Category Archives: Culture & Traditions

Muslim Girls Rise

Written by: Saira Mir

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

For ages: 8-13 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Muslim Women, Trailblazers, Historical Figures, Self-Empowerment, Feminism, Sports, Culture & Identity, Global Community, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

This book is a lovely book, almost anthology-like, of 18 Muslim girls (and women) that are changing the world and blazing trails.  Some are well-known public figures like Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, and champion fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.  Others, like Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah and comedian Negin Farsad might be less known.  The beauty of this book is that the short single page profiles of these strong and intelligent women is that they span the globe and professional career market.  Sports, fashion, legislation, and STEM.  These women are fantastic role models for any job aspirations!

Muslim Girls Rise is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf, and having these women as inspiration to pursue one’s own interests and dreams.  Unfortunately also, Islamophobia is so prevalent that this book can also serve as a line of defense.  Collecting stories of strength and resilience helps a person develop their own, and have individuals to look up to in times of hardship or perhaps deciding on what career trajectory to take.  Either way, these short stories will inspire any reader to change the world in their own way!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

SARIA MIR is a Muslim physician from Washington, DC, who has searched far and wide for books to help her daughter find feminist role models who share her heritage. Saira wrote Muslim Girls Rise for her, and hopes to share it with other children eager to learn more about these extraordinary, path-breaking women.

 

 

 

 

aaliya-45AALIYA JALEEL is a freelance illustrator, character designer, and visual development artist. She is currently majoring in animation at the University of Texas at Dallas with plans to work as a visual development artist after graduation.

My First Bilingual Book (Multilingual Board Book Set)

Written by: Patricia Billings & Fatih Erdoğan co-wrote : Love, Sharing, and Friends books. These were then translated by unnamed translators. 

Patricia Billings wrote the Empathy (Spanish) book herself in English, and it was translated by an unnamed translator.

Illustrated by: Manuela Gutierrez Montoya

For ages: infant and up 

Language: English & Portuguese (Sharing), Spanish (Empathy), Italian (Love), French (Friends).

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Language, Multilingual Learning, POC-Centric Narratives. 

Summary: 

These board books are absolutely lovely!  The illustrations are beautifully diverse and have simple storylines that keep the books from feeling like they are just vocabulary books.  The same characters are present in all 4 of the books we read, and I enjoy this continuity.    I believe they are all students in the same classroom!

These would be a great addition for language learning and social-emotional learning.  There are some lines that can be used to branch off into other conversations about different lived experiences, such as when a character knows her friend was a refuge, and that made her sad and scared (empathy) or another one knows that he should conserve water (sharing).  These simple statements are so nice to see in a board book, so readers can have these conversations and knowledge from a young age!

These books were sent to us by Patricia, but all opinions are our own.  You can check out more language books made by Milet Publishing here. Not sponsored, there’s just a ton more languages available than the ones we reviews!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

unnamed-4Patricia Billings is the author of all 4 of these books! Her Instagram biography says she is a “publisher, author, wisdom worker, vegan, and present in NYC”.

 

 

 

 

image0021Fatih Erdoğan (Izmir, 23 April 1954) can best be described as a pioneer of children’s literature in
Turkey. He finished high school in Robert College and graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department of Boğaziçi University.  In 1980, he founded Mavibulut Publishing
 House, which is the first publishing house in Turkey that focuses exclusively on children’s literature. The same year, his first book Pan ve Çiçeği (Pan and His Flower) received the Best Picture Book Award given by the Association of Librarians. Since then, he wrote 64 children’s books and illustrated many of them himself. Today he is one of the most popular children’s authors in Turkey and his books were sold over 800.000 copies.

Manuela Gutierrez Montoya is the illustrator of all 4 of the books we received, but we cannot find anything about her online!

Nya’s Long Walk

Written by: Linda Sue Park

Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney

For ages: 4-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Global Community, Africa, African Culture, Sudan, Sudanese Life, Water, Medicine, Family, Siblings, Love, Lived Experiences, POC-Centric Narratives. 

Summary: 

Nya and her sister Akeer live in Sudan and must walk a long way to get water.  One day when making the journey, Akeer falls ill and Nya must carry both her sister and the water back to their house.  When she gets back to the village, Nya’s mother realizes that Akeer is sick from drinking dirty water, and they must take her to the doctor.  Tired but strong, Nya comes along carrying all of the supplies they’ll need for the long and arduous walk to the doctor.

This book is a fictionalized tale, but it tells a familiar story for a lot of girls who live in Sudan.  Sickness from dirty water is common, but there are organizations that work to drill wells in the villages that have the longest walks to water.  When these wells are dug, it also gives back valuable time typically spent walking to be allocated to education.  This book talks about an organization started by Salva Dut, a refugee from South Sudan that now digs wells in remote villages.

What we really like about this book is that it highlights an individual from the area making a difference, not a white savior organization.  Dut’s organization is called Water for South Sudan and was started in 2003.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lsp_72dpi_rgb_200px_2015Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

This is the first thing she ever published—a haiku in a children’s magazine when she was nine years old:

In the green forest
A sparkling, bright blue pond hides.
And animals drink.

For this poem she was paid one whole dollar. She gave the check to her dad for Christmas. About a year later the company wrote to her asking her to cash the check! Linda Sue wrote back explaining that it was now framed and hung above her dad’s desk and was it okay if he kept it? The magazine said it was fine, and her dad still has that check.

During elementary school and high school, Linda Sue had several more poems published in magazines for children and young people. She went to Stanford University, competed for the gymnastics team, and graduated with a degree in English. Then she took a job as a public-relations writer for a major oil company. This was not exactly the kind of writing she wanted to do, but it did teach her to present her work professionally and that an interested writer can make any subject fascinating (well, almost any subject …).

In 1983, after two years with the oil company, Linda Sue left her job and moved to Dublin when a handsome Irishman swept her off her feet. She studied literature, moved to London, worked for an advertising agency, married that Irishman, had a baby, taught English as a second language to college students, worked as a food journalist, and had another baby. It was a busy time, and she never even thought about writing children’s books.

In 1990, she and her family moved back to the U.S. because of her husband’s job. Linda Sue continued teaching English to foreign students. It took her quite a while, but she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was to write books for children. In 1997, she started writing her first book, Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.

Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, including A Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal.

She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.

BrianPinkneyHeadShotAcclaimed artist Brian Pinkney is the illustrator of several highly-praised picture books including The Faithful Friend, In the Time of the Drums, and Duke Ellington . He is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and holds a master’s degree in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Andrea, with whom he often collaborates, and his two children.

Brian has won numerous awards including two Caldecott Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors and a Coretta Scott King Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. He has been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The School of Visual Arts, and The Society of Illustrators.

He has been published by Greenwillow Books, Hyperion Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown and Company, Feiwel & Friends, Harcourt Children’s Books, Simon & Schuster, and Random House. His work has also appeared in New York Times Magazine, Women’s Day, Business Tokyo, Ebony Man, and Instructor.

Lilah Tov Good Night

Written by: Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G)

Illustrated by: Noar Lee Naggan

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English and some Hebrew

Topics Covered: Refugee, Growing Up, Lullaby, Family, Nature, Love, Social-Emotional Learning, 

Summary: 

This is a very sweet book that delicately explains the refugee experience of a family in a lullaby style.  A young girl happily plays outside and then eats dinner with her family, a shiny menorah on their windowsill.  When night falls, the foursome set off walking into the forest.  The young girl says goodnight, “Lilah Tov” to the animals she sees on their walk, bundled up in the snowy weather.  She is shown happy and smiling for the entire book, optimistic and reverent of the natural world surrounding her.

While this is one refugee experience represented, it is not so detailed that it couldn’t be used to generally explain the big picture concept of the refugee experience to young readers.  The book itself is beautiful, and the main character is thrilled to wish all things, creatures and non, a good night.  The majority of the family’s travel takes place at night, including a long boat ride underneath a large starry sky.  This would be a great story for people looking to introduce these lived experiences to younger audiences, or before reading other books that have more violent aspects for fleeing. Four Feet, Two Sandals; My Name is Sangoel, and The Banana Leaf Ball are all books that would fall under this second category. All in all, we enjoyed this book very much and would be happy to have it on any bookshelf we encountered.

This book was generously sent by the author, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ben7833-800-x-534It’s hard to say which has been more of a driving force for Ben Gundersheimer: music or storytelling. Throughout his career the two crafts have intertwined, propelling him as a performer and author. By age nine he was writing his own original songs, and as the son of children’s book author/illustrator Karen Gundersheimer, composing stories was a constant activity as well.

Ben went on to receive a scholarship from Berklee College of Music, travel the world as a singer/songwriter, and earn a Masters of Education. During his student teaching days he engaged his fourth graders through music, and it was this experience that transformed him into MISTER G, inspiring him to relaunch his career to focus on performing for children and families.

A decade later, the Latin GRAMMY Award-winning musician, activist, author and educator, is still fusing music and storytelling. The latest permutation of these two interwoven passions is as a picture book author, with two new books based on his original, multilingual songs. Señorita Mariposa chronicles the extraordinary migration of the monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, while Lilah Tov Good Night is a lyrical lullaby celebrating the beauty of the natural world and the spirit of resilience in a refugee family.

From illustrator Noar Lee Naggan’s website: “Hi! I’m an illustrator living in New York, chiefly interested in children’s books. I also have a great passion to tell stories, and do it through my illustrations. I aspire to one day write my own books and illustrate them.

I was born in Israel and graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. I previously worked mostly in animation and graphic design with major companies in Israel, but several years ago I found my calling in illustration and I never looked back.”

Piece by Piece

Written by: Susan Tan

Illustrated by: Justine Wong

For ages: 5-12 years

Language: English, a few Chinese words. 

Topics Covered: Family, Asian-American Experience, Chinese-American Identity, History, Historical Architecture, Museums, Social-Emotional Learning, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

This book is about Emmy, and the strong relationship she has with her grandmother Nainai who lives in China.  Nainai comes to visit during the summer, and the special activity the two of them share is going to new museums every week.  Before leaving, Nainai makes a blanket for Emmy out of fabrics that have memories for the both of them attached.  Emmy loves the blanket very much, and takes it everywhere.  Emmy’s dad takes them to a new museum and says there is something very special to show her there, but Emmy is skeptical because Nainai isn’t there with her.

Suddenly Emmy realizes her beloved blanket is missing, and is distraught.  Assured by the museum staff that they’ll be on the lookout, Emmy realizes that they’re near an entire house like the one Nainai grew up in, inside the museum!  The pair is at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.  There’s really a house brought from China inside!  Emmy walks around the house, steeped in memories of Nainai.

This is a beautiful book about both big emotions and Chinese family history.  Emmy has a lot of sadness and grief that Nainai is back in China, and grapples with these big emotions during her exploration of the house.  We are lucky enough to live in the Boston area and have been to the PEM, getting into our own exploration of the house!  In the back of the book is more historical information about the house, and how it got from China to the museum.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Tan-Author-Photo-683x1024Susan Tan “wanted to be a children’s author since eighth grade when I was named “most likely to be a children’s book writer” in the middle school yearbook. In high school, I worked in the Children’s Room of my local public library, and in college I sketched picturebook outlines in the margins of my school notes. 

But I didn’t really start writing books of my own until after college, when I was earning my PhD at the University of Cambridge in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature (sense a pattern?). I began writing funny stories from my childhood while I rode the bus in the mornings, and in bed before I fell asleep at night. These stories gradually came together into my first book, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire.

Cilla is based on my own family and deals with the questions, challenges, and many joys that navigating different racial and cultural identities can bring. A second book in the Cilla series, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is A Classic will be released this March, with a third Cilla book coming in 2019.

More about me: I was the 2015 Gish Jen Emerging Writers Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston, and when I’m not writing, crocheting, or reading, you can find me teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.” 

Justine-Wong-Illustration-LORESJustine Wong is a food, book, and lifestyle illustrator based in Toronto. She is the creator behind the project ’21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study on Japanese Cuisine’, consisting of paintings for 100 meals discovered while she traveled Japan. She has since lived in Tokyo for a year and have the pleasure of illustrating in editorial publications, story books, and advertising campaigns in Canada and internationally. Most recently, Justine illustrated her first children’s book ‘Piece by Piece’ for Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

When she is not illustrating, you can find her beach-combing along a coastline, tending to her backyard garden, or having soft conversations with her two cats Kumo and Opi. 🙂

She is also a dedicated member of Toronto creative collectives Lunchroom and Makeshift Collective, where they practice and rebuild the ways we collaborate and grow together.

The roots of the Peabody Essex Museum date to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society, an organization of Salem captains and supercargoes who had sailed beyond either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. The society’s charter included a provision for the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” which is what we today would call a museum. Society members brought to Salem a diverse collection of objects from the northwest coast of America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, India and elsewhere. By 1825, the society moved into its own building, East India Marine Hall, which today contains the original display cases and some of the very first objects collected.

Tanna’s Owl

Written by: Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Illustrated by: Yong Ling Kang

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English, some Inuktitut (pronunciation guide in back as well)

Topics Covered: First Nations, Residential Schools, Own Voices, Responsibility, Pets, Growing Up, Indigenous Voices. 

Summary: 

This is a lovely book based on author Rachel’s own life experience raising an owl.  Tanna, or main character, receives an owlet from her father one day with instructions to care for it and make sure it has everything it needs.  Tanna jumps at the chance initially, but becomes a bit worn down when Ukpik the owl requires more and more attention without any affection given in return.  It is a wild animal, after all.

We were drawn into this story, with its unique and truthful outlook.  This book acknowledges that Tanna doesn’t always feel like raising Ukpik is rewarding, and that is refreshing.  At the end of the summer, Tanna must return to school (leaving Ukpik behind), which upon reading the Author’s Note the reader learns that she is educated at a Residential School.  When she returns the next summer, Ukpik has learned to fly and isn’t there anymore.  Tanna has a lot of respect for the owl, and is glad that she helped it thrive despite not always being excited to wake up early to catch lemmings for it to eat, or clean up all the poop.

I really loved how Inuit cultural values were woven into this story, and coupled with own voices lived experiences from Rachel’s childhood.  This story emphasizes the value of hard work and appreciation for nature, it’s a fantastic real aloud for young people who might be expressing interest for a pet as well!

This book was sent to us by Inhabit Media, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Qitsualik-TinsleyOf Inuit-Cree ancestry, RACHEL QITSUALIK-TINSLEY was born in a tent on northernmost Baffin Island. She learned Inuit survival lore from her father, surviving residential school and attending university. In 2012, she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for numerous cultural writings. Of Scottish-Mohawk ancestry, SEAN QITSUALIK-TINSLEY was born in southern Ontario, learning woodcraft and stories from his father. Training as an artist, then writer, Sean’s sci-fi work won 2nd place at the California-based Writers of the Future contest, published by Galaxy Press. Rachel and Sean have worked for decades as Arctic researchers and consultants. In writing together, they have published 10 successful books and many shorter works, celebrating the history and uniqueness of Arctic shamanism, cosmology, and cosmogony. Their novel, Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic, was a Governor General Awards Finalist and First Prize Burt Award winner.

 

Yong Ling Kang is a full-time freelance illustrator. Having worked in animation studios and a publishing company for some years, she’s now living and working from home based in Toronto.  Raised in tropical Singapore, she find comfort in playing water sports, taking walks in green spaces, and savouring spicy food. A glass of milo peng / teh-c siu-dai anytime!

 

At the Mountain’s Base

Written by: Traci Sorell

Illustrated by: Weshoyot Alvitre 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Military, Women Pilots, Family, Grief, Culture & Traditions, Historical Fiction, Global Community, Own Voices.

Summary: This is one of the most beautiful and emotional books that I’ve read in a long time.  The story is told in simple, lyrical poetry and encompasses the emotions that thread through a family waiting for a family member to return from war.  They are waiting for a pilot, and she is waiting for peace, wanting to return to her family in the cabin at the base of the mountain.

This story brings to light the beauty of the Indigenous family waiting for their beloved pilot to return, and also of the history of Indigenous women in the armed forces.  Something particularly beautiful about the illustrations is the way that strings are both literally and figuratively woven through the story, tying together the pilot’s experience and the family waiting at home for her to return.  In the back is an author’s note talking about the history of Indigenous women fighting; they have fought during intertribal conflicts, against the European colonizers, and in the American armed forces as well.  Sorell also specifically names one woman-Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, the only female native pilot in WWII to serve as a WASP.  In 2009 she was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, and a building was named in her honor at the Ellsworth Air Force Base after her death in 2017.

This beautiful book is the first of it’s kind for me, I’ve never read an Indigenous story about women in the military.  I am so honored to be able to read Traci Sorell’s words, and look forward to reading more from her.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Traci+Sorell+Home+PhotoTraci Sorell lives with her family in the Cherokee Nation, out in the country like she did as a child. Back then, she had geese, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Her mother’s Cherokee family has been in the area since the removal of most Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands in 1838. Traci grew up hearing stories about her ancestors and looking at their photographs with her elisi (eh-lee-see), grandma. Now her son does that with his elisi in addition to fishing in the nearby lake and learning about Cherokee culture.

As a child, Traci spent a lot of time reading as well as singing and acting in musical theater productions. She also loved playing cars and school with her younger sister and brother. They spent hours driving little toy cars all over the towns they drew on large pieces of cardboard. They quizzed each other on state capitals and used old textbooks to teach each other new lessons. Away from home, they spent lots of time visiting family across the Cherokee Nation, elsewhere in Oklahoma and places farther west. Traci still loves to read, play, learn, and travel.

When Traci was a teenager, her family moved to Southern California. She did less acting and more writing, both in class and on the high school yearbook staff. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Later, her mom, sister and brother got their degrees too.

Before she began writing for children, Traci’s work focused on helping Native American tribes and their citizens. She wrote legal codes, testimony for Congressional hearings, federal budget requests, grants and reports. She continues that work by writing stories for young people and encouraging other Native writers and illustrators to share theirs. When Traci was a child, she never read culturally accurate books about the Cherokee or any other Indigenous people. The stories and poems she writes now reflect her mission to add to the canon of literature showing that Native Nations and their citizens still exist and thrive today.

portrait-2Weshoyot Alvitre is Tongva (Los Angeles Basin) and is well established within the indigenous art community as an illustrator. She was born in the San Gabriel Mountains on the property of Satwiwa, a cultural center started by her father Art Alvitre. She grew up close to the land and raised with traditional knowledge that inspires the work she does today.

Weshoyot has been working in the comics medium since graduating from high school. The culmination of having a Native presence was fueled by meeting and being interviewed by the author of “Native Americans in Comics”, Michael Sheyashe (Caddo). It helped to open her eyes to having a representation in the comics medium and connect with other Native professionals in comics.

Alvitre has since contributed to numerous Eisner award-winning books, including the “Umbrella Academy” (Darkhorse Comics) and “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream” (Locust Moon Press). She has earned accolades for her work that visualize historical material, including “Graphic Classics: Native American Classics” (Eureka Productions) The Cattle Thief[wa1]  and most recently, the first volume of highly acclaimed “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers” published by Native Realities Press.

Alvitre has also illustrated numerous pieces of political illustrations in support of the NODAPL movement for Standing Rock, amongst other Native issues. One such illustration, in collaboration with installation artist Andrea Bowers, was auctioned live this past summer at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Auction in San Tropez.

Most relevant to this proposal, Alvitre has partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on Native Knowledge 360°, a national educational initiative to inspire and support teaching about Native Americans using the comics medium as a support. She illustrated 12 pages of sequential comic art, each page interpreting a key historical event. The art has been used on their site and as a tool for teachers nationwide. Alvitre is also working currently with seasoned award-winning video game designer, Elizabeth Lapensee Ph. D. (Michigan State University) on an educational game to be used within the Native curriculum nationwide.

Alvitre has made a conscious choice to work primarily within Native-owned publications and educational avenues, to further support a self funded narrative on past, present and future native issues. It is through this voice, and through her artwork, she feels she is able to communicate her unique viewpoint and continue a strong dialogue on issues that are important to her as a Native woman