New Release Round Up: May 24, 2022

It’s Tuesday again! Let’s dive into this week’s new releases.

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

Bye Bye, Binary by Eric Geron, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Fans of Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz will love this board book about gender expression and being true to oneself.

“Is it a boy? Or a girl?” 

“WHAT’S IT TO YA?!”

Our little bundle of joy has arrived—to dismantle gender norms!

A joyful baby refuses to conform to the gender binary and instead chooses toys, colors, and clothes that make them happy. This tongue-in-cheek board book is a perfect tool to encourage children to love what they love and is also a great baby shower gift for all soon-to-be-parents. “

Picture Books

Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, Illustrated by DeAnn Wiley

“Sarah starts her day like any other day: she eats her toast and feeds her bugs. But today isn’t a day like any other day. Today, her dad brings her to a protest to speak out against police violence against Black people. The protesters are loud, and Sarah gets scared. When Sarah spots a beautiful monarch butterfly and follows it through the crowd, she finds herself inside the no-man’s land between the line of police and protesters. In the moments that follow, Sarah is confronted with the cruelty of those who are supposed to protect her and learns what it feels like to protect and be protected.

Inspired by the protests that happened during the Minneapolis Uprising after the police killing of George Floyd, Sarah Rising provides a child’s-eye view of a protest and offers an opportunity for children to talk about why people take to the streets to protest racial injustice. Readers will gain a new appreciation for how important it is to be part of a community of people who protect each other.

Backmatter includes a note from the author about his experience growing up as a Black boy in the Twin Cities, information about the Minneapolis Uprising, and practical ways kids can get involved in activism.”

Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, Illustrated by Alex Bostic

“This lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today.

After 300 years of forced bondage;
hands bound, descendants of Africa
picked up their souls—all that they owned—
leaving shackles where they fell on the ground,
headed for the nearest resting place to be found.


Deeply emotional, evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States. This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.”

The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

A confident little Black girl has a fantastic first day of school in this companion to the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten.

MJ is more than ready for her first day of kindergarten! With her hair freshly braided and her mom’s special tiara on her head, she knows she’s going to rock kindergarten. But the tiara isn’t just for show—it also reminds her of all the good things she brings to the classroom, stuff like her kindness, friendliness, and impressive soccer skills, too! Like The King of Kindergarten, this is the perfect book to reinforce back-to-school excitement and build confidence in the newest students.”

Everywhere with You by Carlie Sorosiak, Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth

The heartwarming friendship between a girl and the dog next door tenderly evokes the power of stories to bring—and keep—us together.

Two houses stand side by side: one is home to a dog, the other to a young girl. Though a fence divides them, girl and dog build a sweet and sturdy friendship rooted in make-believe . . . and are lonely no more. Paired with moving illustrations and based on a true story, this endearing tale from the author of I, Cosmo testifies to the transformative power of creativity and inter-species friendship.”

Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

“When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together.
 
Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet.
 
Informed by her own experience as the child of Chinese immigrant parents, Andrea Wang makes the point that when you’re looking to communicate with people, you look for a common bond. The word for “tea” is similar in many languages, and tea becomes the unifying metaphor that brings a diverse group of children together. Additional material at the back of the book explores the rich and ancient history of tea drinking across cultures all around the world and contains maps, statistics, and fascinating details that will delight young readers.”

Mae Makes a Way: The True Story of Mae Reeves, Hat & History Maker by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Illustrated by Andrea Pippins

“Mae had a dream to make one-of-a-kind hats. But the path for a Black female designer was unclear, so Mae made a way, leaving her home in the segregated South to study at the Chicago School of Millinery.
 
Mae had the skills, but craved the independence to create her own styles. So Mae found a way. In Philadelphia, she became the first Black woman to own a business on South Street. Whether you were Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Marian Anderson or a lady from the neighborhood, Mae wanted you to look good and feel special in one of her original hats. 
 
A mother, a successful entrepreneur, and a community advocate, Mae led the way.
 
Published in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, acclaimed author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Two Naomis) and award-winning illustrator Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair) bring the life of fashion entrepreneur and civic organizer Mae Reeves to the page. And when you are done reading, explore Mae’s store and styles in person at her permanent exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

Middle Grade

Cookies and Milk by Shawn Amos

It’s a summer of family, friendship, and fun fiascos in this semi-autobiographical novel that’s as irresistible as a fresh-baked cookie.

Eleven-year-old Ellis Johnson has the summertime blues. He dreamed of spending the summer of 1976 hanging out with friends, listening to music, and playing his harmonica. Instead, he’ll be sleeping on a lumpy pullout in Dad’s sad little post-divorce bungalow and helping bring Dad’s latest far-fetched, sure-to-fail idea to life: opening the world’s first chocolate chip cookie store. They have six weeks to perfect their recipe, get a ramshackle A-frame on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard into tip-top shape, and bring in customers.

But of course, nothing is as easy as Dad makes it sound, even with Grandma along for the ride. Like she says, they have to GIT—get it together—and make things work. Along the way, Ellis discovers a family mystery he is determined to solve, the power of community, and new faith in himself.

Partially based on Shawn Amos’s own experiences growing up the son of Wally “Famous” Amos in a mostly white area, and packed with humor, heart, and fun illustrations, this debut novel sings with the joy of self-discovery, unconditional love, and belonging.”

That’s all I have for today. 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!

You Might Also Like:

New Release Round Up: May 17, 2022

It’s Tuesday again, and I’ve got you covered on new releases! 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.

Picture Books

Some Daddies by Carol Gordon Ekster, Illustrated by Javiera Maclean Alvarez

Every daddy is different–and that makes them even more special!

“Some daddies teach you about the world. Others attend tea parties. Some help turn blankets into forts. Others hold you steady while you pedal.”

This rollicking showcase of daddies celebrates the incredible diversity of modern fathers. The inclusive cast of characters–including a two-dad family, a single dad, and a stay-at-home dad–highlights the bond between daddy and child as they play, learn, comfort, and laugh their way through everyday life. This open-hearted ode to fatherhood will give readers new appreciation for how their own fathers and father-figures shine in their own unique ways.

Some Daddies is the perfect gift for a new dad, Father’s Day, or any occasion for parents and educators to read with their kids. Carol Gordon Ekster’s playful text is illustrated with the quirky, colorful artwork of Javiera Maclean Alvarez, making this picture book a wonderful read-aloud.”

Tisha and the Blossoms by Wendy Meddour, Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Tisha and Mommy are always having to hurry up. What would happen if they slowed down? A gentle, gorgeously illustrated story of mindfulness—and sharing the small moments.

Tisha was catching a blossom in her backyard.
“Hurry up,” cried Mommy. “You’ll be late for school.”

Tisha has spent the entire day rushing. She has to hustle for the bus in the morning, though she wants to stop and listen to the sounds around her. She has to quickly put her crayons away at school, though she’s not finished with her drawing. She even has to speed through recess so she doesn’t miss lunch. So when Mommy picks her up, Tisha asks if they can please “have a little slowdown.” What if they walked instead of taking the bus? What if they counted cars and seagulls, umbrellas and hats? What if they simply sat on a bench in the sunshine and gave names to the pigeons in the park? From the creators of Grandpa’s Top Threes comes a beautifully illustrated, tenderly told story about taking the time to experience the world around us, listen to one another, and enjoy the little things in life.”

A Rose Named Peace: How Francis Meilland Created a Flower of Hope for a World at War by Barbara Carroll Roberts, Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, an inspirational biography of the Peace rose and its creator digs deep into world history, botany, and the rewards of perseverance.

From a young man’s experiments in cross-pollination to the rose that became an international symbol of hope, this gentle picture book biography, beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, is a quiet epic of war and peace. Francis Meilland was passionate about roses. He loved their rich perfume, their buds unfurling in the summer sun, and their petals, soft as lambs’ ears. Like his father and grandfather before him, Francis cultivated flowers on the family farm in France. In his teens, he set about grafting and experimenting, determined to create a rose no one had seen before, and as the world braced for World War II, he rushed cuttings to rose-growing friends around the globe. Six patient years later, word reached him: his rose had not only flourished; people were calling it the Peace Rose. An ideal gift for science and history buffs and for gardeners of all ages, this life story of a special flower is also a love song to living a dream from beginning to end, through sun and through storm.”

Ali and the Sea Stars by Ali Stroker, Illustrated by Gillian Reid

Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker captures the magic and community of theater in her debut picture book, about a spirited girl in a wheelchair who stages a show for her hometown. Based on the pivotal summer Ali performed in her first musical by the Jersey Shore!

Ali loves to dance, sing, and act. But she had never thought of putting on her own show until her neighbor asks, “Why wait?” Immediately energized, Ali gets to work.

There’s so much to do before showtime—choosing the right musical, auditions, rehearsal, costume and set design—but Ali can do anything with her family and friends. When a storm threatens to undo all their hard work, Ali must use her imagination and adapt so the show can go on!

Includes an inspiring letter from Ali to readers on how she developed confidence while on-stage and how theater encourages teamwork and creativity.”

Lettuce Get in Trouble (Sara Little Trouble Maker) by Linda Kuo, Cynthia Benjamin, and Paula Rees, Illustrated by Mariana Rio

Sara Little Turnbull was a designer, an observer, a mentor, and not afraid to cause a little trouble while making the world a better place. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects they hold dear.

As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products–from facemasks to cookware to astronaut suits–and to encourage others to see the world through new eyes. Sara was a mentor to designers of all ages and in Lettuce Get in Trouble, she helps children understand the basics of design: observing the world around them, asking questions, and trying out new things. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, however, Sara Little brings her young friends to her Little Lab in New York City to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together they design a grand event, inviting children to gather, play, and design tasty new creations.”

Nature is an Artist by Jennifer Lavallee, Illustrated by Natalia Colombo

For kids who love to draw and create, this captivating picture book fosters an appreciation for nature and features craft ideas to inspire young artists.

Kids will be inspired to create: 

  • Fingerprint bumblebees
  • Sculptures made of sand
  • Rainbow colored jars
  • And more! 

Nature is an Artist explores different art forms that kids can find in the natural world. In the book, a group of children follow Nature—the most inspiring of teachers—as they discover the world’s greatest art show hidden in plain sight. As they witness beautiful landscapes, stunning vistas, and unusual creatures, each child is inspired to recreate their own fine work of art. 

With charming, rhythmic text from Jennifer Lavalee and vivid, eye-catching illustrations from Natalia Colombo, Nature is an Artist celebrates nature’s beauty and variety, and instills kids with:

  • The confidence to see themselves as artists! 
  • Respect and appreciation for nature. After reading, kids will appreciate the art in their own outdoor surroundings.”

Middle Grade

Pauli Murray: Shouting for the Rights of All People by Deborah Nelson Linck, Illustrated by Angela Corbin

The first introductory and illustrated biography of the civil rights icon.

The untold story of Pauli Murray, activist, lawyer, poet, and Episcopal priest, who broke records and barriers throughout her life. Friend to Eleanor Roosevelt, colleague to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and student of Thurgood Marshall, Pauli Murray’s life was nevertheless not always an easy one. Her commitment to fighting for the rights of women and all places her firmly in history. A celebration of her life and its significance, including the role of gender identity in her own journey. Deborah Nelson Linck’s book introduces Murray to children ages 6 to 12.”

Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse by Sangu Mandanna

This thrilling sequel to Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom reimagines classic mythology for today’s readers who love action and adventure! Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and The Serpent’s Secret.
 
With just a flick of her pencil, Kiki can bring her drawings of Indian legends to life…but when a mysterious curse threatens her newly created kingdom and friends, how can she use her powers to save them?

Fresh from the exciting discovery that the beautiful kingdom and band of rebel kids she drew in her sketchbook exists in another world, Kiki Kallira has an unexpected visitor. One of those rebel kids has come into the real world to ask for her help—the river Kaveri that is Mysore’s only source of water has suddenly vanished! With no water to drink or grow food, Kiki’s kingdom is doomed. 

Kiki returns to Mysore and quickly learns that drawing a new river doesn’t work. In her search for answers, she stumbles upon the origin of the Kaveri: it’s actually a princess from long ago who was transformed into water by a terrible curse! It’s up to Kiki and her friends to restore the river without sacrificing the princess again—easier said than done! And with her mounting anxiety, enemies seeking to stop her, and a city growing weaker by the minute, Kiki’s confidence falters. Will she be able to unravel the curse and save her kingdom before it’s too late?”

Twelfth by Janet Key

Better Nate Than Ever meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are.

Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.

When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they’re almost out of time.”

Caprice by Coe Booth

From the groundbreaking author of Tyrell, an astonishing middle-grade novel about a girl overcoming the secrets and abuse of her past.

This should be an exciting time for Caprice. She has been offered a place at the school of her dreams, where she’s just had a fantastic summer. But this great opportunity coincides with a lot of internal doubt and the disturbing news that her long-estranged grandmother has fallen ill and may be near death. As Caprice tries to figure out her future, she is pulled back toward her past, and the abuse she endured from her uncle when she was little — an abuse she’s never told anyone about.

With extreme sensitivity and honesty for middle-grade readers, Coe Booth has written a painful but ultimately healing novel about finding support from your parents and friends, articulating your truth, and choosing your own path.”

Join the Club, Maggie Diaz by Nina Moreno, Illustrated by Courtney Lovett

This humorous and heartfelt middle-grade debut by Nina Moreno with illustrations by Courtney Lovett is perfect for fans of Celia C. Pérez and Terri Libenson, and any reader still deciding what their passion in life is.

“MAYBE I’M GOOD AT SOMETHING I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT YET.”

Everyone in Maggie Diaz’s life seems to be finding their true passion. The one thing that defines them as a person. Her best friends Zoey and Julian are too busy to hang out after school thanks to band and comics club. Mom is finishing her last semester in college. And Maggie’s perfect older sister Caro is perfectly-perfect at sports and tutoring.

So Maggie cooks up a plan to join every club she can! But trying to fit in with type-A future leaders, gardening whizzes, and the fearless kids in woodshop is intimidating, exhausting, and seriously confusing. And juggling homework, friends, and all of her after-school activities is way harder than it looks.

Seventh grade is all about figuring out who you are — good thing Maggie Diaz has the perfect plan!”

Graphic Novels

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

“A splashy, contemporary middle grade graphic novel from bestselling comics creator Johnnie Christmas!

Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.

With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.

Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap—for good?”

That’s all I have for today. 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!

You Might Also Like:

New Release Round Up: May 10, 2022

It’s Tuesday again, and you know what that means…NEW BOOKS! Let’s dive into this week’s new releases.

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

ABC for Me: ABC The World & Me by Christiane Engel

With ABC The World & Me, take a journey to 26 amazing places all over the globe—from A to Z!

There are so many wondrous places to see and wonderful people to meet. From the long, winding Amazon River, to a bustling city like Baku, to the ancient pyramids of Chichen Itza, to thousands of other locations, people can live in and visit the most amazing places, from A to Z! 

ABC The World & Me presents a whole alphabet of places! This book shows that there are so many things to appreciate about our world, including natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, as well as human-constructed marvels like the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.”

Picture Books

You Are Here by Zach Manbeck

In the tradition of The Wonderful Things You Will Be and I Wish You More, this debut book reminds us that “all who wander are not lost.”

You are here, and from here there are so many places you can go. But how will you know how to get there? In this warm and wise debut, Zach Manbeck gives readers a poetic roadmap to help us find our way in the world, while also reminding us all that right now, we are here—exactly where we are meant to be.

Both sweet and uplifting, this is a perfect book for a new baby, a new graduate, or anyone who could use a reminder that “all who wander are not lost.””

Smile Out Loud: 25 Happy Poems by Joseph Coelho, Illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett

From the fantastic duo behind Poems Aloud comes another compendium of poetry to read out loud and make you smile!

Twenty five original poems from award winning poet Joseph Coelho designed to be read aloud to project confidence, conjure happiness, make you laugh or cheer others up. Some are odes, some can be said as personal mantras or just poems full of words that you can’t help but smile when you hear them.

This is a book for any child who wants to build confidence reading aloud, or wants a way to channel their speech and drama confidence. It is a book to foster a love of words and the power that comes with the spoken word. It will show children how speaking a poem aloud has a certain magic, almost like reading a spell.
 
Poems can be read aloud to an audience, muttered quietly to oneself or whispered in the ear of someone who needs to hear some cheerful words. “

Daddies and Daughters Stick Together by Aissatou Balde and Diariatou Sow, Illustrated by Nandi Fernandez

Diari doesn’t mind when Mommy goes into the city for work, because she and her little sister, Fatima, get to spend the whole day with Daddy

From when the moon trades places with the sun until the sun trades places with the moon, daddies and daughters do everything together. A day with Daddy means cooking, learning, dancing, and playing. After all, Daddy knows that with a little imagination, a sense of fun, and a lot of love, every part of a normal day can feel special!”

The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Leo Espinosa

Two children’s book superstars—#1 New York Times bestseller Jacqueline Woodson, the author of The Day You Begin, and Leo Espinosa, the illustrator of Islandborn­—join forces to celebrate the joy and freedom of summer in the city, which is gloriously captured in their rhythmic text and lively art.

It’s getting hot outside, hot enough to turn on the hydrants and run through the water–and that means it’s finally summer in the city! Released from school and reveling in their freedom, the kids on one Brooklyn block take advantage of everything summertime has to offer. Freedom from morning till night to go out to meet their friends and make the streets their playground–jumping double Dutch, playing tag and hide-and-seek, building forts, chasing ice cream trucks, and best of all, believing anything is possible. That is, till their moms call them home for dinner. But not to worry–they know there is always tomorrow to do it all over again–because the block belongs to them and they rule their world.”

The Youngest Sister by Suniyay Moreno, Illustrated by Mariana Chiesa, Translated by Elisa Amado

In the Andean foothills, a five-year-old Quechua girl is entrusted with a big job: to collect a marrow bone from the neighbor for the family soup. A stunning debut from Indigenous author Suniyay Moreno.

Picu’s family is very poor. In the dry Andean foothills, her mother must feed fourteen people—her kids, her relatives’ kids, and the hired hand’s kids—every day. One morning, Picu, the youngest sister, is sent to get a marrow bone from a neighbor. The bone will add flavor and nutrition to the lunchtime soup. Her mother warns her not to dawdle on the two-hour walk, each way, through the wild landscape.

But Picu can’t help it! She marvels at the butterflies, samples the cactus fruit, and daydreams about using the marrow bone as a football. Will the neighbor let her family keep the bone after the soup is made? Will her mother let her play with it? And will she be punished for being so late?

Picu is a child of joie de vivre and resourcefulness. This story, like Picu herself, is tough, hard, and honest. And moving. And fun.”

One Turtle’s Last Straw: The Real-Life Rescue That Sparked a Sea Change by Elisa Boxer, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

The inspiring true story of how one small turtle and kids all over the country sparked an environmental movement. Based on the viral video that created awareness of the harm caused by plastic straws, this heart-wrenching story is a perfect tool for teaching children about sustainability.

Slurp! A boy finishes his drink and tosses it in the trash, straw and all. He moves on without another thought….
 
In the waters off of Costa Rica, scientists spot an endangered sea turtle and pull him aboard to study him. But he has something stuck in his nose. A barnacle? A stick? No…it’s a plastic straw!
 
This heroic story of one turtle’s rescue reminds us that even the smallest straw can hurt our ocean life–and that the smallest demand for change can grow into something big!”

Strong by Eric Rosswood and Rob Kearney, Illustrated by Nidhi Chanani

A fresh, charming picture book that shows there are lots of ways to be STRONG.

Rob dreams of becoming a champion strongman. He wants to flip huge tires, lug boulders, and haul trucks — and someday be the strongest man in the world! But he feels like he can’t fit in with his bright leggings, unicorn T-shirts, and rainbow-dyed hair. Will Rob find a way to step into his true self and be a champion?   

With bold illustrations and an engaging, informative text, Strong introduces readers to Rob Kearney and his journey from an athletic kid trying to find his place to the world’s first openly gay professional strongman.”

Chapter Books

Jo Jo Makoons: Fancy Pants by Dawn Quigley, Illustrated by Tara Audibert

Filled with lots of glitter, raised pinkies, and humorous misunderstandings, this second book in the Jo Jo Makoons series—written by Dawn Quigley and illustrated by Tara Audibert—is filled with the joy of a young Ojibwe girl discovering her very own special shine from the inside out.

First grader Jo Jo Makoons knows how to do a lot of things, like how to play jump rope, how to hide her peas in her milk, and how to be helpful in her classroom.

But there’s one thing Jo Jo doesn’t know how to do: be fancy. She has a lot to learn before her Aunt Annie’s wedding!

Favorite purple unicorn notebook in hand, Jo Jo starts exploring her Ojibwe community to find ways to be fancy.”

Middle Grade

Hope Wins: A Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers  by Rose Brock, Tom Angleberger, Sarah Mlynowski, Max Brallier, Julie Buxbaum, Pablo Cartaya, J. C. Cervantes, Rex Ogle, Matt de la Peña, Stuart Gibbs, Adam Gidwitz, R.L. Stine, Veera Hiranandani, Hena Khan, and Gordon Korman

In a collection of personal stories and essays, award-winning and bestselling artists from Matt de la Peña and Veera Hiranandani to Max Brallier and R.L. Stine write about how hope always wins, even in the darkest of times.

Where does hope live?

In your family?

In your community?

In your school?

In your heart?

From a family restaurant to a hot-dog shaped car, from an empty road on a moonlight night to a classroom holiday celebration, this anthology of personal stories from award-winning and bestselling authors, shows that hope can live everywhere, even—or especially—during the darkest of times.

No matter what happens: Hope wins.”

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Percy Jackson meets Tristan Strong in this hilarious, action-packed middle grade contemporary fantasy that follows a young boy as he journeys across China to seal the underworld shut and save the mortal realm.

Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.”

Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas

A fun middle-grade contemporary fantasy with an all-BIPOC cast, about a social-media-loving tween who gets sent to an ultra-private witch camp

Hasani’s post-seventh-grade summer to-do list is pretty simple: get a bigger following for her makeup YouTube channel and figure out how to get her parents back together. What she does NOT expect is that an emotional outburst will spark a latent magical ability in her. Or that the magic will be strong enough to attract the attention of witches. Or that before she can say #BlackGirlMagic, she’ll be shipped off on a scholarship to a fancy finishing school for talented young ladies.

Les Belles Demoiselles is a literal charm school. Here, generations of young ladies from old-money witch families have learned to harness their magic, and alumnae grow to become some of the most powerful women across industries, including politicians, philanthropists, CEOs, entrepreneurs—and yes, even social media influencers. Needless to say, admission to the school is highly coveted, very exclusive . . . and Hasani sticks out like a weed in a rose bouquet.

While the other girls have always known they were destined to be witches, Hasani is a Wildseed––a stray witch from a family of non-witches, with no background knowledge, no way to control her magic, and a lot to catch up on. “Wildseed” may be an insult that the other girls throw at her, but Wildseeds are more powerful than they know. And Hasani will learn that there are ways to use magic and thrive that can never be taught in a classroom.”

Unfadeable by Maurice Broaddus

Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Kelly Yang, readers will love this heartfelt and genuine story about building community, finding family, and the power of Black girl magic. 

Bella “Unfadeable” Fades is determined to stay out of trouble. A wiser-than-her-years graffiti artist known for tagging walls and bridges in her Indianapolis neighborhood, the Land, Bella plans to spend her summer break laying low and steering clear of anyone who might tip off to social services that she’s living on her own.

But keeping a low profile is all but impossible when Bella discovers people in high places are trying to defund the Land. She has to find a way to fight back.

Getting involved will mean putting herself out there—making connections with unlikely friends and attracting potential enemies. But if Bella doesn’t put her trust in her neighbors and learn how to bring her community together, her home—and her future—will never be the same.”

That’s all I have for today. 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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Review: The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything

Today is National Astronomy Day, and I can’t think of a better title to celebrate with than The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell by Laura Alary and Ellen Rooney. This lovely picture book biography chronicles the life of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in the United States.

Title: The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell
Author: Laura Alary
Illustrator: Ellen Rooney
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: May 3, 2022 Format: Picture Book

Starting in her childhood in Nantucket, The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything really highlights Maria’s curiosity and determination. As a young child, she learned to use her astronomer father’s tools and begins scanning the night sky for herself. When the King of Denmark offers a prize to the first person to find a comet, Maria was determined to win it, and she did! I don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you all of her accomplishments, so I will just say this discovery opened lots of doors for Maria that were not open to women in the early 18oo’s.

The illustrations by Ellen Rooney are absolutely delightful. I love the way she captures the starry night skies, and the texture on every page is amazing.

The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything is another great picture book biography of a trailblazing woman in STEM, making it a great selection for school and classroom libraries. I love that it encourages children to wonder, and specifically to ask questions. It’s such an important part of learning and growing at any age, and I feel like we don’t encourage questions enough, especially outside of the classroom.

You can pick up your own 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!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for sharing this inspiring picture book biography with me!

About The Author:

Laura Alary believes in writing stories that make us bigger on the inside. She is constantly reading and wondering and learning so that she can keep up with all the questions her children ask — especially about science and life on Earth. She grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and currently lives in Toronto with her three children.

About The Illustrator:

Ellen Rooney is an illustrator, designer and artist. She’s originally from Massachusetts, but now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. She loves graphic shapes, textured color, printmaking, drawing outdoors, painting — and her hidden art powers are released when cutting up paper!

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New Release Round Up: May 3, 2022

It’s Tuesday, so that means we are looking at the new releases this week. We have a TON to look at so I will get right to it!

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

My Forest Is Green by Darren Lebeuf, Illustrated by Ashley Barron

“With art supplies in tow, a young boy explores the urban forest near his home, then interprets what he sees with his art. The boy is a keen observer who uses poetic, rhythmic language to describe the diversity he finds through all four seasons. His forest is both “fluffy” and “prickly,” “dense” and “sparse,” “crispy” and “soft.” It’s also “scattered and soggy, and spotted and foggy.” His forest is made up of many colors — but he decides that “mostly it’s green.” Each aspect of the forest inspires the boy to create a different kind of art: charcoal rubbing, rock art, photography, sponge painting, snow sculpture, cut-paper collage. To this artist, there’s always something new to discover, and to capture!

In this delightful picture book, Darren Lebeuf, an award-winning photographer, encourages small children to look closer at and appreciate the nature that surrounds them. And by providing such a broad range of ideas for artistic expression, it’s sure to awaken the nature artist in every child. Bright, deeply textured illustrations by Ashley Barron bring the forest and the boy’s artworks to vivid life. This story provides an excellent depiction of nature-based education in an outdoor classroom. The specificity of the concrete and abstract adjectives used in the text works as a perfect complement to primary science lessons on investigating, comparing and identifying the physical characteristics of plants and animals. This book also makes for an enjoyable, lyrical read-aloud.”

Picture Books

The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States  by Alliah H. Agostini, Illustrated by Sawyer Cloud

With colorful illustrations and a timeline, this introductory history of Juneteenth for kids details the evolution of the holiday commemorating the date the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom​.

On June 19, 1865—more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom. That day became a day of remembrance and celebration that changed and grew from year to year.

Learn about the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for the enslaved people in Texas to hear the news. The first Juneteenth began as “Jubilee Day,” where families celebrated and learned of their new rights as citizens. As Black Texans moved to other parts of the country, they brought their traditions along with them, and Juneteenth continued to grow and develop.

Today, Juneteenth’s powerful spirit has endured through the centuries to become an official holiday in the United States in 2021The Juneteenth Story provides an accessible introduction for kids to learn about this important American holiday.”

Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette Ford, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

How does this city garden grow? With help from L’il Sissy and her siblings–and love, love, love! A celebration of nature, family, and food.

Visiting the city  from her home in the suburbs, an African American girl sees how a few packets of seeds, some helping hands, and hard work transform an empty lot in a housing project into a magical place where vegetables grow and family gathers. It’s the magic of nature in the heart of the city!

Bernette Ford’s autobiographical story is a loving glimpse at a girl, her siblings, and her uncle, and  their shared passion for farming. L’l Sissy’s fascination with measurement, comparison, and estimation introduces children to STEM concepts. And the progress of Uncle John’s garden introduces readers to the life cycle of plants.

Frank Morrison, winner of multiple Coretta Scott King awards and an NAACP Image Award, depicts dramatic cityscapes as well as the luscious colors and textures of Nature.”

Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country by Kelly Yang, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, Fahmida Azim, Marcos Chin, Sally Deng, Shereya Gupta, Julia Kuo, Julie Kwon, Nhung Le, Kitkat Pecson, Dow Phumiruk, Sujean Rim, Dan Santat, Yuko Shimizu, Yuewei She, and Yao Xiao

From #1 NYT bestselling author Kelly Yang comes a gorgeously illustrated picture book about Asian American changemakers doing everything they dreamed of and inspiring all of us to reach for new heights!

From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Díaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields.
 
Each spread is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. Alongside the poetic main text, Yes We Will includes one-line biographies of the person or historical moment featured on the page, with extended biographies at the end. Readers of different ages and needs can use the book in different ways, from classroom discussions to bedtime readalouds and more.
 
Yes We Will answers the question, can we accomplish whatever we dream? With love, courage, determination, and lots of imagination, we can—and we will!”

Juna and Appa by Jane Park, Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino

“From the creators of the award-winning picture book Juna’s Jar, comes a new magical tale where Juna embarks on a journey to help her biggest hero–her Appa!

Juna enjoys helping her father in their dry-cleaning shop on Saturdays. It’s their special time together.

One day Juna sees a customer yelling at Appa about a lost jacket. Juna has never seen her father look so worried and becomes determined to help. She sets off on a magical journey in search of the jacket, and along the way meets remarkable animals that show her the different ways that fathers care for their young.

Juna and Appa is a tender ode to fathers and to the many families working behind shop counters.”

Angry Me by Sandra V. Feder, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

“A young child tells us what makes her angry and how she tries to let the anger come and go. An artful starting point for conversations about strong feelings.

“I get angry,” says a little girl, looking fiercely in the mirror. Sometimes she gets angry when someone is mean and tries to take her toy away, when it feels unfair that there’s not enough time to go swimming, when she’s tired and just wants to go home, or when the kids at school leave her out, hurting her feelings.

When she’s angry, she tries to remember to use her words — even though that doesn’t always work. Sometimes she can’t find the right words, or the words don’t come out the way she intends. But sometimes words do help, and when her anger melts away a new feeling can blossom.

Sandra Feder’s cleverly constructed text presents different situations in which a child might feel angry, creating a nuanced look at anger and its many underlying emotions. Rahele Jomepour Bell’s illustrations show a loveable, angry little girl, brimming with personality, who learns how to express herself as she moves through her feelings.”

City Streets Are For People by Andrea Curtis, Illustrated by Emma Fitzgerald

Congested city streets are noisy and thick with cars and trucks, while pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed to the dangerous edges—but does it have to be this way? 

Imagine a city where we aren’t stuck in cars, where clean air makes it easier to breathe, and where transit is easy to access—and on time. Imagine a city where streets are for people! 

This fun, accessible and ultimately hopeful book explores sustainable transportation around the globe, including electric vehicles, public transit, bicycles, walking and more. It invites us to conjure up a city of the future, where these modes are all used together to create a place that is sustainable, healthy, accessible and safe. 

Includes a list of ideas for children to promote green transportation in their communities, along with a glossary and sources for further reading. 

The ThinkCities series is inspired by the urgency for new approaches to city life as a result of climate change, population growth and increased density. It highlights the challenges and risks cities face, but also offers hope for building resilience, sustainability and quality of life as young people advocate for themselves and their communities.”

The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything by Laura Alary, Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

“Perfect for fans of STEM, this inspiring picture book biography tells the extraordinary story of pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell. Maria longed to travel beyond her small island of Nantucket. But she wasn’t sure how. Her father taught her to look to the stars for guidance. If you knew how to read them, he said, the stars could tell you where you were, and where you needed to go. They spent hours scanning the night sky together through a telescope on the roof. Maria learned how to use astronomers’ tools to measure and track time by the stars. But what could she do with her skills? Then, one day, she heard that a prize was being offered to the first person to find a new comet. Could this be the opportunity she was waiting for?

This absorbing picture book biography by Laura Alary tells the fascinating, though not well-known, story of a remarkable nineteenth-century woman scientist and women’s rights advocate. After winning that prize for discovering a comet, Maria Mitchell would go on to become the first professional female astronomer in the United States, first female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and one of the first female college professors. Beautifully illustrated with lovely textured artwork by Ellen Rooney, this is a well-told story with a teachable STEM component, supporting both science and social studies curriculums, that supports a growth mindset. It’s also a wonderful guide sure to inspire readers to find their own way in the world. It includes backmatter that further describes Maria’s impressive life and achievements.”

Up and Adam by Debbie Zapata Illustrated by Yong Ling Kang

A winning, uplifting story about a boy with Down syndrome who helps his neighbors in the aftermath of a storm in a way only he can.

It’s the morning after the big storm. Adam and his dog, Up, are finishing breakfast when Adam sees the mayor on TV asking everyone to pitch in with the cleanup. She says, “Now, it’s time to get to work. Up and at ’em!” When Adam hears the mayor tell him and Up to get to work, he’s on it! “We can help!” he says. All day, the pair do what they can — clearing the sidewalk, fixing a birdhouse, passing out cookies. But it turns out, Adam’s most important contribution to his community is one he doesn’t even think about — his smile. Because when anyone sees Adam smile, they smile, too. And as Adam says, “A pair of smiles can make a difference.”

Debbie Zapata’s sweet story scores on two fronts: it features an endearing and authentic representation of a child with Down syndrome, focused on his abilities, not disabilities, and it offers an inspiring model of how everyone can make a difference in their community. Adam’s Down syndrome is not referenced in the story but is addressed in an author’s note, which also includes information about Down syndrome, and resources. Adam’s open-hearted and infectious smile lights the pages as he lifts spirits all over town in Yong Ling Kang’s illustrations, which thoughtfully feature details in Adam’s clothing and belongings that are sensitive to his needs. The book is full of positive examples of community, contributing and inclusion, and beautifully captures the character education themes of kindness, teamwork, initiative and citizenship.”

Francis Discovers Possible by Ashlee Latimer, Illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

This lyrical picture book from Tony award–winning producer Ashlee Latimer models joyful self-acceptance


Francis loves learning new words. At school, when her class is reviewing words that begin with the letter “F,” someone sneers “Fat, like Francis.” Francis always thought “fat” was a warm word—like snuggling with Mama or belly rubs for her puppy. But now “fat” feels cold, and Francis feels very small.

After school, Baba takes Francis to the park. She chooses the bench instead of the swing set, and gets very quiet. But when Baba uses the word “possible,” Francis wants to know what it means. They explore the park together, discovering what’s “possible” around them. Is it like airplanes, hovering in the sky? Or does it look like planting and how some things take a long time to grow?

“Possible” makes Francis feel warm and big—like “fat,” before someone else made her feel small. This ode to self-acceptance will model for child readers what “possible” might mean in their own lives.”

Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, Illustrated by Juana Medina

A glittering celebration of queer families puts Pride gently in perspective—honoring those in the LGBTQ+ community who fought against injustice and inequality.

Pride’s . . . a day that means “Together, we are strong!”

This joyful picture-book homage to a day of community and inclusion—and to the joys of anticipation—is also a comprehensive history. With bright, buoyant illustrations and lyrical, age-appropriate rhyme modeled on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tackles difficult content such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS marches. On the night before Pride, families everywhere are preparing to partake. As one family packs snacks and makes signs, an older sibling shares the importance of the march with the newest member of the family. Reflecting on the day, the siblings agree that the best thing about Pride is getting to be yourself. Debut author Joanna McClintick and Pura Belpré Award–winning author-illustrator Juana Medina create a new classic that pays homage to the beauty of families of all compositions—and of all-inclusive love.”

Not So Small by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Paola Escobar

All Are Welcome meets Sometimes People March in this uplifting picture book with an empowering message: No matter your size, you can do big things.

This joyful book celebrates the many ways people can join together to become something bigger—an unstoppable force. Each and every one of us can use our voices to make a difference!

The lyrical text by New York Times bestselling author Pat Zietlow Miller is brought to life with vibrant illustrations by Paola Escobar. This stirring book will inspire readers of all ages.

A small voice can travel for miles.

Showing kindness.

Hope.

And love.

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy Wu does her best to make her new classmate feel welcome in this warmhearted and playfully illustrated follow-up picture book to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon.

Amy’s class has a new student from China! Amy tries hard to make Lin feel included, but she can’t draw him out of his shell. Then she sees Lin chattering happily in Chinese with his family. The gears in her head start to turn, and a plan blossoms. Step one: invite Lin to her dumpling party…

​With a little help from her grandma and a shiny new banner, can Amy give Lin the warmest welcome?”

Sato the Rabbit, A Sea of Tea (Sato the Rabbit #3) by Yuki Ainoya, Translated by Michael Blaskowsky

The winsome Sato continues his magical adventures, traversing snowy landscapes and crossing a sea made of tea. Yet, no matter where he ventures, his participation in the natural world, and the magic that he finds within the ordinary, infuse each new day with possibility.

In this third installment of the whimsical series originally published in Japan, the titular Sato continues his adventures, exploring both expansive landscapes—snowy fields, forests, oceans made of tea—and tiny microcosms of worlds, found in unlikely places—like within a freshly-baked pie! In Sato’s reality, which is in many ways similar to our own, seemingly commonplace occurrences are portals to new and fantastical experiences, and every object possesses an intrinsic magic and aliveness.  Like all of the installments in the trilogy, this collection of vignettes reminds us to to look closely at what is small and often overlooked, and to open ourselves to wonder.”

The Global Ocean by Rochelle Strauss, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

The global ocean is in trouble. This beautiful and important book explores the issues — and what we can do to help.

Though we think of Earth’s five oceans as separate and distinct, they are actually a linked system of circulating water that is one single ocean — the global ocean. This comprehensive and accessible overview explores the global ocean’s enormous influence on the planet, as well as humans’ often-detrimental influence on the ocean. But it also highlights some of the many ways people are working to restore and heal the global ocean — from everyday actions to large institutional projects — making the message of urgency as hopeful as it is accurate. Filled with fascinating information, stunning visuals and plenty of calls to action, readers will be inspired to discover what they can do to help heal Earth’s most important feature and, ultimately, our planet.”

Another Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen, Illustrated by Mike Lowery

In the inspirational sequel to Andrew Larsen’s A Squiggly Story, a boy meets a blank page in this fun exploration of the writing process, celebrating self-expression, self-discovery and letting your imagination roam. The young boy listens as Mr. Lopez tells his class about next week’s assignment: write a story about yourself. “You can write about ANYTHING,” he says, “as long as you write about YOU.” Marcus is going to write about his hat collection. Alia is going to write about the vampires she talks about all the time. But all the boy can come up with is a title: “The Story of Me by Me.” He can’t figure out what it should be about. His sister suggests starting with lists — Things I Like, Things I Know. Only, the things all seem disconnected. Is there some way to connect them, and make them into a story?

The kindergartener who learned to use squiggles to write a story in award-winning Andrew Larsen’s A Squiggly Story is now in second grade and learning to write an autobiography. Told in the same authentic child’s voice, this playful book encourages readers to just start, even if they don’t know how their story will go. It offers an accessible early language arts lesson on the writing process, exploring important basics (brainstorming, first draft, revising) and key terms (autobiography, editing, title, cover). Mike Lowery’s bold illustrations incorporate story panels and dialogue bubbles, keeping the energy high and giving a fresh and modern feel to the pages. A strong tie-in with early literacy curricula, this book also works well for supplementary or at-home learning. It’s a perfect choice to inspire the storyteller in every child!

Our Green City by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Illustrated by Colleen Larmour

A charming, child-friendly tour around an ideal sustainable city — with a uniquely positive environmental message from award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi.

In this green city, neighbors take care of all living things: people, plants and animals, too! Many people choose a bicycle, scooter or their own two feet to get where they need to go. A family collects the rain to water their garden, while solar panels capture the energy from the sun; pipes gather heat from underground, and a windmill turns to power the community. Residents keep hens and hives in their yards, and care for flower beds that feed bees, birds and butterflies. Here, people all work together to make the city green. Can we do the same where we live?

Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Colleen Larmour have conjured a delightfully utopian sustainable community of the future, and they invite readers on an interactive journey to explore it. Unlike many children’s books about the environment, this is a hopeful and uplifting book that encourages children to imagine what’s possible, with neighbors from diverse backgrounds coming together to care for their surroundings and one another. Green technology and concepts are presented in an accessible way, covering topics from transportation to classrooms to food. Each spread includes a question that asks readers to search for something small in the illustration, and the abundant details in the rich and colorful art make the pages perfect for poring over. Backmatter shares environmentally friendly suggestions to try at home. Strong curriculum links to social studies and to physical, environmental and life sciences.”

Again, Essie? by Jenny Lacika, Illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Celebrate diversity, math, and the power of storytelling!

Rafael wants to protect his toys from his little sister, Essie. Gathering materials from around the house, he builds a wall tall enough and wide enough to keep her out. But will it be strong enough? And what does Essie really want? A playful exploration of physical space and geometry, featuring Chicanx (Mexican American) characters and a glossary of Spanish words.

Storytelling Math celebrates children using math in their daily adventures as they play, build, and discover the world around them. Joyful stories and hands-on activities make it easy for kids and their grown-ups to explore everyday math together. Developed in collaboration with math experts at STEM education nonprofit TERC, under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.”

Chapter Books

She Persisted: Patsy Mink by Tae Keller, Illustrated by Gillian Flint

“When Patsy Mink won her seat the House of Representatives as a Democrat from Hawaii, she became the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress. A co-author of the Title XI amendment of the Higher Education Act, she was a champion of rights for women, children, immigrants, and minorities throughout her twenty-four years in Congress. She helped paved the way for many other women to succeed.

In this chapter book biography by bestselling and Newbery award-winning author Tae Keller, readers learn about the amazing life of Patsy Mink–and how she persisted.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Patsy Mink’s footsteps and make a difference!

And don’t miss out on the rest of the books in the She Persisted series, featuring so many more women who persisted, including Sonia Sotomayor, Margaret Chase Smith, and more!”

Alina in a Pinch by Shenaaz Nanji

“Moving to a new city means Alina has to make new friends, and nothing is worse than lunch at a new school. When her grandmother visits, Alina is inspired to help her cook the delicious Afro-Indian meals she’s always loved, but a cruel note from a mysterious lunchtime bully leaves a bitter taste that even Nani’s excellent cooking can’t erase.

With an audition for Junior Chef fast approaching and Nani’s wise lessons helping her, can Alina embrace her heritage and convince her classmates that being different is a good thing?”

Middle Grade

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton, Illustrated by Khadijah Khayib

“Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts, like brewing Indian spice elixirs and bartering with pesky Irish pixies.

Despite her excitement, Ella discovers that being the first isn’t easy―some Marvellers mistrust her magic, which they deem “bad and unnatural.” But eventually, she finds friends in elixirs teacher, Masterji Thakur, and fellow misfits Brigit, a girl who hates magic, and Jason, a boy with a fondness for magical creatures.

When a dangerous criminal known as the Ace of Anarchy escapes prison, supposedly with a Conjuror’s aid, tensions grow in the Marvellian world and Ella becomes the target of suspicion. Worse, Masterji Thakur mysteriously disappears while away on a research trip. With the help of her friends and her own growing powers, Ella must find a way to clear her family’s name and track down her mentor before it’s too late.”

Shine On, Luz Véliz!  by Rebecca Balcarcel

“Have you ever been the best at something . . . only to lose it all?

Luz Véliz is a soccer star-or rather, she was a soccer star. With her serious knee injury, it’s unlikely she’ll be back on the field anytime soon. But without soccer, who is she? Even her dad treats her differently now—like he doesn’t know her or, worse, like he doesn’t even like her. When Luz discovers she has a knack for coding, it feels like a lifeline to a better self. If she can just ace the May Showcase, she’ll not only skip a level in her coding courses and impress Ms. Freeman and intriguing, brilliant Trevor—she’ll have her parents cheering her on from the sidelines, just the way she likes it.

But something—someone—is about to enter the Vélizes’ life. And when Solana arrives, nothing will be the same, ever again.

Unforgettable characters, family drama, and dauntless determination illuminate Luz’s journey as she summons her inner strength and learns to accept others and embrace the enduring connection of family. Through it all, Luz’s light is a constant—a guide for others, a path forward through the dark, and an ineffable celebration of her own eternal self.”

Graphic Novels

Miss Quinces: A Graphic Novel by Kat Fajardo

“Rising star Kat Fajardo’s debut middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who would rather do anything other than celebrate her quinceañera! A funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about navigating the expectations of family and cultural tradition.

Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue’s mother announces that they’ll be having a surprise quinceañera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can’t imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this “quality” time with her rambunctious family?

Miss Quinces/Srta. Quinces is the first graphic novel published by Scholastic/Graphix to be simultaneously released in English and Spanish editions!”

That’s all I have for today. 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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Review: I Am Able to Shine

I’m sure many of you already know that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To kick off the celebrations, I am sharing I Am Able to Shine by husband and wife duo Korey Watari and Mike Wu. Inspired by Korey’s own experiences growing up as a young Asian American girl in Los Angeles, I Am Able to Shine is an empowering picture book about embracing your identity and finding your voice

Title: I Am Able to Shine
Author: Korey Watari
Illustrator: Mike Wu
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: May 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

I Am Able to Shine follows a young girl names Keiko who wants to shine and change the world. But sometimes Keiko feels invisible. With the love and support of her family, Keiko learns that she is enough by just be being herself. Her confidence blooms and she stands tall, proud of herself and her heritage all the way into her adult life where she achieves great things.

Korey Watari wrote this inspiring picture book for her daughters, and it shows in the very best way. You can see the love on every single page.

The backmatter contains a heartfelt author’s note as well as further detail about aspects of Japanese life that are mentioned throughout the book. I love that this book is both a mirror for young Japanese American readers, and a window for young readers who are less familiar with Japanese culture.

Mike Wu’s illsutrations bring Keiko’s story to life beautifully. His artwork has been described as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George”, and I can absolutely see why. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and I loved the nostalgia of it all.

I Am Able to Shine officially released yesterday, so you can find a copy 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!)

Thank you so much to Two Lions for sharing this beautiful book with me. I’m so grateful to share it with everyone today!

About the Creators:

Husband-and-wife team Korey Watari and Mike Wu live in the San Francisco Bay area in California with their two lively daughters. This is their first picture book together.


Korey is a sansei, or third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She played basketball for a Japanese American league, graduated from the University of California, Riverside, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Korey has worked in the animation and fashion industries for companies such as Disney and the Gap. This is her first picture book. Learn more at http://www.koreywatari.com or on Twitter at @tinyteru.


Mike is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed, bestselling Ellie series, the first picture book of which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year. He is also a Pixar artist and has worked on films including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3, Coco, and Soul. His illustrations have been hailed as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George.” Visit him at http://www.theartofmikewu.com or on Instagram at @wudog23.

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On Book Banning: An Interview with Banned Book Authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

In the last year, the US has seen a dramatic rise in book banning. Schools and libraries across the country are removing books about gender, race, sexual health, sexual orientation, and even the holocaust. It’s hard to discuss the rise in book bans without discussing the introduction of bills restricting schools from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. HB 1557 or the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and others like it are being introduced in 22 different states.

These bills are said to, “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner”. In other words, these bills were written to allow parents to decide when their children should learn about the existence of LGBTQ+ people.

While some may believe these laws will protect their children, I’m here to tell you that they are dangerous for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they strip access from children who need these books. For many children, these books represent them, their families, and their community. What message are adults sending these children when they say those books don’t belong in school?

The conversation around these bills also implies that adults are harming children, and that children must be protected from the influence of queer adults. We see the lie that queer people are predatory repeated more and more with every bill that’s introduced. It’s a very old rhetoric gaining steam in the mainstream again. Rhetoric that I know to be false as a queer person who writes picture books.

I can’t speak for all queer writers, but I know that I write queer books because I know the pain of feeling “different”, “wrong”, or even just “other”. Growing up in rural Alabama (the same state that just passed their own “Don’t Say Gay Bill” with Bill 322), teachers didn’t read books about bisexuality. Not because it was illegal, but because we didn’t talk about identity at all in my community. In fact, no one said the word “bisexual” to me at a young age at all. I didn’t even have the words for what I was until I was a teenager. But that silence didn’t stop me from becoming who I am today. It didn’t stop my queerness. It just made me feel alone and broken. Today I write the books that I needed in my childhood, because there are still children who need them.

So, understandably, this whole topic has been hard for me to wrap my arms around lately. I knew I wanted to talk about it here, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach it. To my luck and delight, one of my favorite publicity contacts who works at Simon & Schuster reached out to me with the perfect idea. He asked if I would like to interview Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, the authors of one of the American Library Association’s most frequently banned books, And Tango Makes Three.

Title: And Tango Makes Three
Authors: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Published: June 1, 2015
Format: Picture Book

This delightful picture book is based on the true story of two male chinstrap penguins who paired themselves up and tried to hatch an egg in their nest. When another penguin couple laid two eggs, a zookeeper stepped in to save the abandoned egg by giving it to the penguins. They hatched that egg and made their family grow by one. This wholesome book provides readers ages 4-8 with an approachable introduction to the concept of diverse family structures and creates “representation” for kids who might have two moms or two dads (who are obviously humans and not penguins).

Though it was originally published seventeen years ago, And Tango Makes Three continues to be included in the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books.

Justin Richardson, MD, is the coauthor, with Peter Parnell, of the award-winning picture book And Tango Makes Three. Dr. Richardson is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia and Cornell and the coauthor of Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask). Dr. Richardson and his advice have been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, on the Today show and NPR’s Morning Edition, and in numerous magazines. Dr. Richardson lectures to parents and teachers on parenting and the sexual development of children.

Peter Parnell is the coauthor, with Justin Richardson, of And Tango Makes Three. He is a playwright whose plays have been produced at the Public Theater and Playwrights Horizons in New York City, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and the Seattle Repertory Company, among others. His play QED was produced on Broadway. He has written extensively for television as a producer for both The West Wing and The Guardian; he has also written episodes of Maurice Sendak’s series Little Bear. He lives in New York City.

Justin, Peter, thank you both for joining me today. I’m going to start with the question I always ask. What inspired you to write And Tango Makes Three?  

Justin had a longstanding interest in parenting and in children’s sexual development. Around the writing of his book with pediatrician Mark Schuster, Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask), he’d spoken widely with parents across the country about their challenges in talking to children about a range of issues related to kids and sex. One of the things that impressed him was the way parents, even those who wanted to raise their children with progressive ideas about sexual orientation, were haunted by the fear of speaking them about topics or with language that wasn’t “age-appropriate.” When we read the new coverage of Tango and her two dads, it was instantly clear that telling this story would give many parents the way in they were looking for to talk about the diversity of families in the world. 

More personally, we were working on having a child of our own at the time. We so wanted to be able to share literature that depicted a family like ours with our little one.

This title has been in ALA’s annual top 10 banned book list 9 times since it was originally published back in 2005. Did you ever imagine your adorable story about gay penguins would get this much backlash when you wrote it back then?

We thought there might be some resistance to Tango from conservative parents. But we never imagined the scale it would reach, nor could we have predicted how broadly the book would be celebrated and defended around the world. At first, there was nothing. The conservative press was almost eerily quiet. Then the documentary March of the Penguins came out. It was a huge hit, and conservative writers pointed to the movie as proof that monogamy was right and abortion wrong. Others countered, pointing to our book and arguing that by the same token, penguins also proved that homosexuality was natural. Michael Medved called Tango propaganda in USA Today, Frank Rich rebutted him in the Times, and the challenges began to roll in. Did we ever imagine that it would become the single most banned book in the United States or that the government of Singapore would decide to pulp every copy in its library system? Some things you just don’t anticipate.

As both a writer and reviewer, I generally try to stay focused on the target audience of children. Because that’s really who these books are for, right? When you interact with your audience, what kinds of reactions do you get from children? Have you ever had a child get as upset about the book as the adults around them seem to be?

If Tango works as a picture book, it’s because it offers children a story they understand and enjoy returning to. Two little birds, different from the others, deeply want something they probably can’t have. They try and fail. Then a kindly grownup gives them just what they need. And their dream comes true. When we turn the page and children see Tango burst out of her shell with her silly beak and feathers, there is always such joy in the room! Most of the questions we get from children are about penguins. Some about how you make a book. Occasionally a child will make the connection to their own family structure, or a friend’s. With older children, starting in the fourth grade, we may mention that the book has been banned. The looks of incomprehension are the most powerful rebuttal to the rhetoric we’re hearing from Florida legislators and their defenders. 

What would you say you learn from your readers? Have any of the children who read the book taught you something?

One of the most moving experiences we had was receiving an award from three schools in New York City where the 5th graders spent a year reading books and together selecting a recipient for award to honor one book they felt honored the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.. We all sat in the gym of one of the schools and listened as students from each school stood up and read aloud their essays about TANGO, of the lessons of tolerance and understanding towards members of the LGBTQ community that it gave them. They were extraordinarily sensitive essays. For us, it was a lesson in how the proper kind of teaching can engender the most sophisticated thinking from young readers.

If you could say anything to the lawmakers who are writing and passing these laws, what would you say?

Please read our book. Just sit quietly and read it. Then meet a child with two moms or two dads and read it to them. And allow yourself to reconsider the effect on this child of eliminating our book from their classroom.

I saw your article for The Washington Post mentioning other classics that should be reconsidered under the vague terminology of the Don’t Say Gay Bill and I just have to say the rule follower in me loves this idea of fighting back with malicious compliance. It’s brilliant! Do you think this could be a tactic teachers in Florida who are opposed to the bill could use in their classrooms to highlight the vague language of the bill?

Absolutely. The dead serious joke of our piece was that, since the law prohibits discussion and instruction about “sexual orientation,” countless books, including Make Way for Ducklings, which depict heterosexual animals forming and raising a family are just as impermissible as Tango. The law empowers parents to sue if these books are taught. Countless frivolous lawsuits over the reading of Ferdinand (“gender identity”) and Make Way for Ducklings seem very much in order. Have at it!

What other banned books would you recommend to parents who want to support the titles that are being challenged and banned in schools across America?

We are big fans of anything written by Robie Harris!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Mutually Inclusive’s readers?

Thank you all for caring about literary freedom and standing up, in small ways or large, for books like ours!

Thank you so much to Justin and Peter for their thoughtful answers to all my questions. I also want to thank my friend, Alex, for making this interview possible and giving me a productive outlet for all my complicated feelings about these dangerous bills and the book banning they are encouraging.

If you would like to learn more about bills like these being passed in your state, check out openstates.org to track and follow your local legislation. You can also find your local representatives at commoncause.org and speak out about any bills you think will be harmful to your community.

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New Release Round Up: April 26, 2022

It’s Tuesday again, and you know what that means…NEW BOOKS! Let’s dive into this weeks new releases.

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

Bloom by Ruth Forman, Illustrated by Talia Skyles

From the author of Curls and Glow comes a joyfully poetic board book that delivers an ode to African American girls as naturally beautiful in our human garden.

those girls bloom
these do too

we bloom like flowers
how about you?

Introduce young readers to the idea of self-love in a simple, playful rhythm with this luminous story where each little girl is as unique and beautiful as a blossoming flower.”

Picture Books

Together We Ride by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Hair Love meets bike rides in this loving portrait of a father-daughter relationship.

Learning to ride is no easy feat! But with a little courage, a guiding hand from her dad, and an enthusiastic bark from her pup, one brave girl quickly learns the freedom that comes from an afternoon spent outside on a bike.

Experience the fear, the anticipation, and the delight of achieving the ultimate milestone in this energetic, warm story that celebrates the precious bond between parent and child.”

Bailey and Blanket by Emily House

A heartwarming read-aloud about the special relationship between a child and their best friend in all the world… a soft, cozy blanket.

Everywhere Bailey goes, Blanket goes too. They love to adventure together. Until an uninvited guest joins the family picnic, and… disaster strikes.

What will life be like without Blanket? Determined to keep the duo on their path of adventure, Dad crafts a plan.

Lilting, lyrical text and comically detailed illustrations tell an uplifting tale about resilience, ingenuity and love.

Blue Dot Kids Press books are printed with vegetable inks on responsibly-sourced paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council™. From the sale of every book, we donate to environmental causes through our membership with 1% for the Planet. Through our annual Earth Day Initiative with our partner One Tree Planted, readers have the opportunity to plant trees—over 1,000 trees planted to date!”

Joy Ride by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

“Needing something to fill up her summer days, Joy seeks out her granddad, who also likes to tinker, for something to do. Together they find the perfect project: sprucing up an old bike for Joy. From hardware stores to garage sales, the two find everything they need to transform this bike, little by little, into something that’s truly one of a kind. Ornamented with sparkles, a basket, and a brand-new bell, the bike is finally ready for Joy to ride it all over the neighborhood, filling the air with her own kind of music that exudes JOY.

But when a few kids take notice of Joy’s bike, and not in a good way, Joy makes an impulsive decision that ruins the dazzling bike she and Granddad worked so hard on. Joy realizes quickly, however, that trying to fit in can be boring, and it doesn’t make her feel JOY. Just maybe, with a heartfelt apology and Granddad’s help, she can get back on track to being true to herself. This touching story, told by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ana Ramírez González, addresses the moments of uncertainty when trying to fit in with the crowd, and exclaims the joyful exuberance of self-expression.”

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis

Jarvis offers a moving tale of friendship, kindness, and acceptance, softly touching on the subjects of illness or hardship in a way that young children can understand.

Everyone likes David, the boy with flowers in his hair. He’s sweet and gentle, just like his colorful petals. David and his best friend have a great time together, finding the good puddles, making up songs, and running away from the bees. But one day David comes to school wearing a hat, and he is quiet. When he takes off the hat, his bright petals flutter down like butterflies. Now, where his flowers were looks twiggy and prickly, causing the other children to stay away. But David’s best friend has an idea—a way to help David get his color back, wielding paintbrushes and plenty of love. Sensitively told and simply illustrated, Jarvis’s story invites even the youngest children to talk about difficult subjects in an age-appropriate way—and feel inspired to support others when they face trying times.”

Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda, Illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, Translated by Sara Lissa Paulson

“This bilingual Spanish-English edition is the first illustrated selection of questions, 70 in all, from Pablo Neruda’s original poem (320 questions) The Book of Questions

Holding the wonder and mystery of childhood and the experience and knowing that come with growing up, these questions are by turns lyrical, strange, surreal, spiritual, historical and political. They foreground the natural world, and their curiosity transcends all logic; and because they are paradoxes and riddles that embrace the limits of our ability to know, they engage with human freedom in the deepest way, removing the burden and constraint that somehow, we are meant to have answers to every question. 

Gorgeously, cosmically illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, here Neruda’s questions, already visual in themselves, gain a double visuality that makes them even more palpable and resonant. So clearly rooted in Chilean landscapes as they are, the questions are revealed as a communion with nature and its mysteries.”

Middle Grade

The Code Breaker — Young Readers’ Edition: Jennifer Doudna and the Race to Understand Our Genetic Code by Walter Isaacson and Sarah Durand

“When Jennifer Doudna was a sixth grader in Hilo, Hawaii, she came home from school one afternoon and found a book on her bed. It was The Double Helix, James Watson’s account of how he and Francis Crick had discovered the structure of DNA, the spiral-staircase molecule that carries the genetic instruction code for all forms of life.

This book guided Jennifer Doudna to focus her studies not on DNA, but on what seemed to take a backseat in biochemistry: figuring out the structure of RNA, a closely related molecule that enables the genetic instructions coded in DNA to express themselves. Doudna became an expert in determining the shapes and structures of these RNA molecules—an expertise that led her to develop a revolutionary new technique that could edit human genes.

Today gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR are already being used to eliminate simple genetic defects that cause disorders such as Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia. For now, however, Jennifer and her team are being deployed against our most immediate threat—the coronavirus—and you have just been given a front row seat to that war.”

Zia Erases the World by Bree Barton

“Zia remembers the exact night the Shadoom arrived. One moment she was laughing with her best friends, and the next a dark room of shadows had crept into her chest. Zia has always loved words, but she can’t find a real one for the fear growing inside her. How can you defeat something if you don’t know its name?
 
After Zia’s mom announces that her grouchy Greek yiayia is moving into their tiny apartment, the Shadoom seems here to stay. Until Zia discovers an old family heirloom: the C. Scuro Dictionary, 13th Edition.
 
This is no ordinary dictionary. Hidden within its magical pages is a mysterious blue eraser shaped like an evil eye. When Zia starts to erase words that remind her of the Shadoom, they disappear one by one from the world around her. She finally has the confidence to befriend Alice, the new girl in sixth grade, and to perform at the Story Jamboree. But things quickly dissolve into chaos, as the words she erases turn out to be more vital than Zia knew.
 
In this raw, funny, and at times heartbreaking middle grade debut, Bree Barton reveals how—with the right kind of help—our darkest moments can nudge us toward the light. “

In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington

From the author of the critically acclaimed novel For Black Girls Like Me, Mariama J. Lockington, comes a coming-of-age story surrounding the losses that threaten to break us and the friendships that make us whole again.

Thirteen-year-old Andi feels stranded after the loss of her mother, the artist who swept color onto Andi’s blank canvas. When she is accepted to a music camp, Andi finds herself struggling to play her trumpet like she used to before her whole world changed. Meanwhile, Zora, a returning camper, is exhausted trying to please her parents, who are determined to make her a flute prodigy, even though she secretly has a dancer’s heart.

At Harmony Music Camp, Zora and Andi are the only two Black girls in a sea of mostly white faces. In kayaks and creaky cabins, the two begin to connect, unraveling their loss, insecurities, and hopes for the future. And as they struggle to figure out who they really are, they may just come to realize who they really need: each other.

In the Key of Us is a lyrical ode to music camp, the rush of first love, and the power of one life-changing summer.”

Kiara Fights Back (The Spyglass Sisterhood #3) by Marilyn Kaye

A secret bully and a chance to bring him to justice. Can Kiara and the Spyglass Sisterhood deliver?

Kiara, traditionally a loner, doesn’t hesitate to say exactly what’s on her mind. But she’s found good friends among the Spyglass Sisterhood members who appreciate her keen observations and incredible smarts.

When a fellow classmate starts to get bullied online, Kiara is determined not only to find the perpetrator(s), but also to bring them to justice. To do that, she’ll need help from her friends and from the Sisterhood’s magical spyglass to gather evidence and put the pieces together.

The best-selling author behind the Gifted series and the Replica books, Marilyn Kaye delivers a story filled with light magic and heart in this third book in the Spyglass Sisterhood series. Centered on four best friends–Ellie, Kiara, Rachel, and Alyssa–and a magic spyglass that reveals people’s feelings, the Spyglass Sisterhood series mixes classic friendship themes with fresh conversations on community and responsibility. Each girl takes a turn at the spyglass, confronting fears and sticking up for her peers.”

Graphic Novels

Thunderous by M. L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse, Illustrated by Dale Ray Deforest

“If Aiyana hears one more traditional Lakota story, she’ll scream! More interested in her social media presence than her Native American heritage, Aiyana is shocked when she suddenly finds herself in a magical world-with no cell coverage!

Pursued by the trickster Raven, Aiyana struggles to get back home, but is helped by friends and allies she meets along the way. Her dangerous journey through the Spirit World tests her fortitude and challenges her to embrace her Lakota heritage. But will it be enough to defeat the cruel and powerful Raven?”

Sci-Fu Vol. 2: It Takes 2 by Yehudi Mercado

The highly anticipated sequel to SCI-FU is jam-packed with all kinds of hip-hop, sci-fi, and kung-fu goodness!

Wax, aspiring DJ and sci-fu master-in-training, made it back safely from the alien robot planet of Discopia, where he defeated the Five Deadly Dangers and became the rightful king of Discopia. He doesn’t want the crown, though. He just wants things to go back to normal. Wax and his crew thought the robot trouble was behind them, but strange creatures have been showing up in Brooklyn, and Wax is determined to take care of them once and for all. Little does he know, there’s a new villain in Discopia, and she’ll do anything to take the crown from Wax. Wax starts to worry he doesn’t have what it takes to protect his family, friends, and all of Brooklyn from the new threats. Wax will need to kick his hip-hop and sci-fu training into high gear—and learn to rely on his family and friends for help—if he’s going to have a shot at saving his neighborhood.

From legendary cartoonist Yehudi Mercado comes the much-anticipated followup to his hit Sci-Fu: Kick it Off. With a second volume jam-packed with all kinds of hip-hop, sci-fi, and kung-fu goodness, Sci-Fu: It Takes 2 spins the perfect track of friends working together to protect their home.”

That’s all I have for today. 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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Celebrate Earth Day With These Books and Activities!

As we all celebrate Earth Day today, I wanted to share a few books that are perfectly paired with activities to bring some fun to everyone’s Earth Day celebrations.

Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists Series by Maureen McQuerry, Illustrated by Robin Rosenthal

Up first is a fantastic new board book series from Putnam Books For Young Readers called Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists. Perfect for fans of the Baby Scientist series, the BabyLit series, and the Feminist Baby series, Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists encourages small children to make a big impact. The series includes four titles written by Maureen McQuerry and illustrated by Robin Rosenthal, each highlighting a real life environmentalist and the impacts they made.

Inspired by each of the iconic environmentalists covered in the BIG IDEAS series, here are four Earth Day Activities from Maureen perfect for every Little Environmentalist!

Explore an All-Senses Scavenger Hunt with Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold’s childhood love for nature led to a life dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, encouraging others to appreciate nature with all senses and without harmful activity.

Create an Earth Day bingo card with written prompts of things for your child to find around the neighborhood. When they find something that fits a description, have them draw a picture in the correct box. Make sure to include all senses, encouraging your child to touch, smell, see, and listen to the world around them. For example: find something that feels rough; find three things that are blue; identify an animal by its sound; describe three different scents from nature. Decide on a reward for completing the scavenger hunt.

Make a Nesting Ball with Rachel Carson

Some of Rachel Carson’s earliest observations of nature were of the birds in her yard. In the spring, birds look for material to build their nests.

For this activity, find a kitchen whisk and a piece of string or yarn to hang it from a tree. With your child, fill the wires in the whisk with sticks, leaves, moss, pet hair, and small strips of string, cotton fabric, or yarn. Hang it where birds can find it. Then watch and see which birds come. What do they look like? What materials do they like best? Draw a picture or tell a story about the birds that visit.

Plant a Seed of Hope with Wangari Maathai:

Realizing trees are important for the health of the land and all who live on it, Wangari Maathai worked to plant millions of trees to make the land healthy again.

To watch how seeds grow, you’ll need a small sealable plastic bag, some dry beans, tape, and a damp paper towel. Soak the beans in water overnight to get them ready to grow. The next day, dampen a paper towel, fold it, and place it in the bag. Add a few beans and seal the bag. Then tape it to a window that gets plenty of light. In three days to a week, the seed should split and begin to sprout. Every day the seed will grow and change. Soon there will be leaf buds and it will be time to plant it in the ground or in a flowerpot! Encourage your child to draw and journal changes in the plant and share with friends.

Build a Wonder Box with Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall taught others how to enjoy nature while also making sure the homes of animals aren’t suffering, saying “A naturalist looks for the wonder of nature.”

To create your child’s Wonder Box, find a box to hold small treasures, and decorate or label it with your child. Then, take a walk around your neighborhood, guiding your child to collect five special things; a feather, rock, piece of bark, flower petal, seed, etc. For objects that are too big or fragile to collect (a spiderweb, sunset, mountain peak), draw pictures or snap photos to put in the box. Continue to add to your child’s Wonder Box with each new nature adventure!

Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Patricia Metola

The second title I want to share is a beautiful picture book that celebrates unlikely friendships, and introduces young readers to the fact that trees can communicate with one another. Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl and Patricia Metola follows a young girl named Britta and her two favorite trees, Apple and Magnolia. I won’t spoil the story on this one, so I’ll just say Britta notices Magnolia’s branches drooping one day so she comes up with a creative way for Apple to help Magnolia make it through the winter.

The publisher, Flyaway Books, has kindly provided a free discussion and activity guide on their website with more information about tree communication. Flyaway Books and Laura Gehl have also provided this entertaining storytime for young readers to enjoy for Earth Day.

You can learn more about Laura Gehl and her other work by visiting her website lauragehl.com.

One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden by Diane C. Mullen, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Last but certainly not least is One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden by Diane C. Mullen and Oriol Vidal. This sweet counting book chronicles the transformation of an empty lot in an urban neighborhood as it becomes a beautiful community garden. Loosely based on the author’s experiences with her neighbors and their community garden in Minneapolis, One Little Lot celebrates community and the way we can come together and care for nature, even in a bustling city.

The backmatter contains an Author’s Note with information about honeybees and the ways they help plants grow, breed, and produce food. You can also visit Charlesbridge’s website at charlesbridge.com for a free activity kit including a discussion guide and four unique activities.

What activities are you taking part in for your Earth Day celebrations? Be sure to share in the comments below!

As for me and mine, we will be attending a local plant sale to support Teacher Appreciation Day at a school in our neighborhood. My little one got a cute gardening set as an Easter present last weekend, and we will be putting it to good use in the backyard of our new home.

However you choose to spend Earth Day, I hope you have a good one!

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New Release Round Up: April 19, 2022

It’s Tuesday again, and we’ve got new releases in every category this week, so I will get right into it.

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

Who Was Bruce Lee?: A Who Was? Board Book by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Stanley Chow

The #1 New York Times Bestselling Who Was? series expands into the board book space, bringing age-appropriate biographies of influential figures to readers ages 2-4.

The chronology and themes of Bruce Lee’s meaningful life are presented in a masterfully succinct text, with just a few sentences per page. The fresh, stylized illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike. With a read-aloud biographical summary in the back, this age-appropriate introduction honors and shares the life and legacy of one of the most influential martial artists of our time.”

Picture Books

Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu, Illustrated by Julie Jarema

Homemade tofu is good, and good things take time.

CLICK CLACK WHIRRRR . . . Lin and her grandma, NaiNai, are making tofu from scratch! When NaiNai goes through each step, from blending soybeans with water to molding curd into shape, Lin gradually becomes impatient. But she soon discovers that making tofu not only takes time, but also takes the whole universe! It takes the seed from soil and sunshine, the cloth from thread and fiber, weight and space, books of words and pictures. And most of all, it takes spending lovely time with her beloved grandmother.

In this charming tale by Helen H. Wu,, readers will marvel at how patience brings a whole universe together in a simple dish made by a modern Chinese American family. Perfect for fans of Fry Bread, Drawn Together and Thank You, Omu.

I Like This, You like That by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Eve Coy

From acclaimed author Linda Ashman and illustrator Eve Coy comes this joyful picture book about making new friends and finding common ground

We’re opposites! / You’re right—we are.
Like big and small. / Like near and far.
But even when we disagree / I like you, and you like me.

 
A rhyming friendship story told in two voices, this picture book follows two children as they try to discover what they have in common, from favorite toys to shaggy dogs to pizza toppings. With its gentle message and dynamic illustrations, this sweet story is sure to resonate with young readers.”

The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor, Illustrated by Sam Kirk

A vibrant ode to the culture and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, The Meaning of Pride, written by Rosiee Thor and illustrated by Sam Kirkcelebrates the beauty, significance, and many dimensions of the concept of Pride as celebrated by millions of people around the world!

Every year in June, we celebrate Pride! But what does Pride mean? And how do you celebrate it?

This inspiring celebration of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history and today shows young readers that there are many ways to show your pride and make a difference.

Whether you want to be an activist or an athlete, a poet or a politician, a designer or a drag queen, you can show your pride just by being you!”

Patience, Patches! by Christy Mihaly, Illustrated by Sheryl Murray

A sweet-new sibling story, perfect for gifting to expecting parents, big siblings to-be, and dog-loving families everywhere

Patches the puppy is very good at waiting–or at least that’s what he thinks. But his patience is put to the test when his two moms arrive home with an unexpected bundle. Is it a new toy? No! It’s a new baby. Suddenly,  everything Patches wants to do takes a little bit longer. But patience, it turns out, is a lesson worth learning.”

Chapter Books

Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Kahn, Illustrated by Wastana Haikal

“Meet Zara Saleem, the queen of the neighborhood.

Zara’s in charge of it all: she organizes the games, picks the teams, and makes sure everyone has a good time…and they always do.

When a new family moves in across the street, suddenly Zara’​s reign is threatened by Naomi, who has big ideas of her own about how the neighborhood kids can have fun. To get everyone to notice her again, Zara decides she’s going to break a Guinness World Record—if her little brother Zayd doesn’t mess things up.

But when she finds herself increasingly alone in her record-breaking quest, Zara starts to wonder if sharing the crown and making a new friend might end up being the best rule of all.”

Middle Grade

Be the Change: Rob Greenfield’s Call to Kids―Making a Difference in a Messed-Up World by Rob Greenfield and Antonia Banyard

For young readers ages 8 to 12, an inspiring, lively guide to sustainable living from YouTube star and zero-waste activist Rob Greenfield. 

Features kid-friendly information on the highly popular movement towards zero-waste living, as well as information on the climate crisis and solutions.

Rob Greenfield loves this planet, and he’s willing to go to extremes to show kids how our way of life is causing it harm. He’s walked around New York City dressed in his own garbage, cycled across the U.S. on a bamboo bike (three times), and survived one year on food he foraged or grew himself. For Rob, it’s all worth it: he brings attention to important topics like food and water waste; our dependency on fossil fuels; our piles of stuff (and the energy required to produce it); and our disconnection from community and the wider world.

In this uplifting book, Rob uses his own experiences—backed by solid information and a ton of great ideas—to show kids that no one is too young to make a difference, and no action is too small to make a start.

Rob will donate 100 percent of his proceeds from this book directly to environmental nonprofits.

Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Stella Caldwell

Take pride in who you are! This inspiring history of the LGBTQ+ community enlightens young readers on the true timeline of LGBTQ+ history around the world, the lives of important figures like Harvey Milk, and iconic events like Stonewall.

The LGBTQ+ community is so much more than rainbow flags and the month of June. In this beautifully designed dynamic book, young readers will learn about groundbreaking events, including historic pushes for equality and the legalization of same-sex marriages across the world. They will dive into the phenomenal history of queer icons from ancient times to the present and read about Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, and more.
 
Including several personal current essays from inspiring young, LGBTQ+ people, this book encourages readers to take pride in their identity and the identities of those around them. Don’t just learn about LGBTQ+ history – take pride in it!

The lively four-color interior, including photographs and bold illustrations, enhances the text and makes this a beautiful and dynamic addition to any collection.”

The Second Chance of Benjamin Waterfalls by James Bird

A middle-grade novel by James Bird about a boy sent to his Ojibwe family to straighten out his life.

Benjamin Waterfalls comes from a broken home, and the quickest fix he’s found for his life is to fill that emptiness with stuff he steals and then sells. But he’s been caught one too many times, and when he appears before a tough judge, his mother proposes sending him to “boot camp” at the Ojibwe reservation where they used to live.

Soon he is on his way to Grand Portage, Minnesota, to live with his father – the man Benny hasn’t seen in years. Not only is “boot camp” not what he expects, but his rehabilitation seems to be in the hands of the tribal leader’s daughter, who wears a mask. Why? Finding the answer to this and so many other questions prove tougher than any military-style boot camp. Will answers be enough for Benny to turn his life around and embrace his second chance?”

Graphic Novels

Shuri and T’Challa: Into the Heartlands (An Original Black Panther Graphic Novel) by Roseanne A. Brown, Illustrated by Dika Araújo, Natacha Bustos, and Claudia Aguirre

Shuri and T’Challa set out to remove a curse from Wakanda in this action-packed, totally original graphic novel!

Twelve-year-old Shuri is a lot of things. Scientist. Princess. All around cooler person than her pain-in-the-butt big brother, T’Challa. Shuri knows she could do so much more to help Wakanda, but everyone is obsessed with the prince because he’s the next Black Panther. That is, until Soul Washing Day, one of the most important rituals of Wakandan society.

When an argument between T’Challa and Shuri leads to one of Shuri’s inventions accidentally destroying the sacred ceremony site, chaos reigns instead of prosperity. Suddenly the people of Wakanda, including her mother the queen, are becoming sick! Could this be a curse from the ancestors? Desperate to save her mother, Shuri dives into research and finds an answer hidden deep in an ancient children’s myth. It may be nothing more than a fantasy, but with the sickness spreading each day, the young princess must trust her instincts and travel deep into the mysterious Heartlands to save her family and her kingdom.

Joining Shuri on her journey is none other than a meddling T’Challa. If Shuri and T’Challa can set aside their jealousy and resentment of each other long enough to survive this journey, they might just discover that they are far more powerful together than they could ever be apart. But if they can’t face their fears in the Heartlands and lift the so-called curse, it may not be just the end for their family, but the end of Wakanda as they know it. No pressure, right?”

That’s all I have for today. 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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