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Recommended by Melinda at Kendale Lakes Branch

The Big Bed
Written by Bunmi Laditan; illustrated by Tom Knight

Little Girl Sprawled Out in Bed with Wide-Eyed Parents on each side

An unnamed toddler has been spending nights in the big bed with her mom and dad. However, it is getting crowded, so she is running a savvy campaign to get her dad out. At night, Mom belongs to her; Dad has his own mom to put him to bed! The little girl is afraid of the dark and cannot sleep alone, and even her tinkles are beneficial for all. She can get a camping cot for Dad, and of course, she did get Mom’s permission. It would be better for all if Dad had his own bed.

Bunmi Laditan has written a tongue-in-cheek narrative of the battle over toddlers in the big bed. Laditan’s fictional toddler lays out all of the reasons why she should be the one sleeping next to her mom in an adorable way that any child will enjoy, and any parent will laugh at. Tom Knight’s illustrations are boldly colorful and highly expressive. The toddler—and her cat companion—alternate between adorable and meaning business as the pages turn. The mother and father have their share of emotional moments and the love, annoyance and laughter of the story just jump off the page.

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A Night Out with Mama
Written by Quvenzhané Wallis; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley‑Newton

Illustration of High Heels, Perfume, Slippers, Bracelets, Bobby Pins and Hair Cream

Quvenzhané has been invited to an awards show, so after she wakes up her family—wearing her party shoes—she spends the day getting ready. She has a special person come over to do up her hair; she has a unique dress that matches her new shoes; she gets to ride in a big black car; and even though she trips on the red carpet and does not win, she and her mom have a fabulous time. They then go home, and Quvenzhané is back to being just her.

Quvenzhané Wallis shares a lovely story of her real‑life visit to the Oscars as the academy’s youngest Best Actress nominee. But rather than focusing on the awards part, instead the tale highlights Wallis’s childlike wonder at her preparations for and attendance at the event. Vanessa Brantley‑Newton's illustrations channel this awe, and spotlight the actions of the main character, leaving all the glamour of the award ceremony in the background. Her characters fully express the joy of the moment, and readers can make a fun game of recognizing who’s pictured in the audience.

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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson; illustrated by Frank Morrison

Group of Black Children Protesting with Signs Illustrated

Our unnamed protagonist tells about how she wasn’t allowed to play on certain playgrounds in 1963. She talks about going to church one day to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about marching to change things like that. How the adults around her were afraid to march because they would lose their jobs and not be able to support their families, and about how the children said they didn’t have things like that to worry about, couldn’t they be the marchers? It would be a scary time, there would be arrests, violence, water hoses, dogs, jails. And they were right, but the children led the way, bringing the eyes of the nation down onto this fight for freedom and civil rights. By the time our main character is released from jail, the city and the country were already beginning to move toward change, and while it was not easy, soon she was able to enjoy the playgrounds she’d never been allowed near before.

Monica Clark‑Robinson has crafted a historically accurate, detailed and powerfully engaging story about how children led the way in the civil rights movement. She writes clearly and concisely about the violence they faced from the police during their marches and touches on the fact that many underaged marchers faced time in jail. Frank Morrison detailed oil paintings are visually stunning; his work truly conveys the emotion of the story. Don’t miss the timeline on the book’s end pages, as well as the afterword, author’s statement and source sections.

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Mae Among the Stars
Written by Roda Ahmed; illustrated by Stasia Burrington

Close Up of Little Girl Wearing Space Helmet Gazing Towards Space

Inspired by Mae Jemison, the first African‑American woman in space, this story covers how little Mae may have first expressed her desire to see the stars. Mae declares that when she grows up, she wants to see Earth from “out there.” Her mom tells her that she’ll have to work to become an astronaut, but that “If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.” So Mae begins to read books about space and astronauts. She makes her own helmet, suit and rocket and dreams about the day she’ll be among the stars. Even when her teacher tells her someone like her can’t be an astronaut, and her dreams begin to falter, her mom sets her right, telling Mae again that “If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.” And one day, Mae’s dream became a reality.

Roda Ahmed has written an inspirational tale about a little black girl who keeps moving forward with her dream to see Earth from space. The author's writing reflects how difficult the way ahead is for Mae, who is shown working hard in pursuit of her goal. Ahmed reveals that sometimes our belief in ourselves can falter, but if we continue to hope and persevere, we can catch our dreams. Stasia Burrington’s colorful illustrations keep the story moving, and the dream sequence is an excellent rendition of a child’s vision of a spacewalk.

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My Hair is a Garden
Written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Book Title set Over Girls Big Messy Hair Illustrated

Mackenzie is being teased in school; the other children make fun of her hair with one student saying, “We all know Mack’s hair is always a mess.” She runs to her neighbor Miss Tillie’s house for help. Ms. Tillie shows Mackenzie the first steps in caring for her hair and then they sit in Ms. Tillie’s beautiful garden. Mackenzie sees that the plants and trees in the garden are all beautiful in their own unique way (just like her!) and that the garden needs love, care and patience to be beautiful (just like her hair).

Cozbi A. Cabrera text is heartfelt and matter‑of‑fact, and her colorful illustrations—particularly the depiction of Miss Tillie’s garden—are appealingly lush and vibrant. Children will relate to Mackenzie’s sadness at being teased and share her happiness at discovering her self‑worth. At the book’s end is a three‑page afterward on caring for black hair that includes recipes for a shea butter moisturizer and an herbal infusion rinse.

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