Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: A young boy who wishes to be a mermaid like the performers he sees at the pool.

What made me pick it up: I’d seen it well reviewed online.

My favorite parts: Obviously the entirely accepting and incredibly sweet abuela is my favorite. Instead of yelling at the child for taking the curtains down to make a tail and using the fern as a headdress while she’s in the bath, she gets him a necklace to compliment his outfit. Then she takes him to a parade to see other mermaids like him. The acceptance is almost too beautiful to read without tearing up.

Who it’s great for: Everyone. Littles who do their own thing.

Erica’s rating: five shells


Find this book at your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Islandborn by Junot Díaz

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Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: A little girl has to draw a picture of where she is from but she left her homeland when she was only a baby so she can’t remember. She turns to neighbors and family members to help her create her picture.

What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of Díaz and was delighted when I found out he was turning his talents to picture books.

My favorite parts: I loved the beautiful descriptions of her place of birth, and the way the illustrations show how a young child might literally interpret them. I also like the use of a general “monster” to simplify the explanation of conflicts that caused many people to flee their nation. The colors are lively and it will make you want to book a trip to hear the music, and revel in the pardisio. (I also listened to this on audio, which is read by the author so it is excellent for that reason and includes vibrant music which only adds to the story.)

Who it’s great for: Díaz fans. Littles who can’t quite remember their birthplace. Anyone missing the island where they used to live. Readers looking for diverse books.

Erica’s rating: four and a half shells


Find this book in a library near you or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Thank You, Bees by Tony Yuly

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about being thankful.

What made me pick it up: I saw it sitting on my coworker’s desk and took a few minutes to page through.

My favorite things: I liked the repetition of thanking various elements — clouds for rain, sun, earth. It has very vivid illustrations, which reminded me a little of Eric Carle, and a simple message which I enjoyed.

Who it’s great for: Little ones who need a lesson in gratitude.

Erica’s rating: three shells


Find this book in your local library or get in on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

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Originally published in: 2017

What’s it about:  A little boy facing his fears and jumping off the diving board.

What made me pick it up: It looked summery and fun.

My favorite things: I really like the father-son relationship. The dad is supportive of Jabari’s struggle for independence but lets him know he can take his time getting there. I really liked Jabari’s sense of adventure, even when he was afraid. The realistic depiction of fear was also nice. I liked the message that you can do things you are afraid of and that sometimes that takes more time to warm up to than you might think.

Who it’s great for: Littles trying to be brave. Intrepid swimmers. Young adventurers.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Bad Guy by Hannah Barnaby

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a young boy determined to be bad.

What made me pick it up: I like Barnaby’s work. I’ve only read her YA novels and was excited to get my hands on this, her first picture book. I heard her talk about the process of writing it a few years ago and am excited to see the finished product.

My favorite things: This book will remind you what it was like if you used to be a headstrong, mischievous child. The little boy hellbent on becoming a villain is fun. My most favorite part, though, is the end where he discovers a partner in crime in the most unexpected person. I also enjoyed the subtle send up to Bond villains in the illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Bad kids who grew up. Good kids who think they are or wish they were bad. Anyone with a healthy sense of imagination.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy and his grandma taking the bus through their city.

What made me pick it up: I actually got a few pages into this a year or so ago but didn’t get to finish it. When I saw it available in our Overdrive collection I checked it out.

My favorite things: This has vibrant illustrations and a powerful message of community. I liked the grandmother’s openness to all the people around them and how that rubbed off on her grandson. It is a simple, beautiful story.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want things they can’t afford. Anyone seeking a story of community. Readers who try to find beauty wherever they look.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a child who promises to use her indoor voice and not make a mess if only she can bring her circus into the library.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for new books with faces on them for #bookfacefriday when I saw this and grabbed it off a cart to read because libraries.

My favorite things: This is hilarious! I totally understand the spunk of the main character and all of her sincere, if misguided, attempts to make a circus library friendly. Turns out the library isn’t the best place for a circus, but I loved the message of how reading stories is a good alternative. It also has vibrant illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Fans of libraries or circuses. Children who have great, if ill-advised, ideas.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this title at Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

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This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The is a celebration of America, its diversity, and its flag.

What made me pick it up: I really like this illustrator, Kadir Nelson — he did Henry’s Freedom Box and If You Plant a Seed although I didn’t realize that until I got the book. It must have been reviewed well somewhere or sounded intriguing, so I placed a hold on it.

My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful! Combined with the spare prose this is a powerful book. It really conveys the message of the American flag across history and throughout the vastness of the country, its people, and its customs. I enjoyed such a simple, yet positive, message.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who needs a small reminder of why America is great, especially when it might not feel that way. Readers who enjoy great illustrations and want to feel briefly that they are in an art gallery while reading a book.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.


 

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Originally published in: 2010

What it’s about: A little pea who must finish dinner before he can have dessert.

What made me pick it up: Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific author with a distinctive style but I don’t feel like I’ve sampled enough of her work. So I checked this out.

My favorite things: The illustrations are great. It’s like a more mature and subdued Veggie Tales. It was the story that I enjoyed most though. This pea doesn’t like what’s for dinner, and has to force himself to choke it down, even though dinner is CANDY! I enjoyed so much that it tips common child-hates-dinner experience on its head. In the end (spoiler!) Little Pea finishes his candy so he can have his favorite dessert – spinach!

Who it’s great for: Littles who don’t like what’s for dinner or have trouble eating their veggies. Parents who want a brief, humorous story to read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Where Do I Sleep? by Jennifer Blomgren

Originally published in: 2002

What it’s about: A picture book about animals of the Pacific Northwest and where they spend their nights.

What made me pick it up: It had otters on the cover.

My favorite things: This has lovely illustrations and sweet rhymes that provide a catchy method for teaching kids a little bit about nature – mostly the names of baby animals.

Who it’s great for: Fans of otters puffins, moose, wolves or other creatures. Parents looking for a lyrical bedtime story.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.