Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal, Illustrated by Art Twink

Book Review logo

"My Rainbow" by Trinity and DeShanna Neal, Illustrated by Art Twink (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Lgbtqiap+ Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.

Warm morning sunlight and love fill the Neal home. And on one quiet day, playtime leads to an important realization: Trinity wants long hair like her dolls. She needs it to express who she truly is.

So her family decides to take a trip to the beauty supply store, but none of the wigs is the perfect fit. Determined, Mom leaves with bundles of hair in hand, ready to craft a wig as colorful and vibrant as her daughter is.

With powerful text by Trinity and DeShanna Neal and radiant art by Art Twink, My Rainbow is a celebration of showing up as our full selves with the people who have seen us fully all along.

 

REVIEW: A touching story in which a loving mother goes above and beyond to make her child happy. It’s based on the true story between the mother-daughter authors of My Rainbow.

Trinity is a delightful, young transgender and autistic girl who feels incomplete (not fully herself: a girl) without longer hair like hair doll. It’s extra frustrating for her because she has trouble growing her hair out. I love how patient her mom is, giving Trinity the time she needs to express herself and communicate her thoughts and feelings.

“Trinity’s gender was part of what made her a masterpiece, just like her autism and her Black skin.” It’s such a powerful moment between the mother and daughter. You can practically feel the mother’s anguish at not knowing how to help her daughter be who she truly is. Luckily, Trinity’s brother, Lucien offers the perfect solution: a rainbow colored wig of her own.

The wig the mom sews – which, by the way, she learned to make on the go watching tutorials – how awesome is that?! – is glamorous, beautiful, and so meaningful. I must have one of my own! Trinity was so adorably ecstatic about it.

My Rainbow was wonderfully illustrated and deeply moving. I also loved the bright rainbow of flowers decorating Trinity’s hair on the cover. What a caring and supportive family Trinity has!


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Book Review logo

"All Because You Matter" by Tami Charles
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: A love letter to Black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will.

Tami Charles pens a text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter.

 

REVIEW:They say that matter is all things that make up the universe: energy, stars, space…If that’s the case, then you, dear child, matter.

This story is a must-read for everyone. All Because You Matter is an important reminder to black and brown children that they matter in all aspects of life and deserve to be represented in all aspects of life.

The tone is gentle, hopeful, and reassuring. The story details all the ways in which You matter, through successes and failures, through their ancestors who fought so hard for so long and continue to fight so that they (future descendants) would matter too.

The art style is so interesting and I like the petal motif throughout. I wrote down a lot of great quotes from the story and the author’s and illustrator’s notes (see end of post).

All Because You Matter is a helpful conversation starter about past, present, and future racial and social issues. This was a noteworthy read.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “…thinking of you, years ahead. Because to them, you always mattered.”
  • “…and all the moments in your life that would matter…”
  • “…and you wonder if they, or you, will ever matter. But did you know that you do?”
  • “Did you know that you are the earth? That strength, power, and beauty lie within you?”
  • “All because, since the beginning of time…You mattered. They mattered. We matter…and always will.”
  • (Author’s Note) “…to provide parents with a starting point for conversations about the racial climate in our country today…if we are to raise empathetic future leaders.”
  • (Author’s Note) “…to remind all children, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, that no matter where they come from, they matter.”
  • (Illustrator’s Note) “…a wonderful journey of promise and empowerment for our children, one that zooms through time and space.”

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Power of Her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by John Parra

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by John Parra

Book Review logo

"The Power of Her Pen" by Lesa Cline-Ransome (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book, Biography
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press.” Fearless and determined, Ethel Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights.

 

REVIEW: The Power of Her Pen was a fantastic biography, highlighting the impact and many accomplishments by Ethel L. Payne during the fight for civil rights. “I wish that all the people could understand that we want for our children the same rights as any other human beings.

As you quickly learn, Ethel really did “always ha[ve] an ear for stories.” A way with words that rang true and inspired. Ethel’s loving parents and supportive teachers encouraged her writing.Long past her bedtime, Ethel collected the stories of people who followed a path paved with dreams.

In newspapers, she wrote about the unjust experiences of the black community at home and what black soldiers faced abroad.I was beginning to have the seeds of rebellion churning up in me.” Her stories gradually gained traction, her words having a far reaching effect.Her reporting highlighted their struggle for justice, equal pay, housing, and education…created awareness and activism in the fight for civil rights for people across the globe.

Soon found herself at the White House as one of the first Black press correspondents where she would be dubbed the “First Lady of the Black Press.” Ethel would relentlessly continue to use the power of words as her method to advocate for equal rights and improve the lives of Black people.

It’s an incredible recount of a life spent fighting for equality and justice for all, not just a select few. “I’ve had a box seat on history and that’s a rare thing.” Ethel L. Payne is truly a remarkable person.

I loved how she wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions of presidents and other leaders, even presidents. The author notes, “Her pointed questions to numerous presidents elevated civil rights issues to the national agenda and, in turn, helped to speed along the slow wheels of change by holding elected officials accountable to their black constituents.

I’m so happy to have had a chance to read her story. The Power of Her Pen is a must read!


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Diane Greenseid

Book Review logo

"We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past" by Jacqueline Woodson (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Through Teeka’s eyes, readers will discover the humor, love, and, of course, the wonderful food that make up the quintessential family picnic.

 

REVIEW: We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past was a joy to read!

I loved how brightly colored the illustrations were. The smooth strokes of brush. The vibrant energy and from the characters’ expressions and body language. I liked how the text was displayed. There was a strong, clear voice and personality whenever someone spoke.

Teeka, her Grandma, and the family brought quite an appetizing feast to the picnic in the park. And when the book says, “We had a picnic this Sunday past. You should have been there,” I very much wished. This family gathering looked like so much fun and inviting and filled with lots of love to spread around.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho

Book Review logo

"Eyes that Speak to the Stars" by Joanna Ho (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: A young Asian boy notices that his eyes look different from his peers’ after seeing his friend’s drawing of them. After talking to his father, the boy realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays, and glimpse trails of light from those who came before—in fact, his eyes are like his father’s, his agong’s, and his little brother’s, and they are visionary.

Inspired by the men in his family, he recognizes his own power and strength from within.

 

REVIEW: Eyes that Speak to the Stars is a beautiful companion story to Joanna Ho’s previous title. They’re similar in a lot of ways, but still different enough to feel new and be enjoyable.

In this story, the main character is feeling confused and sad by a drawing one of his classmates made. He asks his dad why his eyes were drawn differently.

Through lyrical descriptions and comparisons, as well as gorgeous illustrations that sweep across the pages, the main character learns what makes his features so great. He finds strength and pride within his personal and cultural histories. He also finds the power to dream big.

It warmed my heart how his family helped him see the beauty within himself. Through his eyes he envisions a bright future of his own making, which I think will inspire readers to love who they are and have a more positive outlook on life.

I really loved Eyes that Speak to the Stars, especially the illustrations that absolutely wowed me.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars. The comets and constellations show you their secrets, and your eyes can foresee the future. Just like mine.”
  • “Agong’s eyes that rise to the skies and speak to the stars gaze into the distance like they’re looking at the world through lenses of time.”
  • “He looks at me like I’m the world, but he is the sun, filling my days with light.”
  • “My eyes shine like sunlit rays that break through dark and doubt. They lift their sights on paths of flight that soar above the clouds. My eyes gaze into space and glimpse trails of light inviting me into possibilities.”

More by Joanna Ho

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Couch Potato by Jory John, Illustrated by Pete Oswald

Book Review logo

"The Cool Bean" by Jory John (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: Bad Seed #4
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: The Couch Potato has everything he needs within reach of his sunken couch cushion. But when the electricity goes out, Couch Potato is forced to peel himself away from the comforts of his living room and venture outside. And when he does, he realizes fresh air and sunshine could be just the things he needs…

 

REVIEW: The Potato loves nothing more than spending all its free time hanging out on the couch because it’s comfy, cozy, and all it needs is within reach. Oof how relatable, haha! Potato has a pretty sweet setup established, so doesn’t have to move much. Until a power outage forces Potato….OUTSIDE (gasp!).

I liked how MC rediscovers the joys of the outside world and basks in the fresh air. You could say this book is social commentary on being glued to electronics or too much time spent indoors and the importance of getting out more often so you don’t miss out on things. The MC learns that outside can be just as fun and fulfilling as inside.

And I loved when the MC said,

Yes, there’s a great big world out there and I want to be a part of it. In person.” These words stuck out to me.

This is an impactful sentiment that will stick with readers for a long time.

I liked this story. Not as much as the previous books but still relatable and fun with entertaining illustrations.


More by Jory John

Bad Seed
The Bad Seed (#1)
The Good Egg (#2)
The Cool Bean (#3)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Library Book by Tom Chapin & Michael Mark, Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Book Review logo

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

ABOUT: What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library! Based on the hit song by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, here is an affectionate, exuberant, uproarious celebration of books, reading, and—SHHH!—libraries!

The rain is pouring, Dad is snoring, and the same old stuff is on TV—boring.

What is there to do today?

Go to the library, of course!

Who will we meet there? Let’s find out!

 

REVIEW: The Library Book is an illustrated story version of the “Library Song” written by the authors. I like that the front of the book has sheet music and lyrics of the song.

The reader follows the main character on a rather magical trip to the library to check out a book. I liked how a bunch of characters from classic children’s stories came to life wanting to be checked out. I also liked the emphasis on how much fun going to the library is. The illustrations were nice as well.

I did have a hard to getting a feel for the rhythm, which made for somewhat slow, shaky reading.

Overall, this was an okay read. I wanted more from the story. But The Library Book is visually appealing.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Book Review logo

“Dear Librarian” by Lydia M. Sigwarth, Illustrated by Romina Galotta (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: When Lydia was five years old, she and her family had to leave their home. They hopped from Grandma’s house to Aunt Linda’s house to Cousin Alice’s house, but no place was permanent. Then one day, everything changed. Lydia’s mom took her to a new place — not a house, but a big building with stone columns, and tall, tall steps. The library.

In the library, Lydia found her special spot across from the sunny window, at a round desk. For behind that desk was her new friend, the librarian. Together, Lydia and the librarian discovered a world beyond their walls, one that sparkled with spectacular joy.

Dear Librarian is a thank you to anyone who has offered a child love and support during a difficult time.

 

REVIEW: Dear Librarian is based on a true story during a time when the author and her family were homeless and moved around a lot.

Nowhere was home. Nowhere had a special spot just for me.

Until one day, her mother takes the kids to the library and Lydia meets the librarian.

I adore how Lydia finds a special home at the library and companionship with the librarian. The librarian made her feel welcomed and special.

Every day, you gave me a hug. Every day, you made me feel safe and happy. Those days, the Library was like a home. My own special home.

What’s extra wonderful is that this inspired Lydia to become a librarian as well, so she too can give kids like her a special place to go to and belong and call home.

Dear Librarian truly shows how awesome and magical and life-changing places libraries are. They inspire us to dream big and try new things. I love that the library opened up a whole new world for Lydia to learn, play, and explore.

Dear Librarian is a beautiful letter of gratitude, the magic of friendship, and the power of empathy. There’s a nice photo of the actual librarian the author is thanking and herself at the end of the book. I highly recommend this wholesome story.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, with Jason “Rachel” Brown, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Book Review logo

“I Am Perfectly Designed” by Karamo Brown, with Jason “Rachel” Brown, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: I Am Perfectly Designed is an exuberant celebration of loving who you are, exactly as you are. A boy and his father take a walk through the city, sharing memories, and discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other and to be themselves.

 

REVIEW: “An ode to loving who you are, exactly as you are,” I Am Perfectly Designed an adorably heartwarming story inspired by the life lessons the author’s father taught him. This story had a beautiful, positive father-son relationship.

I love the cover art for this story. It features a diverse group of people on a lovely fall day at the part. There’s a nice contrast between the foreground – the father and son – and the background – the other park goers.

The illustrations were so well done, visually appealing, and inviting. The happy expressions on the characters’ faces were infectious.

I liked how this story was a conversation between a son and his dad. The boy is reminiscing with his dad while they hang out and go about their day. The boy is unafraid to be happy and himself because his dad has been such a good role model. He takes pride in knowing they were perfectly designed or destined to be family.

I Am Perfectly Designed is a good story to have in one’s personal library.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Pete the Cat and the Supercool Science Fair by Kimberly Dean and James Dean

Book Review logo

"Pete the Cat and the Supercool Science Fair" by Kimberly Dean and James Deam (cover)
Image via Amazon

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In Pete the Cat’s Supercool Science Fair from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator team Kimberly and James Dean, Pete the Cat and his friends are excited to build the coolest volcano ever for their school’s science fair.

After a few unexpected mishaps, the team is finally ready. Yet after seeing their other classmates’creations, they can’t help but wonder: is their volcano good enough to win first place?

Thankfully, Pete has a sparkly surprise up his sleeve!

 

REVIEW: This was a simple and pleasant read! Pete is excited for the science fair on Friday and getting the chance to be a scientist. His group – Pete, Gus, Squirrel, and Callie – decides to build a volcano.

Pete and his friends do a good job demonstrating teamwork and how good scientists conduct an experiment. The story also inspires creative thinking and makes you want to do a science experiment too. Readers are bound to enjoy this supercool story as well.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram