Topics Covered: Growing Up, Activism, Friendship, Self-Expression, Empowerment, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning, Skill Cultivation, Women in Leadership.
Summary: Step Into Your Power does the incredibly complex job of being both a call to action as well as an anthem that every person, especially every young girl, is exactly enough being just who they are. This book is set up in a way that has several main themes with lessons related to it, but the entire book flows together beautifully inspiring the reader to do what’s best for themselves as well as others.
The reader is empowered to find their crew, ask for help, and find what feels good. We love the action steps, resources, and self-reflection activity ideas associated with each lesson. They help the reader carry on and follow through with their own self-development, truly bringing about the tools for each os us to be able to step into our power in whatever way feels the best for us.
Step Into Your Power cultivates the power within to develop skills with action steps and reflective questions for the reader so they can begin raising hell in whatever way they are called to do so. Jamia Wilson is candid, sharing stories and lessons she learned while growing up that share insights she gained. This is an incredible book, much needed for every young girl trying to find their way and step into their already perfect power.
This book was sent to us by Quarto, but all opinions are our own!
Andrea Pippins is an illustrator, designer, and author who has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She has done work with brands such as Free People, Lincoln Center, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Andrea is the author of I Love My Hair, a coloring book featuring her illustrations celebrating various hairstyles and textures, and Becoming Me, for young women to color, doodle, and brainstorm their way to a creative life. Andrea’s new book, Young, Gifted & Black, was released Spring 2018. Andrea produces artwork with a mission to create what she wants to see and a vision to empower women and girls of color and people in underserved communities with visual tools to own and tell their own stories.
Summary: Since it’s Corrie’s birthday, she wanted to post a book that she’s currently loving and can’t stop talking about. This book is SO cute, we’re a bit obsessed with it. It tackles several issues all at once, and each is incredibly well-done and easy for young readers to understand. This is a book that belongs in every classroom as soon as possible, and we are so grateful to the author and incredibly talented illustrator for bringing this story to life.
Everyone thought that Aidan was a girl when he was born, and when he was young it was frustrating to be so misunderstood. Eventually, he figured out a way to express himself and his parents helped make the adjustments he wanted so he could feel more comfortable in what he wore and what his bedroom looked like. Now that Aidan’s mother is pregnant again, Aidan wants to make sure he’s the best big brother possible and this includes making sure that the new baby isn’t misunderstood like he was. The book goes through a lot of the preparations a family makes when getting ready for a new addition, with special care taken not to gender the new baby or put any stereotypes in place in terms of a name or room color. A particularly adorable illustration shows Aidan researching names in a baby name book, but he has changed the title from “boys and girls” to “babies and babies”, specifically wanting a neutral name.
The care that Aidan takes shows an immense amount of empathy for his new sibling, wanting them to feel wholly loved and cared for without any of the pressures that gender stereotyping places on a new life. In the back of the story is an author’s note about Kyle Lukoff’s own journey to being his authentic self, and it adds another level of tenderness to the story itself.
This book was sent to us by the Lee & Low for review, but all opinions are our own!
I’m also a school librarian. When I’m not helping my students finds books I review professionally, assist in sensitivity readings and consultations, and present on the importance of children’s and youth literature all across the country.
I was born outside of Chicago, and moved to Washington State when I was five. I moved to New York City for college in 2002 and never left, except for an extremely brief attempt at law school. I got hired at Barnes and Noble when I was sixteen, and have been working at the intersection of books and people for over half my life. I write about transgender kids, collective nouns, poetry, and queer lives.”
Kaylani Juanita is an illustrator based in Fairfield, CA who illustrates inclusive picture books, editorial art, and afros. Some of her clients include Chronicle Books, Cicada Magazine, and DEFY. Her work has been recognized by Society of Illustrators, The Huffington Post, as well as BBC. California grown and raised, she’s studied at Cal Arts and CCA for a BFA in Illustration. Her mission as an artist is to support the stories of the under represented and create new ways for people to imagine themselves. You can find her lurking in public secretly drawing strangers or writing nonsensical stories about who knows what.
This is an adorable early chapter book that we are so excited to bring you on Korean-American Day! Min-jung Kim, who also goes by Mindy, has just moved with her father from California to Florida. The book follows Mindy trying to make friends and fit in, using her classmates’ interest in her seaweed snacks to start a business.
I really enjoyed this book! Mindy is a clever and enjoyable narrator, I found myself chuckling at her phrasing of things. This series is an important contribution to chapter books in this age group because it introduces a lot of the reasoning behind social-emotional skill development. Mindy thinks about what she says and does, and the reasoning behind doing something that she doesn’t wholly want to do (like apologizing to a friend). Mindy also takes careful note of how she’s treated by her teacher, which can open up opportunity for discussion about microaggressions and being a minoritized student. There is definitely a void in Own Voices literature about the Korean-American experience, and maintaining one’s cultural identity when faced with disdain or confusion from peers. Mindy is also coping with the loss of a parent, another family situation that isn’t common in many books that we’ve read. Overall, this book is a fantastic resource for multiple experiences and opportunity for classroom and family discussion about tricky topics.
This book was generously sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. This book comes out TOMORROW!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.
Dung Ho is an illustrator based in Viet Nam. They are focused on children books, game design, character design.
Summary: This book is awesome! Each story takes a unique viewpoint and has a hero in it, but an unexpected one. There are stories about adoption, ghosts, sports, brilliant robot engineer twin sisters, and even one with an autistic main character who loves aikido!
This book is special because everyone can find something to connect with in these stories. They are diverse in viewpoint, in interests, and storylines. In one story, the hero is a camp counselor that buys something for a town zombie. In another, the hero is a young girl who realizes she must use fairy magic to stop a war between worlds. It’s hard to describe all of these stories without giving away everything! Trust us, this book is fantastic and the author list stellar. It’s a great introduction to a huge array of talented authors, and a jumping off point into their works. Highly recommend you check this book out and have at least a few copies for you classroom!
About the Authors & the Cover Artist:
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovichis the author of the8th Grade Superzero,which was named a Notable Book for a Global Society and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, includingAbove and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow,andSomeday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins.She is the coauthor of the middle grade novelTwo Naomis,which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel,Naomis Too.She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators, holds an MA in education, and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com!
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.
Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novel,Black Panther: The Young PrinceandThe Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel,Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest isThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Ronald grew up on Air Force Bases and has lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, and a bunch of other places he doesn’t remember. As a boy, he loved to read, especially fantasy and science fiction, and this inspired his lifelong passion of the fantastical. The book that inspired him to write more than any other wasThe Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planetby Eleanor Cameron.
Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.In 1997, she started writing her first book,Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, includingA Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal. She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.
Anna Dobbin is a writer, copy editor, and proofreader. She owns an adorable Italian greyhound named Pintxo. In middle school she played soccer three hundred days a year and also loved singing, reading and making art. Anna is Linda Sue Park’s daughter, and this story is just one of their second professional collaboration after they contributed to the collection Totally Middle School, edited by Betsy Groban.
Hena Khanis a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.
Suma Subramaniam works with children globally to promote education and is a WNDB volunteer. After a successful corporate career for many years, now, instead of chasing technical talent in the hi-tech industry, she chases characters in her fictional work for the most part of her time. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management.
For over forty years Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country.
Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Juana is also the author and illustrator for Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas, 1 Big Salad, ABC Pasta, and Sweet Shapes. She illustrated Smick! By Doreen Cronin, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese, and I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera. She has participated in two recent anthologies: We Are The Change (Chronicle, 2019) and The Hero Next Door (Crown Books, 2019). Juana has been lucky to earn recognitions from the Colombian Presidency, the National Cartoonists Society, the National Headliner Award, International Latino Book Awards, and Ridgway Award honors, among others — which is quite impressive for someone who was a less-than-stellar student and who often got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Despite all trouble caused, Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita.
Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He is a library professional by day, a writer (and ukulele player) by night and was a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (“Leitich” is pronounced Lie-tick. First a long “i,” then a short “i,” followed by a hard “k.”) is best known as an award-winning, bestselling author of fantastical and realistic fiction for young readers. She is the New York Times best-selling YA author of Hearts Unbroken and both the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. These novels were released by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. She also is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including: Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and Indian Shoes, all published by HarperCollins. In addition, she has published short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. She is based in Austin, Texas, and a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/. She holds both a bachelor of science degree (with majors in news/editorial and public relations) from the William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she was president of the Native Law Students Association and co-founded The Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. She also serves on the core faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is both a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of We Need Diverse Books.Order booksby Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. Ellen is the co-founder ofWe Need Diverse Books(WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. She is the author of the middle grade novel The Spirit Hunters, Book 1, and Book 2, Island of the Monsters, and the YA fantasy trilogy The Prophecy Series. She is the editor of WNDB’s middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and the YA anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings out in June 2018. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.
R. J. Palaciolives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel,Wonder, has been on theNew York Timesbestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world. A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother’s maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared inThe Village VoiceandThe New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, includingPeter Pan:The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world;andLast Summer.Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.
William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore atOberlin College, English at theUniversity of Vermont, and creative writing atClarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of theVCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of theGallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
Cover Art Designed by Michelle Cunningham. She is a designer at Penguin Random House working on the Middle Grade team. When she’s not playing around with book cover layouts, she’s also a freelance illustrator.
Summary: This rhyming story follows a young girl named Celestina, who dreams of being an astronaut despite everyone telling her to be a ballerina instead. Celestina is teased by her classmates and told to focus on something more realistic than being an astronaut by adults and teachers. Sadly, Celestina thinks that they may be right and begins to focus on dancing. One day, she gets a new teacher who tells the class that they are the ones in charge of their dreams-no one else can tell them what they want to accomplish. Her dream renewed, Celestina begins to focus on the hard work it will take to achieve her ultimate goal of going to space.
This book is super cute, and we really enjoyed it! Having a character interested in science and space that isn’t a boy, but instead a young girl of color, is refreshing. We really love that Celestina is a character that is developed enough to have multiple interests that she can embrace. She does love dance, and is talented at it, but space is where her heart truly lies. This book is also very believable in that when she is bullied, Celestina begins to doubt herself. But she also never truly gives up on her dream, and with the encouragement of her teacher realizes that she can accomplish exactly what she wants to.
We were sent this book by the author for review, but all opinions are our own!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Here is a bit more info about author Donald Jacobson from his “about me” section of his website:
“I’m a husband, a father, a registered nurse, and a sometimes-writer living and working in Memphis, Tennessee. My main sources of inspiration when writing — especially when writing kid’s books — are my two amazing daughters (Hazel and Holly) and my beautiful, smart, supportive, and loving wife (Stephanie). Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to strike out and put my ideas on paper. I’d also like to give an honorary mention to our mopey rescue dog, Yoda, who stands beside me as the only other source of male DNA in our crazy, but wonderful, little family.
My secondary source of inspiration — er, maybe not “inspiration”, but information — is my clinical background in nursing. I’ve been a nurse for over 10 years, with experience in emergency nursing, EMS, case management, nursing informatics, and a variety of other settings. I also have two Master’s degrees, which definitely made me get over my fear of rejection when writing. If you’re a writer, and you have trouble just putting something out there for judgment, I highly recommend going through a Master’s program. You’ll eventually stop worrying about that rejection, get over your failure (after failure, after failure, after failure) and just learn to create content.”
We had some difficulty finding out information about illustrator Graham Evans, there are several artists with the same name and we don’t think he has a personal website featuring his illustrations. If you know, let us know!
Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Nature, Historical Figure, Trailblazer, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, India, Natural World, Growing Up, Hard Work, Community Involvement, Independent Thought.
Summary: The next intention we are taking into 2020 is Environmental Conscientiousness. We’re always looking for ways to reduce our single-use plastics, recycle more efficiently, and take public transportation or walk most places. But another thing everyone can be more conscious about is planting trees and supporting the initiatives that do. Although we believe that too much onus is put on the individual while global corporations are not always held accountable, but we are stewards of the land we inhabit and should be working with it rather than controlling or continuing to colonize it.
This book is lovely, and based on a true story! Jadav Payeng was a boy who lived in India and noticed that when trees were getting cut down, it was impacting the animals that lived around the village. He went to the elders and they gifted him with some bamboo to plant, so he could begin to rehabilitate the land. Jadav worked very hard watering and caring for the bamboo and it grew into a thicket. Jadav wanted to provide better soil for the bamboo so he began to dig up worms and bugs in addition to the water he hauled, and bring different types of seeds. After years of hard work, animals returned because Jadav had grown a forest where there was once barren wasteland.
This book is inspirational because it’s not only based on a true story, but Jadav is still alive and currently planting on his second island! We think the book would be improved with some real photos of Jadav and his forest, to help younger readers understand that he is still doing this important work for the earth. Definitely a future classic and important story to be told, it reinforces that hard work might take years but the impact is great enough that we should all start as soon as possible!
This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 List but all opinions are our own!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader. As a child, Sophia was a passionate reader and artist. When not reading or drawing, she could be found at the farm riding horses or out causing mischief with her brothers. As an adult, Sophia is still an avid reader, art fanatic, and mischief-maker. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia on Twitter, in her cave (aka office) or running around after the kids, dogs or any combination of the two. Sophia grew up in Florida, went to art school in California, and met her husband in Manhattan. She’s now enjoying life by the beach with her family.
Kayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration. Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.
Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.
Topics Covered: Trailblazer, Politics, Women in Politics, Activism, Feminism, Bodily Autonomy, Memoir/Biography, Political Activism, Family, Planned Parenthood, Inspiration, Growing Up, Community Involvement.
Summary: For our first skill to take into the new year we’ve chosen: Activism! This is what we want to embody most throughout the next decade, and Make Trouble is the perfect place to start. Through the acts of many we can create waves of change. Let’s join together and take this new beginning as a time for hard work, direct action, and step into our power!
This book is awesome! It is part memoir, political history, and call to action for everyone reading the book. Something I really love about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from the really difficult parts of campaigning and activism, but the unfairness of the system that we’re up against doesn’t diminish Cecile’s hope for a better future.
Make Trouble guides the reader through Cecile’s life and career (especially at Planned Parenthood), she comes from a long line of political organizers and continues that tradition with her children today. Throughout the book there are questions for the reader to be able to reflect on their own lives and become inspired to change thing about the injustices experienced in daily life. Being able to find the courage to speak out and begin to organize for change is a difficult and necessary job for young people today. Luckily, they’re already doing a great job!
This book makes the point over and over again that we must persevere through the garbage and keep fighting on the ground to create ripples of change for both our lives and the lives of others. Organizing and activism are long roads filled with late nights, tired feet, and disappointment. But we can join together to affect great change and ensure that all humans enjoy their personal liberties and work to counteract the systems of oppression that keep cycles of marginalization spinning. Our work is not over, but we are together for the fight.
Cecile Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health, reproductive rights, and social change. She began her career helping garment workers, hotel workers, and nursing home aides fight for better wages and working conditions. After years in the labor movement, she moved back home to Texas to help elect the state’s first Democratic woman governor: her mother, Ann Richards. She went on to start her own grassroots organizations, and later served as deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one ofTimemagazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. For over ten years, Richards served as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues related to women’s rights and activism. Richards serves on the board of the Ford Foundation. She and her husband, Kirk Adams, have three children and reside in New York City.
Eugenia Mello is an illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina currently living and drawing in NYC.
She studied Graphic Design at the University of Buenos Aires, where she also taught Design and Typography courses for several years.
She holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Latin American Illustration, Creative Quarterly and 3×3 Magazine, among others.
She is passionate about rhythm, movement and feelings, and uses color and shape to translate into drawing the things that are difficult to put into words. She is always hoping to get music out of her images.
She was recently awarded a Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for her illustrated moving piece Hope for the Day.