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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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: Snow Angel, Sand Angel

As I impatiently wait for the first snow in my new city, I want to share a beautiful picture book with you all today that celebrates winter in Hawaii. Snow Angel, Sand Angel by Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Ashley Lukashevsky is a beautiful story about home, family, and heritage that touches on climate science.

Title: Snow Angel, Sand Angel
Author: Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Illustrator: Ashley Lukashevsky
Publisher: Make Me A World
Published: January 4, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young Hawaiian girl named Claire who is disappointed with her winter experience, Snow Angel, Sand Angel is a story about blooming where you are planted. Because she lives on a beach, Claire feels disconnected from the way winter is often portrayed in the media, so her father brings their family to the top of Mauna Kea to see three day old snow. However, Claire is disappointed when it doesn’t align with her big expectations.

As the year comes to a close, Claire visits the beach with her family and tries all the activities from their trip on the mountain at the beach; building a snowman from sand, making sand angels, and throwing sandballs. Claire comes to realize she doesn’t need the traditional fluffy snow of a holiday card to enjoy her winter, because winter doesn’t look the same everywhere.

I have to admit, growing up on the Gulf Coast I am very familiar with Claire’s feelings of missing out on the “traditional” winter experience. And to be honest, I always assumed children in Hawaii had the same warm winter experience as I did. Not until I read this book did I realize that Hawaii is actually home to 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones, and that there is actually snow on the big island.

The illustrations are absolutely fantastic. Fans of Antiracist Baby will be pleased to find Ashley Lukashevsky’s signature style present on every single page. I especially appreciated the way she captures the beauty of Hawaii’s diverse climates, from the snow covered lava fields to the painted triggerfish in the sea.

You can order your own copy of Snow Angel, Sand Angel at Bookshop.org, Amazon, or wherever you purchase 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 Make Me A World and Blue Slip Media for providing me with a review copy of Snow Angel, Sand Angel.

About the Author:

Lois-Ann Yamanaka was born and raised in Hawai’i, where this story takes place. The author of many acclaimed novels including Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers and Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, and the winner of a Pushcart Prize, Lois-Ann initially followed in parents’ footsteps and became a teacher—when she realized, as she was teaching children to write poetry, that she could learn to write creatively, too. Snow Angel, Sand Angel is based on some of the longings for snow she experienced as a kid.

About The Illustrator:

Ashley Lukashevsky is an illustrator and visual artist who uses illustration and art as a tool to strengthen social movements against systemic racism and sexism. Before moving to illustration full-time, she was the art director at KINDLAND and the social impact designer at LA2050, an initiative to create a positive shared future for all Angelenos. Learn more at her website www.ashleylukashevsky.com or follow her on Instagram @ASHLUKADRAWS.

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Review: Dancing With Daddy

Dancing With Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte and Ziyue Chen gives young readers a glimpse into the life of a young girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Though the Author’s Note in the beginning of the book provides some great information around this rare chromosomal disorder, Dancing with Daddy really shines as a story about a daughter’s unbreakable bond with her father.

Title: Dancing With Daddy
Author: Anitra Rowe Schulte
Illustrator: Ziyue Chen
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: December 1, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl named Elsie as she and her sisters prepare for the Father Daughter Dance at her school, Dancing with Daddy begins with Elsie picking out a beautiful dress. Elsie is feeling worried that the dance might be cancelled because of the snow, but luckily this story has a happier ending than that. The snow falls, but the dance is on, and Elsie and her sisters get to dance the night away with their Daddy.

The disabled representation in Dancing With Daddy is absolutely phenomenal. From feeding tubes to wheelchairs, young readers will see all the tools Elsie uses throughout her day, providing positive representation for children who use these tools and education for those that are unfamiliar. Adults may learn a thing or two as well! I was not familiar with Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) books before reading Dancing With Daddy, and I’m so grateful to learn about another way people can communicate with one another.

The illustrations by Ziyue Chen are absolutely lovely and capture all the joy of the Father Daughter Dance. I especially loved the detail put into Elsie’s dress and all its wonderful ruffles.

Dancing With Daddy 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 Two Lions for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book!

About The Author:

Anitra Rowe Sculte has worked as a journalist for the Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in the book. She lives in the Chicago area and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at http://www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her @anitraschulte on Twitter.

About The Illustrator:

Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and The Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at http://www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.

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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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Review: Kids Around The World Series

If you’re looking to introduce a young reader to different cultures across the globe, Albatros Books has a series for you. The Kids Around The World Series currently has two titles (with another coming early next year) that focus on the ways different cultures celebrate different holidays, as well as the ways our everyday lives might differ.

How Kids Celebrate Christmas Around the World

Just in time for Christmas, How Kids Celebrate Christmas Around the World shows young readers the diverse range of Christmas celebrations across fourteen different countries. From tamales in Mexico to flatbread in Ethiopia, children will learn about different traditional holiday meals prepared across the globe. Holiday traditions and customs are discussed for each country, expanding children’s knowledge of a holiday they might already be familiar with.

How Kids Celebrate Holidays Around the World

The second book in the series, How Kids Celebrate Holidays Around the World, will introduce young readers to holidays they might not be so familiar with. This book follows fifteen different children as they teach readers about the details surrounding a holiday they celebrate with their family. From Purim to Diwali, each narrator provides nine different facts about their holiday, such as the history and both traditional and modern customs and observations. This is the perfect selection for young readers who are looking to learn more about holidays they might not celebrate.

How Kids Live Around the World

The third installation in the series, How Kids Live Around the World, will be releasing early next year and is already available for preorder. As its title indicates, How Kids Live Around the World turns the focus away from holidays and narrows in on the every lives of fifteen different children in fifteen different countries. Each child shares ten different tidbits about their life, including things like what type of house they live in, how they get around, and where they go to school. This is a fantastic selection to introduce young readers to many different cultures and lifestyles across the globe.

I want to thank both Albatros Books and Publisher Spotlight for sharing this wonderful series with me. I can’t wait to see all the other aspects of the global community this series continues to share with children.

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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: The Science of How Series

Today is the first day of Children’s Book Week and National STEM Day! In honor of both celebrations, I want to share two more picture books by Susan Hughes all about science. Illustrated by Ellen Rooney, The Science Of series teaches curious readers about the science of sounds and light with Lights Day and Night, and Sounds All Around.

Lights Day And Night: The Science of How Light Works is a delightful picture book that explains the mysteries of the science of light. From the natural light of the sun or a firefly, to artificial light of lighthouses and traffic lights, this book answers the questions curious readers might have about light. Following a young girl and her cat on a summer day, Lights Day and Night is both engaging and educational. Best of all, the backmatter contains instructions for a shadow puppet show, for further learning.

Originally published in May, Sounds All Around: The Science of How Sound Works is all about the science of sound. This education picture book discusses the way our ears process sounds, the way animals communicate with sounds, and even details the way pitch and sounds in general are measured. Following a young boy and his dog, Sounds All Around is as fun as it is informative. With instructions to make a bee buzzer in the back matter, this book brings a lot of fun to science.

I love the way both of these books use nature and animals to relate the scientific concepts. Each principal explained is easy for children to understand because the books use real world examples that perfectly highlight each lesson.

Ellen Rooney’s illustrations are fantastic! The characters on every page have so much personality (especially the pets), making both books an engaging read.

Sounds All Around and Lights Day and Night are both fantastic additions to libraries, classrooms, and bookshelves everywhere. You can pick up your 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. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of Lights Day and Night and Sounds All Around. I’m so thrilled to be sharing them with everyone today!

About The Author:

Susan Hughes an award-winning author, whose books for children include Case Closed?, No Girls Allowed, Earth to Audrey and Maggie McGillicuddy’s Eye for Trouble. Susan lives in Toronto, Ontario.

About The Illustrator:

Ellen Rooney is an illustrator, designer and artist. She’s originally from Massachusetts, but now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. She loves graphic shapes, textured color, printmaking, drawing outdoors, painting — and her hidden art powers are released when cutting up paper!

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Flashback Friday: Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built

For Flashback Friday this week we are talking about Carmen and the House That Gaudi Built by Susan Hughes and Marianne Ferrer. Originally published back in March, this beautiful picture book tackles the difficulty of transitioning to a new city, celebrates the feeling of home, and teaches young readers about a remarkable architect’s work.

Title: Carmen and The House That Gaudí Built
Author: Susan Hughes
Illustrator: Marianne Ferrer
Published: March 15, 2021
Publisher: Owl Kids
Format: Picture Book

While this may seem like a lot to ask for one picture book, Susan Hughes effortlessly weaves a story of a young girl named Carmen Batlló and her family who are planning to move from the country home to a modern house in Barcelona. Carmen doesn’t want to leave her home, and she is hesitant to interact with Senor Gaudí, the architect her family has hired to build their new home. Carmen chooses to hide with Dragon, her invisible salamander, and observe from a distance. It’s not until Carmen visits Barcelona and sees the progress on her new home that she understands the potential of the house that Gaudí built.

As much as I love the story, I simply cannot get over these illustrations! Marianne Ferrer captures the essence of Casa Batlló (the house that inspired this story) all the way down to the amazing color pallet. Every page is absolutely brilliant.

Though this is a fictionalized origin story of Casa Batlló, Carmen and the House That Gaudi Built is complete with a wonderful Author’s note that provides young readers with more information about the Antoni Gaudí and the real Casa Batlló.

You can pick up your very own copy of Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built 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 Owl Kids for providing me with a review copy of such a wonderful book!

About The Author:

Susan Hughes has written more than 30 books for children of all ages, including Off to Class and What Happens Next. Susan is a freelance editor, writer, and story coach. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

About The Illustrator:

Marianne Ferrer is an illustrator living in Montreal, Quebec. She moved to Canada from Venezuela, trading mango trees for maple trees to inspire her lush, nature-filled, delicate watercolor illustrations.

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Review: Read Island

I am so thrilled to be sharing Read Island by Nicole Magistro and Alice Feagan with you all today! This delightful picture book is the perfect selection for young readers who are just discovering the way reading can take you on a journey.

Title: Read Island
Author: Nicole Magistro
Illustrator: Alice Feagan
Published: October 5, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Read Island follows a young girl, a mouse, and a fox as they travel to an island made of books using the power of imagination. This rhyming picture book celebrates the magical power books have to transport us anywhere, and it instantly took me back to my early years, when I truly fell in love with reading.

While I love the lyrical text, I have to say that the illustrations might be my favorite part. Alice Feagan perfectly captures the broad range of worlds we escape to in books, as well as all the friends we meet along the way on every single page.

I highly recommend Read Island for any book lovers out there. 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. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Books Forward for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to share this with my little one to foster a love of reading!

About The Author:

Nicole Magistro is a professional reader and amateur mother who lives in the mountains of Colorado. She owned a bookstore for 15 years, wrote thousands of book reviews and memorized a few too many bedtime stories. Her favorite place in the world is the real Read Island, which inspired this story.

About The Illustrator:

Alice Feagan grew up in a small town but has traveled the world many times over through the pages of her favorite books. This love of stories (and a mild obsession with art) inspired a career in illustration. Today, she is a children’s book creator known for her distinct cut-paper collage style. When she is not writing or illustrating picture books Alice can be found hiking, creating, or reading with her two young sons. The Collectors was her authorial debut, and Read Island is the third book she has illustrated.

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