Tag Archives: historical events

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Women in Science, Historical Figure, Space, Segregation, Racism, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Historic Events. 

Summary: Katherine was an incredibly intellectually gifted child, starting 2nd grade at age 6, and 5th grade the year after.  Her parents strongly valued education and moved the family closer to the West Virginia Institute, where Katherine started high school at the age of ten and college at the age of 15 on a full scholarship.  Years later, after graduation and teaching, she got a job in the segregated computing office at Langley Aeronautics.

Katherine was disciplined, hardworking, and brilliant.  She soon blazed her own trail as the only permanently working woman and woman of color in the office where she was originally placed on just temporary assignment.  She was instrumental in the Space Race and has inspired too many people to count, especially young women of color to embrace their intelligence and interest in STEM.

This is a fantastic book that describes just how pivotal Katherine Johnson was to American history during the Space Race of the early 1960’s.  Having these books that intellectualize women, especially women of color during segregation is crucial for students to have a comprehensive history of the United States.  Katherine Johnson was largely ignored until recently, and there is additional information about Katherine in the back of the book.  This is a great book for older children, especially after reading some of the other Hidden Figures books or watching the movie!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lesa_nola-2-2Lesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to the local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating my own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.

raul-colon-706247Raúl Colón is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books, including Draw! an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the International Latino Book Award; Imagine! an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a Bookpage Best Book; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to DanceAngela’s Christmas by Frank McCourt; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

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

Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream

Written by: Blair Imani, Foreword by Patrisse Cullors (BLM Co-Founder)

Illustrated by: Rachelle Baker

For ages: YA Middle Grades, 12 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Black Culture & Identity, American History, Enslavement, Reconstruction, Historical Figures, Family, Politics, Love.

Summary: 

This book is meticulously researched and fascinating!  Author Blair Imani takes readers on a journey through the American history that we don’t typically learn in history books, and discusses the Great Migration decade by decade starting with Reconstruction.

Coupled with gorgeous and very realistic illustrations, this is the type of history book I yearned for as a child.  I devoured this book in a single sitting, loving that the historical figures I learned about in college are available to children.  I was riveted, the facts weaving together in a way that was not dry or boring but instead ignited the desire to continue reading past my bedtime.  There is also an extensive (almost 30 pages!) glossary that explains everyone referenced in the text as well as landmark court cases and activist groups.  Seriously, do yourself a favor and read this one as soon as possible!

This book was generously sent to us by our friends at Ten Speed Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ryan+PflugerBlair Imani is a critically-acclaimed historian, outspoken advocate and activist, and dynamic public speaker. The author of two historical books: Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream (2020), she centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. She serves as the official ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, one of the oldest progressive Muslim organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and she dedicates her platform to advocating for the rights of marginalized people around the world.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Blair Imani attended Louisiana State University where, in 2014, she founded Equality for HER, a non-profit organization that provided resources and a forum for women and nonbinary people to feel empowered. Her fearless leadership took her to the front lines of anti-police brutality protests and, following her arrest at the protests of Alton Sterling’s murder in Baton Rouge, Blair began building a platform and social media presence to organize and create awareness about injustices in Black, Queer, and Muslim communities.

A highly sought-after public speaker, Blair Imani has appeared on FOX News (“Tucker Carlson Tonight”) and MSNBC (“The Point”), presented at colleges and universities (including Harvard, Yale, and Brown), spoken at progressive conferences around the world, and has delivered powerful talks and speeches for organizations that include GLAAD, TEDx, and LoveLoud. Her viral TEDxBoulder talk, “Queer & Muslim: Nothing to Reconcile”, has sparked important discourse about the intersection of the two identities. In 2019, she was proudly featured in New York City Pride’s campaign honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. She has also been profiled in Teen Vogue, The Advocate, and Variety, on the Today Show, and by Yahoo! News. From the United States to countries like Kenya and the United Kingdom, Blair Imani has inspired audiences around the world.

In 2017, Blair Imani came out as a queer Muslim woman on national television (“Tucker Carlson Tonight”). Since then, she has been a proud public advocate for LGBTQ rights. Her work with the internationally renowned LGBTQ rights organizations Tegan & Sara Foundation, GLAAD, It Gets Better, Trevor Project, and LOVELOUD, continues to elevate the stories of queer people of faith globally.

As an advocate and historian, organizer and public speaker, Blair Imani is dedicated to making the world a better place and amplifying the voices and work of those fighting the good fight.

IMG_9028Rachelle Baker is a multi-disciplinary artist from Detroit, MI with a background in Relief Printing (Screenprinting, Lino/Woodcutting), Illustration, Comic Art, Video Art, and Music. She is inspired by Shoujo manga, anime and comics bad girls, stoic women dancing in the backgrounds of late 90’s/early 2000’s R&B videos, and the sound cats make when they’re yawning. She is a Capricorn with a Scorpio moon.

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.

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!

Work it, Girl: Mae Jemison [released March 3]

Written by: Caroline Moss

Illustrated by: Sinem Erkas

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Women in STEM, Historical Figure, Biography, Astronauts, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity, Dancers.

Summary: 

If you think we’re ever going to stop posting books about Mae Jemison, you would be sorely mistaken.  This badass speaks 4 languages, and was the first Black woman in space.  How could we not continue to heap love upon her at every opportunity?!

This is another fantastic addition to the Work It, Girl! series, and this one is the perfect next step for the slightly older elementary reader that is fascinated by space and Mae herself.  This book is similar to the picture books that introduce Mae and her astronomical achievements, but goes into much greater detail about her childhood and the drive she had to achieve her goals. Mae not only became an astronaut, but a medical doctor and accomplished dancer as well.  Seriously Mae, leave some trails for us to blaze!

For real though, this book talks about how getting a splinter was the catalyst for Mae’s fascination for science and the strength her parents instilled in her to ignore naysayers and go after exactly what she wanted.  The beautiful paper cutouts illustrate the text in a brightly colored and creative way.  We are thrilled that this series is featuring Black women that achieved great things and continued on to help others, as well as inspire readers to do the same.  Like the Michell Obama volume, this one has life lessons to learn from Mae and self-reflection questions for the reader to answer.  Honor the people you love, stay motivated and passionate, but remember it’s ok to take breaks too!

This awesome book is out tomorrow, March 3rd! It was sent to us by our friends at Quarto, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Benjamin Pu
Benjamin Pu

Caroline Moss began her writing career as a technology and culture reporter at Business Insider, where she rose the ranks to deputy editor over two and a half years at the company. Caroline covered viral content, YouTube and social media stars, and internet trends before leaving to write “HEY LADIES!” with Michelle Markowitz, a book based on their popular series at The Toast. A few years later she joined BuzzFeed News to help produce their morning show, AM to DM, and it was there that Caroline wrote the first two books in the “Work It, Girl!” series.

In between, she has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Hairpin, Racked, VICE, and more. Caroline’s books have appeared in The New York Times, Refinery29, Bustle, and more.

thumbweb-xoxoSinem Erkas is a graphic illustrator and art director with an appetite for experimentation and a good sense of fun.

Her practice ranges from digital artworks to 3D photo-illustrations and her favourite projects involve creating playful and bold imagery that make you look twice.

Based in London, she graduated from CSM in 2008 and has since acquired numerous design awards and clients that include Profile Books, Elle Decoration, Hachette Publishers, Google, SHOWstudio and Warp Records amongst many others.

Sinem’s first illustrated book The Girl Guide has been published in 16+ languages and she is currently working on a series of illustrated biographies Work It, Girl.

The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery

Written by: Jehan Jones-Radgowski

Illustrated by: Poppy Kang

For ages: 9-13 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Abolition, POC-Centric Narratives, Resilience, Strength, Own Voices.

Summary: This book is phenomenal.  Robert Smalls was an enslaved man that was able to hold a job away from the person that enslaved him.  Because of this, he worked on a ship called The Planter during the Civil War and hatched a plan to save himself and many others.  Because Smalls was brave, intelligent, and cunning, he planned to impersonate the captain of The Planter and sail himself, his family, and around two dozen other enslaved people to the North where they would be free.  Robert set out and was able to sneak the large ship past several Confederate forts by carefully studying the actual ship captain’s movements, not raising suspicions of the soldiers stationed.

This book tells about the entire journey Robert Smalls underwent, and how his bravery also brought weapons to the Union army when the ship arrived.  After the story is an Afterword which talks more about enslavement and the Civil War.  I love the language that is used in the book, it is person-first and comprehensive without sounding like a lecture.  It puts forward Robert’s intelligence in carrying out his plan to help himself and others, rather than telling the story from a savior of abolitionist perspective, Robert is in charge of his own story.  There is also a glossary and a list of books that the reader can seek out to learn more, as well as a bibliography and a real photo of Robert!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0*sEWcmQeqnzW8U7AWJehan Jones-Radgowski is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She has lived all over the world, including South Africa, Spain, Venezuela, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Jehan currently lives in Germany with her family.

 

 

 

CTNPT_1258Poppy Kang is a freelance Illustrator and Visual Development Artist based in Los Angeles, California.