The Kids Are All Right

Mental Health Awareness Month, Mushrooms, & More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! Does it seem like May is unfairly packed with things? It’s AANHPI Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, and Mother’s Day, plus school ends (at least here in TN it does), there are birthdays, anniversaries, and gardening to be done. It’s a really exhausting month, but I do like to stay busy!

Did you know Book Riot has a new podcast? co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world with interviews, lists, rankings, retrospectives, recommendations, and much more, featuring people who know and love books. Subscribe to First Edition on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your podcatcher of choice.

Bookish Goods

Mushroom Book-Lover Decor by RootToVine

Mushroom Book-Lover Decor by RootToVine

My daughter’s nursery was forest-themed, and I would’ve loved to have included these mushrooms made from book pages. $20+

New Releases

Cover of The Good Hair Day by Trimmer

The Good Hair Day by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by J Yang (picture book)

In this heartwarming picture book, a young boy, Noah, has a birthday coming up. More than anything he wants long hair, but he’s never seen a boy with long hair, so instead he asks for more normal gifts. After his birthday haircut, he bursts into tears and his secret is finally revealed: he wishes he had long hair. Thankfully, his parents and sister have a big birthday surprise for him. I adore this picture book and wish I’d remembered it for my birthday roundup last week! Special shoutout to the fantastic portrayal of the mom in a wheelchair. This would be great to pair with My Rainbow.

Cover of Rebel Girls Celebrate Pride

Rebel Girls Celebrate Pride: 25 Tales of Self-Love and Community (middle grade)

Most of the biography anthologies Rebel Girls publishes are large hardbacks, but this one is a bite-sized paperback perfect for carrying in backpacks. Each page spread features someone from the LGBTQIA+ community and includes a one-page biography and a full-color illustration. It includes well-known queer folk like the activist Marsha P. Johnson and singer and actor Janelle Monáe alongside lesser-known figures like scientist Clara Barker and dancer Sherenté (at least, lesser-known to me). Back matter includes a place for the reader to write their own story and draw their self-portrait, as well as terms to know and further ideas to celebrate pride. This would make a great gift for queer youth during LGBRQIA+ Pride Month in June.

In my May new children’s book releases roundup for Book Riot, I also review Oh No, the Aunts Are Here! and Second Chance Summer. For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, something I advocate for and experience all 12 months of the year. 🙂 These four new children’s books center dealing with emotions and mental health.

Cover of Ode to a Bad Day by Wallace

Ode to a Bad Day by Chelsea Lin Wallace, illustrated by Hyewon Yum (picture book)

Every person no matter their age is going to identify with the narrator of Ode to a Bad Day. From the time she wakes up in the morning to the time she goes to bed at night, everything is just off and doesn’t feel right. Her cereal gets soggy with too much milk, she’s late for school, a cricket in her room won’t stop chirping. But she also has an understanding father, good classmates, and a warm bed to snuggle into that night. She knows that tomorrow, everything could be different. I always love Hyewon Yum’s illustrations, but these might be my favorite. Yum perfectly captures the narrator’s expressions.

Cover of Dark Cloud by Lazowski

Dark Cloud by Anna Lazowski, illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee (picture book)

This beautiful picture book tackles childhood depression and sadness. One day a dark cloud appears and follows Abigail everywhere she goes. It follows her to school, to birthday parties, to bed. She has people around her who understand and offer support, like her dad, who brushes her hair when she just can’t muster the energy to lift her comb, and another child who has his own cloud and silently sits beside her on a bench. Abigail’s family and friends are there for her on the days she steps outside the cloud, too, and feels the sunshine on her face. This is a great conversation starter about depression and what it feels like.

Cover of Weather Together by Sima

Weather Together by Jessie Sima (picture book)

Jessie Sima’s newest Nimbus and Kelp picture book also uses the metaphor of a cloud to describe depression. No matter how fun the day is, a cloud follows Nimbus the Pegasus. She tries to ignore it on her adventures with Kelp the unicorn, but the more she ignores it, the bigger it gets. When she realizes everyone can see her giant, thundering cloud, she flees into the forest alone. She realizes there that the only way to weather her cloud is to embrace it as part of herself. But she worries Kelp won’t want to be her friend anymore. Will he love her even with the cloud? (Answer: of course.) I like how this picture book shows both what depression looks and feels like and how to be a good ally. As a bonus, Not Quite Narwhal is now going to be a Netflix series! It’s set to air June 19th.

Cover of Clementine by Hood

Clementine by Ann Hood (middle grade)

This is a heartwrenching middle grade novel about 9th grader Clementine’s struggle with grief after her younger sister Hailey’s death. A year has passed but Clementine continues to feel numb to the world, though there are days that, somehow, she manages to smile, or complete a task. School is very difficult, and she misses many days, unable to leave bed, and punches a bully. The book moves through all the cycles of grief and how they often overlap and fold into one another, and while things aren’t perfect by the end, there is hope that the future might hold laughter and smiles again. This is a really tough read. Clementine has suicidal thoughts and sometimes self-harms. She has bad experiences with therapists. It’s also beautifully written. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Sara Matsui-Colby.

Orange Mushrooms, The Kids are All Right

Did you hear that Pen America and Penguin Random House are suing Florida’s Escambia County School District over book bans? This is what I’d love to see more of. Let’s challenge these book bans in courts, publishers.

On my Mother’s Day hike, we encountered these orange mushrooms. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen orange mushrooms before. They appear to be Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms to me, which are poisonous. We saw so many mushrooms on this trail; my daughter decided to call it the mushroom and bird song trail.

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