Category Archives: Picture books

123 Who Comes Next? for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 #ReadYourWorld #123WhoComesNext?

This Thursday 26 January 2023 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD), a day for celebrating diversity in children’s books. I am pleased to be a MCBD reviewer for the fifth time this year; and was delighted to receive a copy of 123 Who Comes Next? from Star Bright Books.

About the Book

Here comes a boy, that is 1. Next comes a girl, that together makes 2. A lady joins the two, which makes them 3. Then comes a dog! How many will they make?

Creatures great and small—and even a vegetable— all come together to help children learn to count 1 to 10 and to recognize numbers. Young readers will be eager to see who comes next, and what number they are. The last page, of course, is the most surprising and fun to all. Artist Amy Matsushita-Beal presents a simple and delightful counting book of diverse characters. The whimsical details on each character add another layer of playfulness for young children.

  • Board Book / Recommended Ages 2-4 years
  • Also available in Haitian Creole/English and Spanish/English bilingual editions.

This delightful counting board book of diverse characters will be available in May 2023. It was created for a Haitian Creole book project at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. School Library Journal (Starred Review) calls it “remarkably clever count book” and “an essential purchase for all collections.”


About the Author/Illustrator

Amy Matsushita-Beal is a freelance illustrator, designer, and hand-lettering artist based in Tokyo. Amy was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from the Art Center College of Design. While presented in a variety of styles, Amy’s work tends to focus on people, their intentions, and vibrancy in color and character. 123 Who Comes Next? is Amy’s first book with Star Bright Books. Visit: amymatsushitabeal.com

What I like about 123 Who Comes Next?

This counting book 123 Who Comes Next? is surprisingly delightful. By that, I mean it delights with a surprise at every page turn.

We’re all familiar with books that count from one to ten and know just what to expect. It’s true that this book fulfills those expectations, starting with one friendly boy greeting one friendly girl, adding one more on each page up to ten.

What surprises and delights, both characters and readers, is what is added to each page. The characters’ differing reactions to each newcomer create humour and provide opportunities for discussions of emotions, reactions and reasons for responding so. The minimal text (simply numeral and number word) leaves plenty of room for storytelling.

On the other hand, being able to focus on the numerals and number words helps develop number recognition as well as counting. In addition, having the numerals written on each of the characters in order of their appearance helps to develop one-to-one correspondence, an early number concept just as important as the ability to count.

I won’t give away any more. I’ll just say that this fun book provides many opportunities for language development as well learning beginning number concepts. The inclusion of diverse characters broadens its appeal. It’s a fun one to add to the collection. We can never have too many counting books.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

(Information supplied by MCBD)

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 (1/26/22) is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2023 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Pragmaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

🏅 Super Platinum Sponsor: Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

🏅 Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages 

🏅 Gold Sponsors: Interlink Books, Publisher Spotlight 

🏅 Silver Sponsors: Cardinal Rule Press,  Lee & Low, Barefoot Books, Kimberly Gordon Biddle

🏅 Bronze Sponsors: Vivian Kirkfield, Patrice McLaurin , Quarto Group, Carole P. Roman, Star Bright Books, Redfin.com, Redfin Canada, Bay Equity Home Loans, Rent.com, Title Forward

Poster Artist:  Lisa Wee

Classroom Kit Poster: Led Bradshaw

MCBD 2023 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Authors: Sivan Hong, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Josh Funk , Stephanie M. Wildman, Gwen Jackson, Diana Huang, Afsaneh Moradian, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Eugenia Chu, Jacqueline Jules, Alejandra Domenzain, Gaia Cornwall, Ruth Spiro, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young/Twin Powers Books, Kimberly Lee , Tameka Fryer Brown, Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Marcia Argueta Mickelson, Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Jennie Liu, Heather Murphy Capps, Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, John Coy, Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Maritza M Mejia, Lois Petren, J.C. Kato and J.C.², CultureGroove, Lindsey Rowe Parker, Red Comet Press, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, Nancy Tupper Ling, Deborah Acio, Asha Hagood, Priya Kumari, Chris Singleton, Padma Venkatraman, Teresa Robeson, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Martha Seif Simpson, Rochelle Melander, Alva Sachs, Moni Ritchie Hadley, Gea Meijering, Frances Díaz Evans, Michael Genhart, Angela H. Dale, Courtney Kelly, Queenbe Monyei, Jamia Wilson, Charnaie Gordon, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Debbie Zapata, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Natasha Yim, Tracy T. Agnelli, Kitty Feld, Anna Maria DiDio, Ko Kim, Shachi Kaushik 

MCBD 2023 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2023 is Honored to be Supported by theseMedia Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

📌 FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

📌 Register for the MCBD Read Your World Virtual Party

Join us on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 9 pm EST for the 10th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Read Your World Virtual Party!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away a 10-Book Bundle during the virtual party plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, and connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. We look forward to seeing you all on January 26, 2023, at our virtual party!}

Cheese on Toast, a new picture book by Kelly Louise Jarris – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a fun new picture book Cheese on Toast, written by Kelly Louise Jarris. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About author Kelly Louise Jarris

As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. Her third, fun picture book is Cheese on Toast.

Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.

Visit Kelly Louise Jarris at her website.

About Cheese on Toast

“I don’t want this yucky roast.

I just want some cheese on toast.”

Mum has prepared a delicious roast for dinner full of healthy vegetables like green beans, peas and carrots, but her son is not pleased. Will mum be able to convince him to give it a try?

This quirky, fun book is about a little boy who would rather have cheese on toast than mum’s yummy roast. Cheese On Toast is designed to get kids involved in the story while reading out aloud.

This catchy rhyme encourages reluctant readers to recite the words and participate in the story.

Kids can look out for a secret little carrot character hiding on each page, making it a little interactive for even the youngest readers.

What I like about Cheese on Toast

The child narrator of Cheese on Toast will be familiar to many parents with his insistence on having cheese on toast for dinner, rather than the lovely roast meal that his mum has prepared. Some children will eat anything that’s put in front of them, (I had one of those.) while some tend to the fussy side. (I also had one of those.) Getting the fussy ones to accept new tastes can be problematic for parents. Why not look on the lighter side with a fun picture book?

The rhythmic rhyming text with the repetitive refrain ‘What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast’ encourages children to

Continue reading: Cheese on Toast, a new picture book by Kelly Louise Jarris – readilearn

Little People Big Emotions by Kylie Mort and Tiina Morton – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Little People Big Emotions written by Kylie Mort, illustrated by Tiina Morton and published by Serenity Press. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About the author Kylie Mort

Kylie Mort is many things, but she is a wordsmith at heart. An International Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author with multiple award-winning publications, she is also an App Developer with a NEW FREE APP, available on Google Play and The Apple App Store, that supports essay writing in targeted Question and Answer templates. “How to Write with Kylie Mort” guides students one sentence at a time through a step-by-step process that concludes with a complete and easily downloaded full essay! Due to her educational background as a qualified and registered secondary school teacher, Kylie’s main day-to-day activity is mentoring and coaching as an online tutor.

She likes to connect to the world from her farm in North-East Victoria, Australia.

About Little People Big Emotions

The Blurb

Sometimes my mind is a curious butterfly that flits from one idea to the next…a playful puppy that can’t concentrate…a busy blender that mixes things up…a mean monster that makes me feel bad. That’s OK because my parents and teachers know how to help me deal with all the emotions that feel so BIG. I can learn what to do when my mind is a mean monster…a busy blender…a playful puppy…and a curious butterfly…and I smile, knowing I am safe, and loved, and special. Focused on building resilience, self-worth and positive mental health in our young people, this is a beautifully inspiring parenting resource written by an internationally best-selling author qualified in Education, NLP, Performance Coaching and Psychology.

What I like about Little People Big Emotions

Little People Big Emotions is immediately captivating. The cover with its bold, bright colours and fun bouncy lettering invites us to enter. The joyous mood continues as we turn the pages, past the colourful title page to the first spread, where we encounter butterflies flitting across the landscape.

Continue reading: Little People Big Emotions by Kylie Mort and Tiina Morton – readilearn

The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book The Rabbit’s Magician, written by Shae Millwood, illustrated by Andy Fackrell and published by Ford Street Publishing. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About the author Shae Millward

Shae Millward is an enthusiastic advocate for literacy. She aims to inspire through a love of books, the joy of reading and writing, and the art of storytelling. Shae enjoys writing picture books, poetry, song lyrics, inspirational quotes, short stories and more. Shae’s other books include A Boy and a Dog and Koalas Like To…

About illustrator Andy Fackrell

Andy Fackrell is one of the most awarded and recognised multi-dimensional creatives in the world. A career in advertising earned him the highest honours, including the Cannes Grand Prix in film for his work for Nike. A true creative nomad, living and working in all continents — Antarctica excepted — he is now a film maker exploring documentaries on social and environmental issues. Andy lives by the beach in Sydney. This is his second book.

About The Rabbit’s Magician

The Rabbit’s Magician is a gentle story of love, loss and comfort for 3 to 8 years olds.

The blurb

Ziggy’s beloved magician has performed an amazing disappearing trick. But just where is The Amazing Albertino? Ziggy waits. And waits some more. Has something gone wrong with the trick?

What I like about The Rabbit’s Magician

I was quite intrigued by the title of this book. We’ve all heard of the magician’s rabbit, right? But a rabbit’s magician — that was a different take. I wondered if it was to be the usual magic tale with the characters in reverse. It was not.

The cover shows a beautiful full moon, that looks as if it is being held up by the rabbit’s ears, and a magician holding up four rings. When we turn to the first story page, the rabbit is gazing at a crescent moon in a deep blue sky. He refuses an invitation to meet new friends because he is waiting. But waiting for what? For the full moon to appear again?

It takes another few invitations and another few phases of the moon before we find out; and that’s only because, when the moon is full in the sky, the owl asks Rabbit why he is waiting and offers to help. Rabbit accepts Owl’s offer.

I think there is a wonderful lesson in that already — if you see someone in need, ask, listen and offer to help.

Ziggy introduces himself and explains that he is the companion of an amazing magician Albertino, Alby, who can change things and make things disappear and reappear.

But now his magician has done a truly astonishing trick, something he has never done before. He has made himself disappear. Ziggy is worried that he may never reappear again.

This is where the real magic of the book begins because wise Owl knows what Ziggy and we don’t. Owl knows that the magician’s last trick was

Continue reading: The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – readilearn

About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – #readilearn

In this post, I share some information about Michael Rosen. I hope you are already aware of Michael Rosen because he is an amazing poet, author, educator and so much more.

If you know nothing else about him, you probably know his award-winning picture book Going on a Bear Hunt with its wonderful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. This article in the Guardian that tells how he came to write it and Helen to illustrate it is quite fascinating.

Here’s a video of Michael telling Going on a Bear Hunt and some others of his stories.

Or maybe you know of him as a meme.

Perhaps you’ve read the post Storytelling with author Michael Rosen in which I introduce you to Michael and his wonderful story Chocolate Cake.

The story is great fun, perfect for storytelling and a wonderful stimulus for writing. In that post, I suggest some lessons you can build around the story.

Continue reading: About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – readilearn

Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sandhya Parappukkaran, author of The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name which is illustrated by Michelle Pereira and is a Bright Light 2021 publication by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing.

About Sandhya Parappukkaran

Sandhya Parappukkaran left her job as a Food Technologist so she could put her feet up and read. Then she rediscovered her passion for children’s books. She writes stories with themes of ‘embracing your cultural identity’ inspired by her South Indian heritage. Sandhya resides in Brisbane with her husband, three children and a backyard brimming with mango trees, curry leaves and green chillies.

About The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.

When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name.

When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim — but deep down, it doesn’t feel right.

It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he is that Zimdalamashkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his name.

What I like about The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

This is a beautiful book about culture and identity, about accepting ourselves and respecting others. As the blurb says, ‘No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.’ Our names are an essential part of who we are.

In Australia, people often take liberties with the names of others, lengthening some, shortening others or creating a nickname from their parts, often without asking permission. Over the years, many from migrant families have Anglicised their names to make it easier for the English-speaking population to pronounce.

In both a profound and subtle way, through her story, Sandhya Parappukkaran shows us the importance of respect for others and their culture by something as simple, but significant, as learning to pronounce their names correctly.

Even Zimdalamashkermishkada had difficulty pronouncing his name. When his new friend Elly shortened it to Zim, he asked his mother if he could do the same. She explained, ‘We named you after the coconut trees that stretch high and hold up the sky while sheltering all underneath’, and she asked him to ‘Give people a chance to say it right.’

So, he does. As Elly teaches Zimdalamashkermishkada to skateboard, he teaches her to pronounce his name.

Continue reading: Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – readilearn

Interview with Deborah Frenkel author of Naturopolis – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Deborah Frenkel and her beautiful new picture book Naturopolis with illustrations by Ingrid Bartkowiak and published by Storytorch Press.

About the author Deborah Frenkel

Deb is a human (Homo sapiens). She lives in Melbourne with her young family and a number of ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) who occasionally drop by. When she’s not writing for kids, she’s usually copywriting for TV commercials, billboards, and the labels

of shampoo bottles. Kids, thankfully, are usually more appreciative. This is her first picture book, and her second (with Affirm Press) is due out in 2023.

Find out more about the author from her website: http://deborahfrenkel.com/

About the illustrator Ingrid Bartkowiak

An artist and illustrator based in Brisbane, Australia, Ingrid works in watercolour and oils. Her practice revolves around her fascination with nature and its intricacies. Ingrid completed her Bachelor of Fine Art in 2019 at the Queensland College of Art. Engaging with native flora and fauna, her illustrations are whimsical and encourage an appreciation for nature. They often feature both realistic illustrative elements, merged with abstraction and blocks of vibrant colour. There is a focus on detailing and pattern, with one of Ingrid’s earlier interests being in the visual tropes of the arts and crafts movement. A highly talented artist, this is her first children’s book.

Find out more about the illustrator from her website: https://ingridbartkowiakart.com/

About Naturopolis

Among the steel and stone canyons of the city, nature flourishes in tiny, tenacious ways. Follow the ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus) to discover the scraps of wilderness hiding in plain sight in this lyrical celebration of urban flora and fauna.

Naturopolis is a wonderful acknowledgement of the unseen, and the world that awaits the viewer, eager to connect with nature. You don’t have to go far to find what is waiting for us beneath our feet.

Naturopolis is creative non-fiction that celebrates nature that can be found in our cities. The lyrical text invites children to look closely and stunning hand-painted illustrations show them where to look. Each observation is accompanied by an information tag that provides the reader with fun facts about the fauna or flora discovered. It is a perfect balance of fiction and non-fiction, enough to excite the imagination while at the same time, fostering an interest in exploring and finding out more.

Themes are resilience, community and appreciation of nature.

The Trailer

Continue reading: Interview with Deborah Frenkel author of Naturopolis – readilearn

Say No to Plastic in Plastic-Free July – #readilearn

During the month of July, we are urged to go plastic-free, or at least reduce our use of single-use plastics, by the Plastic Free July Foundation with its vision of ridding the world of plastic waste. The website has many suggestions for reducing the plastic you use and waste. There are success stories and many resources to use to keep yourself motivated and encourage others to become involved.

This video gives a brief introduction to Plastic Free July.

In addition to this larger movement, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a young boy with his own inspiring story about what he is doing to reduce plastic waste, including working to have plastic toothbrushes banned. His name is Ned Heaton, and you can hear him talk about his project in this video.

More about Ned

Ned Heaton is a kid on a mission to reduce ocean plastics. At the age of 11 he started his own

bamboo toothbrush business, The Turtle Tribe, which he won awards for, including

Changemaker of the Year in the Be the Change Awards, and Young Entrepreneur Award in

the Youth Business Magazine. Featured on radio and television in Australia and around the

world, Ned is the youngest CEO ever mentioned in CEO Magazine.

Find out more about Ned and his wonderful initiative at https://www.theturtletribe.com.au/. (If you just want to read Ned’s story, click here.)

To inspire children, their teachers and their families to take action, Ned and his father wrote a picture book called Say No to Plastic, which is available for pre-order now.

About Say No to Plastic

Continue reading: Say No to Plastic in Plastic-Free July – readilearn

Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Imagine Our Special Place written by Kelly Louise Jarris and illustrated by Sandunika Dissanayake. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About author Kelly Louise Jarris

As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. The story has been described, “Their imagination takes them out of their reality into other happy places”.

Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.

Visit Kelly at her website: Kelly Louise Jarris Books | Australian Children’s Book Author (kljbooks.com)

About Imagine Our Special Place

The Blurb

Sophie is unwell and has to go to the hospital a lot. This enchanting story is about two sisters that go on a magical journey. It touches on celebrating life and all its precious moments. Imagine being able to bounce off white fluffy clouds, meet the Queen of all the Rainbows and sip tea from a golden cup made from the sun! Sophie has a beautiful imagination.

What I like about Imagine Our Special Place

Many children have siblings who are ill and have to spend time in hospital. Many children are themselves ill and have to spend time in hospital. Illness and hospitals can be cold, scary places. Imagine Our Special Place with its bright, colourful and hope-filled pages lifts us out of the cold reality into the world of imagination where anything is possible.

Continue reading: Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — readilearn

Let’s Celebrate Queensland Day 2022 – #readilearn

Next Monday 6 June is Queensland Day, and, since I am a Queenslander, I thought I’d share a little about my home state, including Queensland authors and illustrators I have interviewed over the years.

12 Facts about Queensland

  1. Queensland is in north-eastern Australia. It is the second-largest state by area (after Western Australia) and the third-largest in population (after New South Wales and Victoria).
Image courtesy of Hidesy’s Clipart https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Hidesys-Clipart

2. Queensland is bordered by New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia. The Pacific Ocean is along its eastern coastline.

3. The most northern part of Australia, Cape York, is in Queensland. Though I am told it is very beautiful and is a popular camping and four-wheel drive destination, I’ve never been there. (I’m not a camper or a four-wheel driver.)

4. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef, is located along Queensland’s coastline.

5. The world’s three largest sand islands, Fraser, Bribie and Stradbroke, are also located on Queensland’s coast.

6. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane (where I live), is located in the south-east corner of the state.

7. Queensland Day celebrates the day in 1859 that Queensland separated from New South Wales to become an independent colony.

8. Queensland’s state fauna emblem is the koala. The koala is a marsupial (mammal with a pouch) that is native only to Australia and lives mainly along the east and south coasts.

Image used courtesy of The Painted Crow https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Australian-Plants-Clip-Art-Emblems-4686986

9. Queensland’s state floral emblem is the Cooktown Orchid. It is native to northern Queensland and was named after a town there.

10. Queensland’s state bird emblem is the brolga, a tall bird which is noted for its graceful mating dance.

11. Queensland’s state gem is the sapphire, and the aquatic symbol is the anemone fish from the Great Barrier Reef.

12. Anyone in Australia who follows sport, probably doesn’t need to be told that our state colour is maroon.

Continue reading: Let’s Celebrate Queensland Day 2022 – readilearn