Tag Archives: Independent Thought

The Paper Bag Princess

Written by: Robert Munsch

Illustrated by: Michael Martchenko 

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Freedom, Self-Confidence, Social-Emotional Learning, Feminism, Fractured Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Independent Thought, Stereotypes, Girls Outdoors,. 

Summary: 

“Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.”

This sick burn (pun fully intended) is the crowning achievement of Princess Elizabeth’s journey of self-discovery that takes place in The Paper Bag Princess. Despite the complete destruction of her home, her belongings, and everything she knows, Elizabeth doesn’t give up. Instead, her compassion leads her down the path of “burnt forests and horses’ bones” (we love an obvious villain). Once she reaches the dragon’s door, she refuses to leave. Using the skills undoubtedly gleaned from being raised female, her scheme uses the dragon’s bravado against him. She tires him out, and once he is sleeping, she completes the task of rescuing her betrothed.

It is here where The Paper Bag Princess turns everything on its head.

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Ronald is neither appreciative nor understanding of the trials that Elizabeth has gone through, and instead he focuses in on her outward appearance (sound familiar?) and immediately talks down to her.

This tennis-racket-carrying nonce can’t get out another word before Elizabeth delivers the thorough beat down that he deserves.

The princess has shown generations of readers, both male and female alike, that the “happy ending” we’ve been promised by Disney movies and romantic novels is really only the beginning. The reader is left imagining the adventures that Elizabeth will have as she scampers into the sunset, and if her exploits with the dragon are anything to go by, the rest of the kingdom had better watch out!

May we all carry ourselves with the grit and confidence of The Paper Bag Princess. 

This beautiful 40th anniversary edition of the book was sent to us by Annick Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

robert-munschRobert Munsch is a storyteller. From his website: “I write books for kids, I talk to kids, and I listen to kids.

But that is not all that I am. Several years ago I was diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive. Those challenges have led me to make some big mistakes.

I have worked hard to overcome my problems, and I have done my best. I have attended twelve-step recovery meetings for more than 25 years.

My mental health and addiction problems are not a secret to my friends and family. They have been a big support to me over the years, and I would not have been able to do this without their love and understanding.

I hope that others will also understand. I hope that everyone will talk to their kids honestly, listen to them, and help them do their best with their own challenges.”

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Michael Martchenko has illustrated dozens of books, and is most famous for his work with Robert Munsch including Smelly Socks, Makeup Mess and We Share Everything!. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Reading Beauty

Written by: Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by: Meg Hunt

For ages: 3-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Literacy, Fairy Tale, Problem-Solving, Feminist, Independent Thought, Kindness, Family, Love, Pets, Space, Rhyming. 

Summary: This is the next book from the pair that brought you Interstellar Cinderella, which we loved very much!  Both of us are so excited to get this one, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for it to arrive at our local library.

Princess Lex loves to read!  On the morning of her 15th birthday she wakes up to find that all the books in the kingdom are gone, removed because of a curse that was put upon Lex at her birth.  In order to get her beloved books back, she sets off to find the fairy that cursed her.

This book is great, not only do we see a princess and kingdom that is predominantly POC,  but Lex herself takes initiative to solve the problem of the kingdom’s curse-and uses books to do it! When she does find the fairy that cursed her, Lex treats her with kindness.  A lovely book, with a feminist twist of true love’s kiss!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

60356-2Deborah Underwood has worked as a street musician and at an accounting firm but for years has been a full-time writer who occasionally plays the ukulele. She is the author of several picture books, including New York TimesbestsellersThe Quiet Book and Here Comes the Easter Cat, as well as Monster & Mouse Go Camping, Interstellar Cinderella, and Bad Bye Good By

 

 

 

 

megbio-2Meg Hunt is an illustrator, educator and maker of things. She lives and works in the wooded city of Portland, OR. Her goal is to fill the world with my creations, and make people happy in the process. Her first picture book Interstellar Cinderella was published by Chronicle Books in 2015 and has been given starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly, who also listed it as one of their best summer books of the year. She was featured as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Flying Starts for Summer 2015 as well. In 2015, she received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators for Illustrators 58, Uncommissioned category. Currently, her focus is creating charming and colorful character-based illustrations, lettering and patterns for editorial/publishing/product markets.

Arthur and the Golden Rope [Feb 4 2020]

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton 

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Mythology, Natural World, Supernatural, Magic.

Summary: This is one of the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection books, and we really like the way that it’s set up like a comic book.  Arthur is a young boy with a penchant for strange objects and spends a lot of time in the forest or on adventures to collect things.

One day he’s in the forest when a gigantic black wolf rampages through the village, extinguishing the magical fire that is needed to keep everything from freezing solid.  Since Arthur wasn’t in the village, he wasn’t injured during the attack and is the only one who can make the journey to visit Thor and relight the flame, saving the village.  Arthur must use his wits and collection of items to prove to the villagers that he is more than just a wandering meddler in forest affairs, before everything freezes solid!

This book is really cute, and can help kids with problem-solving skills.  It’s fun to track Arthur through the illustration panels when he’s traversing an adventurous landscape.  Arthur is a character that we can relate to, he’s not bothered by people thinking he’s weird for liking to spend time in the woods or collect unique objects…both of these we enjoy as well!

This book was generously sent to us by Flying Eye books for review. All opinions are our own!  This softcover book will be released on February 4th, (the hardcover has been out for awhile) and we are very grateful that we were able to receive it early.

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 Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero

Written by: Amalia Hoffman

Illustrated by: Chiara Fedele

For ages: 8-12 years old

Language: English and some Italian

Topics Covered: Judaism, WWII, Holocaust, Activism, Global Community, Historical Events, Historic Figure, Sports, Cycling. 

Summary: Gino Bartali was a small and sickly child, but he loved riding a bicycle more than anything else.  He got a part-time job at a bike shop to learn more, competed in his first race at the age of 12, but didn’t get his parents’ proper blessing to be a full-time professional cyclist until age 17.  Gino worked incredibly hard and in 1938 got a spot to compete in the Tour de France.  Even though he crashed his bicycle trying not to hit some spectators that decided to cross the road, Gino won! In his speech, he didn’t mention Mussolini who had taken control of Italy, and this angered the authorities.  Mussolini had teamed up with Adolf Hitler, and many years of hardship had begun.

When Gino returned home, he received a call from his good friend who also happened to be a cardinal and the archbishop of a church in Florence.  The cardinal had a plan to smuggle false papers into the country to help the Jewish folks assume non-Jewish identities for the duration of the war, keeping them safe from deportation to the concentration camps.  Gino doctored his bicycle frame to hide papers and went on long training rides back and forth through the mountains, shuttling papers back and forth to help the cardinal.

This is a fantastic book about a historical figure in multiple arenas!  We had never heard of Gino Bartali before reading this book, and are so glad his story was published.  After the story is finished there is an Afterword containing a photo of Gino and more detailed information about his life.  Overall, this is a fantastic book for elementary school students and we highly recommend it!

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

600F95C74AA-483A-43AE-862BEF470200BF66Amalia Hoffman an author/illustrator. Her board book, Dreidel Day is scheduled for publication by Lerners Publishing Group/ Kar Ben Publishing for Fall, 2018.
She also wrote and illustrated The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies. (Gefen Publishing House) Both books were chosen as notable stories for children by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The Klezmer Bunch was selected by the Tony Award winning choreographer/producer, Elizabeth Swados for inclusion in her play, Jewish Books Cooking.
Amalia’s article, Queen Esther and Me, was published in the March 2016 issue of  Highlights Magazine for Children.
Amalia designed and illustrated Rose Bud, on oversized book with pop-up elements, created as prop for Israel’s children’s theater, The Train.
Amalia received the SCBWI portfolio award in the category of Fantasy in 2005. Her art was voted best at the illustration display in the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference in 2014 and she received 2nd place at the 2016 conference.
She actively promotes her books with entertaining presentations and was voted as
finalist in SCBWI storytelling competition.
Amalia is a teaching artist affiliated with ArtsWestchester. She is a member of SCBWI and Children’s Books Illustrator Guild.

22282107_1986392834938384_4822018181978824675_nFrom her website:

Hi,
I am Chiara
I was born in Milan in 1973. I live in a little village 50 km far from Milan where I live with my family and my pets.

I attended Art School in Milan and took a degree in Illustration at La Scuola del Fumetto in Milan. I had also attended several workshops with illustrators such as Gianni DeConno, Arcadio Lobato, Svjetlan Junakovic and a course with the publisher Paolo Canton (Topipittori) called Projecting Books.
I work mainly for children publishers all around the word, storyboarding for advertising and movie. Magazines. I use a combination of mixed traditional media and digital.
My artwork is varied and I feel my style is always evolving.

WORK EXPERIENCE
Freelance illustrator, editorial designer, storyboard artist for advertising and movies.

I work with big and small Publishers in Italy, Greece, USA, UK, France, Germany.

I am currently represented by  illustration Agency ASTOUND.US

Happy in our Skin

Written by: Fran Manushkin

Illustrated by: Lauren Tobia

For ages: 2-5 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Global Community, Skin Tones, Science, Independent Thought, Identities, Friendship, Kindness.

Summary: This is a really cute, short rhyming book that celebrates not only different skin colors but different families as well!  Throughout the book the reader learns all about the wonderful things that skin does for a person, and how it can look differently for everyone.

We really love the diverse representation present in these illustrations.  Right off the bat, the cover image shows a young girl of color in a wheelchair with a soccer ball playing with other kids running and scootering outside!  There are other fabulous examples of diverse families with gay parents, different families with religious head coverings, a child with a large birthmark on their cheek, and a long-haired child with very strong eyebrows.  Lauren Tobia has illustrated an incredibly fantastic representation of what life really looks like in many different environments.  The text is simple and the rhymes would be really fun to say out loud with a group!  This is a book that truly celebrates kindness, community, and loving the unique skin you were born in.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

FranM_0Fran Manushkin is a prolific writer that has been at it for many years!  Here is an excerpt from her website, so you can get to know a little more about her:

“I wasn’t born in a log cabin, although I do come from the Land of Lincoln–Illinois. I grew up in Chicago with five brothers and sisters and one dog, Snowball. I loved to read, but had absolutely no inkling that I could grow up to be a writer. I thought all writers had triple names, like my favorite, Maud Hart Lovelace, and that they had entire books waiting in their heads, and simply wrote them down, lickety-split.

I always knew I wanted to work with children, so I got a B.A. in education from Chicago Teacher’s College. After graduation, I moved to New York City. My great good fortune came when I met Ezra Jack Keats (author-artist of THE SNOWY DAY), who told me about an editorial assistant’s opening in the children’s book department of Harper & Row. I was hired, and for ten years I worked with two of the most brilliant editors in publishing: Ursula Nordstrom and Charlotte Zolotow.

After  becoming a junior editor, I soon had the great pleasure of discovering new talent: I did Bruce Degan’s first book, AUNT POSSOM AND THE PUMPKIN MAN, Myron Levoy’s classic, ALAN AND NAOMI, and  I also worked with Lillian Hoban on her first Arthur books.

It was Charlotte Zolotow who urged me to write my own stories, and my first book BABY (later titled BABY, COME OUT!) was published in 1972. Since then I’ve written many many books, but no thrill has ever matched that moment when I became a writer.

Because I was such a late bloomer, I am always eager to help children recognize and appreciate their gifts and begin using them NOW. When I speak at schools, I show children my messy manuscripts, the artist’s many sketches, and talk about how much stubbornness and good humor it takes to accomplish anything in life, including writing.”

Lauren_TobiaLauren Tobia was born in Bristol and have been there longer than Concord.  She doesn’t’ have a personal website that we could find, but here is some information we found from the Walker Books website:

” When I was small I would always ask for felt pens and paper for Christmas. For a short while we lived on a boat in Cornwall and my bed was in the wheel house. I could look out for miles over a huge and exciting estuary full of seabirds, interesting worms, a few scary swans and a goat that did not like me much. Although I spent much of my childhood in the city, I still got to roam a lot as a child and spent a lot of time looking at things under stones.To this day I would much prefer to draw a picture of something than write about it.

As an adult I spent many years working as an intensive care nurse in Bristol but when my children grew up I thought it was time for me to follow my dream. I went to the University of West England (U.W.E) and joined their amazing illustration course where I had the chance to learn, experiment and have a lot of fun. I live in a tiny house in south Bristol with my husband and our two unruly Jack Russell rescue dogs. When I am not drawing I am at my allotment. I have a little table and a patch of lawn where I can sit and drink tea when I should be weeding.

As an artist I draw all the time and never go anywhere without my sketchbook. I feel uncomfortable without it. I mostly draw in pencil for speed and flexibility. I get much of my inspiration from the people and places around me. I draw my family continuously and objects that I come across, from teapots to crisp packets. I love to draw animals and use them to imply human emotion and body language. Although I enjoy painting with watercolour, I work in my sketchbook most of the time and use a computer to arrange and add colour and textures to the images, which I find gives me freedom to play and experiment.”

Things you didn’t know about Lauren Tobia

  1. I am happily Dyslexic
  2. My dogs’ names are Poppy and Tilly.
  3. I can’t drive a car.
  4. I have two daughters who are very clever and wonderful (they will probably tell me off about this).
  5. On sunny days hot air balloons drift past my window.
  6. I really like cake.
  7. My favorite sandwich as a child was sausage and marmalade.
  8. I almost always wear odd socks.
  9. One of my favorite books as a child was a dog’s medical dictionary.
  10. I used to have a cat that liked to be hoovered.

 

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space

Written by: Dr. Dominic Walliman

Illustrated by: Ben Newman

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM

Summary: This book is along the same lines as the other books in the series, scientific information given to us by our favorite feline scientist-Professor Astro Cat!  This time he’s back to share knowledge about gravity, the potential of aliens, and time!  We love this series so much, seriously go check it out!  Galaxies, planets, and space suits oh my!  Something unique about this series is they thrive on the excitement and wonderment of exploration, not pretending to have all of the answers about the universe.  There are illustrations about what might happen if plants grew gigantic on other planets, or humans started living on other planets.

The books are broken up into easy to read and understand subjects, reading much like a comic book.  The incredible illustrations will keep any aged reader entranced for hours!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

DominicWallimanDominic Walliman is a physicist, and award-winning science writer. He is co-creator of the Professor Astro Cat science books with illustrator Ben Newman.

Dominic received his PhD in quantum device physics from the University of Birmingham, and currently works at the quantum computing company D-Wave Systems Inc. As well as writing, he enjoys making films and animations to explain science and has produced a series of online videos communicating D-Wave’s groundbreaking quantum technology and his own videos about general science.

He has been writing science books since 2011, and he aims to give children super fun and clear explanations of science through the adventures of Professor Astro Cat. He grew up reading science books and remembers vividly the excitement of discovering the mind boggling explanations that science gives us about the Universe. If he can pass on this wonder and enjoyment to the next generation, he will consider it a job well done.

 

Desk-shotBen Newman has developed a distinct aesthetic over the years; a contemporary fusion of bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters which has been described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, including the Tate Modern, New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Google and The New Yorker. His practice extends outside of commercial work into worldwide exhibitions, paintings and three dimensional collaborations. Nowadays, he spends the majority of his time collaborating on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with his longtime friend and scientist, Dr Dominic Walliman, which are published by Flying Eye Books and have been translated into 18 other languages.

Concurrent to working as a freelance illustrator, Newman lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe.

Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina

Written by: Donald Jacobson

Illustrated by: Graham Evans

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Bullying, POC-Centric Narratives, Space, Growing Up, Independent Thought, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: This rhyming story follows a young girl named Celestina, who dreams of being an astronaut despite everyone telling her to be a ballerina instead.  Celestina is teased by her classmates and told to focus on something more realistic than being an astronaut by adults and teachers.  Sadly, Celestina thinks that they may be right and begins to focus on dancing.  One day, she gets a new teacher who tells the class that they are the ones in charge of their dreams-no one else can tell them what they want to accomplish.  Her dream renewed, Celestina begins to focus on the hard work it will take to achieve her ultimate goal of going to space.

This book is super cute, and we really enjoyed it!  Having a character interested in science and space that isn’t a boy, but instead a young girl of color, is refreshing.  We really love that Celestina is a character that is developed enough to have multiple interests that she can embrace.  She does love dance, and is talented at it, but space is where her heart truly lies.  This book is also very believable in that when she is bullied, Celestina begins to doubt herself.  But she also never truly gives up on her dream, and with the encouragement of her teacher realizes that she can accomplish exactly what she wants to.

We were sent this book by the author for review, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

author-central-image-2018Here is a bit more info about author Donald Jacobson from his “about me” section of his website:

“I’m a husband, a father, a registered nurse, and a sometimes-writer living and working in Memphis, Tennessee.  My main sources of inspiration when writing — especially when writing kid’s books — are my two amazing daughters (Hazel and Holly) and my beautiful, smart, supportive, and loving wife (Stephanie). Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to strike out and put my ideas on paper. I’d also like to give an honorary mention to our mopey rescue dog, Yoda, who stands beside me as the only other source of male DNA in our crazy, but wonderful, little family.

My secondary source of inspiration — er, maybe not “inspiration”, but information — is my clinical background in nursing. I’ve been a nurse for over 10 years, with experience in emergency nursing, EMS, case management, nursing informatics, and a variety of other settings. I also have two Master’s degrees, which definitely made me get over my fear of rejection when writing. If you’re a writer, and you have trouble just putting something out there for judgment, I highly recommend going through a Master’s program. You’ll eventually stop worrying about that rejection, get over your failure (after failure, after failure, after failure) and just learn to create content.”

 

We had some difficulty finding out information about illustrator Graham Evans, there are several artists with the same name and we don’t think he has a personal website featuring his illustrations.  If you know, let us know!