Usha and the Stolen Sun

Written by: Bree Galbraith

Illustrated by: Josée Bisaillon

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Bravery, Family, Community, Connections, POC-Centric Narratives, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: 

Usha was born in a land where the sky is always gray.  Hardly anyone remembers the sun, but Usha is lucky enough to live with her grandfather who does remember what it was like to play outside under the warm light.  Usha resolutely decides to bring back the sun, undeterred by the stories that whoever built a giant wall to block out the sun from their village would not be swayed by her pleas.  Through all sorts of travails, Usha searches for the wall and is eventually successful at finding it!  Now comes the harder part, convincing those on the other side to take it down.

This is a beautiful story that emphasizes the power of words over brute force.  Usha is a clever and dynamic character, set on helping her grandfather and the rest of her village experience once again what only the oldest members even remember and the rest simply long for.

This book was generously sent to us by the author, Bree!  We were also lucky enough to be sent a discussion guide that she developed for the book as well.  It gives a list of fantastic questions and jumping off points for meaningful conversations in a small or large group that can easily be expanded to encompass other topics like human rights, social justice, and community organizing.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

RachelPick_Portfolio2015-15Bree Galbraith lives in Vancouver and likes “writing stories that inspire kids and adults to think critically about the world around them, and the ways in which they can challenge the systems in place and create change”.  Bree also holds a masters degree from the University of British Columbia!

 

 

 

jos_e_bisaillonAs a young girl, Josée Bisaillon loved drawing cats and houses. She really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell. She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with illustration.

Since 2005, with scissors and brushes in hand, Josée has illustrated more than 30 children’s books, as well as magazines and newspapers for adults, all around the world.

Josée lives just outside of Montreal with her spouse, their 3 children one hairless cat and many paper characters.

 

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

At the Mountain’s Base

Written by: Traci Sorell

Illustrated by: Weshoyot Alvitre 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Military, Women Pilots, Family, Grief, Culture & Traditions, Historical Fiction, Global Community, Own Voices.

Summary: This is one of the most beautiful and emotional books that I’ve read in a long time.  The story is told in simple, lyrical poetry and encompasses the emotions that thread through a family waiting for a family member to return from war.  They are waiting for a pilot, and she is waiting for peace, wanting to return to her family in the cabin at the base of the mountain.

This story brings to light the beauty of the Indigenous family waiting for their beloved pilot to return, and also of the history of Indigenous women in the armed forces.  Something particularly beautiful about the illustrations is the way that strings are both literally and figuratively woven through the story, tying together the pilot’s experience and the family waiting at home for her to return.  In the back is an author’s note talking about the history of Indigenous women fighting; they have fought during intertribal conflicts, against the European colonizers, and in the American armed forces as well.  Sorell also specifically names one woman-Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, the only female native pilot in WWII to serve as a WASP.  In 2009 she was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, and a building was named in her honor at the Ellsworth Air Force Base after her death in 2017.

This beautiful book is the first of it’s kind for me, I’ve never read an Indigenous story about women in the military.  I am so honored to be able to read Traci Sorell’s words, and look forward to reading more from her.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Traci+Sorell+Home+PhotoTraci Sorell lives with her family in the Cherokee Nation, out in the country like she did as a child. Back then, she had geese, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Her mother’s Cherokee family has been in the area since the removal of most Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands in 1838. Traci grew up hearing stories about her ancestors and looking at their photographs with her elisi (eh-lee-see), grandma. Now her son does that with his elisi in addition to fishing in the nearby lake and learning about Cherokee culture.

As a child, Traci spent a lot of time reading as well as singing and acting in musical theater productions. She also loved playing cars and school with her younger sister and brother. They spent hours driving little toy cars all over the towns they drew on large pieces of cardboard. They quizzed each other on state capitals and used old textbooks to teach each other new lessons. Away from home, they spent lots of time visiting family across the Cherokee Nation, elsewhere in Oklahoma and places farther west. Traci still loves to read, play, learn, and travel.

When Traci was a teenager, her family moved to Southern California. She did less acting and more writing, both in class and on the high school yearbook staff. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Later, her mom, sister and brother got their degrees too.

Before she began writing for children, Traci’s work focused on helping Native American tribes and their citizens. She wrote legal codes, testimony for Congressional hearings, federal budget requests, grants and reports. She continues that work by writing stories for young people and encouraging other Native writers and illustrators to share theirs. When Traci was a child, she never read culturally accurate books about the Cherokee or any other Indigenous people. The stories and poems she writes now reflect her mission to add to the canon of literature showing that Native Nations and their citizens still exist and thrive today.

portrait-2Weshoyot Alvitre is Tongva (Los Angeles Basin) and is well established within the indigenous art community as an illustrator. She was born in the San Gabriel Mountains on the property of Satwiwa, a cultural center started by her father Art Alvitre. She grew up close to the land and raised with traditional knowledge that inspires the work she does today.

Weshoyot has been working in the comics medium since graduating from high school. The culmination of having a Native presence was fueled by meeting and being interviewed by the author of “Native Americans in Comics”, Michael Sheyashe (Caddo). It helped to open her eyes to having a representation in the comics medium and connect with other Native professionals in comics.

Alvitre has since contributed to numerous Eisner award-winning books, including the “Umbrella Academy” (Darkhorse Comics) and “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream” (Locust Moon Press). She has earned accolades for her work that visualize historical material, including “Graphic Classics: Native American Classics” (Eureka Productions) The Cattle Thief[wa1]  and most recently, the first volume of highly acclaimed “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers” published by Native Realities Press.

Alvitre has also illustrated numerous pieces of political illustrations in support of the NODAPL movement for Standing Rock, amongst other Native issues. One such illustration, in collaboration with installation artist Andrea Bowers, was auctioned live this past summer at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Auction in San Tropez.

Most relevant to this proposal, Alvitre has partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on Native Knowledge 360°, a national educational initiative to inspire and support teaching about Native Americans using the comics medium as a support. She illustrated 12 pages of sequential comic art, each page interpreting a key historical event. The art has been used on their site and as a tool for teachers nationwide. Alvitre is also working currently with seasoned award-winning video game designer, Elizabeth Lapensee Ph. D. (Michigan State University) on an educational game to be used within the Native curriculum nationwide.

Alvitre has made a conscious choice to work primarily within Native-owned publications and educational avenues, to further support a self funded narrative on past, present and future native issues. It is through this voice, and through her artwork, she feels she is able to communicate her unique viewpoint and continue a strong dialogue on issues that are important to her as a Native woman

Journey Under the Arctic

Written by: James O. Fraoili

Illustrated by: Joe St. Pierre

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English, gives a small Inuit phrase guide as well. 

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Environmental Activism, Nature, Adventure, Global Warming, Graphic Novel, STEM.

Summary: 

This comic book adventure is the second in the Fabien Cousteau Expeditions series, designed for upper elementary readers.  The story follows an arctic exploration crew of Fabien (grandson of Jacques Cousteau!), Gloria Perez marine biologist, and exploration supervisor Matt Chan along with two junior expeditions named Rocco and Olivia.  Unfortunately, we haven’t read the first book in the series yet, so we’re not sure if this is the same crew as the first book!

We will say, the book is very good.  Although in one scene of the comic, the group goes to visit a group of Inuit people, and the reader is informed that they may also know the Inuit as Esk*mos (which is considered a slur by some, find more information here).  This would have been a fabulous point of the book to slip in a line about this, but we are provided with a few Inuit phrases.  This would be the only suggestion we have, overall we enjoyed it very much and there’s tons of interesting facts about the Arctic and global warming as well.

Did you know that ice worms liquefy in temperatures greater than 41F?  We didn’t until we read this awesome comic!  When reading, we also learn a lot of interesting facts about how much carbon can be offset by taking simple steps like raising a home thermostat 2 degrees in the summer.  We follow the crew from walking over the frozen tundra to diving 1000 feet below the surface to escape a thrashing bow whale, learning about the creatures that live and thrive at each level of the ocean while searching for the elusive dumbo octopus.  If you like aquatic adventures and learning about how to live more environmentally friendly, this is the book for you! It’s being released…today!

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

About the Authors & the Illustrator:

81+gMRPnjDL._US230_James O. Fraioli is an award-winning food author and photographer. His work has appeared on the Food Network and in Forbes Traveler and the New York Times. He is the creator and producer of the documentary television series: NTSB: ALASKA for Smithsonian Channel (airs March 2016), INSIDE DEATH ROW for National Geographic Channel, which received a coveted award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, ALASKA WINGMEN also for National Geographic, HAWAII AIR RESCUE for Weather Channel, and SHARK WEEK episodes for Discovery Channel, among others. Prior to documentary television, Fraioli spent 17 years working in various feature film capacities for Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, and Warner Bros.

Joe-StPierreJoe St.Pierre began his comic book career at Valiant Comics, as penciler of RAI, and co-creator of SECRET WEAPONS. He has sold over 2 million comic books, as a writer and artist for Marvel, DC (Aquaman, Green Lantern), Image (Megahurtz), IDW (Transformers), Boom (Power Rangers) and Dynamite.

Joe has the distinction of penciling the most #1 issues featuring SPIDER-MAN and/or the Spider-Man family.

Joe also works in the fields of commercial illustration, intellectual property design and storyboards for Animation and Video Games. Clients have included MTV, Capstone, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Sony, PBS, The Amazing Kreskin and Activision. He is the co-creator and illustrator of the FABIEN COUSTEAU EXPEDITIONS, a new graphic novel series published by Simon & Schuster.

Joe’s publishing company, Astronaut Ink, highlights his own creator-owned properties BOLD BLOOD, MEGAHURTZ® and most recently NEW ZODIAX. The NEW ZODIAX Graphic Novel first printing sold out, and thanks to two successful Kickstarter campaigns, the second printing is now available thru comic shops and the Astronaut Ink website.

Cousteau-FabienAs the first grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Fabien spent his early years aboard his famous grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone; and learning how to scuba dive on his fourth birthday.

He is well known for his study of sharks and from 2000-2002, Fabien was an Explorer At-Large for National Geographic and collaborated on a TV special that aimed to change public conceptions about sharks called, “Attack of the Mystery Shark”.

In 2003-2006, he produced the documentary, “Mind of a Demon,” that aired on CBS. With the help of a large crew, Fabien created a 14-foot, 1,200-pound, lifelike shark submarine called “Troy” that enabled him to immerse himself inside the shark world, providing viewers with a rare view of the mysterious and often misunderstood creatures.

For the next four years (2006-2010), Fabien was part of a multi-hour series for PBS called, “Ocean Adventures” with his father, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and sister, Céline. Inspired by his grandfather’s famous 1978 PBS series, “The Cousteau Odyssey”. In the following years, and as a member of multiple cause-driven and charitable boards Fabien has been working with local communities and children worldwide to help restore local water ecosystems.

In June 2014, Fabien and his team of aquanauts embarked on Mission 31, the longest science expedition to take place at Aquarius, the world’s only underwater marine laboratory located in Florida. Fabien’s Mission 31 broke new ground in ocean exploration and honored the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s original underwater living experiment (Conshelf Two) by going deeper, longer and further, while broadcasting each moment live on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, drama and mystique of what lies beneath. After 31 days of underwater research, Fabien managed to break his grandfather’s Red Sea record and collect 3 years’ worth of data in his short time underwater. The expedition reached over 100,000 children on all six continents; and more than 30 billion media impressions. Coming off this great success, Fabien created the OLC with the hope to continue Mission 31’s goal of preserving our ocean.

Recently Fabien has spent time on various oceanic projects, and been featured on numerous television specials. In 2018, Fabien and the Aquatica Submarine team submeberged into the great Belize Blue Hole and mapped the entirety of the sink hole; discovering areas that were once above water, underwater wildlife, and human debris. The entire special was broadcasted live on The Discovery Channel!

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.

Hike [released 3/17]

Written & Illustrated by: Pete Oswald

For ages: any

Language: English, but there are very few words in this book!

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Outdoors, Gender Neutral Stories, Family, Traditions, Nature, Environmental Activism. 

Summary: 

Hike is a beautiful wordless adventure between father and child outdoors! This adorable story is one of genuine excitement at spending the day outdoors, and the child remains ungendered throughout the entire story (which we adore).  The pair traverse over logs, take photos, and admire birds.  I also love that the pair pictured aren’t white, it’s so rare we see books that focus on the outdoors with just characters of color! As the story continues, the read finds out exactly why the pair is making the hike.

The captivating illustrations by Pete Oswald convey emotion, movement, and reads like a comic book in places with several smaller vignette’s on some pages, giving context for the pair’s long and winding journey.  There is even a short note about the family tradition the two are fulfilling, and it is one that we would love to integrate into our own family as well.  It’s wonderful to have more stories about families that venerate nature and the outdoors, and are excited to spend time together.  Hike is released on 3/17, just in time to inspire spring adventures!

This book was kindly sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

unnamed-3

Pete Oswald is a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator and an Annie Award-nominated animation production designer best known for The Angry Birds Movie film franchise and Oscar® Nominated ParaNorman, in addition to multiple animated studio films. He is also known for his work as a children’s book author and illustrator, and painter. Pete’s work includes the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Good Egg, and the #2 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Bad Seed, both written by Jory John.

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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