We Are Still Here! – Native American Truths Everyone Should Know

Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac, the award-winning creators of We Are Grateful: Otsliheliga are back at it with a companion title: We Are Still Here!

We Are Still Here! is a nonfiction book documenting the challenges Native Nations have faced and the ways they continue to fight for their rights today. Focusing mainly on the actions taken by the United States Government, this book shares many lessons currently taught in Native-operated schools today.

The book actually uses a Native-operated school as its backdrop as we follow a class working on their Indigenous Peoples’ Day project. On the first page we are introduced to some “familiar” history, but each child’s presentation will focus on topics after treaty making stopped in 1871, such as forced assimilation, religious freedom, and economic development. Every child’s presentation drives home the fact that Native American History is still being made today.

Fans of We Are Grateful: Otsliheliga will be glad to find Frané Lessac’s familiar vibrant style continues into this companion book as well. Each spread depicts the subject of a child’s project, capturing both historical and contemporary Native American experiences.

The back matter contains lots of additional information about each of the twelve topics discussed in the children’s projects, as well as a glossary and timeline, making this title the perfect addition to classroom and school libraries.

We Are Still Here! officially releases tomorrow (April 20,2021), but you can preorder your own copy today where 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!)

Traci Sorell is a dual citizen of the Cherokee Nation and The United States, and is an award-winning author of five children’s books. She lives in Oklahoma, where her tribe is located. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at tracisorell.com.

Frané Lessac is an award-winning author and illustrator of over fifty books. Please visit her website at franelessac.com to learn more about her and her work.

I would like to thank Charlesbridge Publishing for providing me with a review copy of We Are Still Here. I am honored to share such an important book and encourage young readers to learn more about Native American history.

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The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought For Justice With Art

Did you know that today is World Art Day? Declared a holiday in 2012 by the International Association of Art, World Art Day is a day dedicated to celebrating art and creativity internationally. So in honor of this day, I want to share The People’s Painter by Cynthia Levinson with you all today.

This wonderful picture book biography details the life of Ben Shahn, a Jewish artist, immigrant, and activist who used his discerning sense of justice and artistic talent to bring awareness to social issues throughout his career – issues such as the executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in 1927, the struggles of rural Americans during the Great Depression, and much more.

Beginning with his childhood in Lithuania, where Ben’s father was banished for demanding worker’s rights, The People’s Painter teaches young readers about Ben Shahn’s passion for justice. Following his immigration to America, we learn the ways Ben Shahn pushed back against his teachers’ ideas of art. The People’s Painter is not only educational, but a great resource to encourage children to expose injustice and stand up for marginalized communities the same way Ben Shahn did — by finding their voice and following it.

The illustrations by Evan Turk feature bold expressive paintings, drawing parallels to Shahn’s work, creating the perfect backdrop for his story.

The People’s Painter officially releases next week (April 20, 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!)

Cynthia Levinson is the author of The Youngest Marcher, and the winner of both the Crystal Kite and Carter G. Woodson awards. Please visit her website at cynthialevinson.com to learn more about her and her work.

Evan Turk is an author, animator, and Ezra Jack Keats Book Award–winning illustrator. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at evanturk.squarespace.com.

I would like to thank Abrams Books For Young Readers for providing me a copy of this wonderful book. I can’t think of a better title for World Art Day, and I’m so honored to share Ben Shahn’s story with you all today.

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If I Had An Octopus

The duo behind If I Had a Dinosaur, If I Had a Sleepy Sloth, and If I Had a Unicorn are back at it! Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow have struck gold again with the fourth installment in the “If I Had A” series, If I Had An Octopus.

In If I had an Octopus we follow our familiar narrator, a young Black girl who imagines what it would be like to have an outlandish pet. Just like the previous titles, this book is packed with imagination, as we learn all the adventures a young girl would take if she only had a pet octopus. The lyrical text makes it a perfect read-aloud sure to entertain young readers.

The illustrations by Alex Barrow are absolutely adorable and perfectly capture all the hijinks our narrator and her imaginary pet get into — from silly multitasking to eight-legged hugs.

I really appreciated that If I Had An Octopus included a few interesting facts about octopi that readers (young and old) may not know. I for one didn’t know that an octopus has three hearts until I read this book. You learn something new every day!

If I Had An Octopus 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!)

Gabby Dawnay is a best-selling author based in London. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at gabbydawnay.blogspot.com.

Alex Barrow is an illustrator, art director, and regular contributor to OKIDO magazine. Please visit his website alexbarrow.co.uk to learn more about him and his work.

I would like to thank Thames & Hudson for providing me with a review copy of this book. I am so pleased to see this series continue!

Have you read If I Had an Octopus, or any of the books in the series? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment below to tell me what you thought.

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Bird House

If you’re looking for a precious picture book with a heartwarming grandparent/grandchild relationship, I have the perfect book for you today.

Inspired by the author’s own childhood, Bird House by Blanca Gómez is a wonderful story about a grandmother and granddaughter who nurse an injured bird back to health together.

Our young narrator details the story of finding the bird on a snowy day, and how the pair take it back to Abuela’s home while it recovers. Though they let the bird back into the wild once it heals, they are sure to invite him back by building a birdhouse.

Blanca Gómez’s minimalist style is ever present in both the text and illustrations in Bird House, the first book she has both written and illustrated. This book may seem short and sweet, but Blanca Gomez builds so much character with so few words. I am honestly amazed that someone can convey the emotion in this story in less than 200 words.

The illustrations are delightful and add so much depth to the story. I wished I could visit Abuela’s home and ask her about all her beautiful houseplants, and what she was knitting — a basket of yarn always tugs at my little crochet heart, and makes me think of my own grandmother.

Bird House is available in both English and Spanish versions next week (April 20, 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!)

Blanca Gómez is an author and illustrator based in Madrid. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at cosasminimas.com.

Many thanks to Abrams Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. It was an absolute treat!

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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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Zonia’s Rain Forest

I’m so excited to share Zonia’s Rain Forest with you all today! From Caldecott Honor and Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal, this lovely picture book follows a young girl named Zonia who lives in the rain forest with her family.

We follow Zonia through her day as she introduces us to her neighborhood. Zonia adventures through the rain forest, making friends with all of her animal neighbors. We see how she interacts with sloths, snakes, pink dolphins, and more, until she comes upon something she has never seen before. Zonia discovers a portion of the rain forest has been cut down, and her beloved home is in danger.

While this book is fiction, Zonia’s story mirrors the true story of the Asháninka people living in the Peruvian Amazon, who have a long history of being removed from their homeland. The Asháninka people have made it their mission to protect the rain forest they call home through activism and legal action, though their rights to that home continue to be denied.

The perfect pick for Earth Day next month, Zonia’s Rain Forest is a gentle reminder to young readers about the ways our rain forests need our protection. With a hopeful ending, this book will inspire children to protect the rain forest and the rest of our planet.

Fans of Juana Martinez-Neal’s previous titles like Fry Bread and Swashby and The Sea will be happy to see her familiar style in the illustrations. I absolutely adored the way they capture Zonia’s playful personality as she interacts with her friends in the rain forest.

The back matter contains quite a bit of additional information about the Asháninka people, the Amazon, and the threats that they face. There is also a page dedicated to identifying each of the animals featured in Zonia’s adventure.

Zonia’s Rain Forest is officially available next week (March 30, 2021), but you can preorder it wherever books are sold today, 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 continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

To learn more about Juana Martinez-Neal and her award-winning work, please visit her website at juanamartinezneal.com.

I also want to thank Candlewick Press for generously providing me with a review copy of this amazing book. I’m so grateful to have the privilege of sharing Zonia’s story with everyone today.

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Your Life Matters – A Validating Picture Book For Black Children

I am so honored to be able to share Your Life Matters with you all today. This beautiful picture book is an empowering reminder for Black children that their lives matter. No matter what they see on TV or social media, no matter what whispers they overhear, no matter the shouts that may be directed at them, Your Life Matters communicates the message all Black children need to hear. They are seen, and they matter.

Written by Chris Singleton, who lost his mother in the 2015 Charleston church shooting, this book encourages young readers to persevere through racial adversity by validating their very existence. Each page features a famous Black hero mentoring a child and encouraging them use their heart, voice, courage, and strength to follow their dreams.

As well as uplifting Black children, Your Life Matters is a great resource to discuss race with non-Black children. The honest depiction of Black children’s experiences provide an age-appropriate example to use in conversations about race, highlighting the way their experiences may differ from that of their Black friends or classmates..

I loved the illustrations by Taylor Barron and the way they bring a bright atmosphere to such a serious topic.

The back matter also contains short biographies for young readers who would like to learn more about the Black heroes listed, such as Maya Angelou, Barack Obama, and Katherine Johnson.

Your Life Matters is published by Bushel & Peck Books, who has an amazing “book-for-book promise”. Bushel & Peck Books donates one book to a child in need for every book they sell. You can even nominate a school or organization to receive donations at their website bushelandpeckbooks.com.

Your Life Matters officially releases next week (March 9, 2021), but you can preorder it today on Bookshop and Amazon. You can also purchase your copy directly from Bushel & Peck Books. (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 continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Chris Singleton is a former professional baseball player and inspirational speaker who travels the country speaking to students. You can learn more about him and his work at his website chrissingleton.com.

Taylor Barron is an artist based in Paris, France. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at taylorbarron.com.

I would like to thank Bushel & Peck Books for kindly providing a review copy of Your Life Matters. I am truly honored to be able to share this beautiful book with such an important message.

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Definitely Dominguita – A Fresh Chapter Book Series Inspired By Classic Literature

When I first heard about Definitely Dominguita, the new chapter book series by Terry Catasús Jennings, I knew I had to read it!

Illustrated by Fatima Anaya, each book in this series is inspired by our main character Dominguita’s love of her collection of classic literature; a collection her abuela brought all the way from Cuba and gifted to Dominguita before moving away to Florida. Dominguita misses her abuela, and reads her stories often to feel close to her.

The series begins with Knight of The Cape, where we are introduced Dominguita and her family. We follow her on a journey, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, to prove to a bully at school that girls can be knights too. The adventures continue in the second book, Captain Dom’s Treasure, as we follow Dom and the friends she made in the first book on a treasure hunt inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Now I have to be totally honest with you all: I actually have not read either of the classic titles that inspired Dominguita (Though I did watch Muppet Treasure Island at least a thousand times during childhood. That has to count for something, right?), but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the books at all! While this series will be great for young readers who are already familiar with classics, I believe it will also be a great tool to introduce classics to children who haven’t read them yet.

Both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure are filled with fun adventures, and gently touch on themes like family, friendship, bullying, diversity, and disability without distracting from the story. Dom and her friends are a lovable group of kids that I’m sure many readers will relate to. I absolutely adored this series and I would highly recommend it to any adventurous young readers.

Both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure are available now, and the third book in the series, All For One (Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers), will be available in August, but can be preordered today. You can look for them 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 continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

I will also be hosting a giveaway for both Knight of The Cape and Captain Dom’s Treasure over on Instagram, so be sure to enter!

Terry Catasús Jennings is an award-winning author who ‘s family moved from Cuba to the United States when she was eleven. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at terrycjennings.com.

Fatima Anaya is a graphic designer and illustrator who loves working on projects about diversity, family, love, and friendship. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at fatimaanaya.com.

I would like to thank Blue Slip Media and Aladdin/Simon and Schuster for kindly providing me with review copies. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dom’s adventures, and am so glad to be able to share them.

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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