Bay Area Books Celebrate Diversity

Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner

Oakland author Angela Dalton celebrates the joy of family and food in her new book, illustrated by Jestenia Southerland. The story follows a young girl, Ruby, as she searches for a “signature dish” to bring to her annual family reunion, capturing how love and cooking bring a multigenerational family together. Harper Collins, 2021. $17.98. angeladalton.com.

Gitty and Kvetch

Learn some Yiddish and have some fun with Gitty and Kvetch, the debut picture book from Stanford author Caroline Kusin Pritchard about an upbeat girl and her best friend, a curmudgeonly bird. When plans go awry, it’s up to Kvetch to be the one to lift Gitty’s spirits. Pritchard draws on her Jewish heritage to sprinkle Yiddish terms and humor throughout the tale, with a helpful glossary at the end and illustrations by Ariel Landy. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. $17.99. carolinekusinpritchard.com/books.

The Mystery of the Missing Dump Truck

First-time author Cindy Tong of San Francisco features her sons, Connor and Owen, as they search for their missing truck with just one clue – a broken wheel. Tong says there are too few Asian main characters in children’s books, and those are often about Asian culture and celebrations. “Asian kids also want to see themselves being cool, adventurous kids doing cool, adventurous things. I want readers to see that the Asian characters in my book are no different from any others,” she adds. 

Self-published, 2021. $18.99. bycindytong.com.

For All, Para Todos

In this touching and timely story – told in rhyme in Spanish and English – a young immigrant girl named Flor and her father leave home only to struggle in their new country. When a caring teacher encourages Flor to write her story, she learns the power of her words and goes on to become an activist for immigrant rights, inspiring others – including readers. It’s the first children’s book from Alejandra Domenzain of Foster City, a Mexican immigrant and former teacher who has been an immigrant worker rights advocate for 20 years. Hard Ball Press, 2021. $13.50. forall-paratodos.net.

Courageous Adventures of the Konscious Kidz: The Neighborhood

In this chapter book by John Casselberry and Madeline Connor, a multiracial Alameda couple with twin girls, six friends from diverse cultural backgrounds tackle everyday challenges utilizing guiding principles like inclusion, being an ally, gratitude, restorative action and empathy. Oakland artist Jerl Laws adds colorful illustrations, incorporating Bay Area street murals. A second book is planned for March 2022. Free Planet Press, 2019 and 2021. $16.99. freeplanetpress.com.

The Three Little Engines

Moraga illustrators Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson give form to this modern retelling of The Little Engine That Could by Bob McKinnon that introduces opportunity inequality in a way that young children can understand. In the story, The Little Blue Engine and friends attempt to get over a mountain, but realize they face different challenges. The tale illustrates that while “thinking you can” is important, it sometimes takes help from your support circle to overcome obstacles. Penguin Workshop, 2021. $18.99. penguinrandomhouse.com

All of Us

A diverse cast of children travel the globe, learning that all people play, pray, create and are more similar than different in this poetic picture book by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine. New York Times-bestselling illustrator Alexandra Boiger of San Anselmo, author of the Max and Marla series and illustrator of Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted series, contributes soft, stunning art depicting the beauty of our diverse world and its people. Philomel, 2021. $17.99. penguinrandomhouse.com.

Hey Carter! Books

Inspired by her son, Carter, Thomishia Booker, Ph.D., of Concord has written a series of books to increase positive representation of Black children, especially boys, to build their self-identity, confidence and pride. Brown Boy Joy (2018) is her most popular title and she has written three others: My Brown Skin (2016 and 2019) and King for a Day (2018). Self-published. $12.95. heycarterbooks.com.

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