Powwow Day (Charlesbridge, 2022) by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight is a great book to celebrate the upcoming 10th Anniversary of Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 26th.
River is usually excited about Powwow Day, but this year she can’t dance like she did before she got sick. She doesn’t even enjoy the scents of sage and sweetgrass when they arrive on the grounds. Everyone dances except River and she can’t even feel the drumbeat. She’s too tired. But when her friends and family do the girls’ jingle dance, a healing dance, River can feel the drums and knows she’ll dance again.
This is a sweet story of hope. It also has good backmatter that explains powwows, talks about the tribes, the drums, and the dances. I really enjoyed the information of how the jingle dance originated with the 100 year ago flu pandemic.
I’m Not Scared, YOU’RE Scared! (Flamingo Books, 2022) by Seth Meyers and illustrated by Rob Sayegh is funny, absurd, and sweet. I think kids will find it very relatable.
Bear is easily scared. He’s even scared of his own reflection, which is why he won’t brush his teeth. Fortunately, his friend Rabbit challenges him with an adventure. When Rabbit asks, “Bear, are you scared?” He replies with “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and steps forward into whatever frightens him. But when Rabbit is in trouble Bear’s fear for Rabbit is stronger than his fears of everything else and he acts to save his friend.
Seth Meyers is an Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian known for his work on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Often, celebrity books only work because of who wrote them. So nice to find an exception.
Rob Sayegh is an author and illustrator. On Rob’s website, you can read about him, see his books, and see samples of his varied styles of art.
When Your Daddy’s a Soldier (Viking Books for Young Readers, October 2022) by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan and illustrated by EG Keller is a wonderful picture book. I wish I’d had it when my grandsons were little and their dad was deployed.
This book is an honest look at what it’s like to be a military child. There’s the sweetness of a boy imitating his father and wanting to be just like him and the sadness when Dad has to go away for what might be “a maybe-forever long time.” I love the interactions between the family.
But don’t limit this book to military kid readers–this hopeful book will help all children with separations, or just to understand what it is like to worry about a parent being gone.
This is author Gretchen’s fifth picture book. You can read about her here–she was a military child herself–and see her other books here.
I love the warmth of EG Keller’s illustrations. And having a diverse family is lovely. See some of his other artwork here and read about him here. You can find Gerald’s other books here.
Counting to Bananas (Flamingo Books, a Penguin Random House imprint, 2022) by Carrie Tillotson and illustrated by Estrela Lourenço is a delight. This is not your typical counting book, that honestly can be boring. There’s humor and surprise. And even the main character talking to the book itself. I just love the twists and turns in this book.
Banana is so excited because he just knows that “A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book” will get to bananas. After all, he’s the star of the book. But things go wrong quickly. After, “1 plum, 2 figs, 3 oranges” comes “4 pigs.” “Wait a minute. Pigs aren’t fruit!” Banana says. And the book answers back…
This is Carrie’s debut picture book and already a sequel is in the works, B Is for Bananas, a story about bedtime, comes out next spring. Read about Carrie here. Counting to Bananas was nominated for the 2023 Red Bud Read-Aloud Award! Check out more news here. And finally resources for the book are here.
Estrela has darling illustrations. Who knew a banana could have so many expressions? You can read about her other books here and see sample illustrations here. Read more about the author/illustrator here.
I loved American Desi (Little, Brown and Company, 2022) by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and illustrated by Supriya Kelkar. And whether one is dealing with multiple cultures or not, we all wonder where we fit in and could find this story reassuring.
In the picture book, the main character wonders “which is the color of me?” Does she fit on the Indian side or the American side? As we go through the story we realize with her she doesn’t have to pick one or the other–she can just be who she is.
Told in subtle rhyme, the left page shows Desi events and the right page American ones. My favorite spread says,
“One foot here, one foot there Straddling, bridging worlds apart. Searching deep within my heart The different colors of me.”
The art is fabric, paper, mixed media, and digital collage which I think is perfect to represent this story.