young Ojibwe girl who loves who she is.

Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn—about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly.

Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Middle Grade

Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (Bookshop | Amazon)

A moving middle-grade debut for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be normal again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves and each other.”

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi (Bookshop | Amazon)

“For fans of Other Words for Home and Front Desk, this powerful, charming own voices immigration story follows a girl who moves from Karachi, Pakistan to Peachtree City, Georgia, and must find her footing in a new world. Reem Faruqi is the ALA Notable author of award-winning Lailah’s Lunchbox.

When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts.

And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais—who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates.

Ultimately Nurah slowly gains confidence in the form of strong swimming arms, and also gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place.”

Planet Omar: Incredible Rescue Mission by Zanib Mian, Illusrated by Nasaya Mafaridik (Bookshop | Amazon)

Omar has to solve the mystery of his missing teacher in the third installment of this highly-illustrated middle-grade series starring a Muslim boy with a huge imagination.

Omar is going on his biggest adventure yet–a trip to Pakistan! But his excitement about the trip is interrupted by some shocking news: his amazing teacher is not coming back to school, and no one will say why.

When Omar and his friends start investigating, the hints they overhear and clues they find lead them to an alarming conclusion–it must be aliens!

Omar has a huge imagination, but saving his teacher from aliens seems far-fetched even to him. He’s going to need out-of-this-world creative thinking and a huge spirit of adventure to solve this mystery!”

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!

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How Old Am I?

I had not heard of this title before it arrived on my doorstep, but now I am absolutely obsessed with How Old Am I? by JR and Julie Pugeat! Inspired by JR’s Inside Out Project, this fascinating visual reference book contains 100 portraits of 100 different people from 100 different countries, ranging from ages 1 to 100.

Each portrait is paired with with a little information about the subject, including a translation of “Hello” in their language, their name, age, where they live, where they were born, and some of their personal experiences. How Old Am I? is an amazing resource offering young readers several lessons, from counting and geography to celebrating art, aging, and diversity – making it the perfect addition to classrooms and school libraries.

The black and white portraits included are absolutely stunning, and I really love the contrasting bright colors and dots used as backgrounds throughout the book.

How Old Am I? officially releases later this week (May 12, 2021), but you can preorder it today at your local bookstore, Bookshop, or 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

JR is a Parisian artist and activist known for his large scale public photography projects. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website at jr-art.net.

 Julie Pugeat is a studio director and mother of two, based in France. To learn more about her, please visit her Instagram.

Thank you so much to Phaidon for sending a review copy of How Old Am I? my way. It was a wonderful surprise and I’m beyond excited to share it with all the young readers in my life.

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The Neighborhood Surprise

Sarah van Dongen’s debut, The Neighborhood Surprise, is a lovely picture book, but be warned – don’t read it when you’re hungry. This sweet book is all about food and some of the different ways it can be prepared.

In The Neighborhood Surprise we are introduced to a young girl named Koya, her friends Hassan and Alex, and their favorite neighbor, Mrs. Fig. When the trio of children hear that Mrs. Fig is moving to a retirement home, they plan a surprise going away party for her. The whole neighborhood gets involved, and they are all sure to include vegan and vegetarian options for the vegan and vegetarian households in their neighborhood. With a cute surprise ending, The Neighborhood Surprise really captures the warmth of a closely knit community and the way neighbors can support one another.

This is also a fantastic resource for children who are curious about veganism and vegetarianism. The author’s note in the back offers a few definitions along with reasons people might eat this way, opening the door to further conversation.

The illustrations are really fun, and I especially enjoy the detail in the spreads where we see neighbors cooking with their families. Each spread gives a wonderful glimpse into each home in the neighborhood, providing us with lots of visual character development.

The Neighborhood Surprise is available 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Sarah van Dongen is a debut children’s book author and illustrator. You can learn more about her and her work at sarahvandongen.com.

I would also like to thank Tiny Owl and Myrick Marketing and Media for providing me with a review copy of this lovely book.

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Last Gate Of The Emperor

If you’re looking for a book for a middle grader, I have a treat for you today.

Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen could be described as Black Panther meets Ready Player One set in a mythical Ethiopia in outer space. With elements of both science fiction and fantasy, this page turning Afrofuturist tale follows a young boy named Yared as he joins the Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk – an augmented reality game that will change his life forever.

Yared lives a lonely life in the city of Addis Prime. He was raised by his nervous Uncle Moti, who moved them around a lot growing up. Uncle Moti tells him tales of an empire called Axum and war that spans the galaxy. Yared’s only friend is the bionic lioness Bessa gifted to him by his uncle when he was a small child. Despite his isolated life, Yared is a typical quick-witted kid, full of bravado.

Our story begins as Yared sneaks out of school to join The Hunt For Kaleb’s Obelisk. He learns that some of the rules have changed – not only is he required to enter his real name into the game to play, but he is also forced to partner up with his biggest rival in the game, a young girl called the Ibis. Suddenly, nothing goes according to plan, and instead of jumping to the top of the leaderboards, Yared and the Ibis find themselves in the middle of an attack on the city.

The stories Uncle Moti has been telling Yared for years seem to be coming to life, but as Yared starts putting puzzle pieces together, he realizes his Uncle has disappeared. Yared and the Ibis decide to work together to find Uncle Moti, and along the way, Yared learns that his life as he knows it may not be exactly what it seems.

I don’t want to give everything away, but I have to tell you: this book as fantastic. I can easily see this becoming a very successful series, and even having comics, cartoons, or movies. The characters are all very relatable and likable (for the most part anyway).

With nods to Prince Joel Makonnen’s childhood experiences growing up as the great-grandson of the last emperor of Ethiopia, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, readers will learn about Ethiopia’s rich history in unexpected ways. I specifically appreciated the afterword that sheds light on that history and points out all the ways it influenced the book.

Last Gate of the Emperor is available now 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Kwame Mbalia is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in North Carolina with his family. Please visit his website at kwamembalia.com to learn more about him and his work.

Prince Joel Makonnen is a direct descendant of Ethiopian royalty, Co-Founder and CEO of Old World // New World, and a lawyer based in Washington DC. To learn more about him, please visit his website at princeyoel.com.

Thank you so much to Scholastic Books for sending a review copy of Last Gate of the Emperor. I can’t wait to see if the adventure continues in a sequel!

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On the Trapline

I have another wonderful intergenerational story for y’all today.

From David A. Robertson and Julie Flett, the creators of When We Were Alone, On the Trapline is a stunning picture book that highlights indigenous values, including the deep connections to family and the land.

In this book, we meet a young Cree boy who is accompanying his Moshom (grandfather) on a trip to visit a place that is dear to his heart. They are going to the trapline, a place where his grandfather grew up hunting game with his family.

Throughout the book, the boy sees the places his grandfather grew up, listening to the stories of his childhood. He sees the house by the lake that his family stayed in, the school his grandfather attended, and finally, they reach the trapline. He learns about the way the entire family slept in a tent, the food they ate, and the animals they trapped. On each page, young readers learn a Swampy Cree word, with pronunciation guides provided in the back matter.

As always, Julie Flett’s illustrates are absolute perfection. I really appreciated the way she captured both the past and present in the illustrations. My personal favorites are two mirrored illustrations in which one page captures the grandfather’s story of sneaking into the bush at school to speak Cree, and the next page shows our narrator, his Moshom, and his Moshom’s old friend in the same bush years later. I found myself turning the pages to compare the landscapes, noting how trees and mushrooms had grown in the grandfather’s absence.

The back matter contains both an Author’s Note and Illustrator’s Note detailing their personal connections with this story, highlighting the authentic voices that are present throughout the book.

On the Trapline would make for an amazing Father’s Day gift. It is available now 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

David A. Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and an award-winning children’s book author based in Winnipeg. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at darobertson.ca.

Julie Flett is an award-winning Cree-Metis author, illustrator, and artist based in Vancouver. Please visit her website at julieflett.com to learn more about her and her work.

Thank you so much to Tundra Books for generously providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. It was an absolute delight and I know I will be revisiting it many times.

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Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe by Paloma Valdivia is a beautiful bilingual picture book highlighting the unconditional love between a mother and a child, told in both English and Spanish.

In this precious book, we follow along as a mother tells her child all about the ways she would love them if they were different animals. On the first few pages, our little family is depicted as matching animals, like a sheep and lamb, but there is a twist. The mother tells her child that one day they will leave, and both mother and child will grow into something else, but the child should know that she will always love them. Because they will always be mother and child.

I love the way Nosotros Means Us uses translated words to talk about the way the mother and child’s relationship would translate if they were different animals. I found it to be a very clever way to add a more complex layer to a perfectly simple concept, and it made such a powerful storytelling technique.

The illustrations are marvelous. I love the depictions of the different animals, but the color scheme is my absolute favorite. I love the perfectly minimalist style and the way the colors jump off every page.

Nosotros Means Us officially releases next week (May 11, 2021), but be sure to preorder this one as a Mother’s Day gift for the mothers in your life. You can preorder today anywhere 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Paloma Valdivia is a children’s book author and illustrator based in Chile. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at palomavaldivia.cl.

I want to thank Knopf Books For Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to read it with my little one!

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