Author Spotlight: Susan Hughes

It’s been a while, but its time for another Author Spotlight! Today we are talking to Susan Hughes about her book Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality, so let’s dive right in!

Susan, Thank you so much for joining me today! I am so excited to chat with you about Walking for Water, but I’d like to start with a little more about you. Would you mind introducing yourself to Mutually Inclusive’s readers?

It’s great to speak with you today, Devyn! I’m a Toronto-based writer of many traditionally published children’s books, from picture books to YA novels—and everything in between! I’m an editor, story coach, and consultant specializing in assisting clients and publishers with children’s stories and educational products. I also write commissioned pieces. 

Oh, and I like to run, hang out with my family and friends, and write and read books, lots of ‘em!

Walking for Water is one of your most recent releases, could you tell us a bit more about this book?

Sure! Here’s how Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality is described on the publisher’s website: 

“In this inspiring story of individual activism, a boy recognizes gender inequality when his sister must stop attending school — and decides to do something about it. 

Victor is very close to his twin sister, Linesi. But now that they have turned eight years old, she no longer goes to school with him. Instead, Linesi, like the other older girls in their community, walks to the river to get water five times a day, to give their mother more time for farming. Victor knows this is the way it has always been. 

But he has begun learning about equality at school, and his teacher has asked the class to consider whether boys and girls are treated equally. Though he never thought about it before, Victor realizes they’re not. And it’s not fair to his sister. So Victor comes up with a plan to help.”

I’m especially pleased that the publisher, Kids Can, included Walking for Water in its  wonderful Citizen Kid series, for children ages 7 to 12. The books in the collection are aimed at making complex global issues accessible to kids and inspiring them to be better global citizens. 

Title: Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality
Author: Susan Hughes
Illustrator: Nicole Miles
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: June 1, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Obviously Victor’s story is very inspiring, so I understand why you were inspired to write about him! Can you tell us about how you came to hear about Victor’s story, and how that inspiration struck you?

I was doing online research for another project when I happened across a powerful photo essay. The photos were by Esther Havens and the caption-like text was written by a journalist, Tyler Riewer. As soon as I read about this young boy in Malawi’s experience—the dawning understanding that it wasn’t fair his sister had to give up school and then his decision to take action—I knew kids would be affected by the story. The photo-essay would likely only be seen by adults. I wanted to write it as a picture book story so kids would have a chance to learn about this boy’s courage and commitment to change. 

What was the research process like for this book? Did you get to travel to Malawi or meet Victor in your research?

No, I wasn’t able to do either, however in order to ensure the story was as authentic as possible, I reached out for help to many people. For example, I connected with journalist Tyler Riewer who generously answered as many as my questions as he could about his experience meeting with, and talking to, “Victor” in his village.

Malawian-born journalist Victoria Maele read and authenticated several drafts of my manuscript and answered many questions about content details. Malawian professor Lucinda Manda-Taylor read the final manuscript and reviewed the illustrations, focusing on ensuring the visuals accurately reflected life in a village in this specific part of Malawi. Wherever they found mistakes or discrepancies in the story or illustrations, we changed these details. 

Professor Sam McChombo, an expert in the Malawian language Chichewa, checked to make sure my usage of Chichewa words in the story was accurate and helped create the book’s pronunciation guide.

You have written over 30 books, which is such an amazing accomplishment! Do you have a favorite amongst them all?

Oh, I’m giggling! This is a question kids often ask me when I do book talks and presentations—and I think I give a different answer every time.

It’s really difficult to choose but usually my favorite is my most recently published book! 

You write both fiction and nonfiction. Do you have a preference for one over the other?

No, I don’t. I very much like alternating between the two, even during the researching and writing process. After working on a story for a while, it can be refreshing to turn to a nonfiction project and, for example, do some research or editing of facts. Or to turn from a non-fiction project to a story, going from a more fact-based narrative to one which allows my imagination to fly freely in different spaces. 

What can we expect from you next? Do you have any new projects on the horizon?

Yes, I have two new books hitting the shelves next year, both with Owl Kids Books. 

Coming out in April is a 64-page informational picture book: Same Here: The Differences We Share, illustrated by Sophie Casson. The book explores how kids around the world live and the common needs that unit them.

And my fall book is a rhyming picture book Hooray for Trucks! which is being illustrated by Suharu Ogawa.

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

Oh, yes! Some exciting news! Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality has been nominated for the 2022 Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Express Award. The best part is knowing kids across the province will be reading my book and the others on the list and then getting the chance to vote on their favorite ones in the spring. Here’s a link if you’re interested in learning more about these “Forest of Reading” awards: https://forestofreading.com/program-for-kids/.

Susan, thank you again for joining us today. It has been such a treat chatting with you!

To learn more about Susan and her work, please visit her online at susanhughes.ca.

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Book Tour Stop: A Sari for Ammi

I’m thrilled to be participating in the book tour for A Sari for Ammi by Mamta Nainy and Sandhya Prabhat today! This precious picture book is all about working hard and appreciating the people who mean the most to us.

Title: A Sari for Ammi
Author: Mamta Nainy
Illustrator: Sandhya Prabbhat
Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids
Published: November 9, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young girl as she hatches a plan to buy her mother a gift, A Sari for Ammi teaches young readers about the traditions and cultures of Kaithoon, a town in Rajisthan known for it’s traditional saris. The young narrator explains that her Abba (father) dyes thread, and her Ammi (mother) weaves it into beautiful saris, but she never wears one of her beautiful saris herself. She enlists her sister Sadaf in her plan to save up enough money to buy one of her Ammi’s saris for her. A Sari for Ammi is a heartwarming story about the ways we support our family

The illustrations by Sadhya Prabhat are fantastic. Every page is filled with bold colors, but I especially appreciated the patterns and texture in the saris themselves.

The backmatter also contains a lovely authors note with information about Kaithoon and the saris that are made there, as well as a glossary.

A Sari For Ammi 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!)

Thank you so much to Amazon Crossing Kids for providing me with a review copy of this beautiful book!

About The Author:

Mamta Nainy is a children’s writer, editor, and translator based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of many children’s books, including A Brush with Indian Art, illustrated by Aniruddha Mukherjee, which won the Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award in 2019; and Bioscope, illustrated by Shanti Devi, which was named to the IBBY Honour List in 2012. Follow the author on Instagram @mamtanainy.

About The Illustrator:

Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator and illustrator from Chennai, India, who resides in the United States. She has a master’s degree in animation and digital arts from New York University. She has illustrated nearly a dozen picture books, including her recent book I Am Brown, written by Ashok Banker. She animates for TV and movies and creates content for social media websites such as Facebook, Google, and Snapchat. Follow the artist on Instagram @sandhyaprabhat.

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Review: The Science of How Series

Today is the first day of Children’s Book Week and National STEM Day! In honor of both celebrations, I want to share two more picture books by Susan Hughes all about science. Illustrated by Ellen Rooney, The Science Of series teaches curious readers about the science of sounds and light with Lights Day and Night, and Sounds All Around.

Lights Day And Night: The Science of How Light Works is a delightful picture book that explains the mysteries of the science of light. From the natural light of the sun or a firefly, to artificial light of lighthouses and traffic lights, this book answers the questions curious readers might have about light. Following a young girl and her cat on a summer day, Lights Day and Night is both engaging and educational. Best of all, the backmatter contains instructions for a shadow puppet show, for further learning.

Originally published in May, Sounds All Around: The Science of How Sound Works is all about the science of sound. This education picture book discusses the way our ears process sounds, the way animals communicate with sounds, and even details the way pitch and sounds in general are measured. Following a young boy and his dog, Sounds All Around is as fun as it is informative. With instructions to make a bee buzzer in the back matter, this book brings a lot of fun to science.

I love the way both of these books use nature and animals to relate the scientific concepts. Each principal explained is easy for children to understand because the books use real world examples that perfectly highlight each lesson.

Ellen Rooney’s illustrations are fantastic! The characters on every page have so much personality (especially the pets), making both books an engaging read.

Sounds All Around and Lights Day and Night are both fantastic additions to libraries, classrooms, and bookshelves everywhere. You can pick up your own copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of Lights Day and Night and Sounds All Around. I’m so thrilled to be sharing them with everyone today!

About The Author:

Susan Hughes an award-winning author, whose books for children include Case Closed?, No Girls Allowed, Earth to Audrey and Maggie McGillicuddy’s Eye for Trouble. Susan lives in Toronto, Ontario.

About The Illustrator:

Ellen Rooney is an illustrator, designer and artist. She’s originally from Massachusetts, but now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. She loves graphic shapes, textured color, printmaking, drawing outdoors, painting — and her hidden art powers are released when cutting up paper!

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New Release Round Up: November 2, 2021

It’s Tuesday again, so y’all know what that means: It’s time to talk about new releases again!

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

Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

An uplifting story about the power of art, finding your voice, and telling your story even when you’re out of step with your peers from the #1 bestselling creators of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez and Ada Twist, Scientist!

Aaron Slater loves listening to stories and dreams of one day writing them himself. But when it comes to reading, the letters just look like squiggles to him, and it soon becomes clear he struggles more than his peers. When his teacher asks each child in the class to write a story, Aaron can’t get a single word down. He is sure his dream of being a storyteller is out of reach . . . until inspiration strikes, and Aaron finds a way to spin a tale in a way that is uniquely his.

Printed with a dyslexia-friendly font, Aaron Slater, Illustrator tells the empowering story of a boy with dyslexia who discovers that his learning disability may inform who he is, but it does not define who he is, and that there are many ways to be a gifted communicator.

Carla and The Christmas Cornbread by Carla Hall, Illustrated by Cherise Harris

In this heartwarming tale inspired by her childhood, superstar chef and TV host Carla Hall shares the story of young Carla, who eats a sugar cookie meant for Santa on the night before Christmas and tries to make things right.

Christmas is Carla’s favorite holiday of the year. She goes to her grandparents’ house and eats grandma’s special recipe—a perfectly delicious cornbread. She listens to her grandpa Doc’s marvelous stories about traveling the world. And, best of all, she spends lots of time with her family.

But when Carla accidentally takes a bite out of Santa’s sugar cookie, she thinks she’s ruined Christmas. How will Santa know to stop at their house if they don’t leave him a midnight snack? With her grandmother’s help, Carla comes up with a plan, but will it be enough to save Christmas?

Dear Little One by Nina Laden, Illustrated by Melissa castrillon

Celebrate the wonder of the world in this reassuring picture book about the joy, love, and beauty found in each and every day.

From the treasure of flowers to the mystery of insects, this lyrical book encourages children to explore the natural world around them and to be grateful for all that surrounds them. With jewel-like artwork, every page is a treasure for children just born or exploring the world full of possibilities we all share.

Bubbe & Bart’s Matzoh Ball Mayhem by Bonnie Grubman, Illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Getting ready for Shabbat is always a bit zany, but… flying matzoh balls?!?!?! Bubbe and her best buddy, Bart, make the perfect matzoh\-ball\-chasing team in this hilarious Jewish counting book!

Soomi’s Sweater by Susie Oh

Soomi’s new sweater arrives, but it doesn’t quite fit. Mom makes it just right and Soomi can’t wait to show her friends. Soon, Soomi’s brand new sweater isn’t so new anymore. Her friends try to patch it up, but nothing works. Thankfully, Mom knows just what to do. She creates something better than brand new!

The Dancing Trees by Masiana Kelly, Illustrated by Michelle Simpson

Thomas loves to tell stories. Big stories. Stories about how skilled he is on the land. But when one of his friends grows tired of his tall tales, Thomas has to prove how skilled he really is. Taking the challenge to spend a night alone in the forest, Thomas heads into the wilderness. The trees, who have heard his stories, watch him tear off their bark and litter as he goes. And so, while Thomas sleeps, they dance a dance that will leave Thomas with a very different kind of story to tell―if he can find his way home…

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds

Celebrated, bestselling creator Peter H. Reynolds brings his signature touch of love and kindness to this special, timely picture book, as families now, more than ever, are rediscovering and reevaluating what means the most: time together with one another.

Violet longs for the time when her family was connected: before life, distractions, and technology pulled them all away from each other. They used to gather at the table, with food and love, to make memories, share their lives, and revel in time spent together. But now her family has been drifting apart, and with nobody to gather around it, the table grows smaller and smaller.

Can Violet remind her family of the warmth of time spent together, and gather around the table once more?

A mystical fable that feels at once timeless and utterly of the present moment, Our Table is renowned, bestselling creator Peter H. Reynolds at his best. Exquisite, expressive watercolor tells a tender story, growing from monochrome into luscious, joyful color as Violet’s family is reunited around the beloved table. An ode to traditions that unite families, Our Table brings readers together with a universal message of gratitude.

Parker Shines On by Parker and Jessica Curry, Illustrated by Brittany Jackson

The New York Times bestselling team behind Parker Looks Up returns with an uplifting story about Parker making a new friend and learning about self-expression, opening your heart, and helping others.

Parker Curry loves being a big sister. She gets to play dress-up with her little sister, Ava, and piano with her baby brother, Cash. And Parker loves to dance, twirling and leaping and spinning in joy.

But when a dancer joins her class and needs her help, Parker wonders if she has what it takes to be not only a real dancer, but a real friend.

This inspirational picture book has an afterword by prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland.

Middle Grade

The Swag Is in the Socks by Kelly J. Baptist

Xavier Moon is not one to steal the show. He’s perfectly content to play video games and sit at his bedroom window watching the neighborhood talk outside.
 
But for Xavier’s twelfth birthday, he receives a pair of funky socks and a challenge from his great-uncle, Frankie Bell, saying it’s time to swag out and speak up. First on the list: get into the legendary Scepter League. Xavier’s grandfather, great-uncle, and father were all invited to join the elite boys’ after-school club that admits only the most suave and confident young men. Xavier has never had the courage to apply before, but his wild socks are getting him some big attention, so maybe it’s time to come out of the shadows and follow in his family’s footsteps. Or maybe Xavier will march down a new path altogether.

Middle School Mischief (The Magical Reality of Nadia #2) By Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly, Illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Inspired by the author’s real-life experiences, this second hilarious and sweet novel about sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia has her battling school newspaper drama, controversy with the school mascot, and some magical mischief, too.
Nadia loves fun facts. Here are a few about her:

There was a magical―and hilarious―ancient Egyptian teacher named Titi trapped in her hippo amulet until she freed him last fall.
Her school is choosing a new mascot and her idea is totally going to win!
She’s going to kick butt writing for the school newspaper this term…
…Maybe. A couple of weeks in, the newspaper is a big mess. The mascot contest is mayhem, too. (Who knew choosing a costumed character could cause such controversy?!)

Then Nadia and Titi discover that the hippo amulet holds a second secret, one that’s super powerful―and super scary. Too bad they have no idea how to stop it.

But Nadia is on the case! If she can solve the mystery of an ancient amulet, winning the mascot contest and acing her reporter assignments should be easy…right?

From The Daily Show comedian Bassem Youssef and author Catherine R. Daly comes a humorous and heartfelt story about integrity, empathy, power, and friendship.

Includes sections of black-and-white comics as well as black-and-white illustrations throughout, brought to life by Last Kids on Earth illustrator, Douglas Holgate.

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland, Illustrated by Selena Barnes

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland comes an illustrated nonfiction collection celebrating dancers of color who have influenced her on and off the stage.

As a young girl living in a motel with her mother and her five siblings, Misty Copeland didn’t have a lot of exposure to ballet or prominent dancers. She was sixteen when she saw a black ballerina on a magazine cover for the first time. The experience emboldened Misty and told her that she wasn’t alone—and her dream wasn’t impossible.

In the years since, Misty has only learned more about the trailblazing women who made her own success possible by pushing back against repression and racism with their talent and tenacity. Misty brings these women’s stories to a new generation of readers and gives them the recognition they deserve.

With an introduction from Misty about the legacy these women have had on dance and on her career itself, this book delves into the lives and careers of women of color who fundamentally changed the landscape of American ballet from the early 20th century to today.

When the World Turned Upside Down by K Ibura

What do you do when the world shuts down? A heartwarming story of friendship and overcoming adversity in a time of COVID, When the World Turns Upside Down is about community, giving back, and understanding the world around us through the power of generosity from debut middle grade author K. Ibura.

Nobody expected a tiny little virus to change the whole world in such a big way, especially not Shayla, Liam, Ai, and Ben. But when school closes to keep everyone safe, their lives turn upside down. It is one thing to learn that the outside world isn’t safe, but why does it seem that the virus is causing trouble inside their homes too?

As they each struggle to adjust to life in quarantine, they discover they are not alone: their apartment building is full of people who need their help. Working together, they begin to see that there is power in numbers. When they cooperate, they can ease each other’s challenges and help their neighbors through tough times. It’s a lesson they’ll need when protests explode in the streets. Soon, each friend has to decide what it means to be part of a community―and how much they’re willing to do to make this world safer for everyone.

Set against the onset of COVID, When the World Turned Upside Down navigates issues of race and social justice in a heartwarming story of generosity, friendship, and the power of youth.

Graphic Novels

Manu by Kelly Fernandez

“A funny and heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel adventure about friendship, defying expectations, and finding your place.
Manu and her best friend, Josefina, live at a magical school for girls, and Manu is always getting into trouble. The headmistress believes that Manu has the potential to help people with her magic, but Manu would rather have fun than fall in line. One day, a prank goes seriously wrong, and Josefina gets angry and wishes for Manu’s magic to disappear… and it does. Manu uses a dangerous spell to restore it, but it makes her magic too powerful and nearly impossible to control. Great power comes at a cost, and it may be a price that Manu isn’t able to pay!”

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!

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Flashback Friday: Monsters Like Us

If you’re looking for a not-so-spooky book for Halloween weekend, I’ve got the perfect pick for you! Monsters Like Us by Amy Huntington is an adorable picture book about monsters with a fun twist.

Title: Monsters Like Us
Author/Illustrator: Amy Huntington
Publisher: Beaming Books
Published: April 13, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Originally published in April, Monsters Like Us teaches young readers that monsters aren’t so different from us humans, and that they aren’t always scary after all. Young readers will learn about all the things they might have in common with monsters, from reading books and cleaning their rooms to snoozing in the sun. The whimsical illustrations paired with the simple text are absolutely delightful. I especially love the anticipation in the page turns, which make Monsters Like Us a fantastic read aloud.

Be sure to grab your copy of Monsters Like Us this Halloween weekend. You can find it wherever wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Beaming Books for providing me with a review copy of this precious book! I can’t wait to share it with my own little monster on Halloween.

About The Author/Illustrator:

Amy Huntington began painting in kindergarten, using the ends of her pigtails for brushes. She drew castles, bicycles, sleds, cats, and her siblings with the chicken pox. In summer she wrote poems while tucked in the branches of her favorite tree.

After college she settled in Vermont, exhibiting her paintings in various New England galleries. As a new mother, she fell in love with picture books and has never looked back. She fills lots of sketchbooks and writes lots of words. Some turn into books.

Her first picture book, One Monday, had both Huntington’s words and her art. She has since illustrated numerous books, including Grandma Drove the Garbage TruckFresh-Picked Poetry: Poems from the Farmer’s Market; and NINE: A Book of Nonet Poems. Huntington lives with her husband, two wild cats, some hens, and two sheep in an old Vermont farmhouse that needs lots of care.

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Book Tour Stop: A Home Again

I’m thrilled to be participating in the book tour for A Home Again by Colleen Rowan Kosinski and Valeria Docampo today. This sweet picture book is all about how a house becomes a home, and it hit close to home for me (pun not intended) since our family is just settling into our new home in St. Louis.

Title: A Home Again
Author: Colleen Rowan Kosinski
Illustrator: Valeria Docampo
Publisher: Two Lions
Published: November 1, 2021
Format: Picture Book

A Home Again follows the journey of one house, from the last brick being laid and the joy of being a home to a family, to the unexpected day that family moves away. The house doesn’t quite understand why its family has left, but we continue to follow along as two men help the house find a way to become a home again.

I absolutely loved A Home Again, especially for families who are experiencing moves with little ones. I really appreciate how it highlights the ways a family makes a home, helping young children embrace their new surroundings and understand the joy and comfort their old home will bring to its new family. I also really enjoyed Valeria Docampo’s illustrations and how they captured the warmth found in a loving home.

A Home Again will be released next week (November 1, 2021), but I would highly recommend you preorder your copy today. You can find preorders 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 Amazon and Two Lions for providing me with a review copy of such a wonderful book. I can’t wait to share this with my little one as we continue to settle into our new home.

About The Author:

Colleen Rowan Kosinski is the author-illustrator of Lilla’s Sunflowers and A Promise Stitched in Time. She received her BA from Rutgers University in visual art, is an alumna of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art, and spent many years as a successful freelance fine artist. Colleen calls New Jersey her home and resides there with her family. Learn more at www.colleenrowankosinski.com.

About The Illustrator:

Valeria Docampo has a background in fine arts and has also been a teacher. She is the illustrator of many books for publishers around the world, including La Grande Fabrique de Mots, which has been translated into thirty languages. Originally from Argentina, she now makes her home in France with her family. Learn more at www.valeriadocampo.com.

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Flashback Friday: The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families

If you’re looking for a book to help with “the talk”, I have an amazing resource for you today. The Every Body Book: The LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families is a fantastic example of an inclusive book to answer children’s questions about topics parents often find difficult, like sex, gender, puberty, and pregnancy.

Title: The Every Body Book
Author: Rachel E. Simon
Illustrator: Noah Grigni
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Published: June 18, 2020
Format: Middle Grade

Recommended for ages 8-12, The Every Body Book provides a wealth of information on a wide range of topics with inclusive language throughout. Young readers will learn the difference between sex and gender, what our bodies look like and how puberty impacts them, what sexual attraction is and how this defines sexual orientations, what consensual sexual intercourse is, how pregnancy works, and the different ways families are created. This comprehensive, medically accurate resource is a wonderful tool to read with your child, or allow them to read on their own.

I personally appreciate the straightforward language used in The Every Body Book as well. There isn’t a ton of emotion behind the educational way the information is presented, creating the perfect tone for teaching. I feel like “the talk” is commonly discussed by parents in either a romanticized flowery way or a shameful way, and neither is very productive for children to learn the medical facts behind their changing bodies. The Every Body Book cuts straight through and presents the facts, providing young readers with the information they need.

The illustrations by Noah Grigni are fabulous, too. There are all sorts of bodies represented throughout the book with visuals that are equally as inclusive as the language used. All the way down to the smallest detail, there is representation for everyone. For example, I was especially pleased to see an illustration of a C-section scar, as this is a scar I possess, and it is often overlooked in imagery surrounding pregnancy and birth education.

Of course, because this is a book about bodies, there are illustrations of genitals and depictions of erections, menstruation, and even condoms and birth control. If these topics make you uncomfortable, I would encourage you to read the book by yourself before introducing it to your child. But please remember, these are accurate representations of body parts and bodily functions, and our children will learn about them one way or another. Personally I would rather create an open dialog with my son to teach him about these things than have him googling whatever questions he might have.

The Every Body Book was released in June of 2020, and it 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!)

Thank you so much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers for bringing such an educational and inclusive resource into the world, and for providing me with a review copy.

About The Author:

Rachel E. Simon, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and educator who specialises in gender and sexuality and runs her private practice in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic, Mazzoni Center, and Walnut Psychotherapy Center.

About The Illustrator:

Noah Grigni is a Boston-based illustrator and comic artist, whose work bridges themes of gender, sexuality, body positivity, and trans history. Through art, Noah hopes to uplift their community, make space for reflection, and create a source of comfort in and uncomftable world. You can see more of their work at noahgrigni.com.

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Review: My City Speaks

As many of you know, I recently moved from my quiet house in a sleepy city on the Gulf Coast to an apartment in the busy city of St. Louis. I’ve always loved a city, and since moving, I’ve been on the lookout for books to share that love with my toddler who has only ever known the quiet home we’ve had for the last two years. My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf and Ashley Barron is the perfect book to help him learn to love his new city, and I wanted to share it with you all today.

Title: My City Speaks
Author: Darren Lebeuf
Illustrator: Ashley Barron
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

The follow up to My Forest is Green and My Ocean is Blue, My City Speaks follows a young vision impaired girl as she and her father travel to through her city on the way to her violin recital. Our young narrator describes her experience in her city in poetic prose, detailing the sounds, smells, and tastes she finds along the way.

Much like the previous books by this duo, the text is perfectly sparse and pairs beautifully with Ashley Barron’s illustrations. Her cut-paper collage technique always brings me right back to my childhood and makes me feel like the characters will walk right out of the pages.

My City Speaks is a celebration of urban communities, but it is also a great introduction to conversations about disability, accessibility, and assistive devices such as white canes. You can pick up your own 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!)

Thank you so much to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of My City Speaks! I know I will be reading this one many times to my little one as he learns all about his new city.

About The Author:

Darren Lebeuf is an award-winning photographer with a background in design and visual communication. He is the author of My Forest Is Green and My Ocean is Blue. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

About The Illustrator:

Ashley Barron is an award-winning illustrator who specializes in cut-paper collage. Her creations can be found in children’s books, newspapers, set designs and shop windows. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Review: Bright Star

Today I want to share a book that I’ve been looking forward to for months. I was first introduced to Yuyi Morales’ work by way of her 2019 release Dreamers, and I’m delighted to be sharing her latest release Bright Star with you all today.

Title: Bright Star
Author/Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Neal Porter
Published: September 7, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Following a young fawn who explores the border landscape, Bright Star is a gorgeous picture book that speaks directly to victims of the immigration crisis. Yuyi Morales creates a beautiful metaphor for the immigrant experience, comparing it to the uncertainty the newborn fawn feels as she learns to navigate the new world she finds herself in.

The illustrations are fascinating, from the beautiful color palette to the texture on every page. But I have to say my favorite part was the hand embroidered lettering found throughout the pages. As someone who works with fiber arts occasionally, the hand stitched words really speak to the time and attention put into every detail of this book. Bright Star was created with so much love and care, and it shows on every page.

Complete with a powerful author’s note in the back, Bright Star is a fantastic addition to bookshelves and libraries everywhere. You can pick up 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!)

Thank you so much to Neal Porter and Holiday House for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Born in Xalapa, Mexico, where she currently resides, Yuyi Morales lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she still maintains close relations with booksellers and librarians. She has won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award for Illustration six times, for Dreamers (2019), Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (2003), Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2006), Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (2008), Niño Wrestles the World (2013), and Viva Frida (2014), also a Caldecott Honor Book.

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New Release Round Up – October 12, 2021

It’s Tuesday again, so y’all know what that means: It’s time to talk about new releases again!

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

Leaders: My First Leaders (Little People Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

“Hello little leader! Let’s learn about braveness, and boldness, and kindness. There’s plenty of leaders who were once young like you.”

Including cherished favorites, as well as some new, leaders from the series, introduce your baby to great leaders from history and today. With all-new lyrical text that is fun to read out loud to baby, this inspiring board book includes colorful, captivating illustrations of Rosa Parks, Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mahatma Gandhi, and Corazon Aquino.

Leaders is the perfect first empowerment primer for babies and toddlers.”

Artists: My First Artists (Little People Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

“Hello little artist! Let’s learn about painters, and sculptors, and designers. There’s plenty of great artists who were once young like you.”

In this board book compilation of the most fantastic artists from the series, introduce your baby to Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Colorful, captivating illustrations are paired with age-appropriate text that is fun to read out loud to baby.

Artists is the perfect first art history primer for babies and toddlers.”

Picture Books

You Are Revolutionary by Cindy Wang Brandt, Illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao

“You have what it takes to change the world!

This is the empowering message parenting author and podcaster Cindy Wang Brandt wants every child to hear and embrace. In this inspiring picture book she speaks to every child who sees injustice in the world, revealing that they already have inside themselves everything they need to make big, transformative change in the world–just as they are. Every kid is a revolutionary! You don’t need to wait until you grow up. You don’t even need any special skills. Kids who are loud, kids who are quiet, kids who make art, kids who are good at math, kids with lots of energy, kids who are good listeners–all kids have what it takes to make a difference.

Lynnor Bontigao’s vibrant illustrations feature a diverse group of children taking up a call to action and using their individual gifts to change the world.”

Little Moar and The Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, Illustrated by Jazmine Gubbe

“Moar has always loved autumn―playing outside with his friends, feeling the weather get colder―but there is one thing about autumn that really worries Moar. The moon. The days become shorter and the moon, with its creepy face and eerie smile, seems to be looking down on him before he can even get home from school! So, one day, Moar is determined to get home before the moon appears in the sky. But there are so many fun things to do on the way home, he may just run out of time!”

The Story of You by Lisa Ann Scott, Illustrated by Sue Cornelison

“The actions we take and the words we speak play a big part in who we are as a person. This empowering picture book shows children they can be the authors of their own life stories.

No one can tell you who you are—it’s all up to you! You write your story with your actions and words. This dynamic picture book for readers of all ages features lush illustrations that bring universal situations to light, including ways to be brave, bold, and kind, as well as knowing when you’ve made a mistake. A perfect gift for new parents, young graduates, as well as children and adults in any stage of their life, this is a book with a message: You are what you say and do.”

Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj

“When one act of kindness sparks another, anything is possible! As a girl searches for her lost dog, a simple act of generosity ripples into a wave of good deeds. In the course of a single day, each considerate action weaves lives together and transforms a neighborhood for the better.

This wordless story, told in beautiful illustrations reminiscent of a graphic novel, demonstrates how every little kindness, shared from person to person, can turn a collection of strangers into a community, and—even though we might not always see it—make the world a more vibrant and compassionate place to be.”

Chapter Books

Brother Be Gone (Jeanie & Genie #5) by Trish Granted, Illustrated by Manuela Lopez

“In the fifth book of the Jeanie & Genie series, Jeanie just wishes her annoying little brother would disappear—but she didn’t mean actually disappear…uh-oh.

Jeanie’s little brother, Jake, is annoying. Well, according to Jeanie he is. And sometimes Jeanie wishes he would just leave her alone! But when you have a best friend who’s a genie, you need to be careful what you wish for. When Willow accidentally grants the wish, Jake really does disappear! Will the girls be able to figure out where Jake has gone—and how to get him back?

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

Middle Grade

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern

“Maple is in fifth grade—again. Now everyone will find out she struggles with reading—or will they? An engaging read for anyone who has ever felt different.

Maple Mehta-Cohen has been keeping a secret: she can’t read all that well. She has an impressive vocabulary and loves dictating stories into her recorder—especially the adventures of a daring sleuth who’s half Indian and half Jewish like Maple herself—but words on the page just don’t seem to make sense to her. Despite all Maple’s clever tricks to hide her troubles with reading, her teacher is on to her, and now Maple has to repeat fifth grade. Maple is devastated—what will her friends think? Will they forget about her? She uses her storytelling skills to convince her classmates that she’s staying back as a special teacher’s assistant (because of budget cuts, you know). But as Maple navigates the loss of old friendships, the possibility of new ones, and facing her reading challenges head-on, her deception becomes harder to keep up. Can Maple begin to recognize her own strengths, and to love herself—and her brain—just the way she is? Readers who have faced their own trials with school and friendships will enjoy this heartwarming story and its bright, creative heroine.”

Mighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier

“Melvin Robinson wants a strong, smooth, He-Man voice that lets him say what he wants, when he wants—especially to his crush Millie Takazawa, and Gary Ratliff, who constantly puts him down. But the thought of starting high school is only making his stutter worse.

And Melvin’s growing awareness that racism is everywhere—not just in the South where a boy his age has been brutally killed by two white men, but also in his own hometown of Spokane—is making him realize that he can’t mutely stand by.

His new friend Lenny, a fast-talking, sax-playing Jewish boy, who lives above the town’s infamous (and segregated) Harlem Club, encourages Melvin to take some risks—to invite Millie to Homecoming and even audition for a local TV variety show. When they play music together, Melvin almost feels like he’s talking, no words required. But there are times when one needs to speak up.

When his moment comes, can Melvin be as mighty on the outside as he actually is on the inside?”

Polo Cowboy by G. Neri, Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson

“How does a Black kid from North Philly wind up playing polo? The much-anticipated sequel to Ghetto Cowboy, now a major motion picture starring Idris Elba and Stranger Things’s Caleb McLaughlin.

When Cole moves in with his dad, Harp, he thinks life will be sweet—just him and his horse, Boo, hanging out with Philadelphia’s urban cowboys. But when Harp says he has to get a job, Cole winds up as a stable hand for the polo team at George Washington Military Academy, where the players are rich, white, and stuck-up—all except Ruthie, the team’s first and only girl, who’s determined to show the others she can beat them at their own game. As Cole and Ruthie become friends—and maybe more—he starts imagining his future, maybe even at the academy. But between long workdays, arrogant polo players, and a cousin trying to pull Cole into his dangerous business, that future seems remote. Will Cole find the courage to stand and be seen in a world determined to keep him out? With striking illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson, celebrated author G. Neri’s novel weaves themes of tenacity and community into a rousing sports story inspired by Philadelphia’s real-life urban cowboys and polo players.”

The Last Cuentistsa by Donna Barba Higuera

“There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?”

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

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

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