Tag Archives: immigration

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.”

They Call Me Güero; A Border Kid’s Poems

Written by: David Bowles

Cover Art by: Zeke Peña

For ages: YA upper elementary/middle grades

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Mexican-American Experience, Immigration, Prejudice, Culture & Traditions, Poetry, Own Voices, Latinx. 

Summary: Our narrator is a twelve year old boy known only as Güero, a slang term/nickname for a person with red hair and freckles.  He lives near the border of Mexico, and goes on the weekends to the market to buy groceries and visit family.  This book of poetry gives short snippets and vignettes in the life of Güero, including his introduction to poetry from his seventh grade teacher.  Bowles skillfully interjects these light topics of life in Texas with more introspective and difficult subjects such as immigration, racism, and prejudice.  This book is excellent, it’s great to see a main character’s perspective that is often underrepresented, especially in poetry. Güero’s life experience is a very specific area of the country, and we don’t know enough about it from a young person’s perspective.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

David-Bowles-cpp-CROPPED-lo-res-768x679David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and They Call Me Güero (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as Asymptote, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Metamorphoses, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

David’s literary representation is Taylor Martindale Kean and Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. His Hollywood representation is Sandra Ávila of Inclusion Management.

J1400x933-13422+copyZeke Peña makes comics and illustrations as an accessible way to remix history and explore complex issues. He was born in Las Cruces, NM and grew up in El Paso, TX. He has a degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and is self-taught in drawing and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by author Isabel Quintero was published in 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez

For ages: 8-12 years old, or a confident reading level.

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Fiction, Historic Figures, Literacy, Trailblazers, Afro-Puerto Rican Figures, Professional Life, Schomburg Library. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is hefty! It is crammed with information about Arturo Schomburg himself, as well as biographies of some individuals that he gathered books about.  Schomburg was fascinated with Black stories, gathering tales of “his history” to share with the world.  This is an incredibly detailed and well-researched book, it has a plethora of very specific information such as names and dates.  These would be confusing to a very young reader, it’s a lot to keep track of.  However the story can easily be vocally edited to match the listener’s comprehension level, and has fantastic vocabulary.  This is an amazing book about a scholar that changed the world by collecting stories of histories erased maliciously.  Arturo Schomburg went on to curate the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, still open and changing lives today.

About the Schomburg Center from their website:

“Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published works, and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world. The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library’s role as a community center. The Schomburg Center’s Traveling Exhibitions program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg Center offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round teachers’ forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and audiovisual materials on related themes.

Scholars-in-Residence Program, established in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which draw heavily on the Center’s collections and resources.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Considered one of the world’s greatest libraries, The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its millions of users worldwide.

The Center provides access to and professional reference assistance in the use of its collections to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each managing materials in specific formats but with broad subject focus. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music.”

Arturo Schomburg is a man that deserves to be immortalized, and this book is a fantastic way to open the doors to knowledge for young readers.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

carolebostonweatherford-259x300-2Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

DIGITAL CAMERAIllustrator Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of film. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, “Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.”

Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1983. In 1984 he completed a year of studies with Harvey Dinnerstein at the Art Student’s League. Eric is a member of the Art Student’s League.

Upon completion of his studies with Mr. Dinnerstein, Eric began his career as a freelance illustrator. Over the next 12 years he completed numerous book jackets and interior illustrations. Such works include Beverly Naidoo’s award-winning “ Journey to Jo’Burg” and its sequel “Chain of Fire;” The complete series of “Encyclopedia Brown;” The complete series of “The Ghost Writers;” “The Apple Classic” series, published by Scholastic Books, “The Terrible Wonderful Telling at Hog Haven; and Gary Soto’s “The Skirt” and its sequel “Off and Running;” as well as the cover of the 1999 Coretta Scott King award winner “Jazmin’s Notebook” by Nikki Grimes.

In 2010 Eric was awarded an NAACP Image award for his work in “Our Children Can Soar” which he collaborated on with 12 notable illustrators of children’s literature. Eric also wrote and illustrated “Grandma’s Records” and its follow up “Grandma’s Gift” which won the 2011 Pura Belpre’ Award for illustration and was also nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award. Eric’s latest book “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library” by Carole Boston Weatherford has gathered rave reviews, and has also won the 2018 Walter Award from the WNDB organization as well as the SCBWI’s The Golden Kite Award and The International Latino Award Honor.

Eric Velasquez lives and works in New York. He teaches book illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC.

Front Desk

Written by: Kelly Yang

Cover Art by: Maike Plenzke

For ages: Middle Grades YA Book

Language: English, slight Mandarin.

Topics Covered: Immigration, Racism, Friendship, Family, Growing Up.

Summary: Mia Tang and her parents emigrated from China two years before the book begins.  When the book begins, it is summertime in California and the family is living in their car.  Soon, a job opportunity to manage a hotel pops up and the family jumps at the chance.  The owner of the hotel is named Mr. Yao and he is not kind.  He finds every opportunity to withhold paychecks from the family.  He is racist, rude, and Mia does not like him one bit, especially because he won’t let her go swimming in the pool.  The hotel is in a new school district, and when Mia starts the 5th grade she is only 1 of 2 Asian students in the whole grade.  The other is Jason, Mr. Yao’s son.  The pair do not get along.  Mia takes on front desk responsibilities with gusto, and befriends the “weeklies” quickly.  These longtime guests live at the hotel, and together they form a ragtag family.

Mia makes a single friend at school, Lupe.  Lupe and her family are also immigrants, and very poor like Mia’s family.  Other than Lupe, Mia is teased mercilessly.  Mia is hurt, but has other more important things to spend her time doing.  She desperately wants to be a writer, despite her mother telling her to focus on math instead.  Mia begins writing letters to get practice, and comes across an essay contest where the winner receives a small motel in Vermont!  Earning the money for the entry fee, working the front desk, and dealing with Mr. Yao is more than enough for a young girl to handle.  Then her parents begin receiving visitors.  Other immigrants from China that are in much worse states than the Tangs.  Mia’s parents let them stay the night for free at the hotel without Mr. Yao’s knowledge, and feed them.  Soon a system is developed where Mia wears a hat when Mr. Yao is around so people know not to show up.

This book is fascinating, and comes with an extensive Author’s Note detailing many of the events in the book and how they happened to the author herself, in real life!  There are many parallels between Mia and Kelly’s life, as Kelly Yang’s family also managed hotels in California when Kelly was young.  This is an awesome book.  It’s funny, heartfelt, and talks about the strength and resilience found in the immigrant youth experience.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

Kelly-Yang-300x300-circleKelly Yang is the author of FRONT DESK (Scholastic) and the winner of the 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. FRONT DESK is an award-winning debut middle grade novel about a 10 year old Chinese American immigrant girl who manages the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. FRONT DESK was awarded the 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal, is the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and has earned numerous other honors including being named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a NPR Best Book of the Year, and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.

 

Kelly immigrated to America when she was 6 years old and grew up in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science, and Harvard Law School. After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project (kellyyang.edu.hk), a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia.

 

As a teacher, Kelly helped thousands of children find their voice and become better writers and more powerful speakers. Before turning to fiction, she was also a columnist for the South China Morning Post for many years. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She has three children and splits her time between Hong Kong and San Francisco, California. 

maike-profile02_small_400

Maike Plenzke and is a freelance illustrator and comic book artist from Berlin.
She loves drawing diverse women and to explore nature in her work.

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems

Written & Illustrated by: Kam Mak

For ages: 4 years & up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Poetry, Immigration, Asian-American Experience, Chinese Culture, Family. 

Summary: This book chronicles the first year that the narrator, a young boy, spends away from his old home in Hong Kong and instead in an American Chinatown.  Reflecting on memories of Hong Kong, the narrator comes to term with the move and different aspects of his culture such as picking out live fish at the market for dinner.  Poem topics include holidays like New Year and the Moon festival as well as listening to his mother’s sewing machine and playing with his sister.

The poems denote both acute observation and at times a sense of melancholy, a boy reckoning with growing older and learning a new culture.  The accompanying illustrations are beautiful and photo-realistic.  A valuable addition to any bookshelf for an introduction to poetry, Chinese culture, and immigration.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever made a big move like the narrator?
  • What do you think would be difficult to get used to in a new country?
  • How do you think poetry helped the narrator adjust to a new life outside of Hong Kong?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Find out why groups of immigrants create neighborhoods like Chinatown or Little Italy.  What are the benefits to being from the same cultural group and living in the same place?
  • The narrator mentions an animal chess game.  Do you know how to play chess?  What might be different about games from different countries?  See if you can find the game in the book, and learn to play!
  • Try writing your own poem.  Choose a topic that is important to you, like the author did, and write about your experiences.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

kam-makKam Mak was born in Hong Kong. His family moved to the United States in 1971 and settled in New York City. His interest in painting was awakened through involvement with City Art Workshop, an organization that enables inner-city youths to explore the arts. Kam continued to pursue his interest in painting while attending the School of Visual Arts on a full scholarship, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1984. Mr. Mak’s works has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition, The Original Art show (dedicated to the best of children’s picture books) and in a one-person show at the Brooklyn Public Library. He has illustrated over 200 paintings for book covers, magazine and editorial pieces for such client as, HarperCollins, St. Martins Press, Random House, National Geographic, Time magazine, Newsweek, and the New York Times.

Kam’s most recent art has graced the second series of the USPS lunar New Year stamps and also a new postcard stamp for the USPS adored with the fish Koi was released in spring 2009. His most recent book My Chinatown: One Year In Poems received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and is about a little boy growing up in Chinatown. My Chinatown was the Parent’s Choice 2002 Recommended Award Winner by the Parents’ Choice Foundation. The Dragon Prince, published by HarperCollins won him the Oppenheim Platinum Medal for the best children’s picture book of 1997, and the National Parenting Publication Gold Medal for the best children’s picture book of 1997. Mr. Mak was awarded a gold medal for the cover art for The Kite Rider and silver medals for the cover art for My Chinatown from the Society of Illustrators 45th Annual Exhibition in 2003. He also won the Stevan Dohanos Award from the Society of Illustrators (awarded to an artist in recognition of his or her artistic excellence). In November 2008 Mr. Mak was awarded The Asian American Dynamic Achiever Awards of OCA-Westchester & Hudson Valley Chapter, for his outstanding accomplishment in the arts and In 2009, The past awardees include Elaine Chao, The previous Secretary of the US Department of Labor under the Bush’s administration, and Mr. Ang Lee, an acclaimed film director & producer. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Inspiration Award from APEX.

Kam is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology as well as guest lectures at many of the public schools and institutions. He is currently working on a series of portrait and still life paintings incorporating the use of egg tempera; it is a painting process that uses egg yolk to bind pigments. Egg tempera was a medium of choice for many renaissance artists in the 14 and 15 centuries. Kam currently lives with his wife Mari and children Luca and Dylan in Carroll Garden, Brooklyn.

Dear Primo, A Letter to my Cousin

Written & Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh

For ages: 5-7 years

Language: English, Spanish.

Topics Covered: Latinx Families, Love, Global Community, Family.

Summary: Charlie and Carlitos are cousins, one living in America and one in Mexico.  This story is told through excerpts of their letters the boys exchange.  The penpals talk about their lives, and at the beginning it seems as though they have nothing in common.  One rides the subway to school, the other a bike.  One loves quesadillas and the other pizza.  Carlitos’ letters have lots of great Spanish vocabulary words, with the objects labeled in the illustrations.  As the book progresses, there are more similarities between the two boys than at first glance.  The book ends with each other waking up in their respective beds with the idea that they should visit each other.  In the back is a glossary of Spanish words, and an Author’s Note from Tonatiuh.

The illustration style by Tonatiuh is unique and beautiful, figures appearing to be influenced by Mayan art.  The texture in these illustrations are provided by a mix of collage-style:  denim, bricks, and different photos with some drawing as well.  This book is a great start to introduce penpals, a global community unit, or a study on immigration.   Tonatiuh’s message that people are people, even in different countries is a great lesson for young children to learn early.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you have any family that lives in a different country?  Where do they live?
  • Have you ever been to visit them?
  • What do you think might be different about other countries?
  • What do you think might be the same as in your country?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Contact a school in another country, and see if they would like to be pen pals!  There is so much to be learned from other people, especially kids your own age.
  • Try making collage-based art like Duncan Tonatiuh.  What can you use photographs of to create texture in your art?
  • Learn more about traditional Mexican art.  What is the same as the book, and what is different?  Can you tell what influenced Tonatiuh when he was creating this book?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

duncan tonatiuhDuncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is the author-illustrator of The Princess and the Warrior, Funny Bones, Separate Is Never Equal, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, Diego Rivera: His World and Ours and Dear Primo. He is the illustrator of Esquivel! and Salsa. His books have received multiple accolades, among them the Pura Belpré Medal, the Sibert Medal, The Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, The Américas Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award. Duncan Tonatiuh is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to people, specially children, nowadays.

Dreamers

Written & Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Immigration, Courage, Bravery, Family, Love, Community.

Summary: This is the story about a woman and her young child immigrating to San Francisco.  Trying to navigate this unfamiliar world was difficult, especially with a language barrier.  The narrator admits mistakes are made in this new place, such as playing in a public fountain.  One day, the two are walking and come upon a library,  In awe, a new world is opened up to them!  Trusting the librarians, the library became a place of respite and education.

Simply written and beautifully illustrated, the storyline encompasses the feeling of being in a new place and the fear of not fitting in.  The book also emphasizes the importance of public spaces where individuals can exist without pressure to spend money.  Learning a new culture and language can be daunting, and libraries can decrease the pressure and cost associated with classrooms.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever moved to a new place?
  • How did you feel after you moved?
  • If you felt scared or nervous, what made you feel better in this new place?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Lots of people move to new countries.  What might they be worried about when they do so, and what might make them feel better?  Make a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” Guide for new families moving in, with landmarks and important places.  Make sure to include libraries, parks, and whatever else you can think of!
  • Visit your local library and explore.  What might be there already to make new members of the community feel welcome, and what else might it need?  See if you can work with local librarians to create a program to welcome new families in the area, so they can meet each other and other people that are new to the community.
  • Learn about bilingual books, and hold a bilingual story hour at your school or community library.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

yuyi moralesYuyi Morales was born in the city of flowers, Xalapa, Mexico,  where the springs came out from the sand, or so the story says.Once she was a child, but she spent most of that time thinking about extraterrestrials and waiting for them to come in their UFO to take her away. She tried to be a psychic; she wanted to move things with her mind. She practiced to be an acrobat too—and broke many things at home. Then she grew and became an artist and a writer. Oh, well.