Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

More Multicultural Children’s Book Joy: A Gift for Amma

A Gift for Amma, by Meera Sriram/Illustrated by Mariona Cabassa, (Aug. 2020, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781646860616

Ages 4-7

This is a concept book that hits all the right notes! Inspired by the author’s hometown of Chennai, India, A Gift for Amma follows a little girl as she explores a street market in Southern India, searching for a gift to bring home to her amma (mother). All the colors relate to objects the girl discovers in the marketplace: saffron orange strands, jasmine white blooms, green peacock feathers, all considerations for gifts, paired with necessities like herbs, sweets, and peppers. Bright, vibrant color decorate the spreads, inviting readers to surround themselves in the sights, smells, and textures of an Indian market. An exctiing new take on concepts with a gentle story about a little girl who loves her mother, I can’t say enough good things about A Gift for Amma. Back matter includes descriptions of what the girl found at the market, and a peek at five markets around the world.

I’d love to put together a sensory storytime that would invite kids to experience different textures… consider creating texture boards or boxes for each kiddo (safety first, right?) using cloth, feathers, plastic bowls, plush… anything you can think of for your kiddos to touch and enjoy! Consider fun crafts, like this peacock from Artsy Craftsy Mom, or this elephant from Activity Village.

A Gift for Amma has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Foreword Reviews.

 

The MCBD jazz:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! Thisnon-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, Capstone,Hoopoe Books,KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go GirlsBronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi andAMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat IwataAuthors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell, Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author DianaHuang & Intrepids,Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher,Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and theSophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and ParentsHomeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity KitFREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists KitFREE Teacher Classroom Empathy KitFREE Teacher Classroom Kindness KitFREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty KitGallery of Our Free PostersFREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors,publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction

Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Let’s visit Amazing Places!

It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day!! Every year, the books get more diverse, more joyful, more fun to read and explore. The book I received this year is from one of my favorite newer publishers, Barefoot Books. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, this is a publisher that seeks out the diversity and the equity in everything they publish. I’m thrilled to talk up Amazing Places – read on!

Amazing Places, by Miralda Colombo/Illustrated by Beatrice Cerocchi,
(Sept. 2020, Barefoot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781646860678
Ages 8-12

Get ready to stamp your virtual passport with this fabulous tour through 15 of the world’s most incredible monuments! Amazing Places takes you around the world to visit breathtaking cities carved in sandstone (Petra, Jordan) and marvels of modern architecture (Sydney Opera House, Australia). See where gladiators battled (Colosseum, Italy) and visit giant, mysterious Moai statues that hold vigil across Easter Island. Loaded with facts and colorful illustrations, this is a treat for armchair travelers anywhere. Give this book to your kiddos who love Atlas Obscura, and A World of Cities by James Brown. Have printable passports ready for your kids; let them create their own passport stamps to color in their books. I really like this passport bundle from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs, and this passport template from Ashley McKenzie, both available at Teachers Pay Teachers. Fun tip: mention to your Disney-loving Kiddos that Neuschwanstein Castle, featured in this book, inspired the castles in both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

For fun activity extensions, check out Education.com and TeachersPayTeachers for activities about each of these sites – there are coloring sheets and activities all over the Internet, too! I think I may have to craft a folder full of activities to pair with this book… you know how I love my Program-In-A-Book, especially these days. Make a whole armchair travel program by diving into one or two sites a week, and find travel videos and books to read together. Find a country-related craft for each stop on the tour, too: create mandalas when you visit India, make a yarn painting to bring back from Mexico, make paper birds’ nests and snakes to commemorate your trip to Brazil. Learn something new with each turn of the page.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, Capstone, Hoopoe Books, KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell , Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & Intrepids, Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Empathy Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!
This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.
We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **
Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads

Monsters and Mermaids bring fantasy fun!

Two fun picture books are coming up in August and September! If you’re looking for books for your late Summer/early Fall shopping carts, give these a spin.

Alfred’s Book of Monsters, by Sam Streed, (Aug. 2019, Charlesbridge), $15.99, ISBN: 9781580898331

Ages 5-8

Alfred is a little boy who loves monsters, not boring old tea times. Aunty thinks monsters are dreadful, and constantly interrupts Alfred’s precious reading time by calling him to tea. Alfred decides to invite the monsters he reads about: the Nixie, the Black Shuck, and the Lantern Man, to tea time; when they take him up on the invitation, they have a fabulously terrible time! Poor Aunty never knew what hit her.

This is the picture book for the kids who enjoy a good, morbidly amusing story. Have Neil Gaiman or Lemony Snicket fans? Do you have storytime kids who giggle time and again at I Want My Hat Back? Do you just want a fun Halloween read in your back pocket? This is the book for you and your readers. Baby goths and kids who love monsters will get a kick out of this story, which has a lovely Victorian vibe going for it, with bold, black lines and brown and black artwork, occasionally punched up with washed out greens, pinks, yellows, and blues for effect. The story alternates between Alfred’s monster stories and tea time, letting you switch voices back and forth to get your readers squealing with monstrous delight. The artwork was created by scanning and combining old paper, ink splotches, and spooky sketches, and was influenced by antique books and Victoriana; the endpapers sport a dark brownish-red rose wallpaper with framed photos of Aunty, Alfred, and an assortment of pets, people, and tea sets.

Less spooky than humorous, this is a fun book for storytime. Make some puppets and bring your own monsters to tea!

 

Five Little Mermaids, by Sunny Scribens/Illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi, (Sept. 2019, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781782858317

Ages 3-7

This adorably rhyming story is an underwater take on the popular counting tale. A multicultural group of five little mermaids decide to go swimming to “see what they could see”, each of them leaving the group when they meet with various turtles, penguins, giant squid, and jellyfish. Together, the group travels through the world’s oceans, then comes together back home to talk about what they’ve seen. It’s a soothing, familiar rhyme scheme with cheery, bright art that uses vivid colors and brings readers through a lovely underwater world. Back matter includes spreads on the world’s oceans and their properties; notes about mermaid legends from different cultures (Greece, Japan, Central America, New Zealand, and West, Central and Southern Africa); marine life that appears in the book, and finally, sheet music for the song. There will be a CD and downloadable copy available, read by jazz vocalist Audra Mariel.

Barefoot Books always puts a great message out there in such a fun way. The mermaids play alongside their ocean friends and come from all around the world. The back matter provides interesting mermaid and ocean information using a one world, many cultures approach, taking myth examples from cultures including African, Asian, and Central American.

If you want to explore some videos from Barefoot Books, their YouTube channel is a good place to start. I find some of their mindful and diverse kidlit videos good professional development, and I’m sure Five Little Mermaids will have a book trailer up as the release date gets closer.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Three great books about space!

The Summer Reading theme for this year is all about Space, and I am psyched. I love outer space, and I’ve got a growing list of books to add to my own readers advisory lists (I’ll put that together in the next week or two for a post). Meanwhile, Sourcebooks and Barefoot Books have three great books about space that are staggered throughout the year, and perfect for your space-faring STEM fans. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Wonderland), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656807

Ages 4-8

The Moon was so lonely, up in the night sky by herself. When she sees life developing on Earth, she patiently waits for someone to notice and visit her. It takes a while: the dinosaurs don’t notice; early people build pyramids and structures that just aren’t high enough. Eventually, though, she gets some visitors, and she is thrilled! She gives them presents of rocks and dust to take back to Earth, and they give her a beautiful flag and a plaque. Now, Moon is in the sky, happy and waiting for more visitors. Will you be her next guest?

This is the sweetest story I’ve read yet on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The Moon is illustrated as a softly shining, opalescent sphere with kind eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile; readers are treated to a quick history of Earth’s development as the Moon quietly observes, waiting for a friend to reach out – or up – and say hello. She even dances around the planet, showing off her phases! The actual Apollo mission takes up a brief part of the story, making this sweet book about a lonely satellite who just wants a friend an adorable storytime read for younger kids, and a fun book with solid facts for school-age kids. There’s a brief bibliography on the verso page, and back matter includes several pages dedicated to Mission Moon, the Apollo 11 voyage; moon facts, and moon phases, along with a running timeline of Earth’s formation and development. Endpapers are starry nights, where kids can imagine sailing through the stars to visit their favorite moon. Readers can also scan a QR code to hear Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the 1969 moon landing. Gentle storytelling and adorable illustration make this a great Summer Reading addition! Display and booktalk with Stacey McAnulty’s Moon, Earth, and Sun trilogy.

 

There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Susan Batori, (Sept. 2019, Sourcebooks Explore), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492680772

Ages 3-8

You know if Chris Ferrie is writing a book, I’m reading it. This STEM-errific take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is about a giant black hole that swallows… well, everything. He starts with a universe… it couldn’t get worse! But oh, it does: the black hole swallows planets, stars, galaxies, and atoms, molecules, and quarks along with it. Yikes!

I read this to my first grader this morning and he immediately smiled and said, “This is like The Old Lady story!”, so kids familiar with the classic tale (and all of its spin-offs) will immediately jump in and know what’s coming; how the story will progress. With each chomping, the black hole gets bigger, and the planets and heavenly bodies look hilariously terrified as they try to get away from its maw. The storytelling is fun and loaded with humor; it’s cumulative and rhyming storytelling at its scientific funniest. The illustrations are goofy, with exaggerated facial expressions that make the storytelling more dramatic and humorous as you go. Bone up on your keyword knowledge for kids who will ask during the story (neutrons, atoms, quarks, oh my!). Scientific terms are highlighted in bold yellow, and capitalized to stand out and give your readers a nice working STEM vocabulary. Shine a blacklight on the pages from back to front, and you’ll reveal a super-cool, hidden history of the universe’s creation!

Absolute fun and a must-get for your storytime collections. Be a rock star at Science Storytime! Pair this with The Universe Ate My Homework by David Zelster for more black hole-related fun.

 

Barefoot Books Solar System, by Anne Jankéliowitch/Illustrated by Annabelle Buxton, Translated by Lisa Rosinsky, $19.99, ISBN: 9781782858232

Ages 8-12

Riding high on the post-Summer Reading wave, middle grade kids can go back school and check out Barefoot Books Solar System, a glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to our Milky Way, complete with lift the flap booklets, a pull-out map, and beautiful artwork. Originally published in French, the book has been reviewed, edited, and updated by Dr. Carie Cardamone, professor of STEM education and Boston Museum of Science teacher and educator. The text is written with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while delivering solid nonfiction goods to middle graders. The book covers each planet, with nicknames like :Saturn: The Space Diva”, and “Uranus and Neptune: The Icy Sisters”; the asteroid belt; differences between solid and gas planets; measuring the universe, and famous outer space voyages. The artwork is bright and bold, seeming to explode off the black pages to grab the reader’s attention.

In keeping with Barefoot’s mission of diversity and inclusivity, there is information about space exploration from around the world, making this a truly global effort. Back matter includes a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms and a note on the units of measurement used in the book. Don’t pass this one up; your 520s will shine a little brighter with Barefoot Books Solar System on your shelf.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A boy learns to live between Here and There

Here and There, by Tamara Ellis Smith/Illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi, (March 2019, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781782857419

Ages 4-8

Ivan is a biracial child who splits his time between his two homes: Here, where he lives with his mother, and There; his father’s new home. Here, Ivan is comfortable; he sits in a tree and chatters with the birds. There, he curls into a chair, pulled into himself, ignoring his father’s attempts to engage him. Dad knows how to reach his son, though: he starts playing a song on his guitar, and Ivan can’t stop the good feelings from flowing through him. As Ivan negotiates living Here and There,  he knows there is music, there are birds, and there are people who love him at each place.

Here and There is a touching story about living as a child in a divorced family. Being taken out of his comfort zone; his home, makes Ivan feel off-balance. He isn’t Here, with the familiar; he’s There. He may even feel different around his father, bein gin this different place, with his father not where he’s supposed to be. But music builds a bridge between father and son: Ivan has an affinity for music, as we s

ee early on, when he chatters with the birds in his mother’s home. Once his father’s guitar music opens the door to conversation, Ivan reaches a new comfort zone, and finds himself discovering new birds in his father’s neighborhood, too. He’s building a new life for himself, understanding and working through feeling guilty for being happier in one place or another.

Here and There will speak to many kids who split their time between two households. The text uses the concepts of “Here” and “There” to explain Ivan’s familiarity and initial discomfort  as he learns to navigate between his mother’s and father’s home.  The pencil, acrylic paint, and collage artwork presents multiracial characters with soft, gentle facial features. Back matter includes 12 different birdcalls, with phonetic pronunciation, for kids to try out. Display and booktalk with The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House by Luis Amavisca, which uses a mirror to connect a child with two households.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Book Tree: Books as resistance!

The Book Tree, by Paul Czajak/Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh, (Sept. 2018, Barefoot Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781782854050

Ages 4-8

A boy named Arlo gets so wrapped up in his book that he doesn’t catch it in time when it slips, falls, and thumps the mayor on the head, prompting the official to tear up all the books, telling the people that “I will tell you what you need to know”. Luckily, a single page manages to float away and plant itself in the earth, where it will eventually grow; in the meantime, though, life is pretty awful without books: schools have nothing to teach; actors have nothing to act; and story time becomes nap time, because there’s nothing to read. Arlo begins making up his own stories, which feed the fledgling book plant, so Arlo writes and reads to the plant until it grows into a fantastic book tree, yielding ripe new stories, which Arlo harvests and shares with the town, which blossoms, once again, thanks to the fresh infusion of knowledge. Even the mayor ultimately discovers the joy to be found in a book.

Talk about a timely story. With an autocrat who’s afraid of books (“Books are dangerous! I don’t trust them. They act like seeds, which grow into ideas, and ideas turn into questions.”) and tries to control the flow of knowledge, reading becomes the ultimate act of resistance. The Book Tree also illustrates a very gloomy life without stories: no storytimes; no theatres; no new learning. Taking away the written word takes away a culture, a history, a civilization – why else are libraries and archives deliberately targeted during times of war?

Paul Czajak also shows how quickly people can lose interest in reading if it isn’t nurtured: Arlo reads his original stories out loud to an ignorant populace. Thanks to Arlo’s determination, the buried page hears him and thrives; he nurtures the love of reading, the new ideas feeding the plant, until it blossoms – and finally, boredom brings readers back to the tree, where Arlo hands out more books, sparking the public’s interest again. The Book Tree eloquently captures society today, making it a cautionary tale as much as it’s an inspirational one. Rashin Kheiriyeh’s oil paint and collage artwork gives a lovely crispness to the work, and brings the books to life by making them stand out against the page. Arlo, with his little beret and blue hair, is a little counterculture activist for a new group of readers. Her collage and drawn artwork present a fantastic contrast, really letting the stories yet to be told flow from books and Arlo’s imagination. I particularly love the dragon emerging from a book in her tree, seeming to joyfully respond to Arlo’s narrative.

 

Paul Czajak’s Monster books have been a favorite on my library shelves for a couple of years; I’m looking forward to seeing the kids enjoy The Book Tree. Add this one to your activist collections, and make sure to stick this one on your Banned Books Week storytime for next year.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

La Frontera: An #OwnVoices story in two languages

La Frontera: El viaje con papá – My Journey with Papa, by Alfredo Alva and Deborah Mills/Illustrated by Claudia Navarro, (May 2018, Barefoot Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781782853886
Recommended for readers 6-10
This bilingual picture book tells the true story of the author’s childhood migration, with his father, from Mexico to Texas to find work and a better life. Young Alfredo and his family live in a small Mexican village, where his father, grandfather, and uncle work as laborers. When the labor becomes too difficult for Alfredo’s grandfather, Alfredo and his father must leave their village and cross la frontera (the border) to find work.
Based on the author’s true story,  La Frontera: El viaje con papá takes place in the 1980s, but resonates with readers today: a child and his father leave everything they know to come to the United States for a new life. The boy has to adjust to a new culture, new language, and new people; people who may not always be welcoming. Claudia Navarro’s artwork is expressive and warm at times, harrowing in others, providing an emotional punch to the story: the crossing itself, in particular.
The book is bilingual English and Spanish, which makes me so happy. These books build a bridge between two cultures by sharing a language; I loved having them at my last library, where most of my patrons are bilingual Spanish/English language learners. It works on an empathy-building level, too; sharing a story together can speak volumes to readers who may not understand another’s struggles. Here, a personal story with strong themes of family, separation, migration, poverty, and resilience can illustrate what a nightly news story may not. Back matter discusses the author’s background, borders, and immigration, and features photos.
 La Frontera: El viaje con papá has a starred review from Booklist and is a Junior Library Guild Selection for the 2018 elementary Spanish category. It’s a worthy add to Own Voices collections. Booktalk this with another powerful bilingual picture book, Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds, by Jorge Argueta.
Posted in Middle School, picture books, Preschool Reads

Just Like Brothers teaches valuable lessons

Just Like Brothers, by Elizabeth Baguley/Illustrated by Aurélie Blanz, (March 2018, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781782853459

Recommended for ages 3-7

A young boy and a young wolf cub are each warned by their mothers. The boy’s mother warns of the wolves; the wolf’s mother, of men. The children listen, then go off and play, as children do. When each gets lost in the forest and come upon the other, their first reaction is fear; eventually, though, they discover that their similarities far outweigh their differences. And their mothers discover that they have a lot to learn from their children.

Told like a modern-day fable, Just Like Brothers teaches readers about the problems formed by prejudice and baseless judgement; it also teaches the value of empathy and trust. The innocence of children, both here and in real life, has no place for prejudice; it’s passed on at an early age. It’s a call to us as caregivers to be careful not to let our own fears make us irrational in what we teach our kids. It’s the start of a conversation, with lyrical descriptions like, “rough-hand and sharp stick” to describe humans, and “wag-tail and scamper-paw” to describe the playful cub. This makes for a good read-aloud and discussion about friendship and trust.

Posted in Uncategorized

Wild Swans is a colorful, empowered adaptation of the Grimm fairy tale

Wild Swans, retold by Xanthe Gresham Knight/Illustrated by Charlotte Gastaut, (March 2018, Barefoot Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781782853626

Recommended for readers 7-11

The latest adaptation of Grimm’s Wild Swans is a beautifully illustrated, empowering retelling where a young woman breaks a spell to save her brothers, and assumes her place as queen of her kingdom. Young Eliza and her eleven brothers live with their father, the king, and their stepmother, the queen, who also has a gift with magic. When a plague devastates the land, Eliza’s stepmother turns the 11 brother sinto swans, so they can fly away from the plague, and sends Eliza to a remote village, untouched by the disease. Years later, Eliza receives word that the queen was able to discover a cure, but it was too late to save herself or the king. The kingdom is in chaos, and it’s up to Eliza to cure the plague and assume the throne, bringing peace back to the land. Throughout her adventure, she’ll befriend a young king, work her fingers raw to knit special shirts for her brothers to break the spell, and hold her own against a mob of villagers who think she’s a witch. All in a day’s work for a fairy tale heroine!

The artwork is stunning. There’s vibrant and angular artwork throughout the book, with gold and black drawings pacing the text between color panels. Eliza is a brave and focused heroine who doesn’t rely on a prince or king to marry her to gain her throne – she and the young king are dear friends, committed to one another as companions. She even declines an offer to serve as his new advisor, because she’s got a kingdom of her own to run. This is a nice addition to fairy tale collections, and great for a nice, empowering read.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Celebrate diversity with The Barefoot Book of Children!

barefoot_1The Barefoot Book of Children, by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma/Illustrated by David Dean, (Oct. 2016, Barefoot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781782852964

Recommended for ages 3-8

“Every morning, millions of children open their eyes and start another day.”

Using broad statements and insightful questions about how we live, love, and play,  The Barefoot Book of Children introduces readers to children all around the world. David Dean’s bright, hand-painted illustrations show how families around the globe live; dress; and pray and worship. We get glimpses into the treasures we all keep, the stories we all have to tell, the meanings behind our very names. With questions like, “How do you share your love?” and “What will happen in your story?”, the book invites kids to come together and talk about their lives and their families, learning how we are unique and the same, all at once. Illustrated notes at the end of the book provide a deeper examination of the book, focusing on homes, special places, and hobbies featured in the book.

I’m from Queens, New York; one of the most diverse places in the country. The Barefoot Book of Children is what every library, every school, in my borough should be reading and making available to the kids we serve, because every child here will see themselves in this book. That’s tremendous. It brings us together by introducing us to other cultures through the familiar: play, family, home. The bright artwork is so inviting, you can’t help but pull up a comfortable seat and spend some time getting to know your world better.

I loved this book, and I think parents, educators, and most importantly, kids, will, too. Take a look at more of the book and consider adding it to your wish lists.

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