Little Feminist is a monthly book subscription for children that aims to diversify your bookshelf by featuring under-represented identities in children's literature. Books are curated by a team of educators, librarians, and parents. These subscriptions are available for ages newborn to 9 years old and focus on the cornerstones of why Little Feminist was created, emphasizing equality, empathy, and inclusiveness for everyone. Subscriptions are offered for ages 0-2, 2-4, 4-7, and 7-9. The cost is $22.95 per month + $2.50 flat-rate U.S. shipping.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes).
Why I was excited to explore this subscription:
When there was an opportunity to review the Little Feminist subscription, I turned into that over-exuberant student in class, waving my hand, "pick me, pick me!"
My grandmother was an elementary school teacher, and she taught me to read early on. Through her guidance, she unlocked a world where I could escape, and my love of books was born. Later on, I became a teacher myself (retired now, I taught elementary-middle school). My goal was always to bestow the magic and excitement books gave me onto the student I was fortunate enough to teach.
Though I do not have children of my own, I am lucky to have friends whose children enjoy spending time with me and Wyatt (my pup), and I thought what better way to give an honest review than going right to the source.
My eager and very honest volunteers:
Liza- 6 (she is younger than the intended 7-9 age range for this box, but since Sam is her sibling and her parents ok'd it, she insisted on being included)
When my Little Feminist box arrived, I had to restrain myself from opening it right away (I wanted to wait for my volunteers and their parents to get real-time reactions).
Once my volunteers arrived, all three tore into the box with enthusiasm, and like a fun pinata, several things tumbled out: 2 Books: 1 hardcover & 1 paperback book, Activities: Notecards for drawing and coloring activities designed to connect the readers to the stories, Discussion cards/Bookmarks: Discussion questions to help families learn from the books, Parents' letter: explains how/why your books were chosen.
Liza and Charlie wanted to start coloring the notecards right away, and I tried my best not to micromanage the situation (old teaching habits are hard to shake). I let the parents look over the books and the letter to determine if they felt comfortable with the book selections.
We decided I'd review the books, then both families would take turns borrowing and reading the books at home, and then Sam, Liza, and Charlie would spend an afternoon with Wyatt and me discussing what they liked and what they didn't. Picture something similar to Oprah's book club but with more snacks.
Note: Both families appreciated the parent's note, and it helped Liza's parents determine to hold off on reading Phantom Unicorn with her. Also, Charlie's grandfather had recently passed, so Aquicorn ended up being a timely choice to assist his family in supporting him during the grieving process.
What was included in our box:
Aquicorn Cove by K. O'Neil
Summary (from the publisher): When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean and her own happiness.
My Volunteers Reactions: Across the board, the illustrations got a thumbs up. Sam especially liked the colors used and thought the layout was more like a comic book. All three volunteers assumed this would be an "adventure" novel with seahorses and wanted more action. Sam described it as being more about "taking care of the ocean" and he wanted me to include in the review that he already does that, a lot. Charlie said it reminded him of Moana but thought there were too many sad parts. His parents told me later that they had found him reading it before bed all this week. He was also the only one out of the three that ended up doing both included activities on his own, unprompted. Liza felt inspired to make her own book of Aquicorns that involves mermaids! She also decided she wanted Wyatt and her to dress up as Aquicorns for Halloween. Wyatt hasn't fully committed yet, but I'm thinking he'll come around.
Parent's thoughts: Both families have art and graphic design backgrounds and agreed that the illustrations in the book are incredible. Though both families found the messages important, they felt it was a bit heavy-handed for just one graphic novel. The story was particularly important for Charlie's family as I had mentioned they had recently been grieving over the loss of a loved one and were trying to find different ways for Charlie to process it.
Important Issues Covered: This graphic novel tackles many issues ranging from climate change, mental health (hints at depression), grief, loss of a loved one, even hurt animals.
My Thoughts: I think that graphic novels, especially one of this caliber, are fantastic for children that are more inclined to explore a book with pictures and are still making that transition to longer books with fewer illustrations. I think the subject matter is timely, and as the families mentioned, covers a lot of ground. My suggestion would be that it could be parceled into smaller, digestible pieces for parents or educators. The pastels and whimsical illustrations reminded me of how much I loved My Little Ponies growing up.
Phantom Unicorn by Zetta Elliott
Summary (from the publisher): It's lonely being the new kid on the block, especially when your family is "unique." Q has left California behind to start a new life in New York City with his two moms and baby sister. He can't wait for his dad to come up for the weekend, but the visit is canceled when Q's father gets arrested while attending a peace march. However, a special gift from his father leads to adventure, and Q is astonished when a medieval tapestry comes to life while he's visiting a nearby museum. With the help of two new friends, Q must face his fears and battle a villain who has waited five hundred years to destroy the world!
My Volunteers Reactions: Sam described this book as "Awesome" and "the museum is the best part." When he and his parents would take turns reading, he always pictured himself as Q and the "villain" as a mean teacher he once had. Charlie agreed the "museum part was cool" and wanted more stuff to happen in the museum. He really didn't like what happened to Q's father and got visibly upset when talking about it, so I thought it best not to push it. Both Sam and Charlie wanted to know if this book was going to be made into a movie.
Parent's Thoughts: Both parents had been looking for more resources to help broach the topics of inequality and activism. Overall, they both agreed the story is fantastic, even though it's a bit on the long side (115 pages). Charlie's parents were aware that parts of the story made him uncomfortable but said that it gave them an opportunity to talk more openly about topics they were unsure how to bring up before.
Important Issues Discussed: Social activism, nonconventional family units, and discrimination.
My Thoughts: I was immediately drawn into this book, and I can see why Sam and Charlie were able to place themselves and experience strong emotions from reading it. These characters and events come to life through the description and dialogue. The fantasy elements reminded me of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, and The Tales of Narnia. I can see how anyone reading it could feel transported and a part of the story.
My Final Two Cents:
As mentioned earlier in this review, I am not a parent, and even though I have a background in teaching, it's always important for me to see how children respond to material firsthand.
I have to say, I found both books incredibly valuable as a former educator and current curriculum designer. I could see the time and attention to detail the authors and illustrators of both books addressed issues that, even as an adult, I find myself struggling to articulate appropriately.
I think Little Feminist does a wonderful job of including parents in the journey of exploring diverse topics and opening up their children's worlds to issues that we don't always have the best answers to ourselves.
Value - Was This Box Worth It?
The Cost: $25.90
I will always find the value of a book much more than its retail value is. I'm of the mindset that a great book is never a one-time event; sometimes, we carry these stories and lessons throughout of lives. Also, the ability to support a business like Little Feminist is a win-win for me.
I'd recommend Little Feminist to families looking to not only diversify their children's bookshelves but in addressing difficult life events or important issues that they need additional support on or even a new perspective.
I think Little Feminist is ideal for educators that recognize the importance of having stories for all students to feel seen and heard. I can't tell you how many times growing up, just being introduced or pointed in the direction of a particular series helped me navigate moments in life and feel even a little less alone.
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