Grown-ups seeking to share inspiration and start conversations with the kids in their lives have plenty to choose from in this summer’s crop. Here are eight that are good for rainy days and warm summer nights.
Sharice’s Big Voice by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Harper/HarperCollins, June 1): Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, is one of the first Native women elected to Congress and the first lesbian to represent Kansas there. Here she draws a direct line from her talkative childhood with a military mom to her career serving Native people as a lawyer and now a politician. The Ojibwe Woodland artist’s pictures underscore her determination.
Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth, illustrated by Romina Galotta (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 1): First revealed in an episode of NPR’s This American Life, this love letter to libraries and librarians celebrates the welcome the author found as a child when her family was homeless. In the library’s children’s room, surrounded by books, the White child blooms and finds her calling.
Areli Is a Dreamer by Areli Morales, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Random House Studio, June 8): The author, a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, relates her story of leaving Mexico, where she lived with her abuela, and traveling to the United States to join her parents. Morales’ restrained yet emotive text combines with Uribe’s sensitive illustrations to capture an experience shared by so many.
Dr. Fauci by Kate Messner, illustrated by Alexandra Bye (Simon and Schuster, June 29): Kids wondering what the now-beloved public health administrator might have been like before he went gray can find out here. From worrying about his Italian immigrant grandfather’s soul through his work on HIV/AIDS to his efforts to bring Covid-19 under control, he’s been taking care of others all his life.
Best Day Ever! by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Leah Nixon (Clarion, June 29): An enthusiastic puppy relates the events of the titular day, spent with her boy, a brown-skinned child who uses a wheelchair. Her excitement vibrates off the page as she describes their fun, a bath that follows a gleeful roll in a dead fish only temporarily dimming it. Readers will suspect that for these two, every single day is the best day ever.
Except Antarctica! by Todd Sturgell (Sourcebooks eXplore, July 6): A confident narrator asserts that turtles can be found on every single continent but Antarctica. However, a very determined turtle intends to change that, recruiting a string of animals the narrator is equally certain do not occur in Antarctica to join its expedition. Sturgell imparts a fair amount of information along with lots of laughs in this metafictive outing.
Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima (Simon and Schuster, July 20): The author of Not Quite Narwhal (2017) again explores themes of being true to oneself, this time with a Halloween-flavored tale. Their protagonist here is an anxious house who knows she should have people living in her—but doesn’t. Is she haunted? She does make lots of spooky noises. Maybe she can keep quiet, but that’s hard. Is there another way?
Brayden Speaks Up by Brayden Harrington, illustrated by Betty C. Tang (Harper/HarperCollins, Aug. 10): The author, then 13, became the star of the 2020 Democratic National Convention when he spoke there, having bonded with then-candidate Joe Biden over their mutual “bumpy speech.” This picture book describes how the White youngster copes with his stutter and how he prepared for his big speech.
Vicky Smith is a young readers’ editor.