Friday, January 27, 2017


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books, and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books.

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin,  Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson,  Hena Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty,  Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela TiscareƱo-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe, SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.


MCBD site:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children's Books for Parents and Educators:

THANKS TO LEE & LOW for providing the multicultural book for me to review today!


In the midst of racial conflict and at the edges of a war at the Texas-Mexico border in 1915, Joaquin and Dulcena" attempt to maintain a secret romance in this reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.


Guadalupe Garcia McCall has written a compelling, powerful novel.  I have to admit I knew very little about the events that this book is built around, so the book was seriously eye-opening.  From the very opening prologue to the very last page, I eagerly followed along as Joaquin and Dulcena struggled to find a place for themselves in a world that seemed to be falling apart around them.  The conflict between the revolutionaries, the local tejanos, and the Texas Rangers came closer and closer to them until it engulfed them in it's tragedy and injustice.  I guess I shouldn't be so shocked about the way the tejanos were treated, prejudice has been around a long time.  And just because someone wears a badge doesn't mean they actually uphold the law, that is especially the case in this story.  In fact, Captain Munro is a major part of the problem as he is more concerned with power and control than any sort of law and order.  This is the sort of historical fiction that I think young people will read because it resounds with passion and courage.  Sadly, many of the issues that the characters face in the book still exist in our world, and still need people to stand up for the right in the face of evil of all kinds.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy a captivating, and thought-provoking look at another time and another place where issues like our own had to be addressed.


Coming Soon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer


Everybody needs a role model! Discover true stories of superstars, war heroes, world leaders, gusty gals, and everyday girls who changed the world. From Sacagawea to Mother Teresa, Annie Oakley to Malala Yousafzai, these famous females hiked up their pants and petticoats or charged full-speed ahead to prove that girls are just as tough as boys...maybe even tougher. Complete with amazing images and a fun design, this is the book that every kid with a goal, hope, or dream will want to own.


In this era of political discord and social upheaval, it's more important than ever to have mentors and heroes/heroines.  Of course, there isn't going to be agreement on whose a hero/ine or who isn't, but this book presents brief (one or two pages) biographies of women who left their mark on the world.  The book is divided into sections according to the following categories:  Leading Ladies (female leaders on the world stage), Gritty Girls (sports), Heroines on the Job, Legendary Ladies (mythological women), Daring Dames (exploration and discovery), Peace Heroines (social justice), Ladies in Lab Coats, Outstanding Animals.  There are also sidebars about Daring Dudes, men who've left their mark on the world.  Whether you agree with all the choices in terms of heroism or not, the book is a fascinating account of women (and a few men) who've changed the world, for better or worse (mostly for the better).  Cleopatra? Not sure on that one. I found the book to be beautifully designed with colorful pages, gorgeous photographs and paintings, and sections short enough to make this a good browsing book.  This is the kind of book that can inspire young people to step up and make a difference.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS: Secret of the Time Tablets/Varmints/Snow White


Cleo and her friends journey from Yasiro Academy to the city of Hykosis, where some of the most notorious thieves and assassins live. They're in search of information about the time tablets that could determine Cleo's fate - whether she wants them to or not. But the group is separated when Xaius Octavian's fleet attacks their ship, and Cleo and Akila are on their own until they run into an old nemesis. Will Cleo find the information she needs and get out of Hykosis alive?


This third volume in the Cleopatra in Space series lives up the excitement introduced in the first two volumes.  Once again, Cleopatra is out to take space by storm, but first she has to survive an attack by Octavian's fleet of ships.  When she and her friends get separated, they set out to find the answers they set out to find on the planet of Hykosis.  But they aren't that far ahead of Octavian and soon find themselves in more trouble than ever before.  Maihack has created a really fun series with a great female lead.  The other characters are important to the story, even seeming adversaries.  The author even throws in some shocking twists that change the arc of the story in surprising ways.  For young graphic novel aficionados this is a thoroughly engaging series with great characters and great plot twists.  Highly recommended.


Opie and Ned are adrift in the Old West, searching for the man who shot their Ma. These two youngsters only have each other, but with all their squabbling it's a miracle they still have that.

When they get wind of the mysterious Pa ("crime kingpin of the West!"), Opie and Ned suddenly have something new: a mission. But tracking down the elusive (and deadly) Pa is going to take all the wiles these two kids have, and some new friends to boot.

Clever, explosive, and deeply moving by turns, Varmints is a perfect middle-grade comedy graphic novel. Hirsch brings an old-school Western style to bear on a story full of nuance, humor, and surprises.


Taking place in the Old West, two siblings have lost their mother and home, and Opie (the older sister) is seeking the man she holds responsible.  But she and her brother Ned run into one predicament after another in the search for "Pa", the crime boss.  In fact, the two siblings spend most of their time running from one risky situation to another, squabbling the whole time.  The siblings end up working in a saloon, running from horse rustlers, and entering a contest for a chance to talk to "Pa" face to face.  Through it all, the siblings stay together and eventually must come to a determination of what exactly family is and what they are willing to do to find it as well as the price they are willing to pay for revenge.  While the story is a bit rough-around the edges, as one would expect from a story about the 'Wild West', the theme of family is a good one.


Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.

The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words "Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL." In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.


Phelan has created a brilliant retelling of a well-known fairy tale.  I never would have imagined a version of Snow White taking place in Depression Era New York, with an early movie star as the stepmother.  With a minimum of words most of the story is told in the primarily black and white illustrations.  Phelan has once again proven his skill with art as well as storytelling.  The only color that shows up is a bit of red, red for lips, and red for poisoned apple.  The story follows the fairy tale but changes Snow's father into a wealthy businessman who held onto his money despite the Wall Street Crash.  The evil stepmother uses a ticker-tape machine to remind herself of her beauty and power.  When Snow is forced to flee her stepmother's rage, she finds refuge on the streets with a group of seven street boys.  And Snow White's prince?  A noir style detective.  This book is a true work of art.

Monday, January 23, 2017

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Doing Her Bit/Esquivel!


Based on true events, this fictional story traces the history of the Women’s Land Army during World War I. Real-life “Farmerette” Helen Stevens trains to farm the land, negotiates a position for herself and other women, and does her bit for the war effort. This unique book celebrates the true grit of American men and women.


During World War II there was a lack of farm labor because of the number of men being soldiers.  So the government set up a program recruiting women to help fill the void.  These women were called farmerettes.  Helen Stevens was one such woman.  She joined the program and spent several weeks being trained in the incredibly back-breaking work that farms require.  Plowing, weeding, milking, livestock tending, and fence mending were all covered.  These ladies worked through blisters, sore muscles, and exhaustion because they believed in the program.  The problem was that none of the local farmers wanted their help, they didn't think that women were capable of doing the work.  But with determination and an opportunity to prove themselves, these women set out to help their country during a really trying time, proving to be a very valuable service.  I believe stories like this one are very important.  When events such as World War II are studied, sometimes the soldiers on the front lines or the people calling the shots get all the attention.  Those who quietly provided important supporting roles are often overlooked.  This fictionalized story about real events fills an important hole in the dialogue about World War II.


Juan Garcia Esquivel was born in Mexico and grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands. He loved music and became a musical explorer. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds. Juan’s space-age lounge music—popular in the fifties and sixties—has found a new generation of listeners. And Duncan Tonatiuh’s fresh and quirky illustrations bring Esquivel’s spirit to life.


Picture book biographies are becoming more common every year.  Even better, they often focus on individuals that are lesser known.  I had never heard of Esquivel before picking up this book.  The trick with picture book biographies is including enough information to really be a biography, while keeping the book an appropriate length for the book format and age range.  This particular biography not only provides a nice amount of information about it's subject, but it also does in text that has a fun musical rhythm of its own, making it a fun read-a-loud.  Tonatiuh's illustrations are delightfully colorful and full of life, just like Esquivel's music.  This is the sort of book that's perfect for music teachers to read and share with their students, along with the real-life music.  Books like this bring their subjects to life in both text and illustration.  Which is probably why this book just won a Pure Belpre illustrator award for 2017. The additional resources at the end are great as well (including links to videos of Esquivel's music).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper by "Gusto" Dave Jackson and Janet "The Kid" Fogg


When Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train -- and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! -- the government believes she's the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.

Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.

Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.

When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced -- and deadly -- than even top scientists could have imagined.

A sequel is already underway! Visit Annie at for updates on release, as well as announcements regarding future books in the series!

Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.

Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group.  She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.

Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.

A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.

In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty.


"Gusto" Dave Jackson on Goodreads

Our villain, the Locomotive Reaper, has a suit that enables him to fly, fueled by hydrogen (the gas used in blimps at that time). He also wields a magnetic glove that can disarm his assailants. In this scene, he humbles our heroes in a brawl on top of a stagecoach.

Metal face frozen in an evil grin, the Reaper swooped down to the roof. He landed with a drumming thud and shoved Slokam sideways. The agent grabbed the edge of the roof to hang on, dropping the red stick of dynamite. Annie raised her .45.

With his right hand in a red glove—she noticed that the one on his south paw matched the rest of his outfit—the Reaper extended his fingers at her and made a sweeping motion again. Annie’s revolver leaped from her hand and tumbled onto the road. It felt as if her revolver had betrayed her, had run away from the fight.

The horses slowed to a stop. The fuse on the dynamite sizzled.

Wontoa growled and leaped at the Reaper.

Sparks gulped the dynamite fuse. Crawling on his belly, Slokam reached for the explosive, but the stick slithered away like a snake.

The Locomotive Reaper punched the blood stain on Wontoa’s shoulder. He stiffened and fell back, shuddering as he struggled to breathe.

Slokam abandoned his quest for the dynamite and kicked the flying man in the knee.

The Reaper clutched his leg and howled as he slipped sideways.

“Enough!” he shouted as he shoved Wontoa off the stagecoach. “You’re out of time!” he continued as he stepped off the roof to hover over the ravine.

In one smooth motion Slokam snatched up the stick of dynamite and threw it at the Reaper.

A now familiar gust of wind slapped Annie’s back. The coach bucked, trying its hardest to throw her.
She whispered, “Won...toa.”

The Reaper swooped back down.

Half dazed, she turned to look.

He and Slokam were grappling, the agent held in a choke hold, trembling as if the red glove had some kind of power.

Stomach churning, Annie clenched her fists around the reins and slapped the horses forward. Guns didn’t work. Hand-to-hand fighting didn’t either.

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