PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: We Need Diverse (PIcture) Books


Mitzi Tulane may be only three years old, but she sure knows how to follow a trail of evidence and solve tough mysteries. From the strange happenings in the kitchen to the sudden arrival of every family member she’s ever met, Mitzi pieces together the clues and (finally) realizes that she’s . . . in the middle of her own surprise birthday party!

Kids and parents will laugh along as Mitzi sorts through not-so-subtle hints and comes to her conclusions. Readers will love figuring out the surprise ahead of the private-eye protagonist! Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s bouncy illustrations bring an extra layer of fun to Lauren McLaughlin’s clever story!


Mitzi Tulane is an adorable character that I hope to see a lot more of in the future.  I laughed as Mitzi seeks to figure out the new smell that permeates the house and gathers other clues.  Her consultations with her baby brother Kevin were amusing as well.  The story does a great job of presenting a rather simple mystery. This book would be a great way to introduce young children to the idea of solving a mystery.

Now, I am aware that some people may have a problem with the fact that Mitzi is black and the rest of her family is white, as well as her doll.  I assumed and I believe most children will as well that Mitzi is adopted. Since I know several children in a similar situation, I found it a nice example of diversity.  It would have been nice if the doll had been black as well (like Mitzi), but the inclusion of relatives with both white and black skin makes up for that a bit.  

The illustrations are adorable as well as bright and colorful.  A nice addition to a growing body of work that includes children from diverse backgrounds.


Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.


Thunder Boy Jr. is an adorable little boy who wants to have a name different than his father's.  The story follows 'Little Thunder' as he speculates on why he wants a different name and what that new name could be. It's clear that Little Thunder loves his father and his family, he just wants to be his own person.  This is so much like a young child, wanting an identity of his own.  I believe this is a story than many young children will be able to relate to.  I also love the fact that this is a diverse family with their own traditions.

While receiving a new name is something that is special and even sacred to multiple cultures, including First/Native Nations, and that needs to be considered, young children sometimes like to pretend they have a different name (I can't tell you how many times I did that during imaginative play as a child).  This book though would be a great lead-in to a discussion of respect for other cultural traditions and practices.  It's also an adorable story about a father and a son.


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