Review: Powwow Day

I am thrilled to be sharing one of my most anticipated picture books of 2022 by one of my favorite award winning authors today! Powwow Day by Traci Sorell and Madelyn Goodnight is a beautiful picture book that lived up to all my anticipation.

Title: Powwow Day
Author: Traci Sorell
Illustrator: Madelyn Goodnight
Published: February 8, 2022
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl named River as she and her family attend a powwow, Powwow Day offers a contemporary story highlighting Native American traditions – but it is also a beautiful story of healing and hope. River wants to dance at the powwow more than anything, but because she is recovering from an illness, she cannot dance with her sister, friends, and cousins. As River witnesses the powwow dances and listens to the drums, she is uplifted by her community as she remembers the meaning behind the jingle dress dance and finds hope that she will dance again.

The theme of healing feels incredibly timely as we all navigate the uncertainty of the continued pandemic. The hopeful ending is a beautiful reminder to young readers that they too will be able to do the things they love, and our limitations are often temporary.

Madelyn Goodnight’s illustrations are absolutely wonderful. Fans of Look, Grandma!/Ni, Elisi! will be happy to see the familiar vibrant colorwork and detail on every page,

There is also detailed information providing education about the cultural tradition of powwows, making Powwow Day a fantastic addition to school and classroom libraries.

Powwow Day 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!)

Thank you so much to Charlesbridge for sharing this amazing book with me! I was so happy to learn more about powwows, and I’m so excited to be able to share this book with everyone today.

About The Author:

Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

About The Illustrator:

Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Her work reflects her love of childhood. She holds a degree from Rhode Island School of design and lives in Brooklyn. She is the illustrator of The Pear Tree and Look, Grandma!/Ni, Elisi! http://www.madelyngoodnight.com

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Flashback Friday: The First Blade of Sweetgrass

For today’s Flashback Friday, I want to share The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story by Suzanne Greenlaw, Gabriel Frey, and Nancy Baker with you all. Written by a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a citizen of the Passamaquoddy Nation, this stunning picture book focuses on a resource that is vital to the Wabanaki and other First Nations peoples across the continent.

Title: The First Blade of Sweetgrass: A Native American Story
Authors: Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey
Illustrator: Nancy Baker
Published: August 10, 2021
Publisher: Tillbury House Publishers
Format: Picture Books

Following a young girl named Musqon as she learns to harvest sweetgrass with her grandmother, The First Blade of Sweetgrass tells a timeless story of culture and traditions being passed down through generations. Musqon’s grandmother is patient with her as she struggles to identify the sweetgrass in the beginning. But as Musqon spends more time in the salt marsh, she finally gets the hang of harvesting. The First Blade of Sweetgrass is a great selection to teach young readers the power of perseverance.

The illustrations by Nancy Baker are stunning. The landscapes capture the tranquility of nature and transports the reader to the salt marsh.

The First Blade of Sweetgrass also contains an Author’s Note in the back matter with more detail around sweetgrass and its many uses, as well as a glossary of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words, making it a fantastic resource for school libraries and classrooms.

You can find The First Blade of Sweetgrass 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 Tillbury House Publishers for providing me with a review copy of this stunning book!

About The Authors:

Suzanne Greenlaw (Orono, ME) is Maliseet and a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. A PhD candidate in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, she works to restore Wabanaki stewardship practices across various land tenure systems throughout Maine.

Gabriel Frey (Orono, ME) is Passamaquoddy and a citizen of Passamaquoddy at Sipayik. He is an awarded-winning basket maker, artist, and cultural knowledge keeper. His mother and Suzanne and Gabriel’s two daughters, Musqon and Alamossit, helped inspire The First Blade of Sweetgrass.

About The Illustrator:

Nancy Baker (Thomaston, ME) is a Maine artist, illustrator, and muralist whose landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works in oils and pastels are represented by Mars Hall Gallery in Tenants Harbor, Maine. While visiting the sweetgrass meadows of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park with Suzanne and Gabriel, authors of The First Blade of Sweetgrass, Nancy learned the ecology and cultural importance of sweetgrass and witnessed the majesty of the landscape in which it grows, qualities that she has worked to convey in her illustrations.

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Review: Love In The Library

I’m so excited to share one of my most anticipated titles of 2022 with you all today! Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Yas Imamura is a small book that packs a huge punch of emotion. It quite literally left me in tears, which is not a common experience for me.

Title: Love In the Library
Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Illustrator: Yas Imamura
Publisher: Candlewick
Published: January 25, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Inspired by the author’s grandparent’s lived experience (with mostly fictionalized dialogue) Love in the Library tells a beautiful love story set in Minidoka, an internment camp in Idaho where Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned. Following the story of Tama, a young woman who works in the library at Minidoka, as she falls in love with a man named George, young readers will learn of one of the many dark moments in American history.

The bittersweet disposition of Tama and George’s love with the backdrop of their prison is felt throughout the story, and is especially prevalent in the incredibly heartfelt Author’s note in the back matter. Love in the Library provides so much hope to young readers, especially during the darkness we are all feeling in our current moment in history. Though the world may look scary, and we may feel hopeless, Love in the Library reminds us that through it all there will be beautiful moments filled with joy and love.

The illustrations by Yas Imamura perfectly blend that love and joy with the heartbreak of Tama and George’s reality on every page.

Providing a frank and hearfelt history lesson, Love in the Library would make a fantastic addition to school libraries and classrooms everywhere.

You can preorder your copy of Love In the Library at Bookshop, Amazon, or wherever you normally preorder 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 to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Candlewick for providing me with a review copy of Love in the Library. I have a feeling this may be one of my favorite titles of 2022, and I know I will read this one for many years to come with own little one.

About The Author:

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of Also an Octopus, illustrated by Benji Davies, and the novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. She lives in Oakland, California.

About The Illustrator:

Yas Imamura is the illustrator of The Very Oldest Pear Tree by Nancy I. Sanders, Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus, and other books for children. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Review: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball

We all know that Jackie Robinson was the first Black major league baseball player, but how much do you know about the second? All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball by Audrey Vernick and Cannaday Chapman introduces young readers to the man who joined the major leagues just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson.

Title: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball
Author: Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Cannaday Chapman
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: January 4, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with his childhood in Camden, South Carolina, All Star follows Larry Doby all the way to the day he helped his team win the World Series with a game-winning home run in 1948. Highlighting the changes we’ve seen since Larry Doby’s career as well as the changes we fight for today, All Star doesn’t shy away from the racism found in America and it’s favorite pastime. From detailing Larry’s first day in the dugout to pointing out the racism of Cleveland’s team name and logo in the author’s note, All Star eloquently addresses progress with young readers, inspiring them to continue changing things for the better.

Cannaday Chapman’s powerful artwork pairs perfectly with Audrey Vernick’s text. The illustrations are filled with emotion and brings Larry Doby’s story to life on every single page.

The back matter contains an author’s note with more detail about Larry’s life, a bibliography, and the iconic photo of Larry Doby and pitcher Steve Gromek embracing after their World Series victory, making this a fantastic educational resource for classroom and school libraries.

All Star officially releases tomorrow (January 4, 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.)

Thank you so much to Clarion Books for providing me with a review copy of All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball. I am honored to share Larry’s story on Mutually Inclusive.

About The Author:

Audrey Vernick is author of several novels and many picture books, including Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. She lives with her family near the ocean in New Jersey. Visit her online at audreyvernick.com and on Twitter @yourbuffalo.

About The Illustrator:

Cannaday Chapman is the illustrator of the picture book biographies All-Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball and Feed Your Mind: The Story of August Wilson, and his work has been featured in the New York Times and on the cover of The New Yorker. He was born in upstate New York and studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and he currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

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Review: The Big Bath House

If you’re looking for a body positive book that is not about body positivity, I have a great pick for you today. The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear and Gracey Zhang is a fantastic picture book that celebrates family, community, sisterhood, and bodies.

Title: The Big Bath House
Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Gracey Zhang
Publisher: Random House Studio
Published: November 16, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl and the women in her family as they spend the day at a traditional Japanese bath house, The Big Bath House is an intimate look into the life of a young girl who doesn’t always share the same language as her family. However, this doesn’t stop them from sharing traditions, rituals, and their love for one another.

The Big Bath House invites young readers to explore Japanese culture and traditions, and in doing so, opens the door to conversations about our bodies. The Big Bath House does not shy away from nudity, so if naked bodies in children’s books make you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you.

Gracey Zhang beautifully captures the female form in all of its variety. On each bath house spread, we see women of all ages, shapes, and sizes enjoying their time together as they scrub and soak. From young cousins to grandmas, each woman is comfortable, relaxed, and, of course, squeaky clean.

I am beyond thrilled to see another book that celebrates bodies on shelves. So often children are shamed to meet our culture’s idea of modesty, but I personally believe nothing good is learned from a place of shame. We all have bodies and none of us should be ashamed of them.

I would highly recommend The Big Bath House for anyone looking to introduce young readers to body positivity. You can pick up your very 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.)

Thank you so much to Random House Studio for sharing this amazing book with me!

About The Author:

Kyo Maclear is a critically acclaimed author whose books have received starred reviews, appeared on numerous “Best of” lists, and been published in multiple languages around the world. One of her picture books, Virginia Wolf, has been adapted for the stage, and another, Julia, Child, is currently being adapted into an animated television series. Visit her on the web at kyomaclear.com.

About The Illustrator:

Gracey Zhang is a freelance illustrator and animator. She graduated with her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her first author-illustrator picture book, Lala’s Words, was published in 2021 by Scholastic. Visit her on the web at graceyzhang.com.

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Book Tour Stop: A Sari for Ammi

I’m thrilled to be participating in the book tour for A Sari for Ammi by Mamta Nainy and Sandhya Prabhat today! This precious picture book is all about working hard and appreciating the people who mean the most to us.

Title: A Sari for Ammi
Author: Mamta Nainy
Illustrator: Sandhya Prabbhat
Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids
Published: November 9, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl as she hatches a plan to buy her mother a gift, A Sari for Ammi teaches young readers about the traditions and cultures of Kaithoon, a town in Rajisthan known for it’s traditional saris. The young narrator explains that her Abba (father) dyes thread, and her Ammi (mother) weaves it into beautiful saris, but she never wears one of her beautiful saris herself. She enlists her sister Sadaf in her plan to save up enough money to buy one of her Ammi’s saris for her. A Sari for Ammi is a heartwarming story about the ways we support our family

The illustrations by Sadhya Prabhat are fantastic. Every page is filled with bold colors, but I especially appreciated the patterns and texture in the saris themselves.

The backmatter also contains a lovely authors note with information about Kaithoon and the saris that are made there, as well as a glossary.

A Sari For Ammi 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!)

Thank you so much to Amazon Crossing Kids for providing me with a review copy of this beautiful book!

About The Author:

Mamta Nainy is a children’s writer, editor, and translator based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of many children’s books, including A Brush with Indian Art, illustrated by Aniruddha Mukherjee, which won the Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award in 2019; and Bioscope, illustrated by Shanti Devi, which was named to the IBBY Honour List in 2012. Follow the author on Instagram @mamtanainy.

About The Illustrator:

Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator and illustrator from Chennai, India, who resides in the United States. She has a master’s degree in animation and digital arts from New York University. She has illustrated nearly a dozen picture books, including her recent book I Am Brown, written by Ashok Banker. She animates for TV and movies and creates content for social media websites such as Facebook, Google, and Snapchat. Follow the artist on Instagram @sandhyaprabhat.

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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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Flashback Friday: The Good Song

Today I want to share a beautiful picture book all about a song that perfectly captures the bittersweet moment of summer ending. The Good Song by Alexandria Giardino and Penelope Dullaghan is a fictional story inspired by the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful world” recorded by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole.

Title: The Good Song
Author: Alexandria Giardino
Illustrator: Penelope Dullaghan
Publisher: Cameron Kids
Published: October 6, 2020
Format: Picture Book

Originally published in October 2020, this stunning picture book tells the story of a young Hawaiian boy named Iz, beginning with the day he was born, when the world sang him a lullaby. Iz’s grandfather lovingly teaches him to hear the beautiful music of love and life all around him. This essential life lesson helps Iz navigate the feelings of grief and darkness that he finds upon losing his grandfather. Much like the song that inspired it, The Good Song is filled with beauty, grief, sadness, and joy, creating a touching story for young readers.

The illustrations by Penelope Dullaghan are absolutely phenomenal! The lush colors create the perfect backdrop for Iz’s story. I particularly loved the way the rainbow is used to create a visual representation of the music in Iz’s life.

Complete with back matter that shares the history of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “What a Wonderful World”, and Iz’s original version, The Good Song is a wonderful lesson in musical history, as well as a beautiful story.

You can pick up your own copy of The Good Song 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 Cameron Kids for providing me with a review copy of this beautiful book. I am thrilled to share it with you all today!

About The Author:

Alexandria Giardino’s debut picture book, Ode to an Onion, published by Cameron Kids, was inspired by the poet Pablo Neruda and his muse, Matilde. It was a Junior Library Guild selection. She lives in Northern California. You can find Alexandria online at alexgiardino.com and on Twitter @Alex_Giardino.

About The Illustrator:

Penelope Dullaghan is an illustrator based in Indianapolis. This is her first picture book for Cameron Kids. You can find Penelope online at penelopedullaghan.com and on Instagram @penelope_dullaghan.

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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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Flashback Friday – Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

It’s Flashback Friday again, and today I am sharing one of my favorites genres—a picture book biography! Originally released in April 2020, Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade and Cozbi A. Cabrera is a stunning example of the powerful way picture books can bring historical figures to life for young readers.

Title: Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator: Cozbi A. Cabrera
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Published: April 7, 2020
Format: Picture Book

Exquisite details the life of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, from her childhood surrounded by books to her celebrated career sharing the stories of the people of the neighborhood she grew up in. We follow the ups and downs of Gwendolyn’s life, including the struggles her family faced during the Great Depression, Gwendolyn’s struggles to feel seen amongst her peers, her marriage and the birth of her first son, wrapping up in 1950 when she won the Pulitzer Prize.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ story is especially inspiring to young writers, because Gwendolyn herself started writing when she was only seven years old. Children will find an example in Gwendolyn’s childhood to observe the world around them and find the poetry there.

The illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera are absolutely stunning. The color and composition of the acrylic paintings are so beautiful throughout, and every page breathes life into Gwendolyn’s story. It’s no surprise that Exquisite was a 2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award Illustrator Honoree.

The back matter contains a wonderful Author’s Note with additional details about Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as a timeline of her life, making Exquisite a great selection for classroom and school libraries.

You can pick up your own copy of Exquisite 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 again to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sending me a review copy of Exquisite. This book is a beautiful example of why picture book biographies are my some of my very favorites.

About The Author:

Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of many books for children, including several about other groundbreaking women, such as Dangerous Jane and A Computer Called Katherine. Slade lives in Libertyville, Illinois.

You can find Suzanne online at her website suzanneslade.com and on Twitter (@AuthorSSlade) and Instagram (@authorsslade).

About The Illustrator:

Cozbi A. Cabrera holds a BFA from Parsons School of Design. She has illustrated several books for children and is also well known for her handmade cloth dolls. Cabrera lives in Evanston, Illinois.

You can find Cozbi online at her website cozbi.com and on Twitter (@CozbiHandmade) and Instagram (@cozbi).

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