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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Curriculum Connections

    By Susan Knell and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 25, 2019

    A growing body of research indicates that today's youth are more engaged in global issues and more primed to make a difference. They are interested in how today’s problems are linked to the past and concerned about how they will affect the future. In this week’s column, we review some of the recently published books that introduce critical issues, contribute to conversation, invite further exploration, and support the activism of children and young adults.

    Ages 4–8

    The Bell Rang. James E. Ransome. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    The Bell RangMonday. “The bell rings, / and no sun in the sky, / Daddy gathers wood. / Mama cooks. / We eat.” This is the start of the daily routine of enslavement on a plantation for the narrator, a young girl; her older brother, Ben; and her parents. Wednesday. Ben gives his sister a homemade doll before running to catch up with his friends, Joe and Little Sam. She loves on that doll all day long. Thursday. The three boys are gone. Her parents are beaten. Saturday. Joe and Little Sam are brought back to the plantation and beaten. But Ben is gone. Sunday. The slaves sing, hope, and pray that Ben made it to freedom. On Monday . . . With a simple free verse text and beautiful paintings, James E. Ransome tells a powerful story and leaves readers wondering what did happen on Monday.
    —SK

    Carter Reads the Newspaper. Deborah Hopkinson. Ill. Don Tate. 2019. Peachtree.

    Carter Reads the NewspaperAs a child, Carter read the newspaper to his illiterate father, a former slave who wanted to be an informed citizen, and later while working in a coal mine, he read to miners who couldn’t read. Determined to be educated, he eventually made it to Harvard, where it has been said a professor told him that Black people had no history. Carter (who earned a PhD in history) established Negro History Week in 1926 and devoted the rest of his life to informing people about Black history. Don Tate’s expressive mixed-media illustrations, which include portraits of past and contemporary Black leaders, complement this informative and engaging biography of Carter Woodson (1875–1950), who is recognized as the father of Black History Month. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, a bibliography, timeline, list of Black leaders, and source notes.
    —SK

    Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together. Andrea Tsurumi. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Crab Cake“Under the sea, where sunlight touches sand,” Clownfish, Manta Ray, Sea Turtle, Spiny Lobster, Octopus, and other ocean dwellers go about doing what they do. And crab bakes cakes. Then one night, with a big splash, a boatload of trash is dumped into the ocean. All the startled animals freeze, except for Crab. Crab bakes a cake, which brings everyone together. Nourished and encouraged, they come up with a clever plan, and with each animal contributing to the cleanup campaign (including Octopus, who inks a “Come Get Your Junk!” sign”), they restore their under-the-sea home and go on doing what they do. “Especially Crab.” Andrea Tsurumi’s full-page spreads of richly detailed cartoon illustrations add humor to this story with a gentle message about community and environmental action.
    —CA

    Meet Miss Fancy. Irene Latham. Ill. John Holyfield. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    Meet Miss FancyFrank adores everything about elephants but has never seen one in real life. When he hears that Miss Fancy, a circus elephant, is retiring to Birmingham’s Avondale Park, he sets off to meet her, only to be turned away at the park entrance by a “No Colored Allowed” sign. It’s 1913 and segregation prevails, but Frank doesn’t give up. He’s determined to meet Miss Fancy. The characters are fictional, but Miss Fancy was real and lived at Avondale Park for 21 years. John Holyfield’s lively illustrations give readers a glance into the world of Jim Crow laws that affected African Americans in the South through the experiences of one young boy. An author’s note about Miss Fancy and segregation laws provides a context for the engaging story.
    —SK

    Ages 9–11

    Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India. Chitra Soundar. Ill. Uma Krishnaswamy. 2019. Candlewick.

    Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of FriendshipThis collection of eight original tales with the flavor of traditional Indian folklore in both the telling and black-and-white artwork will delight children. Each story centers around the court of King Bheema, who hears subjects’ complaints and settles disputes with fairness. When the King is unable to preside, 10-year-old Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, get permission to hold court. How do they handle the candy maker who charges a man for smelling the candy?  How do they find a way to count all the crows in the kingdom? How do they convince the King that just because a man is poor doesn’t mean he brings bad luck? Each story is filled with humor and a bit of trickery. Readers will enjoy trying to solve the problems before the clever boys do.
    —SK

    Superlative Birds. Leslie Bulion. Ill. Robert Meganck. 2019. Peachtree.

    Superlative BirdsLeslie Bulion presents 20 clever poems about record-breaking birds from around the world.  The first poem, “Superlative Birds,” establishes the theme and the last, “For the Birds,” is a call for action: “Let’s save our birds’ futures now.” Double-page spreads feature poems and science notes about 18 different “superlative birds” (including the smallest, the bee hummingbird found only in Cuba; the bird with the most feathers, the emperor penguin in Antarctica; and the smelliest, the hoatzin of the Amazon and Orinoco Basins) and Robert Meganck’s colorful digitally rendered cartoon illustrations. Throughout the book, a chatty chickadee contributes information about characteristics unique to birds and those they share with other animals. Back matter includes a glossary, notes about the poetry forms Bulion uses, and resources for further exploration about the world of birds.
    CA

    Ages 12–14

    Biddy Mason Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice). Arisa White & Laura Atkins. Ill. Laura Freeman. 2019. Heyday.

    Biddy Mason Speaks UpIn a preface, the authors identify this book as a “creative act . . . of imagining Biddy Mason’s life” based on information available in the limited historical record that does not tell the history of everyone. A series of free verse poems (each with a colorful digital illustration) tells her life story of enslavement on a Mississippi plantation where she learned to be an herbalist and midwife, being sold and migrating West with a Mormon family, and finally finding freedom in California where she became a key figure in the first Black community of Los Angeles. The pairing of the biographical poems with pages of well-organized expository text (with definitions, photographs, text boxes, and timelines) and the inclusion of source notes, a bibliography, and an index make this an excellent classroom resource.
    —CA

    This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality. Jo Ann Allen Boyce & Debby Levy. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    The Promise of ChangeJo Ann Allen was one of the African American students who walked into Clinton High School on August 27, 1956. “We are the first in Tennessee / or any Southern state / to cause an all-white public school / to change—to integrate. / . . . I can’t help feeling hopeful / (though hope can trip and fall) / to know that I am one of twelve / to break / this / racial / wall.” This memoir in verse (with insets of headlines and quotes from local, regional, and national newspapers; extracts of legislation and court rulings; and interviews) tells Jo Allen’s story in the fight for school equality. An epilogue and extensive back matter provide additional background and resources including a scrapbook of captioned photographs and a timeline of school desegregation and civil rights landmarks.
    —CA

    We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugees Around the World. Malala Yousafzai. 2019. Little, Brown.

    We Are DisplacedIn the first part of We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai tells the story of her family’s internal displacement from the Swat Valley in Pakistan in 2009, their exile to England after she was shot by Taliban soldiers in 2012, and her plan to continue activism for girls’ education. The second part includes oral histories of girls she has met in her world travels as an activist. Each entry is a personal story of flight from a homeland, loss, and survival as well as hopes and dreams for the future. Back matter includes a “How You Can Help” section, biographical notes on contributors, and photographs. In a time when, as Yousafzai points out in the prologue, “for any refugee or any person displaced by violence . . . it seems as if there is no safe place today,” this is thought-provoking reading for everyone.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Fake News: Separating Truth from Fiction. Michael Miller. 2019. Lerner.

    Fake NewsIn the first chapter of Fake News, Miller points out that the term “fake news” is used in two ways: as “news items or social media post that are mostly or wholly untrue but are designed to look like real news stories” and as a means of labeling “legitimate new stories . . . in a negative light.” Subsequent chapters discuss topics such as the many forms of fake news, why fake news is harmful, how to tell real news from fake news, and how you can help fight fake news. This book on “separating truth from fiction” is reader-friendly. The well-organized text includes subtitles, numerous examples, captioned color photographs, and text boxes of related information; and the extensive back matter includes source notes, a glossary, a selected bibliography, further information (books, websites, films and videos), and an index.
    —CA

    We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults. Susan Kuklin. 2019. Candlewick.

    We Are Here to StayListening to the voices of nine young adult undocumented immigrants who tell their stories through interviews with Susan Kuklin, readers can’t help but have empathy and respect for everything they endured to come to the United States to be with family, to get an education, and to escape violence and poverty in their countries of Colombia, Mexico, Ghana, Independent Samoa, and Korea. Kuklin had planned to include each young person’s photo in the book originally scheduled for publication in 2017, but because of uncertainty surrounding recent executive action on DACA recipients, she decided to withhold their identities to protect them, so the pages that would have held their portraits are blank. An extensive “Notes and Resources” section includes information on U.S. immigration laws, chapter notes, an author’s notes, resources, and an index. This is a timely book to read and, most importantly, to discuss.
    —SK

    Susan Knell is a professor in the department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. 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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    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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