Read my article about introducing kids to activism through picture books over at the Nerdy Books Club blog. It includes a list. Happy reading!
What an amazing day! Lindsay, Jeanette, and I planned a fun-filled virtual book launch for NO VOICE TOO SMALL. An Unlikely Story Bookstore agreed to host us. The anti-bullying activist featured in the book, DJ Annie Red, agreed to perform.
And the day finally arrived!
It started with book lovers sharing the news of our book birthday…
…on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Messages poured in. Friends, authors, our publisher, book reviewers, booksellers. All sending congratulations and praise.
All morning long! Here’s a snippet of what happened…
We felt so much love for a book that so many poured so much heart into so it would be ready for this day, to be sent out into the world, and into the hands of children.
We even got a mention in the Washington Post! WOW!
At the book launch that evening, Lindsay, Jeanette and I spoke a bit about the book and thanked the the fourteen young activists, poets, our editor, art director and the our Charlesbridge team that were all a part of this project. We shared the opening and closing poems and one of the contributing poets, Lesléa Newman, read the poem she wrote about Zach Wahls. Jeanette demonstrated how she created the art for the book and drew a picture for us – live! DJ Annie Red performed an acapella version of her song “No You Won’t Bully Me”. Who had fun? WE DID!
We asked our audience to promise to use their voices and take the NO VOICE TOO SMALL pledge. Lindsay and Jeanette’s kids joined in!
So many friends, family, and creatives from the writing community came to our virtual event to support us. It was an unforgettable experience!
For weeks we noticed the “orange banner” on Amazon that designates a book as a #1 Release in a particular category which also compares and ranks books in the same categories.
The three Amazon categories for NO VOICE TOO SMALL are:
- Children’s American History of 2000s
- Children’s Social Activists Biographies (Books)
- Poetry (Books)
On our book birthday, NO VOICE TOO SMALL became an Amazon Hot New Release in the category of Social Activists Biographies! But that’s not all.
Something else happened that didn’t involve sales or marketing or book promotion. Instead, someone helped make this night more special than it already turned out to be. Because it reminded me of why I write books for kids. And why this book matters.
The same day NO VOICE TOO SMALL released, a blog post Lindsay, Jeanette and I wrote for Reading For Research Month went live. We discussed books that inspired us.
In that post I wrote, “I have witnessed the power of story. It is undeniable.” Although I know that to be true, I didn’t know I would witness it on our book birthday. We may not know how or when or for whom books may affect, but we know the power of books. It’s undeniable! What a gift to see the reaction by Judy Adams to her featured story. Judy speaks UP about living with DOWN syndrome. At age twelve, she created Dimes for Down syndrome and grants wishes to others.
Kids need to see themselves in books. They want their stories shared. Adults can help empower, uplift, and amplify their voices.
Thanks to all for the support that made this a wonderful day for us and NO VOICE TOO SMALL.
OPENING THE ROAD is the true story behind the Green Book guide Black Americans used to travel safely during legal segregation and the mail carrier who wrote it. I was honored to reveal the cover of my upcoming release on author Tara Lazar’s blog. Click on the cover to see a sample spread from the book by the talented artist Alleanna Harris.
I also wrote about my inspiration, the story behind the story, and a little about my road to publication.
BEEP! BEEP! On our way, be there January 26, 2021!
And there’s a GIVEAWAY! Comment on the blog post to enter a chance to win a copy of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book.
Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8
Pre-order wherever books are sold!
It is what it is. GOOD TROUBLE!
NO VOICE TOO SMALL got a star 🌟 from Kirkus Reviews! Click on the picture to read the review.
Thank you to the wonderful words by Nikki Grimes, Carole Boston Weatherford, Traci Sorell, Charles Waters, Hena Khan, Janet Wong, Joseph Bruchac,Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Andrea J. Loney, Lesléa Newman, Greg Neri, S. Bear Bergman, and Fiona Morris. And to Charlesbridge Publishing, our editor Karen Boss and Literary Agent Emily Mitchell who represented us in this project.
We can’t wait to share this book with readers of all ages!
I am so excited to announce my latest book deal! And I am thrilled to be working with my agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary, Beaming Books, editor Naomi Krueger and the talented illustrator Alleanna Harris to bring the story of Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book to young children. Stay tuned.
Coming to a shelf near you on January 19, 2021
Today’s Perfect Picture Book pick is Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. [spacer height=”10px”]
Written by: Dean Robbins
Illustrated by: Nancy Zhang
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 2016)
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Activism, Right to vote, Women’s suffrage, US history
Brief Synopsis: As a child Alice Paul saw her father go off to vote but not her mother. Why? She studied the nation’s laws and knew they needed to change to allow women the right to vote. Alice protested in different ways and convinced other women to join her.
One day in 1914 she organized a parade that upstaged the arrival of the newly elected President, Woodrow Wilson. He asked to meet her. However the president told her he had more pressing issues to deal with that working on the women’s right to vote . But that didn’t stop Alice Paul. She persisted. Even the president’s daughter Margaret agreed with Alice Paul. Then one day in 1918, President Wilson agreed too!
“Alice Paul hurried up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in a purple hat.
She wanted to make everything perfect for her parade. A parade in Washington D. C. no one would ever forget!”
Why I like this book: This is a wonderful introduction to a female activist who was instrumental in the fight for the right to vote for women. Through scenes that are both playful and serious, Robbins tells the story of activism by describing the actions and persistence of Alice Paul. [spacer height=”10px”]
The book is a wonderful introduction to this period in history and could spark discussion about the US Constitution as well as the role of Congress in making laws. [spacer height=”10px”]
Scroll down the author’s website for Activities for Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. [spacer height=”10px”]
A teaching unit about women’s suffrage movement can be found from Rutgers: Teach a Girl to Lead. [spacer height=”10px”]
Head over to A Mighty Girl to find girl-empowering resources such as toys, movies, music and books. [spacer height=”10px”]
Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.
What a fun perfect picture book pair about little girls who love to dress-up. But looking pretty is only one part.
Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer (Author)
Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)
Published by Sterling (August 2016)
Age Range: 4-8 years.
Mary is a bit of a fashionista but she won’t let her goals interfere with her fun! The ending is delightful.
Every-day Dress-up by Selina Alko (Author/Illustrator)
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 12011)
Age Range: 3-7 years.
Do all girls dress like princesses? Not this one. She dresses like famous female role models. [spacer height=”10px”]
A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that helps contribute to diversity in children’s literature. [spacer height=”10px”]
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! [spacer height=”10px”]
Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!
Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Written by: Susan Hood
Illustrated by: Sally Wern Comport
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2016)
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Resilience, Poverty, Compassion, Courage, Community, Creativity, Paraguay, Music
Brief Synopsis: This is the true story of Ada Ríos and the start of The Recycled Orchestra from the small town of Catuera in Paraguay. Catuera isn’t like most places, it is part of a landfill made of trash. Poverty surrounds the people who live there and so does crime. As one can imagine, Ada and her parents worry about their future. Her grandmother took care of Ada before she was old enough for school while her parents worked. Her abuela loved to sing to Ada. Her whole family loved music. One day Ada’s grandmother saw a sign at the chapel from a music teacher named Favio Chávez offering free music lessons. She signed Ada up. But many children showed up for lessons and there only three guitars and two violins to share. Ada dreamed of playing the violin, but knew she needed an instrument of her own to practice. Her family had no money to spend on such a luxury. Then Señor Chávez had an idea. He knew of a band that made its own instruments so he asked a ganchero, a carpenter named Nicolás Gómez to help. With much experimentation, soon there were enough instruments, made from trash, for anyone who wanted to learn to play! Ada finally got a violin, made from recycled trash, of her very own. Readers follow Ada and her fellow musicians through their plight to learn to play these instruments all the way to their success taking the stage for audiences to hear them perform.
Opening pages: “Ada Ríos grew up in a town made of trash.
Every morning at dawn, Ada heard the first garbage trucks rumble and roll down the road to Cateura. Beep, beep, beep! Backing into the landfill, they tipped their loads up and up and-CRASH! The trash came tumbling down-fifteen hundred tons each day.”
Why I like this book: I spent last week in Paraguay. Music is a very important part of the culture. Although I did not see any musicians from Cateura play, I was fortunate to see a young man play a Paraguayan harp. And young women perform traditional dances. I am thrilled Susan Hood has shared this story of The Recycled Orchestra.
Families live in poverty all over the world. The story, Ada’s Violin, allows readers to empathize with their lives and witness their fight against such undesirable conditions. In this story we are witnesses to the power of courage, community, and creativity to overcome insurmountable odds.
There is an author’s note that tells more about Ada, her family and the orchestra. She also adds url’s for websites and videos.
See the 60 Minute segment The Recyclers: From Trash Comes Triumph here.
For more of today’s reviews, see author Susanna Hill’s blog here.
Anyone celebrating Women’s History Month should take a look at the blog post here from Kid World Citizen. It’s an international celebration of women around the world! Link your titles to her blog.
There are so many wonderful children’s books, including picture book biographies about women and the contributions they have made to our nation and the world. This list happens to feature female scientists.
When I think my mother was born the same year women gained the right to vote in the United States, I really do think, “We’ve come a long way baby!”
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!
Written by: Chris Barton
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2015)
Suitable for ages: 7 and up
Themes/Topics: US History, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Mississippi politics, racism, slavery, perseverance, hope, courage, inspiration
Brief Synopsis: The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a picture book biography about the inspirational life of a man born enslaved, freed as a teenager after the start of the Civil War, and 10 years later elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives during Reconstruction.
John Roy’s father, Patrick Lynch, was an Irish overseer, his mother enslaved on the plantation where they lived. Patrick planned to save enough money to purchase and ”own” his family since by law he could not free them. But in 1849, when his son was a mere a toddler, Patrick became ill. He entrusted a friend to free his family in case of his death, but instead this man sold them to a new owner.
Opening pages: “John Roy Lynch had an Irish father and an enslaved mother. By the law of the South before the Civil War, that made John Roy and his brother half Irish and all slave.”
Why I like this book: Let me start by saying I am a genealogy addict which involves a lot of historical research. And for that reason, I love this book!
Barton does a phenomenal job recounting the life of this extraordinary man who overcame so much hostility and oppression to become a justice of the peace and a state representative in Mississippi during a time when laws marginalized people of color. The author’s research is impeccable. The use of primary documents gives us a sense of the man John Roy was and brings readers into the world in which he lived. Barton does not sugarcoat the history nor the inhumane treatment a select group of people suffered. He does give us a history of how one man was able to rise above the fray despite insurmountable obstacles.
The watercolor illustrations by Don Tate carries the lengthy story helping young readers digest these harsh periods in US history.
This book is well done all around and for this reason it is a must read for all ages, not just kids. Many citizens have not learned the history presented in this book. The historical note, timeline, author’s note and illustrator’s note are supplements that add even more to this remarkable story. And of course it is a treasure because -#weneeddiversebooks that are this well researched and written.
“When every man, woman, and child can feel and know that his, her, and their rights are fully protected by the strong and generous and grateful Republic, then we can all truthfully say that this beautiful land or ours, over which the Star Spangled Banner so triumphantly waves, is, in truth and in fact, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
John Roy Lynch
United States House of Representatives 1876
Congressional Record, vol. 2, Part 5, 43rd Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876), pp. 4782-4786.
Click here to find more books and facts about John Roy Lynch.
Click here for the educator’s guide.
Click here to see the book trailer.
For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.
Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.
Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)
Suitable for ages: 7-11
Themes: women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes
Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.
The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.
Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.
Opening pages: “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.
A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”
Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.
Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.
For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.