Mia Wenjen’s Sumo Joe

Sumo JoeI’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I get “book mail” often. In fact, my four-year-old always asks if the package I’m opening contains something we can read together, and it usually does. When I received Sumo Joe, Mia Wenjen’s debut picture book, the two of us did what we usually do – we cuddled up on the couch and read the book. Then we read it again, and again, and again. You get the idea.

This book is many things: 1) a lyrical kid-friendly introduction to sumo, 2) a story about sibling love (and competition), 3) clever and accessible commentary about gender and cultural traditions, and 4) an empowering story that reminds young readers that size doesn’t always matter, even in competitive fighting. Continue reading

Dena Fitzpatrick’s A Puggle in Paris (2018)

Puggle in ParisA Puggle in Paris (2018), written by Dena Fitzpatrick and illustrated by Amelia Gossman, takes readers on a charming romp through Paris, France. Pretty pastel colors, dominated by pink, set the scene with feminine flair as Lucy, a beret wearing puggle, journeys alone to France. Lucy enjoys lunch at the Eiffel Tower, shopping along the Champs-Élysées, and viewing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Less well-known attractions  like Sacré-Cœur, the Catacombs, and Napoleon’s Tomb are also on Lucy’s itinerary. Continue reading

Coming Soon: Gertrude Stein & Bianca Stone’s A Little Called Pauline

A Little Called Pauline

In one of Penny Candy Books’ newest publications Bianca Stone shapes Gertrude Stein’s modernist poem “A Little Called Pauline” into a beautiful story about a woman’s motherhood journey. It is a challenging and pleasurable book that little readers and their grown-ups can get lost and found in as they laugh at the silly lyrical sounds that Stone coaxes into something akin to sense. Continue reading

Dinobibi’s Travel for Kids Series

Dinobibi publishes an exciting interactive non-fiction series of travel books for children. The Travel Series is accessible to school age children and each book comes at $12 price point that parents will appreciate! Countries available to explore include Spain, China, Italy, and South Korea.

Dinobibi sent me two titles to review: France and Mexico. Each book is jampacked with information about the highlighted country, including history, weather, flora and fauna, food and culture, famous people, and major cities and attractions. They are professionally written, illustrated, and edited with the clear aim of engaging young readers. Each book includes a variety of photographs to help introduce readers to each country’s rich diversity.

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Cynthia L. Copeland’s Cub (2019)

Cynthia L. Copeland’s new middle-grade graphic memoir, Cub, is an intimate and atmospheric coming-of-age story that follows 12-year-old Cindy as she navigators the hormonal halls of middle-school and an informal internship at a local paper. This snapshot of author Cynthia L. Copeland’s middle-school years takes place during 1972 and 1973 and is packed with recognizable cultural references. Adult readers will likely find themselves chuckling at references to sea monkeys and trolls that younger audiences may not be able to fully appreciate. However, there is plenty of charm and relatability to keep the intended audience of eight to twelve-year-old readers engaged. Continue reading

Lisa and Michel Zajur’s The Piñata Story (2018)

The Pinata StoryThe Piñata Story (2018), written by Lisa and Michel Zajur and illustrated by Samira Mobayed Murray, explores the cultural history of piñatas while introducing young readers to Spanish vocabulary.

Mobayed Murray’s luscious illustrations of brightly colored homes and storefronts transport readers to an idyllic pueblo in Mexico where they are introduced to a young boy named Pepe. Pepe recently developed some bad habits and is ignoring his parents. Concerned with Pepe’s behavior, his parents seek wisdom through prayer at the iglesia. Continue reading

Cultural Diversity

This fall my 4-year-old son began a French-track dual-language Pre-K program at a public school in North Texas. In addition to a rigorous language component, the school focuses on cultural diversity! My interest in children’s literature has always been shaped by my personal journey as a mom and I’ve been adding more books about cultural diversity to our library over the last few months.

I’ll be reviewing some of our favorite books here as well as tagging relevant past reviews. I have always very intentionally reviewed diverse books, but this category will focus less on social justice themes and more on books that help young readers become familiar with various religious, ethnic, and regional cultural practices. I hope my readers find this new dimension of the blog informative!