Category Archives: Musicians

Canadian Women: Now + Then

Written by: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrated by: Maïa Faddoul

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Biography, Canadian Women, Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Women in STEM, Women in Sports, Feminism, Journalism. 

Summary: 

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a fantastic day to honor those past and present who have changed the world, and Canadian Women: Now + Then is a sensational book that we want to celebrate on this day.

I absolutely love how this book pairs up women from the past and present day who changed the face of history.  Going alphabetically, the reader learns about activists, astronauts, culture keepers, poets, and SO MANY more badass women that everyone needs to know about, especially outside of Canada.  We live in a very Eurocentric world, and particularly American culture and politics has pervaded  much of the media and education system.  This sounds fake, but I have had Canadian friends have to explain to Americans that they celebrate Black History Month in Canada but not MLK Jr. Day.  These assumptions are caused by elitism and ignorance, and the best way to combat these harmful ways of living is through education.  

Dang, I’m glad this book exists.  The women profiled in Canadian Women are diverse and from all walks of life, with a solid amount of First Nations women included as well such as dancer Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa) and Shanawdithit, who preserved her Beothuk culture the best she could under the crushing force of European colonialist invasion. It’s clear that the creators of the book put First Nations and women of color at the forefront, and I am so pleased with that choice!

In the back are smaller profiles of even more inspiring Canadian women, such as one of our favorite artists Kenojuak Ashevak!  Jam-packed with historical information and adorable illustrations, this book will be sitting on our bookshelf for ages to come.

This book was sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elizabeth_macleodElizabeth MacLeod became a writer at a young age. When she and her older brothers were supposed to be doing homework, instead they were sliding crazy drawings and silly stories under one another’s bedroom doors. Elizabeth couldn’t draw (unfortunately, she still can’t), so she wrote wild tales about mad scientists and creatures from alien planets. Not a lot of homework got done!

While at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth didn’t take a single writing course. Instead, she studied science, graduating with an honors degree in biology and botany. That science training came in handy when she started in children’s publishing as the managing editor at OWL Magazine. Then she became an editor and writer at Kids Can Press, where she’s written on subjects ranging from Albert Einstein and horses to Mount Everest and Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Now Elizabeth is a very nosy freelance writer who loves finding out why people do the things they do, so she especially liked writing the books in the “Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History” series (for kids ages 8 to 12) and the “Inspiring Lives” series (for kids ages 6 to 8).

A proud Canadian, Elizabeth loves writing about people who live in Canada and have changed the country — and sometimes the world. As a female writer, she thinks it’s vital that kids know about the courageous women who have improved our lives, so she’s really pleased to share her book Canadian Women Now + Then with readers. Elizabeth wrote about a different kind of brave Canadian in her book Bunny the Brave War Horse, the incredible true story about a horse from Toronto, Ontario, who served with amazing courage in World War I.

Elizabeth and her husband live in Toronto, where their cat, Cosimo, is usually sprawled across her desk!

ma_a_faddoulMaïa Faddoul was born in Montreal, Quebec, to an Argentine mother and a Lebanese father. Her maternal grandfather was a theme park illustrator, and she’d always been interested in drawings and imagery of any kind. Having studied both illustration and design at Dawson College and UQAM, she now works as a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer, creating empowering, bright and colorful imagery, often with an important message.

Her upbringing, heavily rooted in core intersectional feminist values, has led her to work on many projects centered on women and the LGBTQ+ community, in the hopes of using her talent and creativity to help bring more visibility and power to young and misrepresented groups across the globe. This aspect of her work has allowed her to collaborate on a variety of great projects with clients such as Teen Vogue, Showtime, Time’s Up, the National Film Board of Canada and many more.

Maïa still lives in Montreal and works from her colorful and bright downtown studio which she shares with her partner and fellow illustrator. Visit her website here!

Little People Big Dreams: Josephine Baker

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Agathe Sorlet 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Biography, Historical Figure, Musician, Women in Music, Trailblazer, Segregation, Racism, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, WWII. 

Summary: Josephine was a born performer, and found her fame dancing on a chorus line in New York City.  Due to ongoing segregation and general racist American society, she moved to France to work on a new show.  Josephine became incredibly famous, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a film.  She also adopted a bunch of animals and a dozen children!  During WWII, Josephine became a spy in the French Resistance.  She’s really just an overall badass. Josephine eventually moved back to the States and became engaged in activism for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

We love Josephine and are so glad this book exists that also talks about all of her achievements besides being an amazing performer!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

50.jpgAgathe Sorlet is an illustrator based in Paris, France!

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Bàrbara Alca

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Women in Music, Musicians, Trailblazers, Biography, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: Ella was a young girl fascinated with performing and music.  When she was 15, her mother died and radically changed her life.  Running away from a reform school, she began performing.  Two years later Ella won a contest at a nightclub and was discovered by Chick Webb, a big name in jazz at the time.  This jumpstarted her career, turning her into the First Lady of Song, as she is now known!

This is a basic overview of the prolific singer that is Ella Fitzgerald, and a good book for an introduction to the subject.  We really love the timeline in the back of the book with the photos of Ella throughout her career.  This book, like the other books in the series, is adorable!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

DeHda4TXUAAg0LNBàrbara Alca is an “extremely beautiful and enthusiastic Graphic Designer, Comic Artist and Illustrator based in Barcelona.

I make my own zines, work as a freelance illustrator for press such as El País, Ajuntament de Palma, El Jueves, Revista Cactus, and for editorial projects with Planeta, Alba Editorial and Sapristi.

Most of my work is mixed media, hand drawn lines with digital colouring.

I have a dark sense of humour, but I also love lace and bows which results in an eclectic style.”

Little People Big Dreams: Dolly Parton

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Daria Solak

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Musical Artist, Women in Music, Biography, Philanthropy, Feminist. 

Summary: Dolly Parton is a human that we do not deserve, she is such a gem!  This book follows the story of her life for a young reader, from a young girl with 11 siblings to being one of the most well-known musical artists of all time.

Dolly started singing young, and was working steadily on radio when she was 10.  She became incredibly well-known and toured extensively by herself in her signature big hair and sparkly dresses.  Something we love about Dolly is how much she sticks true to herself and wears whatever she wants, no matter what else anyone says (even if it’s derogatory).  She continually champions the LGBTQ community and even has her own theme park in Tennessee, Dollywood!  Something else she has done to give back to her community is the Imagination Library, which sends monthly books for free to children who sign up.  Dolly continues to inspire and perform to this day, because she’s a complete badass.

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

daria-solak_1_origDaria Solak is a proud 90s kid. She studied graphic design at Art Academy in Warsaw and Bologna.  Daria is a full-time girl and illustrator, living in London by choice.  Daria is addicted to crayons, coffee and children books*

*(and following dogs on social media)

Peace, Love, Action!

Written & Illustrated by: Tanya Zabinski

Foreward by: Ani DiFranco

For ages: Middle Grades to read, ages 4 and up to listen.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Activism, Historic Figures, Historic Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Call to Action, Kindness, Peaceful Activism, Gratitude, Resilience, Social Change.

Summary: For our last day in our Week of Intention we have Peaceful Action.  We found it important to begin and end this week with our central vision and mission for The Tiny Activist: activism.  It’s important for children (and adults!) to have lots of examples and options for how to engage in activism and organizing for causes themselves.

Peace, Love, Action! is an amazing book in a multitude of ways and provides examples of peaceful activism and kindness by the boatload.  Set up like an alphabet book but for middle grades, each letter represents a central theme to the activism of a person being profiled.  Zabinski’s illustrations are gorgeous, resembling (or potentially being) linocuts, one of our favorite artistic styles!

F is for Feed, and the reader learns about Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm (an organization we love!) that centralizes ancestral farming practices to help folks of color reconnect with their past through education as well as growing food for donations to local families.

Something else we really love is after each person profiled, there is a list of things that the reader can do to get involved, whatever their passion may be.  Having a myriad of options and critical self-reflection questions accompanying each letter.  With examples like Pete Seeger, Rachel Carson, Black Elk, and Azim Khamisa every person who picks up this book will become inspired to make the world a little better.

Peace, Love, Action! was kindly sent to us by Parallax Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

indexFrom Tanya Zabinski’s website: “I was a tomboy. My nickname was Tinkerbell. I liked riding bikes, creek-slogging and playing flute. I liked reading, drawing and making puppet shows. I liked camping with my family. Those likes have never changed. My artwork and stories are rooted in the things I loved in childhood.

In college, I studied art, design, music and philosophy. I went to Buffalo State College, to an exchange program in Japan for a year, and to Parsons School of Design. I L-O-V-E-D college.

Even though I loved art, as I learned of poverty in the world, I felt that being an artist was selfish. How could I justify something so seemingly insignificant as making pictures, when other people can’t eat or have an education? When I was 18, I saw “From Mao to Mozart,” in which the famous violinist, Isaac Stern, visited China. It took place after Mao’s reign of terror, when China first opened its doors to the west. Isaac Stern’s passion for music was clearly visible, as was his ability to share it and coax it out in others. His music became a bridge for peace. By following his passion and sharing it, he was more useful to the world than if he squelched his passion for something more seemingly practical. That became my model. Later, I found this quote from Howard Thurman that encapsulates this view: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

These are things that make me feel alive: nature, the seasons, swinging on swings (or grapevines!), biking, hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, gardening, watching birds and whales and clouds and my dog’s ears flopping as he walks in front of me, my supportive family, free-thinking people with open hearts, belonging to vibrant communities like Waldorf and Suzuki, yoga, meditation, books, music, cultures, learning about people who buck norms and pioneer their lives being true to an inner wisdom, swimming in the stream of ever-flowing love and funneling those feelings into my life and my art and the world.

Where have all these influences taken me? From working in a library, to waitressing, music-making, organic farm work, teaching, mural-making, becoming a partner in a local artists boutique, meeting my husband, travelling in Mexico, getting married, and having two sons. Today my husband and I have our own company called Planet Love in which we hand print clothing and sell it at art and music festivals, shops and online. We live in the hills south of Buffalo with a furry, black, thick-tailed, big-hearted dog.

Thank you for a heart open to read this. May you gravitate to the things that make you feel alive!”

The Birth of Cool; How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Written by: Kathleen Cornell Berman

Illustrated by: Keith Henry Brown

For ages: second grade and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Musician, Trailblazer. 

Summary: This beautifully illustrated picture book and it’s accompanying poem are an incredible testament to a legendary musician, but does not cover much about his personal life and the darker parts of his story (more on that in a note for educators at the end of this summary). The illustrations, by Keith Henry Brown, are raw and jittery, defying the usual expectation of figures clearly defined, matching the energy of the music and constant adaptation and exploration that marked Davis’ journey. He travels from Illinois, to Arkansas, and finally to New York City where he became a part of the coterie of musicians that included Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and other notable members of the bebop jazz scene at the time. Though he found a place with those musicians, Davis was not content to rest on his laurels, instead pushing himself to discover new avenues of sound. This new style that he rang in with the album Birth of the Cool in 1957. This book pays homage to the drive and pure sound that Davis discovered in himself, and the changes that he made to jazz and American musical history, and it is a worthwhile read for jazz lovers and dilettantes as well.

Tiny Activist Note to Educators:

While Davis had periods of unmatched musical creativity and success, he also suffered from a debilitating drug addiction, which is not covered by this book. He was known as “The Prince of Darkness” and this was not just a nickname-he was prone to bouts of anger, and readily admitted to physically abusing his first wife, Frances Davis, while high on cocaine, alcohol and/or heroin.  This is obviously a tricky subject to reckon with, particularly in a classroom setting.  While both sides of the story are important, some of these details should be potentially left unshared unless in a place for open classroom discussion and caregiver knowledge.  Some students may be grappling with these issues in their own lives, we feel that anything beyond the storybook needs to be carefully considered.  You know your classroom best!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you know about jazz music?
  • What types of music do you like to listen to?
  • Can anyone in your family play an instrument?
  • What instrument do you think would be fun to play?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

img_3291Kathleen most likely started her writing career in her friend’s garage; writing plays for the little kids in the neighborhood. Reading stories about celebrities and writing an opinion page about them was a fun pastime of hers.

It was a lucky break for Kathleen to teach in the NYC schools when the arts flourished.  She and her students worked with the NYC ballet, architects, writers, and fine artists. It was a wonderful experience for both students and teachers. She was inspired to write children’s stories after reading Roald Dahl stories aloud to her students. After teaching, she spent more time focusing on the craft of writing. She is now a published author who is still writing lots of stories over and over because it takes time to find the perfect words to write a story for kids.

Artist Statement:

My work consists of sculptures and assemblages constructed with found objects. Most of my pieces are made from wood, usually found at garage sales, flea markets, and the beach.

My inspiration comes from many great artists like Louise Nevelson and David Smith as well as African Art, dance, music, nature, and even home décor designs .The energy, cultural differences, and towering architecture of New York City will continue to thrill and motivate me.

I believe art is refuge from the inane; it fuses random fragments into a focused visual being. I love the challenge of taking parts of found objects and creating something visually compelling. My goal is to present a piece that offers one, an escape from reality and into a place that ignites the imagination and encourages the eyes to dance.

Photo+by+John+AbbottKeith Henry Brown began his career like many young artists, dreaming of becoming a cartoonist at Marvel Comics. After attending the High School for Art and Design in New York and a brief stint as an illustrator for a couple of comic companies including his beloved Marvel, Brown went on to pursue a career in painting, and later, as an illustrator. His favorite artists at this time were innovators like Howard Pyle, Frank Frazetta, Burton Silverman, Le Roy Neiman, David Stone Martin, as well as painters Diego Rivera, Picasso, and Jean Michel-Basquiat, among others.

Brown began publishing watercolor paintings. First for greeting cards and then newspapers and magazines. Being a lifelong music freak, his work has placed a special concentration on jazz, which reflected my lifelong love of the music.

In the late nineties, Brown forged a career in design and in 1997, became Design Manager for Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Then he became Creative Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2001. Handpicked for the position by Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Brown designed marketing and promotional graphics for the 2004 opening of the celebrated “House of Swing”– a new facility specifically designed for jazz music, Frederick P. Rose Hall at Columbus Circle in New York City.

He has designed and illustrated several jazz CD covers for Christian McBride, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Duke Ellington, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and many others.

Brown lives in Brooklyn New York, where he continues to write, paint and draw stuff.

 

Q&A with Alastair Moock!

Happy Saturday!  Our Week of Music is continuing to rock, and we’ve boogied through a whole week already!  Luckily, we have one more special music-related book to review for tomorrow.  But, let’s focus on today!  Yesterday we learned a bit about Alastair’s music, so today we’ll learn about him!  Hope everyone is having a great day, and keep on rockin’ 🙂

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Alastair Moock: I’m Alastair Moock. Among other things, I perform for kids and families and also present assembly programs and workshops in schools around social justice history.

 

 

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AM: Educating and inspiring through music.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

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Billie Jean King

AM: I’m currently working on an album all about leadership and activism. It looks to the
heroes of our past (Dr. King, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks,
Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez) and our present (Malala Yousafzai, the Parkland student
protestors) to inspire our kids to move the ball forward. I wrote the songs over the past year, and we begin recording at the beginning of October.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

AM: I’ll be doing a fundraising campaign for this album, my first in many years. I don’t
generally ask fans for money up front like this, but I have a good reason this time: I want
to get this album, and my assembly programs, into the hands of kids and schools that
might not otherwise be able to afford them. Through this campaign, every time a
supporter buys a CD, I’ll give one away to a kid or teacher. I’ll also be providing free
assemblies and programs to Head Start programs and underserved schools.

7109Acm8ueLTTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

AM: Right now I’m digging Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AM: Recording this new album!

 

About the Artist:

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Alastair Moock is a 2014 GRAMMY Nominee, two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Winner, recipient of the ASCAP Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, and has twice been voted by the Fids & Kamily Industry Critics’ Poll among the Top 3 Albums of the Year. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twins in 2006. The New York Times calls him “a Tom Waits for kids” and The Boston Globe declares that, “in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Alastair Moock makes real kids music that parents can actually enjoy.” Moock and Friends’ live shows are rowdy, rootsy, singin’ and dancin’ fun for the whole family!