Tag Archives: education

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Written & Illustrated by: Anastasia Higginbotham

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Whiteness, Social Justice, Activism, Racism, Anti-Blackness, Self-Reflection, Police Brutality, 

Summary: 

Not only is this book beautiful, but it is important.  It fits perfectly in with the #sweetsandsocialjustice series that we’ve been posting lately! I made peanut butter chocolate squares, which appear on one of the pages.  They also happen to be one of my favorites, and I had all of the ingredients on-hand, creating a perfect chocolatey storm.

This story centers around a young girl recognizing how much of the news is shielded by her parents from her, particularly when police violence against a person of color is broadcast.  It addresses the danger of using the excuse “we don’t see color” as a way to avoid discussing how racism and white supremacy are embedded so deeply within our culture.  Especially being white, we typically aren’t taught these things from a young age. Marginalized and oppressed groups are, because it’s a matter of their survival.  This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power and privilege affect us from birth, and how we can educate ourselves.  It is our duty as white people to self-reflect, educate, and change ourselves to work towards the liberation of everyone.

In the back of the book are several activity pages that explain to the reader how we can be white without signing onto Whiteness, and how to begin engaging in anti-racist work ourselves.  Not My Idea is an incredibly important book, one that we should all be using as a catalyst for our anti-racist education.

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

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

Ingredients:

Peanut butter layer:

1.5c peanut butter

1/2c maple syrup

1.5c oat flour (I made my own by grinding oats in my blender)

pinch of salt

Chocolate layer:

1.5c chocolate chips

1/4c peanut butter

Directions:

Make the peanut butter layer first by melting the peanut butter and maple syrup together, and then stirring in the oat flour and salt.  Press into a lined 9×9 pan. Next, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together, spread over peanut butter layer. I usually sprinkle a high-quality sea salt on top of this (such as Malden or an infused salt) but you can leave it off if you wish.  Put in fridge to chill for an hour or two before cutting.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

anastasia-higginbotham-writerAnastasia Higginbotham launched her Ordinary Terrible Things children’s book series in 2015 with Divorce Is the Worst. It was embraced by children and adults for trusting kids as the authority on their own lives. Higginbotham’s second book, Death Is Stupid, was named one of New York Public Library’s 100 Best Children’s Books of 2016, and Tell Me About Sex, Grandma earned a spot on School Library Journal Blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “Best Books with a Message” in 2017. The series’ fourth book, Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, tackles white supremacy and will be published by Dottir Press.

Higginbotham makes her books by hand in collage on grocery bag paper, using only recycled materials, including jewelry and fabric.

Her books demonstrate a way for kids to cope with change and loss by making meaning out of whatever broken, ragged, or unraveling life circumstances they face.

Higginbotham writes for social justice organizations and taught full impact self defense for 10 years. Her work has been featured in The Believer, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Women’s Media Center, Ms., Bitch, The Sun, The Women’s Review of Books, and in anthologies, including Yes Means Yes (Seal, 2009).

Elizabeth Warren’s Big, Bold Plans [released 5/5]

Written by: Laurie Ann Thompson

Illustrated by: Susanna Chapman

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Politics, Historical Figure, Biography, Women in Politics, Feminism, Activism, Education, Family, Trailblazers. 

Summary: 

Elizabeth Warren’s Big, Bold Plans is a lovely overview of the life of Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator (our first one!).  This is a book developed for children, so it doesn’t cover her switch from conservative to liberal politically but it gives a great many details of her drive to gain education and change the world for the better.  Starting with her love for teaching, the reader follows along while Elizabeth strives to defy parental wishes and attend college.  Elizabeth grew up relatively poor, but always wanted more.  She was eventually able to get a job as a teacher but was fired for being pregnant, so she decided to go to law school.  When she couldn’t find a job because she had two young children, she opened her own practice.  She worked extremely hard for the benefit of people who had been drawn in by shady loan practices that laws allowed banks to put forward.  With her work to change laws, she drew attention from President Obama and was convinced to run for senate.

There is no doubt that Elizabeth Warren is a trailblazer, and has changed politics for the better.  Also, once I made eye contact with her during the Boston Pride parade and it made my day.  I recognize that some individuals have their own thoughts about such matters as her Cherokee heritage claims, and her switching political parties.  But the truth of the matter is that she is a genuine trailblazer and she works for the people.  The book’s illustrations are lovely, and get more diverse throughout the book (I believe this is because her school as a child was segregated but I am not entirely sure).  I really enjoyed this book, and I’m glad that girls with political aspirations have this book as a window that their goals are achievable.  I would also absolutely love a book about Ayanna Presley!  Overall, this is a fantastic book and a wonderful addition to your shelf of girl-power classics.

This book was kindly sent to us by our friends at Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.  The book is being released today!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

05_lauriethompson_PhotoByMaryBalmaceda-thumbnail-squareLaurie Ann Thompson grew up in a small town in rural northern Wisconsin. When she was a kid, Laurie loved books and animals. Not much has changed!

Laurie graduated from college with a degree in Applied Mathematics and became a software engineer. She always loved writing, though, and when Laurie had children of her own she was reminded how much she loved children’s books. It was time for a career change!

Laurie now writes for children and young adults to help readers—and herself—make better sense of the world everyone lives in so we can contribute to making it a better place. Laurie strives to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. Laurie believes that each of us is capable of doing amazing things once we discover our passion, talent, and purpose. Reading is a great place to start!

susanna-chapman-170127274Susanna Chapman is an illustrator living in Nashville! She is the illustrator of The Girl Who Ran, a picture book biography of Bobbi Gibb, which received a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Award and Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Susanna lives in Nashville with her husband where she draws pictures, designs books, and paints murals.

Kaia and the Bees

Written by: Maribeth Boelts

Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Growth, Fear, Lying, Beekeeping, Environmental Conservation, Family, Education, Emotional Regulation.

Summary: 

Kaia’s family has a pretty unique hobby, especially for living in an apartment building.  Her dad keeps bees!  He is very passionate about beekeeping, and bee conservation, especially since honeybee numbers are dwindling globally.  Kaia knows it’s important, but unfortunately she has One Big Fear: bees! Kaia’s small interracial family has thousands of bees, and Kaia is quick to brag to her friends how she’s also a beekeeper like her dad.  They’re impressed…until a bee comes along and she panics.

This story is all about Kaia’s journey through fear, emotional regulation, and bravery.  Her dad doesn’t push her to be around the bees, but continually opens up opportunities for her to interact and help out with them.  I love how interwoven into this story of facing fears is a very real fear that many scientists have-that the bees will disappear and bring ecosystems to a screeching halt with the lack of pollination that bees provide.  This is an adorable story perfect for nature, environmentalism, or social-emotional units in a classroom, or at home!

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maribeth-boelts-2020-honey-01Maribeth Boelts has been writing stories since kindergarten and began writing for kids over 25 years ago when her own children were young. Lots of picture books and three children/four grandchildren later, Maribeth enjoys not only the process of story writing but also meeting kids and adults who like to write. Maribeth and her family took on the challenge of beekeeping, and enjoyed this fascinating hobby for several years. The stings aren’t fun, but the work that honeybees do in pollinating is absolutely essential, and they were thrilled to play a tiny part in it. She also loved harvesting honey! Maribeth is so happy any time she can be in the woods, on a trail, on a river, or watching a sunrise or sunset. Nature has a way of changing us, healing us, and giving us all sorts of creative ideas!

authorspic_websizeAngela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in the great state of Texas. She now resides on the east coast with her boyfriend, Kyle, and petite dog, Petunia.

She is also the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids in 2018, Sid Fleischman Award winner, and an ALA Notable. When Angela is not in her studio or visiting schools, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.

Granddaddy’s Gift

Written by: Margaree King Mitchell

Illustrated by: Larry Johnson

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Modern Back Freedom Struggle, Voting Rights, Family, Activism, Racism, Strength, Resilience, Education, Own Voices, Historical Fiction. 

Summary: This story is told from the perspective of a young girl, who everyone calls Little Joe on account of the fact that she follows her grandfather Joe around everywhere. She and her siblings live with their grandparents on a farm in the South.  Little Joe tries to skip school one day, but her grandpa catches her and on the drive to school she complains about the ragged books the school gets handed down from the white schools.

Things change a bit for the family when Granddaddy volunteers to try and register to vote, agreeing to take the test on the state constitution.  He studies and passes, but the community church is set on fire and burns to the ground as retribution for exercising the right to register.  Undeterred, more members of Little Joe’s community vow to study and register themselves to vote.

This story is an introduction to the struggles that African-Americans faced trying to register to vote before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.  The violence within the story is light, with no one being injured in the church fire and instead using the arson as reason to have more folks register to vote.  The story is appropriate for children, and we would consider the book a primer about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle for younger audiences, to prepare them later for more complex storylines surrounding the topic of both the struggle and the voting registration activism that took place (ex: SNCC, bussing, boycotts, etc.). Great read with beautiful illustrations!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

FullSizeRender-1-624x468Margaree King Mitchell is the author of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop (Simon & Schuster), Granddaddy’s Gift (Scholastic), When Grandmama Sings (HarperCollins), The People In The Park (Watershed Books), and Woman In The Pulpit (Castlewood Books). From her “about” section of her website:

She has been “featured on the PBS show Reading Rainbow, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is on a multitude of school lists of required reading throughout the United States. It is also reprinted in several international textbooks.

The team of David Wohl, Kenneth Grimes, and Susan Einhorn has adapted Uncle Jed’s Barbershop into an award-winning musical featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus as Uncle Jed.  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop was a featured show in the New York Musical Theater Festival and won the National Music Theater Network’s Directors Choice Award.

In my books for children I use history to encourage students to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives.  If they can see the accomplishments of people who lived long ago who achieved their dreams in less than ideal situations, I hope students will be inspired and know they can do even more with their lives.

Several years ago I visited with students who didn’t believe they were special.  They certainly didn’t believe they had special gifts to share with the world.  I was surprised that no one in the entire room thought they had within them the power to change the world.  I asked why.  They said no one had ever told them so.  Therefore, whenever I speak to children, I try to inspire them to dream big dreams for their lives and believe those dreams can come true.

In my teen fiction book, The People In The Park,   I explore what happens in the lives of teens when something devastating happens through no fault of their own.  Teens are blamed for lots of what’s wrong in the world.  But there are teens who are good students and good citizens who  successfully navigate life changing situations.  I thought it would be interesting to show through a story how they work through their issues and return to normal, while becoming better for having gone through the experience.

I hope teens groups use The People In The Park for discussion.

Teens throughout the country are weighing in on Lauren (the main character in The People In The Park) and her situation.  Lively discussions are taking place on whether teens agree or disagree with Lauren and the decisions she makes.

I wrote Woman In The Pulpit after listening to several friends, who are female ministers, talk about their experiences in the pulpit. Through the book I attempt to show the challenges women in the ministry face as they seek to carry out their calling.”

6923840Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Larry Johnson attented The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.  For over thirty years Johnson was the Editorial Sports cartoonist for The Boston Globe, The National Sports Daily, ESPN’s Quickie page and Weei.com.

Larry has been an illustrator for over twenty five years in book  publishing, magazines and agencies. His work includes assignments for Fortune magazine, Lee Low, Scholastic, Little Brown, The Boston Globe, ESPN.com. Hill Holiday and the Sporting News.  He has illustrated biographies on Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph and The Wilt Chamberlain story.  His work has been acknowledged in New York’s Society of Illustrators.

As a Fine Artist, Johnson has had much success selling his original work to celebrity clients such as Oprah Winfrey and Vernon Jordan.  Corporate clients include Pepsi-Cola, Hallmark and The National Football League. His work has been seen on The Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Johnson works in all mediums.  His ability to capture a likeness as well as draw people of every ethnicity makes him very sought after talent for commissioned assignments. His greatest asset is his ability to work in a plethora of styles from a literal rendering to wonderful children’s books.e to edit.

Family is a Superpower

Written by: Michael Dahl

Illustrated by: Omar Lozano

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Family, Superhero, Love, Kindness, Compassion, Education, Strength, Global Community, LGBTQ Families.

Summary: This book embodies the third characteristic we wish to take into 2020: Family (Chosen and/or Biological)! This book pairs superhero traits with traits families and individuals can take into their daily lives to help others and be the best they can be for their community.

We really like how the book it setup, one page showing DC superheroes helping and the other showing a regular family doing the same.  Standing up to bullies, cleaning up their community, a dad staying home with his kids while their mother goes to work.  The narratives are showing real, diverse, and multifaceted look at the families that make up our community.  The juxtaposition between the two world, DC and real, shows readers that they can be real-life superheroes and help others (whether that be welcoming someone to dinner or showing strength through a hard time.

One thing we wish from this book: On the jacket flap it says the families in the book are based on real life diverse families, and we wish they were pictured!  Recognizing the families maybe in a compilation in the back, actual photos and names, or something else would have really tied the whole book together and drawn parallels to the real world.

This book was sent to us by Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Michael-DahlMichael Dahl is the author of more than 100 books for children and young adults. He loves to write mysteries His five-book Finnegan Zwake mystery series published by Simon & Schuster won rave reviews. He also wrote a creepy series called The Library of Doom and another called Dragonblood. His nonfiction has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times. Not once, or twice, but three times! His Finnegan Zwake books were shortlisted for the Edgar and the Anthony Mystery Awards twice. He speaks at schools, libraries, and conferences across the country on graphic novels, mysteries, and books for boys, and has been a featured speaker at ALA, AASL, NYAEC, TLA, NOLA, EncycloMedia and IRA.

OmaWEFrFrom Omar Lozano’s website:

Hello there and welcome to my portfolio!

My Name is Omar, commonly known as ‘Omarito’. I started my professional career as assistant for colors in a studio called Graphikslava where we used to paint comic books for Marvel, DC, IDW and Stonearch. There I had the chance to work as illustrator in the remake of the 90’s mexican comic ‘Ultrapato’ (Ultraduck) and right after that I had the chance to enter CGBot where I worked mostly making art for mobile games. Then I became freelancing for various companies being Capstone the one I have worked with the most, making several children books with them led me to the chance to work in some DC IP’s such as Wonder Woman, Superman and Supergirl. Recently I have worked on ‘Valiants’ (Again a remake of a 90’s Mexican comic book and spin-off of Ultraduck). As of now I’m still loking to give my best in each book or character I make!

Ezra’s BIG Shabbat Question

Written by: Aviva L. Brown

Illustrated by: Anastasia Kanavaliuk

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English & Hebrew (glossary included)

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Judaism, Family, Love, Education, Culture & Traditions, Global Community, Jewish Culture & Identity. 

Summary: This book is so great!  The world of children’s literature desperately needs more diversity, and this book fills several gaps.  Having more main characters of color, especially a family that is Jewish is much needed.  Ezra’s family is interracial, and celebrate Shabbat weekly.

Ezra is a bright, curious character.  He loves being Jewish, and asking questions.  One of his favorite days is Shabbat, because no one does any work.  This gets Ezra thinking, what is considered work?  Can knots be tied?  Can Ezra even tie his shoes on Shabbat??  Wandering around the house, Ezra asks each of his siblings his BIG question but none of them can enlighten him.  Ezra’s mother says she will look it up, and then his dad arrives home just in time for Shabbat.  His BIG question will have to wait!  The reader is introduced to a few vocabulary words and concepts related to Shabbat, as well as the blessing that Ezra’s mom sings.  The next morning, shoes still untied, Ezra is able to track down Rabbi Andy to ask his BIG question.  Rabbi Andy explains that people follow Judaism all over the world, and everyone interprets the rules a little differently.  This makes sense to Ezra, but he’s still unsure on if HIS family is allowed to tie knots, even temporary ones, on Shabbat.  As Ezra goes into the sanctuary for the start of services, he bumps into his dad who tells Ezra to tie his shoes.

This book does a great job of explaining the nuances of the religion, and presenting a simple question that adults may not consider but is very important to young people.  Another small side plot of this story we found particularly funny is that in the beginning Ezra wonders if the cat thinks in English, but in several places throughout the story we see thought bubbles above their two cats and they’re in fact NOT thinking in English!  This book does a fantastic job introducing a young audience to Judaism without knocking the reader over the head.  The story is believable, the illustrations are adorable, and the reader is left wanting to know what other BIG questions Ezra has.  We can’t wait to see what this author publishes next!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

web+bio+picAviva Brown and her children converted to Judaism in 2017, but during the preceeding years of Jewish study, she noticed a lack of diversity among Jewish children’s literature.  In late 2018, Aviva read a quote by author Beverly Cleary: If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.  So, she did.

In 2019, Aviva founded SpringLight Publishing to publish her books, with the goal of eventually publishing diverse picture books by other independent authors.

Aviva currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, two cats, and four wild animals who sometimes pretend they’re well-mannered children.  When she’s not writing, editing, or reading diverse kidlit, she can be found hiding from housework (well, you can try, but she’s super good at hiding), eating popcorn, or singing show tunes.

Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 11.03.42 AMAnastasia Kanavaliuk is hard to find on the internet!  Her Instagram handle is here, and we think she’s so incredibly talented! 

Sound Off Saturday Featuring: Mama Tortuga!

Happy Saturday!  We are thrilled to have been able to connect this week with Johana, also known as Mama Tortuga!  She is a powerhouse of bilingual and herbal activism and knowledge, with a flair for business.  Johana is a hustler and has tons of fantastic projects that she’s currently working on.  We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!f70d4b_5e94206b839e4548ac290c241396f086~mv2_d_1836_3264_s_2

Mama Tortuga: Hello, hola!! I am Johana usually called Mama Tortuga. I have created a bilingual website called www.mamatortuga.org to support and provide resources to families around the world, that want to raise free, eco-conscious, multilingual, global citizens. Our perspective is multicultural. We love to create community and to support communities that are working to create a better and improved world!!! I have a very eclectic point of view, from music and arts, to activism, to freedom, our family is here to support this and amplify those voices that need to be amplified!!!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

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Johana and her family- Photo Credit: @R Dot Photography

 

MT: Very passionate about a wholesome approach to live!! From intersectional feminism, mindful parenting, sustainability, arts, and love!!! I am a student of life!! I am also a lover of nature and work alongside my family in our small backyard garden.

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

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 12.05.09 PM
“Parenting is a spiritual practice. Social Activism is a spiritual practice”

MT: Right now I am working on creating ways to support myself, an immigrant Latina mother, and support other women in my community in learning and healing. Always looking for ways I can generate funds and spaces for us to grow!! Locally, I am offering Spanish and English social classes in the area of West Palm Beach, Fl. I am also on a local Spanish radio, where I support ancestral knowledge on herbals and multicultural traditions. Online, I am offering platforms to support resources for global and conscious families. Also, I am documenting much of my adventures, because I believe our voices are important, even if my English is not perfect!! Always showing solidarity with oppressed groups and searching for a different mindset for our world!!! Right now working on a class to be offered at the Florida Herbal Conference of next year in Spanish!!!

 

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

 

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“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”

MT: Thanks for asking this!! We offer a line of wonderful and original Mama Tortuga T-shirts on all sizes for you $21 for sizes S, M, L and $18 for children, includes shipping, we also offer custom orders for bigger sizes or special merchandise. Also, I would love to be offered jobs on translation, multicultural consultant and talks, that are paid. I had been doing a lot of these jobs in the past decade. Sadly, many times, we are not being acknowledged. Also, I would love to be part of online collabs and convos. It is about forming a supporting community!!!

 

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

MT: So hard to choose!! Going to mention some: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, The Holly Wild by Danielle Dulsky and Jambalaya by Louisa Teish

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 11.55.22 AMTTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

MT: For my website to keep growing and new connections that make a reality the dreams I have about having a supportive community. That the passion that I have for justice and solidarity and healing can come to fruition in abundance of resources and love!!!f70d4b_6ed50d5703164302a09e00d41ac84851mv2.jpg

 

Stay Connected with Mama Tortuga!

Green, multicultural and mindful family

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