A different sort of post today…

To be honest, I’ve been putting this post off all week. The truth is, as much as I loathe to admit it, it’s time for a hiatus. Between working the day job, writing, reviewing, blogging, and parenting a toddler, I’ve spread myself too thin over the last few weeks. I’m feeling the burnout, and I need to step back and give myself some time and space to rest.

I’m planning on taking the month of November off, but Mutually Inclusive will be back up and running in December to talk about all things year-end and holiday related.

Author Spotlight: An Interview with Jeanne Walker Harvey

It’s been a while, but it’s time for another Author Spotlight. Today I am chatting with the very talented Jeanne Walker Harvey about her latest picture book biography, Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head.


Jeanne Walker Harvey has had many jobs, ranging from working as a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney for high-tech companies to a writer of magazine articles to a teacher of Language Arts and writing workshops at a public middle school. She has also been a longtime docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines and My Hands Sing the BluesRomare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. Jeanne studied literature and psychology at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at JeanneHarvey.com and on Twitter @JeanneWHarvey.

Jeanne, Welcome to Mutually Inclusive! I’m so excited to have you here today! I’m a big fan of your picture book biographies. In fact, I recently used Ablaze With Color as a mentor text in my own writing. But before I start rambling on about how amazing picture book biographies are, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m really excited to be here too! I’m a big fan of your blog and look forward to reading your reviews of inclusive children’s books which are so important to highlight. And thanks ever so much for your kind words! I’m flattered that you used our Ablaze with Color book as a mentor text in your own writing.

As you said, I’m an author primarily of picture book biographies of creative people. I’ve worn many job hats ranging from roller coaster operator to software licensing attorney to middle school language arts teacher. But my favorite job is the one I’ve always dreamed to be and get to do now – a children’s book author.

I’m always fascinated by the way different subjects speak to different authors, especially when it comes to picture book biographies. What was it about Edith Head that made you want to write Dressing Up The Stars?

When I was growing up in Southern California, my mom and I always watched the Academy Awards presentation on TV and vied to see who could spot Edith Head first. She was so distinctive with her blunt haircut, dark round glasses and always a gorgeous dress that she had designed for herself. I’ve always been drawn to the wonderful costumes in those fabulous Hollywood movies. And often Edith Head’s name would be on the credits. When I began researching her, I was even more amazed to learn that she won eight Academy Awards, more than any other woman including actresses. And she was nominated for Oscars thirty-five times!  Not only was she talented and creative, but she was also quite the role model as she was the first woman to head a major Hollywood costume department at Paramount Studios.

Title: Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published: September 20, 2022
Publisher: Beach Lane (Simon & Schuster)
Format: Picture Book

I’d love to hear about the research process! How long did your research take? Did it take you to any fun or unexpected locations? Did you get to see any of Edith’s designs in person?

What great questions! I think I would compare my research process to diving into the deep end of a pool full of whatever I can find about the person. I tend to splash around a lot not knowing yet how the story will call to me. As you know, the goal of writing a picture book biography is not to be an encyclopedia recap of their life. Instead, I’m always looking for that throughline, that essence of the person and their challenges and inspirations. I tend to circle back to my drafts over the years. And I actually did work on this book for quite a long time which was a pleasure because it meant I had to watch more of the classic movies. I loved reading Edith Head’s first person account in her autobiography, the Dress Doctor, and learning about her early years growing up in the desert near mining camps where her stepfather worked. Without siblings or friends nearby, Edith used her imagination as a companion and even dressed up her pets, desert animals and cactus. I was excited to read about her childhood recollections because that conjured up such different images than the lifestyle of the famous woman entrenched in a busy Hollywood life.

And yes, I’ve been lucky to see some of Edith Head’s wonderful designs in person. I frequent as many fashion exhibits at museums as I can find. I sewed a bit in high school and so I admire the details of the costumes that one can only see up close. I just learned that the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is hosting a retrospective of Edith Head’s costume from June to September of 2024 with costumes spanning six decades of her career. I hope to visit! It’s really quite amazing that Edith Head has over 400 films to her credit! And last year, I attended the grand opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles and saw some of Edith Head’s original sketches which are amazing.

I know for me, when I’m “finished” researching a subject, I feel like I’m just swimming in facts about their life, and my first draft is always a bit encyclopedic. But, you always bring so much life and imagery to the page with your prose. How do you go from research to “paper”?

Thanks so very much for saying that I bring life and imagery to the page with my prose!  That’s really lovely. Sometimes I feel I agonize about every word choice in a picture book. I feel that every word is so valuable and I want to be sure that whatever I write is not something that will be conveyed in the illustrations. As you know, the illustrations and text of a picture book are equally important and should together lift the story higher.

That’s so funny that you also used the term “swimming in facts.” You are spot on about the volume of research. And yes, my early drafts are much too wordy and too fact heavy.  One technique that helps me to winnow down a draft is to move such fact centric wording to the right of the text, surround it with brackets, and preface it with “Illus:”.  These illustrator’s notes often don’t stay in the manuscript, but somehow it helps me to not just delete these gems of research right off the bat.

You’re a docent for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, so you know a thing or two about art. So how much do you love the wonderful illustrations by Diana Toledano?

I absolutely love Diana’s illustrations for Dressing Up the Stars! As you said, they are truly wonderful – so much whimsy and creativity. It’s amazing how perfectly Diana captures Edith Head not only as a child in the desert, but also Edith head as a young struggling, yet persistent, costume designer who overcomes numerous challenges. I just want to step inside the book and join Edith in her adventures! I also enjoy looking at all the details in Diana’s illustrations. She’s incorporated such unique patterns and designs in everything which so aptly reflects Edith’s work with cloth fabrics and designs. And I think because I am such a huge fan of modern art, I so value the incredible work of the illustrators of my books, such as Diana.

I notice you have fantastic activity kits for not just Dressing Up The Stars, but all of your books, on your website. Does your past experience as a teacher influence your choice to provide these free resources to parents and teachers?

I appreciate your bringing up the activity kits connected to my books, and I’m so glad you like them. I want to credit the creative team at Blue Slip Media that designed these activity kits. Both when I taught Language Arts and volunteered as a school docent for the San Francisco Museum of Art, I loved activities and projects tied to books and artwork. Children are so incredibly creative, and I think that the topics of the books and art resonate more with them when they make their own personal connections.

You had two picture books published in 2022, so what’s next for you? Any exciting news for 2023?

It’s been very exciting to have Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas published at the beginning of the year, and now Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head published also in 2022. I just feel incredibly fortunate! And to work with such an incredible team, beginning with my editor Andrea Welch, at Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, and everyone else on the team has been so wonderful. And yes, I’m working on another picture book biography of another female artist which I hope will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

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

I’ve been thinking about how Edith Head sought to design costumes to help the actors transform themselves into their roles. I remember when I worked as a roller coaster operator and all of us, female and male, wore mechanics’ overalls. I loved those overalls – comfortable thick cotton, lots of pockets, roomy, and with a snazzy stripe down the side. And somehow when I slipped on those overalls, I felt confident in my role as a ride operator. I wasn’t an actor, but I still was playing a role for the amusement park public and my uniform helped me. As Edith Head said, “What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not.” 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions, Jeanne! I loved Dressing Up The Stars and I’m so grateful to have you on the blog.

Oh, thanks so much! I truly loved answering your thoughtful questions and having the opportunity to be part of your Mutually Inclusive blog. Thank you and good luck with your writing endeavors! I look forward to hearing more about them.


Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Diana Toledano will be officially released tomorrow, but here are a few ways to celebrate with Jeanne and Diana today!

  • Don’t miss my giveaway on Instagram for your chance to win a copy of Dressing Up The Stars.
  • Be sure to keep an eye on kidlit.tv today for the debut of the book trailer!
  • You can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.
  • You can request copies of Dressing Up The Stars at your local library to ensure your community has access to this wonderful story.

You Might Also Like:

Review: Anni Dreams of Biryani  

Today I want to share a scrumptious picture book with you all! Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra and Chaaya Prabhat is a wonderful picture book all about persistence and learning a new skill.

Title: Anni Dreams of Biryani
Author: Namita Moolani Mehra
Illustrator: Chaaya Prabhat
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: September 1, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Anni Dreams of Biryani follows a young girl named Anni who lives across the street from a cafe with the best biryani in Little India. The biryani is made by the chef and owner of the cafe, who everyone calls Uncle, and Anni and her family eat it every Friday. Anni dreams of opening her own cafe one day and making biryani as tasty as Uncle’s, so she begins to ask the grumpy chef TONS of questions about his recipe.

I don’t know about you, but I love the combination of a curmudgeon adult and a persistent child. There’s nothing more heartwarming to me than when a kid lovingly pesters the people around them. And that’s just what Anni does, until one day, Uncle tells her she should stop talking about biryani so much and just cook it.

Anni works hard, and she makes some delicious meals, but her biryani just isn’t as good as Uncle’s. When she asks Uncle to look over her recipe, he tells her he’s too busy, and Anni’s dreams are almost crushed. I don’t want to give it all away, so I will just say that Uncle has a surprise in store for Anni.

If reading about all the tasty food makes your mouth water, then Chaaya Prabhat’s beautiful illustrations certainly will too. Each page of Anni’s story is filled with bold beautiful illustrations, and of course, lots of food.

Anni Dreams of Biryani officially releases on September 1, 2022, but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.

Thank you so much to Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for sharing a review copy of this wonderful book!

About The Author:

Namita Moolani Mehra is a children’s book author, cookbook author, and a food and parenting writer. She wrote the children’s cookbooks The Magic Spicebox and Superfoods for SuperheroesAnni Dreams of Biryani is her first picture book. Namita also runs a social-impact business called Indian Spicebox that helps fund hot meals for underprivileged children in India. Namita was born in a remote village in Nigeria, grew up in the UK and India, studied in Chicago, and worked in New York for over a decade. She currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. Learn more at http://www.namitamehra.com, and follow her on Twitter @namstwit.

About The Illustrator:

Chaaya Prabhat is an illustrator based in Chennai, India. She holds an MA in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She has illustrated several picture books, including Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers, written by Rajani LaRocca. In addition to her books, Chaaya has created illustrations for numerous clients, such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, the Obama Foundation, the Times of India, and more. Learn more at http://www.chaayaprabhat.com, and follow her on Instagram @Chaaya23.

You Might Also Like:

15 Picture Books For Back To School

Where did the summer go? I’ve been so busy this summer that it seems to have flown by! I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that it’s time for Back to School posts already, but I do have fifteen wonderful picture books for the Back to School season to share with you today!

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.

Tomatoes in My Lunchbox by Costantia Manoli, Illustrated by Magdalena Mora

“A moving picture book from a debut author about the first day of school, layered with themes about the immigrant experience and the universal experience of feeling out of place.

A child, newly arrived in another country, feels displaced, lonely, and a little scared on her first day of school. Her name doesn’t sound the way she’s used to hearing it. She knows she doesn’t fit in. And when she eats her whole tomato for lunch, she can feel her classmates observing her―and not quite understanding her.

But sometimes all it takes is one friend, one connection, to bring two worlds together, and gradually the girl, her tomato, and her full name, start to feel at home with her new friends and community.”

This Is a School by John Schu, Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison

“A moving celebration of school and all it may signify: work and play, creativity and trust, and a supportive community that extends beyond walls

A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. John Schu, a librarian and former ambassador of school libraries for Scholastic, crafts a loving letter to schools and the people that make up the communities within in a picture book debut beautifully illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.”

That’s Not My Name! by Anoosha Syed

“A debut picture book about loving your name, finding your voice, and standing up for yourself from the critically acclaimed illustrator of Bilal Cooks Daal and I Am Perfectly Designed.

Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Maybe then she’d be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily.

Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly–even if it takes a hundred tries.”

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

“A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown.

The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. It sits and shines behind your head–like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.
Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes’s empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s illustrations exude joy.”

The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

“A confident little Black girl has a fantastic first day of school in this companion to the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten.

MJ is more than ready for her first day of kindergarten! With her hair freshly braided and her mom’s special tiara on her head, she knows she’s going to rock kindergarten. But the tiara isn’t just for show—it also reminds her of all the good things she brings to the classroom, stuff like her kindness, friendliness, and impressive soccer skills, too! Like The King of Kindergarten, this is the perfect book to reinforce back-to-school excitement and build confidence in the newest students.”

I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick, Illustrated by Eric Wilkerson

“An inspiring story of identity and self-esteem from celebrated athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick.

When Colin Kaepernick was five years old, he was given a simple school assignment: draw a picture of yourself and your family. What young Colin does next with his brown crayon changes his whole world and worldview, providing a valuable lesson on embracing and celebrating his Black identity through the power of radical self-love and knowing your inherent worth.

I Color Myself Different is a joyful ode to Black and Brown lives based on real events in young Colin’s life that is perfect for every reader’s bookshelf. It’s a story of self-discovery, staying true to one’s self, and advocating for change… even when you’re very little!”

Sam’s Super Seats by Keah Brown, Illustrated by Sharee Miller

A joyful picture book about a disabled girl with cerebral palsy who goes back-to-school shopping with her best friends, from #DisabledandCute creator and The Pretty One author Keah Brown.

Sam loves herself, learning, and making her family and friends laugh. She also loves comfortable seats, including a graceful couch named after Misty Copeland and Laney, the sassy backseat of Mom’s car.

After a busy morning of rest, Sam and her friends try on cute outfits at the mall and imagine what the new school year might bring. It’s not until Sam feels tired, and the new seat she meets isn’t so super, that she discovers what might be her best idea all day.

With hilarious, charming text by Keah Brown and exuberant illustrations by Sharee Miller, Sam’s Super Seats celebrates the beauty of self-love, the power of rest, and the necessity of accessible seating in public spaces. Includes narrative description of art for those with low/limited vision.”

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Amy Wu does her best to make her new classmate feel welcome in this warmhearted and playfully illustrated follow-up picture book to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon.

Amy’s class has a new student from China! Amy tries hard to make Lin feel included, but she can’t draw him out of his shell. Then she sees Lin chattering happily in Chinese with his family. The gears in her head start to turn, and a plan blossoms. Step one: invite Lin to her dumpling party…

​With a little help from her grandma and a shiny new banner, can Amy give Lin the warmest welcome?”

The New Kid Welcome/Welcome the New Kid by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Nicole Miles

When read forward and backwards, this clever and thought-provoking flip-it story demonstrates that there’s more than one way to think about someone who might seem “different” at first glance.

It
isn’t
easy to say hi to someone new,
is
it?

Told from the perspective of a student, The New Kid Welcome (or Welcome the New Kid when flipped) presents readers with two versions of what happens when a “new kid” joins the protagonist’s school. 

In the first half of the book, the student tells us that they don’t want to be nice to the new kid or welcome them into their group simply because they seem different. In the second half, the same lines of the story are placed in reverse order. When read this way, the student encourages us to say hello to someone new, saying they will share their table and snacks.
 
With a simple flip of the story, feelings of intolerance give way to those of inclusion and kindness. Precise, thoughtful text and inclusive illustrations combine to create a perfect tool for promoting acceptance and a kinder world.”

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Get ready to go back to school with this inclusive, empathetic story that will help kids new to the classroom transform from timid caterpillars into beautiful butterflies who love exactly who they are!

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. Perfect for readers of Alma and How She Got Her Name and The King of Kindergarten.

All Are Neighbors by Alexandra Penfold, Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

“When a new family moves in, the whole neighborhood comes together to celebrate their diverse community in this uplifting new book from the bestselling creators of All Are Welcome!

Let’s go walking down our street.
Friends and neighbors here to greet.
There are oh so many folks to meet.
We all are neighbors here.

Moving to a new place can be hard, but when your neighbors welcome you with open arms, there are so many things to discover and celebrate. Come along with the kids from the bestsellers of All Are Welcome and Big Feelings as they introduce the new kid to a community where everyone has a place and is loved and appreciated—no matter what.”

Can Sophie Change the World? by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Illustrated by Aura Lewis

This is Pay It Forward meets the #BeKind movement, as seen through a Jewish principle.

It’s Grandpop’s birthday, and all he wants is one little thing: for Sophie to change the world.

He wants Sophie to do a mitzvah—something kind for others. But what exactly does that mean?

As Sophie shares, teaches, helps her friends, takes care of birds, and picks up litter, she wonders which of these acts, if any, might change the world. By performing this sequence of poignant mitzvahs with an open heart, unending empathy, and a big imagination, Sophie’s about to discover that what sounds like an impossible task just might be the best way to live life.

In this exploration of an essential part of Jewish traditional teaching, Sophie’s efforts to grant Grandpop’s wish show that the smallest acts of kindness are what truly change the world.”

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules! by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

When a sassy drummer starts kindergarten, the rules of school cramp her style. What’s a young rock star to do?

When Lupe Lopez struts through the doors of Hector P. Garcia Elementary in sunglasses with two taped-up Number 2 pencils—drumsticks, of course—poking from her pocket, her confidence is off the charts. All day, Lupe drums on desks, tables, and chairs while Ms. Quintanilla reminds her of school rules. Lupe has her own rules: 1) Don’t listen to anyone. 2) Make lots of noise. ¡Rataplán! 3) Have fans, not friends. But with her new teacher less than starstruck, and fans hard to come by, Lupe wonders if having friends is such a bad idea after all. Can it be that true star power means knowing when to share the spotlight? With its spirited illustrations and a simple text threaded through with Spanish words, this picture book is proof positive that being a strong girl moving to her own beat doesn’t have to mean pushing others away.”

Lunch from Home by Joshua David Stein, Illustrated by Jing Li

What happens when a child’s favorite packed lunch is met with disparaging comments at the school lunch table?

In a classroom of sandwiches, four students stand out with their homemade, culturally-specific lunches. But before they can dig in and enjoy their favorite foods, their lunches are spoiled by scrunched noses and disgusted reactions from their sandwich-eating classmates.
 
Follow each of the four students as they learn to cope with their first “lunch box moments” in this picture book that encourages empathy and inspires all readers to stand up for their food! Inspired by the “lunch box moments” of four acclaimed chefs, Ray Garcia, Preeti Mistry, Mina Park, and Niki Russ Federman, this heartwarming story reminds us all that one’s food is a reflection of self and an authentic celebration of culture.”

School Is Wherever I Am by Ellie Peterson

“From Ellie Peterson, the author-illustrator of How to Hug A Pufferfish comes a timely new picture book about learning, exploration, and the ever-expanding definition of school.

Is school only one place?
Are there other classrooms?
Different teachers?
New Lessons?

In this charming, thoughtful picture book, author-illustrator Ellie Peterson explores learning, adventure, and the thousands of the things you can discover outside of a classroom―about the world, about your family, about yourself. Because school is truly wherever you are.”

I hope these titles bring a bit of fun to a time that can be stressful for both parents and little ones. Here’s hoping your Back to School goes smoothly, and be sure to share your favorite Back to School titles in the comments below!

You Might Also Like:

New Release Round Up: July 26, 2022

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means…new releases!

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

Old Friends by Margaret Aitken, Illustrated by Lenny Wen

Paired with colorful and vibrant art by Lenny Wen, Old Friends by Margaret Aitken is an inventive and heartfelt debut picture book that celebrates found family, caregiving, and the value of intergenerational friendships.

Marjorie wants a friend who loves the same things she does: baking shows, knitting, and gardening. Someone like Granny. So with a sprinkle of flour in her hair and a spritz of lavender perfume, Marjorie goes undercover to the local Senior Citizens Group. It all goes well until the Cha-Cha-Cha starts and her cardigan camouflage goes sideways. By being true to herself, Marjorie learns that friends can be of any age if you look in the right places.”

old friends

 

I Am Amazing! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young, Illustrated by Nneka Myers

From the authors and illustrator of I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! comes another story about the always-inspiring Ayaan!

Amazing Ayaan loves being a superhero–he helps a friend who has fallen on the playground, gives pushes on the swings, and offers a boost to those who need it at the rock wall.

But his fun is ruined when two of his friends tell him he doesn’t seem like a superhero, and no one will take him seriously. But Ayaan doesn’t completely lose his confidence. When he gets home from school, his Dad reminds him that anybody can be a superhero if you are helping others. And just like that, Ayaan dons his cape and mask. Amazing Ayaan to the rescue!”

 

Chapter Books

Off-Key (Catalina Incognito #3) by Jennifer Torres, Illustrated by Gladys Jose

One Day at a Time meets Mindy Kim in this third book in a charming new chapter book series about Catalina Castaneda, a Mexican American girl with a magical sewing kit who wants to start a band.

Catalina can’t wait for the upcoming school talent show! Along with some of her classmates, they decide to rock out and form a band for the big day. But Catalina has some…specific ideas on how the band should look and sound. Can Catalina learn to be part of the band, or will she find herself working on a solo act?”

Middle Grade

Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena by Julie C. Dao

A rollicking, action-packed adventure of laser tag and fierce sibling rivalries, Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena is the first book in a commerical middle grade fantasy series by Julie C. Dao.

Clip and Sadie Chu couldn’t be more different. Popular, athletic Clip wants to become his school’s first seventh-grade soccer captain, while brainy star student Sadie is determined to prove that she can do anything her boastful brother can.

They have just one thing in common: they love laser tag. Like, really love it.

When the Blackwood Gaming Arena comes to town, bringing virtual reality headsets and state-of-the-art courses, they couldn’t be more excited―or competitive. But then a mysterious figure appears and claims to be a part of the game, forcing the Chus and their friends to save themselves from a sinister force lurking inside the simulation. Together, they must fight their way through epic battlegrounds that will test their speed, skills, and smarts . . . but will Clip and Sadie learn that they’re far better off working together than competing for the ultimate victory?”

Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow

“Twelve-year-old Reggie Wong has a quick temper that’s always getting him into trouble at school, while at home his mom struggles to get out of bed–let alone leave their apartment. That’s why Reggie desperately needs his dad back. One problem: His dad is dead.

Enter the Conductor, a peculiar man who promises to make Reggie’s wish to see his father just one more time come true. All he must do is climb aboard the man’s subway train, which leaves St. Patrick Station promptly at midnight. Desperate to have his dad and happy family back, Reggie takes him up on the offer, only to discover the train is filled with other children who have lost a loved one, just like him. As he speeds through the wild, uncharted tunnels beneath the city, Reggie meets Chantal, an annoyingly peppy girl obsessed with lists and psychiatry, and Gareth, his arch-nemesis and bully since the fourth grade. As each kid steps off the train and into the arms of their lost family member, Reggie can’t believe his impossible wish is about to come true.

But when Reggie comes to the end of the line and sees his father waiting for him, he soon discovers all is not as it seems. He and his unlikely new friends have been ensnared in a deadly trap. Together, the three must find a way to foil the Conductor’s diabolical plot and find their way out of the underground subway where horrors worse than they have ever imagined lurk around every corner. The rats of St. Patrick Station have taken over and they’re absolutely ravenous.”

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!

Which titles have you been looking forward to the most? Be sure to share in the comments below!

You Might Also Like:

Review: The Rare, Tiny Flower

The author of And The People Stayed Home is back at it again with another picture book! The Rare, Tiny Flower by Kitty O’Meara and Quim Torres is a beautiful picture book all about perspective that can help teach young readers about valuing the experiences of others.

Title: The Rare, Tiny Flower
Author: Kitty O’Meara
Illustrator: Quim Torres
Published: June 28, 2022
Publisher: TRA Publishing
Format: Picture Book

The Rare, Tiny Flower begins with a forest and a bird that drops a seed. The seed grows a flower that no one can seem to agree on. Some believe it is blue, while others see red. Everyone weighs in and the issue escalates. Experts are consulted, but no one can come to an agreement. But thankfully, as tensions mount to a breaking point, a young girl thoughtfully shares the lesson of perspective with everyone.

I love the message of valuing others’ perspectives, and it seems especially necessary in today’s environment. I know the idea itself isn’t revolutionary, but with division all around, it feels like an act of resistance to genuinely listen when the people around us share their thoughts and experiences.

The illustrations are delightful, and I particularly appreciate the way the colors slowly become more and more alive with each page turn. I also love the way the end pages draw attention to this detail, but I’m always a sucker for end pages.

You can find The Rare, Tiny Flower wherever picture 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 TRA Publishing for sharing a review copy of The Rare, Tiny Flower with me!

About The Author:

Kitty O’Meara lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Phillip Hagedorn, their five rescue dogs, two cats, gardens, and books. Formerly a middle school writing and literature teacher and hospital and hospice chaplain, she is currently a spiritual director and has been a lifelong writer and artist. She has been called “the poet laureate of the pandemic” based on her wildly popular, widely circulated, and hopeful poem about the Covid-19 pandemic. That poem is illustrated and presented in book form in the bestselling And the People Stayed Home, published by Tra Publishing.

About The Illustrator:

Quim Torres is an award-winning illustrator and author based in Barcelona. He has illustrated several children’s books, including the recent Tra Publishing titles Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker and The Rare, Tiny Flower by Kitty O’Meara (both 2021). He has studied art as healing and Gestalt psychology, and he teaches workshops in which drawing becomes a means of self-discovery. He believes that people are made of stories, and he hopes his drawings inspire others to share their tales. He feels that art is a healing force.

You Might Also Like:

Review: The Little House of Hope

The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings and Raúl Colón brings young readers something we could all use a bit more of these days — hope. Following an immigrant family as they settle into their home, this beautiful picture book also highlights the power of community care.

Title: The Little House of Hope
Author: Terry Catasús Jennings
Illustrator: Raúl Colón
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Published: June 14, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Young readers meet Esperanza and her family as they arrive in the United States from their home in Cuba. They all do their part to make their small house a home. As each family member works hard to establish their place in their new community, they also support other immigrant families by offering them space in their home. Everyone works together, sharing responsibilities as well as music, laughter, and friendship. As families come and go, Esperanza’s family’s home remains a safe space for families to call their home as they find their way in a new community.

Raúl Colón’s stunning illustrations pair perfectly with Terry Catasús Jennings’ wonderful story. You can feel the joy and hope of this community on every page.

Terry Catasús Jennings’ Author’s Note shares that this book was written in anger; her reply to a realtor who said they didn’t rent to Hispanics, citing problematic stereotypes. It is clear to anyone who reads The Little House of Hope how much love Jennings has for the country that took her family in years ago and how much hope she has for the nation.

On a personal note, The Little House of Hope reminded me about the power we have in our own communities. During times like these, when bad news only seems to be getting worse, it’s so easy to feel hopeless. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have the power to make lasting changes in our world. But when we focus on the ways we can help support one another in our communities, lifting each other up however we can, we impact the lives of those around us in the most meaningful way. Whether it’s a cot in our garage, the extra vegetables from our garden, or an offer to babysit for a neighbor, these small acts of generosity can have huge impacts on our community. We all have the power to spread hope.

Be sure to grab your copy of The Little House of Hope, available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Terry Catasús Jennings and Neal Porter Books for sharing this beautiful book with me. But most of all thank you for helping me hold onto my hope.

About The Author:

Terry Catasús Jennings and her family emigrated from Cuba in 1961. The Little House of Hope is inspired by her own experience. She is the author of the Definitely Dominguita chapter book series, The Women’s Liberation Movement1960-1990, and Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist and Civil Rights Activist. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Newsday, and Ranger Rick. She is also an active member of The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC and SCBWI. Terry lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

About The Illustrator:

Raúl Colón is the recipient of the 2021 Eric Carle Honor. He is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books, including Draw! an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the International Latino Book Award; Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops; Imagine! an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a Bookpage Best Book; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Angela’s Christmas by Frank McCourt. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

You Might Also Like:

40 Books to Help Your Family Read Queer All Year

Pride Month is officially over, and you might have noticed that I didn’t post a booklist like the one I did last year. That’s because I’m doing something a bit different this year.

With the increased attacks on LGBTQ+ books it is more important than ever to ensure we are reading and supporting queer content and queer creators year round. So I am sharing a booklist today, on the day AFTER Pride, to encourage you all to continue doing just that. These are all titles that released after last year’s booklist was published, and a few upcoming releases I have my eye on. I also expanded the selection to a wider audience by including book from multiple genres and age groups this year.

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

Board Books

The Pronoun Book by Chris Ayala-Kronos, Illustrated by Melita Tirado

They, she, he . . . all together, us! Join along in this vibrant board book’s joyful celebration of people and their pronouns.

How do you know what someone wants to be called? Ask!

This lively board book features eye-catching illustrations of a diverse cast of people and simple text that introduces their pronouns, perfect for readers both young and old.”

Being You: A First Conversation About Gender (First Conversations) by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, Illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier

Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.”

Bye Bye, Binary by Eric Geron, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Fans of Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz will love this board book about gender expression and being true to oneself.

“Is it a boy? Or a girl?” 

“WHAT’S IT TO YA?!”

Our little bundle of joy has arrived—to dismantle gender norms!

A joyful baby refuses to conform to the gender binary and instead chooses toys, colors, and clothes that make them happy. This tongue-in-cheek board book is a perfect tool to encourage children to love what they love and is also a great baby shower gift for all soon-to-be-parents.”

Picture Books

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua is a touching picture book about friendship and the courage it takes to share your feelings.

Of all the kids in Violet’s class, only one leaves her speechless: Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh who races like the wind. If only they could adventure together! But every time Violet tries to tell Mira how she feels, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet is determined to tell Mira just how special she is.”

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

A little girl stays home with Mama when Mommy goes off on a work trip in this tender, inviting story that will resonate with every child who has missed a parent.

For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.”

Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale by Mark Ceilley and Rachel Smoka-Richardson, Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

A gay retelling of the classic fairy tale–a scrumptious love story featuring ungrateful stepsiblings, a bake-off, and a fairy godfather.

Cinderelliot is stuck at home taking care of his ungrateful stepsister and stepbrother. When Prince Samuel announces a kingdom-wide competition to join the royal staff as his baker, the stepsiblings insist that Cinderelliot bake their entries, leaving no time for he, himself, to compete. Fairy Godfather Ludwig appears and magically helps Cinderelliot bake his best chocolate cake, clean up, and get to the competition via limo. At the bake-off, Prince Samuel falls in love with Cinderelliot’s cake, but our hero has to run off as the clock strikes midnight, leaving behind his chef hat. The next day, Prince Samuel searches the kingdom for the owner of the hat and finds that it fits perfectly on Cinderelliot’s head. The prince is delighted to find not only his new baker but also the man of his dreams, and Cinderelliot creates a magnificent wedding cake–and the two live scrumptiously ever after.”

If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It by Lil Miss Hot Mess, Illustrated by Olga De Dios Ruiz

Strike a pose. Blow a kiss. Mouth the words. A fun, sing-along book with a drag twist that encourage kids to embrace all the playfulness of drag culture written by a founding member of Drag Queen Story Hour.

If you’re a drag queen and you know it, let it show by winking, shaking your bum, laughing real big, twirling around, and more! Join a cast of fabulous drag queens as you sing along to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in this playful celebration of expressing your brightest and boldest self. A perfect companion to The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish written by a board member of Drag Queen Story Hour.”

Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, Illustrated by Juana Medina

“This joyful picture-book homage to a day of community and inclusion—and to the joys of anticipation—is also a comprehensive history. With bright, buoyant illustrations and lyrical, age-appropriate rhyme modeled on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tackles difficult content such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS marches. On the night before Pride, families everywhere are preparing to partake. As one family packs snacks and makes signs, an older sibling shares the importance of the march with the newest member of the family. Reflecting on the day, the siblings agree that the best thing about Pride is getting to be yourself. Debut author Joanna McClintick and Pura Belpré Award–winning author-illustrator Juana Medina create a new classic that pays homage to the beauty of families of all compositions—and of all-inclusive love.”

Miss Rita, Mystery Reader by Sam Donovan and Kristen Wixted, Illustrated by Violet Tobacco

“Daddy is the Mystery Reader at Tori’s school today, and he’s coming dressed as Miss Rita! Tori helps Daddy gloss, glitter, glamour, and glimmer to get ready. It takes time―because sparkle is serious business!

Tori loves helping Daddy become Miss Rita. But will the other kids at school love Miss Rita like Tori does? Luckily, a last-minute idea helps Daddy and Tori find a way to make story time sparkle for everyone.

This heartwarming and relatable family story celebrates drag queens, reading, and self-acceptance, teaching every kid to let their sparkle shine! And it includes back matter providing an overview of drag performance.”

The Meaning Of Pride by Rosiee Thor, Illustrated by Sam Kirk

“Every year in June, we celebrate Pride! But what does Pride mean? And how do you celebrate it?

This inspiring celebration of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history and today shows young readers that there are many ways to show your pride and make a difference.

Whether you want to be an activist or an athlete, a poet or a politician, a designer or a drag queen, you can show your pride just by being you!”

The Rainbow Parade by Emily Neilson

A sweet and celebratory story of a family’s first time at Pride

One day in June, Mommy, Mama, and Emily take the train into the city to watch the Rainbow Parade. The three of them love how all the people in the street are so loud, proud, and colorful, but when Mama suggests they join the parade, Emily feels nervous. Standing on the sidewalkis one thing, but walking in the parade? Surely that takes something special.
 
This joyful and affirming picture book about a family’s first Pride parade, reminds all readers that sometimes pride takes practice and there’s no “one way” to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Big Wig by Jonathan Hillman, Illustrated by Levi Hastings

In the spirit of Julián Is a Mermaid, this irrepressible picture book celebrates drag kids, individuality, and self-confidence from the perspective of a fabulous wig!

When a child dresses in drag to compete in a neighborhood costume competition, he becomes B. B. Bedazzle! A key part of B.B. Bedazzle’s ensemble is a wig called Wig. Together they are an unstoppable drag queen team! But Wig feels inadequate compared to the other, bigger wigs. When Wig flies off B. B.’s head, she goes from kid to kid instilling confidence and inspiring dreams in those who wear her.”

Strong by Rob Kearney and Eric Rosswood, Illustrated by Nidhi Chanani

A fresh, charming picture book that shows there are lots of ways to be STRONG.

Rob dreams of becoming a champion strongman. He wants to flip huge tires, lug boulders, and haul trucks — and someday be the strongest man in the world! But he feels like he can’t fit in with his bright leggings, unicorn T-shirts, and rainbow-dyed hair. Will Rob find a way to step into his true self and be a champion?   

With bold illustrations and an engaging, informative text, Strong introduces readers to Rob Kearney and his journey from an athletic kid trying to find his place to the world’s first openly gay professional strongman.”

Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders by Sarah Prager, Illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday

For fans of Little Leaders and Pride comes a nonfiction picture book celebrating 14 incredible LGBTQ+ change makers and forward thinkers throughout history.

Kind Like Marsha celebrates 14 amazing and inspirational LGBTQ+ people throughout history. Fan favorites like Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, and Audre Lorde are joined by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, and more in this striking collection. With a focus on a positive personality attribute of each of the historical figures, readers will be encouraged to be brave like the Ugandan activist fighting for LGBTQ+ rights against all odds and to be kind like Marsha P. Johnson who took care of her trans community on the New York City streets.”

ABC Pride by Louie Stowell, Illustrated by Elly Barnes

A is for Acceptance! ! B is for Belonging! ! C is for Celebrate!

ABC Pride introduces little readers to the alphabet through the colorful world of Pride. Children can discover letters and words while also learning more about the LGBTQIA+ community and how to be inclusive.

Every letter of the alphabet is paired with fun, bold illustrations to support language learning, and a handy list of discussion points at the end gives adults the tools to spark further conversations and discussion. 
 
ABC Pride offers a simple yet powerful way to explain gender, identity, ability to children, while supporting diverse family units. Ideal for children to explore together with a caregiver, or in the classroom.”

Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, Illustrated by Daniel Sousa

An Indigenous legend about how four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, or Mahu, brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii, based on the Academy Award–contending short film.

In the 15th century, four Mahu sail from Tahiti to Hawaii and share their gifts of science and healing with the people of Waikiki. The islanders return this gift with a monument of four boulders in their honor, which the Mahu imbue with healing powers before disappearing.
 
As time passes, foreigners inhabit the island and the once-sacred stones are forgotten until the 1960s. Though the true story of these stones was not fully recovered, the power of the Mahu still calls out to those who pass by them at Waikiki Beach today.”

If You’re A Kid Like Gavin by Gavin Grimm and Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by J Yang

“When you’re a kid like Gavin Grimm, you know yourself best. And Gavin knew that he was a boy—even if others saw him as a girl. But when his school took away his right to something as simple as using the boy’s restroom, Gavin knew he had a big decision to make.

Because there are always more choices than the ones others give you.

Gavin chose to correct others when they got his pronouns wrong. He asked to be respected. He stood up for himself. Gavin proved that his school had violated his constitutional rights and had the Supreme Court uphold his case—bringing about a historic win for trans rights. There are many kids out there, some just like Gavin Grimm, and they might even be you.”

Patience, Patches! by Christy Mihaly, Illustrated by Sheryl Murray

A sweet-new sibling story, perfect for gifting to expecting parents, big siblings to-be, and dog-loving families everywhere

Patches the puppy is very good at waiting–or at least that’s what he thinks. But his patience is put to the test when his two moms arrive home with an unexpected bundle. Is it a new toy? No! It’s a new baby. Suddenly,  everything Patches wants to do takes a little bit longer. But patience, it turns out, is a lesson worth learning.”

My Shadow Is Purple by Scott Stuart

“My Dad has a shadow that’s blue as a berry, and my Mom’s is as pink as a blossoming cherry. There’s only those choices, a 2 or a 1. But mine is quite different, it’s both and it’s none. A heartwarming and inspiring book about being true to yourself and moving beyond the gender binary, by best-selling children’s book creator Scott Stuart.”

A Costume for Charly by C.K. Malone, Illustrated by Alejandra Barajas

“Halloween is always tricky for Charly, and this year they are determined to find a costume that showcases both the feminine and masculine halves of their identity. Digging through their costume box, they explore many fun costumes. Some are masc. Some are femme. Some are neither. But all are lacking. As trick-or-treating looms, they must think outside the box to find the perfect costume–something that will allow them to present as one hundred percent Charly.”

Bathe The Cat by Alice B. McGinty, Illustrated by David Roberts

“It’s cleaning day, but the family cat will do anything to avoid getting a bath. So instead of mopping the floor or feeding the fish, the family is soon busy rocking the rug, vacuuming the lawn, and sweeping the dishes. Bouncy rhyme carries the story headlong into the growing hilarity, until finally Dad restores some kind of order—but will the cat avoid getting his whiskers wet?”

Every Body is a Rainbow: A Kid’s Guide to Bodies Across the Gender Spectrum by Caroline Carter, Illustrated by Mathais Ball

“A nonfiction picture book that celebrates the diversity of bodies, gender identities, and expressions, Every Body is a Rainbow offers a positive, inclusive, and factual approach for ALL families.

Every child has an amazing body that is all their own! Each one is a unique shape, size, and color and has a unique mix of parts, identities, and expressions. Every Body is a Rainbow: A Kid’s Guide to Bodies Across the Gender Spectrum celebrates the vast rainbow of bodies and identities—from non-binary, to intersex, to multiple genders and expressions—and shows readers that everybody is beautifully diverse and has value. This book is for kids and families of ALL genders, abilities, and expressions who want to understand themselves and learn more about the amazing bodies across the gender spectrum!”

A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington by Carole Boston Weatherford and Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Byron McCray

“On August 28, 1963, a quarter of a million activists and demonstrators from every corner of the United States convened for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was there and then that they raised their voices in unison to call for racial and economic justice for all Black Americans, to call out inequities, and ultimately to advance the Civil Rights Movement.

Every movement has its unsung heroes: individuals who work in the background without praise or accolades, who toil and struggle without notice. One of those unsung heroes was at the center of some of the most important decisions and events of the Civil Rights Movement.

That hero was a quiet man, a gay African American man. He was Bayard Rustin.

A Song for the Unsung is an inspiring story that answers one of our nation’s greatest calls to action by honoring one of the men who made it happen.”

Calvin by JR Ford and Vanessa Ford, Illustrated by Kayla Harren

In this joyful and impactful picture book, a transgender boy prepares for the first day of school and introduces himself to his family and friends for the first time.

Calvin has always been a boy, even if the world sees him as a girl. He knows who he is in his heart and in his mind but he hasn’t yet told his family. Finally, he can wait no longer: “I’m not a girl,” he tells his family. “I’m a boy–a boy in my heart and in my brain.” Quick to support him, his loving family takes Calvin shopping for the swim trunks he’s always wanted and back-to-school clothes and a new haircut that helps him look and feel like the boy he’s always known himself to be. As the first day of school approaches, he’s nervous and the “what-ifs” gather up inside him. But as his friends and teachers rally around him and he tells them his name, all his “what-ifs” begin to melt away.”

Middle Grade

LGBTQ+ Icons: A Celebration of Historical LGBTQ+ Icons in the Arts by David Lee Csicsko

For fans of Jasmine Warga and Thanhhà Lại, this is a stunning novel in verse about a young Taiwanese immigrant to America who is confronted by the stark difference between dreams and reality.

Anna can’t wait to move to the beautiful country—the Chinese name for America. Although she’s only ever known life in Taiwan, she can’t help but brag about the move to her family and friends.

But the beautiful country isn’t anything like Anna pictured. Her family can only afford a cramped apartment, she’s bullied at school, and she struggles to understand a new language. On top of that, the restaurant that her parents poured their savings into is barely staying afloat. The version of America that Anna is experiencing is nothing like her dreams. How will she be able to make the beautiful country her home?

This lyrical and heartfelt story, inspired by the author’s own experiences, is about resilience, courage, and the struggle to make a place for yourself in the world.

Blood Brothers by Rob Sanders

“Calvin Johnston’s secret is out. He and his brothers are tainted. Untouchable. And the bad blood flowing through their veins is threatening to kill them. So are some of their neighbors in Ashland, the “Friendliest Little Town” in Florida. The Johnston brothers are kicked out of everything―school, baseball, scouts, even church. Ashland’s anger has erupted into a fireball of hate. The only silver lining is that Calvin’s best friend Izzy lives 65 miles away at the beach, and has no idea about his secret. But news has a way of spreading. Calvin and his brothers are in the fight of their lives. As a matter of fact, they’re fighting for life itself.”

Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper

“Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio.

When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake.

But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?”

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor

“A sweet, tender middle-grade story of two boys finding first love with each other over a seaside summer.

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.”

The One Who Loves You the Most by medina

“Twelve-year-old Gabriela is trying to find their place in the world. In their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day. As an adoptee, in their all-white family. With their mom, whom they love fiercely and do anything they can to help with her depression. And at school, where they search for friends.

A new year will bring a school project, trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel that help Gabriela find purpose in their journey. From debut author medina comes a beautifully told story of finding oneself and one’s community, at last.”

Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino

“From award-winning author Alex Gino comes a groundbreaking novel for children about how important the past can be those trying to create a different future.

Sam is very in touch with their own queer identity. They’re nonbinary, and their best friend, TJ, is nonbinary as well. Sam’s family is very cool with it … as long as Sam remembers that nonbinary kids are also required to clean their rooms, do their homework, and try not to antagonize their teachers too much.

The teacher-respect thing is hard when it comes to Sam’s history class, because their teacher seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history. When Sam’s home borough of Staten Island opens up a contest for a new statue, Sam finds the perfect non-DSCWM subject: photographer Alice Austen, whose house has been turned into a museum, and who lived with a female partner for decades.

Soon, Sam’s project isn’t just about winning the contest. It’s about discovering a rich queer history that Sam’s a part of – a queer history that no longer needs to be quiet, as long as there are kids like Sam and TJ to stand up for it.”

Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Stella Calwell

“The LGBTQ+ community is so much more than rainbow flags and the month of June. In this beautifully designed dynamic book, young readers will learn about groundbreaking events, including historic pushes for equality and the legalization of same-sex marriages across the world. They will dive into the phenomenal history of queer icons from ancient times to the present and read about Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, and more.

Including several personal current essays from inspiring young, LGBTQ+ people, this book encourages readers to take pride in their identity and the identities of those around them. Don’t just learn about LGBTQ+ history – take pride in it!”

The Civil War of Amos Abernathy by Michael Leali

“Amos Abernathy lives for history. Literally. He’s been a historical reenactor nearly all his life. But when a cute new volunteer arrives at his Living History Park, Amos finds himself wondering if there’s something missing from history: someone like the two of them.

Amos is sure there must have been LGBTQ+ people in nineteenth-century Illinois. His search turns up Albert D. J. Cashier, a Civil War soldier who might have identified as a trans man if he’d lived today. Soon Amos starts confiding in his newfound friend by writing letters in his journal—and hatches a plan to share Albert’s story with his divided twenty-first century town. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Amos is ready to fight.”

Too Bright To See by Kyle Lukoff

“It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light–Bug is transgender.”

This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby

“A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true–but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend’s mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.

From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aisa Salazar, and AJ Sass.”

Graphic Novels

History Comics: The Stonewall Riots: Making a Stand for LGBTQ Rights by Archie Bongiovanni, Illustrated by A. Andrews

Turn back the clock with History Comics! In this graphic novel, experience the Stonewall Riots firsthand and meet iconic activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Three teenagers―Natalia, Jax, and Rashad―are magically transported from their modern lives to the legendary Stonewall Inn in the summer of 1969. Escorted by Natalia’s eccentric abuela (and her pet cockatiel, Rocky), the friends experience the police raid firsthand and are thrown into the infamous riots that made the struggle for LGBTQ rights front-page news.

Are you looking forward to any new releases that celebrate the LGBTQ+ Community throughout the remainder of the year? Be sure to share them in the comments!

You Might Also Like:

Review: Rosa’s Song

The creators of The Paper Kingdom are back with another beautiful picture book! Rosa’s Song by Helena Ku Rhee and Pascal Campion tells the story of a young immigrant from South Korea who finds community and friendship in an unfamiliar place.

Title: Rosa’s Song
Author: Helena Ku Rhee
Illustrator: Pascal Campion
Publisher: Random House Studio
Published: June 14, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Inspired by an incident from the author’s childhood as the daughter of immigrants, Rosa’s Song follows a young boy name Jae who misses his home. He doesn’t speak the language in his new home. His apartment feels empty until he makes friends with a young girl named Rosa and her colorful bird, Pollito, who she sings a song with. Rosa and Jae become fast friends as they spend the summer using their imaginations to visit Jae’s old village.

But one morning, Jae wakes up to find Pollito in his room. Rosa and her family had to move away, and Rosa left Pollito behind for Jae. Jae is understandably saddened by this turn of events, but eventually remembers Rosa fondly when Pollito sings her song. He and Pollito meet two other newly arrived kids in their building and welcome them the same way Rosa welcomed Jae.

Whether you’re looking for a window for young readers to see others’ experiences or a mirror for young readers to see their own, I highly recommend Rosa’s Song.

The illustrations are absolutely lovely. I especially appreciate the way they capture the nostalgia of childhood and the joy of spending summer with friends.

Rosa’s Song is available now wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Random House Kids and Blue Slip Media for sharing this fantastic book with me.

About the Author:

Helena Ku Rhee grew up in Los Angeles, but has also lived in various parts of the U.S., Asia and Europe. She has a soft spot for small, stout animals and loves to travel far and wide across this beautiful planet, counting among her favorite journeys a camping trip in the Sahara Desert, a swim with elephants in Thailand and a horseback-riding tour of Easter Island. Helena works at a movie studio by day, and dreams up story ideas in her spare time. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Visit her at helenakrhee.com or follow her on Twitter @Helenarhee.

About The Illustrator:

Pascal Campion is a prolific French-American illustrator and visual development artist whose clients include: DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures, Disney Feature, Disney Toons, Cartoon Network, Hulu, and PBS. Working in the animation industry for over 15 years, he has steadily posted over 3,000 images of personal work to his “Sketches of the Day” project since 2005. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Instagram (@pascalcampionart) or Twitter @pascalcampion.

You Might Also Like:

Review: The Pronoun Book

I can’t think of a better time than Pride Month to share an introduction to pronouns for the youngest readers! The Pronoun Book by Chris Ayala-Kronos and Melita Tirado is an amazing board book that does just that.

Title: The Pronoun Book
Author: Chris Ayala-Kronos
Illustrator: Melita Tirado
Published: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Clarion
Format: Board Book

This deceptively simple concept book is such a wonderful way to introduce pronouns to young readers. The Pronoun Book both encourages children to ask for pronouns, and depicts a visual representation of the diversity of folx that use each pronoun. With sparse text, the bright illustrations beautifully highlight the fact that there is no one correct way to present yourself to the world, no matter what your pronouns are.

If you are looking to add books that celebrate identity to your shelves, I would highly recommend The Pronouns Book! You can find 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 to HarperCollins and Clarion for providing me with a review copy of The Pronoun Book. I’m so grateful to share this one with everyone today!

About The Author:

Chris Ayala-Kronos (she/they) has been a writer and editor in children’s book publishing for more than a decade. Chris shares a home with two cats, one dog, and a lovely partner in Boston.

About The Illustrator:

Melita Tirado (he/they) is a Peruvian-American digital illustrator. Originally from Maryland, he currently works from his home studio in Philadelphia.

You Might Also Like: