Tag Archives: single-parent family

Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade

Written by: Lyla Lee

Illustrated by: Dung Ho

For ages: 6-9 years

Language: English & some Korean

Topics Covered: Korean-American Experience, Lunar New Year, Culture & Traditions, Holidays, Friendship, Single-Parent Family, Lunar New Year, Safety, Social-Emotional Development, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

Happy Lunar New Year!  This book was released on January 14th, but we decided to wait to feature it until the actual holiday.  Mindy Kim is back for another adventure, this time taking the plunge and attending a parade in Orlando with her dad and friend Sally.

Mindy is feeling a little apprehensive because it’s the first Lunar New Year since her mom died, and she’s not quite ready to have as much fun as in years prior.  She insists on wearing her old hanbok (a ceremonial Korean garment) despite it being too small, because it was the last one her mother bought her.  This book, like the last one, offers a multitude of conversation options about Mindy’s feelings and events that happen at the parade.  Sally is a great character too.  Despite being white, she’s very excited to try Korean foods and learn different customs like how to bow properly.  She embraces the unfamiliar with gusto, and is excited to learn more about her friend.

Lunar New Year Parade normalizes the bicultural experience that so many kids and families live.  We love having an early chapter book that seamlessly weaves in Korean vocabulary and social-emotional learning into it’s story.  Definitely excited to see the next installment in the series!

This book was generously sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.

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. I’m focused on children books, game design, character design.

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.

Summary: 

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.

Barely Missing Everything

Written by: Matt Mendez

Cover Art by: Dana Ledl

For ages: Young Adults

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Latinx Identities, Racism, Sports, Alcohol & Marijuana Use, Family, Incarceration, Filmmaking, Friendship, Police Brutality, Pregnancy. 

Summary: This book was one of those stories that everything I anticipated to happen did not happen, I was constantly surprised at the deft storytelling of Mendez’s plot line.  Told from three viewpoints, the reader gets the full scope of what life is like for these characters.  Barely Missing Everything is a text that normalizes the experiences of working Latinx families barely making it, and the dreams that accompany hardly making ends meet.

Juan and his best friend JD are almost out of high school, and both love basketball. (I don’t particularly even like sports, but this book is incredible!)  Fabiola is Juan’s mom, and she’s just holding on while trying to balance raising Juan, their awful landlady, a surprise pregnancy, and Juan getting arrested after a party he attended got broken up by police.  So many of these moments in the book made me cringe and think “No! Why that decision?!” but the plot is so believable the reader can imagine knowing these characters and caring about them, wanting what’s best for them in the long run, which led to those protective thoughts.

Each character we come across has hopes and dreams, desperately wishing to escape their situation for a better one.  This is a book that normalizes the experiences of marginalized populations, and allows for diverse experiences to be broadcast to a wide audience.  Barely Missing Everything is emotional, raw, and impossible to put down. I mean Jason Reynolds said the book is “sure to bring a quake to the literary landscape” so really what else can we say to convince you to read it?

Simon and Schuster were kind enough to send us this book, but all opinions are our own along with the decision to review the book!

About the Author & Cover Artist:

rs=w-1240,h-620,cg-trueMatt Mendez has worked on airplanes all of his adult life and is the author of the YA novel Barely Missing Everything and the short story collection Twitching Heart.  He earned his MFA from the University of Arizona where he also taught creative writing.  His work has appeared in Pank, The Literary Review, Huizache, and other places.  Matt is from El Paso, Texas but now lives with his wife and two daughters in Tucson, Arizona.  You can visit him at mattmendez.com or follow him on Twitter @mgmendez.

 

me-ondrej-szollos_1000Dana Ledl is the cover artist for Barely Missing Everything! She lives in Prague, and is a freelance graphic designer.

Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Kai and the Monkey King [released 10/22]

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 5-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Mythology, Family, Love, Women Adventurers, Single Mother Families. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Flying Eye Books, Nobrow in the UK, but all opinions are our own!  This book is part of the larger Brownstone’s collection, and the illustrations are incredible!

Kai and her mother Wen are adventurers, traveling there world helping people.  When the pair are in a village visited by a destructive monster once a year, Wen and Kai head straight to the library.  Soon, Kai gets bored and decides to solve the problem herself by freeing the Monkey King to help defeat the monster.  After the Monkey King is freed, he has a few things to take care of before helping Kai.  After getting chased by monsters when Kai tries to help the Monkey King gather immortal peaches, she gets frustrated and he leaves her on a cliff.  Returning home, Kai sees her mother defending the village from the monster all by herself!  Rushing to help, Kai hopes the Monkey King will also come back and help but she is disappointed.  It is up to Kai and Wen to save the village!  Can they?

This is a great book that weaves in an original story and mythology.  Having the two main characters be women adventurers is an amazing breath of fresh air.  The way the illustrations wend their way through the book is reminiscent of a comic book, but with larger panels.  This is the only book in the Brownstone’s series that we have read so far, but we absolutely plan on getting more of them!

Reflection Questions:

  • What adventure of Kai’s would you like to have gone on?
  • Do you think Wen spends too much time in the library?
  • What do you believe Kai thinks?
  • Would you have freed the Monkey King?

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.

Dinosaurs Divorce; A Guide for Changing Families

Written & Illustrated by: Laurene Krasny Brown & Marc Brown

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Love, Community, Divorce, Friendship, Social-Emotional Learning.

Summary: This book begins with a Contents page and list of ‘Divorce Words’ with definitions. The book covers lots of sensitive topics, like fighting parents or ways that parents show they’re angry with each other. Next brings some explanations about how the reader (ostensibly the child whose parents are getting divorced) might be feeling, and how they can express it to parents. Specifically mentioned is not having to listen to one parent speak poorly about the other. This book encourages the child advocating for themselves with needing affection, space for processing emotions, and getting into the routine of living in two houses. Next up are more tricky topics of meeting one parent’s ‘new friend’ and how to navigate a potential step-parent, step-siblings, and moving into a bigger house to accommodate a growing family.

This book touches on a lot of emotional issues, and explains them in a developmentally appropriate manner for young children. It doesn’t shy away from issues like a child not loving their step-parent and instead emphasizes respecting them instead of insisting that they try and love them. While a child may grow to love the step-parent, the book very much validated the beginning emotions that children experience when a new adult joins their life. Overall, the book emphasizes love and the love parents have for their children despite getting a divorce. The book does touch briefly on only spending time with one parent, but does not go into great detail. The next illustration after offers spending time with other trusted adults instead and shows a grandmotherly figure. This book is from 1986, but continues to ring true today!

Reflection Questions:

  • How can you let others know what you’re feeling, and what you need because of it?
  • What are some things you can do to be a good friend to someone who may be going through a family-changing event?
  • If any of your family members ever got divorced, do you think this book would help them?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Families come in all shapes and sizes, and live all different distances.  Instead of celebrating a specific family member on a holiday, try having a Fancy Friendship party or Family Day where all loved ones can gather and spend time together.
  • A big part of this book are the comic panel illustrations!  Try writing and drawing your own comic book.  Work by yourself or in a small group to decide what characters you will have in your comic book, and get to drawing!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

bio-image-handsLaurene Krasny Brown was born in New York City, NY!  Prior to her career in fine art, Laurene authored, and in one volume also illustrated, sixteen popular picture books for children. She has broad academic and professional experience in education, the arts, and children’s cognitive development.

 

 

PT_grab_about_brownMarc Brown is best known for the Arthur book series!  Marc Brown is also one of the most prominent names in children’s literature. Author of the bestselling Arthur books, as well as the creator of the six-time Emmy Award–winning animated Arthur series on PBS (with 17 Emmy nominations), Brown is a household name and has been entertaining generations of young readers with his relatable stories featuring Arthur the Aardvark. Over 65 million copies of his Arthur books have been sold, and in recent years, Brown has illustrated such award-winning and critically acclaimed picture books as Wild About Books, Born to Read, ZooZical!, and Wild About You! His latest book, In New York, introduces children to the city he now calls home.

Marc enjoys speaking to children, students, educators, parents, and all who are interested in his work. Not only does he speak about his career as an author-illustrator, but he frequently discusses the importance of reading to young children and is considered by many to be one of the prominent voices in the push to make literacy a priority in families and children’s lives. Marc has given lectures tailored to art students, and has spoken on college campuses about the power that art and illustration can have. An energetic, thoughtful, and engaging speaker, Marc is sure to provide a wealth of knowledge to each group of people he speaks to.

 

Annie’s Plaid Shirt

She wished her mom understood her. Annie felt weird in dresses. She was happiest when she wore her plaid shirt. Why couldn’t her mom see that?

Written by: Stacy B. Davids

Illustrated by: Rachael Balsaitis

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Gender Expression, Family

Summary: Whether at a party, at school or at home, Annie can always be found wearing her favorite plaid shirt. Others don’t always understand, and Annie runs into a quandary when she is told she must wear a dress to her uncle’s wedding. Will Annie be able to express herself the way she wants to, despite her mom’s expectations?

Annie’s Plaid Shirt is a snapshot of just two days in Annie’s life, but their importance cannot be understated. Annie rides through the pages on her skateboard, climbing trees and breaking piñatas, and though other children snicker and stare in the background, Annie continues on, living her life the way she wants to. But dealing with parental expectations is harder for Annie, and she dutifully hangs her head and tries on dresses at the mall, even though she knows that they don’t express how she feels inside and how she wants to be seen. She has an ally in her supportive older brother Albert, who talks to their mom on Annie’s behalf, and aides her in her daring plan to come up with a new outfit for the wedding. Her mother is also a sympathetic character, revealing to Albert that she is “worried about what other people will think” about Annie’s gender expression. With this internal struggle going on behind the scenes, it is all the more heartwarming and uplifting when Annie’s mom sees Annie in her wedding outfit and exclaims “It’s perfect! You look so beautiful!”

This book affirms Annie’s gender expression just as as it is, without applying any labels to it. She just feels good in her plaid shirt, and that’s why she wears it, no matter what others think. She is able to think creatively about her dilemma, and solves the problem all on her own, showing bravery and self-acceptance the whole way through.

Reflection Questions: 

  • What is your favorite piece of clothing?
  • How does it make you feel when you wear it?
  • Have you ever had to wear something that you didn’t want to wear?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • Is there someone in your life that stands up for you like Annie’s brother does for her?

Continuing the Conversation: 

  • Have kids design their own piece of clothing, and write about how it would feel to wear that piece of clothing.
  • Books that also deal with this topic:
    • The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya
    • Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman
    • Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino

About the Author & the Illustrator:

20150721163647_194956Stacy B. Davids, Ph.D. (she/her) writes fiction and nonfiction books for kids and is a licensed psychologist. She’s also an independent publisher at Upswing Press. Her award-winning, 5-star rated children’s picture book, Annie’s Plaid Shirt, addresses the important concepts of gender roles, individuality, and self-esteem. You can get a sneak peak of the interior pages here.

As a kid, Stacy wanted to become either a teacher or a psychologist. She became both – First a special education teacher, then a clinical psychologist.

Besides being an author and indie publisher, Stacy works as a school psychologist. She has a special interest in students with disabilities. She lives in North Miami Beach, Florida.

balsaitis_rachael-1

Rachael Balsaitis (she/her) is a Minnesota-based watercolor illustrator with a love for the sweet and quirky. Having studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she was lucky enough to take a class from local-legend Nancy Carlson who introduced her to what would become her life passion – illustrating picture books. She shares her curiously decorated apartment with her pet rats and guinea pigs, and an assortment of house plants.