Books of the Week


The Kingdom Over the Sea is a lavish adventure following a girl who must travel to a mystical land of sorceresses, alchemists, jinn, and flying carpets to discover her heritage and fulfill her destiny. When Yara discovers the political turmoil that has turned a land that was once a magical paradise into an anti-magic police state, she is determined to do whatever it takes to help them.

This is Zohra Nabi’s first novel, and it’s inspired in part by her family’s experiences in Kashmir. Her incredible prose and descriptive powers will transport you with Yara. Kirkus Reviews has called this “a debut that marks the author as an exciting storyteller to watch.”

This is a wonderful one for middle schoolers and high schoolers this summer!

When twelve-year-old Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map—Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme—and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.

Yara must summon all her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity…and to find her place in this magical new world.


Zohra Nabi grew up inventing stories for her two younger sisters. She studied law at Cambridge and Oxford universities, but secretly dreamed of being an author. Now she lives in London, browsing bookshops and writing magical adventures. The Kingdom over the Sea is her first book. You can find her online on Instagram at @zohra_nabi and Twitter at @Zohra3Nabi.

This next one is recommended for elementary school age!

Butt or Face by Kari Lavelle

Can YOU tell a butt from a face? Discover fascinating facts about animals with this hilarious guessing game picture book!

Also included are factual animal details along with how these animals use camouflage or other trickery to engage with their home. Readers will discover animals like the Cuyaba dwarf frog whose backside looks like a pair of eyes, the Mary River turtle that breathes through its butt, and many more!

A hilarious and irreverent STEM book: Learngreat facts about animals while laughing your rear off! This book is equally informative and hilarious. My favorite thing is the Interactive quiz format: Reader guesses before flipping the page to reveal the answer, so there’s an interactive element for an added layer of fun.

Author: KARI LAVELLEis the author of We Move the World (HarperCollins 2021) as well as the forthcoming An Ode to Grapefruit – a picture book biography of James Earl Jones (Knopf 2024). She is a member of SCBWI and 12×12 and enjoys taking classes at the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Paperfold Wild Animals is a must buy!

For your animal-obsessed kid’s next birthday party, look no further for the perfect activity! The next time a babysitter comes around on Friday night, steer the kids away from the television screen and toward Paperfold Wild Animals (Workman Publishing; $12.99). An activity book filled to the brim with facts about animals, this book allows children to create, plan, and learn – all in one.

It’s difficult to pull kids away from accessible distractions like video games, but this unique activity book makes the task easy – and can quickly be turned into a game for family bonding. Similar to origami but utilizing structural engineering, this book is filled with punch-out paper that can be folded and locked to form a jungle animal.

Paperfold Wild Animals will tear kids away from the TV screens and toward the craft table with:

·         10 illustrated wild animals, easily brought to life with a few punches and folds,

·         10 fact sheets to accompany each animal, teaching kids about the vivid lives these creatures lead, and

·         10 new toys to play with, once creation is complete!

For the reluctant reader comes a book that doesn’t feel like reading, Paperfold Wild Animals gives young minds a chance to be active and use their hands – and stumble upon some learning in the process.

I AM A TORNADO features Active Listening & Mindfulness from Drew Beckmeyer

This book is about an emotionally unaware tornado who learns how to de-escalate its anger when it picks up an empathetic cow during its tirade. This is a good book for younger children.

his stunning picture book with a fresh art style, similar to that of Jon Klassen’s, has a funny and unique premise that will draw young readers in while subtly demonstrating important social-emotional skills such as mindfulness and active listening. I think this is a great way to teach young children about social-emotional skills!

In addition to that, there are also STEM elements to this book showing how tornadoes form, and how once it transforms back into wind that’s there is no longer a destructive element but rather a positive quality, as it powers turbines and weather vanes. Find out more at

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to facilitate this post. Cover images were also provided.

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