Summer Is for Cousins by Rajani LaRocca and Abhi Alwar

Happy Monday! I'm excited to celebrate Summer Is for Cousins with Rajani LaRocca and Abhi Alwar. I wrote the words in purple, Rajani wrote the words in black, and Abhi wrote the words in green. Congratulations, Rajani and Abhi! 

Summer Is For Cousins tells the story of Ravi, who loves spending summer days with his parents, sister, aunties, uncles, and cousins—especially his oldest cousin, Dhruv. But this summer, Dhruv is much taller, and his voice is deeper, and Ravi wonders whether he remembers all the things they used to share . . . including their favorite ice cream flavor! This is a book about the sweetest joys of summer: sun, water, food, and family.

Abhi Alwar's illustrations are imaginative and luminous! She gave each cousin a distinct personality, and beautifully expressed the ins and outs of sibling and cousin relationships. The energy from the large family just pops off the page! Abhi's art made me laugh and made me tear up!

Summer is a magical time when school is out, days are long, and kids do so much growing. Since I was a child, my summers have always involved precious time with friends and family, at home and while traveling. Summers are treasures—especially when they involve cousins.

Rajani LaRocca's manuscript for Summer Is For Cousins was a joy to read from the start. I so enjoy slice of life stories, and I loved that at the center of this one was the bond between little Ravi and his cousin Dhruv, who he looks up to dearly.

On top of that, this manuscript spoke to me especially. I grew up in Illinois, and my family became very close to the other Tamil-speaking, Indian families near us. Most of my relatives (and actual cousins!) lived in India, so in the absence of family, our friends basically, became family. Some of my fondest memories are the long weekend trips we'd take together as an unwieldy group of 15, 20 people, and all the shenanigans that would follow!

Summer Is For Cousins' illustrations were so fun to work on! I pulled inspiration from photos and memories of trips I’ve taken with my family and friends. I also had fun in coming up with the different members and dynamics of this extended family, and capturing those little interactions in each spread.

Picture books are for everyone! And they are not just for kids! Seeing yourself in a picture book is one of the best feelings ever, and I hope everyone experiences that at some point or another.

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor winning middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. Learn more about Rajani and her books at

Abhi Alwar is an Indian American freelance illustrator/designer based in NYC. She aims to tell absurd and silly stories through comics and picture books. Her debut picture book, Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates, written by Cheryl Klein, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who said that "readers should get a tickle out of [Alwar's] compositions." She's at and @abhi_alwar.

Look for Summer Is For Cousins on May 16, 2023. 


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