Tag Archives: culture and traditions

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

Canadian Women: Now + Then

Written by: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrated by: Maïa Faddoul

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Biography, Canadian Women, Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Women in STEM, Women in Sports, Feminism, Journalism. 

Summary: 

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a fantastic day to honor those past and present who have changed the world, and Canadian Women: Now + Then is a sensational book that we want to celebrate on this day.

I absolutely love how this book pairs up women from the past and present day who changed the face of history.  Going alphabetically, the reader learns about activists, astronauts, culture keepers, poets, and SO MANY more badass women that everyone needs to know about, especially outside of Canada.  We live in a very Eurocentric world, and particularly American culture and politics has pervaded  much of the media and education system.  This sounds fake, but I have had Canadian friends have to explain to Americans that they celebrate Black History Month in Canada but not MLK Jr. Day.  These assumptions are caused by elitism and ignorance, and the best way to combat these harmful ways of living is through education.  

Dang, I’m glad this book exists.  The women profiled in Canadian Women are diverse and from all walks of life, with a solid amount of First Nations women included as well such as dancer Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa) and Shanawdithit, who preserved her Beothuk culture the best she could under the crushing force of European colonialist invasion. It’s clear that the creators of the book put First Nations and women of color at the forefront, and I am so pleased with that choice!

In the back are smaller profiles of even more inspiring Canadian women, such as one of our favorite artists Kenojuak Ashevak!  Jam-packed with historical information and adorable illustrations, this book will be sitting on our bookshelf for ages to come.

This book was sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elizabeth_macleodElizabeth MacLeod became a writer at a young age. When she and her older brothers were supposed to be doing homework, instead they were sliding crazy drawings and silly stories under one another’s bedroom doors. Elizabeth couldn’t draw (unfortunately, she still can’t), so she wrote wild tales about mad scientists and creatures from alien planets. Not a lot of homework got done!

While at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth didn’t take a single writing course. Instead, she studied science, graduating with an honors degree in biology and botany. That science training came in handy when she started in children’s publishing as the managing editor at OWL Magazine. Then she became an editor and writer at Kids Can Press, where she’s written on subjects ranging from Albert Einstein and horses to Mount Everest and Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Now Elizabeth is a very nosy freelance writer who loves finding out why people do the things they do, so she especially liked writing the books in the “Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History” series (for kids ages 8 to 12) and the “Inspiring Lives” series (for kids ages 6 to 8).

A proud Canadian, Elizabeth loves writing about people who live in Canada and have changed the country — and sometimes the world. As a female writer, she thinks it’s vital that kids know about the courageous women who have improved our lives, so she’s really pleased to share her book Canadian Women Now + Then with readers. Elizabeth wrote about a different kind of brave Canadian in her book Bunny the Brave War Horse, the incredible true story about a horse from Toronto, Ontario, who served with amazing courage in World War I.

Elizabeth and her husband live in Toronto, where their cat, Cosimo, is usually sprawled across her desk!

ma_a_faddoulMaïa Faddoul was born in Montreal, Quebec, to an Argentine mother and a Lebanese father. Her maternal grandfather was a theme park illustrator, and she’d always been interested in drawings and imagery of any kind. Having studied both illustration and design at Dawson College and UQAM, she now works as a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer, creating empowering, bright and colorful imagery, often with an important message.

Her upbringing, heavily rooted in core intersectional feminist values, has led her to work on many projects centered on women and the LGBTQ+ community, in the hopes of using her talent and creativity to help bring more visibility and power to young and misrepresented groups across the globe. This aspect of her work has allowed her to collaborate on a variety of great projects with clients such as Teen Vogue, Showtime, Time’s Up, the National Film Board of Canada and many more.

Maïa still lives in Montreal and works from her colorful and bright downtown studio which she shares with her partner and fellow illustrator. Visit her website here!

I Am Native

Written & Illustrated by: Violet Duncan

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Own Voices, Lived Experience, Growing Up, Culture & Identity, Hoop Dancing, Sports, Family, Love, Native Experience. 

Summary: 

This lovely book is all about the lived experiences of an Indigenous family, comparing their traditional Native activities with other things the family does such as dancing, taking both ballet classes and practicing hoop dancing weekly.  I absolutely love the pairing of hobbies and activities like cooking, riding bikes or horses, and camping.

The beauty of this book is both the positive messaging associated with Native culture and the pairing of what some might call “contemporary” activities like camping in a nylon tent rather than a tipi.  Because schools so often teach Indigenous history as if it’s just that-in the past, this is a refreshing story that shows readers who may be unfamiliar with present day Indigenous practices the way that cultures meld together to create strong and resilient humans today.  Classrooms and schools need these contemporary depictions of Indigenous families living their lives just as much as they need the books that focus on Native history and the history of colonialism in the States and globally.

This book is joyful, colorful, and a wonderful addition to any bookshelf!  I particularly like that real photos are the basis for the illustrations.  There are stunning and brilliant Indigenous and First Nations books with beautiful illustrations, but less often I have seen books that use photographs.  This is true representation showing a real family, authentically living their lives together.  Own Voices to the max!

The author, Violet, was kind enough to send us this book for review, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Violet-DuncanViolet Duncan is an author, storyteller, educator & performer, (Native American Hoop & Powwow dancer). She’s a proud member of the Plains Cree of Kehewin Cree Nation & Taino.

Violet facilitates workshops to promote spiritual wellness & cultural education across the United States, Canada & Europe.

After becoming a mother of 4, she saw a need for Native American representation in literature.  Violet took it upon herself to author two children’s books; “When We Dance” & “Let’s Hoop Dance!” She is now a featured storyteller at many Festivals Nationally & Internationally.

Some of Violet’s accomplishments include holding the “Miss Indian World 2006” title & representing all Indigenous people of North America. You can also see Violet in the 2013 music video “Big Hoops” by Nelly Furtado as the Native American Fancy Dancer.

Around the Table that Grandad Built

Written by: Melanie Heuiser Hill

Illustrated by: Jaime Kim

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Cooking, Cultural Identity, Traditions.

Summary: This is a very sweet book about the preparations of a large family dinner.  Each piece of the meal, starting with the table that grandad built, tells a story of significance and family meaning.  The kids busily set out plates from a wedding, handmade cloth napkins, and carry foods that are traditionally made every year like samosas, tamales, and vegetables.  The illustrations are adorable and diverse, showing a blended family excited to spend time together.

We see this book a lot around the big holidays in the fall and winter, but the book itself doesn’t have strong holiday themes.  It would be great to use all year round because of the focus on family traditions and spending time together.  We like these books that can be applied to a wide range of events, because not everyone celebrates specific holidays.  Perhaps the characters in the story have this meal together weekly, or monthly!  The story itself builds on past pages, when each new item added to the table, it is reiterated with past items ending with the table that grandad built.  It’s very cute, and we love the art style!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ph_hill_melanie_240px_72dpi_rgbMelanie Heuiser Hill is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children and young adults. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and children. Giant Pumpkin Suite was her debut novel. Her first picture book, Around the Table That Grandad Built, was published in Fall 2019.

 

 

 

JKIM_headshotJaime Kim was “born and raised in South Korea before moving to the USA when she was 18.

Although she was a timid child who was afraid of just about everything, she discovered a sense of serenity in drawing. As a grown-up, Jaime finally stopped being afraid of everything, but kept on drawing and painting. She works with gouache, watercolors and acrylics to create nostalgic and dreamlike illustrations, inspired by childhood memories of her family, as well as movies, art, and the outside world. Her favorite things are the sun, the moon, the sky and stars – which is why they always creep into her artwork. Her debut illustrated picture book, Take Heart, My Child, was a #1 New York Times-bestseller.”

Ho’onani Hula Warrior

Written by: Heather Gale

Illustrated by: Mika Song

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English and Hawaiian

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Hawaiian Culture & Traditions, Hula, Indigenous Voices, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Trailblazer, History, Historical Figure, Biographical, Self-Esteem, Family, Acceptance. 

Summary: 

This is an incredible book based on a real person!  Ho’onani is a young girl that feels in the middle of being a girl (wahine) and a boy (kâne) but still uses feminine pronouns.  Indigenous Hawaiians have a term for this, called mâhû. In the story, Ho’onani is accepted and encouraged by her family, except for her sister (in real life, this is not true!) who wishes Ho’onani would conform to traditional gender roles.  Luckily, one of Ho’onani’s teachers named Kumu Hina, (Kumu is Hawaiian for ‘teacher’) supports Ho’onani and allows her to be herself, in the middle.  Ho’onani wants to lead the boys hula performance at the end of the school year, something a girl has never done!  Luckily, Ho’onani’s community is supportive, and she makes history onstage, winning over the approval of her aforementioned sister that is on the fence with how openly Ho’onani embraces her identity.

There was a documentary made about the real Ho’onani by PBS in 2015!  Something that the documentary addresses that there isn’t enough room for in the children’s book is the fact that Ho’onani’s teacher, Kumu Hina, is a transgender woman.  The pair are very close, and Kumu Hina has developed her own terminology for the classroom to be more inclusive for gender non-conforming students mâhû students.

Indigenous Hawaiian gender identities are also discussed in the academic text, Critically Sovereign, which goes more in-depth about how colonialism shaped Hawaiian sexuality and gender identity, oppressing those that were not within the male-female binary.  The chapter about mâhû identity also takes into account the struggle for marriage equality within Hawai’i that started earlier than any other state, in the 1990’s.  The marriage equality debate is also wrapped up into the debate about Indigenous Hawaiian sovereignty, and if there should be a seceding from the greater government to create their own nation much like other Indigenous tribal nations found on the mainland.

You can watch the documentary about Ho’onani for free, here!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

I'm glad you've stopped by!

HEATHER GALE is a former orthotist and author originally from New Zealand. Heather loves stories of all kinds, but she especially loves those that feature real people like Ho’onani. She fell in love with the art of storytelling during long car rides, making up stories to go with the scenes flashing by. Heather has two sons and now lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs.

 

 

 

Image result for mika song illustrator

 

MIKA SONG is a children’s author/illustrator who makes stories about sweetly funny outsiders.

Mika Song grew up in Manila, Philippines. As a child she wrote letters to a mouse who lived under her mother’s desk. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and cat.

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:

265

266

267

268

269

 

Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade

Written by: Lyla Lee

Illustrated by: Dung Ho

For ages: 6-9 years

Language: English & some Korean

Topics Covered: Korean-American Experience, Lunar New Year, Culture & Traditions, Holidays, Friendship, Single-Parent Family, Lunar New Year, Safety, Social-Emotional Development, Own Voices. 

Summary: 

Happy Lunar New Year!  This book was released on January 14th, but we decided to wait to feature it until the actual holiday.  Mindy Kim is back for another adventure, this time taking the plunge and attending a parade in Orlando with her dad and friend Sally.

Mindy is feeling a little apprehensive because it’s the first Lunar New Year since her mom died, and she’s not quite ready to have as much fun as in years prior.  She insists on wearing her old hanbok (a ceremonial Korean garment) despite it being too small, because it was the last one her mother bought her.  This book, like the last one, offers a multitude of conversation options about Mindy’s feelings and events that happen at the parade.  Sally is a great character too.  Despite being white, she’s very excited to try Korean foods and learn different customs like how to bow properly.  She embraces the unfamiliar with gusto, and is excited to learn more about her friend.

Lunar New Year Parade normalizes the bicultural experience that so many kids and families live.  We love having an early chapter book that seamlessly weaves in Korean vocabulary and social-emotional learning into it’s story.  Definitely excited to see the next installment in the series!

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lyla-lee_author-photo-e1563250956805Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins). Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.

7ef4bf2895977.57c98c564f341Dung Ho is an illustrator based in Viet Nam. I’m focused on children books, game design, character design.