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
Jacqueline Woodson is one of my favorite authors! She has beautiful picture books, powerful middle grade and YA novels, and one of the best autobiographies I've ever had the pleasure of reading. We have many of her books in our library. Please swing by and check one out to share with your students or enjoy yourself!
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was checked out when I created our display, but luckily many of his other book were on the shelf. If you are curious about the story behind the creation of Peter, please check out the 2016 biographic poem A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
The Snowy Day
In this Caldecott Award-winning book, a small boy named Peter experiences the joy of a snowy day. First published in 1962, this now-classic book broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. The vivid and ageless illustrations and text, beloved by several generations of readers, have earned a place in the pantheon of great American children’s literature.
From School Library JournalA Poem for PeterGr 2–4—Pinkney dives into the life and work of Ezra Jack Keats, specifically focusing on The Snowy Day and his creation of the main character, Peter. Using poetry (what the author refers to as "collage verse"), mainly addressed to Peter, Pinkney pieces together Keats's biography, tracing spots where early versions or hints of Peter can be found, and reflects on what a monumental event the publication of the picture book was and still is. Students will learn about Keats's early life, his tireless dedication to provide for his immigrant family, his love and pursuit of art, and how he changed his name from Jacob (Jack) Ezra Katz to Ezra Jack Keats to avoid anti-Semitism in the United States after World War II. Pinkney's verse seamlessly weaves together story and fact to craft an intimate conversation about the artist's history and impact. ("Brown-sugar child,/when you and your hue/burst onto the scene,/all of us came out to play.") Readers familiar with Keats will notice allusions to his other works throughout. The illustrations complement the text, and Keats's own style, by using mixed-media collages of prints, fabrics, photos, and paint, all of which capture the liveliness of the urban setting and historical points. This uplifting telling ends with a discussion of the cultural importance of Peter and how Keats's vision paved the way for authors and artists to look for and include children of color in their work. VERDICT This celebration of a visionary children's book author and illustrator is a lovely addition for most collections.—Briana Moore, Elmont Memorial Library, NY
It's February 4th, so I'm going to give you 3 books today to make up for the weekend and bring our total to four titles.
Look at that cover! Look at those awards! Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
We started the school year by reading this majestic book to our 3rd-5th on their first trip to the library. This book is a beautiful tribute to the barber shop and how it makes one feel important.
Here's the Publishers Weekly review: How good can a haircut make a person feel? “Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty.” In a powerfully moving tribute to barbershop culture, Barnes (We Could Be Brothers) addresses readers directly—and it’s safe to say his audience is primarily boys of color—using hyperbole to boost their confidence and help them recognize their own value. “You came in as a lump of clay,” he writes, “a blank canvas, a slab of marble./ But when my man is done with you,/ they’ll want to post you up in a museum.” Created with thick, forceful daubs of paint, James’s luminous portraits reinforce the idea that, when a person looks this good, not even the sky is the limit. Of a man admiring the curving designs newly shaved into his head, the narrator remarks, “Maybe there’s a river named after him on Mars. He looks that important.” Pride, confidence, and joy radiate from the pages, both in the black and brown faces of men, women, boys, and girls featured in James’s majestic paintings and in writing that celebrates human worth with every syllable. Barbers included: “Tip that man! Tip that man!”
Sticking with the theme, here are two other great books we have on the shelves by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Bippity Bop Barbershop and I Love My Hair!
Publishers Weekly reviews:
What Natasha Anastasia Tarpley did for the mother-daughter bond in I Love My Hair! she now does for father and son in Bippity Bop Barbershop, illus. by E.B. Lewis. One full-bleed watercolor spread depicts three generations of men draped in purple barber's capes, each with his own distinguished hairstyle.
In Tarpley's gracefully told story, a young African American heroine celebrates her lovely head of hair as part of her heritage. Each evening, Keyana's mother lovingly combs out her tangles before bed and, when it hurts, Mama assures her that she is very lucky to have such hair " because it's beautiful and you can wear it in any style you choose." Lewis's (Creativity; Staying Cool) realistic watercolors take fanciful flight as parent and child describe what can be done with the girl's locks: braids at the top of Keyana's head become hoed rows of vegetables in a field behind her as Mama explains that she can "plant rows of braids along your scalp, the way we plant seeds in our garden"; and, pictured against the night sky, the child's Afro-styled hair metamorphoses into an image of the earth as she notes that, when she lets it " go any which-way it pleases," her hair surrounds her head "like a globe." But the style also has historical importance, for, as her teacher tells her, " wearing an Afro was a way... to stand up for what they believed." Together, author and artist impart a reassuring message for all children about the importance of appreciating what they look like as part of who they are.
I will be creating a display in the library to showcase some of the amazing books we have that demonstrate African Americans' accomplishments, contributions, and experiences. Instead of just creating the display and calling it a day, I'm going to spotlight a book a day that you may or may not know about. Get ready for some book love!
Day 1: I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes
A celebration of Pullman porters is the focus of this new picture-book edition of Langston Hughes' classic poem. The collage spreads, blending oil paintings and cut paper, begin with an image of a speeding train before moving on to large portraits of African American porters serving white passengers aboard a luxury train. When the passengers leave, the porters gather left-behind items-newspapers, blues and jazz albums-and toss them from the train. Carried by the wind, the words and music fall into the hands of African Americans across the country. The final, contemporary pages show young black people celebrating their place in America and dreaming of a bright future. Collier's long final note explains his interpretation of the poem, and with adult help, kids can look closely at what the pictures show about the porters then and now as well as Collier's visual themes, including the recurring use of stars and stripes, which culminate in a beautiful, final close-up of a boy with his mother staring through a train window today at the starry city sky. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Here's a link to the powerful poem that inspired this picture book by Langston Hughes: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/i-too I encourage you to have a discussion about the poem’s vocabulary, rhythm, and meaning.