New Release Round Up – June 15, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all.

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.

Picture Books

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On Vanessa’s first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn’t so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn’t what she’d hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.

The next day, she picks out a plain outfit, and tells her mom that her name is too long. She just wants to blend in, with a simple name like the other girls–why couldn’t her parents have named her Megan or Bella? But when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa.”

A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi by James Yang (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Winner of the Theordor Seuss Geisel Award in 2020 for Stop! Bot!, James Yang imagines a day in the boyhood of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi. Wandering through an outdoor market, through the forest, and then by the ocean, Isamu sees things through the eyes of a young artist . . .but also in a way that many children will relate. Stones look like birds. And birds look like stones.

Through colorful artwork and exquisite text, Yang translates the essence of Noguchi so that we can all begin to see as an artist sees.”

Jenny Mei Is Sad by Tracy Subisak (Bookshop | Amazon)

“With this educational and entertaining picture book, learn how to approach difficult emotions with compassion and understanding—and be the best friend you can be.

My friend Jenny Mei is sad. But you might not be able to tell.

Jenny Mei still smiles a lot. She makes everyone laugh. And she still likes blue Popsicles the best. But, her friend knows that Jenny Mei is sad, and does her best to be there to support her.

This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for introducing kids to the complexity of sadness, and to show them that the best way to be a good friend, especially to someone sad, is by being there for the fun, the not-fun, and everything in between.”

You can also read my full review of Jenny Mei is Sad.

I Is For Immigrant by Selina Alko (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This alphabet picture book companion to the popular B Is for Brooklyn weaves together a multitude of immigrant experiences in a concise, joyful package. For readers of Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.

What do African dance, samosas, and Japanese gardens have in common? They are all gifts the United States received from immigrants: the vibrant, multifaceted people who share their heritage and traditions to enrich the fabric of our daily lives. From Jewish delis to bagpipes, bodegas and Zen Buddhism, this joyful ABC journey is a celebration of immigrants: our neighbors, our friends.”

We Are All Under One Wide Sky by Deborah Wiles, Illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Children will learn to both celebrate diversity and embrace how much we all have in common.

In We Are All Under One Wide Sky, Deborah Wiles beautifully weaves together images from the natural world in a lovely, lyrical poem. Andrea Stegmaier’s fresh and captivating illustrations feature children from around the globe and celebrate different architecture, landscapes, and activities.

By the end of the book, children will have internalized the message that although we are from different places, we are the same in so many ways. What we have in common is what is most important―family, laughter, love, nature, and friendship. We all share the same wide sky.

We Are All Under One Wide Sky is a peace anthem with a timely and important message for children: to both celebrate diversity and embrace how much we all have in common.”

Chapter Books

Not-So-Happy Camper (Jeanie and Genie #4) by Trish Granted, Illustrated by Manuela Lopez (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In the fourth book of the Jeanie & Genie series, Jeanie and Willow’s camping adventure puts their friendship to the test!

Jeanie is so excited to take her best friend, Willow, camping for the very first time. And Willow’s so excited she even promises Jeanie she won’t grant any wishes during the trip! Willow is a genie, after all. But then Willow meets Jeanie’s camping friends, Becca and Bonnie Berriman. The twins aren’t very nice to Willow, and they hog all Jeanie’s attention, so Willow finds herself wishing that the twins would just go away. But the problem is…the Berrimans do go away. Has Willow accidentally made the twins disappear?!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Jeanie & Genie chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.”

Middle Grade

Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Judy Heumann was only 5 years old when she was first denied her right to attend school. Paralyzed from polio and raised by her Holocaust-surviving parents in New York City, Judy had a drive for equality that was instilled early in life.

In this young readers’ edition of her acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann, Judy shares her journey of battling for equal access in an unequal world—from fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” because of her wheelchair, to suing the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her disability. Judy went on to lead 150 disabled people in the longest sit-in protest in US history at the San Francisco Federal Building. Cut off from the outside world, the group slept on office floors, faced down bomb threats, and risked their lives to win the world’s attention and the first civil rights legislation for disabled people.

Judy’s bravery, persistence, and signature rebellious streak will speak to every person fighting to belong and fighting for social justice.”

Much Ado About Baseball by Rajani LaRocca (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom’s new job, she’s now facing a summer trying to make friends all over again in a new town. That isn’t an easy thing to do, and her mom is too busy to notice how miserable she is.

But at her first baseball practice, Trish realizes one of her teammates is Ben, the sixth-grade math prodigy she beat in the spring Math Puzzler Championships. Everyone around them seems to think that with their math talent and love of baseball, it’s only logical that Trish and Ben become friends, but Ben makes it clear he still hasn’t gotten over that loss and can’t stand her. To make matters worse, their team can’t win a single game. But then they meet Rob, an older kid who smacks home runs without breaking a sweat. Rob tells them about his family’s store, which sells unusual snacks that will make them better ballplayers. Trish is dubious, but she’s willing to try almost anything to help the team.

When a mysterious booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives in her mailbox, Trish and Ben start to get closer and solve the puzzles together. Ben starts getting hits, and their team becomes unstoppable. Trish is happy to keep riding the wave of good luck . . . until they get to a puzzle they can’t solve, with tragic consequences. Can they find the answer to this ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most?”

Graphic Novels

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.”

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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Flashback Friday – Benny’s True Colors

I’m so excited to share my Flashback Friday selection with you all today! Published in November of last year, Norene Paulson’s debut, Benny’s True Colors is an adorable picture book that discusses identity and being true to yourself.

In Benny’s True Colors, we follow Benny (of course!) who looks like a bat, but he knows that he is actually a butterfly. While all of his bat friends and family eat insects through the night, Benny dreams of the day he can transform into the butterfly he really is. But one day, after telling all his butterfly friends he is one of them, Benny realizes they can help him make his outward appearance match the way he feels inside. With love, respect, and support from everyone around him, Benny finds his true colors.

Benny’s True Colors encourages young readers to believe others when they tell us who they are, and reinforces the concept that every individual is capable of accurately identifying themselves. In a world where strangers feel far too comfortable labeling one another and placing people in boxes based on their appearances, we need more books like this! Benny’s True Colors is a great resource for parents looking to build a firm foundation of respecting both their identity and the identities of their fellow humans.

The illustrations by Anne Passchier are phenomenal. Fans of What Are Your Words and Rainbow Pride will be happy to find the same wonderful color work in Benny’s True Colors. I especially appreciated the way the vivid pink in the butterfly’s wings is carried through to the cover and end pages.

You can pick up your own copy of Benny’s True Colors 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!)

Norene Paulson is an author and former middle school language arts teacher based in Iowa. Please visit her website at norenepaulson.com to learn more about her and her work.

Anne (Andy) Passchier is an illustrator and queer advocate from the Netherlands, currently living in the US. To learn more about them and their work, please visit their website at annepasschier.com.

Thank you to Norene Paulson and Macmillan for providing me with a review copy of Benny’s True Colors. It was such a treat, and I can’t wait to share it with my little one.

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Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist

Roots and Wings by Shahzia Sikander and Amy Novesky is a wonderful picture autobiography relating the life of Shahzia Sikander, the internationally recognized Pakistani-American artist. In Roots and Wings, Shahzia Sikander tells young readers about her journey to become the artist she is today.

Sikander shares her childhood experiences growing up in the city of Lahor, Pakistan with the kind of detail only an artist can provide—from the smells of hibiscus, rose, and car exhaust to the sounds of music filling the streets. She transports readers into her memories, providing a window into life in Pakistan and introducing young readers to Muslim customs and traditions she grew up with.

I really appreciate the way Roots and Wings highlights Sikander’s love of math, and how it led her to study the traditional art of illuminated Indo-Persian books. Children are often presented with creativity and logic as two separate ideas, and the marrying of the “juxtaposed” concepts was a breath of fresh air. This is a great selection to encourage young readers to follow their passion for both academic subjects and creative endeavors like art, music, and theater.

The illustrations by Hanna Barczyc are outstanding! I love how consistent the color palette is throughout the entire book. The bold colors are so wonderful, and sure to grab the attention of young readers.

The back matter includes reproductions of Sikander’s art, which is currently on display in museums across the world. Roots and Wings will definitely open the door to conversations about art with young readers, and hopefully inspire them to create their own.

You can pick up your own copy of Roots and Wings 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!)

Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-born artist who has reached international recognition. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at shahziasikander.com.

Amy Novesky is an editor and award-winning author, whose titles include one of my personal favorites Girl on A Motorcycle. Please visit her website at amynovesky.com to learn more about her and her work.

Hanna Barczyk is a widely published illustrator who splits her time between New York and Toronto. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at hannabarczyk.com.

Thank you so much to Abrams for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book! I am so grateful to have learned about Shahzia, and can’t wait to share her inspiring story with the children in my life.

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We Are All Under One Wide Sky

Today I want to share a book that really captures what Mutually Inclusive is all about! We Are All Under One Wide Sky by Deborah Wiles is a beautiful picture book celebrating the diversity of the world we all live in.

This is a counting book consisting of a poem that counts up to ten, and back down again – reminding young readers of the one wide sky we are all under throughout. Fostering conversations about both mathematics and diversity, We Are All Under One Sky would make for a great read-aloud.

The poetic text is paired perfectly with fantastic illustrations by Andrea Stegmaier, capturing a diverse group of children who live all around the world. The illustrations really highlight the things we all share, no matter what part of the globe we inhabit – joy, friends, family, and of course the same wide sky.

We Are All Under One Wide Sky releases next week (June 15, 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!)

Deborah Wiles is the author of several books for young readers and a two-time National Book Award finalist. She is from Mobile, Alabama (my hometown!), but currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at deborahwiles.com.

Andrea Steigmaier is an illustrator and architect with a passion for children’s books based in Stuttgart, Germany. Please visit her website at andreastegmaier.com.

Many thanks to Sounds True for sending me a review copy of this beautiful book. I’m so thrilled to share it with everyone!

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The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens

Y’all know I love a good graphic novel, and I’m so excited to share a new favorite with you all today!

Squid Happens is the first book in a new series by Isabel Roxas called The Adventures of Team Pom. Squid Happens opens with a mysterious pair of rats in a very small submarine chasing a squid who manages to evade them.

We are then introduced to Shadyside, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, and three oddballs who live there. We meet Agnes—who is obsessed with pigeons, Ruby—an oceanography nerd, and Roberta—a “Type A” synchronized swimmer. Together the girls make up Team Pom, a quirky synchronized swimming team. They want to take down the Brighton Beach Mermaids and win first place, but the kids in their neighborhood just misunderstand their routines. They believe they have the key to their victory when they discover Cyd the squid hiding in their community center’s pool, but they end up uncovering something much bigger than competition.

Squid Happens is a fun read packed with joy, friendship, adventure, and humor. Roberta, Ruby, and Agnes each have their own unique identity and I love the dynamic of the friendship between them. And of course, because this is a graphic novel, the illustrations do a wonderful job of capturing the personalities of the characters. Plus, Cyd the squid is just so cute!

Squid Happens officially releases tomorrow, 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!)

Isabel Roxas is an author, illustrator, and indie publisher based in New York City. Please visit her website at studioroxas.com to learn more about her and her work.

I want to thank Flying Eye Books for providing me with a review copy of The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens. It was an absolute delight and I can’t wait to see how the series unfolds.

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Nia and The New Free Library

I’ve got a delightful picture book for lovers of libraries and folktales today. Inspired by the author’s experience at the grand opening of the library in his childhood home, Nia and the New Free Library by Ian Lendler is a delightful picture book retelling the classic folktale Stone Soup.

It all starts off quite dramatically, with the Littletown Library being swept away by a tornado after years of neglect. Everyone has a different idea about what to do with the space, but a clever girl named Nia wants to rebuild the library. The town isn’t convinced, but Nia comes up with a plan to change their minds.

Nia gathers at her favorite place, under the tree in front of the library that was, and begins writing. She doesn’t stop until she has a wagon full of books. She begins to offer them to townspeople, creating the New Free Library. When the townspeople find that the tales aren’t exactly as they remembered, Nia hands them a pencil and encourages them to fix the errors. Before they know it, the whole town has rallied together to make the New Free Library the best library the town has ever seen.

Nia and the New Free Library is a clever story about the way communities come together. I am looking forward to my local library fully reopening, and I can’t wait to see my community coming back after the pandemic to learn, share, and create together again. But for now, I will happily settle for Nia’s New Library.

The illustrations by Mark Pett are fantastic. The level of detail put into capturing the individual personality of each townsperson was so impressive – from the mayor, all the way to the distracted mom and her son, I felt like I understood the characters right away.

Nia and The New Free Library releases next week (June 1, 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!) 

Ian Lendler is a journalist and award-winning author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more about him and his work (including picture books, nonfiction, and graphic novels), please visit his website at ianlendler.com.

Mark Pett is an author and illustrator (or “authorstrator”) of several books for children, and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Please visit his website at markpett.com/authorstrator.

I want to thank Chronicle Kids for sending me a copy of Nia and the New Free Library. It was such a treat, and I’m sure it will bring joy to all the young readers who are missing their libraries these days.

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New Release Round Up – May 25, 2021

It’s New Release day again! I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all.

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

Daddy, You’re Amazing by Roger Priddy (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Cherish precious memories with With Love: Daddy, You’re Amazing a beautiful keepsake book by Priddy Books.

Filled with gentle rhyming text and charming illustrations which show all reasons why children thinks that their daddy is amazing, this unique keepsake book is the perfect gift to share. With a space to add handprints, a built-in envelope to store special trinkets and die-cut frames to add photos, this book can be fully personalized to create a memory story book to truly cherish.

The ideal gift to purchase for Father’s day and birthdays.”

The Life of / La vida de Dolores by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, Illustrated by Citlali Reyes (Amazon)

Introduce little ones to the life of legendary civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, in both English and Spanish!

“Si, Se Puede! Yes, it can be done!” is the famous rallying cry of Dolores Huerta, a leading voice in the rights of migrant farmworkers. Originally a teacher, and later a community leader, she believed in her cause so much that she co-founded the labor union United Farm Workers of America. Inspire your little ones to believe in themselves and become leaders, just like Dolores!”

Picture Books

We All Play by Julie Flett (Bookshop | Amazon)

From Julie Flett, the beloved author and illustrator of Birdsong, comes a joyous new book about playtime for babies, toddlers, and kids up to age 7. 

Animals and kids love to play! This wonderful Own Voices book celebrates playtime and the connection between children and the natural world. Beautiful illustrations show:

  • birds who chase and chirp!
  • bears who wiggle and wobble
  • whales who swim and squirt!
  • owls who peek and peep!
  • and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting: 

We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna

At the end of the book, animals and children gently fall asleep after a fun day of playing outside, making this book a great bedtime story. A beautiful ode to the animals and humans we share our world with, We All Play belongs on every bookshelf.

This book also includes:

  • A glossary of Cree words for wild animals in the book
  • A pronunciation guide and link to audio pronunciation recordings”

This Is Ruby by Sara O’Leary, Illustrated by Alea Marley (Bookshop | Amazon)

Ruby is curious about her world and has big ideas about how it works. A delightful picture book celebration of science and creativity, and a welcome companion to Sara O’Leary’s beloved This Is Sadie.

Ruby is a little girl with a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm that’s too big to contain! Ruby is always busy — she loves to make things, watch things grow and figure out how things work, with her dog Teddy by her side. And Ruby has lots of ideas about what she wants to be: maybe an animal conservationist? Or an archaeologist? She’s great at excavating (i.e. digging holes). Or maybe an inventor? She’s already invented a book with smells instead of words (so dogs can read it) and a time machine (the dinosaurs did have feathers after all, and the future is looking wild). This is Ruby, and this is her world.”

It Began With Lemonade by Gideon Sterer, Illustrated by Lian Cho (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This imaginative, colorful tale of making (and selling!) lemonade from life’s lemons is not too sour and not too sweet.

One scorching hot summer day, a spunky young girl decides to sell lemonade . . . only to find there are too many other young entrepreneurs on her street with the same idea. So she sets off with her lemonade stand and ends up at the river’s edge, where she discovers a most unexpected, quirky, and very thirsty clientele.”

I Wish You Knew by Jackie Azúa Kramer, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When Estrella’s father has to leave because

he wasn’t born here, like her,

She misses him.

And she wishes people knew the way it affects her.

At home. At school.

Always.

But a school wrapped around a hundred-year-old oak tree is the perfect place to share and listen.

Some kids miss family,
Some kids are hungry,
Some kids live in shelters.

But nobody is alone.

A story about deportation, divided families, and the importance of community in the midst of uncertainty.”

Memory Jars by Vera Brosgol (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young girl finds a clever way to keep her favorite things–and people–close to her forever in Memory Jars, from Caldecott Honoree Vera Brosgol.

Freda is devastated when she can’t eat all the delicious blueberries she’s picked. She has to wait a whole year before they’re back, and she doesn’t want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favorite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can’t enjoy anything, and Freda realizes that some things are best saved as memories.”

Chapter Books

One Big Crafty Family (Craftily Ever After #8) by Martha Maker, Illustrated by Xindi Yan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Emily, Maddie, Bella, and Sam can’t agree on what to create for their school’s big craft fair in the eighth book of the Craftily Ever After chapter book series. Will they be able to glue their crafty family back together?

When Emily, Maddie, Bella, and Sam learn that there’s going to be a craft fair at their school, they are beyond excited! What could be more perfect for four kids who love to craft? But as the friends brainstorm ideas for the perfect project, they can’t seem to agree on one! So they decide to go their separate ways for the craft fair. But does that mean the friends are going to go their separate ways…forever? Or will they realize that they’re better working together as one big crafty family?

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Craftily Ever After chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.”

Middle Grade

Diana and the Underworld Odyssey by Aisha Saeed (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The world’s #1 female Super Hero, Wonder Woman, is back in another breathtaking adventure! This time, Diana will travel to the Underworld to take on Hades–but will she make it out alive?

After Diana thwarts a stunning attempt to defeat the Amazons and Themyscira for good, she has finally been granted permission to start training as a warrior! Except, the goddess Artemis brings news that children all over are disappearing without a trace. Diana is the only one who can be trusted to save them–even if she must confront Hades, Persephone, and all of the undead souls and mythical creatures of the Underworld. That is, until she discovers that a far more sinister villain is out to capture her–and will do whatever it takes to find her. With her warrior training barely underway, will young Wonder Woman be able to rely on her strength from within to save the missing children and defeat Hades? Or will she instead be dragged to the Underworld–forever?”

Graphic Novels

Lumberjanes: Horticultural Horizons (Vol. 18) by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, Illustrated by Kanesha C. Bryant (Bookshop | Amazon)

When April, Jo, Mal, Molly, and Ripley get in trouble with Rosie, the mysterious director of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, they figure the punishment is gonna be a walk in the park… er, woods, but no one’s ready for the surprises that await!

THEY’RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS QUITE YET! When April, Jo, Mal, Molly, and Ripley get in trouble with Rosie, the mysterious director of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, they figure the punishment is gonna be a walk in the park… er, woods. That’s before a super gross, and seemingly-sentient creeping vine starts popping up everywhere and scooping ‘Janes up! And then there’s Rosie’s best friend from long ago: the elegant and enigmatic Abigail, who’s appeared out of the woodwork to join forces with the Lumberjanes once more! The team of Kat Leyh, Shannon Watters and Kanesha C. Bryant send the ‘Janes on their most surprising adventure yet in the next volume of the New York Times best-selling phenomenon. Collects Lumberjanes #69-72.”

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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What Are Your Words: A Book About Pronouns

I’m so excited to share What are Your Words? by Katherine Locke with you all today! Just in time for Pride, this delightful picture book follows a young child named Ari as they explore their identity and pronouns during their Uncle Lior’s visit.

Uncle Lior uses they/them pronouns, and always asks Ari, “What are your words?” when they come to visit. Ari is growing every day, so he uses different pronouns on different days—sometimes he/him, sometimes she/her, and sometimes ey/em—but today, none of those options seem quite right. We follow Ari and Uncle Lior through their day as they prepare for the neighborhood summer bash. Ari introduces us to the diverse cast of characters that make up their neighborhood and provide young readers with straightforward explanations of each person’s identity and pronouns. Ari eventually finds the right words to describe their identity and encourages young readers to explore the words that best describe them.

What Are Your Words? is a wonderful introduction to gender inclusive pronouns for young readers, providing answers to so many questions folks have about using the correct pronouns for their friends, family, and acquaintances. But it is also a celebration of exploring our identities, encouraging young readers to trust others when they tell us who they are. We need so much more of this in children’s books, and I’m so happy to see this book exists today.

The illustrations by Anne (aka Andy) Passchier are wonderful! The bright, playful colors really draw you in, and they’re sure to please young readers.

What Are Your Words? officially releases next week (May 25, 2021), but you can preorder your 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!)

Katherine Locke is the author of both young adult and children’s titles, such as The Girl with the Red Balloon and Bedtime For Superheroes. Please visit their website at katherinelockebooks.com to learn more about them and their work.

Anne (Andy) Passchier is an illustrator and queer advocate from the Netherlands, currently living in the US. They have illustrated other queer children’s books, including Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhar, and Benny’s True Colors by Norene Paulson. To learn more about them and their work, please visit their website at annepasschier.com.

I want to thank Little, Brown Books For Young Readers for both making books like What Are Your Words? possible, and for generously providing me with a review copy. I know books like these will make the world a kinder place to be, and I can’t wait to see this one in the hands of young readers everywhere.

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Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion

If you’re looking for a unique picture book about princesses, sisters, or compassion, I’ve got you covered today! Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion by Maya van der Meer is a stunning retelling of an ancient Chinese Buddhist tale with a delightfully modern message.

Kuan Yin follows the story of Princess Miao Shan and her younger sister Princess Ling. Much to their father’s chagrin, Miao Shan has chosen a spiritual path for her life, rejecting the duties of her royal title. Her heart is filled with love and compassion, and she wants to share it with the world. Though Miao Shan and Ling are separated during their journey, their love continues to bring them back together. Ling overcomes her own doubt and loneliness while witnessing her sister’s path to enlightenment. Together they accomplish impossible tasks and realize the true power of love.

I really appreciated the relationship between the sisters in Kuan Yin and the way they support one another. As someone who didn’t learn to get along with her sister until adulthood, I love a positive example of sisterhood for young readers, and Kuan Yin does not disappoint.

The incredible illustrations by Wen Hsu are inspired by the Tang Dynasty, and they truly bring the sisters’ adventures to life. Every page is beautifully detailed, and the colors are absolutely stunning.

Kuan Yin is out now and 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!)

I am also giving away a copy of Kuan Yin over on Instagram this weekend, so be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win!

Maya van der Meer is an author, educator, environmentalist, and long-time Buddhist practitioner based in Woodstock, New York. Please visit her website at mayavandermeer.com to learn more about her and her work.

Wen Hsu is an award-winning Taiwanese-Costa Rican illustrator who has illustrated stories for children in a number of countries, including Japan, Korea, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, and more. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her Facebook page.

I want to thank Bala Kids for kindly providing me with a review copy of Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion. This beautiful book is an absolute delight and I’m honored to be able to share it today.

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New Release Round Up – May 11, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s time to talk about new releases again!

I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all. 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

City Baby by Laurie Elmquist, Illustrated by Ashley Barron (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bustling streets, lively squares and busy restaurants are baby’s playground when they are in the big city. So much to see and do as baby’s stroller navigates the crowded avenues or baby takes a break in a quiet park to blow bubbles and chase pigeons. Ashley Barron’s paper-collage illustrations are a joy to behold, bringing energy and life to this delightful board book. Rhyming verse from Laurie Elmquist takes the reader on a journey through a festive big city.”

Hello From Here by Pamela Kennedy, Illustrated by Mackenzie Haley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It’s difficult to be separated from those we love, and sometimes it’s hard to feel connected when we can’t be together in person. This board book helps fill that need to connect, with a simple message: I’m still here, even though I’m not right there beside you. A series of scenarios depicts a narrator employing various forms of communication—from video calls and letters to dolphin-messengers and skywriting—to say a simple “hello” to someone far away. Exploring the idea of connecting over distance, whether it’s through a pane of glass or across a continent, this book delivers its earnest message in a lighthearted way, engaging children’s imaginations in thinking of delightful new ways to say “hello.” The book will remind them that they are loved by those they can’t always see. Instead of emphasizing what we can’t do when we’re apart, this book takes a positive view and makes a game out of finding new ways we can communicate.”

Picture Books

Sarah And The Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks by Bonnie Tsui, Illustrated by Sophie Diao (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Have you ever seen a big wave? One that’s twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty feet tall? Here’s a better question: Would you ever surf a big wave? Sarah Gerhardt did―and this is her story.

This tale of perseverance and indomitable spirit is about the first woman to ride the waves at Mavericks, one of the biggest and most dangerous surf breaks in the world.”

Peace Train by Cat Stevens, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Bookshop | Amazon)

Hop aboard the Peace Train in this picture book adaptation of Cat Stevens’s legendary anthem of unity and harmony in time for the song’s 50th anniversary! With illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.

“Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Oh, I’ve been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it’s going to come”

Readers are invited to hop on the PEACE TRAIN and join its growing group of passengers who are all ready to unite the world in peace and harmony.

Featuring the timeless lyrics of Cat Stevens’s legendary song and illustrations by New York Times bestselling artist Peter H. Reynolds, this hopeful picture book inspires tolerance and love for people of all cultures and identities.”

A Day For Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Bookshop | Amazon)

A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper

Today is a special day. Eli knows it’s important if he’s allowed to miss one second of school, his “hard-earned right.”
Inspired by true events and told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the deeply moving story about what is regarded as the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. Eli dresses up in his best clothes, Mama gathers the mayflowers, Papa straightens his hat, and together they join the crowds filling the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with bouquets, crosses, and wreaths. Abolitionists, missionaries, teachers, military officers, and a sea of faces Black, Brown, and White, they march as one and sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.
With poignant prose and celebratory, powerful illustrations, A Day for Rememberin’ shines light on the little-known history of this important holiday and reminds us never to forget the people who put their lives on the line for their country. The book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper and includes archival photos in the back matter, as well as an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, and index.”

Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist by Laurie Lawlor, Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Bookshop | Amazon)

Scientist. Artist. Rule-breaker. The vibrant and daring life of Marianne North by the award-winning author of Super Women and Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World.

In 1882, Marianne North showed the gray city of London paintings of jaw-dropping greenery like they’d never seen before.

As a self-taught artist and scientist, Marianne North subverted Victorian gender roles and advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment was groundbreaking. The legendary Charles Darwin was among her many supporters.

Laurie Lawlor deftly chronicles North’s life, from her restrictive childhood to her wild world travels to the opening of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens to her death in 1890. The North gallery at Kew Gardens remains open to the public today.

Becca Stadtlander’s award-winning lush, verdant artwork pairs wonderfully with the natural themes.”

Nosotros Means Us: Un Cuento Bilingüe by Paloma Valdivia (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A moving bilingual ode to the unshakeable bond between a parent and child in the tradition of Runaway Bunny and The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

If I were a sheep, you would be a lamb.
If I were a bear, you would be a cub.
As a mother holds her toddler, they muse over the way their love would translate if they were different animals. But no matter how they change, they will always be “us.” This bilingual story is a timeless ode to the unshakable bond between parent and child.

Si yo fuera una oveja, tú serías un cordero.
Si yo fuera una osa, tú serías un osenzo.
Con su niño en brazos, una madre contempla cómo sería elamorentre ellos si fueran diferentes animales. Pero por mucho que cambien,no importa. Siempre serán“nosotros”. Este cuento bilingüe es una oda eterna al lazo irrompibleentre madre e hijo.”

Cranky Right Now by Julie Berry, Illustrated by Holly Hatam (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Sometimes we’re all cranky, and that’s okay! Cranky Right Now shows kids how to deal with those cranky days.

Cranky Right Now brings a much-needed message to kids: sometimes we’re all cranky. Maybe we’re tired, we’re hungry, or we’re just feeling grumpy. Dealing with emotions can be hard. Cranky Right Now is a fun and funny ride through the ups and downs of being cranky, helping kids process difficult feelings, frustrating relationships, and things that just make them mad.

Award-winning author Julie Berry talks about reasons kids can feel cranky and how to recognize those feelings and acknowledge them. She then gives simple practices for moving through crankiness. She shows that it’s okay to be in a bad mood sometimes―just not to take it out on others―and that cranky days will eventually give way to happy ones.

A companion volume to Happy Right Now, with Holly Hatam’s bright and playful illustrations, Cranky Right Now helps you embrace, understand, and move through cranky in a whole new way.”

Secret, Secret Agent Guy by Kira Bigwood, Illustrated by Celia Krampien (Bookshop | Amazon)

Send little spies to sleep with this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek lullaby set to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Dear Fellow Agents:

Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to join Secret, Secret Agent Guy on his bedtime assignment, code name: Operation Lollipop. Equipped with night-vision goggles, a jetpack, and grappling hook, he is prepared for every eventuality…or is he?

Will this 007-year-old complete his covert quest, or will he be outsmarted by an adversary he never saw coming?”

No Pants by Jacob Grant (Bookshop | Amazon)

Laugh-out-loud father-son drama in which the dad learns an important and timely lesson–pants are NOT for everyone!

Pablo and his dad are ready for a great day. It’s party day! A cookout with the whole family. All they need to do is get ready. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put on pants. And they’ll be ready to go!
Only Pablo has another idea: No Pants!
Suddenly it’s looking as if party time is a ways off after all.
Here’s a hilarious and warm-hearted look at a father-son relationship that shows there is more than one way of wearing–and thinking about–pants!”

Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist by Shahzia Sikander, Illustrated by Hannah Barczyk (Bookshop | Amazon)

Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander recounts how growing up as a tomboy in a multicultural home in Pakistan inspired her to become an artist

Growing up in a multigenerational, multicultural home in Lahore, Pakistan, where her family’s Muslim traditions are filled with food and rituals, Shahzia is surrounded by stories of all kinds. At the Catholic school she attends, she studies Western literature, and at home, her father regales her and her siblings with fantastical tales from a Russian storybook on animals. Shahzia’s love for books leads to a fascination with illustrations, like the ones she sees in illuminated manuscripts and South Asian miniature portraits, and she discovers a talent for drawing. Through art, Shahzia is able to create the different worlds she reads about, using her imagination to take her beyond the walls of the home she grows up in.
Written by artist Shahzia Sikander with award-winning author Amy Novesky, and featuring artwork, Roots and Wings is a colorful introduction to a multicultural perspective that will inspire young readers to use art and imagination to explore new worlds.”

Chapter Books

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Jason Reynolds, and Ibram X. Kendi, Illustrated by Rachelle Baker (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This chapter book edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America

RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word.
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Ibram X. Kendi’s research, Jason Reynolds’s and Sonja Cherry-Paul’s writing, and Rachelle Baker’s art come together in this vital read, enhanced with a glossary, timeline, and more.”

Mission to Mars (Astronaut Girl #4) by Cathy Hapka and Ellen Vandenberg, Illustrated Gillian Reid (Bookshop | Amazon)

Can Astronaut Girl save the day with a little help from science? Find out as she and her space crew blast off on new adventures in this chapter book series!

When Val’s teacher gives her class a science assignment to build terrariums, Val can’t wait to get started! She’s picked Wallace and her two friends, Ling and Abby, to join her group, and she expects to be in charge…after all, she is Astronaut Girl! But Val soon discovers it’s impossible for them to agree on anything. And things don’t get much better when the group and the Astro Crew zoom off to Mars for an outer-space adventure. Can the group finally put their heads together in order to save themselves from a giant sandstorm, or will they be stranded on Mars forever?

Exciting, easy-to-read books are the stepping stone a young reader needs to bridge the gap between being a beginner and being fluent.”

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend (Jo Jo, 1) by Dawn Quigley, Illustrated by Tara Audibert (Bookshop | Amazon)

Hello/Boozhoo—meet Jo Jo Makoons! Full of pride, joy, and plenty of humor, this first book in an all-new chapter book series by Dawn Quigley celebrates a spunky young Ojibwe girl who loves who she is.

Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn—about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly.

Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Middle Grade

Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (Bookshop | Amazon)

A moving middle-grade debut for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be normal again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves and each other.”

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi (Bookshop | Amazon)

“For fans of Other Words for Home and Front Desk, this powerful, charming own voices immigration story follows a girl who moves from Karachi, Pakistan to Peachtree City, Georgia, and must find her footing in a new world. Reem Faruqi is the ALA Notable author of award-winning Lailah’s Lunchbox.

When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts.

And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais—who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates.

Ultimately Nurah slowly gains confidence in the form of strong swimming arms, and also gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place.”

Planet Omar: Incredible Rescue Mission by Zanib Mian, Illusrated by Nasaya Mafaridik (Bookshop | Amazon)

Omar has to solve the mystery of his missing teacher in the third installment of this highly-illustrated middle-grade series starring a Muslim boy with a huge imagination.

Omar is going on his biggest adventure yet–a trip to Pakistan! But his excitement about the trip is interrupted by some shocking news: his amazing teacher is not coming back to school, and no one will say why.

When Omar and his friends start investigating, the hints they overhear and clues they find lead them to an alarming conclusion–it must be aliens!

Omar has a huge imagination, but saving his teacher from aliens seems far-fetched even to him. He’s going to need out-of-this-world creative thinking and a huge spirit of adventure to solve this mystery!”

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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