Monthly Archives

June 2018

    children's books, diverse books, giveaways

    Riley Knows He Can + A Book Giveaway!

    We’re celebrating the second book in the “Riley Books” series which is entitled Riley Knows He Can.

    Riley is excited about starring in his first school play – but his nerves keep getting the better of him. His Mummy and Daddy will be in the audience and Riley is excited that they’ll be there to watch him in his starring role as the wise king. In addition, Riley can’t wait to put on his costume – a kingly cape and crown! But he keeps getting overwhelmed by the butterflies in his tummy! What if he walks on the stage and freezes? Or what if he walks on the stage and sneezes? Thankfully, Riley’s big sister Ella is on hand. Not only did Ella help her little brother to practice his lines for the play, she also gives him the encouragement he needs to take to the stage with kingly confidence. With Ella’s help, Riley learns how to ditch the doubt and tell himself he can do it – because deep down, he knows he can!

    Photo Credit: A Mum Reviews

    The follow-up to 2017’s Riley Can Be Anything, Riley Knows He Can follows young Riley on a new and exciting journey of discovery. In this wonderful rhyming tale, our young hero learns, with the help of his big sister, how to conquer his fears by believing in himself.

    The Giveaway!
    We’re giving away three (3) copies of this book to three (3) different winners.  This giveaway is open to anyone age 18 and over internationally.  Good Luck!

    Riley Knows He Can Book Giveaway!

    children's books, diverse books

    The Ultimate List of African-American Baby Girl Names Inspired by Children’s Books from Abigail to Zulay

    I grew up being embarrassed by my first name until I went to college.  I used to despise the first day of school because it was inevitable the teacher and students would mispronounce my name.  When I got to college I realized I should no longer be ashamed of my name, but be proud of it.  Now I understand that I have a unique and beautiful name that is sometimes difficult to pronounce for some people.  And that’s ok.  I fully accept that.  No longer do I feel “left out” when I don’t see my name engraved on items in a store like I did when I was a child.  It makes me feel special to have such an original name that isn’t so common.

    I love the story of Barack Obama making the decision to tell his family he wanted to be addressed by his given name, Barack back in 1980.  Up until that time, he was known early in life as Barry.  It wasn’t until he was a student at Occidental College, that he decided to make a change and stand up to prejudice associated with his name.  I personally can’t imagine calling him Barry Obama anyway.  I think Barack Obama definitely suits him much better and it asserts a certain power and authority.

    Below I’ve rounded up a list of picture books that feature African-American girl protagonists with first names from A to Z.  Some are popular names that you see often and others are unique like my name.  Is your name or your daughter’s name listed here?  What other books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.








    CassieCece Clara









































    children's books, giveaways

    Drawn Together + A Giveaway!

    Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney-Hyperion.  Thanks, Disney for sending us this book for free and allowing us to host a giveaway!

    We’re so excited to partner with Disney to celebrate the release of their picture book entitled Drawn Together, which is now available for purchase.   It’s a beautifully illustrated story about a grandfather and his grandson and how they learn to overcome their language barrier through a shared love of art and storytelling.

    About the Book
    When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

    Grandparents are a unique and special gift that fill our children’s lives with sweets, fun and lots of love. If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents involved in their life like mine are, savor each and every precious moment they have together.  Some grandparents have a great wealth of experience and time, and many love nothing more than making a significant impact on the lives of their grandchildren.  Oftentimes, grandparents (and other family members!) can also play an important role in your child’s literacy development, offering experiences that can be unique from what you do with your kids.

    I love the bond the grandfather and grandson share in Drawn Together and how beautifully the story bridges the gap between two generations and languages through pictures.  It shows that despite your differences you can still be accepting of other people and find a common bond.  This book is so powerful and meaningful.  One not to be missed!

    About the Author

    Minh Lê is a writer but, like his grandfather, is a man of few words. He is a national early childhood policy expert, author of Let Me Finish! (illustrated by Isabel Roxas), and has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. A first-generation Vietnamese-American, he went to Dartmouth College and has a master’s in education from Harvard University. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons in their home near Washington, DC, Minh’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book. Visit Minh online at or on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

    Minh Lê’s debut, Let Me Finish!, received critical acclaim, and this new picture book once again demonstrates his sensitivity to readers and mastery of the form.

    About the Illustrator

    Dan Santat is the author and illustrator of the Caldecott Award-winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, as well as The Cookie FiascoAfter the Fall, and others. He is also the creator of Disney’s animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and a menagerie of pets. Visit him at

    Illustrator Video
    Dan Santat’s illustrations are robust, vibrant, and packed with emotion, a perfect match for Minh Lê’s poignant, and ultimately cheerful, story. Learn about the Drawn Together art process from Dan Santat himself!  Watch the video on YouTube!

    Connect with Disney-Hyperion!

    Website  |  Twitter | Instagram  |  Facebook

    The Giveaway!

    One (1) US-based resident will receive:

    • Copy of Drawn Together
    • Plus a sketchbook and kid-friendly art materials!

    Drawn Together

    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    Grandad Mandela (A Book Review)

    Grandad Mandela by Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

    Publisher: Quarto Kids
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4 and up
    Publication Date: June 28, 2018

    Nelson Mandela’s two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother, Mandela’s youngest daughter, 15 questions about their grandad – the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

    Born on July 18, 1918 Nelson Mandela is best known for promoting messages of forgiveness, peace and equality.  He spent 27 long years in prison, but when he was released he became the first Black President of South Africa and eventually won the Nobel Prize for Peace.  In 1994, Mandela successfully brought down the Apartheid government abolishing the original ruling of separating White people from Black people.

    Grandad Mandela is a beautiful and important story told from the perspective of Mandela’s two youngest great-grandchildren and daughter.  The story begins with little Zazi and Ziwelene approaching their grandmother (Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi) to tell them about their great-grandfather after finding a photograph of him around the house.  Mandela’s daughter goes on to her grandchildren the story of why Mandela went to jail when she was just eighteen months old.

    In true childlike fashion, the kids continue to probe asking a series of 15 different questions about their great-grandfather.  They are curious and want to know more like:

    Why did grandad go to jail?
    Why did the white people start making everybody’s lives sad?

    I love how Mandela’s daughter carefully responds to each question in a way that’s easy for smaller children to understand.

    He went to jail because he was fighting against apartheid.  Apartheid was a law in South Africa that separated black people and white people, and said that white people were better.  Grandad was fighting for us all to be equal.

    It’s because white people were taught under colonization and apartheid to hate.  They were taught that they were better than black people.

    I think each question and answer response is well thought out and easily digestible for little readers.  The illustrations beautifully capture each memory and the time period so well.  You’ll see pictures of Winnie Mandela silently celebrating Mandela’s birthday each year he was in prison.  She kept the wedding cake they never had a chance to cut when they got married.  Every year on Mandela’s birthday, she would bring it out, light a candle, and say a prayer for him.  Be still my heart!

    In the end, Mandela is finally released after spending nearly three decades of his life behind bars.  Everyone in South Africa is seen rejoicing, White and Black people.  What an amazing day that must have been for the people in South Africa who spent so many years living under apartheid!

    I remember seeing some of the television coverage on that glorious day back on February 11, 1990.  It seemed like the whole world was rejoicing and celebrating.  It was as if Nelson Mandela’s release set us all free in a way.  His release helped set people free from anything they may have been  struggling with at the time.  His release gave me a renewed sense of hope and optimism.  From that day on, I held Nelson Mandela in such high regard often looking to his words for guidance in coming to grips with the ways—the sometimes brutal ways—in which the world works.

    To say that I am grateful for Nelson Mandela’s example doesn’t suffice.  That’s why I’m so glad this picture book exists so I can keep his legacy alive by reading it with my children and for new generations to come.  His legacy lives on and we can all learn valuable lessons from him and his humanity.  Grandad Mandela is sure to inspire readers to achieve anything they want in life.  It inspires me to keep showing up daily, to keep writing, to keep fighting, to keep forgiving, and to keep loving.

    Your turn: Are you planning to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s upcoming centenary (100th birthday)?  If so, how will you be celebrating?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    For more information about Nelson Mandela’s forthcoming 100th birthday celebration visit The Nelson Mandela Foundation website.