Tag Archives: Community Involvement

Mrs. Bibi’s Elephant

Written & Illustrated by: Reza Dalvand

For ages: 3-5 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community Involvement, Friendship, Pets, Family, Chosen Family, Empathy, Economics, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: Mrs. Bibi has a pet elephant, and they spend all of their time together.  The elephant loved playing with the children in the streets, and drinking tea with Mrs. Bibi, listening to stories.  The others in the town are disturbed by the close friendship, they don’t understand why Mrs. Bibi would want a pet instead of fancy objects.  The townspeople decide to send the elephant to the zoo.  Heartbroken, Mrs. Bibi tucks her elephant into bed and makes a plan. It’s quite anti-capitalist, and we’re all about that! Mrs. Bibi doesn’t care about objects, she cares about the companionship that her elephant brings.

The ending of this book is unique (sorry, we can’t spoil it!).  Typically in books there is an apology conversation and a rectifying of the situation.  I actually really like the ending, it’s surprising.  Mrs. Bibi and her elephant decide to leave town because they’re not valued in the community, and because the others in town prefer stock markets and fancy chandeliers over friendships and pets.  When she and her elephant leave, the children are sad and eventually the town does realize that having pets and forming meaningful community connections are better than material objects.  Will the beloved pair come back? Place your bets now, this book will be out soon!

This book was sent to us by Flying Eye Books, but all opinions are our own.  The book will be available in April 2020!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Dalvand_Reza_swReza Dalvand was born in 1989 in the Iranian city of Andimeshk. As a child he had but one idea in his head: to draw. After studying graphic design at Isfahan University of Art, he completed a master’s degree in illustration at the University of Tehran. He has published more than 15 picture books in Iran, Europe, and Asia. He is a member of the Iranian Society of Illustrators and has participated in many national and international exhibitions from countries around the world, including UK, Japan, Iran, Korea, Italy, UAE, Ukraine, and Surbia, and his work was showcased at the Bologna Book Festival in 2018. Reza lives in Tehran.

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Written by: Dee Romito

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Segregation, Historical Figures, Historical Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Community Organizing. 

Summary: Georgia Gilmore is both a mother of 6 and a cook at a lunch counter during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She is inspired to do more fundraising for the boycott, and for the community organizing and activism surrounding segregation.  Georgia spearheaded efforts of local women who cooked secretly in their homes and then sold it to others in the local community.  The profits were then used in the fundraising efforts and donated to the cause.  Georgia operated under the utmost secrecy and through her efforts she was able to donate huge amounts of money, always saying that “it came from nowhere” in order to not implicate herself or anyone else.  However, when her job finds out she’s involved with the organization efforts, she is fired.  MLK Jr. helps Georgia update her kitchen and open a home restaurant, where she is able to continue the fundraising and hold meetings for key Civil Rights leaders!

Georgia Gilmore is a lovely example of how a person can partake in solid on the ground  organization efforts and create incredible ripples of change throughout a community.  So many organizers and activists have been erased from retellings in favor of uplifting a few key individuals in a simplified narrative.  Having these stories told showcase how intricate community efforts are, and how everyone can become involved in making change.  This is a crucial message to get across in times of political and social change, we have much to learn now about the efforts of those before us.  Students today are incredibly lucky to have children’s books like this to learn about heroes such as Georgia.  After reading this book, we have hope that young people will have better access to these stories instead of learning about organizers like Georgia Gilmore as adults.

This book was sent to us by little bee books but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sleeves_2_origDee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. She’s also an active PTA parent, Co-founder of the Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators (BNCWI), and the PAL Coordinator (for published members) of West/Central NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

​Dee has lived in Buffalo, NY for most of her life and loves it there. (There’s a lot more to this place than winter snow and it truly is The City of Good Neighbors.) She’s had her share of travels around the world and short stints elsewhere, including a semester in London, a summer waitressing near the beach in North Carolina, and a first year of teaching in Atlanta.

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

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.

Common Threads: Adam’s Day at the Market

Written by: Huda Essa

Illustrated by: Mercè Tous

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Family, Diversity, Kindness, Clothing, Islam, Culture & Traditions. 

Summary: Adam and his parents go to the outdoor market one day, and he sees a bright blue jay.  Following it, Adam doesn’t realize he’s left his parents behind until he tugs on what he thinks is his mother’s tunic but it turns out to be a nun’s dress.  Adam tries to identify his parents clothes in the crowd, only to realize that many different types of people dress in similar ways!  The individuals that Adam mistakes for his parents work together to bring them back together, and connect to each other in the process.

This book has few words, and the rich illustrations do the majority of the plot development.  Adam and his parents live in a diverse community that is wonderfully represented by the similarities in clothing that Adam mistakes for his parents.  The emphasis on community in this story is timely, some people live in fear of differences or the unknown.  In the beginning as well as the end of the book are statements about the power of community and diversity, and how we are stronger together.  This is a really beautiful book that can teach fantastic cultural vocabulary about garments along with the other messaging it promotes.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as an entry in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review were our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

huda_finalHuda Essa has been a teacher since she was a child. Her first students were her stuffed animals. When she became a teacher as a grown up, she loved finally having human children as her students! Now, as a speaker and author, Huda is a teacher to adult humans, too. Huda’s debut book, Teach Us Your Name, and her TEDx Talk, “Your Name is the Key!” teach us to use our names to learn more about ourselves and to embrace our wonderful human diversity. Huda teaches all over the world, but lives in Michigan. You can visit her LinkedIn here!

pintant-300x292Mercè Tous lives and works “in Barcelona, my place of birth. I love being near the sea and make the most of the wide range of cultural activities and opportunities for social networking this cosmopolitan city offers. However, whenever I can, I return to nature, my main source of inspiration.

Since I was a child I have always liked drawing, painting and immersing myself in pictures and illustrated books. My grandfather was my first art teacher, who passed on to me the passion for art, instilled in me the curiosity, the value of hard working and the satisfaction of doing a good job. I like all the art disciplines, and I have discovered with illustration a means to search beauty, to tell stories and to express my particular perspective of what surrounds me. I think that having an artistic profession is a chance to make a journey to discover the depth of oneself and, at the same time, to open to the world.

I graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona in 2008. Then I obtained the Art Teacher Certification in the same university. I carried on my education pursuing a postgraduate course specializing in children’s and youth’s book illustration at “Escola Eina” (Autonomous University of Barcelona) as well as three annual courses of illustration at “Escola de la Dona” lead by Ignasi Blanch and other great illustrators such as Cristina Losantos and Roger Olmos. I’ve also participated in several illustration workshops in Barcelona and Italy leaded by illustrators that I admire such as Octavia Monaco, Rebecca Lucciani, Mariona Cabassa and Joanna Concejo. Nowadays I work as a freelance illustrator.”

 

The Boy Who Grew A Forest

Written by: Sophia Gholz

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Nature, Historical Figure, Trailblazer, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, India, Natural World, Growing Up, Hard Work, Community Involvement, Independent Thought. 

Summary: The next intention we are taking into 2020 is Environmental Conscientiousness.  We’re always looking for ways to reduce our single-use plastics, recycle more efficiently, and take public transportation or walk most places. But another thing everyone can be more conscious about is planting trees and supporting the initiatives that do.  Although we believe that too much onus is put on the individual while global corporations are not always held accountable, but we are stewards of the land we inhabit and should be working with it rather than controlling or continuing to colonize it.

This book is lovely, and based on a true story!  Jadav Payeng was a boy who lived in India and noticed that when trees were getting cut down, it was impacting the animals that lived around the village.  He went to the elders and they gifted him with some bamboo to plant, so he could begin to rehabilitate the land.  Jadav worked very hard watering and caring for the bamboo and it grew into a thicket.  Jadav wanted to provide better soil for the bamboo so he began to dig up worms and bugs in addition to the water he hauled, and bring different types of seeds.  After years of hard work, animals returned because Jadav had grown a forest where there was once barren wasteland.

This book is inspirational because it’s not only based on a true story, but Jadav is still alive and currently planting on his second island!  We think the book would be improved with some real photos of Jadav and his forest, to help younger readers understand that he is still doing this important work for the earth.  Definitely a future classic and important story to be told, it reinforces that hard work might take years but the impact is great enough that we should all start as soon as possible!

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:

Sophia Gholz 2Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader.  As a child, Sophia was a passionate reader and artist. When not reading or drawing, she could be found at the farm riding horses or out causing mischief with her brothers.  As an adult, Sophia is still an avid reader, art fanatic, and mischief-maker. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia on Twitter, in her cave (aka office) or running around after the kids, dogs or any combination of the two.  Sophia grew up in Florida, went to art school in California, and met her husband in Manhattan. She’s now enjoying life by the beach with her family. 

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.

Make Trouble (Young Readers Edition)

Written by: Cecile Richards with Lauren Peterson

Cover Art by: Eugenia Mello

For ages: Young Adults

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Trailblazer, Politics, Women in Politics, Activism, Feminism, Bodily Autonomy, Memoir/Biography, Political Activism, Family, Planned Parenthood, Inspiration, Growing Up, Community Involvement. 

Summary: For our first skill to take into the new year we’ve chosen: Activism! This is what we want to embody most throughout the next decade, and Make Trouble is the perfect place to start.  Through the acts of many we can create waves of change.  Let’s join together and take this new beginning as a time for hard work, direct action, and step into our power!

This book is awesome!  It is part memoir, political history, and call to action for everyone reading the book.  Something I really love about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from the really difficult parts of campaigning and activism, but the unfairness of the system that we’re up against doesn’t diminish Cecile’s hope for a better future.

Make Trouble guides the reader through Cecile’s life and career (especially at Planned Parenthood), she comes from a long line of political organizers and continues that tradition with her children today.  Throughout the book there are questions for the reader to be able to reflect on their own lives and become inspired to change thing about the injustices experienced in daily life.  Being able to find the courage to speak out and begin to organize for change is a difficult and necessary job for young people today.  Luckily, they’re already doing a great job!

This book makes the point over and over again that we must persevere through the garbage and keep fighting on the ground to create ripples of change for both our lives and the lives of others.  Organizing and activism are long roads filled with late nights, tired feet, and disappointment.  But we can join together to affect great change and ensure that all humans enjoy their personal liberties and work to counteract the systems of oppression that keep cycles of marginalization spinning.  Our work is not over, but we are together for the fight.

About the Authors & Cover Artist:

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Cecile Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health, reproductive rights, and social change. She began her career helping garment workers, hotel workers, and nursing home aides fight for better wages and working conditions. After years in the labor movement, she moved back home to Texas to help elect the state’s first Democratic woman governor: her mother, Ann Richards. She went on to start her own grassroots organizations, and later served as deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of Timemagazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. For over ten years, Richards served as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues related to women’s rights and activism. Richards serves on the board of the Ford Foundation. She and her husband, Kirk Adams, have three children and reside in New York City.

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Lauren Peterson is a writer, strategist, and the co-author of New York Times bestseller Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards.She was a speechwriter and digital strategist on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, where she wrote about issues ranging from jobs and the economy to reproductive rights and immigration reform. Previously, she worked as a senior advisor and writer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and a senior writer on President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Lauren is passionate about progressive politics, storytelling, and finding the clearest way to communicate a compelling message to the right audience. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she has been featured in Medium.com’s “Words That Matter”CosmopolitanTeen VogueFusion’s “30 Women Who Will Change the Election”, and Madison MagazineLauren lives with her fiancée, Liz, and their rescue dog, Basil, in Brooklyn.  

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetEugenia Mello is an illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina currently living and drawing in NYC.
She studied Graphic Design at the University of Buenos Aires, where she also taught Design and Typography courses for several years.
She holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Latin American Illustration, Creative Quarterly and 3×3 Magazine, among others.
She is passionate about rhythm, movement and feelings, and uses color and shape to translate into drawing the things that are difficult to put into words. She is always hoping to get music out of her images.

She was recently awarded a Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for her illustrated moving piece Hope for the Day

What are we taking into 2020? Books for a new decade.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!  Taking this leap into a whole new decade has got us thinking about intentions.  What can we take into the year that will help us be the best we can be?  What are the skills that will allow us to embody the characteristics of a good activist, ally, friend, and voice for change?  So, we decided on 7 of them and will be posting books that we feel portray the skills, one each day for the first week of January!  We hope they will inspire you as much as they do us, and maybe make your reading list a bit longer! We hope everyone has a safe and joyous New Year, and see you tomorrow for our first post of 2020!