#ReadYourWorld Esther’s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim

For Multicultural Children’s Book Day, we have  Esther’s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim by Martha Seif Simpson and illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard.

On the surface Esther’s Gragger is a tale of two children who overcome a bully with the help of an adult shopkeeper and some loud noisemakers. It is based on the ancient story of Queen Esther, who is celebrated during the Jewish holiday, Purim.

If you look deeper you find multiple layers of value. First of all it, introduces the reader to words such as gragger, Purim masks, and the characters in the Purim story. For those who want to learn more, the back matter is extensive with a page of information each about Purim, how it is celebrated (with fruit-filled cookies), what graggers are, and how to make simple ones with children.

The story is also is a gateway to encourage readers to talk about bullies and what to do about them. The idea that victims should stand together, makes noise, and talk to people in authority are all answers that have lasting value.

Esther’s Gragger is one of those books that you didn’t know you needed, but that open your eyes once you discover them. Look for a copy today!

Suggested activities:

1. This year Purim begins on Monday, March 9, 2020.  Learn more about how it is celebrated in your community.

2. Make a Purim gragger (noisemaker). In addition to the instructions in the backmatter, there are also plenty online. Check out this one for multiple graggers made out of recycled materials:

3. There is a study guide, coloring page, and a crossword puzzle to download at Wisdom Tales Press.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Wisdom Tales (January 7, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1937786757
ISBN-13: 978-1937786755


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board


Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,


Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,


Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,


Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,


Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books, TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales


Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!


Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Disclosure: This book was gifted the book to me to review for this event. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Little Senses #Kidlit: This Beach is Loud!

Do you have any friends who know exactly what kind of picture book you’d like to read? I have a friend like that. She is my picture book concierge. This week she brought me This Beach is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill.

Falling in the realm of realistic fiction, this picture book captures the experience of a trip to the beach for a young boy with sensory issues. All the new sounds coupled with the weird texture of the sand overwhelms him. Fortunately, his dad understands and helps the boy soothe himself.

This Beach is Loud! allows readers young and old to glimpse what it is like to hear and feel too much. Also, young readers with sensory issues will be able to recognize and identify with someone who is like themselves. That is a rare experience.

Samantha Cotterill’s block print illustrations are amazing. The text flows over a two-page spread at times, showing visually what the boy is hearing. The experience becomes tangible. When he is having fun, she breaks a single page into a series of smaller, quieter moments, settling things down again.

On the back flap, Samantha Cotterill explains she is on the autism spectrum and she wishes there had been books like this when she was a child.  We can only add that we are glad that there finally are.

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Dial Books (June 18, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0525553452
ISBN-13: 978-0525553458

I’m adding this title to a list of children’s books about senses at Science Books for Kids. It seems an appropriate way to introduce the idea that everyone has senses, but not everyone experiences the world in the same way.


#kidlit Picture Book That Excels At Suspense and Surprise

Along with picture books, I also write mysteries for adult readers (see It’s a Mystery blog). Mystery (and thriller) writers strive to create suspense and tension, as well as surprise in their work. That’s why it is cool to see an author/illustrator excel at this task in a nearly wordless picture book.

In Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima, Spencer has an unusual pet, a balloon dog. The dog accompanies Spencer everywhere he goes, including some places that are decidedly dangerous for balloons.  Readers hold their breath. Will his pet survive?

The ending is a twist sure to surprise everyone. Once the surprise is revealed, many readers are going to want to read it again to look for clues that they might have missed. Although it will never be the same level of surprise, readers also want to re-live that initial experience of tension/suspense.

I noticed in reviews that some people were disturbed by the twist. Perhaps it is possible to defy expectations too much, to make the surprising twist too far from the realm of possibility.? You don’t want to do anything that interferes with readers suspending disbelief and buying into your story in adult books, but the standards are likely different in highly-imaginative children’s books.

Have you read Spencer’s New Pet? What did you think?

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 27, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1534418776
ISBN-13: 978-1534418776

Two New #Kidlit Books Set in Oklahoma

This week I updated the Oklahoma state page of the Reading through the States website with these two books. A big thank you to author/librarian Sherri Maret for suggesting them.

The Cloud Artist–A Choctaw Tale (Told in English and Choctaw) by Sherri Maret and illustrated by Merisha Sequoia Clark

2017 Writers’ League of Texas Book Award Finalist
2018-2019 First Nation Communities Read Shortlist
2018 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist

Leona, a little Choctaw girl, can paint with clouds. When she is invited to join a carnival, Leona must choose what kind of artist she wants to be.

Visit the author’s website for a number of activities to accompany the book.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: The RoadRunner Press; first edition (September 26, 2017)
Language: English, Choctaw
ISBN-10: 1937054748
ISBN-13: 978-1937054748

The Survivor Tree-Oklahoma’s Symbol of Hope and Strength by Gaye Sanders and illustrated by Pamela Behrend

Winner  2018 Comstock Read Aloud Book Award
Winner  2018 Oklahoma Book Award
2019 Notable Social Studies Book
Finalist for 2018 Reading the West Book Award, Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association

No one expected the American elm that grew near the Alfred P. Murrah building to survive after the bombing on April 19, 1995. But it did, earning its name The Survivor Tree.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: The RoadRunner Press; first edition (November 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1937054497
ISBN-13: 978-1937054496

If you ever have suggestions for appropriate books, please let me know. It is a hobby of mine that often gets put on the back burner.