A Whole Lotta Love Families, crushes, stories that kids will adore

This month we look at all-of-a-kind families. Looking ahead, mark your calendar for one of  the featured authors, Hena Khan, at the Rosedale Branch on April 30.


‘I Am a Baby’

by Kathryn Madeline Allen

Cheery photos of babies from diverse families are paired with rhyming text identifying family members, pets and toys. Simple sentences with easily recognized images offer opportunities for word identification. The loving reunion of each baby with his or her family is shown on the final pages.

Picture Books:

‘First Laugh Welcome Baby!’

by Rose Ann Tahe and  Nancy Bo Flood

In Navajo families, it is tradition to celebrate the baby’s first laugh. Family members tirelessly try to be the first person to make the baby laugh by tickling, laughing and making silly faces. In this story, Nima-sani (grandmother) coaxes the first laugh from the baby, which is celebrated with the first laugh ceremony.


‘Just Right Family’

by Sylvia Lopez

Meili, who was adopted from China, loves her forever family the way it is and loves hearing her story. She has fun with her parents reading books together and playing on the playground. Soon, her perfect family will grow, and she is not happy that she is getting a new baby sister from Haiti. Once her sister arrives home, Meili is thrilled about being a big sister and all it entails. Meili is especially excited to tell Sophie about her special story.

Young Readers:

‘Meet Yasmin’ 

by Saadia Faruqi

Transitional readers will love Yasmin and her multigenerational Pakistani-American family. Yasmin is a creative thinker and curious explorer, which leads to great discoveries as well as some minor mishaps. Pakistani and Muslim cultural details are seamlessly integrated into the story in both text and illustration. Appended with discussion questions, an Urdu glossary, Pakistani facts, a recipe and a craft, this is a series well worth exploring.

‘Ugly Cat & Pablo and the Missing Brother’

by Isabel Quintero

Ugly Cat and Pablo are back and better than ever! In the second title of this appealing series, the cat-and-mouse pair is in search of Ugly’s brother, who has been missing for several weeks. Hijinks ensue during their search, and emergent readers will embrace the silliness both in story and illustrations. Spanish words scattered throughout add to this fun (a glossary at the back will help with translation) and thoughtful tale of loyalty to friends and family.

Middle Readers:

‘Ana Maria Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle’

by Hilda Eunice Burgos

Ana Maria Reyes Castillo’s father’s last name means Kings and her mother’s last name means Castle, but she doesn’t live in a castle. Eleven-year-old Ana Maria lives in a two-bedroom Washington Heights apartment with her parents and two sisters.  She dreams of attending an expensive private school, where she can further develop as a pianist, but the only way she can attend is with a full scholarship.  As she prepares for the recital that will determine whether or not she receives the scholarship, Ana learns more about significant differences in material wealth and the importance of family and community.

‘Power Forward’

by Hena Khan

Fourth-grader Zayd Saleem plans on being the first Pakistani-American player to make it to the National Basketball Association, but he has a few obstacles in his way. He is the shortest kid in his class and his parents expect him to be a master violin player, sending him to extra violin lessons before school.  Zayd starts ditching violin practice to practice basketball, and, of course, his parents find out and are not happy. Zayd has to find the courage to try to convince his parents that basketball is acceptable and his passion. First in a new series.


‘Leah on the Offbeat’

by Becky Albertalli

In this sequel to the monster hit “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” it’s senior year, but this time the focus is on self-described third wheel Leah Burke. After one of her bandmates makes a racist comment, Leah directs her energies to social justice (when she isn’t juggling crushes and dealing with her mom’s new romance), which rallies her through her final months of adolescence. Albertalli has an excellent ear for getting the teen voice just right, and Leah is a character whom readers just can’t help rooting for.

‘The Music of What Happens’

by Bill Konigsberg

Max, a Latino baseball player, and Jordan, a skinny white kid, each have single moms. And given that it’s 2019, they’re both proudly out as gay young men in their suburban Arizona high school. Max needs a summer job, Jordan needs help on his dilapidated food truck, and these two opposites quickly attract. The author deftly captures both the heat of the desert summer and the ups and downs of a 21st-century relationship in this exceptional novel that is equal measure a nascent romance and a musing on finding one’s identity.

About Baltimore County Public Library Collection Development Staff

When Adranisha Stephens isn’t chasing down a story, she is traveling, blogging, photographing or spending time with family and friends. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Frostburg State University and a master’s degree in journalism/digital storytelling from American University.

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