Review: My Mindful A to Zen

If you’re looking for a picture book to bring a little more Zen into your life, I have the perfect pick for you today. My Mindful A to Zen by Krina Patel-Sage is an alphabet picture book with a twist.

Title: My Mindful A to Zen
Author/Illustrator: Krina Patel-Sage
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Published: October 5, 2021
Format: Picture Book

This gorgeous picture book is not just teaching young readers the alphabet, but it’s also a collection of 26 haikus about wellbeing. Highlighting the “Five Ways of Wellbeing”, each haiku teaches young readers how to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give.

The illustrations capture many of the small moments that bring us great joy through the day. I also love the bright colors used throughout.

My Mindful A to Zen is a fantastic introduction to the concept of mindfulness and would be a great selection for anyone hoping to share positive mental health education with young readers. You can pick up a copy wherever you normally purchase books, 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 Lantana Publishing for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book.

About The Author:

Krina Patel-Sage is an illustrator, author, and designer. Beginning her design career at a children’s publishing house in 2012, she developed a passion for illustrated nonfiction. She was shortlisted for Penguin’s 2018 WriteNow illustration prize.

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Flashback Friday: Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved The Violin

For Flashback Friday I want to look back at a fantastic picture book biography published back in May of 2020. Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman and Abigail Halpin tells the story of world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Title: Itzhak : A Boy Who Loved the Violin
Author: Tracy Newman
Illustrator: Abigail Halpin
Published: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Abrams
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with his childhood in Tel Aviv and ending with Itzhak Perlman’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1958, this stunning book perfectly captures the beauty of Itzhak’s music. Young readers will learn of Itzhak’s fight for his life when he was hospitalized for polio at the age of four, and how he was paralyzed by the disease. They will also learn of how Itzhak never let his paralysis hold him back from his dreams.

Readers will also learn that, like many other musicians, Itzhak Perlman has synesthesia. This neurological condition allows him to see music as color. I absolutely love the way Abigail Halpin captures the colors of music on every page of Itzhak.

Itzhak is a beautiful story of perseverance and the love of music. I would highly recommend it! You can pick up your own 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 Abrams for providing me with a review copy of Itzhak. I can always count on Abrams to deliver fantastic picture book biographies, and I can never get enough.

About The Author:

Tracy Newman is the author of many books for young readers, including the . . . Is Coming series. She lives in coastal New England. 

About The Illustrator:

Abigail Halpin is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Finding Wild and Mama’s Belly. She lives in Maine.

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New Release Round Up: January 18, 2021

It’s Tuesday, so we are talking new releases again! What today’s round up lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. We have some wonderful titles debuting today!

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

Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps by Charlotte Watson Sherman, Illustrated by Geneva Bowers

Kenzie turns her fierce love for the ocean into action, resourcefully cleaning up the beach after her mermaid-tail swimsuit tangles in floating plastic bags.

When Kenzie slips on her mermaid tail, she becomes Mermaid Kenzie, protector of the deeps. One day as Kenzie snorkels around a shipwreck, she discovers more plastic bags than fish. Grabbing her spear and mermaid net, she begins to clean up the water and the shore–inspiring other kids to help.

Beautifully written in African American Vernacular English, this poetic picture book includes back matter with information about how plastic winds up in our oceans and examples of people–some of them kids, like Kenzie–who have worked to protect the sea. Mermaid Kenzie celebrates the ways that all of us, no matter how small, can make a difference.”

A History of Me by Adrea Theodore, Illustrated by Erin Robinson

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? One mother’s account of her experience as the only Black child in school serves as an empowering message to her own daughter and children of color everywhere.
 

Life can be hard for the only brown girl in a classroom full of white students. When the teacher talks about slavery, she can feel all of her classmates staring at her. When they talk about civil rights, she is the one that other kids whisper about on the playground. In those moments, she wants to slip away or seep into the ground; and she wonders, is that all you see when you look at me?

What really matters is what she sees when she looks at herself.  She is a reflection of the courage, strength, intelligence and creativity that’s been passed down from generation to generation through her ancestors.

Inspired by her daughter’s experience in school as well as her own, Adrea Theodore’s debut picture book is a powerful testament to the past as well as a benediction for the future.”

Middle Grade

The Unforgetable Logan Foster by Shawn Peters

Packed with superheroes, supervillains, and epic showdowns between good and evil, The Unforgettable Logan Foster from debut author Shawn Peter shows that sometimes being a hero is just about being yourself.

Logan Foster has pretty much given up on the idea of ever being adopted. It could have something to with his awkward manner, his photographic memory, or his affection for reciting curious facts, but whatever the cause, Logan and his “PP’s” (prospective parents) have never clicked

Then everything changes when Gil and Margie arrive. Although they aren’t exactly perfect themselves—Gil has the punniest sense of humor and Margie’s cooking would have anyone running for the hills—they genuinely seem to care.

But it doesn’t take Logan long to notice some very odd things about them. They are out at all hours, they never seem to eat, and there’s a part of the house that is protected by some pretty elaborate security.

No matter what Logan could have imagined, nothing prepared him for the truth: His PP’s are actually superheroes, and they’re being hunted down by dastardly forces. Logan’s found himself caught in the middle in a massive battle and the very fate of the world may hang in the balance. Will Logan be able to find a way to save the day and his new family? “

Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner’s Call to Science by Jeannine Atkins

From the acclaimed author of Finding Wonders and Grasping Mysteries comes a gorgeously written biography in verse about the pioneering Jewish woman physicist whose scientific prowess changed the course of World War II.

At the turn of the 20th century, Lise Meitner dreamed of becoming a scientist. In her time, girls were not supposed to want careers, much less ones in science. But Lise was smart—and determined. She earned a PhD in physics, then became the first woman physics professor at the University of Berlin. The work was thrilling, but Nazi Germany was a dangerous place for a Jewish woman. When the risks grew too great, Lise escaped to Sweden, where she continued the experiments that she and her laboratory partner had worked on for years. Her efforts led to the discovery of nuclear fission and altered the course of history.

Only Lise’s partner, a man, received the Nobel Prize for their findings, but this moving and accessible biography shows how Lise’s legacy endures.”

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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New Release Round Up: January 25, 2021

Happy Tuesday, yall! We have another short list of new releases today, but that won’t stop me from shouting about them.

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

Fearless Heart: An Illustrated Biography of Surya Bonaly by Frank Murphy and Surya Bonaly, Illustrated by Anastasia Magloire Williams

A vibrant picture book biography of Surya Bonaly, the figure skating champion who backflipped her way into history

As a young girl in France, Surya Bonaly was constantly in motion, gifted in any sport she tried. But it was figure skating that had her heart. Surya knew she belonged on the ice.

Her colorful costumes, exuberant routines, powerful jumps, and daring combinations were all expressions of her love for skating and her ambition to push the boundaries of what a figure skating champion could look like.

Some people weren’t sure Surya belonged on top of the podium. “Is she graceful enough?” they asked. “Does she look like a skater?”

But Surya’s fearless heart propelled her to always stay true to herself while pursuing her boldest dreams.

Culminating in her iconic backflip performed at the 1998 Olympics, Fearless Heart is a lushly illustrated, lyrical story of self-expression and courage.

Just Help!: How to Build a Better World by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Just Ask! comes a fun and meaningful story about making the world–and your community–better, one action at a time, that asks the question: Who will you help today?

Every night when Sonia goes to bed, Mami asks her the same question: How did you help today? And since Sonia wants to help her community, just like her Mami does, she always makes sure she has a good answer to Mami’s question.

In a story inspired by her own family’s desire to help others, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes young readers on a journey through a neighborhood where kids and adults, activists and bus drivers, friends and strangers all help one another to build a better world for themselves and their community.

With art by award-winning illustrator Angela Dominguez, this book shows how we can all help make the world a better place each and every day.”


 

Seeking Best Friend by Alison Marcotte, Illustrated by Diane Ewen

“When a child sends out an open call for a best friend, the most unlikely candidates apply for the job. But when each candidate disappoints, the child’s list of requirements grows longer and longer–and more and more ridiculous! Only when she discovers that the way to find a friend is through being a good friend does she finally find the right person for the position.

This humorous picture book is sure to make you laugh and will spur great conversations with children about what it means to be a good friend.”

Middle Grade

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi

From the New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, a biography in verse and prose of science fiction visionary Octavia Butler, author of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Acclaimed novelist Ibi Zoboi illuminates the young life of the visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Born into the Space Race, the Red Scare, and the dawning Civil Rights Movement, Butler experienced an American childhood that shaped her into the groundbreaking science-fiction storyteller whose novels continue to challenge and delight readers fifteen years after her death.”

The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace, author of Bump, presents a personal, humorous, and body-positive middle grade standalone about a fat kid who wants to stop his bullies . . . and enlists the help of the world’s most infamous supervillain. Perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julie Murphy, and John David Anderson!

Max’s first year of middle school hasn’t been easy. Eighth-grade hotshot Johnny Pro torments Max constantly, for no other reason than Max is fat and an easy target. Max wishes he could fight back, but he doesn’t want to hurt Johnny . . . just make him feel the way Max feels.

In desperation, Max writes to the only person he thinks will understand: imprisoned supervillain Master Plan, a “gentleman of size.” To his surprise, Master Plan wants to help! He suggests a way for Max to get even with Johnny Pro, and change how the other kids at school see them both.

And it works! When Master Plan’s help pays off for Max in ways he couldn’t have imagined, he starts gaining confidence—enough to finally talk to Marina, the girl he likes in class who shares his passion for baking. With Master Plan in his corner, anything seems possible . . . but is there a price to pay for the supervillain’s help?”

Fossil Hunter: How Mary Anning Changed the Science of Prehistoric Life by Cheryl Blackford

A fascinating, highly visual biography of Mary Anning, the Victorian fossil hunter who changed scientific thinking about prehistoric life and would become one of the most celebrated paleontologists of all time. Perfect for children learning about woman scientists like Ada Lovelace, Jane Goodall, and Katherine Johnson.

Mary Anning grew up on the south coast of England in a region rich in fossils. As teenagers, she and her brother Joseph discovered England’s first complete ichthyosaur. Poor and uneducated, Anning would become one of the most celebrated paleontologists ever, though in her time she supported herself selling by fossils and received little formal recognition. Her findings helped shape scientific thinking about extinction and prehistoric life long before Darwin published his famous work on evolution.

With engaging text, photographs, and stunning paleoart, Fossil Hunter introduces this self-taught scientist, now recognized as one of the greatest fossilists the world has ever known. “

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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Flashback Friday: No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History

For today’s Flashback Friday, I am highlighting an inspiring picture book perfect for young readers looking to make change in their communities. No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley profiles fourteen young activists, pairing a short biography with poems inspired by those activist.

Title: No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History
Authors: Lindsay Metcalf, Keila Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley
Illustrator: Jeanette Bradley
Published: September 20, 2020
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Format: Picture Book

Featuring poems from legends like Nikki Grimes, Leslea Newman, and Carole Boston Weatherford, No Voice Too Small provides young readers with powerful examples of activism by sharing the stories of children working to change history in a variety of ways. From Mari Copeny, who demands clean water in Flint, Michigan, to Zach Wahls, who fights for LGBTQ+ rights, each activist covered stands up to injustices impacting their communities.

I love the variety of issues this book touches on, because young readers are sure to find an issue that speaks to them directly, but it also highlights the fact that we can make change by working together on these issues. Jeanette Bradley’s illustrations are absolutely lovely. She captures the spirit of each young activist on every page, bringing their story and their fight to life.

No Voice Too Small is available for purchase 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 Charlesbridge for providing me with a review copy of this beautiful book!

About The Authors:

Lindsay H. Metcalf grew up on a Kansas farm and is the author of Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices. An experienced journalist, Lindsay has covered a variety of change-makers as a reporter, editor, and columnist for the Kansas City Star and other news outlets. www.lindsayhmetcalf.com

Keila V. Dawson was born and raised in New Orleans. She has been a community organizer and an early childhood special education teacher. She has lived in the Phillipines, Japan, and Egypt. She is the author of The King Cake Babywww.keiladawson.com

Jeanette Bradley has been an urban planner, an apprentice pastry chef, and the artist-in-residence for a traveling art museum on a train. She is the author and illustrator of Love, Mama. Jeanette lives in Rhode Island with her wife and kids. www.jeanettebradley.com

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Author Spotlight: Candice Marley Conner

For today’s Author Spotlight I’m delighted to be chatting with my friend Candice Marley Conner about her latest picture book Chompsey Chomps Books.

Candice, thank you so much for joining us today! I am so excited to share Chompsey Chomps Books with everyone! Before we get started though, would you like to introduce yourself to Mutually Inclusive’s readers?

Hi, Devyn! Thanks so much for having me and Chompsey on Mutually Inclusive. I have learned SO MUCH about diversity and even my own privilege from your blog and am honored to be here. I am a children’s writer, mom of two (one is possibly feral and definitely a velociraptor), living in Alabama. We love being out in nature, especially around water and even better if it’s water in the woods. I’m the kidlit specialist at an indie bookstore, a Local Liaison for SCBWI (how we connected!), and an officer for the local writers’ guild. Pre-pandemic, I was also a Reading Buddy at a local elementary school which is how I found the inspiration for Chompsey.

Thank you! I’m thrilled to hear your a fan of the blog! I’m a pretty big fan of Chompsey Chomps Books, myself. This is your second picture book. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Chompsey is an emotional chomper. He chomps when he’s happy, hungry (yes, I feel this is an emotion AND it gave space for gator fun fact puns) and frustrated. What frustrates him? Reading. And as his friend Beaver points out, books are really hard to come by in a swamp. Chompsey doesn’t understand why book club is so much harder for him than it is for his swamp friends. The letters and words don’t stay on the page like they’re supposed to. Discouraged, Chompsey chomps at the letters as they fly by. He and his friends have to figure out how to make the words stay still and make sense for him. 

Chompsey is such a loveable character. I absolutely adored him, but I have to ask what inspired you to write about the dyslexic experience?

I’m so glad you adored him! He definitely has a soft spot in my heart too. At the time, I had recently read Annie Silvestro’s BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB and was charmed by the idea of a woodland animal book club and the lengths they go to get library access. I wanted to figure out how to put my own spin on a swamp friends’ book club featuring MY favorite animal, an alligator. But I couldn’t figure out a way to make the idea spark shine until one day when I was working with one of my Reading Buddy kids, a first grader whose mom was figuring out he had dyslexia. The mom is a friend of mine (and is also dyslexic herself) so helped me understand what exactly his brain was going through and armed me with many teaching methods to better help him. I was absolutely blown away by his hard work and dedication to learning to read, and by working with him, the idea of a dyslexic alligator who chomped at words was born. They’re who the book is dedicated to.

Title: Chompsey Chomps Books
Author: Candice Marley Conner
Illustrator: Alaina Luise
Publisher: Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing
Published: October 12, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Chompsey’s swamp friends definitely made me a little homesick. All of your work is heavily inspired by the swamp, with both of your picture books featuring Alabama Delta wildlife. What keeps you grounded in that inspiration? 

I grew up in a swamp and visiting nowadays whether through my stories or in real life gives me such a sense of peace and home. Swamps and other wild spaces can be misunderstood places but they’re so incredibly biodiverse. One thing my dyslexic friend pointed out to me while I wrote Chompsey’s manuscript was that you can’t fall in love with something you don’t understand and this has stayed with me. I feel like if I—in my own tiny way—can help people fall in love with swamps, they’ll want to help save natural spaces too. With my YA mystery, I set up a merch shop where proceeds go to the Alabama Rivers Alliance to help protect the state’s 132,000 miles of waterways.

Chompsey Chomps Books is printed in a dyslexic friendly font. Can you tell us a bit about the font and the decision to include an accessible font? Was this something you approached the publisher with, or did they choose that route?

Dyslexie is a weighted font that makes letters easier to distinguish from each other and in turn enables readers to read with less effort to make it more enjoyable and boost self-esteem. This goes for the dyslexic parents who are reading the picture books to their children too. Letter switching happens even in neurotypical children under the age of seven so this font is a win-win for all in my opinion, and the reason I went with MacLaren-Cochran Publishing. While they sadly closed their doors at the end of 2021, all their books were published in this font. I recently saw that Andrea Beaty’s AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR in her Questioneer series is also printed in dyslexie and I’m so excited that more publishers are choosing this route. Honestly, I think all picture books should be accessibly inclusive and printed in dyslexie font.

I always ask this one, but it’s my favorite. If readers only walk away with one lesson from Chomsey Chomps Books, what would you want it to be?

There’s a page in the book that simply has the words “Chompsey didn’t give up” and that’s a lesson I’d love for readers to take away. Don’t give up. If it’s your dream to eat crawfish pie and snuggle up with a book with your swamp friends, don’t stop trying just because it’s hard. See it as a challenge. Approach it from a new perspective. There are so many ways to learn, don’t box yourself in.

You are also published in the young adult category, with your novel The Existence of Bea Pearl. Which do you find more challenging to write, picture books or novels?

Oof, this is a tough question! I’d say Bea Pearl was more challenging since the book is a mystery and because I originally wrote her as an unreliable narrator with a non-chronological timeline. I had to completely rewrite the manuscript which was daunting to say the least but I’m pretty determined and persistent like Chompsey. Though with a YA, I don’t have to agonize over the perfectly precise words like picture books demand and have room for setting which is my favorite literary element. Luckily, the publisher paired me with Alaina Luise as illustrator and she perfectly captured my swampish vision for Chompsey and his friends.

What a whirlwind 2021 must have been for you! You had a double debut year with your first picture book, and your first YA, and then you also published Chompsey Chomps Books! What would you say was the biggest lesson you learned as a debut author?

Yes! It was the best kind of bananas! Biggest lesson I learned as a debut author was to just do the things (promo- and marketing-wise) I was comfortable with and that I don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS, lol. At one point I said no to an event that was stressing me out and when I told my then ten-year-old about my decision, her immediate response was that she was proud of me. “Saying no was really hard for you.” My decision and her understanding of what I was experiencing and being in my corner was a balm to my mental health.

What’s next for you? Do you have any more releases on the horizon for 2022?

More swamp stuff, haha. My current work-in-progress is a spooky ecological middle grade set in the Delta that I’m having the best time writing. My agent has a Selkie-like manatee middle grade, a witchy STEAM picture book, and a STEAM chapter book series out on submission, so while I don’t currently have any releases on the horizon, I’m optimistic for that to change!

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

Mainly a thank you that there are readers and places like this blog making and demanding space for inclusive and diverse picture books. Books are so powerful. I’d love it if each and every child out there not only sees themselves on the bookshelf, but also that children (and their adult readers) learn to see things from a different perspective, and have compassion and understanding for those different from them.


To learn more about Candice and her work be sure to visit her website at candicemarleyconner.com.

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Review: The Proudest Color

Written by a pediatric psychologist and a family and marriage therapist, The Proudest Color by Sheila Modir, Jeff Kashou, and Monica Mikai is a gorgeous picture book that uses positivity to teach children about racial identity.

Title: The Proudest Color
Author: Sheila Modir and Jeff Kashou
Illustrator: Monica Mikai
Publisher: Familius
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

The Proudest Color opens with a young girl named Zahra who relates all of her favorite colors, drawing parallels between color and emotions. But one day at school, Zahra experiences discrimination when a fellow student tells her she doesn’t like her brown skin. Zahra is suddenly no longer proud of her brown skin, until her parents remind her of the wonderful things brown means.

The Proudest Color provides an excellent example for parents and caregivers on how to have healthy conversations about discrimination with children. More importantly, this example focuses on how to address the shame children may feel when they experience discrimination and replace it with pride.

I also really appreciated the way The Proudest Color is not directed specifically at any “target reader”. Every family can benefit from Zahra’s story and young readers can learn the impact of their words, as well as all the reasons they should be proud of their skin.

The illustrations by Monica Mikai are wonderful. I especially appreciated the crayon theme throughout, and the way Zahra’s drawings show us what she’s feeling.

With an amazing note for parents and caregivers in the backmatter, The Proudest Color is an excellent resource for anyone who is looking to introduce young readers to cultural socialization.

The Proudest Color is available wherever you normally purchase books, 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 Familius for providing me with a review copy of such a wonderful book! I am so grateful to be able to share it with you all today.

About The Authors:

Sheila Modir is a pediatric psychologist, and Jeffrey Kashou is a marriage and family therapist. As Middle Eastern Americans (Iranian and Palestinian) and as clinicians, they advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and work toward promoting resilience in children.

About The Illustrator:

Monica Mikai is an illustrator and former educator. She has an MFA from the New York Studio School where she studied painting and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and her two sons.

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New Release Round Up: January 11, 2022

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

I Love You So by Marianna Richmond, Illustrated by Fiona Lee

Celebrate 20 years of I LOVE YOU SO! This adorable classic puts into words the indescribable quality of boundless, steady, and unconditional love, a sweet story that has touched hundreds of thousands of lives.

This comforting story embraces the reader like a warm hug and gently reassures a child that love is for always, despite the grouchy moods or physical separation. This is the perfect message of love to gift new mommies- anddaddies-to-be, grandparents, and your special little ones at baby showers or birthdays. Embrace your loved ones from afar with this heartwarming reminder of your unconditional love.”

Picture Books

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan, Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo



The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation’s creed of “freedom for all.”

Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic–a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak’s stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865–over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn’t always see freedom in her Texas town. Then one Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn’t freedom at all. She had to do something! Opal Lee spent the rest of her life speaking up for equality and unity. She became a teacher, a charity worker, and a community leader. At the age of 89, she walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C., in an effort to gain national recognition for Juneteenth.”

Shahrzad and the Angry King by Nahid Kazemi

A rebel dreamer of a girl daydreams about her role in making the world a better place—and since dreams bleed into reality, maybe she really does.

Shahrzad and the Angry King is a contemporary reimagining of the Scheherazade tale, starring scooter-riding, story-loving Shahrzad. Shahrzad loves stories and looks for them everywhere. When she meets a boy and asks him to tell her his story, he recounts fleeing a country that was peaceful and happy, until its grieving king grew angry and cruel. Shahrzad can’t forget the boy and his story, and so, when she sees a toy airplane in a store, she imagines herself zooming off to the boy’s home country, where she confronts the king, to make him reflect on the kind of leader he really wants to be. Like Scheherazade, she tells the king story after story, but this time not to save her own life, but those of the king’s people and his own. 

Because Shahrzad knows the power of the creative imagination and that the stories we tell and the words we use shape our very existence. We live and die by the sword? Not exactly, says Shahrzad. We live or die by the stories we tell and how we see, frame, and word the world. Brought to life by Iranian artist Nahid Kazemi, this bold heroine reminds us of how powerfully intertwined reality is with the stories we tell.”

You Are Not Alone by Alphabet Rockers, Illustrated by Ashley Evans

This empathetic and inclusive picture book empowers kids to love themselves and their identities, stand up to hate, and have each others’ backs no matter what.

When I say something is unfair to me, but it’s fair for you, what does that make it?
When I meditate, it all gets clear.
And if you listen, you will really hear.
I am not alone. I am enough.

It can be scary to feel like you’re all on your own, especially in the face of prejudice. But always remember: you are not alone! Based on the Grammy award nominated hip-hop group Alphabet Rockers’ empowering song, “Not Alone,” this uplifting picture book reminds kids that they always belong. Encouraging words invite readers to love their beautiful selves, celebrate their identities, and use their voices against hate, You Are Not Alone asks us to step up for each other and have each others’ backs, no matter what.”

The Treasure Box by Dave Keane, Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

A poignant, gorgeously-illustrated story about a girl’s bond with her grandfather and how it evolves after his death.

Searching for treasures with her grandpa is this young girl’s favorite thing to do. Every week they examine the items in her secret box and go on walks to find more—a broken robin’s egg, rusty spring, even a snakeskin that makes Grandpa squirm and make funny faces.

But then Grandpa is too sick to come. She leaves him a few treasures in the hospital, but when he dies, she can’t bring herself to even open the treasure box.

When Grammy brings her some treasures Grandpa wanted her to have, they open the box together and continue the tradition, showing that memories of time together are the greatest treasures of all.

This poignant, gorgeously-illustrated story celebrates the special bonds kids have with grandparents, even after they are gone.”

Millions of Maxes by Meg Wolitzer, Illustrated by Micah Player

Max discovers that uniqueness is more than just a name, in this funny, lively picture book debut by the bestselling author of The Interestings.

Max’s room has his name all over it–on his blanket and night light and wall. His parents call him The One and Only Max. And so, he is in for a big surprise at the playground one day, when he hears “Max, time to go home!” and two other kids come running. He’s not the one and only after all! How many Maxes are in the world?! Millions of Maxes?

But when he decides to help one of the other Maxes find her missing toy, he discovers that there are other ways to be special, and that he can appreciate the specialness of his new Max friends just as much as his own. That night he dreams of the future adventures he’ll have with all of the Maxes he has yet to meet.”

The Paper Bird by Lisa Anchin

A sumptuously illustrated exploration of the joy that comes with creating art for one’s own self

There once was a time when all the colors, from midsummer blue to sunrise orange, lived at the tips of Annie’s fingers…

But when her classmates’ sidelong glances cause Annie to notice all the tiny flaws in her art, her colorful creative spark fades–quite literally–to gray. With lyrical prose and eye-catching illustration author-artist Lisa Anchin shows readers how to find the beauty in imperfections and celebrate the joy of creation for creations’ sake.”

The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

“When Elijah Cummings was a little boy, he struggled in school. His teachers thought he talked too much and asked too many questions. They said he’d never be able to read or write well.

Despite his difficulties, Elijah never gave up. He persevered, having faith that with hard work, he’d be able to achieve his goals.

Best known as a voice for people of color and an advocate for equal opportunity, Elijah Cummings was a man of faith and dignity, a beacon of justice, and an unrelenting warrior for equality and change.

Carole Boston Weatherford and Laura Freeman marry words and images beautifully in this picture book biography of politician and civil rights champion Elijah Cummings, detailing his inspiring journey–from his humble beginnings as the son of former sharecroppers to his unwavering faith as he became a lawyer, state legislator, and leading congressman. Best known as a voice for people of color and an advocate for equal opportunity, Elijah Cummings was a man of faith and dignity, a beacon of justice, and an unrelenting warrior for equality and change.”

Strong Mama by Robin Arzón, Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda

Mama and baby make one incredible team in this new picture book from New York Times bestselling author and Peloton instructor extraordinaire Robin Arzón.

Before I met you, I dreamed of you. This is the story of how we first met. 

Ultramarathons. Bike sprints. Squats and deadlifts. Naps. Kitchen dance parties! All of it is in preparation for meeting Pequeno, the “Little One” growing in this strong mama’s belly. From first heartbeats and fluttery kicks to grinning grandparents and that first loud cry — pregnancy might just be the biggest workout yet! But there’s nothing this mom and new baby can’t tackle together as a team.

New York Times bestselling author and Peloton Head Instructor Robin Arzón takes readers on sweat-packed journey through motherhood in this affirming and heartwarming celebration of mothers and parents everywhere.”

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Illustrated by Yas Imamura

Set in an incarceration camp where the United States cruelly detained Japanese Americans during WWII and based on true events, this moving love story finds hope in heartbreak.

To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren’t human—that was miraculous.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Beautifully illustrated and complete with an afterword, back matter, and a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s elegant love story for readers of all ages sheds light on a shameful chapter of American history.”

The Braniac’s Book of the Climate and Weather by Rosie Cooper, Illustrated by Harriet Russell

A fresh approach to science for young brainiacs, this book on climate and weather includes incredible but true stories, interactive activities, and quirky infographics.

What’s the difference between climate and weather? How do we know the climate is changing? The need-to-know answers to these and many other pressing questions are explained in this volume through incredible stories, infographics―including how many farts animals add to the atmosphere each year―and fun activities like engineering a solar oven from a pizza box. Budding brainiacs will love reading “Need- to- Know” stories, diving into interactive “Try This” activities, and building a trove of fascinating facts from a series of infographic “Data Dumps.”

Featuring the artwork of Harriet Russell, the illustrator of the bestselling This Book Thinks You’re a . . . series, The Brainiac’s Book of Climate and Weather demonstrates how fun and relevant science is to our everyday lives. This brainiac’s book makes the subject interactive, interesting, and easy to relate to for young readers.”

Middle Grade

When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods

The whole world seems to transform during the summer of 1965, when Eden’s cousin from Mississippi comes to visit her in L.A. just as the Watts Riots erupt, in this stirring new novel by Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods.

When Eden’s cousin Winter comes for a visit, it turns out he’s not just there to sightsee. He wants to figure out what happened to his dad, who disappeared ten years earlier from the Watts area of L.A. So the cousins set out to investigate together, and what they discover brings them joy—and heartache. It also opens up a whole new understanding of their world, just as the area they’ve got their sights on explodes in a clash between the police and the Black residents. For six days Watts is like a war zone, and Eden and Winter become heroes in their own part of the drama. Eden hopes to be a composer someday, and the only way she can describe that summer is a song with an unexpected ending, full of changes in tempo and mood–totally unforgettable.”

Graphic Novels

Who Sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott?: Rosa Parks by Insha Fitzpatrick, Illustrated by Abelle Hayford

Discover the story behind Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in this compelling graphic novel — written by Oh My Gods! author Insha Fitzpatrick and illustrated by #DrawingWhileBlack organizer Abelle Hayford.

Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!

From refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger to sparking civil rights protests across America, explore how Rosa Parks’s powerful act earned her the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” A story of resistance, strength, and unwavering spirit, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.”

Who Was the Voice of the People?: Cesar Chavez by Terry Blas, Illustrated by Mar Julia

Discover the story behind Cesar Chavez and the Delano Grape Strike in this moving graphic novel — written by award-winning author Terry Blas and illustrated by Ignatz-nominated cartoonist Mar Julia.

Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!

Follow Cesar Chavez and the National Farmworkers Association as they set out on a difficult 300-mile protest march in support of farm workers’ rights. A story of hope, solidarity, and perseverance, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the famous Latino American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.”

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: Love In The Library

I’m so excited to share one of my most anticipated titles of 2022 with you all today! Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Yas Imamura is a small book that packs a huge punch of emotion. It quite literally left me in tears, which is not a common experience for me.

Title: Love In the Library
Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Illustrator: Yas Imamura
Publisher: Candlewick
Published: January 25, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Inspired by the author’s grandparent’s lived experience (with mostly fictionalized dialogue) Love in the Library tells a beautiful love story set in Minidoka, an internment camp in Idaho where Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned. Following the story of Tama, a young woman who works in the library at Minidoka, as she falls in love with a man named George, young readers will learn of one of the many dark moments in American history.

The bittersweet disposition of Tama and George’s love with the backdrop of their prison is felt throughout the story, and is especially prevalent in the incredibly heartfelt Author’s note in the back matter. Love in the Library provides so much hope to young readers, especially during the darkness we are all feeling in our current moment in history. Though the world may look scary, and we may feel hopeless, Love in the Library reminds us that through it all there will be beautiful moments filled with joy and love.

The illustrations by Yas Imamura perfectly blend that love and joy with the heartbreak of Tama and George’s reality on every page.

Providing a frank and hearfelt history lesson, Love in the Library would make a fantastic addition to school libraries and classrooms everywhere.

You can preorder your copy of Love In the Library at Bookshop, Amazon, or wherever you normally preorder books. (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 Candlewick for providing me with a review copy of Love in the Library. I have a feeling this may be one of my favorite titles of 2022, and I know I will read this one for many years to come with own little one.

About The Author:

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, and the novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. She lives in Oakland, California.

About The Illustrator:

Yas Imamura is the illustrator of The Very Oldest Pear Tree by Nancy I. Sanders, Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus, and other books for children. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Author Spotlight: Adria Karlsson

It’s time for another Author Spotlight! I’m thrilled to be chatting with Adria Karlsson today about her debut picture book, My Sister, Daisy.

Hi Adria, I want to thank you so much for joining me today! Before we dive in, would you like to introduce yourself to Mutually Inclusive’s Readers?

Hi Devyn! Thanks so much for creating such an inviting corner of the internet – I’m honored to be included here. I’m a picture book and middle grade author and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I have five kids – ages 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 – who read all kinds of books and keep me on my toes! Before writing My Sister, Daisy, I had many different jobs – I was a content editor for a journal, a tutor for dyslexic kids, a teacher, and a dog and cat behavior consultant.


Your debut, My Sister, Daisy, is such a beautiful story of understanding and acceptance. What inspired you to write this book?


This book was inspired by my own kids’ questions and responses when one of them let us know she was trans. Like Daisy’s parents, we were 100% supportive of our daughter, but unlike Daisy’s parents, we didn’t have all the right words to help our other kids understand.
When we went looking, the few books we found were from the trans-child’s perspective – a story that 100% needs to be told by trans-authors, centered, and celebrated! – but not exactly what we needed for the other kids. On top of that, so many siblings were portrayed as unsupportive and the trans-child almost always experienced bullying. We didn’t want those stories to become our story – we wanted a book that modeled support with curiosity and a child’s normal range of emotions when it comes to change.

Daisy and her family are such a delight! I love how much love and support Daisy’s family gives her, including her brother. Are the characters themselves based off of your family at all?


We have a trans child and she has an older brother who is close in age… but the relationship between Daisy and her brother, the immediate clarity with which the parents understand what Daisy is sharing, and the mixed-race portrayal of the family are all different than our story. The book is definitely semi-autobiographical, not fully so! Some words are directly taken from things my children said, but the timeline is all jumbled up. It’s funny, though… When the book came out, the teacher at my kids’ school who runs the Rainbow Kids lunch immediately texted me. She was so happy to be in the book! When I told her that I couldn’t claim credit for that one – the picture of her, and even her inclusion in the story, were Linus’s idea – she told me that didn’t really change anything, she knew it was her. :p

Title: My Sister, Daisy
Author: Adria Karlsson
Illustrator: Linus Curci
Publisher: Capstone
Published: September 1, 2020
Format: Picture Book

I know it can be extremely rewarding, but challenging to write something you’re so personally connected with. What was the biggest hurdle, and the biggest celebration, of writing My Sister, Daisy?


The biggest hurdle was probably deciding whether or not to publish it. I was worried my daughter or her siblings would feel like from now on they would have to maintain the genders that were portrayed in the book or feel outed by the story. We had a lot of conversations about both of those things and the reality is that the book is about acceptance. It’s about listening to our kids! Whether it’s gender or something else, so my kids are clear on the idea they can still change and grow. As for the second issue, she’s young to have made the decision to allow this story and my author’s note to go out into the world and I can only hope that she is still as proud of who she is and what this book is doing in the world when she’s older. Right now, she’s thrilled, and for all of us it feels like a risk we could take since we carry so many other privileges.
The biggest celebration? When my oldest two kids teared up when they first read this book. They are so stinkin’ proud of it and that, to me, is worth a lot when it is such a personal connection.

And how do your kids feel about inspiring My Sister, Daisy? I would imagine they are so proud of you for creating the book your family needed.


I think I’ve already answered this one, but to ensure the message isn’t lost – they are so, so proud. I got bookmarks made for handing out at events and when my kids spotted them, all five of them insisted on bringing them into school to give to alllll the kids in their classes. Definitely NOT my idea, but hey… I guess it was good publicity!

If young readers only learn one thing from My Sister, Daisy, what message would you most like them to take away?


This is what acceptance looks like. When we love someone and they feel safe enough to share something this big with us, it’s our privilege to accept that knowledge, love them for it, and listen.

As a parent of a transgender child, do you have any advice or resources you would offer to parents who want to support their own children through their own journey of gender identity and expression?


There are amazing books out there written by transgender authors that speak to their own experiences. In particular, I love the picture books My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal, and When Aiden Became a Brother and Call Me Max (and its two sequels) by Kyle Lukoff. For those that are working to understand gender identity, expression, and assigned sex at birth the book It Feels Good to Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn is excellent. Greater Boston PFLAG has been an invaluable resource to us as well. I don’t consider this only a conversation for parents of gender non-conforming or transgender children, either – I hope every kid is exposed to this information early and often so they have the language to discuss and discover their own way forward.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?


Hopefully more picture books! I have some on submission, some I’m drafting and revising, and new ideas all the time. I also have a middle grade novel that’s going through its third revision – so hopefully that will eventually see the light of day. For now, I’ve been catching up and learning how to be a debut author and balance the rest of my life!

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


I’m a member of a group of new kidlit authors and they’ve come out with some amazing books this year! They can all be found at http://www.newbooksforkids.com. Finding a group of people to support me at each step of my new life as an author has been truly invaluable and I’m deeply appreciative of each and every person that has seen My Sister, Daisy along on its journey.

You can learn more about Adria and her work at her website https://www.adriakarlsson.com or by following her on Twitter @AdriaKarlsson and Instagram @adriakarlson.

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