Grobblechops

Written by: Elizabeth Laird, based on a story by Rumi

Illustrated by: Jenny Lucander

For ages: 4-7 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Growing Up, Social-Emotional Growth.

Summary: Grobblechops opens with a little boy named Amir and his dad getting ready to go to bed.  Amir is pretty worried that a monster might be hanging around, and Amir’s dad doe this bets to settle Amir’s fears by explaining all the reasons that a monster wouldn’t be interested in eating any member of their family.  Some potential solutions involve shaking a frying pan, flapping an umbrella, and sitting around talking (because adults are too tired to fight, especially in the evenings).

Overall, the story is very humorous and will resonate with anyone who has tried to quell the fears of a tiny human in an attempt to make them go to sleep.  The book also ends with a lovely message to get to know someone (or something!) before deciding that it’s scary or a threat.  Grobblechops is a very sweet story, and we love how much movement is conveyed within the illustrations!

This book was sent to us by Tiny Owl for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

eyJiYWNrZ3JvdW5kIjpudWxsLCJoZWlnaHQiOjMzMSwiaWQiOjExNzksInJlc2l6ZV9tZXRob2QiOiJjZW50ZXIiLCJyZXNpemVfcXVhbGl0eSI6Ijk1Iiwid2lkdGgiOjQzMn0-6012af947d9ae2e5771ba330752398597b5ef623Elizabeth Laird “was born in New Zealand in 1943. My father was a ship’s surgeon from Scotland, and my mother’s forbears were all Scots too. They met after a great earthquake in 1933. I was the fourth of their five children. We all returned to live in Britain in 1945, and I grew up in South London.

My first big adventure was teaching in a school in Malaysia when I was eighteen. I went trekking in the jungle, and decided that an adventurous life was for me, even though I went down with typhoid and was bitten by a sea snake.

After I’d been to University (in Bristol) I got a job in Ethiopia, teaching English in Addis Ababa, the capital. I had too many adventures to recount. In the vacations, a friend and I would go off into the remote areas, hiring mules when there were no roads to travel on. I loved Ethiopia, its beautiful countryside and brave, stoical people.

After a spell at Edinburgh university, I worked for a summer in India. I had to travel by air from Mumbhai to Bhopal, and was horribly airsick. The man in the next seat was extremely kind to me. His name was David McDowall. I liked him at once, and we got married soon after. It was the best thing I ever did in my life.

David had been working in India, but was transferred to Iraq, so that’s where we began our married life. We visited the Marshes, and the Kurdish region. Some time later, after our first son, Angus, was born, we moved to Beirut, in Lebanon. A civil war was raging at the time. The fighting became so bad that eventually we were evacuated to Vienna, where William, our second son, was born.

We finally decided to take a great risk and see if we could earn our living as writers. We had luckily bought a house in London while we had been working abroad. We came home, settled down, and wrote. Being rather hard up, we took in bed and breakfast, and did various kinds of jobs to make ends meet, but our books began to sell well, and we have never looked back.

I went back to Ethiopia thirty years after I’d left, in 1996, and fell under that lovely country’s spell again. I set up a project with the British Council collecting folk stories from traditional story tellers, and made many journeys to the farthest corners of Ethiopia. I travelled extensively in Kenya too, in order to write the Wild Things series. Other projects have taken me to Palestine, Khazakhstan, Iran and Russia. These days, I tell myself that I’m too old for big adventures. I should spend my time sitting in my London study, snoozing by the fire, or pottering around in Edinburgh, where we spend part of our time. But if an invitation should flutter through the door, or an idea, or a mad, mad inspiration, I know I’ll be off again, just as soon as I’ve packed my bag.”

image-assetJenny Lucander is a freelance illustrator based in Helsinki, Finland.  From her website:

“Making art, making illustrations, is a way of communicating with the world. Depending on how I decide to portray our environment, the characters, their reactions and feelings in my children’s books, I communicate messages that either cement or shake the existing norms and stereotypes of our society. Having this kind of power thrills me, but at the same time I’m aware that the privilege this enables is accompanied by great responsibility. I am confronted with big questions every day. I feel that we have the obligation to stay critical and constantly work towards a better and more humane society. This is the most exiting part of being an artist.
I enjoy exploring the big questions we struggle with during childhood. Difficult feelings of identity and belonging, as well as joyful feelings of happiness, freedom and play. In creating my illustrations I try not to be too rigid, and instead to be more free and wild. A thin sensitive line characterizes my illustrations, and I tend to use many different materials in my collages. I seldom have a clear plan of what the outcome should look like. It feels like solving crosswords without definite answers, like trial and error. Sometimes the mistakes are the most beautiful part of the picture. Serendipity gives me wonderful kicks.”

This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

Written by: Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by: James Ransome

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, The Great Migration, Family, History, Community, Growing Up, Own Voices, Historical Events.

Summary: This story of family legacy is framed using a rope, and all of its different uses throughout its time with the family, and told in first person.  The narrators grandmother found the rope under a tree and used it as a jump rope.  Later on, she used it to tie luggage to the top of her car when she moved to the city.  The rope sees both the beautiful and the mundane, assisting the family in daily tasks as well as being a relic that ties memories together (sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally!).

The book centers the experiences families during the Great Migration that left the South and moved North in a quest for better treatment and a better life.  While the book is about a specific family, it is the history of many families.  The rope is also a metaphor for being able to hold onto family history while embracing the future and changes that come with growing up.  This book is fabulous for the representation that Black students often lack within classrooms, and can lend itself to a larger unit about history in general.  An awesome book for any time of the year, not just during February!  Lived experiences and representation need to be worked into all aspects of school, not brought out once a year as a “diversity” requirement or for a holiday!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

33705Jacqueline Woodson “wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories.

I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.

That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim. So by the time the story rolled around and the words “This is really good” came out of the otherwise down-turned lips of my fifth grade teacher, I was well on my way to understanding that a lie on the page was a whole different animal — one that won you prizes and got surly teachers to smile. A lie on the page meant lots of independent time to create your stories and the freedom to sit hunched over the pages of your notebook without people thinking you were strange.

Lots and lots of books later, I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book or when the phone rings and someone on the other end is telling me I’ve just won an award. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me.”

james-e-ransome-1261135The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky?and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections. PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999 Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.” In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work.  How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book chose Visiting Day as one of the top ten diversity books of 2002.  In 2004 James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist.  He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC. He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs the Board of Education.  His traveling Exhibit, Visual Stories has been touring the United States since 2003.  His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.

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.

Color Outside the Lines: Stories About Love

Written by: Adam Silvera, Samira Ahmed, Michelle Ruiz Keil, Danielle Paige, Eric Smith, Sangu Mandanna, Elsie Chapman, Anna-Marie McLemore, Lauren Gibaldi, Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker, Lori M. Lee, Caroline Tung Richmond, Karuna Riazi, L.L. McKinney, Tara Sim, Lydia Kang

Edited by: Sangu Mandanna

For ages: YA

Language: English predominantly 

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, LGBTQ Relationships, Growing Up, POC-Centric Narratives, Love, Family, Supernatural, Interracial Dating, Family, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Asian-American Experience, Culture & Traditions. 

Summary: This book is AMAZING. The short story anthology focuses on LGBTQ and/or interracial relationships, and truly there is nothing like it that I’ve read ever.  These underrepresented voices are compiled into one beautiful book that spans both genres and time itself.

All of the stories in the book are great, but there were a few that were enjoyed most of all.  Death and the Maiden is a breathtaking tale, retelling the story of Hades and Persephone but with a twist.  It’s one of the longer stories (which is still only about 20 pages) and I was hooked from beginning to end!  Giving Up the Ghost was another story that fascinated me.  In the story, people are matched up with a ghostly ancestor from their family at the age of 9.  This is such a creative concept for world-building, and it left me wanting both more to the story and my own family ghost!

This is a book that amplifies marginalized voices in a powerful way.  It makes differences in humanity front and center, and honestly it’s very emotional to open a book knowing that so many lived experiences that are often oppressed or ignored will be written on the pages.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Authors & the Editor:

sangu-2019Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images with author information were taken from the back of the book:

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Jamie is Jamie

Written by: Afsaneh Moradian 

Illustrated by: Maria Bogade

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Gender Stereotypes, Identity, Friendship, Kindness, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This book is absolutely adorable!  Jamie has just moved, and is starting a new school. When they get to school and join in free play, Jamie moves about the classroom looking for new friends and fun activities.  Jamie is completely ungendered throughout the bookend when asked by other classmates if Jamie is a boy or girl, they answer “I’m Jamie!” The entire book is about how it truly doesn’t matter, any kid can like any activity and dress however they want.  Jamie is a good friend, and that’s what matters! The illustrations are diverse and fun, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie’s story come to life.

This was sent to us by the author for Children’s Multicultural Book Day to review, but all opinions are our own!  We believe along with Afsaneh that children shouldn’t be strongly stereotyped, and gender neutral activities are the way to go in a classroom.  This means that an educator allows and promotes every activity to every child equally, based on what that child is interested in.  We really loved this book and were so glad to be paired with Afsaneh for the event!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7 th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

AfsanehMoradianWe are excited to learn more about Afsaneh Moradian, author of the book!  Here is her “about me” section from her website:

“I grew up between Washington, D.C., northern NJ, and New York City. I spent my childhood reading, writing, singing and watching tv.

After college, I started working at a Montessori preschool and my career as an educator began. I went on to get a Master’s in Education and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Education.

For more than 15 years, I have had an amazing time combining my love of writing and creativity with teaching students of all ages (from preschool to graduate school) in a variety of educational levels and settings between the United States and Mexico.

I love sharing my ideas with students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who will listen.

I write children’s books, poetry, short stories, essays and articles, in addition to writing about education.”

maria-bogade-web-1Maria Bogade is an illustrator and author with an animation background. She loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative, colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. Her work is internationally published and is also found on greeting cards and products such as chocolate. With her three children and spouse, she lives in a tiny village in southern Germany where fox and hare bid each other good night (we don’t know what this means, but it sounds lovely!).

Arthur and the Golden Rope [Feb 4 2020]

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton 

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Mythology, Natural World, Supernatural, Magic.

Summary: This is one of the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection books, and we really like the way that it’s set up like a comic book.  Arthur is a young boy with a penchant for strange objects and spends a lot of time in the forest or on adventures to collect things.

One day he’s in the forest when a gigantic black wolf rampages through the village, extinguishing the magical fire that is needed to keep everything from freezing solid.  Since Arthur wasn’t in the village, he wasn’t injured during the attack and is the only one who can make the journey to visit Thor and relight the flame, saving the village.  Arthur must use his wits and collection of items to prove to the villagers that he is more than just a wandering meddler in forest affairs, before everything freezes solid!

This book is really cute, and can help kids with problem-solving skills.  It’s fun to track Arthur through the illustration panels when he’s traversing an adventurous landscape.  Arthur is a character that we can relate to, he’s not bothered by people thinking he’s weird for liking to spend time in the woods or collect unique objects…both of these we enjoy as well!

This book was generously sent to us by Flying Eye books for review. All opinions are our own!  This softcover book will be released on February 4th, (the hardcover has been out for awhile) and we are very grateful that we were able to receive it early.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.

The Only Woman in the Photo [Being Released February 2020]

Written by: Kathleen Krull

Illustrated by: Alexandra Bye

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, Women in Leadership, Historic Figures, Feminism, Women’s Suffrage, Historic Events, Activism, Women in Government. 

Summary: Oh buddy do we love Frances Perkins!  This book is awesome, it tells the story of one strong badass lady when there were a distinct lack of badass ladies in government at the time.  Starting off as a shy child, Frances became inspired and motivated by her grandmother to take every opportunity that came her way, especially because she was a woman.

Her family was very supportive of her education, although it dwindled when she preferred to move to New York City and become a social worker rather than get married.  Frances continued to affect labor law changes for the better, affecting a myriad of industries and populations.  She was noticed by FDR and hired as one of the top officials in the country, eventually helping him draft the New Deal which revolutionized the benefits available to citizens of the country.

Something we also love about this book are the direct quotes by Frances, and the way the quotes are artistically drawn into the illustrations on the pages.  Frances is an incredible example of doing what is right and facing fears in order to help others.  Tackling challenges is a scary thing, but with a role model like Frances to inspire the next generation we have good feelings about them being faced head on.

This book was kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Kids, but all opinions are our own.   We are thrilled to be able to feature such an incredible book about a driving force of humanity that radically shaped America for the better.  This book is being released in early February, and we are thrilled to have been able to read the book early!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

There’s No Such Thing as Reading Too Much

When she was fifteen, Kathleen Krull was fired from her part-time job at the library in Wilmette, Illinois. The reason? Reading too much–while she was supposed to be working. Luckily, she had other jobs. One began when she was twelve: playing organ at her church. At seventeen she taught piano lessons to kids in her town. Her musical background did inspire many of her books. Another job involved selling doughnuts and cupcakes at a bakery, which hasn’t led to any books so far.

Then, the day after she graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, she began a career in publishing. She worked for four companies as a children’s book editor. While on the job, she wrote mysteries in the Trixie Belden series and other books. Finally she started working at home, writing her own books. She loves getting the chance to explore subjects she’s passionate about, like history, music, and extraordinary people.

She is married to children’s book illustrator and sometimes writing partner Paul Brewer and live in San Diego, California.

As a child she thought books were the most important thing in the world, and that perception is actually more intense now. She’s grateful, for so many reasons, to be able to work in this exhilarating field: preserving literacy. One of the benefits of the writing life is that she can’t be fired. Especially for reading too much.

e27bd834-6f26-4f92-9133-6b32758615f4-4698-00000c4e91113430Alexandra Bye is an illustrator specializing in fun, colorful illustrations for a variety of media, such as editorial and children’s publications. She lives in New Hampshire, where she enjoys backpacking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking with her dog.