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    Meet Some Memorable Characters

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 18, 2019

    Getting into the mind of a character is one of the greatest parts of reading, whether you’re finding a new one or rediscovering an old favorite. From a dinosaur who’s on a quest to improve his hug to a 13-year-old elephant driver who lives on the edge of the jungle in the borderlands of 1970s Nepal, the books in this week’s column introduce readers to compelling characters having exciting experiences in interesting places.  

    Ages 4–8

    Carl and the Meaning of Life. Deborah Freedman. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Carl and the Meaning of LifeAfter a field mouse asks why he tunnels underground day after day, Carl the earthworm realizes he doesn’t know why. He asks a rabbit, fox, and squirrel, “Why do I do what I do?” but none has a satisfying answer for him although they know why they do what they do. However, when a ground beetle laments that he can’t find any grubs, Carl discovers the dirt has turned hard as rock. He finally has his answer and gets busy turning the hard dirt back into fluffy, fertile soil, which sprouts seeds for the mouse who asked him the question in the first place and triggers a chain of events that benefits everyone. Freedman’s colorful mixed-media illustrations add depth to her engaging story with an important child-friendly message. The author’s note “Everything is connected” along with a challenge for readers to identify how they help the earth and a relevant quote from Charles Darwin about the important role of the earthworm in our world.
    —NB  

    Cyril and Pat. Emily Gravett. 2019. Simon & Schuster.

    Cyril and PatCyril, the only squirrel in Lake Park, is lonely until he meets Pat. Cyril happily shouts that his new friend is a big gray squirrel, but Pat is actually a rat. The other animals try to point out his error. “Oh, Cyril, can’t you see that your friend Pat / is not like you. Your friend’s a . . .” but before they can say rat, Cyril jumps in with “Real joker!” or “Brilliant sharer!” or “CLEVER SQUIRREL.” After Pat’s true identity is revealed by a young boy and all the animals reinforce that squirrels can’t be friends with rats, Cyril is sad—until a scary misadventure leaves him recognizing that two individuals can be friends in spite of differences. Follow the reading of Kate Greenaway Medalist Emily Gravett’s colorful rhyming picture book by introducing young children to some of her other delightful stories about interesting animal characters.
    —CA

    Fear the Bunny. Richard T. Morris. Ill. Priscilla Burris. 2019. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Fear the Bunny“Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, in the forest of the night—.” When Tiger comes across a hedgehog reading an altered version of William Blake’s “The Tyger” to a group of animals, he attempts a correction. “The poem is about . . . ME! The most feared animal in the forest.” Insisting that in their forest they fear bunnies, the animals hide as a bunny approaches in the dark, and Tiger pokes fun at their fright—until he pursued by a stampede of bunnies. In the final double-page spread, Tiger is shown reading “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright . . .” to a gathering of animals including two tigers. Pricilla Burris’ mixed-media illustrations featuring Tiger and a host of cute animals against a dark forest background make this a good scary-but-not-too-scary read aloud. Blake’s “The Tyger” is included on the back endpaper.
    —CA

    Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug. Jonathan Stutzman. Ill. Jay Fleck. 2019. Chronicle.

    Tiny T. RexTiny T. Rex tries to cheer up his sad pal Pointy with a hug but can’t wrap his short, stubby arms around his large dinosaur friend. After asking for advice from his father, aunt, and mother, whose responses are not helpful (“mathematics might be the answer,” “balance and freshly squeezed cucumber juice,” and “it’s okay if you can’t hug”), his siblings suggest that he practice. A lot. Hugging a purple tree trunk that turns out to be the leg of a dinosaur that flies through the air with him clinging to it, Tiny lets go and plops right down onto the head of his friend Pointy, who exclaims, “That was the biggest hug ever.” Bright, digitally colored pencil illustrations demonstrate size comparisons nicely as Tiny learns not to give up because tiny hugs come from big hearts.
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Freya & Zoose. Emily Butler. Ill. Jennifer Thermes. 2019. Crown/Penguin.

    Freya & ZooseInspired by Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad, a guidebook for Victorian adventurers, Freya, a Scandinavian rockhopper penguin, stows away on Captain Salomon August Andrée’s hot air balloon expedition to the North Pole. Once aloft she discovers that there is another stowaway, a cocky, ill-mannered London-born mouse named Zoose, who wants to become famous as the first mouse to explore the North Pole. When the ill-fated expedition is forced to land in the Arctic, Freya and Zoose must learn how to work together if they are to survive. Jennifer Thermes’ black-and-white drawings extend the humor of Emily Butler’s captivating animal fantasy. In an author’s note, Butler provides background information about Captain Andrée, Nils Strindberg, and Knut Faenkels, who attempted the flight by hot-air balloon to the North Pole in 1897 and perished; rockhopper penguins; the Artic region; and Lillias Campbell Davidson, the author of Hints to Lady Travellers.
    —CA

    Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure. Alex T. Smith. 2019. Peachtree.

    Mr. PenguinHaving placed an ad in the newspaper offering his services, Mr. Penguin is eagerly awaiting his first adventure as a Professional Adventurer, and it comes with a call from Boudicca Bones, owner of the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. To save the very old museum in need of restoration, she and her brother are desperate to locate the treasure buried by their great-great-great-grandfather somewhere in the museum. With his sidekick, a resourceful spider named Colin, Mr. Penguin rushes to the museum and soon discovers that the job is going to be more difficult, more dangerous, and definitely more adventurous than he anticipated. Will he find the lost treasure? How will he survive his first proper Adventuring job? Readers who enjoy this humorous action-packed tale will be eager to join Mr. Penguin on another exciting Adventure.
    —CA

    Rabbit’s Bad Habits (Rabbit & Bear #1). Julian Gough. Ill. Jim Field. 2019. Silver Dolphin/Printers Row.

    Rabbit's Bad HabitsBear awakens mid-hibernation to find her store of food (honey, salmon, and beetles’ eggs) gone. While building a snowman, she accidentally rolls a big ball of snow over the entrance to a rabbit’s hole and encounters grumpy and unfriendly Rabbit. Rejecting kind and friendly Bear’s invitation to help build a snowman, Rabbit decides to make an even better snowman, but first, for energy he eats lots and lots of honey, salmon, and beetle’s eggs. “Then he did a little poo, and ate it.” (Yes, rabbits do that, as Rabbit explains in a funny and informative sequence.) After Bear saves Rabbit from pursuit by a hungry Wolf with a well-tossed snowball “as big as an avalanche, and as fast as a train,” they enjoy a celebratory winter picnic of honey, salmon, and beetle’s eggs and go to sleep in the cave. This series opener with a giggle-inducing text and illustrations on every page is perfect for newly independent readers.
    —CA

    Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-spun. Hilary McKay. Ill. Sarah Gibb. 2019. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    Straw Into GoldHilary McKay spins different perspectives into her retellings of the ten traditional fairy tales in this collection: “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” “The Swan Brothers,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “Red Riding Hood,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” and “Hansel and Gretel.” In “Straw into Gold,” Petal, the miller’s daughter, manipulates Rumpelstiltskin, a hob who yearns for a child, into spinning a barnful of barley straw into gold thread (so the King will marry her) in exchange for her first child, and then tricks him with a guessing game about his name to go back on her promise. In a twist at the end, after Petal’s death, her son delivers an apology from her to Rumpelstiltskin, and they enjoy time together. Sarah Gibb’s black-and-white, delicately detailed painted scenes and silhouettes are exquisite additions to these “re-spun” tales. A bibliography is included.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    A Circle of Elephants. Eric Dinerstein. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    A Circle of ElephantsThirteen-year-old Nandu works for the head of the king of Nepal’s elephant stable as an elephant driver at the Royal Elephant Breeding Center in the borderlands between Nepal and India. As Nandu protects his “elephant brother” (Hira Prasad, a powerful bull elephant) as well as other elephants and endangered animals from danger in nature (drought, earthquakes, predators) and man (poachers and corrupt government officials), help comes from old and new friends and allies, and he learns that “we are all connected and stronger together than apart.” Back matter includes a glossary and an informative author’s note from conservationist Eric Dinerstein. Readers interested in the backstory of Nandu’s abandonment in the jungle 10 years earlier will want to read the earlier companion book, What Elephants Know (2016).
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Lovely War. Julie Berry. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Lovely WarOn the eve of World War II in a New York hotel, Aphrodite (goddess of love) and her brother-in-law Ares (god of war) are caught in the act of adultery by her husband, Hephaestus (god of fire and forges), who agrees to preside over their private trial as judge, jury, and executioner. Presented in the format of a court trial, complete with witnesses, Aphrodite offers her orchestrationof the love stories of two mortal couples (Hazel, a classical pianist from London, and James, a British soldier with dreams of becoming an architect; and Aubrey, a Harlem jazz pianist in the U.S. Army, and Colette, a Belgium orphan and singer) from the World War I era. Pronouncing acquittal, Hephaestus realizes that not only has Aphrodite demonstrated the transcendent power of love, she also identified him as the only one capable of loving her before sealing the deal with a “kiss for the ages.”
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Five Questions With Jacqueline Prata

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Feb 12, 2019

    jackie-prataJacqueline Prata is an author, activist, and high school student. When tasked to write an essay in middle school, she had no idea she was planting the seeds for her first publication. At 15 years old, she wrote and illustrated the children’s book Fortune Cookie Surprise! and was involved in every aspect of development. Fortune Cookie Surprise! is the story of a young girl who realizes she is much like a fortune cookie, unique with a special gift inside. The book sends the message that we can all make a positive impact on our world.

    How did you come up with the idea for Fortune Cookie Surprise!?

    “In the seventh grade, my middle school teacher assigned an ‘I Believe’ essay. It required a belief in an unexpected object, and I chose fortune cookies. I compared fortune cookies to people and my role in our family. I worked hard and was proud of the outcome. I sent my essay in to Teen Ink Magazine, a monthly online and print magazine that features teen writers. It was published online and given the Editor’s Choice Award!

    “I always wanted to write a book, and the recognition inspired me to take it to the next level. I decided to make a children’s picture book targeting the 4–8-year-old age group because that was the age that I became interested in reading.”

    Fortune Cookie Surprise! sends the message that all children hold unique and extraordinary gifts worth sharing. Tell us why this message is so important.

    “The biggest lesson that I hope children take away is that each of us is unique with special gifts inside, just like a message inside a fortune cookie. All children complete their families like fortune cookies complete the meal. They can truly impact our world no matter their age, race, gender, or family structure. After going through the publishing process, I hope to inspire children and young readers [to know] that they too can do unexpected and great things—like writing, illustrating, and publishing a children’s book.”

    You volunteer for several local charities. How do you think teachers and educators can empower young people to galvanize their strengths to make a difference? 

    “There are so many ways for young people to get involved and make a difference. Teachers and educators can act as role models by setting a good example. Teens look to them for guidance and advice. They can expose us to new and different experiences and areas where we can make the biggest impact. Many of my teachers, ranging from my lower school art teacher to my middle school English teacher to my high school advisor, were instrumental in the creation of my book. They volunteered their time and expertise and, even more important, they gave me the confidence to pursue my goal.

    “In terms of my volunteering, I was lucky to have found our local Special Olympics chapter from my figure skating coach at a young age. In middle school, I started coaching athletes with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics is more than an organization—it is a family—and one that provides unconditional caring. They cheer each other on in competition and support each other in times of need. My experience with them has given me an added perspective of how fortunate I have been in my life and how we can all be more aware and appreciate our differences. The font style I chose to use in Fortune Cookie Surprise! was one that was ideal not only for early readers, but for those with disabilities.

    “I attended Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Student Leadership Academy in 10th grade and learned how important it is to raise awareness for childhood cancer and how students could make a difference. I rallied interest at school, started a Lemon Club, and held a lemonade stand raising money for research. I made a documentary film, titled BitterSweet, in my broadcast journalism class that was so impactful it was shown at film festivals around the country and was featured as the lead story on Teen Kid News, an Emmy award–winning, nationally syndicated television show. It has been seen on over 200 stations and educational channels, bringing awareness to over nine million students.

    “Working together with my teachers, coaches, the media, and even local organizations and politicians has taught me that you can do so much more partnering with others than alone. I think Helen Keller said it best: ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’”

    What are your future plans?

    “Going through the complete publishing process, from writing and illustrating to printing and marketing, has been so rewarding. I have learned to really appreciate the time and effort authors go through when creating a book and how many revisions and proofs it takes before a final product is produced. I want to continue writing and to learn more about related fields like journalism and public policy to help make an impact in our world. I really just want to make a difference and make the world a better place.”

    What advice do you have for other young, aspiring authors?

    “If you can dream it, you can achieve it! You can do anything you set your mind to.”

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily. 

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    New Year, New Releases

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 11, 2019

    As reviewers, we eagerly await our first look at new releases with the beginning of the new year. The reading of new releases we have been doing suggests that 2019 will be another terrific year for children’s and young adult literature in which readers of all ages can look forward to many great books from which to choose.

    Ages 4–8

    Hands Up! Breanna J. McDaniel. Ill. Shane W. Evans. 2019. Dial/Penguin.

    Hands Up!Breanna J. McDaniel follows a black girl as she grows from baby to teenager, describing the many ways she and others raise their hands. Hands are raised by her parents playing peek-a-boo with her, and by her, as they help her get dressed in the morning. She raises her hands high when eager to answer a question in class and in taking a graceful ballet position. Hands are raised in praise by everyone while worshiping in church. Surrounded by friends picking grapes and apples, she declares, “We begin small, but we grow big. / Together we are mighty. / High fives all around, hands up!” The book ends with the girl joining a peaceful protest march. “As one we say, ‘HANDS UP!’”  Shane W. Evans’ sunny, textured illustrations, created digitally with mixed media, joyfully express the positive “hands up!” message of this book: Uplifted hands celebrate and support one another.
    —NB

    The Quiet Boat Ride: And Other Stories (Fox + Chick #2). Sergio Ruzzier. 2019. Chronicle.

    The Quiet Boat RideYoung children will delight in joining Fox and Chick, best friends from Sergio Ruzzier’s The Party and Other Stories (2018), in three more mini-adventures. In “The Quiet Boat Ride,” Chick’s wild imagining of sea monsters, pirates, and shipwrecks makes Fox’s quiet boat ride on a pond very stressful. In “The Chocolate Cake,” Chick’s worries over the contents of a box he receives are put to rest by Fox, the giver of the gift. In “The Sunrise,” Fox agrees to let Chick join him to watch the sunrise from a hilltop but, when Chick’s preparation for the trip makes them miss the sunrise, the ever-resourceful Fox comes up with an alternative, watching sunset from the hilltop. Panels and double-page spreads with expressive ink and watercolor illustrations and a simple text presented entirely in dialogue balloons make this humorous comic-style picture book a good choice for newly independent readers.
    —CA

    The Whole Wide World and Me. Toni July. 2019. Candlewick.

    The Whole Wide World and MeToni July uses a simple, poetic text with only a few words on each double-page spread and illustrations (created with ink, charcoal pencil, torn tissue, cut paper, and digital collage) in a limited palette of bright colors to tell the story of a young girl’s busy day exploring the natural world. Her day begins with a walk through a field of flowers and ends with her back in the field examining a ladybird beetle and then sitting quietly on a large rock contemplating her place in the world. “I am a small / part of it all. / The whole wide world . . .  / and me.” This cheerful picture book encourages young children to think about the wonders of the natural world and their relationship to it.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Bridge Home. Padma Venkatraman. 2019. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Bridge HomeEleven-year-old Viji and her sister with special needs, Rukku, flee their abusive father after he breaks their mother’s arm and physically hurts them. In the crowded city of Chennai, India, they find a community that befriends them (Teashop Aunty, puppy Kutti, homeless boys Muthu and Arul with whom they live under a bridge) and other unexpected allies. Surrounded by overwhelming poverty and dangerous strangers who steal from them, the girls survive, one day at a time. After Rukku dies from dengue fever, Celina Aunty, from the Safe Home for Working Children, directs guilt-ridden Viji to write letters to her sister to process what has happened. Back matter includes a glossary of Indian words used in the novel and an author’s note about the plight of homeless children in India.
    —NB

    The End of the World and Beyond: Continues the Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitt: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of My Follies, Fortune & Fate Written by Himself. Avi. 2019. Algonquin.

    The End of the World and BeyondIn this companion to The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts (2017), 12-year-old Oliver continues the account of his unexpected life as he escapes the hangman’s noose for stealing 23 shillings only to be transported by convict ship from England to the American colonies, in 1725. Surviving the horrors of the perilous journey across a stormy Atlantic, he is sold in Annapolis, Maryland, as an indentured servant to Fitzhugh, a hard-drinking, brutal master, to labor on his small, isolated tobacco farm for a term of seven years. With hope for freedom, Oliver and Bara, a young slave, take to the dangerous swamp pursued by Fitzhugh, knowing that capture would mean death. The final chapter, “In Which My Life Has Even More Unexpected Events,” ends with Oliver putting down his pen, hoping his life is done with the unexpected and wondering whether Bara is also free.
    —CA

    What is Poetry?: The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems. Michael Rosen. 2019. Candlewick.

    What is Poetry 2In this helpful guide, Michael Rosen reflects on his many years of writing poetry as he encourages his audience to “read, write, and listen to poetry.” Opening withthe titular question, he discusses and gives examples on a variety of topics such as how poetry suggests things (“A Word is Dead” by Emily Dickinson) or plays with words (“Waltzing Matilda” by Banjo Paterson). In subsequent chapters, Rosen writes about his composition process, ideas for poems (including performance art), and writing tips. By the final chapter, readers should have developed their own responses to the opening question and feel prepared to read more poetry and write their own verses. Back matter includes an appendix with sites about poetry and videos of poets performing, as well as a topical index.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Cicada. Shaun Tan. 2019. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    Cicada 2“Cicada work in tall building. / Data entry clerk. Seventeen year. / No sick day. No mistake. / Tok Tok Tok!” Through simple, rhythmic text paired with expressive, beautifully composed oil paintings on facing pages, Shaun Tan lets Cicada tell his story of diligently working with humans in a depressingly grey office cubicle, unaccepted and bullied by his human coworkers and unappreciated by his employees. Retiring after 17 years without promotion and benefits, Cicada makes his way to the rooftop of the tall building. “Time to say goodbye.” Readers will be startled by the ending of five wordless double-spread illustrations and a final four lines of text. Cicada is another timely, thought-provoking tale from master storyteller Tan. Be prepared to be surprised.
    —CA

    Dragon Pearl. Yoon Ha Lee. 2019. Rick Riordan Presents/Hyperion.

    Dragon PearlThirteen-year-old Min, a shape-shifting fox spirit, leaves Jinju, the poor, undeveloped Thousand Worlds planet on which she lives in a human form, in search of her older brother Jun, a Space Forces cadet suspected of having deserted to search for the legendary mystical Dragon Pearl. She eventually lands on the Pale Lightning, her brother’s battle cruiser, having taken the shape of Bae Jang, a cadet who died at the hands of mercenaries while defending a space freighter, after promising his ghost that she’ll avenge his death. Befriended by two of Bae Jang’s friends, Cadet Haneul (a female dragon) and Cadet Sujin  (a nonbinary goblin), she gathers information and develops the technical skills needed to pull off a dangerous plan to journey to the Ghost Sector, the location of the Dragon Pearl, where she hopes to find Jun. Yoon Ha Lee’s sci-fi thriller is an action-packed adventure story enriched with elements of Korean mythology.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday. Natalie C. Anderson. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    Let's Go Swimming on DoomsdayIn this dark, political thriller, 16-year-old Abdiweli is forced by Mr. Jones of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) to become a soldier spy in the jihadi Somali militia, Al Shabaab (in which his older brother Dahir is a commander) in exchange for the promised return of his kidnapped family. After Dahir is injured and can’t carry out a suicide mission, Abdhi volunteers, but safely detonates the vest and defects. Shattered physically and mentally, he finds himself in Kenya with social worker Sam (a believer in Doomsday), who places “troublemaker” Abdi at the Maisha Girls Center where he conceals his identity and teaches fragile students to swim. Against all odds, Abdi eventually redeems himself and finds “a place of peace, a place like home.” Back matter includes an author’s note (on factual and fictional aspects of the story and her writing perspective) and a glossary of Somalian, Arabic, and Kiswahili words, initialisms, and acronyms.
    —NB

    Shout: A Poetry Memoir. Laurie Halse Anderson. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    ShoutIn 1999, author Laurie Halse Anderson wrote the multiple award-winning novel Speak, in which the protagonist is raped the summer before her freshman year of high school. On the 20th anniversary of Speak, Anderson, in her compellingly honest memoir-in-verse Shout, discloses circumstances of her complicated family dynamics growing up and her rape at age 13 with its emotional aftermath. In addition, her poems include the stories of others who have been violated, and she empowers readers as she throws down a gauntlet: “the consent of yes is necessary” and “ . . . When one / suffers, / all are weakened, / but when everyone thrives, we dance.” Back matter includes resources for readers.
    —NB

    All Ages

    I (HEART) Art: Art We Love from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2019. Abrams.

    I Heart ArtThis small, chunky book is a child-friendly “catalog” of more than 150 works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s vast collection. The book is organized into 10 color-coded sections by theme: play; sports; music; singing and dancing; reading, writing, and drawing; animals; family; locomotion; the country; and the city. Each section begins with a five-line introduction. For example, the “I (HEART) Animals” section begins with “Who doesn’t (Heart) animals? / Grazing deer and growling tigers, / Leaping fish and splashing frogs, / Barking dogs and scrambling cats, / There are so many animals in the world!” As the introduction notes, I (HEART) Art is a book to come back to again and again because a work of art can have different meanings each time you look at it.
    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    2019 Notable Books for a Global Society (Continued)

    By Sandip Wilson, Joyce Herbeck, and Tami Morton
     | Feb 04, 2019

    This second of two columns introducing the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS) includes nonfiction and fiction books that inform, entertain, and touch the heart. The extended article on the NBGS books with teaching ideas and a collection of connecting books will be published in the spring 2019 issue of The Dragon Lode, the journal of the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group.

    Ages 4–8

    Alma and How She Got Her Name. Juana Martinez-Neal. 2018. Candlewick.

    AlmaWhat’s in a name?  Too much, thinks Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. When her Daddy shows her the family photo album and tells her the story of each relative, Alma loves the stories, but wants to know about her own name. He tells her, “You are the first and only Alma. You will make your own story.” The illustrations, featuring a charming Alma, were done as print transfers with graphite and colored pencils on handmade textured paper. In “A Note from Juana,” Martinez-Neal, a native of Lima, Peru, who now lives in the United States, tells the story of her name and encourages readers to do the same.
    —JH  

    The Day You Begin. Jacqueline Woodson. Ill. Rafael López. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Day You BeginEveryone has a story, but why does everyone else’s story seem more exciting than ours?  Children often feel different and alone in school, whether because of their hair, skin color, language, clothes, the food they eat, or physical limitations. Jacqueline Woodson’s gentle text and Rafael López’s bright mixed-media illustrations tell the story of how a classroom of young children discover that they are more alike than different when they begin to share their stories and take pride in their differences.  A Spanish edition, El día en que descubres quién eres, is available.
    JH

    Love. Matt de la Peña. Ill. Loren Long. 2018. Putnam/Penguin.

    LoveNewbery Award winner Matt de la Peña’s poetic text expresses how, in times of joy and in times of hardship, sometimes alone and at times with others, everyone experiences love. “In a crowded concrete park, / you toddle toward summer sprinklers / while older kids skip rope / and run up the slide, and soon / you are running among them, / and the echo of your laughter is love.” Loren Long’s illustrations, rendered in collaged monotype prints, acrylic paint, and pencil, contribute to the reader’s understanding of the many ways love is experienced by depicting diverse individuals in different situations. Children, as well as the adults who share the book with them, will find new meanings with each reading of the book. A Spanish edition, Amor,is available.
    TM

    Saffron Ice Cream. Rashín Kheiriyeh. 2018. Scholastic.

    Saffron Ice CreamOn her first trip to the beach in Brooklyn, New York, her new home after her family left Iran, Rashin can't help but compare Coney Island to the beach on the Caspian Sea. She misses the fun of swimming with her friend, Azadeh, but she is delighted to see an ice cream truck. When she learns that this ice cream seller does not have the saffron ice cream she and Azadeh loved to buy, however, Rashin bursts into tears. A girl standing nearby sees Rashin’s disappointment and suggests that she try chocolate crunch, her favorite. New favorite ice cream! New friend! The brightly colored, action-packed illustrations capture the energy and emotions of experiencing a new place and provide a window into understanding the need to reach out to newcomers.
    JH

    Ages 9–11

    Dreamers. Yuyi Morales. 2018. Neal Porter/Holiday House.

    DreamersYuyi Morales tells the story of immigrating to the United States with her infant son, discovering “so many things we didn’t know. Unable to understand and afraid to speak, we made lots of mistakes.” The poetic text and brightly colored, imaginative illustrations (done in acrylic, pen and ink, and collage) convey her wonder at discovering the solace of the library where she and her son pore over picture books. Back matter includes details of Morales’ own story of coming to the U.S. with her 2-year-old son from Ciudad Juarez, a list of picture books that inspired her, and information on how she made the book. A Spanish edition, Soñodores, is available.
    TM

    Finding Langston. Lesa Cline-Ransome. 2018. Holiday House.

    Finding LangstonIn this story set in 1946, 11-year-old Langston has moved with his father from Alabama to the south side of Chicago following the death of Langston’s mother. In his effort to elude bullies after school, Langston runs to the library. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, this one welcomes everyone. The library is a safe haven where Langston can check out as many books as he wants. The books change how Langston sees himself, and when he discovers Langston Hughes, reading his poems and sharing the books with his father, he learns more about his mother, whom he misses, and forges a bond with his father.
    TM 

    La Frontera: El viaje con papá/My Journey with Papa. Deborah Mills & Alfredo Alva. Ill. Claudia Navarro. 2018. Barefoot.

    La FronteraSet in central Mexico in the 1980s, Alfredo’s family needs to find a new home when harvesting pine nuts in the pinyon forest can no longer support them. Written in Spanish and then English and accompanied by warm, colorful, mixed-media artwork, La Frontera recounts the dangerous and uncertain journey Alfredo and his father take crossing the border into the United States and living for weeks in a camp. Finding a home in a Texas town, Alfredo goes to school and feels part of a community as he and his father build a life to support and reunite the family four years later. Back matter includes photographs of Alfredo’s family and home in central Mexico and information on immigrants and immigration across the MexicoU.S. border.
    —SW

    Write On, Irving Berlin! Leslie Kimmelman. Ill. David C. Gardner. 2018. Sleeping Bear.

    Write On, Irving Berlin!In 1893, Israel Baline and his family immigrate to the United States, fleeing pogroms in Russia. The family brings with them a tradition of music, and in school, Israel daydreams of music. At age 13, after his father’s death, he becomes a singing waiter and begins writing lyrics reflecting pride in his adopted country. Throughout his life, he continues to write poignant songs such as “White Christmas” and riotous songs such as those in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Brightly hued, delicate illustrations, rendered in graphite and watercolor, convey the heart and feeling of his songs. Back matter includes additional biographical information on Irving Berlin (18881989), a list of his favorite songs, and a book list.
    —SW

    Ages 12–14

    Amal Unbound. Aisha Saeed. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Amal UnbounWhen her mother gives birth to another daughter and becomes so depressed she can’t get out of bed, Amal, an independent and resourceful girl who loves school and learning, stays home in her Punjabi village of Pakistan to help with the baby and the housework. Amal misses school and thinks her life is over, yet things get worse when, one day, on the way to the market, she insults Jawad Sahib, the most powerful man in the region. As retribution, she must work as his house servant. Although she misses her family and school, Amal is dutiful in her servitude and her sense of justice earns her the respect of the other servants. 
    JH

    The Crossroads. Alexandra Diaz. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

    The CrossroadsIn this sequel to The Only Road (2016) in which Jaime Rivera and his cousin Ángela made the journey from Guatemala to the United States to live with Jaime’s brother Tomás, in New Mexico, 12-year-old Jaime, who does not speak English, doesn’t like having to go to school, unlike Ángela who easily makes friends. While trying to learn a new language, Jaime deals with a bully, grows anxious about the friendships Ángela is making, and worries when he hears that his Abuela is not well. Diaz considers timely issues immigrants face as she tells the story of the challenges Jaime has in middle school. A Spanish edition, La encrucijada, is available.
    TM  

    The Night Diary. Veera Hiranandani. 2018. Dial/Penguin.

    The Night DiaryTwelve-year-old Nisha begins to keep a diary just before the partition of India in 1947 creates two countries, Pakistan and India. Her Muslim mother has died, and the lives of her Hindu family in Mirpur Khas, a southern city in what becomes Pakistan, become endangered. They leave their comfortable home for India, walking because train travel is too dangerous. In dated diary entries written to her deceased mother, Nisha records the danger and deprivation her family faces as people on both sides of the new border are killed as they migrate to Jodhpur, in western India. Back matter includes a glossary and an author’s note providing historical context and discussion of the separation of fact from fiction in the novel.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. 2018. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

    Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeYa Ta, the best student at her school, enjoys her friends and helps her family in their rural village in Northeast Nigeria. She longs to win a state scholarship to earn a university degree so she can teach, but worries that Success, the boy she loves, will not want so educated a woman. Told in vignettes, the novel depicts the destruction of her family life and hopes when Boka Haram rebels attack the village and kidnap women and girls moving them deep into the forest. Ya Ta’s captivity challenges her beliefs and dreams as she strives to survive each day. Back matter includes an afterword by journalist Vivian Mazza with information on the history of the jihad rebels who became known as Boka Haram (a Hausa term meaning “Western education is forbidden”) and the stories of individual women who escaped capture and a list of resources.
    —SW  

    The three reviewers are members of the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Sandip Wilson, cochair of the committee, serves as professor in the School of Education, Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Mary Ellen Oslick is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Stetson University, DeLand, Florida. Junko Sakoi is program coordinator of the Multicultural Curriculum Department at Tucson Unified School District, Arizona.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    • Children's & YA Literature

    2019 Notable Books for a Global Society

    By Sandip Wilson, Mary Ellen Oslick, and Junko Sakoi
     | Jan 28, 2019

    Each January the Notable Books for a Global Society Committee of the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) selects 25 books published in the previous year that illustrate diversity in its many forms. This column is the first of two introducing the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society list for pre-K–12 students. More information about Notable Books for a Global Society (including lists of previous winners) is available at clrsig.org.

    Ages 4–8

    All Are Welcome. Alexandra Penfold. Ill. Suzanne Kaufman. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    all-are-welcome-th“Pencils sharpened in their case. / Bells are ringing, let’s make haste. / School’s beginning, dreams to chase. / All are welcome here.” School is a place where all children of different races, religions, and backgrounds are welcome and where they learn and grow together. Lively, brightly hued double-page spreads express the children’s joyous daily activities. In depicting parents as diverse as the children, Penfold and Kaufman share a message about celebrating diversity and inclusion. “We’re part of a community. / Our strength is our diversity. / A shelter from adversity. / All are welcome here.”
    —JS

    The Day War Came. Nicola Davies. Ill. Rebecca Cobb. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Day War CameWhile at school one day, a little girl survives bombs that destroy her school and discovers her home is also destroyed and her family killed. An orphan, she flees the unnamed country on a perilous journey with many other people and eventually finds safety in a refugee camp. When she is turned away from an overcrowded school because there is no place for her to sit, a child brings her a chair at the camp so that she can return to school. This story, depicted in delicate graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor illustrations, conveys the plight of refugee children and shows how kindness and generosity can surmount political and social limitations. Back matter includes background information on programs to aid refugees.
    —SW

    Drawn Together. Minh Lê. Ill. Dan Santat. 2018. Disney-Hyperion.

    Drawn TogetherA young boy visiting his grandfather speaks English; his grandfather speaks Thai. They struggle to communicate across language, age, and cultural divides, leading to confusion and uncomfortable silence, but when the boy takes out his sketchbook and markers and begins to draw, his grandfather gets out his brush and ink and they discover a mutual love of drawing. Double-page spreads with Santat’s dynamic illustrations depict how drawing fantastic heroic adventures together creates a bond between them that goes beyond language and—by the end of the book and their adventure in drawing—the marker and paint brush have changed hands.
    —JS

    Mommy's Khimar. Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow. Ill. Ebony Glenn. 2018. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster.

    Mommy's KhimarTompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn present a story of a child who loves a common favorite activity of young children, playing dress-up. A young Muslim girl delights in her mother’s myriad beautiful khimars, or headscarves. “In Mommy’s closet, there are many khimars—so many that I can’t count them: black ones, white ones . . .  purple, blue, and red . . . stripes, patterns, and polka dots too.” Whimsical, warm illustrations portray the magicthe girl feels as she becomes the sun, a mother bird, or a superhero when she wears her mother’s khimars. Most importantly, wearing a khimar connects the young girl to her mother, her family, and her community.
    —MEO

    We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. Traci Sorell. Ill. Frané Lessac. 2018. Charlesbridge.

    We Are GratefulOtsaliheliga is the way Cherokee people say we are grateful as they celebrate and remember experiences through the year. Each double-page spread includes a phrase to complete a statement of gratitude. “When cool breezes blow and leaves fall we say ostsaliheliga . . .” Expressions on each page complete the statement, “. . . while we collect buckbrush and honey suckle to weave baskets / . . . to remember our ancestors who suffered hardship and loss on the Trail of Tears.” Lessac depicts the events and practices of the Cherokee in brightly colored gouache, folk art-style paintings in contemporary settings. Back matter includes a glossary, the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah, and an author’s note.
    —SW

    Ages 9–11

    The Cardboard Kingdom. Chad Sell. 2018. Knopf/Random House.  

    The Cardboard KingdomThis graphic novel, a collaboration between cartoonist Chad Sell and 10 other creators,is a collection of short stories that showcase the imagination, creativity, and camaraderie of a group of children. During the summer, two children use cardboard boxes to create costumes and an imaginary world in a backyard. In the following stories, other children from the neighborhood transform themselves into royalty, superheroes, monsters, and other fantastic characters using cardboard and join in the imaginative play. One boy transforms himself into the Sorceress and a girl with a big voice becomes a roaring monster, the Big Banshee. The roles the 16 kids play in their Cardboard Kingdom give them the confidence to face real-life conflict with their families and to forge their identities. In the final chapter they celebrate their summer adventure at the Dragon’s Head Inn before starting off to school.
    —JS

    Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. Helaine Becker. Ill. Dow Phumiruk. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.   

    Counting on KatherineThis picture book biography presents the life and work of trailblazing mathematician Katherine Johnson (1918–present). As a young girl, she loved numbers and counting, but segregation threatened to stymie her education. With the support of her family, she persevered in her love of discovering patterns in the universe through exploring numbers and solved mathematical problems. Katherine became a NASA researcher at the beginning of the space race in the 1950s. She was an important contributor to NASA programs, calculating flight paths for Apollo missions including the one that resulted in the safe return of the aborted Apollo 13 mission. Back matter includes additional information on Johnson’s life and a list of sources.
    —MEO

    Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to Be Reunited With Her Family. Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. 2018. Pajama Press.

    Too Young to EscapeOne morning in 1981, in Ho Chi Minh City, 4-year-old Van woke up to find her mother, sisters, and brother gone, following her father and older sister, who left a year earlier. They had fled the communist regime in South Vietnam after the Vietnam War by boat, leaving behind Van, who was too young, and her grandmother, who was too old, to make such a dangerous journey. With her grandmother, Van lived with her aunt and uncle, who treated her like an unwelcome servant, and she struggled with loneliness and poverty. Four years later, her parents, now living in Canada, brought Van and her grandmother to their new home. Back matter includes family photographs and an interview with Van’s parents that provide historical context for their leaving Van in Vietnam.
    —JS

    What Do You Do With a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Chris Barton. Ill. Ekua Holmes. 2018. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.
     
    What Do You Do With a Voice Like ThatGrowing up in Houston, Barbara Jordan (1936–1996) confidently used her strong voice. After graduating from law school at Boston University, she returned to Houston, began a career in law, and served as a Texas state senator. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. Congress and eventually, became a professor at the University of Texas, where she continued to use her voice to speak for equality and justice. This biography of extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, with stunning mixed-media collage illustrations, ends with an inspiring answer to the question posed in the title: “We remember it, and we honor it by making our own voices heard.” Back matter includes a detailed timeline, author’s note, references, and link to a bibliography.
    —MEO

    Ages 12–14

    Ghost Boys. Jewell Parker Rhodes. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Ghost BoysWhile playing with a toy gun, 12-year-old Jerome is fatally shot in the back by a white policeman. Returning as a ghost, Jerome observes the effects of his tragic death on his family, Sara (the policeman’s daughter, and Carlos (the friend who gave him the toy gun to fend off bullies) and discovers that he is surrounded by other ghost boys (including Emmet Till) killed in violent circumstances. Rhode’s work inspires important conversations about the complexities of blackness in America, conscious and unconscious bias, and privilege. Back matter includes an afterward, questions for discussion, and resources.
    —MEO

    Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story. Jennifer Roy (with Ali Fadhil). 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Playing AtariAt the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991, Ali and his family, living in Basra, Iraq, have food, water, electricity, television, and video games. When all-night bombing starts, however, Ali, his father (a dentist), mother (a math teacher), and two brothers crowd into a safe room and sleep on the floor. As the war intensifies the family’s living conditions worsen, Ali’s father is deployed to the south to treat wounded soldiers, and, as Ali runs through the rubble of bombed neighborhoods to obtain his family’s government rations, he discovers the costs of war. Back matter includes an author’s note on the collaboration between the author and Ali Fadhil, on whose life the novel is based.
    —SW

    The War Outside. Monica Hesse. 2018. Little, Brown.

    The War OutsideIn 1943, Haruko, a Japanese American from Colorado, and Margot, a German American from Iowa, live with their families in Crystal City Internment Camp (located near Crystal City, Texas) during World War II for “enemy aliens,” people of Japanese, Italian, and German ancestry and their American-born children. In this novel told from alternative points of view, friendship grows between Haruko and Margot despite the prejudice and racism they experience as tensions increase, relationships become strained, and families face deportation or deal with the hard decision to return to countries now unfamiliar. Back matter includes an informative “Note on Historical Accuracy” by the author describing her research.
    —SW

    Age 15+

    The Prince and the Dressmaker. Jen Wang. 2018. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    The Prince and the DressmakerIn this graphic novel, Frances is a talented dressmaker who dreams of fame as she creates elaborate dresses for her patron Prince Sebastian. He appreciates her unique gowns, which are beautifully displayed in the intricately detailed illustrations, and flaunts her designs in Paris nightlife as he adopts the persona of Lady Crystallia. Worried that his family will stop him from wearing Frances’ dresses, Prince Sebastian makes her promise to keep his true identity a secret. The graphic novel format conveys the growing complexity of this story of identity and friendship. To keep the prince’s secret safe, Frances must not take credit for her gowns and must remain anonymous, although she can’t keep silent forever if she wants her dream of being recognized as a fashion designer realized.
    —MEO

    The three reviewers are members of the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Sandip Wilson, cochair of the committee, serves as professor in the School of Education, Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Mary Ellen Oslick is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Stetson University, DeLand, Florida. Junko Sakoi is program coordinator, Multicultural Curriculum Department, Tucson Unified School District, Arizona.

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