I Will Dance [released 5/26]

Written by: Nancy Bo Flood

Illustrated by: Julianna Swaney

For ages: 4 years and up 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Dance, LGBTQ Families, Cerebral Palsy, Disability, Friendship, Acceptance, Goals, True Story. 

Summary: 

This is an absolutely beautiful story about a real girl who yearned to find a dance company that would accept her.  Eva has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.  She’s worried she won’t ever be able to dance onstage, because there isn’t adequate representation of dancers with differing styles and abilities.  One day Eva’s mothers (yes, she has 2!) take her to a dance studio (that’s modeled on a real dance program called Young Dance) and Eva finds a group that welcomes her with open arms.

The book is written in first person, and a lot of Eva’s narrative is fear that she won’t find a place to dance.  It shies away from an inspiration-disability narrative, which I was so pleased about.  The story is about finding a place where Eva feels comfortable and valued, which is something that all humans want.  Throughout the story Eva hears things like “pretend you’re dancing” but it’s not good enough for her (nor should it be) because she deserves to be included and have the hobbies she loves. When Eva finds her Young Dance community, she feels at home.

Another detail about the book is that it’s not even mentioned that Eva has 2 moms, it completely normalizes this family structure by just having it in the background. The illustrations are beautiful and diverse, as well as convey flowing movement of every character in the story.

The author of this book is able-bodied (to the best of my knowledge) but has worked with schools and families to create inclusive programming for disabled children. There is also a note in the back from the director of Young Dance, telling more about the organization.

This book was kindly sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. It’s to be released tomorrow, 5/26!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Nancy-Bo-FloodThroughout Nancy’s  life she has enjoyed reading, writing, and sharing stories.

In college Nancy wanted to learn about the brain. How do we remember; why do we forget; why we want to try new things? Just how does our brain work? So she became a research psychologist and studied brain development at the University of Minnesota and as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of London. That might seem like a long way from writing books for kids, but it’s not.

Her work has always focused on children and young adults – as a researcher, counselor, teacher, parent, and now as a writer. Nancy has conducted workshops on child abuse, learning disabilities, play therapy, and creative writing. Her work and research has allowed Nancy to live all over the world – in Malawi, Africa, Hawaii, Japan, the western Pacific, and, most recently, the Navajo Nation where she hikes, rides her bike and attends local rodeos.

tumblr_inline_pxbgbzHGWX1qztu8g_500Julianna Swaney is a freelance illustrator whose work is inspired by whimsical details of daily life and the fairy tales she loved reading as a child. Julianna grew up homeschooled which allowed free range for her imagination and interests in folklore, animals, nature, and history. She studied printmaking at Maine College of Art (BFA 2005), and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

All of Julianna’s drawings are created with pencil and watercolor or gouache on paper.

Planet S.O.S

Written & Illustrated by: Marie G. Rohde

For ages: 8-12 years 

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Climate Justice, Environment, Sustainability, Pint-Sized Professor, Climate Change, STEM, Call to Action.

Summary: 

Planet SOS is an incredibly fascinating book, and the layout is one of the most creative I’ve seen in a non-fiction.  Combining environmental threats and mythical creatures, creator Marie G. Rohde brings climate change to life.  Each monster also has a card (akin to a Pokemon card) that tells the reader what feeds the monster and what defeats it.  If we want to defeat the Acid Sea Dragon (modeled after the Loch Ness Monster) we can remember to use sustainable power sources, ride our bikes, and learn about what green campaigns are going on in our community.

I love so much about this book.  I like how it’s set up like a game, and readers can use this challenge as a call to action to help the environment.  We also learn what feeds these monsters, such as littering or spraying pesticides.  Having so many options to both feed and defeat these monsters lends flexibility.  Not every family can do every single one of the suggested actions, especially if driving a car is the only way to get to work, but working in other monster-shrinking ways (like getting local produce or buying secondhand clothes) together as a family can create new traditions and help the earth.

The illustrations are gorgeous, and contains several flaps with keys to symbols on the monster cards, blurbs about the mythic beast on each page, and a global map showing where monsters live. However, the book does a fantastic job of not just scaring the reader, but turning it into an empowering game that teaches about climate change and sustainability, and mystical creatures.  Having the monster cards on top of this not only organizes the information well, but also attracts readers.  Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this book and it’s stunning illustrations.  You absolutely need to read this!

This book was published by What On Earth Books but kindly sent to us by Publisher’s Spotlight.

About the Author & Illustrator:

606985_Marie-_G-Rohde_ehgxjwWhen finishing her architectural studies in Sweden, Marie G. Rohde entered children’s books competition and began a new and unexpected chapter in her life. Marie swapped plans and diagrams for illustration, print design and living in Barcelona. Her books Taming True Dragons and Planet SOS are the result of a lifelong interest in myths and environmental issues.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Written & Illustrated by: Anastasia Higginbotham

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Whiteness, Social Justice, Activism, Racism, Anti-Blackness, Self-Reflection, Police Brutality, 

Summary: 

Not only is this book beautiful, but it is important.  It fits perfectly in with the #sweetsandsocialjustice series that we’ve been posting lately! I made peanut butter chocolate squares, which appear on one of the pages.  They also happen to be one of my favorites, and I had all of the ingredients on-hand, creating a perfect chocolatey storm.

This story centers around a young girl recognizing how much of the news is shielded by her parents from her, particularly when police violence against a person of color is broadcast.  It addresses the danger of using the excuse “we don’t see color” as a way to avoid discussing how racism and white supremacy are embedded so deeply within our culture.  Especially being white, we typically aren’t taught these things from a young age. Marginalized and oppressed groups are, because it’s a matter of their survival.  This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power and privilege affect us from birth, and how we can educate ourselves.  It is our duty as white people to self-reflect, educate, and change ourselves to work towards the liberation of everyone.

In the back of the book are several activity pages that explain to the reader how we can be white without signing onto Whiteness, and how to begin engaging in anti-racist work ourselves.  Not My Idea is an incredibly important book, one that we should all be using as a catalyst for our anti-racist education.

This book was kindly sent to us by Dottir Press, but all opinions are our own.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

Ingredients:

Peanut butter layer:

1.5c peanut butter

1/2c maple syrup

1.5c oat flour (I made my own by grinding oats in my blender)

pinch of salt

Chocolate layer:

1.5c chocolate chips

1/4c peanut butter

Directions:

Make the peanut butter layer first by melting the peanut butter and maple syrup together, and then stirring in the oat flour and salt.  Press into a lined 9×9 pan. Next, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together, spread over peanut butter layer. I usually sprinkle a high-quality sea salt on top of this (such as Malden or an infused salt) but you can leave it off if you wish.  Put in fridge to chill for an hour or two before cutting.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

anastasia-higginbotham-writerAnastasia Higginbotham launched her Ordinary Terrible Things children’s book series in 2015 with Divorce Is the Worst. It was embraced by children and adults for trusting kids as the authority on their own lives. Higginbotham’s second book, Death Is Stupid, was named one of New York Public Library’s 100 Best Children’s Books of 2016, and Tell Me About Sex, Grandma earned a spot on School Library Journal Blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “Best Books with a Message” in 2017. The series’ fourth book, Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, tackles white supremacy and will be published by Dottir Press.

Higginbotham makes her books by hand in collage on grocery bag paper, using only recycled materials, including jewelry and fabric.

Her books demonstrate a way for kids to cope with change and loss by making meaning out of whatever broken, ragged, or unraveling life circumstances they face.

Higginbotham writes for social justice organizations and taught full impact self defense for 10 years. Her work has been featured in The Believer, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Women’s Media Center, Ms., Bitch, The Sun, The Women’s Review of Books, and in anthologies, including Yes Means Yes (Seal, 2009).

In My Anaana’s Amautik

Written by: Nadia Sammurtok

Illustrated by: Lenny Lishchenko 

For ages: 3 years and up 

Language: English & Inuktitut 

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Family, Love, Comfort, Emotional Support, Social-Emotional Learning, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

In My Anaana’s Amautik is an incredibly sweet story that celebrates the calm and cozy emotional support that a child feels while in their mother’s amautik.  An amautik is a pouch in the back of a parka for carrying a baby, and it sounds like a wonderful way to travel.  Our little narrator describes feeling peaceful, cared for, and loved.  I really enjoyed how the senses are integrated into the storytelling such a feeling softness, smelling flowers, and especially the social-emotional aspects.

I think everyone is holding their loved ones a little closer these days, as many things are unknown.  Having that sense of peace and connection with a parent is so important for children right now, and this book exemplifies that connection wholeheartedly.  I love the way a few Inuktitut words are sprinkled in, and have a glossary in the back of the book.

This book was published by Inhabit Media but kindly sent to us by Publisher’s Spotlight.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

in-my-anaana-s-amautik-by-nadia-sammurtok-lenny-lishchenko.pngNadia Sammurtok is an Inuit writer and educator originally from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Nadia is passionate about preserving the traditional Inuit lifestyle and Inuktitut language so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. Nadia currently lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut, with her family.

6grJIxZh_400x400Lenny Lishchenko is not a boy. She is an illustrator, graphic designer, and comic maker, who will never give up the chance to draw a good birch tree. Ukrainianborn and Canadian raised, she’s interested in telling stories that people remember years later, in the early mornings where everything is quiet and still. She’s worked with clients such as Lenny Letter, Power Athletics Ltd. Alberta Venture, and Rubicon Publishing, and is based out of Mississauga, Ontario.

My Undead Life: Really Rotten Drama

Written by: Emma T. Graves

Illustrated by: Ellie O’Shea (Binny Boo)

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Zombies, Growing Up, Family, Friendship. 

Summary: 

I really enjoyed this book!  It’s the second in the series, but there was a quick recap of the first book at the beginning.

What really drew me into this book was a double-hit of a POC main character, and a plot that allowed girls to be gross.  Think about it, when are girls actively encouraged to be gross and disgusting?  Behold, an entire series about a zombie girl that’s rotting from the inside out and described very creatively (and stinkily)! Tulah is a middle-school zombie, and she’s trying to keep it a secret.  Along with this big smelly secret, Tulah has the regular drama to deal with like best friends and kisses with boys (in the school play)!

This is a quick read that is interspersed with a few comic panels, which is a really unique layout that I enjoyed.  It has some typical YA/middle grade story tropes of BFF arguments and crushes but I really liked the gross twist of Tulah being a zombie, and can’t wait to read more!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Emma T. Graves has authored more than 90 books for children, and has written about characters both living and dead. When she’s not writing, Emma enjoys watching classic horror movies, taking long walks in the nearby cemetery, and storing up food in her cellar. She is prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

a05198938c6ca8cd56289c6dba6bb8aaa68dfe8e0d7a37df2fb76e48eeba4244Ellie, a coffee addict, an avid snowboarder and bad joke-teller. Completed her degree in Illustration in Plymouth and now living in Worcester with her (equally bad joke-telling) boyfriend. They both love lazy Sundays watching cartoons all day, Ellie‘s biggest inspiration for drawing! She has always loved watching cartoons and when was around 8 she decided, “Hey, I want to draw like that!” So she picked up her pencil, and here we are. Ellie loves writing and illustrating children’s books. Starting with scribbles before drawing and colouring up in Illustrator and Photoshop. When she‘s not doodling or drinking coffee, you will usually find her shopping for makeup, binge-watching cartoons or watching pug videos on Youtube.

We Are Little Feminists: Families

Written by: Archaa Shrivastav & Little Feminist Book Club

Photographs by: Collected by Little Feminist Book Club, page numbers with acknowledgments are on the back cover!

For ages: Infants and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Family, Feminism, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Relationships, Board Books. 

Summary: 

This is probably the most diverse family book that I’ve ever seen, and I absolutely love how the photographs are of real people! This board book is a powerhouse of representation, and normalizes all sorts of different family structures.  It’s heartwarming to see so many LGBTQ families reflected in the pages, and truly does so much for opening doors of conversation for readers of a variety of ages.

This is one of a three-part series, I haven’t read Hair or On-the-Go yet, but I have actually ordered them because Families was so fantastic.  If you’re interested in these board books, or in their book boxes, you can actually use our discount code (THETINYACTIVIST) for 15% off orders (except gift cards)!  We are thrilled to be a part of this organization, because they (like us) care so much about representation and diversity in books.

This gorgeous book was sent to us by the Little Feminist Book Club, but all opinions are our own!

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Written by: Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by: Sara Palacios

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English & some Spanish

Topics Covered: Family, Immigration, Border Patrol, POC-Centric Narratives, Latinx, Mexican-American, Culture & Traditions, Love, Growing Up, Global Community.

Summary: Even though this is a story centering around Christmas, we felt the need to share it sooner rather than waiting for December to come around!

This is a beautiful and emotional story about a family that is separated by a border.  Maria, her brother Juan, and their mother live in the United States.  Their Abuela lives in Mexico.  Around Christmas, they take a bus to a certain part of the border where groups of people can meet through a fence for half hour chunks of time.  They are separated by this large fence, it’s a time that Maria looks forward to.  Though the time is brief, Maria and Juan are so glad to see their Abuela, and get her kisses on their fingertips through the fence.  When their visit time is up, Maria tries to pass a scarf that she knit through the fence, but a border patrol officer stops her.  Juan begins to cry that he can’t pass through a picture he drew for Abuela, and the trio goes back to the beach.  Maria has an idea that might get their gifts to Abuela without completely breaking the rules about passing things through the fence, but will she be able to pull it off?

This is a poignant story about families separated, but still trying to share an important holiday together.  Maria and her brother are a fictional family, but they are celebrating La Posada Sin Fronteras, which is a real festival put on during Las Posadas in the border enforcement zone in San Diego.  I really enjoyed the author’s note in the back, which talks about the logistics of this yearly event when families on different sides of the border come together to celebrate together.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

sara_palacios-2Sara Palacios studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico DF, and has an Associate Degree in Graphic Production Techniques from the School of Design, INBA  (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico. She also has an Associate Degree in Illustration from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, as well as a BFA and MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been a part time faculty member at the Academy of Art University since 2014. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award and the 2013 Tejas Star Book Award.