Dear Librarian (2021)

by Lydia M. Sigwarth
Illustrated by Romina Galotta
ASIN/ISBN: 9780374313906
Publication: June 1, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

After leaving their home behind, Lydia and her family stay with various relatives in their homes. She’s without a home of her own until she discovers the library, a place where her imagination can run wild and there is space to do so many things. The most special spot of all is where the librarian is located.

Dear Librarian is a touching story of the effects libraries and librarians have on children. Like Lydia, the library was a sanctuary for me when I was growing up, and it continues to be one when I need to escape the noise of adulthood. I loved the book. It made me tear up! It immediately reminded me of Gary Paulsen’s autobiographical middle grade read Gone to the Woods. In it he also attributes his path to a librarian. The illustrations are charming, especially the one above with the sun shining through. However, my favorite illustration is probably the first page, because the book opens to a drawing of a library checkout card. The library is indeed a magical place.

The New Kid Has Fleas (2021)

by Amy Dyckman
Illustrated by Ida Kaban
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250245243
Publication: June 15, 2021

**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

There’s a new kid in town and everyone is unsure of what to make of her. According to one student, the New Kid has fleas, but no one really knows for sure. The New Kid is different but the main character realizes there’s nothing wrong being different after pairing up with her for a science project and meeting her family.

Children will enjoy it. I expect lots of giggling to ensue as soon as they meet the New Kid’s family. I enjoyed the illustrations with its muted colors. The expressions on the kids’ faces were entertaining, all a bit confused about the New Kid while the New Kid just does her own thing, howling to her own tune and climbing on trees. I especially loved the attention to diversity in the book with kids of different backgrounds on the playground together. While I enjoyed it, I couldn’t also help but wonder about the implicit comparison of new kids and their families to being wild like animals. I had to drop a star for that. Despite this, the book advocates acceptance and being open to differences. I like the message it imparts. Especially with schools going back into session, this is a worthwhile read.

Oddbird (2021)

by Derek Desierto
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250765314
Publication: May 25, 2021

Oddbird_page

Desierto is the illustrator of multiple books but Oddbird is his debut. The story follows a bird who isn’t like the rest of the other birds, who just wants to swim in the pool. Because he is different, not nearly as colorful as the other birds are, he is singled out. He finds a way to blend himself in with them, but ultimately finds that just being himself is best.

The book highlights being unique and accepting yourself the way you are even if other’s won’t necessarily do so at first. Apart from the positive storyline, the simple illustrations and the vibrant colors are some of the most memorable things about the book. I enjoyed the book. The nieces and I will be drawing some of our own birds after they finish with their online classes.

I had a chance to participate in a virtual meet with the author, and it was a complete joy to hear him speak about the book and the thought went into creating the different birds. He mentioned wanting to create birds that were simple enough for children to draw, and I appreciate that he took that into consideration. Not only does Oddbird offer a compelling story of being true to yourself, it also gives children an opportunity to create their own unique bird–any shape and any size, all sorts of colors and even different types of eyes. I’ll stop while I’m ahead, otherwise I might continue to rhyme.

The One and Only Sparkella (2021)

by Channing Tatum
Illustrated by Kim Barnes
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250750754
Publication: May 4, 2021

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Sparkella_sparkle

Ella, or Sparkella as she likes to be called, isn’t nervous at all about her first day at a new school. She is unapologetically herself with her glitter, her shimmers, and her sparkles. A rough first day leads Sparkella to revert to being “normal,” but she feels even worse. After helping her dad out with his own rough day, Sparkella decides she’d rather continue to be herself.

The One and Only Sparkella is an endearing book about embracing your individuality. It’s especially sweet because her dad plays an active role in encouraging her to be herself. He not only supports her individuality and sense of fashion, he sparkles right along with her. The illustrations are as whimsical and enchanting as Sparkella. I read this with my niece and she adored the book. We both recommend it!

THAO (2021)

by Thao Lam
ASN/ISBN: 9781771474320
Publication: April 21, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

This has been a year of so many great children’s books being published. THAO is one I immediately liked. On the surface, Thao is a simple story about having a name that is continually mispronounced but names hold a lot of power. Our identities are often intertwined with our names and have the ability to negatively affect us when no one seems to get it right; thus, the desire to have a name that is more familiar and easier to pronounce–I am speaking from personal experience. Individuals with unfamiliar names (and potentially even those with unconventionally spelled names) will be able to relate to Thao Lam’s story and will applaud the ending, which encourages individuals to be proud of their name and who they are.

My name was an unusual one in the area I grew up as well as spelled phonetically different from how it is pronounced, so it was hard to get my name write. I always hated the beginning of the school year and when we had substitutes. I desperately wanted to be called Victoria because I was obsessed with a TV show with a heroine named Victoria. I can empathize with Thao’s experience, but it took me a lot longer to be proud of my name. I adored the book and Lam’s illustrations and collages.

The Sharey Godmother (2021)

by Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Mike Curato
ASN/ISBN: 9781250222305
Publication: April 13, 2021

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own. **

Shari T. Fairy, the Sharey Godmother, is a godmother I can get completely behind! Shari loves to share, from her lunch to the cake she likes to bake and decorate. When her friends begin to question what she gets in return, she also begins to wonder what might happen if she stopped sharing. Shari realizes it’s not what she gets in return; sharing is just part of who she is. I love the message the book conveys. The illustrations are charming, with a mix of drawings and photos, add to how endearing the book is. (**GIVEAWAY**)

As my nieces like to say, “SHARiNG IS CARING.

Tacos_sharing

Sharing for the sake of sharing is what underlies The Sharey Godmother. I am always sharing food! I love food…and so does the rest of the family.  It doesn’t happen only during special occasions. The family shares food throughout the year, whenever it’s an “I made this dish that you have to try” or an “I made your favorite dish” kind of day. We usually pack it up and drop it off. (It’s just about an everyday type of thing.)

Laab_sharing

When we share tacos (my weakness are pickled purple onions added on top) or laab (the more herbs and the sourer it is, the merrier), it’s never about what we’re getting in return. We are always genuinely sharing our love for one another. Just as it is for Shari the Sharey Godmother, sharing is a part of who we are, and there is joy that comes with it.

GIVEAWAY

In sharing the “love,” you have the opportunity to win a finished print copy of The Sharey Godmother (US/Canda Only). You don’t have to sign-up or subscribe to anything unless you want more entries. You can enter the Rafflecopter below. If the widget isn’t showing up, you can also enter by clicking here. The giveaway ends 04/30/2021 at 12 AM PST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Yang Warriors (2021)

by Kao Kalia Yang
Illustrated by Billy Thao
ASN/ISBN: 9781517907983
Publication: April 13, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Led by Master Me, ten cousins train daily in the Ban Vinai refugee camp. They have to in order to protect their families, which includes a plan to search for fresh vegetables after a week without any. They embark on this dangerous mission, leaving behind the five-year-old author to await her sister Dawb and the rest of the warriors’ return.

While I was born in the U.S., my family arrived as refugees.  I grew up hearing stories about life in Laos and the refugee camps, a life so vastly different from my own. The perspective of the author at five years old offers a different view of the refugee experience and affords an opportunity for children today to try to understand and possibly to even relate to the children in the book. Yang crafts an engaging story from memories of her time in Ban Vinai, drawing from the heroism of her older sister Dawb and her cousins. It’s a story of brave children in an adverse environment doing their best to survive.

The illustrations were exceptional, helping connect me to my family and the past of my people. I may not have experienced life in Ban Vinai, but the illustrations helped to tie my childhood to the Yang Warriors–what child hasn’t “trained” to prepare for their battles ahead? It may have been under different circumstances with different training for different missions, but the intent being similar, protecting those we care about.

It’s a heroic story that needs to be shared. It’s the perfect story to create opportunities to help my nieces and nephews begin to understand their roots.

Eyes that Kiss in the Corner (2021)

by Joanna Ho
Illustrated by Dung Ho
ASN/ISBN: 9780062915627
Publication: January 5, 2021

This is the book I needed when I was growing up. My eyes were an attribute I was very insecure about because they were just one of many things other kids teased me about. Eyes that Kiss in the Corner highlights the uniqueness, the beauty of eyes that look like mine. They’re special because they reflect those of my parent’s, passed from one generation to the next. They are “eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” They “crinkle into crescent moons and sparkle like the stars.” The book impaled my heart with such warmth and positivity. If only someone had described my eyes as such when I was younger, it would have made a world of difference. Eyes that Kiss in the Corner celebrates diversity and promotes self-love. It’s not just about acceptance, but appreciating yourself just the way you are.

Something’s Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear (2021)

by Jory John
Illustrated by Erin Kraan
ASN/ISBN: 9780374313883
Publication: March 23, 2021


**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own (and that of my nieces).**

BearandUndewear

At first, it’s not quite clear what exactly is going on. The cover and the title will surely make you raise your eyebrows. We have a bear and some underwear, so of course something is wrong. Even all the other animals are wondering why there is a bear with some underwear. The kids found it hilarious! A bear…with UNDERWEAR?! They knew exactly what was wrong! It’s not until the hare that everything becomes clear. It’s a cute book with lovely illustrations. The bear and his underwear that even has a place for his tail…heh. The ending of the book is not only funny but underlines the importance of friendship. Even adults will smile at the truth of it.

Cars, Signs, and Porcupines! (2021)

by Ethan Long
ASN/ISBN: 9781250765987
Publication: March 2, 2021
Series: Happy County #3

**I was provided a complimentary copy from the publisher. I voluntarily read it and played activities with it. All opinions are my own…and that of my nieces of course.**

In Cars, Signs, and Porcupines, kids get the opportunity to learn about Happy County while porcupines go on the loose, subsequently learning about things they might see around the communities they live in. findsomethingblueAt first glance, it can seem a bit overwhelming because many of the pages have a lot going on, but once the reading begins and the fun starts, the feeling quickly subsides. The pages are colorful and bustling with so many potential activities beyond what’s written in the book.  It encourages children to interact with each other and with adults. My nieces and I spent more than an hour perusing the pages, going over the content, and playing “I Spy.”  One of my nieces was ruthless spying “something blue” while the other went easy on me with “something black and white.” We had a great time with it! My nieces loved it and were not ready to close the book.