I’ve got some great kids’ books for you this month: one to celebrate the things that make us different and the same; another to celebrate a week of getting away; and finally, a young adult novel that everyone, not just young adults, should read.
Set on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hasan are mistaken for brothers at a local grocer. The boys are shopping with their mothers and find that, while one celebrates Rosh Hashanah and the other Ramadan, they have a lot in common. The lush illustrations and descriptions of dates, pomegranates, apricots, and warm falafel wrapped in pita bread will make your mouth water. Eventually the boys and their mothers run into each other at a local playground. Moe and Mo are delighted to have found each other again and quickly lose track of their mothers, who begin to panic when they cannot find their sons. This beautiful picture book is a wonderful exploration into the ways that we are similar - we all prepare special food during the holidays - we all enjoy meeting new friends and playing at the park - and, if we’re lucky, we all have mothers who worry about us. Another thing I love about A Moon for Moe and Mo is the inclusion of recipes for some of the special foods that the Feldman and Hasan families make throughout the book.
The Great Indoors is such a fun book, and it’s a perfect one to read before camping season begins. A human family leaves their home for a week of camping, and as soon as the coast is clear, the animals move in for a week of luxury - inside for a change. The bears take over the bedroom and workshop, the beavers busy themselves in the kitchen, the skunks take over the video game console, and the deer indulge in karaoke day and night. Eventually, though, some of the novelty wears off; it turns out there are so many dishes involved in living the civilized life. Will the animals leave before the humans come home from their camping trip? Sometimes the grass is greener, but only for a little while. This is such a fantastic one to read aloud to your kids, and the illustrations only add to the fun.
Emoni is a senior at her charter high school in Philadelphia. She is a teen mom, raised by her grandmother, working as much as she can to support her family while working toward graduation and potentially college. She is also a magical cook. While Emoni is navigating the feasibility of becoming a chef, a complicated relationship with her daughter's father, the realities of financially providing for her family, her absent Puerto Rican father, and her own struggles to succeed in school, she is also dealing with the more commonplace challenges of being a teenager, like the new boy in school and the crush she is working so hard to ignore. I loved this book. The characters are rich and textured and Elizabeth Acevedo does not shy away from difficult topics. Emoni is a role model for every person everywhere. She deals with the same feelings of insecurity and uncertainty as every high school senior moving forward into the next phase of her life - while shedding light and giving a voice to a group of people that is often left voiceless - and she does so with magic, spice, and maturity.