How Old Am I?

I had not heard of this title before it arrived on my doorstep, but now I am absolutely obsessed with How Old Am I? by JR and Julie Pugeat! Inspired by JR’s Inside Out Project, this fascinating visual reference book contains 100 portraits of 100 different people from 100 different countries, ranging from ages 1 to 100.

Each portrait is paired with with a little information about the subject, including a translation of “Hello” in their language, their name, age, where they live, where they were born, and some of their personal experiences. How Old Am I? is an amazing resource offering young readers several lessons, from counting and geography to celebrating art, aging, and diversity – making it the perfect addition to classrooms and school libraries.

The black and white portraits included are absolutely stunning, and I really love the contrasting bright colors and dots used as backgrounds throughout the book.

How Old Am I? officially releases later this week (May 12, 2021), but you can preorder it today at your local bookstore, 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!)

JR is a Parisian artist and activist known for his large scale public photography projects. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website at jr-art.net.

 Julie Pugeat is a studio director and mother of two, based in France. To learn more about her, please visit her Instagram.

Thank you so much to Phaidon for sending a review copy of How Old Am I? my way. It was a wonderful surprise and I’m beyond excited to share it with all the young readers in my life.

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The Neighborhood Surprise

Sarah van Dongen’s debut, The Neighborhood Surprise, is a lovely picture book, but be warned – don’t read it when you’re hungry. This sweet book is all about food and some of the different ways it can be prepared.

In The Neighborhood Surprise we are introduced to a young girl named Koya, her friends Hassan and Alex, and their favorite neighbor, Mrs. Fig. When the trio of children hear that Mrs. Fig is moving to a retirement home, they plan a surprise going away party for her. The whole neighborhood gets involved, and they are all sure to include vegan and vegetarian options for the vegan and vegetarian households in their neighborhood. With a cute surprise ending, The Neighborhood Surprise really captures the warmth of a closely knit community and the way neighbors can support one another.

This is also a fantastic resource for children who are curious about veganism and vegetarianism. The author’s note in the back offers a few definitions along with reasons people might eat this way, opening the door to further conversation.

The illustrations are really fun, and I especially enjoy the detail in the spreads where we see neighbors cooking with their families. Each spread gives a wonderful glimpse into each home in the neighborhood, providing us with lots of visual character development.

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

Sarah van Dongen is a debut children’s book author and illustrator. You can learn more about her and her work at sarahvandongen.com.

I would also like to thank Tiny Owl and Myrick Marketing and Media for providing me with a review copy of this lovely book.

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On the Trapline

I have another wonderful intergenerational story for y’all today.

From David A. Robertson and Julie Flett, the creators of When We Were Alone, On the Trapline is a stunning picture book that highlights indigenous values, including the deep connections to family and the land.

In this book, we meet a young Cree boy who is accompanying his Moshom (grandfather) on a trip to visit a place that is dear to his heart. They are going to the trapline, a place where his grandfather grew up hunting game with his family.

Throughout the book, the boy sees the places his grandfather grew up, listening to the stories of his childhood. He sees the house by the lake that his family stayed in, the school his grandfather attended, and finally, they reach the trapline. He learns about the way the entire family slept in a tent, the food they ate, and the animals they trapped. On each page, young readers learn a Swampy Cree word, with pronunciation guides provided in the back matter.

As always, Julie Flett’s illustrates are absolute perfection. I really appreciated the way she captured both the past and present in the illustrations. My personal favorites are two mirrored illustrations in which one page captures the grandfather’s story of sneaking into the bush at school to speak Cree, and the next page shows our narrator, his Moshom, and his Moshom’s old friend in the same bush years later. I found myself turning the pages to compare the landscapes, noting how trees and mushrooms had grown in the grandfather’s absence.

The back matter contains both an Author’s Note and Illustrator’s Note detailing their personal connections with this story, highlighting the authentic voices that are present throughout the book.

On the Trapline would make for an amazing Father’s Day gift. It 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!)

David A. Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and an award-winning children’s book author based in Winnipeg. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at darobertson.ca.

Julie Flett is an award-winning Cree-Metis author, illustrator, and artist based in Vancouver. Please visit her website at julieflett.com to learn more about her and her work.

Thank you so much to Tundra Books for generously providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. It was an absolute delight and I know I will be revisiting it many times.

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New Release Round Up – May 4, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! The first week of May has a TON of new books hitting the shelves, so it’s time to talk about new releases again! Let’s jump right in!

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

Glow by Ruth Forman, Illustrated by Geneva Bowers (Bookshop | Amazon)

A joyfully poetic board book that delivers an ode to the beautiful light of African American boys.

I shine night too
smooth brown
glow skin

This simple, playful, and elegant board book stars a young boy who joyfully celebrates his dark skin with a bright moon at the end of a perfect day.”

The Gay B Cs by M. L. Webb (Bookshop | Amazon)

Now in board book format, a joyful alphabet book of LGBTQ+ vocabulary for kids of all ages!

A playdate extravaganza transforms into a joyful celebration of friendship, love, and identity as four young friends sashay out of all the closets, dress up in a wardrobe fit for kings and queens, and discover the wonders of their imagination. In The GayBCs, M. L. Webb’s playful illustrations and lively poems delight in the beauty of embracing one’s truest self—from A is for Aro and Ace to F is for Family to T is for Trans.”

Mermaid Dreams by Kate Pugsley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Mermaids come in all shapes and sizes! In this sweet picture book, a shy little girl goes on a magical underwater adventure filled with adorable mermaids, silly sea creatures, games with new friends and wonderful surprises!

One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed . . .

When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature?

This adorable picture book will delight the youngest daydreamers and shows us that making new friends may not be as hard as you think — if you have a good imagination!”

Picture Books

Many Shapes Of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed (Bookshop | Amazon)

In this modern-day fable about grief, diversity, and family connections, a young girl discovers the joys–and pain–of the creative process.

Eisha lives with her mother, a ceramic artist, who helps her make a special shape out of a piece of clay. The shape reminds Eisha of her father, of the ocean, of a lemon. As Eisha goes through her neighborhood doing errands with her mother, the piece of clay hardens and then shatters into pieces when Eisha taps it. In poignant and powerful words and pictures, Kenesha Sneed shows how Eisha learns to live with the sense of loss and of the joyful power of making something new out of what is left behind. Illustrated with Sneed’s bold colors, graphic lines, and gestural textures, the book celebrates diversity and shares a gentle message that we all have the ability to heal and create.”

You can also read my full review of Many Shapes Of Clay for more detail.

Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani, Illustrated by Holly Hatam (Bookshop | Amazon)

A Sikh father and daughter with a special hair bond proudly celebrate and share a family tradition in this charming story perfect for fans of Hair Love and I Love My Hair!Every morning Papa combs through his daughter’s waves like he does his own—parting it down the middle, using coconut oil to get all the tangles out.

Some days he braids her hair in two twists down the side of her face. Other days he weaves it into one long braid hanging down her back, just like a unicorn tail. But her favorite style is when he combs her hair in a tight bun on the top of her head, just like the joora he wears every day under his turban. They call this their hair twin look!”

Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion by Maya van der Meer, Illustrated by Wen Hsu (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Two sisters discover the power of love and the true meaning of compassion in this princess-adventure story based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Miao Shan isn’t your typical princess. She likes to spend her time quietly meditating with the creatures of the forest or having adventures with dragons and tigers. Miao Shan’s heart is so full of love that her dream is to spread happiness throughout the land and help people endlessly. But her father has other plans for her–he intends to have her married and remain in the palace. With the help of her little sister Ling, Miao Shan escapes and begins her journey to discover the true meaning of compassion.

During their adventure, Ling and Miao Shan are eventually separated. Ling must overcome doubts, fears, and loneliness in order to realize what her sister had told her all along–that love is the greatest power in the world. After the sisters’ reunion, Miao Shan realizes her true calling as Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion. A princess-adventure story like none other, this ancient Chinese tale of the world’s most beloved Buddhist hero is a story of sisterhood, strength, and following your own path.”

We Move The World by Kari Lavelle, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (Bookshop | Amazon)

An inspiring and empowering picture book about the small things kids do that have the potential to change the world!

Meet some of the world’s most beloved movers, shakers, scientists, activists, dreamers, and doers from the past and present who model what every childhood first can lead to! Neil Armstrong, Misty Copeland, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and more were once kids—they grew up to lead us to the moon, dance in the ballet, and break barriers.

From first steps to solving puzzles and learning the alphabet, all the small things are only the beginning: they can lead to future activism and innovation that just might change the world!

Featuring fresh and accessible text paired with vibrant illustrations, We Move the World gives young readers a chance to see how much is possible just because of the things they already do. Includes robust backmatter that gives further context on each figure and historical moment, including the most recent COVID-19 pandemic.”

Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz, Illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Bookshop | Amazon)

Musa has the perfect idea for his special Jummah treat, but things don’t go according to plan. Will Musa be able to get a yummy Jummah treat for his family?

Every Friday after Jummah prayer at the masjid, Musa’s family has a special Jummah treat. They take turns picking out what the treat will be, but recently the choices have been . . . interesting. Week one, Mama made molokhia. It’s perfect for sharing, but gives us molokhia teeth for days! Week two, Baba burned the kufte kebabs on the grill. Week three, Seedi made his favorite riz b’haleeb-creamy rice pudding with pistachio sprinkled on top with an unexpected ingredient. Last week, Maryam brought jellybeans. . . . Finally, it’s Musa’s turn to pick, and he picks his favorite-halal hot dogs! But actually getting to eat this deliciousness turns into a journey riddled with obstacles. Will he ever get his favorite tasty treat?”

Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory by Julie Abery, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme.When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children — and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water’s natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto’s guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true — Olympic gold!”

You also read my full review of Sakamoto’s Swim Club for more detail.

Josie Dances by Denise Lajimodiere, Illustrated by Angela Erdich (Bookshop | Amazon)

Josie dreams of dancing at next summer’s powwow. But first she needs many special things: a dress, a shawl, a cape, leggings, moccasins, and, perhaps most important of all, her spirit name. To gather all these essential pieces, she calls on her mom, her aunty, her kookum, and Grandma Greatwalker. They have the skills to prepare Josie for her powwow debut.

As the months go by, Josie practices her dance steps while Mom stitches, Aunty and Kookum bead, and Grandma Greatwalker dreams Josie’s spirit name. Josie is nervous about her performance in the arena and about all the pieces falling into place, but she knows her family is there to support her.

The powwow circle is a welcoming space, and dancers and spectators alike celebrate Josie’s first dance. When she receives her name, she knows it’s just right. Wrapped in the love of her community, Josie dances to honor her ancestors.

In this Ojibwe girl’s coming-of-age story, Denise Lajimodiere highlights her own daughter’s experience at powwow. Elegant artwork by Angela Erdrich features not only Josie and her family but also the animals and seasons and heartbeat of Aki, Mother Earth, and the traditions that link Josie to generations past and yet to come.”

Our Shed: A Father Daughter-Building Story by Robert Broder, Illustrated by Carrie O’Neill (Bookshop | Amazon)

A sweet, nostalgic father-daughter story, Our Shed celebrates DIY families as well as the unique creativity and spontaneity of each individual child.

This lovely story is about a father teaching his daughter how to build a backyard shed for storing the necessities of family life–a lawn mower, sprinkler, sleds, kid toys. For each practical element the dad brings to the project, his daughter adds her own imaginative creative spin. In the end, they are both happy with their collaboration.

And, just as dad passes building skills on to his daughter, so does his daughter eventually pass those skills on to her own son when they fix up the peeling shed at the end of the story.

Kids love tools, building things, and spending time with parents. This story hits all those points with love and humor.”

On The Trapline by David A. Robinson, Illustrated by Julie Flett (Bookshop | Amazon)

A picture book celebrating Indigenous culture and traditions. The Governor General Award–winning team behind When We Were Alone shares a story that honors our connections to our past and our grandfathers and fathers.

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago — a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.”

Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortenson, Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. (Bookshop | Amazon)

An empowering picture book about creativity, making mistakes, and changing your perspective

When Arlo decides to draw an octopus, he can’t help but think that maybe he’s just not an octopus drawer. His drawing has a head that looks like a hill and eight squiggly arms that look like roads. It’s an octopus disaster-piece! But just as Arlo vows to never draw an octopus again, he makes a discovery that changes his perspective about his drawing . . . and much more.
This endearing and relatable story gives readers of all ages a gentle reminder that we’re better than we may think. Sometimes all it takes is a second look.”

The Neighborhood Surprise by Sarah van Dongen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“All the children in the neighborhood like Mrs. Fig. She tells them stories, makes them costumes, and bakes delicious cookies. When children find out that Mrs Fig is leaving for a nursing home, they organise a surprise street party for her. Only to find out she’s moving to the other side of the street! Food brings the neighborhood together in this charming book about life-styles, veganism and vegetarianism.”

Two Grooms On A Cake by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Robbie Cathro (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This is the story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell and their inspiring story becoming the first married gay couple in the US fifty years ago.

Long before marriage equality was the law of the land, two grooms stood on a wedding cake with their feet firmly planted in fluffy white frosting. That cake belonged to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed on September 3, 1971, becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story of LGBT history. This beautiful book celebrates the love story of two pioneers of marriage equality for all through the baking of their wedding cake!”

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julián and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown, Illustrated by Mirelle Ortega (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An informative, inspirational picture book biography about twins Julián and Joaquin Castro, who rose from poverty to become leaders for positive change in America.

The story of political powerhouse twins Julián and Joaquin Castro began in the small room that they shared with their grandmother Victoriana in San Antonio, Texas. Victoriana crossed the border from Mexico into Texas as a six-year-old orphan, marking the start of the family’s American journey. Her daughter Rosie, Julián and Joaquin’s mom, was an activist who helped the barrio through local government.

The strong women in their family inspired the twins to get involved in politics. Julián and Joaquin have been working at the local, state, and national level—as a former presidential candidate, mayor and member of President Obama’s Cabinet, and a U.S. Congressman, respectively—to make the country a better place for everyone.

Acclaimed author Monica Brown and illustrator Mirelle Ortega depict the Castros’ political and personal accomplishments in this must-read picture book biography.”

Chapter Books

She Persisted Nellie Bly by Michelle Knudsen, Illustrated by Gillian Flint (Bookshop | Amazon)

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

In this chapter book biography by New York Times bestselling author Michelle Knudsen, readers learn about the amazing life of Nellie Bly–and how she persisted.

Nellie Bly was a journalist and one of the first investigative reporters ever. She went undercover to expose wrongdoing and famously raced around the world so she could write about the experience for her newspaper. Reaching for her dreams wasn’t easy. But Nellie never gave up, no matter how many obstacles she faced–and she helped others along the way.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton!”

Home Sweet Forever Home (The Invincible Girls Club #1) by Rachele Alpine, Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Lauren and her three BFFs find creative ways to help shelter dogs get adopted in this first installment of the relatable and empowering The Invincible Girls Club chapter book series—featuring backmatter with profiles on real-life animal activists!

Lauren is a huge dog lover and is over-the-moon excited when she gets to go to the local shelter to read to the dogs. While there, she learns that the older dogs are often not adopted, so she and her friends set out to find them homes.

Together, Lauren, Ruby, Myka, and Emelyn create a brilliant event, where attendees can eat delicious cupcakes while meeting adoptable dogs. But on the big day, it seems like everything goes upside down. Can the girls save the event and make sure their four-legged friends get a chance at their fur-ever homes?”

Stoop Sale Treasure (Hand Me Down Magic #1) by Corey Ann Haydu, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Bookshop | Amazon)

DEL loves LOTS of things! The Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe. Ginormous family dinners. And of course, her best-friend-cousin, Alma.

ALMA loves her abuelita’s tasty empanadas. Her old home by the lake. And soon, she’ll love living in the same place as her best-friend-cousin, Del.   

Yet despite having Del by her side, Alma isn’t quite sure she fits in with their family at 86 ½ Twenty-Third Avenue. It’s a new life and it’s all so different. When Del finds a special item at a neighbor’s stoop sale, she gets so excited by the magic luck it brings—but doesn’t see that it’s driving the two best friends apart. Will family, friendship, and maybe a little everyday magic be enough to make things right again? 

Brimming with adorable illustrations and short, easy-to-read chapters, this is sure to be an instant favorite for fans of Ivy and Bean and Dory Fantasmagory!

Middle Grade

Last Gate of The Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes an Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.

Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.

Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.”

Her Epic Adventure by Julia De Laurentiis Johnston, Illustrated by Salini Perera (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Thrilling true stories of female adventurers who never stopped believing in themselves — and achieved the unimaginable! Throughout history, women eager for adventure have long faced obstacles and opposition. But here are the stories of 25 remarkable women — from pilots to mountain climbers, deep-sea divers to Antarctic explorers — who defied expectations and made their mark on history. Included are Bessie Coleman, famously known as the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license (two years before Amelia Earhart!). But readers also learn about lesser-known women, such as Diana Nyad, who, at age 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest. The women’s experiences are all different, but they have one thing in common: they didn’t let anything get in the way of their dreams! This highly readable and inspiring book — organized by sky, peaks, ice, land and water adventures — describes the achievements of a diverse group of female adventurers from around the world, including women of color, Indigenous women, LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities.”

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!

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Prince and Knight: Tale Of The Shadow King

I’m so excited to share Prince And Knight: Tale of The Shadow King with you all today! This follow up to Prince and Knight was one of my most anticipated titles of 2021, and it exceeded my expectations. Like Prince and Knight, Tale of The Shadow King is another modern inclusive fairy tale and continues the story of the prince and knight after their wedding.

In Tale of The Shadow King, our heroes have a big problem to solve – a fog of darkness is covering their kingdom, blocking out all the light. We follow along as our brave heroes set out to find the source of this darkness – the Shadow King. Along the way, they save each other from harm, mirroring the first book of the series. After traveling the land and fighting off monsters, our heroes find the Shadow King only to discover that he’s not at all what they expected.

I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this one has a happy ending, like most fairy tales. I really appreciate that the “bad guy” isn’t really a bad person. By offering the Shadow King’s backstory, Tale Of The Shadow King encourages empathy, acceptance, and understanding for young readers.

Though Prince and Knight had no challenges to the couple’s queerness, Tale of The Shadow King discusses the queer experience with a bit more nuance. It touches on both the harm caused to queer folk when they are not accepted for who they are and highlights the health and happiness that comes from living authentically. I believe Tale of The Shadow King will be a wonderful conversation starter about the way we should love our queer friends, family, and neighbors.

Once again, the illustrations by Stevie Lewis are wonderful! I loved seeing the familiar faces of the prince and knight, but the way she captured the Shadow King is so beautiful. I think he might be my new favorite character in the series.

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

Daniel Haack is a children’s book author and Emmy Award-winning children’s media executive. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at www.danielhaack.com.

To learn more about Stevie Lewis and her other work (including one of my recent favorites, Fatima’s Great Outdoors), please visit her website at chocosweete.com.

I want to thank Little Bee Books not only for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book, but for the continued dedication to promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance through children’s books. As a queer person, it means the world to me for my son and all the other little ones growing up right now to have these books at their fingertips. These were not resources I had as a kid, but I am so grateful for them now.

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31 Picture Books To Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Today marks the beginning of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, a month-long celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The United States Congress originally introduced the holiday in 1977 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, but later expanded it to a full month in 1990. In honor of this celebration, I wanted to share a list of 31 picture books highlighting Asian American and Pacific American characters (one for each day).

Because the term Asian is so incredibly broad, I wanted to highlight the diversity within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community with this list. I have included books with characters who are Chinese American, Korean American, Vietnamese American, Indian, Pakistani, Hawaiian, and more.

I hope that this list will provide you and your young readers with a look into the many different cultures that make up the Asian American community, and an understanding of the unique aspects of each one.

So, without further ado, here are my choices for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

Please note: This article contains affiliate links, from which I will receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring new content to you.

The Floating Field by Scott Riley, Illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien (Bookshop | Amazon)

On the island of Koh Panyee, in a village built on stilts, there is no open space. How will a group of Thai boys play soccer?

After watching the World Cup on television, a group of Thai boys is inspired to form their own team. But on the island of Koh Panyee, in a village built on stilts, there is no open space. The boys can play only twice a month on a sandbar when the tide is low enough. Everything changes when the teens join together to build their very own floating soccer field.

This inspiring true story by debut author Scott Riley is gorgeously illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien. Perfect for fans of stories about sports, beating seemingly impossible odds, and places and cultures not often shown in picture books.”

Bindu’s Bindis by Supriya Kelkar, Illustrated by Parvati Pillai (Bookshop | Amazon)

A companion to Kelkar’s The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, this picture book features a little girl named Bindu whose bindis connect her to family and help her find courage to compete in the school talent show.

This charming picture book is about a little girl who loves her bindis (and the many creative shapes they come in!). The bindis are also a connection to her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit Bindu and brings the bindis to her, it is just in time to wear something new to the school talent show. Bindu and Nani work together to shine their brightest and embrace their sparkle, even when they stand out from the crowd.”

For more information, be sure to check out the full review.

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, Illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Cora and Mama work together to cook up pancit for the family in this celebration of Filipino heritage and foods.

Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.

With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot-carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore’s text delightfully captures the warmth between mother and daughter as they share a piece of their Filipino heritage. With bright and charming illustrations by Kristi Valiant, Cora’s family comes alive as Cora herself becomes the family’s newest little chef.”

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, Illustrated by Dan Santat (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picturebook about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.”

Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady, Illustrated by Amiko Hirao (Bookshop | Amazon)

A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps.

When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children’s librarian Clara Breed’s young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.”

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls “a must-read for our times,” A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event – a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son – and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui’s striking, evocative art paired with Phi’s expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.”

The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya, Illustrated by Rajni Perera (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In this beautiful children’s picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old South Asian boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.

Beautifully illustrated by Rajni Perera, The Boy & the Bindi is a joyful celebration of gender and cultural difference.”

Grandpa Across The Ocean by Hyewon Yum (Bookshop | Amazon)

Though separated by language, age, and an ocean, a child and grandparent find common ground in this warm, witty picture book

Grandpa lives on the other side of the ocean.
He takes naps all the time. He eats different foods. He speaks an unfamiliar language. His house is the most boring place on Earth!
Or is it? A little time together just might reveal that Grandpa is also a great singer, an energetic sandcastle builder, and a troublemaker . . . just like his grandson!
With her signature warmth and humor, award-winning author-illustrator Hyewon Yum shares the challenges and joys of having a relative who lives far away—proving that even from across the ocean, the grandparent-grandchild relationship is a very special one.”

Be sure to check out my full review here!

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, Illustrated by Rebecca Huang (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.”

Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, Illustrated by Kenard Pak (Bookshop | Amazon)

 

Join the family, or ohana, as they farm taro for poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration with a poetic text in the style of The House That Jack Built.
 
An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book

“This is the land that’s never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana’s luau.”

Acclaimed illustrator and animator Kenard Pak’s light-filled, dramatic illustrations pair exquisitely with Ilima Loomis’ text to celebrate Hawaiian land and culture.

The backmatter includes a glossary of Hawaiian terms used, as well as an author’s note.”

Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis (Bookshop | Amazon)

An immigrant family embarks on their first camping trip in the Midwest in this lively picture book by Ambreen Tariq, outdoors activist and founder of @BrownPeopleCamping

Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima’s heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories–and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like.

Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.”

If you want to learn more, check out my full review.

Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.”

Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, Illustrated by Holly Meade (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In an endearing lullaby, a mother asks a lizard, a monkey, and a water buffalo to be quiet and not disturb her sleeping baby.”

The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang, Illustrated by Khoa Le (Bookshop | Amazon)

A warmhearted and tender true story about a young girl finding beauty where she never thought to look.

Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States.

When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.”

Leila In Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz, Illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova  (Bookshop | Amazon)

A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, and finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I like being me.

When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like.

Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is.”

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Bookshop | Amazon)

An inspiring picture-book biography of animator Tyrus Wong, the Chinese American immigrant responsible for bringing Disney’s Bambi to life.

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing–which he loved to do–but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime–and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.

Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki perfectly capture the beautiful life and work of a painter who came to this country with dreams and talent–and who changed the world of animation forever.”

Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Ayesha is excited to attend her cousin Ritu’s wedding. She can’t wait to dance at the baraat ceremony! But not everyone is happy that Ritu is marrying her girlfriend Chandni. Some have even vowed to stop the celebrations. Will Ayesha be able to save her cousin’s big day?

Centering Ayesha’s love for her cousin as much as it showcases Ritu and Chandni’s love for each other, this warmhearted debut from Ameya Narvankar celebrates the power of young voices to stand up against prejudice and bigotry.”

Check out the full review of this wonderful book here!

Thao: A Picture Book by Thao Lam (Bookshop | Amazon)

An honest #OwnVoices story about growing up with a name that is unfamiliar to the kids around you, told with humor and heart by critically acclaimed author/illustrator Thao Lam
Even though it’s only four simple, familiar letters long, nobody can ever pronounce Thao’s name. She’s been called Theo, Tail, even Towel! But the teasing names―Tofu, Tiny, China Girl―are worse. Maybe it’s time to be someone else? Thao decides to try on a different name, something easy, like Jennifer.
It works, but only until she opens her lunchbox to find her mother’s Vietnamese spring rolls, gỏi cuốn―Thao’s favorite! Now, it feels a lot more comfortable to be herself.”

Danbi Leads The School Parade by Anna Kim (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Meet Danbi, the new girl at school!

Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember! Danbi Leads the School Parade introduces readers to an irresistible new character. In this first story, she learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you.”

Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Bookshop | Amazon)

Six-year-old Bilal introduces his friends to his favorite dish—daal!—in this charming picture book that showcases the value of patience, teamwork, community, and sharing.

Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?

This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.”

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary―and they didn’t think women should be scientists.

Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.

An inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!”

When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Aaron Asis (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In an evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define a young girl’s summer with her grandmother, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.

For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, and of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit.

Summer is special. For her lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake.

When Lola visits, the whole family gathers to cook and eat and share in their happiness of another season spent together. Yet as summer transitions to fall, her lola must return home—but not without a surprise for her granddaughter to preserve their special summer a bit longer.”

Eyes That Kiss In The Corners by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho (Bookshop | Amazon)

This lyrical, stunning picture book tells a story about learning to love and celebrate your Asian-shaped eyes, in the spirit of Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, and is a celebration of diversity.

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.”

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

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

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

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

Be sure to check out my full review for more information!

Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park, Illustrated by Ho Baek Lee (Bookshop | Amazon)

A Korean-American girl celebrates food and family in this cheerful picture book about cooking with Mama by Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park.

Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped, and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. Even young readers who aren’t familiar with the dish will recognize the pride that comes from helping Mama, the fun of mixing ingredients together in a bowl, and the pleasure of sharing delicious food. Includes author’s own recipe.”

Amy Wu And The Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang, Illustrated by Charlene Chua (Bookshop | Amazon)

In this sweet and brightly illustrated picture book, Amy Wu must craft a dragon unlike any other to share with her class at school in this unforgettable follow-up to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao.

Amy loves craft time at school. But when her teacher asks everyone to make their own dragon, Amy feels stuck. Her first dragon has a long, wingless body, stag-like horns, and eagle claws, but her friends don’t think it’s a real dragon. Then she makes dragons like theirs, but none of them feels quite right…None of them feels like hers.

After school, a story from Grandma sparks new inspiration, and Amy rounds up her family to help her. Together, can they make Amy’s perfect dragon?”

Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme.When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children — and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water’s natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto’s guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true — Olympic gold!”

For more information, don’t forget to look at the full review!

Salma The Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, Illustrated by Anna Bron (Bookshop | Amazon)

Newcomer Salma and friends cook up a heartwarming dish to cheer up Mama.

All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers in her Welcome Home are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac.

With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren’t perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron’s vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances. “

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk (Bookshop | Amazon)

The bold story of Maya Lin, the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

You may be familiar with the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But do you know about the artist-architect who created this landmark?

As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.”

Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala by Meenal Patel (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Priya lives in the United States and her family is from India. She feels the magic of the place her family comes from through her Babi Ba’s colorful descriptions of India–from the warm smell of spices to the swish-swish sound of a rustling sari. Together, Priya and Babi Ba make their heritage live on through the traditions that they infuse into their everyday lives.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, the threads that connect each of us to our heritage, and the power of sharing our traditions with others.”

Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, Illustrated by Fahmida Azim (Bookshop | Amazon)

Ramadan has come to an end, and Amira can’t wait to stay home from school to celebrate Eid. There’s just one hiccup: it’s also school picture day. How can Amira be in two places at once?

Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is?

Though the day’s celebrations at the mosque are everything Amira was dreaming of, her absence at picture day weighs on her. A last-minute idea on the car ride home might just provide the solution to everything in this delightful story from acclaimed author Reem Faruqi, illustrated with vibrant color by Fahmida Azim.”

I hope you all enjoyed the list!

What are your favorite books to read and share for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month? Be sure to share any favorites I missed in the comments below!

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Grandpa Across the Ocean

Grandpa Across the Ocean by Hyewon Yum is a wonderful intergenerational story of a young boy who travels to visit his grandfather for the summer in an unfamiliar place across the ocean. Inspired by Yum’s own experience bringing her sons to visit her parents in South Korea, Grandpa Across the Ocean is a sweet story about overcoming barriers to connect with each other.

Our young narrator isn’t thrilled about his summer in the beginning. Everything is different across the ocean: the food, the language, even his grandfather. But with a little time together, the young boy and his grandfather overcome the language, cultural, and generational barriers before them and become closer than the boy imagined they would.

Grandpa Across the Ocean is perfect for young ones with loved ones across the ocean, but it also shares a wonderful message about how an unfamiliar place can come to feel like home.

Hyewon Yum’s illustrations are wonderful as well. I love how they capture the way the grandfather’s and grandson’s personalities come out more the closer they get to one another. It felt like such an honest representation of the way we let our guard down around those we love.

Grandpa Across the Ocean officially releases tomorrow (April 27, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Hyewon Yum is an author, illustrator, and winner of both the Ezra Jack Keats Award for new illustrator and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at hyewonyum.com.

Many thanks to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sending me a review copy Grandpa Across the Ocean. It was an absolute delight and I’m so pleased to be able to share it with you all today.

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Bracelets For Bina’s Brothers

Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca is the perfect picture book to add a little bit of math to your child’s library. The latest addition to Charlesbridge’s Storytelling Math series that celebrates both math and diversity through fictional stories, Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers introduces us to a young Indian girl named Bina who is planning to make bracelets for her brothers for Raksha Bandhan – a Hindu holiday in which siblings exchange gifts symbolizing the love they will always have for one another.

We follow Bina as she asks her brothers which colors they like and dislike, and with her dog Tara by her side, she carefully uses this information to make special bracelets with unique patterns matching each brother’s preferences. I really appreciated the amount of thought put into each character in a story about math. You don’t always see full-fledged characters in math picture books, and this was such a refreshing change of pace.

I also loved that Bracelet’s For Bina’s Brothers tackles a more complex mathematical concept than just counting or shapes. Patterns are a fundamental element of mathematics and making bracelets is such a fun way to introduce children to the concept.

The illustrations by Chaaya Prabhat are absolutely wonderful. I love how each brother’s favorite colors are represented in the illustrations, offering lots of visual patterns for young readers to pick out.

The back matter contains an author’s note giving more information about Raksha Bandhan, as well as several ideas for activities involving patterns to further explore math at home.

Bracelet’s For Bina’s Brothers is available 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!)

Rajani LaRocca is both a doctor and children’s book author based in the Boston area. Please visit her website at rajanilarocca.com to learn more about her and her work.

Chaaya Prabhat is a graphic designer, illustrator, and lettering artist based in Chennai, India. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at www.chaayaprabhat.com.

Many thanks to Charlesbridge for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to share this one with all the little learners in my life.

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New Release Round Up – April 20, 2021

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

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

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

Board Books

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

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

Picture Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird House by Blanca Gómez (Bookshop | Amazon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Books

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

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

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

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

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

Middle Grade

Nightingale by Deva Fagan (Bookshop | Amazon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic Novels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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