Bella’s Recipe For Success

They say the most successful people in life fail the most. I always try to remember this when I run into roadblocks in life, and today I want to share a book that illustrates this growth mindset perfectly for young readers. Bella’s Recipe for Success by Ana Siqueira is a wonderful picture book all about patience, practice, and polvorones.

Title: Bella’s Recipe for Success
Author: Ana Siqueira
Illustrator: Geraldine Rodríguez
Publisher: Beaming Books
Published: July 13, 2021

Bella’s Recipe for Success follows a young Latinx girl named Bella who is trying to figure out what she’s good at. Her sister is a talented gymnast and her brother is a talented musician, but Bella is struggling to find her hidden talent. She tries baking polvorones with her abuela, but her first attempt goes all wrong. Though she struggles, Bella learns that being good at something takes hard work, perseverance, and patience.

The illustrations by Geraldine Rodríguez are so fun! The way she captures the facial expressions of each character brings so much emotion and personality to every single page.

With Spanish vocabulary peppered throughout, Bella’s Recipe for Success would be a fantastic addition to classroom libraries. Plus, there’s a recipe for polvorones con dulche de leche that I can’t wait to try. My baking skills are not great, but I will take a lesson from Bella and practice.

Bella’s Recipe for Success is available next week (July 13, 2021), but you can preorder your copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of Bella’s Recipe For Success.

About The Author:

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher and an award-winning children’s book author based in Tampa, Florida. Before Bella’s Recipe for Success, she published children’s books in Portuguese in Brazil and in Spanish for the foreign language educational markets. Ana is also a global educator, a PBS Media innovator, and an SCBWI member.

You can find Ana online on Instagram (@asiqueira1307), Twitter (@SraSiqueira1307), and at her website anafiction.com.

About The Illustrator:

Geraldine Rodríguez is a Mexican illustrator and digital artist who enjoys telling stories through colors and lines. In addition to Bella’s Recipe for Success, Geraldine is the illustrator of Cinco de Mayo and the Adventures of Samuel Oliver series.

You can find Geraldine online on Instagram (@geryrdzart) and Twitter (@GeryRdz).

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Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

We are starting the week out with a beautiful picture book about two of my favorite things: kindness and plants. Gracey Zhang’s debut, Lala’s Words, teaches young readers a powerful lesson about the magic of kind words.

Title: Lala’s Words
Author/Illustrator: Gracey Zhang
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: July 6, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Lala’s Words follows a young girl named Lala, who is a bit messy and boisterous. Lala’s mother wants her to be stiller, quieter, and calmer, but Lala can’t help running around leaving a mess behind her. Her favorite place to be is a vacant concrete lot where weeds grow. While Lala hears discouraging words from her mother, she gives her plants nothing but kind words of encouragement. One day Lala’s mother has had enough, and she keeps Lala indoors all day. Lala worries about her plant friends all day, but wakes up in the morning to find that her plants have grown large enough to shade the whole neighborhood, cooling the summer day and showing Lala’s mother the power of positive words.

I absolutely adored the illustrations in Lala’s Words. Everything has a muted grey color scheme with vibrant pops of green and yellow that become more and more prominent as the story progresses. It’s such a genius way to provide young readers with a visual contrast between kind words and unkind words.

Lala’s Words officially releases tomorrow (July 6, 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!)

Thank you so much to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of Lala’s Words. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share this wonderful book.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she’s not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book. You can visit her at graceyzhang.com.

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Blog Tour Stop – What If Wilhelmina

Today we’re doing something a bit different! I am thrilled to have the privilege to take part in Publisher Spotlight’s blog/Instagram tour celebrating What If Wilhelmina by Joseph Belisle!

Title: What If Wilhelmina
Author/Illustrator: Joseph Belisle
Publisher: Blair Publisher
Published: March 2, 2021
Format: Picture Book

What If Wilhelmina is Joseph Belisle’s debut picture book, following a young girl and all the emotions she feels when her cat Wilhelmina runs away. One morning when the young girl’s dad opens the door, Wilhelmina darts out, chasing after a squirrel. Despite the family’s attempts, no one can catch her. The daughter worries about Wilhemina and her imagination runs wild thinking of all the awful things that could happen. Luckily, as our young protagonist worries, the illustrations tell a different story.

What If Wilhelmina is a great selection to open the door to conversations about anxiety and worries. I also love that there is queer representation with two fathers, though that isn’t the primary focus of the story.

The illustrations tell the story wonderfully, but I really appreciated all the nods to various famous works of art hidden throughout. This sneaky addition creates for fun rereads, and opens up conversations about art and art history.

A portion of the proceeds for What If Wilhelmina will go to Kids In Crisis, a nonprofit in Cos Cob, Connecticut providing emergency shelter, crisis counseling, and community education programs for children and families facing crisis.

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

About The Author:

Joseph Belisle draws and paints, teaches art, is husband to David and father to Faith, and with the debut of this book becomes a children’s book author and illustrator. Belisle proudly runs Lighthouse, the LGBTQ+ teen group at Kids in Crisis. He grew up in a big family in a small New England town and currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where it is also his job to keep up with the real-life Wilhelmina.

You can find Joseph online at: Instagram: @belisleart Twitter: @belisleart Website: belisleart.com

Don’t Miss The Rest Of The Tour!

Follow along at: @blairpublisher @belisleart @averyqueerbookclub @publisherspotlight

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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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Daddy & Dada

When Ryan Brockington and Isaac Webster started looking for books for their daughter showing families with two dads (like theirs), they discovered the massive hole in the market for LGBTQ+ representation in children’s books. Fortunately for all of us, they decided to address the issue by writing their own book, Daddy & Dada, and I’m thrilled to share it with you all today.

This sweet picture book follows a young girl named Rumi as she introduces us to her family, including her two dads, baby brother, and dog. Rumi narrates in a straightforward, conversational voice (like most four-year-olds would) and highlights a number of diverse family structures, creating both a window and a mirror for young readers. Just in time for Father’s Day and Pride Month, Daddy & Dada is a wonderful celebration of all families, and the many combinations of people that make a family.

The illustrations by Lauren May are absolutely adorable. The bold colors reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons during my childhood. Lauren truly captured the love of a happy family and brought the warmth of a happy home to the pages.

Daddy & Dada officially releases tomorrow, 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!)

To learn more about Ryan, Issac, and their family, be sure to follow them on Instagram: @rybrockington and @realisaacwebster.

Lauren May is a freelance illustrator based in New England. Please visit her website at monstertea.party to learn more about her and her work.

Ryan and Isaac’s story really spoke to me, because it reminds me of my journey to create Mutually Inclusive to make a space for all families to find themselves in books. So I want to make sure I thank both Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Daddy & Dada, and Ryan and Isaac for creating such an inclusive book for children to see their families in. I’m so happy to “meet” their family and to share Daddy & Dada with families looking for representation in children’s books.

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Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing

I am so happy to share Many Shapes of Clay by Kenesha Sneed with you all today. This wonderful picture book is not just about loss, but about healing through the creative process.

Many Shapes of Clay is a modern day fable in which we follow a young girl named Eisha as she works alongside her mother in her studio. Eisha uses clay to make a shape that makes her happy because it reminds of of her father whom she has recently lost. She brings her shape out into her neighborhood, where it shatters into lots of different pieces. When Eisha brings the pieces to her mother, she knows just how to make her shape into something new altogether.

I don’t talk about this often, but I lost my father back in 2008. I was 19 years old, newly married, and soon to move across the country when my entire world shattered like Eisha’s beautiful lemon shape. I know I wasn’t the target picture book audience when my father died, but I wish I had this book then. It took me and my three siblings years to figure out how to even begin healing. The way Many Shapes of Clay highlights that healing process through community and creativity is not only beautiful, but a vital message for those coping with loss.

I also appreciate the fact that Many Shapes of Clay highlights loss instead of death. Given the events of the last year, loss is on a lot of young readers’ minds — whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or losing playdates and in-person classes due to COVID. Because the focus is healing from loss, you can use Many Shapes of Clay as a resource to discuss the loss of our “normal” lives, making this a must have for any little reader’s library.

The illustrations are absolutely stunning. I love how the bold colors match both the powerful message of healing and the gentle atmosphere of the story.

Many Shapes of Clay is out next week (May 4, 2021), but I would recommend preordering it today. You can put your order in just about anywhere 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!)

Kenesha Sneed is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and the founder of Tactile Matter, a line of stoneware ceramics. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her websites at keneshasneed.com and tactilematter.com.

I want to thank both Kenesha for sharing her story, and Prestel Junior for providing me with a review copy of this stunning book. I’m so grateful to share it with you all today.

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Grandad’s Camper

If you’re looking for a picture book about grandparents, love, and grief with amazing LGBTQ+ representation, I have the perfect book for you today.

Grandad’s Camper follows a young girl who loves to visit her grandad’s cottage every summer, listening to stories of his travels with Gramps. Grandad doesn’t travel much since Gramps passed away, but that’s all about to change, as our young narrator encourages Grandad to dust off his old camper and get back on the road.

I have never seen a children’s book handle grief in such a beautiful way. There is no sorrow here. This book contains only joy, love, and a celebration of Grandad’s life with Gramps as his granddaughter encourages him to follow his passion for exploring in a new way after losing his husband.

As a queer person, I am so grateful to see a long joyful queer future represented in this book. Growing up, I never saw my queer identity on the pages of the books I read. I didn’t have a name for what I was, much less a future attached to it. I’m so proud that my child will have books like this on his shelf so he will know that queer books can be more than just a lesson, but an authentic look into someone’s full experience as a human.

I honestly love everything about this book, especially the illustrations. They capture Grandad’s and Gramps’ travels so beautifully and really bring life to their story.

You can pick up your own copy of Grandad’s Camper 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!)

Harry Woodgate is an award-winning illustrator who found the inspiration to write Grandad’s Camper after their university dissertation revealed a lack of older LBGTQ+ representation in children’s literature. To learn more about Harry and their work, please visit their website at harrywoodgate.com.

This book is a part of a partnership between Little Bee Book and GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ+ acceptance through children’s literature. To learn more about this partnership and other LBGTQ+ books, you can visit glaad.org and littlebeebooks.com.

I would also like to thank Little Bee Books for generously providing me with a review copy of Grandad’s Camper. I know I will be reading this wonderful book to my little one for years to come.

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Milo Imagines The World

The award winning duo behind Last Stop On Market Street and Carmella Full of Wishes, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson, are back at it with their latest release, Milo Imagines The World.

In this book, we follow a young boy named Milo as he and his older sister take their monthly Sunday subway ride to visit their mother.

As we follow Milo on his commute, he observes the people around him and draws their lives as he imagines them to be. In Milo’s drawings, a young boy in a suit becomes a prince and a woman in a wedding dress marries a man who whisks her away in a hot air balloon.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that as Milo reaches his destination, he is surprised to find the young boy in the suit is going to the very same place as Milo and his sister. That’s how he learns that we can’t really know anyone just by looking at them, and is inspired to reimagine all of his drawings.

Inspired by Christian Robinson’s childhood experiences, Milo Imagines The World is a beautiful story that reminds us all not to judge a book by its cover. The lyrical text encourages us to practice understanding and love before judgement. I have a feeling this one will be an instant classic, and I can’t recommend it enough.

I think my favorite part has to be Christian Robinson’s illustrations! I especially love Milo’s drawings, the way they provide depth to Milo as a character by giving us a look into his internal monologue and his understanding of the world around him.

Milo Imagines The World is on sale next week (February 2, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These 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 continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Matt de la Peña is the award winning author of seven young adult novels and five picture books, and he currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches creative writing. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at mattdelapena.com.

Christian Robinson is an author, illustrator, animator, and Caldecott Honoree base in San Francisco, CA. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at TheArtofFun.com.

I also want to extend a HUGE thank you to G. P. Putnam’s Sons for proving me with a review copy of Milo Imagines The World. This is one I will keep coming back to for years to come with my little one.

Five Books to Celebrate National Adoption Month

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month here in the US? I thought it would only be right to celebrate with a few books about adoption. (Please note: this post will contain affiliate links, from which I receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website, and continue to put out regular content.)

While I am personally not a part of the adoption community (i.e. I am not adopted, nor is my son), I believe it is important that we teach all children about diverse family structures, including foster and adoptive families. Giving our children this knowledge not only allows them to understand that their family structure is not the only one, but it can also prepare them to respond appropriately when they meet someone with a different family structure than theirs. I can’t think of a better way to share knowledge than reading, so I would like to recommend these books to start conversations about adoption.

Pablo’s Tree

Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Cecily Lang

This is a precious story about a boy named Pablo, and his tradition of visiting his grandfather every year on the day after his birthday. Throughout the story we learn that Pablo was adopted, and his grandfather has been celebrating his adoption day in a unique way every year since he was born. This book doesn’t explain adoption in an in-depth way, and there is not conflict. It’s just a sweet story of a cute little family and their love for each other.

A Crazy Much Love

A Crazy-Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake, Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

This little book has so much love in it. Told from the adoptive parent’s perspective, this story recounts a family’s experience adopting their daughter from China. A Crazy-Much Love follows this family from the anticipation of “the” phone call, all the way up to their daughters first day of school, This is a “warm hug” kind of book. Though there isn’t a lot of explanation about the adoption process, this is the perfect book to show children unfamiliar with adoption how parents love their adopted children the same way their parents love them.

The Story I’ll Tell

The Story I’ll Tell by Nancy Tupper Ling, Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

In this book, a mother wonders what she will tell her son when he asks where he came from. She makes up all kinds of fantastic stories about her son’s past. From hot air balloons, to angels, to dragons, each story has a tiny hint of truth, letting the reader piece together their family’s adoption experience.

Just Right Family

Just Right Family by Sylvia Lopez, Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

This is a sweet story about Meili, an adopted child whose family is adopting a baby from Haiti. Meili isn’t thrilled about the idea of messing up their “just right family”, but she warms to the idea and realizes her family is still just right, even with a sister. I love that we are seeing the adoption process through the eyes of an older sibling in this book. Definitely a great read for families adopting a second child.

When The Babies Came To Stay

When The Babies Came to Stay By Christine McDonnell, Illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

In this book, we meet four babies who arrive on an island on the same day. They are taken in by the town’s librarian,, and they become the sweetest little family. While the word “adoption” is never used, I feel like this is a great read for children who have unanswered questions about their past.

I hope you all enjoy these books as much as I did!.What are your favorite books about adoption to read to your little ones? Be sure to comment below!

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(M)other – A Picture Book About The “Other” Mothers

Originally written as a poem, which was shortlisted for the CBC Poetry prize in 2018, (M)other, by Sanita Fejzic was adapted into a children’s book in March. The poem is paired with beautiful illustrations by Alisa Arsenault, creating an unforgettable children’s book that discusses the relationship between a boy and his “other” mother.

In the book, we learn of the unique challenges faced by families with two mothers, and no father. Written from the perspective of the “other” mother, we hear of the pressure this mother receives to provide a father figure for her child, and to conform to the societal expectations of what a family “should look like”. From birth certificates, to principals, to children at school, there always seems to be a challenge to their family structure.

With more emotion than I thought possible in 26 pages, (M)other is a tender look into the lives of a loving family.

If, like me, you would like to ensure your child has an understanding of diverse family structures from a young age, I would highly recommend this book. It would also make an excellent gift for the holidays, especially for those families with “other” mothers.

I would like to thank Bouton D’or Acadie for providing me with a copy of this book to review. It was an absolute delight.

Have you read (M)other yourself? Be sure to leave your thoughts below!

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