Tag Archives: kindness

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.

The King of Kindergarten

Written by: Derrick Barnes

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 4-6 years

Language: English

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

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

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

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

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie is Jamie

Written by: Afsaneh Moradian 

Illustrated by: Maria Bogade

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Gender Stereotypes, Identity, Friendship, Kindness, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This book is absolutely adorable!  Jamie has just moved, and is starting a new school. When they get to school and join in free play, Jamie moves about the classroom looking for new friends and fun activities.  Jamie is completely ungendered throughout the bookend when asked by other classmates if Jamie is a boy or girl, they answer “I’m Jamie!” The entire book is about how it truly doesn’t matter, any kid can like any activity and dress however they want.  Jamie is a good friend, and that’s what matters! The illustrations are diverse and fun, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie’s story come to life.

This was sent to us by the author for Children’s Multicultural Book Day to review, but all opinions are our own!  We believe along with Afsaneh that children shouldn’t be strongly stereotyped, and gender neutral activities are the way to go in a classroom.  This means that an educator allows and promotes every activity to every child equally, based on what that child is interested in.  We really loved this book and were so glad to be paired with Afsaneh for the event!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7 th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

AfsanehMoradianWe are excited to learn more about Afsaneh Moradian, author of the book!  Here is her “about me” section from her website:

“I grew up between Washington, D.C., northern NJ, and New York City. I spent my childhood reading, writing, singing and watching tv.

After college, I started working at a Montessori preschool and my career as an educator began. I went on to get a Master’s in Education and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Education.

For more than 15 years, I have had an amazing time combining my love of writing and creativity with teaching students of all ages (from preschool to graduate school) in a variety of educational levels and settings between the United States and Mexico.

I love sharing my ideas with students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who will listen.

I write children’s books, poetry, short stories, essays and articles, in addition to writing about education.”

maria-bogade-web-1Maria Bogade is an illustrator and author with an animation background. She loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative, colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. Her work is internationally published and is also found on greeting cards and products such as chocolate. With her three children and spouse, she lives in a tiny village in southern Germany where fox and hare bid each other good night (we don’t know what this means, but it sounds lovely!).

Common Threads: Adam’s Day at the Market

Written by: Huda Essa

Illustrated by: Mercè Tous

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Family, Diversity, Kindness, Clothing, Islam, Culture & Traditions. 

Summary: Adam and his parents go to the outdoor market one day, and he sees a bright blue jay.  Following it, Adam doesn’t realize he’s left his parents behind until he tugs on what he thinks is his mother’s tunic but it turns out to be a nun’s dress.  Adam tries to identify his parents clothes in the crowd, only to realize that many different types of people dress in similar ways!  The individuals that Adam mistakes for his parents work together to bring them back together, and connect to each other in the process.

This book has few words, and the rich illustrations do the majority of the plot development.  Adam and his parents live in a diverse community that is wonderfully represented by the similarities in clothing that Adam mistakes for his parents.  The emphasis on community in this story is timely, some people live in fear of differences or the unknown.  In the beginning as well as the end of the book are statements about the power of community and diversity, and how we are stronger together.  This is a really beautiful book that can teach fantastic cultural vocabulary about garments along with the other messaging it promotes.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as an entry in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review were our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

huda_finalHuda Essa has been a teacher since she was a child. Her first students were her stuffed animals. When she became a teacher as a grown up, she loved finally having human children as her students! Now, as a speaker and author, Huda is a teacher to adult humans, too. Huda’s debut book, Teach Us Your Name, and her TEDx Talk, “Your Name is the Key!” teach us to use our names to learn more about ourselves and to embrace our wonderful human diversity. Huda teaches all over the world, but lives in Michigan. You can visit her LinkedIn here!

pintant-300x292Mercè Tous lives and works “in Barcelona, my place of birth. I love being near the sea and make the most of the wide range of cultural activities and opportunities for social networking this cosmopolitan city offers. However, whenever I can, I return to nature, my main source of inspiration.

Since I was a child I have always liked drawing, painting and immersing myself in pictures and illustrated books. My grandfather was my first art teacher, who passed on to me the passion for art, instilled in me the curiosity, the value of hard working and the satisfaction of doing a good job. I like all the art disciplines, and I have discovered with illustration a means to search beauty, to tell stories and to express my particular perspective of what surrounds me. I think that having an artistic profession is a chance to make a journey to discover the depth of oneself and, at the same time, to open to the world.

I graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona in 2008. Then I obtained the Art Teacher Certification in the same university. I carried on my education pursuing a postgraduate course specializing in children’s and youth’s book illustration at “Escola Eina” (Autonomous University of Barcelona) as well as three annual courses of illustration at “Escola de la Dona” lead by Ignasi Blanch and other great illustrators such as Cristina Losantos and Roger Olmos. I’ve also participated in several illustration workshops in Barcelona and Italy leaded by illustrators that I admire such as Octavia Monaco, Rebecca Lucciani, Mariona Cabassa and Joanna Concejo. Nowadays I work as a freelance illustrator.”

 

A Boy Like You

Written by: Frank Murphy

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Stereotypes, Toxic Masculinity, Diversity, Acceptance, Kindness, Friendship, Identity, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This is a very sweet book about being a good human with an amazingly diverse group of children depicted in the illustrations.  The book opens talking about how unique every person is, and how the world needs someone exactly like each and everyone one.  Our main character (a young boy of color) demonstrates the many attributes a person can have, and how everyone is different.  Everyone is smart, but in different ways.  Some are more gifted athletically, and some artistically.  But everyone should be kind, polite, and help others.

This book is geared towards boys, to help dismantle the stereotypes that force boys and men to feel pressure to embody a single type of masculinity, which can become toxic.  Murphy tells the reader to leave every place and every person, better than you found them.  We really like this book, and it’s message about the importance of being true to yourself but also a kind and sensitive human being.  Although the words in the book could easily be shifted to include “people” instead of “boys” all the time, the text is sending a profound message to boys that they don’t have to be macho and emotionless in order to be seen as a man.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 list, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Murphy_Head_ShotFrank Murphy has taught a wide variety of grades at the elementary and middle school level. A popular speaker, Murphy is the author of many fun historical fiction books for young readers. He lives in Holland, PA and still teaches full-time!

 

 

 

 

website+headshotKayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration.  Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.

Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.

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.

 

Peace, Love, Action!

Written & Illustrated by: Tanya Zabinski

Foreward by: Ani DiFranco

For ages: Middle Grades to read, ages 4 and up to listen.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Activism, Historic Figures, Historic Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Call to Action, Kindness, Peaceful Activism, Gratitude, Resilience, Social Change.

Summary: For our last day in our Week of Intention we have Peaceful Action.  We found it important to begin and end this week with our central vision and mission for The Tiny Activist: activism.  It’s important for children (and adults!) to have lots of examples and options for how to engage in activism and organizing for causes themselves.

Peace, Love, Action! is an amazing book in a multitude of ways and provides examples of peaceful activism and kindness by the boatload.  Set up like an alphabet book but for middle grades, each letter represents a central theme to the activism of a person being profiled.  Zabinski’s illustrations are gorgeous, resembling (or potentially being) linocuts, one of our favorite artistic styles!

F is for Feed, and the reader learns about Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm (an organization we love!) that centralizes ancestral farming practices to help folks of color reconnect with their past through education as well as growing food for donations to local families.

Something else we really love is after each person profiled, there is a list of things that the reader can do to get involved, whatever their passion may be.  Having a myriad of options and critical self-reflection questions accompanying each letter.  With examples like Pete Seeger, Rachel Carson, Black Elk, and Azim Khamisa every person who picks up this book will become inspired to make the world a little better.

Peace, Love, Action! was kindly sent to us by Parallax Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

indexFrom Tanya Zabinski’s website: “I was a tomboy. My nickname was Tinkerbell. I liked riding bikes, creek-slogging and playing flute. I liked reading, drawing and making puppet shows. I liked camping with my family. Those likes have never changed. My artwork and stories are rooted in the things I loved in childhood.

In college, I studied art, design, music and philosophy. I went to Buffalo State College, to an exchange program in Japan for a year, and to Parsons School of Design. I L-O-V-E-D college.

Even though I loved art, as I learned of poverty in the world, I felt that being an artist was selfish. How could I justify something so seemingly insignificant as making pictures, when other people can’t eat or have an education? When I was 18, I saw “From Mao to Mozart,” in which the famous violinist, Isaac Stern, visited China. It took place after Mao’s reign of terror, when China first opened its doors to the west. Isaac Stern’s passion for music was clearly visible, as was his ability to share it and coax it out in others. His music became a bridge for peace. By following his passion and sharing it, he was more useful to the world than if he squelched his passion for something more seemingly practical. That became my model. Later, I found this quote from Howard Thurman that encapsulates this view: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

These are things that make me feel alive: nature, the seasons, swinging on swings (or grapevines!), biking, hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, gardening, watching birds and whales and clouds and my dog’s ears flopping as he walks in front of me, my supportive family, free-thinking people with open hearts, belonging to vibrant communities like Waldorf and Suzuki, yoga, meditation, books, music, cultures, learning about people who buck norms and pioneer their lives being true to an inner wisdom, swimming in the stream of ever-flowing love and funneling those feelings into my life and my art and the world.

Where have all these influences taken me? From working in a library, to waitressing, music-making, organic farm work, teaching, mural-making, becoming a partner in a local artists boutique, meeting my husband, travelling in Mexico, getting married, and having two sons. Today my husband and I have our own company called Planet Love in which we hand print clothing and sell it at art and music festivals, shops and online. We live in the hills south of Buffalo with a furry, black, thick-tailed, big-hearted dog.

Thank you for a heart open to read this. May you gravitate to the things that make you feel alive!”