Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Author Interview: Playing Possum by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Clarion Books)

Playing Possum

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Clarion Books, July 2020

What joy! Playing Possum is such a delightful book! I fell in love with Alfred and Sophia and the way fear and anxiety dictated their actions. I enjoyed their many interactions and the way the forest creatures joined their adventures, many of them with their own responses to fear. The illustrations and story captivated my imagination and I couldn’t wait to turn the pages to see what happened next.

How does one make friends when burdened with such a built-in fear factor? Calmly and patiently! Jennifer Black Reinhardt has skillfully woven the story of kindness and friendship between unlikely friends in a magical woodland. I invited Jennifer to visit and tell us more about Playing Possum.

Here’s Jennifer!

Welcome, Jennifer! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, Angie, thank you so much for having me visit. I grew up with a mother who was an artist, and her mother (my MomMom) was an artist as well. So, I was always encouraged to create. When I was in second grade, I discovered that I could put words with pictures to tell even more of a story—- I was hooked.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and got my degree in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, I worked as a freelance illustrator and had success illustrating pretty much everything except picture books. Finally, after many, many years of being persistent, I’m now getting to live my dream of writing and illustrating books for kids.

One is never too young (or I hope, too old) to write stories and draw pictures!

What was your inspiration for Playing Possum?

One night several years ago, my husband was taking out the trash and called to me to identify the animal in our trashcan. Sticking out of the top of the can was a snarling, frozen, possum! I remember feeling sorry for him. He looked so scared and I thought that it was probably even scarier not being able to run away.

Poor thing!

What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you created this beautiful picture book?

I wrote the initial draft of the story (we all know there are many, many, drafts, and revisions) quite quickly. It is sparse text, but once I had my characters, this story seemed to fall into place (It’s not always like that). I shared it with my critique group and then sent it to my agent. We had interest from editors right away who wished to acquire it (again, not usually like that). Illustrating-wise it was important to me to find a believable balance between what is real and what is imagined. I wanted readers to feel Alfred and Sofia’s kindness toward each other and then having the desire to spread their empathy to help others.

Wow, you are right! Playing Possum fell together quite easily, but it’s not always like that.

How did you celebrate the July 2, 2020, release of Playing Possum? 

Well, a bit differently than for past books, of course. I teamed up with a local bookstore, Sidekick Coffee and Books, and held a virtual Zoom launch party.

Good for you! It is an odd year for book releases and gatherings. Sounds like you had a perfect plan.

Surprise us. What else would you like to share?

One of my earliest and warmest memories is of my mother reading me The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by one of my very favorite illustrators, Gyo Fujikawa. There is a tiny mouse that she has hidden on some of the pages. I can remember so clearly how much I adored looking for that little detail with my mom. It made me extremely happy that I could put so many hidden ‘critters’ in Playing Possum for other young readers to find. I hope they enjoy all those secret surprises.

I love surprises! I can’t wait to go back and reread my book and see how many I can find. Fun!

Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting today! Thank you so much for sending me a copy of Playing Possum via Picture Book Builders. I am very grateful to meet such wonderful characters and read about their adventures.

We send all the best wishes to you and much success with Playing Possum. I hope we get to meet Alfred and Sophia in a new adventure!

Here’s how you can support and get in touch with Jennifer:

Website: jbreinhardt.com

Instagram: jenniferblackreinhardt

Facebook: @jenniferblackreinhardtillustration

Twitter: @jblackreinhardt

Check out the book trailer for Playing Possum.

https://youtu.be/8eOKMhHWO08


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Book Report: How Long Is Forever? by Kelly Carey, Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

 

How Long Is Forever?

Written by Kelly Carey

Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

Charlesbridge, 2020

 

Who loves blueberries, farms, kitties, and grandparents? I do! Thank you, Kathy Temean, for hosting Kelly Carey and Qing Zhuang. Thank you, Kelly Carey, and Qing Zhuang, for sending me a copy of this lovely picture book! I was thrilled to read it and I can recommend How Long Is Forever? to young readers (and their grandparents) everywhere. Happy reading!

And while you’re at it, let’s have blueberry pie.

 

News from Charlesbridge

Waiting for pie takes a long time, but not forever.

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready.

 

What I LOVE About This Book:

~ Nana! I am a Nana, so I love that the grandmother is named Nana

~ Blueberry pie!

~ The kitty included on almost every spread (I love kitties)

~ The concept of forever and how it is explored through the eyes of a young child

~ The lovely story

~ Wonderful, colorful illustrations

~ Farm and farm house!

 

Amazon Blurb:

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready. And Mason’s finally got the answer: forever is how long he’ll love Nana’s pie and how long he’ll love Nana and Grandpa, too.

 

 

 


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Book Report: Bandit the Cow Dog by Phil Mills Jr. #BookBirthday

Bandit the Cow Dog

Written by Phil Mills Jr.

Illustrated by Jeanne Conway

Mascot Books (June 2, 2020)

Happy Book Birthday to Bandit the Cow Dog by Phil Mills Jr.! Thank you, http://www.MascotBooks.com, for sending me a copy to review.

As a lover of horses and ranches (and having an unfulfilled lifelong dream of living on a ranch and raising horse), I loved reading this colorful picture book.

Set on a ranch in Wyoming, the story is told from the eyes of the retired Australian shepherd working dog, Bandit, and a young girl, Mary. Mary comes to visit her grandparents for the summer. Once on the ranch, Mary quickly learns she has daily responsibilities and chores. She even finds out that eggs do not have to be white and one must help out as a member of a family. All goes well until Mary forgets one essential rule on a ranch: always close and secure gates.

Bandit the Cow Dog is a fun read. I think young readers who enjoy animals, ranches, horses, and dogs will like this book. Happy Book Birthday!

What I Like About This Book:

  • I love the ranch setting
  • I love the animals – dogs, chickens, horses, and cows
  • I love how Mary has to accept responsibility for her actions, even though that is not an easy thing to do
  • I like how Mary has consequences to her actions
  • Horses!

More about Phil Mills Jr.

Amazon Blurb:

Spending the summer on her grandparents Wyoming ranch was a new and exciting opportunity for ten-year-old Mary Andrews. She lived in Denver, Colorado, and being around horses and cattle every day was a different experience. Having to do daily chores like gathering eggs and keeping an extra-close eye on her dog Princess was also new. She found it hard enough to just make her bed and keeping her clothes picked up.

But life took a dramatic turn for the young girl when she was given her first horse. Mary had never ridden before and there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, Bandit, the ranch cow dog, was around to watch over her. Bandit may have been retired, but he still liked herding chickens and trying to corral the ranch cats. Mary would soon learn having a horse was a lot different than having a dog. Along with such ownership came greater responsibilities. That would also mean learning to admit your mistakes, no matter how difficult, and then accepting the consequences, especially when Bandit knew the truth.


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Thank you, Vivian Kirkfield, for bringing this book to my attention. Perfect timing!

Parents, grandparents, families, this book is a free e-book for young readers. Be a Coronavirus Fighter touches on the most basic things we need to know about fighting the virus and staying healthy. Thank you, Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke!

Be a Coronavirus Fighter!

Read Vivian’s interview with Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke:

via Helen Wu and Songju Ma Daemicke: Will Write for Cookies and COVID-19 

Read to the bottom of the post to find the link for the book as well as links to learn more about the author and illustrator.


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Book Report: Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore #BookBirthday #BeeAReader

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Grandpa Grumps

Written by Katrina Moore

Illustrated by Xindi Yan

little bee books, April 7, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday to Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore!

I enjoyed this book from the get-go. From front to back, Grandpa Grumps is full of adorable details, tells a perfect story, and bursts with fun colorful illustrations. My grands ask for this one over and over. They are drawn to the story! (I don’t think it’s because they have their own Grandpa Grumps. LOL) Thank you, little bee books, for sending a review copy. #BeeAReader

What I Love About This Book:

~ The adorableness. It’s a thing. Honest.

~ The story about a young girl meeting her grandfather from China for the first time

~ The learning and sharing that goes on between the generations

~ The way the relationships grows between Grandpa Grumps and Daisy

~ A recipe!

~ Perfect illustrations that complement and enhance the story (much adorableness)

~ The story is sweet, but Daisy does face a problem when Grumps doesn’t react the way she imagined. I love how she finally solves the problem.

~ A shining example of creativity and partnership between the author and illustrator

~ Anyone who has relatives from a different country could prepare the way for visits by reading Grandpa Grumps.

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Amazon Blurb:

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting from China, and try as she might, Daisy can’t get her grumpy grandpa to smile!

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?

Kids will love this funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations!

You can find Grandpa Grumps here.

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Book Report: Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass #BookBirthday

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Be a Superhero in the Kitchen

Written by Donna Glass

Illustrated by Alejandro Chamberlain

Mascot Books, March 2020

 

Friends, if you are stuck at home with young children (and most of us are right now, due to COVID-19), I have a great idea for you. It’s time to enlist your superheros and teach them to cook!

Why not? Plenty of time, cooking reinforces OH SO MANY skills (math, reading, science, nutrition, fine motor, life skills), and your enlistees will be SUPER happy to help you make a meal!

Thank you, Mascot Books , for sending a review copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass. I didn’t know I was getting a very cool COOKBOOK!

Let’s dig in!

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Why I LOVED this Book:

~ Super colorful and engaging

~ Each page spread is an entire recipe, filled with simple directions, ingredient lists, and illustrations; Cautions are listed along the way

~ 20 different recipes are included for entrees and side dishes, desserts and breads, and even a beverage

~ Superhero Cooking Tips are listed right at the beginning of the book! Yay!

~ The superhero theme is wonderful. I love how it is continued throughout the entire book. Kids will LOVE being a SUPERHERO chef!

~ This book is perfect for teaching young readers and chefs how to TAB a favorite recipe with a sticky note. The age old method of quickly finding your place…

~ Well written, fun, interesting, and very useful

~ With so many families caring for and homeschooling their children and grandchildren right now, this “activity” book is perfect. Plus, you get help making dinner.

~ Scroll down to the bottom of this post and follow the link to order your own copy.

Let’s get cooking!

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Amazon Blurb:

Every caregiver knows the trials of feeding a picky eater. Some nights are truly a battle. Nerves are frayed, and a pleasant, relaxing dinner can quickly be filled with tears, tantrums, and some nights, a battle of wills. Well, my goal with this book is to tip the scales in our favor. One surefire way I’ve discovered to get my picky eaters to eat is to let them help make the meal. After all, food tastes better when you’ve had a hand in fixing it. Let your child try their hand with the recipes in this book. A child who becomes the superhero of dinnertime is one who eats super well.

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To purchase a copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen, click this link:

Purchasing Information


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Book Report: The Adventures of Princess Pudding Pie by Saureen Naik Desai

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The Adventures of Princess Pudding Pie

Written by Saureen Naik Desai

Illustrated by Marco Mazzarello

Mascot Books, February 2020

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Doesn’t the name Princess Pudding Pie make you want to read about her adventures? I know it grabbed my attention. Thanks to Mascot Books for sending a review copy.

The Adventures of Princess Pudding Pie, written by Saureen Naik Desai, is the story of Princess Pudding Pie, a young girl who loves to travel, taste delicacies, and enjoy the different places she visits. With passport in hand, Princess Pudding Pie heads out to explore a variety of international locations.

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What I Liked About This Book:

~ Princess Pudding Pie (I love that name)

~ Princess Pudding Pie has a pie (complete with pan, which frames her face) for her head. It’s not weird, but pretty cute.

~ Princess Pudding Pie tells how to say hello in the language of each place she visits (I was wishing for pronunciation on a few of them, but still loads of fun)

~ I love how Princess Pudding Pie wears a themed outfit for each country

~ Each spread for every country shows a famous landmark for that country

~ Told in rhyme, this book shares about delicious treats from international countries, but readers are encouraged to eat healthy foods first and then sample sweet desserts

Young readers will enjoy traveling with Princess Pudding Pie. I think it would be fun to choose a favorite treat and make that for the family. Yummy! Or, let’s dream big, travel to a favorite international location and taste the treats there!

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Amazon Blurb:

Princess Pudding Pie is a smart, sassy, free spirited globetrotter! She loves visiting new countries and learning all about different cultures, traditions, and delicious delicacies. Princess Pudding Pie is excited to take you on an adventure around the world tasting new and interesting desserts, all while visiting symbolic landmarks, collecting neat souvenirs, and learning about traditional dress. She ll even teach you how to say hello in each country s native tongue. Join Princess Pudding Pie as she shows us how much beauty and elegance our world has to offer.


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Throwback Thursday: Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield #TBT

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Now, I know this Throwback Thursday only goes back to last fall (October), but look at the beautiful book I received in the mail from Little Bee Books! I thought I would share the cover and a few inside pages again. Just because.

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You can read the original posts (throwbacks) by clicking the links below.

Book Report: Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

Author Vivian Kirkfield Interview

***The Giveaway mentioned in the Author Interview post has concluded.

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About Vivian Kirkfield (Author)

Vivian Kirkfield’s career path is paved with picture books. From shelving them in a children’s library and reading them with her kindergarteners, to writing them, her goal has always been to help kids become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of many picture books including: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book; Pippa’s Passover Plate; From Here to There: Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves; and Sweet Dreams, Sarah. Her parent-teacher guide, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is a valuable resource for child-care facilitators. Vivian lives in the quaint New England village of Amherst, New Hampshire, where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her ten-year-old grandson is her favorite Monopoly partner.
Visit Vivian’s website.

About Alleanna Harris (Illustrator)

Alleanna Harris has been drawing for as long as she can remember. As a little kid, she would draw on every page of her mom’s legal pads, her notebooks at school, and on the programs at church. She graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in animation with honors, and it was during this time she realized her love for illustration. Alleanna finds inspiration in the beauty of everyday things. She seeks to create images that are immersive, rich in color, and have a sense of warmth. She lives in New Jersey. Find out more about her at alleannaharris.com.

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I hope you’ll find a copy of Making Their Voices Heard and enjoy it yourself.


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Book Report: THE BOY WHO GREW DRAGONS by Andy Shepherd #BeeAReader

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The Boy Who Grew Dragons

Written by Andy Shepherd

Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Yellow Jacket, An Imprint of Little Bee Books; 2020

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Thank you, Yellow Jacket Books, for this review Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Boy Who Grew Dragons. I’m happy to announce that I totally enjoyed reading this middle grade novel.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about this fun read. Dragons with explosive poop, an unsuspecting boy and his friends, an interesting gardening experience, trouble with neighbors, and adventures galore provided a very entertaining read of The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

Why I Love This Book:

~ Dragons! Tiny dragons who bond with humans, drop explosive poop, and get into trouble. Books with imagination always catch my attention.

~ A mysterious tree in the garden grows funny (weird) fruit. Dragon fruit tree? Is there not a real life fruit called dragon fruit? Does that fruit also grow dragons? I digress.

~ Tomas is a believable, interesting main character. I enjoyed all of the characters, even the not-so-nice neighbor.

~ The cover and internal illustrations are fantastic and perfectly compliment the story. Yes, this middle grade novel is illustrated with funny, clever, and enticing artwork.

~ Great writing and engaging story

 

I think young readers will devour The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

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Yellow Jacket Blurb:

This hilarious middle-grade novel with illustrations throughout sees Tomas discover that he can grow dragons in his own garden!

When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandfather’s garden, he doesn’t think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house and gets the shock of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragon fruit tree, and Tomas now has his very own dragon, Flicker!

While Tomas finds out that life with Flicker is fun, he also finds that it is very…unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbrush and leave your underwear hanging from the TV antenna. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker—and quickly! And then something extraordinary happens: More dragon fruits appear on the tree! Now it’s official, Tomas is growing dragons.

 

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Ribbon’s Traveling Castle by Elizabeth Godley: Multicultural Children’s Book Day #MCBD #ReadYourWorld

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Ribbon’s Traveling Castle

Written by Elizabeth Godley

Illustrated by Paige M. Leyh

CreateSpace, An Amazon.com Company; 2017

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Ribbon’s Traveling Castle was gifted to me for review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Thank you, Elizabeth Godley, for sharing your book with me!

Ribbon’s Traveling Castle is an imaginative picture book about a young girl who faces the changes that come with moving (and life). Through creative situations, Ribbon explores what is going on in her life. Each imaginary person Ribbon encounters joins her in this tale as they play together.

Why I Like This Book:

~ imagination is KEY to enjoying this story

~ the story explores change, which is pretty scary to most people

~ clever illustrations, gradually transforming from mostly monochromatic to color

~ the fun story

~ the focus on play, which is pretty important to young readers

~ Ribbon’s trust in her dad to take care of her

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Amazon Blurb:

This heartwarming, silly story with a dash of magic, illustrates that a big heart grants you tolerance. And it’s okay if things change, they’re supposed to shift. Change happens to everyone and the solution to the struggle is love, love for yourself and others.

Ribbon, traveling with her father, encounters a group of bizarre individuals in need of simple guidance. Ribbon rises above the worries of the day to day with the joy of play and love as her compass. Her example is an inspiration to everyone.

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

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MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

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Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.