Posted in Uncategorized

Mother’s Day is Coming!

Hi all! Mother’s Day is coming THIS SUNDAY. Wow, that got away from me; 2021 is serving a lot of the same stuff 2020 did. ANYway, let’s see what kind of books we’ve got for Moms, along with plenty of books to snuggle by.

How BIG Is Baby?, by Kirsten Hall/Illustrated by Aki, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452173825

Ages 3-5

This lift-the-flap is SO CUTE. A great book for siblings-to-be, each spread takes a child and their mom through the nine months of pregnancy. From the initial “We’re having a baby!” announcement, our new sibling is so excited! As mom and child share their journey together, lift-the-flaps reveal how big baby is at each stage; the storytelling gives readers an idea of size: a poppy seed, blueberry, grape, all the way up to a pineapple! Flaps reveal the growing baby in Mom’s belly, with fun facts about baby’s development. At the end of the story, Mom, big sibling, and baby all lay together in a big snuggle. Adorable artwork will endear this to parents and kids alike, and big siblings will be excited to see how their new baby is developing.

 

Overcoming the Mom-Life Crisis: Ditch the Guilt, Put Yourself on the To-Do List, and Create a Life You Love, by Nina Restieri, (April 2021, Post Hill Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781642937213

I normally cover kids and YA here, but it’s Mother’s Day, and parenting books fall under my Children’s Room purchases, so here we are. Many, many, MANY moms have guilt. We’re measuring ourselves against working moms if we stay at home; we measure ourselves against stay-at-home moms if we work. We’re not Pinterest Perfect; we’re not Instagram Fabulous enough – we beat the heck out of ourselves! Overcoming the Mom-Life Crisis sees us and wants us to put ourselves first (sometimes is okay, right?). It’s a handbook, it’s a guide to self-care, it’s a real-talk path from someone who’s been there. It’s a good choice for your parenting collections.

 

The ABCs of Being Mom: Advice and Support from the Mom Next Door, Birth Through Kindergarten, by Karen Bongiorno, (April 2021, She Writes Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781647420109

Another solid parenting guide, this one for new moms through the start of school, The ABCs of Being Mom is a book that takes into consideration that, other than the What to Expect books, there’s no handbook for being a Mom. Written by another mom, the book breaks down ages and stages and provides tips, suggestions, organization tips, and helpful information with each page. Helping moms navigate the changes and mini-upheavals, this is a book version of coffee with your mom friends. Another good choice for your parenting collections.

 

What are some books you’re looking forward to for Mother’s Day? Post ’em here!

Posted in Toddler Reads

Blog Tour and Author Interview: The Lovely Haze of Baby Days!

The Lovely Haze of Baby Days, by Lindsay Kellar-Madsen/Illustrated by Mie Frey Damgaard, (Jan. 2021, Little Otter Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-87-972507-0-9

Ages Birth-3

This lovely board book is a tribute to those heady, often hazy days that moms and caregivers often experience when babies enter their lives. Rhyming verse embraces both the wonderful and the challenging moments of parenthood, from the sheer awe (“I’ll forfeit sleep to watch you breathing”) to the wonderful forgetfulness our babies’ incredible cuteness instills in us (“Drooling, spit-up, purèed fruit, but oh my goodness, aren’t you cute?”). Lindsay Kellar-Madsen speaks from her heart to parents everywhere when she writes about the isolation; the time simultaneously crawling and flying by; unwanted advice from seemingly everyone one encounters, and the life-saving power of mom friends. Mie Frey Damgaard’s gentle artwork communicates the intensity of Ms. Kellar-Madsen’s emotions through gentle, loving illustrations of mothers and babies. A touching story of motherhood that lets moms know we’re not alone. The Lovely Haze of Baby Days was a successful Kickstarter and is available on the author’s website, along with free downloadable resources for new parents, including a nap scheduler.

Lindsay Keller-Madsen was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about her new book: read on!

MomReadIt: Were you inspired by your own motherhood journey to write The Lovely Haze of Baby Days?

Lindsay Kellar-Madsen: I wrote the first draft of this book about 5 months postpartum after the birth of my twin girls. I was overwhelmed, and hearing stories of my friends who had struggled too. I found myself searching for a way to be honest about what life with babies really looks like, and to support the women I cared about.

As I spent time sitting on the floor reading with my little ones, I started wondering if there was a way through children’s literature to playfully depict our everyday life for little ones, while also sending an important message to mothers.Rhyme is such a fun and dynamic way to communicate, it’s also a great way to teach the rhythm of words and sentences to little ones. I had a lot of fun showcasing everyday moments of mothers with babies in a way that would support early language development!

As the words came together, I could feel that I wanted to savor what my life looked like right then – The mess, the intimate love, the exhaustion, all of it. It also felt so important to remind mothers reading The Lovely Haze of Baby Days that we aren’t alone in all of that.

MRI: There are such relatable moments throughout the book, but I really appreciate your honesty about the rough times and yet, finding a kernel of joy in most of them, as with your phrase, “The longest days, the shortest years’ ‘. Were you able to see those moments at the time, or did you need some distance and reflection to realize them?

LKM: As a first time mom, I don’t think I realized how fast the moments disappear, and how quickly babies grow. There are certainly sleep-deprived times remind myself to cherish these days, but overall I find myself clinging desperately to these sweet little humans who charge around my house!

All of that said, I do think it’s important to preserve some space for yourself. At least for me, I am a more enthusiastic and dedicated parent if I schedule in time for my own interests or just a bit of time to be ALONE each week, and don’t spend every minute in mom-mode.

MRI: Thanks for including mom friendships in your book! I loved that you “thanked goodness” for other mamas, too. Did you find friendships with other moms helped you through some of the rough times of those early baby days/weeks/months?

LKM: My friendships with other moms have been a saving grace. Life with a baby can feel so lonely and isolated, and having women you can connect with any morning (or night!)  is an enormous sense of support.

I am eternally grateful for the women in my life who have supported me in my transition to motherhood, and every day since. While this book has focused on the women who are in the trenches wandering through early motherhood alongside us, my gratitude also runs deeply for my own mom, and the women who have wandered through motherhood before.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Big Graphic Novels Roundup!

I’ve been reading a LOT of graphic novels during this quarantine. They relax me, and I know my graphic novels sections (both kids and teens) see a l lot of action, so I always want to make sure I’ve got the best stuff on my shelves for them – and that I know what I’m talking about when I hand books to readers. Let’s see what’s up:

Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons from the Fog of New Parenthood, by Lucy Knisley, (Feb. 2020, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781250211491

Ages 12+

These are adorable meditations on new parenthood by Lucy Knisley, whose graphic novel Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos let us peek into the world of her pregnancy with her baby, known as Pal. Go to Sleep is a book of sketches Lucy Knisley created during Pal’s first year, and they are moments that every parent and caregiver will recognize, from diaper “blowouts” (oh, so many diaper blowouts) and breastfeeding through teething to tummy time and those moments where we can’t wait to get some alone time… only to spend that time gazing at our sleepy little one, and waiting for them to wake up and do it all again. Black and white, filled with love and humor, Go to Sleep (I Miss You) is perfect for your parenting bookshelves (and for older siblings, as my eldest reminds me).

In this sci-fi alternate history, we visit 1943 Los Angeles, home of the Zoot Suit Riots. Siblings Flaca and Cuata meet a five-foot tall lizard when he saves them from some unsavory sailors one night, when they got out dancing. They hide him in their home and discover he’s part of a race of underground lizard people. He wants to get back to his family, but there are soldiers and mysterious government men wandering the sisters’ neighborhood, on the lookout. To sneak him back to his home, the Flaca and Cuata dress the lizard up in one of Flaca’s zoot suits and head off on an adventure. Yellow, black and white artwork give a stark, noir feel to the story, which is both sensitive and funny. Marco Finnegan provides smart commentary on racism, gender roles and the counterculture of the period. Teens will enjoy this sci-fi take on a moment in U.S. history that isn’t discussed enough.

School for Extraterrestrial Girls Girl on Fire (Volume 1), by Jeremy Whitley/Illustrated by Jamie Noguchi, (Aug. 2020, Papercutz), $12.99, ISBN: 9781545804933

Ages 10-14

Tara Smith is a girl who live with a lot of rules: her parents demand it. Two of their biggest rules? No friends her own age, and always keep her bracelet on. One day, though, Tara’s routine gets thrown into a tizzy, and she loses her bracelet; that’s when the trouble begins. Things get even crazier when she seemingly bursts into flame in the middle of school! Tara learns that she’s not human at all: she’s an alien, and captured by the government, sent off to a school where she can’t put her human classmates in danger, and that’s where she learns the truth about herself. She’s an alien, and her parents – also aliens – likely kidnapped her at a young age. Now, she’s surrounded by other alien students, not all of whom are exactly friendly toward her race. An exciting start to a new middle grade-middle school graphic novel series, School for Extraterrestrial Girls is written by Eisner award nominee Jeremy Whitley, who you may know from his Princeless series and Marvel’s The Unstoppable Wasp. Don’t miss this first volume, which has some nice social commentary set within a very cool sci-fi story.

 

A Map to the Sun, by Sloane Leong, (Aug. 2020, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250146687

Ages 12-18

A strong story about sports and teen relationships, A Map to the Sun starts with Ren and Luna, two girls who meet on the beach during their middle school summer break. Luna disappears without saying goodbye when she suddenly moves, but returns two years later, expecting to pick up where she and Ren left off. But Ren is hurt, angry, and full off mistrust, especially since her older sister’s issues have made life nearly unbearable for her. A new teacher decides to form a women’s basketball team at the high school, bringing Luna, Ren, and a group of other girls who are tagged as the misfits in school. As they practice and improve, we get glimpses into each of their lives and see how succeeding in one arena changes how they react and are perceived in other spaces in their lives. The color palette is bright and beachy; lots of oranges, yellows, and purples, but some of the coloring made it difficult for me to tell characters apart (I read an ARC; this will likely be tightened up in the finished book). The story is strong, and highly recommended for teens and a solid choice for realistic fiction readers. A Map to the Sun has a starred review from Shelf Awareness.

Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge, by Grace Ellis/Illustrated by Brittney Williams, (Aug. 2020, DC Comics), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1401296377
Ages 7-11
DC’s latest middle grade original graphic novel stars our favorite journalist-in-training, Lois Lane. Here, Lumberjanes co-creator Grace Ellis and Goldie Vance artist Brittney Williams create a tween Lois Lane who’s all about creating a viral video for a #friendshipchallenge. The only thing is, she’s kind of driving her best friend, Kristen, crazy with the challenge. Kristen is going to be going to sleepaway camp after the big neighborhood barbecue and bike race, and Lois is desperate to get her video make before Kristen leaves. But words gets out that the new bike store in town may be planning something shady for the bike race, and the fireworks planned for the barbecue go missing. Sounds like a mystery that the two best friends will have to solve – if they don’t drive each other crazy first. Lois’s intensity comes off as almost abrasive at first, but she’s relatable as a kid who’s single-mindedly focused on her task and upset at having to share her best friend – a best friend who is going away for the summer – with a new girl in town. Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge is a fun summer story.
Displacement, by Kiku Hughes, (Aug. 2020, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250193537Ages 12+

Teenager Kiku travels to San Francisco with her mother to look for the place her grandmother, Ernestina, lived before she and her parents were sent to an internment camp during World War II. Kiku’s mother wants to learn more about her mother’s life pre-camp; Ernestine wasn’t given to talking about it often. As Kiku traipses alongside her, she finds herself being transported back in time, living alongside her grandmother as she, too, becomes a displaced person living in two Japanese internment camps. Powerfully written and beautifully illustrated, Displacement tells the story of the Japanese-Americans who were forced out of their homes and their established lives and stripped of their civil liberties. Kiku – and we – learn things from observing the day-to-day life in camp like human rights abuses that are quickly hushed up and the acts of resistance some engaged in, like the “No-Nos”, who answered “No” to two controversial questions on a loyalty questionnaire the Army had all incarcerated citizens answer. A tribute to the power of memory and, sadly, the power of intergenerational trauma, Displacement belongs with George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy and Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the canon of great graphic novels that belong on every reading list and every shelf.

Ages 14+
This is a weird, wild noir story that I’d hold for my readers who are always looking for something different. It’s Barcelona, 1942, and Laia is a pregnant woman working as a scriptwriter for a radio advice program. Her husband goes missing, a serial killer is on the loose, and Laia retains the services of a private detective to track down her husband… but she’s got secrets of her own. Read this one a couple of times; the story reveals itself with more than one reading. The drastic black and white artwork places you in the middle of this macabre detective story with a wry sense of humor. Got hard-boiled detective novel readers? Give this one to them, too.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Crescendo, where a child is a symphony in composition

Crescendo, by Paola Quintavalle/Illustrated by Alessandro Sanna, (Feb. 2019, Enchanted Lion Books), $19.95, ISBN: 9781592702558

All ages

Written to a growing baby in utero, Crescendo beautifully marks milestones in development with loving observations and illustrations. Each spread reflects on a week of pregnancy, with each month presenting a woman in side view, her body growing to accommodate her baby and forming a landscape upon which birds soar, plants bloom, and horses roam. Beginning with the fifth week of pregnancy: “you are as big as a sesame seed”, the text is beautifully presented as a mother’s thoughts. At week 20, “patterns are drawn on your fingertips for you and you alone”; at week 27, “you cannot see, but you sense the light”. At week 39, “Mother earth is ready to greet you”, and at week 40, mother holds baby and the text reads, “And so am I”.

This is a great baby shower gift, and a lovely book to return to time and again, curled up with your baby and child as they grow, revisiting the magic of “when I lived in your belly”. It’s a beautiful journal of pregnancy and birth, filled with wonder. Back matter that includes a month-by-month breakdown of developmental milestones that inspired the text. The watercolor artwork is almost ethereal, with muted, washed out color that soothes. Originally released in Italy, Crescendo is a book that would make for a cuddly Mommy and Me storytime and would pair nicely with Kate Hosford’s Mama’s Belly and Thrity Umrigar’s When I Carried You in My Belly.