Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nya’s Long Walk

Written by: Linda Sue Park

Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney

For ages: 4-9 years

Language: English

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

Summary: 

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

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

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade

Written by: Lyla Lee

Illustrated by: Dung Ho

For ages: 6-9 years

Language: English & some Korean

Topics Covered: Korean-American Experience, Lunar New Year, Culture & Traditions, Holidays, Friendship, Single-Parent Family, Lunar New Year, Safety, Social-Emotional Development, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

Happy Lunar New Year!  This book was released on January 14th, but we decided to wait to feature it until the actual holiday.  Mindy Kim is back for another adventure, this time taking the plunge and attending a parade in Orlando with her dad and friend Sally.

Mindy is feeling a little apprehensive because it’s the first Lunar New Year since her mom died, and she’s not quite ready to have as much fun as in years prior.  She insists on wearing her old hanbok (a ceremonial Korean garment) despite it being too small, because it was the last one her mother bought her.  This book, like the last one, offers a multitude of conversation options about Mindy’s feelings and events that happen at the parade.  Sally is a great character too.  Despite being white, she’s very excited to try Korean foods and learn different customs like how to bow properly.  She embraces the unfamiliar with gusto, and is excited to learn more about her friend.

Lunar New Year Parade normalizes the bicultural experience that so many kids and families live.  We love having an early chapter book that seamlessly weaves in Korean vocabulary and social-emotional learning into it’s story.  Definitely excited to see the next installment in the series!

This book was generously sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lyla-lee_author-photo-e1563250956805Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.

7ef4bf2895977.57c98c564f341Dung Ho is an illustrator based in Viet Nam. I’m focused on children books, game design, character design.

A Boy Like You

Written by: Frank Murphy

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Stereotypes, Toxic Masculinity, Diversity, Acceptance, Kindness, Friendship, Identity, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This is a very sweet book about being a good human with an amazingly diverse group of children depicted in the illustrations.  The book opens talking about how unique every person is, and how the world needs someone exactly like each and everyone one.  Our main character (a young boy of color) demonstrates the many attributes a person can have, and how everyone is different.  Everyone is smart, but in different ways.  Some are more gifted athletically, and some artistically.  But everyone should be kind, polite, and help others.

This book is geared towards boys, to help dismantle the stereotypes that force boys and men to feel pressure to embody a single type of masculinity, which can become toxic.  Murphy tells the reader to leave every place and every person, better than you found them.  We really like this book, and it’s message about the importance of being true to yourself but also a kind and sensitive human being.  Although the words in the book could easily be shifted to include “people” instead of “boys” all the time, the text is sending a profound message to boys that they don’t have to be macho and emotionless in order to be seen as a man.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 list, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Murphy_Head_ShotFrank Murphy has taught a wide variety of grades at the elementary and middle school level. A popular speaker, Murphy is the author of many fun historical fiction books for young readers. He lives in Holland, PA and still teaches full-time!

 

 

 

 

website+headshotKayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration.  Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.

Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.

The Grizzly Mother

Written by: Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)

Illustrated by: Natasha Donovan

For ages: 7-8 years and up

Language: English & Gitxsan

Topics Covered: First Nations, Natural World, Indigenous Folklore, Grizzly Bears, Life Cycle, Global Community.

Summary: This book is part of the “Mothers of Xsan” series by Highwater Press.  These books cover animal lifecycles (particularly motherhood) through an Indigenous lens.  The books are incredibly beautiful and expertly weave in bilingual vocabulary and folklore.  The mama grizzly and cubs are seen interacting with the natural world and the Gitxsan people as both go about their daily lives.

The book tracks a year in the life of the mother grizzly and cubs, providing educational information mixed with cultural meaning and Gitxsan terms for full moons and animals.    The illustrations are breathtaking and bring a dimension of life to the bears.  It is a neat combination between early chapter book and graphic novel, with swirling illustrations and text boxes to help with advanced vocabulary definitions.  In the back there is also a map of the unceded lands of the Gitxsan Nation where the story takes place, and some information about these Indigenous peoples and their full moon calendar.

We truly love this book!  It has been on our list to read since seeing it published, and Highwater Press was kind enough to send it for the Best Of 2019 endeavor we have been undertaking on Instagram!  In our opinion, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen all year, particularly for older elementary students.  It is an Indigenous publisher, and there are so many more books from them that we want to read!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

BrettHETXW’MS GYETXW also known as Brett D. Huson (he/him/his), is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Growing up in this strong matrilineal society, Brett developed a passion for the culture, land, and politics of his people, and a desire to share their knowledge and stories.  Brett has worked in the film and television industry, and has volunteered for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and Indigenous Music Manitoba. The Sockeye Mother (winner of The Science Writers and Communicators Book Award) is Brett’s first book for children.
www.bretthuson.ca is his personal website.  Go check it out!

natasha_2018NATASHA DONOVAN (she/her/hers) is a freelance artist and illustrator from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her sequential work has been published in The Other Side and This Place: 150 Years Retold anthologies. She is the illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel Surviving the City, as well as the award-winning children’s book, The Sockeye Mother (shortlisted for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction), the first book in the Mothers of Xsan series. Natasha is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

The Week of Music!

Hi everyone!  We got the amazing chance through several publishers to review books and music for The Tiny Activist!  We are feeling incredibly lucky to be in this position, and decided to do something special.

Over the course of November 3rd to November 10th we will be posting every day with a new review or Q&A that is musically related.  You can expect social justice themes, beautiful folksongs, and lots of knowledge to be dropped.

We hope you enjoy this upcoming week as much as we enjoyed being able to put it all together.  Have a great day, rabble-rousers 🙂

 

Massachusetts Indigenous History- Indigenous People’s Day 2019

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The traditional medicine wheel, symbolizing balance and interconnection

 

As we observe Indigenous People’s Day this year in Massachusetts, there are many sources of information about the indigenous groups that historically lived in Massachusetts (pre-colonialism) and those who live here today. Surprising to many folks who were taught in the American public school system, indigenous people are not stuck in history, but have been here the whole time, and are still here today.

We would love to share some fantastic resources, in both children’s literature and online, about the indigenous history of Massachusetts, specifically in the towns surrounding where Corrie and I now live. Please enjoy, and we hope you learn as much as we did!

The map above outlines the major cities and towns of present-day Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as they were at the time of colonization. As the map shows, there were many diverse tribes living in Massachusetts, including:

  • Mahican/Mohican
  • Nipmuck/Nipmuc
  • Niantic
  • Massachusett (after whom the state is named)
  • Wampanoag
  • Narragansett
  • Abenaki-speaking tribes
  • The river tribes
  • Tribes of Western Connecticut

Websites:

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Historical Villages of the Massachusett Nation c.1620

The Massachusett Tribe

 

Official Tribal Website

“In a time before now, before the arrival European Traders or the English Settlers to the coasts of Massachusetts, The Confederation of Indigenous Massachusett lived and thrived in what is now called the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For years beyond counting, Indigenous Massachusett Villages spanned from Salem to Plymouth along the coast, and inland as far west as Worcester. The Massachusett People led by their Sac’hems, hunted, fished, worked their quarries, created their tools and sculpted their weapons. They planted vast fields of grain, corn, squash and beans, harvested, prepared and stored their harvests. In their villages they celebrated, practiced their religion, built their homes, raised their families and enjoyed prosperity. One of the Massachusett Tribes was the Neponset and their Sac’hem was Chickataubut, Principal Chief of the Massachusett when the English sailed into Massachusett Territory to settle.”

Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican IndiansThe Mohican Tribe

Mohican Country Website

“Although the Mohican are romantically considered to have ‘died off’ (“The Last of the Mohicans”), in actuality most of them migrated to other parts of the country and joined other Native communities or established their own. The main part of the Tribe moved to Wisconsin and settled on their present reservation in 1856. Today their official name is the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans.”

“Although occasional trips by tribal leaders were made to the homeland area during the 19th century, the modern return of Stockbridge-Mohican people to the land of their ancestors began when the James Davids family made a visit to Stockbridge, Mass., in 1951. Since that time an increasing interest in their heritage has led other Tribal members to make similar visits. Today there is little visible sign that the Mohican were once the Original People of the east-central New York and Massachusetts area, but there is some linguistic evidence of places that were significant to them.”

Official Website of The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians

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Mohican Dictionary

 

 

Historical Timeline of Native Peoples in Boston

This site, by the Harvard University Pluralism Project features an interactive timeline that starts in 1616 and continues on to the present day. A notable date that took place in our immediate area:

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John Eliot arrives from Cambridge, England and begins learning the language of the Wampanoag (Wopanatoak), a dialect of Algonquian, in order to convert Native Americans to Christianity.

He will go on to launch a mission, translate the Bible into Wampanoag, and establish fourteen “Indian Praying Towns” for Native converts. One of them, Natick, is located just two towns over from our home.

 

Natick means “Place of Searching” though often referred to as the “Place of Many Hills” or “My Home.  Natick is the  “Mother Village” of the seven original or “Old Praying Towns” and the seven villages that would follow for a total of 14 Praying Indian Towns. 

The first Bible printed in America would be in the Massachusett-Natick language*.  In 1661, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Eliot aided by three members of the Massachusett Indian Tribe translated the New Testament.

Note:   Today, because of the linguistic assimilation of this Algonkian language, Eliot’s Massachusetts-Natick Bible is referred to as Wampanoag by that nation.

Our History-Natick Praying Indians

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Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Powwow, Mashpee, Massachusetts, July 2010.

 

Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness

from the National Institutes of Health’s US National Library of Medicine

A century ago, most powwows involved Natives only, and some included healing ceremonies as well as cultural activities and community sharing.  It was rare for non-Natives to attend.  Today, powwows have evolved into primarily social and cultural events.

On Youtube:

 

The Tiny Activist was able to be a guest on “Reading With Your Kids” Podcast!

Happy Friday!

We had the amazing opportunity to be guests on an awesome podcast in the children’s literature community-Reading With Your Kids! The podcast puts up 5 episodes a week and interviews everyone from authors & illustrators to extra special guests like LeVar Burton!

The two of us were able to discuss a variety of topics with the host Jedlie; our mission and drive, as well as aspects of literacy and the best things about being in the children’s literature community.  We truly enjoyed being able to discuss the issues that are important to us, and what makes an important literary contribution to the ever-growing publishing industry.  It was a fantastic experience and fortuitous moments like this remind us how lucky we are to be able to continue developing the scope of our skills and community-building.

You can listen to our episode here! Let us know what you think, and be sure to listen to some of the other guests on the podcast as well 🙂 Have a great day everyone!