Timely New Picture Books Released This Week


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Every Tuesday new books get released. Today I am sharing three new picture books released today. These books timely for current events and Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as well as one about inclusion with information about lifeboats too. The first book is Daniel and Ismail by Juan Pablo Iglesias Yacher and illustrated by Alex Peris. It was translated into English by Ilan Stavans; translated into Hebrew by Eliezer Nowodworski and Frieda Press-Danieli; and into Arabic by Randa Sayegh. It is being released into paperback today and is recommended for ages 3 to 6.

From the Publisher:

A one-of-a-kind, uplifting picture book about a Jewish boy and a Palestinian boy who bond on the soccer field―translated into English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Daniel and Ismail, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, don’t know each other yet, but they have more in common than they know. They live in the same city and have the same birthday, and this year they get the same presents: a traditional scarf―for Daniel a tallit and for Ismail a keffiyeh―and a soccer ball. Taking their gifts out for a spin, they meet by chance on a soccer field, and they soon begin to play together and show off the tricks they can do.

They get so absorbed in the fun that they lose track of time and mix up their gifts: Daniel picks up Ismail's keffiyeh and Ismail takes Daniel's tallit. When they get home and discover their mistake, their parents are shocked and angry, asking the boys if they realize who wears those things. That night, Daniel and Ismail have nightmares about what they have seen on the news and heard from adults about the other group. But the next day, they find each other in the park and get back to what really matters: having fun and playing the game they both love.

Daniel and Ismail is a remarkable multilingual picture book that confronts the very adult conflicts that kids around the world face, and shows us that different cultures, religions, societies, and languages can all share the same page.

From Me: 

What a timely book! As there are protests by college students about the war raging on the Gaza Strip, here is a sweet book taking place in Israel/Palestine reminding us that our differences don't have to be that big. Daniel and Ismail have the same birthday and get similar gifts this year. They each get a soccer ball and a cultural shoulder cover. They go to play with their soccer balls while wearing their shoulder covers and meet in the park. They bond over soccer and have a great time together. When it is dark they each grab one of the goal posts (their shoulder covers) and run home to not get in trouble. Their parents are angry when they see their sons with the wrong shoulder covers. The next day they meet up and exchange them and play more soccer and other kids join them.

One of the things I loved about this book is they both realize how hard it must be for the other one when they have people staring at them with the other's shoulder cover. They also both put their societal differences aside and enjoy each other's company and their bond over soccer. This book is a huge lesson for many to learn about our differences. I love that the book is in English, Hebrew and Arabic. It is also printed so you read right to left in the style of Hebrew and Arabic books. Yes, you start at the back if you are used to English books! The illustrations are simple and so are the words, but the message is powerful!! I know I pray for peace for the people there and hope they all safely return to their homes soon. 

Our next book is perfect for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It is nonfiction and shares a piece of our country's history of excluding Asian people. The book is Mamie Tape Fights to Go to School: Based on a True Story by Traci Huahn and illustrated by Micheele Jing Chan. It is recommended for ages 4 to 8.

From the Publisher:

Meet Mamie Tape, 8-year-old Chinese American changemaker who fought for the right to go to school in San Francisco in the 1880s. Follow Mamie's brave steps and discover the poignant history of her California Supreme Court case Tape v. Hurley.

Mamie’s mom always reminded her a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So when Mamie wanted to go to school, even though Chinese children weren’t allowed, she took her first step and showed up anyway. When she was turned away at the schoolhouse door, she and her parents took another step: they sued the San Francisco school board…and won! Their case Tape v. Hurley made its way up to the California Supreme Court, which ruled that children of Chinese heritage had the right to a free public school education. But even then, Mamie’s fight wasn’t over.

Mamie Tape Fights to go to School is the story of one young changemaker’s brave steps on the long journey to end school segregation in California. It began with a single step.

From Me:

Mamie doesn't understand why she can't go to school with her friends. She plays with them around the neighborhood but is not allowed to be in school or play with them in the schoolyard. Her parents fight San Francisco to allow Chinese-American children to go to free public school. They win in court, but the school district has other ideas. They find ways to stop Mamie from being allowed in the school. They finally open a school for Chinese-American children but it doesn't have a play yard and is above a store. Mamie's parents are not happy and don't want to send her. However, Mamie says she wants to get an education and that it is a step on the road to what they want. Mamie and her brother are among the first students at the school.

This book is perfect for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and it is also a way to teach and remember some of the prejudices our country has had in the past. It also shows our growth as a nation to see how we have integrated our schools as well as Asian-American culture into our society. We may not be as welcoming as our ideals are, but we are slowly stepping forward. I also like this book now for the fact that there has been much harassment towards Chinese Americans of late. It shows us that we need to step back and think about our own prejudices and how they affect others. This book is easy to follow and hope for Mamie. I think it is a wonderful introduction to prejudice and can be a powerful addition to a unit on social justice for young children. It is also a great way to show some American history that isn't often talked about.

Our final book for today is a fun book about an elephant who wants to be on the crew of the lifeboat. The book is The Elephant and the Sea by Ed Vere. It is recommended for ages 3 to 7. 

From the Publisher:

An inspiring, seafaring fable about a determined and brave elephant who reaches for his dreams, from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Ed Vere.

"There is only one thing I want to do . . . So I will do it!"

Gabriel the elephant dreams of being part of the lifeboat crew in his seaside town, but he is too young, and too little. But soon, Gabriel grows up and he is too . . . BIG! Disappointed but undaunted, Gabriel makes a plan. He hammers and chops, saws and sands, and builds his very own boat.

One night, a great storm hits, and it's Gabriel's time to shine, pulling his oars alone against the crashing waves to save a crew in peril.

Young children will love rooting for underdog Gabriel and will draw inspiration from his determination to achieve his dreams despite hurdles and setbacks.

The Elephant and the Sea is a perfect gift for anyone setting out on a new path, encouraging them to face life’s obstacles with optimism.

From Me:

Gerald loves the lifeboat and its crew. He dreams of joining the crew. When he is small, he is told he is too young. When he grows up, there is another problem. Gerald is an elephant and a grown-up elephant is too big for the lifeboat. Gerald doesn't give up. Instead he builds his own lifeboat that he fits in. When a big storm comes and the fleet is out fishing and the lifeboat is too small to fight the storm, it is Gerald who saves them! Then the lifeboat crew wants to be part of his lifeboat crew. Gerald accepts them but they have to build and even bigger boat. They work together.

Gerald is determined to reach for his dreams. He finds his own way and shows how inclusion can work. He is optimistic and desires to be part of the community. This book shares so many positive things in a fun way. It shares the importance of lifeboats and their crews. It shares the optimism Gerald has and how it can help one achieve one's dreams. It also shows the importance of inclusion. In the notes at the end of the book we learn that the first painting in the book is one that Ed Vere painted when he lived in Cornwall. The story rings true about the life of a seafaring village, and it is just so sweet. There is also a note with a link to find out more about lifeboat crews and how to support them.

I hope you will take time to check out these wonderful new picture books. Each has its own message and lessons to be learned.