The Kids Are All Right

Sari-Sari Stores, Letter Writing, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! We are spending our last week before kindergarten exploring local, mostly free activities, from a dinosaur exhibit at the zoo to painting at an art museum and visiting new splash pads. Our library has been giving out tickets to things around town as part of their summer reading challenge, which has really helped us keep our summer fun inexpensive!

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This week’s theme is letter writing! I have four books for you and young readers to enjoy.

Bookish Goods

Library Stationery Note Cards by Yellow Yardbird Design

Library Stationery Note Cards by YellowYardbirdDesign

In keeping with today’s theme, I thought I would include some cool bookish stationery! I loved writing letters to friends when I was a kid, and I would’ve cherished these book-themed cards. $28+

New Releases

Cover of The Fantastic Freewheeler, Sixth-Grade Superhero by Felder

The Fantastic Freewheeler, Sixth-Grade Superhero! by Molly Felder, illustrated by Scott Brown (middle grade)

Drew Daniels, who has cerebral palsy, loves aliens, and for his 12th birthday, his best friend Mikey Lang gifts him a UFO shard from Area 51 that he bought online. Drew has a big math test coming up the next day, and as he blows out the candles on his cake, clutching the UFO shard, he makes a wish — to learn things with just one touch. What follows are hilarious alien shenanigans between Drew and his friends. This is part of a new graphic novel series by Molly Felder who, like the main character, has cerebral palsy. These are incredibly fun short reads perfect for middle schoolers who aren’t quite ready to tackle longer, prose-heavy novels. Three other titles in the series are also releasing today.

Cover of Lolo's Sari-Sari Store by Lee

Lolo’s Sari-Sari Store by Sophia N. Lee, illustrated by Christine Almeda (picture book)

A young girl loves helping her grandfather Lolo out at his sari-sari store in the Philippines. Lolo teaches her about kindness and giving back to the community. When she and her mother move to America, she misses Lolo and the sari-sari store the most. She initially struggles to connect with her new community, but by applying the wisdom she learned from Lolo, she’s able to find friends and a place in her new home. This is a really lovely intergenerational picture book.

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

Riot Recommendations

While I am not much of a letter writer now, I had several pen pals as a child that I wrote to for literal years. I’m still in contact with one of them! We correspond via text now. 🙂 Here are some of my favorite children’s books about writing letters.

Cover of The Little Green Envelope by Sze

The Little Green Envelope by Gillian Sze, illustrated by Claudine Crangle (picture book)

While Olive usually has lots of fun at her grandfather’s house, today she is sad because her best friend has moved away. Her grandfather suggests she write a letter to her friend. Meanwhile, a little green envelope waits patiently in a drawer, waiting to be used. The envelope has waited for a very long time and hopes that this time it will be the perfect fit for Olive’s letter. When Olive chooses the green envelope, it happily goes on a journey to connect with Olive’s friend. This is such a sweet read for kids who have friends moving away. I remember going to my grandparents’ house as a kid and taking out their pile of cards and envelopes to decorate!

Cover of Dear Mr. G by Evans

Dear Mr. G by Christine Evans, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (picture book)

This moving picture book is told through a series of letters between two neighbors. The correspondence begins when Jackson accidentally kicks a ball into Mr. Graham’s garden. Mr. Graham invites Jackson over to help with the garden, and afterward blooms a friendship between the two despite the differences in their ages. Letters follow the two as Jackson celebrates his 7th birthday and Mr. Graham enters a nursing home. As a warning, this does end with Mr. Graham’s death, though Jackson continues to write letters to him and to garden.

Cover of Dear Street by Zier-Vogel

Dear Street by Lindsay Zier-Vogel, illustrated by Caroline Bonne-Muller (picture book)

Alice loves everything about her street. When she overhears neighbors complaining and grumbling about the street, she writes letters to help the object of their frustrations feel better, from a letter to the snow about how excellent it is for making snow angels to a letter to a maple tree. When neighbors find and read these letters, it makes them feel better about their community. Then one day Alice wakes up in a bad mood and her street doesn’t seem as appealing anymore. When she discovers a letter another child has written to the crocuses, she not only feels better, she also makes a friend.

Cover of Dear Beast: Simon Sleeps Over by Butler

Dear Beast: Simon Sleeps Over by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry (chapter book)

The Dear Beast chapter book series follows Andy’s two pets — a silly dog named Baxter and a grumpy cat named Simon — and their many shenanigans, which are shown via letter correspondence. Baxter lives at Andy’s dad’s house, while Simon lives at Andy’s mom’s house. Andy’s mom has a business trip and, for the first time, Simon will be staying with Baxter, whom Simon refers to as the Beast. Simon is less than thrilled by the idea and takes the first opportunity to slip away. Baxter is desperate to find him. There are currently four books in this really fun chapter-book series.

Dinosaur exhibit, the kids are all right

We visited the zoo last Wednesday before their dinosaur exhibit closed for the summer. It was really cool! The dinosaurs are animatronic and some even shot out water at passersby.

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 time!

Margaret Kingsbury