Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Luna Loves Dance… You should, too!

Luna Loves Dance, by Joseph Coelho/Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-273-1

Ages 4-7

Luna is a little girl who loves to dance, but loses faith in herself when she stumbles at a dance tryout. Convinced she’s not “really” a dancer, Luna’s family works to show her that it’s the love of dancing that makes you a dancer at heart, not perfection. Facing fears, embracing joy, and knowing that you are good enough are beautifully conveyed. Luna is an adorable little girl of color with a white mom and a dad of color; we meet her grandparents, also people of color, who love to dance the Charleston, Crazy Legs, and Heels and play old jazz records when they dance with Lulu. There is colorful, joyful artwork throughout, including a vibrant Carnival street scene that opens into a gatefold spread. Endpapers show Lulu and a variety of diverse children putting on their dancing shoes and dancing in different styles: a girl in hijab spots roller skates; a white boy in ’70s bell bottoms and a patterned shirt strikes a Travolta-esque disco pose; a boy of color goes on pointe in ballet shoes. Embrace joy and read this one to your little ones.

Originally published in Great Britain earlier this year, this is the third Lulu adventure, all available in the U.S. from Kane Miller. They are also available in Spanish, which means I’ll be loading up another cart for my library kids!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bo the Brave knows that monsters aren’t always that easy to spot

Bo the Brave, by Bethan Woollvin, (Apr. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-182-9

Ages 3-7

Any day I get to talk about a new Bethan Woollvin book is a good day. She creates fairy-tale heroines that upend all existing conventions, whether it’s the witch getting the goods on bratty Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood saving the day on her own. Her new book, Bo the Brave. stars another young girl who teaches readers that monsters aren’t always fairy tale creatures – they’re much closer.

Bo is a young girl who wants to be a monster hunter like her brothers. When they tell her she’s too little, so she strikes out on her own. On her travels, she meets a griffin, a kraken, and a dragon, all of whom seem much nicer, and certainly more helpful, than she’s been led to believe. In fact, the dragon is a mother, grieving because her baby’s been kidnapped by monster hunters! Bo, pretty sure she knows exactly who the culprits are, leads her new friends to the rescue: while delivering a stern lecture to her brothers. Bo the Brave has learned that rumors and hearsay are deceiving and can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and heartache. In this story, it’s her brothers that “were certainly acting like monsters”, not the griffin, the kraken, or the dragons!

That’s the best part of Bethan Woollvin’s storytelling. She takes a look at who the real monsters are, like Hansel and Gretel; she has heroines who save themselves – they have no time to deal with that whole helpless girl foolishness – like Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. Bethan Woollvin’s heroines have no time to waste, waiting for someone to rescue them and no patience to follow someone who doesn’t value them for who they are. They’re out there on their own, using their brains and their own common sense to save the day, and teach some valuable lessons.

The endpapers illustrated Bo the Brave’s evolution, too: the front endpapers are a map, pre-journey, where Bo notes where the “horrid forest monsters”, “scary cave beasts”, and “slimy sea monsters” are, along with her “stinky brothers’. The back endpapers are edited to show that her “stinky brothers” are actually her “monster brothers”, and each of the new friends she’s made have their rightful names noted on the map.

Bo the Brave has a starred review from School Library Journal, and is essential reading.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: I Am Awesome! and Guest Post from Author Ryan K. Maule

Ryan Maule, motivational speaker and host of the popular Expect Awesome Podcast, wants to make sure that all children get the positive self-esteem they need early so they can be the type of adults that live up to their God-given potential.

I Am Awesome!, by Ryan K. Maule/Illustrated by L.M. Phang,
(Jan . 2020, WestBow Press), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-9736-8105-2
Ages 5-8

Enter I Am Awesome!, a story about two robots, Grace and Zeal, who meet a new invention who claims to be Awesome and not just Good. Author Ryan K. Maule was kind enough to share a guest post for today, so read on and enjoy.

3 Secrets to Teaching Your Kids to Choose Confidence Over Fear
By Ryan Maule, author of the children’s book I Am Awesome!

Being a parent of a child in grade school means constantly sitting on the edge of your seat. Changes are happening all the time that affect the way your child reacts and responds to everyday life situations. This makes parenting overwhelming, feeling like you’re just sitting around waiting to come up with answers to issues you didn’t realize would come up in the first place.

One of those changes seen regularly is a loss in self-esteem or confidence. Many parents face the dilemma of seeing confidence deplete with little to no understanding of what’s going on or how it happened. Most of the time we don’t even notice until the confidence has dropped so far that we wonder how it will ever recover!

So, what happened? If you’re like me, it’s easy to remember the moments where your child looked like they were absolutely unstoppable. I’ve seen my daughter take on roller coasters that made me nauseous, introduce herself to a group of strangers where I hoped to just blend in and get ignored, and perform, sing, and dance in front of crowds that make even the most confident of parents wonder “where did this kid come from?!” For a while it seemed like the only thing that scared her was Santa Claus.

But then, without notice or warning, she doesn’t have that confidence anymore. She doesn’t want to perform, she’s withdrawn, she doesn’t want to go on even simple child rides, or stand out at school or in small groups.

Where did the confidence go?

The reality is that these depletions in confidence are normal and common throughout not only the growing up process, but throughout your child’s entire life. These life tests never go away. The trick is to be able to recognize and label the problem that is always getting in the way. It can be called many things and summed up into one word: fear.

Fear is the main reason your children lose some or most of their self-confidence. It can be discovering the fear of death, the fear of judgement, the fear of disapproval, the fear of disappointment, the fear of embarrassment, or even the fear of simply failing. They could even just be scared in general. Fear is always present and will never fully go away. Fear is the amplifier of all the negative outcomes in every situation that we hold in the back of our mind.

The secret is to teach our children how to react to fear in order to maintain and build their confidence. To do this, I have three easy secrets to help your kids choose confidence over fear.

  1. Teach Your Children to Recognize and Admit Their Fears

Most situations where confidence is attacked are never recognized because we allow ourselves to get away with lying to each other. Instead of properly saying “I’m afraid of” or “I’m scared to,” we allow bad excuses and “I just don’t want to’s” to be acceptable answers. Teaching your kids to identify the thoughts and feelings that are fear-related helps them to create the potential for a stronger, more confident response.

  1. Make A Rule of No Hypotheticals

 This secret is one that all families should use and applies to both adults and children. Hypotheticals are imaginary negative outcomes and more commonly, fantasy worst-case scenarios. It’s so easy to think up disasters and failures and play them out like a movie in your mind. The answer is to not allow them. No hypotheticals means basing your decision on only the things that are facts and that you already know. By not allowing your worst-case scenario to impact your decision, you create opportunities where positive outcomes are truly possible.

  1. Discuss Past Successes!

When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to remember past experience. Sometimes all you need is a little reminder of great moments of past confidence to inspire more instances of future confidence!

“Do you remember that time you did this same thing and it went perfectly?!”

“Mom and I were so proud of you the last time you handled a situation like this!”

“You are awesome at this!”

“This is nothing for you!”

“You could do this in your sleep!”

By drawing on past successes, your children will start to see beyond the fear and see themselves conquering the world!

RYAN MAULE is the author of the children’s book I Am Awesome! He is also a nationally recognized and highly sought-after motivational speaker, host of the popular Expect Awesome Podcast, and the president of Integrity Doctors, the world’s largest chiropractic business organization. Over the last 15 years Ryan has traveled the world spreading the message of expecting awesome and building a stronger self-image in order to gain a God-powered confidence. Ryan is happily married to his awesome wife Amber and they live in Florida with their two awesome kids, Summer Grace and Nolan Zeal.

 

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Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Roller Girl brings roller derby to tweens! A WhatchaReading review!

I love a good roller derby story, and I love a good graphic novel. I got to enjoy both when I picked up Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl. I’d read the advance reviews on this one, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. In fact, I ordered it for my library, and was the first person to borrow it. Since then, I’ve pressed it into the hands of two girls at my library, and my niece has her own copy after I raved about it for an entire lunch date.

RollerGirlCVR

Check out what I had to say about Roller Girl over at WhatchaReading!

 

Posted in Historical Fiction, Tween Reads

Book Review: The Midwife’s Apprentice, by Karen Cushman (Clarion Books, 1995)

Recommended for ages 8-12

Brat is an orphaned girl with no name or family. When the village midwife discovers her sleeping in a dung heap to keep warm, she takes her on as an apprentice. The reader sees Brat grow in confidence and ability.

A 1996 Newbery winner, this historical fiction novel has a strong message: you can make your own way in this life, no matter what cards you are dealt. Alyce remembers no mother and no home; she is the target of village bullies and sleeps in a dung heap to keep warm, but she never believes in giving up. When the midwife is cruel with her words, she shakes it off and continues to learn by observation. She does not wait for someone to provide her with a kinder name than Brat or Beetle, the name given her by Jane the midwife; she decides she likes the name Alyce and tells people to call her by that name. She finds a way to even the score with the cruel villagers and earns the respect of one of the village bullies when she aids him in delivering a calf. This is medieval girl power.

In addition to winning the Newbery medal, The Midwife’s Apprentice has also been designated as one of the American Library Association (ALA)’s Best of the Best Books for Young Adults and the New York Public Library’s “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”. Ms. Cushman also received Newbery Honors for her book Catherine , Called Birdy.

The author’s website offers a full bibliography of Ms. Cushman’s books, along with an author biography and “odd facts”. An FAQ is available for popular questions, and there is a link to contact the author for appearances. There are a wealth of resources available online for discussing and teaching this book, including a robust guide at eNotes.