07 May

Ramadan Is… Coming Soon!

Owl & Cat: Ramadan Is… the newest book in the newest series from Books by Emma Apple, coming just in time for Ramadan! You bring the curiosity, we’ll bring the cats.

Be wise like Owl and sign up to the mailing list so you don’t miss the release!

Owl & Cat: Ramadan Is... Coming Soon!

Owl & Cat: Ramadan Is…

follows Owl, Cat and their family and friends as they celebrate the 30 days of the Islamic month of fasting. They learn that Ramadan is about patience, prayer, kindness and many wonderful traditions!

Loosely based on the characters from the timeless children’s poem The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear. Owl & Cat, Muslim picture books help children learn about the concepts of Friendship, Family, and Acceptance, with humor and an appeal that crosses the lines of culture and religion. Perfect for multicultural homes, classrooms and libraries!

24 Feb

[Closed] Coloring Competition!

coloringcompI’m releasing my 3rd book and to celebrate, we’re having a coloring competition!

We’re giving away a copy of the brand new book in the Children’s First Questions series Where Is Allah? to one lucky (randomly chosen) colorer.

Our Competition Is Now Closed!

Thank you to all who entered and congratulations to our winner, Yusuf!

04 Aug

Picture Book Blog 5: Extraordinary Characters

Emma Apple's Picture Book BlogI’m playing catch up, I skipped a week of my picture book blog (I won’t tell anyone if you don’t!) but it was for a good cause. I’m working on a project called Muslim Me, it’s only just been announced, no details yet except that it’s a line of stickers and buttons for Muslim kids, and I’m incredibly excited (and busy)!

Back to the business at hand, my beloved picture books! If you’re not familiar with my Picture Book Blog yet, check out the first post for more about what it is. Basically, I’m reading my way from A-Z through my local library’s picture book section.

My Choices This Week

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Such a charming book! Knitters will love this and anyone with crafty kids, I thought of several friends while reading it, they’ll know who they are. A little girl finds a box with endless yarn in it, she knits sweaters for everyone – and everything – in town, then a bad guy comes and steals the box, without giving too much away, she ends up getting it back and continuing her sweet knitting. The illustrations are absolutely charming, they are mostly black and white or very muted, except the yarn and sweaters are colored. The story is a gentle and easy read, it’s optimistic and great for bed time or any quiet reading time.

5/5 Charming and sweet.

Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Illustrated by Holly Meade

This is the story of Noah’s Ark, but told differently to usual, in fact we barely meet Noah at all. It’s written in poetic form, the author note in the back explains that the form is derived from an Arabic poetry style called a ghazal, which, as a half Arab family, we were pleasantly surprised by. I loved that the story is not told in a traditional way, it’s not obviously religious and would be happy on any bookshelf, whether religious (of any sort) or not. While I found the style interesting, it was a bit cumbersome to read with every stanza ending in the same word, we still enjoyed it, but even my 10-year-old commented on that aspect, we didn’t love it. The illustrations are beautiful, probably my favorite part is the authors note at the back, she goes into detail about the name Naamah (which she explains is Hebrew but it’s also an Arabic word meaning “blessings”), the story and the poetry style. While it wasn’t a stand out, we really did enjoy this and I thought it was a charming book.

3.5/5 Worth picking up.

Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle by Holly M. Barry, Illustrated by Jennifer Thermes

We all know the story of Helen Keller, this unique retelling flows beautifully and gives us insight into a part of Helen’s life that we don’t always get. Belle is one of Helen’s pet dogs, she had many from childhood and throughout her life (something I didn’t know before reading this book) and they were instrumental in her learning and coping with her disabilities as a child and as an adult. My whole family was familiar with Helen Keller’s story, but we all enjoyed this book and learned new things from it. Definitely a must read and a wonderful woman who continues to teach us never to underestimate others.

4/5 A new angle on a well-loved and oft told biography.

Mustache! by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell

This book was hilarious! I didn’t mean to pick up so many books by the same author, but it is a consequence of going shelf by shelf I suppose. We all loved this book! It’s one of the ones that seem like it’s a lot of nonsense, but that actually has a genuine message hidden in it (in fact, that seems to be true of most the Mac Barnett stories we read). The king loves himself way too much, so the people deface all the pictures of him around the town by, you guessed it, adding mustaches. The consequence is that the king accidentally gives them what they want and finally discovers how lonely and bored he is at the top. You’ll have to read it to find out more, I don’t want to give it all away. Trust me – and my kids, who requested it several times – this one is a lot of fun!

5/5 Funny with a hidden moral.

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

Another by Mac Barnett, and another one that seems like nonsense but has an actual message. I couldn’t quite decide if I loved this or hated it. It starts off with an introduction by the author “character” and goes on as a story. It ends up being an argument between illustrator and author, they are characters in the book, so we kind of get a behind the scenes look, but in a funny way. The author thinks it’s HIS book and gets a bit bossy, the illustrator ends up feeling unappreciated and they part ways, the author hires another illustrator, they part ways and then the author tries to illustrate it himself. In the end, we learn that it takes a team to make a successful book and that you have to work together. It’s charming and funny, I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but check it out next time you’re at the library and see what you think (let me know in comments if you do!).

3/5 Do I love it or do I hate it? I’m not sure.

Bonus Book: Not From The Shelf

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I’m primarily a visual person, an artist first and foremost, but I’m also a writer, I come from a long line of writers and I have always LOVED words. This book was a real treat! It’s the story of Peter Roget, the man who wrote the first Thesaurus, it talks about how he coped with his father’s death when he was small, by writing lists, and as he grew up his love of lists stayed with him and eventually he became known and successful as a writer because of them. It’s an unusual interest, but we are never alerted to that, it’s never presented in a “he was odd” way, but in a very “this is what he enjoyed” way, so we accept and appreciate Peter’s lists, and Peter himself, and for that I absolutely adored it. The illustrations are also beautiful and unique. Just a treat in every way.

5/5 Simply loved it!

21 Jul

Picture Book Blog 4: How To Write Diversity and How Not To.

Emma Apple's Picture Book BlogI’m on to the 4th shelf in my journey through the picture book section at my local library. I’m enjoying the process and discovering so many wonderful books! I’m choosing 5-7 books each week, reading them with my family (which includes kids aged 8 and 10, a parrot who loves to listen to stories, and two adults) and then giving you my thoughts and a rating out of 5.

This is Emma Apple’s Picture Book Blog: Shelf 4. You can also read along on goodreads.

My Choices This Week

This is the Way We Eat Our Lunch. A Book About Children Around the World by Edith Baer, Illustrated by Steve Björkman

I was so hopeful when I picked this book up. I mean, the title screams cultural/racial diversity. I was excited to see the cultures represented and how it was done. Excited to see authenticity and nuance. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in a few ways. It felt really superficial, the rhyme felt a little forced and the first half of the book was different U.S. states (which is fine, but not exactly “the World” as the title suggests), the latter can be forgiven, considering the audience was probably always primarily American. The second half was various world cultures. I had all but forgiven the superficial feel and annoying rhyme, until I got to “Israel”, on this page we meet Mira and Jamila (Arabic names), in a market full of people wearing Arab style clothing, eating hummus on flat pita bread, an Arab dish. This book was published in 1995, where perhaps awareness of the Middle East conflict was lower, maybe? Maybe they couldn’t say Palestine for some politically correct reason, but wanted to represent the people anyway? Whatever the reason, I was disappointed to see that.

2.5/5 Disappointed.

Cock-a-doodle-doo, Creak, Pop-pop, Moo by Jim Aylesworth, Illustrated by Brad Sneed

This book was really fun to read. If the title doesn’t give it away, it is all about onomatopoeia and takes us through a day in the life of a very cheerful family who live on a farm. It’s a lot of fun to read, I love the way it opens with everyone waking up, and closes with everyone falling asleep. It shows a family working together on the farm to take care of the animals and do the jobs that need to be done. A great story of team work and a lot of fun to read together. As we were reading together, the 10-year-old was making the sound effects as I was reading each page and we were all laughing.

4/5 We enjoyed it a lot.

No Such Thing by Ella Bailey

I picked this book up for its bold, unique illustrations (this is often the way I choose books, I definitely do judge them by their covers). It’s a Halloween themed book, which I would usually avoid, at the end of the book it says Happy Halloween, but otherwise, it’s not overtly holiday focused. In the story, we follow a skeptical little girl, who explains the real reasons behind spooky happenings. For example, there are strange shadows and scary noises at night, she turns on the light, and her cat is swatting at a moth. I love how it is subtly comforting for kids who find Halloween spooky or scary, but it was also fun to read and not in-your-face with its message. We read this a few times, both kids enjoyed it and I was not disappointed by the illustrations.

4/5 Loved it!

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

If you’ve been reading each week, you’re probably noticing a pattern with my choices, I take particular interest in books that have oft-underrepresented characters, whether they’re racially diverse, culturally, religiously, disability-wise, gender-role-wise (like this book) etc. I want to read a variety and I want to showcase the diversity that is out there, because it can be hard to find.

I picked up this book, because it’s a little girl engineer! I mean, how could I not? I knew my science-loving 10yo girl would love it, and I knew my engineer wannabe 8yo son would love it too, and it’s great for both of them to see strong female characters. I was excited, and the book did not disappoint! I suspected it had something to do with Rosie the Riveter (the “We Can Do It!” woman from the famous WWII poster) and I was right. We meet a little girl who is a bit quieter, and a bit different from her classmates, she collects things from the rubbish/trash and off the group, takes them home, and makes all sorts of secret contraptions with them. At some point, she makes something for her favorite uncle, and he laughs at how ridiculous it is. My heart broke, that’s the perfect way to destroy creativity and exploration, poor Rosie! Her heart broke too and she stopped showing her inventions to people. That is, until her great-aunt (her “oldest relative”) came to visit! She was adventurous and accomplished and unafraid! She inspired Rosie to build again but when Rosie showed her what she’d built and it didn’t work quite as planned, the oldest relative laughed! All our hearts sank, Rosie was defeated… only, this time, the relative was laughing in a good way! She encouraged Rosie and taught her that failure is a necessary part of success. Rosie went on to inspire her class to build things too and the final illustration is of all the kids happily playing with their contraptions! I can’t say enough how much I love this story! The illustrations are really fun and unique, the people represented are diverse and representative, the back of the book has a historical note where we learn about the real Rosie the Riveter. If you have little humans, click the title of the book above and get a copy for your home library! That’s how good it is.

5/5 Buy it!

Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth, Illustrations by Stephen Gammell

One word: Hilarious! This is an alphabet book, but not your typical alphabet book! We follow this old black fly as he gets into everything in the house, dances on the edge of the garbage bag, plays on a vase, gets honey on his back. We all laughed out way through this book! The illustrations are fun and funny, everything in the book is just so typically fly. Just a super fun book!

5/5 Hilarious!

My Sister’s Rusty Bike by Jim Aylesworth, Illustrated by Richard Hull

It was a coincidence that I picked up 3 of this authors books, but I’m glad I did! The illustrators for each one do such a brilliant job, the writing is clever and witty and fun. Just, a great author! This story is a journey around the United States, that a man takes on, you guessed it, his sister’s rusty bike. We learn the name of one place in each state he visits, and each time, we’re told about a quirky person who lives there (the places are real, but I don’t think there’s really a person with pigs who dance jigs). Another really fun book, definitely check out this authors books when you’re at the library or bookstore next time, or click the title to check them out on Amazon.

4/5 Fun and quirky.

My Light by Molly Bang

Science! I love science picture books! This one was really sweet and airy, almost spiritual feeling, but also completely about energy and how it works, and how it comes from the sun. It’s actually narrated by the sun, which is interesting on its own. The illustrations are absolutely lovely, contrasted and boldly colored, just very, very fun to look at. We start off with a description of the water cycle and how the sun’s heat facilitates that, we go on to learn about how humans utilize this energy to make electricity, how plants use the sun’s energy for food, we even hear about solar panels and wind turbines. All of it is written in a very smooth, child friendly way. Really, very enjoyable, flows well, teaches all about energy. This should absolutely be on any science lovers bookshelf!

5/5 Absolutely lovely!

Bonus Book (Not From The Shelf)

Home by Carson Ellis

This book is kind of interesting. There are things I don’t love about it, but that can also, maybe, be explained by the fact that it’s a marriage of reality and fairytale. It’s written by an artist and the book is heavily illustration based. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! It does a great job of representing different people and showing us all the different places where people might live. In the middle of it all, it also shows mythological and fairytale places (like Atlantis and the old woman who lived in a shoe), which at first I didn’t love, but by the end I really did. Some of the cultural representation was a little bothersome, for example, I’m pretty sure the “underground lairs” home, which shows a woman lounging on gold and two men with a lamp and money, who are all obviously “Arab”, was meant to be from Aladdin, but it was still a bit off-putting for me, as the mother of Arab kids and someone who is aware of the problematic image of Arabs in movies and media. Similar caveats about Indian and Native American images in the book as well. Otherwise, I really thought it was a beautiful book, a lovely attempt at showing that home can mean many things and many different places.

3.5/5 Loved it but with caveats.

14 Jul

Picture Book Blog 3: Behavior and Responsibility

Emma Apple's Picture Book BlogI LOVE picture books! So this year, I’ve decided to start at A and work my way through the picture book section of our local library, I’m choosing around 5 books a week (maybe a few more) from each shelf and then writing a blog with my thoughts on each book.

This is Emma Apple’s Picture Book Blog: Shelf 3. You can also read along on goodreads.

My Choices This Week

In A Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

At first, I didn’t love this book. I thought it was a mother giving in to a child’s sleep avoidance, then I felt like it was a mother giving a child sleep aids when all she needed was the light turned off, then I decided that the mother probably didn’t realize that that’s what the child was asking for when she asked for a blue room. With all that aside, the illustrations are beautiful and emotive, it’s a gentle bedtime story and I like that it plays on a child’s language. Children often express things in unexpected ways, it’s one of my favorite things about being a mother, and in the book, we aren’t sure what Alice means until her mother turns off the light. I won’t give it away, because I do recommend getting this out of the library or picking it up for your home library. I love how we end up, on the last page, just looking at a tiny Earth – our pale blue dot – and Moon, it’s a beautiful evolution of the story. After the second read, I forgot all about my initial dislike.

4/5 I liked it, especially the end.

Except If by Jim Averbeck

The second book on this weeks list is by the same author as the first, and I really started to get an idea of his style, which I really like. It’s another story that takes you to an unexpected place in an unexpected way. This time we are presented with an egg and taken through a series of suggestions about what the egg could be (except if it’s… something else). We go through snake, lizard, dinosaur, fossil, and so on, until finally it ends up being a bird (of course). Like the twist that I didn’t give away in In A Blue Room, you don’t realize where you’re going until you’re there, when you’re there it all falls into place. It makes for a really enjoyable and fulfilling read. I love how it teaches a science lesson, but you don’t even know it.

4/5 A fun, subtly sciencey read.

Dream Something Big: The Story Of Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston with Collages by Susan L. Roth

I’ve seen the Watts Towers in a documentary before, so I knew of them, but didn’t know much about them or the man behind them. This story is from the perspective of a girl who grows up next door as they’re being built. She talks about the eccentric Uncle Sam (Simon Rodia) and how he spends his time collecting bits of broken garbage and turning them into something beautiful. She admires the process and the builder, and through her, we do too. It’s a heartwarming story that allows us to look at the human behind the art, and not just as a mysterious eccentric artist. It’s illustrated with collage, not my favorite style, but fitting for the subject. At the back is a short authors note telling the story of the Watts Towers and Simon Rodia, and then a crafting activity you can do yourself. Definitely worth reading and especially as an educational book.

3.5/5 We enjoyed the culture/art lesson and how it was presented.

The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, Pictures by Jerry Pinkney

The space nerd that I am, I absolutely LOVED this book! We join a family as they wait for the TV broadcast of the moon landing in 1969. The illustrations are incredible, the story is emotive, I actually felt the excitement, emotion and intrigue of the moon landing! I adore the fact that the moon landing is told through the eyes of a black family (and particularly from the point of view of a young, black girl), not a narrative you often see. I adore the generational gap illustrated in the story. I just adore this book. What else can I say? Read it!

5/5 I loved this book!

Desmond and the Naughty Bugs by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Anik McGrory

This book, I didn’t love, unfortunately. The illustrations are beautiful, the idea is cute, I get where the author was trying to go with it, but I believe in taking responsibility for your actions, and teaching kids to do the same. Having said that, I also do agree with separating naughty behavior from who the child is as a person, so I see how the author is using the bugs as a metaphor for that. Still, I couldn’t shake the whole responsibility thing. This story tells us about Desmond, who is a very good boy, usually, but then naughty bugs arrive and his behavior takes a turn for the worse when they tell him to misbehave and he does what they say. There are so many different interpretations of this book that I can come up with, but ultimately, I probably wouldn’t pick it up again. It is a beautiful and well written book though.

2.5/5 I felt it was just slightly off in its message.

Bonus Book (Not from the Shelf)

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt

I love scaredy squirrel! He’s an anxious squirrel who goes to ridiculous lengths to keep himself safe. In this story, he wants to go to the beach, but since the real beach is so dangerous, he makes his own beach by his tree. It turns out he needs a seashell so he can hear the ocean, so he has to go to the real beach anyway. More ridiculous lengths to keep himself safe, and while there, he unexpectedly enjoys himself! These books make great use of diagrams and they are visually a lot of fun to read as well. I think these books are very clever, especially if you have an anxious child, they can be a fun and funny way to talk about safety and bravery.

4.5/5 Fun, funny and useful!

07 Jul

Picture Book Blog 2: Acceptance and Understanding

Emma Apple's Picture Book BlogThis year, I’ve decided to start at A and work my way through the picture book section of our local library, I’ll choose around 5 books (maybe a few more if the shelf is particularly interesting!) from each shelf, each week and then write a blog with my thoughts on each book.

This is Emma Apple’s Picture Book Blog: Shelf 2. You can also read along on goodreads.

My Choices This Week

Itsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen

This book is just beautiful. It has a sassy little main character who, like every child who ever existed as far as I know, doesn’t want to go to bed. As the story goes on, the father does a little bit of that reverse psychology, you know what I mean parents, and it gets more and more absurd (as bedtime often does). I just loved this book, my kids loved it, it was funny and fun to read and the illustrations are just beautiful, the color palette is soothing and bold at the same time too.

4.5/5. Beautiful and funny bedtime story.

Dirty Gert by Tedd Arnold

This one is so cute and quirky! Gert is a little girl who loves dirt, she’s adored by the worms and tut tutted at by the neighbors for being dirty all the time. Her parents don’t seem to mind. In a strange turn of events Gert ends up rooted to the very dirt she’s feasting on, and sprouting leaves! Things get totally out of hand after that but it all ends well when her parents figure out how to care for Gert and her unusual needs. A sweet, quirky, subtle tale of acceptance.

4/5. Quirky and Adorable! Loved it!

I See The Moon by Kathi Appelt, Illustrated by Debra Reid Jenkins

I’ve heard of this book before but had never actually picked it up. It’s for kids smaller than mine, but that doesn’t matter because I get these books for my own enjoyment (the kids and husband enjoy listening to me read them though). It’s a little story, more of a poem really, about being uncertain, coming through a storm and ending up safe on a beach. It’s a metaphor for trust in God and ends up bringing it all together by affirming God’s protection and love. Obviously a Christian book, but worded in such a way that any family of faith can read it and relate it to their own faith. Very sweet.

3.5/5. Sweet book for little kids.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School by Laurie Halse Anderson and Ard Hoyt

I chose this book because I used to call my daughter Miss Hair when she was smaller, she was like hair on legs, so adorable! Zoe Fleefenbacher is pretty much a caricature of that, so I just had to get it. Her hair sort of has a mind of its own, the story shows how her parents managed it when she was a baby and how her Kindergarten teacher made the best of it. Then we follow Zoe to first grade, where the teacher isn’t quite so tolerant and accommodating. All sorts of chaos happens until finally, the teacher and Zoe and Zoe’s hair learn to work together. A great message about working together and making room for even those kids who maybe can’t quite follow all the rules all the time.

3.5/5. Odd, cute book, we liked it.

No! by Marta Altés

If you have ever known a dog, or let’s be honest, a toddler, then you’ll be able to relate to this book. It’s a story going off that old joke about pets (and toddlers) thinking their name is No! because they hear it so often (kind of like how my kids thought our cleaning spray was called “Oh For God’s Sake!”). Told from the perspective of a dog, we hear about all the ways he helps his humans and shows them he cares about them (like looking for treasures in the garden and feeding himself when he’s hungry). We were all laughing a lot while reading this and although it’s a short book, we’ve read it several times. I’m not going to give the end away because it’s the funniest part! But find it under ALT in your library’s picture book section, or if you have a family dog, grab it from your local bookstore or Amazon, because it is really, very funny.

5/5. Hilarious! Loved!

Bonus Book (Not From the Shelf)

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

I heard about this book recently in a YouTube talk, so I was really excited to see it on the New Books shelf at the library and had to grab it. A beautifully illustrated, and subtly worded story about a lonely little boy and his single father. I love the subtlety in the book, we aren’t really told the boy is lonely, we aren’t really told that the father takes time out after he realizes this and they spend more time together, you have to read the story and look at the pictures and almost feel that part of the story. You can almost feel the back story. It has such depth, I loved that about it. It has an environmental aspect, it has a “it takes a village” element to it, it has a single parenting element. Really, just a sweet, somewhat sad, tale of a boy and his father and the importance of being there for one another.

4/5. Beautiful, subtle, heartwarming. Liked it a lot!

16 Jun

Picture Book Blog 1: Thinking Outside The Box

Emma Apple's Picture Book BlogI love picture books! While my kids are choosing chapter books and non fiction to check out at the local library, I’m collecting an armful of picture books.

This Summer, I’ve decided to start at A and work my way through the picture book section of our local library, I’ll choose 5-7 books from each shelf, each week and then share my thoughts on each book.

This is my Picture Book Blog: Shelf 1. You can also read along on goodreads.

My Choices This Week

Who’s On First? by Abbot and Costello, Illustrated by John Martz

We all know this one right? Time magazine called it the best comedy sketch of the 20th century. It’s the classic baseball themed comedy routine. In case you don’t know it (spoiler alert): the player’s name is Who and he’s on first base, a guy named What is on second base, and it goes on from there. I know my kids love these sorts of wordplay jokes, so I thought this one was a guaranteed laugh.

I must say, I was a little disappointed, the routine doesn’t translate as humorously as I hoped it would. It’s cute but not quite as funny as I expected. The illustrations are minimal and beautifully done, the style relies on the words and the facial expressions and body language of the characters. Like I said, they’re beautiful, but I found the whole thing a little underwhelming. If you want to introduce your kids to this routine, or you have baseball fans at home, it’s worth checking out.

2.5/5. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.

Nothing by Jon Agee

This book was funny and thoughtful. It seems to be poking a bit of fun at fashionable trends and our always wanting more stuff, more something, more anything! It’s also very amusing! Kids will find the opposite element silly and funny. The illustrations are charming and simple with just the right amount of drama on each page. Really enjoyed this one and the kids and I laughed a lot, definitely check it out with your littles.

4/5. Loved it!

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg, Illustrated by Bruce Ingman

Such a sweet marriage of story and illustration. This one made me a little nervous in the middle when the town and its inhabitants that we had watched come to life, were suddenly being erased by an overzealous eraser. It all works out in the end though and the story is a wonderful one of discovery, creativity, overcoming challenges and working together. I loved that it was almost like peeking behind the curtain, it was essentially a picture book, about how pictures books are made.

4/5. Definitely worth a few reads.

A Night Time Story by Roberto Aliaga, Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer

This was a little dark and abstract. I’ve seen a few story books in this style lately, they are sweet in an artsy way, but probably not as appealing as more traditional styles, at least not to me. I found this one a little indulgent, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, if potentially a little unsettling in some areas, and the story introduces dreams as a kind of mothering companion, which I found endearing. It took me a while to realize it was dreams I was reading about, but maybe that’s a good thing. It’s a sweet book, worth checking out, but not a favorite.

3/5. Sweet and artsy.

Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff, Pictures by Emily Arnold McCully

Now this one, I loved. Being the Mama in a mixed race (Arab/White) family, I got this one off the shelf primarily because of the mixed race family on the cover – representation matters – but also because of the beautiful watercolor illustrations (I’m a sucker for beautiful watercolors). It’s a re-release of a book written in the 70’s describing the author’s family. It’s a poem more than a story, which was fun to read and my kids really enjoyed it. We meet a whole, happy, normal family, and, as any book that deals with differences should, it teaches us to accept, respect and appreciate differences just by showing us the characters and allowing us to relate to them “this is the way it is for us, this is the way we are”. My favorite bit of the book? My kids relating to it and seeing our family in it. A great addition to your library bag or bookshelf.

5/5. Representation matters!

Bonus Book (Not From the Shelf)

Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi, Illustrations by Lea Lyon

This is a beautiful new book that teaches courage in accepting your differences, tolerance, and respect for each other. I love the diversity in the illustrations and in the text. There are so many nuances to the story and illustrations that make it such an endearing book. There’s the classmates offering to share, there’s the librarian’s welcoming smile and the teachers gentle response to Lailah. A perfect book for Muslim families this Ramadan and a perfect book for any diverse bookshelf.

4/5. Beautiful diverse book.