A different sort of post today…

To be honest, I’ve been putting this post off all week. The truth is, as much as I loathe to admit it, it’s time for a hiatus. Between working the day job, writing, reviewing, blogging, and parenting a toddler, I’ve spread myself too thin over the last few weeks. I’m feeling the burnout, and I need to step back and give myself some time and space to rest.

I’m planning on taking the month of November off, but Mutually Inclusive will be back up and running in December to talk about all things year-end and holiday related.

New Release Round-Up: October 25, 2022

Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week, because I get to shout about all the amazing new books being released. I’ve got a selection for you today, so let’s get to it!

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

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

Board Books

Celebrate!: A Happy Book of Firsts by Janet Lawler, Illustrated by Brittany Baugus

Our first words, our first steps, these and so much more are things we celebrate!

But when a bird flaps its wings for the first time, or a kitten makes its first climb―do they also celebrate?

Celebrate! is a sweet and joyous rhyming picture book about life’s milestones, how we celebrate, and wondering what else we might accomplish in our lives as we grow!

Picture Books

Good Dream Dragon by Jacky Davis, Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

Good Dream Dragon comes to the rescue in easing a child’s bedtime fears in this magical story featuring a nonbinary child. 

When a young child is afraid to go to sleep, they call on the Good Dream Dragon to help lead the way. Together, the pair race past comets as they travel through the night galaxy, making their way to the magical world of Dreamland. 

This soothing bedtime story celebrates imagination as a way to help alleviate a child’s bedtime jitters. It is a gentle reminder to children that comfort is always within reach.  

Bored No More!: The ABCs of What to Do When There’s Nothing to Do by Julie Reiters

The ultimate book of boredom busters from A to Z—perfect for any time you’re stuck at home or in need of a little inspiration!

Act out a play
Bounce a ball
Call a friend
Dance down the hall

    
Whether you’re home with the flu or stuck inside on a snowy day, this lively picture book offers fun suggestions for families looking to step away from their screens. Julie Reiters’s bold and graphic art style is sure to appeal to readers of all ages, and the poetic text makes for a smooth read-aloud. With options from A to Z, Bored No More! is sure to provide inspiration for what to do when there’s nothing to do!

Give This Book Away! by Darren Farrell, Illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa

Two award-winning creators team up for this picture book about what happens–and how you feel–when you give to someone else. And then it asks you to do just that–with the book in your hands!

Prepare to open a very special book–a book that you read, but that you don’t keep. That’s right. This book isn’t destined for a pile in your room. It’s not going to gather dust on a bookshelf. This book is for you to read and enjoy, and then to give away. Yes, away, to someone you’ve never spoken to before.

So, who are you going to pick? The next person you pass on the street? Someone sitting alone on a bench? A kid at the park? Who knows—maybe you’ll even make a new friend! 

Here is a one-of-a-kind picture book that brilliantly introduces the act of giving—quite literally—in a concrete way for kids to understand, and reveals how good it feels when you do.

The Girl Who Built an Ocean: An Artist, an Argonaut, and the True Story of the World’s First Aquarium by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter

The inspiring tale of a seamstress-turned-scientist who invented the world’s first aquarium at a time when women in STEM were startlingly rare.

The daughter of a seamstress and a cobbler, Jeanne Villepreux-Power began her career as a dressmaker, sewing beautiful gowns for the Parisian aristocracy. But her heart longed for more, and when she moved to the seaside, she became fascinated by the ocean’s mysteries.

She filled her pockets with seashells and specimens, and filled her notebooks with oservations about coral and crustaceans and all manner of marine life. The argonaut interested her most of all, but Jeanne’s observations of this shy creature were confounded by its tendency to swim away when approached. Jeanne wanted a way to bring a piece of the ocean home with her, and that’s she came to build the world’s first aquarium—an invention that would pave the way for countless scientific discoveries in the years to come…

Alphabedtime by Susanna Leonard Hill, Illustrated by Betsy Snyder

It’s a busy night for the Alphabet Family—after all, there are 26 kiddos to get ready for bed. A, B, and C declare they are not ready, and Impish I and Jazzy J don’t want to settle down, but by toothbrushing-time the crew seems to be headed in the right direction. Bath time requires six bathtubs and is super-splashy—and getting into jammies is no joke—but finally, after a story has been read and they are all tucked in tight, peace should reign. Except what’s this? When Mom turns off the light, it’s an Alpha pillow fight! Toddlers are sure to get a huge kick out of this lively alpha family—and hopefully following each and every little letter’s antics will tucker them out!

The Very Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra: With 10 Musical Sounds! by Tim Lihoreau and Philip Noyce, Illustrated by Olga Baumert

Follow Ava and Jayden on a magical journey, as they discover the instruments of the orchestra, and explore beautiful scenes inspired by the music. Introduce the maestro-in-making in your life to orchestral music. Young readers can discover instruments from the violin to the trumpet and learn about the composers and their dazzling pieces. The spreads tell the story of the classical tune, while the sound button brings it to life.

Featuring 10 different sound buttons throughout the book that play 10-second clips of famous classical pieces performed by a live orchestra. Parents and carers – save the batteries, and your patience, with an on/off switch for the musical sounds located on the left of the back cover.

Middle Grade

A Seed in the Sun by Aida Salazar

A farm-working girl with big dreams meets activist Dolores Huerta and joins the 1965 protest for workers’ rights in this tender-hearted novel in verse, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia and Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Lula Viramontes aches to one day become someone whom no one can ignore: a daring ringleader in a Mexican traveling circus. But between working the grape harvest in Delano, California, with her older siblings under dangerous conditions; taking care of her younger siblings and Mamá, who has mysteriously fallen ill; and doing everything she can to avoid Papá’s volatile temper, it’s hard to hold on to those dreams.

Then she meets Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong, and other labor rights activists and realizes she may need to raise her voice sooner rather than later: Farmworkers are striking for better treatment and wages, and whether Lula’s family joins them or not will determine their future.

Troublemakers in Trousers: Women and What They Wore to Get Things Done by Sarah Albee, Illustrated by Kaja Kajfez

Meet twenty-one women throughout history who broke fashion and norms to do something groundbreaking in this unique middle-grade collection that celebrates trailblazers and troublemakers.

Girls and women have historically been denied access to work, been blocked from the arts, refused the opportunity to lead and fight, and much more, simply because of their gender. From Hatshepsut to Joan of Arc to Frida Kahlo, Troublemakers in Trousers highlights twenty-one women who, for different reasons, wore men’s clothing, pretended to be men, and broke the rules in order to do something they wanted—or needed—to do.

The perfect modern-day introduction to women throughout history who broke boundaries and pushed the limits set by society.

Graphic Novel

History Comics: The Transcontinental Railroad: Crossing the Divide by Andy Hirsch

Turn back the clock with History Comics! In this graphic novel, experience the great railroad race between Central Pacific and Union Pacific. Wealth and glory await whichever builds the longest track!

In 1863, America is divided not just by the civil war but by months of travel over thousands of miles. Two railroad companies, one each from East and West, are given the task of connecting the nation by rail. Building this railroad will be a monumental undertaking, difficult and dangerous. The work falls to immigrant laborers from the lowest economic classes. They accomplish astounding feats of engineering while waiting for an answer: Will those who connect the country be accepted into it?

That’s all I have for today. I hope you all enjoyed reading about these new releases, and hopefully, you found one or two to add to your young reader’s shelves!

Which titles have you been looking forward to the most? Be sure to share in the comments below!

You Might Also Like:

New Release Round-Up: October 18, 2022

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time to talk about new releases again, so let’s get to it.

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

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

Board Books

The Awesome! Box Set by Eva Chen, Illustrated by Derek Desierto

New York Times-bestselling author Eva Chen’s three feminist board books are now available in one AWESOME collection, a must-have for every little feminist’s library.

A Is for Awesome! provides an ABC of amazing women from throughout history, 3 2 1 Awesome! counts down some of their most amazing accomplishments, and Colors of Awesome! pairs groundbreaking feminist icons with all the colors of the rainbow and beyond, featuring 67 sheroes from throughout history, from Kamala Harris to Beyoncé, Megan Rapinoe to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Picture Books

If I Had A Vampire Bat by Gabby Dawnay, Illustrated by Alex Barrow

An unexpectedly charming bedtime story in which a little girl imagines what it would be like to have a vampire bat as her pet. 

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have a vampire bat for a pet? Besides being less squishable than a spider and far more conveniently sized than a werewolf, vampire bats sleep all day and could scare your neighbors! Haunted houses are fun and all, but picture how much better they would be with a vampire bat in tow!

In this humorous, energetically rhyming tale, a little girl experiences exactly what life would be like with a wild creature for a pet. The latest in the bestselling If I Had A . . . series, If I Had a Vampire Bat celebrates the fun of having a spooky, scary, imaginary pet. 

Celebrate with Me!: Recipes, Crafts, and Holiday Fun from Around the World by Laura Gladwin, Illustrated by Dawn M. Cardona

Curated from the kitchen tables of people around the world, a joy-filled collection of recipes and crafts that celebrates festivals and special holidays throughout the year

Celebrate at the tables of artists, designers, and chefs with this book that offers families the chance to share in a world of parties, festivals, and holidays. Each spread features a different holiday and offers a step-by-step recipe, a craft activity, a personal story, and different ways to observe the holiday. With contributions from chefs such as Erin Gleeson and Joanne Chang; artists and authors including Dow Phumiruk and Queenie Chan; and designers such as Marta Veludo and Juliet Sargeant, Celebrate with Me! brings together personal stories and parties from around the world in a unique and engaging way that is sure to delight children and their families.

The Talk by Alicia D. Williams, Illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu

As a little boy grows into a bigger boy, ready to take on the world, he first must have that very difficult conversation far too familiar to so many Black and Brown Americans in this gentle and ultimately hopeful picture book.

Jay’s most favorite things are hanging out with his pals, getting kisses from Grandma, riding in his dad’s cool car, and getting measured by his mom with pencil marks on the wall. But as those height marks inch upward, Grandpa warns Jay about being in too big a group with his friends, Grandma worries others won’t see him as quite so cute now that he’s older, and Dad has to tell Jay how to act if the police ever pull them over.

The Magic of a Small Town Christmas by Megan Alexander, Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

From Inside Edition’s national correspondent Megan Alexander comes a sweet picture book celebrating the joys, wonders, and traditions of a small-town Christmas in the spirit of her show, Small Town Christmas.

In the town of Heartbeat Falls, where skies are crystal clear, the magic of Christmas is celebrated in many different ways: from picking the perfect tree to decorating it with glittering ornaments; from ice skating to eating yummy gingerbread cookies; from hanging handmade stockings to sharing a homecooked meal. Here, the residents know the beauty of a small town doesn’t come from its size, but from the love shared by its people, shining brightly in their eyes.

Mama’s Home by Shay Youngblood, Illustrated by Lo Harris

A gorgeously illustrated picture book that is a powerful love letter to chosen families and the village that raises us. A young girls basks in the love of her community–which includes not only her mother but the many different women who make up her world.

Home can be a blue house with white trim you share with your mama. But it can be bigger than that, with lots of Big Mamas to take care of you when your mom works—different houses for every day of the week. Mondays mean Nurse Louella and bike riding. Tuesdays mean eating fufu with your fingers with Miss Zikora. And Wednesdays . . . well, no matter where you are, as long as you are with your Big Mamas, you are home.

A girl basks in the warmth of her community in this powerful love letter to chosen families and the villages that raise us, from Pushcart Prize-winning author Shay Youngblood and popular illustrator Lo Harris.

If You Were a Princess: True Stories of Brave Leaders from around the World by Hillary Homzie, Illustrated by Udayana Lugo

If you were a princess, what would you be?

Maybe you’d fight for the rights of young girls and women throughout the world. Or graduate from university and find work as a research scientist. Or you might be a musician, a songwriter, a rapper, or a poet.

Three best friends discover this and more as they learn what being a princess truly means. Through the facts and profiles of real-life princesses woven throughout, they become empowered to try and make a difference within their own communities—and discover that anyone can be a princess after all.

Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by JaNay Brown-Wood, Illustrated by Anastasia Magloire Williams

Celebrate diversity, math, and the power of storytelling!

Tyson is the youngest-smaller than his four older brothers and always trying to keep up. But when the family’s pet gerbil, Swish, goes missing, it’s Tyson to the rescue! Tyson uses his knowledge of doubles, triples, and sizes to figure out a clever way to reach his beloved pet. A playful exploration of proportional thinking, featuring an author letter about the ubiquitous nature of math.

Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, Illustrated by Salini Perera

A child who looks different from her mother finds beauty and belonging in this new book from the creator of New York Times bestseller I Sang You Down from the Stars

Izzy’s favorite place to be is in Mama’s arms—skin to skin, safe and warm. One night, cuddled up on Mama’s lap, Izzy notices something she’s never noticed before: her skin is the color of chocolate, but Mama’s skin is the color of sand.

When Izzy realizes she’s different from Mama in other ways, too, she feels sad and confused. She wants to be beautiful like Mama! But Mama addresses Izzy’s disappointment with a gentle, loving refrain: You’re part of me, and I’m part of you. I’m beautiful like me, and you’re beautiful like you. Finding lessons from nature and repeating her affirming message, Mama encourages Izzy to see her own unique beauty.

Twelve Dinging Doorbells by Tameka Fryer Brown, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

A cumulative all-holiday carol packed to the brim with family, food, love, and Black joy, especially perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduations, and all family celebrations.

Every holiday, aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and neighbors come over to eat, sing, and celebrate life. But all our main character can think about is the sweet potato pie Granny makes just for her. As tables fill with baked macaroni and cheese, chitlins, and other sides a-steaming, she and Granny move the pie to keep it intact. The task becomes tricker as the room grows with dancing and card games and pie cravings. Just when all seems lost and there’s no more pie, Granny pulls out a sweet surprise. 

Chapter Books

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party by Saadia Faruqi, Illustrated by Ani Bushry

Perfect for fans of Ivy & Bean and Dory Fantasmagory, this is the start of a charming new chapter book series about a third-grader whose plans may backfire but whose persistence and heart are inspiring.

Marya’s eighth birthday is coming up in a week, and all she wants is an over-the-top birthday party just like the ones Alexa, her rich neighbor, always throws. When Alexa parades into school with fancy invitations, Marya can’t help herself—she claims that she’s having the most epic henna party ever. Now she has to convince her family to make it happen. Enter Operation Help the Khans! Marya’s siblings clearly need help with their projects. Maybe she could cook dinner for her parents, or clean her grandmother’s room? Except everything Marya does seems to end in disaster. Will Marya and her family be able pull it together and throw the best party ever?!

Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure by Hena Khan, Illustrated by Wastana Haikal

From the beloved author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in the delightful Zara’s Rules middle grade series following Zara as she starts her own business!

Zara lives for bike rides with her friends—so when her shiny, brand-new bike goes missing from the park one day, she’s crushed. After her parents insist she earn the money for another one herself, Zara’s determined to start a business. But what kind? A lemonade stand? Not profitable enough. Selling painted rocks? Not enough customers.

Zara’s starting to get discouraged when she and her friend Naomi finally come up with the perfect idea: The Treasure Wagon, a roving garage sale that unloads knickknacks from the Saleem family basement and makes money all at once! But when a mix-up gets Zara in hot water again, will she have to give up everything she’s earned toward her new bike?

The Power of the Pearl Earrings by Linda Trinh, Illustrated by Clayton Nguyen

Spontaneous and energetic Liz, the middle Nguyen sibling, grew up hearing stories from her Grandma Nội about the fantastically fierce Trung Sisters, freedom fighters in ancient Vietnam. And with a new school year about to start, Liz is determined that her taekwondo classes will prove she is just as important and brave as the famous warriors. That is, until the new boy at school, Michael, threatens her plans by turning her best friend against her, telling her the things she can’t do because she’s a girl. Struggling with both her friendships and her place in her family, Liz finds help where she least expects it—in the pearl earrings her Grandma Nội left her as a gift, reminding her of her Vietnamese heritage. Armed with the earrings’ mysterious power, Liz decides to show Michael exactly what girls are capable of.

Middle Grade

April & Mae and the Tea Party: The Sunday Book by Megan Dowd Lambert, Illustrated by Briana Dengoue

Fans of King & Kayla and Charlie and Mouse will love this delightful beginning chapter book series that celebrates friendship every day of the week!

It’s Sunday, and April and Mae are having their weekly tea party. Mae usually bakes goodies, and April always sings and dances. But this Sunday, April decides to try a new activity. When April’s juggling causes her to break Mae’s favorite teacup, the two friends navigate their first disagreement and eventually apologize and forgive each other.

With imagination and humor, Every Day with April and Mae brings all there is to know and love about friendship to life in a way kids can both relate to and learn from making this a perfect fit for young readers ready to step up from picture books.

Marikit and the Ocean of Stars by Caris Avendaño Cruz

A magical middle grade debut, inspired by Filipino folklore, about a ten-year-old girl who embarks on a quest in the world of gods and spirits to save her and her family from a sinister shadow god. Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and When You Trap a Tiger.

Marikit is used to wearing recycled clothes. Her mother, the best seamstress in the barrio, has become an expert at making do ever since Marikit’s father and brother were lost at sea. But for her tenth birthday, all Marikit wants is something new. So when her mother gifts her a patchwork dress stitched together with leftover scraps from her workshop, Marikit vows to never wear it. That is, until the eve of her birthday, when shadow creatures creep into their home, attempt to take Marikit away, and upend the very life she knew.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (Young Readers Adaptation): Life in Native America by David Treuer, Adapted by Sheila Keenan

The Heartbeat of Wounded Kneeis a story of Native American resilience and reinvention, adapted for young adults from the adult nonfiction book of the same name.

Since the late 1800s, it has been believed that Native American civilization has been wiped from the United States. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee argues that Native American culture is far from defeated—if anything, it is thriving as much today as it was one hundred years ago.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee looks at Native American culture as it exists today—and the fight to preserve language and traditions. 

Adapted for young readers, this important young adult nonfiction book is perfect educational material for children and adults alike.

Graphic Novel

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, Illustrated by Rose Bousamra

A middle grade graphic novel about Marlene, a young girl who stops straightening her hair and embraces her natural curls.

Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and “growing up.” That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have “presentable”, “good hair”.

But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby―she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.

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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Author Spotlight: An Interview with CK Malone

Spooky season is upon us, so this month’s Author Spotlight has a Halloween twist! Today, I’m thrilled to be chatting with my friend CK Malone today about their debut picture book A Costume For Charly.

C.K. Malone (they/them) is a bigender award-winning educator and literature coach at the secondary level. When not grading essays or helping students, they’re busy helping design culturally and LGBTQIA+ responsive units for the district and working as a climate and culture coach. When they’re not writing, they’re coaching and advising through alignment with the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network. C.K. continues this work in the literary world by advocating for all to be given the space to tell their own stories. Though they love the many hats they wear, their favorite is as an advocate for diverse voices.

How did Charly come to be? What inspired you to write this book and how did your experiences with your own identity impact the story?

Charly is much braver than I am, to be honest. I dream of being this strong. Charly came to be because when I was 11 going on 12, I made a mishmash of costumes for myself to show a select group of friends who I was. It didn’t turn out to be as joyous a situation as Charly’s, though. So Charly’s experience is very much how I *wish* it would have been. My own identity is Bigender (technically Intersex but Bigender is the easiest explanation for people) and I wanted to show readers this identity doesn’t have to cause strife when choosing how to express it. Like myself, the easiest way was to choose binary costumes and combine them. 

Author: CK Malone
Illustrator: Alejandra Barajas
Published: September 6, 2022
Publisher: Beaming Books
Format: Picture Books

Writing stories so close to our hearts can be both difficult and rewarding. What has been the biggest challenge in writing A Costume For Charly? What has been the biggest reward?

The biggest challenge was having to omit some items from the story because I was told Charly needed their own agency. There was a person near and dear to my heart in the LGBTQIA+ community who helped me along the way. She has since passed. But I keep my original draft in my home office in a frame next to her picture. The biggest reward is hearing how my book is helping people to not only understand the identity a bit more, but also that they are sharing CHARLY with their kiddos.

Speaking of rewarding, how was it seeing Alejandra Barajas’ amazing illustrations for the first time? It must be such a thrill to see your words come to life on the page!

Alejandra is SUCH a talented artist. I loved seeing how she emulated Charly’s moods through the illustrations. The colors start off muted when Charly is experiencing a lot of lows then become vibrant as they realize they can make their own costume and celebrate it. It was amazing seeing the illustrations for the first time. I cried. A lot.

If children only take one thing away from reading A Costume For Charly, what message would you hope they get?

I hope they receive the message that they are not wrong in how they feel or how they identify. Find a trusted adult to speak to about feelings. So often, kids are told by the wrong people “this is just a phase” and other such nonsense. One of my middle school GSAs is 36 children strong with over 60 who identify who cannot attend meetings due to transportation, so now we hold them virtually as well. I have students at the elementary level sending me emails because they know they are coming to my school someday. There is no “phase” about it. Children know they are different.

You are such a vocal advocate for diverse voices in the kidlit community. What advice would you give those still learning to find their voice and speak up for others?

That’s a hard question. I’m still learning daily how to speak up and out for others without putting myself in danger and without making huge mistakes because I have done both. Both have left scars on an already scarred heart. I’d say joining platforms that support as well as giving money to verified platforms that support helps immensely. Celebrate diversity in all its intersections because it is truly beautiful. And if you have any kind of privilege–even if you are intersectional yourself–use that privilege to help others whenever possible.

What are your plans for Halloween this year? Do you have any creative costumes planned?

I’m going as a bat tap dancer. It’s going to be weird, but kids will like it. Oh, and I can’t even tap dance. Soooo…there’s that. I hope to read at a local bookstore as well as hand out candy. One of the schools is doing a haunted house, so I look forward to joining in on that!

A Costume For Charly is your debut, so I have to ask, what’s next for you?

I have a short story coming out in a literary magazine and we’re waiting to announce my next book. It’s not LGBTQIA+ because I don’t want to write only about my identity since I’m so much more than this. My experiences extend beyond identity. Looking forward to everyone hearing about both!

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

If you read this blog, then I know you must be amazing and want the best for your kiddos. Keep being you!

I love that! Thank you so so much for joining us today, CK. It’s been an absolute delight chatting with you!


To learn more about CK and their work be sure to visit them online at carlislemalonebooks.com and follow them on Twitter @CKMalone2 and Instagram @writre_ckmalone.

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New Release Round-Up: October 4, 2022

It’s time to talk about new releases again, and we’ve got plenty this week, so let’s get right to it.

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

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

Board Books

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Tie on your apron! Roll up your sleeves!
Pans are out, oven is hot, the kitchen’s all ready!
Where do we start?

In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another. Bonus materials include recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.

The Baby Loves Books Collection by Abrams Appleseed

Learn about Baby’s world in this interactive and photographic board book series—now in a gifty box set! 

This collection of bright and interactive board books presents key concepts to little ones. Baby will explore emotions with Making Faces; first words with Baby Loves; and opposites in Baby Up, Baby Down. With fun and adorable photography, these books are the perfect introduction to Baby’s world.

We Love Books! by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Discover a world of books and stories and learn first words with this adorable Bookscape Board Book!

Explore a cozy bookstore, visit a library, and learn all about books in this sweet board book by celebrated illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius. Each uniquely shaped page overlaps with the next to create a complete landscape when closed—and an immersive world to explore with each turn of the page when open.
Simple text and jubilant illustrations introduce babies and toddlers to a word of books and usher in an early appreciation for reading! Delightfully petite, Bookscape Board Books’ chunkiness and unique layers give them a tactile, toylike quality that begs to be picked up—making each book in the series a memorable and irresistible gift.

ADORABLE ARTWORK: Ingela P Arrhenius has a unique eye for color and design that has made her a beloved creator of books for the youngest readers. Step into her world of books with this specially crafted board book.
GIFTABLE: Shaped, chunky pages and bright illustrations make this an excellent choice for hands-on reading and play. Bookscape Board Books make ideal baby shower or birthday gifts!
COLLECT THEM ALL! Each of the Bookscape Board Books offers a tiny world to treasure and explore—from a museum’s exhibits to a forest through the seasons. Perfect for collecting and displaying, this series makes a stylish addition to any nursery collection

Who is Greta Thunberg? by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Stanley Chow

The latest addition to the Who HQ program: board book biographies of relevant and important figures, created specifically for the preschool audience!

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

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

WHO WAS? BOARD BOOKS bring inspiring biographies to the youngest readers in an accessible and memorable way.

Picture Book

Me and the Family Tree by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin

A celebration of family roots from award-winning children’s author Carole Boston Weatherford!

I’ve got my brother’s ears

And my sister’s big bright eyes.

I’ve got my grandpa’s hands

Though mine are a smaller size.

As a young girl reflects on the characteristics she shares with her family, she also notices and appreciates what makes her unique. This adorably sweet book reminds children of the love and security of family and celebrates the wonderful diversity among the people that make up our families and who love us so much!

Where We Live: Mapping Neighborhoods of Kids Around the Globe by Margriet Ruurs, Illustrated by Wenjia Tang

This fascinating look at 16 children’s neighborhoods around the world broadens readers’ understanding of global cultures.

This unique illustrated map book explores the neighborhoods of 16 real children from around the world. Author Margriet Ruurs, who met many of these children in her travels, tells the story of each child’s neighborhood by highlighting the places that are important to them, such as where they live, go to school and play, as well as interesting facts about their lives, including the food they eat, their religious practices and the sights and smells they encounter every day. From big cities, such as Amsterdam and Beijing, to small communities, such as Salt Spring Island in Canada and the village of Komanyana in Zambia, each place is special to the children who live there.

We Are Many by Dave Cameron, Illustrated by Suharu Ogawa

A quirky story with a kid’s-eye view of the curious ways people behave in groups.

In a field outside the city, a group of children are playing a simple game. They run after a kicked ball, then throw themselves on top of the ball in a laughing heap. Then the adults arrive. Lots of adults. They want to join the “people pile.” But as more and more people join the pile, some of them become uncomfortable. Others have questions. Lots of questions. Like, how big is their pile? Are they a mountain? And when a disruption causes the one pile to become two piles, is that better? All the while, the children are confused. What are all these adults doing? Can’t they just get back to their game?

Award-winning journalist Dave Cameron has created an unconventional, one-of-a-kind story to introduce young readers to some big ideas about societies, group mentality and group dynamics. It’s an excellent choice to encourage critical thinking about how people interact with each other in groups and could jump-start any number of wide-ranging discussions about societal structures, equality and fairness. The story’s open-ended yet positive resolution reassures readers that societies are always growing, changing and reinventing themselves, and that, ultimately, no one is better than anyone else and all are welcome and can be accommodated. Suharu Ogawa’s playful art is full of humorous and fun details that children will enjoy poring over, discovering something new with each read.

Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Sabrena Khadija

A joyful, rhyming picture book that is an ode to community and outdoor play

Pedal, pump.
Speed bump!
Ride, roll, run.
Friends and fun!

This energetic picture book celebrates community and friendship, following children as they play their way through their vibrant neighborhood. Author and educator Valerie Bolling’s rhyming text makes for an exciting read-aloud and is paired with stunning illustrations by Sabrena Khadija.

Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book by Tonya Bolden, Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

In the vein of Hidden Figures comes a nonfiction picture book about the Green Book, a travel guide by Victor Hugo Green, a Black postal worker from Harlem, made to help African Americans stay safe while traveling during segregation.

As a mail carrier, Victor Hugo Green traveled across New Jersey every day. But with Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation since the late 1800s, traveling as a Black person in the US could be stressful, even dangerous.

So in the 1930s, Victor created a guide—The Negro Motorist Green-Book—compiling information on where to go and what places to avoid so that Black travelers could have a safe and pleasant time. While the Green Book started out small, over the years it became an expansive, invaluable resource for Black people throughout the country—all in the hopes that one day such a guide would no longer be needed.

Award-winning author Tonya Bolden and acclaimed illustrator Eric Velasquez shine a light on this little-known history of Victor Hugo Green and the deep impact of his incredible book on generations of Black families in America.

Indigo Dreaming by Dinah Johnson, Illustrated by Anna Cunha

A gorgeous, imagination-sparking introduction to the beauty and interconnectedness of the Black diaspora.

A young girl living on the coast of South Carolina dreams of her distant relatives on the shores of Africa and beyond. Indigo Dreaming is a poetic meditation between two young girls—on different sides of the sea—who wonder about how they are intricately linked by culture, even though they are separated by location. The girls’ reflections come together, creating an imaginative and illuminating vision of home, as well as a celebration of the Black diaspora.

This gorgeous lyrical tale engages the senses and evokes childlike curiosity and wonder.

Mariana and Her Familia by Monica Mancilla, Illustrated by Erika Meza

A heartwarming picture book about a young girl on her first trip to visit family in Mexico, who learns there is no language barrier when it comes to love—from debut author Mónica Mancillas and rising star illustrator Erika Meza. Perfect for fans of Where Are You From? and Mango, Abuela, and Me.

Mariana is visiting her abuelita and extended family in Mexico for the first time. Her tummy does a flip as she and Mami cross the frontera.

There are all new sights, smells, and sounds. And at Abuelita’s house, Mariana is overwhelmed by new faces and Spanish phrases she doesn’t understand.

But with a story, some kindness, and a few new words from Abuelita, Mariana discovers that the love of family knows no cultural divide.

Hold Them Close: A Love Letter to Black Children by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow


When happy things come to you, hold them close and never let go.

From celebrated author of Your Name Is a Song Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, fine artist Patrick Dougher, and photographer Jamel Shabazz, Hold Them Close is a picture book celebration of Black past, present, and future—a joyful love letter to Black children.

As affirming as it is touching and warm, Hold Them Close encourages young children to hold close their joy, the words of their ancestors and elders, as well as their power to change the world. A perfect book for shared story time, this book will inspire young people to march forth with pride, glow, and happiness. 

Bus Stop by Angela H. Dale, Illustrated by Lala Watkins

In the spirit of The Snowy Day, a group of kids from A to Z arrive at the bus stop only to discover that the bus is a no-show—snow day!

It’s time for school, and all the neighborhood kids, from Antoine to Mahmoud to Zoey, gather one by one in the frosty dawn to wait for the school bus. But something more thrilling arrives first. Snowflakes fall, transforming the bus stop into a winter wonderland—and an official snow day. No school!

Family by Ariel Andres Almada, Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer

A heartening addition to the awarded series Family Love. An unbreakable bond and a red thread that connects us to our loved ones will guide us into this magical love story.

Family means a world of colors, scents, moments and shared dreams. It is our refuge, our home, a place where everything can be solved with love. From the creators of this award-winning saga (Daughter and Son) comes this new emotional yet funny picture book Familia. The perfect read for the little ones in the house (and the not so little ones!) to recognize themselves in the colorful, magical illustrations created by the German artist Sonja Wimmer. Family is one of those treasures to keep in our libraries, and to read and reread over again as a way of expressing grattitude to the universe for having united us in this life.

An inclusive book for all types of family constellations. It has been made with great care and delicacy in order to contemplate the different families that exist in the world, and is designed to highlight the unconditional love and gratitute towards life.

Calling the Wind by Trudy Ludwig, Illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi

Inspired by the Wind Telephone in Japan, this poignant story explores the stages of grief, the healing power of hope, and the unbreakable family bonds that connect us all. From the acclaimed author of The Invisible Boy and the award-winning illustrator of One.

In a small village in Japan, a family mourns the loss of their loved one. Each family member grieves in their own way, but it is not until they discover an old-fashioned telephone booth on a windswept hill that they begin to heal. Through the telephone, they are able to express feelings long bottled up–speaking directly to their loved one and also to each other. Slowly but surely, the pain subsides, and hope blossoms anew.

Inspired by Itaru Sasaki’s Wind Telephone, which brought healing to the people of Japan in the wake of an Earthquake and tsunami this story explores grief and loss, and how we move forward by finding meaningful ways to connect with the family and friends we’ve lost, as well as those who are still with us.

Rock That Vote by Meg Fleming, Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

An interactive, joyful celebration of classroom elections and the power of voting.

Fins, paws, wings, or claws? With so many choices for a new class pet, these kids has the big task of picking a critter to become part of their classroom family. To make sure it’s all fair and square, they put it to a vote! As the students make posters to support their choice and excitedly submit their ballots, readers can join the chants and cheers to make sure everyone rocks that vote!

Payden’s Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, Illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

“I’m not sure I’m a boy… so maybe he is not best for me.”

Payden has always used he/him pronouns, until one day Payden realizes those words might not fit. Payden’s parents promise to throw a big party to introduce whatever pronouns Payden chooses―but which pronouns are the best match? On a colorful quest, Payden talks to friends about a rainbow of possibilities: heshetheyze, and so many more! The right pronouns are just waiting to be tried on.

Put on your party hats and learn about the magical variety of pronouns in this thoughtful story that imagines a world of unquestioning support for gender exploration, celebrates all the different ways a person can present, and provides a blueprint for people of any age who are pondering what gender means to them.

Chapter Book

She Persisted: Wilma Mankiller by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Gillian Flint

Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, a chapter book series about women who spoke up and rose up against the odds–including Wilma Mankiller!

The descendant of Cherokee ancestors who had been forced to walk the Trail of Tears, Wilma Mankiller experienced her own forced removal from the land she grew up on as a child. As she got older and learned more about the injustices her people had faced, she dedicated her life to instilling pride in Native heritage and reclaiming Native rights. She went on to become the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Traci Sorell, readers learn about the amazing life of Wilma Mankiller–and how she persisted
 
Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Wilma Mankiller’s footsteps and make a difference!
 
And don’t miss out on the rest of the books in the She Persisted series, featuring so many more women who persisted!

Middle Grade

Boys Will Be Human by Justin Baldoni

WARNING: THIS MIGHT BE THE MOST HONEST BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ

Have you ever noticed that there are unwritten rules that tell boys how to act, think, and feel? Nobody knows where they came from, but one day—BAM!—you suddenly feel these invisible forces, pushing you to follow the rules of masculinity, even if they don’t make you happy.

This book isn’t about learning the rules of the boys’ club, it’s about UNLEARNING them. It’s a get-real guidebook that will show you how to be:

  • Brave enough to reveal who you really are
  • Smart enough to ask questions
  • Cool enough to feel all your emotions
  • Confident enough to know your worth
  • Strong enough to speak your truth

—and much, much more.

Be prepared: This book is raw and surprising. There is no subject off-limits or lies detected. Sometimes things might get a little uncomfortable, but that’s an important part of getting to know—and believe in—yourself.

Don’t worry, you’re not on this journey alone, so let’s jump in together to become the smartest, bravest, strongest HUMANS we can be!

Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria by George Jreije

You are invited to the Alexandria Academy . . .

Twelve-year-old Shad Hadid has never quite fit in. The other kids at school don’t understand him, so he spends most of his time alone, cooking for his teta and daydreaming of opening his own Arabic bakery full of tasty treats. But when Shad is attacked by a shadowy monster, he learns his late baba was an alchemist with the ability to mix charms, elixirs, and mists—and he’s one too!

Then Shad receives an invitation to the mysterious Alexandria Academy, a fabled school for alchemists, where he hopes he’ll find safety and learn more about the ancient science. But when he arrives, no one at the school seems to know what alchemy is! As Shad digs deeper into the mystery, he discovers a sinister evil lurking in the shadows, and only he holds the key to stopping—or fulfilling—their plans.

With danger at every turn and the fate of the alchemy world on the line, can Shad save his friends and defeat this sinister foe?

The Antiracist Kid by Tiffany Jewell, Illustrated by Nicole Miles

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Book Is Anti-Racist, Tiffany Jewell, with art by Eisner-nominated illustrator Nicole Miles, The Antiracist Kid is the essential illustrated guide to antiracism for empowering the young readers in your life!

What is racism? What is antiracism? Why are both important to learn about? In this book, systemic racism and the antiracist tools to fight it are easily accessible to young readers.

In three sections, this must-have guide explains:

  • Identity: What it is and how it applies to you
  • Justice: What it is, what racism has to do with it, and how to address injustice
  • Activism: A how-to with resources to be the best antiracist kid you can be

This book teaches young children the words, language, and methods to recognize racism and injustice—and what to do when they encounter it at home, at school, and in the media they watch, play, and read.

Graphic Novel

Alcatoe and the Turnip Child by Isaac Lenkiewicz

Welcome to Plum Woods, where spells come alive and witches gather for the Annual Harvest Festival to celebrate the season! Perfect for fans of Aster and the Accidental Magic and Hilda.


Alcatoe the town witch and the local children of Plum Woods are up to some witchy business…like casting spells and growing a prize-winning turnip.  But after their grouchy neighbor Mr. Pokeweed chases them out of his garden, the kids decide to take action and ask Alacatoe for help to win the Annual Harvest Festival Vegetable Pageant. From cursed fruit salad to potions filled with the sneeze of a donkey and the tail hair of a copy cat, Alcatoe knows all the right ingredients to make the magic happen. 

But when their prize-winning vegetable comes alive, their home-grown food soon becomes a friend, in danger of being prepared for the feast. Will they save Turnip Child in time? 

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: September 27, 2022

It’s Tuesday, and we’ve got a TON of new releases to talk about, so let’s get right to it!

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

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

Board Books

Dream with the/Sueña con las Latinitas by Juliet Menéndez

Meet the Latinitas, whose big dreams paved the way for your little feet! With gorgeous, hand-painted illustrations, Juliet Menéndez shines a spotlight on the power of childhood dreams.

¡Conoce a las Latinitas cuyos grandes sueños abrieron el camino para tus propios pasitos! Con hermosas ilustraciones, hechas a mano, Juliet Menéndez pone en relieve el poder que tienen los sueños de la infancia.

Whoever You Are: A Baby Book on Love & Gender by Josephine Wai Lin, Illustrated by Sandy Lopez

Quiet and loud, soft and strong. You being you, there’s no way to be wrong…

Every day, parents come home from the hospital with a brand-new human being. What if we made vows to our babies to love them no matter what? What if the world didn’t rush in to judge our little ones and instead made them feel truly seen and supported.

With bright, vibrant illustrations and exuberant rhythm and rhyme, Whoever You Are is the ultimate vow every baby will love to grow up hearing.

Sumo Colors by Sanae Ishida

Perfect for early learning, this fun board book in the Little Sumo series, from the creator of the Little Kunoichi series, features adorable sumo wrestlers that introduce children to colors and shares elements of Japanese culture that will enrich readers of all ages.

Take a peek into the lives of sumo wrestlers in this adorable book about colors! Simple, charming scenes with sumo wrestlers help young readers learn different colors, such as red, orange, blue, and black.  The Japanese word that corresponds to the English word for each color is included.

Sumo Shapes by Sanae Ishida

Perfect for early learning, this fun board book in the Little Sumo series, from the creator of the Little Kunoichi series, features sumo wrestlers that introduce children to different shapes, and shares elements of Japanese culture that will enrich readers of all ages.

Take a peek into the lives of sumo wrestlers in this adorable book about shapes! Simple, charming scenes with sumo wrestlers help young readers learn different shapes, such as square, circle, pentagon, and crescent.  The Japanese word that corresponds to the English word for each shape is included.

Picture Books

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Illustrated by Julie Flett

From Cree-Métis artist Julie Flett and Academy Award-winning icon Buffy Sainte-Marie comes a celebration of Indigenous community, and the enduring love we hold for the people and places we are far away from. 

Based on Sainte-Marie’s song of the same name, Still This Love Goes On combines Flett’s breathtaking art with vivid lyrics to craft a stunning portrait of a Cree worldview. At the heart of this picture book is a gentle message about missing our loved ones, and the promise of seeing each other again. 

Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Kris Easler

A cat and dog create a Hanukkah miracle, just in the nick of time in this updated reissue of the beloved holiday classic.

The Menashes love latkes and applesauce during Hanukkah. But a blizzard begins and erases any hope that they’ll harvest potatoes and apples in time. When a stray cat and dog show up, there’s not a lot of food to offer them, but kindness prevails, and they’re invited in. It turns out that the dog—Latke—and the cat—Applesauce—save the day.

What Are Words, Really? by Alexi Lubomirski, Illustrated by Carlos Aponte

A renowned photographer and a Pura Belpré Honor–winning illustrator join forces for a playful and stylish picture book that’s destined to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

Perfectly pitched to the youngest child, Alexi Lubomirski’s whimsical text is a gentle reminder that words have power—the power to hurt or to heal, to make someone feel small or feel tall. Carlos Aponte’s buoyant illustrations, in dazzling primary colors and bold black line, pair with a dynamic text design to create a visual symphony. An eye-catching appeal to our better natures, this inspired meditation on the purpose and power of words encourages children to choose them well—and use them wisely—to spread kindness, joy, and love.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda

A family honors their living and dead relatives as they celebrate this holiday with shared food and stories.

The Day of the Dead is a happy day when Mar’s family gathers together. There are favorite dishes to enjoy, games to be played, and most importantly, stories to tell. No one in the family is forgotten because this is the day of the year when the dead come to visit the living—and for this holiday it is almost as if they’re alive again, as the family takes great joy in celebrating the things that made them special. Mar realizes she is just like her Grandpa Ramón, who kept a journal. And her sister, Paz, plays accordian, just like their great-grandfather. There are so many things that connect them all—and at dinner, Abuelita spins even more stories that make them feel close to the ones they will love forever. Ana Aranda’s tender text and vibrant art make the joy felt on this sweet day totally palpable.

A Library by Nikki Giovanni, Illustrated by Erin K. Robinson

In this lyrical picture book, world-renowned poet, New York Times bestselling author, and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Nikki Giovanni and fine artist Erin Robinson craft an ode to the magic of a library as a place not only for knowledge but also for imagination, exploration, and escape.

In what other place can a child “sail their dreams” and “surf the rainbow” without ever leaving the room? This ode to libraries is a celebration for everyone who loves stories, from seasoned readers to those just learning to love words, and it will have kids and parents alike imagining where their library can take them.

This inspiring read-aloud includes stunning illustrations and a note from Nikki Giovanni about the importance of libraries in her own childhood.

Dear Black Child by Rahma Rodaah, Illustrated by Lydia Mba

In the spirit of I Am Enough, this is a moving and lyrical tribute to and affirmation of Black children around the world—by an exciting new author and illustrator team.

Dear Black Child,

We are here to remind you of your glory…

An inspiring love letter to Black children from all cultures, this book is a celebration of their beauty, joy, and resilience.

Dear Black Child is a story of self-acceptance, love, and empowerment for Black immigrant children and families of the diaspora around the world and features joyful and vibrant illustrations.

I Am Me: A Book of Authenticity by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Sometimes we hide who we really are to conform to the way we think we are supposed to be in the world. Sometimes we compare ourselves to others and feel we don’t fit in. But when we realize we are something to be celebrated, and we proudly live out loud as our true selves, we can make our unique mark on the world—and share our joy!

From the New York Times bestselling team behind the I Am series comes a bighearted celebration of individuality, of being comfortable in our own skin, respecting others for who they are, living authentically, and loving ourselves. For anyone who’s ever felt like too much or not enough, I Am Me is an affirming reminder that difference is what makes life beautiful—and that each of us matters, just as we are.

The Adventures of Qai Qai by Serena Williams, Illustrated by Yesenia Moises

From superstar athlete, record breaker, entrepreneur, philanthropist (and mama) Serena Williams, comes a magical picture book in which a little girl learns to believe in herself with the help of her doll and best friend, Qai Qai.

Baby Girl has a dance recital coming up, and she can’t help but worry. She’s practiced and practiced, but what if something goes wrong? What if she forgets the steps or freezes up during her solo?

Luckily, her best friend Qai Qai the doll has her back! When Qai Qai comes to life, they go on a magical journey that shows Baby Girl that she’s ready for the stage.

The Adventures of Qai Qai, a heartwarming picture book from beloved athlete Serena Williams, shows readers the power of believing―in your best friend and in yourself.

The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition by Shirin Shamsi, Illustrated by Aishwarya Tandon

Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as she strings lights outside and creates rangoli art, Priya introduces the festival of lights to her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it’s still Diwali.

A heartwarming story of celebrating in a new place and sharing the Hindu festival of lights with those unfamiliar with the holiday.

Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Denise Kiernan, Illustrated by Jamey Christoph

The beautifully illustrated true story of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday in America, of Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who made the holiday happen, and of the role of gratitude the world over. Marvelously brought to life by the New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan.

All across the world, among hundreds of cultures and across centuries, people have come together to give thanks. But Americans didn’t have an official Thanksgiving holiday until the 1800s. The holiday Americans know today exists because of a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, a spirited letter-writing campaign, a sympathetic president, and a civil war.  

This beautifully illustrated picture book shares the true story of how Thanksgiving became a national American holiday and offers a look at the timeless and global power of gratitude.

Viva’s Voice by Raquel Donoso, Illustrated by Carlos Vélez Auiglera

Five-year-old Viva learns there is a need for girls with powerful voices everywhere when she helps Papi raise his voice on the picket line.

Viva’s Papi is a bus driver and Viva loves going to work with him. The sounds of the traffic and the voices of the passengers are music to Viva’s ears. When she finds out that Papi’s union is going on strike, she convinces Papi to take her along to the picket line. When quiet Papi is too nervous to give his speech, Viva uses her powerful voice to give him the confidence to find his own. A first introduction to labor unions, strikes, picket lines, and workers’ rights, this powerful picture book is both educational and endearing.

Shine Bright by Kheris Rogers, Illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe

Bursting with inspiration and affirmation, Kheris Rogers’ debut picture book encourages children everywhere to love the skin they are in.

When her confidence is shaken by peers who say they are scared of her because she’s “too dark,” Imani turns to her sister for a loving reminder that she’s smarthopebravebeautifulstrong, and just enough. After embracing what makes her truly special, Imani learns to be fearless!

Inspired by the real-life experiences of Kheris Rogers, the young CEO and designer of the Flexin’ in My Complexion clothing line, this ode to dark-skinned girls will empower many.

A perfect tool to teach children about appreciating both outer & inner beauty, embracing differences, being kind to oneself & others, and the power of reciting affirmations.

On Her Wings: The Story of Toni Morrison by Jerdine Nolen, Illustrated by James E. Ransome

Discover the early life and legacy of groundbreaking American writer Toni Morrison in this beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book biography.

Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Ohio, Toni Morrison grew up listening to her family tell myths, legends, and stories from the Bible. She loved hearing the music and power of the words. Toni also heard new stories from the students from other countries who went to her school. After an early childhood of soaking up tales from those around her, it was no surprise Toni grew into a voracious reader.

She worked at her town library as a teenager and was an editor for a New York publisher as an adult. When it came time for her to write her own stories, she knew she wanted to write about her people—Black people. Early in the morning and late at night after her children were asleep, Toni began work on what would become an acclaimed and trailblazing body of work.

Shu Lin’s Grandpa by Matt Goodfellow, Illustrated by Yu Rong

Art and family transcend differences in language and culture in this sensitively told, exquisitely illustrated story of a child starting a new school.

When Shu Lin starts at her new school, she wears yellow rain boots and a pink coat. At recess, she stands alone in the playground. At lunchtime, she eats by herself from little boxes of brightly colored food. Her classmates aren’t sure what to make of her. But one day, when Shu Lin’s grandpa comes to school to share his amazing artwork, everything changes. With a stunning double-gatefold spread revealing a beautiful Chinese painting, this uplifting story shows the transformative power of art and imagination in developing cultural understanding and empathy.

A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth by Christina Soontornvat, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Thai American creators portray the inspirational and barrier-breaking life of Senator Tammy Duckworth in a picture-book tribute to an extraordinary woman.

Senator Tammy Duckworth has logged a long list of “firsts” during her tenure as the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, including being the first woman with a disability to serve in the House and Senate. But while she dreamed of serving her country from a young age, Tammy’s path was not without its challenges. In this dramatic account, award-winning creators Christina Soontornvat and Dow Phumiruk chronicle Tammy’s journey. From her childhood fight to keep her family from homelessness, to her service in the US Army, to her recovery from grievous injuries sustained in the line of duty, Tammy never lost her determination to keep going against staggering odds.
Evoking Tammy Duckworth’s spirited nature with sensitivity and joy, this uplifting account of a groundbreaking military veteran and rising political star will inspire readers to dream and achieve. Includes a time line and suggestions for further reading.

Patti at the Music Shop by Vitezslav Mecner

Vibrant colors of tones and rhythms. A career starter for all musicians dreaming to become Carol Kaye. This picture book tells the charming story of little Patti, who dreams of being a bass guitarist.

Some children like to visit toy shops, others prefer candy shops, and there are some who like going to parks. But a little girl named Patti loves to visit music shops. One very special day, her dad took her to the greatest music shop in town . . .

Brave Mrs. Sato by Lori Matsukawa, Illustrated by Tammy Yee

In a little Hawaiian house with a mango tree, Cathy and her babysitter Mrs. Sato spend their afternoons arranging flowers, cooking, and having adventures. When Cathy has to move away, Mrs. Sato comforts her by sharing her own story of immigrating from Japan to Hawaii. Lori Matsukawa’s debut children’s book tells a heartwarming story of intergenerational friendship, immigration, and bravery. She shows readers how heritage, food, traditions, and stories can help them feel at home wherever they are.

Library Girl: How Nancy Pearl Became America’s Most Celebrated Librarian by Karen Henry Clark, Illustrated by Sheryl Murray

Library Girl is the inspiring childhood story of how beloved librarian, author, and Seattle icon, Nancy Pearl discovered her strengths and realized her passion.  It is a loving tribute to the power books and librarians have to transform children’s lives.

Nancy Pearl loved books and spent so much time in her school library that her grade school classmates teased her, calling her “library girl.”  When she discovers her neighborhood public library is open on Saturday, she begins the adventure of her lifetime. There, an inspiring librarian recognizes her abilities, recommends books that ignite her vivid imagination, and provides experiences to bolster her burgeoning self-confidence.  As she loses herself in the books she finds herself in their pages and comes to recognize her strengths. Her self-discovery brings a realization at a young age that she wants to become a librarian so she can help children discover their dreams. 

Chapter Books

Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson, Illustrated by Nina Mata

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart is caught in the middle. She has an older brother and a new baby sister, and she’s in a friendship tug-of-war with two friends who both want to be her best best friend. How can Ryan think about being kind to a classmate who is relentless with his teasing? Or be her signature sunny self when her brother, Ray, pulls the ultimate prank?

But even when it seems like nothing is going her way, Ryan still looks for a way to see the bright side of things, refusing to let anything steal her joy, and finding ways to share it with everyone she meets.

Middle Grade

Rain Rising by Courtne Comrie

An inspiring debut middle grade novel-in-verse about Rain, who must overcome sadness after her all-star brother is badly beaten up at a frat party. Genesis Begins Again meets Brown Girl Dreaming in this powerful story of perseverance, family, and hope.

Rain is keeping a big secret from everyone around her: She’s sad. All the time. Rain struggles with her image and feels inferior to her best friend, Nara. Not even her all-star student-athlete big brother (and personal superhero), Xander, can help Rain with her dark thoughts and low self-esteem.

And when Xander becomes the victim of violence at a predominantly white university, Rain’s life and mind take a turn for the worse. But when her favorite teacher, Miss Walia, invites her to an after-school circle group, Rain finds the courage to help herself and her family heal.

Like the rain, she is both gentle and a force, finding strength to rise again.

Cece Rios and the King of Fears by Kaela Rivera

In this thrilling sequel to the “spellbinding” (Booklist starred review) and “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly starred review) middle grade fantasy adventure Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls, Cece and her sister Juana must journey into the stronghold of Devil’s Alley to challenge the criatura king El Cucuy.

Cece Rios thought saving her sister would be the end of her adventures in the world of criaturas. But part of Juana’s soul is still trapped in Devil’s Alley. As Cece tries to find a way to get it back using her new curandera abilities, Juana takes her fate in her own hands and sets off alone, intent on restoring her soul and getting revenge on El Sombrerón.

But then they discover that El Cucuy, king of the criaturas, is hunting for Cece, craving her powers for his own dark purposes. Can the Rios sisters—along with Coyote, Little Lion, and their other criatura allies—uncover his secrets and reclaim Juana’s soul? Or will the sinister forces of Devil’s Alley overcome them all?

This award-winning series is perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and Amari and the Night Brothers.

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion by K. Tempest Bradford

Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion is abackyard adventure-mystery by debut children’s author K. Tempest Bradford, perfect for fans of Clean GetawayThe Last Last Day of Summer, and Sideways School.

Eleven-year-old Ruby is a Black girl who loves studying insects and would do just about anything to be an entomologist, much to the grossed-out dismay of her Gramma. Ruby knows everything there is to know about insects so when she finds the weirdest bug she’s ever seen in her front yard, she makes sure no one is looking and captures it for further study.

But then Ruby realizes that the creature isn’t just a regular bug. And it has promptly burned a hole through her window and disappeared. Soon, random things around the neighborhood go missing, and no one’s heard from the old lady down the street for a week. Ruby and her friends will have to recover the strange bug before the feds do.

Ruby is the science hero we’ve all been waiting for!

Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore

A boy from the hood in Brooklyn travels to a STEM camp in an Appalachian holler for one epic, life-changing summer.
 
A brilliant new novel from the award-winning author of The Stars Beneath Our Feet.


Javari knew that West Virginia would be different from his home in Bushwick, Brooklyn. But his first day at STEM Camp in a little Appalachian town is still a shock. Though run-ins with the police are just the same here. Not good.
 
Javari will learn a lot about science, tech, engineering, and math at camp. And also about rich people, racism, and hidden agendas. But it’s Cricket, a local boy, budding activist, and occasional thief, who will show him a different side of the holler—and blow his mind wide open.
 
Javari is about to have that summer. Where everything gets messy and complicated and confusing . . . and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Hidden on the High Wire by Kathy Kacer

Irene grew up traveling around Germany with her family’s circus, surrounded by her loved ones and thrilling the crowds with her performance on the high wire…until one day, the audience boos. The Lorch family is Jewish, and the increasing power of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis has put them all in grave danger.

When the circus is forced to shut down and Irene’s father is taken away, Irene and her mother must go into hiding with another circus. Every day is a frightening new kind of balancing act, caught between the desire to perform and the need to hide―even in plain sight.

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter: How One Boy Put the Spotlight on Syria by Muhammad Najem and Nora Neus, Illustrated by Julie Robine

Muhammad Najem was only eight years old when the war in Syria began. He was thirteen when his beloved Baba, his father, was killed in a bombing while praying. By fifteen, Muhammad didn’t want to hide anymore—he wanted to act. He was determined to reveal what families like his were enduring in Syria: bombings by their own government and days hiding in dark underground shelters.

Armed with the camera on his phone and the support of his family, he started reporting on the war using social media. He interviewed other kids like him to show what they hope for and dream about. More than anything, he did it to show that Syrian kids like his toddler brother and infant sister, are just like kids in any other country. Despite unimaginable loss, Muhammad was always determined to document the humanity of the Syrian people. Eventually, the world took notice.

Graphic Novels

Enemies by Svetlana Chmakova

Felicity’s sure she’s going to do something big. Exactly what is still a mystery, but she’ll figure it out. Her sister, Letty, teases Felicity that she never finishes stuff, but that’s just because Letty is so perfect. Still, life is good with plenty of friends―drawing with the art club and playing games with her buddies keep her busy. But when she decides to join a contest to show Letty that she CAN get things done, Felicity begins to wonder if friends becoming enemies is easier than she thought. Are they really enemies, though…? What does it even mean to be enemies? And…who is it that she needs the most on her side…?

Besties: Find Their Groove by Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Canino, Illustrated by Kristina Luu

A fun and fresh spin-off of the New York Times bestselling Click graphic novels. With the school dance around the corner, fashionistas Beth and Chanda are ready to dazzle!

With their first formal school dance around the corner, Beth and Chanda are on a mission to make it the best night ever. Step one? Secure the perfect dresses so they can dominate the dance floor! But when neither of them can find an outfit that lives up to their high expectations—and when they encounter unexpected pressure to find dates—these besties will need to lean on their friendship more than ever if they hope to find their groove and bust a move!

Play Like a Girl by Misty Wilson, Illustrated by David Wilson

Debut author Misty Wilson chronicles her seventh-grade experience as the only girl on her town’s football team in this empowering graphic memoir about teamwork, friendship, crushes, and touchdowns.

Mistynever shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got.

But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team.

Middle school isn’t so easy, either. Misty wants to fit in with the popular kids, but they think a girl playing football is “weird.” Even her best friend doesn’t get it.

Can Misty find a way to score points with her teammates, make new friends, and show everyone—including herself—what it means to play like a girl?

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: September 20, 2022

It’s time to talk about new releases again, and we’ve got plenty this week, so let’s get right to it.

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

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

Board Books

Hello, Beautiful You! (A Bright Brown Baby Board Book) by Andrea Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Get ready for sweet togetherness as you snuggle up with your little one and show them how truly extraordinary and beautiful they are. With bouncing, rhythmic text from New York Times bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney and tender, charming illustrations from Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney, this joyful celebration is the perfect way to rejoice and teach your child that they too, can spread their light!

The Silly Sounds of Christmas: Lift-the-Flap Riddles Inside! by Mike Petrik

Celebrate Christmas with a funny lift-the-flap board book full of silly sounds, riddles, and rhymes!

In this delightful funny twist on Christmas, silly sound words (such as Jingle, jingle, smash!) appear in bold, graphic lettering on the left page. Then on the right, lift the flap to answer the question, “What’s making that sound?”

Imagine the silly sounds of a bumble bee in the Christmas tree! Or Santa getting stuck in the fireplace!

You Are Getting Sleepy by Lori Alexander, Illustrated by Monika Mikai

Lull your little one to sleep with this adorable bedtime board book, about a wide-awake baby who does not want to go to sleep!

A calming bedtime tune for all those wide-awake babies, this board book is about to become a favorite step of your sleepytime routine. Take your little one through the motions of bedtime, from bathtime to jammies and kisses galore. Featuring gentle text from author Lori Alexander, and joyful, colorful, tender illustrations from illustrator Monica Mikai, this board book is just-right for bedtime, everytime!

Picture Books

Bubbie & Rivka’s Best-Ever Challah (So Far!) by Sarah Lynne Reul

Practice makes progress in this multigenerational story about family traditions and the pursuit of the perfect challah

Bubbie and Rivka are not the best bakers . . . yet. But they are starting a new tradition. Every Friday they will bake a challah together!

Week after week, Bubbie and Rivka pull a challah out of the oven that’s not quite right. Once, it’s a little lumpy. Another time, it’s totally burnt!  But no matter what has gone wrong, each challah is the best one they’ve ever made (. . . so far!)

As Bubbie and Rivka put their heads together to solve each week’s baking disaster, they learn something new about how to approach their next challah, fine-tuning their skills and ensuring next week’s bread will be even tastier. They learn that practice makes progress and persistence makes for some very special together time . . . and some very yummy challah!

Dazzlin’ Dolly: The Songwriting, Hit-Singing, Guitar-Picking Dolly Parton by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

This inspirational and dazzlin’ story of Dolly Parton—noted singer, songwriter, and humanitarian—follows her rise to fame, from her beginnings in East Tennessee to performing to thousands at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Dolly is a little girl with a BIG voice. Music fills Dolly’s heart so plumb full she has to let it out! She’ll even sing to her cornhusk dolls or a pen full of pigs. She makes her own drum from a pot and her own guitar from a broken mandolin. But what Dolly dreams of is performing for a real audience—people who would hear her sing, and applaud!

And when she gets her big break at age ten, the soul-singin’ and big-dreamin’ Dolly discovers she’s scared to sing on stage in front of all those people. Will she summon up all of her courage and make it to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville? Young readers will learn about Dolly’s early history, her endless creativity, and her plucky perseverance in this entertaining picture book that’s perfect for fans of all ages.

Harvest Days (World of Celebrations) by Kate DePalma, Illustrated by Martina Peluso

Explore harvest festivals from around the globe! Lyrical, rhyming text and lush, detailed artwork from Italian artist Martina Peluso immerse young readers in some of the most ancient traditions in the world. Nine pages of rich, educational endnotes dive deep with more information about the 12 cultures explored in the book and invite young readers to ask questions about food and the labor that produces it.

Hana’s Hundred of Hijabs by Razeena Omar Gutta, Illustrated by Manal Mirza

Hana has a humongous collection of hijabs and accessories – and her hijab is always styled superbly. But when her overflowing collection gets a little out of hand, Hana knows something needs to be done . . . and comes up with a clever plan for sharing her talents and possessions with her community! Young makers will chuckle along with this humorous tale of creative problem-solving and learning to help others.

Making Happy by Sheetal Sheth, Illustrated by Khoa Le

When Leila’s mother gets sick, lots of things change for her family. But one important thing stays the same: they still have each other, and they know how to find joy and laughter when they need it most! The poetic, uplifting story and hopeful ending are based on the author’s own experience battling cancer as the parent of young children.

Count On Us! by Gabi Snyder, Illustrated by Sarah Walsh

Learn how a movement builds from one person to a billion in this A to Z environmental activism book. Readers count from 1 to 10 – and then in larger increments to a billion – as they learn new terms from “conservation” to “activism.” Inset boxes provide easy-to-understand definitions of additional new vocabulary words.

Like by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Leo Espinosa

From bestselling author Annie Barrows and Pura Belpré Honor award recipient Leo Espinosa, this funny yet thought-provoking picture book offers a sequence of outlandishly fun compare-and-contrasts that show how humans are much more like each other than we are different.

Maya’s Song by Renée Watson, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

This unforgettable picture book introduces young readers to the life and work of Maya Angelou, whose words have uplifted and inspired generations of readers. The author of the celebrated autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya was the first Black person and first woman to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, and her influence echoes through culture and history. She was also the first Black woman to appear on the United States quarter.

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson uses Angelou’s beloved medium of poetry to lyrically chronicle her rich life in a deeply moving narrative. Vivid and striking collage art by Caldecott Honor recipient and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Bryan Collier completes this unforgettable portrait of one of the most important American artists in history.

Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Diana Toledano


Discover the true story of how a shy miner’s daughter became one of the most legendary costume designers in Hollywood in this inspiring nonfiction picture book biography.

As a child in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, Edith Head had few friends and spent most of her time dressing up her toys and pets and even wild animals using fabric scraps. She always knew she wanted to move somewhere full of people and excitement. She set her sights on Hollywood and talked her way into a job sketching costumes for a movie studio.

Did she know how to draw or sew costumes? No. But that didn’t stop her!

Tacko Fall: To New Heights by Tacko Fall and Justin Hayes, Illustrated by Reggie Brown

Tacko Fall was always tall, even as a child, but he wasn’t always a slam-dunk star. On his first official day of training as a boy in Senegal, running up and down the basketball court was exhausting. The first time he tried weight-lifting, he could barely lift the bar, even with no weights on it! The game had many rules that he didn’t understand, but Tacko set aside frustration and found the courage to keep working. The more he practiced, the more his skills grew, and the more reachable his goals became. Touching on immigration, determination, hard work, and the long road to success, this picture-book biography of one rising basketball star will delight his many fans and introduce him to new ones. Coauthored with his sports agent and paired with engaging illustrations, Tacko Fall’s relatable story will motivate readers to overcome obstacles and aim high—and higher still.

My Diwali Light by Raakhee Mirchandani

A charming holiday story following one girl’s family as they celebrate their Diwali traditions with the ones they love.

Devi loves the Diwali season. It’s a time to wear her favorite red bindi and eat samosas until she bursts! Makemithai and design rangoli with her Papa. And paint diyas with her nani—a reminder to shine her light brightly all year long.

This joyful story, with vibrant collage illustrations, follows one girl’s Diwali traditions as her family celebrates their favorite holiday with the ones they love.

Mama in Congress: Rashida Tlaib’s Journey to Washington by Rashida Tlaib, Adam Tlaib, and Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Olivia Aserr

When Yousif Tlaib asks about his mom’s new job in Congress, his older brother, Adam, fills him in—with some help from Rashida Tlaib herself. As he tells his mom’s story, Adam reveals information about how elections and our government work, what it means to break barriers, what motivates their mama to work for justice for all, and how love and family have guided them through this historic time in our country.

From growing up in Detroit—the eldest of fourteen siblings and the first in her immigrant family to graduate from high school—through her journey into community activism and then local politics, to eventually becoming one of the first Muslim Congresswomen and an influential national figure, Rashida Tlaib’s inspiring story shows kids that they, too, can do great things and make a difference.

Jo Bright and the Seven Bots by Deborah Underwood, Illustrated by Meg Hunt

A bot-building princess engineers her own happy ending in this futuristic fairytale, a follow-up to the acclaimed Interstellar Cinderella.

Snow White gets a stellar upgrade in this clever retelling with a truly inventive heroine. With wit, bravery, and some spare circuit boards, Jo will foil the queen, befriend a dragon, and build herself a celestially happy ending of her own. From the team that created the acclaimed Interstellar Cinderella and Reading Beauty comes another funny and empowering fairytale that’s out of this world.

Bessie the Motorcycle Queen by Charles R. Smith Jr., Illustrated by Charlot Kristensen

In 1929, 18-year-old Bessie Stringfield hopped on her motorcycle and headed out on an adventure, an unusual choice for a young Black woman at the time. Paying her way by winning motorcycle races, she criss-crossed the country through small towns, big cities, and wide open spaces.

But not everyone was happy to see Bessie’s brown face peeking out from underneath her helmet. And more than once, Bessie found herself making some quick exits on the back of her bike to escape Jim Crow. A trailblazer in the world of women’s racing and motorcycling, Bessie Stringfield was a figure who will inspire all children to pursue their dreams.

Obioma Plays Football by Chika Unigwe, Illustrated by Chinyere Okoroafor

9 year-old Obioma is a football star. She uses a special stick to score goals and never loses a race in her wheelchair! But when she moves to a new city, she has to go to a new school where she has no friends, and everyone calls her “the girl with the wheelchair”. Obioma misses playing football most of all, until one day a girl named Ayana asks her to race. Once they start playing football, everyone joins in and Obioma finds a new team to play with!

Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated Frank Morrison

This inspirational book encapsulates African American history and invites conversations at all levels. Carole Boston Weatherford’s riveting text and Frank Morrison’s evocative and detailed paintings are informative reminders of yesterday, hopeful images for today, and aspirational dreams of tomorrow.

Starting from 1619 and stretching more than four hundred years, this book features such pivotal moments in history as the arrival of enslaved people in Jamestown, Virginia; Nat Turner’s rebellion; the integration of the US military; the Selma to Montgomery marches; and peaceful present-day protests. It also celebrates the feats of African American musicians and athletes, such as Duke Ellington and Florence Griffith Joyner.

At the end of the book, readers will find descriptions of the people, places, and events that are featured, along with a note from Carole Boston Weatherford.

Where in the World Are You? by Marie G. Rohde

A colorful, joyful, and playful exploration of our world, and our place within it.

Where are you in the world? Can you imagine what your home would look like if you saw it from above and zoomed out further, and further, and further…? Join the mischievous pet cat on a journey of discovery that encourages young readers to think about their place in the world. Inspired by the feeling of being trapped inside and imagining the world beyond during the worldwide lockdowns, this enjoyable picture book reminds us that even when we are apart, we are all connected. The world keeps turning, a cat keeps purring, and children will find their happy place in the world.

Middle Grade

Black Bird, Blue Road by Sofiya Pasternack

In this historical fantasy novel from Sydney Taylor Honor winner and National Jewish Book Award finalist Sofiya Pasternack, Ziva will do anything to save her twin brother Pesah from his illness—even facing the Angel of Death himself.

Pesah has lived with leprosy for years, and the twins have spent most of that time working on a cure. Then Pesah has a vision: The Angel of Death will come for him on Rosh Hashanah, just one month away.

So Ziva takes her brother and runs away to find doctors who can cure him. But when they meet and accidentally free a half-demon boy, he suggests paying his debt by leading them to the fabled city of Luz, where no one ever dies—the one place Pesah will be safe.

They just need to run faster than The Angel of Death can fly…

You Only Live Once, David Bravo by Mark Oshiro

Middle school is the worst, especially for David Bravo. He doesn’t have a single class with his best (okay, only) friend, Antoine. He has to give a class presentation about his heritage, but he’s not sure how—or even if—he wants to explain to his new classmates that he’s adopted. After he injures Antoine in an accident at cross-country practice, he just wishes he could do it all over.

He doesn’t expect his wish to summon a talking, shapeshifting, annoying dog, Fea, who claims that a choice in David’s past actually did put him on the wrong timeline… and she can take him back to fix it.

But when their first try (and the second, and the third) is a total disaster, David and Fea are left scrambling through timeline after timeline—on a quest that may lead them to answers in the most unexpected places.

Anisa’s International Day by Reem Faruqi

From the award-winning author of Unsettled, meet Anisa, the adorable Pakistani American heroine of this irresistible younger middle grade novel about a girl who introduces her class to the art of mehndi for International Day. Filled with fun black-and-white interior art, recipes, and activities in the back matter and perfect for fans of Meet Yasmin!

Anisa is super-excited about International Day and can’t wait to share her mother’s samosas with her class. But when someone else has the exact same idea, Anisa is crushed.

Going to her aunt’s dholki party gives her an idea for the perfect activity instead—mehndi! There’s only one problem: Anisa’s best friend doesn’t seem to like the idea. She doesn’t even seem to like Anisa anymore.

Will Anisa ever get to enjoy International Day? 

The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron

In the world of the Vanquishers, vampires were history . . . until now.

Malika “Boog” Wilson and her best friends have grown up idolizing The Vanquishers, a group of heroic vampire hunters who wiped out the last horde of the undead decades ago. Nowadays, most people don’t take even the most basic vampire precautions–the days of garlic wreaths and early curfews long gone–but Boog’s parents still follow the old rules, much to her embarrassment.

When a friend goes missing, Boog isn’t sure what to think. Could it be the school counselor, Mr. Rupert, who definitely seems to be hiding something? Or could it be something more dangerous? Boog is determined to save her friend, but is she ready to admit vampires might not be vanquished after all?

No one ever expected the Vanquishers to return, but if their town needs protection from the undead, Boog knows who to call.

Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter by Yohuru Williams and Michael G. Long

An enthralling, eye-opening portrayal of this barrier-breaking American hero as a lifelong, relentlessly proud fighter for Black justice and civil rights.

According to Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson was “a sit-inner before the sit-ins, a freedom rider before the Freedom Rides.” According to Hank Aaron, Robinson was a leader of the Black Power movement before there was a Black Power movement. According to his wife, Rachel Robinson, he was always Jack, not Jackie―the diminutive form of his name bestowed on him in college by white sports writers. And throughout his whole life, Jack Robinson was a fighter for justice, an advocate for equality, and an inspiration beyond just baseball.

The Replay: 25 Greatest Moments in Sports by Adam Skinner, Illustrated by Mai Ly Degnan

Relive iconic moments from Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, Simone Biles, Team USA Hockey, and more through illustrated replays of 25 of the greatest moments in sports

This richly illustrated book highlights the achievements and stories of notable athletes—male, female, able-bodied and Paralympians—from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 20 sports, making it a treasure trove for all the family to share. So sit back and enjoy sport’s greatest moments as a read-aloud story from the comfort of your armchair.

Graphic Novels

Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman

Once upon a time . . . happily ever after turned out differently than expected. In this new, feminist, queer fairy-tale collection, you’ll find the princesses, mermaids, knights, barmaids, children, and wise old women who have been forced to sit on the sidelines in classic stories taking center stage. A gorgeous all-new collection in graphic novel format from a Stonewall Honor-winning author and artist.

What if the giant who abducted you was actually thoughtful and kind? What if you didn’t want to marry your handsome, popular, but cold-inside suitor? What if your one true love has all the responsibilities that come with running a kingdom?

Award-winning author Melanie Gillman’s phenomenal colored-pencil art creates another “ever after” for the characters who are most worthy of it.

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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Author Spotlight: An Interview with Jeanne Walker Harvey

It’s been a while, but it’s time for another Author Spotlight. Today I am chatting with the very talented Jeanne Walker Harvey about her latest picture book biography, Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head.


Jeanne Walker Harvey has had many jobs, ranging from working as a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney for high-tech companies to a writer of magazine articles to a teacher of Language Arts and writing workshops at a public middle school. She has also been a longtime docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines and My Hands Sing the BluesRomare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. Jeanne studied literature and psychology at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at JeanneHarvey.com and on Twitter @JeanneWHarvey.

Jeanne, Welcome to Mutually Inclusive! I’m so excited to have you here today! I’m a big fan of your picture book biographies. In fact, I recently used Ablaze With Color as a mentor text in my own writing. But before I start rambling on about how amazing picture book biographies are, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m really excited to be here too! I’m a big fan of your blog and look forward to reading your reviews of inclusive children’s books which are so important to highlight. And thanks ever so much for your kind words! I’m flattered that you used our Ablaze with Color book as a mentor text in your own writing.

As you said, I’m an author primarily of picture book biographies of creative people. I’ve worn many job hats ranging from roller coaster operator to software licensing attorney to middle school language arts teacher. But my favorite job is the one I’ve always dreamed to be and get to do now – a children’s book author.

I’m always fascinated by the way different subjects speak to different authors, especially when it comes to picture book biographies. What was it about Edith Head that made you want to write Dressing Up The Stars?

When I was growing up in Southern California, my mom and I always watched the Academy Awards presentation on TV and vied to see who could spot Edith Head first. She was so distinctive with her blunt haircut, dark round glasses and always a gorgeous dress that she had designed for herself. I’ve always been drawn to the wonderful costumes in those fabulous Hollywood movies. And often Edith Head’s name would be on the credits. When I began researching her, I was even more amazed to learn that she won eight Academy Awards, more than any other woman including actresses. And she was nominated for Oscars thirty-five times!  Not only was she talented and creative, but she was also quite the role model as she was the first woman to head a major Hollywood costume department at Paramount Studios.

Title: Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published: September 20, 2022
Publisher: Beach Lane (Simon & Schuster)
Format: Picture Book

I’d love to hear about the research process! How long did your research take? Did it take you to any fun or unexpected locations? Did you get to see any of Edith’s designs in person?

What great questions! I think I would compare my research process to diving into the deep end of a pool full of whatever I can find about the person. I tend to splash around a lot not knowing yet how the story will call to me. As you know, the goal of writing a picture book biography is not to be an encyclopedia recap of their life. Instead, I’m always looking for that throughline, that essence of the person and their challenges and inspirations. I tend to circle back to my drafts over the years. And I actually did work on this book for quite a long time which was a pleasure because it meant I had to watch more of the classic movies. I loved reading Edith Head’s first person account in her autobiography, the Dress Doctor, and learning about her early years growing up in the desert near mining camps where her stepfather worked. Without siblings or friends nearby, Edith used her imagination as a companion and even dressed up her pets, desert animals and cactus. I was excited to read about her childhood recollections because that conjured up such different images than the lifestyle of the famous woman entrenched in a busy Hollywood life.

And yes, I’ve been lucky to see some of Edith Head’s wonderful designs in person. I frequent as many fashion exhibits at museums as I can find. I sewed a bit in high school and so I admire the details of the costumes that one can only see up close. I just learned that the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is hosting a retrospective of Edith Head’s costume from June to September of 2024 with costumes spanning six decades of her career. I hope to visit! It’s really quite amazing that Edith Head has over 400 films to her credit! And last year, I attended the grand opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles and saw some of Edith Head’s original sketches which are amazing.

I know for me, when I’m “finished” researching a subject, I feel like I’m just swimming in facts about their life, and my first draft is always a bit encyclopedic. But, you always bring so much life and imagery to the page with your prose. How do you go from research to “paper”?

Thanks so very much for saying that I bring life and imagery to the page with my prose!  That’s really lovely. Sometimes I feel I agonize about every word choice in a picture book. I feel that every word is so valuable and I want to be sure that whatever I write is not something that will be conveyed in the illustrations. As you know, the illustrations and text of a picture book are equally important and should together lift the story higher.

That’s so funny that you also used the term “swimming in facts.” You are spot on about the volume of research. And yes, my early drafts are much too wordy and too fact heavy.  One technique that helps me to winnow down a draft is to move such fact centric wording to the right of the text, surround it with brackets, and preface it with “Illus:”.  These illustrator’s notes often don’t stay in the manuscript, but somehow it helps me to not just delete these gems of research right off the bat.

You’re a docent for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, so you know a thing or two about art. So how much do you love the wonderful illustrations by Diana Toledano?

I absolutely love Diana’s illustrations for Dressing Up the Stars! As you said, they are truly wonderful – so much whimsy and creativity. It’s amazing how perfectly Diana captures Edith Head not only as a child in the desert, but also Edith head as a young struggling, yet persistent, costume designer who overcomes numerous challenges. I just want to step inside the book and join Edith in her adventures! I also enjoy looking at all the details in Diana’s illustrations. She’s incorporated such unique patterns and designs in everything which so aptly reflects Edith’s work with cloth fabrics and designs. And I think because I am such a huge fan of modern art, I so value the incredible work of the illustrators of my books, such as Diana.

I notice you have fantastic activity kits for not just Dressing Up The Stars, but all of your books, on your website. Does your past experience as a teacher influence your choice to provide these free resources to parents and teachers?

I appreciate your bringing up the activity kits connected to my books, and I’m so glad you like them. I want to credit the creative team at Blue Slip Media that designed these activity kits. Both when I taught Language Arts and volunteered as a school docent for the San Francisco Museum of Art, I loved activities and projects tied to books and artwork. Children are so incredibly creative, and I think that the topics of the books and art resonate more with them when they make their own personal connections.

You had two picture books published in 2022, so what’s next for you? Any exciting news for 2023?

It’s been very exciting to have Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas published at the beginning of the year, and now Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head published also in 2022. I just feel incredibly fortunate! And to work with such an incredible team, beginning with my editor Andrea Welch, at Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, and everyone else on the team has been so wonderful. And yes, I’m working on another picture book biography of another female artist which I hope will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

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

I’ve been thinking about how Edith Head sought to design costumes to help the actors transform themselves into their roles. I remember when I worked as a roller coaster operator and all of us, female and male, wore mechanics’ overalls. I loved those overalls – comfortable thick cotton, lots of pockets, roomy, and with a snazzy stripe down the side. And somehow when I slipped on those overalls, I felt confident in my role as a ride operator. I wasn’t an actor, but I still was playing a role for the amusement park public and my uniform helped me. As Edith Head said, “What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not.” 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions, Jeanne! I loved Dressing Up The Stars and I’m so grateful to have you on the blog.

Oh, thanks so much! I truly loved answering your thoughtful questions and having the opportunity to be part of your Mutually Inclusive blog. Thank you and good luck with your writing endeavors! I look forward to hearing more about them.


Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Diana Toledano will be officially released tomorrow, but here are a few ways to celebrate with Jeanne and Diana today!

  • Don’t miss my giveaway on Instagram for your chance to win a copy of Dressing Up The Stars.
  • Be sure to keep an eye on kidlit.tv today for the debut of the book trailer!
  • You can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.
  • You can request copies of Dressing Up The Stars at your local library to ensure your community has access to this wonderful story.

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Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed every year from September 15th to October 15th and gives us all a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the many ways Hispanic Americans have enriched the culture and society of our nation. So to celebrate, I want to share some of my favorite picture books about Hispanic history, heritage, and culture.

Please note: This article contains affiliate links, from which I will receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring new content to you.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda

A family honors their living and dead relatives as they celebrate this holiday with shared food and stories.

The Day of the Dead is a happy day when Mar’s family gathers together. There are favorite dishes to enjoy, games to be played, and most importantly, stories to tell. No one in the family is forgotten because this is the day of the year when the dead come to visit the living—and for this holiday it is almost as if they’re alive again, as the family takes great joy in celebrating the things that made them special. Mar realizes she is just like her Grandpa Ramón, who kept a journal. And her sister, Paz, plays accordian, just like their great-grandfather. There are so many things that connect them all—and at dinner, Abuelita spins even more stories that make them feel close to the ones they will love forever. Ana Aranda’s tender text and vibrant art make the joy felt on this sweet day totally palpable.”

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, Illustrated by Micah Player

A vibrant picture book celebrating the strength of community and the tastes of summer from Latin Grammy-winning musician Lucky Diaz and celebrated artist Micah Player.

Ring! Ring! Ring! Can you hear his call? Paletas for one! Paletas for all!

What’s the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero José!

Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator’s pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now.”

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Illustrated by Paola Escobar

“An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.”

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules! by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

When a sassy drummer starts kindergarten, the rules of school cramp her style. What’s a young rock star to do?

When Lupe Lopez struts through the doors of Hector P. Garcia Elementary in sunglasses with two taped-up Number 2 pencils—drumsticks, of course—poking from her pocket, her confidence is off the charts. All day, Lupe drums on desks, tables, and chairs while Ms. Quintanilla reminds her of school rules. Lupe has her own rules: 1) Don’t listen to anyone. 2) Make lots of noise. ¡Rataplán! 3) Have fans, not friends. But with her new teacher less than starstruck, and fans hard to come by, Lupe wonders if having friends is such a bad idea after all. Can it be that true star power means knowing when to share the spotlight? With its spirited illustrations and a simple text threaded through with Spanish words, this picture book is proof positive that being a strong girl moving to her own beat doesn’t have to mean pushing others away.”

Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient by Areli Morales, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

In the first picture book written by a DACA Dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story.

When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family–and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too.
 
Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home. And she saw it as a land of opportunity, where millions of immigrants who came before her paved their own paths. She knew she would, too.”

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe by Paloma Valdivia

A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be, from a New York Times bestselling creator.

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

Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua by Gloria Amescua, Illustrated Duncan Tonatiuh

“As a young Nahua girl in Mexico during the early 1900s, Luz learned how to grind corn in a metate, to twist yarn with her toes, and to weave on a loom. By the fire at night, she listened to stories of her community’s joys, suffering, and survival, and wove them into her heart.

But when the Mexican Revolution came to her village, Luz and her family were forced to flee and start a new life. In Mexico City, Luz became a model for painters, sculptors, and photographers such as Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and Tina Modotti. These artists were interested in showing the true face of Mexico and not a European version. Through her work, Luz found a way to preserve her people’s culture by sharing her native language, stories, and traditions. Soon, scholars came to learn from her.”

The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border by Stephen Briseño, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora

Based on true events, this inspiring story follows a mama and her daughter who are denied entry at the U.S. border, and must find the refugee in charge of “the notebook,” an unofficial ledger of those waiting to cross into the U.S.

Before, the sun drenched the yard. Our neighbor’s laughter danced in the streets. Now, the streets are quiet. Papa is gone, and we are no longer safe here. We are leaving, too.
 
In this moving and stunningly-illustrated picture book, Noemi and Mama flee their home in Mexico, and head for the US border. There, they look for “The Notebook Keeper”– the person in charge of a ledger for those waiting to cross, and they add their names to the book. As the days turn into weeks, and hope dwindles,  the little girl looks for kindness around her– and inside herself. One day, when the Notebook Keeper’s own name is called to cross, Noemi and her Mama are chosen–for the generosity in their hearts– to take her place.”

Coquí in the City by Nomar Perez

A heartfelt picture book based on the author-illustrator’s own experiences, about a boy who moves to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico and realizes that New York City might have more in common with San Juan than he initially thought.

Miguel’s pet frog, Coquí, is always with him: as he greets his neighbors in San Juan, buys quesitos from the panadería, and listens to his abuelo’s story about meeting baseball legend Roberto Clemente. Then Miguel learns that he and his parents are moving to the U.S. mainland, which means leaving his beloved grandparents, home in Puerto Rico, and even Coquí behind. Life in New York City is overwhelming, with unfamiliar buildings, foods, and people. But when he and Mamá go exploring, they find a few familiar sights that remind them of home, and Miguel realizes there might be a way to keep a little bit of Puerto Rico with him–including the love he has for Coquí–wherever he goes.”

Me Gusta by Angela Dominguez

A stunning bilingual picture book that celebrates Latinx families by highlighting moments of connection and delight and feelings of safety and home, even through challenges and difficult times.

Me gusta your smile, tu sonrisa,
and your hugs, tus abrazos.

Me gusta when we explore this spectacular world, el mundo,
and gaze at all the stars, las estrellas.


But most of all, me gusta that no matter where we are, I feel at home, en casa, when I’m with you.

In the affirmative and encouraging Me Gusta, acclaimed author and illustrator Angela Dominguez combines Spanish and English in a poetic and touching story of family, reminding us that through the adventures and the heartbreak, love conquers all and transcends language.”

If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja by Ana Siqueira, Illustrated by Irena Freitas

This bouncy, bilingual picture book is an enchanting, rollicking read-aloud for small ones with big imaginations.

On the night before Halloween, a new babysitter might be more than she appears. If she wears a black sombrero and cackles like a crow, she might just be a bruja! One little girl is determined not to fall victim to an evil witch or her cats. She knows bath time is really the bruja’s way of putting her in a boiling cauldron, and the only way to keep her at bay is with a magic potion—or is it?

With a boundless imagination and plenty of tricks up her sleeve, the young protagonist may just have the best night ever!”

Phenomenal AOC: The Roots and Rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Illustrated by Loris Lora

An inspiring biography of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from Pura Belpré Honor-winning creators Anika Aldamuy Denise and Loris Lora!

In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest congresswoman in America. How did this young Puertoriqueña become an unstoppable force in politics? Find out in this accessible and engaging book for young readers.

AOC’s remarkable story begins in her childhood Bronx home and comes full circle the moment AOC became America’s youngest Congresswoman. Ocasio-Cortez’s empowering journey reminds us that everyone, regardless of their age, race, creed, wealth, or zip code, is capable of being a voice for change.

A glossary and resources for changemakers are included at the end of the book. “

Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land by Mirelle Ortega

In her debut as author and illustrator, Mirelle Ortega shares her own story of growing up near her family’s pineapple farm in Mexico, where she learned the true meaning of magic

I learned that magic isn’t good or bad, it just is. Sometimes it gives, sometimes it takes. Sometimes life blossoms, sometimes it wilts.

Growing up on a pineapple farm in Mexico, a girl discovers the true meaning of the word magic in this truly magical picture book about change and transformation of all kinds—what we can’t control, such as natural disasters and loss, and what we can. Magic can transform dirt into pineapples, seeds into trees, wool into blankets, words into stories, blank pages into pictures—a story into a picture book.”

May Your Life Be Deliciosa by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Loris Lora

A delicious and fortifying picture book inspired by the author’s family, featuring the Mexican tradition of holiday tamale-making

A 2022 Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Honor Book


“What is the recipe?” I ask. Abuela laughs. “It is in my heart, Rosie. I use mis ojos, my eyes, to measure. Mis manos, my hands, to feel. Mi boca, my mouth, to taste. My abuela gave it to me, and I am giving it to you.” Each year on Christmas Eve, Rosie’s abuela, mamá, tía, sister, and cousins all gather together in Abuela’s kitchen to make tamales—cleaning corn husks, chopping onions and garlic, roasting chilis, kneading cornmeal dough, seasoning the filling, and folding it all—and tell stories. Rosie learns from her abuela not only how to make a delicious tamale, but how to make a delicious life, one filled with love, plenty of spice, and family.”

Mi Ciudad Sings by Cynthia Harmony, Illustrated by Teresa Martinez

After experiencing a devastating earthquake, the spirit of a charming and vibrant Mexican neighborhood might be shaken, but it cannot be broken.

As a little girl and her dog embark on their daily walk through the city, they skip and spin to the familiar sounds of revving cars, clanking bikes, friendly barks, and whistling camote carts. But what they aren’t expecting to hear is the terrifying sound of a rumbling earthquake…and then…silence.
 
With captivating text and lively, beautiful illustrations, this heartwarming story leaves readers with the message that they can choose to be strong and brave even when they are scared, and can still find joy and hope in the midst of sadness.”

My Town / Mi Pueblo by Nicholas Solis, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

In this bilingual picture book, cousins from opposite sides of the border visit each other’s towns and delight in their similarities and differences.

Two cousins live in two towns, separated by a river. But there is also a bigger divide—the US-Mexico border—which means they live in different countries. On the girl’s side, English is the main language, and on the boy’s it’s Spanish. The cousins love their towns, and they love visiting each other’s, where they notice some things are the same and some are wonderfully different, adding up to a vibrant world full of even more possibilities.

Author Nicholas Solis shows how border towns are special places, beautiful and dynamic, because two cultures can be better than one—and both cultures should be equally treasured and respected.”

Lola Out Loud: Inspired by the Childhood of Activist Dolores Huerta by Jennifer Torres, Illustrated by Sara Palacios

A powerful and inspiring imagined story about real-life civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta that reminds us that even our biggest heroes started out small.

Her grandpa calls her “Lolita Siete Lenguas”—Little Lola, Seven Tongues, all fighting to be heard. Lola is trying not to make so much noise, but when she witnesses injustices in her own neighborhood, she knows she can’t keep quiet. Can Lola find a way to use her voice for change? ¡Sí, se puede!

Inspired by the real-life civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta, Lola Out Loud is a warm and rollicking picture book that reminds us that sometimes one strong voice is just what we need.”

The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings, Illustrated by Raúl Colón

When Esperanza and her family arrive in the United States from Cuba, they rent a little house, una casita. It may be small, but they soon prove that there’s room enough to share with a whole community.

“It was a little house. Una casita . . .
It was small.
It smelled like old wet socks. . .
But even though they were far from home,
The family was together.”

As Esperanza and her family settle into their new house, they all do their part to make it a home. When other immigrant families need a place to stay, it seems only natural for the family in la casita to help. Together they turn the house into a place where other new immigrants can help one another. Esperanza is always the first to welcome them to la casita. It’s a safe place in a new land.”

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana López, Illustrate by Teresa Martinez

An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music.

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.”

Isabel and her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri, Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

“English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn–and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.”

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! by Donna Barba Higuera, Illustrated by Juliana Perdomo

A boy and his monster confront their mutual fears in this unlikely friendship story that’s rooted in Mexican folklore

Ramón is a little boy who can’t sleep. He is nervous for his first day at a new school.
And El Cucuy is the monster who lives in Ramón’s cactus pot. He can’t sleep, either.
It turns out that El Cucuy is scared, too!
This gentle, perceptive story explores the worries that can accompany moving to a new place and beginning a new journey—and reveals how comfort, bravery, and strength can be found through even the most unexpected of friendships.”

A Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle, Illustrated by Sara Palacios

From Pura Belpré Award–winning author Margarita Engle comes a lively, rhythmic picture book about a little girl visiting her grandfather who is a pregonero—a singing street vendor in Cuba—and helping him sell his frutas.

When we visit mi abuelo, I help him sell
frutas, singing the names of each fruit
as we walk, our footsteps like drumbeats,
our hands like maracas, shaking…


The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mangolimónnaranjapiña, and more! Even when they’re apart, grandfather and granddaughter can share rhymes between their countries like un abrazo—a hug—made of words carried on letters that soar across the distance like songbirds.”

With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez, Illustrated by André Ceolin

A beautiful, lyrical story about a girl who moves from her home in Central America to the United States, and everything she leaves behind and longs for—especially her Abuela—as she makes a new life.

Rocio has grown up in Central America, but now she and her family are moving to the United States. Rocio does her best to adjust to a new way of living, but there are many things she misses from her old life—Abuela’s cooking, Abuela’s pinata creations, Abuela’s warm hugs, and of course, Abuela herself most of all. But Abuela finds a way to send Rocio something special just in time for her birthday—a gift wrapped with lots of love—and that fills Rocio to the brim.”

The Coquíes Still Sing: A Story of Home, Hope, and Rebuilding by Karina Nicole González, Illustrated by Krystal Quiles

A powerful story about home, community, and hope, inspired by the rebuilding of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017, written by debut author Karina González and illustrated by Krystal Quiles.

“This book is more than beautiful.” – Yuyi Morales
, Caldecott Honoree and New York Times bestselling creator of Dreamers

Co-quí, co-quí! The coquí frogs sing to Elena from her family’s beloved mango tree―their calls so familiar that they might as well be singing, “You are home, you are safe.” But home is suddenly not safe when a hurricane threatens to destroy everything that Elena knows.

As time passes, Elena, alongside her community, begins to rebuild their home, planting seeds of hope along the way. When the sounds of the coquíes gradually return, they reflect the resilience and strength of Elena, her family, and her fellow Puerto Ricans.”

Until Someone Listens: A Story About Borders, Family, and One Girl’s Mission by Estela Juarez, Illustrated by Teresa Martínez

When Estela Juarez’s mom is deported to Mexico, Estela knows she has to speak up for her family. Told in Estela’s own words,Until Someone Listens is a true story about a young girl finding her voice and using it to make change.

Estela’s family lives together in a happy home full of love. Or, at least, they used to… until their home was torn apart.

My mom had to go back,
to the other side of the river,
because she wasn’t born in this country.

For years her family fought and fought for permission for her to stay in the U.S. But no one listened. When Estela was eight, her mother was deported to Mexico.

Estela knew she had to do something. So she wrote letters: to local newspapers, Congress, the President, and anyone else who could help. She wrote and wrote and wrote until, finally… someone listened.”

Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler, Illustrated by Raul Gonzalez III and Elaine Bay

This joyous romp through the neighborhood celebrates the bond between a father and a child, illustrated by an award-winning artist team.
Buckle up as a toddler’s tantrum is cleverly averted when a loving dad transforms an everyday neighborhood stroll into an extraordinary adventure, reminding us that all you need to chase away a bad mood is love and a little bit of imagination.

Brought to brilliantly-colored, kinetic life by award-winning artists Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay, Strollercoaster sings with details of a diverse and vibrant urban neighborhood bursting with life, enhanced by Spanish words embedded in the art. It’s the best ride in town!”

Yefferson, Actually / En realidad, es Yefferson by Katherine Trejo and Scott Martin-Rowe, Illustrated by Karla Monterrosa

Introduce your little ones to standing up for themselves (and their roots) in both English and Spanish!

On his first day as the new kid in school, shy Yefferson’s name is consistently mispronounced to his discomfort and embarrassment. With his family’s support, Yefferson finds the courage to stand up for himself and his namesake.

Yefferson, Actually is wonderful new picture book to embrace in the pantheon of classic Back to School stories. Follow sweet and unassuming Yefferson – proudly pronounced with the sound the Y makes in Spanish, not the J in English – as learns to overcome what is a common, but often undiscussed hurdle for all shy kids entering a new school year: correctly teaching people how to say your name correctly.”

Leila, the Perfect Witch by Flavia Z. Drago

In this charming picture book from the author-illustrator of Gustavo, The Shy Ghost,a witch who is spellbindingly good at everything discovers that baking is no piece of cake.

Leila Wayward is a little witch who excels at everything she does. She’s the fastest flier, the most cunning conjuror, and the most superb shape-shifter. She has won trophies for potions, herbology, and alchemy—and now she dreams of winning the Magnificent Witchy Cake-off! As the youngest in a long line of masters of the Dark Arts of Patisserie, Leila wants her entry to be perfect. But even with the most bewitching of recipes, she realizes a terrible truth: she’s a disaster in the kitchen. Luckily, Leila has three magical sisters who are happy to share their culinary secrets with her. What’s more, Leila discovers that baking with them is fun! Win or lose, she has already tasted the sweetest thing of all: acceptance—with a pinch of nightshade and a bit of mandrake. Filled with expressive and fancifully offbeat illustrations, Flavia Z. Drago’s enchanting story of trying your hardest despite your imperfections is sure to delight little witches and novice bakers alike.”

Rafa Counts on Papá by Joe Cepeda

For fans of Guess How Much I Love You? and Just Me and My Dad comes a heartwarming story perfect for Father’s Day about a son and his papá who love to measure everything, including their love for each other.

Rafa and his papá love to count and measure together. They know how many branches they climb to their favorite spot, they know how high their dog Euclid can jump, and they know how far they can run. But there’s one thing Rafa can’t count or measure because it is infinite: the love that he and his papá share.

Pura Belpré Honor illustrator and author Joe Cepeda celebrates curiosity and shows the tender and playful relationship between father and son on every inch of the page. With a subtle nod to introducing concepts, from real objects to the abstract, readers feel the immeasurable love of this Latinx family as Papá delights in spending time with Rafa.”

Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona, Illustrated by Anna Cunha

A beautifully tender story touching on the range of emotions immigrants may feel when leaving their home countries – excitement and sorrow, fear and courage.

Anita watches the dragons high above her as she hops from one cement roof to another in her village in the Dominican Republic. But being the valiant princesa she is, she never lets them scare her. Will she be brave enough to enter the belly of the beast and take flight to new adventures?

A Barnes & Noble Bookseller Favorite. A BookTrust Book of the Month. A Love Reading For Schools Book of the Month.”

Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son by John Parra

From award-winning artist John Parra comes a touching and deceptively simple picture book based on his childhood experience that’s a “heartwarming family story that underscores the value of creativity, passion, and hard work” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and celebrates the bond between a father and son.

Today is a big day—the first time Juanito gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect! Throughout the day, Juanito sketches anything that catches his eye: a nest full of baby birds, a nursery with row upon row of plants and flowers, and more. Father and son travel from house to house, pruning, weeding, mowing, and turning overgrown and chaotic yards into beautiful spaces.

A few of the clients don’t appreciate Papi’s hard work, like Juanito’s classmate who pretends not to see him. But Papi always feels pride in owning his own business and in a job well done. And at the end of the day, Juanito may get the chance to turn his artistic eye toward landscape design—just like his papi.”

I hope this booklist gives you and your family lots of new stories to celebrate over the next month!

To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, be sure to check out hispanicheritagemonth.gov for more information.

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New Release Round-Up: September 13, 2022

It’s Tuesday, and I’ve got all the new releases for you, so let’s dive right in!

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 Am One: A Book of Action by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Discover the power of activism in this board book companion to New York Times bestsellers I Am Human and I Am Love

One seed to start a garden, one note to start a melody, one brick to start breaking down walls: Every movement and moment of change starts with purpose, with intention, with one. With me. With you.
 
From the #1 New York Times bestselling team behind I Am Yoga, I Am Peace, I Am Human, and I Am Love comes a powerful call to action, encouraging each reader to raise their voice, extend a hand, and take that one first step to start something beautiful and move toward a better world.”

Happy All-idays! by Cindy Jin, Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr.

All Season’s Greetings and Happy ALL-idays! Learn how different families celebrate the winter season with this holiday card-inspired board book that captures the meaning of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and more!

Whether it’s putting up the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, or getting ready for Kwanzaa, this story proves that the holiday season is a special time for everyone and a great way to learn about different winter holidays and send cheer to everyone you know!”

The Highlights Kindness Library by Highlights

An illustrated boxed set of books that highlight all the small but meaningful ways young children can show kindness every day. Includes an activity booklet and a kindness poster.

The perfect gift for new parents and children ages 2–5, this hardcover collection will help young readers understand empathy, cooperation, and gratitude by showing many examples of kindness at home and out in the world. Children can easily put these examples to practice in everyday moments that call for kindness.”

Picture Books

Finding My Dance by Ria Thundercloud, Illustrated by Kalila J. Fuller

In her debut picture book, professional Indigenous dancer Ria Thundercloud tells the true story of her path to dance and how it helped her take pride in her Native American heritage.

At four years old, Ria Thundercloud was brought into the powwow circle, ready to dance in the special jingle dress her mother made for her. As she grew up, she danced with her brothers all over Indian country. Then Ria learned more styles–tap, jazz, ballet–but still loved the expressiveness of Indigenous dance. And despite feeling different as one of the only Native American kids in her school, she always knew she could turn to dance to cheer herself up.”

Until Someone Listens: A Story About Borders, Family, and One Girl’s Mission by Estela Juarez and Lissette Norman, Illustrated by Teresa Martínez

“Estela’s family lives together in a happy home full of love. Or, at least, they used to… until their home was torn apart.

My mom had to go back,
to the other side of the river,
because she wasn’t born in this country.

For years her family fought and fought for permission for her to stay in the U.S. But no one listened. When Estela was eight, her mother was deported to Mexico.

Estela knew she had to do something. So she wrote letters: to local newspapers, Congress, the President, and anyone else who could help. She wrote and wrote and wrote until, finally… someone listened.”

Our Story Starts in Africa by Patrice Lawrence, Illustrated by Jeanetta Gonzales

A sensitively told and vibrantly illustrated story of Black history from its very ancient origins to its dynamic future

When Paloma goes to visit her family in Trinidad, she doesn’t feel that she fits in. But Tante Janet has a story to tell her: An ancient story of warrior queens and talking drums, of treasures and tales that span thousands of years . . . a story that Paloma shares in, because her story, too, starts in Africa.

Join Tante and her inquisitive niece as they share the story of how her family came to the Caribbean, through the dark days of colonization and enslavement, to the emergence of a thriving, contemporary community of many faces, places and successes.”

Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Neal

Explore the wonders and beauties of the ocean’s kelp forests in this latest addition to the acclaimed Over and Under series.

Award-winning duo Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal return in this latest addition to the Over and Under picture book series, this time exploring the rich, interconnected ecosystem of the ocean!

Over the waves, the sea lions bark and seagulls wheel and call. The bay is smooth and bright in the sun. But under the waves, there’s a whole hidden forest, full of whales and wolf eels, sardines and sea bass, leopard sharks and luminous jellies, as well as the waving kelp that shelters them all. Discover the magical depths of the kelp forest, and all the fascinating creatures living just a paddle’s length away—over and under the waves.”

Season of Light: A Christmas Picture Book by Jess Redman, Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

A luminous picture book about Christmas traditions that make the season a time of joy, love, faith, and light.

Under star-filled winter skies, with homes and trees aglow, with candles lit and hearts so full, our love will shine and grow.

From paper snowflakes to silver bells, reindeer to wise men, Christmas is a season of faith and song, giving and serving, loved ones and light that can last the whole year through. With Jess Redman’s beautiful poetic text and Ramona Kaulitzki’s luminous illustrations, Season of Light is sure to be a holiday favorite for years to come.”

No Peeking at Presents by Alastair Heim, Illustrated by Sara Not

Holiday hijinks abound in this very merry Christmas story about three siblings who can’t resist sneaking a peek under the tree before it’s time, for fans of How to Catch Santa and 5 More Sleeps.

Everyone knows there’s no peeking at presents before Christmas morning. But what if there’s a very, very good reason to take a look?

It’s Christmas Eve and the three kids in this story are trying their best to go to sleep, but something keeps waking them up. And it’s not just their excitement for gifts. Or, at least, not only because they’re excited for gifts.

This irresistible Christmas story, equal parts hilarious and charming, captures all the delicious anticipation of the holiday, especially celebrating it with siblings.”

Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid by Katie Mazeika

Discover the incredible true story of “The Original Mermaid,” Annette Kellerman, a girl who wanted to dance, swim, and feel free—and who grew into a woman who fought for the right to do just that!

Annette loved to dance and twirl and pirouette. But when she got sick and had to start wearing braces on her legs, Annette stopped dancing. Until, one day, her dad took her swimming. Annette could finally dance again—in the water! She water danced her way to England, where she performed water ballets, attempted daring dives, and competed in swim races. When she competed against men (and won!), she realized it wasn’t fair that women had to swim in full skirts, so she made her own swimsuit, and fought for the right to wear it.

Experience the journey of an independent and determined young woman, who swam, danced, dove, and designed so she could live her life feeling free.”

Who Will Kiss the Crocodile?: A Snappy Twist on Sleeping Beauty by Suzy Senior, Illustrated by Claire Powell

In this hilarious retelling of Sleeping Beauty, an angry fairy casts a spell that turns baby Princess Liss into a crocodile who will fall into a deep sleep, only to be woken by a kiss. But who will kiss the crocodile and break the spell?

In this hilarious spin on the traditional fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, a certain fairy is not invited to the party for baby Princess Liss. So the angry fairy shows up at the party and casts a spell on the baby. The spell turns her into a crocodile and sends her into a deep sleep when she’s 15, only to be woken by a kiss. But who would dare to kiss a crocodile? The talented team behind the popular book Octopants offers up a fun take on the traditional fairy tale with rhyming text and energetic illustrations.”

Kumom: The Bashful Cloud by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Nathalie Dion

The uplifting journey of a bashful cloud (“kumo” in Japanese) who discovers the rewards of feeling seen.

Kumo is a cloud whose only wish is to float unseen. When she’s assigned cloud duty for the day, she feels overwhelmed by self-doubt and her fear of being noticed. But after learning that closing your eyes isn’t a good solution to your troubles, Kumo pulls her fluff together and does her duties — drifting, releasing rain and providing shelter — meeting some new friends along the way and inspiring the imagination (and capturing the heart) of a small daydreamer like her. 

Kyo Maclear’s sweetly humorous and lyrical parable about shyness, vividly brought to life by Nathalie Dion’s ethereal illustrations, is an affirmation of the pleasures of community and the confidence that can arise from friendship and visibility.”

The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition by Shirin Shamsi, Illustrated by Tarun Lak

In time for the 75th anniversary of the Partition of British India, this picture book is a stirring account of the harrowing journey faced by millions of migrants in the aftermath of the division of India and Pakistan.

Azra knows that wherever she goes, her doll Gurya will follow. Even if it’s on a train that will take her far away from the house her family has lived in for generations. Even if there is a new flag flying in Dehradun, and no place left in it for Azra. At least she will be taking a piece of home with her.

But when Abba comes home and says they must leave right now, Gurya gets left behind in the scramble. Will Azra be strong enough to face the long journey alone? And what will happen to Gurya, now hundreds of miles behind them?”

Mae Jemison (Little People, BIG DREAMS #81) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Illustrated by Janna Morton

In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Mae Jemison, scientist, astronaut, and the first ever black woman in space.

When Mae Jemison was a little girl, she dreamed of blasting off into space on a rocket ship. She was so excited as she watched the Apollo Moon landings, but she wondered… why none of the astronauts were women?

Mae loved science and was so bright that she started college at just 16, and was training to be a doctor by the age of 20. She joined the Peace Corps, using her medical knowledge to help people in countries all around the world. Upon returning to the United States, she was accepted into NASA’s astronaut program.”

Middle Grade

Meet Me Halfway by Anika Fajardo

When new classmates Mattie and Mercedes meet and realize they have the same Colombian dad, the two team up in a Parent Trap–inspired misadventure to meet him for the first time in this sharp and poignant middle grade novel about the bonds that make a family.

Mattie Gomez feels directionless after being uprooted from her beloved Minnesota and forced to move in with her new stepfamily in California. So when she meets a girl at her new middle school who looks exactly like her, she’s not sure what to make of it.

But her doppelganger, the popular Mercedes Miller, doesn’t like it one bit.”

Maya and the Lord of Shadows by Rena Barron

In the thrilling third and final book in the acclaimed Maya and the Rising Dark trilogy that Kirkus calls “truly #BlackGirlMagic,” Maya must face off with the Lord of Shadows to save the human world from impending war with the Dark.

War is coming. Despite everything Maya and her father have done, the veil that protects the human world is failing. The Lord of Shadows has raised an army powerful enough to challenge the orishas. And it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through the veil and destroys Maya’s neighborhood and the rest of the world.”

Pippa Park Crush at First Sight by Erin Yun

“Korean American Pippa Park picks up right where she left off . . . trying to balance basketball, school, friends, working at the struggling family laundromat, and fitting in. Eliot, her math tutor—and the cutest boy at school—is finally paying attention to her. And Marvel—her childhood friend—is making her required volunteering much more interesting. But things with the Royals, her new friends and teammates who rule the school, still feel a bit rocky. Especially because Caroline, a head Royal, would like nothing more than to see Pippa fail.

So when Pippa is faced with hosting the annual Christmas Eve party that could make or break her social life, how can she say no? Will Pippa make enough money to cover the costs while juggling crushes and everything else? With courage and determination, Pippa sets out to host the party, find the perfect dress, pick the right boy, and stay true to her real self.”

Iveliz Explains It All by Andrea Beatriz Arango

“Seventh grade is going to be Iveliz’s year. She’s going to make a new friend, help her abuela Mimi get settled after moving from Puerto Rico, and she is not going to get into any more trouble at school. . . .

Except is that what happens? Of course not. Because no matter how hard Iveliz tries, sometimes people say things that just make her so mad. And worse, Mimi keeps saying Iveliz’s medicine is unnecessary—even though it helps Iveliz feel less sad. But how do you explain your feelings to others when you’re not even sure what’s going on yourself?”

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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