My name is Jennifer and I’m a 30-something with a doctorate in Cultural Studies and a MA in Literary Studies. I also have a toddler. I didn’t give children’s picture books much thought until I was pregnant; until then my research focused on “grown-up” culture: films, literature, even pornography. But, as a Lefty mama with a PhD I understood the role cultural texts, like picture books, play in shaping how we perceive ourselves, the world, and all the people in it (and the animals, environments, ideas, ext.). I wanted the hours a week I knew we’d spend reading to help my child understand the most important lesson I think a parent can teach – you are good if you do good.
This blog reviews some of our favorite children’s books. I hope it helps other parents find awesome books! Feel free to email recommendations, comments, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Publishers and Authors: I review diverse, LGBTQ* inclusive, and social justice themed children’s picture books, early chapter books, middle grade books, and young adult books. I prefer hard copies (especially for children’s picture books and graphic novels). But, I understand the cost can be prohibitive and accept E-books. *It is currently taking me 4 – 6 weeks to review picture books and 8 – 12 weeks to review MG and YA. Email me with requests at email@example.com.
How to use the blog: Scroll down, discover great books, buy the books, read the books!
Jason Tharp’s It’s Okay to be a Unicorn is a delightful picture book about a creative and kind unicorn, Cornelius J. Sparklesteed, hiding his identity in a town of horses with irrational beliefs about unicorns. The town, Hoofington, bans unicorns, but is otherwise warm and welcoming. Cornelius makes fabulous hats for the town’s citizens and, as a result, is asked by the mayor to perform in the town’s holiday festival Hoofapalooza. The catch: the mayor requests Cornelius make “the most UN-UNICORNY hat” he can. Along with preparing for his own act, Cornelius inspires many of his friends to create even more fantastic art, songs, and even baked goods. Continue reading
Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl (2019) is a haunting middle-grade novel that dabbles in the fantastic, but it is real-world drama that drives the story-line. The novel is about two twin sisters, Iris and Lark, who mirror each other physically while having distinct personalities. The twins live with their mother and father, but (as is requisite for middle-grade fiction) the father is absent. He is in London on a six-month long business trip and is only introduced in the text through Skype. The story is really about the girls’ relationship with each other and their discovery of their uniqueness through a forced separation at school. The two had always been in the same class but start the new school year with separate teachers. This does allow them to experience individual challenges while learning that they can have separate experiences and still share a deep bond. Continue reading
The Dragon Thief, Zetta’s Elliott’s stellar follow-up to Dragons in a Bag, is now available!
The Dragon Thief is a wonderful story that is both culturally specific and wonderfully expansive in its fantasy world-making.
Both books represent intergenerational relationships, chosen family, and annoying little sisters with wit and grace. These books will appeal to readers just moving out of their early-chapter book phase while also engaging older audiences. Of course, they also make wonderful read-aloud choices for home or school!
You won’t regret running to your nearest bookstore or library to check out this amazing new book!
The Voyage, by Robert Vescio and Andrea Edmonds, is a visual narrative created to help children reflect on the refugee experience. In this short picture book, moody and atmospheric illustrations take the lead with only single albeit powerful word orienting the reader to the action depicted.
The story follows a family fleeing violence in their home country. Continue reading
My Mom is a Girl: A Lesson of Equality is a recent Mascot Books publication written by Andrea Lardner and illustrated by Junica.
The book focuses on the relationship of a young boy named Taj and his mother. Mother and son both have light-brown skin, rosy cheeks, big brown eyes, and dark brown hair. The story opens with mother and son reading a bedtime story about equality. Continue reading
I was truly honored to be invited by Penny Candy Books
to participate in the cover reveal of the brilliant Mariana Llanos
‘ upcoming picture book Eunice and Kate.
I’m sure you will find Elena Napoli
‘s illustrations as fun and inviting as I do.
This sweet story is scheduled for release February 11, 2020, which is National Make a Friend Day! It’s a fitting release date, since the story is about two friends and neighbors with a lot in common, including moms who struggle to pay the bills while also filling their homes with love and laughter!
Even though Eunice and Kate share many experiences, the girls have distinct personalities and dreams. In fact, conflict arises when both girls fail to acknowledge and celebrate what makes the other unique.
The story provides a valuable lesson about appreciating difference. It also subtly represents urban living and working class experiences usually absent from children’s picture books.
This week I am boosting an amazing blog! Please, check out Colorful Pages!
I really appreciate this post about building an ethnically diverse library for children and young adults. Colorful Pages is a wonderful resource for parents, educators, and librarians.