New Release Round Up – April 20, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s new release day again, and I want to start by apologizing for the delayed post today. My day started at 5AM with a very sick toddler, so I hope your Tuesday is off to a smoother start than mine. Let’s dive into some new releases to get us all on the right track to a good day!

As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

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.

Board Books

How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder (Bookshop | Amazon)

Get ready to bop, bounce, and shake with this board book edition ofthe hit picture book from the acclaimed author of Alfie and Fraidyzoo
 
There are so many ways to dance! You can jiggle or wiggle or stomp. You can bop or bounce or go completely nuts. You can dance at the market or the bus stop, with your fingers or your face. You can dance because you’re happy or even because you’re sad.
 
But, what’s the best way to dance? Exactly how you want to!
 
In How Do You Dance?, award-wining author-illustrator Thyra Heder explores dance in all of its creativity, humor, and—most of all—joy, in a celebration of personal expression that will inspire young and old readers alike to get up and get moving.”

Picture Books

We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.”

You can also read my full review of We Are Still Here! for more detail.

Hannah And The Ramadan Gift by Qasim Rashid, Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (Bookshop | Amazon)

The debut picture book by author and human rights activist Qasim Rashid that celebrates good deeds during the month of Ramadan.

It’s the first day of Ramadan and Hannah wants to be a part of this important month every way she can. But if she’s too young to fast, how can she observe Ramadan? By saving the world, Dada Jaan tells her. And so Hannah learns that by helping her friends and neighbors and by showing kindness and generosity, she can make the world a better place.

The debut picture book by human rights activist and attorney Qasim Rashid tells a timely story full of warmth and heart about the observance of Ramadan and the power of good deeds.”

The People’s Painter by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Evan Turk (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A lyrically told, exquisitely illustrated biography of influential Jewish artist and activist Ben Shahn

“The first thing I can remember,” Ben said, “I drew.”
As an observant child growing up in Lithuania, Ben Shahn yearns to draw everything he sees—and, after seeing his father banished by the Czar for demanding workers’ rights, he develops a keen sense of justice, too.
So when Ben and the rest of his family make their way to America, Ben brings both his sharp artistic eye and his desire to fight for what’s right. As he grows, he speaks for justice through his art—by disarming classmates who bully him because he’s Jewish, by defying his teachers’ insistence that he paint beautiful landscapes rather than true stories, by urging the US government to pass Depression-era laws to help people find food and jobs.
In this moving and timely portrait, award-winning author Cynthia Levinson and illustrator Evan Turk honor an artist, immigrant, and activist whose work still resonates today: a true painter for the people.”

You can also read my full review of The People’s Painter for more detail.

The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, Illustrated by Ravy Puth (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young girl and her family arrive in an airport in a new country. They are refugees, migrants who have travelled across the world to find safety. Strangers greet them, and one of them gives the little girl a doll. Decades later, that little girl is grown up and she has the chance to welcome a group of refugees who are newly arrived in her adopted country. To the youngest of them, a little girl, she gives a doll, knowing it will help make her feel welcome. Inspired by real events.”

Bird House by Blanca Gómez (Bookshop | Amazon)

A grandmother and grandchild nurse an injured bird together in this touching story about caring for all creatures, the wonder of nature, and letting go

On a snowy day, a grandmother and grandchild find an injured bird. They take it home and care for it until it can fly around the living room. It is fantastic—just like everything at Abuela’s house! But a fantastic moment is also bittersweet, for the little bird’s recovery means that it’s time to let it fly free. Drawing inspiration from a formative childhood experience, Blanca Gómez crafts a deceptively simple story that is morally and emotionally resonant and is brimming with love, wonder, and a deep respect for the natural world.”

You can also read my full review of Bird House for more detail.

Bracelets For Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Celebrate diversity, math, and the power of storytelling!

For the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan, Bina is determined to make beaded bracelets for her brothers all by herself. She finds out which colors her brothers like and dislike and sets to work. Working with her every-other-one beading pattern causes Bina to discover something new about patterns–and her brothers.

Storytelling Math celebrates children using math in their daily adventures as they play, build, and discover the world around them. Joyful stories and hands-on activities make it easy for kids and their grown-ups to explore everyday math together. Developed in collaboration with math experts at STEM education nonprofit TERC, under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.”

A Pizza With Everything On It by Kyle Scheele, Illustrated by Andy J. Pizza (Bookshop | Amazon)

“One father-son duo make a pizza so delicious, and so over-the-top with toppings, that it destroys the universe—and will surely melt readers’ minds and hearts, like warm mozzarella.

It’s a tale as old as time: a kid wants to make a pizza with his dad, but not just any pizza . . . he wants a pizza with everything on it. That’s right, everything. But as the toppings pile on, this father-son duo accidentally create a pizza so delicious, so extravagant, so over-the-top, that it destroys the universe—and the cosmos go as dark as burnt crust. Will anyone enjoy pizza ever again? At turns heartwarming, hilarious, and completely out of this world, Kyle Scheele and Andy J. Pizza deliver a riotous adventure that will melt readers minds and hearts and leave them calling for a second helping.”

Chapter Books

The Kicks Complete Collection by Alex Morgan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From FIFA World Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and bestselling author Alex Morgan comes the empowering and fun-filled middle grade series about soccer and friendship—all twelve books are now available together in a collectible boxed set.

Twelve-year-old Devin loves to play soccer. Still, she expects stiff competition after moving to California. But when Devin shows up for tryouts, she discovers that the Kentville Kangaroos—otherwise known as the Kicks—are an absolute mess. Their coach couldn’t care less whether the girls win or lose. And Devin is easily one of the most talented players.

The good news is, Devin quickly makes friends with funny, outgoing Jessi; shy, but sweet, Zoe; and klutzy Emma. Can Devin and her newfound friends pull together and save the team from itself?

From new crushes to changing friendships to stiff competition on the field, the Kicks learn to believe in themselves and come together as a team.”

Middle Grade

Nightingale by Deva Fagan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A plucky orphan girl stumbles into a conflict centuries in the making in this thrilling middle grade fantasy about unexpected heroes, the power of friendship, and one boisterous enchanted sword.

Twelve-year-old Lark is determined to escape her squalid life at Miss Starvenger’s boarding house, but she needs to find the coin to do it. Her grand scheme? To steal her fortune from the Royal Museum.

Unfortunately, her heist goes off the rails, and Lark ends up stealing a magical sword right out from under the nose of Prince Jasper, who’s none too happy to have his plans thwarted. Lark soon discovers that the Sword has a mind of its own, and has chosen her to be the next Nightingale, a fabled hero who must vanquish an ancient evil that is waking after centuries of sleep.

Working alone has its limitations, but relying on others after a lifetime of disappointments feels impossible. Still, Lark will need the help of her boarding house roommates if she wants to defeat the villainous forces that threaten to dismantle everything she holds dear.”

Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?
Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.

And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina — now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.

But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love — or hate — will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…

Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it’s ever okay to take away someone’s free will.”

Boy, Everywhere by A. M. Dasu (Bookshop | Amazon)

“What turns citizens into refugees and then immigrants? In this powerful middle-grade debut, Sami and his family embark on a harrowing journey to save themselves from the Syrian civil war.

Sami loves his life in Damascus, Syria. He hangs out with his best friend playing video games; he’s trying out for the football team; he adores his family and gets annoyed by them in equal measure. But his comfortable life gets sidetracked abruptly after a bombing in a nearby shopping mall. Knowing that the violence will only get worse, Sami’s parents decide they must flee their home for the safety of the UK.

Boy, Everywhere chronicles their harrowing journey and struggle to settle in a new land. Forced to sell all their belongings and leave their friends and beloved grandmother behind, Sami and his family travel across the Middle East to Turkey, where they end up in a smuggler’s den. From there, they cross the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean and manage to fly to England, only to be separated and detained in an immigration prison for the crime of seeking asylum. Yet the transition from refugee to immigrant in a new life will be the greatest challenge Sami has ever faced.

Based on the experiences of real Syrian refugees, this thoughtful middle-grade novel is the rare book to delve deeply into this years-long crisis. Portions of the proceeds of this book will be used to benefit Syrian refugees in the UK and to set up a grant to support an unpublished refugee or immigrant writer in the US. Sami’s story is one of survival, of family and friendship, of bravery and longing … Sami could be any one of us.”

Graphic Novels

Before They Were Artists: Famous Illustrators as Kids by Elizabeth Haidle (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This vibrantly illustrated graphic novel anthology brings to life the childhood experiences of beloved artists and illustrators such as Wanda Gág, Maurice Sendak, and Jerry Pinkney. Stylish illustrations paired with small vignettes and anecdotes from the artists’ early lives helps illuminate the hard work, triumphs, failures, and inspiration that helped forge their successful careers.

What makes an artist? What sparks their imagination? Where do their creativity and unique style come from? Striking illustrations and a graphic novel format bring to life this anthology of legendary artists and their childhoods. Featuring beloved artists such as Wanda Gág, Maurice Sendak, Tove Jansson, Jerry Pinkney, Yuyi Morales and Hayao Miyazaki, these stories capture the childhood triumphs, failures, and inspirations that predated their careers.

Children will see themselves in these portraits and wonder if they, too, might have it in them to make art. A celebration of creativity, this collective graphic biography is sprinkled throughout with writing wisdom and inspiring quotes.”

I hope you all enjoyed reading about these new releases, and hopefully you found one or two to add to your young reader’s shelves!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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Celebrating Children’s Book Day With For Purpose Kids Book Club

Celebrated every year on or around Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday, International Children’s Books Day is all about encouraging children to read. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate International Children’s Book Day than by sharing For Purpose Kids Book Club with you all today.

For Purpose Kids was founded by Misty Castañeda, and it aims to assist parents who want to consciously raise children to uphold kindness, love, and acceptance. For Purpose Kids offers toolkits and activities to support parents in fostering these qualities, but my favorite product is their Book Club. Available in a 6-month or 12-month subscription option, this bi-weekly book club offers a picture book focused on an important topic — like anti-racism, gender equality, or LGBTQ+ acceptance, among others — as well as conversation starters, a highlight of an amazing “For Purpose Kid”, and activity guides related to each title.

For Purpose Kids generously sent me a sample to review, and I was delighted to find it included We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. This poignant book relates the damage done by the Dakota Access Pipeline to a Native American prophecy in which a black snake comes to destroy the land. This book encourages readers to stand up to protect our water, the resource our entire world depends on, including a pledge in the back matter. Beautifully illustrated by Michaela Goade, it’s easy to see why We Are Water Protectors won the Caldecott.

I also love all of the additional information provided by For Purpose Kids. The discussion questions are spot on for the age groups, and I adore the activity ideas. My favorite though is the interview with Aydrian Day, a young boy who makes traditional art like painting, beading, and quilling.

I would highly recommend both We Are Water Protectors and the For Purpose Kids Book Club. You can grab your own subscription today at forpurposekids.com, or gift one to a child in your life for Children’s Book Day.

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Shaped By Her Hands – The Story of Native American Potter Maria Martinez

Shaped By Her Hands by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales is a wonderful picture book biography following the life of Maria Martinez, a Native American artist who gained international recognition for her unique black-on-black pottery.

Growing up in San Ildefonso Pueblo, Maria learned the art of pottery by watching her Aunt Nicolosa. Mixing clay with water and volcanic ash, Maria learned how to shape pots, and eventually began firing them. Maria and her Aunt were passionate about keeping the Tewa traditions alive and were always sure to thank Mother Earth for the clay she provided, and prayed before firing their pots.

Maria continued making pots as she grew up. She married Julian Martinez, who helped her experiment in recreating traditional black pottery at the request of archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett. With their trial and error, Julian and Maria created something similar to the traditional pottery, but also completely unique that had never been done before. The pots sold quickly, inspiring Maria to make more. Julian painted the pots, creating stunning black-on-black designs.

Shaped By Her Hands is not just a picture book biography, but a wonderful story of both learning and sharing traditions. I loved the way the illustrations by Aphelandra capture Maria’s remarkable life.

Shaped By Her Hands officially releases later this week (April 1, 2021), but you can preorder a 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 Albert Whitman & Company for providing me with a review copy of Shaped By Her Hands. I am so excited to share Maria Martinez’s inspiring story.

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We Are Explorers: Extraordinary Women Who Discovered The World

If you’re looking for a biography collection for Women’s History Month, I would highly recommend We Are Explorers by Keri Herbert.

Though women have been exploring the world for thousands of years, their stories have often gone untold. This biography collection gives a voice to fourteen of these remarkable women; women such as Sacagawea, Josephine Peary, and Junko Tabei.

From plant hunters to investigative journalists, these women traveled through deserts, jungles, and even space. Each biography opens with a great descriptive introduction, putting you in the shoes of the explorer. I appreciate the way the biographies read almost like a narrative, keeping the reader engaged in each explorer’s account.

I loved the diverse collection of women covered. I have read a few similar biographies and found them to be VERY white centered. I was also glad to see the prejudices held by European and colonial travelers directly addressed in some of these biographies. These direct conversations are so necessary when discussing historic figures and are too frequently overlooked.

Each profile is paired with a portrait by Kari Herbert, as well as photographs and paintings from their time period, giving the reader a look into each woman’s life.

The back matter contains a map, highlighting all the different explorations, as well as a glossary for some of the scientific terms found throughout the text.

Sure to inspire the next generation of explorers, We Are Explorers 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 continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Kari Herbert is an author, illustrator, speaker, and daughter of polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert. Kari is the author of six books about exploration and women’s history. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at kariherbert.com.

I would like to thank Thames and Hudson for providing me with a review copy of We Are Explorers. I am so grateful to be able to share the stories of these inspiring explorers.

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Bindu’s Bindis – A Picture Book About Self Confidence

Another one of my most anticipated titles of 2021 arrived last week, so today I’m very excited to tell you all about Bindu’s Bindis by Supriya Kelkar. Illustrated by Parvati Pillai, Bindu’s Bindis is a wonderful picture book about self confidence, acceptance, and a young girl’s relationship with her grandmother.

This book is all about a young girl named Bindu, who loves bindis. Bindis are forehead decorations worn by women in South Asia, and Bindu loves wearing them. Bindu gets her bindis from her Nani who sends them from far away. But when Nani comes to visit, she will deliver the bindis in person!

During Nani’s visit, both Nani and Bindi face challenges that call for self confidence. From encountering protestors in the street to gathering courage for a talent show, Bindu and Nani stand tall and support each other. I love the relationship Bindu has with her grandmother, and the way Nani provides a positive example for Bindu.

The illustrations are bold and striking, but I also love the role they play in the book. Most of the story is told through clues in the illustrations, making it a great read aloud. There are plenty of opportunities for pausing and discussing the visual cues in the illustrations on each page.

This Own Voices book provides a great opening for conversations about why people may dress differently while celebrating the bindi. There is also some great information in the back matter about bindis that I was unaware of, perfect for readers who want to learn more.

Bindu’s Bindis officially releases tomorrow (March 16, 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 continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Supriya Kelkar is an author, screenwriter, and illustrator who grew up in the Midwest region of the US. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at supriyakelkar.com.

Parvati Pillai is a visual communication designer & illustrator based in Finland. To learn more about her and her work, be sure to take a look at her Instagram page.

I also want to thank Sterling Children’s Books for generously providing me with a review copy of Bindu’s Bindis. I’m happy to report that it lived up to my anticipation, and I’m so grateful to be able to share it with you all.

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Your Life Matters – A Validating Picture Book For Black Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Life Matters officially releases next week (March 9, 2021), but you can preorder it today on Bookshop and Amazon. You can also purchase your copy directly from Bushel & Peck Books. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

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

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

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

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Five Picture Books to Celebrate Lunar New Year

Today is Lunar New Year, and I want to celebrate with books, of course!

I have put together a list of five picture books that are perfect to read to your little ones today. I tried to specifically focus on multicultural titles, because though this holiday is often portrayed as a Chinese holiday, it is actually celebrated among many Asian cultures in many different countries across the globe.

I will say, finding Lunar New Year titles that weren’t specifically dedicated to Chinese culture was not the easiest task, and I know this list is still lacking true representation of every culture celebrating this holiday. I do hope we continue to see more diverse titles in children’s publishing, so every child can see themselves and their holidays represented in their books.

That being said, lets take a look at five picture books to celebrate Lunar New Year.

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.

A New Year’s Reunion by Li Qiong Yu, Illustrated by Zhu Chen Liang (Bookshop | Amazon)

In this beautifully illustrated book, we follow a young girl whose father works far away and only comes home to visit once a year at New Year’s. In his few days with his family, Papa gets a haircut, makes repairs to the house, and makes memories with his daughter. This book is both a heartwarming look into the lives of migrant workers and a great introduction to Chinese New Year’s traditions.

This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong, Illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Amazon)

This Next New Year introduces us to a young Chinese Korean boy, who relates the different ways he, his family, and his friends all celebrate Lunar New Year. I love that this book specifically mentions children from different racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrating Lunar New Year, while still keeping the focus on our main character’s family.

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan, Illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders (Bookshop | Amazon)

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan has so much representation! Set in Hawaii, this book follows the celebrations of a family of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian, and white relatives on Lunar New Year. Narrated by a seven-year-old girl who gets make dumplings for the first time this year, this book captures the joy of childhood.

Ten Mice For Tet by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill, Illustrated by To Ngoc Trang (Amazon)

As most of you may know, I generally don’t like a book with only animal characters, but I had to include Ten Mice For Tet, because it is definitely an exception to that rule. One of the only titles I could find dedicated to the Vietnamese celebration of Tet, this is a counting picture book. The illustrations are so fun, portraying mice taking part in all the holiday traditions from gift giving to firework displays.

Our Lunar New Year by Yobe Qiu (Bookshop | Amazon)

Our Lunar New Year is a great pick to introduce young readers to the diversity of Lunar New Year. This book follows five different children from five different countries and highlights the traditions and celebrations unique to each culture. Covering China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and India, this book gives young readers an idea of the many way Lunar New Year is celebrated around the world.

I hope you all enjoyed this list, and found some new titles to introduce your young reader’s to Lunar New Year.

If you are celebrating Lunar New Year this year, what are your favorite books to read? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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We Wait For The Sun – A Story Of A Grandmother’s Love

We Wait For The Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe has to be one the most beautiful picture book biographies I have ever read.

Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree was a lawyer, minister, and one of the first women to be commissioned by The United States Army, but this story isn’t directly related to any of these accomplishments. This story is about the most important relationship in Dovey’s life, the one she had with her grandmother Rachel Millis Bryant Graham.

In We Wait For The Sun, we visit one of Dovey’s most cherished memories of her Grandma Rachel, picking blackberries before sunrise as a child. Her Grandma Rachel taught her that the darkness of the early morning was nothing to be afraid of, and she carried that lesson of bravery with her through her lifelong fight for justice and equality.

The lush, vivid text combined with the beautiful illustrations by Raissa Figueroa give the memory a peaceful, dreamy atmosphere. I also love the progression of light entering the pages through blues, purples, pinks, and finally golds. The memory starts out in the darkness, but as Grandma Rachel said, “If you just wait a while, your eyes will learn to see, and you can find your way.”

We Wait For The Sun is a stunning tribute to both Dovey Johnson Roundtree and her grandmother. You can truly feel the love Dovey had for Grandma Rachel, and the respect Katie had for Dovey in every single page.

The back of the book also has quite a bit of information about both women, for those who are looking to learn a bit more.

We Wait For The Sun is available next week (February 9, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Katie McCabe is an award-winning author who has dedicated her writing career to bringing stories of unsung heroes to light. To learn more about Katie and her work, please visit her website at www.katiemccabeauthor.com.

Raissa Figueroa is a children’s book illustrator based in San Diego, CA. She is also the illustrator of Oona, by Kelly DiPucchio. To learn more about Raissa and her work, please visit her website at rizzyfig.com.

Thank you so much to Roaring Brook Press and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with a review copy of We Wait For The Sun. It is an honor to be able to share Dovey’s beautiful story.

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Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators

Are you looking for a picture book biography about an inspiring woman serving her country during wartime?

Might I suggest Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Fridell?

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Grace Banker before I read this book, but I can’t wait to share her story with you now!

In 1917, a 25-year-old Grace Banker answered an ad seeking French-speaking telephone operators to join the Signal Corps of the United States Army. Though she couldn’t vote yet, Grace was selected as a chief operator and led a team of thirty-three operators who translated commands and transferred secret codes on the front lines during World War I.

These women were some of America’s first female soldiers and they kept communications open despite the explosions, fires, and poor weather conditions they faced. Their skill and dedication to their work played a vital role in the victory of World War I, though they remain unsung heroes today.

Working closely with Grace Banker’s family, Claudia Friedel and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a biography that feels personal. Quotes from Grace’s diaries are used throughout the book to truly highlight her voice.

The backmatter offers plenty of additional information about Grace and The Service Corps to inform young readers of the historical significance of their achievements, as well as their fight to receive veteran recognition.

Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Claudia Friddell is a former elementary school teacher and the author of several non-fiction children’s books. She is passionate about sharing true stories from history, and currently lives in Baltimore with her husband. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at claudiafriddell.com.

Elizabeth Baddeley is the illustrator of many biographies and non-fiction books for children, including the New York Times bestselling I DISSENT: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark. She currently lives in in Kansas City with her husband and son. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at ebaddeley.com.

Thank you so much to Calkins Creek and Boyds Mills & Kane for providing me with a review copy of Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call. I’m so glad to be able to share such an amazing story.

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New Release Round Up – February 2, 2021

You all know the drill by now. It’s Tuesday, so we are talking about new releases!

As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (such as racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

There are quite a few titles I’ve had my eye on that are publishing today. I will be also reviewing a few of these throughout the week, so keep your eyes peeled!

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.

Board Books

Brilliant Baby Does Math by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Jean Claude (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This brand-new series will introduce and explore all the different subjects your brilliant baby will soon master!

Your Brilliant Baby will love exploring all the applications of math and where they can find it in their daily lives, like learning what’s hotter or colder, checking the score of the game, and seeing math in skyscrapers, rocket ships, and more!”

Brilliant Baby Plays Music by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Jean Claude (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Your Brilliant Baby will love learning about all the different types of music they can groove, dance, and boogie along to, as well as being introduced to instruments such as cellos, pianos, trumpets, saxophones, and more!”

Picture Books

Milo Imagines The World by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There’s the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There’s the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there’s the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo–walking the same path, going to the exact same place–Milo realizes that you can’t really know anyone just by looking at them.”

You can also read my full review of Milo Imagines The World for more detail.

Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Meesha doesn’t know quite what to do, what to say, or when to say it, and she struggles reading and responding to social cues. But one day, she discovers that she has a special talent that will help her navigate challenging social situations and make friends.

A warm and affectionate look at the joys and difficulties of making and keeping friends, relating to others, and finding your place in the world, Meesha Makes Friends is an empowering and resonant new title in the Big Bright Feelings series.

The Big Bright Feelings picture books provide kid-friendly entry points into emotional intelligence topics–from being true to yourself, to worrying, to anger management, to making friends. These topics can be difficult to talk about. But these books act as sensitive and reassuring springboards for conversations about mental and emotional health, positive self-image, building self-confidence, and managing feelings.”

Standing On Her Shoulders by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Standing on Her Shoulders is a celebration of the strong women who influence us — from our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance in the United States.

Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text encourages young girls to learn about the powerful and trailblazing women who laid the path for their own lives and empowers them to become role models themselves. Acclaimed illustrator Laura Freeman’s remarkable art showcases a loving intergenerational family and encourages girls to find female heroes in their own lives.

Standing on Her Shoulders will inspire girls of all ages to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women.”

You can also read my full review of Standing on Her Shoulders for more detail.

Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World’s First Female Rabbi by Sigal Samuel, Illustrated by Vali Mintzi (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read.

Yet Osnat’s father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world’s first female rabbi!

Some say Osnat performed miracles – like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire!

But perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration for other girls and boys; to show that any person who can learn might find a path that none have walked before.”

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung, Illustrated by Julie Kwon (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Discover an inspiring picture book biography about Hazel Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to fly for the US military.

Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn’t take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.

This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky.”

I Am A Bird by Hope Lim, Illustrated by Hyewon Yum (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On her daily bike ride with her dad, a bird-loving little girl passes a woman who frightens her—until she discovers what they have in common.

I am a bird. Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw!

Every day, a little girl rides to school on the back of her father’s bike. As they twist and turn through the streets, the little girl spreads her arms like wings and sings her birdsong for all to hear. But when they pass a strange woman in blue who carries a mysterious bag, the girl goes quiet until the woman is out of sight. One day, when they’re running late, the little girl discovers what the woman does with her bag each morning—a surprise that transforms her wariness into a feeling of kinship to be celebrated. Hope Lim’s simple text and Hyewon Yum’s delicate, expressive illustrations create a touching story that encourages readers to embrace our similarities rather than focus on our differences.”

Opal’s Greenwood Oasis by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Najah-Amatullah Hylton, Illustrated by Skip Hill (Bookshop Amazon)

“The year is 1921, and Opal Brown would like to show you around her beautiful neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Filled with busy stores and happy families, Opal also wants you to know that “everyone looks like me.”

In both words and illustrations, this carefully researched and historically accurate book allows children to experience the joys and success of Greenwood, one of the most prosperous Black communities of the early 20th Century, an area Booker T. Washington dubbed America’s Black Wall Street.

Soon after the day narrated by Opal, Greenwood would be lost in the Tulsa Race Massacre, the worst act of racial violence in American history. As we approach the centennial of that tragic event, children have the opportunity through this book to learn and celebrate all that was built in Greenwood.”

You can also read my full review of Opal’s Greenwood Oasis for more detail.

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Friddell, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Led by twenty-five-year-old Grace Banker, thirty-two telephone operators — affectionately called “Hello Girls” back in the US — became the first female combatants in World War I.

Follow Grace Banker’s journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. After faithfully serving her country–undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions–Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.”

You can also read my full review of Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call for more detail.

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.”

Chapter Books

She Persisted: Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by Gillian Flint (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!

Before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin made the same choice. She insisted on standing up–or in her case, sitting down–for what was right, and in doing so, fought for equality, fairness, and justice.”

Middle Grade

The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It’s 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won’t be able to join her yet and she’ll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met. She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn’t fit in to being bullied. So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be “American,” she makes the deal. But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell.

Gabrielle is a funny and engaging heroine you won’t soon forget in this sweet and lyrical novel that’s perfect for fans of Hurricane Child and Front Desk.”

Red, White, And Whole by Rajani LaRocca (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A heartbreakingly hopeful #ownvoices novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked—Reha means “star” and Punam means “moon”—but they are a universe apart.

Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick.

Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She’ll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma’s life.”

The Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly, Illustrated by Douglas Holgate (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Inspired by the author’s real life experiences, this rollicking, charming novel follows sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and some magic, too!

Nadia loves fun facts. Here are a few about her:

• She collects bobbleheads — she has 77 so far.

• She moved from Egypt to America when she was six years old.

• The hippo amulet she wears is ancient… as in it’s literally from ancient Egypt.

• She’s going to win the contest to design a new exhibit at the local museum. Because how cool would that be?!

(Okay, so that last one isn’t a fact just yet, but Nadia has plans to make it one.)

But then a new kid shows up and teases Nadia about her Egyptian heritage. It’s totally unexpected, and totally throws her off her game.

And something else happens that Nadia can’t explain: Her amulet starts glowing! She soon discovers that the hippo is holding a hilarious — and helpful — secret. Can she use it to confront the new kid and win the contest?

From political satirist and comedian Bassem Youssef, aka The Jon Stewart of the Arab World, and author Catherine R. Daly comes a humorous and heartfelt story about prejudice, friendship, empathy, and courage.

Includes sections of black-and-white comics as well as lively black-and-white illustrations throughout.”

That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World by Rochelle Riley and Cristi Smith-Jones (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In February 2017, Rochelle Riley was reading Twitter posts and came across a series of black-and-white photos of four-year-old Lola dressed up as different African American women who had made history. Rochelle was immediately smitten. She was so proud to see this little girl so powerfully honor the struggle and achievement of women several decades her senior. Rochelle reached out to Lola’s mom, Cristi Smith-Jones, and asked to pair her writing with Smith-Jones’s incredible photographs for a book. The goal? To teach children on the cusp of puberty that they could be anything they aspired to be, that every famous person was once a child who, in some cases, overcame great obstacles to achieve.

That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World features Riley’s grandson, Caleb, and Lola photographed in timeless black and white, dressed as important individuals such as business owners, educators, civil rights leaders, and artists, alongside detailed biographies that begin with the figures as young children who had the same ambitions, fears, strengths, and obstacles facing them that readers today may still experience. Muhammad Ali’s bike was stolen when he was twelve years old and the police officer he reported the crime to suggested he learn how to fight before he caught up with the thief. Bessie Coleman, the first African American female aviator, collected and washed her neighbors’ dirty laundry so she could raise enough money for college. When Duke Ellington was seven years old, he preferred playing baseball to attending the piano lessons his mom had arranged.”

Flood City by Daniel José Older (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The battle for Earth begins now.

Welcome to Flood City, the last inhabitable place left above the waters that cover Earth. It’s also the last battleground between the Chemical Barons, who once ruled the planet and now circle overhead in spaceships, desperate to return, and the Star Guard, who have controlled the city for decades.”

I hope you all enjoyed reading about these new releases, and hopefully you found one or two to add to your young reader’s shelves!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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