Review: Bright Star

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author/Illustrator:

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

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El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!

If you’re looking for a book for a child who’s scared to try new things, I have the perfect pick for you today. El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! by Donna Barba Higuera and Juliana Perdomo is a wonderful picture book teaching young readers to face their fears.

Title: El Cucuy Is Scared, Too!
Author: Donna Barba Higuera
Illustrator: Juliana Perdomo
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Published: July 13, 2021
Format: Picture Book

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! follows a young boy named Ramon who is settling into his new home, but is feeling nervous about his first day at school. El Cucuy (the Mexican Boogeyman) comes to scare Ramon at night, but Ramon has too many other fears to be afraid. But as it turns out, El Cucuy is scared, too. El Cucuy misses their home just like Ramon—he doesn’t like the new sounds of their home or that there are fewer dark spaces for him to hide in. Ramon and El Cucuy share their worries and build each other up to face the school day, realizing they are both brave and strong. I absolutely love El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! for all those young reader who need a reminder that they can do hard things.

The illustrations are fantastic, too. The bold colors throughout are eye catching, but I think my favorite part is how cute El Cucuy is. I never thought the Boogeyman could be so adorable!

There is quite a bit of Spanish peppered throughout the English text, but it is done seamlessly. It doesn’t read like a forced Spanish vocabulary lesson, but simply like a conversion between two bilingual friends. Presenting the opportunity to discuss Mexican folklore and the Spanish language, El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! would be a great addition to school and classroom libraries—especially for a first day read aloud.

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! is officially releasing tomorrow (July 13, 2021), but you can preorder a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sending me a review copy of this adorable book. It was such a lovely read!

About The Author:

Donna Barba Higuera grew up dodging dust devils in the oilfields of central California. She was a daydreamer, constantly blending life experiences and folklore into stories. Now she weaves them into picture books and novels. Higuera currently lives among the spiraling mists of the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four children, three dogs, two frogs, and hundreds of wild birds who flock to her backyard birdfeeders every day. El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! is her debut picture book. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel Lupe Wong Won’t Dance.

You can find Donna online at her website dbhiguera.com, and on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About The Illustrator:

Juliana Perdomo is a Colombian illustrator and writer, with a background as a psychologist and art therapist. Her work is joyful and heartfelt, folkish, and a bit retro with a Latin touch. She has participated in different projects as an illustrator, this book being her debut in the United States. Perdomo lives in Bogotá, Colombia, with her amazing son Luca and a crazy old dog named Menta.

You can find Juliana online at her website julianaperdomo.com and on social media at Twitter, and Instagram.

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Anita and The Dragons

I’m happy to announce that another selection from my Most Anticipated Titles of 2021 has lived up to my expectations. Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona and Anna Cunha is a gorgeous picture book following a young Dominican girl named Anita as she prepares for her family’s immigration to an unnamed country.

Anita tells us about the dragons in the sky over her home – how they will carry her away today, and how her brother calls them planes. She doesn’t really believe the dragons are real, but she does believe she will always be the princesa on her island, even when she is far away from it. She will miss her home, and her Abuela, who is staying behind. Even the promise of hot water, a real dryer, and restaurants doesn’t seem to shake Anita’s doubt.

But with the help of her family, and the realization that she will one day return to her home, Anita bravely enters the belly of the beast and flies to her new home. Anita and the Dragons is a wonderful story of love for your home and bravery in the face of tough transitions. It provides both a window for children who have not immigrated, and a mirror for those who have.

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful. I’m a huge fan of Ann Cunha’s style and can easily see why she won the AEILIJ Prize for her previous work. The pastel color scheme is so lovely and provides a calming backdrop for all of Anita’s anxieties.

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

Hannah Carmona is a writer, actor, director, and children’s book author based in Tennessee. Please visit her website at hannahcarmona.org to learn more about her and her work.

Anna Cunha is an award-winning artist based in Brazil. You can learn more about Anna and her work by visiting her website at www.annacunha.com.

Thank you to Lantana Publishing and Publisher Spotlight for sending me a review copy of Anita and the Dragons. I’m so grateful to share this beautiful story.

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Hear My Voice – The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States

A few days ago, I watched a video on Facebook that spoke about how “funny” it was to see Democrats who opposed the Trump administration’s treatment of children at our southern border accepting the border situation now that Biden is president.

I need to make one thing perfectly clear. I (along with most other Democratic voters) do not support the mistreatment of migrant children at any border, in any country, under any administration. I will continue to demand the fair treatment of migrant children, especially from a Democratic president. If you feel the same, I would recommend Hear My Voice by Warren Binford for Project Amplify.

This moving picture book pairs the stories of children detained in immigration detention facilities with illustrations from 17 different Latinx artists. The stories are told in the children’s own words — in English on one side and Spanish on the other – providing an unflinching look at the experiences of thousands of migrant children who have been detained by the Unites States of America.

These children tell us how old they are, where they are from , how they came to arrive in America, and what their daily life looks like in the facility in which they are held. They share their fear and their hopes, creating a larger picture of the immigrant experience in our country today.

The back matter contains quite a bit of information about the situation at the border, a discussion guide for reading with children, and a list of ways you and your family can help. Ordering a copy of this book is an excellent first step, as proceeds will be distributed to Project Amplify, Human Rights Watch, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, and Las Americas to help support children in migration.

The illustrations in Hear My Voice are flawlessly executed. With a wide range of styles, each spread captures every artist’s unique depiction of the children’s experiences. Contributing artists include:

Some may consider Hear My Voice a difficult read, but I believe it is essential. If we continue to call America “the land of the free”, we have to be honest about who is free and who is not. We must listen to these children and their stories, and we must hold our leaders accountable for their actions and the trauma they are inflicting.

Hear My Voice officially releases next week (April 13, 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!)

I would like to thank Workman Press for generously providing me with a review copy of Hear My Voice. As much as I wish these stories weren’t true, I am honored to share the stories of these courageous children.

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Fatima’s Great Outdoors

Did you know that only 22% of visitors to U.S. National Parks are people of color? Author, activist, and founder of Brown People Camping Ambreen Tariq hopes to change that with her new picture book Fatima’s Great Outdoors. Inspired by her own childhood experience, this wonderful picture book is all about an immigrant family’s first time camping in their local state park.

We are first introduced to Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Khazi family, as she looks forward to setting off on the family camping trip after a tough week at school. Before she knows it, she is packed into her family’s car with their camping gear, listening to Bollywood songs and eating samosas with her sister, mother, and father. They travel to Emerald State Park, where Fatima’s confidence is bolstered by properly assembling their tent with her Papa.


The camping trip reminds Fatima of treasured memories from her time in India, like when her mother caught lizards in their home and built a fire in a wood-burning stove. Like all good things, the family’s camping trip must end, and Fatima realizes she isn’t ready to go home. But luckily this is just the first of many adventures to come for Fatima.

I absolutely love the illustrations by Stevie Lewis in Fatima’s Great Outdoors. Her own love of nature really comes through in the way she illustrates the landscapes around the Khazi family.

I also really appreciate the way Fatima’s Great Outdoors simultaneously introduces young readers to both camping and Indian culture. Outdoors spaces are often very white and male dominated, as they are often specifically marketed to white men. This sends the message to people of color that they don’t belong in these spaces. The idea of introducing young children to camping through the eyes of an immigrant family shatters that negative stereotype, and it feels so refreshing.

Fatima’s Great Outdoors is available next week (March 30, 2021), but you can preorder it 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 Ambreen Tariq and her work promoting greater diversity in our public lands, please visit her website at brownpeoplecamping.com.

To learn more about Stevie Lewis and her other work (including one of my personal favorites, Prince and Knight), please visit her website at chocosweete.com.

Thank you so much to Kokila and Penguin Random House for providing me with a review copy of Fatima’s Great Outdoors. This was another one of my most anticipated titles of 2021, and I am so happy to say it did not disappoint.

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A Thousand White Butterflies

A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams is a delightful picture book about making friends.

In A Thousand White Butterflies, we meet Isabella, a young girl whose family recently immigrated to the US from Colombia. Isabella misses her Papa, who is still in Columbia waiting for permission to travel to join his family.

Isabella has big plans to make friends on her first day of school, but the weather has other plans. When school is cancelled because there is too much snow, Isabella misses Colombia more than ever and worries she won’t ever make friends in the United States. But Isabella will soon learn that making friends in her new home is easier than she may have thought!

I really love the Illustrations by Gina Maldonado! They perfectly capture both the atmosphere of a snow day, and all the emotions they bring Isabella.

There is Spanish text peppered throughout Isabella’s conversation with her Mama and Abuelita, and an accompanying glossary in the back of the book.

This is a great selection for both children who have immigrated to a new country and children who have friends and classmates who are immigrants . Children who are immigrants themselves can find their experiences represented in this story. Children who are new to the concept of immigration will find a great example of welcoming new friends, as well as an empathetic look into the thoughts and feelings of a child who is new to their country and school.

A Thousand White Butterflies officially releases next week (January 19, 2021) but you can preorder it today wherever you purchase books, 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.)

I would like to give a big thank you to Charlesbridge for sending me a review copy of A Thousand White Butterflies. It was an absolute delight!

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