New Release Round Up – June 22, 2021

It’s Tuesday, so we all know what that means. Time to talk about new releases again!

I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all. As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

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

Board Books

I Like To Share by Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by Sara Gillingham (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Celebrate the joys of learning to share in this exuberant board book from the Empowerment series!

I kept snacks to myself.
Now I give some away.
Once I hogged the whole swing.
Now I let others play.

With relevant and charming specifics, Stephen Krensky and Sara Gillingham address the joy we feel from giving back.

The Empowerment series addresses the small victories of growing up and starting to embrace the world on your own terms with encouraging text and retro-fresh illustrations. Celebrate the milestones of toddlerhood with the whole series.”

Let’s Say Hello by Giselle Ang, Illustrated by Erica Sirotich (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Teach babies to greet others in twelve different languages with this adorable multilingual board book!

Get ready, everyone! LET’S SAY…HELLO.

A perfect companion to Disney’s “It’s a Small World” and Shirley Ng-Benitez’s How Do You Say series, Let’s Say board books teach tiny tots warm and friendly words/phrases in several languages. Each book features:

twelve diverse languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish
vibrant and colorful illustrations
easy-to-read pronunciations/demonstrations
kid-friendly illustrations of everyday babies from around the world
An ideal baby shower or first-day-of-school gift!”

ABC for Me: ABC Let’s Celebrate You & Me by Sugar Snap Studio (Bookshop | Amazon)

“ABC Let’s Celebrate You & Me presents 26 things—from A to Z—that make us special and that are worth celebrating!

From our bodies and our emotions to our interests and hobbies, there is so much to celebrate about ourselves! We all have different talents, ideas, and things to say, but we are more similar than we are different. ABC Let’s Celebrate You & Me presents a whole alphabet full of positive attributes kids can celebrate, including their bodies, skin, eyes, and hair, on the outside, as well as inner qualities, such as their interests, kindness, and personalities.

ABC Let’s Celebrate You & Me features colorful illustrations, as well as thoughtful text that gets kids thinking about who they are and how all people are unique, special, and worthy of love and happiness. Each letter of the alphabet is paired with either a physical or character attribute, and each page promotes self-love and kindness to others. This book shows that when we work together and respect each other, we can do great things!”

Picture Books

Making A Baby by Rachel Greener, Illustrated by Clare Owen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This inclusive guide to how every family begins is an honest, cheerful tool for conversations between parents and their young ones.

To make a baby you need one egg, one sperm, and one womb. But every family starts in its own special way. This book answers the “Where did I come from?” question no matter who the reader is and how their life began. From all different kinds of conception through pregnancy to the birth itself, this candid and cozy guide is just right for the first conversations that parents will have with their children about how babies are made.”

Thank You, Dr. Salk!: The Scientist Who Beat Polio and Healed the World by Dean Robbins, Illustrated by Mike Dutton (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Dr. Jonas Salk finds the cure for polio in this inspiring, educational, and timely nonfiction picture book.

Jonas Salk wasn’t seen as a brave hero―not at first. As a child he was quiet and unassuming, but Jonas dreamed of tikkun olam, the Jewish phrase for “healing the world.” He saw the polio virus strike his city, and he knew that with determination and hard work, he could be the one to stop its spread. So he grew up to study medicine, ultimately creating the polio vaccine that saved untold numbers of lives―and healed the world!

With Dean Robbins’s inspiring text and Mike Dutton’s dynamic illustrations, Thank You, Dr. Salk! is a true and timely story of trials, triumph, and what it takes to achieve your dreams. An author’s note provides additional insight into Dr. Salk’s life and influences, and the history of vaccines.”

How To Wear A Sari by Darshana Khiani, Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Sparkling with voice and charm, this picture book about a fashionable kid out to prove she’s not as small as everyone thinks is perfect for kids eager to grow up, and for those who love to play dress-up.

Being a little kid isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes, it’s downright annoying.

When a little girl tires of being treated like she’s TOO little, she sets out to prove to her family that she can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to . . .

. . . including putting on a colorful, twinkly, silky sari. Sure, they’re long and unwieldy—but that only means her family will be even more impressed when she puts it on all by herself.

Naturally, there are some hiccups along the way, but she discovers that she’s not the only one in her family who has set out with something to prove, with hilariously chaotic results. That’s what photo albums are for!”

Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards by Meghan P. Browne, Illustrated by Carlynn Whitt (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A folksy, larger-than-life picture book biography about Ann Richards, the late governor of Texas who has inspired countless women in politics today.

Dorothy Ann Willis hailed from a small Texas town, but early on she found her voice and the guts to use it.

During her childhood in San Diego and her high school years back in Texas (when she dropped the “Dorothy”), Ann discovered a spark and passion for civic duty. It led her all the way to Washington, DC, where she, along with other girls from around the country, learned about the business of politics. Fast forward to Ann taking on the political boys’ club: she became county commissioner, then state treasurer, and finally governor of Texas. In this stunning picture book biography, full of vim, vigor, and folksy charm, two Texan creators take us through the life of the legendary “big mouth, big hair” governor of Texas, a woman who was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and in turn became an inspiration to Hillary Clinton and countless others.”

It’s Raining Tacos! by Parry Gripp, Illustrated by Peter Emmerich (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Wildly fun and full of laugh-out-loud antics, this interactive sing-along is a zany romp sure to capture fans of Giraffes Can’t Dance and Dragons Love Tacos. Shell we dance?

Taco-bout irresistible! Jam out to the catchy, toe-tapping tune “Raining Tacos” from YouTube sensation Parry Gripp, featuring everyone’s favorite treat!

This spec-taco-ular, goofy song, with new, never-before-sung lyrics, is perfect for sharing, so grab a few friends—young or old—and get ready to crunch your way to a good time!

It’s raining tacos, from out of the sky.

Tacos, no need to ask why.

Just open your mouth and close your eyes.

It’s raining tacos!”

Darcy’s First Sleepover by Julie Fortenberry (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A gently reassuring picture book about the milestone of a first sleepover, for fans of The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Wemberly Worries by Kevin Henkes.

Every night at home, Darcy brushes her teeth with strawberry toothpaste; she snuggles in bed with Little Cat; and she falls asleep to the sound of her dad washing the dishes. But tonight, Darcy is having her very first sleepover! Even though it’s at her cousin Kayla’s house, it still feels a little daunting. Kayla has peppermint toothpaste, a baby bear named Charlotte, and howling winds outside her window. Darcy misses her dad and her own cozy bedroom. Should she ask her aunt to take her home?

This rewarding tale celebrates the excitement of new experiences and the power of quiet growth. Backmatter also included shedding light on steps parents can take when helping kids prepare for their first sleepover!”

All We Need by Kathy Wolff, Illustrated by Margaux Meganck (Bookshop | Amazon)

“For fans of All the World and Love, a poetic story that celebrates the littlest things we all need to be happy — and the beauty of sharing with others when we have more to give.

Each bustling day in our busy world, we can take a moment to appreciate the little things. From the simplest essentials like air and water to the wonderful warmth of family, friends, and neighbors, there is so much in life to be thankful for.

Kathy Wolff’s melodic verse and Margaux Meganck’s lush and cozy city scenes follow three families through moments of daily discovery and joy, culminating in a celebration of community and giving.

When we have all we need, plus a little to spare, the only need left . . . is to share.”

Middle Grade

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This hilarious and poignant tween debut about dealing with bullies, making friends, and the power of good books is a great next read for fans of Merci Suárez Changes Gears and John David Anderson.

Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year—epically bad.

After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers.

Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born. Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota?”

She Shoots, She Scores!: A Celebration of Women’s Soccer by Catriona Clarke, Illustrated by Sarah Long (Bookshop | Amazon)

“With a foreword by England captain Steph Houghton, She Shoots, She Scores! tells the incredible story of the BEST sport in the world, women’s soccer―from the men who tried to ban it to the superstars of today’s game, including Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Read on to find out about . . .

– The girl who had to play soccer in secret but grew up to become a goal-scoring legend
– The 13-year-old who shot to international fame but didn’t get a mention in the school assembly
– The greatest women’s soccer player ever, who scored in FIVE World Cups

Written by acclaimed YA novelist Catriona Clarke, the book is packed with facts and stats about the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympics, plus pocket profiles of the world’s top players―from Marta to Wendie Renard―and record-breaking teams, including the U.S. Women’s National Team and Olympique Lyonnais. What’s more, discover the key skills you’ll need to become a great goalkeeper, a tough-tackling defender, or the world’s next superstar striker!”

Graphic Novels

Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Grab some coins for the jukebox, and get ready for a colorful, time-traveling, musical tale about family and courage.
A mysterious jukebox, old vinyl records, and cryptic notes on music history, are Shaheen’s only clues to her father’s abrupt disappearance. She looks to her cousin, Tannaz, who seems just as perplexed, before they both turn to the jukebox which starts…glowing?

Suddenly, the girls are pulled from their era and transported to another time! Keyed to the music on the record, the jukebox sends them through decade after decade of music history, from political marches, to landmark concerts. But can they find Shaheen’s dad before the music stops? This time-bending magical mystery tour invites readers to take the ride of their lives for a coming-of-age adventure.”

Athena by Imogen and Isabel Greenberg (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A spunky, feminist take on the myth of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and courage

From the moment she sprung from Zeus’s head, Athena was extraordinary. Even though some doubted her as a young goddess, Athena never backed down from a fight. Poseidon wants to be the patron god of a nearby city? Well, so does Athena! And she’s going to outwit him and found Athens. Perseus doesn’t know how to defeat Medusa? No problem! Athena can give him the knowledge (and shield) he needs to take off her head. Odysseus is lost at sea, seemingly doomed? Not anymore! Athena can get him home. Follow the goddess of wisdom through her adventures with gods and mortals, discover the perils of crossing her, and see how she eventually learned to better understand and aid the human race.”

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In this full-color middle grade graphic memoir for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft, Yehudi Mercado draws inspiration from his childhood struggle with his weight while finding friendship with his imaginary mascot, Chunky, as he navigates growing up in a working class Mexican-Jewish family.

Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot.

As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for Hudi, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love—comedy.

But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself or will this friendship strike out?”

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

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

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Arlo Draws an Octopus

If you’re looking for a book that discusses creativity and self doubt, I have the perfect pick for you today! Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortenson is a humorous, uplifting picture book perfect for young readers who might be struggling to believe in themselves.

We follow along as a young boy named Arlo sets out to draw an octopus. He gets off to a rocky start when he thinks his octopus’s head looks too much like a hill, and he doesn’t feel any better about things as he draws the legs and suction cups. Despite his attempts, Arlo just can’t seem to draw his octopus quite the way he sees it in his head. I don’t want to spoil the twist in this one, so I will just say that Arlo thinks he can’t draw an octopus until he meets one in real life.

The illustrations by Rob Sayegh Jr. are wonderful and really bring the story to life. My favorite pages are the ones with Arlo’s drawings, but I really love the way the crayon drawings are incorporated throughout the entire book.

Arlo Draws an Octopus is told with humor and encourages young readers to roll with the punches when things don’t turn out how they expected. It is a great addition to any child’s library, but I think it would be a very helpful resource in classrooms. You can pick up your copy of Arlo Draws an Octopus wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Lori Mortenson is an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books who lives in Northern California. Please visit her website at lorimortensen.com to learn more about her work.

Rob Sayegh Jr. is an author, illustrator, and former toy designer based in San Francisco. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at robsayart.com.

Thank you to Abrams Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Arlo Draws an Octopus. It was a delight, and I can’t wait to see what Arlo draws next.

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Flashback Friday – Yawn

Today we’re flashing back to February 2021 with Yawn by Patricia Hegarty. Following a yawn that spreads around the entire world, this rhyming picture book is the perfect bedtime read.

It all starts with one little yawn that passes to a dog, then a cat, and eventually moving all the way into outer space. Yawn will have your little one yawning in no time. Seriously, I had to fight off a yawn myself. It’s contagious!

The illustrations by Teresa Bellón are so fun, and I love the way the die cuts compliment them on every page. My toddler is obsessed with “peekaboos”, so I know this one is going to be a hit for our bedtime routine.

You can pick up your own copy of Yawn for your bedtime routine wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Patricia Hegarty is a children’s book author and the editorial director of Caterpillar Books.

Teresa Bellón is an illustrator based in Madrid, Spain. She is represented by Advocate Art, and you can see more of her work at their website .advocate-art.com/teresa-bellon.

Thank you so much to Tiger Tales and Publisher Spotlight for providing me with a review copy of Yawn. I can’t wait to share it with my sleepy little one!

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Strollercoaster

Buckle up and get ready for a ride! Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler is a fun-filled picture book featuring a dad and daughter duo who take an exciting stroll through their neighborhood to shake a cranky mood.

I think all my fellow parents know how important time outside is after the lockdowns we all experienced during the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but daily family walks have become one of my favorite ways to take a break from the day, and Strollercoaster captures the fun of a neighborhood stroll perfectly!

With lots of clicks, clacks, and whooshes, we follow along as the father and daughter discover their diverse urban neighborhood with a narrative that mirrors the ups and downs of a roller coaster. The ride comes to an end as the pair arrive back home just in time for a nap.

The illustrations by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay are fantastic! Every page is so fun, from the vibrant colors, all the way down to the font for the onomatopoeia. I love all the detail they put into the neighborhood, especially the Spanish words throughout the illustrations!

Strollercoaster would be such a fun read for Father’s Day coming up this weekend. You can pick up a copy of your own wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Matt Ringler is a children’s book author and Executive Editor at Scholastic Books. To learn more about him and his work you can visit his Twitter @doesntmattr.

Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay have been making art together since they met. Raúl is an award-winning illustrator and author, and Elaine is multi-disciplinary artist and colorist. They are both based in Boston where they live with their son. Please visit raulthethird.com to learn more about their work.

Thank you so much to Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Strollercoaster. It was an exciting ride and I can’t wait to share it with my favorite little stroller partner.

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New Release Round Up – June 15, 2021

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

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

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

Picture Books

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On Vanessa’s first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn’t so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn’t what she’d hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.

The next day, she picks out a plain outfit, and tells her mom that her name is too long. She just wants to blend in, with a simple name like the other girls–why couldn’t her parents have named her Megan or Bella? But when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa.”

A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi by James Yang (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Winner of the Theordor Seuss Geisel Award in 2020 for Stop! Bot!, James Yang imagines a day in the boyhood of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi. Wandering through an outdoor market, through the forest, and then by the ocean, Isamu sees things through the eyes of a young artist . . .but also in a way that many children will relate. Stones look like birds. And birds look like stones.

Through colorful artwork and exquisite text, Yang translates the essence of Noguchi so that we can all begin to see as an artist sees.”

Jenny Mei Is Sad by Tracy Subisak (Bookshop | Amazon)

“With this educational and entertaining picture book, learn how to approach difficult emotions with compassion and understanding—and be the best friend you can be.

My friend Jenny Mei is sad. But you might not be able to tell.

Jenny Mei still smiles a lot. She makes everyone laugh. And she still likes blue Popsicles the best. But, her friend knows that Jenny Mei is sad, and does her best to be there to support her.

This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for introducing kids to the complexity of sadness, and to show them that the best way to be a good friend, especially to someone sad, is by being there for the fun, the not-fun, and everything in between.”

You can also read my full review of Jenny Mei is Sad.

I Is For Immigrant by Selina Alko (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This alphabet picture book companion to the popular B Is for Brooklyn weaves together a multitude of immigrant experiences in a concise, joyful package. For readers of Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.

What do African dance, samosas, and Japanese gardens have in common? They are all gifts the United States received from immigrants: the vibrant, multifaceted people who share their heritage and traditions to enrich the fabric of our daily lives. From Jewish delis to bagpipes, bodegas and Zen Buddhism, this joyful ABC journey is a celebration of immigrants: our neighbors, our friends.”

We Are All Under One Wide Sky by Deborah Wiles, Illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Children will learn to both celebrate diversity and embrace how much we all have in common.

In We Are All Under One Wide Sky, Deborah Wiles beautifully weaves together images from the natural world in a lovely, lyrical poem. Andrea Stegmaier’s fresh and captivating illustrations feature children from around the globe and celebrate different architecture, landscapes, and activities.

By the end of the book, children will have internalized the message that although we are from different places, we are the same in so many ways. What we have in common is what is most important―family, laughter, love, nature, and friendship. We all share the same wide sky.

We Are All Under One Wide Sky is a peace anthem with a timely and important message for children: to both celebrate diversity and embrace how much we all have in common.”

Chapter Books

Not-So-Happy Camper (Jeanie and Genie #4) by Trish Granted, Illustrated by Manuela Lopez (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In the fourth book of the Jeanie & Genie series, Jeanie and Willow’s camping adventure puts their friendship to the test!

Jeanie is so excited to take her best friend, Willow, camping for the very first time. And Willow’s so excited she even promises Jeanie she won’t grant any wishes during the trip! Willow is a genie, after all. But then Willow meets Jeanie’s camping friends, Becca and Bonnie Berriman. The twins aren’t very nice to Willow, and they hog all Jeanie’s attention, so Willow finds herself wishing that the twins would just go away. But the problem is…the Berrimans do go away. Has Willow accidentally made the twins disappear?!

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

Middle Grade

Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Judy Heumann was only 5 years old when she was first denied her right to attend school. Paralyzed from polio and raised by her Holocaust-surviving parents in New York City, Judy had a drive for equality that was instilled early in life.

In this young readers’ edition of her acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann, Judy shares her journey of battling for equal access in an unequal world—from fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” because of her wheelchair, to suing the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her disability. Judy went on to lead 150 disabled people in the longest sit-in protest in US history at the San Francisco Federal Building. Cut off from the outside world, the group slept on office floors, faced down bomb threats, and risked their lives to win the world’s attention and the first civil rights legislation for disabled people.

Judy’s bravery, persistence, and signature rebellious streak will speak to every person fighting to belong and fighting for social justice.”

Much Ado About Baseball by Rajani LaRocca (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom’s new job, she’s now facing a summer trying to make friends all over again in a new town. That isn’t an easy thing to do, and her mom is too busy to notice how miserable she is.

But at her first baseball practice, Trish realizes one of her teammates is Ben, the sixth-grade math prodigy she beat in the spring Math Puzzler Championships. Everyone around them seems to think that with their math talent and love of baseball, it’s only logical that Trish and Ben become friends, but Ben makes it clear he still hasn’t gotten over that loss and can’t stand her. To make matters worse, their team can’t win a single game. But then they meet Rob, an older kid who smacks home runs without breaking a sweat. Rob tells them about his family’s store, which sells unusual snacks that will make them better ballplayers. Trish is dubious, but she’s willing to try almost anything to help the team.

When a mysterious booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives in her mailbox, Trish and Ben start to get closer and solve the puzzles together. Ben starts getting hits, and their team becomes unstoppable. Trish is happy to keep riding the wave of good luck . . . until they get to a puzzle they can’t solve, with tragic consequences. Can they find the answer to this ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most?”

Graphic Novels

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.”

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

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

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Jenny Mei Is Sad

Jenny Mei Is Sad by Tracy Subisak is a heartfelt picture book that discusses the complexities of sadness and how friends support one another through hard times. With each spread averaging one sentence, this is a deceptively simple book with so much heart!

In Jenny Mei Is Sad, our narrator introduces us to her friend Jenny Mei and explains that it’s not always easy to tell when she’s sad. Some days, Jenny plays well with others; other days, not so much. But luckily our narrator knows how to support a friend in need. Whether it’s waiting patiently while Jenny talks to an adult or sharing her favorite food on the long walk home, the narrator provides a wonderful example of friendship for young readers.

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. They beautifully capture all the complex emotions we feel throughout a single day, “the fun and not-fun and everything in between”.

Jenny Mei Is Sad is the perfect selection to teach young readers about friendship, empathy, and caring for the people they love. It officially releases tomorrow (June 15, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Tracy Subisak is an author and illustrator based in the Pacific Northwest. Though she has illustrated many books, Jenny Mei Is Sad is her author/illustrator debut. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at tracysubisak.com.

Many thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for generously providing me with a review copy of Jenny Mei Is Sad. It is such an important lesson for young readers, and I’m so grateful to be able to share it today.

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Flashback Friday – Benny’s True Colors

I’m so excited to share my Flashback Friday selection with you all today! Published in November of last year, Norene Paulson’s debut, Benny’s True Colors is an adorable picture book that discusses identity and being true to yourself.

In Benny’s True Colors, we follow Benny (of course!) who looks like a bat, but he knows that he is actually a butterfly. While all of his bat friends and family eat insects through the night, Benny dreams of the day he can transform into the butterfly he really is. But one day, after telling all his butterfly friends he is one of them, Benny realizes they can help him make his outward appearance match the way he feels inside. With love, respect, and support from everyone around him, Benny finds his true colors.

Benny’s True Colors encourages young readers to believe others when they tell us who they are, and reinforces the concept that every individual is capable of accurately identifying themselves. In a world where strangers feel far too comfortable labeling one another and placing people in boxes based on their appearances, we need more books like this! Benny’s True Colors is a great resource for parents looking to build a firm foundation of respecting both their identity and the identities of their fellow humans.

The illustrations by Anne Passchier are phenomenal. Fans of What Are Your Words and Rainbow Pride will be happy to find the same wonderful color work in Benny’s True Colors. I especially appreciated the way the vivid pink in the butterfly’s wings is carried through to the cover and end pages.

You can pick up your own copy of Benny’s True Colors wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Norene Paulson is an author and former middle school language arts teacher based in Iowa. Please visit her website at norenepaulson.com to learn more about her and her work.

Anne (Andy) Passchier is an illustrator and queer advocate from the Netherlands, currently living in the US. To learn more about them and their work, please visit their website at annepasschier.com.

Thank you to Norene Paulson and Macmillan for providing me with a review copy of Benny’s True Colors. It was such a treat, and I can’t wait to share it with my little one.

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Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist

Roots and Wings by Shahzia Sikander and Amy Novesky is a wonderful picture autobiography relating the life of Shahzia Sikander, the internationally recognized Pakistani-American artist. In Roots and Wings, Shahzia Sikander tells young readers about her journey to become the artist she is today.

Sikander shares her childhood experiences growing up in the city of Lahor, Pakistan with the kind of detail only an artist can provide—from the smells of hibiscus, rose, and car exhaust to the sounds of music filling the streets. She transports readers into her memories, providing a window into life in Pakistan and introducing young readers to Muslim customs and traditions she grew up with.

I really appreciate the way Roots and Wings highlights Sikander’s love of math, and how it led her to study the traditional art of illuminated Indo-Persian books. Children are often presented with creativity and logic as two separate ideas, and the marrying of the “juxtaposed” concepts was a breath of fresh air. This is a great selection to encourage young readers to follow their passion for both academic subjects and creative endeavors like art, music, and theater.

The illustrations by Hanna Barczyc are outstanding! I love how consistent the color palette is throughout the entire book. The bold colors are so wonderful, and sure to grab the attention of young readers.

The back matter includes reproductions of Sikander’s art, which is currently on display in museums across the world. Roots and Wings will definitely open the door to conversations about art with young readers, and hopefully inspire them to create their own.

You can pick up your own copy of Roots and Wings today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-born artist who has reached international recognition. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at shahziasikander.com.

Amy Novesky is an editor and award-winning author, whose titles include one of my personal favorites Girl on A Motorcycle. Please visit her website at amynovesky.com to learn more about her and her work.

Hanna Barczyk is a widely published illustrator who splits her time between New York and Toronto. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at hannabarczyk.com.

Thank you so much to Abrams for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book! I am so grateful to have learned about Shahzia, and can’t wait to share her inspiring story with the children in my life.

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We Are All Under One Wide Sky

Today I want to share a book that really captures what Mutually Inclusive is all about! We Are All Under One Wide Sky by Deborah Wiles is a beautiful picture book celebrating the diversity of the world we all live in.

This is a counting book consisting of a poem that counts up to ten, and back down again – reminding young readers of the one wide sky we are all under throughout. Fostering conversations about both mathematics and diversity, We Are All Under One Sky would make for a great read-aloud.

The poetic text is paired perfectly with fantastic illustrations by Andrea Stegmaier, capturing a diverse group of children who live all around the world. The illustrations really highlight the things we all share, no matter what part of the globe we inhabit – joy, friends, family, and of course the same wide sky.

We Are All Under One Wide Sky releases next week (June 15, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Deborah Wiles is the author of several books for young readers and a two-time National Book Award finalist. She is from Mobile, Alabama (my hometown!), but currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at deborahwiles.com.

Andrea Steigmaier is an illustrator and architect with a passion for children’s books based in Stuttgart, Germany. Please visit her website at andreastegmaier.com.

Many thanks to Sounds True for sending me a review copy of this beautiful book. I’m so thrilled to share it with everyone!

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New Release Round Up – June 8, 2021

I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday again. This week flew by, but I am so excited to share this week’s new releases with you all.

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

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

Picture Books

Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott by Joyce Scott, Brie Spangler, and Melissa Sweet (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet.

Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world.

Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.”

Areli Is A Dreamer by Areli Morales, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Bookshop | Amazon)

“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.

This is a moving story–one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country–about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that has provided relief to thousands of undocumented children, referred to as “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children and call this country home.”

Pangolina by Jane Goodall, Illustrated by Daishu Ma (Bookshop | Amazon)

“After a blissful babyhood being cared for by her loving mother, Pangolina ventures out alone into the forest to become an independent adult, helped along by wise, older animal companions, including a civet and a bat. But one day cruel hunters trap Pangolina, putting her into a cage along with her friends, and bring them to a market to be sold as wild game. Pangolina is especially vulnerable, since her scales are prized by humans who believe they have curative powers. To the rescue comes a small girl who knows that pangolins are friendly fellow creatures who have feelings too, and who convinces her mother to buy Pangolina and set her free. Jane Goodall’s many followers and all animal-loving children and adult picture book fans will be riveted by this suspenseful and heartwarming fictional story set in China and including an authoritative informational page about pangolins and suggestions for how to help fight animal trafficking.”

Pillow Places by Joseph Kuefler (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An imaginative picture book about the joys of pillows and play—from the acclaimed author-illustrator of The Digger and the Flower and Beyond the Pond.

Pillows are not just for sleeping. They are for dreaming . . . of forts, ships, and alien worlds among the stars.

Pillow Places is a tender exploration of the power of friendship and imagination, especially on those first sleepover nights away from home.

This is a sweet, playful story to read before bed and prior to nights away from home. The journey through fantastical landscapes and make-believe adventures reveals the power of imagination, artfully conveying the importance of friendship and playtime, away from screens.”

Chapter Books

Mindy Kim and The Trip To Korea by Lyla Lee, Illustrated by Dung Ho (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Fresh off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in the adorable chapter book series following Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl—in this fifth novel, Mindy goes to South Korea!

Mindy is super excited to go to South Korea to visit her grandparents! She has never taken such a big trip before, and she can’t wait to see her family again. Plus, Dad’s girlfriend, Julie, is also going to meet the family for the first time.

Mindy and Julie decide to make a traditional Korean meal for the family as a thank-you for hosting. But after a few mishaps, Mindy fears they are cooking up a big disaster in the kitchen! Can Mindy and Julie make sure their meal passes the most important taste test of them all?”

McTavish Takes The Cake by Meg Rosoff (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Pa Peachey has gotten it in his head that he is going to be the baker in the family, and the Peacheys and their dog, McTavish, are more than a little surprised. Stunned, in fact. Ever since Ma Peachey declared herself free of the cooking responsibilities, Betty, Ava, and Ollie have taken turns making inventive and delicious meals. But Pa thinks he can do better, even though his cakes are as flat as manhole covers and his cookies turn to charcoal. When the town announces a baking competition with a big prize, Pa is convinced he will enter an absolute masterpiece. Now the Peacheys have to decide: should they be honest with Pa and tell him his confections are contemptible, or should they support his high-flying dreams? Or could McTavish have a last-minute option at the ready?”

Middle Grade

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.”

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Malian loves spending time with her grandparents at their home on a Wabanaki reservation. She’s there for a visit when, suddenly, all travel shuts down. There’s a new virus making people sick, and Malian will have to stay with her grandparents for the duration.

Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but Malian knows how to keep her family and community safe: She protects her grandparents, and they protect her. She doesn’t go outside to play with friends, she helps her grandparents use video chat, and she listens to and learns from their stories. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian’s family knows that he’ll protect them too.

Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel about the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways Malian’s community has cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they keep caring for one another today.”

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?”

Graphic Novels

The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens (Book 1) by Isabel Roxas (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When oddballs Agnes, Roberta and Ruby discover a shared passion for synchronized swimming, the trio become Team Pom. But between snack time, their favorite TV show, and raising pigeons, it can be hard to find time to practice.

This crew of self-proclaimed weirdos are tired of their loser status in the pool. But on their way to gain the respect and free snacks they deserve, they stumble upon a lonely giant squid. Will he be the secret weapon they need for synchronized swimming stardom? Will they be able to outwit the sinister strangers in bowler hats, or will they end up with ink on their faces?

The first in this series and a debut comic book from award-winning Filipino illustrator Isabel Roxas, Squid Happens is a hilarious read that explores friendship, teamwork and what it means to be yourself.”

You can also read my full review of The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens.

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

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

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