New Release Round Up – May 18, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! Tuesdays are my favorite, because it’s new release day!

I’m so excited to share the new releases I am most looking forward to this week with you all. As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

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

Board Books

A is for Astronaut: An Out-of-This-World Alphabet Adventure by Dr. Jennifer Levasseur, Illustrated by Vanessa Port (Bookshop | Amazon)

Blast off into space and learn the ABCs with the Smithsonian!

2021 NAPPA (National Parenting Product Awards) Winner
Inside this board book, little space explorers will learn out-of-this-world words for each letter of the alphabet paired with colorful illustrations on each page. From astronaut to zero gravity, this simple introduction to outer space and the ABCs is sure to delight babies and their parents! Author Jennifer Levasseur serves as the as the responsible curator for the National Air and Space Museum’s astronaut cameras and chronographs, as well as the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.”

Pink Is For Boys by Robb Pearlman, Illustrated by Eda Kaban (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An empowering and educational board book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful board book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages children to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.

Parents and kids will delight in Robb Pearlman’s sweet, simple script, as well as its powerful message: life is not color-coded.”

Picture Books

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.”

And I Paint It by Beth Kephart, Illustrated by Amy June Bates (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A poetic picture-book biography about artist N.C. Wyeth’s daughter, Henriette, a talented painter in her own right

And I think of the girl I am and the girl I’ll be:
A painter, like Pa.
An actress (maybe).
A fairy with wings.
A father and daughter sneak away from their big, busy family to paint in the wild landscape. Together, they paint a lily, bright and white as a star; the green growing into the cap of a strawberry; the blue in the sky running pink. Henriette’s father is N.C. Wyeth, the famous artist, who encourages her to paint what she sees, to awaken into her dreams, and she does, in this poetic picture book inspired by a famous American family of artists.”

Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner by Angela Dalton, Illustrated by Jestenia Southerland (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This joyful picture book taps into the rich African American tradition of family reunions, with delicious food at the heart of the celebration. Perfect for fans of the Caldecott Honor Book Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons.

Once a year, each of Ruby’s relatives prepares a special dish to share at their family reunion. Daddy calls it their “signature dish”—and Ruby wants one of her own. She wanders through the bustling kitchen looking for inspiration. As she watches Pop-Pop’s chicken sizzling in the skillet, Uncle G slicing onions, and Auntie Billie cooking corn on the hot grill, she wonders if she’s just too young to have a signature dish. That’s when she finds it— the perfect solution!

Angela Dalton’s warm text is perfectly paired with Jestenia Southerland’s beautiful art in this sweet picture book, filled with the tenderness and warmth of this multigenerational extended family and the food they share.”

All Of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Bookshop | Amazon)

A beautiful book about community and love by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Alexandra Boiger.

ME can be WE. YOU can come, too. In a lyrical text that travels the globe, National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine shows young readers how the whole world is a community made up of people who are more similar than we are different. With stunning, cinematic art by Alexandra Boiger, the illustrator of the She Persisted series, this is the perfect read-aloud at bedtime or for story time. Perfect for fans of All Are Welcome and Be Kind.”

The Incredible Ship of Captain Skip by Alicia Acosta, Illustrated by Cecilia Moreno (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Join Skip and her crew on their amazing journey across the sea. As you read the story, you’ll make your own paper ship with easy-to-follow instructions! Through her adventure, Skip’s ship will be damaged. At the same time, you’ll be tearing off pieces of your paper ship discovering a funny surprise in the end… the treasure of Captain Skip!”

Chapter Books

Ballerina Birthday (Ballet Bunnies #3) by Swapna Reddy, Illustrated by Binny Talib (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This new full-color chapter book series features the most darling dancers you will ever meet! For fans of the Magic Bunny, Isadora Moon, and Rainbow Magic series.

It’s Millie’s birthday and the Ballet Bunnies can’t wait to celebrate with her! The teeny dancer bunnies sneak into her bag and steal away to Millie’s house. When it’s time for Millie’s party, the bunnies secretly dash beneath tables and chairs to get a glimpse at all the festivities!

Spin and twirl with more Ballet Bunnies books! Ballet Bunnies #1: The New Class and Ballet Bunnies #2: Let’s Dance!”

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old (Twig and Turtle #4) by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Friendship woes and a visit from Grandma push Twig to find her voice in the fourth book in the Twig and Turtle chapter book series, perfect for fans of Ivy and Bean and Judy Moody.

Speaking up can be super hard.

Just when Twig thinks she’s finally found a new best friend, Angela’s former BFF, Effie, comes back to town. And to Twig, Effie is anything but friendly. With Effie hogging the spotlight and Angela’s time, Twig has never felt so alone. And while Twig’s little sister, Turtle, can be a lot of fun to hang out with, she doesn’t replace a best friend.

Then Grandma comes to visit, bringing with too much clutter and too many strong opinions for the tiny house, and it all becomes too much. Will Twig be able to find her voice without hurting anyone’s feelings?

The fourth book in the Twig and Turtle chapter book series, Make New Friends, But Keep the Old weaves themese of friendshipand finding your voice in a sweet package that fans of Ivy and Bean and Judy Moody will find hard to resist.”

Middle Grade

That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bollywood takes over in this contemporary, magical middle grade novel about an Indian American girl whose world turns upside down when she involuntarily starts bursting into glamorous song-and-dance routines during everyday life.

You know how in Bollywood when people are in love, they sing and dance from the mountaintops? Eleven-year-old Sonali wonders if they do the same when they’re breaking up. The truth is, Sonali’s parents don’t get along, and it looks like they might be separating.

Sonali’s little brother, Ronak, is not taking the news well, constantly crying. Sonali would never do that. It’s embarrassing to let out so many feelings, to show the world how not okay you are. But then something strange happens, something magical, maybe. When Sonali gets upset during a field trip, she can’t bury her feelings like usual—instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset!

The next morning, much to her dismay, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Things seem brighter, almost too bright. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal.

Sonali knows something has gone wrong, and she suspects it has something to do with her own mismanaged emotions. Can she figure it out before it’s too late?”

An Occasionally Happy Family by Cliff Burke (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Gordon Korman meets The Great Outdoors in this funny and moving debut about a boy who goes on a disastrous family vacation (sweltering heat! bear chases!) that ends with a terrible surprise: his dad’s new girlfriend.

There are zero reasons for Theo Ripley to look forward to his family vacation. Not only are he, sister Laura, and nature-obsessed Dad going to Big Bend, the least popular National Park, but once there, the family will be camping. And Theo is an indoor animal. It doesn’t help that this will be the first vacation they’re taking since Mom passed away.

Once there, the family contends with 110 degree days, wild bears, and an annoying amateur ornithologist and his awful teenage vlogger son. Then, Theo’s dad hits him with a whopper of a surprise: the whole trip is just a trick to introduce his secret new girlfriend.

Theo tries to squash down the pain in his chest. But when it becomes clear that this is an auditioning-to-be-his-stepmom girlfriend, Theo must find a way to face his grief and talk to his dad before his family is forever changed.”

Not All Heroes by Josephine Cameron (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Even though her family moved across the country for a “fresh start” after her little brother’s death, eleven-year-old Zinnia Helinski still feels like she’s stuck waiting for her new life to begin. Then she spots her new neighbor, Kris, climbing down the fire escape of their apartment building. He’s wearing a black eye mask! And Spandex leggings. . . . And a blue body suit?

Soon Zinnia finds herself in a secret club for kids who want to be heroes. The Reality Shifters don’t have superpowers, but they do have the power to make positive change in their neighborhoods. And a change is just what Zinnia is looking for!

At first, she feels invincible. Zinnia finally has friends and is on the kind of real-life adventures her little brother, Wally, would have loved. But when her teammates lose sight of their goals, Zinnia must find the balance between bravery and recklessness, and learn to be a hero without her cape.”

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris, Illustrated Michael Emberley (Bookshop | Amazon)

Fully and fearlessly updated, this vital new edition of the acclaimed book on sex, sexuality, bodies, and puberty deserves a spot in every family’s library.

With more than 1.5 million copies in print, It’s Perfectly Normal has been a trusted resource on sexuality for more than twenty-five years. Rigorously vetted by experts, this is the most ambitiously updated editionyet, featuring to-the-minute information and language accompanied by new and refreshed art.

Updates include:

* A shift to gender-neutral vocabulary throughout

* An expansion on LGBTQIA topics, gender identity, sex, and sexuality—making this a sexual health book for all readers

* Coverage of recent advances in methods of sexual safety and contraception with corresponding illustrations

* A revised section on abortion, including developments in the shifting politics and legislation as well as an accurate, honest overview

* A sensitive and detailed expansion on the topics of sexual abuse, the importance of consent, and destigmatizing HIV/AIDS

* A modern understanding of social media and the internet that tackles rapidly changing technology to highlight its benefits and pitfalls and ways to stay safe online

Inclusive and accessible, this newest edition of It’s Perfectly Normal provides young people with the knowledge and vocabulary they need to understand their bodies, relationships, and identities in order to make responsible decisions and stay healthy.”

Graphic Novels

The Princess Who Saved Herself by Greg Pak, Illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Welcome to The Princess Who Saved Herself, a children’s book written by comics writer Greg Pak, based on the beloved song by internet superstar musician Jonathan Coulton, and illustrated by artist Takeshi Miyazawa.

The Princess Who Saved Herself reinvents the princess myth for a new generation, telling the story of an awesome kid who lives with her pet snake and plays rock ‘n’ roll all day to the huge annoyance of the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road. Hijinks, conflicts, and a fun reconciliation ensues!

Based on the beloved song by internet superstar musician Jonathan Coulton, the new New York Times best-selling team of writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa reunite for an unforgettable adventure full of determination, bravery, and compassion for everyone!”

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce.

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.

Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.”

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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Daddy & Dada

When Ryan Brockington and Isaac Webster started looking for books for their daughter showing families with two dads (like theirs), they discovered the massive hole in the market for LGBTQ+ representation in children’s books. Fortunately for all of us, they decided to address the issue by writing their own book, Daddy & Dada, and I’m thrilled to share it with you all today.

This sweet picture book follows a young girl named Rumi as she introduces us to her family, including her two dads, baby brother, and dog. Rumi narrates in a straightforward, conversational voice (like most four-year-olds would) and highlights a number of diverse family structures, creating both a window and a mirror for young readers. Just in time for Father’s Day and Pride Month, Daddy & Dada is a wonderful celebration of all families, and the many combinations of people that make a family.

The illustrations by Lauren May are absolutely adorable. The bold colors reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons during my childhood. Lauren truly captured the love of a happy family and brought the warmth of a happy home to the pages.

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

To learn more about Ryan, Issac, and their family, be sure to follow them on Instagram: @rybrockington and @realisaacwebster.

Lauren May is a freelance illustrator based in New England. Please visit her website at monstertea.party to learn more about her and her work.

Ryan and Isaac’s story really spoke to me, because it reminds me of my journey to create Mutually Inclusive to make a space for all families to find themselves in books. So I want to make sure I thank both Little Brown Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of Daddy & Dada, and Ryan and Isaac for creating such an inclusive book for children to see their families in. I’m so happy to “meet” their family and to share Daddy & Dada with families looking for representation in children’s books.

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Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks

Sarah and the Big Wave by Bonnie Tsui is a wonderful picture book biography that tells the story of Sarah Gerhardt, the first woman to surf Mavericks.

Young readers will learn about Sarah’s journey to become a pioneer for women in surfing, including her challenges, such as finding gear in the right sizes and finding a welcoming group of friends to share her passion with. Sarah and the Big Wave shares a wonderful lesson of following your passions and persevering through challenges. And of course, this is a great pick for young surfing enthusiasts.

I really love the illustrations by Sophie Diao! The way she captured both the beauty and movement of the ocean was really stunning.

The back matter also contains a wonderful timeline of the history women in surfing from the 1600’s to 2020, making it a great resource for educators.

Sarah and the Big Wave is officially out next week, but you can purchase it anywhere 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!)

Bonnie Tsui is an author and journalist who lives, swims, and surfs in the Bay Area. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at bonnietsui.com.

Sophie Diao is an artist and illustrator based in San Francisco, California. Please visit her website at sophiediao.com to learn more about her and her work.

I also want to thank Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for proving me with a review copy of Sarah and the Big Wave. I loved learning about Sarah, and I’m so glad to share her story with you all.

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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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Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe

Nosotros Means Us: Un cuento bilingüe by Paloma Valdivia is a beautiful bilingual picture book highlighting the unconditional love between a mother and a child, told in both English and Spanish.

In this precious book, we follow along as a mother tells her child all about the ways she would love them if they were different animals. On the first few pages, our little family is depicted as matching animals, like a sheep and lamb, but there is a twist. The mother tells her child that one day they will leave, and both mother and child will grow into something else, but the child should know that she will always love them. Because they will always be mother and child.

I love the way Nosotros Means Us uses translated words to talk about the way the mother and child’s relationship would translate if they were different animals. I found it to be a very clever way to add a more complex layer to a perfectly simple concept, and it made such a powerful storytelling technique.

The illustrations are marvelous. I love the depictions of the different animals, but the color scheme is my absolute favorite. I love the perfectly minimalist style and the way the colors jump off every page.

Nosotros Means Us officially releases next week (May 11, 2021), but be sure to preorder this one as a Mother’s Day gift for the mothers in your life. You can preorder today anywhere 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!)

Paloma Valdivia is a children’s book author and illustrator based in Chile. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at palomavaldivia.cl.

I want to thank Knopf Books For Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to read it with my little one!

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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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Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How A Teacher Led An Unlikely Team To Victory

Ya’ll know I love a picture book biography, and I have to tell you that Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery might be one of my new favorites. With simple rhyming text, this book tells the little-known story of Soichi Sakamoto, a science teacher who dedicated his life to coaching hundreds of Hawaiian children on the Three-Year Swim Club.

Sakamoto’s Swim Club starts out simply enough. We see a sugar plantation and children swimming in an irrigation ditch, along with a police officer who chases them away as a teacher looks on from his classroom. I was hooked!

As the story unfolds, we follow Soichi Sakamoto’s journey to becoming a swimming coach. After coming to an agreement with Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Sakamoto began training children to swim in the plantation’s irrigation ditch. Though he was not a powerful swimmer himself, he used his background in science to develop training techniques.

After Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company built a community swimming pool, Sakamoto and his team began training daily to reach their dream of competing in the 1940 Olympics. Unfortunately, World War II kept the Three- Year Swim Club from reaching this goal, but in 1948, one of Sakamoto’s students, Bill Smith, took home the gold for the 400-meter freestyle race.

Sakamoto’s Swim Club is a wonderful story of determination and persistence, encouraging children to work hard for their dreams and never give up.

Chris Sasaki’s illustrations are absolute perfection. I love the vibrancy of the colors and the way they capture the beauty of Maui, but I really appreciate the way they pair perfectly with the sparse text. Sasaki’s experience in animation really shows in the way he tells a story through his illustrations.

This is such a unique picture book biography because it is told in simple verse, making for a great read aloud. The back matter contains a wonderful author’s note detailing the specifics of the Three-Year Swim Club’s journey to the gold.

Sakamoto’s Swim Club officially releases next week, 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!)

Julie Abery is children’s book author and former illustrator based in Lausanne, Switzerland. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at littleredstoryshed.wordpress.com.

Chris Sasaki is an illustrator, animation art director, and writer based in Oakland, California. Please visit his website at csasaki.com to learn more about him and his work.

Many thanks to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of Sakamoto’s Swim Club. I can’t wait to share this one with my little swimmer.

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Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing

I am so happy to share Many Shapes of Clay by Kenesha Sneed with you all today. This wonderful picture book is not just about loss, but about healing through the creative process.

Many Shapes of Clay is a modern day fable in which we follow a young girl named Eisha as she works alongside her mother in her studio. Eisha uses clay to make a shape that makes her happy because it reminds of of her father whom she has recently lost. She brings her shape out into her neighborhood, where it shatters into lots of different pieces. When Eisha brings the pieces to her mother, she knows just how to make her shape into something new altogether.

I don’t talk about this often, but I lost my father back in 2008. I was 19 years old, newly married, and soon to move across the country when my entire world shattered like Eisha’s beautiful lemon shape. I know I wasn’t the target picture book audience when my father died, but I wish I had this book then. It took me and my three siblings years to figure out how to even begin healing. The way Many Shapes of Clay highlights that healing process through community and creativity is not only beautiful, but a vital message for those coping with loss.

I also appreciate the fact that Many Shapes of Clay highlights loss instead of death. Given the events of the last year, loss is on a lot of young readers’ minds — whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or losing playdates and in-person classes due to COVID. Because the focus is healing from loss, you can use Many Shapes of Clay as a resource to discuss the loss of our “normal” lives, making this a must have for any little reader’s library.

The illustrations are absolutely stunning. I love how the bold colors match both the powerful message of healing and the gentle atmosphere of the story.

Many Shapes of Clay is out next week (May 4, 2021), but I would recommend preordering it today. You can put your order in just about anywhere 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!)

Kenesha Sneed is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and the founder of Tactile Matter, a line of stoneware ceramics. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her websites at keneshasneed.com and tactilematter.com.

I want to thank both Kenesha for sharing her story, and Prestel Junior for providing me with a review copy of this stunning book. I’m so grateful to share it with you all today.

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New Release Round Up – April 27, 2021

Happy Tuesday, everybody! While my week has been anything but calm, it seems quiet on the new release front this week — especially for the spring. But we will focus on quality over quantity today.

As always, all titles included 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

Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King by Daniel Haack, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Our brave and dashing heroes, the prince and the knight, are happily married and their kingdom is prospering, but soon, a fog of darkness that blocks the sun spreads across their land. They get word that the cause of this is a dark and mysterious Shadow King, and they rush off to find and stop him, but encounter many obstacles along the way. Will they be able to restore the light to their kingdom?”

Somewhere in the City by J. B. Frank, Illustrated by Yu Leng (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The sights and sounds of the city come alive in a magical way as Lucy waits eagerly for her father to return from work. Watching out the window, Lucy’s view of dogs, bakers, and buses is juxtaposed with her father’s journey through crowds, trains, and finally home to tuck her in. Detailed illustrations contrast a child’s fantastical view of the world with reality, all leading up to a cozy finish that will make this a perfect bedtime book for city children everywhere.”

The Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Bookshop | Amazon)

“One girl’s simple act of kindness causes ripples in her community in this witty, heartwarming story about paying it forward

The day after a mighty storm, a little girl finds a sea star that has washed up on shore, and she returns it to the ocean. Seeing her small act of kindness, an old man heads to an animal shelter with his grandson to pick a dog in need of a home. His grandson feels inspired to help an elderly woman clean up her yard, which inspires a teenager to pack an extra lunch for someone in need, and on and on until each small gesture builds toward a magnificent conclusion.
Full of humor, heart, and proof of the generosity that we all have inside of us, Christian Trimmer and Kaylani Juanita’s story is a welcome reminder: It’s the little things that make a big difference.”

You can also read my full review of The Little Things for more detail.

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.”

You can also read my full review of Grandpa Across the Ocean for more detail.

Something Happened in Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence by Ann Hazard, Marianne Celano, and Marietta Collins, Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This important follow-up to the bestselling, groundbreaking, and inspiring Something Happened in Our Town, is a much-needed story to help communities in the aftermath of gun violence. When Miles’s cousin Keisha is injured in a shooting, he realizes people can work together to reduce the likelihood of violence in their community. With help from friends and family, Miles learns to use his imagination and creativity to help him cope with his fears. This book can help provide parents with helpful messages of reassurance and empowerment. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing community gun violence with children, and sample dialogues.”

Chapter Books

Ways to Grow Love by Renee Watson, Illustrated by Nina Mata (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart loves her family and friends. She’s looking forward to summer vacation, spending time with loved ones, and her first trip to sleepaway camp! But when an unexpected camper shows up, Ryan finds it’s hard to share your best friend and harder to be a friend to someone who isn’t a good friend to you. She’s also waiting for her new sister to be born — and hoping the baby doesn’t ruin everything. The Hart family is experiencing a lot of changes, and Ryan needs to grow her patience in many ways, find ways to share the love, meet new challenges, and grow into the leader her mom and dad named her to be. This summer and the start of fifth grade just might give Ryan the chance to show how she grows and glows!”

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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