Matt Mendez’s Barely Missing Everything

Barely Missing Everything

Matt Mendez’s emotionally demanding Barely Missing Everything (2019) explores the lives of working-class Mexican Americans living in El Paso, TX.  A teenage boy named Juan anchors the text, which focalizes his experiences as well as those of his mother, Fabi, and his best friend, JD.

Juan and JD are high school seniors planning life after high school, but just barely. They both have hazy visions of the future. JD, a film enthusiast, aspires to make movies and carries a camera wherever he goes. Juan, a high school basketball star on a mediocre team, doesn’t imagine himself doing anything else. Additionally, Fabi, a teen mom turned 30-something mom of a teenager, tends bar to make ends meet. Continue reading

Anika Aldamuy Denise’s Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Story Teller Pura Belpré (2019)

Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Story Teller Pura Belpré (2019), is an exceptional biography of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. In addition to accessibly and inventively capturing Pura’s story, the book provides a window into US history. It is also a timely tale of Arts-based activism that speaks to ongoing struggles to secure equal access to cultural representation. Continue reading

Michelle and Phoenix Finch’s Phoenix Goes to School (2018)

Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children

Phoenix Goes to School (2018) is written by mother and daughter team Michelle and Phoenix Finch and illustrated by Sharon Davey. The story is based on the experiences of co-author Phoenix Finch, a gender non-conforming transgender girl, as she prepares for her first day of school.

Phoenix’s gender identity is affirmed at home but she is worried about wearing a dress to school. Her supportive mother helps her process her anxiety and find the confidence to be herself. Once at school, Phoenix is accepted by her peers and makes many new friends. Continue reading

Paula Ikuutaq Rumboltand’s The Origin of Day and Night (2018)

The Origin of Day and Night (English)The Origin of Day and Night (2018), written by Paula Ikuutaq Rumboltand and illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko, is an Inuit tale passed orally from generation to generation. It’s the story of a fox who can only see to find food at night and a hare who can only see to find food in the light. The two animals struggle to find enough to eat before the other uses powerful magic language to conjure their preferred lighting. They eventually agree to strike a balance between day and night for their mutual survival. Continue reading

Art Coulson’s Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army (2018)

Cover of the book Unstoppable by Art Coulson showing an illustration of Jim Thorpe running with a footballUnStoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

Written by Art Coulson

Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle

Published by Capstone in 2018 Continue reading

Bey-Clarke and Clarke’s Keesha Series

I want to introduce readers to a small press worth following – My Family!/Dodi Press. My Family! specializes in reading material featuring diverse lesbian and gay parents swimming, vacationing, and preparing for science fairs with their happy children. The fact that the families are headed by same-sex parents is clear but not a theme explored. Continue reading

Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta ElliottIf you or someone you know is over eight-years-old, you need a copy of Zetta Elliott’s urban fantasy Dragons in a Bag!

Dragons in a Bag introduces readers to Jaxon, a sweet and smart young boy with brown skin and unruly eyebrows. Jaxon’s father passed away and he lives alone with his mother who is estranged from her family. At the start of the book, the mother-son duo struggle to make ends meet and their landlord is trying to evict them. When Jaxon’s mother goes to court to fight the eviction, she drops her son off at the home of a woman she calls Ma. Jaxon reasonably assumes the surly woman is his grandmother, but family isn’t that straight forward in Dragons in a Bag – neither is anything else! Continue reading

Bai Phi’s A Different Pond

A Different PondIn A Different Pond, author, Bao Phi, and illustrator, Thi Bui, both Vietnamese Americans, create a necessary and impactful story that is both a tribute to their working-class new immigrant childhoods and a valuable #OwnVoices contribution to children’s literature. The story is anchored in a purposeful fishing trip a father and son take to secure food for the family. Rich colors and a creative use of panels provide intimate portraits of the duo. Continue reading