Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring Aminata Jalloh, J. R. Becker, and Max Rambaldi

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

 Now without further ado~

This week’s  books featuring the *bonds that connect us and bring us together*:

The Biggest Little Brother by Aminata Jalloh, Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle

Published by CreateSpace: a self-publishing company that offers easily accessible tools, quality printing, booksellers, eBook distribution, and marketing strategies so that you can generate more opportunities than you imagined.

Families come in many different shapes and sizes~ and especially for immigrant families, family structure often follows a non-traditional pattern.  Children growing up in first-generation homes experience a diverse array of family dynamics, as families are separated and reunited as they create new homes.  Here is a book for children, beautifully written and illustrated, to explore these complexities of immigration, family change, and sibling relationships. Often, siblings prepare for the arrival of a new baby ~ the role of big brother or sister riding along a tide of pride and responsibility. However, what is it like when a new *older* sibling arrives in the family? Switching from a big-sibling role to the middle-sibling may not be the easiest adjustment, at least, its definitely not for Sowa. Sowa is used to be the oldest child, helping his parents and taking care of his little sister, Naiya. But when his older brother, Hindo, arrives from Sierra Leone to live with them in Atlanta, Georgia, Sowa grapples with~ what does it mean to no longer be the *big brother?* Follow along this tale to discover how young Sowa navigates this family change~ and comes to accept and love his growing family.

From exploring sibling relationships to international families and immigration, *The Biggest Little Brother* elicits experiences that all young readers can relate to. This book is a great representation of diverse families, portraying people of color and highlighting the culture of a family from Sierra Leone. Plus, for immigrant families with ties to their homeland, and families that are waiting for loved ones to keep their family growing in their new home, this book acknowledges and shares their experiences, allowing young children to recognize themselves and see their own lives reflected in literature and stories. Also, the bright, colorful illustrations  bring to life the love and joy of family reunification and family growth ~ helping to create a captivating read!

A bit more about the Author: Aminata Jalloh

Aminata Jalloh is a first-generation Sierra Leonean–American. Born in Washington, DC, Aminata fell in love with storytelling and words as her parents and relatives would gather over the weekends and tell stories of “back home.” However, Aminata  would realize that her own family’s experiences were never highlighted in children’s books she encountered at school. When Aminata began teaching, she found that there continued to be a significant gap in children’s literature reflecting muli-culutral and diverse perspectives and experiences. This inspired her desire to write children’s stories that allowed more children to see their experiences reflected in literature. Learn more bout this author by checking out her website: Plus, follow her on Instagram @readersinspired.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!


Annabelle & Aiden: Worlds Within Us by J. R. Becker, Illustrated by Max Rambaldi

Published by Imaginarium Press: publishing pro-science children’s book series  dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, thinkers, and all-around adventurers

As a teacher-to-be-in-training, I’m always looking for ways to tie children’s books to classroom content. I’m lucky to be in an education studies department that advocates for reading children’s books in the classroom, and gives us copious lists of books to integrate into the maths and sciences. So~ when I happen a book that does all of that for me ~ it definitely lands a spot on *Mai* bookshelf. Just as MaiStoryBook is dedicated to inspiring a new generation of readers, *Annabelle and Aiden* is a children’s book series dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, discovers, and explorers. These books masterfully unite science and philosophy with children’s prose and spectacular illustrations to weave tales of curiosity and wonder. In this book, join Annabelle and Aiden on their grandest adventure yet~ across the galaxies and back in time to discover the very beginning of our universe. *How did the universe form?* Prepare for a delve into big bangs and swirls of stardust~ you’re about to witness world’s creation!

Not only does the delightful rhyme of the text engage young readers, but the illustrious pictures spanning the whole spread of the page transport you right into Annabelle and Aiden’s universe. The mixed media illustrations are also riddled with facts and musing about the earth~ adding layers of educational elements to an already science-packed book. This series of books is able to take complex ideas and scientific terms, and break them down~ simplifying them for young minds to grasp and wonder about. No child is too young to be curious about the universe. Want to inspire your young scientists at home~ to stroke their curiosity and spark their big questions~ then welcome Annabelle and Aiden to your next read aloud story time. It’s definitely on my classroom reading list!

A bit more about the Author: J. R. Becker

J. R. Becker lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children, Annabelle and Aiden. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law.  When he’s not practicing entertainment law, J. R. enjoys playing drums, exploring the great outdoors, and reading and listening to all of the science and philosophy books and podcasts he possibly can. J. R. is constantly pondering the bigger questions and dreaming up ideas for future children stories. After publishing his first  novel The Spider & the Ant, Joseph was inspired to found the Annabelle & Aiden series to foster curiosity and scientific awareness in the next generation. To learn more, follow the series on Instagram: @annabelleandaiden , and check out their website:

A bit more about the Illustrator: Max Rambaldi

You may recognize this illustrator’s name~ she also illustrated *I Didn’t Ask to Be Creative* , last week’s self-published feature. Max lives just outside Venice, Italy. She creates both physical and digital art, and dabbles in multiple styles of drawing and artwork. Max’s passions, other than art, include cats, Game of Thrones, and Linsey Stirling. Learn more about Max by checking out her site:, and follow her on Instagram @maxrambaldi.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!


*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out a *bilinugal* interactive  read aloud of one of my current inspiring read alouds  here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

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