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
Books

Death, Dying, and Grieving: Books for Kids

Death, dying, and grieving are the main topics of the news lately. It seems we just can’t get away from it. And as much as we try to shield our little ones from tragedy, sometimes there are issues you must face. Death is a common situation in life and while you can usually filter what your children are exposed to, the deaths of pets, grandparents, or sick friends, will eventually crop up. If you’re like me, you want a book to turn to to support your child’s emotional understanding of death.

There are a surprising number of books available that discuss death. Kids don’t need or want a heavy handed book discussing the ins and out of death and dying. Save that for biology class or for church, depending on your beliefs. What kids want in books is to understand that it’s ok to have certain feelings and that other people have similar feelings as yours and also probably that things will get better. Following are books for kids of varying ages that discuss death, dying, and grief in ways that they will be able to handle.

1. CHARLOTTE’S WEB BY E.B. WHITE

I have two words for you: “Some pig.”  Is there anyone born in the past half century who hasn’t been moved to tears by this beloved title?charlotte's web

Everyone cheers for our favorite pig and his friends. Not only do we learn the meaning of friendship from Charlotte’s Web, we also learn the value of the brevity of life on a farm and we learn about death and grief. Sure there’s a death in the book, but there is also the invaluable lesson of how to grieve when someone you love has died. This little gem can teach even the youngest of readers about life and death.

2.  BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA BY KATHERINE PATERSON

bridgetoterabithia

Here’s another classic that inadvertently teaches middle graders the value of friendship and the process of grief. I love this story because at this age kids don’t care whether their friends are boys or girls. They just want a friend. Jess and Leslie become friends and during their time together they help the other one become better people. The magical land they’ve created helps them deal with the issues they each face. In the end when one of them dies, the remaining child must confront their fears, the loss of a friend, and learn how to move on.

3. NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS, BY TOMIE DE PAOLA

 

Tomie dePaola writes such good books, there’s practically a book for every situation. Grandparenting seems to be his specialty, though. Little Tommy loves his grandmothers: he has a grandmother upstairs and a great grandmother downstairs. You know where this is going, right? Naturally the grandmothers die and Tommy has to learn how to grieve. There’s a bit about a falling star that will have you in tears remembering your own grandmother’s kisses.

4. TIGER EYES BY JUDY BLUME

It’s a Judy Blume book. Do I need to say anymore? The woman who has helped every young girl grow up  in the past 50 years? Yeah, her. This time, Blume discusses a very sensitive issue at the time; the death of a parent.  Not only does Davey lose her father, but he is killed in a violent crime. Books about this topic were unheard of in its day. But somehow, shockingly, kids today are experiencing this type of tragic loss and will need help getting through it. The book also discusses the dysfunction that’s left behind when a family member dies tragically: depression, alcoholism, family instability; it’s all there.

5. FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH BY JENNIFER L. HOLM

A magical realism story about a girl whose goldfish dies and is reincarnated as her grandfather dressed as a bespectacled new friend. At first i thought perhaps the lesson might be too “out there” to catch; but I love this story and I’m sure someone will too.

 

6. THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT BY JASON REYNOLDS

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

Here’s one you might not of heard of. It’s by the always fab Jason Reynolds. Here you’ll see that people cope differently with death and you might get some insight into what it’s like to work at a funeral home. Hint: more dignity than creepy.

 

Isn’t it great that there are so many books on this topic says that kids never have to go through any situation alone, that there is always a book available to lend an ear, lean on or to provide other ways of support?

Categories
Children Diversity

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julian is a Mermaid

 

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!

 

Categories
resources

The Little Free Library Finds a Home

You might have heard that I partnered with Post Alpha Bits and Little Free library. I’ve been entrusted to become steward to the cutest Little Free Library. Or rather it will be once we’re finished with it!  I’m thrilled to become friends with the seniors at Pottstown Area Seniors Center. Seniors are the perfect recipients of books:

  • they want books for themselves to keep their brains active
  • they want books to give to their adult children
  • they want books for their grands and great grands

Everyone wins when a senior gets a book!

littelfreelibrary Collage.jpg

 

Like my collage? I was feeling crafty. And speaking of crafty, our baby got delivered to the center where the seniors will transform during an arts and crafts class. I’m SO excited!

Here’s the before pic:

littlefreelibraryPLAIN.jpg

Stay tuned to this channel to see the AFTER pics and see how creative the seniors are!

P.S. I’m curating so many great books for them. If you’d like to donate a book or three to the seniors, hit me up below.

Have you ever heard of Little Free Library? What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

Categories
Books

FOUND! 3 Multicultural Children’s Books for You!

Wow. I read so many books I sometimes forget to post my reviews; can you believe that?  That’s why you should follow me on Goodreads AND YouTube to make sure you get all of my reviews!

Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting Lee and Low books while in New York City for BEA13.  Thanks to my roomie Thien-Kim From Left to Write for letting me tag along.  Here’s a snap of us.  I don’t know why I look like a GIANT Amazon woman person in this photo but whatever!

Leeandlow2

 

While we were there, were were graciously gifted with goodies! Here are my brief but nonetheless heartfelt reviews posted previously on GoodReads.com

 

Rainbow Stew

rainbow stew

 

 

Three children and their grandfather pick fresh vegetables in his garden and then cook and share a meal of healthy vegetable stew.

MY REVIEW: Is there a better way to spend the day than with your Grandpa? No! The story is made even better because children of color will see themselves as the main characters. And finally, African American grandpas are shown as young and vibrant; not old, crotchety, and boring.

 

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji

hot hot roti for Dada-ji

Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir!

MY REVIEW: Quirky tale of young Aneel who lives to spend time with his grandfather. I love the mixture of cooling into the story, as kids often relate to food. There’s a certain magical realism about Indian storytelling that is delightful. So many teachable moments in this book.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow

a place where sunflowers grow

 

Under the harsh summer sun, Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows — especially a place like Topaz, the internment camp where Mari’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans have been sent to live during World War II. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface — in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. Amy Lee-Tai’s sensitive prose and Felicia Hoshino’s stunning mixed-media images show that hope can survive even the harshest injustice.

MY REVIEW: This title is an easy way to teach even the smallest child about Japanese history, internment, and human dignity.

I just realized that besides the main characters being children there is a strong grandparent presence in the books. SWOON!

Many of these great titles are being features as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Here’s the link to the fun!

Have you read any of these titles? Are there other multicultural titles you can share?

Categories
Young Adult

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young