Written By: Jacob Kramer
Illustrated by: K-Fai Steele
For Ages: 4 years and up
Topics Covered: Anti-Capitalism, Social Movements, Community Organizing, Pasta, Sequels.
Summary: Listen…I know…I KNOW I’m late to reviewing this book. It’s been out for over a month, and I’ve just now gotten my life together enough to gather my thoughts on it.
But seriously, Okapi Tale is amazing. I’ve known it was amazing…because I got to read it before it came out! So I sat on it, doing my best to not spoil it. And I did that so well I’m finally reviewing it now, for December’s #fictionfeast winter extravaganza!
Noodlephant has gone traveling, off to find the tastiest noodle dishes the world has to offer. While she’s gone, and Okapi comes to town, illegally buys the publicly-owned Phantastic Noodler, and begins to create a noodle-opoly by building a factory and buying all the grocery stores in town. When Noodlephant returns from her journey, she and her friends must topple over the empire the Okapi-talist has built and return Beaston to the creatures.
Okapi Tale continues the lessons that Noodlephant began, emphasizing the importance of workers rights, community organizing, and anti-capitalism. Noodlephant focused on the civil rights of citizens, and Okapi Tale focuses on another aspect of human rights: safe work environments and resisting price-gouging. I don’t post a lot of books with animal main characters, but this set of books is the exception. The lessons are essential for young readers, especially to help develop their critical thinking skills and Okapi Tale is the latest required reading when focusing on a curriculum that foregrounds social justice education.
Jacob Kramer studied writing and filmmaking, and went on to work in community organizing and writing kids books. He tells stories in which people band together to build power and change their world.
If you must know a fun fact, know this: Penelope Taylor and Jacob trained Bags, the cat, to use the toilet using the Mingus Method. Follow Jacob on twitter: @jknotjk
From illustrator’s K-Fai Steele’swebsite: “If you want to know how to pronounce my name, watch this book trailer for A Normal Pig. I use she/her pronouns.
A Normal Pig is my author-illustrator debut, and is published with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. I also illustrated Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer (Enchanted Lion Books, 2019), and Old MacDonald Had a Baby by Emily Snape (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2019). In 2020 I’m illustrating Probably a Unicorn by Jory John, and Okapi Tale (the sequel to Noodlephant).
I’ve always loved art and books, and I’ve worked in museums and libraries as an adult. I was an Art Handler at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where I got to install Starry Night. I worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and later the National Writing Project on an IMLS/MacArthur initiative to co-design creative and educational spaces for young people in public access institutions.
I live in San Francisco and I’m a 2018-2019 Brown Handler Writer in Residence at the San Francisco Public Library. I’m the 2019 recipient of the James Marshall Fellowship at the University of Connecticut, and I received the Ezra Jack Keats/Kerman Memorial Fellowship in 2018 at the University of Minnesota.”