The Girl With Big, Big Questions

Today, I’m excited to share the follow up to one of my favorite books with you all! The Girl With Big, Big Questions by Britney Winn Lee is a title I’ve been looking forward to for months, and I’m happy to report it did NOT disappoint. In fact, I may just love it more than The Boy With Big, Big Feelings.

Title: The Girl With Big, Big Questions
Author: Britney Winn Lee
Illustrator: Jacob Souva
Publisher: Beaming Books
Published: August 10, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl and her search for answers to questions big and small, The Girl With Big, Big Questions celebrates the spirit of curiosity and highlights the importance of asking questions. By following the persistent young girl as she asks questions like, “What makes a good person?” and, “What happens to stars when they fall?”, young readers will see examples of thinking outside the box and experience the joy of learning through questioning. When the young girl finds a bird’s nest built low to the ground on a fence, she can’t help but ask herself, “What is a bird’s nest doing down here?”, leading her to find a problem in her community and to lead the charge to solve it.

The illustrations by Jacob Souva are lovely, and fans of The Boy with Big, Big Feelings will be happy to see his familiar style on every page. I especially love the way Jacob captures concepts like questions and feelings in a colorful way, giving children a look into the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the series.

The Girl With Big, Big Questions is a wonderful addition to bookshelves everywhere and is available for purchase wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for generously providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

About The Author:

Britney Winn Lee is an author, editor, and nonprofit director living in Shreveport, Louisiana with her creative husband and big-hearted son. Lee serves as the full-time director of Noel Community Arts Program, the part-time editor and content coordinator for Red Letter Christians, and is represented by Lisa Jackson at Alive Literary Agency for her writing.

Lee’s books include The Boy with Big, Big Feelings (Beaming Books), Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice (Upper Room),and Deconstructed Do-Gooder: A Memoir about Learning Mercy the Hard Way (Cascade Books). With a BA in religious studies and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, Lee has worked for over a decade in faith- and justice-based, creative community-building.

You can find Britney online at, on Twitter @britneywinnlee, and on Instagram @brittneywinnlee.

About The Illustrator:

Jacob Souva is an illustrator who lives in Upstate New York with his wife and two boys. He’s passionate about equipping kids with language to navigate their emotional well-being, laugh at silly things, and be inspired by big stories. Jacob works digitally and loves to experiment with texture and color.

You can find Jacob online at, on Twitter @TwoFish, and on Instagram @jacobsouva.

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New Release Round Up – September 7, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s new release day again! As always, I rounded up the titles I am most excited about to share with y’all today. There are a TON to talk about this week, so sit back, grab a snack, and let’s look at some new books.

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

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, Illustrated Peter H. Reynolds

“Celebrate kindness, compassion, self-care, and love in all its forms with the board book edition of the instant New York Times bestseller!

I put my hands on my heart and listen.
And that is where I find the answer:

I have compassion.
I act with tenderness.

I am love.

Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds continue their collaboration with the fourth book in their wellness series. A celebration of love in all its forms, I Am Love asks readers to look inward when they feel afraid. Love allows us to act with compassion and kindness, to live with gratitude, and to take care of ourselves by practicing self-love.”

Brilliant Baby Fights Germs by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Jean Claude

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

Your Brilliant Baby will love learning what germs are and what we can do to prevent the spread of them, as well as about the scientists and doctors who help us fight them!”

Brilliant Baby Explores Science by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Jean Claude

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

Your Brilliant Baby will love learning the basics of the scientific method and how they can find science all around them, such as in colors, nature, buildings, and more!”

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac

“The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.”

Picture Books

Over and Under The Canyon by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

“In this latest book in the acclaimed Over and Under series, a spectacular hike reveals the hidden wonders, rich colors, and layers of wildlife living within a thriving desert slot-canyon.

Over and Under the Canyon takes young readers on a thrilling tour of a desert canyon ecosystem. Over the canyon, the sun scalds the air, baking desert mud to stone. But under the shade of the cliffs hides another world, where bighorn sheep bound from rock to rock on the hillside, roadrunners make their nests in sturdy cacti, and banded geckos tuck themselves into the shelter of the sand. Discover the wonders concealed in the curves of the canyon, the magic of a desert wildflower bloom, and all the unexpected creatures that bring the desert to life.”

I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Encourage kids to find their inner strength with this companion to the New York Times bestsellers I Am Human and I Am Love!

I move ahead one breath at a time.
I act with bravery.
I am courage.

When we picture someone brave, we might think they’re fearless; but real courage comes from feeling scared and facing what challenges us anyway. When our minds tell us “I can’t,” we can look inside ourselves and find the strength to say, “Yes, I CAN!”

From the New York Times bestselling team behind the I Am series comes a triumphant celebration of everyday courage: believing in ourselves, speaking out, trying new things, asking for help, and getting back up no matter how many times we may fall. Grounded in mindfulness and awareness, I Am Courage is an empowering reminder that we can conquer anything.
Inside, you’ll also find exercises to inspire confidence.”

The Wall and the Wild by Christina Dendy, Illustrated by Katie Rewse

When Ana tries to take control by creating a perfect garden, she comes to realize that nature is inherently wild.

In a plot of land at the edge of town, Ana grows only perfectly sized plants and perfect-looking flowers; she throws all the irregular shoots and uneven seeds over the wall into the disorderly Wild. But as her garden gets tidier, neater and more constrained, the Wild begins to grow…”

Before We Stood Tall: From Small Seed to Mighty Tree by Jessica Kulekjian, Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

“Expressive text and art tell the story of the life cycle of trees as it has never been told before — in reverse.Here’s a lyrical depiction of the life cycle of trees, told one step at a time, based on newly researched information. The steps are described in simple but evocative text, each starting with “Before . . .” for a rhythmic telling. For example, “Before we stood tall, we clothed ourselves in bark and crowned ourselves in leaves, waving eagerly at the sun.” Particular attention is paid throughout to what’s happening underground and how that links all life in the forest. Beginning with mature giants, “mighty in the kingdom of trees,” and ending with the promise of new life on the branches that are “hoping to be mighty in the kingdom of trees,” it’s a beautiful and loving celebration of the circle of life.Jessica Kulekjian’s skill at seamlessly blending nonfiction information with a poetic narrative sets this informational picture book apart. She also uniquely incorporates intriguing new research on how trees communicate with each other using an underground network of roots and fungus that connects the forest and helps the trees to thrive. Madeline Kloepper’s rich artwork with its deep earth tone palette brings the forest and all its inhabitants alive on the page. The material has been vetted by several scientists, including experts on trees, insects and mushrooms. Supported by well-researched backmatter, the book has strong curriculum links to early elementary earth and life science topics, including plants, ecosystems and soil.”

A Seat at the Table: The Nancy Pelosi Story by Elisa Boxer, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

This inspiring picture-book biography about Nancy Pelosi shows her journey from the child of Baltimore’s mayor to her marble-ceiling-shattering four terms as Speaker of the House, including the historic events of January 6th, 2021. 

Nancy Pelosi grew up watching her father, the mayor of Baltimore, welcome in people of all different backgrounds to sit at their table and make their voices heard. Nancy’s mother always stood beside him, working behind the scenes to help her husband and the people he served. When Nancy grew up, she continued working behind the scenes in politics until a friend asked her to run for Congress herself–jump-starting a 33 year career as a political representative and taking her higher than she could have once imagined.

Young girls, especially, will be inspired by Nancy’s journey and her commitment to using her voice to help others and to make sure women are heard in government. The backmatter also includes an exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi herself.”

Let Me Fix You A Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly

Whether you’re settling in for a heaping plate of banana pudding or arepas and tostones, a good meal can always bring families together.

Once a year, on a Friday night,
My family leaves the city
And drives hours and hours . . .

First my family drives through the mountains to stop at Mamaw and Papaw’s house in rural West Virginia. We share blueberry jam and toast for breakfast the next morning, then munch cookies and cut bananas to make banana pudding with Mamaw. After the last bite of pudding, we get ready for the next part of the journey, down to Florida to visit Abuela and Abuelo for crispy tostones, fresh squeezed juice, and arepas with queso blanco.

Elizabeth Lilly’s tale of a joyous road trip, drawn from her own experience, is illustrated with quirky charm that captures all the warmth and love of her family’s two distinct cultures.”

Magic Like That by Samara Cole Doyon, Illustrated by Geneva Bowers

“In this celebration of Black Girl Magic, a young girl finds confidence and excitement in the versatility of her natural hair and the way her different hairstyles reflect the natural world.

Natural hair is magical, but magic isn’t easy. As a young Black girl patiently waits for her mother to finish her newest hairstyle, she wonders what stunning, majestic, awe-inspiring form her hair will take next!

With radiant illustrations by Geneva Bowers and beautiful, poetic text written by Samara Cole Doyon, Magic Like That will inspire young readers of all textures to believe in the beauty of their natural selves.”

Right Now!: Real Kids Speaking Up for Change by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Bea Jackson

A joyful, inspiring picture book that introduces readers to eleven young people from around the world who didn’t wait until they were grown to speak up about things that matter to them and change the world for the better, from an award-winning author and New York Times best-selling illustrator.

From climate activist Greta Thunberg to anti-bullying advocate Jaylen Arnold to peace activist Bana Alabed and more, these short profiles of young people and their causes will inspire readers to think about what matters most to them. An author’s note, Actions to Make a Difference, and additional resources are also included, providing a roadmap for any kid who wants to make change and help others too.”

When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley, Illustrated by Keith Mallett

A young Black boy dreams of dancing in this exuberant, buoyant picture book celebrating the beauty of dance, and the wonder of Black Boy Joy—perfect for fans of Firebird and Crown!

Langston likes basketball okay, but what he loves is to dance—ever since he saw the Alvin Ailey Dance Company perform. He longs to twirl into a pirouette, whirl into a piqué. He wants to arabesque and attitude, grand battement and grand jeté. When he walks, the whole street is his stage.

With his neighborhood cheering him on, will Langston achieve his dream?”

Ada and the Galaxies by Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv, Illustrated by Susanna Chapman

“Stargazers rejoice! In his first book for children, renowned physicist Alan Lightman and collaborators, with help from the Hubble telescope, light up the night sky.

New York Times best-selling author Alan Lightman, in collaboration with Olga Pastuchiv, brings galaxies close in a stunning picture-book tribute to the interconnectedness of the natural world. Layering photographs taken from the Hubble telescope into charming and expressive art, illustrator Susanna Chapman zooms in on one child’s experiences: Ada knows that the best place for star-gazing is on the island in Maine where she vacations with her grandparents. By day, she tracks osprey in the trees, paddles a kayak, and hunts for shells. But she’s most in her element when the sun goes down and the stars blink to life. Will the fog this year foil her plans, or will her grandfather find a way to shine a spotlight on the vast puzzle of the universe . . . until the weather turns?”

This Magical, Musical Night by Rhonda Gowler Greene, Illustrated by James Rey Sanchez

Music! Music! Oh, how grand! A language we all understand.
Get swept away by the musical performance of a lifetime as, one by one, each instrument of the symphony orchestra shows off their skills!

Follow along as the symphony orchestra’s various instruments are introduced. From violin to trumpet, flute to trombone, each plays its part, contributing to a grand and mystifying performance. These magical instruments will transport you in a way only music can. Soar with the strings, float away with the woodwinds, and play in a percussion thunderstorm! Music can take us anywhere, so celebrate and learn about all the instruments of the orchestra and the music that unites us.”

Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories by Annette Bay Pimentel, Illustrated by Magaly Morales

“A lyrical, vibrant tribute to the amazing life and legacy of Pura Belpré, a lauded storyteller, librarian, and pioneer of bilingual storytimes

Pura’s abuela always has a cuento to share. She crows ¡Qui-qui-ri-quí! for Señor Gallo, booms Borom, Borom for Señor Zapo, and tells of a beautiful cockroach who loves a mouse. Pura clings to these stories like coquíes cling to green leaves.

When Pura grows up and moves from Puerto Rico to Harlem, she gets a job at the library, where she is surrounded by stories—but they’re only in English. Where is Señor Gallo? Where is Pérez the mouse? Where is Puerto Rico on these shelves? She decides to tell children the tales of her homeland in English and in Spanish.

Lyrically written, with lively illustrations, Pura’s Cuentos captures the exuberant spirit and passion of Pura Belpré: celebrated storyteller, author, folklorist, and the first Latina librarian in New York City. A pioneer of bilingual storytimes, she welcomed countless new families to the library, formed cultural bridges in her community, and broke the rules by telling stories that weren’t printed in books—at least, not yet.”

Thankful by Elaine Vickers, Illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

Stunning, diorama illustrations bring to life this lullaby of a picture book about celebrating everyday things that make life wonderful.

I am thankful for a home where I am safe and warm.
Thankful for parents who read me stories and comb my hair gently, gently.
Who whisper the same poem every night when they tuck me in.

When the first snow falls, a little girl writes down the things she’s thankful for on strips of paper and links them together. As one idea leads to another, her chain grows longer. There’s so much good in her life: a friend, things that are warm, things that are cold, color, things that can be fixed. This beautiful story is a much-needed reminder to observe and honor life’s small joys.”

Jazz For Lunch by Jarrett Dapier, Illustrated by Eugenia Mello

“Last Stop on Market Street gets a jazzy twist in this finger-licking good celebration of music, food, and family.

Struttin’ with Auntie Nina down to a club,
We’re gonna hear some music and then eat some grub.
Wanna get up close, but we’re stuck in the back,
We can’t see the drums and we can’t get a snack!
But Auntie Nina’s got a plan, don’t you fret,
She’s taking us to her place where we can get

Come on in, sit right down! Cuz Auntie Nina and her nephew are cooking up a symphony of food and sounds. The lip-smacking smells and be-bopping tunes might just get the whole neighborhood shimmying over to join in. From Nat King Cole Slaw to Art Tatum Tots to Billie Hollandaise Sauce, get ready for some foot-stomping, finger-licking, booty-shaking, mouth-watering fun!”

Superjoe Does NOT Do Cuddles by Michael Catchpool, Illustrated by Emma Proctor

“Even the mightiest of superheroes sometimes need a cuddle from their mom…

SuperJoe is convinced he doesn’t need cuddles from his mom. He flies around the neighborhood rescuing people from escaped tigers, runaway trains and raging rivers, all while battling his nemesis the Gray Shadow. Naturally, he refuses all cuddles. Until, one night, when he can’t sleep…”

Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff

“In this charming simple story, things are lost, things are found and, somehow, it’s all just as it should be.Sometimes things are lost. A hair ribbon. A pencil. A dog on a leash. But when someone loses a thing, another person may find it, sometimes with surprising results. In this thoughtful and deceptively simple story, several things are lost, and then each is found — not always by the person who lost it, but always by someone who can use it.Though for most young children — and their grownups! — losing something is a cause for stress, Carey Sookocheff’s delightful picture book presents the experience in a calm, matter-of-fact tone and invites readers to consider things from a different perspective. The subtle message is one we can all learn from — while you can’t always control what happens, you can manage how you respond. With very spare text and easy-to-follow visual storytelling, the book has a this-then-that rhythm that is reassuring and pleasant. It also begins and ends with the same girl walking her dog in the park, making for a cohesive and satisfying story. The illustrations use a limited, cool palette with the color orange signifying each of the lost items, perfect for enhancing observational skills and visual literacy. This book would work well as a jumping off point for children to create stories of their own, imagining what might have happened to something they’ve lost, who might have found it, and what might happen to it next.”

Snoozefest: The Surprising Science of Sleep by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Illustrated by Valéry Goulet

“From award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi, an eye-opening look at the science of sleep — covering everything adolescents could possibly want to know about a subject that’s suddenly keeping them up at night!For something that all humans do for hours every night, sleep is not that well understood. One thing we do know, though, is that sleep is crucial for our health and happiness. Here’s a highly readable and fascinating look at why sleep is so important, what’s happening in our bodies while we’re sleeping (it’s a lot more than you think!), and how the science of sleep research has evolved. It probes some of the mysteries about sleep, like why we need sleep, why we dream, and even how long we can go without sleep! It also explains why teens and tweens aren’t getting enough sleep — and what school principals can do about it! It’s a deep dive into an intriguing topic that’s anything but a snore!Bestselling author Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s engaging yet comprehensive text covers everything a middle schooler (or an adult!) could want to know about the science of sleep — and then some. Sleep is a topic that most adolescents are interested in, since their sleep patterns have recently begun to change, and getting enough sleep is now more important to them than ever before. Sidebars and boxes full of fun facts break the text into readable chunks. There are terrific curriculum links here to life science and the human body as well as to health. Fully illustrated with a light touch by Valéry Goulet, this unique and appealing book makes scientific content accessible and fun.”

Bright Star by Yuyi Morales

“From the creator of the New York Times bestseller Dreamers comes a heartbreakingly beautiful story about growth, empowerment, and finding one’s own voice.

Child, you are awake!
You are alive!
You are a bright star,
Inside our hearts.

Told with a combination of powerful, spare language and sumptuous and complex imagery that is typical of Yuyi Morales’s work, this is the story of a fawn making her way through a border landscape teaming with flora and fauna native to the region. A gentle but empowering voice encourages her to face her fears when she comes across an obstacle in the form of an insurmountable barrier.”

Middle Grade

Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman

“Kabir has been in jail since the day he was born, because his mom is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit. He’s never met his dad, so the only family he’s got are their cellmates, and the only place he feels the least bit free is in the classroom, where his kind teacher regales him with stories of the wonders of the outside world. Then one day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost “uncle” who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can–run away as fast as his legs will take him. How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way? Fortunately, he befriends Rani, another street kid, and she takes him under her wing. But plotting their next move is hard–and fraught with danger–in a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children. This is not the world Kabir dreamed of–but he’s discovered he’s not the type to give up. Kabir is ready to show the world that he–and his mother–deserve a place in it.”

Obie Is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar

“A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn’t think being himself would cause such a splash. For fans of Alex Gino’s George and Lisa Bunker’s Felix Yz.

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water—to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.”

Danny Chung Sums It Up by Maisie Chan, Illustrated by Natelle Quek

“A touching and funny middle-grade story about a boy whose life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother moves in

Eleven-year-old Danny’s life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother comes to live with his family in England. Things get worse when Danny finds out he’ll have to share his room with her, and she took the top bunk! At first, Danny is frustrated that he can’t communicate with her because she doesn’t speak English—and because he’s on the verge of failing math and Nai Nai was actually a math champion back in the day. It just feels like he and his grandmother have nothing in common. His parents insist that Danny help out, so when he’s left to look after Nai Nai, he leaves her at the bingo hall for the day to get her off his back. But he soon discovers that not everyone there is as welcoming as he expected . . . Through the universal languages of math and art, Danny realizes he has more in common with his Nai Nai than he first thought. Filled with heart and humor, Danny Chung Sums It Up shows that traversing two cultures is possible and worth the effort, even if it’s not always easy.”

Lotería by Karla Arenas Valenti, Illustrated by Dana SanMar

“In the hottest hour of the hottest day of the year, a fateful wind blows into Oaxaca City. It whistles down cobbled streets and rustles the jacaranda trees before slipping into the window of an eleven-year-old girl named Clara. Unbeknownst to her, Clara has been marked for la Lotería.

Life and Death deal the Lotería cards but once a year, and the stakes could not be higher. Every card reveals a new twist in Clara’s fate—a scorpion, an arrow, a blood-red rose. If Life wins, Clara will live to a ripe old age. If Death prevails, she’ll flicker out like a candle.

But Clara knows none of this. All she knows is that her young cousin Esteban has vanished, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save him, traveling to the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas, where every action has a price, and every choice has consequences. And though it seems her fate is sealed, Clara just might have what it takes to shatter the game and choose a new path.

Karla Arenas Valenti weaves an adventure steeped in magic and mythology—gorgeously illustrated by Dana Sanmar—exploring the notion of free will in a world where fate holds all the cards.”

Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis

“Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis shows us that life isn’t always clear, and that partly cloudy days still contain a bit of blue worth celebrating.”

Graphic Novels

Witches of Brooklyn: What The Hex?! by Sophie Escabasse

Effie returns in this spellbinding sequel: a middle-grade graphic novel about found family, friendship, and learning to embrace who you are!

Could there be even MORE witches in Brooklyn?!

Effie is EXCITED to meet so many witches, but what is going on with her friends? Suddenly Effie is no longer the newest kid in school, and it seems like her friends are happy to grow their little group, but Effie isn’t so sure. On top of that, learning magic is HARD WORK!

Effie just wants to have fun being a witch, but her life in Brooklyn is about to get weird(er).

The bewitching second book in the Witches of Brooklyn series captures what it means to be a friend, and how growing up can be a little less scary if you throw some magic in the mix.”

Borders by Thomas King, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

From celebrated Indigenous author Thomas King and award-winning Métis artist Natasha Donovan comes a powerful graphic novel about a family caught between nations.

Borders is a masterfully told story of a boy and his mother whose road trip is thwarted at the border when they identify their citizenship as Blackfoot. Refusing to identify as either American or Canadian first bars their entry into the US, and then their return into Canada. In the limbo between countries, they find power in their connection to their identity and to each other. 

Borders explores nationhood from an Indigenous perspective and resonates deeply with themes of identity, justice, and belonging.”

That’s all I have for today. 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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Lost Things

Today, I have a deceptively simple picture book to share with you all! Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff is a lovely story about the things that can be lost and found. Beginning and ending with a young girl walking her dog in the park, Lost Things is a calm look at a topic that can often be stressful for young children.

Title: Lost Things
Author/Illustrator: Carey Sookocheff
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

As we follow the girl and her dog on their walk, we notice the many objects that people lose throughout their day. The objects are usually found, even if it’s by someone who needed it more than the person who lost it. Told with sparse text and fantastic visual storytelling, Lost Things gives young readers a peek into the journey of each lost item with a beautiful full circle storyline.

I really love the artwork in Lost Things, as well. Not only is the visual storytelling wonderful, the color work is fantastic, too! From the muted cool pallette to the way orange is used to highlight each lost item, it’s just genius.

Lost Things is released tomorrow (September 7, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for sending me a review copy of such a wonderfully unique book!

About The Author/Illustrator:

Author and Illustrator Carey Sookocheff has more than ten books to her credit. They include the critically acclaimed Buddy and Earl series, I Do Not Like Stories, What Happens Next, as well as Wet and Solutions for Cold Feet, which she both wrote and illustrated. Her work has also appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal and Real Simple magazine. Carey lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her family and their dog, Rosie.

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Mister Fairy

If you’re looking for a book that highlights themes of fitting in and self-discovery, I have the perfect book for you today! Mister Fairy by Morgane de Cadier and Florian Pigé is a delightful picture book all about finding one’s place in the world.

Title: Mister Fairy
Author: Morgane de Cadier
Illustrator: Florian Pigé
Publisher: Red Comet Press
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Mister Fairy follows an adorable fairy who can’t seem to find his hidden talent. His friends around him all seem to be good at something, but he feels useless. He runs away from the forest to the human world and suddenly finds his purpose – to spread colorful joy to a drab city. He rushes back to the forest to tell his friends, only to realize they missed the joy and laughter he brought to the forest. This sweet picture book will teach young readers that we all have a gift to share with the world.

The illustrations by Florian Pigé are so fun! I love the way Mr. Fairy’s emotions are captured on every page, from his frustration during his self-doubt to the joy of finding his self-confidence. The color work is perfect, and I especially appreciate the way Mr. Fairy brings the colors back to life.

Mister Fairy officially releases next week (September 7, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today at Bookshop or Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Red Comet Press and Blue Slip Media for providing me with a review copy of such a fun book. I can’t wait to share this with my little one!

About The Author:

Morgane de Cadier trained in technical drawing at the Emile Cohl School in Lyon, France. She decided to follow her passion for writing and telling stories and, in 2015, her first book, Tout La-Hout, was published. The illustrator was Florian Pigé. She has since written six more picture books including Mister Fairy. Florin Pigé has illustrated all but one of her books. She continues to enjoy writing and drawing. Morgane de Cadier lives in Lyon, France.

You can find Morgane online at and on Instagram @morganedecadier.

About The Illustrator:

Florian Pigé attended the Emile Cohl school in Lyon, France, where he studied illustration. His passion for children’s literature grew from his diploma studies where he learned to tell story with writing and illustration. In his creative approach he pays careful attention to small details and uses simplified forms . He derives inspiration from artists such as, Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Jon Klassen, Benjamin Flouw, Simone Read, Yvan Duqe, Philip Giordano. Marta Altès, Emily Hughes, and Benjamin Chaud.

You can find Florian online at and on Instagram @florian_pige.

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Storytelling Math

I know school is out for the weekend, but I want to talk about Charlesbridge’s wonderful Storytelling Math series today. Each book in the series is written by a different author, but they all focus on a child of color as they play, build, and discover the way mathematical concepts shape the world around them.

You may have heard me rave about this series after reviewing Bracelets For Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca a while back, but today I want to focus on the newest additions to the series. Released earlier this month, Usha and the Big Digger by Amitha Jagannath Knight and Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi! by Art Coulson both capture the spirit of the series by sharing stories that relate mathematical concepts while entertaining young readers.

Usha and the Big Digger by Amitha Jagannath Knight, Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

Focusing on geometry and spatial sense, Usha and the Big Digger follows a young girl named Usha as she stargazes with her sister, Aarti. Usha and Aarti can’t agree on what they see in the stars—where Aarti sees the Big Dipper, Usha sees the Big Digger. The girls ask their cousin Gloria to settle their debate once and for all, but Gloria sees the Big Kite in the stars. With stunning illustrations by Sandhya Prabhat, this delightful story teaches young readers the importance of perspective and how we all see things differently. Complete with a note about constellations in different cultures and activity suggestions in the back matter, Usha and the Big Digger is a wonderful addition to bookshelves everywhere.

About The Author:

Amitha Jagannath Knight has lots of experience with sister squabbles as she grew up with an identical twin. (They are still best friends.) Amitha lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two children, and two cats. This is her debut book.

About The Illustrator:

Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator and illustrator from India. She has published nearly a dozen picture books. She also animates videos and designs e-stickers.

Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi! by Art Coulson, Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight

Look Grandma! Ni Elisi! highlights the mathematical concepts of volume, capacity, and area through the story of a young Cherokee boy who is selling his homemade marbles at his family’s booth at the Cherokee National Holiday. His grandma tells him he has to take up a small amount of table space, and Bo searches for the perfect container. The wonderful illustrations by Madelyn Goodnight perfectly capture all of Bo’s efforts to find a container that will hold all his marbles while fitting on the mat. The backmatter also contains a glossary of Cherokee words, a note about Cherokee marbles, and math activity suggestions for further reading.

About The Author:

Art Coulson is Cherokee from Oklahoma and comes from a family of storytellers. Some of his earliest memories are of listening to stories and reading books on his grandmother’s lap. Art now writes his own books for young readers, including Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army. He lives with his family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About The Illustrator:

Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, whose work reflects her love of childhood. She holds a degree from Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Oklahoma. She is the illustrator of The Pear Tree.

Storytelling Math is led by TERC, a non-profit made up of teams of math and science education and research experts dedicated to STEM education. To learn more about TERC and their efforts to inspire and engage millions of learners nationwide every year, please visit

You can learn more about the other titles in the Storytelling Math series and access activity kit downloads and author interviews on Charlebridge’s website at

Thank you so much to Charlesbridge for providing me with review copies of these wonderful additions to the Storytelling Math series.

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Author Spotlight: Don Tate

For today’s Author Spotlight, I am interviewing award-winning author and illustrator, Don Tate, whom you may know from his many critically acclaimed children’s books, such as Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping,, High-Flying Harlem Globe Trotters, Carter Reads The Newpaper, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Today, we will be discussing his most recent release Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football Playing Artist Ernie Barnes.

Don, Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so excited to chat with you about Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes! Would you like to start by telling us a bit about the book?

Thank you for inviting me. PIGSKINS TO PAINTBRUSHES: THE STORY OF FOOTBALL-PLAYING ARTIST ERNIE BARNES (Abrams) tells the story of a kid who was bullied because of his love of art. So often in our society, boys are expected to excel at sports. They’re supposed to do macho things, whatever that is. And when they don’t, they’re often labeled as weak. This was the case with young Ernie Barnes who loved art, poetry, and playing musical instruments. “I was always off somewhere decorating stuff,” Barnes once said. But eventually, in middle and high school, he gave in and played football. He practiced, built himself up, and became quite the sports star, eventually playing in the professional football leagues. But art remained in his heart. After an injury, he quit playing football and started an art career.

What inspired you to create this book? What drew you to Ernie Barnes’ story?

I grew up watching the television show GOOD TIMES. Some of Ernie Barnes’ artwork was featured on that show. For years I thought JJ Evans, the teenage artist on the show, painted that artwork. The real artist was Ernie Barnes, I learned later. My favorite piece was SUGAR SHACK, which displayed at the end of the show behind the credits. Ernie Barnes inspired me as a young artist, as I tried to mimic his style of art. And I know that many other African American illustrators of today’s youth literature were inspired by him. I wanted to write a story that would introduce today’s generation of young artists to Ernie Barnes!

Title: Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes
Author/Illustrator: Don Tate
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Published: August 17, 2021
Format: Picture Book

What was the research process like for Pigskins to Paintbrushes

Ernie Barnes’ memoir FROM PADS TO PALETTE was my primary source, but I also relied on numerous interviews he’d given which were printed in newspapers and magazines. I was especially excited about a biography written about Barnes by famed author Alex Haley, which can be found here:  

Which of Ernie Barnes paintings is your favorite and why?

As mentioned, SUGAR SHACK was always a favorite. I loved the portrayal of African Americans dancing, bodies graceful and elongated. Such joy! Other favorites were from his BEAUTY OF THE GHETTO series, like SPRINGBOARD, which features two young girls jumping on a teeter-totter; and THE DRUM MAJOR. Hanging in my studio is a painting of THE ADVOCATE, which is a depiction of an African American lawyer surrounded by books and images representing law. I have a kid who is planning to attend law school in the near future, and this painting reminds me of my son. I was never a sports person, so while I liked his football paintings, I loved the images he created of the Black community even more. 

You are both an author and illustrator. Does your research process look different for books that you are writing and illustrating than from the titles you illustrated for other authors?

When I’m illustrating, I’m always concerned more with what things might have looked like. For instance, in PIGSKINS TO PAINTBRUSHES, there is a scene that Barnes described in his memoir, where, as a child, he’s in a lawyer’s study looking at art books. I really have no idea what that would have looked like, so I need to do some research in order to make an educated guess. 

You are best known for your picture book biographies. Is there something specific that keeps you coming back to the genre?

I like reading biographies. In fact, it was Richard Wright’s memoir BLACK BOY that finally hooked me into reading. I often tell myself that it’s time to tackle some other genre. But then why? I love bios, so that’s likely where I will stay.

If you could spend a day with anyone you’ve written or illustrated a biography about, who would you choose and how would you spend the day?

The Harlem Globetrotters! Wouldn’t that be a blast?!

Who would you say are your biggest influences as an artist? And as an author?

Funny you should ask. I’ve long been influenced by Ernie Barnes. While my artwork today looks nothing like his, my work has always been figurative. I always strived to capture movement and rhythm, and of course I enjoy creating positive and fun images of Black people.

As an author, it’s more difficult to think of a specific influence. When I first started writing, I started reading a book written by a newspaper colleague. His name was Rob Borsellino, and he wrote a column at the DES MOINES REGISTER where we worked. He also wrote a book called “SO I’M TALKING TO THIS GUY.” I read that book so many times! I loved his conversational style. Oftentimes, reviewers describe my work as “conversational,” and I suppose studying Rob’s work influenced me there.

You are one of the founding hosts of Brown Bookshelf. Can you tell us a bit about The Brown Bookshelf and its mission?

The Brown Bookshelf is a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews. You can find more about the Brown Bookshelf at I can’t say how much I love my co-contributors there and the impact they are making on the publishing world. They make publishing a better place.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Mutually Inclusive’s readers?

Keep in mind, I am not an official spokesperson for Ernie Barnes or the Ernie Barnes Family Trust. I’m simply an author and illustrator, excited to share his story. For more information about Ernie Barnes and to see his artwork, please see the official Ernie Barnes website at

To learn more about Don and his work be sure to visit him online at, and on Instagram @devas_t and Twitter @devas_T.

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New Release Round Up – August 24, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! It’s new release day again! As always, I rounded up the titles I am most excited about to share with y’all today, and there are a LOT to talk about this week.

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

The Life Of Basquiat by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein, Illustrated by Citlali Reyes

“Introduce your little ones to the famous graffiti artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, in both English and Spanish.

Known for his contributions to graffiti and neo-expressionism, Jean-Michel Basquiat became one of the youngest household names in the world of art. The Haitian-Puerto Rican prodigy used his obsessive scribbling and skull designs to paint his legacy through New York—and worldwide.

Parents will discover this biography book on Basquiat to be an encouraging story to their little ones hoping to express themselves through creativity, imagination, and, most importantly, perseverance.”

Families Grow by Dan Saks, Illustrated by Brooke Smart

“A rhyming, light-hearted celebration of the different ways a family can grow.

A wish began your journey
And now that you are here
Our family has grown with love
With love for you, my dear.

This warm appreciation of love invites the youngest readers to share in the joy and excitement of expecting families. The lyrical, rhyming text subtly references pregnancy, surrogacy, and adoption, gently touching on the different ways a family can grow. The book’s celebratory yet comforting tone incites both appreciation and understanding, leaving readers with a lasting message of unconditional familial love. Includes a simple glossary at the end.”

Picture Books

Yefferson, Actually by Katherine Trejo and Scott Martin-Rowe, Illustrated Karla Monterrosa

“On his first day as the new kid in school, shy Yefferson’s name is consistently mispronounced to his discomfort and embarrassment. With his family’s support, Yefferson finds the courage to stand up for himself and his namesake.

Yefferson, Actually is wonderful new picture book to embrace in the pantheon of classic Back to School stories. Follow sweet and unassuming Yefferson – proudly pronounced with the sound the Y makes in Spanish, not the J in English – as learns to overcome what is a common, but often undiscussed hurdle for all shy kids entering a new school year: correctly teaching people how to say your name correctly.

In a picture book market that too often doesn’t highlight Latinx boys as the main characters of their own stories, Yefferson stands up and stands out for his kindness, gentleness, and strength when he treats others how he wants to be treated. Perfect for lovers of King of Kindergarten and Alma and How She Got Her Name, Yefferson, Actually is the debut picture book for both authors and the illustrator, and the first book in a new series centered on Yefferson and his friends’ adventures.

This back-to-school book is the perfect addition for your little one’s at-home library, as it will motivate them to stand up for themselves and realize that their familial roots came from growing seeds of pride and history.”

Iris Apfel (Little People, Big Dreams #64) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Illustrated by Kristen Barnhart

“In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Iris Apfel, the vivacious (and accidental) fashion icon.

Growing up in Queens, New York, little Iris was the only child at family events. Her grandmother would open a giant bag of fabric, filled with every color and pattern, and let her play with fabric scraps. This inspired a lifelong love of fashion. Famous for her eclectic style, built around oversized glasses, bright colors, and bold jewelry, Iris was the subject of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when she was just 84 years young. This inspiring book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the style icon’s life.”

Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan

“A child, mother, and grandmother travel all the way to the end of the earth in this picture book that celebrates multigenerational love—perfect for fans of Drawn Together and Alma.

“I want to see what’s at the end of the earth!”

Sejal, Mommy, and Pati travel together to the southern tip of India. Along the way, they share meals, visit markets, and catch up with old friends.
For Pati, the trip retraces spaces she knows well. For Mommy, it’s a return to the place she grew up. For Sejal, it’s a discovery of new sights and sounds. The family finds their way to Kanyakumari, where three oceans meet, and delight in making it to the end of the earth together.
This own voices picture book celebrates the beauty of India and the enduring love of family.”

Chapter Books

She Persisted: Ruby Bridges by Kekla Magoon, Illustrated by Gillian Flint

“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!

In this chapter book biography by NAACP Image Award-winning author and Coretta Scott King Honor recipient Kekla Magoon, readers learn about the amazing life of Ruby Bridges–and how she persisted.

As a first grader, Ruby Bridges was the first Black student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was no easy task, especially for a six-year-old. Ruby’s bravery and perseverance inspired children and adults alike to fight for equality and social justice. Perfect for back-to-school reading!

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Ruby Bridges’s footsteps and make a difference!”

Middle Grade

Carry Me Home by Janet Fox

“Twelve-year-old Lulu and her younger sister, Serena, have a secret. As Daddy always says, “it’s best if we keep it to ourselves,” and so they have. But hiding your past is one thing. Hiding where you live—and that your Daddy has gone missing—is harder.

At first Lulu isn’t worried. Daddy has gone away once before and he came back. But as the days add up, with no sign of Daddy, Lulu struggles to take care of all the responsibilities they used to manage as a family.

Lulu knows that all it takes is one slip-up for their secret to come spilling out, for Lulu and Serena to be separated, and for all the good things that have been happening in school to be lost.

But family is all around us, and Lulu must learn to trust her new friends and community to save those she loves and to finally find her true home.”

Graphic Novels

The Little Wooden Robot and The Log Princess by Tom Gauld

“For years, the king and queen tried desperately to have a baby. Their wish was twice granted when an engineer and a witch gave them a little wooden robot and an enchanted log princess. There’s just one catch, every night when the log princess sleeps, she transforms back into an ordinary log. She can only be woken with the magic words “Awake, little log, awake.”

The two are inseparable until one day when the sleeping log princess is accidentally carted off to parts unknown. Now it’s up to her devoted brother to find her and return her safely to the kingdom. They need to take turns to get each other home, and on the way, they face a host of adventures involving the Queen of Mushrooms, a magic pudding, a baby in a rosebush, and an old lady in a bottle.”

That’s all I have for today. 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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How To Make A Friend

Today, I’m sharing a clever picture book that teaches young readers all about friendship and persistence. How To Make A Friend by Stephen W. Martin and Olivia Aserr provides a hilarious step-by-step guide for how to make friends, and maybe also how to stop them from destroying the world.

Title: How To Make A Friend
Author: Stephen W. Martin
Illustrator: Olivia Aserr
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: July 27, 2021
Format: Picture Book

How To Make A Friend tells the story of a young girl as she follows all the steps to build a robot friend. But, as our main character finds out, sometimes friendships don’t go exactly as we plan. Sometimes your robot friend might turn out to be a bit evil, build an army of other friends, and try to destroy the city. If that’s the case, you have to stop them, and you might even find a true friend along the way.

I absolutely adored How To Make A Friend! I can’t wait to read this one aloud to my nieces because I know the far-fetched story and the humor will have them completely hooked. It honestly reminded me of cartoons from the 60’s or 70’s, though those cartoons were generally missing a female lead with an interest in STEM. I also appreciate the fact that How To Make A Friend doesn’t feel like a book marketed to “girls in STEM”. It’s a fully fleshed out story with elements of STEM, social emotional learning, and lots of humor, making it a perfect read for everyone.

The illustrations by Olivia Aserr are wonderful and move the story along perfectly. Stephen Martin’s text reads almost like a handbook, which makes room in the illustrations for storytelling. The text and illustrations combine perfectly to create an almost cinematic experience.

Whether you’re looking for a book to help a child through a difficult friendship or to highlight failed first attempts, I would highly recommend How To Make A Friend. You can pick up a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Clarion Books for providing me with a copy of this fantastic book!

About The Author:

Stephen W. Martin is a writer on the shows Trash Truck and Bravest Warriors and the author of the picture books Charlotte and the Rock and Stewart’s Best Pen. He and his wife are on the run from their robot best friend in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @Stephen_W_M

About The Illustrator:

Olivia Aserr paints backgrounds for animation and also illustrates children’s books. She lives, swing dances, and creates in Los Angeles with her dog, Bonnibel. Telling fantastical and diverse stories is her passion.

Twitter: @oliviaaserr
Instagram: @oliviaaserrillustration

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New Release Round Up – August 10, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Tuesdays are my favorite because I get to shout about new releases with you all. So let’s get started!

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

The Girl With Big, Big Questions by Brittney Winn Lee, Illustrated by Jacob Souva

“”Why can’t people live on the moon?”

“Can I be president when I grow up?”

“What makes a person good?”

These are just some of the questions that bubble forth from one little girl with twinkling eyes and a curious mind. When the girl finds that her big questions make some people uncomfortable, she stops. But then she learns that her questions can solve problems and that asking questions is how we learn and grow.

Celebrate the spirit of curiosity and the joy of learning with this lively picture book about a persistent girl and her quest for knowledge.

From the author and illustrator of The Boy with Big, Big Feelings.”

Michelle Obama (Little People Big Dreams #62) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Illustrated by Mia Siane

“In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Michelle Obama, the iconic first lady, advocate, lawyer, and author.

Young Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a close-knit family. She loved school, achieving A’s, and worked hard to blaze trails at the universities of Princeton and Harvard. Then, at the beginning of her legal career, she met Barack Obama. As first lady, she used her platform to advocate for women and girls and continues to inspire many with her powerful voice, and best-selling books. This empowering book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the inspiring woman’s life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.”

Be Strong by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Jen Hill

“A picture book about finding strength in unlikely places from the team behind the hugely popular New York Times bestseller Be Kind.

When her gym class must face the school rock-climbing wall, Tanisha is discouraged. Her muscles are weak, and she knows she’ll never reach the top like Cayla.

But maybe strength is about more than just muscles.

With help from her family, Tanisha learns that by showing up, speaking up, and not giving up, she can be strong, too. And that people are the strongest when they work together and trust each other.

Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller has reunited with illustrator Jen Hill for Be Strong, another unforgettable story sure to inspire kids and adults alike.”

The First Blade of Sweetgrass by Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey, Illustrated by Nancy Baker

“In this Own Voices Native American picture book story, a modern Wabanaki girl is excited to accompany her grandmother for the first time to harvest sweetgrass for basket making.

Musquon must overcome her impatience while learning to distinguish sweetgrass from other salt marsh grasses, but slowly the spirit and peace of her surroundings speak to her, and she gathers sweetgrass as her ancestors have done for centuries, leaving the first blade she sees to grow for future generations. This sweet, authentic story from a Maliseet mother and her Passamaquoddy husband includes backmatter about traditional basket making and a Wabanaki glossary.”

A Smile by Raoul Follereau, Illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

“A smile costs nothing, but it’s worth so much. Did you ever think about the power of a smile? With one short poem, French writer and humanitarian Raoul Follereau spoke to the world about the value of this fundamentally human expression. Since 1920 “A Smile” has been translated into many languages around the world. In this new English translation, framed for a small child’s point of view, the poignant words accompany an intergenerational story in pictures about two children and the many lives affected by their infectious smiles. A dejected street musician, A lonely businessman, an exhausted teacher―all are lifted up by the generosity, compassion, and friendship inspired by a simple smile. Created in paper collage by internationally award-winning illustrator Hoda Hadadi, the illustrations burst with joyful emotions that will infect the hearts of every reader.”

One, Two, Grandma Loves You by Shelly Becker, Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

“From acclaimed creators Shelly Becker and Dan Yaccarino comes this joyful picture book about a girl and her grandmother as they plan the perfect visit together

One, two, Grandma loves you.
Three, four, visit more.
Five, six, precious pics.
Seven, eight, mark the date.

A young girl and her grandmother count up to their next visit and then do all of their favorite things together in this joyful rhyming picture book.”

Middle Grade

The Other Side Of Luck by Ginger Johnson

“Ever since her mother’s death, Princess Una has suffered through years of loneliness in the royal palace, where girls are treated as an afterthought. She yearns for a different life but is unsure how to make anyone notice her. Then her father announces a special contest: Whoever finds the rare Silva Flower can present it to Una for her twelfth birthday and receive a reward. Frustrated by her father’s grand but empty gesture, Una decides to take her fate into her own hands.

Julien, a young pauper, has tried his whole life to make something of nothing, alongside his hardworking Baba. When Baba is arrested by terrifying debt collectors, Julien’s only hope to save his father is to win the palace contest–to find the elusive Silva Flower. Little does he know that Una has decided to embark on a journey to find the prize, as well. As Una and Julien search for the flower, their destinies intertwine and offer a reward greater than anything either could ever hope for: the feeling of belonging.”

Falling Stars by Shirley Reva Vernick

“Based on Japan’s Project Fu-Go during the last stretch of WWII, Falling Stars uses the alternating perspectives of Nellie and Tamiko to depict the back and forth tragedies of two countries at war. Although worlds apart, both girls understand that in a time of uncertainty and fear, blind hate for the “enemy” leaves a heavier heart and more debris. Falling Stars weaves real history with unforgettable characters who must deal with war and hatred right alongside friendship, first love, and family.”

The Renegade Reporters by Elissa Brent Weissman

“When Ash gets kicked off her school’s news show, she becomes a renegade reporter–and makes a big discovery about technology and her fellow students’ privacy.

Ash and her friends are reporters. They were ready to lead their school news show, The News at Nine, sponsored by Van Ness Media, when an unfortunate incident involving a dancing teacher, an irresponsibly reported story, and a viral video got them kicked off the crew. So Ash, Maya, and Brielle decide to start their own news show, The Underground News. And soon they stumble on a big lead: Van Ness Media, the educational company that provides their school’s software, has been gathering data from all the kids at school. Their drawings, their journals, even their movements are being recorded and cataloged by Van Ness Media. But why? Ash and her friends are determined to learn the truth and report it.”

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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Author Spotlight: Liz Trudeau

It’s time for another Author Spotlight, and I am so excited to be chatting with Liz Trudeau about her debut book today. Liz is a children’s book author based in San Francisco where she spends her days with her husband and two children. Today we are discussing her debut book, Brilliantly Dyslexic, a biography collection sharing the stories of over 20 individuals with dyslexia.

I am so excited to talk to you about your upcoming book, Brilliantly Dyslexic, but before we get into that, I was wondering if you might want to introduce yourself to our readers? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Liz Trudeau and I’m the creator of Brilliantly Dyslexic. As you mentioned, I live in San Francisco with my family. I’m not dyslexic myself but 50% of my household is – my husband and my daughter. I’ve been working on this book for about 2 years, along with my daughter, Quinn. She’s the creative director.

What exactly is Brilliantly Dyslexic? And, who is it for?

Brilliantly Dyslexic is a children’s book packed with over 20 stories about incredible dyslexics from engineers to entrepreneurs to artists. In this unique book, dyslexic children see glimmers of themselves reflected in each story – their dreams, worries, challenges, and talents. Classmates, parents, and teachers are empowered with a better understanding of dyslexia and an appreciation that everyone has different struggles and strengths. I feel quite strongly that this book is not just for dyslexic children. Dyslexia is incredibly common, and we need to normalize it. A children’s book of engaging stories is the perfect place to start. 

What inspired you to write Brilliantly Dyslexic? What drew you to the dyslexic experience?

The book actually started as a way to help my daughter, Quinn. She is dyslexic, and was really struggling with seeing herself as measuring up. She was having a great deal of difficulty with reading and writing, and she would naturally draw comparisons to her classmates. She noticed that other children were doing things that she couldn’t, and it felt awful, even with very supportive teachers. I began sharing examples of individuals with dyslexia to build her confidence. When I couldn’t find a book, I started writing myself. 

Well, it’s outstanding to have that kind of representation in a children’s book. I really don’t see dyslexia talked about often in children’s books so it’s really great for those kids to be able to see themselves in Brilliantly Dyslexic.

We’ve gotten such great feedback from parents, who are looking for this just like we were, but also from teachers. Because even if something doesn’t affect your child or somebody you know personally, it’s about a community and finding your place and understanding each other. Dyslexia affects about 20% of kids, so it’s fairly common. It’s the most common reason that children are receiving special education support. All kids need to know about it.

We’ve even had some of the test group parents who’ve been reading the stories from the beginning, who are parents of typical or non- dyslexic kids and their kids loved the stories because they felt like all kids struggle with something. And so, while the stories didn’t focus on their personal struggle, they could relate. We need stories about struggle that show that it’s overcome able. So while it’s about dyslexia, it’s not just about dyslexia.

What was the research process like for this book? Did you have to do a lot of research on every single subject?

It started as internet research, because the book started just as a binder of stories just for my daughter. I realized other people must need this when I shared it with some people and they said “Oh, my gosh, you have to turn this into a book!” And so that’s what we did. 

The initial stories were based on what I could piece together with a lot of internet research. Because it’s not just; Who are they? What did they do? I really wanted to key into Who is this person? And what was their childhood like? How were they talking about their story? Some stories don’t even mention dyslexia, because I never found that person used the word. I felt really strongly about having a story that really felt true to the person it was about. 

Those were the initial stories and once I decided I was really going to actually make it into a book, not just a binder, I completely rewrote the stories. I reached out to the people, and many agreed to interviews.

So then I have to ask, Who was your favorite subject to write about?

That’s really hard because I fell in love with every story while I was writing it. I don’t think I can choose a favorite. Each person’s story was quite unique, and, frankly, it was an incredible privilege to hear people’s stories.

You mentioned that you’re taking a non-traditional publishing route. So I was just kind of curious. What made you go that route? And how has that experience been for you? 

For me the choice was really about; How do I want to spend my time? Where do I want to put my effort? And how much control do I want over the process? For me non-traditional publishing allows me to make this thing and get it out into the world as quickly as possible with the level of quality that I feel really committed to.

But the non- traditional route is a ton of work. I get up every day at just before five, and I work on the book from five to seven. Then I have my family life and my “real” job. It’s a ton of work: writing on the book, working on Kickstarter videos, working on building email lists, but it’s work that I’m excited about.

That actually leads brilliantly into my next question, which is how can we support Brilliantly Dyslexic and ensure that it is a successful launch?

Yes! Preorders are available now! Visit our site for the details.

Yes absolutely! I am so excited for Brilliantly Dyslexic, but I have to ask is this going to be a standalone title? Or do you see a series in your future?

That’s a great question. And there are lots more stories out there to tell. If people find it helpful, there certainly could be number two. I’ve also had quite a few people ask about other learning differences, so that’s a possibility in the future. We’ll see.

Thank you so much for chatting with me about Brilliantly Dyslexic today Liz! I’m going to preorder my copy right now!

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