Tag Archives: social-emotional development

Why Do We Cry? [released 4/7]

Written by: Fran Pintadera

Illustrated by: Ana Sender

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Emotions, Growth, Family, STEM.

Summary: 

This is a very sweet story centered around a young boy named Mario asking his mother why people cry.  Why, we cry for all sorts of reasons.  Expressing emotions, such as crying, is a very natural thing.  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s dictated who is allowed to cry (girls) and who isn’t (boys).  Accompanied by illustrations that are at times whimsical (like critters in the forest or human clouds of anger raining tears),  Mario’s mother talks about all of the emotions that can be associated with tears.  Loneliness, sadness, anger, and happiness are just a few addressed in this stunning book.

We’re in an unprecedented and emotional time right now, and a book such as this can open the door for conversations and self-refection.  In the back of the book, the reader can learn more about what tears are, and how they even look different depending on the emotions associated with the tears.  Why Do We Cry? is truly a gorgeous book that brings many salient points to the forefront, particularly right now.

This book was kindly sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!  It will be available on April 7th, but was previously published in Spain in 2018.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

unnamed-5Fran Pintadera is a storyteller, theater director and an award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children. He lives in Spain.

 

 

 

Sender_Ana_sz_sRGBAna Sender was born in Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain in 1978. She studied Fine Arts and illustration at the Massana Art School in Barcelona, and completed her studies at the Francesca Bonemaisson school. She draws, writes, and imagines all sorts of stories. Her works have appeared both in many books and newspapers. Ana lives near the forest. Many of her illustrations are inspired by her dreams. She likes werewolves, wild things, and green swampy places.

Mrs. Bibi’s Elephant

Written & Illustrated by: Reza Dalvand

For ages: 3-5 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community Involvement, Friendship, Pets, Family, Chosen Family, Empathy, Economics, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: Mrs. Bibi has a pet elephant, and they spend all of their time together.  The elephant loved playing with the children in the streets, and drinking tea with Mrs. Bibi, listening to stories.  The others in the town are disturbed by the close friendship, they don’t understand why Mrs. Bibi would want a pet instead of fancy objects.  The townspeople decide to send the elephant to the zoo.  Heartbroken, Mrs. Bibi tucks her elephant into bed and makes a plan. It’s quite anti-capitalist, and we’re all about that! Mrs. Bibi doesn’t care about objects, she cares about the companionship that her elephant brings.

The ending of this book is unique (sorry, we can’t spoil it!).  Typically in books there is an apology conversation and a rectifying of the situation.  I actually really like the ending, it’s surprising.  Mrs. Bibi and her elephant decide to leave town because they’re not valued in the community, and because the others in town prefer stock markets and fancy chandeliers over friendships and pets.  When she and her elephant leave, the children are sad and eventually the town does realize that having pets and forming meaningful community connections are better than material objects.  Will the beloved pair come back? Place your bets now, this book will be out soon!

This book was sent to us by Flying Eye Books, but all opinions are our own.  The book will be available in April 2020!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Dalvand_Reza_swReza Dalvand was born in 1989 in the Iranian city of Andimeshk. As a child he had but one idea in his head: to draw. After studying graphic design at Isfahan University of Art, he completed a master’s degree in illustration at the University of Tehran. He has published more than 15 picture books in Iran, Europe, and Asia. He is a member of the Iranian Society of Illustrators and has participated in many national and international exhibitions from countries around the world, including UK, Japan, Iran, Korea, Italy, UAE, Ukraine, and Surbia, and his work was showcased at the Bologna Book Festival in 2018. Reza lives in Tehran.

An Ordinary Day [released March 10]

Written by: Elana K. Arnold

Illustrated by: Elizabet Vukovic

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Social-Emotional Learning, Grief, Loss of Pet, Cochlear Implant Visibility, Home Birth, Childbirth, Love. 

Summary: 

Wow. Wow wow wow.  This book is absolutely breathtaking and caught me by surprise upon reading.  I was looking forward to reading this book, since author Elana K. Arnold wrote another one of our favorites (What Riley Wore) and this newest story did not disappoint.

Let’s begin this praise-a-thon with the diversity of the characters and dreamy illustrations.  The story centers around two families, one headed up by an interracial lesbian couple and the other by a POC couple, one of which has a cochlear implant.  Both doctors are of color; each family is changing on this ordinary day-one is losing a member and one is gaining a member.  This book celebrates how the extraordinary and ordinary blend together, different families experience joy and loss simultaneously and cope with big changes and emotions.  Moments the radically shift some lives don’t impact others, as shown by a neighbor mundanely watering flowers, unaware of the goings on inside neighboring houses.

Something that also makes this book special is that a home birth is featured, I honestly cannot think of another book that has one.  Also, I don’t think this is giving too much away, given the gorgeous cover art! Anyway, all around this book outshines a lot of others that dance around delicate and emotional topics.  An Ordinary Day is a beautiful tribute to family and the moments in life that make it special.

This book was sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own!  This book is out on March 10th.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elana-e1484018914417-200x200ELANA K. ARNOLD is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets. 

img_4560Elizabet Vukovic is an illustrator from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and she graduated from the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco, California.

Her main interest is children’s book illustration but she also experiments in other directions of art as well (character design, concept art, fashion illustration and decorative art).

Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Girls Outdoors, Family, Strength, Fear, Social-Emotional Growth.  

Summary: This is the tale of Marcy, daughter of Arthur from the first Brownstone’s book. Marcy is very afraid of the dark, and also very skeptical that her father ever had a wild life of adventure (after all, he’s so old now!).

Arthur decides to go and try to obtain a book of secrets in hopes of curing Marcy’s fear.  Unfortunately, he is taken captive by a large snake inside a pyramid during his quest.  Marcy must go on an adventure to help save her father, and hope that her fears are conquered in the process.  This book is great in showing that girls can be problem-solvers and outdoor adventurers!  Marcy must decide for herself who to believe when she meets various Egyptian gods and goddesses, and how best to free her father.  The story is helpful in that it discusses what the gods and goddesses rule over, making it an educational adventure that Marcy goes on.  The characters are not incredibly diverse, but the only human characters are Marcy and her parents.  Arthur and Marcy do end up leaving the book he was searching for in the pyramid, which honestly made us feel better given the colonial history of pillaging Egyptian artifacts.

Of the Brownstone’s books, I really like how the heroines are strong and independent!  They face their fears in order to help others, being a role model for social-emotional development and growth.  I am also such a fan of the illustrations, they’re adorable and reminiscent of comic books (something I really like).  There are lots of little humorous details to discover on the pages, an aspect that makes Joe Todd-Stanton’s style unique.

This book was generously sent to us by Flying Eye Books for review. All opinions are our own! The hardcover version was originally published in 2017, but the softcover edition will be available in early March of 2020.

About the Author & the 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.

The King of Kindergarten

Written by: Derrick Barnes

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 4-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: School, Social-Emotional Learning, New Places, POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Kindness, Own Voices. 

Summary: This book is the cutest!  It is adorable, upbeat, and makes a first day at school seem like no big deal.  Speaking about the daily routine at school in an embellished and royal way is reminiscent of I Will Be Fierce! which turns the ordinary and potentially scary into a fun adventure.

Our main character wakes up excited to tackle the first day, assured by his family that he will be the king of kindergarten.  After brushing his royal teeth, our king begins the journey to school and meets the kingdom, have important discussions, and play outside.  This book is precious in it’s character’s self-assuredness that school is a place for him, he will be seen, heard, and respected.

This is especially important given that he is a young boy of color, where in the “real world” there are disproportionate statistics of these young children being suspended and expelled.  Every classroom is obligated to not only ensure the social-emotional learning to tackle new and potentially anxiety-inducing situations, but to also actively work against these myths that young boys of color are somehow more out of control and/or deserving of punishment than any other child in the classroom.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cropped-img_8599-2Derrick D. Barnes is from Kansas City, MO. He is a graduate of Jackson State University with a BA degree in Marketing. He is the author of the critically acclaimed picture book CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut (Denene Millner Books/Agate Bolden) which recently won the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Award. It was also a HUGE winner at the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, taking home FOUR Honor awards: the Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Newberry Honor, and the Caldecott Honor. His first two books were published by Scholastic; Stop Drop and Chill, and The Low Down Bad Day Blues.  His first YA novel, The Making of Dr. Truelove was published by Simon Pulse which was recognized by the American Library Association as a Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. He is also the author of the best selling chapter book series entitled Ruby and the Booker Boys (Scholastic). His 2011 middle grade hardcover classic We Could Be Brothers was rereleased in paperback in 2017 by Just Us Books. Prior to becoming a published author, Derrick wrote best-selling copy for various Hallmark Card lines and was the first African American male staff writer for the company. He is the owner of a creative copy writing company, Say Word Creative Communications.  He is also the creator of the popular blog Raising The Mighty, where he ‘chronicles the experience of bringing up four beautiful Black boys in America’. His next book, entitled The King of Kindergarten, will be published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Derrick resides in Charlotte, NC with his enchanting wife, Dr. Tinka Barnes and their four sons, Ezra, Solomon, Silas, and Nnamdi (Nom-dee).

vanessa-new-225x300-2-2Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants allchildren to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

​Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.

The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

Firu’s Forest

Written by: J. Leigh Shelton

Illustrated by: Danica Jokic

For ages: 5-10 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth, Nature, Natural World. 

Summary: This book is a collection of 3 stories, connected by cameos and the rainforest.

The first story is about a boy named Sebastian, who lives with his grandmother and loves bananas very much.  He plants a banana plant and when his grandmother asks if he plans on sharing the bananas, Sebastian assures her he won’t be able to because he will eat all of them.  Once the tree starts producing fruit and Sebastian makes a new friend, will he be able to stick to his word and decide not to share?

The second story is about two cats, one very friendly and one very scared.  The black cat is extremely cautious, because it had been hurt before.  The two cat friends discuss what it means to be fulfilled in life, and how to be like the smiling sloth even through hardship.  Can the black cat let go of the past and make new friendships?

The third story is about a dog, the titular character Firu.  Firu has the honor of his fur being used to help build a hummingbird nest, thus beginning a close friendship with the tiny egg and subsequently tiny bird that hatches out of it.

These three stories are woven together by both the rainforest setting and the social-emotional growth of the characters that takes place within the stories. What I also like about the three stories in one book is that it allows for conversations with a group about the intertwined storylines, and inferencing about how else the characters might know each other outside of the stories.  The illustrations are beautiful, and we enjoyed the longer text.  The stories are a bit longer than typical picture books, which enabled the reader to know the characters better by the end of the story.  This book could also be used to talk about the environment, preservation, and why we need to be conscientious of how to treat others.

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0J. Leigh Shelton is the author of Firu’s Forest and a freelance writer living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

20181030154329643Danica Jokic is the illustrator of Firu’s Forest! She also lives in Florida. 

 

 

 

 

Grobblechops

Written by: Elizabeth Laird, based on a story by Rumi

Illustrated by: Jenny Lucander

For ages: 4-7 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Growing Up, Social-Emotional Growth.

Summary: Grobblechops opens with a little boy named Amir and his dad getting ready to go to bed.  Amir is pretty worried that a monster might be hanging around, and Amir’s dad doe this bets to settle Amir’s fears by explaining all the reasons that a monster wouldn’t be interested in eating any member of their family.  Some potential solutions involve shaking a frying pan, flapping an umbrella, and sitting around talking (because adults are too tired to fight, especially in the evenings).

Overall, the story is very humorous and will resonate with anyone who has tried to quell the fears of a tiny human in an attempt to make them go to sleep.  The book also ends with a lovely message to get to know someone (or something!) before deciding that it’s scary or a threat.  Grobblechops is a very sweet story, and we love how much movement is conveyed within the illustrations!

This book was sent to us by Tiny Owl for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

eyJiYWNrZ3JvdW5kIjpudWxsLCJoZWlnaHQiOjMzMSwiaWQiOjExNzksInJlc2l6ZV9tZXRob2QiOiJjZW50ZXIiLCJyZXNpemVfcXVhbGl0eSI6Ijk1Iiwid2lkdGgiOjQzMn0-6012af947d9ae2e5771ba330752398597b5ef623Elizabeth Laird “was born in New Zealand in 1943. My father was a ship’s surgeon from Scotland, and my mother’s forbears were all Scots too. They met after a great earthquake in 1933. I was the fourth of their five children. We all returned to live in Britain in 1945, and I grew up in South London.

My first big adventure was teaching in a school in Malaysia when I was eighteen. I went trekking in the jungle, and decided that an adventurous life was for me, even though I went down with typhoid and was bitten by a sea snake.

After I’d been to University (in Bristol) I got a job in Ethiopia, teaching English in Addis Ababa, the capital. I had too many adventures to recount. In the vacations, a friend and I would go off into the remote areas, hiring mules when there were no roads to travel on. I loved Ethiopia, its beautiful countryside and brave, stoical people.

After a spell at Edinburgh university, I worked for a summer in India. I had to travel by air from Mumbhai to Bhopal, and was horribly airsick. The man in the next seat was extremely kind to me. His name was David McDowall. I liked him at once, and we got married soon after. It was the best thing I ever did in my life.

David had been working in India, but was transferred to Iraq, so that’s where we began our married life. We visited the Marshes, and the Kurdish region. Some time later, after our first son, Angus, was born, we moved to Beirut, in Lebanon. A civil war was raging at the time. The fighting became so bad that eventually we were evacuated to Vienna, where William, our second son, was born.

We finally decided to take a great risk and see if we could earn our living as writers. We had luckily bought a house in London while we had been working abroad. We came home, settled down, and wrote. Being rather hard up, we took in bed and breakfast, and did various kinds of jobs to make ends meet, but our books began to sell well, and we have never looked back.

I went back to Ethiopia thirty years after I’d left, in 1996, and fell under that lovely country’s spell again. I set up a project with the British Council collecting folk stories from traditional story tellers, and made many journeys to the farthest corners of Ethiopia. I travelled extensively in Kenya too, in order to write the Wild Things series. Other projects have taken me to Palestine, Khazakhstan, Iran and Russia. These days, I tell myself that I’m too old for big adventures. I should spend my time sitting in my London study, snoozing by the fire, or pottering around in Edinburgh, where we spend part of our time. But if an invitation should flutter through the door, or an idea, or a mad, mad inspiration, I know I’ll be off again, just as soon as I’ve packed my bag.”

image-assetJenny Lucander is a freelance illustrator based in Helsinki, Finland.  From her website:

“Making art, making illustrations, is a way of communicating with the world. Depending on how I decide to portray our environment, the characters, their reactions and feelings in my children’s books, I communicate messages that either cement or shake the existing norms and stereotypes of our society. Having this kind of power thrills me, but at the same time I’m aware that the privilege this enables is accompanied by great responsibility. I am confronted with big questions every day. I feel that we have the obligation to stay critical and constantly work towards a better and more humane society. This is the most exiting part of being an artist.
I enjoy exploring the big questions we struggle with during childhood. Difficult feelings of identity and belonging, as well as joyful feelings of happiness, freedom and play. In creating my illustrations I try not to be too rigid, and instead to be more free and wild. A thin sensitive line characterizes my illustrations, and I tend to use many different materials in my collages. I seldom have a clear plan of what the outcome should look like. It feels like solving crosswords without definite answers, like trial and error. Sometimes the mistakes are the most beautiful part of the picture. Serendipity gives me wonderful kicks.”