Category Archives: immigration

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.

 

Internment

Written by: Samira Ahmed

Cover Art by: art by Dana Ledl, design by Karina Granda 

For ages: YA 12 years and up

Language: English, some Arabic.

Topics Covered: Islamophobia, Internment, Violence, Military Action, Oppression, History, Subversion, Independent Thought, Activism, Friendship, Love, Growing Up, Relationships. 

Summary: 

For #sweetsandsocialjustice I wanted to make a pairing where the food was reminiscent of the book.  So I made these super flat and chewy chocolate oatmeal cookies to represent the landscape where the book takes place.  The dusty camp is in the desert, and the chocolate I used was super dark (I only had 73% cacao hanging around) and almost bitter.  I dubbed them “adult cookies” because they’re not very sweet and have a nutty taste from the almond flour.

I really enjoyed this book.  The plot takes events ripped straight from the news, and an unnamed bigoted American president has followed through on the Muslim travel ban.  Continuing on, Muslim citizens find themselves being fired from jobs and subject to a strict curfew.  Layla Amin is a teenager wishing things would go back to normal, when she and her Jewish boyfriend David were free to show PDA in school, and go out on dates at night.  However, one night after a close call sneaking back after curfew, Layla is in her room when she sees a van pull up in front of her house and a group of soldiers in unfamiliar fatigues.  Layla and her parents are taken from their home and transported to the first Muslim Internment camp, which the Director of the camp hopes to be a model for future camps to open all across the country.  At the camp, life is dismal.  However, Layla finds some friends.  Some are also interned with her, and some are in charge of keeping the internees subordinate.  Can Layla’s guard friend be trusted?

I read this book in a single day, despite it being almost 400 pages.  I really enjoyed it, and was hooked instantly.  Layla draws parallels between what is happening to her and the concentration camps of WWII, showing how white complicitness can lead to destruction.  I would have loved at least a chapter in between the end and the Epilogue, it felt rushed. But also, I was enjoying the book so much I would have gladly read the story split into 2 books, giving room for more story.  The book is a call to action to never become complicit, and specifically to those of us with white privilege to use it on behalf of marginalized groups.  In the back is a wonderful and emotional author’s note, which I urge everyone to read.

Recipe: 

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I use either Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur 1:1 if baking gluten free)
  • 1/2 c ground almond flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt (I use coarse kosher)
  • 1 c softened salted butter
  • 1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c maple sugar (white granulated is also fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. chopped chocolate (I like super dark to make it less sweet)

Combine dries (except oats) into a bowl and whisk together, set aside. Cream butter and sugars, adding eggs afterward one at a time.  Add dries and mix until just combined. Add oats and vanilla. Stir in chocolate. Pop dough in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or in the fridge for a few hours.  Scoop onto sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, allow to set on cookies sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.

About the Author:

ahmed_07Born in Bombay India and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois, Samira Ahmed spent countless hours at the library in her small hometown nestled in an oversized armchair next to an old Victorian fireplace with her nose in an Agatha Christie novel or re-reading Little Women, hoping that Jo would somehow end up with Laurie this time. Samira always loved to write—especially poetry–-but never actually dreamed of becoming a writer until she was an adult and an idea for a story captured her imagination and wouldn’t let go.

She received her BA and MAT from the University of Chicago and went on to teach high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and the New York City Public Schools. After she left the classroom, she worked in education non-profits, helping to create more than seventy small high schools in New York City and fought to secure billions of dollars in public school funding throughout New York State.

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filtersand the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

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.”

Four Feet, Two Sandals

Written by: Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed

Illustrated by: Doug Chayka

For ages: 7-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Refugees, Friendship, Empathy, Immigration, Global Community. 

Summary: This is a very sweet and emotional story of two friends that meet in a refugee camp when each gets only one sandal from a supply truck.  Lina and Feroza become friends and begin to share the sandals, alternating days wearing them.  The girls spend almost all of their time together, talking about their dreams of leaving the camp and completing chores.  When Lina’s family is put on a list to leave the camp, who will end up with the 2 shoes when there are 4 feet?

This book was inspired by a camp that author Khadra Mohammed worked at in Peshawar, Pakistan.  Despite being published in 2007, it is even more prescient today given the current crises today regarding immigration and loss of homes, resulting in forced migration of various peoples across the globe. The accompanying illustrations by Doug Chayka are beautiful, looking painted rather than drawn.  These stories are important for children to learn, and to learn about the privilege that we live with in many parts of the United States.  If able, this book can be used as a jumping off point for more education about global refugees, activism, or lived experiences.

About the Authors & the Illustrator:

klw2Karen Lynn Williams (right) was born in Connecticut, and received her Master’s degree in deaf education. She has lived in Africa and in Haiti. Karen had an early dream to be one of the youngest published authors, starting a writing club at ten. However, Karen’s published works came later in life, after extensive travels and family experience. Karen’s ability to draw from personal experience and adapt into writing forms for all ages and interests expresses her true gift.

The Pittsburgh Refugee Center‘s Executive Director, Khadra Mohammed (left) is a native of Somalia and has over twenty years of experience in working with refugee populations, both in the US and in refugee camps in Pakistan and Kenya. In Pittsburgh, for the past eight years, she has advocated on behalf of local refugees and brought awareness of refugee issues to the attention of the greater Pittsburgh community. Ms. Mohammed is also a published author of several children’s books. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction in 2005, and was honored with PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2005 40 under 40 Award.

638133_102_120_LTE2MDQzNzE2NDMtOTAxMDgyNjExDoug Chayka is a “freelance illustrator based in New Jersey and also travels frequently to Berlin, Germany, where he works for part of the year. His clients include The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, NBC News, Politico, Pentagram, Wired, and many others. Doug has also taught illustration full-time at Ringling College of Design (2009-10) and Savannah College of Art and Design (2010-12), and on an adjunct basis at Pratt Institute, City College of New York, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The Illustration Academy.

Doug grew up in Weedsport, New York and attended Rochester Institute of Technology to study illustration and graphic design. Shortly after graduating, he moved to Kansas City to study further under one of my illustration heroes, Mark English, his first big influence and an early mentor. Doug began freelancing there in the late ’90’s and landed my first editorial assignments at the Kansas City Star while also working on his first picture book projects. A few years later Doug began to travel extensively in Europe and eventually stayed in Berlin, where he studied painting and printmaking as a Fulbright scholar at The Berlin University of the Arts from 2000-2002. Many different people and places have helped shape Doug’s point of view as an artist. Doug believes that it’s a process that is ongoing and grows with every new client and each unique challenge.”

They Called Us Enemy

Created by: George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker

For ages: YA-Middle and High School

Language: English, some Japanese. 

Topics Covered: Japanese Internment, Historical Figures, Historical Events, WWII, Growing Up, LGBTQ, Japanese-American Experience, Own Voices, Graphic Novel. 

Summary: This is an incredible graphic novel, telling of historical events that are rarely taught in schools. Deciding to post it today, February 19th, acknowledges a day that Japanese Americans call Remembrance Day, commemorating the passage of Executive Order 9066.  This executive order decreed that “excluded persons” could be removed from active military zones (the entirety of the west coast) and interned elsewhere.  While 9066 never said specifically what types of people were excluded, this became the basis for the removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans into camps for the next several years.  National Treasure George Takei and his family were just 5 of the 120,000 individuals relocated (several times) into internment camps.

George and his family were shuttled around for several years, his father engaging in community-building work and becoming elected barrack manager several times.  Upon release, the family moved back to Los Angeles and rebuilt their life.  The graphic novel also covers George growing up and becoming an actor, including emotional scenes where he visits the house of the president that was a proponent of the camps in the first place.

They Called Us Enemy is woven together with George’s memories, discussions with his father when he was a teen, and a Ted Talk.  This memoir describes events as perceived by a child, thinking they were going on vacation, as well as the political climate at the time of WWII and life in the camps.  The United States is no stranger to committing atrocities against people it fears.  Having a personal account of what happened to citizens in recent years gives a look into what can still happen today, if control over the democratic process is not regained by citizens.  We highly recommend this book, it’s crucial that young people today learn about what can happen when fear takes over and human rights are forgotten.

About the Creators:

249949f3-4100-4acc-8e36-67150780c4b1._CR266,0,1059,1059_PT0_SX300__George Takei is known worldwide for playing Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series. But Takei’s story goes where few have gone before. After a childhood spent in Japanese American internment camps during WWII, he has become a leading figure in the fight for social justice and LGBTQ rights. Mashable named him the most influential person on Facebook, with 10.4 million likes and 2.8 million Twitter followers.

Justin Eisinger is Editorial Director at IDW, with over twelve years in graphic storytelling. He seeks to create engaging, impactful non-fiction stories.

Steven Scott has worked in comics since 2010, and has written for Archie, Arcana Studios, and Heavy Metal, among others.

Artist Harmony Becker has created Himawari Share, Love Potion, and Anemone and Catharus. Part of a multicultural family, she has lived in South Korea and Japan.

They Call Me Güero; A Border Kid’s Poems

Written by: David Bowles

Cover Art by: Zeke Peña

For ages: YA upper elementary/middle grades

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Mexican-American Experience, Immigration, Prejudice, Culture & Traditions, Poetry, Own Voices, Latinx. 

Summary: Our narrator is a twelve year old boy known only as Güero, a slang term/nickname for a person with red hair and freckles.  He lives near the border of Mexico, and goes on the weekends to the market to buy groceries and visit family.  This book of poetry gives short snippets and vignettes in the life of Güero, including his introduction to poetry from his seventh grade teacher.  Bowles skillfully interjects these light topics of life in Texas with more introspective and difficult subjects such as immigration, racism, and prejudice.  This book is excellent, it’s great to see a main character’s perspective that is often underrepresented, especially in poetry. Güero’s life experience is a very specific area of the country, and we don’t know enough about it from a young person’s perspective.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

David-Bowles-cpp-CROPPED-lo-res-768x679David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and They Call Me Güero (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as Asymptote, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Metamorphoses, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

David’s literary representation is Taylor Martindale Kean and Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. His Hollywood representation is Sandra Ávila of Inclusion Management.

J1400x933-13422+copyZeke Peña makes comics and illustrations as an accessible way to remix history and explore complex issues. He was born in Las Cruces, NM and grew up in El Paso, TX. He has a degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and is self-taught in drawing and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by author Isabel Quintero was published in 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez

For ages: 8-12 years old, or a confident reading level.

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Fiction, Historic Figures, Literacy, Trailblazers, Afro-Puerto Rican Figures, Professional Life, Schomburg Library. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is hefty! It is crammed with information about Arturo Schomburg himself, as well as biographies of some individuals that he gathered books about.  Schomburg was fascinated with Black stories, gathering tales of “his history” to share with the world.  This is an incredibly detailed and well-researched book, it has a plethora of very specific information such as names and dates.  These would be confusing to a very young reader, it’s a lot to keep track of.  However the story can easily be vocally edited to match the listener’s comprehension level, and has fantastic vocabulary.  This is an amazing book about a scholar that changed the world by collecting stories of histories erased maliciously.  Arturo Schomburg went on to curate the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, still open and changing lives today.

About the Schomburg Center from their website:

“Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published works, and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world. The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library’s role as a community center. The Schomburg Center’s Traveling Exhibitions program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg Center offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round teachers’ forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and audiovisual materials on related themes.

Scholars-in-Residence Program, established in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which draw heavily on the Center’s collections and resources.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Considered one of the world’s greatest libraries, The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its millions of users worldwide.

The Center provides access to and professional reference assistance in the use of its collections to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each managing materials in specific formats but with broad subject focus. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music.”

Arturo Schomburg is a man that deserves to be immortalized, and this book is a fantastic way to open the doors to knowledge for young readers.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

carolebostonweatherford-259x300-2Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

DIGITAL CAMERAIllustrator Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of film. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, “Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.”

Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1983. In 1984 he completed a year of studies with Harvey Dinnerstein at the Art Student’s League. Eric is a member of the Art Student’s League.

Upon completion of his studies with Mr. Dinnerstein, Eric began his career as a freelance illustrator. Over the next 12 years he completed numerous book jackets and interior illustrations. Such works include Beverly Naidoo’s award-winning “ Journey to Jo’Burg” and its sequel “Chain of Fire;” The complete series of “Encyclopedia Brown;” The complete series of “The Ghost Writers;” “The Apple Classic” series, published by Scholastic Books, “The Terrible Wonderful Telling at Hog Haven; and Gary Soto’s “The Skirt” and its sequel “Off and Running;” as well as the cover of the 1999 Coretta Scott King award winner “Jazmin’s Notebook” by Nikki Grimes.

In 2010 Eric was awarded an NAACP Image award for his work in “Our Children Can Soar” which he collaborated on with 12 notable illustrators of children’s literature. Eric also wrote and illustrated “Grandma’s Records” and its follow up “Grandma’s Gift” which won the 2011 Pura Belpre’ Award for illustration and was also nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award. Eric’s latest book “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library” by Carole Boston Weatherford has gathered rave reviews, and has also won the 2018 Walter Award from the WNDB organization as well as the SCBWI’s The Golden Kite Award and The International Latino Award Honor.

Eric Velasquez lives and works in New York. He teaches book illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC.