Tag Archives: Community Involvement

Bird Count

Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond

Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.

Summary: We love this book for so many reasons!  The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day.  Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads.  This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas.  The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.

It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color!  Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself.  There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative.  On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts.  This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers.  Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well.  In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.

This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

WP_000308Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count.  A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!

bunny+7Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count.  Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!

“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.

After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.

I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements.  I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work.  Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.

My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.

When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”

Q&A with Alastair Moock!

Happy Saturday!  Our Week of Music is continuing to rock, and we’ve boogied through a whole week already!  Luckily, we have one more special music-related book to review for tomorrow.  But, let’s focus on today!  Yesterday we learned a bit about Alastair’s music, so today we’ll learn about him!  Hope everyone is having a great day, and keep on rockin’ 🙂

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Alastair Moock: I’m Alastair Moock. Among other things, I perform for kids and families and also present assembly programs and workshops in schools around social justice history.

 

 

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AM: Educating and inspiring through music.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

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Billie Jean King

AM: I’m currently working on an album all about leadership and activism. It looks to the
heroes of our past (Dr. King, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks,
Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez) and our present (Malala Yousafzai, the Parkland student
protestors) to inspire our kids to move the ball forward. I wrote the songs over the past year, and we begin recording at the beginning of October.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

AM: I’ll be doing a fundraising campaign for this album, my first in many years. I don’t
generally ask fans for money up front like this, but I have a good reason this time: I want
to get this album, and my assembly programs, into the hands of kids and schools that
might not otherwise be able to afford them. Through this campaign, every time a
supporter buys a CD, I’ll give one away to a kid or teacher. I’ll also be providing free
assemblies and programs to Head Start programs and underserved schools.

7109Acm8ueLTTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

AM: Right now I’m digging Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AM: Recording this new album!

 

About the Artist:

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Alastair Moock is a 2014 GRAMMY Nominee, two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Winner, recipient of the ASCAP Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, and has twice been voted by the Fids & Kamily Industry Critics’ Poll among the Top 3 Albums of the Year. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twins in 2006. The New York Times calls him “a Tom Waits for kids” and The Boston Globe declares that, “in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Alastair Moock makes real kids music that parents can actually enjoy.” Moock and Friends’ live shows are rowdy, rootsy, singin’ and dancin’ fun for the whole family!

Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!- by Ants on a Log

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Scene from the musical Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline

For ages: any age

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Politics, Music, Health, Activism, Community Organization, Curiosity.

Summary: Have you ever felt that you were too small to get something done? That no one will listen to you if you dare to raise your voice? The answers to these questions form the backbone of the “eco-feminist musical” Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline. Created by Ants on a Log, “two Philadelphia musician-educator-activists” Julie Beth and Anya Rose, Curious charms from the first song, and follows a chronological story. Siblings Taylor and Clio find out that an oil refinery wants to expand and build in their neighborhood.  After doing some digging around, the pair decide that they have to fix the problem. But will anyone listen?

A narrator and varied cast of characters and voices tell the tale of active resistance and resilience, and we here at TTA think it’s best when listened to in order, but if you only have time to listen to a few songs, standout tracks include “Research” an ode to serious study that had both Corrie and I guffawing with it’s accurate retelling of a conversation that occurs often at our house, when all I have to add to the discussion is the fact that “I’m hungry.” Air and Space” is another excellent song that will make anyone who has ever experienced “mansplaining” laugh and roll their eyes.

There are many important topics covered within the music, and they all meld together into a collection of scientifically correct, real life experiences that is easy to follow and incredibly current with its concepts. Anya Rose and Julie Beth draw you in with their harmonies and don’t let go until the end of the story. The themes of community organization, health and environmental justice could feel weighty or awkward in less thoughtful hands, but the Ants buoy the material with Peter Rose’s dry Narrator guiding the listener through the narrative.

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Image Credit: teachsmarter.com

A focus on growth mindset is a massive trend in early childhood education, and Curious echoes this with songs and lyrics about resilience and not giving up. Clio and Taylor travel from researching and doubting themselves to believing that they do have the right idea, and this character development doesn’t happen overnight. The siblings have to fail and feel dejected before they can finally speak their truth, and these lessons are threaded throughout the album. When letter writing reveals that “The Man in Charge (Is Useless)”, Taylor and Clio think on their feet and figure out a louder way to speak their truth.

 

 

About the Artists:

img-1672_origAnts on a Log is Julie Beth (they/them) and Anya Rose (she/her). The folksy duo writes music for children and other childlike people, songfully advocating for positivity, social justice, and silliness! The Ants have been featured on XPN’s Kids Corner, at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, and on radio stations around the globe. In 2016 the Ants debuted their musical, “Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!” The show harnesses the power of eco-feminist music and humor to encourage families to stay “curious” about alternatives to fossil fuels.

Dylan, age 8
Fanart from Dylan, age 8

In their off-stage lives, Julie is a music therapist and Anya is an elementary science teacher. Their powers combined make for smart and socially conscious folk, mostly originals with some must-know classics. Their harmonies and rhythmic play are a delight for children (and grown children!) of all ages.

Stay Connected with Ants on a Log!

Ants on a Log Website

YouTube Channel

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

 

Rickshaw Girl

Written by: Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by: Jamie Hogan

For ages: YA Book, easy read.

Language: English, some Bangla. Glossary included in back.

Topics Covered: Feminism, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions, POC-Centric Narratives, Own Voices, Women in Business.

Summary: This is a quick read about a girl named Naima, who paints the best alpanas in the village.  But, she dreams of more.  Naima yearns for the freedom that boys and men have to work and earn money, to pursue education, and not have to stay around the house doing chores. Naima’s father is a rickshaw driver, and one afternoon when he is taking a rest she tries to drive it so she can disguise herself as a boy and help him earn money.  Unfortunately, she crashes into a thicket and damages the rickshaw.  Her father continues to drive it damaged, until he can’t get anymore business because it starts to rust.  He has heard that a rickshaw repair shop he used to frequent until it shut down has reopened, and Naima’s mother gives him one of her gold bangle bracelets to pay for the repairs.  Meeting her friend Saleem (they must meet in secret, because he is a boy) in the woods, they hatch a plan that Naima will borrow Saleem’s mosque clothes and offer her painting services to the repair shop in exchange for the repairs her father needs so he doesn’t have to use the bangle.  Naima walks to the shop, marveling at the freedom boys and men have to walk around in the streets, and even drink tea at cafes while watching television!  When she gets to the shop, she asks a woman to direct her to the repairman so she may offer her services.  Much to Naima’s shock, she is gruffly told that the woman is the shop owner and rickshaw repair person!  In a rush, Naima takes off her disguise and tells the woman the whole story, and her frustrations that she can’t earn money for her family.  The shop owner softens, and gives her a chance to demonstrate her painting abilities.  After several hours of hard work, Naima’s father arrives in a flurry of worry about Naima’s whereabouts.  He is shocked to find that the repair shop owner is a woman (she took it over when her father passed away, which is why it was closed) and that Naima has been helping her paint all afternoon and evening!  The shop owner offers to exchange the rickshaw repairs for Naima’s labor, and offers to pay her after the repairs are made.  Naima has finally found a way to funnel her artistic talents into a viable source of income for her family!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jsilver_webJamie Hogan is an award-winning illustrator, educator, and biker living three miles out to sea.  She grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and earned a BFA in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.

Her illustrations have appeared in books and magazines as well as winning merit from the Maine Advertising Club, the 3 x 3 Illustration Annual,  American Illustration, PRINT Magazine, Graphis, and the Society of Illustrators.

She is the author and illustrator of The Seven Days of Daisy, and the illustrator of a dozen children’s books, as well as several adult titles. She illustrated Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, winner of the Jane Addams Peace Association Award and named on the New York Public Library’s list of 100 Best Books.

Jamie was an adjunct professor at Maine College of Art in Portland from 2003 to 2018, teaching courses in the BFA Illustration program and Continuing Studies. She is currently a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

Since 1992, Jamie has lived on Peaks Island with her husband, Marty Braun, and daughter, Daisy. An avid motorcyclist and sketchbook keeper, she draws inspiration from moonlight, reflections, pink clouds, wishing on the first star, and the raw beauty that is Maine.

 

Sound Off Saturday featuring: Parakeet Books!

Happy Saturday!  We are super jazzed to feature a great publisher that we’re totally in love with: UK-based Parakeet Books!  It’s been a minute since we’ve been able to feature someone for Sound Off Saturday, and these are the perfect humans to start the series back up again with.  Hope everyone is having a good day, and that you are able to take a look at the literature-world-shaking that these two powerhouses are up to 🙂

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organisation!

IMG_6969Parakeet Books: Hello! We are Sheju John and Judy Skidmore of Parakeet Books. All our books are diverse and inclusive, all our books are feature stories. We write children’s tales and adventures where the main characters are people of colour, or they have disabilities, or girls are the heroes, or they feature LGBTQ+ families. We’ve both worked in other industries for a while and after we had our children (now 2 aged and 5) we really wanted to make diverse books for them that reflect the world around them. The more we searched in the book shops, online and in the library, the more we found that diverse books featuring people with black and brown skin just aren’t there. So we make our own and we decided to bring in us much diversity as we can – starting with us.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

socialPK: Equality. We always knew we wanted to be part of positive change. We recycle and do our best for society and the planet. Then we had kids and this publishing company just … popped out of us! We are the only publishing company that pledge to create 100% diverse and inclusive books. So far our books feature main characters who are people of colour, girls as heroes, gender neutral characters, and LGBTQ+ families. In the pipeline we are creating books with main characters with differing abilities or disabilities. And crucially. The books are good! They focus on rip-roaring tales, and cosy family adventures for all children. We also showcase other authors and illustrators making diverse books so if people are looking for recommendations they might want to head over to our insta feed.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

_DSC4035PK: We just finished a collaboration with a local primary school to create an alphabet book made entirely from the school children’s work. It is a sideways take on the usual ABC book with stories, poems, tongue twisters and drawings all inspired by the letters of the alphabet. The children’s creativity and innovation have blown us away. It is a joyful, proud and touching book.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

5-6PK: Buy our books for your family and friends and share our posts on social media. Join our No Outsiders campaign to get LGBT families represented in every school room. Leave reviews on Amazon. Aaaand if you are a book publicist or book distributer and like what we do, please get in touch because we are ready to for distribution.

TTA: What book was your favourite in 2019 so far?

PK: We’re in love with Swami on Rye. We liked the look of it and Sheju’s oldest friend is called Swami! The hero, Max goes off on a wild search for the meaning of life that takes him to India, where he visits the Temple of Doubletalk, meets a chatty guru named Vivek Shabaza-zaza-za, and has other adventures. It is totally surreal. And we’re cheating because it turns out this books came out in 1995 – but it only came to us in 2019! We also bought Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys – it is sumptuous to look at and moving to read. The book features all different kinds of families and we got it from London’s only gay Book Shop – Gay’s the Word. Gay’s the Word also stock our book, Eve’s New Brother, which makes us wildly proud.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

IMG_4072PK: Making another book, collaborating with  schools and children – they have the best ideas, it’s a blast.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay connected with Parakeet Books!

The Tiny Activist was able to be a guest on “Reading With Your Kids” Podcast!

Happy Friday!

We had the amazing opportunity to be guests on an awesome podcast in the children’s literature community-Reading With Your Kids! The podcast puts up 5 episodes a week and interviews everyone from authors & illustrators to extra special guests like LeVar Burton!

The two of us were able to discuss a variety of topics with the host Jedlie; our mission and drive, as well as aspects of literacy and the best things about being in the children’s literature community.  We truly enjoyed being able to discuss the issues that are important to us, and what makes an important literary contribution to the ever-growing publishing industry.  It was a fantastic experience and fortuitous moments like this remind us how lucky we are to be able to continue developing the scope of our skills and community-building.

You can listen to our episode here! Let us know what you think, and be sure to listen to some of the other guests on the podcast as well 🙂 Have a great day everyone!

Leading the Way: Women in Power [Being released 10/8]

Written by: Senator Janet Howell & Theresa Howell, forward by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Illustrated by: Kylie Akia & Alexandra Bye

For ages: YA middle & upper grades to read themselves (ages 10 and up); great bedtime story for younger children.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, Women in Politics, Government, Leadership, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Feminism, Politics. 

Summary: Something right off the bat that we really liked about this book are the “Power Symbols” in the beginning.  These are small badge icons that represent different characteristics that the women profiled in the book embody.  The Power Symbols are: Integrity, Community, Resourcefulness, Diligence, Courage, Persistence, Empathy, Communication.  They each have their own icon, and a list of categories that help define the trait.  This is helpful for the reader to expand their vocabulary and be able to attribute certain personality aspects to themselves and others.

The layout of this book has several sections.  The largest section (obviously) is the profile of 50 women leaders in the United States.  Besides an illustration of the figure, there are two quotes from the woman profiled, a biography, and years lived with titles held above the Power Symbols.  The book is decidedly apolitical, featuring women from various political parties throughout history.  Abigail Adams, Tammy Duckworth, Frances Perkins, Shirley Chisholm, Wilma Mankiller, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are just a handful of the women featured.

After these fantastic women are featured there is an action guide for the reader on how to “stand up, speak out, and make a difference” which is awesome!  Empowerment is key for women and young girls to be able to continue to become elected in American government.  There are also more leaders to discover, source notes, and an index.

This book was put out in celebration for white women having the right to vote for a century.  This is quite an accomplishment, and having women’s voices in spaces historically dominated by men is vital for opinions and concerns to be heard and considered in matters of legislation.  The book does not cover the intricacies of Black women’s voting rights in detail, although there are activists who worked on voter registration campaigns such as Fannie Lou Hamer profiled.  The authors do discuss the unfair voting tests that Black individuals were subject to as well as corresponding demonstrations.  Overall, this is a great book and amazing resource for talented women involved in politics.  many of these profiles could be used as a jumping off point for more in-depth research projects for middle school students. We were sent this book from the publisher, Candlewick, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Senator Janet Howell has been a Virginia State Senator since 1992. A community leader prior to running for office, Janet was a PTA president, community association president, and Chair of the State Board of Social Services. Senator Howell is one of Virginia’s most influential senators.  She was the first woman to serve on the powerful Senate Finance Committee. She also serves on the Courts of Justice, Education and Health, Privileges and Elections and Rules committees, and is a Senate budget conferee.  Senator Howell is credited with major legal reforms. She headed the overhaul of Virginia’s family violence laws.  She led efforts to protect children from sexual predators. Virginia has genetic information privacy legislation due to her efforts.  She spearheaded the mental health law reform in the Senate following the Virginia Tech tragedy. Education, children, and families have always been top priorities.

Theresa Howell is the co-author of Maybe Something Beautiful (co-written with F. Isabel Campoy & illustrated by Rafael López), which was inspired by the Urban Art Trail project in San Diego spearheaded by Rafael and his wife, Candice, and has led to similar community art projects throughout the United States. Maybe Something Beautiful was selected as the 2018 Read for the Record title, is the winner of the 2017 Tomás Rivera Book Award, and was named an ALA Notable Book as well as a 2016 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus, the Huffington Post, the Chicago Public Library, and SLJ’s Fuse#8 blog. The Spanish edition of Maybe Something Beautiful, titled Quizás Algo Hermoso, is now available. Theresa is also the author of the picture book series Scout Moore, Junior Ranger (Grand Canyon Conservancy and Muddy Boots Books), featuring the bright, curious, outdoor-loving Scout who motivates young readers to get out there and explore our national parks and nature for themselves. Her latest project, Leading the Way: Women in Power (Candlewick Press) with Senator Janet Howell, spotlights the careers of fifty American women in politics — and inspires readers to make a difference. With foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Theresa began her career in publishing as a children’s book editor with Rising Moon, where she helped establish the bilingual imprint Luna Rising and published a number of award-winning titles. She lives in Colorado with her scientist husband and two creative, nature-loving daughters. There, she hikes, reads, dances, and dreams.

Kylie Akia is a digital illustrator and painter. Her work creates a narrative of juxtaposition through the use of color, subject, and content. Leading the Way: Women in Power is her picture book debut. Kylie Akia lives in Chicago.

 

 

Alexandra 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.