In conjunction with the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event 2021, I was gifted My Sister, Alicia May Written by Nancy Tupper Ling; Illustrated by Shennen Bersani (Pleasant St. Press)
When I received this book to review for Multicultural Book Day 2020, I immediately wrote to the author to tell her what a sweet and wonderful book she had written. It just made me feel good and happy to read this story. It is so real, down-to-earth and full of kindness and just shows how a strong sense of being can open you up to a positive focus on life.This is the honest account through the eyes of one child whose older sister has Down Syndrome and she does a beautiful job of sharing her experiences with her and how she comes to a greater sense of self through their connection. We need more books like this, in every library, school and home just to show the pure beauty of the diversity of each life, each family-yet through all our uniqueness it too binds us together when we share our experiences and create a much broader and open sense of normal. The illustrations lovingly portray for us the life for these sisters-you can see their similarities in their faces and gestures. Life is life and it is not always easy but if you can be grateful and appreciative of your life you can spread this joy to others as well as being satisfied and at peace in your skin. I highly recommend this beautiful heartfelt story.
I was gifted a copy of this book by the author. All opinions expressed are my own.
Flying Paintings The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art by Amy Alznauer; paintings by ShanZuo Zhou & DaHuang Zhou
Art is powerful and its transformational power takes center stage in this historic tale of the Zhou brothers whose lives and art were shaped largely by the Cultural Revolution in China. This is a heavy theme for a children’s picture book but with the author’s gentle touch of the subject, accompanied by dynamic ink-and-watercolor paintings by the subjects themselves, readers are immersed in the bold artistic style and the courageous spirit of the Zhou brothers. The book focuses not only on the historical moment in time but also on the difficulties that arise in families and those that relate to art, country, and humankind. The book is magnificently illustrated with art by the Zhou brothers themselves, enlivening the tale with a sense of a first hand narrative. This is a wonderful early non-fiction book that introduces two contemporary Chinese artists who were confronted with much suffering and many roadblocks but were still able to rise up and be true to who they really were.
Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Emily Sutton
Knowledge is magnificent and this book is armed to the gills with it. From the beautifully drawn helices on the end pages to the realistic illustrations that bring life to the fascinating world of DNA, this book is a STEAM book for all ages. One of the best takeaways from this book is that although our DNA makes us unique, the fact that uniqueness is a constant for all living creations, only proves that we are all just one giant community. All the same, yet all different. All things grow, all things change.
The cover drew me right in. The illustrator’s use of a variety of mediums, such as pastels, colored pencils, ink and watercolors are a beautiful blend of the simple and the complex. Although the illustrations are cartoon-like, they craftily capture important details using design elements such as texture, color and line. The illustrations wonderfully carry the science of the subject matter. The characters are diverse, the information is highly accessible and interesting and will surely kick off a larger quest for knowledge. I highly recommend this wonderful introduction to life science.
Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is at it again! He does not let failure get him down. He uses creative thought to problem solve and just has a total CAN DO attitude! The book has a great non-fiction element that celebrates black scientists and doctors who help to fire up Jabari’s determination to figure things out. Jabari is honest and he gets frustrated, but his dad brings in the mindfulness aspect that scientists really need and after a few calming breaths, Jabari is ready to give it another try. Through his efforts, Jabari learns compromise and cooperation and through just enough action and rest time, he learns how to be successful and how to have fun!
The illustrations are fun and I just love the Rube Goldberg machines they come up with and the happy way a family interacts and relies on each other for support and love. Very sweet STEAM focused book and an inspirational story of perseverance, problem solving and creativity.
Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Just like the disco song expresses, Love is the message! Love is, love is the message that I sing to you; Love is the message that I bring to you; Love is the message for a song…. Love is the message for us all! This book shows how a small child, who might be wondering how they can make an impact on the world, that one small gesture can have a much larger effect. This book is a great gateway into the world of activism and brings to light the invisible roots of our global connection. This book gives hope and highlights acceptance and shows how important it is to stand up for human rights for all peoples of the world. This story recounts a true story of the power to unify through love and positivity and how you’re never too young to be an inspiration. The march of diverse characters pulls you right in. They are so endearing with their shining eyes and smiles and pink “cat” hats, the 100’s of hearts floating all around the pages and the beautiful affirmations decorating the signs. This is what the world needs now! I see it right alongside Julian Is A Mermaid, by Jessica Love, as books that will become anthems for the ages.
Norman: One Amazing Goldfish! By Kelly Bennett; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
Filled with bright bold colors, this amusing story highlights overcoming fear, the power of the true friendship that one can have with a pet, and a trust in one’s own self-worth. This is a fun read and will keep the attention of young readers who will be able to relate to overcoming shyness when introduced to something new. People might try to douse your inner spirit with negativity but if you are true to yourself, whatever the final result, you will gain confidence, knowledge and above all, self- respect! Three cheers for Norman the amazing goldfish. This is a delightful story with a positive message!
Will You Be My Friend by Sam McBratney; Illustrated by Anita Jeram
We’ve been waiting a lifetime for this sequel. This book just feels like home. The characters are so familiar and with each illustration of their expressive faces, you fall deeper and deeper in love with them. I just want to stroke the new bunnies sweet pink nose-enough it is cartoon-like, it has an element of realness that just makes them so cuddly. I love the hopping bunnies on the end sheets that just led you into this story about the joys of discovering a new fiend. This is a warm and wonderful tale that leaves ample space for children to illustrate the tale for themselves, is a loving portrayal of a young child’s growing independence and the deep seated happiness of finding a new friend.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for all of these amazing books. All opinions expressed are my own.
A Dynamic Duo of well written and beautifully illustrated non-fiction books by Whitney Stewart and Christine Engel.
What’s On Your Plate: Exploring the World of Food
This is not simply a book about exploring the world of food; it is actually a book about the world and its varied cultures. The facts are extremely well researched, honest and eye-opening. The wonderful union of author and illustrator is wholly creative and engaging, with just the right amount of pertinent information, each one accompanied by a recipe, opening up the door to explore and be curious about cultures and peoples. I appreciate how it draws lines connecting one place to another through the food and gives voice to our multicultural heritages. I love the mix illustrations of drawings and actual images. Its very eye-catching and really brings life to the information. I think this book will peak even the most finicky eaters interest to explore!
What Do You Celebrate: Holidays and Festivals Around the World
A great introduction to the varied yet similar holidays and festivals across cultures and the world. Even if the celebration is not specific to your culture, the overlying message is that although we are unique, we are all connected by our similarities. It is a very inspiring and accessible book about diversity, acceptance and the human spirit. I highly recommend this book. It is so relevant and full of joy and jubilation. The accompanying illustrations are beautifully detailed and depict a wide range of peoples. I love the mix collage aspect of the art!
Thank you to Whitney Stewart for sending me these books. All opinions expressed are my own.
This year the Easter Bunny is bringing Egg-cellent books from Candlewick Press!
Follow Me Flo! By Jarvis
I just cannot get enough of the lively bright yellow Flo and her adorable facial expressions-those eyes really tell it all! All of the cartoon-like characters are so animated they practically jump right off the page. This story tells in a fun and relatable way the importance of listening to your parents, paying attention and that being responsible is very important yet it can be fun too. The story is a sweet sing-song style which can lead to many fun interpretations from opera to rap. This will keep the story lively and current and will encourage some fun out-loud sharing moments. Additionally, each page is sprinkled with tiny bugs that fly and hop and are just as cute as can be! Great book that is clear and will elicit some giggles while delivering a very serious message.
Hazel and Twig: The Lost Egg by Brenna Burns Yu
Hazel & Twig, along with their Umma and Appa (which mean Mom and Dad in Korean) live in an adorable diminutive world full of hopes and dreams. There is some scientific learning about different types of eggs and bird life, but mostly it is a sweet tale of sisterhood, kindness and cooperation. Each illustration is so delicately depicted that you are literally swept into their tiny world. I am thoroughly enchanted by each tiny flower stem. This is a delightful tale that gently explains that finders are not keepers, and sisters are your best friends!
Thank you to Candlewick press for sending these books. All opinions expressed are my own.
Thank You, Crow by Michael Minkovitz; Illustrated by Jose D. Medina
I love the sweet green child and the doe-eyed crow. They make a beautiful couple creating art together. The child is kind-hearted and helps the hurt crow, who in turn brings joy and wonderment to the boy. This is a creative page turner that will elicit many giggles and ooh’s and aah’s.
Thank you to Penny Candy Books for sending me this book as part of a giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.
Gilly the Giraffe Self Esteem Activity Book: A Therapeutic Story With Creative Activities to Help Children Aged 5-10 by Dr. Karen Treisman
This book puts the B in Brave! Such a useful and accessible book. Just reading the book is inspiring and has helped me to focus on how I can facilitate a positive learning environment for the students and the teachers by incorporating the story and ideas into my in-school yoga classes. The story is one that flows well by adding yoga poses, breathing activities and short meditations and the added applied practices offer many useful ways of building self-esteem activities into the classroom.
Dr. Treisman brings another part of the world to many readers-with new words and ways. This is a great book about diversity. It is colorful, eye-opening and totally relateable. The story promotes creative problem solving, by offering a view from another angle. It is like a game of Statues, where one person sets themselves up as a statue; the next person walks around, looking at the shape from different angles, and then fits themselves into the structure, which is a fun way of promoting this way of thinking.
I highly recommend incorporating these activities throughout the day. Practicing increases personal growth and strength.
Anther great book by Dr. Triesman is Presley Pug, check out my review here.
Thank you to JK Publishing for sending me a copy of this book. All onions expressed are my own.
Adorable, diverse illustrations connected to beautiful simple breathing prompts. From A-Z, easy to follow breathing prompts, each one aimed to elicit a calming response. This book is a great one for young children and it can be used more widely- any teacher could offer up one of these breathing practices at the beginning of each class. Students can encouraged to note the ones they like the best to keep in their tool boxes of practices they know help them to feel good, calm and in-control. Calming breaths can be used to bring focus and attention in a classroom as well as a home or office but are also great to combine with a yoga pose! Great accessible ideas to incorporate into today’s mindful classroom.
Fun, accessible introduction to the power of the breath!
Pepa Pig and the Christmas Play by Neville Astley & Mark Baker
A new Pepa Pig just in time for the holidays! Pepa and her friends, a diverse group of animals but all one giant family! Diversity is the norm and all are accepted. Such a positive and healthy message to share with your child during the holiday season and all throughout the year. The best part of the story is the teacher accepting and accrediting each child’s desire on how they want to participate in the school play and shows that each child is an integral part of the group. This book is all smiles and the words hardly matter as you can just go page to page and get lost in the visual story. Love the fun and festive colors and there is a coloring poster on the back of the slip cover that would be fun to color and cut out and hang as Christmas ornaments.
I know this will be going under the tree for my granddaughter!
Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
This pop-up book is so creative and will inspire hours of play and learning. The book is full of fun and quirky rhymes that take the reader through the shops and to meet the people on Alphabet Street, all the while leaning the letters and sounds along the way. But that’s not all! This book also folds out and includes a beautifully illustrated play scene on the reverse of the shops and will inspire hours of imaginative play. I can see getting lost in the dreamy pastel artwork by the author and illustrator, Ingela P. Arrhenius. This is a wonderful ABC book and would make a great gift for a budding reader!
Jon Klassen’s Hat Box. Boxed set of Picture Books Ages 4-8
This is a beautiful boxed presentation of the wry and though invoking Hat stories by Jon Klassen. The books included are: I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat, and a print of that scruffy bear, rabbit and the sought after hat. The engaging watercolor illustrations are enough to tell the story. It’s all in the subtle expressions and side-eyed glances. Each page builds up to the surprise, ending and the wry expressions of the characters add to the slightly racy humor. These are intricately crafted stories of cause and effect and fit in along side Aesop’s Fables. They each have something to teach. There is nothing wrong with a book that does not tie itself up with a pretty bow at the end. Some stories are sassy and these are some of the best! This would make a great gift for the holidays!
Inside Outside written and illustratedby Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Arégui Ages 4-8
Wordlessly this beautiful picture book leads the reader into worlds large and small to bolster creative imagination. Within each two page spread, the reader is drawn narrowly into and widely out of scenarios where they might become a spelunker, a dog inside a doghouse or even a chick inside an egg. These unique perspectives will surely lead to interesting questions from curious kids and can offer great prompts for story telling, creative writing and afternoon day dreams. I love this concept and so appreciate the accessibility of a picture book that can expand to satisfy a larger audience: young, old, those who can read and those who cannot. Wonderful!
Mr. Scruff by Simon James Junior Library Guild Ages 3-7
This adorable book about people and their pets will grab attention with its fun rhymes and super charming ink & watercolor illustrations that will definitely elicit giggles. What is really special about this book is its compassionate story of diversity, acceptance and love. Kindness for animals, understanding that our choices have a resounding affect and that love is what makes the world go round. I highly recommend this heart-warming, heart-felt story.
Just Because by Mac Barnett Ages 4-8
This book is childlike satire at its best of the traditional bedtime avoidance rituals. Just before the lights can out, the fathomless quesions about life commencnse. Isabelle Arsenaults beautifully illustratoes each of the dad’s creative responses with gouche, pencil & watercolor illustrated 2-page spread of dream-scapes including flying fish, dinosaurs floating in space and mice blowing bubbles, all done with gorgeous muted tones that lend to the feel of nighttime and the slowly closing eyes of the sleepy child. This is a really cute bedtime book that will have you running to look up the real answers to these age old questions because curious minds will want to know! I highly recommend it! The expressions of the dog are priceless!
Paper World Planet Earth Illustrated by Bomboland Ages 8-12
Paper-cutting is the art of cutting paper and this book takes this laser-cut multi-dimensional art-form deep into the earth’s core. I just love the creative use of vivid colors to create dimension, texture, and shadow that literally jump off each 2-page spread. Along with its in-depth scientific teachings, this book creates a sense of wonder. On top of the already multi-layered aspect of the pages, there are flaps and die-cuts that offer more in-depth information about this big beautiful planet we call home. This truly one-of-a-kind book will appeal to readers of all ages and will bolster the curiosity of budding scientists, environmentalists and highly curious people!
Playlist: The Rebels & Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes Ages 12+
Right off the bat, with the gorgeously colorful marbled paper-art end-pages, you know this book is going to be engaging. This book is a multi-sensory treat exciting not just the eyes and mind but also the ears and the whole body. By including a Spotify play-list, your senses get an extra jolt by adding the emotional quality that only music can bring. Through music, the whole being is able to experience these “original” rock stars of classical music, a genre often overlooked when considering the basis of current music. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are hip!
The back stories plus the ties to current day movies, and music offer just enough information to entice even the most stubborn “pop” fan into appreciating the inspiring stories of these great composers. I was motivated to find the full tracks of the songs and really listen to these amazing pieces that helped shaped every piece of music and ring tone we hear today.
This is a great gift book and would look especially awesome on a coffee table or for your favorite band teacher! The collage, silkscreen & digital illustrations by Martin O’Neill are really well done and are very exciting and add a lot to the text. Each one could become a framed piece of art!
Walk This Underground World by Kate Baker Ages 5-8
Wonderfully informative! This creative non-fiction picture book opens up the underground world by taking the reader from deep in the underground city of Montreal to the subways of Tokyo to burrows of prairie dog and mole rats. This book will inspire curiosity and a realization that what is on the surface is just that and that there are many hidden gems that go into life on this an amazing planet. Sam Brewster intricately details each 2-page spread page with pop-open doors, windows and crevices to give an ever deeper peek into the teeming underground life. I highly recommend this book. It will excite and instill the desire for the young reader to know about our planet helping to create budding scientists, archaeologists, architects and highly interested and engaged people.