The Kids Are All Right

Vampires, Hispanic Heritage Month, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! Has it started feeling like fall where you are? The leaves on the tree outside my window have begun changing colors, but the heat is still sweltering. There are pumpkin patches opening but it still feels very much like pool weather here in Nashville.

This week I review four picture books by Latine creators for Hispanic Heritage Month, which goes from September 15th through October 15th. Before I get to those reviews, Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

Ghost Reading Books Sweatshirt by GWCustomTees

Ghost Reading Books Sweatshirt by GWCustomTees

Listen, the high is 94 degrees Fahrenheit today, I won’t be able to wear a sweatshirt for months yet, but I’m still eyeballing this one. $13+

New Releases

Cover of A Walk in the Woods by Grimes

A Walk in the Woods by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney & Brian Pinkney (picture book)

Renowned illustrator Jerry Pinkney passed away in October of 2021, but before his passing, he and author Nikki Grimes had begun collaborating on this picture book about a son mourning the loss of his father. The son finds a treasure map his father left him that leads into the woods, and there he makes a discovery that, while it doesn’t cure his grief, does bring him peace. After Jerry’s passing, his son Brian Pinkney finished the illustrations. It’s a gorgeous meditation on grief and nature.

Cover of Vlad, the Fabulous Vampire by Drago

Vlad, the Fabulous Vampire by Flavia Z. Drago

Drago returns to the sweet and spooky world of Gustavo with this new picture book about a vampire who loves fashion, but is embarrassed by his too-pink cheeks. Vampires can’t have pink cheeks! His cheeks make him look alive. So instead of creating the outfits he wants, he makes clothes to cover his cheeks. When his friend has an accident revealing her fabulously pink hair, Vlad decides to change his approach to fashion and to how he views himself. This is a fun story about body acceptance. Make sure to check out the other picture books in the series, Leila, the Perfect Witch and Gustavo, the Shy Ghost. These books are also available in Spanish.

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

Riot Recommendations

Friday is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month! I have been recommending books by Latine authors all year, but here are four amazing picture books by Latine authors I haven’t reviewed yet.

Cover of Cantora by Nitsche

Cantora: Mercedes Sosa, the Voice of Latin America by Melisa Fernández Nitsche

This picture book biography explores the life of Argentinian folk singer Mercedes Sosa. Her singing journey began in school, when she was asked to sing the national anthem, and later to compete in a radio show contest. After she won the contest, she kept singing and singing and singing. When the Argentinian government banned her songs and arrested her during a show, she was forced to flee to Europe. This is a beautifully illustrated picture book biography and a great way to introduce children to Sosa’s music.

Cover of Colorful Mondays by Montes

Colorful Mondays by Nelson Rodríguez & Leonardo Agustín Montes, illustrated by Rosana Faría & Carla Tabora, translated by Lawrence Schimel

This is the first book in Eerdmans Books’ new Stories from Latin America Series. In a small town in Honduras, Luis, who loves stories, excitedly waits for a bookmobile’s arrival. Every Monday the bookmobile comes, spreading stories and joy. This vibrantly illustrated picture book is based on a true story. The Asociación Compartir, part of JustWorld International, sponsors a bookmobile that travels around Honduras sharing books. This releases next Tuesday.

Cover of Only a Trenza Away by Fonseca

Only a Trenza Away by Nadine Fonseca, illustrated by Camila Carrossine

This beautiful picture book celebrates the love between a father and daughter. Every evening when Papa gets home from work, he braids his daughter Xiomara’s hair (trenzas in Spanish). When he gets home late one evening and is unable to braid her hair, Xiomara despairs. It’s too hard to do herself! The next evening, Papa tells her the story of learning how to braid from his sisters.

Cover of How to Speak Spanglish by Mancillas

How to Speak Spanglish by Mónica Mancillas, illustrated by Olivia de Castro

Sami loves Spanglish, but his abuela is skeptical. Blending Spanish and English words comes naturally for Sami, and he’s frustrated when friends and his school aren’t accepting of Spanglish. But with support from his family, he realizes it’s okay to speak in unique ways. This is a joyful picture book.

Marian and Ryan at a lake beach, the kids are all right

We found a beach in Nashville! A tiny lake beach, but hey, it has sand and we had a blast making sand castles and paddling around in the algae, ha!

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

All the best,

Margaret Kingsbury