The Kids Are All Right

Christmas, Dogs, Firefighters, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! We always put up our Christmas tree and decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I pull out all our Christmas children’s books then, too. My daughter has requested a real tree this year, which is problematic because I have lots of tree allergies! We might try a small one on the table and see if I break out in hives, lol. In the meantime, we have a perfectly serviceable fake tree she will have to settle for. I’m writing this from the future, but by the time you’re reading this, the tree should be up and decorated. This week I review my favorite new Christmas children’s books.

Bookish Goods

Merry and Bookish Holiday Card by annyamarttinen

Merry & Bookish Holiday Card by annyamarttinen

This handmade bookish holiday card would be perfect for sending to friends and family (and enemies) this holiday season. $5

New Releases

Cover of Knitting for Dogs by Molk

Knitting for Dogs by Laurel Molk (picture book)

Izzy is a builder, and building comes easily to her. When she decides to take up knitting, she thinks it will be just as easy as building, but she could not be more wrong. Everything she knits turns out all wrong. When she takes her pet dog, Max, to the dog park, however, she has a big idea about how to turn her mistakes into something useful. This is a lovely picture book about knitting, making mistakes, and the comfort of a beloved pet.

Cover of Who is Ketanju Brown Jackson? by Moses

Who Is Ketanji Brown Jackson? by Shelia P. Moses, illustrated by Dede Putra (early chapter book)

This latest addition to the Who HQ Now Series gives a detailed biography of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the most recent Supreme Court justice and the first Black woman to be on the Supreme Court. From her childhood in Florida watching her father finish law school assignments to being on the high school debate team and her acceptance into Harvard Law School, this is an engagingly written biography about this history-making justice.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

I just cannot do Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I don’t know why, but I can only handle one holiday in my brain at a time, so now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to bring out the Christmas books! These are four of my favorites that have released this year.

Cover of It's Christmas Everywhere by Barnaby

It’s Christmas Everywhere: Celebrations from Around the World by Hannah Barnaby, illustrated by João Fazenda (board book)

Kids can explore global Christmas traditions in this tree-shaped board book that counts down the 10 days before Christmas. In Australia, for example, a child hangs a shell ornament on the tree while friends and family have fun on the beach. In the Andes Mountains in Peru, children carve gourds to hang on the tree, while in Ethiopia boys play Ye’gena Chewata. It’s a fascinating read for children and adults! And a great way to introduce some new traditions.

Cover of The Christmas Book Flood by Kilgore

The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore, illustrated by Kitty Moss (picture book)

Speaking of traditions, this picture book is based on the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve, known as Jolabokaflod. It’s a lyrical, cozy, and delightful read for book lovers of all ages. Back matter includes the author’s experiences with the holiday and how to make a book tree.

Cover of The Twelve Cats of Christmas

The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Feather Flores, illustrated by Carrie Liao (picture book)

This hilarious picture book rewrites “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to feature cats. On day four there are four cats laying on gifts; on day seven, cats shred wrapping paper; and on day 10, 10 cats help Santa. Soon, the Christmas tree has been demolished by 12 oh-so-helpful cats. But they’re still adorable! This is my daughter’s favorite Christmas read right now. We love the illustrations!

Cover of Murray Christmas by Keller

Murray Christmas by E.G. Keller (picture book)

If you’re more of a dog person, then you will love this delightful new picture book, which is just as mischievous as the previous book. Murray knows his job: to keep his family safe. So when Murray’s first Christmas arrives, he dutifully pees on the Christmas tree to mark his territory, snatches away ‘snakes’ (aka Christmas lights) from his humans, and howls at carolers. Then comes the worst offense: a stranger in a red suit in the house at night! But maybe Murray can be a helper instead of a menace this time.

Marian the firefighter, The Kids are All Right

Last weekend Marian dressed up as a firefighter on a walk in our neighborhood while also wearing a pink cat hat. It was pretty adorable. Here she is throwing sticks and leaves in a creek. She’s wearing three layers under the fire chief costume because it was well below freezing!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Interactive Books, Friendship, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! It is finally cold here in Tennessee, for better or worse. I sprained my knee last week, and it’s slowly recovering, so I haven’t been outside for much of the cold weather. Usually I host Thanksgiving, but my sister recently bought a new house and wants to host it this year, and I am happily handing over hosting duties to her and will be spending my Thanksgiving in a rural West Tennessee town. My sister has some farm animals, so I know my daughter is going to have a blast! I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving.

Bookish Goods

Library Card Ornament by CreatedByKrystina

Library Circulation Card Ornament by CreatedByKrystina

These library card ornaments are a great gift for librarians and library-lovers alike. And they’re not breakable! My daughter has broken so many ornaments in her first 5 years, and yet people still gift us breakable ornaments… $7

New Releases

Cover of I Don't Care by Idle

I Don’t Care by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal (picture book)

This charming picture book is about friendship and learning how to embrace differences to make an even closer friendship than before. I love the backstory on this one: originally, Molly Idle was approached to illustrate the book. Idle thought it would be even better if she could illustrate it with her good friend Juana Martinez-Neal. Thus, they partnered on this manuscript over the course of the pandemic. It was a perfect choice for the book, which has two distinct voices and two distinct individuals who become BFFs.

Cover of Human Body Learning Lab by Choi

Human Body Learning Lab: Take an Inside Tour of How Your Anatomy Works by Betty Choi, MD (activity book)

This fascinating activity book provides lots of insight into how the human body works with activities, models, and crafts to help kids learn more. Activities include making cell and 3-D skin models, stretches to learn how the musculatory system works, coffee filter kidneys, and so much more. This is fantastic for homeschoolers or anyone with a kid passionate about science. It says for ages 8+, but I think many 6-7 year-olds would enjoy the activities, too.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Interactive books make great holiday gifts, and so many awesome ones have been published this year. I’ve picked my 4 favorites — mostly from Quarto Kids because they publish so many good interactive series — but it was hard to narrow it down!

Cover of Spin to Survive by Hawkins

Spin to Survive: Deadly Jungle by Emily Hawkins, Illustrated by R. Fresson

One of my daughter’s favorite books last year was Spin to Survive: Frozen Mountain, and she literally screamed when the newest book in the series arrived. These books are so neat, and can be enjoyed just as much by my 4-year-old as they can by a middle schooler. In this newest one, Grandma Beatriz has given you, the reader, an important mission: find the fabled Lost City of the Jaguar God before the treasure hunters steal all the Indigenous artifacts. Each page presents new dilemmas, and the reader has to make a choice, then spin to survive with a compass. The reader is then directed to another page based on the results. There are also lots of survival tips, historical insights, and ecological facts scattered on every page. It’s an awesome book.

Cover of The Story Orchestra: I Can Play by Courtney-Tickle

The Story Orchestra: I Can Play by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

I love The Story Orchestra series, which typically retells the story of an opera with buttons to push for musical accompaniment from the opera. Their latest has a small piano so young readers can play along with 8 famous musical pieces, from Tchaikovsky’s “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” to “Royal March of the Lion” by Camille Saint-Saëns. This would pair well with other books in the series, like The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute.

Cover of Let's Tell a Story: Jungle Adventure by Murray

Let’s Tell a Story: Jungle Adventure by Lily Murray, Illustrated by Essi Kimpimäki

Another jungle book, and another entertaining book in a series. In the Let’s Tell a Story series, the reader is prompted to create every aspect of a story from page one. Readers choose from a list of characters, character clothes, quests, villains, and so on, creating an entirely new story each time they read. This interactive series helps with early storytelling skills and could be used in classrooms or at home. It’s another series that transcends age.

Cover of the Habbi Habbi started set

Habbi Habbi Starter Set

These bilingual board books are amazing. The languages offered are Chinese, Spanish, French, Hindu, and Korean. You choose a language, then receive a set of books and a reading wand. The reading wand reads the text in both the chosen language and in English. The Habbi Habbi company offers all kinds of products to go with the reading wand, from books to puzzles to flash cards. It’s a super neat and well-executed idea.

Marian's room The Kids are All Right

Here’s an update on our room makeover for my daughter’s 5th birthday. We bought some cat wallpaper and it looked like a bandaid with cats on it. My spouse had the idea to cut the cats out of the wallpaper and use them as decals. He said this in front of our daughter, who immediately grabbed scissors and started cutting up the wallpaper, lol. She has yet to meet a crafting project she is not one hundred percent ready to put into action. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out yet. I’ve bought more cat wallpaper and some rainbow decals. I think we’re going to have to tackle some of it while she’s in preschool, or else it’s going to look very uneven. Thankfully, we still have 2 more weeks until birthday weekend arrives. I’ve also purchased a bed, hurray! Though it probably needs a mattress…

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Nonfiction November, Secrets, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! The election is over, and while I’m disappointed with Tennessee’s outcome, I’m happy to see so many amazing wins across the country. I’m currently in the midst of redecorating my daughter’s bedroom — who knew finding the perfect, affordable cat wallpaper would be so hard? I will show pictures when we finish, but I’m beginning to think a couple of cat wall decals might be a much easier and cheaper way to go, though not as cute!

Bookish Goods

Fuzzball Vinyl Stickers by Isabella Kung

Fuzzball Vinyl Stickers by IsabellaKung

Speaking of cats, a couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the books No Fuzzball! and No Snowball! by Isabella Kung. I’m delighted to say that yesterday I discovered the author/illustrator has an Etsy store filled with Fuzzball-related merchandise! I’m definitely considering buying these stickers as stocking stuffers. There are also Fuzzball totes! $12

New Releases

Cover of Cookie and Broccoli: Book of Secrets by McMahon

Cookie & Broccoli: Book of Secrets! by Bob McMahon (early reader graphic novel)

My daughter and I read this funny early reader graphic novel last night, and we immediately put the other two books in the series on hold at the library: Cookie & Broccoli: Ready for School! and Cookie & Broccoli: Play It Cool. In this third book, best friends Cookie and Broccoli, along with their sidekick Blueberry, discover the world of secrets and how secrets don’t stay quiet for long on a school playground. It’s a really fun read, and I also love that there’s no food shaming.

Cover of Scaredy Bath by Blake

Scaredy Bath by Zoë Foster Blake, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett (picture book)

This is another hilarious book that will elicit lots of laughs from little readers. The narrator, Bath, is scared of the very thing it’s designed for — bathtime. It doesn’t like how loud and messy bathtime is. But when Bath’s family goes away for a while, it begins to miss them. When they finally return home, Bath is surprisingly happy to see them, especially the new little baby they bring with them.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

It’s Nonfiction November, so I thought I would recommend some beautiful biology children’s books that have been released this year. These would make excellent gifts!

Cover of Luminous by Kuo

Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night by Julia Kuo

This is the book that inspired me to make a Beautiful Biology list. It’s a stunningly illustrated picture book about bioluminescence, depicting a mother and daughter exploring the many ways bioluminescence is present in our world, on land and in water. Kuo explores bioluminescence in lyrical language but then provides more detailed information in short paragraphs on each page. It’s a perfect marriage of poetry and science, both in language and in illustration.

Illumibugs by Carnovsky

Illumibugs by Barbara Taylor, illustrated by Carnovsky

This innovative nonfiction uses a three-color lens to reveal hidden pictures within the illustrations. Each section describes an ecosystem from around the world, and readers can use various lenses to reveal insects, habitats, and other invertebrate creepy crawlies that call that ecosystem home in the layered illustrations. It’s a book bug lovers of all ages can get lost in for hours. It’s really fascinating.

Cover of The Sea Below My Toes by Guillain

The Sea Below My Toes by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Jo Empson

This beautiful concertina-style exploration of the sea unfolds to reveal each layer of the sea, from otters diving along the surface to anglerfish deep in the ocean’s depths. This is a book that requires a lot of room, as it unfolds to about 10 feet! It also provides lots of fun facts about the ocean.

Cover of A River's Gifts by Newman

A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

This picture book is a little different from the other three in that not only does it provide a fascinating glimpse into the Elwha River’s ecology, but it also gives a call to action to protect the environment, gives a history of how the U.S. government took land from Indigenous Americans — particularly the Strong People — and shows how contemporary Indigenous Americans lobby for their land rights and rehabilitate ecosystems. The book is beautifully illustrated by Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan, and it’s a great way to look at broad topics like environmentalism, the effects of overpopulation, and the history of how the U.S. government treated Indigenous Americans by focusing on one single example — the Elwha River.

Books to be judged, The Kids are All Right

I am one of 16 judges for the Bookstagang Best of 2022 children’s book awards. In my biased opinion, this is the best children’s award list because it’s judged by a diverse array of Instagrammers who come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences with one thing in common — we read thousands of new children’s books a year, and we share our reviews of our favorites on Instagram. I love working with this group, and this year we have received around 500 books for award consideration so far! There are only a couple more weeks left to rate and judge books, and these shelves are what’s left for me to rate. I will indubitably be receiving a few more books to judge, but I’m pretty sure I can get them rated in time! *fingers crossed*

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Native American Heritage Month, Early Mornings, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! This month is Native American Heritage Month, and something neat to do with kids is to look up which tribes lived in your area before encountering white colonists and research those tribes — what happened to them when white colonialists forcibly occupied their territories, where do members of those tribes live now, etc. This map, created by an Indigenous nonprofit, is an excellent tool for discovering where tribes lived.

Bookish Goods

Decolonize Education tote bag by OgokiWild

Decolonize Education Tote Bag by OgokiWild

This decolonizing education tote will be perfect for carrying your current Indigenous and Native American reads (and perhaps a good present for teachers). It’s created and sold by an Indigenous Etsy shop. $20

New Releases

Cover of Too Early by Ericson

Too Early by Nora Ericson, illustrated by Elly MacKay (picture book)

This lovely and oh-so-relatable picture book is told from the perspective of a child who wakes up very early. Both the child’s parents and infant sibling are still asleep, but the father rises with the child, both going outside, snuggling, and watching the sunrise. It’s a lovely moment between child and father, though I imagine the father would rather be sleeping. The author told me this was inspired by her child waking up at 4 a.m. every morning when they were younger.

Cover of My Paati's Saris by Gopal

My Paati’s Saris by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Art Twink (picture book)

In this vibrantly illustrated, lyrical picture book, a young boy loves his Paati’s (Grandmother’s) saris. Whether he’s hiding in them in a busy market or listening to her wonderful stories or wearing them himself, Paati’s saris fill him with joy. This is a really special intergenerational story about queer joy and acceptance.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

A few weeks ago, I wrote and reviewed a list of 10 new children’s books by Native American and Indigenous authors for Book Riot, but as is always the case, I found more books after the list was published! So here are four more picture books by Native American and Indigenous authors not included on that list, but make sure to check out my reviews there too!

Cover of Finding my Dance by Thundercloud

Finding My Dance by Ria Thundercloud, illustrated by Kalila J. Fuller (picture book)

In this picture book biography, Indigenous dancer Ria Thundercloud — from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo — describes how she came to be a dancer, from attending powwows at four to participating in jingle dances to learning ballet and tap. No matter what kind of dance she learns, she feels connected to her Indigenous ancestry, and she stays connected through adulthood. It’s a lovely, powerful biography.

Cover of Be a Good Ancestor by Prince

Be a Good Ancestor by Gabrielle Prince and Leona Prince, illustrated by Carla Joseph (picture book)

This stunningly illustrated picture book connects the past, present, and future through both words and illustrations, showing the cyclical nature of our choices. It encourages young readers to be a good ancestor by practicing active respect towards themselves, others, and the environment. It’s a lyrical call to action, unlike any other book I’ve seen. The authors are from the Lake Babine Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en and belong to the Likh Tsa Mis Yu (Beaver) Clan. The illustrator is Cree.

Cover of I Hope / nipakosêyimon by Smith

I Hope / nipakosêyimon by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, translated by Dolores Greyeyes Sand (picture book)

This bilingual poetic picture book is written in both English and Plains Cree. Accompanied by Grimard’s warm and joyful illustrations, Smith’s poem presents a list of hopes she has for children and future generations. It would make a lovely present for new parents. Monique Gray Smith is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish.

Cover of Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Spillett-Sumner

Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, illustrated by Salini Perera

While snuggling in bed during story time, Izzy notices that her skin is darker than her mama’s and, later, that her hair is poofy when dancing while her mama’s hair swings side to side. Her mama assures her of her beauty and Izzy realizes that no child and mother match exactly. Based on the author’s experiences as an Afro-Indigenous girl (Cree and Trinidadian), this lyrical picture book is a lovely story about self-love and self-acceptance.

Marian reading to her stuffed animals, the kids are all right

My daughter had grown disturbingly quiet, and I worried I was about to walk in on a giant mess. Instead, I found her whisper-reading The Big Green Garage to her stuffed animals. She lined them up like the students do at her preschool during story time, and she’s the teacher. So sweet!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Butterflies, Black Cats, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween! I’m writing this in the future, so Halloween hasn’t happened yet, but we did go to our local Boo at the Zoo last night and had so much fun. My daughter dressed up as a crayon witch, I as her crayon cat companion, and my husband as a crayon. For Halloween itself, my daughter wants to be a black cat, her favorite animal.

Bookish Goods

Monarch Butterfly Magnetic Bookmark by thepeachypolkadot

This is a lovely bookmark for butterfly lovers! $4

New Releases

No Snowball! by Isabella Kung (picture book)

This follow-up to No Fuzzball! is one of the funniest picture books of the year. In the first book, No Fuzzball declares herself queen of the humans in her human. In book two, her human vassals bring home a new kitten. Can No Fuzzball teach the kitten how to be royalty? Will her human subjects come to worship the kitten as they do No Fuzzball? The kitten seems hopelessly untrainable.

My Fade Is Fresh by Shauntay Grant, Illustrated by Kitt Thomas (picture book)

In this delightfully rhythmic picture book, a young Black girl goes to the barber to get a haircut. Everyone keeps proposing ideas for her hair, but none of them are exactly what she’s looking for. When the barber finally listens to her, she gets the freshest fade on the block. I recently got my hair cut for the first time in 3-4 years, and I read this one with my daughter afterward!

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Today is the start of Día de los Muertos. People who celebrate the day believe butterflies carry the souls of the dead, so I thought I would recommend some of my favorite newish butterfly children’s books since I already recommended books for Día de los Muertos last Tuesday.

Cover of The Story of a Butterfly by Reed

The Story of a Butterfly by Margaret Rose Reed, illustrated by Manu Montoya (picture book)

In this informative picture book, two friends take a class field trip to a butterfly sanctuary, where they learn all about the life cycle of the painted lady butterfly. Afterward, the girls are inspired to make a community garden that will attract the butterflies and help them thrive. It’s a great picture book to learn more about butterflies and to inspire kids to contribute to their communities.

Cover of My Book of Butterflies by Valerio

My Book of Butterflies by Geraldo Valério (picture book)

This gorgeously illustrated nonfiction identifies butterflies from around the world. It’s a large, fascinating book describing commonly known butterflies and lesser-known beauties. It includes a world map, illustrations of a butterfly’s life cycle, and more. My daughter and I use it as a reference book whenever we spot a new kind of butterfly in our nearby community garden.

Cover of Moth And Butterfly: Ta-Da! by Petty

Moth & Butterfly: Ta-Da! by Dev Petty, illustrated by Ana Aranda (picture book)

This is a delightful picture book about friendship and the differences between a moth and a butterfly. Two caterpillars become best friends, but when they both undergo their transformations, their differences pull them apart. Moth prefers the night, while butterfly prefers the day. Will they find a way to continue their friendship? With its vibrant illustrations and adorable friendly main character, this book is a great way to introduce compare/contrast concepts as well as insect facts to young readers.

Cover of The Critter Club: Marion's Got the Butterflies by Barkley

The Critter Club: Marion’s Got the Butterflies by Callie Barkley, illustrated by Tracy Bishop (chapter book)

My daughter just started reading chapter books this year, and The Critter Club is one of her favorite early chapter book series. In the latest book in the series, Marion volunteers to be part of a butterfly release at the Santa Vista Arboretum. But none of her friends can volunteer with her, and her little sister refuses to because she’s scared of bugs. Marion’s determined to help her sister overcome her fears, but in the meantime, Marion needs to overcome her own anxiety over trying to make everything perfect.

A fairy city in the woods, The Kids are All Right

We went on a hike recently along the Natchez Trace and came upon a little fairy city decorated with butterflies, little houses, wind chimes, pine cones, painted rocks, and tiny gnomes. It was delightful.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Día de Los Muertos, Corn Mazes, Digestion, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! We are back from vacationing in the Smoky Mountains and wow do I wish we could’ve stayed longer! It’s gorgeous this time of year. I wish I could hike in the mountains every day. We also went to Dollywood, and my daughter had an absolute blast. This was her first time riding a roller coaster and she is definitely a fan! I enjoyed it too, but I have to say waiting in long lines for roller coasters is no longer particularly fun, especially now that I get dizzy so easily!

Bookish Goods

Bookwork Ghost Magnet by EmilyCromwellDesigns

Bookworm Ghost Magnet by EmilyCromwellDesigns

This magnet is so adorable, and while yes it’s Halloween related, I would not hesitate to have it on my refrigerator all year long. $5

New Releases

Cover of Digestion! The Musical by Rex

Digestion: The Musical by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laura Park (picture book)

This picture book is so inventive and hilarious. It teaches children about digestion through a musical setting. Lil’ Candy is starring in their first play with four baby carrot backup singers. Some of the body doesn’t want to give Lil’ Candy a chance because candy isn’t healthy. But the tongue argues otherwise, and once Lil’ Candy is swallowed, the digestive journey begins. It turns out Lil’ Candy has more to offer the human body than appearances might suggest! I have spoiled my daughter by singing this entire picture book. She now won’t let anyone else read it to her. So warning: get your singing voices ready!

Cover of How the Stars Came to Be by Mistry

How the Stars Came to Be by Poonam Mistry (picture book)

This stunningly illustrated folktale explains how the stars came to be. A fisherman’s daughter loves both the moon and the sun, but when the moon disappears a few days out of every month, she mourns for the moon’s light. The sun has a clever idea to provide light at night for the fisherman’s daughter. This is a simply told, beautiful picture book.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Día de Los Muertos begins in one week, so I thought I would give some recommendations for new children’s books about the holiday!

Cover of Little Monster: What Pan Dulce Do You Want? by Esparza

Little Monster, What Pan Dulce Do You Want??/ ¿Monstruito, que pan dulce quieres? (board book)

This cute English/Spanish bilingual board book features hungry monsters and delectable sweets. Each page offers a new monster a different, sweet Mexican treat, but the monsters keep turning them down! What do these picky monsters want? Pan de Muerto, of course! The back of the book offers descriptions of all the desserts mentioned in the book.

Cover of Dia de los Muertos by Pajaro

Día de los Muertos by Rosie Pajaro, illustrated by Gaby Zermeño (board book)

This second new board book has a cute little skull finger puppet for kids to play with. It’s a counting book featuring common items on Día de los Muertos, like three skeletons leading a parade and nine family photographs on the altar. It’s a vibrantly illustrated, interactive board book perfect for toddlers.

Cover of Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Aranda

Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda (picture book)

Mar is really excited to welcome dead family members when they visit on The Day of the Dead. With the help of her parents and Abuela, she remembers family members who have passed, what they enjoyed, and tries to incorporate those likes into the holiday preparations so that their spirits will be happy. This is a sweet picture book about honoring ancestors and celebrating their memories.

Marian in a corn maze, The Kids are All Right

The day before we left for our mountain vacation, we went to our first corn maze. I had never been to a corn maze before! It was a lot of fun, though very dusty. They had an adult and children’s corn maze, and we actually found our way out of the adult maze faster than the children’s, go figure!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

New Diwali Books, Curly Hair Love, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! My daughter and I spent the morning at the library where I caught up with a friend of mine who recently started working as a teen librarian there while my daughter ran around playing at their block table, on the computer, and coloring. We love our library!

Bookish Goods

Diwali Coloring Book by CrispyDoodles

This adorable children’s Diwali coloring book is a perfect accompaniment to the holiday. $10

New Releases

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork by Constance Lombardo, illustrated by Dan and Jason (picture book)

This is one of my daughter’s most-read picture books of the year. It’s a hilarious story about a spoon and fork arguing over which one is more important to Baby. Then Baby stomps in and promptly throws both. How will the two make it back to Baby? Can they work together? This is a really fun one to read aloud.

Cover of Frizzy by Ortega

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra (middle grade)

This awesome middle grade graphic novel celebrates curly hair and self-love. Now that Marlene is in middle school, her mother Paola wants her to grow up and start straightening her super curly hair. But Marlene hates going to the hair salon. Inspired by her Tía Ruby, who keeps her hair natural, Marlene decides to defy her mother’s expectations and give her curls free reign.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Diwali is celebrated on October 24th, so I thought I’d recommend some new Diwali picture books!

Diwali in My New Home by Shachi Kaushik, illustrated by Aishwarya Tandon (picture book)

Priya loves Diwali, but this year is different. This year, Priya and her family have moved from India to the United States, and it seems like no one celebrates Diwali here. Priya misses the fireworks and festivities in the streets. However, as she makes rangoli art, her neighbors stop by and ask if they can celebrate Diwali with her. Maybe Diwali looks different in the United States, but it can still be celebrated with friends.

Cover of It's Diwali! by Sehgal

It’s Diwali! by By Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan (picture book)

This vibrantly illustrated picture book follows the tune to “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.” “One, two, mehndi for you,” the opening pages say. From yummy jalebis to colorful fireworks and zooming rickshaws, this is a super fun Diwali sing-along for younger kids.

Cover of My Diwali Light by Mirchandani

My Diwali Light by Raakhee Mirchandani, illustrated by Supriya Kelkar (picture book)

Devi’s favorite holiday is Diwali. This sweet picture book follows Devi through the day as she celebrates with her mama, papa, and nani and visits friends and family who celebrate as well. Every family has a different way of honoring the day, from plentiful samosas to chow down on to hiring a DJ and breaking out in dance. But Devi loves helping with the Diwali puja ritual most of all.

Cover of Let's Celebrate Diwali by Joshi

Let’s Celebrate Diwali by Anjali Joshi, illustrated by Tim Palin (picture book)

Harini is excited to share everything she knows about Diwali during circle time at school, but when she arrives at school she’s surprised to find that other kids are dressed up for Diwali too. It turns out that Harini isn’t the only student who celebrates the holiday, and as each student takes turns sharing Diwali history during circle time, Harini learns many things about the holiday. This is a great introduction to the holiday.

Marian reading, the kids are all right

Marian started reading last year, but she’s just now started reading completely by herself, as in, she grabs a book, finds a comfy spot (like an upside-down Sesame Street couch), and reads to herself. It’s delightful! I love seeing how much she loves books. I always turn my phone on silent before snapping a picture, so she doesn’t realize I’m snooping on her. 🙂

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Dinosaurs, Halloween, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! As you read this, I should be either driving to the Smoky Mountains or already there. We were originally going to go to the beach two weeks ago, but alas Hurricane Ian ruined those plans. I love the Smoky Mountains though, and we’re looking forward to visiting Dollywood and getting in some good mountain scenery! It should be beautiful this time of year; I will share a picture when I’m back!

Bookish Goods

Dinosaur Book Pins by MThorle

Dinosaur Book Pins by MThorle

My kid loves dinosaurs, as do I, and these bookish ones are right up our alley! $3+

New Releases

Cover of Undercover Latina by de León

Undercover Latina by Aya de León (middle grade)

Prepare to have your socks knocked off by this awesome new middle grade novel that manages to pack so much into a thoroughly entertaining story. 14-year-old Andréa Hernández-Baldoquín works as a spy for a BIPOC spy organization that focuses on uncovering white supremacist terrorists. Her first solo assignment is to pose as a white student and get close enough to the son of a terrorist to see if she can uncover his father’s whereabouts. To develop a friendship with him, she learns how to play a card game, and in so doing, starts to fall for her target’s best friend and roommate, Rámon. With action-packed scenes, cosplay, romance, and thought-provoking discussions of race, this powerful middle grade is one of my favorites from the year.

Cover of Pop-Up Topics: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures by Roi

Pop-Up Topics: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures by Arnaud Roi, illustrated by Charlotte Molas

This pop-up dinosaur book is super neat. It probably would not hold up long in a public library, but if you’re giving any gifts to preschool dinosaur lovers over the holidays, definitely keep this one in mind. Each page features a new dinosaur pop-up, from the Tyrannosaurus Rex on the cover (my daughter’s favorite dinosaur) to the Argentinosaurus and Quetzalcoatlus. I watched the most recent Jurassic World movie over the weekend and I was able to identify many of the dinosaurs in the movie thanks to books like this!

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Halloween is right around the corner so if you haven’t already, get those Halloween books out and start reading! These are four of my favorite new Halloween or spooky-themed children’s books.

Monsters Play . . . Peekaboo by Flavia Z. Drago (board book)

This adorable interactive board book is the perfect Halloween read for toddlers. I love Flavia Z. Drago’s vibrant illustrations, and this even includes a surprise guest from her previous picture book Gustavo, the Shy Ghost. It also encourages readers to make spooky sounds with each of the monsters. Be prepared to read this one 20 times in a row.

A Friend for Ghost by Suzanne Kaufman (picture book)

I am a sucker for cute ghost illustrations, and the ghost in this picture book is one of the more adorable ones I’ve seen. The glasses! *heart eyes* Ghost is lonely, and wants to play with friends, but no one can see Ghost, which makes it a little hard. Then Ghost meets Balloon and finds a ready and willing friend. But when a hide-and-go-seek game goes wrong, Ghost loses Balloon. Don’t worry, this one has a happy ending! You can see a couple of images from the book on my Instagram! I lucked out and brought it along to a pumpkin stand for pictures and it just so happened that the stand was ghost-themed!

The Most Haunted House in America by Jarrett Dapier, illustrated by Lee Gatlin (picture book)

This fun read-aloud features a skeleton band performing at the White House for our favorite presidential family — the Obamas. While all is fun and games outside, when the band moves inside, they find the White House haunted! Thankfully, even the ghosts on the inside know how to rock. This is delightfully rhythmic and would make a great segue into talking about the White House!

Freddie Vs. The Family Curse by Tracy Badua (middle grade)

This is a non-scary middle grade about family curses and evil spirits. Freddie and his family are well known for their bad luck and clumsiness, which has earned Freddie the nickname of Faceplant Freddie. When he discovers an amulet from the Philippines, he thinks his luck has changed, but then it turns out the amulet is haunted by his bad-tempered great-granduncle Ramon, and that the evil spirits who murdered him have returned. With lots of adventure, friendship, and breakdancing (yes, breakdancing), this novel is a super fun read, and perfect for the Halloween season.

Halloween puppet craft the kids are all right

If you’re looking for an easy Halloween craft, Marian and I made these stick puppets using popsicle sticks, crayons, construction paper, and tape (glue works just as well). She’s currently at the playground with her Daddy putting on puppet shows with them! We drew our own characters and cut them out (it might be hard to tell with our excellent art skills, lol).

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Hurricanes, Kittens, Litter, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! It is gorgeous outside here in Tennessee. My desk window looks out to a beautiful tree whose leaves are turning orange, and it’s such a lovely view. This past week has seen no new illnesses (yay!), and I made a huge donation of picture books to my daughter’s preschool. It’s been a nice week, and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend outside! However, while it’s been lovely here, I know many areas have been devastated by recent hurricanes. I hope everyone is safe and that cleanup and recovery happen swiftly!

Bookish Goods

Stamp Washi Tape Book Lovers by RobotDanceBattle

Stamp Washi Tape – Book Lovers by RobotDanceBattle

This washi tape is too cute. My daughter would manage to use it all up within ten minutes. $6

New Releases

Book cover of The Antiracist Kid by Jewell

The Antiracist Kid by Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Nicole Miles (middle grade)

Written by a Black Montessori educator and anti-racist activist, this nonfiction for upper elementary and middle school ages is an engaging, accessible, and essential read. Jewell defines terms, provides real-life scenarios where anti-racist tactics are needed, shows kids how to spot racism in a variety of settings and forms, and more. The illustrations are so fun and engaging, and I love that it includes brief comic sections.

Cover of This Story is Not About a Kitten by Seve

This Story is Not About a Kitten by Randall de Sève, illustrated by Carson Ellis (picture book)

My daughter and I are suckers for cat books, and this picture book is one of my favorites of the year. When a girl, a mom, and their dog discover a kitten under a car, they unknowingly set off a chain of events that will not only help the kitten find a new home but will also bring a community together. It’s beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis, and the repeated lines of the story make it a really engaging read aloud.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

After the recent hurricanes devastating parts of Florida, Puerto Rico, and Canada, I know many kids will have questions about hurricanes. These four books all address hurricanes in various ways.

Hurricane by John Rocco (picture book)

A young boy’s favorite place in the world is the dock near his house, where he fishes and enjoys watching nature. When a hurricane hits his town, the dock is decimated. He sets out to rebuild the dock by himself, but as neighbors notice his efforts, they lend a hand until a new dock is built. This beautifully illustrated picture book also includes backmatter about how hurricanes are formed.

Cover of Up and Adam by Zapata

Up and Adam by Debbie Zapata, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (picture book)

After Adam, who has down syndrome, hears the mayor on TV ask everyone to pitch in on clean-up efforts around town after a major storm, Adam loads up his wheel barrel, calls for his dog, and sets out to pitch in and help. Everyone is so worried, and Adam finds many ways he can lend a hand. While this picture book doesn’t specify what kind of storm wrecks Adam’s town, the story definitely applies to the aftermath of a hurricane.

Cover of Hear the Wind Blow by Doyle

Hear the Wind Blow by Doe Boyle, illustrated by Emily Paik (picture book)

This lyrical nonfiction picture book describes the Beaufort wind scale, from a gentle wind to a tumultuous hurricane. After the hurricane, the community comes together to rebuild. Backmatter includes more information about the scale and wind speeds. It’s a lovely STEM picture book.

Cover of Ninth Ward by Rhodes

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (middle grade)

This award-winning middle grade novel takes place during Hurricane Katrina. Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives with Mama Ya-Ya in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Both have magical abilities despite being unrelated: Mama Ya-Ya can see into the future, and Lanesha can see ghosts. Days before Hurricane Katrina hits, Mama Ya-Ya predicts its arrival. Now it’s up to Lanesha to help her community.

A letter about littering for The Kids are All Right

I had a very proud mama moment today. Marian and I were discussing what the word “disgusted” meant, and after giving her a few examples and showing her people’s disgusted faces on Google images, she declared, “I’m disgusted by litter.” She then immediately demanded we write letters asking our neighbors not to litter, and to make it fun, she taped a valentine on top so it could be a lift-the-flap letter, lol! The handwriting pictured here is my own; her words and her illustration. We made 10 letters in all. This afternoon she wants to hand them out. I’m thinking we’ll head toward the library and hand them out there. Her first act of activism! The kids truly are all right.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury

The Kids Are All Right

Witches, Climate Change, Fall Feelings, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I believe this is the first week since school started that none of us have been sick! Though I did get my 5th Covid booster and a flu shot and had some mild side effects. I’m super excited about the updated booster and hope everyone gets boosted.

Bookish Goods

Amara's Farm Book Activity Pack by DramaMamaReads

Amara’s Farm Book Activity Pack by DramaMamaReads

Amara’s Farm is one of my favorite fall picture books (it’s one of my favorite posts I made for the gram), and this set of activities would be a perfect companion to the book. I follow Naima, the creator behind DramaMamaReads, on Instagram, and her account is a joy. $7

New Releases

Cover of Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Dee

Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Barbara Dee (middle grade)

This year has seen several great books focusing on climate change for children, but this new middle grade novel is one of my favorites. I so relate to protagonist Haven Jacobs’s eco-anxiety, and I love how she finds a way to be an active agent of change in her community. It’s a nuanced take on how individuals can help the environment, with excellent secondary characters.

Cover of Yellow Dog Blue by Duncan

Yellow Dog Blues by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Chris Raschka (picture book)

This picture book makes the blues come alive with rhythmic lyrics and unique canvas embroidery illustrations. As a Southerner, I can’t help but put on my full Southern drawl when I read this one aloud. The story follows a young boy who’s searching for his missing yellow dog. As he searches, he encounters famous places from blues history, from Dockery Farms where Muddy Waters played all the way to Beale Street in Memphis. Backmatter includes a brief history of jazz and the places seen in the book.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Spooky season is upon us; my favorite time of year! Several excellent witchy picture books have released this year, so I thought I’d review a few of my favorites.

Cover of Leila the Perfect Witch by Drago

Leila, the Perfect Witch by Flavia Z. Drago

In this adorable picture book, Leila, who is usually perfect at all witchy pursuits, struggles to bake the most perfect cake for the Magnificent Witchy Cake-off. Baking is hard, even with the help of her froggy companion! Thankfully, with the help of three supportive sisters, she finally figures out the trick to baking. Does she win the contest? Nope. But winning isn’t everything.

Cover of If Your Babysitter is a Bruja by Siqueira

If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja by Ana Siqueira, illustrated by Irena Freitas

This super fun read-aloud has Spanish words scattered throughout the rhythmic prose. Told in the second person, this picture book gives advice about what to do if you realize your babysitter is a bruja. The colorful illustrations depict a little girl in just such a predicament. But in the end, it turns out that a bruja babysitter is an absolute blast.

Cover of Witch Hazel by Idle

Witch Hazel by Molly Idle (October 11)

Ah, this nostalgic, bittersweet picture book made me cry. It’s about a little girl named Hilda who helps the witch Hazel around the house. Witch Hazel tells stories from her past as she sweeps dust away, and the dust magically recreates her memories. When Witch Hazel dies, Hilda despairs, until a little sweep of dust recreates a memory of Hilda and Hazel together, and she knows Witch Hazel will never be truly gone as long as she remembers her. *wipes away tears*

cover of A Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall, illustrated by Vera Brosgal

A Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall, illustrated by Vera Brosgol

In this hilarious picture book, a witch on a cooking show attempts to demonstrate how to make frog soup to her viewers. However, these frogs aren’t about to congenially allow themselves to be spooned into a soup. No thanks. They take off every which way, and this cooking show witch is left to scramble after them. This picture book gets big belly laughs from my little witch.

Marian in the pool The Kids are All Right

Our condo’s pool has officially closed, and we made sure to get in a good swim on the last day it was open. Today is the first day it actually feels and looks like fall. Leaves are changing colors, and the temperature was brisk on my morning walk. I love it!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next Tuesday!

Margaret Kingsbury