Category Archives: Self Expression

Why Do We Cry? [released 4/7]

Written by: Fran Pintadera

Illustrated by: Ana Sender

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Emotions, Growth, Family, STEM.

Summary: 

This is a very sweet story centered around a young boy named Mario asking his mother why people cry.  Why, we cry for all sorts of reasons.  Expressing emotions, such as crying, is a very natural thing.  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s dictated who is allowed to cry (girls) and who isn’t (boys).  Accompanied by illustrations that are at times whimsical (like critters in the forest or human clouds of anger raining tears),  Mario’s mother talks about all of the emotions that can be associated with tears.  Loneliness, sadness, anger, and happiness are just a few addressed in this stunning book.

We’re in an unprecedented and emotional time right now, and a book such as this can open the door for conversations and self-refection.  In the back of the book, the reader can learn more about what tears are, and how they even look different depending on the emotions associated with the tears.  Why Do We Cry? is truly a gorgeous book that brings many salient points to the forefront, particularly right now.

This book was kindly sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!  It will be available on April 7th, but was previously published in Spain in 2018.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

unnamed-5Fran Pintadera is a storyteller, theater director and an award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children. He lives in Spain.

 

 

 

Sender_Ana_sz_sRGBAna Sender was born in Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain in 1978. She studied Fine Arts and illustration at the Massana Art School in Barcelona, and completed her studies at the Francesca Bonemaisson school. She draws, writes, and imagines all sorts of stories. Her works have appeared both in many books and newspapers. Ana lives near the forest. Many of her illustrations are inspired by her dreams. She likes werewolves, wild things, and green swampy places.

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.”

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.

Women Make Movies Vol I & II and and interview with creator Alex Kittle!

Written & Illustrated by: Alex Kittle

For ages: YA middle and upper grades 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Zine, Women in Film, Trailblazers, Historical Figures. 

Summary: Today marks our first Zine review on The Tiny Activist!  Truth be told, Corrie bought these ages ago when she went to a talk by the artist Alex Kittle, but life happened and didn’t get a chance to review the first volume until now (sorry Alex 😦 truly nothing personal, you’re a badass!).  This is the perfect month to feature her, during Women’s History Month!  Both of us really enjoy zines, but don’t have any that we absolutely have to collect every single volume.  These however, are fulfilling that category!

This first volume contains 15 women filmmaker bios, featuring both past and present directors!  We love the bulleted list of information about each woman, it doesn’t feel overwhelming and is perfect to memorize for the defeat of that cinephile mansplainer in your life (everyone has one…do they have an obnoxious mustache? Probably.) We also love the digital image and quote by the director on the opposite page, and the monochromatic art.  Some featured filmmakers are: Ava DuVernay, Clara Law, Julie Dash, and Lois Weber.

In Volume II we learn about Maya Deren, Mira Nair, Dee Rees, and so many more!  I love the quickness at which these zines can be read, but am always left wanting more.

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!
me-lewitt-2019-734x900Alex Kittle: Hello! I’m Alex and my brand name is Pan + Scan Illustration. I am an illustrator based in Somerville, MA making digital artwork and zines inspired by pop culture, especially film.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
AK: Many things! I went to school for art history and that remains one of my greatest passions, especially various modern and contemporary art movements. I also love 80s music, fantasy novels, and Italian food. My most obvious passion though is film and it’s the main inspiration for my own work. I watch a ridiculous amount of movies across all genres, with some faves being horror, sci-fi, classic musicals, and romantic comedies. I’m also very passionate about watching and promoting films written and/or directed by women.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
AK: I’ve turned to zinemaking recently and my major project is a long-term portrait and zine series about women filmmakers, where I illustrate and research directors like Agnès Varda, Dee Rees, Maya Deren, Ava DuVernay, and Deepa Mehta. I want to bring more visibility to all the amazing women directors who inspire me, sharing their stories, works, and struggles in an accessible way. I know the conversation about women in film and tv has become much more mainstream recently which is great, but there are also so many directors who are still under the radar – historical, international, queer, experimental, women of color, etc – and I really want to spread the word!
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
AK: I sell my work online on etsy and have an art insta (@panandscan). I also do various markets and artist events around the Somerville/Cambridge/Boston area; upcoming events include Pindemonium at Bow Market (10/13), the Halloween Buzz Market at ONCE Somerville (10/26), and the Boston Art Book Fair at the Boston Center for the Arts (11/8-10).
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019?
81xHOjzbHLLAK: I love fantasy and one of my favorite authors Sharon Shinn released a whole new trilogy this year called Uncommon Echoes that’s full of intrigue, romance, and wonderful heroines. I’ve only read the first book so far but I’m excited to dive into the other two!
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
AK: I plan to start a new zine series about some of my favorite lesser-known artists in history, including Romaine Brooks, Claude Cahun, Lois Mailou Jones, and Ruth Asawa. I want to create illustrated biographies to talk about their lives and artworks in an accessible, visually interesting way – I’m always hoping to make art history less intimidating in general and I thought zines would be a fun way to do that!

Stay Connected with Alex:

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The Paper Bag Princess

Written by: Robert Munsch

Illustrated by: Michael Martchenko 

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Freedom, Self-Confidence, Social-Emotional Learning, Feminism, Fractured Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Independent Thought, Stereotypes, Girls Outdoors,. 

Summary: 

“Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.”

This sick burn (pun fully intended) is the crowning achievement of Princess Elizabeth’s journey of self-discovery that takes place in The Paper Bag Princess. Despite the complete destruction of her home, her belongings, and everything she knows, Elizabeth doesn’t give up. Instead, her compassion leads her down the path of “burnt forests and horses’ bones” (we love an obvious villain). Once she reaches the dragon’s door, she refuses to leave. Using the skills undoubtedly gleaned from being raised female, her scheme uses the dragon’s bravado against him. She tires him out, and once he is sleeping, she completes the task of rescuing her betrothed.

It is here where The Paper Bag Princess turns everything on its head.

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Ronald is neither appreciative nor understanding of the trials that Elizabeth has gone through, and instead he focuses in on her outward appearance (sound familiar?) and immediately talks down to her.

This tennis-racket-carrying nonce can’t get out another word before Elizabeth delivers the thorough beat down that he deserves.

The princess has shown generations of readers, both male and female alike, that the “happy ending” we’ve been promised by Disney movies and romantic novels is really only the beginning. The reader is left imagining the adventures that Elizabeth will have as she scampers into the sunset, and if her exploits with the dragon are anything to go by, the rest of the kingdom had better watch out!

May we all carry ourselves with the grit and confidence of The Paper Bag Princess. 

This beautiful 40th anniversary edition of the book was sent to us by Annick Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

robert-munschRobert Munsch is a storyteller. From his website: “I write books for kids, I talk to kids, and I listen to kids.

But that is not all that I am. Several years ago I was diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive. Those challenges have led me to make some big mistakes.

I have worked hard to overcome my problems, and I have done my best. I have attended twelve-step recovery meetings for more than 25 years.

My mental health and addiction problems are not a secret to my friends and family. They have been a big support to me over the years, and I would not have been able to do this without their love and understanding.

I hope that others will also understand. I hope that everyone will talk to their kids honestly, listen to them, and help them do their best with their own challenges.”

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Michael Martchenko has illustrated dozens of books, and is most famous for his work with Robert Munsch including Smelly Socks, Makeup Mess and We Share Everything!. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

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Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

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Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

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.”