Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Giveaway: My Grandma’s Photos

The latest children’s book to hit American shores, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids, is the beautiful and poignant My Grandma’s Photos, originally published in Turkey in 2019.

My Grandma’s Photos, by Özge Bahar Sunar/Illustrated by Senta Urgan,
Translated by Amy Marie Spangler
(Jan. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542031158

Ages 5-8

Seen through a child’s eyes, My Grandma’s Photos is the story of an aging grandmother, a grandchild, and a group of old photos that transports Grandma from her chair back into her robust, joyful life. She takes Ali, her granddaughter, into this beautiful world with her, and Ali sees her grandmother’s life unfold before her eyes: family picnics, climbing trees, becoming a master seamstress, falling in love and marrying Ali’s grandfather. It’s beautiful and moving; at moments, it brings on the tears, but they’re cleansing, renewing. Grandma lives her life once again and Ali finally sees her grandmother’s vibrant, full life as she’s never done before.

 

Senta Urgan’s artwork captures the essential moments, using pastels and collage to create living photos that exist outside the borders to reach out and draw both Grandma and Ali into their world. The artwork is the heartbeat to this fantastic story; Urgan uses real photos and illustrates a world around them, blending them together with photos and sketches, to create a dreamlike landscape where readers can play along with the characters. An essential story to have on hand to give to readers who may have aging family members.

 

 

“A gentle book about remembering, as well as grieving, a life well lived.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This depiction of a tender, loving relationship is touched with magic, and Ali’s participation in his grandmother’s experiences brings them both much joy.” ―Booklist

“[A] beautiful, heartfelt story about loss and love.” ―School Library Journal

One lucky winner will receive a copy of My Grandma’s Photos, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Özge Bahar Sunar is a former teacher turned children’s author. She has written multiple picture books, including the bestselling The Hedgehog and the Exhibit, illustrated by Ceyhun Şen, which was translated into seven languages. Sunar lives with her two children in Antalya, Turkey, where she loves to think up new stories while hiking in the wild. Find her on Instagram @ozgebaharsnr.

Senta Urgan is a graduate of Mimar Sinan University, where she studied sculpture. Since 2010 she has been illustrating books for children, including picture books and novels, and also works as a graphic designer. She is the founder of the brand Mala Hermana Handmade, where she exhibits her illustrations and ceramic art. Find her on Instagram @toporulkesindekikes.

Amy Marie Spangler is a cofounder of Istanbul-based AnatoliaLit Agency, and a commercial and literary translator with numerous books and short stories to her credit. Find her on Twitter @Amy_Spangler.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

A young girl finds One Good Thing About America every day

One Good Thing About America, by Ruth Freeman, (March 2017, Holiday House), $16.95, ISBN: 9780823436958

Recommended for readers 8-12

At home in the Congo, nine year-old Anaïs is the best English student in her class. She loves spending time at her grandmother’s home. She loves her family: her father, her older brother, Olivier, and younger brother, Jean-Claude, and her mother. But now, her father is in hiding, her older brother, stayed in Africa with their grandmother, and Anaïs, Jean-Claude, and their mother are living in a shelter in Crazy America. Nothing about the people or the language makes sense to her – why would anyone eat chicken fingers? Why do vowels change sounds with every word? – and she misses her home, her life before.

Written in the form of letters from Anaïs to her grandmother, One Good Thing About America, by Ruth Freeman, a teacher who works with English Language Learners. Motivated by her students’ determination and their stories, this is her tribute to them as much as it is a chance to create an understanding of the immigrant experience in America. Anaïs, her family, and her classmates and neighbors develop through the course of the story; experiencing sleepovers, mac and cheese dinners, Halloween, and even a frightening emergency room trip. We never get the full story behind Anaïs’ father’s trouble with the mining company, but readers understand the urgency of the situation: her father is in hiding, on the run, and no one that associates with him is safe. While Anaïs longs for her family to be whole again, she has the added challenge of learning a new language and making a new life in a strange country where nothing makes sense. She has good days and bad days; goes from hopeful to frustrated, and every reader will appreciate and understand where she’s coming from. Little doodles throughout the book illustrate new things Anaïs encounters, from the crunchy fall leaves that “make the sound of eating toast” to ice cream and pizza.

A list of English words Anaïs struggles with – what she hears, as opposed to what she learns – also helps readers understand the challenges our language and colloquialisms present to English language learners. Words in French, Anaïs’ native tongue, introduce readers to some new vocabulary.

One Good Thing About America is a good book for all communities. In our current socio-political climate, I daresay it should be a summer reading selection for middle graders (and their families). I suggest booktalking with Andrea Davis Pinkney’s The Red Pencil and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again for excellent discussions about the differences within the refugee experience.

Posted in Fantasy, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

When You Wish Upon the Moon… Randy DuBurke’s Moon Ring Takes You on a Trip

Book Review: The Moon Ring, by Randy DuBurke, Chronicle Books 2002
Recommended for ages- 4-8

the moon ring

Maxine, a young girl, sits on the porch, with her grandmother, seeking relief from the summer heat, when a magic ring seemingly falls from the blue moon. Maxine is swept away on a magic ride around the world – to the South Pole, a wild savannah, and New York City, accompanied by some new friends. But what happens when she runs out of wishes?

The book is a fun fantasy tale about magic and the moon. We always hear about wishing on a star, but the moon is the star of the show here (no pun intended). Randy DuBurke gives readers a classic fairy tale elements – granting wishes, being transported to exciting adventures and locales, and the temporary scare – the wishes have run out!

Young readers will enjoy the close relationship Maxine and her wise grandma who knows that magic is out there. Maxine is drawn with a wonderfully expressive face – it makes for fun reading, with prompts to children learning about facial expressions and emotions. The exciting, changing landscapes are beautifully rendered in pen, ink, and acrylics on cold waterpress paper. The story uses its space well, alternating between full-bleed spreads and framed panels. I read the digital version of this book, so I can’t speak to the fonts, but I’m sure a read-aloud with the actual book will work better with a young group.

The Moon Ring is a playful, fun book that makes for a good read-aloud session. This would be a great addition to a read-aloud about magic, imagination, or the moon. There are many rhymes and fingerplays about the moon that would be good companions to this book – Hey Diddle Diddle would be a fun start!