Books to Bring Home Refugees’ Experiences

Today’s post is written by Emerson Heflin, of Publisher Spotlight’s marketing team.

In 2001, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 20th to be World Refugee Day. Every year, countries across the world celebrate World Refugee Week to rally welcome and support for refugees, and in recent years, an increasing number of books for children feature the incredible stories of refugees that make excellent stories and conversation starters to share with young readers. Visit your library or bookstore today to add to your own World Refugee Week collection with some of our favorites.

There's Room for Everyone cover

Tiny Owl Publishing provides There’s Room for Everyone, a touching allegory for war and the refugee crisis. As he lies awake at night, a young boy sees that there’s enough room in the sky for all the stars and the moon. He notices there is enough room in the ocean for all the fish and even the whales. So why do people and countries fight for space when clearly there’s enough room for everyone?This young child’s reflections carry a profound message of peace and tolerance.

Adrift at Sea from Pajama Press tells the dramatic true story of Too Young to Escape coverAdrift at Sea coverTuan Ho’s recount of the flight of Vietnam’s “boat people” refugees. In 1981 at six years old, he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam’s military police for the perilous chance to board a boat for freedom. Complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with photographs, this nonfiction picture book is an important read as the world responds to a new generation of refugees. Don’t forget to check out its companion title Too Young to Escape to read about Tuan’s sister Van who was too young for the dangerous journey.

Tilbury House Publishers’ Who Belongs Here, can be used to teach compassion for recent Who Belongs Here? coverimmigrants and refugees. Nary, a young boy fleeing war-torn Cambodia for the safety of the United States, is having some issues with classmates who think he should go back where he belongs. But what if everyone whose family cam from another place was forced to return to his or her homeland. Who would be left in the United States?

This Is My World cover

In This Is My World from Lonely Planet Kids, young readers are introduced to over 80 real kids from across the globe, including some who currently live in refugee camps in Algeria, Jordan, and Sudan. This book can be used as a great resource for insight into the lives of children currently in a refugee crisis and perhaps teach other readers that they are not much different than children in the United States.

Barefoot Books’La Frontera: El viaje con papa/ My La Frontera coverJourney with Papa is inspired by the childhood immigration experience of co-author Alfredo Alva to the United States in the 1980’s. Alva tells of the arduous journey he and his father took from Mexico to the safety of the U.S. The book also includes 4 pages of endnotes that unpack facts about Alfredo’s story and other stories like his / borders and borders around the world to help parents and educators talk with children about immigration, resilience, empathy and belonging.

For older readers, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle from Floris Books offers a story of friendship and belonging through the relationship of twelve-year-old Syrian refugee Reema, and her Glaswegian neighbor Caylin. Reema is struggling to find her place Fox Girl and the White Gazelle coverin a new country with a new language and without her brother. Her neighbor Caylin has her own day to day struggles with loneliness and friendship. When an injured fox and her cubs take up residence in the girls’ apartment complex, their mutual love of animals helps them realize that they might have more in common than they initially realized. Inspired by author Victoria Williamson’s work with the Scottish Refugee Council, this story will speak to anyone who has ever asked “where do I belong?”

For more information about World Refugee Week and how you can take action in your own community, please visit

Eisner Award Nominations Are In!

Each year at the San Diego Comic-Con, the world’s arguably most noteworthy comic books awards are announced. And each spring before that July event, the nominees are announced and any comics professional–including librarians who work with comics in their libraries–can participate in the voting.  This year, Image Comics  has made quite a showing, with nominations of multiple titles in each of multiple categories. We have other publisher friends in various divisional award lists here, too:

This Is a Taco! coverFrom Lion Forge’s Cub House imprint, This Is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose and Josh Shipley is a finalist in the Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8) section. Read the interview Brigid Alverson conducted with the team who imagined the squirrelly taco eater tale for School Library Journal. 

One of Image Comics’ many showings among the finalists Norroway Book 1 coveris Norroway, Book 1: The Black Bull of Norroway, by Cat Seaton and Kit Seaton, is “a fantasy graphic novel series from the sibling team of Cat and Kit Seaton, is inspired by an old European fairy tale.” (See the School Library Journal in full here.)  This is on the Best Publication for Teens (ages 13 to 17) finalist slate.

We have more comics and graphic novel award news, too! Look for aour next post, featuring the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards‘ finalists announced in Denver earlier this spring.



Green Earth Book Awards Announced

Just in time for April’s Earth Day celebrations, The Nature Generation has announced the 2019 Green Earth Book Awards  for titles published for children and teens. Congratulations to Pajama Press, this year’s winning publisher in the Children’s Fiction category, and publisher of one of the Honor titles in the Children’s Nonfiction category.

The Flooded Earth, by Mardi McConnochie, is described by the Green Earth Book Award judges The Flooded Earth coveraptly as a “breakneck pace adventure that draws readers into a race against pirates, authorities, and the sea itself in a not-so-distant future full of new technology and old human failings.” Congratulations  to Mardi McConnochie for adding this award to the praise her children’s novel (part of a trilogy) continues to collect!

Bat Citizens, by Rob Laidlaw and illustrated by Barry Kent MacKay, Bat Citizens cover“is a book that will both instruct and inspire” said the judges when conferring Honors on it in the Children’s Nonfiction category. Congratulations to author and illustrator, as well as to Pajama Press!

Green Earth Book Awards 2019

Happy National Library Week!

In the US, it’s National Library Week, and we love our librarians! Many of you who follow us here work in libraries or are enthusiastic library users. Let’s celebrate libraries with a few good books–because that’s who we are (even though we recognize that, today, libraries are a lot more than “just books”).

Clive Is a Librarian coverJessica Spanyol’s board book Clive Is a Librarian, from Child’s Play, is our obvious first stop, both developmentally and in terms of straight identification. Clive demonstrates the variety of activities in which librarians take part, including making reading suggestions to visitors and arranging programming!

Library staff do engage in a wide and energetic range of Monkey on the Run covertasks. We think Gecko Press’s Monkey on the Run, by Leo Timmers, does a good job of capturing that pace and wide variation of activities! Library folks, take a break with this wordless wonder (which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly) and we promise you’ll feel refreshed of humor as you run about your workday.

Absolutely Everything coverSince libraries are where we find authoritative information about just anything at all, Christopher Lloyd’s Absolutely Everything: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots, and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention, published by What on Earth?, offers a sound reflection! Browse, skim, or plunge right in!

Thank you, libraries and library staff, for keeping the informational and literary lights on!

Let’s Hear It for Multilingual Board Books!

Hello, World interior
Language is the marvelous attribute and skill that helps bind us together in relationships between individuals and across whole cultures. Being able to use more than a single language expands our capacities to:

  • Consider other people’s perspectives
  • Learn even more languages
  • Improve problem solving skills
  • Become better aware of our surroundings

Spring/Primaver and Amazing Me Dressing Up coversLearning language from the start through exposure to multiple languages can provide lifetime benefits.

If you don’t know multiple languages yourself, you can get a boost from a variety of multilingual board books to support exposing your baby to the many ways people around the world greet each each other, imitate animals, and other baby-centric high interest content.  Some new ones from our publishers include:

Hello, World, and Good Night, World coversHello, World, and Good Night, World, both illustrated by Alessandra Szmidt, published by
Flowerpot Press, provide lap sitters with sweet page spreads of the titular phrase rendered in
different languages by animals from the place the language is spoken.

Two new series of board books published by Child’s Play offer bilingual English andSpring/Primavera page spread Spanish experiences. The “Amazing Me” series, by Carol Thompson, depicts toddlers engaged in Dressing Up!/¡Me disfrazo! and other activities
such as dancing and singing. a set of four seasonal books by Ailie Busby (Spring/Primavera, and so forth) show and tell diverse children engaged in activities from dressing for the season’s weather to enjoying nature to playtime choices befitting the time of year.

Good Night, World interiorBreak out of your monolingualism when you read to your little one! There are many easy ways to find a way to share how other languages talk about the day.

Inclusive Board Books for Every Bunny

Bib on Bunny! board book interiorWhat better way to celebrate World Down Syndrome Awareness Day  than with bright new board books from two different publishers! Both Child’s Play and Barefoot Books have new board book series inclusively featuring energetic and engaged toddlers. There are kids wearing glasses, kids of African heritage and Asian heritage, books in Spanish as well as English, and books with kids who have Down Syndrome.

From Child’s Play, a brand new series of board books includes a little finger puppet in each title, durably bound to the back and poking through dye cuts on each page as well as the cover. Each book gives us a different toddler and puppet-as-playmate as the children bounce along pulling a wagon, taking a bath, getting tucked in with a bedtime story, and enjoying a meal. The volume in this “Chatterbook” series, all by Jo Byatt, titled Bib On, Bunny! features  an amiable toddler whose care to get the bunny appropriately bib-wearing before dining speaks to every little one while also showing, without remark, clear Down Syndrome features.

Baby's Day set

The newest series of board books from Barefoot Books, “Baby’s Day” offers four titles with the themes of Talk, Play, Dream, and Food. Each book is filled with black and white photos of a wide range of toddlers and babies engaged in the title interest, with each page spread standing alone as an image to enjoy and chat about with your little lapsitter. The Baby Play volume sports a cover baby with clear Down Syndrome features, adding another welcome layer to the wide-ranging inclusiveness of the photos.

As ever, inclusive books like these are for all children, not just those whose own persons or even families might include people who look like the pictures. Share the world of toddlers with your own toddler and celebrate every kind of baby!

Fun with Numbers


Pi Day (3/14) approaches, so bake a pie and pull up a good book that features more fun with numbers!

3 X 4 page spread

An award-winner from Toon Books, Ivan Brunetti’s 3 X 4  offers both a fun and fascinating look at multiplication that is accessible for readers as young as three. How many ways can you sort 12 things into even amounts?  You can use socks, spoons, or other common household objects to give the ideas here a spin. As the kids in the class show, paper and crayons work well, too!

Is 2 a Lot coverArriving soon from Tilbury House Publishers, Is 2 a Lot?, by Annie Watson and with hilariously detailed illustrations by Rebecca Evans, explores the concept that whether an amount is a lot or not depends on the particular “what” it is counting. Two pennies may not be a lot, but two skunks in your path? That’s a lot! In addition (get it?) to ever-increasing numbers, there’s a second story happening in the illustrations here. Does the patient mother explaining whether the number in question is lot (100 snowflakes, not so much, but 100 candles on a cake is a lot) know that the road trip she and her questioning child are taking is the opportunity for her car to fill with some of the examples she’s offering? Dinosaurs! Cowboys! A knight in shining armor!  A dog! People eating ice cream cones! That’s a lot of passengers!

Pass the Pandowdy, Please coverDo you need a pie recipe to put your new number sense to work on Pi Day? Pick up Tilbury House’s award winning Pass the Pandowdy, Please, by Eric and Abby Zelz. After your tour of foods eaten throughout history by a healthy variety of famous folk, you’ll find a recipe in the back of this book for Abraham Lincoln’s favorite pie, apple pandowdy. Happy measuring! And remember, no matter which round pie pan you use, the ratio of its circumference to it’s diameter will always be pi, or 3.14….

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Young Readers

First celebrated after women gained suffrage rights in Russia, in 1917, International Women’s Day was recognized by the United Nations in 1975. In recent years, an increasing number of books for children feature strong women and girls that make excellent stories to share with young readers. Visit your library or book store today to add to your own International Women’s Day collection with some of our favorites.

What's My Superpower coverFrom Nunavut’s Inhabit Media, celebrate with Nalvana, a little girl discovering her possibilities in What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston and with cheerful and universally appealing illustrations by Tim  Mack. Nalvana’s superpower is one to which children everywhere can appreciate and aim to make their own.

The Truly Brave Princesses, by Dolores Brown and with The Truly Brave Princesses coverillustrations by Sonja Wimmer, is published by Spain’s NubeOcho in both Spanish and English versions. From astronauts to office workers, photographers and mothers, all manner of everyday “princesses” with all manner of personal styles, abilities, and challenges, surround us everywhere in both this book and in the world.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess coverWinner of the middle grade category in the 2018 Schneider Family Book Awards, Shari Green’s junior novel Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, from Canada’s Pajama Press, provides readers with two women to celebrate: Macy herself is an Every Girl who happens to be deaf and her elderly neighbor makes magic with baked goods—the magic of friendship and support, including the support of needing help herself and thus giving Macy the opportunity to grow.

Rosa Loves Dinosaurs coverJessica Spanyol’s board book series from British publisher Child’s Play offers the very youngest readers a series featuring Rosa. Bespectacled toddler Rosa loves dinosaurs, plays with toy trains, and is happy with her friends in a gender-free and realistic contemporary world.

New Zealand’s Gecko Press has provided us with the Belgian The Old man coverpicture book The Old Man, by Sarah V. and Clause K. Dubois. In a simple and accessible story that features both homelessness and the uncertain mental health of the titular character, a little girl offers significant help. This little woman’s capacity to meet people where they are, accept them, and provide what she can is inspiring for readers of all ages.

German Calendar No December coverGraphic novel readers can celebrate International Women’s Day with the brand new book from Nigeria’s Cassava Republic, German Calendar No December. Sylvia Ofili and artist Bergit Weyhe provide an accessible coming of age story about a truly international girl who seeks places to fit in, eventually realizing her best fit is to be herself.

May your International Women’s Day be filled with inspiration, celebration, and, as ever, great books to support the world we share.



Listen Up: We’ve Got (Another) Winner!


Esquivel! coverThe 24thannual Audie Awards ceremony, held 4 March 2019, made one of our publishers a star—again! The Audies are the premier awards program in the United States recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment.

In the category of Young Listeners, Live Oak Media was represented by two of the five finalists. Esquivel! Space Age Sound Artist  is a picture book introduction to Mexican musician Juan Garcia Esquivel, written by Susan Wood and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, first published in print By Charlesbridge and turned by the Live Oak Media artistry and engineering into a fully soundscaped feast, read by Brian Amador, with singing by Rosi and Brian Amador.

Before She Was Harriet, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and with Coretta Scott King Award Honors for illustration by James E. Ransome, came to a full cast performance in Live Oak Media’s studio, featuring SiSi Johnson, January LaVoy, Lisa Renee Pitts, and Bahni Turpin:

Before She Was Harriet audiobook cover
"Listeners travel back through time to explore the life of Harriet Tubman, guided by four African–American narrators. Lisa Renee Pitts, Bahni Turpin, January LaVoy, and SiSi Aisha Johnson narrate in turn to describe Tubman's voice rising in protest as a suffragist, the heroics of General Tubman, the secrecy of her work as a Union spy, all the way back to her childhood as a slave when her father taught her to read the stars. Sounds of horse-drawn carriages, marching soldiers, spirituals, and rushing rivers pair beautifully with the watercolor illustrations to help listeners imagine the many roles that Tubman played over her lifetime. The audiobook concludes with each narrator's echoing intonation of those roles, listing the many accomplishments of her life and honoring her legacy."     
                                                    - AudioFile Magazine

With these two strong contenders, Live Oak Media went to the Audies 2019 ceremony with good prospects. And, indeed, they created the winning Young Listener audiobook for the year! Before She Was Harriet, the full cast of highly regarded narrators (who can count many other Audie Awards across the years among them), and Live Oak Media added another medal to their recognition.

Congratulations to all!

You can hear a clip from the winning audiobook at the end of this AudioFile Magazine review.

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day and we have all kinds of inspiration to help you find a favorite to share.

Cinderella of the Nile coverFrom Tiny Owl Books, you can pick up  Cinderella of the Nile, as told by Beverly Naidoo and with evocative and detailed art by Marjan Vafaeian.  This story has many cultural variations, with this version, part of Tiny Owl’s “One Story, Many Voices” series, based on an Egyptian tale.

Stylish graphic artist Bethan Woollvin’s Hansel & Gretel, from Hansel & Gretel cover
Peachtree Publishers, presents the familiar Grimm Brothers’ story with a twist: here we see it all from the witch’s point of view.

Little Red Wolf coverAnother nicely twisted fairy tale set-up comes from Amélie Fléchais, published in translation from French by Jeremy Melloul for Lion Forge. The Little Red Wolf turns Perrault’s classic tale around several times and what emerges is a delightful graphic novel for Born Bad coveryoung and older to share. For a completely different take on wolfish identity, cicada Books offers Born Bad, by C. K. Smouha and illustrated by Stephen Smith. Rather than a fairy tale, this one offers a compelling backstory for the dissatisfaction felt by fairy tales’ perennial bad guy.

The Princess and the Pea coverXanthe Gresham’s retelling of Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, published by Barefoot Books,  is richly alliterative, making it a great read-aloud. The artwork here, by Miss Clara is luminous and ever-changing in styles as each successive princess takes the prince’s—and readers’—attention.

An Illustrated Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, illustrated by Anastasiya Archipova and published by Floris A Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy TalesBooks, delivers eight fairy tale favorites, including “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Snow Queen.” This edition does a good job of offering both gift-worthy elegance and accessibility by small children.

Ready to get started telling a fairy tale today?