Christine Emery’s The Black Cloud Blues

The Black Cloud BluesWritten by Christine A. Emery and illustrated by Kellie R. Emery, The Black Cloud Blues does the important work of acknowledging childhood depression. In doing so it makes a valuable contribution to children’s literature. Kellie Emery’s deliberate illustrations provide access to the unnamed narrator’s feelings as he takes readers on a journey into his experience with depression. Continue reading

Terry Lynn Johnson’s Lost!

Terry Lynn Johnson’s Lost! is the first book in the Survivor Diaries series. Two recently introduced children vacationing with their families at a resort in Costa Rica get lost in the rainforest. They survive through will, wit, and a little luck.

In the first chapter, one of the two protagonists, Carter, a young African American boy, is interviewed by a reporter about surviving being lost in the Costa Rican rainforest. We learn that his friend and fellow survivor, Anna, a white girl who is older, taller, and stronger than him, will be interviewed the next day. Knowing the children survive alleviates a sense of doom in the chapters that follow, which pull us back in time six weeks to when Carter and Anna disappeared into the rainforest. Continue reading

Elise Gravel’s You Can Be

You Can BeElise Gravel’s board book, You Can Be, subtly rejects gender stereotypes while introducing very young readers to a range of characteristics through images of diverse children embodying them.

Steely-blue and bright-red images leap off the glossy-white background of each page. The cover features the back of a young child with light-brown skin and long black hair running in a garden. It sets the tone for the text, welcoming young readers into the book to explore all the things they can be. Continue reading

Courtney Carbone’s This Makes Me Sad

This Makes Me Sad, written by Courtney Carbone and illustrated by Hilli Kushnir, is one of several books in Rodale Kids’ Dealing with Feelings series. This easy reader does a great job teaching emotional literacy through simple sentences that build an accessible and engaging story about a boy and his lost dog.

The story is told in the first-person by a little boy who accidentally left the gate on his fence open, which allowed his dog, Kit, to escape. His parents try to reassure him that everything will be okay, but he is anxious and sad. Continue reading

Shannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair ScareShannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare is delightfully and generously illustrated by LeUyen Pham whose many images are sure to encourage young readers’ transition from early readers to easy chapter books. The story strains against traditional fairytale conventions by engaging contemporary ideas and empowering its diverse princesses. Continue reading