Friendship, Read Your World

Birdsong By Julie Flett

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Back of Book:
When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing  health of her new friend?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Greystone Kids in exchange for an honest review.
Julie Flett has created a tender and moving story about the impact of change and the importance of friendship.
The story follows a young girl named Katherena as she adjusts to a life far from her old environment. She meets a neighbor named Agnes who gives her hope, and courage to face the challenges of her new world. The two bond through a passion for creating things. Katherena begins to adjust and enjoy her new chapter of life.  But with the joy, comes sadness as Agnes’s health begins to fade. Katherena realizes that she can use her art, and give one final gift to her friend.
This is a truly moving story that brought a tear to my eye. I loved that the text was broken up by seasons. It allows readers to follow each part of the story. The illustrations beautifully match the tone of the story with muted colors and amazing detail. I loved that the Cree culture was delicately woven throughout the story.
This is a lovely ode to the importance of learning from and loving the elderly.
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages
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Food, Read Your World

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao By Kat Zhang

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Back of Book: 

Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keeps coming out all wrong. Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?

My Review:

I received a copy of this picture book from Simon and Schuster books in exchange for an honest review. 

Debut author Kat Zhang has crafted a fantastic book that showcases Amy’s relicense in creating the perfect bao. The story follows a young girl named Amy as she tries to make the perfect sized bao. Sometimes they have too much filling and sometimes not enough. Amy knows that with enough practice she may reach her goal. Sadly, nothing she tries is working the way it should. Just when she is ready to give up, Amy comes up with the perfect solution to her problem. 

I love that this story focuses on the tradition of family coming together and cooking their favorite dish. I also loved that Amy brings bao to her school and shares it with her classroom. The illustrations by Charlene Chua are bright and give readers a good look at how bao is made. I love the adorable kitty that makes an appearance on each page. I was very excited to see a recipe in the back of the book on how to make Amy’s bao. 

I plan on using this story to begin my writer’s workshop with my students on how to write step by step instructions. This is a wonderful and creative picture book. 

Ages 5 and up

40 Pages 

Family, Grandparents, Read Your World

The Bar Mitzvah Boys By Myron Uhlberg

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Back of Book:
Grandpa was never bar mitzvahed; it was wartime, and life was difficult. It’s been a regret his whole life. Many years later, it’s his grandson’s time to go through the Jewish ritual of coming of age. The father suggests that they be bar mitzvahed together. They study together, recite together, and celebrate together.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Albert Whitman Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Myron Uhlberg weaved a stunning tale based on a true story about a grandfather and grandson who went through the bar mitzvah process together.  The text tells the story of the grandfather who was apart of the Holocaust and unable to properly become a man. When his grandson comes of age, the two of them go through the process together. The illustrations by  Carolyn Arcabascio have a dreamlike quality. They are breathtaking and draw readers into the story. This story is such a touching tribute to the importance of honoring tradition and culture.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

 

Family, Read Your World

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border By Mitali Perkins

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Back of Book:
It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.
For the few minutes they can share together with along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea.
Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.
Mitali Perkins has written an emotional heartwarming fictional tale of two grandchildren who meet their Abuela at the border.  Maria and her brother Juan are eager to see their beloved Abuela and exchange Christmas gifts.  When Juan’s gift won’t make it to Abuela, Maria has an idea to send the gift over the border.
This is a beautiful story of family, culture, and tradition. I have never heard of the  La Posada Sin Fronteras and was excited to learn about this beautiful tradition. I loved the overall message of being respectful of all people no matter where they live. The illustrations by Sara Palacios are beautifully drawn and filled with promise. The back of the book has more information about the Las Posadas festival. This is a book that should be in every elementary library.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Grandparents, Read Your World

My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin

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Back of Book:
While Mina is growing up in Iran, the center of her world is her grandmother. Whether visiting friends next door, going to the mosque for midnight prayers during Ramadan, or taking an imaginary trip around the planets, Mina and her grandma are never far apart. At once deeply personal and utterly universal, Mina Javaherbin’s words make up a love letter of the rarest sort: the kind that shares a bit of its warmth with every reader. Soft, colorful, and full of intricate patterns, Lindsey Yankey’s illustrations feel like a personal invitation into the coziest home, and the adoration between Mina and her grandma is evident on every page.
My Review:
I was so excited to get the opportunity to hear Mina read her fantastic book this weekend. I completely fell in love with this story and illustrations.
This book beautifully showcases the strong relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter.  The whimsical text allows readers a glimpse into a world rich with culture and identity.
Mina shares her fondest memories of praying, eating, and learning lessons with her beloved grandmother. The story shows readers the value of respecting and listening to a wiser generation. It also allows readers to draw parallels between their own life, and that of Mina.    The illustrations by Lindsey Yankey are gorgeous! The soft muted colors enhance the story and allow readers to feel like they are there. There are short notes from the author and illustrator about the connection that they still feel to their grandmothers. A must-have for classroom and elementary libraries.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Family, Read Your World

Pepe and the Parade: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage By Tracey Kyle

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Back of Book:

Pepe wakes up energized to attend his first Hispanic Day parade. With new food to taste, music to dance to, and a parade to watch, Pepe couldn’t be more excited to celebrate and share his Hispanic heritage. Many of Pepe’s friends also attend the festival, celebrating their own Hispanic ties. Mexican, Dominican, Panamanian, Colombian, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Chilean, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Cuban cultures are all represented in the parade. A day filled with joy and pride, Pepe and the Parade is a jubilant celebration of culture and identity.

My Review:

I received a copy of this picture book from Little Bee Books in exchange for an honest review.

Tracy Kyle has a true talent for weaving together beautiful stories of culture, tradition, and community.  I have never seen a book that discusses Hispanic Heritage in the depth and fun that this story does. I love that Tracy touches of every country and culture that makes up Latin America. The text focuses on the sights, and sounds of the parade and draws readers into the experience. The Spanish words that are sprinkled throughout the text add another layer of depth to the story.  The illustrations by  Mirelle Ortega are rich in color and allow readers to experience what a parade could look like. The back of the book has a wonderful glossary of the Spanish words and definitions. There is also well-written authors note that explains more about National Hispanic Heritage Month as well as details about the differences between Latino and Hispanic heritage. This is a perfect picture book to start conversations about the differences in other peoples cultures and traditions. This is a must-have in all classrooms and libraries.

Ages 5 and up

32 Pages

National Womens Month, Read Your World

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice By Nadia Hohn

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Back of Book: Jamaican poet and entertainer Louise Bennett Coverley, better known as “Miss Lou,” played an instrumental role in popularizing Jamaican patois internationally. Through her art, Miss Lou helped pave the way for other poets and singers, like Bob Marley, to use patois in their work.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picturebook from Owl Kids Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This bright and engaging picture book follows the early life of poet Louise Bennett Converley and her joy of writing. Louise was filled with words that bubbled up from inside. The problem was that not everyone agreed with her words. It took courage and determination for her to pursue what she loved. pieces of Louise’s poetry is sprinkled throughout the text. It gives readers a great introduction into the words that Miss Lou loved so much. The illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes are filled with color and life. Thre is a note from the author in the back of the book that shares more about life and writing. The back of the book also has a glossary and references.
This is a beautiful nonfiction picture book that is a perfect addition to any poetry unit, or Nations Women’s Month unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Growth Mindset, Princess stories, Read Your World

Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin

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Back of Book:
Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role.
But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role.
They whisper, they snicker, and they glare.
Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call?
My Review:
Social and emotional learning is a newer standard at my school. I love using picture books to help teach the standards in a relatable way. “Not Quite Snow White” is an excellent story to show children an example of confidence and loving yourself. Ashley took a sensitive topic and created a beautiful example of how important it is to love the skin your in.
Tameika is such a dynamic character that so many readers can relate to and connect with. I believe that this book will give children the extra courage that they need to try something new. The illustrations by Ebony Glenn are glossy and bright. The details convey the emotions of each child throughout the story. I look forward to sharing this book in my classroom this year.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Family, Read Your World

Hair Love By Matthew A. Cherry

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Back of Book:
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.
My Review:
The first time I saw the cover of this book I knew I would love it. The text is charming and follows a dad attempting to navigate his little girl’s wild locks. The story is humorous and shows Zuri’s daddy trying unsuccessfully to style her hair. Finally, they come up with a plan to create the perfect hairstyle. I love that the text is written in a first-person narrative. It allows the readers to connect with Zuri and her story. The illustrations by Vashti Harrison are colorful and bright. They beautifully capture the love between Zuri and her father. I look forward to sharing this book in my classroom during the school year. This story shows readers that everyone’s hair is special and unique. A must-have for any classroom or school library.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Read Your World

Where Are You From? Yamile Saied Méndez

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Back of Book:
When a girl is asked where she’s from—where she’s really from—none of her answers seems to be the right one.
Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving Abuelo for help. He doesn’t give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.
My Review:
This is a fantastic story by debut author Yamile Saied Mendez that addresses culture and identity in a gentle and sweet way. The story follows a young girl as she navigates the question where are you from? Unsure of how to answer the little seeks out her Abuelo for guidance. His answer is a beautifully lyrical response that will touch any readers heart. The illustrations by Jaime Kim are soft and warm. They bring the text to life and capture the essence of having pride in one’s heritage. This is a must-have for all classroom libraries.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages