A Day For Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day

I can’t think of a better selection for Memorial Day weekend than A Day For Rememberin’ by Leah Henderson. This beautiful picture book is a fictionalized account of a true historical event that many believe to be the first celebration of Memorial Day. Though today we honor veterans of all wars, Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in Charleston, South Carolina when newly freed citizens marched to honor the Union soldiers who fought for their freedom in the Civil War.

During the Civil War, the Confederate Army converted the Washington Race Course in Charleston into a prison. They imprisoned captured Union soldiers and subjected them to inhumane treatment. Though the prison was only open for seven months, 257 Union prisoner died there due to exposure, disease, and starvation.

Shortly after the end of the civil war, twenty-eight newly freed men volunteered their time and labor to create a permanent resting place for the Union soldiers who fought for their freedom. On May 1, 1865, the first free May Day – in a time when Black people weren’t allowed to congregate freely – 10,000 Charleston residents gathered to march, sing, and spread flower petals to honor the lives of those soldiers. While some may not agree with Leah Henderson’s assertation that this was the first Memorial Day celebration, it’s hard to argue with the dates.

In A Day For Rememberin’ we follow ten-year-old Eli, a (fictional) son of one of the men who worked to build the cemetery. Eli longs to join his father in his work, but he must attend school, now that he has the freedom to do so. On the tenth day, Eli and other boys his age are allowed to help whitewash the fence. The next day, newly freed citizens, abolitionist, missionaries, and more all gather at the racecourse to honor the fallen soldiers.

A Day For Rememberin’ is an essential history lesson with a whole lot of heart. The back matter contains a fantastic Author’s Note, further detail about the history of Decoration Day, and a timeline. I would highly recommend this title for classrooms and school libraries.

The illustrations by Floyd Cooper are fantastic. They perfectly capture Eli and all the residents of Charleston, taking readers back in time.

A Day For Rememberin’ is available now 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!)

Leah Henderson is an award-winning author of multiple titles for young readers, including one of my personal favorites: The Teacher’s March. Please visit Leah’s website at leahhendersonbooks.com.

Floyd Cooper is the award-winning author and illustrator of Max and The Tag Along Moon, Jump, and many other children’s books. To learn more about Floyd and his work, please visit his website at floydcooper.com.

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sharing a review copy of A Day For Rememberin’ with me. I am so honored to share this story with my readers today.

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Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks

Sarah and the Big Wave by Bonnie Tsui is a wonderful picture book biography that tells the story of Sarah Gerhardt, the first woman to surf Mavericks.

Young readers will learn about Sarah’s journey to become a pioneer for women in surfing, including her challenges, such as finding gear in the right sizes and finding a welcoming group of friends to share her passion with. Sarah and the Big Wave shares a wonderful lesson of following your passions and persevering through challenges. And of course, this is a great pick for young surfing enthusiasts.

I really love the illustrations by Sophie Diao! The way she captured both the beauty and movement of the ocean was really stunning.

The back matter also contains a wonderful timeline of the history women in surfing from the 1600’s to 2020, making it a great resource for educators.

Sarah and the Big Wave is officially out next week, but you can purchase it 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!)

Bonnie Tsui is an author and journalist who lives, swims, and surfs in the Bay Area. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at bonnietsui.com.

Sophie Diao is an artist and illustrator based in San Francisco, California. Please visit her website at sophiediao.com to learn more about her and her work.

I also want to thank Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for proving me with a review copy of Sarah and the Big Wave. I loved learning about Sarah, and I’m so glad to share her story with you all.

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The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

If you’re looking for a picture book about bravery and passion, I have the perfect pick for you today!

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung is a phenomenal picture book biography detailing the life of Hazel Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to fly for the US military.

Despite being born during a time when racial bias was rampant against Chinese people in the United States, Hazel Ying Lee wasn’t afraid of anything. Hazel fell in love with flying when she was in an airshow with a friend. She worked an “invisible job” as an elevator operator to pay for flying lessons. Regardless of both the gender and racial barriers of her time, she would go on to serve as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.

I appreciate that The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee doesn’t shy away from the obstacles faced by Hazel, specifically the racism she faced. From an encounter with a farmer who mistook her for a Japanese fighter when she crash-landed in a Kansas field mid-training, to Hazel’s family’s fight to bury her in a whites-only cemetery when Hazel died in service to her country at the age of 32, these examples give us a great introduction to talk to young readers about the racism directed towards Asian Americans, which seems to all too common during the time of COVID-19.

Even with these hard lessons of injustice, The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee is a beautiful book celebrating the accomplishments of a groundbreaking woman. I really appreciated the beautiful illustrations by Julie Kwon.

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee is available 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!)

Julie Leung is a children’s book author based in New York. She is also the author of one of my favorites: Paper Son: The Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at jleungbooks.com.

Julie Kwon is an artist and illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee is her debut picture book. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at julikwonart.com.

Many thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for generously providing me with a review copy of The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee. I’m so grateful to have a part in sharing Hazel’s story.

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Opening The Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

As we enter the second week of Black History Month, I want to share Opening The Road by Keila Dawson with you all.

This inspiring picture book biography details Victor Hugo Green’s creation and distribution of The Negro Motorist Green Book, or as most people call it today, The Green Book.

In the late 1930’s, Black Americans were not guaranteed safe travel throughout the United States. Segregation barred Black motorist’s access to establishments like gas stations, rest areas, or hotels. The high number of “sundown towns”, all white communities that excluded non-white individuals after dark though intimidating and often violent tactics, made it dangerous for Black Americans to travel long distances.

Inspired by a Jewish newspaper, Victor Hugo Green, a US Postal Service worker in Harlem, decided to write a book to help Black travelers find safe options. The Green Book allowed trips to be planned with hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and many other businesses that welcomed Black customers. This travel guide became an invaluable resource for Black Americans throughout the country, and it flew off shelves, eventually selling over two million copies.

I love that the illustrations by Alleanna Harris bring life not just to Victor’s story, but also to the stories of many Black families who were able to safely enjoy family vacations.

Victor’s story highlights the resilience Black Americans have shown amid the countless obstacles facing them throughout our nation’s history. In the face of enormous challenges like segregation and racism, Victor, Alma, and all of Victor’s Postal service friends found a way to distribute vital information throughout the country, allowing numerous travelers safe passage.

The back of the book contains a fantastic author’s note that includes more historical detail, context around why The Green Book is relevant to conversations about safety in Black communities today, and information on current projects inspired by The Green Book, as well as a timeline.

You can purchase a copy of Opening The Road 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!)

Keila Dawson is an author, editor, and former teacher based in Cincinnati, OH. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at keiladawson.com.

Alleanna Harris is an artist and illustrator based in New Jersey. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at alleannaharris.com.

I would like to thank Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of this amazing book. I am so grateful to be able to share Victor Hugo Green’s story.

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Old Enough To Save The Planet – A Picture Book For Young Climate Change Activists

When you hear of young climate activists, your mind may go to well known activists like Greta Thunberg. But there are children across the globe, just like our children, who are taking action against climate change.

Old Enough To Save The Planet by Loll Kirby introduces us to twelve young climate activists, and highlights the actions they are taking to make change in their community.

From New York to Australia, these young children are making huge changes like reducing the effects of traffic pollution, diverting food waste from landfills, and reducing litter pollution.

I love that Old Enough To Save The Planet gives specific examples of different elements affecting climate change, like littering and deforestation, as well as specific ways to address many of those issues. Sometimes, I feel like children’s books about climate change add anxiety for children when they describe the problems facing our planet, but this one is written with so much hope and encouragement that it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

The beautiful illustrations by Adelina Lirius capture the beauty of nature, as well as the diversity of our communities, providing a great visual of how we can all work together to save the the planet that we all share

To further assist young readers in making a difference, the back of the book has several empowering ideas, including a list of ten ways young readers can help save the planet, ten ways to make their voice heard, and resources for further reading.

Old Enough To Save The Planet officially releases in North America next week (February 9, 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!)

Loll Kirby is a children’s book author and former teacher based in Bristol, UK, who was inspired to write this book by her students. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at www.gatherandgrow.co.uk.

Adelina Lirius is an extremely talented illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at adelinalirius.com.

I would like to thank Abrams Young Readers and Magic Cat Publishing for providing me with a review copy of such a wonderful book.

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Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators

Are you looking for a picture book biography about an inspiring woman serving her country during wartime?

Might I suggest Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Fridell?

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Grace Banker before I read this book, but I can’t wait to share her story with you now!

In 1917, a 25-year-old Grace Banker answered an ad seeking French-speaking telephone operators to join the Signal Corps of the United States Army. Though she couldn’t vote yet, Grace was selected as a chief operator and led a team of thirty-three operators who translated commands and transferred secret codes on the front lines during World War I.

These women were some of America’s first female soldiers and they kept communications open despite the explosions, fires, and poor weather conditions they faced. Their skill and dedication to their work played a vital role in the victory of World War I, though they remain unsung heroes today.

Working closely with Grace Banker’s family, Claudia Friedel and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a biography that feels personal. Quotes from Grace’s diaries are used throughout the book to truly highlight her voice.

The backmatter offers plenty of additional information about Grace and The Service Corps to inform young readers of the historical significance of their achievements, as well as their fight to receive veteran recognition.

Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call is available 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!)

Claudia Friddell is a former elementary school teacher and the author of several non-fiction children’s books. She is passionate about sharing true stories from history, and currently lives in Baltimore with her husband. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at claudiafriddell.com.

Elizabeth Baddeley is the illustrator of many biographies and non-fiction books for children, including the New York Times bestselling I DISSENT: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark. She currently lives in in Kansas City with her husband and son. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at ebaddeley.com.

Thank you so much to Calkins Creek and Boyds Mills & Kane for providing me with a review copy of Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call. I’m so glad to be able to share such an amazing story.

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Standing On Her Shoulders – Celebrating the Women Who Came Before Us

I’m so excited to share Standing on Her Shoulders: A Celebration of Women by Monica Clark-Robinson with you all today.

I originally thought this book was going to be a collection of biographies about women throughout history, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s something a little bit different.

Standing on Her Shoulders combines the elements of a love letter to our children, a tribute to our ancestors, and a biography collection, creating something altogether unique.

This book is a beautiful reminder of how strong women are when we lift one another up, how far we have come, and how far the next generation will take us. Standing on Her Shoulders is not a heavy historical text, but rather a poetic tribute to honor the legacy of women who worked to achieve the freedoms women enjoy today.

Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text is paired perfectly with Laura Freeman’s illustrations, allowing us to look in on one Black family’s conversation with the next generation about the numerous women who came before them, paving the way for us all.

The back matter contains one sentence biographies of the twenty-six women featured in the illustrations (from Sacajawea to Simone Biles), opening the door to further conversations about the historic accomplishments of each woman.

My favorite part about this book however is that it doesn’t just emphasize the importance of honoring those who came before us, but also reminds young readers that someone will be standing on their shoulders someday.

Standing On Her Shoulders officially releases next week (February 2, 2021), but you can preorder 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!)

Monica Clark-Robinson is an author, professional actor, and voice-over artist who is passionate about stories. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, daughters, and many cats. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at monicaclark-robinson.com.

Laura Freeman is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree who has illustrated over thirty books for children, including Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice and The New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at lfreemanart.com.

Thank you to Orchards Books and Scholastic for sending me a copy of Standing On Her Shoulders. I can’t wait to share this inspiring book with my nieces.

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The Aquanaut – Encouraging Children To Dream Big

As soon as I heard about The Aquanaut by Jill Heinerth and illustrated by Jaime Kim, I knew I had to have a copy!

A children’s book written by a traiblazing female cave diver and underwater explorer, illustrated by a NYT bestselling illustrator?

Yes! Sign me up.

At first glance, I thought this book would be another empowering picture book biography focusing on girl power. (Now, don’t get me wrong! This is one of my favorite types of books, but you have to admit, there are A LOT out there these days.) I was pleasantly surprised to learn that The Aquanaut is empowering in a very different way.

Instead of encouraging readers to overcome gender specific obstacles society may present them, this book gently encourages children to dream big, and to follow those dreams. Jill tells young readers about the big dreams she had as a child. Each spread detailing her dream is followed by a wordless spread with magnificent illustrations by Jaime Kim showing us an adult Jill achieving those dreams, metaphorically speaking.

The Aquanaut is the perfect pick to encourage imagination, while also reminding young readers they don’t have to wait until they’re grown to achieve all of their dreams. If they dream of helping others, they can start today!

The illustrations in this book are absolute perfection! Somehow Jaime Kim perfectly captures the comparisons of Young Jill’s dreams and Adult Jill’s achievements, while simultaneously creating the perfect calming atmosphere for young readers to reflect on their own dreams. It’s genius!

On top of being a writer, Jill Heinerth is also an award-winning cave diver, as well as an underwater explorer, photographer, and filmmaker. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to visit her website at intotheplanet.com.

Jaime Kim is an extremely talented illustrator whose debut picture book Take Heart, My Child was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website at jaimekim.com.

The Aquanaut officially releases next week (January 19, 2021), but you can preorder it today at Bookshop, Amazon, and anywhere else you purchase books. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to earn a small commission from purchases made at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site, and continue bringing content to you.)

Many thanks to Tundra Books for providing me with a copy of The Aquanaut. I am so grateful to have had the chance to review such a brilliant book!

We Are The Supremes – A Picture Book Biography of America’s Most Successful Vocal Group

I’m sure most of you are familiar with The Supremes, but many young readers have yet to learn much about America’s most successful vocal group.

We Are The Supremes by Zoe Tucker is a perfect introduction, while also making for a great read for children who are already fans.

Starting from Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Diana Ross’s beginnings at the Brewster-Douglass public housing project in Detroit, all the way to their global success with Motown Records, We are The Supremes tells the story of the rise of this successful music group.

This book is a celebration of the success of three Black women who became international superstars during a time when many record labels turned away Black artists. The hard work and determination these women showed make for a great example to encourage young readers to work hard at the things they love.

I think my favorite part has to be the illustrations by Salini Perera. They are absolutely fantastic! I particularly love the all the outfits. Every illustration perfectly captures the fashion from the 50’s and 60’s.

I also love that this book doesn’t shy away from some of the disagreements within the group, showing young readers that friendships often take work and encouraging them to resolve their disagreements with friends through communication.

We Are The Supremes is available in the UK, and will be released in North America next week (January 12, 2021). You can preorder it now wherever you purchase books, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.)

To see more work from Zoe Tucker and Salini Perera, be sure to visit their websites: zoetucker.co.uk and saliniperera.com, respectively.

I also want to thank Quarto Publishing Group for generously providing me with a digital review copy for this title.

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She Persisted: Harriet Tubman

I have to admit, I am late to the party with the She Persisted series. For those of you who missed the memo like me, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World is a picture book that was published back in 2017, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. With a title inspired by a feminist rally cry (accidently coined by Mitch McConnell of all people), this picture book shared inspiring stories of 13 women who continued to persist and follow their dreams to accomplish extraordinary achievements. This book was followed up by two more picture books, She Persisted Around the World (published in 2018) and She Persisted in Sports (published in 2020).

I was so excited to find this series this year, because it’s a fantastic introduction to lots of different female role models and the concept of feminism as a whole. But I was even more excited to learn that Philomel Books is continuing the series in chapter books! There will be 13 books in the series released this year, one dedicated to each woman mentioned in the original picture book She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to review the first release in the chapter book series, She Persisted: Harriet Tubman, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

I know many of us are familiar with Harriet Tubman, but this book is perfect for young readers to learn more about her story.

Starting at her birth on the Edward Brodess plantation in Dorchester, Maryland, She Persisted: Harriet Tubman follows our heroine throughout the struggles of her childhood of being “rented” to cruel people. In six chapters, we learn about how Harriet Tubman grew up and escaped slavery, and how she risked her freedom to ensure others had theirs.

This book does not shy away from the ugly truths of slavery (including the traumatic brain injury Harriet Tubman suffered, causing a lifetime of seizures and hypersomnia), but cruelty and violence is introduced in an age-appropriate manner. I really appreciate the attention to Harriet’s disability, because I feel like this fact is often left out of her story.

There is an additional chapter at the end of the book with a list of activities for young readers to honor Harriet Tubman’s bravery, which I thought was a great idea to inspire children to take their reading a step further.

I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it for any young reader in your life. I have four nieces who are reading chapter books, and I am so excited to share this one with them.

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman is officially released next week (January 5, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever you purchase books, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.)

Thank you so much to Philomel for providing me with the review copy and the opportunity. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!

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