Review: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball

We all know that Jackie Robinson was the first Black major league baseball player, but how much do you know about the second? All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball by Audrey Vernick and Cannaday Chapman introduces young readers to the man who joined the major leagues just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson.

Title: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball
Author: Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Cannaday Chapman
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: January 4, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with his childhood in Camden, South Carolina, All Star follows Larry Doby all the way to the day he helped his team win the World Series with a game-winning home run in 1948. Highlighting the changes we’ve seen since Larry Doby’s career as well as the changes we fight for today, All Star doesn’t shy away from the racism found in America and it’s favorite pastime. From detailing Larry’s first day in the dugout to pointing out the racism of Cleveland’s team name and logo in the author’s note, All Star eloquently addresses progress with young readers, inspiring them to continue changing things for the better.

Cannaday Chapman’s powerful artwork pairs perfectly with Audrey Vernick’s text. The illustrations are filled with emotion and brings Larry Doby’s story to life on every single page.

The back matter contains an author’s note with more detail about Larry’s life, a bibliography, and the iconic photo of Larry Doby and pitcher Steve Gromek embracing after their World Series victory, making this a fantastic educational resource for classroom and school libraries.

All Star officially releases tomorrow (January 4, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you.)

Thank you so much to Clarion Books for providing me with a review copy of All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball. I am honored to share Larry’s story on Mutually Inclusive.

About The Author:

Audrey Vernick is author of several novels and many picture books, including Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. She lives with her family near the ocean in New Jersey. Visit her online at audreyvernick.com and on Twitter @yourbuffalo.

About The Illustrator:

Cannaday Chapman is the illustrator of the picture book biographies All-Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball and Feed Your Mind: The Story of August Wilson, and his work has been featured in the New York Times and on the cover of The New Yorker. He was born in upstate New York and studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and he currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

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Mutually Inclusive’s Top 21 Picture Books of 2021

It’s that time when we all look back on the year and examine everything: our accomplishments, our memories, and, of course, the books we read. Today, I want to share my favorite picture books of the year with you all. It was a tough call, but I managed to narrow it down to my top 21 for 2021. I’m only including books published in 2021 (versus all the books I read in 2021) to keep it simple. So without further ado, here they are in no particular order.

Standing On Her Shoulders by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

“A stunning love letter to the important women who shape us — from our own mothers and grandmothers to the legends who paved the way for girls and women everywhere.
Standing on Her Shoulders is a celebration of the strong women who influence us — from our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance in the United States.

Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text encourages young girls to learn about the powerful and trailblazing women who laid the path for their own lives and empowers them to become role models themselves. Acclaimed illustrator Laura Freeman’s remarkable art showcases a loving intergenerational family and encourages girls to find female heroes in their own lives.

Standing on Her Shoulders will inspire girls of all ages to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women.”

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

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

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

The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Gracey Zhang

“In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl–along with her aunties and grandmother–at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it’s time, and they ease their bodies–their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies–into the bath. Ahhhhhh!

With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear’s loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.”

The Lost Package by Richard Ho, Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

“From author Richard Ho and illustrator Jessica Lanan, the heartwarming story of a package that gets lost, then found, and an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at what happens at the post office.

Like other packages, this one began as an empty box. It was packed with great care, sealed tight, and given a personal touch.

Like other packages, it left the post office with hope. But unlike most packages, before it got to its destination…

it

got

lost.

Follow one package that loses its way and discover a friendship tale that proves distance can’t always keep us apart.”

Peace by Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Illustrated by Estelí Meza

“Peace is on purpose. Peace is a choice. Peace lets the smallest of us have a voice.

From a hello and pronouncing your friend’s name correctly to giving more than you take and saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it.

Award-winning authors, Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul, have teamed up with illustrator Estelí Meza—winner of the ‘A la Orilla del Viento’ the premier Picture Book Contest Award in Mexico—to create an inspiring look at things we can all do to bring peace into our lives and world.”

A Girl’s Bill of Rights by Amy B. Mucha, Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda

“In a world where little girls must learn to stand tall, A Girl’s Bill of Rights boldly declares the rights of every woman and girl: power, confidence, freedom, and consent. Author Amy B. Mucha and illustrator Addy Rivera Sonda present a diverse cast of characters standing up for themselves and proudly celebrating the joy and power of being a girl.”

We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac

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

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

We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, and Eduardo Trejos

“A bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. A perfect tool for families, schools, and libraries to facilitate conversations about disability, accessibility, social justice and community building. Includes a kid-friendly glossary (for ages 3–10). This fully accessible ebook includes alt-text for image descriptions, a read aloud function, and a zoom-in function that allows readers to magnify the illustrations and be able to move around the page in zoom-in mode.”

Not Little by Maya Meyers, Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

“Dot is the smallest person in her family and at school; even her name is small! People often mistake her for being younger than she is, but not when she tells them the square root of sixty-four is eight, nor when she orders from the grown-up menu at restaurants or checks out the hard books at the library. She may be small, but she’s not little.

When a new boy named Sam joins Dot’s class, she wonders if he’s even smaller than she is. But when she sees him getting bullied by a mean kid twice his size, she knows she has to do the big thing and stand up for him.

Maya Myers’s debut picture book has a pitch-perfect voice that captures the inimitable Dot in all her fierceness, and Hyewon Yum’s delightful pastel-hued artwork is its perfect complement.”

If I Had an Octopus by Gabby Dawnay, Illustrated by Alex Barrow

“Have you ever thought about what the best aquatic pet would be? It’s an octopus, of course! When a little girl fantasizes about having a crazy smart octopus pet, she pictures jumping rope with its tentacles, practicing different ball games simultaneously, and playing hide-and-seek with her camouflaging friend (just look out for the ink!).

With vibrant illustrations and playful rhymes, If I Had an Octopus is a laugh-out-loud story celebrating friendship between a child and her octopus. From the duo behind If I Had a Dinosaur, If I Had a Sleepy Sloth, and If I Had a Unicorn, Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow’s latest is a charming and imaginative tale about our favorite eight-armed creature.”

What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns by Katherine Locke, Illustrated by Anne (Andy) Passchier

“Whenever Ari’s Uncle Lior comes to visit, they ask Ari one question: “What are your words?” Some days Ari uses she/her. Other days Ari uses he/him. But on the day of the neighborhood’s big summer bash, Ari doesn’t know what words to use. On the way to the party, Ari and Lior meet lots of neighbors and learn the words each of them use to describe themselves, including pronouns like she/her, he/him, they/them, ey/em, and ze/zir. As Ari tries on different pronouns, they discover that it’s okay to not know your words right away—sometimes you have to wait for your words to find you.

Filled with bright, graphic illustrations, this simple and poignant story about finding yourself is the perfect introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns for readers of all ages.”

The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson, Illustrated by Melissa Cho

“The Bare Naked Book has been a beloved fixture in libraries, classrooms, and at-home story times since its original publication in 1986. Now, this revised edition is ready to meet a new generation of readers.

The text has been updated to reflect current understandings of gender and inclusion, which are also
showcased in the brand-new, vibrant illustrations by Melissa Cho.

Featuring a note from the author explaining the history of the book and the importance of this updated edition, readers will delight in this celebration of all kinds of bodies.”

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

“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!”

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

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

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

“Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer?
Acclaimed author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal explores the wonders of the rain forest with Zonia, an Asháninka girl, in her joyful outdoor adventures. The engaging text emphasizes Zonia’s empowering bond with her home, while the illustrations—created on paper made from banana bark—burst with luxuriant greens and delicate details. Illuminating back matter includes a translation of the story in Asháninka, information on the Asháninka community, and resources on the Amazon rain forest and its wildlife.”

A Kid is a Kid is a Kid by Sara O’Leary, Illustrated by Qin Leng

“Being the new kid is hard, a child in the school playground tells us. I can think of better things to ask than if I’m a boy or a girl. Another child comes along and says she gets asked why she always has her nose in a book. Someone else gets asked where they come from.

One after another, children share the questions they’re tired of being asked again and again — as opposed to what they believe are the most important or interesting things about themselves. As they move around the playground, picking up new friends along the way, there is a feeling of understanding and acceptance among them. And in the end, the new kid comes up with the question they would definitely all like to hear: “Hey kid, want to play?”

Sara O’Leary’s thoughtful text and Qin Leng’s expressive illustrations tell a story about children who are all different, all themselves, all just kids.”

The Aquanaut by Jill Heinerth, Illustrated by Jaime Kim

“Through beautiful, spare text, Jill Heinerth tells her story about a girl who feels too young, too little and too far away from her dreams. But you don’t need to wait to grow up. It doesn’t take much to imagine all the things you can do and be. What if your bedroom were a space station? What would it be like to have flippers or tusks? In your own home you can explore new worlds and meet new friends.

Jaime Kim’s luminous art transports readers back and forth through time to see how Jill’s imagination as a young girl laid the pathway to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer.”

Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson, Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin

“A young child and their family are having a wonderful time together celebrating Pride Day―meeting up with Grandma, making new friends and eating ice cream. But then something terrible happens: their dog gets lost in the parade! Luckily, there are lots of people around to help reunite the pup with his family.

This rhyming alphabet book tells a lively story, with rich, colorful illustrations that will have readers poring over every detail as they spot items starting with each of the letters of the alphabet. An affirming and inclusive book that offers a joyful glimpse of a Pride parade and the vibrant community that celebrates this day each year.”

Bird House by Blanca Gómez

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

Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate

“Discover a wonderful grandfather-granddaughter relationship, as a little girl hatches the perfect plan to get her Grandad adventuring again.

Gramps and Grandad were adventurers. They would surf, climb mountains, and tour the country in their amazing camper. Gramps just made everything extra special. But after Gramps died, granddad hasn’t felt like traveling anymore. So, their amazing granddaughter comes up with a clever plan to fix up the old camper and get Grandad excited to explore again.

This beautiful picture book honors love and reminds us not only to remember those we have lost, but to celebrate them.”

My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf, Illustrated by Ashley Barron

“A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves. A young girl and her father spend a day in the city, her city, traveling to the places they go together: the playground, the community garden, the market, an outdoor concert. As they do, the girl describes what she senses in delightfully precise, poetic detail. Her city, she says, “rushes and stops, and waits and goes.” It “pitters and patters, and drips and drains.” It “echoes” and “trills,” and is both “smelly” and “sweet.” Her city also speaks, as it “dings and dongs, and rattles and roars.” And sometimes, maybe even some of the best times, it just listens.”

Despite its many challenges, 2021 was a huge year for Mutually Inclusive and myself, and I have even bigger things in store for 2022. I want to thank every single one of you; from readers and educators, to publishers and my fellow reviewers and authors for making this year so amazing. This continues to be my favorite corner of the internet and it wouldn’t be the same without you all.

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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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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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Review: Every Little Kindness

Even in the divisive time we live in, I believe the one thing we can all agree on is that the world could use a little more kindness. If you agree, I think you will like the picture book I’m sharing today. Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj captures the the way one small act of kindness can impact and entire community.

Title: Every Little Kindness
Author/Illustrator: Marta Bartolj
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Published: October 12, 2021
Format: Picture Book

This wordless picture book opens with a young woman searching for her lost dog. As she begins her day of searching, she generously gives an apple to a man, creating a wave of kindness that ripples throughout the entire town. We follow along as each person who witnesses an act of kindness in turn performs their own act of kindness.

The illustrations are lovely and I really appreciated the way the colors are muted so the reds stand out, highlighting the acts of kindness themselves.

Every Little Kindness is officially released tomorrow (October 12, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon.

Thank you so much to Chronicle Books for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to share it with my little one to show him how we can spread kindness throughout our new city.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Marta Bartolj is an artist and illustrator from Novo Mesto, Slovenia. She holds a master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana, where she immersed herself in the study of illustration. Every Little Kindness, the first book she authored, was recognized as an outstanding wordless picture book at the Kristina Brenkova Awards. Marta lives in Trebnje, Slovenia.

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Review: Not Little

Today I want to share a small book with a BIG heart with you all. Not Little by Maya Myers and Hyewon Yum is a delightful picture book, perfect for any young readers who have ever felt underestimated.

Title: Not Little
Author: Maya Myers
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Published: July 6, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Not Little follows a young girl named Dot, who is smaller than everyone she knows, as she tries to explain to everyone that she is not little anymore. Dot is frustrated by the way everyone treats her like a baby, even though she is growing to be a smart and independent young girl. She even knows the square root of sixty-four and the capital of Indonesia! How could she be little? Dot finally gets her chance to prove how big she is when a new smaller kid joins her class and begins to be bullied by another classmate.

The illustrations by Hyewon Yum, as always, are fantastic. Fans of Grandpa Across The Ocean and I Am a Bird will be pleased to find Yum’s familiar style on every page.

You can pick up your copy of Not Little 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 Books and Holiday House for sending me a review copy of this precious book. I can’t wait to share it with my little guy (who is still actually little for a while).

About The Author:

Maya Myers is a debut picture book author as well as a freelance book editor and a former elementary school teacher. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, author/illustrator Matt Myers, and three daughters.

About The Illustrator:

Hyewon Yum is the author and illustrator of several acclaimed books for children, including This Is Our HouseThe Twins’ BlanketThere Are No Scary Wolves, and Last Night. Her book Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

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Flashback Friday – When We Are Kind

I am so excited to announce an additional feature here on Mutually Inclusive called Flashback Friday! I know so many amazing books were released during the pandemic, but because everyone’s life was turned upside down, many titles didn’t get the level of attention they deserved. So starting this week, I will share a review for a previously published title every week. I think this will be a wonderful reminder about those books that might have flown under the radar, especially with the chaotic year and a half we’ve all had.

My first Flashback Friday selection is When We AreWhen We Are Kind / Nihá’ádaahwiinít’íigo by Monique Gray Smith. Originally published back in October, this wonderful bilingual picture book provides examples of kindness for young readers with text in both English and Diné (translated by Mildred Walters).

Funny story: I actually wanted to request When We Are Kind back when I first started Mutually Inclusive, but I was just figuring out how review copy requests worked, and I thought I missed out because I didn’t request it before the publication date. I’m so glad I was wrong!

In this precious picture book, we follow a group of Indigenous children as they tell us all the ways they give and receive kindness. When We Are Kind encourages readers to be kind to our families, our communities, our elders, the earth, and ourselves, but I love that it also talks about how being kind makes us feel. I feel like we often tell children to be kind for the sake of others’ feelings, but we overlook the way being kind to others can be a kindness to ourselves. When We Are Kind encourages young readers to evaluate their own feelings, creating an awareness that it so necessary for social and emotional development.

The illustrations by Nicole Neidhardt are wonderful! I love the way they capture the connections we all have to our families and our communities. You can feel the love and kindness on every page.

You can pick up your copy of When We Are Kind 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!)

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed-heritage woman (of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish ancestry), an international speaker, and an award-winning author based in Victoria, British Columbia. Please visit her website at moniquegraysmith.com to learn more about her and her work.

Nicole Neidhardt is a Diné (Navajo) artist of the Kiiyaa’áanii Clan based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at nicoleneidhardt.com.

I want to thank Orca Book Publishers for sending me a review copy of When We Are Kind. I’m so grateful to have a second chance to review this beautiful book.

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Bird House

If you’re looking for a precious picture book with a heartwarming grandparent/grandchild relationship, I have the perfect book for you today.

Inspired by the author’s own childhood, Bird House by Blanca Gómez is a wonderful story about a grandmother and granddaughter who nurse an injured bird back to health together.

Our young narrator details the story of finding the bird on a snowy day, and how the pair take it back to Abuela’s home while it recovers. Though they let the bird back into the wild once it heals, they are sure to invite him back by building a birdhouse.

Blanca Gómez’s minimalist style is ever present in both the text and illustrations in Bird House, the first book she has both written and illustrated. This book may seem short and sweet, but Blanca Gomez builds so much character with so few words. I am honestly amazed that someone can convey the emotion in this story in less than 200 words.

The illustrations are delightful and add so much depth to the story. I wished I could visit Abuela’s home and ask her about all her beautiful houseplants, and what she was knitting — a basket of yarn always tugs at my little crochet heart, and makes me think of my own grandmother.

Bird House is available in both English and Spanish versions next week (April 20, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Blanca Gómez is an author and illustrator based in Madrid. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at cosasminimas.com.

Many thanks to Abrams Books For Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. It was an absolute treat!

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All Sorts – A Book About Sorting Yourself Out

Those of you who know me know I love organization and sorting more than most people—believe it or not, I actually relieve stress by reorganizing my bookshelves—so when I heard about All Sorts by Pippa Goodhart, I knew I had to read it!

This precious picture book follows a young girl named Frankie who loves to sort things. From toys to animals, Frankie sorts everything out by size, shape, and color.

But one day Frankie tries to sort people, which can be very confusing, especially when sorting oneself. Frankie finds herself questioning her place in the world when she realizes she is the only version of herself. Fortunately, she learns some things are just meant to be all mixed up.

The illustrations by Emily Rand are what my children’s book dreams are made of, with bright bold pages packed with detail. This is definitely a book to pause and point out all the colorful objects with young readers. I really enjoyed All Sorts and would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that embraces both the beauty of being unique and the diversity of our world.

All Sorts is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon, so be sure to grab your copy today. (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!)

For more information about Pippa Goodhart and her work, please visit her website at pippagoodhart.co.uk.

To learn more about Emily Rand and her work, please visit her website at emilyrand.com.

I also want to thank Nobrow Press and Flying Eye Books for generously providing me with a review copy of this delightful book. I look forward to many rereads with my little one.

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6 Picture Books To Celebrate International Transgender Day Of Visibility

Today we celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination they face. Sadly, In the United States, we don’t have to look hard to see the discrimination faced by trans people. With multiple anti-trans laws aimed at transgender youth being introduced, it’s hard to ignore the challenges faced by the trans community. This push to remove the healthcare and privacy rights of transgender children is a reminder that we have a long way to go.

As parents, we need to ensure we introduce our children to transgender people positively, and not through a conversation about whether someone deserves to have health care, play on a sports team, or use a specific bathroom. If we want to foster acceptance in the next generation, we must teach our cisgender children to open their hearts and minds and see their transgender friends, classmates, and acquaintances as human beings and not a problem to be solved.

So in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to share a few picture books that can help facilitate these conversations with our children. Each of these books provides representation for trans kids to feel visible, while also providing a look into the trans experience for cisgender children.

So without further ado, here they are.

They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew SG (Bookshop | Amazon)

They She He Me: Free to Be! is a fantastic introduction to gender and pronouns for young readers. With pronouns repeated on each page paired with a diverse range of people, this book beautifully illustrates that there is no one way people who use a specific pronoun look. The back matter contains matter-of-fact information about pronouns, as well as a lovely author’s note about Maya and Matthew’s experiences with parenting and pronouns. This is an amazing resource to help young children understand gender expression and encourage them to embrace everyone’s identity.

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, Illustrated by Mika Song (Bookshop | Amazon)

Inspired by a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior tells the story of a young girl who doesn’t see herself as a girl or a boy. Ho’onani is just Ho’onani. When her teacher announces that the school will perform a traditional hula chant, Ho’onani knows she wants to take part, though boys traditionally performed hula chants. We follow Ho’onani on her path to becoming a hula warrior, as Ho’onani’s sister struggles to understand and accept Ho’onani’s identity. With its message of understanding and acceptance, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a wonderful celebration of both identity and the Hawaiian culture.

When Aiden Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Bookshop | Amazon)

One of my personal favorites, When Aiden Became A Brother, tells the story of a young transgender boy and his journey toward becoming a big brother. Following along from Aiden’s initial coming out, all the way to the celebration of his younger siblings, this book is all about love and acceptance. When Aiden Became A Brother is perfect for any kid who is expecting a younger sibling, but especially trans kids themselves.

47,000 Beads by Koja Adeyoha and Angel Adeyoha, Illustrated by Holly McGillis (Bookshop | Amazon)

47,000 Beads tells the story of Peyton, who doesn’t want to dance in her jingle dress at Pow Wow. After she talks to her Auntie about her feeling, her Auntie gathers her community, along with a two-spirit mentor to show Peyton the love and support she deserves on her journey to discovering her path. This is an incredibly heartwarming story that teaches us all the importance of embracing our differences and being there for the people we love.

Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children by Michelle Finch and Pheonix Finch, Illustrated by Shannon Davey (Bookshop | Amazon)

Based on Phoenix Finch’s real life experiences, Phoenix Goes To School follows a young transgender girl as she deals with the anxiety of wearing a dress on the first day of school. This is such an influential book for young readers, because all kids can relate to the anxiety of starting a new school year and meeting new friends. Empowering trans kids and fostering acceptance in cisgender kids, this is a lovely pick for any young reader.

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison, Illustrated by Tekisha Silver (Bookshop | Amazon)

Perfect for the kids who love picture book biographies, Sylvia and Marsha Start A Revolution is all about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, trans activists and women of color who played a vital role in sparking the Stonewall Riots. This book by trans and queer creators provides an introduction to LGBTQ+ history and the issues that the trans community faces without erasing the women of color we have to thank for Pride today.

I hope you enjoyed this list and found a few more resources to encourage acceptance and understanding in your little ones.

I also hope that you use today to reflect on the issues faced by the trans community, and educate yourself on any harmful laws in the works in your area, especially if you live in the United States. Trans children of America deserve our love and support, and we can show up for them by fighting against the many anti-trans laws being proposed in our country..

Do you have favorite titles featuring transgender characters? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

Please Note: This list originally included the title Who Are You by Brooke Pessin-Whedbee. I removed this title because it was brought to my attention that there are plagiarism issues with this book. For more information, I encourage you to view Maya Gonzalez’s blog post regarding this issue.

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