Always be You

Written By: Ioana Stoian

Illustrated by: Dawn M. Cardona

For ages: Infant & Up (Board Book) 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Acceptance, Self-Esteem, Love


This is a sweet board book with gorgeous paper-cut illustrations (the author actually made the paper for the illustrator to use in the book!). I really love the book’s words speaking directly to the reader (or listener) encouraging them to be themselves and love whoever they want to. Although all of the characters are flowers and bugs, they have the cutest, most expressive little faces!

Especially having lines in stories like “no emotion is bad” is really important for all children. Girls are often cultured to not show anger, and boys are taught not to show sadness (and non-binary children are often left out of books altogether). Healthy emotional development requires the space and emotional safety to work through these tough feelings like anger, sadness, and frustration. I know I typically review books that show people experiencing social-emotional learning and growth, but Always Be You is a really sweet board book and the perfect addition to any collection. It’s not overly complicated for young listeners, and has a wonderful message of love and acceptance. Particularly teaching children from a young age that whoever they love is beautiful and accepted, we can hopefully create a loving generation that celebrates all of the unique aspects of humanity.

This book was kindly sent to us by the author Ioana Stoian, but all opinions are our own!

Ioana Stoian

Ioana Stoian is a British-born paper artist.

After a five year decorative painting apprenticeship in France during which she attended the prestigious Ecole Van der Kelen, Ioana’s attraction to hands-on learning led her to travel to Japan. There she discovered the art of paper folding, which inspired her to create her own designs and publish her first book Origami for All: Elegant Designs from Simple Folds. Manipulating sheets of paper, Ioana became interested in the medium itself and after learning from master papermakers now creates her own paper for her artistic endeavours.

Since becoming a mother in 2017, Ioana has developed a deep interest in respectful parenting philosophies, in particular the work of child specialist Magda Gerber. She dreams of a future where each and everyone of us can be our true selves.

Ioana is currently based in Minneapolis [USA]. She is the author of Origami For All: Elegant Designs from Simple FoldsThe Origami Garden and Always be You, her debut children’s book.

Dawn M. Cardona

Dawn is a self-taught illustrator working mainly in Children’s publishing. Ever since she was a little girl, it has been her dream to illustrate Children’s books and no matter how hard she tried to convince herself to do something more “practical” with her life, that dream never faded. In 2017, at the age of 35, Dawn decided to finally listen to her heart and take the leap!

Dawn is thrilled to share that dreams really DO come true. Her first picture book was published last year in 2019. Dawn’s next two picture books are due out in the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2021!

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