Review: I’ll Go and Come Back

I’m so thrilled to be sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022 with you all today! I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca and Sara Palacios is a beautiful picture book that highlights the way love can overcome language barriers and culture differences.

Title: I’ll Go and Come Back
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: March 29, 2022
Format: Picture Book

I’ll Go and Come Back follows a young girl named Jyoti as she visits her family in India for the first time. Jyoti feels out of place and is overwhelmed by the differences between her home and her surroundings in India. But she spends her days with her grandmother, and though they only know a few words in each other’s languages, Sita Pati helps Jyoti feel at home. When it’s time to say goodbye, Jyoti doesn’t want to. She remembers that in Tamil (her grandmother’s language), they don’t say goodbye, but “I’ll go and come back”.

When Sita Pati comes to visit America, it’s Jyoti’s turn to comfort her grandmother as she feels out of place in her new surroundings. They spend their days together and Jyoti shows Sita Pati all her favorite things. When it’s time for her grandmother to leave, Jyoti doesn’t want her to, but Sita Pati says “I’ll go and come back”.

I’m a huge fan of Rajani LaRocca’s, so I had a feeling I would love this book, and I did. The structure is genius, with each half of the story mirroring the other. There is so much love and joy in this book, it feels like a warm hug! The illustrations by Sara Palacios perfectly capture the love Jyothi and her grandmother have for one another, and bring both characters to life.

You can pick up your own copy of I’ll Go and Come Back 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 Candlewick Press for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book! I know I will be reading this one to my little one for years to come.

About the Author:

Rajani LaRocca is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor Book Red, White, and Whole. She was born in Bangalore, India, and immigrated to the US when she was a baby. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from Harvard with both a BA and an MD, and has worked as a primary care physician since 2001. Rajani LaRocca lives in eastern Massachusetts with her family.

About the Illustrator:

Sara Palacios is the illustrator of many picture books, including My Day with the Panye, written by Tami Charles. She divides her time between San Francisco and Mexico City.

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Review: Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle

I am thrilled to be sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022 with you all again today! Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour and Kaylani Juanita is a beautiful picture book filled to the brim with love, and it has exceeded all of my expectations.

Title: Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
Author: Nina LaCour
Illustrator: Kaylani Juanita
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: March 29, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl who misses her Mommy while she is away for a week-long business trip, Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle is a great choice for any little ones who are missing someone they love. Though our young narrator loves her Mama, her week just doesn’t feel the same without Mommy around. She talks to Mommy on the phone, but it just isn’t the same. Shortly before Mommy comes back, she hatches a plan with Mama to surprise Mommy when she arrives.

My absolute favorite part of Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle is that it has such a realistic example of the way we process our emotions. When Mommy comes back home, our young narrator doesn’t immediately forget about the tough week she had, but instead works through the feelings she had and comes to terms with them.

The illustrations by Kaylani Juanita are wonderful, as always. As far as I’m concerned, Kaylani Juanita is the Queen of Character Design. There is so much care and attention put into every detail of each character, as well as their surroundings. I think my favorite detail is all the houseplants in the family’s home. I even spotted a string of pearls!

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle officially releases next week (March 29, 2022) but I would highly recommend preordering it today! Preorders are 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 Candlewick Press for providing me with a review copy of Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle. I am so happy to be able to share it with everyone today!

About The Author:

Nina LaCour is the award-winning author of several books for young adults, including We Are Okay, which won the Michael L. Printz Award, and Hold Still, which was a William C. Morris Debut Award finalist and won the Northern California Book Award. Nina LaCour lives in California with her wife and daughter.

About The Illustrator:

Kaylani Juanita is the illustrator of several books for children, including the Stonewall Book Award winner When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff. She is also the illustrator of Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon, A House for Every Bird by Megan Maynor, and The Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer. Kaylani Juanita lives in California.

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Review: All From a Walnut

If you’re looking for a book to celebrate the first day of spring this weekend, I’ve got a beautiful selection for you today. All From a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Felicita Sala is a stunning intergenerational story that tackles grief in a tender and gentle way.

Title: All From a Walnut
Author: Ammi-Joan Paquette
Illustrator: Felicita Sala
Published: March 22, 2022
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Format: Picture Book

All From a Walnut tells the story of a young girl and her grandfather as he recounts his journey across an ocean to a new home. Her grandfather tells her of the walnut he brought with him and how he planted it in his backyard. He tells her about the walnut he gave her mother, and shows her the trees side by side. Together they take part in their family’s tradition of planting a walnut for the young girl to care for, which will eventually become a tree that stands with the others.

All From a Walnut touches on several heavy topics like immigration, loss of a grandparent, and grief. I didn’t find the story to be heavy, however. Each topic is handled so delicately and with so much love, that the reader arrives at the end of the story with understanding and a sense of the big picture. In a way, this is a story about the impact our lives have and the legacy we leave behind.

Felicita Sala’s watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations bring a sense of peace and calmness to every page. They draw the reader in, even when the story gets a bit sad.

All From a Walnut officially releases next week (March 22, 2022), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sending me a review copy of this beautiful book.

About The Author:

Ammi-Joan Paquette is the author of many books for young readers. After living in many countries all over the world, she has now settled in the Boston area with her family and many towering piles of books. When she looks out of her back windows, all she can see are trees.

About The Illustrator:

Felicita Sala is the self-taught illustrator of several picture books, including Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari and The Hideout by Susanna Mattiangeli, as well as her own book of recipes for children, What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?. She grew up between Italy and Australia and now lives in Rome, Italy, with her family.

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Review: Dress-Up Day

Today I’m sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2022. I’m so happy to report that Dress-Up Day by Blanca Gómez is everything I hoped it would be!

Title: Dress Up Day
Author/Illustrator: Blanca Gómez
Published: March 22, 2022
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Format: Picture Book

This adorable picture book follows a young girl who is looking forward to “dress-up day” at school, but misses the celebration when she is sick on the big day. She decides to wear her rabbit costume when she returns to school anyway, but her fun day doesn’t go exactly as planned. She feels insecure being the only kid dressed up, but as the day unfolds, she finds her confidence and a new friend.

With Blanca Gómez’s perfect minimalist style, Dress-Up Day is a celebration of friendship, individuality, and stepping out of your comfort zone. The illustrations are as adorable as the story. I especially appreciated all the detail put into the children’s outfits. I mean, just look at that little penguin backpack!

Dress-Up Day officially releases next week (March 22, 2022), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sharing this precious book with me. I’m sure my little one will love this one just as much as he loves Bird House.

About The Author/Illustrator:

Blanca Gómez is a much sought-after picture book illustrator and the author-artist of Bird House. In a starred review, Kirkus called One Family “visually striking,” and the New York Times called her illustrations “adorable.” “Wonder-filled and delightful” were the words Kirkus used to describe City Moon in another starred review. Blanca lives in Madrid, Spain.

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Review: Can Sophie Change The World?

If you’re looking for a picture book about kindness, I have the perfect pick for you today. Can Sophie Change the World? by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and Aura Lewis is a sweet picture book that celebrates empathy, kindness, and the Jewish tradition of mitzvahs.

Title: Can Sophie Change the World?
Author: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Illustrator: Aura Lewis
Published: March 8, 2022
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Picture Book

Can Sophie Change the World? follows a young girl named Sophie who is trying to give her Grandpop the only birthday gift he wants; for her to change the world with mitzvahs. Sophie performs a mitzvah every day, but she doesn’t feel like she has changed the world. On his birthday, Grandpop helps her see the impact every small act of kindness can have on the world.

The illustrations by Aura Lewis are wonderfully bright and cheerful. The powerful lesson of positivity make Can Sophie Change the World? a timeless read, but the pastel color palette absolutely makes it feel like the perfect pick for a quiet spring afternoon.

Can Sophie Change the World? officially releases tomorrow (March 8, 2022), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Chronicle Books for sending me a review copy of Can Sophie Change the World?. I know I’ll be reading this to my little one for years to come for lessons on kindness and empathy.

About The Author:

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace is the creator of more than 20 books for children. She lives in Connecticut. To learn more about Nancy and her books, please visit www.nancyelizabethwallace.com.

About The Illustrator:

Aura Lewis is an author-illustrator of such titles as Gloria’s Voice, The Illustrated Feminist, and We the People. She lives in New York. Visit her at www.auralewis.com.

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Review: Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers

I’m sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Titles of 2022 today, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to all my expectations. Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Lina AlHathloul, Uma Mishra-Newbery, and Rebecca Green is a stunning picture book inspired by Loujain AlHathloul, one of the leaders in the Saudi Women’s Rights movement.

Title: Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers
Author: Lina AlHathloul and Uma Mishra-Newbery
Illustrator: Rebecca Green
Publisher: mineditionUS
Published: March 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

The real Loujain AlHathloul has been arrested four times for her activism, beginning in 2013 when she shared a video that her father filmed as she was driving (an illegal act for women in Saudi Arabia at the time). This fictionalized version of Loujain’s story follows a young Loujain as she yearns to fly like her Baba. Baba tells Loujain of a meadow filled with sunflowers, and it’s all Loujain can dream of. Though her peers don’t believe Loujain can fly, she knows she can learn and inspire other girls like her to learn in the process. This beautiful story is sure to inspire young readers to reach for the stars…or sunflowers.

The illustrations by Rebecca Green are absolutely incredible. Fans of How To Make Friends With a Ghost will find her familiar illustration style paired with bold color work this time around. I loved the warmth of the colors throughout, and especially the sunflower field.

Complete with backmatter that gives further information about Loujain AlHathloul and her work in the Saudi Women’s Rights movement, Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers is a wonderful selection for Women’s History Month lesson plans.

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers 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 mineditionsus and Astra Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this empowering book. I am so thrilled to be able to share it with everyone today!

About The Authors:

Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul are human rights activists. Lina is the sister of Loujain AlHathloul, the women’s rights activist formerly imprisoned by the Saudi government. Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers is their debut book. Learn more at loujaindreamsofsunflowers.com.

About The Illustrator:

Rebecca Green is the New York Times best-selling illustrator of Becoming a Good Creature, written by Sy Montgomery, and several other picture books, and the author/illustrator of How to Make Friends With a Ghost. Visit Rebecca at rebeccagreenillustration.com.

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Review: I Am Thinking My LIfe

I’m thrilled to be sharing another one of my Most Anticipated Titles of 2022 with you all today! I Am Thinking My Life by Allysun Atwater and Stevie Lewis is a stunning picture book that teaches young readers all about the power of positive thinking.

Title: I Am Thinking My Life
Author: Allysun Atwater
Illustrator: Stevie Lewis
Publisher: Bala Kids
Published: February 15, 2022
Format: Picture Book

This inspiring picture book follows a young girl as she realizes the ways her positive thoughts impact her actions. She begins to notice patterns in her thoughts and behaviors, and in the world around her. Encouraging young readers to dream big and believe in themselves, I Am Thinking My Life is a great addition to bookshelves everywhere.

The illustrations by Stevie Lewis are absolutely phenomenal. She is one of my favorite illustrators, and I’m always thrilled to see the beautiful color work and attention to detail that she brings to her work.

I Am Thinking My Life was officially released on Tuesday (February 15, 2022), and you can purchase 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 Bala Kids for providing me with a review copy of I Am Thinking My Life. I’m happy to report that it lived up to all my expectations.

About the Author:

ALLYSUN ATWATER is an educator, author, and a non-practicing attorney. Allysun grew up in Odessa, Texas, where she was a quintessential eighties latchkey kid and an avid reader with an insatiable love of the library. Allysun is a graduate of Southern Methodist University (SMU) with a bachelor’s degree in English, and Stanford University with a master’s degree in education and a juris doctorate. She has been a decades long practitioner of mindfulness and meditation, which have been key components in her chronic illness recovery plan. Allysun lives in the Houston area with her husband, twin daughters, and two shih tzus.

About The Illustrator:

STEVIE LEWIS is an illustrator, avid hiker, and rock climber.  After working for several years in animation she now illustrates children’s books. She currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona where she lives with her partner and two little dogs. For part of the year, Stevie Lewis travels out of her van, furthering her passion for art and the outdoors.  

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Review: Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free

If you’re looking for a picture book biography to celebrate Black History Month, I have a great selection for you today. Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan and Keturah A. Bobo is a beautiful picture book celebrating Opal Lee, a teacher and civil rights activist who led a movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Title: Opal Lee and What it Means To Be Free
Author: Alice Faye Duncan
Illustrator: Keturah A. Bobo
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: January 11, 2022
Format: Picture Book

In Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free, young readers follow along as Miss Opal Lee shares a Juneteenth story. Beginning with the history of Juneteenth, she recounts the stories passed down to her about June 19, 1865, when the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas were finally informed of their freedom two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was passed. Miss Opal Lee shares stories of Juneteenths from her childhood during the Jim Crow era, including the Juneteenth when her family’s Texas home was burned down by angry, racist neighbors.

Even through the discussion of the struggles faced by Black people throughout history, Alice Faye Duncan does a beautiful job of highlighting the joys in Opal Lee’s life and the celebration of freedom that Juneteenth is. As Miss Opal Lee says, “Good and bad work together like the sun and rain.”, and that balance is found throughout the entire book.

The illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo do not disappoint. She brings Opal Lee’s story to life on every page with her familiar style.

The backmatter contains a recipe for Juneteenth Red Punch, a timeline detailing the journey to Juneteenth being signed into law as a federal holiday by Joe Biden (With a 94 year old Opal Lee by his side), and detailed information about Opal Lee’s life, making it a great selection for classrooms, school libraries, and homeschoolers.

You can find your copy of Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free 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!)

Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson for sharing this inspiring book with me. I am honored to be able to share Miss Opal Lee’s story with everyone today!

Abouth The Author:

Alice Faye Duncan is a National Board Certified Teacher, who writes for young learners. Memory is her motivation. She writes to help children remember important moments from African American history. Her books are celebrated for vivid imagery and lyrical texts that sound like music. Alice’s most popular titles include A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks; Just Like a Mama; Honey Baby Sugar Child; and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which received a 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor Medal. Alice lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where at a young age, her mother nurtured her writing talent with prayer, poetry books, and praise. Her website is http://www.alicefayeduncan.com.

About The Illustrator:

Keturah A. Bobo is an artist and New York Times bestselling illustrator known for creating vibrant images that are relatable and distinguishable. She is passionate about creating art that inspires, uplifts, and advocates for her community. Keturah has received notable praises for her colorful illustrative style that brings the story to life and resonates with the viewer. She graduated with a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her family of entrepreneurs. Visit Keturah online at http://www.keturahariel.com.

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Review: Playing With Lanterns

If you’re still looking for a picture book to celebrate Chinese New Year this week, I have the perfect pick for you! Playing with Lanterns by Wang Yage, Zen Chengliang, and Helen Wang is a beautiful picture book that follows a group of friends as they celebrate Chinese New Year in the Shaanzi province of northwest China.

Title: Playing With Lanterns
Author: Wang Yage
Illustrator: Zhu Chengliang
Translator: Helen Wang
Published: January 11, 2022
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl named Zhao Di through the fifteen day celebration, Playing With Lanterns shares the joy and excitement of Chinese New Year with young readers. From the snow covered New Year’s Day to smashing their lanterns on the last evening, Zhao Di and her friends take part in the traditions of the holiday, perfectly capturing the nostalgia of childhood (even for those of us who didn’t grow up celebrating Chinese New Year).

The illustrations are absolutely delightful! I especially appreciated the contrast of bright colors against the snowy white backdrop.

Playing With Lanterns is complete with a helpful author’s note that gives further detail around the traditions of the lanterns, perfect for answering a curious young reader’s questions.

You can pick up your own copy of Playing With Lanterns 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 to Amazon Crossing and Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy of this wonderful book with me!

About The Author:

Wang Yage was born in Shaanxi, a central and historical province of China, where the custom of playing with lanterns was once a popular Chinese New Year tradition. A doctor of classical Chinese literature, she teaches at the University of Tibet and also writes for children. Playing with Lanterns is her first picture book. First published in China, the book made the prestigious White Ravens international book list.

About The Illustrator:

Zhu Chengliang is an award-winning Chinese illustrator. Born in Shanghai and raised in Suzhou, he studied at the Department of Fine Art, Nanjing University, and has worked as an author, illustrator, editor, and designer. He was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016, which is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. His books have been named to the IBBY Honour List, received first prize in the Feng Zikai Children’s Book Award contest, been named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books by the New York Times, and been named Runner Up in the UNESCO Noma Concours for Picture Book Illustrations.

About The Translator:

Helen Wang is a writer and translator from the UK. In 2017 she was given a Special Contributor of the Year honor as part of the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards for her work in bringing Chinese children’s literature to English-speaking audiences. Wang has translated novels, picture books, and graphic novels, including Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, which won the Marsh Christian Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

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Review: My Mindful A to Zen

If you’re looking for a picture book to bring a little more Zen into your life, I have the perfect pick for you today. My Mindful A to Zen by Krina Patel-Sage is an alphabet picture book with a twist.

Title: My Mindful A to Zen
Author/Illustrator: Krina Patel-Sage
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Published: October 5, 2021
Format: Picture Book

This gorgeous picture book is not just teaching young readers the alphabet, but it’s also a collection of 26 haikus about wellbeing. Highlighting the “Five Ways of Wellbeing”, each haiku teaches young readers how to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give.

The illustrations capture many of the small moments that bring us great joy through the day. I also love the bright colors used throughout.

My Mindful A to Zen is a fantastic introduction to the concept of mindfulness and would be a great selection for anyone hoping to share positive mental health education with young readers. You can pick up a copy wherever you normally purchase books, 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 Lantana Publishing for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book.

About The Author:

Krina Patel-Sage is an illustrator, author, and designer. Beginning her design career at a children’s publishing house in 2012, she developed a passion for illustrated nonfiction. She was shortlisted for Penguin’s 2018 WriteNow illustration prize.

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