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 Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness

I have to be honest with y’all, the past few weeks have been hard. With hate crimes against the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, police brutality against the Black community, and targeted legislation attacking the trans community, all during a global pandemic, it can be hard to find a bright spot in our week.

So I was incredibly grateful to receive a copy of The Little Things by Christian Trimmer, because like all good children’s books, it taught me a lesson that I needed to be reminded of as an adult—the little things count, too.

This lesson can be so easy to forget as an adult during weeks like this. Watching the hatred and violence on full display, knowing the pain it causes people I love. Knowing it doesn’t actually affect me as a white cis woman. Knowing so many people like me turn a blind eye while people across our country face these injustices. It’s easy to feel small and insignificant. It’s easy to think that I can’t change anything for anyone. But then I read a book like The Little Things, and I am reminded why I do this. I am reminded of the power we all have.

This wonderful picture book follows several characters, starting with a young black girl (with three wonderful teal pigtails) who finds tons of starfish have washed ashore after a storm. As she spends her afternoon putting starfish back in the water, a man approaches her to ask her why she bothers — she won’t be able to save all the starfish. The girl acknowledges she won’t be able to save them all, but that she can make a difference for each starfish she saves. This message sticks with the man and inspires him to perform his own act of kindness. He shares the message with his grandson, who spreads it to the next person, and so on and so forth, spreading the message of kindness throughout the community, sparking a larger change in their town.

I absolutely adored the illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, who happens to be one of my very favorite illustrators. Fans of When Aiden Became A Brother and Magnificent Homespun Brown will be delighted to see that Kaylani’s character design is as strong as ever. I loved the diversity of the characters in this book, and you can clearly tell how much thought went into each individual.

The Little Things promotes a message of kindness and community action that is incredibly relevant today for readers young and old. It officially releases later this month (April 27, 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!)

I absolutely adored this book, and it inspired me to write a list of little things we can all do to help the AAPI, Black, and trans communities in the wake of these issues. I will share it here for everyone who wants to try some little things that can make a big difference.

  • Check on your AAPI, Black, and trans friends. Note: This does not mean asking them to address the traumas they are facing. Just make sure they know they are loved, listen if they want to talk, but give them some extra love this week.
  • Engage children. Volunteer to host a virtual read aloud at your local school or library encouraging kindness and acceptance, or even directly addressing the issues with children’s books.
  • Contact your local representatives. Educate yourself on anti trans legislation in your area and ensure your local government is aware that you oppose it. Use your voice and demand an end to police brutality and qualified immunity for police officers. Bring their attention to the rising numbers of hate crimes against the AAPI community and ask them what they plan to do about it. Call, email, fax if you have to, but make sure they hear your voice.
  • Attend a protest. There are lots of protests being organized for this weekend. Join them. Or if you aren’t able to join, maybe you can contribute in another way. You can support local protests by providing financial support, childcare, transportation, or food for protestors in your community. Reach out to local organizations to see how you can assist.
  • Donate to the cause. Whether it’s a bail fund to assist protestors posting bail ( like Community Justice Exchange National Bail Fund, Chicago Community Fund, or Minnesota Freedom Fund) or organizations dedicated to facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community (Asian Mental Health Collective, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, 18 Million Rising), the Black community (Black Youth Project, The Loveland Foundation, and NAACP) and the trans community (National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Trans Life) or a national organization focusing on multiple issues (Human Rights Campaign, ACLU) there are countless organizations in need of your donation.
  • Support AAPI, Black, and trans creators. Donate to Patreon accounts, pay the POC online who are educating you for free. Purchase the works of folks from marginalized communities, like The Little Things. If you don’t have the funds to purchase this week, request that your local library purchase copies.
  • Uplift voices. Marginalized folks are sharing their stories every day. Hear Them. Believe them. Share them.

Christian Trimmer is an author and editor based in Hillsdale, New York. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at christiantrimmer.com.

Kaylani Juanita is an illustrator of inclusive picture books based in Fairfield, California. Please visit her website at kaylanijuanita.com to learn more about her and her work.

Thanks again to Abrams Books For Young Readers for proving me with another amazing book to review. The Little Things was just what I needed to put one foot in front of the other this week, and I hope it helps you and yours spread love and kindness through your community too. Together we can do big things.

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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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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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2 Picture Books For April Showers

Are you getting April showers in your neck of the woods yet? We’re looking at a couple of rainy weeks ahead here on the Gulf Coast, and I have to admit, I love a good rainy day. So today, I want to share two new picture books that are perfect for reading to your antsy little ones who may not be so thrilled about being stuck inside during rainstorms.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

The Day the Rain Moved In by Éléonore Douspis, Translated by Shelley Tanaka

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a story of embracing our differences in a very imaginative way. The Day The Rain Moved In follows a family as it begins raining in their home. Siblings Pauline and Louis try to hide their secret, worried no one will understand their situation, or the tree in their living room. To their surprise, their father lets their classmates in when they become curious. Fortunately, their community is far more accepting than they thought it would be.

I loved the whimsical illustrations in this book, especially all the wonderful plants that spring up in the family’s home.

You can pick up your own copy of The Day the Rain Moved In anywhere books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. This would be a fantastic story to read on a rainy day, assuming you keep the rain on the outside of your home, of course.

Many thanks to Groundwood Books for providing me with a review copy of The Day the Rain Moved In!

Hello, Rain! by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Chris Turnham

Hello, Rain! by Kyo Maclear perfectly captures the nostalgic experience of playing out in the rain as a child. In this book, we follow a young girl and her dog as they explore outside on a rainy day. The playful text makes this one perfect for a read aloud, and the eye-catching illustrations by Chris Turnham are sure to capture the attention of young readers.

Hello, Rain! is the perfect book to entertain young nature lovers who are stuck inside during a rainstorm. It officially releases next week (April 13, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.

Kyo Maclear is a novelist and children’s author based in Toronto. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at kyomaclear.com.

Chris Turnham is a printmaker and illustrator based in Los Angeles, California. Please visit his website at www.christurnham.com for more information about him and his work.

Thank you to Chronicle Books for generously providing a review copy of this wonderful book!

I hope you enjoyed these rainy books as much as I did.

What are your favorite books for rainy days? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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All Sorts – A Book About Sorting Yourself Out

Those of you who know me know I love organization and sorting more than most people—believe it or not, I actually relieve stress by reorganizing my bookshelves—so when I heard about All Sorts by Pippa Goodhart, I knew I had to read it!

This precious picture book follows a young girl named Frankie who loves to sort things. From toys to animals, Frankie sorts everything out by size, shape, and color.

But one day Frankie tries to sort people, which can be very confusing, especially when sorting oneself. Frankie finds herself questioning her place in the world when she realizes she is the only version of herself. Fortunately, she learns some things are just meant to be all mixed up.

The illustrations by Emily Rand are what my children’s book dreams are made of, with bright bold pages packed with detail. This is definitely a book to pause and point out all the colorful objects with young readers. I really enjoyed All Sorts and would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that embraces both the beauty of being unique and the diversity of our world.

All Sorts is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon, so be sure to grab your copy today. (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!)

For more information about Pippa Goodhart and her work, please visit her website at pippagoodhart.co.uk.

To learn more about Emily Rand and her work, please visit her website at emilyrand.com.

I also want to thank Nobrow Press and Flying Eye Books for generously providing me with a review copy of this delightful book. I look forward to many rereads with my little one.

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Percy’s Museum

I’m so excited to share Percy’s Museum by Sara O’Leary with you all today. This wonderful picture book follows a young boy as he moves away from his home in the city, finding a new life in the country.

Feeling alone and missing the busy bustle of the city, Percy turns to nature and soon discovers there is much to do in the country as well. Percy collects leaves, rocks, and insects, building his own museum in the playhouse in the backyard of his new home, learning valuable lessons along the way.

As someone who spent their childhood in the country, Percy’s Museum really spoke to me, and reminded me of my own adventures in nature—though if I’m being honest, I mostly made mud pies and never curated a museum. The illustrations by Carmen Mok capture nature in such a fun way, highlighting all of Percy’s discoveries.

Percy’s Museum is a sweet story about embracing change and growing where we are planted, and a perfect pick for Earth Day coming up next month. You can grab a copy when it releases next week, or preorder your copy today wherever books or 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!)

Sarah O’Leary is an author of both children’s and adult fiction based in Canada. To learn more about her and her work, please visit saraoleary.ca.

Carmen Mok is an award-winning illustrator and designer based in Ontario. Please visit her website at carmenmokstudio.com to learn more about her and her work.

I would like to thank Groundwood Books for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I hope you’re all as excited to share it with your nature-loving little ones as I am.

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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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