Category Archives: women in sports

Firebird

Written by: Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones

Illustrated by: Christopher Myers

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Ballet, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Art, Growing Up, Hard Work, Inspiration. 

Summary: This book is a beautiful conversation between trailblazing ballerina Misty Copeland and a young hopeful.  Lyrical text and flowing illustrations help capture the long road to becoming a professional dancer.  Copeland is encouraging as she talks about the thousands of repetitions she’s done, perfecting each move and stance before even taking the stage to perform.

Copeland writes to inspire and ensure young dancers of color that they can accomplish their dreams, despite them seeming far off.  She ends the book with a personal letter talking about how she didn’t see herself reflected in ballet books, and hopes that by continuing to dance and publish books, she can help inspire future generations of dancers and be the mirror she needed when she was their age.

Like so many other areas, diversity in professional dance has a long way to go.  Misty Copeland is only the second African American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.  She strives to be the person she needed when younger, and this message resonates with us.  While we are white, we are LGBTQ and want to be the people we needed to see when we were younger: happy, successful, and making the world a better place.  With stunning illustrations, Myers brings Copeland’s message to life in the most beautiful way possible.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

web_header_inspiredBorn in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In June 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.

In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential.  Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.

Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Misty is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014.  She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.

qY71wcZ0_400x400Charisse Jones works for USA Today, is a journalist, and assisted in the writing of Firebird. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72414356_thChristopher Myers is a multimedia artist, author, and playwright from New York City born in 1974. Myers earned his B.A. in Art-Semiotics and American Civilization with focus on race and culture from Brown University in 1995. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at venues including MoMA PS1, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Mistake Room at Paos GDL, Akron Art Museum, Contrast Gallery Shanghai, Goethe-Institut Ghana, Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Rwanda, San Art Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and The Studio Museum Harlem. Myers won a Caldecott Honor in 1998 for his illustrations in the book Harlem and a Coretta Scott King Award in 2016 for illustrating Firebird with Misty Copeland. Myers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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!”

Players in Pigtails

Written by: Shana Corey

Illustrated by: Rebecca Gibbon

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Women in Sports, Historical Figures, Baseball, Feminism. 

Summary: This is a great book about the phenomenon of women’s baseball teams around WWII, when most of the men were off fighting in the war. Part history and part historical fiction, the reader learns about the little-known history of the sport.  Girls all across the country loved playing baseball, but there were no teams or opportunities for women.  The war provided that for a few years, until men came back and the advertising campaign of “the perfect housewife” came into play, forcing women back into the home and out of the public life filled with freedom that they had been accustomed to.

In the 1940’s, these players were also expected to still embody the femininity that was typically associated with women.  Thus, the players had to wear skirts and makeup on the field.  The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was even written about a female player!

There is an extensive Author’s Note about her own journey learning about these famous athletes that have been mostly lost to history.  A League of Their Own is a popular film that recounts these teams!

We imagine that grandparents and older folks would have a lot to recount about this era!  Corrie’s nana used to talk about working in a factory as the best years of her life, because she got to hang out with her friends and make some money.  She even refused to marry Corrie’s papa until he came back from the war, because she didn’t want to be tied down!

Reflection Questions:

  • What did you learn?
  • Do you like to play baseball?
  • Do you think everyone can play sports?
  • Why do you think that there aren’t anymore professional women’s baseball teams?
  • What do you know about softball?
  • Do you think it’s the same in popularity as baseball?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

image-assetShana Corey grew up in the South—in Savannah and Athens, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.  From her website: “When I was little, I loved stories about olden-day girls—my favorites were Betsy-Tacy, All-of-a-Kind Family, and Little House on the Prairie. When I wasn’t reading books about olden-day girls, I loved playing olden-days with my sister, Marci. (We always fought over who got to be Laura. Marci had braids, which worked in her favor, but I was older and bossier so I usually won.) So imagine my delight when I went to college and discovered that I could take entire classes on (and get credit for learning about) olden-day girls! (Yay, Smith College!) I learned to call it women’s history, but really, it was the same topic I’d been interested in since I was five.

Now I have the great pleasure and honor of editing books for children myself. A lot of the books I edit—like Babymouse and Junie B. Jones—take place nowadays, but some, like Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm and The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis, are about olden-day girls. I also write picture books, most of them true stories about brave women and girls in history, women like Amelia Bloomer and Juliette Gordon Low, women with gumption and guts who had the courage to take a stand for the things they believed in, even when the rest of the world told them they were wrong. That kind of person inspires me because I think it’s exactly that kind of courage that changes the world.

I live in Brooklyn, New York, with my family. When I’m not writing or editing, I’m usually reading with my kids. They like stories about the olden-days too (and graphic novels and series and books that make them laugh and…).”

If you’d like to find out more about Shana, you can check out these interviews:

Old-time Gals with Gumption | The Picture Books of Shana Corey

Scholastic Author Bio

Authors Note From Shana Corey

• The Mermaid Queen, Shana Corey, and Some Art That’ll Really Wake You Up

• Shana Corey: Her Life in Books

Author-Editor Feature: Shana Corey of Random House

8bfd807bba20d6b27a1109a6781ef3c9Illustrator Rebecca Gibbon was born in Wales in 1968. The youngest of four children she was fed on a diet of picture books by Edward Ardizzone, Roger Duvoisin & Richard Scarry; she dreamt of being an illustrator. Her favourite book was “Frances Face-Maker” by Tomi Ungerer.

Her ambition was realized after gaining a first class Honours degree from John Moores University and consequently a Masters at Royal College of Art, London. While at the RCA she was spotted at a childrens book expo in Paris by a french Agent. Since graduating she has worked all over the globe and is represented world wide by Illustration Ltd

Rebecca paints in watercolour ink & coloured pencil, and bases her characters on the people she has met and seen over the years. She used to paint on newsprint until one day she looked back at some old work and it had all faded. Lesson learnt, she now works on acid free cartridge paper.

She lives with her husband and two boys in what was once the Old Village Stores, surrounded by their eclectic collections of vintage childrens books, balloon pumps & 1950’s ceramics. She loves junk shops, flea markets, drinking tea & of course drawing.