Laura Roettiger’s Aliana Reaches for the Moon

Written by debut author Laura Roettiger and illustrated by Ariel Boroff, Aliana Reaches for the Moon, will be released February 19, 2019 to coincide with the full moon. The story is about Aliana, a creative and curious little girl, who learns to harness the beauty of moonlight to make her little brother a delightfully personal birthday gift.

Aliana has light-brown skin, long wavy dark hair, and big brown eyes framed by purple glasses. Her affluent family is Latinx and they live in a lovely home with many large windows framing the Rocky Mountains.

The family life Roettiger and Boroff conjure is just as perfect as the family’s picturesque home. Every morning, the family gathers around a big table for breakfast, and the children spend their days horseback riding, hiking nature trails, and making messy experiments. Their parents do not mind the messes, and Aliana’s brother, Gustavo, looks up to his big sister.

Even as she fills her days with love and learning, Aliana sets aside time to experiment with marble, quarts, vases, and moonlight to stage a fleeting but fantastic “magical birthday cake” on the evening of Gustavo’s birthday.

This is a sweet edition to a growing collection of STEAM themed books featuring little girls putting their big brains to work.

Bey-Clarke and Clarke’s The Lopez Family (2011)

The Lopez Family: Science Fair Day (2011), written by Monica Bey-Clarke and Cheril N. Clarke and illustrated by Aiswarya Mukherjee, is one of several books published by MyFamily!/Dodi Press that depicts gay and lesbian families going about the business of living a pretty normal life.

In this book, Felix Lopez prepares for his school’s science fair. His parents help him build a remote-control airplane that he is sure will win. Both dads are there to support him, but much of the story is about Felix problem solving on his own.

Felix has to deals with Buzz the Bully, who calls him “Nerd Boy” and ends up tripping him when he’s carrying his plane, which causes it to break. But, because his parents are raising him right, Felix is able to compose himself and explain what happened to his teacher, Mrs. Sanchez. Felix’s teacher gives him a gold star for telling the truth and, after gluing his plane back together, he wins the science fair. When he tells his dads about his day – they are proud!

I appreciate the diversity that is always present in MyFamily! Publications. This small press fills a definite niche in the LGB community.

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.

The star, Princess Magnolia, is entering the Interkingdom Science Fair for the first time. At the story’s opening, the blond rosy-cheeked princess makes her way onto a train crowded with diverse characters. She is heading to the science fair with her project. Once at the science fair, she finds her friends Princess Honeysuckle and Princess Snapdragon. The group is quickly joined by other princesses. They delight in each other’s projects. The princesses are far less competitive than cooperative in their mutual enjoyment and appreciation of each other’s work.

One young boy, Tommy Wigtower, and his project, a talking volcano, catches Princess Magnolia’s attention. Tommy is insistent that his volcano is not supposed to talk – it is supposed to erupt! The princesses try to help him troubleshoot. It turns out Wigtower added some monster fur to his more traditional ingredients. And the monster fur… well, it turned his science experiment into a monster!

With the monster growing quickly, Princess Magnolia disappears and reappears as the Princess in Black. Another hero princess, Princess in Blankets, emerges. She is a clumsy, but not incompetent, disguised princess.

The monster erupts from the volcano and eats Princess Magnolia’s science project. The ever-growing monster hops from science project to science project. Instead of trying to destroy the monster, which only wants a place to call home, Princess in Blankets and Princess in Black steer the monster onto a train and to a suitable location. Of course, this is easier said than done and quite a bit of excitement ensues, but the goo monster eventually finds a home and a friend.

The princesses return to the science fair and winners are announced.

This is a wonderful transitional text for readers ready to move from easy readers to early chapter books. It fills an important niche and it does it extremely well! Even more, this is a series. If young children fall in love with the characters and style of delivery, they will have lots more books to devour!

#CybilsAwards

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Julia Finley Mosca’s The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (2017), written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is a smart biographical children’s picture book about Dr. Temple Grandin, a compassionate scientist with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Born in 1947, Temple Grandin became an important figure in the farming industry for her work refining the treatment of cattle. Grandin negotiated ASD and the sexism in her field at a time when ASD was poorly understood and women didn’t do “men’s” work. Writer and illustrator both do a very good job representing neurodiversity as a critical lens for seeing the world differently and making a difference in the world.

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