Categories
Children

Carefree, Like Me! – Ch. 2: Sacra the Joyous by Rashad Malik Davis

Carefree, Like Me! – Ch. 2: Sacra the Joyous by Rashad Malik Davis

Forget about any picture book you’ve ever read before. Because Rashad Malik Davis’ illustrations will absolutely blow you away: the vivid coloring and the magical quality of the illustrations make the scenes jump out at you as if you’re watching a 3-D movie.

The story rhymes which is always a bonus in my book! But the most amazing bit about the story is that the characters accurately depict the features of the ethnicities of the characters. Imagine that! African American characters with African American features! Kids need accurate representation in so many ways. For far too long if kids saw a person of color in a book, that character had the same features as the white characters, and just given brown skin. But not here! The reader will be able to recognize themselves or their friends in the illustrations.

Accurate representation is so magnificent. Davis is an artist, every page moves the story along. Grab a copy for yourself and check out the author on social media:

http://www.ramalikillustrations.com 

Twitter @RashadMDavis

Instagram @ramalik_illustrations

Also? His books qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge. Thanks for being an inspiration for kids, Rashad!

 

 

Categories
Children

Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza by Kitty Felde

Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza

Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza is a middle grade book that introduces kids (and maybe parents) to what life is like on Capitol Hill. If you’re like most folks, the life of the Washington insiders may be kind of a mystery. Felde, the award winning host of one of my fave podcast, Book Club for Kids,  takes the mystery out of life in our nation’s capitol. Told through the eyes of the ten year old daughter of a California representative, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the day to day life of Capitol Hill senators.  That orange thing on the cover? That’s Senator Something, a lovable briard that helps our heroine get into shenanigans and cope with the new life on the east coast.  If you’re wanting a #political primer, this is the one.

Categories
Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover

 

I cannot get enough of this friggin fraggin great book! This is a book that I downloaded on audio and listened to. Twice. Back To back. Thanks to a friend, I knew about the ending but still. When it happens. All. The. Feels. All the feels. if you wanna see my review, click here. It’s so good I just HAD to make sure I reminded you about it for Black History Month.

Crossover appeals to everyone of every color and every belief system. To be sure, I know very little about basketball, but that’s not even necessary. Alexander’s descriptions seep into your head and you can see the game and feel the bounce of the ball in your heartbeat.

I love me some Kwame Alexander! He’s my new bestie. (Be afraid KA, be afraid)

If this is your first read, Crossover totally counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Have you read this? What did you think??

 

Categories
Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup: Identity and Compassion

Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup

Identity and Compassion

It’s SUMMER! Summertime means more time for reading, YAY!  Not sure what to read? Your fave unconventional librarian has got you covered. I’ve compiled a list of kids books that contain diversity. No need to scour the internet or ask your friends to find the right book. I’ve got them here. All you’ll hafta do is go to your local bookstore or library and start reading.

 

#1: Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

I cannot love this book any harder if I wanted to. There is such a need for books representing the Latinx people and I feel like Julian is a Mermaid is a beautiful example.  Young Julian is riding the train with his Abuelita (Grandmother in Spanish) and he sees three very beautiful women dressed in mermaid costumes (I mean it’s New York, right so anything’s possible?) and oh how his imagination soars, pretending to be a mermaid. Once home Julian’s creative thinking allows him to make himself a mermaid costume. I won’t give away the ending but I wept as Julian was caught by his Abuela in his dress up clothes.

The representation of the community is stunning in its accuracies with their different shades, body shapes and hairstyles. I feel that we were all Julian at one time.

Except I was never a mermaid. I was a pirate. But you get my meaning.

Snag this book today!

 

#2: The Little Tree by Muon Van

The Little Tree by Muon Van

As the little tree sends her little seed out into the world, she wonders what will become of it.  One day she finds out. And when she does, OMG will you cry! There are so many different ways to love this book! The author of the book is of Vietnamese descent and discusses the families emigration from Vietnam to Hong Kong and then to the U.S. These feelings are depicted in the illustrations as well. Parents will appreciate the story because that’s exactly how it feels to send a small child out into the world: magical and frightening at the same time. Children will love the story because of the gentle way the tale unfolds, the soft drawings and the feeling of magic and wonder. So much diversity and multiculturalism without saying a word about it. LOVE!

The Little Tree is sure to be a favorite! Add this to your Diversity Reading Challenge.

 

#3: This Way Home by Wes Moore  Shawn Goodman

This Way Home by Wes Moore & Shawn Goodman

Elijah Thomas knows one thing better than anyone around him: basketball. At seventeen, he’s earned the reputation of a top-level player, one who steps onto the court ready for battle, whether it’s a neighborhood pickup game or a tournament championship.

What Elijah loves most about the game is its predictability: if he and his two best friends play hard and follow the rules, their team will win. And this formula has held true all way up to the summer before their senior year of high school, when a sinister street gang, Blood Street Nation, wants them to wear the Nation’s colors in the next big tournament.

The boys gather their courage and take a stand against the gang, but at a terrible cost. Now Elijah must struggle to balance hope and fear, revenge and forgiveness, to save his neighborhood. For help, he turns to the most unlikely of friends: Banks, a gruff ex-military man, and his beautiful and ambitious daughter. Together, the three work on a plan to destroy Blood Street and rebuild the community they all call home.

I’m so glad to see more books aimed at an urban or African American young adult reader. This would qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge!

 

#4: Chocolate Mixer by Jason Armstrong

Chocolate Mixer by Jason Armstrong

The children in Chocolate Mixer, happen to be brown like chocolate milk (and who doesn’t love chocolate milk??) even though they are a mixture of a white (vanilla) mother and a chocolate (Black) father. The very BEST line in the easy to read rhyming book is the line from Dad:

“He sat me on his lap and said “my rainbow you see” we are all some kind of mixer, just look at a family.”

Isn’t that cute? Even the youngest kiddos can look at families (possibly their own) and see how everyone is different shades of color, just like a rainbow.  What a great way to discuss similarities rather than differences with the littles.  There are SO many teachable moments in this book!

#5: Peter’s Chair

Peter stretched as high as he could.  There! His tall building was finished.”

Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats is the CUTEST book around for children and parents experiencing the joyful addition of another child into the house.  Peter, however, is none too thrilled to have a little sister who uses all his old baby things: his crib, his high chair, etc.

I’ve reviewed Ezra Jack Keats before and I love the multicultural vibe he brings. He purposely choose an ethnic variety for his main characters, and this was over 40 years ago! It’s only natural that I should review Peter’s Chair for Black History Month.  The author is Jewish and the main character is African American; I LOVE the diversity!

If you’ve not read this book, you MUST DO IT NOW!! It is delightful and easy for kids to understand; all kids everywhere can relate to being dethroned by a little sib.

 

#6: Belle Prater’s Boy

Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White

So, I just finished reading an endearing book called Belle Prater’s Boy, by Ruth White. The tale is of two cousins, Gypsy and Woodrow, living in 1950s Virginia. Both children have lost a parent and both children struggle to understand why their parents left them. Gypsy is known for her long beautiful hair and Woodrow is a story teller. The language of the book is a blend of 50s charm and southern backwoods vernacular, which spoken through a child’s voice is particularly effective. I can see why the book was a Newberry Honor book.

I chose to read the book because I thought, given that the setting was the rural South, the story might contain a multicultural element. I was mistaken. While the characters within the story are Caucasian, there is a multicultural feel to the book, especially since Woodrow did not grow up in a family with money. In fact, Woodrow’s family was poor. Blind Benny adds a musical touch to the story and could certainly be African American, although not specifically stated.

Although Belle Prater’s Boy doesn’t specifically provide the multicultural blend that I was looking for, it is surely a good read: the characters are engaging, the story flows well, and the very small town lifestyle is different from what some readers may be familiar with.

 

#7: Little Shaq by Theodore Taylor III

Little Shaq by Shaquille O'Neal

When you think of Black History month do you think of politicians or just of musicians and actors? What about famous athletes? African American have contributed to society in so many ways! I’d like to share with you a great little book about Shaquille O’Neal, the basketball player.  He has a  series out called Little Shaq.

Little Shaq is a book for emerging and middle grade readers, depending on their interest.

When Little Shaq and his cousin Barry accidentally break their favorite video game, they need to find a way to replace it. That’s when Little Shaq’s science project inspires a solution: a gardening business. They can water their neighbors’ gardens to raise money for a new game! Little Shaq and Barry make a great team both on and off the basketball court, but will their business be as successful as they hoped?

The best thing about this book is that it shows kids (and maybe some adults) that athletes can have other talents than on the ball field or the court. Friends, family, business, and fair play are lessons that readers will enjoy.

This title also counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge. Way to go Little Shaq!

 

#8: Don’t Forget DEXTER! by Lindsay Ward

Dexter T Rexter might be the cauuuuuutest T-Rex I’ve ever met! And sadly, I would be devastated if he were mine and got separated from me. But you know what, that’s exactly what happens in this adorbs story. Poor Dexter gets left behind in the doctor’s office waiting room. He’s sure his best buddy would never leave him behind on purpose so he sets out to figure out what happened and then tries to help himself get rescued.

The illustrations are multidimensional and so clever. I love love love this story. No spoiling the ending either, so you’ll hafta find out for yourself what happens.

PS you’ll be singing the dinosaur song all day!

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING and read Darius The Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius The Great is Not Okay

by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great is Not Okay is the book we need today. If you want to understand Iran, READ THIS BOOK. If you want to understand depression, READ THIS BOOK. Need to understand friendship? READ THIS BOOK. Need to understand other cultures? READ THIS BOOK. Like to drink tea and eat food? READ THIS BOOK. There is no problem that this book can’t solve. No wonder it’s won so many awards!

Our hero, Darius, is not the most well liked kid in his school. But when forced to travel to Iran to visit his ailing grandfather, Darius learns much about himself, his family, and his Persian heritage. What strikes me the most about the book is the tea. They are always drinking tea and I’ll admit it made me want to learn to brew tea the way they do. I probably have a tea leaf growing in my stomach because I tripled my tea consumption while I was reading this book.

Most importantly, Darius has depression. And what I love about the author’s depiction of this depression is that it’s not the same as everyone else’s. It shows that depression is as varied as people are and it’s as natural as breathing, meaning it’s not something you can just “stop doing.” And for that I’m grateful to the author for getting this version of depression right.

Now, why are you still here reading about the book? Get to your local bookstore and snag a copy or three, TODAY. Give one to a friend. Then make tea and tell me about it on insta or twitter: @pamlovesbooks

Categories
Children

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet a #Cybils middle grade finalist

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

So much packed into The Orphan Band of Springdale. It covers so many issues yet still manages to be a tender, touching story.

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

I love reading a book about a girl who plays a musical instrument. How about you?

Categories
Children Diversity Reading Challenge

I Used to Be Famous by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie is THE BOOK WE ALL NEED

I Used to Be Famous by Tara Luebbe
and Becky Cattie

Do the illustrations look familiar? They should! That’s because they are by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, who has illustrated a number of SUPER ADORBS books like:

Love

and

Beautiful

Both of which were uplifting messages for the littles.

I Used to Be Famous is the story of a darling and multi talented Brown skinned girl who laments her fall from fame due to a new baby in the house.  You’ll love our heroine because she’s not bratty at all.

There’s so much to love about this story because any child who’s had a new baby sibling in the family will be able to relate to Kiely’s (the star) feelings. Additionally, the book reflects positive images of an African American family, which while encouraging, allows readers to see that  families of POC are no different than theirs. Similar to Peter’s Chair (Ezra Jack Keats) you’ll see the gentleness and understanding of what it means to be a big sibling.

I can’t love this book any more. It’s so friggin fraggin adorable.

Add I Used to Be Famous to your TBR pile for kids of all ages. It qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge too!

 

Becky Cattie has always had a flair for the dramatic and loves all things entertainment—especially character-driven narratives. She was a casting producer for reality TV shows like NBC’s America’s Got Talent, ABC’s Extreme Makeover, and E!’s The Simple Life in Los Angeles. She lives in Chicago. Tara Luebbe is a self-described “Picture Book Nerd.” In her previous life, she owned a toy and book store in Atlanta, which was a catalyst for writing her own books. This is the third picture book collaboration for sisters Tara and Becky; their first two books, I Am Famous and Shark Nate-O, were published in 2018. To learn more, visit http://beckytarabooks.com/.
Facebook: BeckyTara Books
Twitter: @t_luebbe and @b_cattie
Instagram: @taraluebbe and @beckycattie
PRAISE FOR I USED TO BE FAMOUS
 
“This clever exploration of the mixed emotions of welcoming a new baby into a family is sure to elicit more than a few laughs from the divas accustomed to having all the attention.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of I USED TO BE FAMOUS  (U.S. addresses), courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.
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Categories
Children

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty, a #Cybils middle grade finalist

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
by Stacy McAnulty

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to someone if they get hit by lightning? The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl will answer your questions.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.

Such a fun book.  Lucy is so super smart its hard for her to fit in anywhere. But she manages to find a way, even if it does involve a dog (ugh germs).

Categories
Children

The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz, A #Cybils finalist

The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz

 

This Cybils Middle Grade finalist was a fun book! A boy and his family leave New York City (but why tho) and head toward rural upstate New York so their parents can live out their dream. Meanwhile, Tristan and his siblings adapt to life away from the big city. Tristan becomes obsessed with the local (mean) lady’s donuts and he learns how to make them in hopes to open a donut stand. There’s baking, friendship, sibling fun and kooky new neighbors.  Great easy read for middle grade. There’s no diversity that I can find but its a fun read.

Categories
Books

I AM #BLACKHISTORYMONTH – The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

Let’s celebrate Black History Month with
The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

I am especially moved by this compelling book today. When it seems as if the United States should be much farther along in the Civil Rights Movement, a book comes along that makes you question that fact. Are we any better than June 1966 when James Meredith was shot during a walk from Memphis to Jackson? Bausum makes you wonder if we’ve really come any further. What you will learn, though is that in reaction to Meredith’s shooting (he survived) people took up the cause in what became known as The March Against Fear. Martin Luther King, Jr and Stokely Carmichael got behind this march but yet we hardly know anything about this event. And now we can learn.

Many thanks to Nat Geo for providing a great book, which is suitable for middle grade and up. Also a great tool for the classroom.