Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing

Written by: Hiawyn Oram

Illustrated by: Birgitta Sif

For ages:3-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental activism, social-emotional development, independent thought

Summary: Snowboy is playing a game by himself one day when approached by Greenbackboy.  Greenbackboy has an idea to play a game called KA-CHING, and invites Snowboy to the forest.  Greenbackboy wants to cut down all of the trees, but Snowboy saves one by hiding it under his magic cloak.  Greenbackboy shows Snowboy the KA-CHING he received in exchange for all of the cut down trees-glowing chests of gold.  Snowboy looks uneasy about this exchange, but Greenbackboy explains that they should want more KA-CHING and thus must go to the oceans.

Greenbackboy tells Snowboy to help him catch all of the fish in order to get more KA-CHING.  Snowboy does this, but thinks “what’s a sea without fish? A dead sea, that’s what” and sneakily returns two fish when Greenbackboy’s back is turned.  Snowboy is sitting on the dock looking glum when Greenbackboy returns with a pile of KA-CHING he got in exchange for the fish.  He begins to tell Snowboy what they can do for more golden when suddenly a “terrible storm blew up, drowning his words”. Greenbackboy’s KA-CHING is swept into the sea!  Snowboy leaves Greenbackboy, and travels back to his hidden tree.  He nurses the tree to grow big and strong and helps to heal the ravaged landscape.  Snowboy checks in on the fish he released, and sees that they have been growing up and having little fish of their own!  Snowboy is returning the landscape to it’s previously thriving environment, and tells Greenbackboy to ask nicely from nature and to leave some for the next day in order to thrive himself.  Snowboy falls asleep, knowing that for now at least his beloved forest is safe.

This book is whimsically illustrated, and subtly drives home the importance of natural resource conservation.  It teaches the importance of standing up for what’s right, and Snowboy reaches these conclusions quietly yet independently.  This style shows that activism does not have to be loud, it just has to be done.  Even a single person can have a drastic impact on the world around them, Snowboy saves the forest and the ocean with his animal companions.  This book is a fantastic example of independent thought and doing what’s right, even if you’re all alone at first.

Reflection Questions: 

  • Why do you think Snowboy plays KA-CHING with Greenbackboy?
  • What do you think makes Snowboy stop playing KA-CHING?
  • Think of something in your community you could help grow big and strong, like the tree that Snowboy saves.
  • How do you think Greenbackboy feels at the end of the book when Snowboy helps him one last time?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Visit your community’s forestry department and learn about which trees are planted in your area, and how the department takes care of them.
  • Plant a tree as a class, somewhere it can grow big and strong!
  • Learn about trees notice to your area, and how they keep the landscape healthy.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt to find different kinds of leaves; make some art with the leaves!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

hiawyn oramHiawyn Oram was born in South Africa. A childhood filled with space, wildlife, books and ideas but plagued by the cruel apartheid regime which only came to an end in 1993, many years after she’d left. She did a BA in English and Drama at the University of Natal, now the University of Kwa Zulu. After graduating she became an advertising copywriter for J. Walter Thomson in Johannesburg and then, exiling herself to London with barely a penny to her name, she wrote ads for toothpaste, chocolate bars and Lucozade at Leo Burnett. Skittlewonder and the Wizard was her first children’s book, published in 1977. She has published over 100 books including Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing.

birgitta sif

Birgitta Sif‘s books have been published in UK, USA, Iceland, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Australia and Canada. She received her BFA in Drawing and Design from Cornell University in 2003, and her MA in Childrens Book Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art in 2011. Her illustrations were featured in the Peters Book of the Year, Miss Hazeltine.

My Princess Boy

Written by: Cheryl Kilodavis

Illustrated by: Suzanne DeSimone

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Acceptance, Self-Expression, POC-Centric Narratives, Love, Family.

Summary: This book is written from the perspective of a mother, describing her Princess Boy and all of the things he loves.  This Princess Boy loves his brother, climbing trees in a tiara, and dancing in a green leotard.  The mother tells of a time when her Princess Boy wore a dress to his birthday party, and dressed up as a princess for Halloween.  Once, he was laughed at by a woman because he was wearing a dress.  His mother told him that some people don’t think boys should wear dresses, but he will not be laughed at by her.  Kilodavis asks the reader if they see a Princess Boy, what will they do?  Will the reader laugh and call him a name, or will they play with him and like him for who he is?

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you know any Princess Boys?
  • How would you feel if someone laughed at what you were wearing?
  • Do you like wearing princess outfits and fancy crowns? Any answer is OK! Everyone likes to wear different things.
  • How could you stand up for someone that you see being made fun of?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design a new piece of clothing that you like to wear best.  What color would it be?  What would it feel like?
  • Think about how you can make your classroom a safe space for anyone to wear what they want.
  • Have a discussion about what acceptance means, and how it can be shown to every personal expression choice.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cheryl-kilodavisCheryl Kilodavis is the award winning author of the break-through bestseller My Princess Boy and is an expert on acceptance, diversity and inclusion. Her controversial book, aimed at both kids and parents, explores acceptance and gender expression. An internationally renowned speaker and corporate change strategist, Cheryl has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the London Times, People Magazine and on the Today Show, Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil and many other media outlets. Cheryl speaks to corporations worldwide, as well as government groups, universities, and parenting organizations, providing thought-provoking perspectives and relevant tools for change.   An avid women’s soccer player and non-fiction reader, Cheryl lives in Seattle with her former high school sweetheart turned husband, and her two young sons.

 

 

Who are you? the kid’s guide to gender identity

Written by: Brook Pessin-Whedbee

Illustrated by: Naomi Bardoff

For Ages: 3 years and above

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Self Expression, Acceptance.

Summary: This book is written in a conversational format with the reader, letting them know that whatever they like and however they feel is ok and even celebrated!  The reader has some terminology explained to them-such as sex assigned at birth, and the fact that gender is “much more than the body you were born with”.  More vocabulary covered are terms like cisgender, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender neutral.  The book introduces the idea of gender as a spectrum rather that the binary system of “boy” one one end and “girl” on the other.  The reader is given the opportunity to look at pages filled with options of toys and clothes to choose the ones they like to wear and play with.  The book then explains that things a person likes can change from when you’re a kid to an adult, or even the next day!  There is emphasis on the reader knowing themselves the best, because they know how they feel inside.  This is a beautiful reinforcement of the message, and because sometimes children’s feelings are discounted or told “it’s just a phase” that they’re going through.  The book ends by explaining there are lots of ways to be a boy, a girl, and a kid, and the reader should be who they are.  In the back of the book there is also a Guide for Grown-Ups with several book and song recommendations for further exploration, and a page by page guide to key concepts and discussion points.  There are example reflection questions and more information to point out on topics such as: Body, Expression, Identity, and Gender Diversity.  There are a myriad of additional resources that range from books to films to organizations individuals can work with.  Lastly, there is an interactive wheel broken into three categories of body, identity, and expression.  An individual can turn the wheel and look at different options in an effort to help define their personal identity.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you like to tell people about yourself, what is important that people know about you?
  • What do you feel most comfortable wearing and playing with?
  • Do you think anyone can play with anything they want?
  • How can you show respect to someone that likes different things than you do?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • This book has an amazing resource section, including lessons for varying ages.  They are on page 24!
  • Have a Special Share Day, where everyone brings in something that’s important to them.  The object could be a book that a loved one reads with them, an article of clothing that makes them feel comfortable, or a photograph.
  • Learn about kids that are changing the world!  Find a role model that believes in equality, or does work to help immigrants in our country.  Maybe there is a new hero to look up to that lives in your community that could come visit and talk about how they live their lives and work to help people.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

brook pessin-whedbeeBrook Pessin-Whedbee is an educator, family advocate, and author of the new book, Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity. She is the founder of the Gender Inclusive Schools Alliance in Berkeley, where she works as an elementary Reading Specialist and as a supervisor in UC Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education program. Brook is also an active member of the Gender Spectrum community and proud mama to three little ones who joyfully bend and break the gender boxes.

 

naomi bardoffNaomi Bardoff lives, works, blogs, and draws in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Oakland, Naomi considers herself a Bay Area native despite a hiatus in Dallas for adolescence and one in the Hudson Valley for college. Other than drawing, painting, (and otherwise getting pigment under her fingernails), Naomi spends her time making handmade books, experimenting with vegan baking, thinking about manatees, and hanging out with her dog. Visit her portfolioblog, and Instagram to see more of her illustration work.

William’s Doll

Written by: Charlotte Zolotow

Illustrated by: William Pène Du Bois

For Ages: 3-8

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Family, Acceptance.

Summary: William wants a doll more than anything! He wants to practice being a father, holding and feeding and cuddling a baby of his own. William’s brother and the boy next door tease him, calling him a “sissy” and his father buys William a basketball. William plays basketball, he still wants a doll though. His father buys him a train set, but he still didn’t stop wanting a doll. One day, William’s grandmother comes to visit. William shows her the basketball and train set, but on a walk with her he reveals that what he truly wants is a doll. She says that is “wonderful” but William is not so sure, because of all the things everyone else says. She takes William to the store and picks out the perfect doll, and William is in love with it! His grandmother explains to William’s father that he wants a doll to practice being a father, and so “he’ll know how to take care of his baby”.

This is a sweet story about family acceptance and recognizing that toys aren’t for specific genders. It was published in the 70’s, and is one of the first examples of literature combatting gender stereotyping. A quick read with relatable content for young children, it makes the case that young boys can want and play with dolls without going into any assumptions about sexuality.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you think anyone can play with any toy they want?
  • Why do you think some people think boys and girls should play with certain things?
  • What are your favorite things to play with?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make sure everyone feels comfortable playing with anything in the classroom! Are there assumptions you make about what a student likes to do just because they’re a boy or a girl?
  • Make a list of your favorite things. Who else likes those things? See who in your class has some of the same favorite activities as you do that you might not expect!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

charlotte zolotowA distinguished and prolific author and editor of children’s books, the work of Charlotte Zolotow (June 26, 1915-November 19, 2013) offered even the youngest children an unsentimental  but compassionate view of topics like anger, envy and death.  Authentic, sensual, kind, and sometimes funny, she never condescended to the emotional lives of her young readers, nor did she diminish the problems, large and small, they faced.

 

William Pène du BoisThe son of noted American painter and art critic Guy Pène du Bois, William Pène du Bois seemed destined by family influence to become an artist. His ancestry includes painters, architects, and designers in every generation since 1738. He studied art in France and began publishing books for children in the mid-1930s. He served in World War II as a correspondent for Yank and other magazines and became the first art director of The Paris Review in 1953. A highlight of his career was winning the Newbery Medal in 1948 for The Twenty-One Balloons. As an illustrator, he was awarded Caldecott Honors in 1952 for Bear Party and in 1957 for Lion. In addition to his own stories, he also illustrated books by such notable authors as Roald Dahl, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward Lear, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jules Verne, and Mark Strand.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

Written and Illustrated by: Rachel Ignotofsky

For Ages: 4 and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Science, Scientific discoveries, Unsung heroes

Summary: This book highlights little-known women in science throughout history. Each page features one of Ignotofsky’s fun illustrations with a single page summary of that scientist’s achievements. Written in an approachable way for young children, this book will both inspire and teach a future generation of scientists! Some strong women featured are: Annie Easley, Mae Jemison, Mamie Phipps Clark, and Grace Hopper.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you like science? What sorts of topics would you like to know more about?
  • Which one of these scientists would you like to know more about?
  • Do you know anyone that’s a scientist? What have they told you about their job?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Are any of these scientists from nearby your community? How can you learn more about their lives?
  • Do some science experiments of your own!
  • Have a scientist visit your classroom and talk about what it’s like to do research and experiment for their job.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

rachel ignotofskyRachel Ignotofsky is a New York Times Best Selling author and  illustrator, based in beautiful Los Angeles. She grew up in New Jersey on a healthy diet of cartoons and pudding. She graduated from Tyler School of Art’s Graphic Design in 2011. Now Rachel works for herself and spends all day and night drawing, writing and learning as much as she can. Rachel is a published author with 10 Speed Press and is always thinking up new ideas. Check out her books The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth Women In Science and Women In Sports. Her work is inspired by history and science. She believes that illustration is a powerful tool that can make learning exciting.  She has a passion for taking dense information and making it fun and accessible. Rachel hopes to use her work to spread her message about scientific literacy and feminism.