Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! It’s Margaret covering for Karina as she promotes her most recent Vanderbeeker book (The Vanderbeeker’s Ever After) and takes some time off for the summer. This week, as promised, I have four book recommendations for early readers (ages 6-10) with disability representation and some awesome picture book releases.
Before I get to my reviews, let me tell you about one of Book Riot’s new podcasts! What do S.A. Cosby, Khaled Hosseini, Sarah Bakewell, and Yahdon Israel have in common? They’ve been guests on Book Riot’s newest podcast, First Edition, where BookRiot.com co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world. Subscribe to hear them and stay to hear Book Riot’s editors pick the “it” book of the month
Reading Stamp Washi Tape by RobotDanceBattle
These adorable stamps would be great for crafting or reading journals! $6
Out of the Blue by Nic Yulo (picture book)
Even though Coral dreams of going on adventures, as the smallest and quietest kid in her class, she often feels a bit overwhelmed and invisible, which makes her sad. When her class goes on a field trip to an aquarium, Coral finds herself alone in a dark room. Then a little bioluminescent octopus she names Kraken appears and keeps her company. When other students join Coral, she shows them how to be quiet and still so the other bioluminescent sea creatures will appear.
La Mariachi by Isabel Estrada, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda (picture book)
My daughter and I had so much fun reading this picture book together! Tuchi wants to join her school’s mariachi band, but everyone is telling her it’s for boys only. When she finds her grandmother’s guitarrón, she begs her for lessons. Her grandmother happily teaches her how to play, hoping Tuchi can find an audience for her music. When it comes time to audition, Tuchi blows everyone away. Back matter includes more details about the types of instruments played in mariachi bands. After reading this, my daughter and I listened to all-female mariachi bands on YouTube. We’re going to have to find some live performances!
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Earlier in July I promised a list of chapter books with disabled representation for Disability Pride Month. I consulted some fellow disabled writers and have been doing some reading and came up with this list of four, which includes a biography compilation. There’s a real lack of disability representation in this age group (typically 6-10-year-olds, though ages vary) and I hope publishers will seek out more. I’m now noodling around with some ideas to write my own. 🙂 The good news is, all but one of these is a series.
Ron Roy’s A to Z Animal Mysteries #1: The Absent Alpacas by Kayla Whaley, illustrated by Chloe Burgett
This spinoff of the popular A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy features a main character wheelchair user, Abbi Wallace, solving animal-related mysteries. It’s also written by a wheelchair user. In this first book in the series, Abbi and her friends are excited about going to the Maine State Fair and seeing the animals in the 4-H pavilion. But when they get there, the pavilion is in shambles and all the alpacas except one are missing! Who could’ve stolen the alpacas? Abbi, her dog, and her friends are on the case. I grew up in a rural area where 4-H was a pretty big deal and the highlight of our local fair, so I really enjoyed this one for multiple reasons.
The Treasure Troop: Mr. Summerling’s Secret Code by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Tim Budgen
Marly, who wears an eye patch for her amblyopia, is surprised to discover that she’s been named in her next-door neighbor’s will. She had no idea Mr. Summerling had died, and while she took an interest in his treasure hunting, the two didn’t chat all that often. When she goes to the will reading, she discovers two other children have been named in the will, and they’re tasked with solving a series of riddles to find the treasure left to them in the will. Marly’s best friend has recently moved away, so this might be a great chance to make new friends. I really enjoyed this one! My nephew wore an eyepatch for the same condition at this age and it would’ve been great to have a book like this then. This series currently has four books in it.
The Infinity Rainbow Club: Nick and the Brick Builder Challenge by Jen Malia, illustrated by Peter Francis
This is the first book in a new chapter book series featuring neurodivergent characters that is written by an autistic author. With the help of a teacher, Nick has started the Infinity Rainbow Club at school for neurodivergent kids like himself. When the teacher announces that they will be participating in a brick building challenge, Nick is at first excited. But he’s not too keen on working with a partner, and his partner is a new girl named Ruby. What will she be like? I love how rich in sensory detail this book is. It releases in September, with more to follow.
I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Lauren Mark Baldo
While this is not a chapter book, it is a great nonfiction read for the same age group, 6-10-year-olds. Burnell, who is also disabled, writes mini-biographies of 34 disabled folk from a variety of backgrounds. Some of the people featured are well-known for their disabilities: Ludwig van Beethoven, Peter Dinklage, Helen Keller, and Stephen Hawking, for example. But others might not be as well-known to kids for their disabilities, like Lady Gaga, Frida Kahlo, and Lil Wayne. It’s a fantastic collection with beautiful illustrations.
My daughter has been carrying around this little owlet named HuHu that she picked out on a Target run (there’s always some random toy added to the cart, isn’t there?). This weekend we went to our local park’s nature center where she drew this picture of HuHu. I love kid drawings!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!