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diverse books

Sleeping Bear Press New Book Series + A Giveaway!

Have you seen this new SBP Learning series of picture books from the publisher Sleeping Bear Press? It features nonfiction social justice topics like: anti-racism, equality and racial justice. Sleeping Bear Press is generously sponsoring this giveway for one (1) winner to receive a copy of two of the latest books in the series. Check out the synopsis below from the publisher to read more about these informative books and enter the giveaway for your chance to win. Good Luck!

Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change by Kelisa Wing, Hedreich Nichols, and Leigh Ann Erickson

Topics on race in America have been avoided in children’s education for too long–allowing racist systems to continue to thrive. Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change explores current questions around race in comprehensive, honest, and age-appropriate ways. Developed in conjunction with educator, advocate, and author Kelisa Wing to reach children of all races and encourage them to approach race issues with open eyes and minds.

Marching for Change: Movements Across America by Joyce Markovics

Millions of Americans have marched and protested to fight inequality and to bring about social change. These large gatherings, filled with powerful and courageous voices, have shined a light on important issues and resulted in new laws. This book covers some of the most famous marches in U.S. history–and encourages readers to stand up for the things they believe in.

THE GIVEAWAY!

Sleeping Bear Press Prize Pack Book Giveaway

Board Books (0-3years)

Keeping the Dream Alive: Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. + Lakeshore Learning People Shapes Kit

This week marks the 92nd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and next week we celebrate a federal holiday in his honor. Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about racism, diversity, equality, kindness, friendship, and peace.

Since his death in 1968, many have stepped up to carry on his legacy including: Stacey Abrams, Bryan Stevenson, Tamika D. Mallory and others. It has truly been inspring to see so many new activists and politicians continuing to stand up and speak out against injustices the same way Dr. Kig did years ago.


Dr. King’s birthday allows me time to reflect on the words from the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that took place at the March on Washington. When I listen to the speech, I begin to think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents and educators, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be kind, smart, successful and to achieve all their life goals.

In celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, we enjoyed using our People Shapes™ Project Kit to create a banner of people from diverse backgrounds all joined together in unity holding hands.  One of my favorite things about products from Lakeshore Learning is they allow my kids to imagine, create and learn as they play and sometimes have open dialogue about real world issues.  While working on our banner we read a couple of books about Martin Luther King Jr., talked about the March on Washington and ways Dr. King’s work and sacrifice has had a lasting impact on our lives.

The People Shapes™ Project Kit can be used to create self-portraits, favorite storybook characters and more! You get 24 chipboard People Shapes in 12 People Colors®, plus cute felt outfits, craft hair, wiggly eyes, spangles, sequins, glue, craft sticks and more.

Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy. How are you keeping Dr. King’s dream alive with your family? Feel free to share in the comments.

You can use my Lakeshore Learning coupon code to get 25% off any single non-sale item. My coupon code is 6383. It can be used for purchases in-store or online.

Valid ‪through 1/31/21 for one-time use in stores or online. Limit one coupon per customer. Not valid on items with shipping restrictions. Other exclusions may apply. Visit http://bit.ly/3bRGxeZ for details.

Book Cover Reveals

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing

Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: July 13, 2021 (Available for pre-orders now!)
Pages: 224
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4

Today I’m thrilled to share with you the cover of a new book by award-winning author Eve L. Ewing!  In addition to her work as a writer, Ewing is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people.

MAYA AND THE ROBOT is an illustrated middle grade novel about a forgotten homemade robot who comes to life just when aspiring fifth-grade scientist Maya needs a friend—and a science fair project. The cover and interior art are by Christine Almeda, a Filipina American freelance illustrator and character designer.

Synopsis
Maya’s nervous about fifth grade. She tries to keep calm by reminding herself she knows what to expect. But then she learns that this year won’t be anything like the last. For the first time since kindergarten, her best friends Jada and MJ are placed in a different class without her, and introverted Maya has trouble making new friends.

She tries to put on a brave face since they are in fifth grade now, but Maya is nervous! Just when too much seems to be changing, she finds a robot named Ralph in the back of Mr. Mac’s convenience store closet. Once she uses her science skills to get him up and running, a whole new world of connection opens up as Ralph becomes a member of her family and Maya begins to step into her power.

“It’s hard for me to look at Christine’s cover without tearing up. I’m so excited for the world to get a first look at Maya and Ralph and for the ways the cover gives little glimpses into the story to come!” – Eve L. Ewing

Eve L. Ewing is the award-winning author of Electric Arches1919, and Ghosts in the Schoolyard. She also wrote the acclaimed Ironheart and Champions series for Marvel Comics. Her work has appeared in many venues, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and Vanity Fair. Born and raised in Chicago, she was a middle school teacher before completing her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently she is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

Christine Almeda is a Filipina American freelance illustrator, character designer, and lover of sunshine. She graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA focused on character design and children’s media. She believes in the power of creativity, diverse storytelling, and that art can make life more beautiful.

children's books

The Picture Books That Helped Me Through: The Best Diverse Picture Books of 2020

Looking for the best picture books of 2020? Here my top 50 favorites from the year (in no particular order).

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase items. Thank you in advance for supporting by shopping my links which allows me to keep providing this type of content for you.

Did you find yourself reading more in 2020 than you had in previous years? I know I did! One of the best bookish lessons 2020 taught me is to always keep your home library stocked with a few good books.

When your library closes for several weeks or months, you return to your own bookshelves for reading materials, right? I was grateful to have several favorite reads on hand and several books that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. I was also grateful to have a pretty decent inventory for my bookworm children to select from.

While 2020 has certainly been an interesting and challenging year, it has taught me SO many lessons and reaffirmed other things which I already knew.

Here are some of the other lessons 2020 has taught me:

  • I am capable of so much more than I thought. And so are YOU!
  • Black lives matter. Today, tomorrow, yesterday and ALWAYS.
  • Self-care is a priority, not a privilege. I need to take care of myself and ensure I fill up my own cup so I can be fully present for others.
  • To prioritize my health and build up my immune system.
  • Time is a limited resource, don’t waste it on people or things that don’t add value to your life. Period.
  • Our attention is one of our most important resources. Remember to redirect your attention from others to YOURSELF and avoid being distracted from real life by giving people or things your attention that don’t deserve it.
  • Change is inevitable. Be willing to roll with it and go with the flow.
  • Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Don’t be judgmental. Be kind. Always.
  • To count my blessings each and every day and take NOTHING for granted.
  • To keep learning, be flexible and think outside the box.
  • Evening family walks are my favorite.
  • Busyness can no longer be an excuse. The people that are supposed to be in my life will be there. Period.
  • When used correctly social media is an amazing tool that connects us. I am grateful for technology as a means of staying connected with people.
  • Be authentically me. Life is too short to worry about what others think.
  • I don’t need much to be happy. Really, I don’t.
  • Never leave the house angry. Kiss your loved ones and tell them you love them daily.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Invest in your business (if you have one) and your personal growth.
  • Take time to appreciate the little things each day.

This year has also brought us some excellent children’s picture books. Here, I’ve listed my top 50 favorite picture books of 2020. These are the picture books that helped me through in 2020. Spy any of your favorites here?

Swashby and the Sea


Black is a Rainbow Color


All Because You Matter

You Matter

Outside In


Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigration Story

If Dominican Were a Color

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!


Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball

I Am Every Good Thing


A Place Inside of Me


We Are Water Protectors

What Color is My Hijab?


The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read


Ten Ways to Hear Snow

Federico and the Wolf

Antiracist Baby

Bedtime Bonnet

A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story

I Promise

Just Like Me

Me & Mama


Harlem Grown


An ABC of Equality


And The People Stayed Home


She Was the First: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul


Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

Nana Akua Goes to School


Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea


A Girl Like You

The Starkeeper


Your Name is a Song


The Little Mermaid

Vote for Our Future

Our Favorite Day of the Year


Freedom, We Sing

Sometimes People March

V is for Voting

Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight

Magnificent Homespun Brown

Exquisite: The Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks

I Am Brown


I Am a Promise


The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne


Red Shoes

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History

The Teachers March: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History

If you enjoyed this list, you may also want to check out my 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books linked here.

Your turn: What were some of your favorite picture books from 2020? Feel free to share in the comments.

Board Books (0-3years)

Habbi Habbi Bilingual Education at Home + Reading Wand & Bilingual Books Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was gifted the Habbi Habbi Reading Wand and bilingual books in exchange for an honest review and to host this giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Are you looking for an easy, screen-free and interactive way to raise bilingual kids? If so, you may want to check out a company called Habbi Habbi. Started by two moms, Hanna and Anne-Louise, these women value being intentional parents. As stated on their website:

We aspire to have our kids … express CREATIVITY, be SELF RELIANT, be GRITTY, feel WORTHY, show EMPATHY, engage GLOBAL COMMUNITY, exercise SELF CARE. 

Habbi Habbi bilingual books are are such a great way to introduce kids to a new language and major bonus points for them being so easy to use!

Once your books and reading wand arrive, take them out of the box and turn the reading wand on. It comes fully charged and ready to use right out of the box. This is HUGE for anxious and curious kids like mine who are always ready to just “dive right in”. Every inch is of the book is tappable – text, image, even white space! Our family was gifted a set of English-Spanish books to try.

Also, you’ll only need one want to use with ANY book in the Habbi Habbi series, regardless of language. E.g. one wand accesses Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and any future title / language that is released. The reading wand is also re-chargable and comes with a USB cord for easy charging.

The bilingual books are matte hardcover board books with thick and sturdy pages, perfect for even the tiniest readers! They also have rainbow colored book spines which make them aesthetically pleasing to look at all together on your bookshelf.

I can’t recommend the Habbi Habbi reading wand and bilingual books enough for anyone who wants to learn Spanish or Mandarin Chinese with their children. Have you tried Habbi Habbi with your little readers yet? Feel free to share in the comments.

THE GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Habbi Habbi want to give one (1) lucky winner a Starter Set (Wand + 5 books) – in your choice of Spanish-English or Chinese-English.

Entry rules: Open Worldwide at everyone ages 18 and over. (If it is an international winner – you are required to pay shipping on your own). There will be no shipping costs for U.S. or Canadian residents. Good Luck!

Habbi Habbi Bilingual Education at Home + Reading Wand & Bilingual Books Giveaway!

children's books

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho (A Book Review)

Title: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
Published by Harper Kids
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Pre-K – 3

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harper Kids in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Synopsis
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment.

Reflection
“My eyes that kiss I the corners and glow like warm tea are a revolution.”

People often call eyes the windows to the soul. The eyes are usually one of the first things we look at on another person. They can tell us when someone is lying or telling the truth, and they can even tell us when someone is in love or ill. Apparently, our eyes tell us a lot more about ourselves and others than we once thought.

In America, and in other parts of the world, there are negative stereotypes that still persist today related to having “Asian eyes.” When people say “Asian eyes”, they are talking about slantedness, roundness, smooth monolids and deep eyelid folds. But they’re also talking Westernization, beauty standards and self-acceptance.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is a beautifully written and illustrated love letter that celebrates Asian eyes. It’s a lyrical ode to loving oneself, self acceptance, and having confidence. Four generations of women are featured in this story and they all have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.

This book is an absolute must-have for Asian and Asian-American children (and adults) who may have grown up feeling ashamed about their eyes. If you grew up wearing eyelid tape or Scotch tape to make your eyes appear bigger, read this. If you ever had eyelid surgery to change your Asian eyes, read this. If you were made fun of or called names because of your eyes, read this. It is sure to heal your soul and fill you with so much pride and joy about your eyes.

Everyone should read this book, not just Asians or Asian-Americans. Reading it can help build empathy, compassion and a better understanding for some readers. Books like Eyes That Kiss in the Corners are so needed to help reflect our multicultural world.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners publishes on January 5, 2021, but is available now for pre-orders. Ages 4-8 and up.

children's books

The Barefoot Book Box: A Book Subscription for Kids 0 – 9

Are you planning to gift your little readers or students with a book subscription box this holiday season?

I love monthly subscription boxes for kids because they offer unique educational experiences. Subscription boxes can give kids of all ages the chance to learn by reading great books, doing fun projects, crafts and activities. Many subscription boxes on the market today are designed to include everything you need to spend quality time together as a family or on your own.  Today, there are subscription boxes that appeal to all sorts of different interests and passions from books to beauty and everything in between.

Have you heard about the Barefoot Book Box yet? They currently have three book boxes available for kids ages 0 – 2, ages 3 – 5 and ages 6 – 9. You can choose their 3 month, 6 month or 12 month plan.

From their website:
“Each box is created by an independent children’s book publisher with nearly 30 years of experience crafting award-winning products. The publisher Barefoot Books is known for publishing beautiful books of the highest quality. They’re designed around a set of core values to help you raise caring, open-minded, global citizens who can think critically and creatively. Educators and parents know that if a book is from Barefoot, they can trust the language, storytelling and illustrations to be beautiful, age-appropriate, and engaging for kids.”

Each Barefoot Book Box includes books, gifts, an artist’s print and expert tips that are focused on a specific theme. The themes are rooted in their 5 core pillars of publishing:

  • Global Awareness, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Early Learning & First Concepts
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Creativity & Imagination

My kids are currently ages 6 and 8 so we opted for the box for kids ages 6 – 9. Some of the things I love the most about Barefoot Books is their commitment to diversity and inclusion, their high-quality books, and how they incorporate real-life lessons, social/emotional learning and STEAM (science, math, engineering, art, and math) into their books.

Barefoot Books also gets bonus points from me for their consistent use of bright and vivid illustrations and I absolutely LOVE their commitment to green (eco-friendly) business practices. From sustainably sourced paper to vegetable-based ink, the materials that make up their books are ones that you can feel good about having in your classroom or home. Just look at the quality of their books!

Did I also mention they work with talented artists from around the world who illustrate each of our books by hand? As a part of your subscription, with every box you’ll receive an exclusive, collectable 8×10 inch illustration image, printed on sturdy cardstock. You can hang these on your walls, give them as gifts, use them as prompts to inspire your child’s artwork, or laminate them to create unique and colorful placemats. In addition to expert tips, the back of each artist’s print features information about the artist and their illustration technique. Talk about attention to detail AND adding even more value!

Keeping these prints within your child’s view not only adds beauty and whimsy to your home or classroom — it also reminds your child of their favorite books, reinforcing learning and prompting ongoing discussions.

The best part? Shipping costs are already included in your membership prepaid price! In addition, all Barefoot Book Box memberships are prepaid. Therefore, there is no need to cancel your membership if you wish to no longer receive a box. Your payment method will be charged only once at the time of purchase. No further charges will be made.

Lastly, at this time, the Barefoot Book Box is available for purchase in the United States, only. International shipping and shipping to Alaska and Hawaii are not currently available for online orders.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to check out The Barefoot Book Box? Pop on over to their website to start exploring! Happy Reading!

Your turn: Have you tried this book subscription box yet? Feel free to share in the comments if you care to share.

children's books

The Mocha Express Reading Challenge: Download this Diverse & Inclusive Holiday Reading Challenge for Kids and Adults!

Happy Holidays, friends! Y’all ready for another resource to use with your little readers, your students or on your own? If you’re an educator, it makes the perfect holiday gift for all of your students no matter what age they are!

To create this printable, I collaborated with Briana James of Artish Reader, a talented Art student. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember the first project Briana and I collaborated on for my 31 Days of Women’s History coloring sheet.

I talked to Briana about my idea and concept and she used her creative genius to produce a high-quality reading chart. I couldn’t be more happier with it! Get in touch with Briana, give her a follow on Instagram, and support her as she continues to build up her art portfolio. It’s always such a pleasure to work with her and help support another Black woman at the same time.

This coloring printable is a fun way to celebrate holiday reading. It features an array of books and other items beautifully stacked on a train which I’ve decided to call the Mocha Express. You can enjoy this coloring page printed in various sizes from 11 x 17 up to 24 X 36 if you’d like jumbo poster size.

Each day during the holiday months, color in one book or object until the whole poster is complete. Also, be sure to use the checklist to check off books as you read or complete the challenges. I designed this printable to be used starting Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S.), but you can start using it any day throughout the year you choose.

If you need book recommendations throughout the challenge, I have created several categorized lists in my online Bookshop and Amazon stores to assist you. Also, if purchasing new or used books isn’t in your budget, be sure to utilize your local library.

Here are a few of my book lists to help get you started:

Thanksgiving Books for Kids
Hanukkah Books for Kids
Multicultural/Diverse Christmas Books for Kids
Latinx Book Recommendations
Diverse & Inclusive Board Books for Infants and Preschoolers
Diverse & Inclusive Picture Books for Kids
African-American Picture Books Featuring Males
African-American Picture Books Featuring Females
Native/Indigenous Picture Books
Asian & Pacific Islander Book Recommendations

Happy Reading!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE! 

CHECK OUT MORE OF MY RESOURCES (INCLUDING MY POPULAR PRINTABLE READING JOURNAL and 28 DAYS OF BLACK HISTORY) ON MY TEACHER’S PAY TEACHERS WEBSITE AND GIVE ME A FOLLOW OVER THERE TOO.

AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

children's books

A Kids Book About Diversity by Charnaie Gordon

A Kids Book About Diversity by Charnaie Gordon

Y’all ready to pre-order a copy of my first children’s book, A Kids Book About Diversity? I am thrilled to be joining all of the other amazing authors including the co-founder, Jelani Memory who wrote A Kids Book About Racism.

A Kids Book About publishes hardcover, high-quality books that cover a range of challenging, empowering and important topics for kids ages 5-9. They have an impressive growing collection of books about: money, white privilege, feminism, body image, voting, depression, cancer, empathy, systemic racism and more.

Each book has an easy to follow text-only format with no illustrations. Essentially, these books are meant to be conversation starters and are best read with a grown up to answer any discussion questions children may have.

Also, have you heard the news? A Kids Book About recently announced their books made it on the 2020 list of Oprah’s favorite things!

My book, A Kids Book About Diversity, will be released in early 2021 and I can’t wait for some of you to read it. I hope many educators and parents use A Kids Book About Diversity to help navigate their discussions around diversity and celebrating differences.

To pre-order your copy of A Kids Book About Diversity head to the A Kids Book About Website.

To support my author journey follow my new page Instagram page @authorcharnaiegordon.

I did it y’all, I wrote a book! Recommended for Ages 5-9 and up.

P.S. Be on the lookout for additional book announcements from me coming soon.

Your turn: Have you read any of the books in the A Kids Book About series yet?  Let me know some of your favorites in the comments if you care to share.

Book Cover Reveals

COVER REVEAL: Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona and Anna Cunha

Today, I’m excited to partner with our friends at Lantana Publishing for another exciting picture book cover reveal. Lantana Publishing is an award-winning children’s book publisher and social enterprise with a mission to publish inclusive books by under-represented voices celebrating every kind of child and family. Check out the cover of one of their latest forthcoming releases Anita and the Dragons and read the brief synopsis below.

PublisherLantana Publishing
On Sale Date: February 2021 (UK) April 2021 (US & Canada) available for pre-orders now!
Written by Hannah Carmona illustrated by Anna Cunha
Reading Level: 7 -9 years
Grade Level: 2 – 4
Pages: 32

Anita watches the dragons high above her as she hops from one cement roof to another in her village in the Dominican Republic. But being the valiant princesa she is, she never lets them scare her. Will she be brave enough to enter the belly of the beast and take flight to new adventures?

About the Author

Hannah Carmona is a writer, actor, and director. Hannah’s previous titles include Dazzling Travis and Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me. Hannah is a mother of two, co-founder of Collective Art School of Tennessee, and a YouTuber. She lives in Tennessee.

About the Illustrator

Anna Cunha is an award-winning Brazilian artist who has illustrated more than 20 books. Her work has been shortlisted for the Jabuti Prize and received a Joao-de-Barro Prize honorable mention.

Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.

Anita and the Dragons
Book Reviews

The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles (A Book Review)

Title: The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles, illustrated by Dapo Adeola
Published by Versify
Pages: 272
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Versify in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Synopsis
In this new Legendary Alston Boys adventure from Edgar-nominated author Lamar Giles, Otto and Sheed must embark on their most dangerous journey yet, bringing a fugitive to justice in a world that mirrors their own but has its own rules to play by.

Unlike the majority of Logan County’s residents, Missus Nedraw of the Rorrim Mirror Emporium remembers the time freeze from The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, and how Otto and Sheed took her mirrors without permission in order to fix their mess. Usually that’s an unforgivable offense, punishable by a million-year sentence. However, she’s willing to overlook the cousins’ misdeeds if they help her with a problem of her own. One of her worst prisoners has escaped, and only the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County can help bring the fugitive to justice.

Reflection
The legendary Alston Boys of Logan County, Otto and Sheed, are back for another adventure in the follow-up to The Last Last-Day-of-Summer. Think The Hardy Boys meets The Phantom Toolbooth, but with Black boys who happen to be cousins AND best friends.

Last time, Otto and Sheed accidentally managed to freeze time because they wanted the final day of summer to last longer. They ended up going on an action-packed journey to rescue their community, get things back to normal, and unfreeze time with the help of a few supportive friends. The cousins also learned some important truths about themselves along the way.

In The Last Mirror on the Left, the amateur sleuths pick back up where the first book ended. While I don’t think you necessarily need to read the first book before reading this one, I believe it definitely helps add a bit more depth and moments of reflection if you do. New readers to this series will have no problems following the story since the writing is so well done and seamless.

At the end of the first book, there is mention of Sheed possibly having health problems that may impact his future. Unfortunately, that possibility ends up becoming a reality in this book when Sheed becomes ill. Throughout the book, Otto is concerned about Sheed’s overall health which shows how close the bond is between the two cousins. Sheed’s illness doesn’t stop him and Otto from embarking on another new twist-turning journey.

Missus Nedraw of the Mirror Emporium reminds the boys about their adventure last summer and how they stole some of her mirrors without asking for permission. Oops! The boys then get caught in one mirror after another in a Warped dimensional prison world and are stuck there. To top it all off, Otto and Sheed are the only two who can help catch Miss Nedraw’s most dangerous prisoner, Nevan, who recently escaped. But first they’ll have to deal with a notorious group of spiders also known as the ArachnoBRObia. Spiders, and mirrors, and “butt shrubs”, oh my!

Overall, The Last Mirror on the Left is a funny, magical, and wild adventure that will have you laughing and cheering for the dynamic cousin duo, Otto and Sheed as they help bring a fugitive to justice. Author Lamar Giles is masterful at crafting fantasy stories and incorporating relatable themes that are relevant to current events. I also appreciate the illustrations Dapo Adeola included throughout to illustrate specific elements of the story which also helped to visualize what some of the fantasy characters looked like.

Will Otto and Sheed go on another fantastical journey? I certainly hope so! We’ll just have to eagerly wait and see…won’t we?

About the Author
Lamar Giles writes for teens and adults across multiple genres, with work appearing on numerous Best Of lists each and every year. He is the author of the acclaimed novels Fake ID, Endangered, Overturned, Spin, The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, Not So Pure and Simple, and The Last Mirror on the Left as well as numerous pieces of short fiction. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and resides in Virginia with his wife. Twitter: @LRGiles, Instagram: @LamarGiles

About the Illustrator
London born and bred but of Nigerian heritage, Dapo Adeola is an illustrator and designer who creates characters and images that challenge gender norms in a fun and upbeat way. He is the co-creator and illustrator of the upcoming picture book series Look Up (June 2019) and illustrator for the middle grade novel The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles (April 2019). When he’s not busy cooking up new characters and adventures, you can find him running illustration and character design workshops in and out of schools, to help highlight the possibilities of a career in illustration to inner-city children. Twitter: @DapsDraws Instagram: @DapsDraws

The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles
Book Cover Reveals

COVER REVEAL: The Electric Slide and Kai by Kelly J. Baptist and Darnell Johnson

Where are all my electric slide fans? Whenever the Electric Slide comes on at a wedding, club or social event I have to get up and dance! Anyone else?

The origins of “The Electric Slide” began with the song “Electric Boogie.” “Electric Boogie” was written in 1976 by Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston for singer Marcia Griffiths. Choreographer Richard Silver created the original electric slide, a 22-step dance to go along with the song. Over the years, different versions of the dance have surfaced.

The remixed version of the song “The Electric Slide” from the year 1989, made the Electric Slide an international dance craze. This song has proven staying power and it remains the highest-selling single by a female Reggae singer of all time.

Today, I’m excited to reveal the cover of a forthcoming 2021 picture book The Electric Slide and Kai.

PublisherLee & Low
On Sale Date: March 2, 2021 available for pre-orders now!
Written by Kelly J. Baptist illustrated by Darnell Johnson
Reading Level: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 2
Pages: 40

Kai’s aunt is getting married, and everyone in the Donovan family is excited about the wedding … except Kai. The highlight of every Donovan occasion is dancing the electric slide–a groovy line dance with footwork that Kai can’t quite figure out. More than anything, he wants to prove that he can boogie with the rest of his family and earn a cool nickname from his granddad. Can Kai break through his nerves and break it down on the dance floor?

Told with humor and heart by author Kelly J. Baptist and lively illustrations from debut picture book artist Darnell Johnson, The Electric Slide and Kai is a funky celebration with all the right moves! Coming March 2, 2021

The Electric Slide and Kai

About the Author
Kelly J. Baptist grew up in southwest Michigan, and after living in Alabama, Florida, and Minnesota, she is happy to be right back home in Berrien Springs! She works as a social emotional learning interventionist and is the author of the middle grade novel Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero. Kelly keeps busy with her five amazing children, who often play loud music that leads to epic family dance parties. You can visit her on Twitter @kellyiswrite and online at kellyiswrite.com.

About the Illustrator
Darnell Johnson is a Miami native who discovered his passion for art while watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. Currently he resides in Alpharetta, Georgia, with his beautiful wife and newborn son. Darnell pulled inspiration from his childhood, family, and friends to draw life into the characters for The Electric Slide and Kai. He hopes the lines, colors, and shapes he makes sparks the imagination of young readers. You can visit him online at artofdarnelljohnson.com.

Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers? What are your feelings of the dance and its staying power after so many years?  Sound off in the comments, or be social on social media!  I’d love to hear from you!

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