Tag Archives: friendship

Noodlephant

Written by: Jacob Kramer

Illustrated by: K-Fai Steele

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Activism, Protest, Friendship, Community, Oppression, Community, Ingenuity, Peaceful Action. 

Summary: 

In our next installment of #sweetsandsocialjustice we have Noodlephant! I made some brown sugar cornmeal shortbread, inspired by Noodlephant making pasta from unique ingredients.  Follow the link in bio for the recipe, and tag us if you make this delicious treat!

This book is absolutely phenomenal and teaches readers about social justice, oppression, and community organizing.  Noodlephant is a lovely character for this humorous book that has so many lessons about activism embedded within its pages.  Protesting, campaigns, and the unfairness of treatment under an oppressive law is all covered in this glorious book.  A second book is coming out this year and we are SO excited to see the next installment!

Noodlephant is known for her love of pasta, and hosting lovely delicious parties for her friends.  When the kangaroos in charge start making more and more restrictive rules, like who can and can’t go to the pool, things start to change-and not for the better.  Soon, Noodlephant isn’t even allowed to eat noodles anymore!  Heartbroken, she sets to work to create a machine that will create her delicious and enticing noodly creations under the cover of secrecy.  When she is tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to the zoo, how will Noodlephant cope?

So we don’t typically post a lot of animal books on here, but Noodlephant is absolutely incredible!  We were thrilled to find a copy for ourselves (spending our own money!) and snatched it up on a trip to our local Contemporary Art Museum, (the second shock of this post being that we actually bought something at a museum gift shop!).

Recipe: Brown Sugar Cornmeal Shortbread

1.5c All Purpose flour (I typically use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gf ap flour for myself)

1/2c cornmeal

1t salt

2 sticks butter

1/2c dark brown sugar

1/3c sugar (I use either maple sugar or white sugar)

1 egg

1t vanilla extract

1t cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla. Add dries and mix just until they are incorporated. For thicker shortbread, put all dough into 1 eight inch cake pan, or split into 2.  Bake at 300 for about 45-55 minutes.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Jacob+KramerJacob Kramer studied writing and filmmaking, and went on to work in community organizing and writing kids books. He tells stories in which people band together to build power and change their world.

If you must know a fun fact, know this: Penelope Taylor and Jacob trained Bags, the cat, to use the toilet using the Mingus Method. Follow Jacob on twitter: @jknotjk

k-fai_photoFrom illustrator’s K-Fai Steele’s website: “If you want to know how to pronounce my name, watch this book trailer for A Normal Pig. I use she/her pronouns.

A Normal Pig is my author-illustrator debut, and is published with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. I also illustrated Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer (Enchanted Lion Books, 2019), and Old MacDonald Had a Baby by Emily Snape (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2019). In 2020 I’m illustrating Probably a Unicorn by Jory John, and Okapi Tale (the sequel to Noodlephant).

I’ve always loved art and books, and I’ve worked in museums and libraries as an adult. I was an Art Handler at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where I got to install Starry Night. I worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and later the National Writing Project on an IMLS/MacArthur initiative to co-design creative and educational spaces for young people in public access institutions.

I live in San Francisco and I’m a 2018-2019 Brown Handler Writer in Residence at the San Francisco Public Library. I’m the 2019 recipient of the James Marshall Fellowship at the University of Connecticut, and I received the Ezra Jack Keats/Kerman Memorial Fellowship in 2018 at the University of Minnesota.

I’ve presented at the American Library Association Annual meeting and Midwinter meeting, the Tucson Festival of Books, the Bay Area Book Fest, the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, EpicFest in Charlotte, NC, Kidquake/Litquake in San Francisco, the International Literacy Association annual conference, and the National Council of Teachers of English convention. In 2020 I’ll be presenting at the AISC LitFest in Chennai, India, the Turn the Page! Festival in Oakland, and I’m the featured author for the Danville-San Ramon (East Bay) KidsReads.”

Mrs. Bibi’s Elephant

Written & Illustrated by: Reza Dalvand

For ages: 3-5 years

Language: English

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

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

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

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

About the Author & Illustrator:

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

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

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.

Four Feet, Two Sandals

Written by: Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed

Illustrated by: Doug Chayka

For ages: 7-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Refugees, Friendship, Empathy, Immigration, Global Community. 

Summary: This is a very sweet and emotional story of two friends that meet in a refugee camp when each gets only one sandal from a supply truck.  Lina and Feroza become friends and begin to share the sandals, alternating days wearing them.  The girls spend almost all of their time together, talking about their dreams of leaving the camp and completing chores.  When Lina’s family is put on a list to leave the camp, who will end up with the 2 shoes when there are 4 feet?

This book was inspired by a camp that author Khadra Mohammed worked at in Peshawar, Pakistan.  Despite being published in 2007, it is even more prescient today given the current crises today regarding immigration and loss of homes, resulting in forced migration of various peoples across the globe. The accompanying illustrations by Doug Chayka are beautiful, looking painted rather than drawn.  These stories are important for children to learn, and to learn about the privilege that we live with in many parts of the United States.  If able, this book can be used as a jumping off point for more education about global refugees, activism, or lived experiences.

About the Authors & the Illustrator:

klw2Karen Lynn Williams (right) was born in Connecticut, and received her Master’s degree in deaf education. She has lived in Africa and in Haiti. Karen had an early dream to be one of the youngest published authors, starting a writing club at ten. However, Karen’s published works came later in life, after extensive travels and family experience. Karen’s ability to draw from personal experience and adapt into writing forms for all ages and interests expresses her true gift.

The Pittsburgh Refugee Center‘s Executive Director, Khadra Mohammed (left) is a native of Somalia and has over twenty years of experience in working with refugee populations, both in the US and in refugee camps in Pakistan and Kenya. In Pittsburgh, for the past eight years, she has advocated on behalf of local refugees and brought awareness of refugee issues to the attention of the greater Pittsburgh community. Ms. Mohammed is also a published author of several children’s books. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction in 2005, and was honored with PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2005 40 under 40 Award.

638133_102_120_LTE2MDQzNzE2NDMtOTAxMDgyNjExDoug Chayka is a “freelance illustrator based in New Jersey and also travels frequently to Berlin, Germany, where he works for part of the year. His clients include The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, NBC News, Politico, Pentagram, Wired, and many others. Doug has also taught illustration full-time at Ringling College of Design (2009-10) and Savannah College of Art and Design (2010-12), and on an adjunct basis at Pratt Institute, City College of New York, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The Illustration Academy.

Doug grew up in Weedsport, New York and attended Rochester Institute of Technology to study illustration and graphic design. Shortly after graduating, he moved to Kansas City to study further under one of my illustration heroes, Mark English, his first big influence and an early mentor. Doug began freelancing there in the late ’90’s and landed my first editorial assignments at the Kansas City Star while also working on his first picture book projects. A few years later Doug began to travel extensively in Europe and eventually stayed in Berlin, where he studied painting and printmaking as a Fulbright scholar at The Berlin University of the Arts from 2000-2002. Many different people and places have helped shape Doug’s point of view as an artist. Doug believes that it’s a process that is ongoing and grows with every new client and each unique challenge.”

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

Written by: Brandy Colbert

For ages: YA (underage alcohol use, marijuana use, sex, substance use/addiction)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Growing Up, Chicago, Relationships, Dating, Family, Police Interaction (racist treatment), 

Summary: In the summer between sophomore and junior year, Birdie’s aunt Carlene unexpectedly shows up at their apartment above the hair salon that Birdie’s mother Kitty owns and operates.  Birdie has been forced to give up soccer and misses it terribly, and is in a fledgling relationship with a boy named Booker who her parents wouldn’t approve of.  Birdie’s aunt has battled with substance use for the majority of her life, and it seems that everyone feels it’s only a matter of time before she relapses once again.

Birdie becomes frustrated trying to please her strict and overprotective parents, as well as trying to deal with the growing suspicion that there’s a family secret that may involve her.  could be described as a coming of age novel.  Birdie is trying to live her own life and make decisions for herself, feeling hindered by the expectations her parents have placed on her.  The author brings it about in an accessible way, it would be easy for readers to relate to the pressure Birdie feels.  She also has a pile of secrets that keeps growing as she schemes how to sneak out and see Booker.

We love that LGBTQ characters rethreaded throughout the book as well, normalizing the friendships between straight and queer people and having queer family members.  There is a strength to the family, especially in the way that Kitty doesn’t give up on her sister Carlene.

About the Author:

brandy-colbertBrandy Colbert is the award-winning author of Little & Lion, Finding Yvonne, Pointe, and the forthcoming The Revolution of Birdie Randolph (August 20, 2019). Her short fiction and essays have been published in several critically acclaimed anthologies for young people. She is on faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children, and lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

The King of Kindergarten

Written by: Derrick Barnes

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 4-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: School, Social-Emotional Learning, New Places, POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Kindness, Own Voices. 

Summary: This book is the cutest!  It is adorable, upbeat, and makes a first day at school seem like no big deal.  Speaking about the daily routine at school in an embellished and royal way is reminiscent of I Will Be Fierce! which turns the ordinary and potentially scary into a fun adventure.

Our main character wakes up excited to tackle the first day, assured by his family that he will be the king of kindergarten.  After brushing his royal teeth, our king begins the journey to school and meets the kingdom, have important discussions, and play outside.  This book is precious in it’s character’s self-assuredness that school is a place for him, he will be seen, heard, and respected.

This is especially important given that he is a young boy of color, where in the “real world” there are disproportionate statistics of these young children being suspended and expelled.  Every classroom is obligated to not only ensure the social-emotional learning to tackle new and potentially anxiety-inducing situations, but to also actively work against these myths that young boys of color are somehow more out of control and/or deserving of punishment than any other child in the classroom.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cropped-img_8599-2Derrick D. Barnes is from Kansas City, MO. He is a graduate of Jackson State University with a BA degree in Marketing. He is the author of the critically acclaimed picture book CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut (Denene Millner Books/Agate Bolden) which recently won the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Award. It was also a HUGE winner at the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, taking home FOUR Honor awards: the Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Newberry Honor, and the Caldecott Honor. His first two books were published by Scholastic; Stop Drop and Chill, and The Low Down Bad Day Blues.  His first YA novel, The Making of Dr. Truelove was published by Simon Pulse which was recognized by the American Library Association as a Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. He is also the author of the best selling chapter book series entitled Ruby and the Booker Boys (Scholastic). His 2011 middle grade hardcover classic We Could Be Brothers was rereleased in paperback in 2017 by Just Us Books. Prior to becoming a published author, Derrick wrote best-selling copy for various Hallmark Card lines and was the first African American male staff writer for the company. He is the owner of a creative copy writing company, Say Word Creative Communications.  He is also the creator of the popular blog Raising The Mighty, where he ‘chronicles the experience of bringing up four beautiful Black boys in America’. His next book, entitled The King of Kindergarten, will be published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Derrick resides in Charlotte, NC with his enchanting wife, Dr. Tinka Barnes and their four sons, Ezra, Solomon, Silas, and Nnamdi (Nom-dee).

vanessa-new-225x300-2-2Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants allchildren to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

​Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.

The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.