Category Archives: weneeddiversebooks

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about sharing the spotlight with younger sibling. These stories feature the cutest DIVAS!

In STARRING CARMEN by Anika Denish and illustrated by Loren Alvarez Gómez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017, Carmen is a showgirl! She loves an audience, the attention, and the applause! But her little brother Eduardo wants to perform with her. Can Carmen make room for him?

In FAMOUSLY PHOEBE author Lori Alexander and illustrator Aurelie Blard-Quintard, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017, Phoebe was always the family star, followed by camera-carrying “paparazzi” until the arrival of a new sibling. Can Phoebe find a new role to play?

A Perfect Picture Book Pair or #PPBP 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 contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Follow  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  #ReadYourWorld for more selections of diverse books.

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She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. 

When Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced her objections about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General during his confirmation hearing on February 7, 2017, she was silencedSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interrupted Senator Warren as she read from the letter written in 1986 by civil rights leader Coretta Scott King. That letter helped prevent the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge for his home state of Alabama. McConnell accused Warren of making statements that impugn the character of Sessions which he determined was against Senate rules. 

The senator presiding over the hearing advised Warren that she was out of order under Senate Procedural Rule 19. “I’m reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 that was admitted into the record,” Senator Warren argued. “I’m simply reading what she wrote about what the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be a federal court judge meant and what it would mean in history for her.” 

Senator McConnell asked for a vote. After a 49-43 vote split across party lines, Senator Warren was not allowed to finish nor speak again. Instead, she continued reading the letter outside the door of the Senate floor. 

Defending his actions, Mitch McConnell later explained, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”  

Inspired by that event, Chelsea Clinton wrote this book and featured thirteen other women in America who also faced opposition and or adversity but succeeded because they persisted

Written by: Chelsea Clinton

Illustrated by:  Alexandra Boiger

Publisher: Philomel Books (May 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: Women in US history, perseverance, resilience 

Brief Synopsis:  In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to thirteen American women throughout history who, despite resistance from others or society, made positive contributions to our nation because of their persistence. 

Opening pages“Sometimes being a girl isn’t easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don’t listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted.” 

Why I like this bookShe Persisted is an inspirational tribute to thirteen women whose contributions to our nation deserve recognition. Some of the women featured are well known and others are not. The colorful illustrations by Alexandra Boiger include a diverse cast of characters, girls and boys, that reflect our nation’s multicultural population. 

Perseverance, persistence, fairness, and dreaming big are common themes in children’s books. I enjoyed the inclusion of women in a book that also teaches US history. As a non-fiction book, there are endless opportunities for educational use. Students could conduct more in-depth study of each character, or research other lesser known female figures who have also helped shape our nation. The adults in this book are role models children should know about and look up to. The author includes a quote that explains why every child, especially girls, should read this picture book, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” -Astronaut Sally Ride 

Resources

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog

Happy reading!

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Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

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This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use, and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

 

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press   (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

Kids love to see their own reflections in books. Join me and  #ReadYourWorld!

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Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Two boys and their bots make a perfect picture book pair! Friendship, hilarity, and science saves the day.

TitleThe Bot that Scott Built

Author: Kim Norman

Illustrator: Agnese Baruzzi

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (August 2016)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Boy builds bot. Classroom calamity ensues. Boy and bot save the science fair!
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Title: Boy + Bot  

Author: Ame Dyckman

Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers   (April 2012)

Age Range: 2-5 years.

Boy likes bot. Bot likes boy. Friendship ensues!

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Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

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Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat 

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Written by:  Susan Lendroth

Illustrated by: Kathryn Otoshi

Publisher: Shen’s Books (July 2010)

Suitable for ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: Japan, legend of Maneki Neko, folk tale, gratitude

Brief Synopsis: A cat named Tama lives in a small Japanese village with a poor monk at the Kotoku Monastery. During a great storm a samurai takes cover under a tree not far from the temple. Tama is also stranded outside. When Tama is cleaning her face with her paw, the samurai sees the cat beckoning him. He moves toward the cat and the tree is hit by lightning. He believes the cat saved his life. 

In his gratitude, the samurai shared his wealth with the monk who then shared the riches with his village. When the cat died, the monk created the legend of Maneki Neko  “beckoning cat” or “lucky cat” to honor Tama. 

This is one of many versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. 

Opening page: You have come to the wrong place, little one, for I am as poor as you with few scraps to share,” said the monk when he first saw the cat sunning herself outside his door. Still, he smiled, scratching the thin fur behind her ears and the spot on her back, round as a child’s ball. 

The cat rolled, rubbing her head between the monk’s hand and the hard-packed earth, then immediately sat up to polish the dust from her face. One curled paw dipped and rose, beckoning to the monk like an old friend. 

Why I like this book: The artwork by Kathryn Otoshi captures the peacefulness and serenity of the landscape in many rural areas in Japan. 

The story is a beautiful memory of my years living and working there. These small figurines are found all over Japan and throughout Asia. Homes and businesses have Maneki Neko statues displayed with either its left or right paw raised. Businesses display cats with the left paw raised to bring in customers. A raised right paw is said to bring luck and money. The figurines come in a variety of colors that symbolize a different kind of luck. White is for happiness, gold brings money, black is for good health, and red is for love and relationships. 

The book introduces readers to Japanese culture and folklore.

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Photo : Sarah on Flickr

Resources:

See Sushi Cat for concentration and memory games. 

See DLTK for directions for making a Maneki Neko craft Education.com and Coloring Castle for a coloring pages. 

See Mr. Dunn‘s site for links, PowerPoint presentations, maps, and lesson plans about Japan for students of all ages. 

For more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

Happy reading!

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Finding what makes you special: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Finding what makes you special: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

What an excellent and extraordinary perfect picture book pair! Both books show the importance of fitting in by finding out what makes you special.

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Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty (Author), Julia Sarcone-Roach  (Illustrator)

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 2016)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Ed finds out exactly what makes him special in an exceptional family.

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Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison (Author/Illustrator)

Published by Dial Books (February 2014)

Age Range: 3-5 years.

Jane learns ordinary friendship, kindness, and loyalty is what makes her extraordinary.

A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” Reading is too! Join me and  #ReadYourWorld!

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A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Girls Rule Dress-up

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Girls Rule Dress-up

What a fun perfect picture book pair about little girls who love to dress-up. But looking pretty is only one part.

Girls

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.

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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. 

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. 

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! 

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

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A Perfect Picture Book Pair Based on a Cumulative Tale

A Perfect Picture Book Pair Based on a Cumulative Tale

What a fun perfect picture book pair based on the cumulative story, “I Know An Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly”. And perfect for reading aloud!

Both books are modern adaptations of the old tale filled with lyrical language and wordplay. 

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One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom (Author), Brendan Wenzel (Illustrator) Published by Katherine Tegen Books (May 2016) Age Range: 4-8 years.

A hungry snake fills his belly, but his captives are planning their escape.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann (Author), Ben Mantle (Illustrator) Published by Random House Books for Young Readers (August 4, 2015) Age Range: 4-8 years.

There was an old dragon who swallowed things in a kingdom, including a knight! That’s not polite!

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Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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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.

 

Resources:

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.

Happy reading!

 

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Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month

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!”

 

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World Read Aloud Day 2016

World Read Aloud Day 2016

‘Twas a great World Read Aloud Day, er, WEEK! There were so many teachers and librarians requesting visits that I wanted to accommodate them all. I couldn’t, but I did end up scheduling visits over three days instead of just one. The King Cake Baby was a fun B.A., Baby Ambassador for the city of New Orleans!

Slide1Students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, were well prepared with great questions. One librarian surprised the kids on camera- they were all going back to their classrooms to eat King Cake. Fun! One kindergarten class showed up wearing beads, and they made masks too. And students danced with me to some Mardi Gras music. What a wonderful way to share New Orleans and a beloved tradition.

The educator in me did sneak in a little geography lesson during Skype visits. When visiting with a school in Minnesota, first graders were quick to identify their state and knew the Mississippi River starts there. We traced the path of the river down south to Louisiana. In one spread where the baby is running toward the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans, I always ask students if they think the baby will travel over or under it, and where they think he’s going. For the kids in Minnesota, the King Cake Baby was going to hop on a boat and head north, of course!

Bridge & map capture

Until next year!

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Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist Sewing Stories

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Written by: Barbara Herkert

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (October 2015)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: folk-art, quilting, community, survival, determination, resilience, US history, women’s history, slavery, emancipation, Civil War

 

Brief Synopsis: This story is about the life of Harriet Powers who is not well known, yet whose legacy of early African-American folk art is displayed in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Even though she lived her early life enslaved and remained poor throughout her adult life, Harriet believed, “You gotta take what you’ve been given and make something out of it.” And that she did.

 

After enslaved women labored in the fields and or made textiles for the plantation, they used their craft to create story quilts. Over time, sewing became a source of pride and income for Harriet. I imagine the craft had to have helped strengthen her community during the dark times of unfathomable oppression while living either enslaved or free.

 

Given the recent discussion about the picture book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, some question why Sewing Stories has not received the same criticism for “smiling slaves”. In my opinion, this book includes facts in the sidebars that touch upon a shameful part of US history while at the same time weaves a story of hope, resilience, determination, and community, despite the oppression. This author does take liberties in a couple sidebars. In this example she intuits, “For a few daylight hours, they might have felt free.” Although sewing and quilting was done for the master, Harriet and her community made the craft their own. After emancipation she used her skills to eventually earn enough to help buy a small farm. The images of characters smiling shows a universal human emotion. Yes, the enslaved had the ability to feel those same human emotions of joy, pride, and hope too. This story is not only about individual pride, it is representative of the grit and struggle people like Harriet demonstrated.

 

Opening pages:  “See that sweet baby girl lying on a quilt her mama made? What could she be dreaming of?

 

On a plantation near Athens, Georgia, Harriet’s mama worked from rise to set while Harriet slept between the cotton rows.”

 

Why I like this book: I recently had a discussion with a fellow writer about depicting slavery in picture books. She told me her 5-year-old mentioned something about slaves one day. When probed, he said, “They ran away. Brave people helped them run away and they were safe.”

 

In a sense, Harriet ran. She ran toward developing a craft that helped her contribute to her family’s income, create a sense of self-worth, and hope for herself, and her community. At the end of the story, Harriet had to sell one of her quilts after falling on hard times. An art teacher named Jennie Smith purchased it, recorded her story, and kept her promise to exhibit it. Jennie was brave.

 

As writers, we will make mistakes despite our good intentions. But there are many stories that need to be told. For this bright 5-year-old eager to learn, we must continue to create stories that help him understand sensitive and complex topics. And that will take courage.

 

Resources:

 

*School & Library Journal listed other picture books that celebrate African-Americans in the Arts here.

 

*KidLitTV shared Librarian  Scott Woods’ list of diverse books –28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball can be found here.

 

*Lee & Low’s collection of books to celebrate Black History Monty can be found here.

 

*Addressing the topic of slavery in the elementary classroom can be found here.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here.

 

Happy Reading!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Wednesday, January 27th!

official poster by Robert Trujillo
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  • TWITTER PARTY! Diversity discussion during #ReadYourWorld Twitter Party from 9-10pm EST.

  • BOOK GIVEAWAY every 5 minutes during the Twitter Party!

  • BLOGGERS BOOK REVIEWS: find links to reviews here (MCCBD blog)

  • TEACHERS: Giving away more than 600 diversity books to classrooms provided by the Junior Library Guild. Details here.

  • MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOKLIST:  find an extensive list of diversity books and extension activities for kids sorted by country, holiday, ethnicity, genre, and age group here.

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PLEASE SUPPORT MCCBD #ReadYourWorld SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsors:

Story Quest BooksWisdom Tales PressLil’ Libros

Gold Sponsors:

Candlewick PressTori Nighthawk: Don’t Judge A Bird By its Feathers

Silver Sponsors:

Lee & Low BooksChronicle BooksCapstone Young ReadersChina Institute.orgTuttle PublishingNY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze Sponsors:

Jacqueline WoodsonPomelo BooksPapa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books LLCAuthor Gleeson Rebello, M.D .,  Shout Mouse PressMahvash ShaheghLive Oak Media

Honorary Sponsor: 

The Junior Library Guild

Author Sponsors:

 Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos

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SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

It’s the SCBWI Book Launch Party! Click here to visit, like, comment, and share my party page for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby.

 

Follow the baby on his Facebook page here.

While on the SCBWI site, check out other great kidlit titles.

 

Let’s get this party started!

SCBWI book launch

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A Storm Called Katrina

A Storm Called Katrina

Title: A Storm Called Katrina

5

Written by:  Myron Uhlberg

Illustrated by: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Suitable for ages: 4 and up

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, natural disasters, family, community, survival, compassion, empathy, courage

Brief Synopsis: A Storm Called Katrina is the story of a family’s experiences with Hurricane Katrina told through the voice of Louis Daniel, a 10-year-old boy who dreamed of one day playing his trumpet like Louis Armstrong. Like many in the city, the family prepared for the storm but did not evacuate. The day after the storm the water began to rise and the family was forced to leave their home. They left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing but Louis took his horn. They were rescued and ended up in the Superdome.  Although the family survived the flood waters, the conditions in the stadium were harsh and dangerous. When his father went out to find water for the family, Louis and his mother, feeling unsafe, moved to different seats. Fearing his father would not be able to find them, Louis ran down to the football field to play his trumpet. The family is reunited when his father hears him play.

Opening Pages: “HURRICANE’S COMING, Baby,” Mama said.

“I’m not a baby anymore, Mama. I turned ten last month.”

“Doesn’t matter how old you are, Louis Daniel. You’ll always be my baby,” she said. “Hush now and go to bed.”

The wind rattled my window something fierce. When the storm howled louder, I covered my ears and hid under the blanket.”

Why I like this book: Author Myron Uhlberg writes a moving story about a tramatizing event that shows how one family was able to navigate and survive a natural disaster. However it is presented in a way that is not too scary for children and is rather touching. Illustrator Colin Bootman adds to the story with his authentic images of New Orleans at the time of the flood. I especially like the page where sunlight beaming through the torn off roof of the Superdome shines on Louis as he plays his trumpet hoping his father will hear his music. This book is a wonderful tribute to family, community, and survival.

Resources:

Click here to find classroom discussions questions about A Storm Called Katrina.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for Scholastic site. Hurricane Katrina for upper primary and middle school kids.

Click here for a wealth of articles and lessons for kids from TeacherVision

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

In My Heart: A Child’s Hurricane Katrina Story on YouTube.

Children of the Storm on YouTube

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Spending time with grandparents

Spending time with grandparents

Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco (Author), Puffin Books; Reprint, (August 25, 1997), ages 5-8

Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell (Author/Illustrator), Lee & Low Books (March 20, 2013), ages 5-8

Both books are about grandparents cooking with their grandchildren. The multi-generational focus on family life coupled with delightful rhyme & prose in each make these books fun to read aloud. And easy to explore the important roles grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren.

In Thunder Cake, a grandmother and her granddaughter hurries around the farm to find all the ingredients needed for to bake a cake before a storm arrives. The story is based on memories of the author’s childhood.

In Rainbow Stew, a grandfather leads his grand kids to the garden on a rainy summer day to pick veggies to make a stew.

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Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

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.

Swing Sisters

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.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here. Listen to their story on NPR. Listen to them play! Dare you not to boogie!

For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134766828/americas-sweethearts-an-all-girl-band-that-broke-racial-boundaries

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Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday and National Sibling Day!

download

Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (March 2010)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes:  cultural awareness, immigrant experiences, cultural conflict, sibling-rivalry, tolerance, dealing with anger, frustration, jealousy

Brief Synopsis: Rubina is invited to a birthday party and her little sister Sana asks to tag along. But Rubina tries to convince her mother it’s not a good idea to bring someone to a party when they are not invited. Rubina’s mother does not understand why bringing her little sister is a problem. She also doesn’t understand why someone would celebrate a birthday since that is not a tradition in their culture. Sana persists and although embarrassed, Rubina asks the host for permission to bring her. At the party Sana misbehaves. And not only does Sana eat the candy in her party bag when they get home, but Rubina is not invited to another party for a long time. When Sana is invited to a party, the third sibling, Maryam, asks to go too. But this time, Sana is the one who doesn’t want a tag-a-long. Rubina’s intervention helps her family understand North American culture.

Opening pages:  “I am so excited I run all the way home from school.

“Ami! I’ve been invited to a birthday party! There’s going to be games and toys, cake and ice cream! Can I go?”

Sana screams, “I wanna go too!”

Ami says, “What’s a birthday party?”

“It’s when they celebrate the day they were born.”

“Why do they do that?”

“They just do! Can I go?”

Why I like this book: I enjoyed this book because it weaves sibling rivalry in the backdrop of a story about an immigrant family from Pakistan. The are two ongoing conflicts, the first between the siblings and the second is adapting to a new culture. An excellent choice to introduce cultural awareness,teach tolerance, address cultural practices, and address the sibling dynamic present in all families regardless of heritage.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here.

For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns Book Review

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns Book Review

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! For more reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page. Today’s pick is:

Title: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors Domes

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 6, 2012)

Suitable for grades: PreK-2

Themes/Topics: celebrating holidays, community, cultural awareness

Brief Synopsis: Beautifully written and illustrated, this book highlights the colorful world of Islam. A little girl takes the reader with her as she navigates her world showing different parts of her culture that kids can easily relate to like clothing, food and different celebrations.

Opening pages: “Red is the rug Dad kneels on to pray, facing toward Mecca, five times a day.”

“Blue is the hijab Mom like to wear. It’s a scarf she uses to cover her hair.”

Why I like this book: I enjoy books that address culture. Others can peek inside the lives of those who may seem very different only to realize the things we enjoy and hold dear are often the same but celebrated differently.

Resources:

 

 

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The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale

The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale

As a newbie to the field of children’s book writing and publishing, it was a thrill to meet award-winning author Linda Leopold Strauss at a local SCBWI workshop and listen to stories about her long and successful career. She shared wonderful stories as well as provided advice about the craft of writing and the business of publishing a newbie like myself will always cherish.

One of Linda’s books that comes to mind during this Passover is The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale. The story is about two very close Jewish families, the Lippas and Galinskys. The families are so close that Rachel Galinsky and David Lippa want to get married, but their parents get into a feud. The neighbors and town rabbi intervene and come up with a plan to bring the two families together to celebrate Passover.

In addition to an engaging story, the woodcut illustrations by Alexi Natchev help the person being read to, or the reader, to imagine the old country back then located somewhere around Poland and or Russia. ”Alexi Natchev’s beautifully colored block prints evoke an Old World feel but also are playful and filled with expressive detail and movement.” – Arizona Jewish Post, 3/20/2012.

Blogger Planet Smarty Pants recommendations.

By Linda Leopold Strauss Holiday House (February 20, 2012)

Elijah door

 

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Suki’s Kimono

Suki’s Kimono
Title: Suki’s Kimono
Written by:  Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by: Stéphanie Jorisch
Kids Can Press,  2003, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: celebrating individuality, determination, cultural awareness, tolerance, acceptance
 
Brief Synopsis:  Suki’s decided to wear her kimono, a gift from her grandmother, on the first day of school. Although her sisters did not want her to, Suki wears it anyway. On her way to school the kids laughed at her, but Suki’s kimono helps her relive those happy summer memories of her Japanese grandmother’s visit and all the things they did together. Her classmates also laugh and tease her but when it’s her turn to share what she did over summer break, Suki’s enthusiasm and joy is mesmerizing.
 
Opening pages:  “On the first day of school, suki wanted to wear her kimono. Her sisters did not approve. “You can’t wear that,” said Mari. “People will think you’re weird.”
“You can’t wear that,” said Yumi. “Everyone will laugh, and no one will play with you,’’ said Yumi.
‘’You need something new, Suki.” You need something cool.’’
 
Why I like this book: Suki demonstrates her individuality by choosing to wear a kimomo to school even when her sisters disapprove and warn her it may be an unpopular choice. The dialog between Suki and a girl on the playground who asks her about her “funny’’ clothing and Suki ‘s explanation shows that it’s okay to question as long as you are open to understanding another’s opinion. Suki is delighted to both show and tell her classmates about the summer spent with her Japanese grandmother. Suki’s teacher and the classmates realize wearing the kimono helps her recreate those happy summer memories.  And from Suki we learn that despite being laughed at or teased for doing something  different, sometimes it just doesn’t matter.
 
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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad
Henry’s Freedom Box
A True Story of the Underground Railroad
 
Written by: Ellen Levine
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, January 2007, Historical Fiction
Suitable for ages: 7-10
 
Themes/Topics: Biography and Autobiography, Slavery, Underground Railroad,  Abolition, Determination and Perseverance
 
Brief Synopsis: Henry is born a slave one day around 1830 in the state of Virginia. But Henry does not know his birthdate or his age.  As a child, Henry is sold and taken away from his mother and family. Many years later, his wife and young children are also taken away from him and sold. Henry doesn’t know his birthday, but knows one day he wants freedom. Through heartbreak and time Henry finds others who want the same for him and he is able to break free from bondage.
 
Opening pages:  “Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.
 
Henry and his brothers and sisters worked in the big house where the master lived. Henry’s master had been good to Henry and his family.
 
But Henry’s mother knew things could change. “Do you see those leaves blowing in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.”
 
Why I like this book: Freedom. It’s something children desire very early in life. Humans want choice and independence. It’s what Henry wants but he is born in a time when his freedom is not allowed. This Caldecott Honor Book introduces kids to a very complex time in US history through a biography loosely based on a true story of a slave named Henry “Box’’ Brown.  Henry is sold to another master as a young child but tries to make the best of a terrible situation. He marries and has a family of his own and they mean the world to him. Then his wife and children are sold and Henry is devastated. Henry then enlists the help of an abolitionist and together they make a plan to mail Henry through the Underground Railroad to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and freedom. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are wonderfully supportive of the story. Readers of all ages can identify with Henry when he is accepting of his situation, when he is happy and when he is filled with despair. And all readers will certainly want for Henry what he wants for himself- freedom.
 
Resources:
http://library.echs.edwrds.k12.il.us/book-awards/information-contained-on-pages/bluestem-resources/Henrys%20Freedom%20Box.pdf
http://vimeo.com/20964070
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/henrys-freedom-box-lesson-plan
 
henry
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Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale

Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Written by: Lorraine Johnston
Illustrated by: Preston Asevedo
Mascot Books, April 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: kindness, courage, community, cultural awareness
 
Brief Synopsis: An alligator at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo gets into colorful trouble when Scottish tourists ignore the sign “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS AT ANY TIME”. A little girl comes to the rescue through the help of local shopkeepers.
 
Opening pages:  “If you’re ever going to visit Audubon Zoo, remember this story, it is quite true. There is an old alligator who sits in his pen. He’s got quite a story, it all started when…”
 
Why I like this book: Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale written by Scottish author Lorraine Johnston weaves the love of her own culture with the culture of New Orleans through her choice of setting and characters. Themes and topics addressed are valuable teaching tools. The alligator learns there are consequences when rules are broken. A little girl shows kindness and courage by her desire and actions to help him solve his problem. And through cooperation with a community chocolate shop, the little girl helps the alligator return to his original self.

 LTG

 

 

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