Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Spring Books, part 1: “The Boy Who Said Wow” and other new titles

March 21st, 2024


(Photo by Rawley/use with permission only, please)

  • “The Boy Who Said Wow” (Written by the talented Todd Boss, with sweet art by Rashin Kheiriyeh; Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster; scheduled for April, 2024 release; $18.99) is on the top of this week’s stack of new picture books. Spring = lots of new book releases, and for this and other reasons (daffodils, cherry blossoms, fresh vegetables, more sunshine), I do love spring. No spoilers, but about this book? Mozart is magical and Ronan and his grandfather are, too.
  • We have three new board books today, here we go… Speaking of magic, la luna is the star of “When Moon Blooms,” a cool new bilingual book that draws on Indigenous wisdom from Mexico. Aida Salazar provides the story; Caribay M. Benavides provides the art, which is vibrant and colorful. This is the first read in the My Living World series. (Rise x Penguin Workshop, 2024, ages newborn-5, $8.99.)
  • “It’s Your Time to Shine,” by Dianne White, with art by Nanette Regan, is a helpful and positive guide to life’s little challenges. (Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, 2024, ages newborn-5, $8.99.)
  • Hannah Eliot (author) and Airin O’Callaghan (illustrator) have done a nice job with “The Mommies on the Bus,” a new variation on the song “The Wheels on the Bus,” of course. Whether it’s encouraging the littles to “please sit down, please sit down, please sit down,” providing snacks, or finding the right stop, mommies are there for the babies and kids. (Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, 2024, ages newborn-5, $7.99.)
  • “My Name is Long as a River,” by Suma Subramaniam, with illustrations by Tara Anand, is another gorgeous and insightful picture book about a young girl and her family, who live in South India. (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House; scheduled for May, 2024 release; all ages; $19.99.) Introducing Kaveri Thanjavur Jayalakshmi Ganesan (who prefers to be called Kav), with her smart, beautiful self, and her beautiful long name. (Thirty-three letters and you’re welcome to double-check my math. Great name.) Her Paati named her for her great-great-grandmother, and the Kaveri River. That’s what they will travel across for the Pushkaram festival, a celebration that honors the river. This is such a thoughtful book, I enjoyed it and know that your family will, too. The bonus pages in the back are great, and add details about names, vocabulary, and some geography, too.

Thank you, friends, and see you next time.


“Drawing Deena,” “A Bite Above the Rest” and my M.E. Kerr

March 17th, 2024

scary kitty
(My spooky Baby; photo by Rawley/use with permission only, please)

Welcome back to the World of Books, folks, where we read and read and then read some more.

  • “Drawing Deena” is an outstanding new book from author Hena Khan (“Amina’s Voice,” “Amina’s Song”). When it comes to mental health-themed books for children, there are some great non-fiction, fiction and picture books on the shelves now. (And all I can say to this is… thank you.) Authors address anxiety, LGBTQ+ issues, PTSD, suicide and ideations, drug/alcohol issues, grief, family stuff, any and all topics you can think of. “Drawing Deena” does a great job of dealing with what worry and anxiety looks like for Deena, a Pakistani middle-school student whose family is struggling with bills and life. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2024, grade 4 and up, 232 pages, $17.99). Great cast of supporting characters, too, including Deena’s parents, aunties, little brother and cousins. This is an extraordinary book, with believable dialogue and settings.
  • “A Bite Above the Rest” isn’t scheduled for release until August of this year, but add it to your list if you’re a fan of Halloween, books about weirdos and vampires, and off-kilter, fun reads. (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster; scheduled release date Aug. 6, 2024; grades 3-7.) After losing his father, Caleb and his mom move to Samhain, Wisconsin, her hometown, for a fresh start. Awww… I like do-overs, don’t you? Only wait, yikes. The mayor of the town keeps City Hall open only from sundown to sun-up. Because he might be a vampire? And the kids dress in costume for school every day, because it’s always Halloween… OK. Slow down, folks. This doesn’t look like Hometown, U.S.A., at all. This is Virnig’s debut novel, and is a great read.
  • I happened upon “me me me me me,” M.E. Kerr’s memoir, on my bookshelf, and went on a beautiful trip down Memory Lane. No, I’m not coming back. Speaking of dealing with real kids, and real issues — M.E. Kerr introduced readers to kids of all sizes and shapes, ethnic and economic backgrounds, all of it. Kids who loved school, kids who didn’t, kids whose families were there for them, kids who were so alone. Teen sexuality, violent parents, unrequited love, no topic was off limits, and as a teen? You know I needed this and loved it. Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, Norma Klein and M.E. Kerr were my A-Team.  I never knew Kerr’s back story, I just knew I loved her books. Go look her up and read about her illustrious and somewhat wild writing career. (“The Son of Someone Famous,” “Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!”, and “If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?” are my top faves, and there are so many excellent other titles under her various pen names.) She was the only queer kid she knew, and what she created from her loneliness and fierce and gorgeous nature? MARIJANE MEAKER FOREVER. Peace. (And yes, Louise Fitzhugh swiped the name/character “Harriet the Spy” from her — they were BFFs.)

All titles used by permission.

Have a superfine day, talk soon, now get out of here.