Tag Archives: disability

I Will Dance [released 5/26]

Written by: Nancy Bo Flood

Illustrated by: Julianna Swaney

For ages: 4 years and up 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Dance, LGBTQ Families, Cerebral Palsy, Disability, Friendship, Acceptance, Goals, True Story. 

Summary: 

This is an absolutely beautiful story about a real girl who yearned to find a dance company that would accept her.  Eva has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.  She’s worried she won’t ever be able to dance onstage, because there isn’t adequate representation of dancers with differing styles and abilities.  One day Eva’s mothers (yes, she has 2!) take her to a dance studio (that’s modeled on a real dance program called Young Dance) and Eva finds a group that welcomes her with open arms.

The book is written in first person, and a lot of Eva’s narrative is fear that she won’t find a place to dance.  It shies away from an inspiration-disability narrative, which I was so pleased about.  The story is about finding a place where Eva feels comfortable and valued, which is something that all humans want.  Throughout the story Eva hears things like “pretend you’re dancing” but it’s not good enough for her (nor should it be) because she deserves to be included and have the hobbies she loves. When Eva finds her Young Dance community, she feels at home.

Another detail about the book is that it’s not even mentioned that Eva has 2 moms, it completely normalizes this family structure by just having it in the background. The illustrations are beautiful and diverse, as well as convey flowing movement of every character in the story.

The author of this book is able-bodied (to the best of my knowledge) but has worked with schools and families to create inclusive programming for disabled children. There is also a note in the back from the director of Young Dance, telling more about the organization.

This book was kindly sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. It’s to be released tomorrow, 5/26!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Nancy-Bo-FloodThroughout Nancy’s  life she has enjoyed reading, writing, and sharing stories.

In college Nancy wanted to learn about the brain. How do we remember; why do we forget; why we want to try new things? Just how does our brain work? So she became a research psychologist and studied brain development at the University of Minnesota and as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of London. That might seem like a long way from writing books for kids, but it’s not.

Her work has always focused on children and young adults – as a researcher, counselor, teacher, parent, and now as a writer. Nancy has conducted workshops on child abuse, learning disabilities, play therapy, and creative writing. Her work and research has allowed Nancy to live all over the world – in Malawi, Africa, Hawaii, Japan, the western Pacific, and, most recently, the Navajo Nation where she hikes, rides her bike and attends local rodeos.

tumblr_inline_pxbgbzHGWX1qztu8g_500Julianna Swaney is a freelance illustrator whose work is inspired by whimsical details of daily life and the fairy tales she loved reading as a child. Julianna grew up homeschooled which allowed free range for her imagination and interests in folklore, animals, nature, and history. She studied printmaking at Maine College of Art (BFA 2005), and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

All of Julianna’s drawings are created with pencil and watercolor or gouache on paper.

Thukpa for All

Written by: Praba Ram & Sheela Preuitt

Illustrated by: Shilpa Ranade

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English & some Tibetan 

Topics Covered: Friendship, Community, Disability, Cooking, Family, Global Community, Problem-Solving, Tibet, Ladakh Region.

Summary: Tsering, our main character, is walking home.  He is excited to eat some delicious thukpa, a hearty and spicy soup.  Tsering is blind, and moves a white stick in front of himself while walking so Tsering knows what’s in front of him.  As he walks, Tsering listens to the sounds of his village and invites his friends over for some thukpa as well.

Tsering in this story is very much an active-doer.  He helps people along his journey, is kind to his neighbors and friends, and is embedded in the community as a kind and helpful person.  Tsering is given tasks to complete and asked why he is always walking so quickly.  This narrative is really refreshing for a blind character, especially a protagonist.  Tsering is the one finishing projects, finding lost lambs, and gathering vegetables for the thukpa.   The sensory elements of the story add to the read-aloud experience, and make the entire story experience very detailed.  The reader can immerse themselves in the experience of Tsering’s daily life, and the strong friendships he has with other individuals that live in the village.  I especially love the part of the story where Tsering is the problem-solver when the power goes out.  It doesn’t matter to him!  He finishes cooking the meal for everyone until the power comes back on.

At the end of the book is more information about Ladakh, a desert in India where the story takes place.  There is also a glossary of the Tibetan words used in the story, and a thukpa recipe so the reader can make their own soup!

About the Authors & the Illustrator:

prabaram-257x300Praba Ram is a children’s writer, a reading specialist and an early literacy advocate. She is the founder of the kid-lit blog, Saffron Tree – an award winning site dedicated to recommending and reviewing children’s books from India and the US. Praba believes in the power of books and its positive impact on children, especially when introduced in the early years of childhood. While in the US, she got involved as a Storytime Facilitator for the Ready-to-Read Program implementing story hours for children with limited library access. During those two years, Praba planned several fun read-aloud programs incorporating an array of themes and books, which never failed to delight children. She enjoys reading-aloud and interacting with babies/toddlers, preschoolers and children in early school age. As for writing, she enjoys writing about environmental and cultural themes. She has also co-authored four books for children, her most recent one being “The Endangered Animals of India” published by Mango Books of Cochin.

Praba has always been passionate about the public sector and has had several short stints at many NGOs and non-profits focusing on education issues primarily. She has an undergraduate degree in Management Studies from BITS, Pilani and a Masters in Public Policy from University of California at Los Angeles. Having recently moved back with her family from the East Coast of the US to the East Coast of India, this chai & travel-loving mother is happy to be raising her two daughters in the culturally rich, but known near and far for its forever-hot-and-humid weather that is the city of Chennai.

34077Sheela Preuitt enjoys writing nonfiction books on STEM topics for children. She is awed by the unfathomable magnitude of our universe and loves to share that admiration with the young readers through her books. She has a masters in Science Education, a masters in Computer Science, and ten published books.

 

 

 

ShilpaRanadeShilpa Ranade is also a film maker and an Associate Professor at the Industrial Design Centre at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Her most recent animation film, ‘The World of Goopi and Bagha’ (‘Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa’) premiered at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film is an adaptation of one of the most cherished Indian children’s classics, Upendrakishore Roy’ s Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne. Supported by the Children’s Film Society of India and featuring music by 3 Brothers & A Violin, the film features many twists and turns that aren’t present in the original work.

The Degenerates [released 3/17]

Written by: J. Albert Mann

Cover Art by: Design: Rebecca Syracuse; Illustration: Sarah Maxwell-Folio Art

For ages: YA (14 years and up)

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Growing Up, Mental Health, Disability, Own Voices, Interracial Love, Family, Friendship, Institutionalized Lives, Courage, Bravery, Love. 

Summary: 

This book is incredible.  I truly hope this book review does it justice, I couldn’t put it down.  We were given the opportunity to read the book before it’s released on 3/17 and I am so appreciative!  Four young girls (Rose, Alice Maxine, and London) are all institutionalized at the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded, also known as the Fernald School.  Set in 1928, readers get a look inside the dismal and regimented existence that these girls as well as the rest of the inmates are subjected to.  The book is told in the four voices of the girls mentioned above, and the reader learns the schedule of the “school” and why they were abandoned there.  Using the language of the day, you can anticipate outdated terms for Down syndrome as well as learn about the eugenics movement that drove the incessant testing and measuring of intelligence leading to categories that we no longer use (but that many still use as ableist insults today).

I don’t want to give away too much, but The Degenerates is a slow burn, and made my little gay heart go pitter patter all the way until the last pages.  It’s a fantastic historically accurate book, and I’ve already told several people how much they need to read it!

In an extensive note in the back, we learn more about the author and how she developed the book from actual records found from the Fernald School, which was finally closed in 2014.  We coincidentally live very near the Fernald, so this book was of particular interest to us!  Everything in the book that a doctor or nurse says to a character was pulled from hospital records, as well as the characters names and their conditions.  The author herself is disabled, giving a personal voice to the probability that she herself would have been committed to an institution such as this one should she have been born last century.  Honestly, we probably would have been committed too, due to the criminalization of queer people in addition to the other disabled and marginalized citizens.  This adds another layer to reading the book and the heinous “care” that these individuals committed for life were given.

The Degenerates will be released on March 17th! This book was sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. This is a YA book everyone should devote a few hours to reading!

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

Jennifer+Mann_Author+Photo_2016+(1)J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children, with S&S Atheneum Books for Young Readers set to publish her next work of historical fiction about the Eugenics Movement and the rise of institutionalism in the United States. She is also the author of short stories and poems for children featured in Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights Fiction Award, as well as the Highlights Editors’ Choice Award. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.

selfieSarah Maxwell is an American illustrator based in London. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas, only to then travel to Paris for studies. Having lived there for over 5 years, she has made the move to travel across the pond to the UK to start a new chapter of her life.

Her work ranges from fashion illustration to animated GIFs and comics. The best way to describe her work is summed up in 4 key words: nostalgia, tenderness, femininity, and 80’s electronic music.

0-3Rebecca Syracuse is a graphic designer and illustrator, highly experienced in children’s publishing and product design.

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

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Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

82894759_2605734689669770_1303419920322658304_o
Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

Inclusion Alphabet

Written & Illustrated by: Kathryn Jenkins

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Literacy, Inclusion, Neurodiversity, Disability, Friendship, Vocabulary, Family, Love, Global Community, Social-Emotional Learning & Development.

Summary: For our second skill to take into 2020 we’ve chosen Inclusion! Our planet is a wonderful, weird, diverse place.  It becomes better when we include and advocate for everyone, especially marginalized populations.  By understanding the intersections of oppression, we can be better allies and embrace the teachable moments throughout the day.

This is a creative take on an alphabet book, both teaching the letters and telling a story with it.  The book encourages the reader to recognize and embrace differences. We really like how the book demonstrates that something or someone might be unfamiliar, but friendship is possible.  There is an emphasis on social-emotional learning and kindness to others.  In the back is a glossary with all of the words used, and they are great for vocabulary development.  This book would be a great tool to inspire action, introduce a new classmate, or help with teaching how to be a good human.

This book was kindly sent to us by Kathryn, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Kathryn Jenkins is the author and illustrator of this book, and also runs a website called Inclusion Project!  The website has resources, a list of things that her family loves (that have withstood the test of 3 children!) and a shop where she designs her own inclusion-based shirts.

Here is a blurb from her website about why she does the work she does:

“In 2016, I started Inclusion Project because I wanted to talk about inclusion with others and how its not a place but rather — a mindset. I truly believe that, as a mom to three boys, one of has autism, — we can be more inclusive and kind and respectful and promoting of each other. We can believe in each others success, even though it does look different and because of my strong passion in that belief

Because of my strong passion in that belief, I picked up a pen and wrote a book. It was published in October 2018 and titled Inclusion Alphabet. I also designed shirts. I created several coloring pages and I am now currently writing a second and third book book full of worksheets and ideas to spread more inclusion. Be sure to join my community on Instagramand Facebook. You will find me there a lot. For any collaboration opportunities or features, check out my media kit. “