Tag Archives: new experiences

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business

Written by: Lyla Lee

Illustrated by: Dung Ho

For ages: 6-9 years

Language: English & some Korean

Topics Covered: Parent Loss, Korean-American Experience, New Experiences, Moving, Growing Up, Family, Social-Emotional Learning, Friendship, Single-Parent Families.


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_author-photo-e1563250956805Lyla 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.

7ef4bf2895977.57c98c564f341Dung Ho is an illustrator based in Viet Nam. They are focused on children books, game design, character design.

Captain Starfish

Written by: Davina Bell

Illustrated by: Allison Colpoys

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Anxiety, Fear, Courage.

Summary:  This book is about a young boy named Alfie, who gets That Feeling when he has to do something new.  Alfie gets That Feeling when he has to participate in running races, at birthday parties, or do something he doesn’t feel brave enough to do.  This year, Alfie is leading the Underwater Dress-Up Parade as Captain Starfish.  The night before the parade, Alfie’s parents tuck him into bed.  Alfie has underwater themed nightmares, and wakes up feeling not brave enough to be Captain Starfish.  Alfie’s mom comes into his room and he tells her “I can’t.  Please don’t be angry.”  Alfie’s mom isn’t angry, and tells him to get dressed.  They are going somewhere special!  Alfie’s mom takes him to the aquarium, where everything is shimmery and beautiful. Alfie sees a starfish, but that makes him feel worse about missing the parade.  Then, Alfie sees a clownfish for a split second before it hides again among the coral.  Alfie connects with this shy fish, and talks about it the entire way home.  “Sometimes clownfish need to hide away.” his mother says.  “People too.” says Alfie.  Alfie decides to dress as a clownfish the following year for the Underwater Dress-Up Parade, and the last page of the book is Alfie onstage in a costume.

This book is a tender look at social anxiety in children.  Alfie’s parents do not push him to  interact with his peers when he feels uncomfortable, instead encouraging him to feel brave enough to do things like go to a friend’s birthday party or lead the parade as Captain Starfish.  Adorable illustrations and relatable content, would definitely recommend for talking about fear of new things to young children.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever felt That Feeling when doing something new?
  • How do you think Alfie feels when his mother is not mad that he doesn’t want to be Captain Starfish?
  • Why do you think Alfie connects with the clownfish at the aquarium?
  • How do you think Alfie feels at the Underwater Dress-Up Parade onstage at the end of the book, when he is dressed as a clownfish?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Talk about bravery as a group.  What are some ways that students show courage?  How could they help others feeling anxious or scared about doing something like lead a parade?
  • Have your own Underwater Dress-Up Parade!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

davina bell Davina Bell is a writer and editor from Western Australia. Her short stories and essays have been published in various journals and anthologies, including Best Australian Stories. For six years she was an editor at Penguin Australia in the Young Readers Division, where she was lucky enough to work with some of Australia’s most talented creators of books for children. Davina’s first novels for middle-grade readers were published by Penguin Books as part of the hugely successful Our Australian Girl series. Works of historical fiction, they follow a year in the life of a ballerina growing up in Perth during World War One. Her first picture book, The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, was published by Scribe in 2015 and is illustrated by the award-winning book designer Allison Colpoys. In 2016, she has picture books coming out with Scribe, Penguin and Allen and Unwin. Davina is currently living in the south-west corner of Australia on the edge of a vineyard, writing and freelancing. She regularly talks at schools, universities and festivals around the country about writing and publishing.

Allison ColpoysAllison Colpoys is an award-winning book designer and illustrator, and a lover of pattern and typography. A previous Senior Designer at Penguin Books Australia, she now works in-house at Scribe Publications, and freelances through the Jacky Winter group. Allison’s first illustrated picture book, The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, won two Australian Book Design Awards, an Australian Book Industry Award, and has been shortlisted for the CBCA’s Crichton Award for the Best New Talent.


Written by: Stacy McAnulty

Illustrated by: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

For Ages: 5-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Courage, Social-Emotional Development, Self-Acceptance.

Summary: This book emphasizes that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, and in some situations that you might not expect!  Like Beautiful, this book will take a phrase like “a brave kid has super strength” and pair it with an illustration of a young girl of color concentrating on a game of chess; turning the notion of strength on it’s head.  “A brave kid never gives up” shows a young child wheelchair racing while their friends cheer them on from the stands and “a brave kid speaks the truth” shows some children admitting they broke a window playing baseball.  Something truly beautiful about the books that McAnulty writes is they put disabilities as active participants-a boy with cerebral palsy is standing up to a bully, not on his own behalf, but the behalf of another child (seemingly able-bodied) crying in the background of the illustration.  A second theme of both Brave and Beautiful is teamwork.  Many of the pages show groups of children working together towards a common goal, determined and happy expressions on their faces.  The characters treat each other tenderly and encourage each other to achieve their dreams.  This book is a much needed addition to any curriculum that addresses social-emotional development and learning!

Reflection Questions:

  • When is a time that you have shown bravery?
  • What could you say to someone that is feeling afraid, to help them feel brave?
  • Who is someone in your life that is brave? What do they do that’s brave?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Try doing something that scares you, to practice being brave? How do you feel after you try something new?
  • What are some movie or book characters that you think are brave? Draw yourself with that character and have both of you being brave!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

stacy mcanultyStacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a dog therapist (is that a thing???), a correspondent for The Daily Show (why not), and a Green Bay Packer coach (totally!). She has written dozens of books including her debut middle-grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl , a Junior Library Guild Selection, and the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor book Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, illustrated by David Litchfield; Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert, illustrated by Deborah Hocking, Brave and Beautiful, both illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 1 husband.

joanne lew vriethoffJoanne Lew-Vriethoff was born in Malaysia and grew up in Los Angeles. After receiving her B.A in Illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, she worked in the television industry as a character and concept illustrator for clients pitching children’s television shows.  She later moved to New York and trained as a graphic designer at a Design Studio working with various clients such as Columbia University, New School, and IJDG in NYC. Moving to Amsterdam gave her the opportunity to get back into making art again.  Many of her illustrations have themes of childhood nostalgia, humor, mischievousness, loneliness, love, social interactions friendships with an added touch of magic.. Her first published book, a Dutch poetry book set her on the path to becoming a children’s book illustrator.  Since then she has been illustrating picture books, middle grade novels, early readers, educational books, magazines,and for a toy branding company. Her favorite medium is pen and ink, mixed media. Joanne lives with her family in Amsterdam. Besides making art, she loves traveling and road trips with her husband and kids, photographing street art, cycling along the Amsterdam canals at midnight, snorkeling, day dreaming, collecting picture books.

Jabari Jumps

Written and Illustrated by: Gaia Cornwall

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: New Experiences, Courage, POC-Centric Narrative, African-American Family

Summary: Jabari has decided he’s ready to take that big leap-off the diving board!  When Jabari arrives at the local pool with his dad and little sister he begins to prepare himself for his diving board debut, but allows all the other kids in line to go in front of him.  His father is very supportive and asks if maybe Jabari would like to “take a little rest” before jumping, and agrees that “stretching is very important” when Jabari decides to do some warm-ups pre-jump.  Just when Jabari decides that maaaaaaybe tomorrow is a better day to jump, his father offers up the advice that sometimes taking a deep breath and telling yourself you’re ready stops making things scary and makes it feel “like a little surprise” instead.  With newfound courage, Jabari decides to ascend the diving board ladder again and see if he can surmount his fears.

Reflection Questions: 

  • How do you think Jabari was feeling after his dad talked to him?
  • Do you think you would feel proud after doing something scary?
  • What are some of the things that scare you?
  • What are some ways that you overcome your fears?
  • Do you think these ways might help Jabari too?

Continuing the Conversation: 

  • Children can draw themselves overcoming a fear, or something that they previously found intimidating that they were able to surmount.
  • Books that also deal with this topic:
    • Captain Starfish by Davina Bell

About the Author & Illustrator:

image  Gaia Cornwall spends her days working from home, as her brilliant husband codes furiously at MojoTech, her human offspring toddle/zoom around, and their older, feline siblings keep them all in line. After graduating from Pratt Institute, she worked on a variety of projects {–including producing a film festival, animating cartoons for network television and film, and working on a documentary–} that gradually led her back to one of her first loves: illustration.

Most of her pieces start with good ol’ pencil and paper, and are then finished digitally. She approaches each project like an intricate puzzle made up of many, and ever-shifting, pieces: Who’s the audience? How can I make this visually exciting? What does the client want?– It’s a trick to get all the moving parts to fit. But it’s a process she loves. Her work has been featured online, in interactive games, on assorted products, in films, as murals, and in various forms of print.