Category Archives: Independent Thought

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.

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work

Written by: Tiffany Jewell

Illustrated by: Aurélia Durand

For ages: YA middle grades and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: BIPOC Narratives, Social Justice, Activism, Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias, Education, Community Organizing, Self-Empowerment, Self-Reflection, Race Theory, Own Voices.

Summary: 

Alright so we might be a little late on this book coming out, but our lives are a bit wonky (just like everyone else’s!) and we’re just getting around to writing about this brilliant book now.  Seriously, where to even begin? This is the book we all need when we’re young.  Written by powerhouse Tiffany Jewell and beautifully illustrated by Aurélia Durand, this book was carried around and devoured immediately upon arrival to our house.  

This Book is Anti-Racist takes what young people know about the world and themselves and expands upon it, empowering young people to stand up for themselves and others by understanding the systems of oppression that are at work everyday.  While this and so much more social justice education should be typical curriculum in schools, it’s often not.  Even CRT classes are hardly offered in teacher education programs, which is a travesty.  In order to create ripples of change, we need education.  Not addressing the white supremacy and oppression that subversively operate is what keeps the wheels of marginalization turning effectively.  This book is one that can be sand in the gears, teaching readers to examine their own lives and the world around them while seeking out ways to change it for the better.

Brilliantly created, this book is required reading for every single human on the planet.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0115_RW_Tiffany_Jewell_photo_credit_James_Azar_SalemTiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer, antiracist educator and consultant, and mama. She spends her time baking bread and macarons, building LEGOS, watching British detective shows, and dreaming up how she can dismantle white supremacy. Tiffany currently resides on the unceded traditional land of the Pocumtuc and the Nipmuck with her two young activists, her partner, and a turtle she’s had since she was nine years old. She is in her 15th year as a Montessori educator and nearing two decades of work in schools with young folks, families, and educators. This Book Is Anti-Racist is her first book for children and young adults (and definitely not the last). Follow her on social media @tiffanymjewell.

Portrait-Aurélia+DurandAurélia Durand’s art is a vivid celebration of diversity. She dedicates her artistic voice in making representation matters. Aurélia represents Afro-descendants as joyful, proud, and empowered — a united community whose destinies are intertwined. These colorful personalities present the unified voice of a global community whose hopes, dreams, and desires present a future inclusive of all. 
Aurélia has made a wild variety of creations with augmented reality, animations, paintings, murals, and illustrations.
She has been working with different clients such as Adobe, Facebook, GIPHY, DIPSEA, Instagram, Tinder, Apple music, Standford University, QuartoKids, Refinery 29, Califia farms, ESPN, and more.
Recently she illustrated the book “This book is anti-racist ” through the publisher “Quarto kids” printed for the US, Canada, and the UK.
Take a look at her Instagram: www.instagram.com/4ur3lia/

 

Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About Pronouns [Cover Reveal!]

Written by: Afsaneh Moradian 

Illustrated by: Maria Bogade

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Pronouns, Self-Empowerment, Growing Up, Family, Community. 

Summary: We are excited to be able to reveal the cover of this new book, Jamie and Bubbie! 

This story is the second installment in the adventures of Jamie, also seen in the book Jamie is JamieJamie and their great grandmother (Bubbie) are going to go out for the day and spend some time together.  Bubbie doesn’t live in the neighborhood that Jamie does, so she is unfamiliar with all of Jamie’s neighbors and the pronouns that they use.  Jamie is outspoken and empowered to correct their Bubbie, making sure that the people they interact with have their correct pronouns used.

The story is sweet and simple as it emphasizes the importance of using the correct pronouns, especially when they might have changed since you saw a person last.  Luckily, Jamie is not afraid to correct Bubbie and Bubbie is open and willing to learn!  This is the perfect primer for young children to learn about what pronouns are as well as strategies of what to say if someone you love uses the wrong pronouns for someone.

If you would like to learn more about how to preorder this book, you can follow this link here!

We were sent the advanced PDF copy of this book by Free Spirit Publishing, as well as the cover photo.  However, all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

afsanehmoradian-2We are excited to learn more about Afsaneh Moradian, author of the book!  Here is her “about me” section from her website:

“I grew up between Washington, D.C., northern NJ, and New York City. I spent my childhood reading, writing, singing and watching tv.

After college, I started working at a Montessori preschool and my career as an educator began. I went on to get a Master’s in Education and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Education.

For more than 15 years, I have had an amazing time combining my love of writing and creativity with teaching students of all ages (from preschool to graduate school) in a variety of educational levels and settings between the United States and Mexico.

I love sharing my ideas with students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who will listen.

I write children’s books, poetry, short stories, essays and articles, in addition to writing about education.”

maria-bogade-web-1-2Maria Bogade is an illustrator and author with an animation background. She loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative, colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. Her work is internationally published and is also found on greeting cards and products such as chocolate. With her three children and spouse, she lives in a tiny village in southern Germany where fox and hare bid each other good night (we don’t know what this means, but it sounds lovely!).

Treasure

Written by: Mireille Messier

Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Imagination, Siblings, Growing Up, Nature, Natural World, Appreciation, Lived Experiences.

Summary: 

This book is adorable! The tale starts with two siblings taking a walk through the woods near their home, looking for a treasure.  There are few words in the book, but they are all the conversation between the two.  Something helpful about the book is that one sibling’s words are bolded and one is not, making it easy to keep track of who is speaking.  The younger of the two find all sorts of natural objects like feathers, acorns, and milkweed pods, but is told that isn’t the treasure.  Eventually, the pair come upon what they are looking for but it won’t fit in their pockets!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous!  With so few words, the illustrations do much of the storytelling and Luxbacher has created a magical wonderland of small details for the reader to discover while flipping through the pages.  The woodland scenes are filled with tiny critters and splendid floral illustrations, making every design element a joy to discover.  We love the message of treasure being intangible, and the excitement of the journey is part of the beauty itself.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

mireille_messierMireille Messier is a Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised and now Toronto-based children’s writer with a background in broadcasting and theater. Before becoming an author, Mireille worked as a television and radio host, a director, a researcher, a book reviewer and a voice actress. Sometimes, she still does those things, too. One of her first “literary” jobs was writing jokes for the bottom of pudding lids!

Since the launch of her first book in 2003, Mireille has published over twenty books. When she’s not at her computer writing, she thinks up new stories while she walks, drives or sails her big old boat.

Mireille loves doing author visits. On average, she meets about three thousand kids a year … give or take a thousand. Some of the funniest questions she has been asked by students are: “Do you dream in French?” (Yes!), “How many minutes does it take you to write a book?” (About a million!) and “Are any of the characters in your books real?” (Yes, they are often different versions of me and the people I know).

Mireille lives in Toronto with her husband, two wonderful teenage daughters and two extremely fluffy cats.

irene_luxbacherIrene Luxbacher graduated from Queen’s University in 1992 with a degree in Art History before studying at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since returning to Toronto in 1994, Irene has exhibited her work while teaching art at the Avenue Road Arts School and consulting at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts Program. In 2002 and 2003, Irene curated several well-received children’s art exhibits at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and BCE Place on behalf of Arts for Children of Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness of the value of art education. Irene is the author and illustrator of The Jumbo Book of Art, which won the 2003 National Parenting Publication Award, and The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art. Her latest project for Kids Can Press is the Starting Art series, which includes the titles 123 I Can Paint! and 123 I Can Draw!

Usha and the Stolen Sun

Written by: Bree Galbraith

Illustrated by: Josée Bisaillon

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Bravery, Family, Community, Connections, POC-Centric Narratives, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: 

Usha was born in a land where the sky is always gray.  Hardly anyone remembers the sun, but Usha is lucky enough to live with her grandfather who does remember what it was like to play outside under the warm light.  Usha resolutely decides to bring back the sun, undeterred by the stories that whoever built a giant wall to block out the sun from their village would not be swayed by her pleas.  Through all sorts of travails, Usha searches for the wall and is eventually successful at finding it!  Now comes the harder part, convincing those on the other side to take it down.

This is a beautiful story that emphasizes the power of words over brute force.  Usha is a clever and dynamic character, set on helping her grandfather and the rest of her village experience once again what only the oldest members even remember and the rest simply long for.

This book was generously sent to us by the author, Bree!  We were also lucky enough to be sent a discussion guide that she developed for the book as well.  It gives a list of fantastic questions and jumping off points for meaningful conversations in a small or large group that can easily be expanded to encompass other topics like human rights, social justice, and community organizing.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

RachelPick_Portfolio2015-15Bree Galbraith lives in Vancouver and likes “writing stories that inspire kids and adults to think critically about the world around them, and the ways in which they can challenge the systems in place and create change”.  Bree also holds a masters degree from the University of British Columbia!

 

 

 

jos_e_bisaillonAs a young girl, Josée Bisaillon loved drawing cats and houses. She really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell. She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with illustration.

Since 2005, with scissors and brushes in hand, Josée has illustrated more than 30 children’s books, as well as magazines and newspapers for adults, all around the world.

Josée lives just outside of Montreal with her spouse, their 3 children one hairless cat and many paper characters.

 

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

Imogene’s Last Stand

Written by: Candace Fleming

Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Politics, Women in Leadership, Preservation, Activism, Peaceful Action, Feminism.

Summary: I checked out this book from the library with cautious optimism.  I was hoping that the book would have solid representation in historical figures and not be another ode to the founding fathers of the United States.  Imogene, our main character, is a spitfire that is far from embracing stereotypes.

Imogene Tripp has a fiery passion for history, and uses her free time to educate people on the past while quoting MLK Jr. and giving lectures on Sojourner Truth during Show & Tell in school.  When she refurbishes her town’s historical society, no one shows up.  In fact, the town plans to tear it down and build a shoelace factory.  Indignant, Imogene commences various demonstrations around town, urging her community to care about the past they’re determined to erase.  Alone in her quest, she is undeterred and continues to demonstrate perseverance to the reader.  Imogene quotes historical figures throughout the book to express her feelings, and seeks solace in her father when people keep telling her that a shoelace factory is what will put their town on the map.  Imogene decides to put herself in the stocks on the porch of the historical society in a one-girl protest movement, quoting Vietnam War protestors.  Slowly, she begins to draw attention to herself (and her dad, who decides to also lock himself in the stocks in solidarity!) and townspeople begin to gather on the historical society lawn amongst the bulldozers.

We’ll spoil the ending on this one, because it’s so important to the story.  In the end, a letter that Imogene hastily fires off to a professor works and the professor arrives in the knick of time with the President!  In an act of feminism, both of these WOMEN help Imogene save her precious historical society.  The President is a woman of color!  We love the fact that Imogene uses direct quotes of historical figures throughout the book.  The majority of the figures quoted are white men, but Imogene does speak of protests and marginalized groups to get her most dynamic points across.  It’s really great to see a strong, intelligent, girl as a main character of a book that is history-based.  The book would be great to introduce social justice movements, activism, and historical figures.  Imogene’s Last Stand is a fantastic addition to any book shelf!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ph_cfleming_2013_72dpi_185px.jpgCandace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a ten-page, ten-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.

Today, Candace is the versatile and acclaimed author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize honored The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Russian Empire; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award-winning biography, The Lincolns; the bestselling picture book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; the Sibert-Award-winning Giant Squid; and the beloved Boxes for Katje. She contributed the chapter on Katharine of Aragon to Fatal Throne.

image-asset-3Nancy Carpenter is the celebrated illustrator of more than forty books for children. Her unique multimedia approach to illustration has garnered numerous honors, including two Christopher Awards and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Ms. Carpenter lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family and dog.