I’m thrilled to bring you this exclusive book cover reveal for author Hannah Carmona Dias. How cute is the illustration on this cover? Read the synopsis below and enter for your chance to win a signed illustration from the book.
Dark skin, curly hair, and full lips. Lilly knows that she does not look like her friends, and others have notice. Through playful, lyrical lines Lilly speaks up for every girl who has been asked What are you? in a celebration of self love and acceptance.
About the Author
Hannah Carmona Dias is a Writer who currently resides in Tennessee. Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me is her debut book which tackles a topic she herself has struggled with. In addition to writing Hannah is also a wife, mother, founder of Collective Art School of Tennessee, YouTuber, and actress. When Hannah is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and two cats, dog, and iguana. She also enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix, posting way too many GIFs on Twitter, and avoiding housework.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
Lovely by Jess Hong
Publisher:Creston Books Pages: 32 Format: Hardcover Age Range: 3 – 7 Grade Level: Preschool – 2 Publication Date: October 1, 2017 Available for pre-order now by clicking here!
Synopsis Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!
Reflection Growing up, I was regularly exposed to people, ideas and foods from other countries all over the world. Now that I’m a parent I try to encourage my children to be open-minded about people who look, act or think differently than they do. It’s central to our family beliefs.
I think this forthcoming picture book does a good job embracing diversity and inclusion across race, ethnicity, capability and sexual preference for younger readers. It starts off by asking the question: What is Lovely? The simple one sentence per page or one word per page answers the question by letting little readers know that lovely is different and comes in many forms. All people are lovely in their own way.
Lovely is you. Lovely is me. Lovely is different, weird and wonderful.
What makes this book stand out to me is the colorful and striking illustrations since the story itself is quite simple, yet poignant. Little readers will be exposed to a little girl with two different eye colors (one blue, one brown), a child wearing braces, a person in a wheelchair, someone wearing a prosthetic leg and more. Recommended for ages 3-7.
Your turn: What makes you lovely? Feel free to share in the comments?
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Publisher:Charlesbridge Publishing Pages: 40 Format: Hardcover Age Range: 4 – 8 Grade Level: Preschool – 3 Publication Date: December 5, 2017, Available for pre-order now by clicking here!
A stunning picture-book biography of the High Priestess of Soul and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.
With evocative black-and-white illustrations and moving prose, readers are introduced to Nina Simone, jazz-music legend and civil-rights activist. Shared as a lullaby to her daughter, a soulful song recounts Simone’s career, the trials she faced as an African-American woman, and the stand she took during the Civil Rights Movement. This poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of an iconic figure and an extraordinary look at how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go for social justice and equality. A timeless and timely message aptly appropriate for today’s social and political climates.
Reflection If you are a Nina Simone fan you are definitely going to want to add this picture book to your home library! Even if you’re not a Nina fan or have no idea who she is, I’d still highly recommend this book.
I think it’s so well done! It uses the black and white keys on the piano as a metaphor to tell a beautiful story with themes of: racism, activism, standing up and speaking out, talent and success. Oh, and the black and white illustrations throughout are to die for!
Here are a couple quotes from the book that really stood out to me:
Music has no color. In music there is only one rhythm. Only one heart.
Black people were nothing but half notes on a huge ivory keyboard.
Martin’s dream (referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) was my symphony. Black and white people could come together in the big dance of life.
I also want to point out this book is not a historical biography about Nina Simone’s life. There are some parts of Nina’s childhood that are highlighted like her first childhood memory of seeing a piano for the first time. There’s also mention of Nina’s first solo piano performance at her church concert. The book reads like a melodic lullaby being told from the perspective of Nina Simone from beginning to end. Her daughter has trouble falling asleep so Nina tells her a bedtime story. Fun fact: Nina Simone’s daughter is currently still alive and well. Her name is Lisa Celeste Stroud and she is a singer, songwriter and actress.
Overall, I think it’s a great introduction to Nina Simone and activism for little readers. Not knowing much about Nina Simone and her life myself, this book made me curious to want to learn more. I think some children may also want to do their own research and find out more about her too after reading this book especially since this book does not contain any biographical information about Nina’s life in the back matter. That is perhaps the only thing I can think to add – a brief one page summary about some hit songs, accomplishments and achievements throughout Nina’s lifetime in both jazz and civil rights.
Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers? What’s your favorite Nina Simone song? Feel free to share in the comments.
Publisher:Chronicle Books Format: Hardcover Pages: 104 Age Range: 6 – 9 and up Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3 and up
Synopsis If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her?
She’s in New York. She’s holding a torch. And she’s in mid-stride, moving forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country’s creation.
Here’s an interesting fact some of you may not know: the right foot of the Statue of Liberty is raised and not sitting flat on the platform. That’s right, Lady Liberty is not standing still…she’s on the move. But where is she going? She’s going forward to greet new immigrants entering the United States. What a powerful message of acceptance for little readers!
This picture book entitled Her Right Foot is so interesting, informative, poignant and funny too! Oh, and it has a neat surprise cover underneath the dust jacket. It features the date, July 4, 1776 written in Roman numerals. That is the date on which the Declaration of Independence was signed. What a nice, thoughtful, and detailed touch! I absolutely LOVE all of the history and the beautiful symbolism of the statue’s raised right foot. Who knew? I went on several tours to Ellis Island and not once did anyone mention this interesting tidbit of information. I honestly think this story is so captivating and entertaining from beginning to end even though the text is quite lengthy (104 pages). It’s not boring though and it makes you want to turn the pages to read and learn more.
Little readers will enjoy learning several interesting facts about the Statue of Liberty. They’ll find out who came up with the idea to create a statue, who designed it, how it got to New York, what the spikes on the statue’s crown represent, and who came up with the idea to put a giant record player inside the Statue of Liberty (an idea that never came to fruition).
This book was originally slated for publication in 2018, however the creators and Chronicle Books were inspired by the recent immigration ban to bring it to young readers as soon as possible. I’m so glad they did because books like this one are so needed right now. It can be a gateway to discussing refugees and immigration with our youngest readers. I think it’s a wonderful book to start conversations with and among students, helping them connect current events with the United States’ history as a nation of immigrants.
The last few pages of this book get me choked up every time because it’s written so beautifully.
After all, the Statue of Liberty is an immigrant, too. And this is why she’s moving. This is why she’s striding. In welcoming the poor, the tired, the struggling to breathe free. She is not content to wait. She must meet them in the sea.
One to definitely check out with your little readers if you’re interested!
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.
Muslim picture books for kids are not easy to come by. Especially ones that showcase kids doing normal everyday things. Enter Muhiima’s Quest, a charming and inspirational book of self-discovery and a celebration of diversity with the message that our heritage and faith are what make us unique and special.
Synopsis Although her family does not celebrate birthdays, Muhiima wakes on the morning of her 10th birthday to an unusual surprise. Her mother gives her a carefully drawn map with instructions not to ask questions, but to simply follow the map. Muhiima sets off on her bicycle to begin a quest that will take her all around town. At each destination on the map she is gifted with an important message and a mysterious little box. Travel with Muhiima on her journey and discover how the pieces of this puzzle come together.
Muhiima’s Quest is a delight and the illustrations are adorable! The story follows Muhiima a young Muslim American girl as she goes on a quest riding her bicycle around town. You see, it’s Muhiima’s 10th birthday and since traditional Muslims don’t celebrate their birthdays (or any other holidays with the exception of Eid), Muhiima’s parents have decided to do something very unique for their daughter. Her mother gives her a map and tells her to “find her way”. Muhiima’s job is to visit all of the places on the map until she reaches her final destination back at home.
Along the way, Muhiima is given tiny boxes from trusted family adults. When she gets back home all of the people she visited are at her house waiting to surprise her. One by one, Muhiima opens the tiny boxes and is surprised to see each one contains a tiny pearl to make a beautiful pearl necklace. In the end, they all enjoy a feast in celebration of Muhiima.
Although Muhiima doesn’t have a traditional American birthday party, I love how all of the adults came together to make her day so special. You could truly feel all the love and appreciation each person has for her. To me, this book signified a sort of rite of passage for Muhiima as she’s transitioning to her double digit years.
Reading this book presents adult readers with a great chance to talk to little readers about when they encounter something new or unfamiliar to foster a connection between them and Muhiima. For example, you could talk about how each family has their own beliefs and traditions that others may not. That may make others different in some ways, but that’s not a bad thing. You could also talk to kids about embracing their uniqueness and the importance of having a supportive village of people around you. Muhiima’s friends and family members imparted so much wisdom on her by saying things like: “know your value and hold your head high” and “never boast about your blessings”. Themes include: family, diversity, Muslim culture, Islamic teachings, self-confidence, faith and heritage. There is also an activity section for kids to write down their own pearls of wisdom.
I’d probably recommend this book for children ages 7-8 and up for independent reading since some of the paragraphs are a little lengthy. However, I think this book could be read aloud by an adult to smaller children as well.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.
Take a Picture of Me, James Vanderzee! by Andrea J. Loney, illustrated by Keith Mallett
Publisher: Lee & Low Books Format: Hardcover Pages: 40 Age Range: 6 – 9 and up Grade Level: 1- 4
Synopsis James Van Der Zee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait. By the fifth grade, James was the school photographer and unofficial town photographer. Eventually he outgrew his small town and moved to the exciting, fast-paced world of New York City. After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken -by a black man, – James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance–politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill -Bojangles- Robinson, and Mamie Smith–and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James Van Der Zee. Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee!tells the story of a groundbreaking artist who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people.
Reflection During his lifetime, photographer and artist James VanDerZee created thousands of portraits and took more than 75,000 pictures. Years later long after James put his camera away due to advanced technology, the Metropolitan Museum of Art found thousands of his photographs showing Harlem residents. They decided to use the photos for an exhibit on the history of Harlem called Harlem on My Mind.
This book is not only informative, but it’s beautifully illustrated too. I learned so much about this important man in history who I had never heard of prior to reading this book. It tells the story of James VanDerZee and his love of the arts, specifically photography. Born in Lennox, Massachusetts, James decided to take his camera and move to Harlem at the age of 18. He soon found work as an assistant photographer, but then took his camera to the streets of Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Little did James know those photos would make him famous many years later. Sadly, James passed away in 1983 and the age of ninety-six. Since his passing, the world has never seen the city of Harlem in quite the same way.
I think this would be a great book for budding photographers or for anyone who wants to learn more about James Vanderzee’s life and his extraordinary contribution to the arts and photography. There are themes of: music, art, photography, hard work, determination, racism, and family. The back matter has additional information and original photographs.
Your turn: Have you ever heard of James Vanderzee before? Are you looking forward to reading this book with your children? Feel free to share in the comments.
Published by: Lantana Publishing Pages: 32 Format: Paperback Age Range: 4- 8 Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Synopsis Forgetful sisters Siba and Saba are always losing something. Sandals, slippers, sweaters – you name it, they lose it. When the two sisters fall asleep each night, they dream about the things they have lost that day. Until, one night, their dreams begin to reveal something entirely unexpected…With playful illustrations and a lullaby-like rhythm, this heart-warming story set in Uganda is truly one to be treasured.
Reflection I am so impressed with this new independent publishing company, Lantana Publishing! They publish award-winning diverse children’s books and wholeheartedly believe that ALL children deserve to see themselves in books.
Lantana’s mission is to select outstanding writing from around the world, working with prize-winning authors and illustrators from many countries, while at the same time nurturing new writing talent.
Since their company began in the UK in 2014, they have published a variety of different books including my personal favorite, Sleep Well Siba & Saba. It’s a beautifully written story about two forgetful sisters from Uganda, Africa who always lose their physical belongings and then dream about them in their sleep. They only thing they didn’t lose was each other. One night their dreams start to change which forces them to start looking forward to things in their future.
Why I like this book:
the illustrations – I like the calming color palette chosen as well as the variety of exotic animals, interesting shapes and gorgeous patterns
the language…it’s so well written!
the overall message of not dwelling on things you no longer have, but looking forward to things in your future with great anticipation
I think this book also has a much deeper message too: We are not our stuff. We are much more than our possessions. The sisters seemed to understand their memories are within themselves, not within their things. They were able to let go of the things from their past and free themselves for much more exciting things to come in their future. They also learned to use their imagination and dream big. I love the illustration on the last page that shows the sisters looking forward to new adventures with their suitcase in hand.
A lovely book that teaches children there are always new things to discover!