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
The 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
2019 was a wonderful year for Raise Them Righteous! I’ve reviewed over 200 books since beginning my blog in June 2018. 125 of those reviews are of LGBTQ+ children’s picture books! I am so happy to bring more attention to diverse, inclusive, social justice-oriented books for young people! My blog has over 4500 followers and my Twitter account has an additional 4000. I hope to grow my followers in 2020 as I continue to review excellent books!
In 2019 I participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day and will participate again at the start of 2020. I also participated in the Cybils Awards again! This time as a Round One Judge for the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category. I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and read some amazing middle grade books! I hope to participate again in 2020.
In 2020 I will continue to review picture books, middle grade, and young adult literature with a focus on LGBTQ+ content. I’m finishing my book project about LGBTQ+ children’s picture books this spring and it will come out spring 2021! The project is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi.
I’ve made so many great author/publisher connections this past year and am continuing to learn about more great books. As a result, I plan on expanding my reviews to include English-language children’s picture books that focus on global cultures, including religion, food, geography, and day-to-day life. Although I’ve posted some reviews of books that fall into this category I will be making it a focus in the coming year!
Thanks so much for following my blog! I appreciate your support.
Jennifer Miller, PhD
Natalie Lloyd’s Over the Moon (2019) will have readers immediately rooting for Mallie, the middle-grade fantasy novel’s twelve-year-old protagonist. Mallie lives with her parents and younger brother in Coal Top, a bleak town where joy is scarce. Coal Top’s inhabitants have no hope for a better future. Serving inhabitants of the wealthy valley below is the only option for girls and boys must work in coal mines where they eventually lose their sight, like Mallie’s father. Mallie has already begun serving a family in the valley but she is fiercely protective of her young brother and will do whatever she can so he can avoid toiling in the coal mines. Continue reading
Greg van Eekhout’s Cog (2019) is a surprisingly philosophical middle-grade novel featuring emotionally proficient robots, maniacal scientists, and hotdog eating challenges. The title character, Cog, was created to help scientists research cognitive development. On the outside Cog looks like a brown-skinned twelve-year-old boy, but he’s all metal and wire on the inside. Continue reading
Sarah Jean Horwitz’s The Dark Lord Clementine (2019) follows twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous on a journey of self-discovery that weaves magic and melancholy into an epic tale sure to delight readers. Most of the action takes place in and around the family’s desolate castle. Clementine knows nothing about her absent mother and her father, Lord Elithor, is a cold and angry figure whose evanescent presence haunts the text. Without any siblings or friends, the young protagonist is clearly lonely and yearns for connection. Continue reading
Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison’s Every Shiny Thing shifts between verse and prose as well as between the point-of-view of Lauren, a wealthy girl whose beloved brother moves to a therapeutic boarding school for teenagers on the autism spectrum, and Sierra, a girl whose experienced poverty and is currently placed in a foster home in Lauren’s neighborhood. The girls attend the same private Quaker school and have an at times awkward and uneven but ultimately caring friendship. As Lauren’s friendship with Sierra develops, she is drifting away from her best friend of many years. Continue reading
I love Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). It is a roller-coaster ride of a sci-fi adventure featuring amazing characters who are all exceptionally kind and utterly quirky. Sal, a young magician, has just moved to Miami with his dad and stepmom. He’s enrolled in a school for talented youth where he ends up spending more time in the principal’s office than the classroom. Readers learn pretty early that Sal is able to transport objects, including iterations of his deceased mother, from one dimension to another. His father is a scientist trying to figure the whole thing out. Although the science is never detailed it’s present throughout.
Geoff Rodkey’s We’re Not From Here (2019) begins on Mars as a small group of kids trade rumors they’ve heard about the fate of humanity. Earth is on the brink of destruction and the surviving humans must find a new home.
After securing permission to move to Planet Choom as refugees a small group of desperate humans enter biosuspension for twenty years, which is how long it will take them to get to what they anticipate will be a welcoming albeit completely alien new home.
Judith Vigna’s My Two Uncles was published by Albert Whitman & Company in was published in 1995. Vigna has authored a long list of social issue picture books including Black Like Kyra, White Like Me, I Wish Daddy Didn’t Drink So Much, Mommy and Me By Ourselves Again, and Saying Goodbye to Daddy. My Two Uncles, like her other titles, seeks to write into children’s books realities too frequently absent from them. In this case she explores same-gender relationships from the first-person point-of-view of a child, Elly, who loves visiting her two uncles. Unlike most books that represent lesbian and gay adults from the period, this one mentions the word “gay.” Continue reading