Islandborn

Identity. Such a powerful word, and so many books seek to explain it. But what is it? How we look? The groups we’re a part of? Where we come from?

In ISLANDBORN, we meet Lola, a little girl tasked with drawing a picture of the country she is originally from. The problem is, Lola left her Island as a baby and doesn’t remember anything about it.

But everyone around her does, and so she embarks on a journey to understand her homeland. She ultimately discovers that the Island IS her. The music, the fruit, the people, the bravery, the beach: it is all part of her.

This book really resonated with me. My son was born in New York City and we lived there for the first year of his life. Like Lola, he has no memory of his Island, Manhattan. But we tell him stories, we read him books and we tell him how New York will always be part of him; it will always be a part of his identity.

When Little Miss came along after we left New York City, we wondered: how could we give her a piece of this place that means so much to us, to make her feel connected there? Her identity would never include New York City they way the rest of ours does…unless we somehow made it part of her identity. And so we did. Her middle name is our street in New York (thankfully, we didn’t live on a Street or Avenue!). So now, New York City is part of her identity too.

We are shaped by so many things, perhaps none so much as where we come from. ISLANDBORN asks us to confront our origins – the good and the bad – and understand ourselves more.

A big thank you to Penguin Books for Young Readers for including me as part of the blog tour for this book, and sending me this review copy.

Now…were you waiting for the big reveal that I found it by taking 23andme? Well, here it is: Read More…

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They Say Blue

Publisher: Abrams Kids

I’ve seen a lot of this one on Instagram lately, so I was super surprised to run across it on the library shelf today. Score!

Now, before I read it I really thought it was going to be a meditative book about the color blue (LOL!). How wrong I was! Instead, we follow a young girl as she explores the world – and its many colors- around her.

The text is beautiful. Like poetry, but poetry that kids would actually say. For example, when pretending to stretch like a tree the girl exclaims, “I sprouted!” I love that – it’s so genuinely joyful and so perfectly what a child would say! (Note: this is NOT a rhyming book – just want to make that clear in case there is any confusion with my poetry comment.)

Now, can you get enough of these illustrations?! Not me! They are just beautiful! Look at these pages toward the end:

Stunning. I can’t wait to see what is next for this author/illustrator. I see great things ahead.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen

Publisher: Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins)

This book is exquisite. It is non-fiction at its absolute best. Relatable to kids, easy to understand language, and illustration perfection. I cannot day enough good things about this one. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out. You will love it.

Ok so here’s what I’m talking about. See the boys fooling around while the father reads aloud?! So relatable! It makes this distant world that Jane grew up in seem so much more familiar. And the language isn’t overly verbose or extravagant.

Can you take your eyes off of these illustrations?! They’re beautiful! The delicacy perfectly matches the subject matter. Just gorgeous.

And how about this fun fact: I posted this on Instagram first and the author responded telling us about the hidden image of this very book included in the illustrations. See the girl at the forefront reading? Isn’t that awesome?!

This is the complete package. 😍

My Pet Wants A Pet

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co./Macmillan

Ok, the premise of this book is adorable: everyone wants to take care of and love someone else. So, when a boy gets a dog as a pet, he can easily understand why his dog wants a pet. Around and around it goes, with each subsequent pet wanting a pet, until it comes full circle (with a flea adopting the original dog as it’s pet).

I could NOT get over how cute the endpapers are for this. Take a look:

So cute right?!

And here’s a peek inside at one of the pet’s wanting a pet:

This is cuteness overload. Oh, and take a look at the boy and his mom. Don’t you love the diversity?! I mean it’s not even part of the story, it’s just there – it’s so perfect.

I’ve got a lot of love for this one. Highly recommend. It just came out on March 6th so be on the lookout!

Pine and Boof

How cute is this cover?! Let me just say, the inside is just as adorable. Boof the bear loves collecting things, and his red leaf is his favorite thing ever.

He never lets it go. Until the wind blows it away. Luckily, Pine the porcupine is ready to step in and help…except his help isn’t quite as helpful as Boof hopes.

All is well in the end though, because instead of a leaf, Boof ends up with a friend.

This is such a cute relationship, it has me wondering if more books are in the works. Thanks to Harper Childrens for sending this one my way!

Edie is Ever So Helpful

Author/Illustrator: Sophy Henn

Publisher: Penguin Kids

Oh Edie! You are fantastically adorable. Edie thinks she is ever so helpful, if by “helpful” you mean that she causes more trouble than she realizes (as most kids do!). Her good intentions are laughable – I totally guffawed on the spread with the grandparents.

Also, I firmly believe that the father in the spread below is the most honest illustration of a frustrated parent in a picture book ever. 😂

But at the end of the day, life sure would be boring without our Edie’s wouldn’t it? (She certainly thinks so!)

A total winner and I’m jonesing for a sequel. Pick this one up ASAP!

I Love Cats!

Publisher: HarperCollins

(Release Date 12/26/17)

This text was originally published in 2007, so you may have seen an earlier version of this book before (maybe floating around at a library). BUT, wow, this reissue, with Bob Staake illustrations, is perfection.

The text is sparse; for example:

Don’t you love the color and the use of opposites for teaching little ones?

And every time we end with a refrain:

Because the text is so sparse it leaves a lot of room for the illustrator to have fun. And Bob does so here!

Can you see my favorite bit in this page spread?

Maybe we need to zoom in a bit…

😂😂😂. Love this so much.

If you’re a cat person, or know someone who is, reserve your copy of this one stat! Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this one to review. I’m doing a giveaway over on Instagram- but it’s a quick one, so head over now if you’re interested.

Nightlights

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company

Library books with dark covers are so hard to photograph. But don’t let that dissuade you from checking this one out. It is beautiful. We follow a father and his daughters as they explore lights – from the galaxy to city lights to their own front porch.

The illustrations are just beautiful. And can we stop for a minute and admire the composition of this family. I love the beautiful reality it reflects.

I mean seriously, how beautiful are these page spreads?!

This is also perfect for for bedtime – look how cuddled up and happy the kids are.

All around fabulous book. Definitely worth checking out.

Double Take! A New Look At Opposites

Publisher: Candlewick Press

This is a genius way to introduce more advanced concepts, like perspective, to kids. I mean, if you think about it, the idea that a line is only long if you’re at the back of it is a tough thing to get your head around. I love that this book tackles these ideas – in rhyme no less – in a way kids can conceptualize. The vibrant illustrations are the icing on the cake. Take a peek!

Little Frog and the Scary Autumn Thing

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Change is scary for everyone. Autumn certainly is a season of change, and one can easily see why it’s a scarier counterpart to spring. Instead of plants and animals coming alive and everything turning green, here we see what looks like decay. But autumn isn’t scary, it’s just unfamiliar, at least to one little frog.

As little frog experiences her first autumn, she’s scared. But mom has some words of wisdom for her:

And so, she sets off to explore and be brave.

Though soon she has a scraped knee and a sense that she’s wandered too far.

But then she recalls her mother’s words of advice.

And discovers autumn isn’t so bad after all.

A great book about autumn and confronting fears.

For another book about animals experiencing autumn for the first time, check out LEAVES by David Ezra Stein.