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    Go on a BabyMoon and Bring This Picture Book With You: BabyMoon by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

    I received this book for free from Candlewick in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Go on a BabyMoon and Bring This Picture Book With You: BabyMoon by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-NealBabymoon by Hayley Barrett
    Published by Candlewick Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Candlewick
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere.

    Have you ever been on a babymoon?  Do you even know what a babymoon is?

    ba·by·moon
    /ˈbābēˌmo͞on
    noun
    a relaxing or romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before (or after) their baby is born.

    The term Babymoon was first coined in a 1996 book, The Year After Childbirth, by childbirth educator Sheila Kitzinger.

    Essentially, a babymoon is sort of like a honeymoon, only it happens after you confirm that you are pregnant and expecting a baby, and before (or after) the baby arrives.

    My husband and I didn’t go on a babymoon before or after having either of our children.  Why?  Because I had no idea this was even a THING!  Now that I know the definition of what a babymoon is and especially after reading this beautiful book, it ALMOST makes me want to go and make another baby!  Seriously though, as far as I’m concerned, my baby making days are over, but thanks to Babymoon I can live vicariously through these gorgeous illustrations and imagine what a babymoon might be like.

    In this rhyming book, readers meet a sweet family (a biracial family of color) who decide to go on a secluded babymoon with their newborn baby.  The baby is gender neutral which was a purposeful decision.  I love that the family chose to take their babymoon AFTER baby arrived along with their pet cat and dog in tow as a way for them all to bond as a family.

    As first-time parents, they have so much to learn about caring for a new baby.  From changing diapers to nursing to building trust.  If you are a parent then you know having a child changes the family dynamic dramatically.  The baby becomes the center of attention from the moment he/she arrives.

    I like how the parents in this book are investing time and space to be together as a family unit away from home.  It gives me hope these parents will walk into parenthood more connected than ever.

    Newborns should be spending the vast majority of their time in the arms of their mothers and fathers and that’s exactly what this book shows.  And since they were away from their home, they won’t have to worry about being their baby bombarded with the smells of other family members, friends or neighbors.  All of that can be confusing to a new baby, especially when they are still learning to nurse. Babies are primal little creatures and rely on their nose to guide them.

    Although this babymoon getaway is blissful, it is peppered with a bit of anxiety as the parents look like they’re trying to decipher baby’s cries.  This shows the reality of parenthood and how tough it can be at times having a newborn.

    Here together.  So much to learn.  We muddle through each new concern.

    The illustrations in Babymoon will take your breath away and make you feel the love these parents have for their baby.  I think this is some of Juana Martinez-Neal’s best work to date.  Each illustration is so tranquil infused with gentle and loving tenderness.  A definite must-have for newborn parents or parents-to-be.  Add this one to your baby shower gift giving list!

    Your turn: Seasoned parents, what tips or advice would you offer a new family to help them get through the first couple of weeks? Please share your wisdom in the comments below!

    About the Author
    Hayley Barrett wrote BABYMOON to encourage growing families to take time together to rest and fall in love. Once an aspiring nurse-midwife, she honors the arrival of any child, whether newborn or older, by birth or by adoption, as a momentous event.  Hayley lives in eastern Massachusetts.

    About the Illustrator
    Juana Martinez-Neal is the author-illustrator of Alma and How She Got Her Name and the Pura Belpré Award–winning illustrator of La Princesa and the Pea and of La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños, both by Susan Middleton Elya. Juana Martinez-Neal was born in Lima, Peru, but currently resides in Arizona.

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    So Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna Russell

    So Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna RussellSo Here I Am: Speeches by Great Women to Empower and Inspire by Anna Russell
    Published by White Lion Publishing on February 5, 2019
    Pages: 176
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: White Lion Publishing
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    The first dedicated collection of seminal speeches by women from around the world, So Here I Am is about women at the forefront of change – within politics, science, human rights and media; discussing everything from free love, anti-war, scientific discoveries, race, gender and women's rights. From Emmeline Pankhurst's 'Freedom or Death' speech and Marie Curie's trailblazing Nobel lecture, to Michelle Obama speaking on parenthood in politics and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza's stirring ode to black women, the words collected here are empowering, engaging and inspiring. With powerful illustrations from Camila Pinheiro, this anthology of outspoken women throughout history is essential reading for anyone who believes that change is not only possible, it is necessary.

    Published just in time for Women’s History Month, So Here I Am is an inspiring, and beautifully illustrated book of empowering speeches about women who have broken boundaries and achieved their dreams.

    As the book introduction states,

    These are speeches that started revolutions, both the kind that take place in the public square – in mass demonstrations and violent clashes – and the quieter kind, which take place in the mind.  These are speeches that should be remembered.

    I can honestly say prior to reading this book, I wasn’t familiar with many of the speeches featured in this book.  Throughout the book you’ll find speeches given by famous scientists, activists, novelists, politicians, suffragists, prime ministers, First Ladies and modern day CEOs.  It was refreshing to see the anthology’s exploration of women in fields like science and business that are sometimes not represented in other books of its kind.


    For each woman featured, there is a brief summary of her personal story, struggles, and successes, including how they got to where they are now if they are still living.  In essence, So Here I Am shares, explores, and celebrates the strong women out there who have worked or are currently working to pave the way for women.  This book gave me the confidence and encouragement to go out and do the same.

    Here are a few snippets of some of my favorite quotes from the book:

    Servern Cullis-Suzuki
    Environmental Activist

    In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.

    Toni Morrison
    Novelist

    Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence…

    Cheryl Sandberg
    Chief Operating Officer at Facebook since 2008

    But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now.  Leadership belongs to those who take it.  Leadership starts with you.

    Sylvia Rivera
    LGBTQ Activist

    I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights.

    Maria Stewart
    Journalist and Abolitionist

    …it is not the color of the skin that makes the man or the woman, but the principle formed in the soul.

    J.K. Rowling
    Novelist

    And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

    Your turn: Have you read this book yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Exclusive Book Trailer Reveal – Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

    Exclusive Book Trailer Reveal – Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn BridgeSecret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge Published by MacMillian on February 19, 2019
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Roaring Brook Press
    Buy on Amazon

    On a warm spring day in 1883, a woman rode across the Brooklyn Bridge with a rooster on her lap. It was the first trip across an engineering marvel that had taken nearly fourteen years to construct. The woman's husband was the chief engineer, and he knew all about the dangerous new technique involved. The woman insisted she learn as well. When he fell ill mid-construction, her knowledge came in handy. She supervised every aspect of the project while he was bedridden, and she continued to learn about things only men were supposed to know: math, science, engineering.

    Women weren't supposed to be engineers. But this woman insisted she could do it all, and her hard work helped to create one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. This is the story of Emily Roebling, the secret engineer behind the Brooklyn Bridge.

    We’re thrilled to reveal the exclusive book trailer for Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge!  Look for this one to publish from MacMillian Children’s Books on February 19, 2019.  Press play below to watch the trailer!

    Emily Warren Roebling was born on September 23, 1843 in Cold Spring, Putnam County, New York.  Though most commonly known for being the wife of Washington Roebling and for her role in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily accomplished much more throughout her life, such as obtaining her law degree from New York University’s Women’s Law class which she had enrolled in 1899.

    Today, you can visit the Roebling Museum in Roebling, New Jersey.  Check out their website here: http://roeblingmuseum.org/.

    Your turn: Did you know a woman engineered and designed the Brooklyn Bridge?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    black history, book reviews, children's books, diverse books, giveaways

    Black History Month: Waiting for Pumpsie + A Giveaway!

    waitingforpumpsie

    I received this book for free from Charlesbridge in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein
    Published by Charlesbridge Format: Hardcover
    Source: Charlesbridge
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.

    This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.

    Waiting for Pumpsie is based on a fictional character named Bernard and his family, but based on true events from Pumpsie Green’s life.

    All Pumpsie Green wanted to do was play baseball. He didn’t aspire to play for the major leagues initially, but he eventually went on to become the first Black baseball player to integrate the Boston Red Sox. Although Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, it took the Red Sox another twelve years to integrate their team. They were the last team in Major League Baseball to have a Black player.

    This is an inspiring and feel good story about equality and change. Pumpsie Green is currently still alive today and is sometimes invited back to Fenway Park to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Red Sox games.

    Click here to see a list of the first Black players for each Major League Baseball team.

    About the Author
    Barry has been a bartender, taxi driver, song writer, substitute teacher and writer for the Major League Baseball.  He grew up as a Mets fan and was eight years old when he first heard the name Pumpsie Green.  He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.  Visit his website: onedogwoof.com.

    About the Illustrator
    London Ladd currently lives in Syracuse, New York.  He’s a graduate of Syracuse University with a BFA in Illustration. He has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed children’s books including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (Scholastic), written by Christine King Farris, the older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass (Disney/Jump at the Sun), written by Doreen Rappaport, and Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and her Secret School (Lee & Low Books), written by Janet Halfmann.  His goal is to open an art center in Syracuse so that young people and families can create their own art.  Visit his website: londonladd.com.

    The Giveaway!
    One (1) winner will receive a copy of Waiting for Pumpsie courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.  Open to all US based residents age 18 and over.  Good Luck!

    Waiting for Pumpsie Book Giveaway

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    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel (A Book Review)

    I received this book for free from Penguin Kids in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel
    Published by Penguin Kids Format: Hardcover
    Source: Penguin Kids
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    four-stars

    A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane's wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength.

    Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

    Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

    If you look up the phrase “hands up” in many dictionaries, you’ll likely see a negative definition written.

    For example:

    ▪️an order given by a person pointing a gun.  Source: Collins dictionary
    ▪️to admit that something bad is true or that you have made a mistake. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    ▪️to deliver (an indictment) to a judge or higher judicial authority.  Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary (By the way, do you know the history behind raising your right hand to testify in court? Look it up, I found it quite interesting.)

    This book shows a little Black girl named Viv putting her hands up in various everyday situations like: greeting the sun, playing peek-a-boo, raising hands in defense during a basketball game, raising hands in class, picking fruit off trees, and raising hands during praise and worship at church. In the end, readers see Viv a little older raising her hands in resistance and strength with a group of friends at a community protest march.

    With sparse text and lively illustrations, Hands Up! cleverly shows readers lifting your hands doesn’t always imply negativity. It gently encourages children to feel happy and confident to raise their hands. It also supports reticent kids in speaking up or standing up for what’s right.

    It was interesting and refreshing to be reminded of all the times we raise our hands throughout the day from stretching in the morning when we wake to reaching for something high on a shelf like a library book.  My personal favorite page is little Viv raising her hands in church demonstrating joy and praise to God through worship. Viv sets her power aside and praises God by physically and publicly demonstrating to Him that she needs Him which empowers her.

    The back matter has notes from the author and illustrator which explain why this book was written.

    I worry that this world casts Black kids as victims, villains, or simply adults before they’re grown up. – Breanna J. McDaniel

    This brilliant reminder from Breanna helped guide me back to lifting my hands in joy. – Shane W. Evans

    Hands Up! is available now online and where books are sold. Ages 4-8 and up.

    Your turn: Have you read this book yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Lesléa Newman (A Book Review)

    Published by Abrams Kids Format: Hardcover
    Source: Abrams Kids
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    four-half-stars

    Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.

    Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  As always, the opinions expressed her are my own are are not influenced by receiving this book for free.


    How far would you travel to find a better life for yourself and your family? What if the journey took weeks or maybe even months under difficult conditions? If you answered “Whatever it takes,” you echo the feelings of an estimated three million Eastern European Jewish immigrants who came to America between 1880 and 1924.
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    Ellis Island afforded them the opportunity to attain the American dream for themselves and their descendants. Today, Ellis Island is an immigration museum with many exhibits containing photographs, artifacts, oral histories, and other displays. To this day, thousands of people immigrate to America each year in search of a better life and a safe place to call home.
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    Based on a true story, Gittel’s Journey takes readers on a journey from “Old Country” (it’s unclear which country “Old Country” is, maybe Russia or Poland) to Ellis Island in New York. Young 9 year-old Gittel and her mother are preparing to immigrate to America. When they arrive at the port to be inspected for approval in order to get on the ship, Gittel’s mother is denied entry by the health inspector due to having some redness in her eye. Gittel is terrified, but her mother tells her to be brave and go to America on her own.

    Photo courtesy of abramsbooks.com

    Gittel’s mom assured her she’ll be safe and gives her a folded piece of paper, her ticket and some candlesticks. She tells her the piece of paper has her cousin’s name and address on it. Gittel is told to hand the piece of paper to an immigration officer once she gets to America.
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    Two weeks later, Gittel arrives safely and is greeted by the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island. When she pulls out the piece of paper the address information is gone and there is only a “fat blue smear”. How will Gittel find her mother’s cousin now? You’ll have to read it to find out how the story ends.
    ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    A beautifully written and illustrated story with themes of: hope, emotion, determination, family, immigration and bravery. Ages 5-8 and up. Publishes February 5, 2019.

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    Review: Fearless Mary – Mary Fields American Stagecoach Driver

    I received this book for free from Albert Whitman in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    Review: Fearless Mary – Mary Fields American Stagecoach DriverFearless Mary by Tami Charles
    Published by Albert Whitman on January 1, 2019
    Pages: 32
    Format: Hardcover
    Source: Albert Whitman
    Buy on AmazonBuy on Indie Bound
    five-stars

    A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.

    Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States.  Two other women, Susanna A. Brunner in New York and Minnie Westman in Oregon, were known to be White mail carriers in the 1880s.

    Born as a slave in Tennessee during the administration of Andrew Jackson, Mary was sixty years old in 1895 when she became the second woman and first Black person to ever work for the U.S. Post Office. Over the next six years, Mary and her pet eagle rode her stagecoach all over Montana and never missed a day of work, never failed to deliver mail and was never late once.

    This story is so inspirational and empowering for readers of all ages.  America was built in part by mail carriers and truckers, the people who move goods and products from place to place. Writer Tami Charles brilliantly explores the history of a woman whose contributions to the mail carrier industry was overlooked for years.  I’m so grateful for historical picture book biographies like Fearless Mary that expose hidden figures like Mary Fields to ensure their stories are told to younger generations.  It’s great for reading during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or anytime of the year. Recommended age range: 5-7 years and up.

    Your turn: Have you read this book yet with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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