The Kids Are All Right

Wrestling, Chronic Illness, And More!

Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I’m writing this last Wednesday, and as of right now, there’s a snow forecast for today. Fingers crossed, this comes true! It’s also supposed to get to -1 Fahrenheit, which I’m not looking forward to at all, but I’ll take it for a day of snow.

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Today, I review four wrestling-themed children’s books for all ages and two great new releases.

Bookish Goods

Dollhouse Bookshelves by VeselkaKidsStore

Dollhouse Bookshelves by VeselkaKidsStore

These dollhouse front-facing bookshelves are very pretty. We actually converted one of my daughter’s dollhouses into a bookshelf because she somehow ended up with three, yet doesn’t really enjoy playing with them. These look nicer though! $135

New Releases

Cover of Forever and Always by Brittany J. Thurman, illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice

Forever and Always by Brittany J. Thurman, illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice

In this sweet and lyrical picture book, a young girl worries about her Black father not arriving home safely from work. Momma provides a caring and safe home for her, but will Daddy be safe? Hearing the news of other Black men who have not come home and who were not safe makes her worry, but when Daddy comes home and embraces her, she feels better. This picture book addresses the very real and heartbreaking worry many children have for their Black family members.

Cover of Not Quite a Ghost by Anne Ursu

Not Quite a Ghost by Anne Ursu

I have a chronic illness — postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome — that began at almost the exact same age as the narrator of this middle grade novel, which made reading this especially poignant for me. Violet Hart has just moved into a new old house. Her new bedroom is in the attic, but the yellow floral wallpaper immediately gives her the creeps. When she’s alone, it seems like someone is watching her from the walls. And unfortunately, she’s spending a lot of time in her bedroom after a virus just won’t seem to go away. This light horror is based on “The Yellow Wallpaper,” but readers unfamiliar with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic short story will still enjoy it. Violet’s disability is based on Ursu’s experience with chronic fatigue syndrome, though her symptoms will ring true for many with chronic illnesses.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Wrestling! If anything speaks to the power of fiction to share unique experiences and bring about empathy, it’s that there are actually books I like involving wrestling. Absolutely no offense intended for wrestling fans, but it’s just not my thing. Yet, I adore these four books! What’s next, golf???

Cover of Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

Lucía loves dressing up as a superhero on the playground and leaping and flying off the monkey bars, but the boys tell her girls can’t be superheroes. At home, she tells Abu what happened at the playground, and her grandmother shows her pictures of when she was a luchadora, and gives her her old costume. Now when Lucía goes to the playground, she dresses in her Abu’s costume and shows she can be a luchadora and a superhero. I also recommend the second book in this series, Lucía the Luchadora and the Million Masks.

Cover of Pizza and Taco: Wrestling Mania! by Stephen Shaskan

Pizza and Taco: Wrestling Mania! by Stephen Shaskan

Pizza and Taco is a hilarious early reader graphic novel series. Wrestling Mania! is the seventh and most recent book in the series. At school, Pizza and Taco have to sign up for a sport, but they don’t really feel inspired by any of the options. But then they notice wrestling is an option. That would be fun! Do the two really have what it takes to excel at wrestling, however? My six-year-old loved this.

Tumble by Celia C. Perez cover

Tumble by Celia C. Pérez

This is a lovely contemporary middle grade about a young girl, Addie, who decides to connect with her biological father — whom she knows nothing about — when her stepfather proposes adopting her. It turns out her biological father and family are famous luchadors, and she wants to learn how to be one, too. Meanwhile, Addie is starring in her school’s annual production of The Nutcracker, and it’s the first time a Brown girl has been chosen as Maria, the lead role.

Cover of Takedown by Shovan

Takedown by Laura Shovan

This middle grade novel follows two sixth-grade wrestlers. Both of Mykala (Mickey) Delgado’s older brothers are wrestlers, and she wants to be one, too. But when she tries to join the same team they were members of, she’s told girls can’t compete. So, instead, she joins another nearby wrestling team, where the coach welcomes her. She’s paired with Lev Sofer because they’re in similar weight categories. He loves poetry and frequently writes poems to process his emotions. He also sometimes struggles with wrestling meetups and competitions occurring during Shabbat and other religious obligations he has.

a photo of about a dozen stuffed animals lined up on three steps like a class picture

Some of my daughter’s stuffed animals had their class pictures taken on the patio recently. Hopefully, I’ll have some snowy pictures for next week’s newsletter! I’m not so sure we’ll be taking out all her loveys in the snow, though.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, Bluesky, 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