Tag Archives: love

When Aidan Became a Brother

Written by: Kyle Lukoff

Illustrated by: Kaylani Juanita

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Identity, Family, LGBTQ Youth, Trans Experience, Gender Stereotypes, Growing Up, Pregnancy, Siblings, Social-Emotional Learning, Empathy.

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!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

head+shot+copyKyle Lukoff writes books for kids and other people, here is a bit more about him from Kyle’s website! “Right now you can read A STORYTELLING OF RAVENS and WHEN AIDAN BECAME A BROTHER. Soon you’ll be able to read the MAX AND FRIENDS series, and also EXPLOSION AT THE POEM FACTORY.

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.”

juanitaKaylani 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.

The Hero Next Door

Written by: Each short story is written by someone different!  Edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

Covert Art by: Michelle Cunningham

For ages: YA middle grades

Language: English. Some Spanish, some Arabic.

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Neurodiversity, Domestic Violence, POC-Centric Narratives, Own Voices, Sports, Supernatural, Adoption, Friendship, Family, Love.

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-Perkovich is the author of the 8th 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, including Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, and Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins. She is the coauthor of the middle grade novel Two 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 Prince and The Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel, Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest is The 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 was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by 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, including A 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 khanHena Khan is 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.

Photo by Eric Jenks

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. 

Photo: Silvia Baptiste, 2013

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 Problemas1 Big SaladABC 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 books by 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 of We 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. Palacio lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel, Wonder, has been on the New York Times bestseller 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 in The Village Voice and The 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, including Peter Pan: The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world; and Last 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 at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at Clarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of the VCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 12.52.44 PMCover 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.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures [Released on January 14th!]

Written by: Nikki Grimes

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Natural World, Own Voices.

Summary: This book will resonate with anyone who has 1) tried to avoid going to bed or 2) tried to put a little critter that doesn’t want to go to bed, to bed. In the story, our main character is a young child that is being coaxed into sleep by their mother.  The plot is creative in its use of animal metaphors to describe the actions and attempts to get out of bed.  Like a sly wolf, the child slinks into the bathroom for a glass of water.  Like an antelope, they hop to the bathroom.

The story is a fun read aloud book, and Elizabeth Zunon’s artistic rendering is as brilliant as ever!  Bright colors and geometric animals adorn the pages, showcasing the attempts of the main character to stay awake as long as possible.  Will all of the sweet creatures go to bed, snuggly and warm? This book is sweet and simple, showcasing a loving family of color.

This book was sent to us by Sourcebooks for review, but all opinions are our own. It will be released on January 14th, and we are very appreciative that we got the chance to read this book beforehand.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ph_NikkiGrimes_2016_300dpi_3x5_AltNikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but, as she told an audience at the Library of Congress, she is happy to own the title Poet. Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time.

A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults including the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade; the Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings; Horn Book Fanfare for Talkin’ About Bessie; ALA Notable books What is Goodbye? and Words with Wings; the popular Dyamonde Daniel chapter book series, and numerous picture books and novels including The New York Timesbestseller Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and, most recently, Garvey’s Choice and One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to her work for children, Ms. Grimes has written articles for such magazines as Essence, Today’s Christian Woman, Book Links, and Image, Journal of Arts & Religion.

An accomplished and widely anthologized poet of both children’s and adult verse, Grimes has conducted poetry readings and lectures at international schools in Russia, China, Sweden and Tanzania, while short-term mission projects have taken her to such trouble spots as Haiti.

During the 1970s, Nikki coproduced and hosted The Kid’s Show on WBAI FM in New York. Later, during a six-year stint in Sweden, she hosted their radio program for immigrants, Grunslöst, and another for Swedish Educational Radio.

In 2005, Ms.Grimes was awarded the Golden Dolphin Award by the Southern California Children’s Book Association, recognizing her body of work.

Nikki has been honored with the NCTE Award for Poetry and the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award from Kent State University. In 2017, she was presented with the Children’s Literature Legacy Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

71zhtxpjlql._us230_-2Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Written by: Dallas Hunt

Illustrated by: Amanda Strong

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English & Cree

Topics Covered: First Nations, Indigenous Voices, Family, Problem-Solving, Accountability, Love, Animals, Nature, Natural World, Bilingual Stories, Social-Emotional Learning, Own Voices. 

Summary: More skills we wish to take into the new year are found in this book, and they are: accountability and problem-solving!  We really enjoyed how Awâsis knew she had to fix the issue of losing the bannock, and didn’t try to pass blame onto someone or something else, or make excuses.  We strive for accountability, and it’s exemplified beautifully in this story!

Awâsis loves spending Sunday with her Kôhkum (grandmother).  One day she asks Awâsis to deliver some of her world-famous bannock to a relative, and Awâsis is happy to do so, skipping and hopping her way through the woods.  Unfortunately, she drops the bannock into the river. Awâsis decides to continue her walk through the woods and ask her animal friends for help.  They can provide single ingredients, but none have anymore bannock.  Will Awâsis be able to make bannock to deliver to Kôhkum’s relative?

This is a very sweet and simple story. Awâsis remains positive and wants to solve the problem of having no bannock by taking responsibility to fix it herself.  The book introduces a lot of great introductory Cree vocabulary words and has a pronunciation guide in the back!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Dallas_Hunt-e1568993042384DALLAS HUNT (he/him/his) is a teacher, writer, and member of Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a proponent of language revitalization, his debut book for children, Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, includes words in Cree. Dallas teaches at UBC and enjoys reading great books to his nieces and nephews.

 

Amanda_Strong-e1541180498767AMANDA STRONG is a Michif, Indigenous filmmaker, media artist, and stop motion director currently based out of the unceded Coast Salish territory also known as Vancouver, British Columbia. She has exhibited work and screened films worldwide, including at the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, and the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Check her out at: www.spottedfawnproductions.com

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Written by: Traci Sorell

Illustrated by: Frané Lessac

For ages: 3-7 years

Language: Cherokee, Romanized Cherokee, English. 

Topics Covered: Own Voices, Indigenous Voices, Cherokee Nation, Culture & Traditions, Love, Appreciation, Kindness, Family, Nature, Vocabulary, Literacy. 

Summary: For our next trait we’re taking with us into 2020: Gratefulness and Appreciation!  We honor and cherish the experiences we’ve had in the past and look forward to the future.  

This is a beautiful book about all of the reasons a person would be grateful: cool breezes blowing, community events, and time with family.  We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is packed with breathtaking examples of gratefulness and community involvement that garner appreciation.  The illustrations are amazingly detailed and show groups of Cherokee people working together throughout the year.  We love the vocabulary and phonetic pronunciations on each page, ensuring that the reader knows how to say the words right off the bat.  Going through the seasons and some holidays, the reader gets a sense of the close-knit community and all of the reasons they are grateful.  It provides education into the culture if readers are unfamiliar with the Cherokee Nation, and there is an extensive definitions list, author’s note, Cherokee syllabary and alphabet in the back of the book.  We really love this book, and it will definitely be read for years and years to come!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Traci+Sorell+Home+PhotoTraci Sorell lives with her family in the Cherokee Nation, out in the country like she did as a child. Back then, she had geese, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Her mother’s Cherokee family has been in the area since the removal of most Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands in 1838. Traci grew up hearing stories about her ancestors and looking at their photographs with her elisi (eh-lee-see), grandma. Now her son does that with his elisi in addition to fishing in the nearby lake and learning about Cherokee culture.

As a child, Traci spent a lot of time reading as well as singing and acting in musical theater productions. She also loved playing cars and school with her younger sister and brother. They spent hours driving little toy cars all over the towns they drew on large pieces of cardboard. They quizzed each other on state capitals and used old textbooks to teach each other new lessons. Away from home, they spent lots of time visiting family across the Cherokee Nation, elsewhere in Oklahoma and places farther west. Traci still loves to read, play, learn, and travel.

When Traci was a teenager, her family moved to Southern California. She did less acting and more writing, both in class and on the high school yearbook staff. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Later, her mom, sister and brother got their degrees too.

Before she began writing for children, Traci’s work focused on helping Native American tribes and their citizens. She wrote legal codes, testimony for Congressional hearings, federal budget requests, grants and reports. She continues that work by writing stories for young people and encouraging other Native writers and illustrators to share theirs. When Traci was a child, she never read culturally accurate books about the Cherokee or any other Indigenous people. The stories and poems she writes now reflect her mission to add to the canon of literature showing that Native Nations and their citizens still exist and thrive today.

Frane Lessac photo 2.8.10From Frané Lessac’s website: 

I grew up in a small town on top of the Palisades in New Jersey. From my bedroom window, I could see the famous skyscraper skyline of New York City. In the hot summer months I could hear the shrieks of people riding on the roller coaster at a nearby amusement park.

As a child, I always wanted to be an artist or a veterinarian. By the time I was eight years old I had cats, dogs, fish, snakes, and a pet monkey named Hercules that used to sit on my shoulder. Hercules stank and had fleas and my mom finally said “either you or that monkey has to go.” I spent many weekends in New York City browsing through museums and galleries. I liked to explore New York’s Greenwich Village with my green snakes entwined around my arm. I loved watching the painters wearing their black berets and the poets reciting verse with the audience snapping their fingers in approval.

My cousin was the great writer and optimist Norman Cousins. Our Thanksgiving dinners were like United Nations meetings. I was surrounded by people of many different cultures and since been drawn towards people from around the world.

At eighteen, I headed for film school in California. My aim: to eventually make films about ‘primitive’ tribes before they were swamped by western culture. I borrowed camera equipment and, given film, took off on the road to the southwest, documenting a rodeo team, a long distance trucker, and even the birth of a baby. Home was a beach house in Malibu furnished with the discarded furniture of movie stars. We had Flip Wilson’s lawn chairs and Barbra Streisand’s settee. I worked hard to help finance my studies. My jobs included running the projector at the local Malibu cinema, chauffeuring the residents of Beverly Hills, and fertilizing cactus with a silver spoon at a desert nursery.

I moved from California to the small Caribbean island of Montserrat. Stunned by its visual beauty, I concentrated on painting the old-style West Indian architecture and its people.

Wanting to publish a children’s picture book about Montserrat, I next moved to London to be closer to publishers. I approached thirty publishers before one finally accepted the idea and the book was released as The Little Island in the United Kingdom. Six months later, it was published in the United States as My Little Island.

My work has led me on many adventures in numerous countries. Traveling continues to be a major source of inspiration for my work as I render my impression of a country and its way of life in oil and gouache paintings. My greatest ambition is to instill pride and self-esteem in children about their unique heritage and their own ability to capture in it pictures and words.

 

Family is a Superpower

Written by: Michael Dahl

Illustrated by: Omar Lozano

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Family, Superhero, Love, Kindness, Compassion, Education, Strength, Global Community, LGBTQ Families.

Summary: This book embodies the third characteristic we wish to take into 2020: Family (Chosen and/or Biological)! This book pairs superhero traits with traits families and individuals can take into their daily lives to help others and be the best they can be for their community.

We really like how the book it setup, one page showing DC superheroes helping and the other showing a regular family doing the same.  Standing up to bullies, cleaning up their community, a dad staying home with his kids while their mother goes to work.  The narratives are showing real, diverse, and multifaceted look at the families that make up our community.  The juxtaposition between the two world, DC and real, shows readers that they can be real-life superheroes and help others (whether that be welcoming someone to dinner or showing strength through a hard time.

One thing we wish from this book: On the jacket flap it says the families in the book are based on real life diverse families, and we wish they were pictured!  Recognizing the families maybe in a compilation in the back, actual photos and names, or something else would have really tied the whole book together and drawn parallels to the real world.

This book was sent to us by Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Michael-DahlMichael Dahl is the author of more than 100 books for children and young adults. He loves to write mysteries His five-book Finnegan Zwake mystery series published by Simon & Schuster won rave reviews. He also wrote a creepy series called The Library of Doom and another called Dragonblood. His nonfiction has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times. Not once, or twice, but three times! His Finnegan Zwake books were shortlisted for the Edgar and the Anthony Mystery Awards twice. He speaks at schools, libraries, and conferences across the country on graphic novels, mysteries, and books for boys, and has been a featured speaker at ALA, AASL, NYAEC, TLA, NOLA, EncycloMedia and IRA.

OmaWEFrFrom Omar Lozano’s website:

Hello there and welcome to my portfolio!

My Name is Omar, commonly known as ‘Omarito’. I started my professional career as assistant for colors in a studio called Graphikslava where we used to paint comic books for Marvel, DC, IDW and Stonearch. There I had the chance to work as illustrator in the remake of the 90’s mexican comic ‘Ultrapato’ (Ultraduck) and right after that I had the chance to enter CGBot where I worked mostly making art for mobile games. Then I became freelancing for various companies being Capstone the one I have worked with the most, making several children books with them led me to the chance to work in some DC IP’s such as Wonder Woman, Superman and Supergirl. Recently I have worked on ‘Valiants’ (Again a remake of a 90’s Mexican comic book and spin-off of Ultraduck). As of now I’m still loking to give my best in each book or character I make!

Inclusion Alphabet

Written & Illustrated by: Kathryn Jenkins

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Literacy, Inclusion, Neurodiversity, Disability, Friendship, Vocabulary, Family, Love, Global Community, Social-Emotional Learning & Development.

Summary: For our second skill to take into 2020 we’ve chosen Inclusion! Our planet is a wonderful, weird, diverse place.  It becomes better when we include and advocate for everyone, especially marginalized populations.  By understanding the intersections of oppression, we can be better allies and embrace the teachable moments throughout the day.

This is a creative take on an alphabet book, both teaching the letters and telling a story with it.  The book encourages the reader to recognize and embrace differences. We really like how the book demonstrates that something or someone might be unfamiliar, but friendship is possible.  There is an emphasis on social-emotional learning and kindness to others.  In the back is a glossary with all of the words used, and they are great for vocabulary development.  This book would be a great tool to inspire action, introduce a new classmate, or help with teaching how to be a good human.

This book was kindly sent to us by Kathryn, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Kathryn Jenkins is the author and illustrator of this book, and also runs a website called Inclusion Project!  The website has resources, a list of things that her family loves (that have withstood the test of 3 children!) and a shop where she designs her own inclusion-based shirts.

Here is a blurb from her website about why she does the work she does:

“In 2016, I started Inclusion Project because I wanted to talk about inclusion with others and how its not a place but rather — a mindset. I truly believe that, as a mom to three boys, one of has autism, — we can be more inclusive and kind and respectful and promoting of each other. We can believe in each others success, even though it does look different and because of my strong passion in that belief

Because of my strong passion in that belief, I picked up a pen and wrote a book. It was published in October 2018 and titled Inclusion Alphabet. I also designed shirts. I created several coloring pages and I am now currently writing a second and third book book full of worksheets and ideas to spread more inclusion. Be sure to join my community on Instagramand Facebook. You will find me there a lot. For any collaboration opportunities or features, check out my media kit. “