Sign Up

Get the latest ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

All Children's Coverage

Review by

In Garden Glen, every building is the same except for the “tumbledown house” that now belongs to Millie Fleur La Fae and her mother. The barren yard needs some love, so Millie decides to fill it with her favorite poisonous plants: sore toothwort, fanged fairymoss, tentacled tansy and a dozen other curious flowers and herbs.

Unused to something so new and weird, the people of Garden Glen protest outside Millie’s fence, but Millie and her mother know that the garden is just misunderstood. Millie invites her new neighbors to tour the garden, where they find themselves “astonished,” “grossed out” and “at times, a little nervous.” Can Millie’s neighbors learn how charming her creepy plants can be?

Time to throw away summer plans: Kids will want to spend all their time digging in the dirt after reading Millie Fleur’s Poison Garden. This charming picture book from author-illustrator Christy Mandin (The Storytellers Rule) pays homage to classic and beloved creeps like those featured in Frankenstein and The Addams Family while simultaneously creating its own—in the form of original plants. From curdled milkweed to witches wort, the abundant puns are sure to please kids who love a joke, as well as those who enjoy fantastical imagery.

The heart of Millie Fleur’s Poison Garden is, of course, Millie Fleur. Young readers will leave inspired by Millie’s refusal to hide what she loves, no matter how weird it may be. Backmatter includes information on different easy-to-care-for plants and the real history of poison gardens. This plant-filled tome will be a great pick for parents and teachers looking for an educational moment on embracing identity and rebuking bullying, or a quirky gardening lesson.

Millie Fleur’s Poison Garden is made for the oddballs, who will love it. Pair with Flavia Z. Drago’s Gustavo the Shy Ghost and Jess Hannigan’s Spider in the Well.

Time to throw away summer plans: Kids will want to spend all their time digging in the dirt after reading Millie Fleur’s Poison Garden.
Review by

Meet King Lion, who rules all the happy animals and smiling people below his balcony. He should be the happiest of all in this happy city, but instead has a very big problem: Hidden away in his tall castle, he is an awfully fearsome creature without a friend in the world. 

Not one to let his own kingdom get the better of him, King Lion sets out into his city to find himself a friend. But when he shouts “Hello!” all anyone hears is a “deafening roar.” When he waves his paws to greet a pal or opens his mouth for a large smile, all anyone sees are his “dangerous claws” and “dripping jaws.” 

But one little girl isn’t so sure. Like the king, she is also lonely. Could they . . . be friends? 

King Lion, written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett, promises to be an immediate hit with librarians, teachers and young readers everywhere. The prose lends itself well to a group read-aloud, giving plenty of opportunities to roar and expose those fearsome claws and jaws. This picture book would also provide a more intimate bedtime reading experience, giving children a chance to talk about why the King might be lonely, why people are afraid of him and how it might sometimes feel to come on a bit too strong when we are excited to meet new friends. The illustrations are lively, colorful and provide many Easter eggs throughout the story that compel the reader to stop and pore over the background, smelling the proverbial flowers and questioning the looks on the townspeoples’ faces: Are they happy? Alarmed? Scared? Sad? Loving? 

King Lion is a heartwarming story for the awfully fearsome and misunderstood creatures everywhere.

King Lion is a heartwarming story for all the awfully fearsome and misunderstood creatures everywhere.

A group of cheerful walruses, friendly birds and an inquisitive cat are living their best lives on an island where everyone says “YES!” It’s a happy existence: The walruses play sand volleyball (aka “Walrus Ball”), wear stylish hats and enjoy delicious treats from Café Donutto. Sure, only saying yes “was not so great when someone asked you to wear an itchy shirt or get a haircut,” but overall, the island’s culture of mutual agreement is working well for everyone.

Then, the Kid shows up. He breezily refuses to consider others’ requests, responding with a shocking “NO.” He even cuts the donut shop line and leaves with a bunch of pastries he didn’t pay for. The proprietor said yes, so what’s the problem?

Well, it’s a big problem for the walruses. They can’t play Walrus Ball because the Kid’s boat is sitting in their net. There are no more donuts to eat (he won’t share, of course). And it hurts when he bounces on the narrator walrus’s back and yanks their whiskers. Alas, things get even worse when more Kids arrive and gleefully wreak havoc on the once peaceful island.

Things can’t go on this way, so the walruses decide to teach each other how to say no. It’s a struggle at first: “I tried to say the new word,” the narrating walrus shares. “But my tries came out see-through like glass, light as dandelion puffs. They blew away in the wind.” But it’s the only way to protect their home. Will their new approach work?

The Island Before No is a super fun read, a visual treat and an excellent conversation starter all in one. Hudson Christie’s art perfectly complements Christina Uss’ engaging and uplifting tale, thanks to its appealing claymation-esque style, skillfully employed pastel colors and energy that bursts from every page. The walruses’ efforts to establish and enforce boundaries will resonate with readers of all ages, from their initial hesitance to their realization that practice makes close to perfect—especially if there are donuts involved. The Island Before No is a quirky gem of a tale that’s sure to elicit giggles even as it inspires confidence.

The Island Before No is a quirky gem of a tale that’s sure to elicit giggles even as it inspires confidence.
Review by

Growing up in Venezuela, Paola Santos hated having to clear the rotten fruit from beneath her family’s four mango trees, a chore that resulted in an early resistance to this delicious fruit. Her picture book debut, How to Eat a Mango, reclaims this experience with joy through the eyes (and ears, nose and mouth) of young Carmencita as she works with and learns from her Abuelita. Like the author, Carmencita doesn’t like the work of picking mangoes and thinks she also dislikes the fruit—until Abuelita explains, “There’s more to a mango, mi amor,” and teaches her the five steps of enjoying one. Abuelita takes Carmencita on a journey through all her senses and encourages a sense of gratitude towards the abundant goodness of the world around her.

That journey is told in lyrical language, beginning with, “Uno, we listen,” as the mango trees “whistle stories of sunrays and rain and those under its shade.” Juliana Perdamo’s accompanying illustrations are full of life and warmth and color, and combine with the writing to create a lush story that encourages young readers to tune in—with all their senses—to the many gifts nature has to offer. Simultaneously lively and meditative, How to Eat a Mango would make an excellent choice to teach kids about mindfulness. It is no quiet book, however; sensory experiences explode on each page, and young readers will appreciate the way Carmencita connects the mango to her own life: “Mangoes grow up! When I teach Carlitos to get dressed, I feel like a big kid.” Through it all, Santos weaves in the youthful wonder that she resisted as a child, explaining in an author’s note that, now that she lives in Canada, mangoes “embody my desire to go back in time and tell my younger self to pay attention.” With its simultaneous publication in Spanish, this gentle book will remind all its readers, young and old, of the joys of thoughtful attention.

Simultaneously lively and meditative, How to Eat a Mango would make an excellent addition to any series on mindfulness. It is no quiet book, however: Sensory experiences explode on each page.
STARRED REVIEW

4 picture books starring critter friends

Whether it’s rowing down a river, buying bread at the bakery, playing before bedtime, or just figuring out how to get out of a funk, the charming adventures of these little animals will put a smile on your face.
Share this Article:
Review by

Little Shrew lives a life similar to most people: He wakes up, goes to work and comes home to do his daily chores. But certain ordinary things are exciting enough to disrupt his neatly maintained schedule: solving his Rubik’s Cube, finding an old television set for sale and having friends visit his house. Soon, Little Shrew has a dream to leave behind his mundane life and visit a tropical island, “a beautiful place, like the one on the television.” But can the life he has continue to enchant him until that day?

Akiko Miyakoshi (I Dream of a Journey) quietly charms with Little Shrew, a cozy collection of three stories in which muted visuals in a rustic palette—created with Miyakoshi’s signature mix of wood charcoal, acrylic gouache and pencil—are paired perfectly with soothing yet sparse text, truly setting the mood of each story. 

Though Little Shrew dreams of going somewhere grand, it is the small things in his life that shine brightest. The best part of his day is when Little Shrew “buys two rye bread rolls and one white roll,” inspiration for an illustration that will immediately make readers long for a bakery. He lists beloved gifts from friends, which are as meaningful as any trip: “A jar of cherry blossom honey harvested in the spring. Mushrooms and chestnuts gathered in autumn. Fancy chocolate bars.” 

Little Shrew feels calm and grounded in a way that few picture books do. Readers will be left considering  the quiet, enchanting moments they can find amidst the humdrum of their daily lives. Little Shrew will be a beloved addition to the shelves of readers who loved Phoebe Wahl’s Little Witch Hazel or Yeorim Yoon’s It’s Ok, Slow Lizard, or fans of cozy classics and their film adaptations like Paddington and Winnie the Pooh.  

Little Shrew feels calm and grounded in a way that few picture books do. Readers will be left considering the quiet, enchanting moments they can find amidst the humdrum of their daily lives.
Review by

As long as there are bedtimes and children who’d like to avoid them, there will be picture books there to help: Moon Bear, written by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Carolina T. Godina, is an excellent addition to the fold.

Godina’s gouache and colored pencil illustrations introduce young Ettie as she cleans up, bathes, puts on pajamas and enjoys a story with her mother. But the comfort of her bedtime routine dissolves as soon as her mother turns out the light, leaving Ettie in the dark with a flashlight. The almost wordless format gives emerging readers the chance to interpret the story as they see it, and with its soft palette and gentle spirit, Welsh and Godina’s collaboration is sure to be loved by children and caregivers alike. 

Godina varies her layouts throughout, sometimes utilizing a comic book style to demonstrate bedtime moments over multiple panels, other times illustrating full spreads, as when Ettie’s fearful face peeks out of the covers in her darkened room. When twinkling light begins streaming through the break in her curtains. Ettie gets out to explore, testing the light tentatively before pulling it around to draw beautiful designs. Looking out the window, she notices how certain stars form the shape of a bear and connects them with the magical light, bringing the bear to life. At first shy, the bear soon starts to play with Ettie, trying on her slippers and testing her paintbrushes. 

Before long, they are both fast asleep, and when morning comes, Ettie can’t wait to start her day. The final pages show her rushing excitedly through her day, even announcing, “Time for bed, Mommy,” as the clock on the wall shows her to be 45 minutes ahead of her normal bedtime. With nods to such favorites as Frank Asch’s Moonbear and Eric Rohmann’s Clara and Asha, Moon Bear is a quiet reminder of the power of a child’s imagination. 

With its soft palette and gentle spirit, Clare Helen Welsh and Carolina T. Godina’s ode to bedtime is sure to be loved by children and caregivers alike.

A little bird is in a funk. But that’s OK, a grown-up bird reminds them. It’s OK to feel a little bit off sometimes: “No need to try to fix everything, but let’s move a few things around.” You never know what might make a tiny difference. In A Tiny Difference (Katherine Tegen, $19.99, 9780063114159), with the help of their grown-up and lots of friends, our little bird learns new techniques to connect with their body. To breathe, to stretch, to wiggle, to dance! At the same time, our friend also begins to reconnect with their mind, imagining everything from hot air balloons to aliens to a hug from a friend.

Writer and illustrator June Tate presents a tender poem from the perspective of a kind and loving adult, encouraging readers with simple, relatable language. Rather than telling us to breathe, Tate writes “fill up your rib cage” and “open up like a window.” Rather than reminding us to stretch, she tells us to “reach to the sides of the room” in order to “get out those crunchy bits.” The picture book concludes with the narrator listing all the traits that make the little bird special, reminding us as readers that we too are loved by those in our lives. 

Made with colored pencils, markers and watercolors, Tate’s illustrations are reminiscent of a child’s drawings. These deceptively simple images introduce friends to help out: A frog teaches us to breathe. A squirrel teaches us to stretch. A butterfly teaches us to squeeze and relax! Each creature’s expressions and actions are clear and relatable. 

Whether your young reader is anxious, worried or simply has had a hard day, this sweet, mindful book is sure to help all readers center themselves. Fans of Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds’ I Am books and Cori Doerrfeld’s The Rabbit Listened will be glad to add A Tiny Difference to their book shelves.

In A Tiny Difference, writer and illustrator June Tate presents a tender poem from the perspective of a kind and loving adult, encouraging young readers with simple, relatable language.

Get BookPage in your inbox

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday. 

Recent Features

Whether it’s rowing down a river, buying bread at the bakery, playing before bedtime, or just figuring out how to get out of a funk, the charming adventures of these little animals will put a smile on your face.
Review by

By day, Aminah stays busy seeing friends and eating mangoes while basking in the sunshine of her tropical home; at night, she enjoys cozy times with her grandfather, Da, as he reads aloud stories of great adventurers. Aminah’s world suddenly changes, when her parents announce they are moving and Da will stay behind. “I am always with you,” he advises. “You will find sunshine wherever you go.” Debut author Maryam Hassan, a first-generation child of Pakistani immigrants, writes in a realistic, reassuring way about displacement in Until You Find the Sun, a story that will appeal to a wide audience of young readers, whether the changes they face in their routines are big or small. 

Despite Da’s encouragement, Aminah struggles to find any sunshine in the cold, bustling city of her new home. Her only source of joy comes from calls with Da, to whom she yearns to return. Anna Wilson’s buoyant art energizes every page, highlighting the stark contrast between Aminah’s hometown—bathed in bright colors and “full of sparkles”—and her dreary new world, drenched in dark blue shadows. Eventually, a new winter coat, as bright as the sun, gives Aminah “a new glittering glow in her heart,” while an overnight snowfall opens her eyes to fresh types of beauty and joy. 

A new friend further rejuvenates Aminah, allowing her to start enjoying her situation. Wilson uses patterns and shades of bright orange and yellow as motifs that connect Aminah to both her native land and to Da. Toward the end, Aminah gazes with anticipation at her vision of a wintry, icy-blue castle high on a hill, a symbol of new adventures waiting to be discovered.

Until You Find the Sun is a joyful book that celebrates new adventures while acknowledging the challenges that transition may bring. It’s also a reminder of the powerful bond between grandparent and child, which remains even when distance keeps them apart.

Until You Find the Sun is a joyful book that celebrates new adventures while acknowledging the challenges that a big move may bring.
Review by

A child heads outdoors, walking through a verdant and hilly rural landscape, as the sun rises and a shadow appears as the “last hint of night.” Thus begins an evocative exploration of shadows, both literal and metaphorical, in There Was a Shadow, written by Bruce Handy and illustrated by Lisk Feng. 

Handy examines the omnipresent, big and small shadows of the natural world, from the noontime shadow a tree casts, to the subtle shadows that land on a face or water. Feng’s delicate, fine-lined illustrations bring these depictions to brilliant life on the page: The falling light casts the faintest shadows across the protagonist’s face as she stares straight at the reader. Feng then depicts sunlight shimmering upon rippling water, creating shadows in various shades of blue, which Handy describes as being “like a dance.” 

A “thinking shadow . . . you could feel but not see” also plagues the protagonist: the feeling of worry. But it’s momentary and soon darts away. As all the children head home, the shadows of late afternoon stretch until they disappear altogether with the setting sun. Dinner is served among cozy and comforting indoor shadows. Feng gives readers a peek of the night landscape with a palette of deep, rich cobalt and sapphire blues, while Handy closes the book with a satisfying and thought-provoking question about memories and dreams.

It is with tenderness and reverence for the interior world of children that Handy tells this multilayered story. There Was a Shadow flows like poetry and sparkles with Feng’s beautifully wielded, sun-dappled colors, which impart mood and mystery. It’s easy to get lost in these shadows, and when the journey ends, readers will want to head right back to the book’s beginning.

There Was a Shadow brims with Bruce Handy’s tenderness and reverence for the interior world of children and sparkles with Lisk Feng's beautifully wielded, sun-dappled colors.
Review by

Pulitzer-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) takes his first foray into children’s books with Simone, a thoughtful and emotionally intense family story set during the California fire season. Simone, a young Vietnamese American girl, is dreaming of floating in the ocean when she is awakened by her mother (whom she calls M&aacute, the only Vietnamese word she knows). A wildfire is approaching their town, and they’ve been ordered to evacuate.

Simone and her mother are prepared with go bags and an evacuation route—but even then Simone has to make tough choices: “I’ll be back for you,” she reluctantly says to the books and toys she can’t take. The pain of leaving things behind and the panic of vacating her home in an emergency remind Simone’s m&aacute of when floods forced her to evacuate her childhood home in Vietnam and abandon everything but her precious crayons. Despite the disorientation and chaos at the evacuation shelter, Simone’s m&aacute helps Simone find a path forward: “You don’t fight fire with fire, / You fight fire with water,” she says.

Minnie Phan’s hand-lettered text reinforces Simone’s first-person perspective, and Phan’s colored pencil and watercolor palette gorgeously interprets the book’s themes. Simone dreams in color, but when she awakens, the world is black and white, with the only remaining colors the red and orange of the flames. Likewise, her mother’s memories of Vietnam are blue, like the floodwaters that engulfed her home. Toward the end, as Simone and her new friends use artwork to remember their homes and to re-imagine their future, color returns to the pages. The illustrations combine with Nguyen’s words—“It’s up to us”—to offer a vision of hope and healing in the wake of generations of displacement.

In Simone, Minnie Phan’s illustrations combine with Viet Thanh Nguyen’s prose to offer a vision of hope and healing in the wake of generations of displacement.
Review by

After sharing a year with Mouse in Mouse’s Wood, young readers can now enjoy a day on the river with Mouse on the River: A Journey Through Nature, a quiet picture book full of charm. As the titular hero spends the day rowing down a river that eventually meets the sea, the most dramatic event is a passing rainstorm—making this a good choice for a soothing bedtime tale.

William Snow’s rhyming text moves the story along as Mouse begins his solo journey early in the morning, while fellow anthropomorphic friends wave goodbye from the dock. This is very much an experiential book, with a multitude of details to scour, beginning with the full-spread map showing Mouse’s planned route. Numerous die-cut flaps encourage keen observation as they reveal cozy, detailed interiors of buildings along the way, including a floating house, a café and a treehouse. Additional fold-out flaps appearing as trees enhance the sense of Mouse’s ongoing progress, enlarging several scenes beyond the book’s borders. Once the journey is complete, an illustrated list of Mouse’s equipment—as well as depictions of flora and fauna encountered along the way—will encourage enthusiastic readers to go back and find these items. 

The star of this show is Alice Melvin’s rich illustrations, which are chock-full of details: squirrels having tea inside a bright cafe; a fox waiting on a customer in a well-stocked bakery; Mouse camping snugly in the rowboat underneath the stars. The book brings to mind another one that quickly became a favorite in our house when my girls were young: Welcome to Mouse Village, written by Gyles Brandreth and illustrated by Mary Hall.

Mouse on the River is a well-planned, enchanting adventure worthy of repeat enjoyment.

Mouse on the River is a well-planned, enchanting adventure in which the most dramatic event is a passing rainstorm—making this richly illustrated picture book a good choice for a soothing bedtime tale.
Review by

Quietly and sweetly, before the sun rises, a father finds his daughter already awake in anticipation and places a cowboy hat on her head. This will be a “just us” morning: They will ride the streets of their cityscape on horseback, Daddy on his longtime mare, Power, and our young narrator on her pony, Clover. 

Along with the rest of the city, Mommy and the girl’s little brother are still asleep, but Abuelita is up first as usual, her coffee brewed strong. She gives the narrator a paper bag of apple slices and sends the two on their way. They travel by motorcycle to a backyard ranch in the middle of the city, complete with horse stalls and hay. The narrator splits her apple slices between Power and Clover, enjoying Power’s “soft, velvety nose,” and Clover’s mane that “looks kind of like the hay she eats but feels softer.” Then they brush, saddle up and ride through the streets of the sleeping city until the sun rises and the city wakes up. 

There is so much to love about My Daddy Is a Cowboy, a gorgeous book that celebrates Black urban horsemanship. The illustrations by C.G. Esperanza are breathtaking, awash in color with bold swaths of paint that make sharp contrasts between the dark predawn and the splashes of color from Daddy’s purple jacket, the narrator’s hair beads and her little leather cowboy boots. Their facial expressions are captured so perfectly: You can see the wonder on the child’s face as they ride, as well as the love in Daddy’s eyes as he watches his little cowboy continue a sacred tradition. Readers can look at their faces and call to mind someone they love dearly, remembering all the times they shared together over something special and intimate—something for “just us.” 

This book hits all the high points of Black cowboy culture and will be a must-have on the shelf for all budding enthusiasts eager to see themselves represented authentically and beautifully. Giddyup! 

There is so much to love about My Daddy Is a Cowboy, a gorgeous book that celebrates Black urban horsemanship.
Review by

As long as there are bedtimes and children who’d like to avoid them, there will be picture books there to help: Moon Bear, written by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Carolina T. Godina, is an excellent addition to the fold.

Godina’s gouache and colored pencil illustrations introduce young Ettie as she cleans up, bathes, puts on pajamas and enjoys a story with her mother. But the comfort of her bedtime routine dissolves as soon as her mother turns out the light, leaving Ettie in the dark with a flashlight. The almost wordless format gives emerging readers the chance to interpret the story as they see it, and with its soft palette and gentle spirit, Welsh and Godina’s collaboration is sure to be loved by children and caregivers alike. 

Godina varies her layouts throughout, sometimes utilizing a comic book style to demonstrate bedtime moments over multiple panels, other times illustrating full spreads, as when Ettie’s fearful face peeks out of the covers in her darkened room. When twinkling light begins streaming through the break in her curtains. Ettie gets out to explore, testing the light tentatively before pulling it around to draw beautiful designs. Looking out the window, she notices how certain stars form the shape of a bear and connects them with the magical light, bringing the bear to life. At first shy, the bear soon starts to play with Ettie, trying on her slippers and testing her paintbrushes. 

Before long, they are both fast asleep, and when morning comes, Ettie can’t wait to start her day. The final pages show her rushing excitedly through her day, even announcing, “Time for bed, Mommy,” as the clock on the wall shows her to be 45 minutes ahead of her normal bedtime. With nods to such favorites as Frank Asch’s Moonbear and Eric Rohmann’s Clara and Asha, Moon Bear is a quiet reminder of the power of a child’s imagination. 

With its soft palette and gentle spirit, Clare Helen Welsh and Carolina T. Godina’s ode to bedtime is sure to be loved by children and caregivers alike.
Review by

Little Shrew lives a life similar to most people: He wakes up, goes to work and comes home to do his daily chores. But certain ordinary things are exciting enough to disrupt his neatly maintained schedule: solving his Rubik’s Cube, finding an old television set for sale and having friends visit his house. Soon, Little Shrew has a dream to leave behind his mundane life and visit a tropical island, “a beautiful place, like the one on the television.” But can the life he has continue to enchant him until that day?

Akiko Miyakoshi (I Dream of a Journey) quietly charms with Little Shrew, a cozy collection of three stories in which muted visuals in a rustic palette—created with Miyakoshi’s signature mix of wood charcoal, acrylic gouache and pencil—are paired perfectly with soothing yet sparse text, truly setting the mood of each story. 

Though Little Shrew dreams of going somewhere grand, it is the small things in his life that shine brightest. The best part of his day is when Little Shrew “buys two rye bread rolls and one white roll,” inspiration for an illustration that will immediately make readers long for a bakery. He lists beloved gifts from friends, which are as meaningful as any trip: “A jar of cherry blossom honey harvested in the spring. Mushrooms and chestnuts gathered in autumn. Fancy chocolate bars.” 

Little Shrew feels calm and grounded in a way that few picture books do. Readers will be left considering  the quiet, enchanting moments they can find amidst the humdrum of their daily lives. Little Shrew will be a beloved addition to the shelves of readers who loved Phoebe Wahl’s Little Witch Hazel or Yeorim Yoon’s It’s Ok, Slow Lizard, or fans of cozy classics and their film adaptations like Paddington and Winnie the Pooh.  

Little Shrew feels calm and grounded in a way that few picture books do. Readers will be left considering the quiet, enchanting moments they can find amidst the humdrum of their daily lives.

“Shabbat is the best day of the week and today is the best best day of all.” So begins Joyful Song, a cheerful contemporary story celebrating Jewish naming traditions, from the award-winning team of Lesléa Newman and Susan Gal.  

Zachary, the story’s narrator, is a new big brother—and especially proud to be pushing the carriage holding his new baby sister as he and both of his moms make their way to the synagogue. As they walk through their neighborhood, the family greets neighbors curious about the new baby. Of course, everyone wants to know her name. 

But although the baby has been called by cute nicknames such as “Little Babka,” “Snuggle Bunny” and “Shayneh Maideleh” (which means “beautiful girl”), Zachary is careful to explain that her real name will be announced on that very day, at her naming ceremony. 

Before long, friends join in to accompany the family in a happy parade. At the synagogue, Zachary steps up to play a leading role, reciting the words he has been practicing to get right. And just as the baby opens her eyes and stretches her hands out to him, he announces that she will be called Aliza Shira, which means “joyful song.” After a community lunch in the social hall, the family hurries home, where their two little dogs greet them with excited barking. 

Gal’s bright, exuberant palate is highlighted by brilliant sunshiny golds and luscious coral and orange shades. The colorful, vibrant art brings a natural warmth to the array of diverse characters depicted throughout. In an author’s note, Newman provides information about naming ceremonies and traditions around the choice of names, sharing that she was named for her grandfather who died just months before she was born. Hebrew translations are provided for several names as well. 

A final question in this heartwarming book opens the door to further conversations for all kinds of families: “Everybody’s name has an interesting story. What’s the story of yours?” 

Susan Gal’s colorful, vibrant art brings a natural warmth to the array of diverse characters depicted throughout Lesléa Newman’s Joyful Song.

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Recent Reviews

Author Interviews

Recent Features