Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

“The Storyteller” and other picture books for summer

June 2nd, 2024


(Pacific Ocean + Pup (fall 2016?); photo by Rawley/use with permission only, please)

  1. “The Storyteller” is a new release from author Lindsay Bonilla, with illustrations by Noar Lee Naggan (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Random House, 2024, all ages, $18.99). Griffin’s grandmother, The Storyteller, adores him, tells him stories, feeds him fresh bread and warms his heart and soul with stories. Gorgeous fairytale of a book. I love the washed, earth tones of the art, just lovely. Good book to share with kids who are grieving or facing loss.
  2. “What Color is God’s Love?” is a sweet new picture book from author Xochitl Dixon and illustrator Darshika Varma (WaterBrook/Penguin Random House, 2024, all ages, $14.99). Colors, nature and rhymes combine to bring a celebration of God’s love and Biblical knowledge.
  3. If you’ve been wondering what America really is all about, read “America’s Dreaming,” by author Bob McKinnon and illustrator Thai My Phuong. America starts at a new school and feels alone in the crowd, until the kids share their dreams, and Mr. Downs, the teacher, shares a Welcome Wagon of books about American heroes, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Sojourner Truth; and Emma Lazarus. Bios and a to-read list are included in the back. Happy, cheerful art, dreams and courage. Just a cool book.
  4. Hello, “Little Miss Sunshine.” I hear there are 183 books in your series? Really? Cuz that’s awesome. Thanks, Roger Hargreaves, for these titles, which have always made my own kids, my students, and me smile. (Price Stern Sloan/Penguin Group; all ages; various prices.)
  5. “Barrio Rising: The Protest That Built Chicano Park,” written by Maria Dolores Ă€guila, with illustrations by Magdalena Mora, is a heroic, triumphant picture book about San Diego, Calif., neighbors who banded together in 1970 to build a park (instead of a police station) along the Bay. (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House; scheduled for release June 18th, 2024; all ages; $18.99.) References/photos included, and the story and art make this book my pick of the week.
  6. Last (not least): A new picture book by Rilla Alexander, “The Thingamajig” (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2024, all ages, $18.99). When you misplace… something that doesn’t really have a name? Is it a thing-a-ma-jig? A habbijabbi? A duppedit? Or do you call it something else? A little elephant and parent enlist all their friends in a search for their special whozeewhatzit. Will it ever reappear? Fun, playful art and a cute story.

Disclaimer: All of the books reviewed today were sent to me free to review, except for “Little Miss Sunshine,” which I nabbed from a Little Free Library cuz I don’t have enough books, apparently. I ain’t sorry. Disclaimer here. See you next time!


“Better Must Come” and other novels for young adults

June 1st, 2024


(“Baby Me, Camping,” photo by Dad, probably, or one of my uncles (better guess); use pic with permission only)

Remember I said I had a good photo for you? There it is, from the family archives. LOL spells loll. Lucky Strikes? Don’t smoke, kids. Just don’t.

Reading this week:

  • “Better Must Come” by Jamaican/New York/Boston author Desmond Hall is my top pick of the week. I’m loving this book, a tale set in Jamaica about a girl, a boy and $500,000 dollars’ worth of tainted American money. Hall has several East Coast appearances slated; check the author’s website for info. (Simon & Schuster, 2024, ages middle grade and up, 317 pages, $19.99.)
  • “With Just One Wing,” by Brenda Woods, is a poignant, thoughtful book set in L.A. We’re introduced to adoptee Coop, his friend Zandi, and an adopted mockingbird, a rescue bird with just one wing. (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2024, 156 pages, $17.99.) This is one that will get to you.
  • “Camp Prodigy,” by Caroline Palmer, is an awesome new graphic novel about two nonbinary kids, Tate and Eli, who meet at summer orchestra camp. Deals with themes of sexuality, anxiety, identity and friendship. The art in this one is really good, and the author includes some of their concept art in the back of the book. (Simon & Schuster; scheduled for release June 11, 2024; ages 8 and up; 249 pages; $22.99.)
  • Preview! Cuz it’s not scheduled for release ’til the end of July, but Christopher Lincoln’s “The Night Librarian” is also a super cool new graphic novel, so add it to your list. He’s an older author (he wrote the Billy Bones series) and this is his first graphic novel. I’m older, too, and find this fact to be incredibly cool. Why not try something new, y’all? Our heroes, twins Page and Turner, get themselves in a bit of trouble trying to figure out how much money their dad’s prized first edition book is worth. Yes, it’s a vintage copy, British, at that, of “Dracula.” The New York Public Library, shrine and beloved spot to many of us, is a character in the book.Lincoln’s books are highly recommended by moi, book reviewer to the stars. (Penguin Kids, ages 8 and up, 248 pages, $19.99.)
  • “Past Present Future” by Rachel Lynn Solomon (sequel to “Today Tonight Tomorrow”) is a perfect romantic read for summer. (Simon & Schuster, 2024, ages middle grade and up, 374 pages, $18.99.) Rowan Roth is now attending college in Boston; her beloved, Neil McNair, is in New York. Will a long-distance relationship work for them? Told in two points of view, this is a truthful, honest depiction of young people in love, and struggling.
  • Liz Kessler’s “Code Name Kingfisher” is a fantastic new historical drama (published first last year in Great Britain). We meet 13-year-old Liv, who brings us the story of her grandma’s involvement in the Dutch Resistance during World War II and a sister no one remembers. Intriguing book about a horrifying time in world history that still haunts us today. (Aladdin, 2023, ages 8 and up, 329 pages, $18.99.)
  • “Mission Manhattan: City Spies,” by James Ponti, is another fun summer read. (Simon & Schuster, 2024, ages 8-12, grades 3-7, 420 pages, $18.99.) In this fifth book in the series, a young climate activist is threatened. Our youthful crew of spies heads to Manhattan, visits the outer boroughs, and hits the New York Public Library!! but of course. Good, engaging series that the kids will enjoy.

Bon appetit! Read all summer, okay? Keep a list and leave it in comments, if you feel like it. Have some lemonade for me.