A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication.
In an unusual, long-distance collaboration, poets Latham and Waters have crafted a collection of poems that explore the intersection between race and childhood friendships. Each poet reveals his or her individual perspective on shared experiences by imagining their childhood selves existing in the current day of complex racial realities. Their interactions, expressed through poetic verse, navigate the ambiguous and often challenging feelings that children encounter as they grapple with identity and race—a process forced on them when they are paired for a classroom poetry project. The story takes readers through school days, interludes with concerned parents, and polarizing peer interactions. In one scene, young Irene, who is white, feels ostracized when she isn’t invited to play freeze dance with the black girls on the playground. At the beach, young Charles, who is black, is teased by white kids who wear dreadlocks and cornrows, appropriating the culture of black people, while bullying and spewing hate toward Charles. In between the uncomfortable moments are lighter, universal childhood scenarios, as when Charles asserts his choice to be vegan at a traditional soul-food dinner or when Irene describes the solace she finds in her love of horses. Interracial couple Qualls and Alko contribute graceful illustrations that give the feelings expressed visual form.
A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.
Adults unsure of how to begin talking about race will find in these pages a way to tap into the subject and the questions it raises. Lester (To Be a Slave ) addresses readers as if he is speaking to each in private conversation. He explains his belief that each human being "is a story" and, by appealingly poking fun at himself, he begins to tell his own tale: "I was born on January 27, 1939... (I'm kind of old, huh?)." He describes a bit about his family, his favorite food, hobbies, religion, etc. "Oh," he pauses. "There's something else that is part of my story. I'm black. What race are you?" he asks readers, tapping into the tensions inherent in such a discussion. "Because people feel bad about themselves," Lester says, people sometimes claim, "My race is better than your race ." But this isn't true, the author states simply. If we take our skin off—here Barbour (Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry! ) paints a folk-style tableau of skeletons with cheerful smiles and arms upraised—"I would look just like you, and you would look just like me." Lester presents the wealth of human difference as a treasure trove for discovery, and Barbour's naïf-style spreads, flooded with birds and flowers and brimming with color, provide plenty of visual interest. The artist's recurring tree symbolism underscores Lester's suggestion of a shared human family tree. Ages 6-10.
Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.
This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”
A resplendent masterpiece.
School Library Journal Review:
K-Gr 3 –When Ms. Obi asks her students to draw a picture of the country they are originally from, the children are excited. All except for Lola, “What if you left before you could start remembering?” As Lola talks to some of her neighbors from the Island to draw from their memories, she learns of bats as big as blankets; a love of music and dancing; coconut water and sweet mangoes. And an island where “Even the people are like a rainbow—every shade ever made.” With a place so beautiful, Lola wonders, why did people leave? Reluctantly, Mr. Mir, the building superintendent, tells her of a Monster that fell upon their Island and did as he pleased for 30 years. Though never mentioned by name, the country in question is the Dominican Republic. The Monster refers to the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Lola learns from her assignment that “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.” Espinosa’s gloriously vibrant mixed-media illustrations portray a thriving community living under the shadow of the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. As Lola learns more about her Island, the illustrations cleverly incorporate a plethora of tropical plants and color, bringing to life both Lola’s neighborhood and La Isla. Lola, a Spanish language edition, is ably translated by Mlawer and publishes simultaneously. VERDICT A sensitive and beautiful story of culture, identity, and belonging—a superb picture book outing for Díaz and one to be shared broadly in a variety of settings.–Lucia Acosta, Children’s Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ
A little black girl holds true to her dream that on the theater stage you can be whatever you want—even if it’s Snow White.
Tameika is a bubbly, outgoing singer and dancer who loves the stage. She has played various roles, such as a cucumber, a space cowgirl, and a dinosaur, but never a princess. This charming tale tackles the complex subject of biases around race and body image when Tameika overhears her classmates’ whispers: “She can’t be Snow White”; “She’s much too chubby”; “And she’s too brown.” Tameika goes on a journey of self-acceptance as she grapples with her feelings about wanting to be a princess. Glenn’s playful, animation-inspired digital art will enchant readers as it immerses them in Tameika’s vivid imagination. New fans may seek out her previous work in Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s Mommy’s Khimar (2018) and Michelle Meadows’ Brave Ballerina (2019). The vibrant colors and active compositions enhance the story, reflecting Tameika’s changing emotions and her interactions with her parents, whose positive affirmations help give Tameika the courage and self-love to remember how much joy she gets from performing. For kids who like to imagine themselves being anything they want to be, it is reassuring to be reminded that it’s not exterior looks that matter but the princess within.
A feel-good picture book and a great reminder that classic princess roles can be reimagined to embrace inclusion, diversity, and body positivity.
School Library Journal Review: K-Gr 2–Harpreet cherishes his colorful patkas, a style of Sikh turban often worn by young boys, and he carefully selects the color to telegraph his mood each day: “He wore yellow when he felt sunny, spreading cheer everywhere he went. He wore pink when he felt like celebrating, bopping along to bhangra beats.” When Harpreet and his family leave the warm beaches of California for a snowy town across the country, Harpreet’s color palette changes as he relies on brave reds, nervous blues, sad grays, and shy whites which replace his happier moods. The long cold winter makes Harpreet feel even more like an outsider, until one day in the snow he finds a hat that belongs to a classmate. When he returns the hat, a friendship blooms and Harpreet feels colorful again. The digital illustrations depict Harpreet as joyful and exuberant, which makes his shift to sadness and isolation after the move palpable. Subtle details in the illustrations, such as kids staring at Harpreet’s “different” lunch, position him not only as the new kid, but underscore his feelings of isolation as a cultural outsider. Harpreet’s symbolic color system is used masterfully to add depth to the illustrations, as on the page where Harpreet sits, small and alone wearing shy white, on a background of joyful celebratory pink as a cascade of Valentines—most with his name misspelled—floats away.
VERDICT A lovely story about change and belonging that provides much-needed representation. A first purchase for all libraries
After being repeatedly asked variations on “Where are you from?” the narrator finds out that “I’m from here, from today, same as everyone else,” is not an answer that will satisfy those asking. They want to know “where are you really from.”
The child, who has light-brown skin and hair worn in two afro-puffs, turns to Abuelo for help. He in turn “looks inside his heart for an answer.” Lyrical language and luminous illustrations convey his thoughtful response. “You’re from the gaucho, brave and strong.…But you’re also from the warm, blue oceans the copper warriors tried to tame…where our ancestors built a home for all, even when they were in chains because of the color of their skin.” By pointing out the child’s Argentinean and Puerto Rican cultural heritage as well as mixed racial makeup, Abuelo’s answer addresses the multilayered and varied possibilities of a Latinx identity. Ultimately, Abuelo points out, the questioning child comes from his love and that of all those who came before. The question of where someone is “really” from, in the United States, is too often understood as meaning: You look different; you must be from somewhere else. In this case, the illustrations portray a very diverse group of children and adults posing that very question, demonstrating the particular frustrations often experienced by people of mixed race.
An ideal vehicle for readers to ponder and discuss their own identities.
What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells a vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discover for children who may be curious about their own name or origin story. (From author's blog)
School Library Journal Review:
PreS-Gr 2 –It’s said there’s a story behind every name and Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is surely a moniker worthy of six tales. After complaining that her name is so long that it “never fits,” Alma’s father shares stories with the girl about the people she’s been named after, including a book lover, an artist, and a deeply spiritual woman, among others. Martinez-Neal, the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for La Princesa and the Pea , works in print transfers with graphite and colored pencils for these images, limiting her palette to black, charcoal gray, and blushes of color. The round, stylized figure of the girl, dressed in pink striped pants and a white shirt, pops against the sepia pages (reminiscent of old, family photo albums). As Alma’s namesakes emerge from the shadows when they are introduced, they and their distinguishing items (books, plants, paintbrushes, etc.) are highlighted in a pale, gray-blue. The softly colored images and curvilinear shapes that embrace the figures evoke a sense of warmth and affection. At the story’s end, the only tale readers have not heard is Alma’s. “You will make your own story,” states her father. VERDICT A beautifully illustrated, tender story to be shared with all children, sure to evoke conversations about their names.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
We Shall Overcome by Debbie Levey and illustrated by our guest author Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a delight for the eyes and a fabulous lesson in history. It traces the history of the song from its inception during the days of enslaved people in the south to it's political symbolism that has spread throughout the world to people that are fighting oppression.
Additionally, Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation and Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down give accurate and approachable accounts of major events during the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
Check them out in the ACES Library!
Today's post is super informative! Not only am I sharing wonderful new books that will soon be in our collection, but I am also giving you a preview of the author/illustrator that will be visiting us ALL Day on Thursday, March 14. Each grade level will get to see one of her four presentations!
The more I learn about this artist and writer, the more I love her! Below are the books we will be focusing on in the library during this rotation to prepare students for her visit. I'm also going to add a link to an amazing TED Talk she gave! I'm a huge fan and feel so lucky that we are going to be having her here at ACES!
When you have time, give this a watch: https://youtu.be/SuMBHSZf32c
Diversity Designed by Adversity | Vanessa Brantley Newton | TEDxSonomaCounty