Posted in picture books

Love makes us rise: Love Love Bakery

Love Love Bakery: A Wild Home for All, by Sara Triana Mitchell/Illustrated by H2 Alaska, (May 2018, Lucid Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1632961976

Ages 5-8

Love Love Bakery is a book I received last year, and am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. Based on a bakery in Texas, Love Love Bakery is a love letter to coffeehouse culture: inclusive, a little chaotic, and delicious, with a strong sense of community. Bakers John and Jane get the shop ready in the morning as Jane’s son has breakfast on the porch. He leaves for school with his friends, telling mom “not to let things go nuts today”. The barista joins John and Jane, and the shop comes to life as the neighborhood wakes up and drops by. Sure enough, the place gets a little nuts, but it’s a chaotic joy that brings people together over coffee and conversation.

H2 Alaska’s watercolor artwork brings a comfortable, warm feel to the story, and introduces neighborhood people that may be familiar to readers, whether we’ve spotted them at our local Starbucks or the indie coffee place in town: the paint-spattered artist, the chattering book group, the new person in town looking for somewhere to be. We have a diverse, multi-generational crowd coming together in a place that welcomes all. The storytelling is comforting, describing a routine day in a convivial community, and offers a look at the sheer numbers that go into making a day’s worth of coffee and baked goods. There’s coffee and baking-related (groan-worthy) punnage, a glossary at the end, and a recipe for pretzels.

Love Love Bakery is a sweet read that you can pick up online. Sara Triana Mitchell’s author website has more information about her books.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Upside Down Sid teaches inclusivity and empathy

Upside-Down Sid, by Dylan Shearsby, (Sept. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678896

Ages 4-7

Upside-Down Sid is upside-down and a right-side world. It’s been that way as long as he can remember, so he mostly keeps to himself and stays home. When some neighbors send a basketball flying through his window, Sid discovers a new group of friends. When he joins them at the amusement park and has them over for dinner, things are a little bit of a mess… but one day, while Sid goes out, his new friends fix up his house and give Sid’s home the makeover he deserves: everything is upside-down to fit Sid’s life!

Upside-Down Sid is a story about kindness, empathy, inclusivity, and accessibility. Sid has to adjust to the world around him, which makes him sad and withdrawn. His new friends help make changes that will make Sid’s world conform to his life, and they go happily along for the ride, finding ways to include Sid in their activities. The brief sentences and cartoon art make this a good choice when talking about kindness and working with other who may need environmental adjustments for accessibility. The egg-shaped characters have expressive eyes and facial expressions, and the art is boldly outlined with bright colors.

Originally published in Australia in 2018, Upside-Down Sid has free, downloadable teachers’ notes and discussion questions that will hopefully spark good discussion and a pay-it-forward feeling among readers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Unicorn Day: All are welcome!

Unicorn Day, by Diana Murray/Illustrated by Luke Flowers, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492667223

Ages 3-7

It’s Unicorn Day! All the unicorns come out to play and show their unicorn pride; they shine up their horns, they fluff up their manes, and they sing the Unicorn Day song as they dance and celebrate. But what happens when a horse tries to fit in with a fake horn on Unicorn Day? Why, the unicorns embrace him and get back to celebrating! Unicorn Day is for everyone!

Sliding down rainbows? Raining cupcakes? A glitter fight? This is the best book ever! Unicorn Day is an adorable tale of fun, celebration, and inclusivity. No mean unicorns here! These unicorns know how to have fun and want everyone around them to feel as happy and loved as they do. The rhyming text has a festive feel, and Luke Flowers’ colorful, vibrant art will get your little readers up and marching. Alligators, octopus, even a yeti parade across the page, all sporting unicorn horns and megawatt smiles. I love the joyful feel of the story, and the positive message about making space for everyone. Author Diana Murray has a free, downloadable activity kit available that has everything you need for your own unicorn party, including tasty recipes, a pin-the-horn on the unicorn game, invitations, and name tags. This Craftiness is Not Optional post also has a cute step-by-step to make your own glittery unicorn horns using scrapbooking paper. Want to make unicorn balloons? Here’s a template from the Minidrops blog; the post is in German, but the pictures are there to guide you.

Slip this into your Pride storytimes, your unicorn storytimes, and your anytime storytimes. It’s feel-good storytelling, and a must-have for your collections!

Seriously, though, check out Diana Murray’s author website. I’ve been a fan for several years now; she’s got goodies attached to most of her book pages, and her books are consistently wonderful. Follow Luke Flowers on Instagram to see more of his adorable artwork, and because he’s a great guy who personalizes books at his signings. (My 7-year-old is still thrilled with his ‘Be T-Rexcellent’ message and drawing on his copy of One More Dino on the Floor.)

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Teen, Women's History

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired – great for YA collections

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired, by Lucile De Pesloüan/Illustrated by Geneviève Darling, (March 2019, Second Story Press), $13.99, ISBN: 9781772600964

Ages 12+

The time for conversations is here: there are a lot of things women are sick and tired of hearing. We’re tired of hearing the same old “jokes” and passive-aggressive comments and we’re not laughing it off with a simple eyeroll any longer. What Makes Girls Sick and Tired is a graphic novel – a feminist manifesto, as publisher Second Story Press states – that brings these obnoxious ideas, assumptions, and comments to light, in the hope that it will prompt discussion and understanding.

Geneviève Darling’s purple-and-white artwork gives visual understanding to Lucile De Pesloüan’s words and ideas, featuring  diverse, inclusive groups of women to get the points across. Girls and women are not cookie-cutter templates: we are different, have different tastes and experiences, come from different cultures and backgrounds, and have different ideas and beliefs. We don’t all want to be rescued, and we don’t want to be someone’s “score”. We don’t like it when you assume we’re weak, when you tell boys and men to “man up” or “stop crying like a girl”. We don’t want to be told to “act like a lady” or, for that matter, what a lady is, does, or looks like. These moments, and many more, are intelligently captured and plainly stated. It’s a powerful, smart book that I hope will inspire young women – and men – to read, discuss, and move forward with understanding. There are no solutions presented here: that’s for us to take on.

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired has received some great feedback from librarians and bloggers, and I’m looking forward to getting this on my shelves. Like Oni Press’s A Quick Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, this is information that works well in graphic format for teen and college audiences.