Saturday, December 3, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 3 Books to get Young Readers Moving, Thinking, Dancing

Here we are with Day 3, and I am so excited with the creativity behind these titles! So much so that they seemed to beg for a category of their own - one that slightly stood away from the traditional categories of Humor or SEL or STEM. I hope you'll find as much wonder sparked from these books as I did and be inspired to share them with the kiddos in your life. 

I'm also repeated pleased with the generosity of our kidlit community seen in authors and illustrators willing to give back and lift others on their journeys with their knowledge and experience. I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunities presented today and enter in the giveaway after reading about these wonderful and inspiring new titles. First, by commenting on this post and then by entering the rafflecopter.

Are you ready? Here we go with our unique and fabulous batch of books!

Brainstorm by Rebecca Gardyn Levington, illustrated by Kate Kronreif (Sleeping Bear Press 2022). 

This rhyming lyrical story of a girl who feels lost of ideas on what to write for a class assignment slowly feels the excitement build for creativity as she's hit with one fun idea after another. Young readers will find delight in deciphering and chasing the ideas across the page along with the young writer-in-bloom. This book provides a great starting point in inspiring kids for their own creations, and this author heart absolutely LOVES it!

A free teacher's guide and activity pages for this book can be downloaded here:

Ride, Roll, Run. Time for Fun 
by Valerie Bolling, illustrated Sabrina Khadija (Abrams Appleseed 2022). 

A new book that makes a GREAT companion to her previously published, Let's Dance, this rhythmic and rhyming story from Valerie Bolling, shows different activities that young kids can do together at the end of a school day, or throughout summer. The diverse cast of children and activities ranging from sports, to music, to sidewalk art will sure to connect with young readers and tap into feelings of JOY that can come from doing activities with others. 

Find more about this author's other books here:

Dot, Dot, Polka Dot by Morissa Rubin (POW! 2021).

This bright and cheery board book introduces young readers to the wide world of fabric designs, from round calico prints to blocks of kenke cloth to fancy batik. Personally, I wasn't introduced to such fabrics until adulthood when a friend brought me a batik print from Kenya and I fell in love with the artistry. It's wonderful that our smallest humans can be introduced to a range of patterns from different cultures around the globe!

A teacher's guide can be found here:

Treasure Hunt by Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Estefania Razo (Lawley Publishing 2022).

There aren't many kids who would say no to a treasure hunt, and this book will undoubtably inspire them to create their own treasure hunt with friends or siblings, and then create their own puppet show! I used to love making my own dolls and toys as a kid, and I hope that this book ignites a similar passion for creativity in youngsters, especially one that lies in resourcefulness in using items that can be repurposed, rather than trashed or recycled!

Find more about this author here:

Come On In: There's a Party in this Book! by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Sabine Timm (Hippo Park, Astra Publishing 2022). 

Read Brightly listed this book as one of the best picture books of 2022, and my creative-loving heart can see why. Kids will undoubtably be inspired to create their own characters for playtime, (hopefully, not entirely through lunch or snack time) given the unique illustrations of this story. But mostly, I suspect they'll enjoy the rhyming, bouncing text and read along with the refrain of, "Come on in!" as Lemon goes about trying to find the party. This utterly different book tickled my mind and soul!

Kiyoshi's Walk by Mark Karlins, illustrated by Nicole Wong (Lee & Low Books 2021). 

When a young boy watches his grandfather draw a haiku poem with Japanese script, he asks where poems come from. So his grandfather takes him for a walk through their city where he learns how to make observations to create haiku with things like an artful eye, and artful ear, and an artful mind. I absolutely love this book for showing how the beauty of nature can be found EVERYWHERE, along with the relationship between grandfather and grandson. 

Wonder Walkers 
by Micha Archer (Nancy Paulsen Books 2021). 

Having grown up with much of my time spent exploring the outdoors near my home, I adore books that inspire children to get outside and think about our natural world in new and wonderous ways. This book does exactly that. Additionally, it's sparse, yet mindful text, will plant the seeds for word recognition and independent reading. A win all around!

Atticus Caticus 
by Sarah Maizes, illustrated by Kara Kramer (Candlewick Press 2021). 

The lively alliteration and rhythm of this story will prompt young readers into clapping their hands, tapping their feet, and singing along with the text. Perhaps they'll be inspired to go on and make up their own fun songs about their own fur and non-fur friends.

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon, The True Story of Alan Bean written by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Rubin (Orchard Books, 2019).  This story is about a boy who grew up loving airplanes. Sparked by natural curiosity and wonder for the beauty he saw around him, after learning to fly with the navy, Alan Bean decided to take painting classes in order to share the beautiful sights he saw out the cockpit window. After walking on the moon with the Apollo 12 mission, he applied his artistic talents to creating paintings that not only shared what he saw in the moonscapes, but how he felt when experiencing them. Those feelings were expressed through use of color and also textures that were made from using tools he had used during his moon visit. I love this book for showing how scientists and artists don't necessary work in separate lanes -- that we can work in both, and that art is a wonderful way to express scientific discovery and learning. As someone who identifies as both a scientist and an author, I highly recommend this book for showing kids that both outlets can intersect seamlessly.

So You Want to Build a Library by Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Aviel Basil (Capstone Press 2021). 

In a world made better by reading books, comes a book that will undoubtably tap-tap-tap at the imaginations of young readers by getting them to wonder about the ways that they might design their own library. With trained dragons? Handy giants? Tiny nooks for tiny fairies? The lively illustrations that nearly leap from the pages will inspire creativity and spring forth smiles in all ages.

From Here to There. Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Gilbert Ford (Clarion Books 2021).

You won't want to miss this book for the inspiration and learning that comes from reading about interesting inventions with moving parts that got us, well, ... moving! I loved listening to stories like this at bedtime--short and interesting snippets that spark imagination and wonder. With my own family history rooted in the railroads, the story about the steam engine is a special favorite. No doubt this book will get young minds tinkering, which as a parent, teacher, and scientist at heart, is most certainly a wonderful thing! 

For a free teacher's guide, visit the authors website here:

Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard, illustrated by Daniel Rechtschaffen (Sounds True 2022).

Yes, I've been blown away by videos on social media of itty bitty toddlers helping other toddlers move through strong emotions by showing them how to take deep breaths. Little kids get it, if they're introduced to it. This book was one I wised I had read as a youngster. Learning how to self-soothe is such an important life skill. I highly recommend this book for all ages!

Alphabedtime by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Betsy Snyder (Nancy Paulsen Books 2022). 

Singing and laughing before bedtime? Should that be a thing? Absolutely! I can't think of a better way to tuck a child in at night for sweet dreams than after having spent time smiling and giggling along with a book read together with family. Which most certainly will help them wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning. Basically, this book bustles with brilliance, and is not to be missed!

Duet by Eloise Broach, illustrated by Ziyue Chen (Chisty Ottaviano Books 2022). 

This unique middle grade mystery layered with music, history, and intriguing mystery is written from the perspective of a yellow songbird named Mirabelle who befriends a piano-playing boy bound for greatness. However, the boy refuses to play and his piano teacher's health is deteriorating. With a musical competition looming on the horizon, will Mirabelle and Micheal find a way to deliver a performance that will land a cash prize capable of saving his teacher's emotional health and home? This story will keep young readers turning the pages as it dips into art history, mystery, music, and suspense.

And now for the fabulous giveaways! I hope you will follow, connect with, and support these generous authors and illustrators! To grab your chance at winning one of these giveaways, please leave a comment on the blog and then get additional entries with the rafflecopter. Good luck!

1) A 30-minute "Ask me Anything" session with author Rebecca Gardyn Levington of Brainstorm and other titles.

2) A 20-minute "Ask me Anything" session with author Valerie Bolling of Ride, Roll, Run and other titles

3) Winner's choice - picture book manuscript/illustration portfolio critique or Ask me Anything session with author/illustrator Morissa Rubin

4) A copy of Treasure Hunt to a US address from author Stephanie Wildman

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 2, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 2 Our Diverse World

It's our second day of celebrating children's books with #7DaysOfBooks, and I'm excited to recommend titles that help readers learn about and engage in our beautifully diverse world, as well as connect with their own heritage.

We have a treasure trove of giveaways today, and I hope you'll support our wonderful authors/illustrators by finding them online and learning about these and other books that they have created.

My Paati's Saris 
by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Art Twink (Koklia 2022). 

Inspired by an experience in her class one day when she shared her saris with her students, this beautiful book shows all the different meanings that the wearing of traditional saris by his grandmother holds for a young Tamil boy as he goes about his day with her. Meanings of color, song, environment, food, dance, music, family, and self pour from the page. This special story holds a universal theme for everyone regarding relationships and celebration of heritage, and I highly recommend it for all readers and all ages.

Priya Dreams of Marsala and Marigolds by Meenal Patel (Beaver's Pond Press 2019). 

I absolutely love this exploration of Indian culture told from the perspective of an Indian-American girl named Priya who longs to fill her Babi Ba's heart with memories of India, and how when she explains what she is making at school, her classmates join in to create the longest garland of paper marigolds ever. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, especially those who enjoy baking in the kitchen, picking flowers from the garden, and sharing in new experiences with others. The lyrical text and bright illustrations are a treasure to be relished with repeated readings.

All the Places We Call Home 
written by Patrice Gopo, illustrated by Jenin Mohammed (Worthy Kids 2022).

As a mama shares memories of her daughter's previous homes and those of family in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica before tucking into her own bed in America. This beautiful story will spark conversations of the homes of older family members and ancestors in all little ones. Highly recommended for the lyrical and gentle tones mixed with vibrantly soothing illustrations.

Diwali in My New Home
 written by Shachi Kaushik, illustrated by Aishwany Tondoon (Beaming Books). 

When a young girl named Priya faces the prospect of celebrating Diwali--the festival of lights--outside of India, she is saddened that no one seems to know about her favorite holiday. The lights, traditional clothing, decorations, and songs that were present for her in India are absent from her school and community. But as she and her family begin to make preparations to celebrate Lord Rama and the goddess Lakshmi, neighbors take notice and ask questions. Soon, the celebration for the victory of light over darkness extends to including new friends and neighbors. I highly recommend this book for all readers to spark curiosity and learning about diverse cultures and holidays that can be celebrated in our world.  

The Moon from Dehradun, A Story of Partitian 
by Shirin Shamsi, illustrated by Tarun Lar (Atheneum 2022).

This beautiful story about a family who was forced to flee their home in India after withdrawal of the British government in 1947, shows the power of resilience and hope in a young girl who turns despair over leaving behind a home and beloved doll into tender affection and understanding shown toward her baby brother and their new life in Pakistan. Inspired by the true-life events of her mother, author Shirin Shamsi hopes that The Moon from Dehradun will help build bridges of understanding, tolerance and respect on both sides of the border. I highly recommend this story for all readers, as it will spark discussions of empathy and learning for the conflicts experienced by the diverse populations of our world.

From the Tops of the Trees 
written by Kao Kalia Yan, illustrated by Rachel Wada (Carolrhoda Books 2021). 

This slice of life offers the perspective and experiences of a young girl named Kalia growing up in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand as a Hmong refugee. When Kalia asks her father what life is like outside the camp, he doesn't immediately have an answer. But by the following day, he finds a way to show her. This tender story shows the love between family members who wait for a way to a better life for themselves. An uplifting story for readers of all ages.

Brown is Beautiful by Supriya Kelpar, illustrated by Noor Sofi (Farrar Straus Giroux 2022).

In this wonderfully rich, lyrical text, young readers will see how brown, a color in nature that may not always be called out as a favorite, is shown as exquisite, strong, and worthy of celebration, from the tiniest ants to the tallest mountains. This story is also a celebration of self and identity, and by the end, readers will be identifying the wonderful attributes that lie within themselves and perhaps seeking affirmation in the natural sights they see around them. I highly recommend this book for all young readers and story times! It truly is a celebration of beauty in all.

Amah Faraway
by Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Bloomsbury 2022).

In this lovely story, a girl gets to visit her grandmother in China after knowing her mainly through video chats. Gradually, through a series of different experiences around Taipei, Kylie reconnects with her Amah, and also changes from being shy and uncertain to curious and brave in her exhuberant exploration of this new place. I loved seeing the transition shown in this young girl embracing her heritage and culture, and then learning how to carry that connection with her Amah back home as they continued their weekly calls through video chats.

Namaste is a Greeting by Suma Sabramaniam (Candlewick 2022). 

This lovely and lyrical book explores the different meanings and spirit of namaste through the eyes of a young girl. Kindness, thoughtfulness, community, compassion--all are shown in this beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told story for readers of all ages. 

And now on to our prize giveaways! They are amazing!

Be sure to comment on the blog and earn extra entries with the rafflecopter for one of the following prizes. Prizes are shown in the side arrows of the rafflecopter. Good luck and thank you for participating!

1) A picture book manuscript critique from author Jyoti Rajan Gopal

2) A signed copy of Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Marsala from Meenal Patel to US address

3) Winner's choice, a copy of All the Places We Call Home to US address or an Ask Me Anything chat with Patrice Gopo

4) A copy of Diwali in My New Home and prize pack to US address from Shachi Kaushik

5) A copy of The Moon from Dehradun to US address from Shirin Shamsi

Thursday, December 1, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 1 Nature and Animals

Welcome! I am so excited to celebrate another #7DaysOfBooks of children's literature with recommendations, prizes, high-fives to wonderfully talented and generous authors and illustrators, and the feeling of joy that comes from sharing books with others. 

So many wonderful books are being published these days, and it is hard to get to them all. I can't think of a better gift at the holidays than a book. Or better yet, books!

Yes, there are lots of wonderful things that come with the holidays, like spending time outdoors and indoors. Resting in order to recharge the soul. Connecting with friends and family whom we haven't seen a while. And catching up on a good story. Or a few!

I love to give and receive books, and I especially love gifting a book on a topic that I know is a perfect match for someone I love. I hope that you'll find that kind of match among the titles I'm sharing over the next seven days. Titles that I was lucky enough to have enjoyed during the last six months. 

I'll bet that you have your own favorites, too, so please go ahead and share those titles in the comments so that I and others can check them out.

Plus! There are some wonderful prize giveaways that you will have a chance to win! 

Just follow the steps in the DAILY rafflecopters in order to earn your chances for each day. Winners will be announced by the evening of December 10. 

And now, here we go! We'll be kicking off the #7DaysOfBooks event with books related to Nature and Animals that will inspire kids to discover and explore all that this beautiful planet--the one place in our universe that we call home--has to offer. 

Be sure to follow and support the wonderful authors who are donating for today's giveaways!

Count on Us! Climate Activists 
by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Sarah Walsh (Barefoot Books 2022). 

This counting and ABC book highlights different actions that are being taken and can be taken to help ensure a better planet in the future. Short definitions of concepts on each page are insightful and understandable for young readers. What I love about this book is that its message isn't heavy-handed at all. It's seems like a perfect primer for caring about the world we live in, which kids will understand given their propensity to care about most anything from the get-go in their young and adorable lives. Visit the author at

A River's Gifts. The Mighty Elwha River Reborn
 by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Millbrook Press 2022). 

Readers are treated to the restoration of not only a river that was once blocked by dams, but the restoration of a fish population that can now return all the way to its upstream spawning sites, the restoration of an indigenous people's connection to the land, and the reestablishment of ecological relationships in an entire forest and watershed ecosystem. This story is important on so many levels for helping to show readers what is possible in being caretakers of natural resources and each other. 

It's no surprise that this book was listed as one of the BEST 100 picture books of 2022 by Kirkus Reviews. Find more info about the book and author here:

Also, a curriculum guide for teachers is here:

Footprints Across the Planet by Jennifer Swanson (Reycraft Books 2022). 

This nonfiction book for young readers offers a sampling of different types of footprints that can be found on both our world and other places, like the moon and even Mars! From elephants to turtles to familiar animals like chickens, young readers are asked to consider their own impact on the world and the type of footprints they will leave behind. The stunning photographs and lyrical text are sure to engage thinking on deeper levels and insightful conversations. I loved this book and highly recommend it! See a stunning video trailer for the book here: Also, visit the author at

The Boy and the Sea 
written by Camille Andros, illustrated by Amy Bates (Abrams Books for Young Readers 2021).  

This lyrical picture book tells the story of a boy and his relationship with the sea, along with the boy's changing perspective of the world changes as he grows. At the same time, it seamlessly and quietly weaves in family relationships that span a lifetime. My favorite lines begin on the first illustrated spread and continue from there. I highly recommend this book for children who wonder about the sea and the world around them, and for the discussions that will spring forth.

The Adventures of Dr. Sloth. Rebecca Cliffe and Her Quest to Protect Sloths 
by Suzi Eszterhas (Millbrook Press 2022). 

This book introduces young reader to sloth biology, ecology, threats to their survival, and scientific research that is striving to save this animal from population decline and habitat loss. Some species of sloth are among the most critically endangered species in the world. What I love most about this book is that it shows two careers in action--that of the biologist Rebecca Cliffe, and that of the author, Suzi Eszterhas who photographed Dr. Cliffe as she worked in the wild. This is a wonderful book will nurture science identities in kids with interests in the natural world.

Tiny Dino
 by Deborah Freedman (Viking 2022). 

In this informational fiction book, a hummingbird enthusiastically shares her link to dinosaurs with her animal friends. Despite that each friend--from a turtle to a frog to a shrew--challenges the little hummingbird's claims, she carries on, spreading the news of her dinosaur links until she bumps into a cousin, who resembles a dinosaur (alligator), but isn't. Yet, they and all their friends come to recognize and celebrate the "tiny dino." Another great story for young readers that will spark discussions on our feathered, non-extinct dinosaurs that continue to roam our planet.

The Secret Life of the Sea Otter 
by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Kate Garchinsky (Boyds Mills Press 2022).

This beautifully-illustrated, creative nonfiction story shares a world of interesting facts about sea otters through a series of interactions that an otter named Lutris has in her ocean home. The engaging text and energy-filled illustrations will draw readers into wanting to learn more about their watery world.

Caves by Nells Cross Beckerman, illustrated by Kalen Chock (Scholastic 2022). 

This book offers an absolutely fascinating tour of caves and the experiences and wonders that they offer around the world. As another book that was included on the 100 Best picture books of 2022 by Kirkus Reviews, this is definitely one you will want to get.

Luminous by Julia Kuo (Greystone Books 2022). 

As both a science teacher and a person who loves to explore the outdoors, I absolutely love this introduction to the fascinating feature of bioluminescence in surprisingly extraordinary creatures. Perfect sparking wonder and curiosity in young readers.

The Beekeepers by Dana L. Church (Scholastic 2022). Bees and Vikings? Yep! They're connected! This book is for those readers in your life that are ready for middle-grade books and above. Packed with interesting facts, this book is absolutely easy to read and accompanied by illustrations, such as maps that show the journey that bees took by boat in order to reach North America! This was something I never knew, and the learning went on from there. I highly recommend it for all readers.

And now for the giveaways! They are awesome!

Follow the Rafflecopter to make your entries. You'll see all 4 giveaways with the side-arrows in the rafflecopter. Comment on this blog post to get double entries!

1) A signed copy of Count On Us from Gabi Snyder (US address only)

2) A copy of A River's Gifts from Patricia Newman (US address only)

3) A 20-minute Ask-Me-Anything session with Patricia Newman

4) Winner choice of a 20-minute Ask-Me-Anything session with Jennifer Swanson or copy of the book to a US address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway