The Kids Are All Right

Activity Books, Grief, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day. My family received some good Father’s Day news: my dad is now cancer free!

Today, I have two new powerful picture books and a collection of activity books to review. Before I get to those, are you looking for fascinating stories, informed takes, useful advice, and more drawn from our collective experience as power readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and bookish professionals? Subscribe to The Deep Dive, a biweekly newsletter to inform and inspire readers, delivered to your inbox! Your first read (The Power Reader’s Guide to Reading Logs & Trackers) is on the house. In one such newsletter, Sharifah presents the many arguments and options for tracking your reading. I track my reading on Goodreads and with Book Riot’s reading tracker. How about you? Check out all the details and choose your membership level at

Bookish Goods

Cottage core reading hedgehog puzzle by Opal and June Shop

Cottagecore Hedgehog Reading Puzzle by OpalandJuneShop

Do you and your kid put together puzzles over summer break? I remember doing that all the time over summers, and then using puzzle glue on my favorites and hanging them in my bedroom. This reading hedgehog puzzle is adorable. $25

New Releases

Cover of I Can Be All Three by Alikhan

I Can be All Three by Salima Alikhan, illustrated by Noor Sofi (picture book)

In this beautiful picture book, a teacher assigns her class a project for Multicultural Day, and a young multiracial girl wonders what she could make. Something that reflects her Indian father’s heritage? Or her German mother’s? Or her American upbringing? Instead of choosing just one heritage to honor, she finds a way to celebrate all three, as do several other students in her class.

Cover of Cape by Johnson

Cape by Kevin Johnson, illustrated by Kitt Thomas (picture book)

Get some tissues ready for this stunning picture book about grieving for a beloved father. A young boy prepares for a funeral by donning a red superhero cape. He uses the cape to block out all the memories he has of the person being buried; he tries his best to forget their good memories together. But the memories come rushing forward nonetheless, and maybe, just maybe, that’s the path toward healing. The author’s note describes how he bases this story on his father’s passing, though the relative who dies is never mentioned in the narrative, so it could apply to any beloved male relative.

In my June monthly roundup of new children’s book releases for Book Riot, I also review Joy Takes Root by Gwendolyn Wallace. For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Most kids are off for summer vacation at this point, and I imagine I’m not the only parent who sometimes struggles to fill the hours. Here are four of my favorite activity books for ideas!

Cover of The Little Artists' Big Book of Activities by Wong-Nizic

The Little Artists’ Big Book of Activities by Shannon Wong-Nizic

This collection of 60 activities ranges in ease and complexity and can be easily adapted to multiple ages and with various materials. The first one my daughter and I tried was a rainbow village building activity inspired by Rainbow Grandpa Huang Yung-Fu, a soldier who painted every building in his Taiwanese village various colors and patterns when he learned it would be destroyed. The village survives and can now be visited. I love that Wong-Nizic includes that information with the activity. This craft required boxes of various sizes, brown craft paper, tape, and a variety of coloring utensils. We wrapped the boxes in the brown paper and drew and painted colorful patterns onto them, creating a little mini village. We looked at images from the real village as we drew! Other activities include making rock dominoes, a very important person statue, and more. Often the activities are inspired by real people and artists.

Cover of How to Babysit Your Grownup by Reagan

How to Babysit Your Grown-Up: Activities to Do Together by Jean Reagan, JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Lee Wildish

I just received this one in the mail and haven’t had a chance to try out any of the activities yet, but I’m excited! This activity book includes seven “fun” sections: In the Fresh Air, With Paper, With Science, You Can Eat, With Crafts, With Imagin-yay-tion, and With Family. Most of these are very simple, classic activities like making snowflakes, ice cream in a bag, spiral friendship bracelets, a shoe shop, and more.

Cover of Anti-Racist Art Activities for Kids by Birhanu

Anti-Racist Art Activities for Kids by Anti-Racist Art Teachers, Paula Liz, Abigail Birhanu, Khadesia Latimer, Lori Santos, Tamara Slade, & Anjali Wells

I was so excited when I heard about this one! This book’s goal is to “engage in art activities that work toward removing biases, promoting change, and taking action.” It’s divided into six units: Identity, Culture, Community, Empathy, Justice, and Activism. Activities include transforming your name into a work of art, celebrating community heroes and helpers through making papers and portraits, creating miniature billboards that address a social issue, and more. These activities can be adapted for all ages.

Cover of Kitchen Science by Minter

Kitchen Science by Laura Minter & Tia Williams

We have a variety of science activity books but this is the one we use the most, primarily because it has many experiments with household items we actually have! We’ve squeezed an egg into a bottle, made electric oobleck, conducted some potato science, and more. I do recommend checking out the required materials list before tackling some of these, though! While many are pretty easy, several have less common materials.

Marian reading cat book, the kids are all right

One of my favorite feelings is seeing my daughter engrossed in a book. We have been doing that a lot this week; unfortunately, my spouse and I have come down with COVID-19. I’m very grateful for all our vaccinations. So far our daughter’s tests have been negative though, and she’s feeling great! Fingers crossed it remains that way.

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