Flashback Friday: The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families

If you’re looking for a book to help with “the talk”, I have an amazing resource for you today. The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families is a fantastic example of an inclusive book to answer children’s questions about topics parents often find difficult, like sex, gender, puberty, and pregnancy.

Title: The Every Body Book
Author: Rachel E. Simon
Illustrator: Noah Grigni
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Published: June 18, 2020
Format: Middle Grade

Recommended for ages 8-12, The Every Body Book provides a wealth of information on a wide range of topics with inclusive language throughout. Young readers will learn the difference between sex and gender, what our bodies look like and how puberty impacts them, what sexual attraction is and how this defines sexual orientations, what consensual sexual intercourse is, how pregnancy works, and the different ways families are created. This comprehensive, medically accurate resource is a wonderful tool to read with your child, or allow them to read on their own.

I personally appreciate the straightforward language used in The Every Body Book as well. There isn’t a ton of emotion behind the educational way the information is presented, creating the perfect tone for teaching. I feel like “the talk” is commonly discussed by parents in either a romanticized flowery way or a shameful way, and neither is very productive for children to learn the medical facts behind their changing bodies. The Every Body Book cuts straight through and presents the facts, providing young readers with the information they need.

The illustrations by Noah Grigni are fabulous, too. There are all sorts of bodies represented throughout the book with visuals that are equally as inclusive as the language used. All the way down to the smallest detail, there is representation for everyone. For example, I was especially pleased to see an illustration of a C-section scar, as this is a scar I possess, and it is often overlooked in imagery surrounding pregnancy and birth education.

Of course, because this is a book about bodies, there are illustrations of genitals and depictions of erections, menstruation, and even condoms and birth control. If these topics make you uncomfortable, I would encourage you to read the book by yourself before introducing it to your child. But please remember, these are accurate representations of body parts and bodily functions, and our children will learn about them one way or another. Personally I would rather create an open dialog with my son to teach him about these things than have him googling whatever questions he might have.

The Every Body Book was released in June of 2020, and it is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers for bringing such an educational and inclusive resource into the world, and for providing me with a review copy.

About The Author:

Rachel E. Simon, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and educator who specialises in gender and sexuality and runs her private practice in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic, Mazzoni Center, and Walnut Psychotherapy Center.

About The Illustrator:

Noah Grigni is a Boston-based illustrator and comic artist, whose work bridges themes of gender, sexuality, body positivity, and trans history. Through art, Noah hopes to uplift their community, make space for reflection, and create a source of comfort in and uncomftable world. You can see more of their work at noahgrigni.com.

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Review: My City Speaks

As many of you know, I recently moved from my quiet house in a sleepy city on the Gulf Coast to an apartment in the busy city of St. Louis. I’ve always loved a city, and since moving, I’ve been on the lookout for books to share that love with my toddler who has only ever known the quiet home we’ve had for the last two years. My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf and Ashley Barron is the perfect book to help him learn to love his new city, and I wanted to share it with you all today.

Title: My City Speaks
Author: Darren Lebeuf
Illustrator: Ashley Barron
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

The follow up to My Forest is Green and My Ocean is Blue, My City Speaks follows a young vision impaired girl as she and her father travel to through her city on the way to her violin recital. Our young narrator describes her experience in her city in poetic prose, detailing the sounds, smells, and tastes she finds along the way.

Much like the previous books by this duo, the text is perfectly sparse and pairs beautifully with Ashley Barron’s illustrations. Her cut-paper collage technique always brings me right back to my childhood and makes me feel like the characters will walk right out of the pages.

My City Speaks is a celebration of urban communities, but it is also a great introduction to conversations about disability, accessibility, and assistive devices such as white canes. 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 providing me with a review copy of My City Speaks! I know I will be reading this one many times to my little one as he learns all about his new city.

About The Author:

Darren Lebeuf is an award-winning photographer with a background in design and visual communication. He is the author of My Forest Is Green and My Ocean is Blue. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

About The Illustrator:

Ashley Barron is an award-winning illustrator who specializes in cut-paper collage. Her creations can be found in children’s books, newspapers, set designs and shop windows. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Review: Bright Star

Today I want to share a book that I’ve been looking forward to for months. I was first introduced to Yuyi Morales’ work by way of her 2019 release Dreamers, and I’m delighted to be sharing her latest release Bright Star with you all today.

Title: Bright Star
Author/Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Neal Porter
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young fawn who explores the border landscape, Bright Star is a gorgeous picture book that speaks directly to victims of the immigration crisis. Yuyi Morales creates a beautiful metaphor for the immigrant experience, comparing it to the uncertainty the newborn fawn feels as she learns to navigate the new world she finds herself in.

The illustrations are fascinating, from the beautiful color palette to the texture on every page. But I have to say my favorite part was the hand embroidered lettering found throughout the pages. As someone who works with fiber arts occasionally, the hand stitched words really speak to the time and attention put into every detail of this book. Bright Star was created with so much love and care, and it shows on every page.

Complete with a powerful author’s note in the back, Bright Star is a fantastic addition to bookshelves and libraries everywhere. You can pick up your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Neal Porter and Holiday House for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Born in Xalapa, Mexico, where she currently resides, Yuyi Morales lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she still maintains close relations with booksellers and librarians. She has won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award for Illustration six times, for Dreamers (2019), Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2003), Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2006), Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (2008), Niño Wrestles the World (2013), and Viva Frida (2014), also a Caldecott Honor Book.

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New Release Round Up – October 12, 2021

It’s Tuesday again, so y’all know what that means: It’s time to talk about new releases again!

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

Leaders: My First Leaders (Little People Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

“Hello little leader! Let’s learn about braveness, and boldness, and kindness. There’s plenty of leaders who were once young like you.”

Including cherished favorites, as well as some new, leaders from the series, introduce your baby to great leaders from history and today. With all-new lyrical text that is fun to read out loud to baby, this inspiring board book includes colorful, captivating illustrations of Rosa Parks, Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mahatma Gandhi, and Corazon Aquino.

Leaders is the perfect first empowerment primer for babies and toddlers.”

Artists: My First Artists (Little People Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

“Hello little artist! Let’s learn about painters, and sculptors, and designers. There’s plenty of great artists who were once young like you.”

In this board book compilation of the most fantastic artists from the series, introduce your baby to Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Colorful, captivating illustrations are paired with age-appropriate text that is fun to read out loud to baby.

Artists is the perfect first art history primer for babies and toddlers.”

Picture Books

You Are Revolutionary by Cindy Wang Brandt, Illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao

“You have what it takes to change the world!

This is the empowering message parenting author and podcaster Cindy Wang Brandt wants every child to hear and embrace. In this inspiring picture book she speaks to every child who sees injustice in the world, revealing that they already have inside themselves everything they need to make big, transformative change in the world–just as they are. Every kid is a revolutionary! You don’t need to wait until you grow up. You don’t even need any special skills. Kids who are loud, kids who are quiet, kids who make art, kids who are good at math, kids with lots of energy, kids who are good listeners–all kids have what it takes to make a difference.

Lynnor Bontigao’s vibrant illustrations feature a diverse group of children taking up a call to action and using their individual gifts to change the world.”

Little Moar and The Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, Illustrated by Jazmine Gubbe

“Moar has always loved autumn―playing outside with his friends, feeling the weather get colder―but there is one thing about autumn that really worries Moar. The moon. The days become shorter and the moon, with its creepy face and eerie smile, seems to be looking down on him before he can even get home from school! So, one day, Moar is determined to get home before the moon appears in the sky. But there are so many fun things to do on the way home, he may just run out of time!”

The Story of You by Lisa Ann Scott, Illustrated by Sue Cornelison

“The actions we take and the words we speak play a big part in who we are as a person. This empowering picture book shows children they can be the authors of their own life stories.

No one can tell you who you are—it’s all up to you! You write your story with your actions and words. This dynamic picture book for readers of all ages features lush illustrations that bring universal situations to light, including ways to be brave, bold, and kind, as well as knowing when you’ve made a mistake. A perfect gift for new parents, young graduates, as well as children and adults in any stage of their life, this is a book with a message: You are what you say and do.”

Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj

“When one act of kindness sparks another, anything is possible! As a girl searches for her lost dog, a simple act of generosity ripples into a wave of good deeds. In the course of a single day, each considerate action weaves lives together and transforms a neighborhood for the better.

This wordless story, told in beautiful illustrations reminiscent of a graphic novel, demonstrates how every little kindness, shared from person to person, can turn a collection of strangers into a community, and—even though we might not always see it—make the world a more vibrant and compassionate place to be.”

Chapter Books

Brother Be Gone (Jeanie & Genie #5) by Trish Granted, Illustrated by Manuela Lopez

“In the fifth book of the Jeanie & Genie series, Jeanie just wishes her annoying little brother would disappear—but she didn’t mean actually disappear…uh-oh.

Jeanie’s little brother, Jake, is annoying. Well, according to Jeanie he is. And sometimes Jeanie wishes he would just leave her alone! But when you have a best friend who’s a genie, you need to be careful what you wish for. When Willow accidentally grants the wish, Jake really does disappear! Will the girls be able to figure out where Jake has gone—and how to get him back?

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Jeanie & Genie chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.”

Middle Grade

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern

“Maple is in fifth grade—again. Now everyone will find out she struggles with reading—or will they? An engaging read for anyone who has ever felt different.

Maple Mehta-Cohen has been keeping a secret: she can’t read all that well. She has an impressive vocabulary and loves dictating stories into her recorder—especially the adventures of a daring sleuth who’s half Indian and half Jewish like Maple herself—but words on the page just don’t seem to make sense to her. Despite all Maple’s clever tricks to hide her troubles with reading, her teacher is on to her, and now Maple has to repeat fifth grade. Maple is devastated—what will her friends think? Will they forget about her? She uses her storytelling skills to convince her classmates that she’s staying back as a special teacher’s assistant (because of budget cuts, you know). But as Maple navigates the loss of old friendships, the possibility of new ones, and facing her reading challenges head-on, her deception becomes harder to keep up. Can Maple begin to recognize her own strengths, and to love herself—and her brain—just the way she is? Readers who have faced their own trials with school and friendships will enjoy this heartwarming story and its bright, creative heroine.”

Mighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier

“Melvin Robinson wants a strong, smooth, He-Man voice that lets him say what he wants, when he wants—especially to his crush Millie Takazawa, and Gary Ratliff, who constantly puts him down. But the thought of starting high school is only making his stutter worse.

And Melvin’s growing awareness that racism is everywhere—not just in the South where a boy his age has been brutally killed by two white men, but also in his own hometown of Spokane—is making him realize that he can’t mutely stand by.

His new friend Lenny, a fast-talking, sax-playing Jewish boy, who lives above the town’s infamous (and segregated) Harlem Club, encourages Melvin to take some risks—to invite Millie to Homecoming and even audition for a local TV variety show. When they play music together, Melvin almost feels like he’s talking, no words required. But there are times when one needs to speak up.

When his moment comes, can Melvin be as mighty on the outside as he actually is on the inside?”

Polo Cowboy by G. Neri, Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson

“How does a Black kid from North Philly wind up playing polo? The much-anticipated sequel to Ghetto Cowboy, now a major motion picture starring Idris Elba and Stranger Things’s Caleb McLaughlin.

When Cole moves in with his dad, Harp, he thinks life will be sweet—just him and his horse, Boo, hanging out with Philadelphia’s urban cowboys. But when Harp says he has to get a job, Cole winds up as a stable hand for the polo team at George Washington Military Academy, where the players are rich, white, and stuck-up—all except Ruthie, the team’s first and only girl, who’s determined to show the others she can beat them at their own game. As Cole and Ruthie become friends—and maybe more—he starts imagining his future, maybe even at the academy. But between long workdays, arrogant polo players, and a cousin trying to pull Cole into his dangerous business, that future seems remote. Will Cole find the courage to stand and be seen in a world determined to keep him out? With striking illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson, celebrated author G. Neri’s novel weaves themes of tenacity and community into a rousing sports story inspired by Philadelphia’s real-life urban cowboys and polo players.”

The Last Cuentistsa by Donna Barba Higuera

“There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?”

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!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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Review: Every Little Kindness

Even in the divisive time we live in, I believe the one thing we can all agree on is that the world could use a little more kindness. If you agree, I think you will like the picture book I’m sharing today. Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj captures the the way one small act of kindness can impact and entire community.

Title: Every Little Kindness
Author/Illustrator: Marta Bartolj
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Published: October 12, 2021
Format: Picture Book

This wordless picture book opens with a young woman searching for her lost dog. As she begins her day of searching, she generously gives an apple to a man, creating a wave of kindness that ripples throughout the entire town. We follow along as each person who witnesses an act of kindness in turn performs their own act of kindness.

The illustrations are lovely and I really appreciated the way the colors are muted so the reds stand out, highlighting the acts of kindness themselves.

Every Little Kindness is officially released tomorrow (October 12, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.

Thank you so much to Chronicle Books for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to share it with my little one to show him how we can spread kindness throughout our new city.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Marta Bartolj is an artist and illustrator from Novo Mesto, Slovenia. She holds a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana, where she immersed herself in the study of illustration. Every Little Kindness, the first book she authored, was recognized as an outstanding wordless picture book at the Kristina Brenkova Awards. Marta lives in Trebnje, Slovenia.

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Review: Not Little

Today I want to share a small book with a BIG heart with you all. Not Little by Maya Myers and Hyewon Yum is a delightful picture book, perfect for any young readers who have ever felt underestimated.

Title: Not Little
Author: Maya Myers
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Published: July 6, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Not Little follows a young girl named Dot, who is smaller than everyone she knows, as she tries to explain to everyone that she is not little anymore. Dot is frustrated by the way everyone treats her like a baby, even though she is growing to be a smart and independent young girl. She even knows the square root of sixty-four and the capital of Indonesia! How could she be little? Dot finally gets her chance to prove how big she is when a new smaller kid joins her class and begins to be bullied by another classmate.

The illustrations by Hyewon Yum, as always, are fantastic. Fans of Grandpa Across The Ocean and I Am a Bird will be pleased to find Yum’s familiar style on every page.

You can pick up your copy of Not Little 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 Neal Porter Books and Holiday House for sending me a review copy of this precious book. I can’t wait to share it with my little guy (who is still actually little for a while).

About The Author:

Maya Myers is a debut picture book author as well as a freelance book editor and a former elementary school teacher. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, author/illustrator Matt Myers, and three daughters.

About The Illustrator:

Hyewon Yum is the author and illustrator of several acclaimed books for children, including This Is Our HouseThe Twins’ BlanketThere Are No Scary Wolves, and Last Night. Her book Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

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New Release Round Up – October 5, 2021

I know it’s been a while, but we are back with all the best 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

Together by Mona Damluji, Illustrated by Innosanto Nagara

In Together, social justice kids book pioneer Innosanto Nagara teams up with poet and activist Mona Damluji for a stunningly tender and pitch-perfect visual feast that juxtaposes individual action with the power of people acting together. Each of the ten free-verse couplets in the poem is spread across four pages of imagery, to make a unique and different kind of board book for young kids to discover with their families.

The first illustrated book in which Nagara applies his extraordinary visual imagination to words not his own, Together is simplicity itself–a poem about the transformational change that happens when people stop acting alone and start doing things together. Together is Nagara’s third board book, following the immensely popular social justice board books A is for Activist and Counting on Community.

Picture Books

Skywatcher by Jamie Hogan

Tamen longs to see the stars, but none are visible in the light-polluted sky above the fire escape of his urban apartment building. Even in the neighborhood park, the stars are hidden by city lights.

This is a story about love and sacrifice: Tamen’s mom, a nightshift nurse, finds a way to take him camping. For one magical night on the shore of a wilderness pond, the Milky Way in all its glory belongs to them. color throughout

The Missing Trick by Robin Jacobs, Illustrated by Aimee Wright

Meet Louis… Every little thing he does is MAGIC!

Louis is a young street magician. He is setting up for his show but he can’t find his rabbit anywhere. He looks inside his hat but finds only a bouquet of flowers, which is caught by a passing woman as he throws it away in disgust. He looks under his cups, spilling out dozens of balls, which are pounced upon by a group of kids. An endless string of scarves comes out of his sleeve and is wrapped around the neck of a posh lady…. With each trick, his audience grows, and unbeknownst to Louis, his show is unfolding brilliantly… But WHERE could that pesky rabbit be hiding???

Finally, Louis looks in his bag…. climbs in it…. and disappears. Now the rabbit AND Louis are missing! The audience hold their breaths until, POOF! Louis appears on the table in a puff of smoke. They erupt in a roar of applause. Louis, bemused, notices them for the first time. He takes off his cap to take a bow. The rabbit is sitting on his head.

This is funny but also empowering story about a child, unaware of his own talents, who creates a diverse community around him, delighting in his show.

Chapter Books

Audrey L and Audrey W (Best Friends-ish: Book 1) by Carter Higgins, Illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann

Over the course of a week in school, this bighearted, true-to-life chapter book will resonate with any young reader who’s ever felt overlooked, second-best, or defined according to someone else. The first in a series, Best Friends-Ish provides a fresh take on the joys and traumas of elementary school drama.

More than anything, second-grader Audrey wants to be the best at something. It always feels like she’s not-quite-enough—not smart enough, not fast enough, not funny enough.

When her beloved Miss Fincastle announces that a new girl, another AUDREY, is joining the class, Audrey suddenly becomes Audrey L., which makes her feel worse than ever.

But is the new Audrey all bad? Might the two Audreys have more in common than just their name? And if the girls become friends, how will Audrey ever figure out how to be her best self—if she can’t even be the best Audrey?

She Persisted: Margaret Chase Smith by Ruby Shamir, Illustrated by Gillian Flint

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Ruby Shamir, readers learn about the amazing life of Margaret Chase Smith–and how she persisted

Margaret Chase Smith liked to help people, and she knew she could do that as a member of Congress. She became the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate, where she supported the space program and more opportunities for women. Her hard work and success helped pave the way for generations of women after her to run for office!

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton and a list of ways that readers can follow in Margaret Chase Smith’s footsteps and make a difference!

Middle Grade

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong Book 3) by Kwame Mbalia

After reuniting with Ayanna, who is now in his world, Tristan travels up the Mississippi in pursuit of his archenemy, King Cotton. Along the way they encounter new haints who are dead set on preventing their progress north to Tristan’s hometown of Chicago. It’s going to take many Alkean friends, including the gods themselves, the black flames of the afokena gloves, and all of Tristan’s inner strength to deliver justice once and for all.

Shocking twists, glorious triumphs, and a cast of unforgettable characters make this series conclusion as satisfying as it is entertaining.

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.

Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…

Burying the Moon by Andrée Poulin, Illustrated by Sonali Zohra

A beautifully illustrated novel in verse about a young Indian girl who tackles the taboos around sanitation in her village. 

In Latika’s village in rural India, there are no toilets. No toilets mean that the women have to wait until night to do their business in a field. There are scorpions and snakes in the field, and germs that make people sick. For the girls in the village, no toilets mean leaving school when they reach puberty.

No one in the village wants to talk about this shameful problem. But Latika has had enough. When a government representative visits their village, she sees her chance to make one of her dreams come true: the construction of public toilets, which would be safer for everybody in her village. 

Burying the Moon shines a light on how a lack of access to sanitation facilities affects girls and women in many parts of the world. 

Susie B. Won’t Back Down by Margaret Finnegan

Susie B. has a lot to say. Like how it’s not fair that she has to be called Susie B. instead of plain Susie. Or about how polar bears are endangered. Or how the Usual Geniuses are always getting picked for cool stuff over the kids like her with butterflies in their brain. And it’s because Susie B. has a lot to say about these very important things that she’s running for student council president!

If she’s president, she can advocate for the underdogs just like her hero and fellow Susie B., Susan B. Anthony. (And, okay, maybe the chance to give big speeches to the whole school with a microphone is another perk.) But when the most usual of Usual Geniuses also enters the student council race, Susie realizes this may be a harder won fight than she thought. Even worse, Susie discovers that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t as great as history makes it seem, and she did some pretty terrible things to try to help her own cause. Soon, Susie has her own tough decisions to make. But one thing is for sure—no matter what, Susie B. won’t back down.

Stealing Home by J. Torres, Illustrated by David Namisato

Sandy Saito is a happy boy who reads comic books and is obsessed with baseball — especially the Asahi team, the pride of his Japanese Canadian community. But when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his life, like that of every other North American of Japanese descent, changes forever. His family is forced to move to a remote internment camp, and his father must spend months away from them. Sandy, his mother and his brother cope as best they can with the difficulties at the camp. Over time, Sandy comes to realize that life is a lot like baseball. It’s about dealing with whatever is thrown at you, however you can. And it’s about finding your way home. In this emotionally gripping graphic novel, J. Torres has artfully woven a fictional story into a historically accurate, thoroughly researched account of the events surrounding the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. Using the approachable graphic novel format, the story of this grave chapter in North American history is gently told with sensitivity and insight, and the theme of baseball runs through the story as a message of hope and renewal. The time and place are evocatively rendered in David Namisato’s detailed sepia-toned art. Along with its links to social studies and history lessons, this book offers a perfect lead-in to discussions about differences, inclusion and empathy, and about why this history is relevant today. The book includes extended background information in an afterword by Susan Aihoshi and resources for learning more.

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!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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Flashback Friday: Runaway Pumpkins

We’re back! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus while my family moved cross country to our new home in St Louis. I thought I would be up and running with content last week, but I’ve learned that moving with a toddler is chaos. So here we are, back in business, and better late than never!

My favorite thing about our new city has to be the weather so far. It’s officially fall and there is a wonderful crisp in the air. So to celebrate my favorite season, I wanted to share an adorable picture book for Flashback Friday. Runaway Pumpkins by Teresa Bateman and Stephanie Fizer Coleman is a delightful rhyming picture book that celebrates resilience, community, and — of course — all things fall.

Title: Runaway Pumpkins
Author: Teresa Bateman
Illustrator: Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Published: August 4, 2020
Format: Picture Book

Originally Published in August of 2020, Runaway Pumpkins tells the story of a class field trip to the pumpkin patch that takes an unexpected turn. We follow along as the class visits the pumpkin patch and picks their favorite pumpkins, but they unfortunately lose all but one pumpkin on the way back to the school. Luckily, their neighbors who find pumpkins strewn about their lawns come up with a creative way to bring the pumpkins back to the class.

The illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman are so whimsical and warm, perfectly capturing an autumn afternoon. Complete with a recipe for caramel frosted pumpkin cookies in the back matter, Runaway Pumpkins is a great pick to celebrate fall with young readers.

You can pick up a copy of Runaway Pumpkins 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!)

About the Author:

Teresa Bateman has written many popular books for children, including Fiona’s Luck and Fluffy: Scourge of the Sea. She works as a children’s librarian and based Runaway Pumpkins on an actual pumpkin disaster at her school.

About The Illustrator:

Stephanie Fizer Coleman is an illustrator and designer of whimsical art and stationery. She has illustrated several adult coloring books as well as the picture book Five Flying Penguins. She lives in West Virginia.

You can find Stephanie online at stephaniefizercoleman.com, on Twitter @StephanieFizer, and Instagram @stephfizercoleman.

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New Release Round Up – September 14, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all.

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

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

Picture Books

The Proudest Color by Sheila Modir and Jeffrey Kashou, Illustrated by Monica Mikai

“For me, brown is more than feeling proud.
It’s the color I see when I see me.

Zahra sees the world in vivid color. When she’s happy, she feels a razzle-dazzle pink in her hands. When she’s sad, she feels a deep blue behind her eyes. But she isn’t quite sure how to feel about the color of her skin. Kids at school tell her she is different, but her mother tells her to be proud! From a diverse team and based on extensive research, The Proudest Color is a timely, sensitive introduction to race, racism, and racial pride.”

The House That She Built by Mollie Elkman, Illustrated by Georgia Castellano

“The House that She Built educates young readers about the people and skills that go into building a home. One by one, we learn about the architect, framer, roofer and many more as they contribute their individual skills needed to complete the collective project — a new home. With illustrations that connect and empower and words that build upon each other with each page, this book will leave all kids (she, he, and they) excited about their own skills and interested in learning new ones. Based on a true story! The House that She Built was Inspired by the team of real women who came together from around the country to build a one-of-a-kind home.”

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

“From designer, creator, and self-love advocate Nabela Noor (@Nabela) comes a much-needed picture book about loving yourself just as you are.

Meet Zubi: a joyful Bangladeshi girl excited about her first day of school. But when Zubi sees her mother frowning in the mirror and talking about being “too big,” she starts to worry about her own body and how she looks. As her day goes on, she hears more and more people being critical of each other’s and their own bodies, until her outburst over dinner leads her family to see what they’ve been doing wrong—and to help Zubi see that we can all make the world a more beautiful place by being beautifully ourselves.”

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

“A stunning, rhythmic picture book biography of African American composer Scott Joplin, whose ragtime music paved the way for jazz.

There was something special about Scott Joplin…
This quiet kid could make a piano laugh out loud.

Scott, the son of a man who had been enslaved,
became a king—the King of Ragtime.

This celebration of Scott Joplin, whose ragtime compositions paved the way for jazz, will captivate audiences and put a beat in their step, and the kaleidoscope-like illustrations will draw young readers in again and again.”

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Illustrated by Erika Meza

“A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy’s life on the U.S.-Mexico border, visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.

Early one Saturday morning, a boy prepares for a trip to The Other Side/El Otro Lado. It’s close–just down the street from his school–and it’s a twin of where he lives. To get there, his father drives their truck along the Rio Grande and over a bridge, where they’re greeted by a giant statue of an eagle. Their outings always include a meal at their favorite restaurant, a visit with Tío Mateo at his jewelry store, a cold treat from the paletero, and a pharmacy pickup. On their final and most important stop, they check in with friends seeking asylum and drop off much-needed supplies.

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, with stunning watercolor illustrations by Erika Meza, is the loving story of a father and son’s weekend ritual, a demonstration of community care, and a tribute to the fluidity, complexity, and vibrancy of life on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Steven Salerno

“Learn about the secret code that is DNA in this vibrant and informative picture book!

There’s a secret code inside you, a code called DNA.
A code that tells your body’s cells what they should do each day.
It looks like twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles.
It makes us into people, instead of into poodles.

Why can’t humans breathe underwater? Why are some people tall and others short? Why do we resemble our parents and grandparents? This book explores all this and more in flowing, rhyming text, explaining cells, DNA, and genetics in a way that is simple and easy for children to understand. Colorful and brilliantly illustrated, The Secret Code Inside You illustrates that while DNA may be the blueprint for how a person looks, what you choose to do with your body is entirely up to you!”

Chapter Books

Mindy Kim and the Big Pizza Challenge by Lyla Lee, Illustrated by Dung Ho

“Fresh off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this adorable chapter book series following Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl—in this sixth novel, Mindy enters a delicious pizza competition!

Mindy Kim loves food—from her beloved Korean staples to pizza! When a local pizza place advertises a trivia competition, Mindy can’t believe that the big prize is unlimited pizza for a whole year!

Mindy is confident she and her dad can take the top spot. But Dad is worried he might not understand all the cultural references. And he wants Mindy to know that the most important thing is to always try your best, even if you don’t win. Can Mindy and her Dad have fun together, win or lose?”

Middle Grade

A Soft Place To Land by Janae Marks

“Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But then her dad lost his job, and suddenly, home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold.

A friendly new neighbor her age lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble?

Joy is determined to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between trying to raise funds for her music lessons, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.”

Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes

From award-winning and bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age survival tale exploring issues of race, class, and climate change
 
Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Now, years later, Addy’s grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids—each with their own troubles—to spend a summer out west.
 
Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival. 
But then comes a devastating forest fire…
 
Addy is face-to-face with her destiny and haunting past. Developing her courage and resiliency against the raging fire, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Not all are saved. But remembering her origins and grandmother’s teachings, she’s able to use street smarts, wilderness skills, and her spiritual intuition to survive.”

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!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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Author Spotlight: Mollie Elkman

On Today’s Author Spotlight we are chatting with Mollie Elkman about her debut, The House That She Built – an empowering picture book that educates young readers about the people and skills that go into building a home.

Mollie, thank you so much for making this interview possible! I am thrilled to chat with you about The House That She Built, but before we dive in, would you like to introduce yourself?

Hi! I’m Mollie Elkman. Mom to Zachary (10) and Zoey (4). I own group two, a marketing company for home builders.

The House That She Built is your first picture book. What inspired you to write the book?

One of my favorite builders (Kristi Allen) who has become a close friend of mine asked us to help do the marketing for an ambitious project she was part of. An all-women-built home.

Being exposed to over 100 women in building throughout the project and learning about their different stories and paths into careers in construction was incredibly inspiring. These women are amazing and have great careers, yet most people don’t think of women when they think of construction jobs. 

Title: The House That She Built
Author: Mollie Elkman
Illustrator: Georgia Castellano
Publisher: Builder Books
Published: September 14, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Some people may wonder, “Why do we need a home built entirely by women?”. How do you answer those types of questions and help folks understand the importance of the project?

Right now there is a skilled labor shortage, which is only projected to get worse. With less than 3% of construction jobs being filled by women, it’s really important to show that women are completely capable of having very successful careers in construction. We want all underrepresented communities to know there are many different opportunities and paths to success. 

What was the research process like for The House That She Built? Did your experience as a second-generation business owner in housing help you along with the research?

So many women like myself were brought into the housing industry by a father or grandfather. We would love to help break that cycle by making more women aware of these career opportunities. One of the most moving experiences for me while working on the book was being in the garage of the project that inspired the book. The walls were filled with pictures of all the women who had worked on the home during all stages of the build. Most of these women are used to being the only woman on the average jobsite, so this project was really special because it emphasized that not only are they not alone, but there is room for so many more!

I love the way The House That She Built highlights the variety of skilled jobs needed to build a home. Even as an adult, I never really thought about how many people are involved in building a home. Are the 18 jobs found in the book the original lineup, or did you have to narrow down from a larger scope?

Ah I love this question! No one has asked this yet. We absolutely had to narrow it down and there are many additional careers that are important and necessary. We tried to focus on the logical order of jobs from the planning stage all the way to the final touches to show the progression. There are so many other roles happening at the same time, though like installing the windows and doors! The intent was to get kids thinking about the space around them and the different skills and people that went into creating that space. 

I know that Georgia Castellano, the illustrator, is the creative director at your company, Group Two. Did you two work closely throughout the illustration process?

We did! Not just through the illustration process but really the entire process of marketing and publishing. Georgia is extremely talented and we work really well together. Beyond that, we are friends which made this experience really fun. 

Do you have a favorite spread? If so, which one?

I would say my favorite is the General Contractor because she is based on Kristi Allen who I mentioned before. I feel like she gave me this amazing gift by bringing me into the project she was working on and it makes me happy to see the cartoon version of her represented in the book. 

Is there possibly another book in your future?

Next up, we will have an activity book to go along with the book. It’s incredible and I can’t wait to share it. From there, I really want to develop some curriculum for schools that highlight the different skills in the book. There has been a real emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and this book fits really well into the conversation. 

Is there anything else you’d like for Mutually Inclusive’s Readers to know?

Yes! This is a mission based initiative so all proceeds support workforce development initiatives in the homebuilding industry. 

I would love to offer your readers a coloring page to download and print! It’s really fun to see how different kids can take the same image and create a completely unique finished piece. 

That is so generous! Thank you so much for that surprise, and for joining us today to talk about The House That She Built.

You can learn more about Mollie and her work by visiting her website, grouptwo.com. For more information about The House That She Built please visit shebuiltbook.com or @shebuiltbook on Instagram.

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