Tag Archives: independence

The Secret of Black Rock

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Friendship, Independence, Adventure, Love, Family, Natural World, Conservation, Environmental Activism.

Summary: Erin and her mum live in a fishing village, where her mother owns her own fishing boat.  Erin longs to go with her mother while she fishes, because she wants to get closer to the spiky Black Rock that has a history of smashing boats.  She tries repeatedly to sneak on the boat but her dog Archie always sniffs her out.  When she does finally make it one day, she falls off the boat unexpectedly and finds out that Black Rock is actually alive! Not only is it not just a rock, but lots and lots of oceanic critters call Black Rock home.  When villagers want to destroy Black Rock, it’s up to Erin to save both the Rock and the animals!  No one listens to Erin that Black Rock isn’t a monster, so she sets off to stop them.

This book has several great messages within the covers.  First, how cool is it that Erins mother is a fisherwoman with her own boat?? Such a small and awesome way to subvert gender stereotyping.  Second is the message of environmental conservation and bravely standing up for what you believe in.  Erin feels passionately about saving Black Rock and all of the critters that call it home, and she’s not afraid to take direct action.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.

The Gold Egg

Written by: Ule B. Wise

Illustrated by: Jaimee Lee

For ages: 3-8 years old 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Friendship, Hard Work, Persistence, Rhyming, Social-Emotional Growth, Independent Thought.

Summary: The book opens with some children playing under a tree until it becomes too hot to play, and then they hang out drinking lemonade.  An old man comes over to chat with them and tells the kids a story of the Kloonee bird who lays golden eggs at the top of the tree.  Most of the kids don’t believe him, except one blond boy named Devan.  He decides to climb the tree up to the nest even though his friends tell him that he’s foolish.  He climbs until a branch breaks, and he falls to the ground.  Determined, he gets back up and begins to climb again.  Taking a break on a stronger branch, Devan debates whether or not he should climb the rest of the way.  We won’t spoil the rest 🙂

This storyline is part of a larger metaphor for chasing dreams through hard work and determination.  The reward for completing a challenge is like a golden egg-not everyone will have one because not everyone is willing to do what it takes.  Being able to persevere through hardship is a skill that must be cultivated, and one children should definitely learn as early as possible.  This can take many forms-working on an art project, perfect the perfect layup, or climbing a tree to find out for yourself if there really is a golden egg at the top of it.  This is a very cute story with lyrical rhymes.  The illustrations are colorful and the print is large as well.  This is helpful for a read aloud!  At the end of the book is a note from the author, giving some background context for the story and the reason for the clever pen name.  This book was provided by the author but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

44811220_2396038537089865_1067756095583289344_nDan Wyson (aka Ule B Wise) has spent many years as a certified financial planner helping adults reach their personal goals, but on the side, he has been working to assure the success of a younger crowd. And after 25 years of on-and-off work on his long-planned children’s book, he was finally able to publish “The Gold Egg,” and he told St. George News the response has been amazing.

Wyson said as an independent publisher, he knew it would be a huge hurdle to climb getting his dream to press without a large, national network behind him. And despite the book doing very well in every market it’s been placed since, he said it’s still a battle to meet his personal expectations.

Jaimee Lee is a woman of mystery who lives her life off of the internet 🙂 we’re so excited to see her forthcoming work!

 

 

 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Written by: Sabina Khan

Cover Art by:

For ages: YA book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Family, Marriage, Independence, Love, Acceptance, LGBTQ Violence, Homophobia, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions.

Summary: I could NOT put this book down.  I was instantly hooked.  Warning: you will feel ALL the emotions during this read.

Rukhsana is a teenager, just a few months away from graduation.  Rukhsana’s parents are Bangladeshi, and very strict.  They have no idea that she is dating a white girl named Ariana.  Rukhsana’s parents in fact, would love to arrange a marriage for her but Rukhsana is able to secure a full ride to CalTech for physics and bide some time before that happens.  However, one day Ariana is over and Rukhsana’s mother catches them kissing.  All of a sudden, she is whisked away to Bangladesh to visit her “ailing grandmother”, but then ulterior motives are uncovered and Rukhsana is informed she is not allowed to leave the country until she agrees to a formal engagement with a suitable husband-to-be.  After a botched escape plan where Rukhsana’s passport hiding place is discovered and a tumultuous fight with Ariana over the phone, she feels alone and defeated.  Rukhsana is then informed she must be married before leaving the country, locked in a room, and a shaman is called to perform an exorcism of the bad spirit (jinn) that is making her act so disobedient.  Then Rukhsana meets someone named Sohail, a boy whose parents are pushing for him to get married.  But it turns out, he’s already dating someone…someone handsome that lives in the United States.  Sohail and Rukhsana hatch a plan to feign an engagement and then flee before the wedding where they will part ways and link back up with their partners.  Sohail is also a famous blogger, but he writes about what is wrong with Bangladesh and calls for reform-specifically with the anti-LGBT policies currently in place.  He has thousands of weekly readers but is also being followed by extremists known for violence.  When eating lunch together in a cafe, some thugs sit near the pair to intimidate Sohail.  He quickly wraps up lunch and they finish eating in his office, laughing off the incident.

When the day of the wedding ceremony comes, Rukhsana plans to sneak out of her family’s home into a taxi with her younger brother and go to the airport.  Sohail will do the same and they will catch the flight together.  When Rukhsana arrives, Sohail is late.  She waits as long as she can, but gets on the plane alone and makes the long trek back to America, where some friends pick her up and let her stay at their house.  When Rukhsana finally turns her phone back on, she has many missed calls and voicemails from her parents.  Thinking that they are angry at her for skipping out on the expensive wedding, she ignores them and takes a few days to attempt emotional healing from the extreme trauma and duress that she has just endured over the last few months stuck in Bangladesh.  Her friends sit her down, and tell her she needs to listen to the messages.  Sohail is dead.  On the way to the airport he is murdered viciously with a machete by the thugs, because he is gay.

I won’t spoil the ending, but just know that it will wrench your heart from the very depths inside your soul and be impossible to put down.  I was reading it through tears, enraptured at the emotional complexity of the characters, and the growth of Rukhsana throughout this life-changing endeavor that she found herself inextricably linked to, unable to escape.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sabina-profileSabina Khan is the author of THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI, a YA Contemporary, was released Spring 2019 from Scholastic. She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and three daughters, one of whom is a fur baby.

Keep Climbing, Girls

Written by: Beah E. Richards (Introduction by LisaGay Hamilton)

Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Expression, Acceptance, Self-Acceptance, Independence.

Summary: This is a poem about girl power!  The main character is determined to prove her bravery and climb to the top of the tree, despite threats from the intimidating figure Miss Nettie that she’ll fall and break her neck.  She is called a tomboy, and that has a lot of negative connotations but our main character doesn’t care.   I would say there is much less negativity surrounding the term these days, and that it is generally more of a descriptor, but in the 1950’s when this was originally written there was a lot more stigma surrounding the term.

A particularly profound stanza of the poem which continues to ring true today is: “But Miss Nettie hadn’t reckoned with the wisdom of little girls. For even they know little boys have the upper hand in this world. The only way to make a bid for a girl’s equality is to climb right up to the toppermost bough of the very tallest tree”. The main character realizes that in order to gain respect, she must do something that would impress the group in power-in this case, the neighborhood boys.  She shows remarkable bravery, both in climbing the tree branches and defying an authority figure (risking punishment after her feat is accomplished).

The poem overall is framed within this tree climbing experience, but can be applied to other experiences in life.  In a patriarchal world, women (especially women of color) are expected to be exemplary in order to be seen as equal.  This poem ages well, and is still both an anthem for tomboys and a call for daring adventures.

Reflection Questions:

  • When have you done something that required bravery?
  • What do you think the main character was thinking about when she was climbing?
  • Do you like climbing trees?
  • What other animals like to live in trees?
  • If you were building a tree house, what type of tree would you like to live in?

About the Author & the Illustrator: 

Beah RicardsBeulah Elizabeth Richardson (July 12, 1920 – September 14, 2000), known professionally as Beah Richards, was an American actress of stage, screen, and television. She was also a poet, playwright, and author.  The poem which serves as the text for the book was originally written in 1951!

Richards was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1968, as well as winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest roles in the television series Frank’s Placein 1988 and The Practice in 2000. She also received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1965 production of The Amen Corner.

LisaGay_HamiltonLisaGay Hamilton (born March 25, 1964) is an American actress who has portrayed roles in films, television, and on stage. She is best known for her role as attorney Rebecca Washington on the ABC‘s legal drama The Practice (1997-2003). She also portrayed Melissa Thoreau on the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age (2009-2011), Celia Jones on the Netflix series House of Cards (2016), Suzanne Simms on the Hulu series Chance (2016), and Kayla Price on the Hulu series The First (2018).

Hamilton’s film credits include roles in 12 Monkeys (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Beloved (1998), True Crime (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), The Soloist (2009), Beastly (2011), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Vice (2018). Her theater credits include Measure for Measure (Isabella), Henry IV Parts I & II (Lady Hotspur), Athol Fugard’sValley Song and The Ohio State Murders. Hamilton was also an original cast member in the Broadway productions of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. In 2005 she won a Peabody Award for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.

4724_29061686R. Gregory Christie is a multi-award winning children’s book illustrator with more than 60 traditionally published books to his credit. He is also the owner of GAS-ART GIFTS (Gregarious Art Statements) an Atlanta based traveling children’s bookstore that provides art services to private and public groups.  R. Gregory Christie received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He is a three-time recipient of The New York Times’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, a six-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, and a winner of the Boston Globe­–Horn Book Award, the NAACP’s Image Award, and the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award from the Museum of Tolerance. Visit Mr. Christie’s website at Gas-Art.com!

10 Things You Might Not Know About R. Gregory Christie

  • He is an NAACP Image Award Winner.
  • The 2013 Kwaanza Stamp designer.
  • A Caldecott Honor Winner
  • A Six time, Coretta Scott King Honor recipient.
  • Has won many awards from The New York Times and Boston Globe.
  • An artist for a New Orleans Jazz Festival poster.
  • Has films on Netflix through Karyn Parson’s “Sweet Blackberry” projects.
  • He’s done many album covers including John Coltrane’s and Joe Sample’s.
  • One Billion people saw his artwork on the New York City subway cars in 2013.
  • He’s lived in many places including Sweden, Germany, Canada, and Australia

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree

Written by: Jamie L. B. Deenihan

Illustrated by: Lorraine Rocha

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Love, Rhyming, Community, Independence, Etiquette.

Summary: This book is SO cute!  The story begins with our main character making a birthday wish list filled with electronics.  What she receives however, is unexpected…a lemon tree!

The clever part of this book is it teaches proper politeness etiquette when receiving something unexpected for a gift and ties in helping the community.  The illustrations assist with the lesson, helping the reader and audience understand what not to do so that feelings of the gift-giver are not hurt!

The story goes through what to do and what not to do in the care and keeping of a lemon tree.  Water, sunlight, and year-round care until….lemons!! The main character and her grandma pick lemons and make some delicious lemonade. Remember those electronics that she wanted?  What better way to get them than to earn the money yourself?  The main character sets up a stand in the neighborhood, earning the money for the items she wanted.  Upon getting to the store, she sees a huge plant sale! The young girl buys enough plants to jazz up the vacant lot near her apartment building, beautifying the space for everyone (who finally look up from their electronics to notice the beauty surrounding them)!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever received something unexpected for a gift?
  • How did you react?
  • Do you think this book would have helped you learn some solutions for handling the unexpected gift graciously?
  • How do you think the main character felt when she was able to help the community with her lemonade stand?
  • What is something you would like to do for your community or neighborhood?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make the recipe in the back of the book!  What do you think of it?
  • Being responsible enough to make your own money is a big job.  What is something you would like to save up for?  What would happen after this goal is achieved?  Could the goal be considered beneficial for someone other than you?  For instance, is it helpful to the community you’re a part of, or siblings?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

YrcPsKgb_400x400Jamie was a first grade teacher and certified reading specialist in Western Massachusetts for ten years. After her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015, she took time away from her classroom to be home with her family, teach part-time, and pursue a writing career.

Her debut picture book, WHEN GRANDMA GIVES YOU A LEMON TREE, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha, was released on March 5, 2019.  To learn about Jamie’s other upcoming picture books, please visit the “Books” page of this website.

Jamie lives in Connecticut, near the family farm she grew up on, with her husband, two children, and a growing collection of lemon trees. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Julie Hedlund’s 12X12 Picture Book Challenge. Jamie is represented by Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Agency.  

biopictureLorraine Rocha started out studying architecture but quickly realized she wanted to draw more than just floor plans and returned to school to study illustration and animation at San Jose State University. After graduation, she worked at Industrial Light + Magic in the art department, contributing to such films as National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Miracle at St. Anna, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Ironman.

Following her time at ILM, Lorraine worked as a concept artist on the game Bioshock 2 and taught classes at The Art Institute of Las Vegas.

Upon her return to the San Francisco bay area, Lorraine focused on picture book illustration, and creating funny, whimsical images. Lorraine’s debut picture book, Zebra On The Go, will be published in 2017.

Lorraine lives with her two favorite people, her husband and daughter. All three enjoy singing and dancing, and Lorraine’s cooking.