Tag Archives: interracial families

Our Big Little Place

Written by: James A. Conan

Illustrated by: Nicolle LaLonde

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: City Life, Interracial Families, Friends, Apartment Life, Pets, Imagination.


This book follows a child as they talk about their life in an apartment building.  Sometimes their parents talk about how small it is, but their home is perfect to our narrator.  The apartment is perfect for pretending to be pirates, for games of hide and seek in the dark, and for looking out at the other tall buildings that make up the city the family lives in.  There’s even a park nearby that everyone calls “the backyard” fondly, and lots of families in nearby buildings gather there to hangout and play together.

This is a very sweet book that emphasizes the community that can often be found in an apartment building, and also provides representation to the many families that live in an urban neighborhood.  For a home to be the “perfect” size is very relative, and our narrator can do all of their favorite things already so why move? I love the representation of an interracial family, and the diverse representation in the illustrations.  I love the joy that the narrator brings to the story with their big imagination and desire for adventure. Instead of focusing on what the family doesn’t have, the narrator is excited about all that they do have.  This gratitude is so wonderful to read about in a story, and to teach readers!

This book was kindly sent to us by the author, and it was published by Annick Press.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

James_Laptop_TransparentJames A. Conan is the author of Our Big Little Place. He studied Politics and International Development at Trent University, and graduated from Centennial College’s Book, Magazine, and Electronic Publishing Program. Through his studies there, he was introduced to some of the wonderful people at Annick Press that made Our Big Little Place possible.

His own big little place is in the east end of Toronto, where he’s lived for most of his life. He enjoys days at the beach, cooking, and a good book.

He isn’t really a cartoon, but that would be nice.

P4130200_Nicolle LaLonde is an illustrator who works and lives in the city of Toronto, in Canada. Since she was small, Nicolle has been creating and followed her dream to OCAD University, where she graduated from the illustration program.

Nicolle grew up exploring the woods near her house, reading about animals and watching Studio Ghibli movies on tape, things that she credits to her love of nature and visual storytelling today.

Nicolle’s inspirations to create include 19th century folk art, 1980’s anime, midcentury children’s books and Art Deco era magazines – and she loves all things retro and kitsch.

In Nicolle’s off time she enjoys reading, vegan cooking, spooky stories and exploring the outdoors. She lives with her engineering boyfriend and beloved robot vacuum.

Kaia and the Bees

Written by: Maribeth Boelts

Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Growth, Fear, Lying, Beekeeping, Environmental Conservation, Family, Education, Emotional Regulation.


Kaia’s family has a pretty unique hobby, especially for living in an apartment building.  Her dad keeps bees!  He is very passionate about beekeeping, and bee conservation, especially since honeybee numbers are dwindling globally.  Kaia knows it’s important, but unfortunately she has One Big Fear: bees! Kaia’s small interracial family has thousands of bees, and Kaia is quick to brag to her friends how she’s also a beekeeper like her dad.  They’re impressed…until a bee comes along and she panics.

This story is all about Kaia’s journey through fear, emotional regulation, and bravery.  Her dad doesn’t push her to be around the bees, but continually opens up opportunities for her to interact and help out with them.  I love how interwoven into this story of facing fears is a very real fear that many scientists have-that the bees will disappear and bring ecosystems to a screeching halt with the lack of pollination that bees provide.  This is an adorable story perfect for nature, environmentalism, or social-emotional units in a classroom, or at home!

This book was generously sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maribeth-boelts-2020-honey-01Maribeth Boelts has been writing stories since kindergarten and began writing for kids over 25 years ago when her own children were young. Lots of picture books and three children/four grandchildren later, Maribeth enjoys not only the process of story writing but also meeting kids and adults who like to write. Maribeth and her family took on the challenge of beekeeping, and enjoyed this fascinating hobby for several years. The stings aren’t fun, but the work that honeybees do in pollinating is absolutely essential, and they were thrilled to play a tiny part in it. She also loved harvesting honey! Maribeth is so happy any time she can be in the woods, on a trail, on a river, or watching a sunrise or sunset. Nature has a way of changing us, healing us, and giving us all sorts of creative ideas!

authorspic_websizeAngela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in the great state of Texas. She now resides on the east coast with her boyfriend, Kyle, and petite dog, Petunia.

She is also the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids in 2018, Sid Fleischman Award winner, and an ALA Notable. When Angela is not in her studio or visiting schools, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.