These board books are absolutely lovely! The illustrations are beautifully diverse and have simple storylines that keep the books from feeling like they are just vocabulary books. The same characters are present in all 4 of the books we read, and I enjoy this continuity. I believe they are all students in the same classroom!
These would be a great addition for language learning and social-emotional learning. There are some lines that can be used to branch off into other conversations about different lived experiences, such as when a character knows her friend was a refuge, and that made her sad and scared (empathy) or another one knows that he should conserve water (sharing). These simple statements are so nice to see in a board book, so readers can have these conversations and knowledge from a young age!
These books were sent to us by Patricia, but all opinions are our own. You can check out more language books made by Milet Publishing here. Not sponsored, there’s just a ton more languages available than the ones we reviews!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Patricia Billings is the author of all 4 of these books! Her Instagram biography says she is a “publisher, author, wisdom worker, vegan, and present in NYC”.
Fatih Erdoğan (Izmir, 23 April 1954) can best be described as a pioneer of children’s literature in Turkey. He finished high school in Robert College and graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department of Boğaziçi University. In 1980, he founded Mavibulut Publishing House, which is the first publishing house in Turkey that focuses exclusively on children’s literature. The same year, his first book Pan ve Çiçeği (Pan and His Flower) received the Best Picture Book Award given by the Association of Librarians. Since then, he wrote 64 children’s books and illustrated many of them himself. Today he is one of the most popular children’s authors in Turkey and his books were sold over 800.000 copies.
Manuela Gutierrez Montoya is the illustrator of all 4 of the books we received, but we cannot find anything about her online!
Topics Covered: Historical Figure, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Global Community, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity, Jamaica, Language, Literacy.
Summary: Louise is a young girl living in Kingston, Jamaica. She loves words and writing poetry, but the words get stuck when she tries to speak. Louise gains inspiration for her poetry by listening to the sights and sounds of those around her, but she is shamed for it at school. Louise ends up going to another school, but has trouble reciting the poems she memorized out loud. Instead, she musters up courage to speak the lyrical flow of Jamaican Patois that she hears on the streets and in her house, rather than the formal English that she feels might be expected of her in school. To her surprise, her classmates and teachers love Louise’s poem!
This book is amazing for several reasons. First, it introduces young children not only to poetry but also to an accomplished poet that they might not be familiar with if they don’t live in Jamaica! Second, it helps normalize the linguistic cultural funds of knowledge that students bring into the classroom with them. Many times, children of color that might speak a patois, pidgin dialect, or AAVE outside of the classroom are shamed for bringing it into school. This invalidates their experiences and furthers the elitism associated with formal/standard English. We should be embracing the lived experiences of students, and having this book that celebrates such a prolific woman is a great addition to bookshelves!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Nadia L. Hohn is a dynamic “story lady” who has presented to audiences in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jamaica, and Trinidad. From the age of six years old, Nadia L Hohn began writing stories, drawing, and making books. Her first two books, Music and Media in the Sankofa Series were published by Rubicon Publishing in 2015. Her award-winning first picture book, Malaika’s Costume was published in 2016 and its sequel Malaika’s Winter Carnival 2017 by Groundwood Books. Nadia is also the author of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, an early reader by Harper Collins published in December 2018. A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett-Coverley Found Her Voice, nonfiction picture book about the performer, playwright, author, and Jamaican cultural ambassador, Louise Bennett-Coverley otherwise known as Miss Lou, will be published in 2019 (Owlkids). Nadia was 1 of 6 Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018 and the first SCBWI Canada East Rising Kite Diversity Scholarship recipient in 2018. Nadia will be a touring in Alberta as a presenter in the TD Canada Children’s Book Week in 2019. In summer 2019, Nadia will be the writer in residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nadia is an elementary school teacher in Toronto and has taught early years music in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Nadia L. Hohn studied writing at the Highlights Foundation, Humber College School of Writers, George Brown College, and the Voices of our Nation (VONA). She holds an honours arts degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo as well as Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Nadia is currently working on two young adult novels, a play, the next Malaika… book, and others. She lives in Toronto she teaches, reads a ton, and crafts stories. She also loves to write (songs, blogs, journals, stories), play piano, cook vegan dishes, travel, study arts and cultures of the African diaspora especially Caribbean folk music, Orff music education, and run.
Eugenie Fernandes has illustrated a myriad of books for a whole slew of publishers! Here is a brief blurb about her from the Kids Can Press website: “My world is yellow and blue and green. I grew up on the beach. I painted with my father — comic-book illustrator Creig Flessel. We made up stories sitting on the front porch. Birds flew down from the sky and sat on my shoulder. Cats purred. Frogs hopped. I have always lived on islands …a house on Long Island, an apartment on Manhattan Island, a thatch hut on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, and now … I live and work in a little house … on a little island … in a little lake in southern Ontario. Summer and winter …starting at the crack of dawn, I paint every day. Sometimes, I write stories. Sometimes, I sell the stories. Then I paint again … I paint my stories … I paint other people’s stories. Sometimes, I paint paintings for myself … abstract paintings … big … free … Sunshine fills my studio.I am surrounded by water and birds and trees.My world is yellow and blue and green. Eugenie graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1965. Her paintings from Earth Magic and One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference are at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.”
This trilingual book is a super cute take on a “Goodnight Moon”-esque night ritual of two siblings, as they say goodnight to different critters on their farm. We like this book much better than the original Goodnight Moon! The siblings bring things around to the animals on their farm as they wish them a goodnight. Simple, adorable, and lovely illustrations from Nidhi Chanani.
This book was sent to us by Bharat Babies 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 & Illustrator:
Nidhi Chanani is a freelance illustrator, cartoonist and writer. After completing her undergrad literature degree at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Nidhi pursued a career in non-profits. The desire to draw kept pulling her away and in 2008 she enrolled in art school (only to drop out a year later). In 2009 she began completing one illustration every day of the week. She called this Every Day Love and developed her narrative style and voice with three years of daily practice. Thus began her art career and business.
Nidhi was born in Calcutta and raised in suburban southern California. She creates because it makes her happy – with the hope that it can make others happy, too. In April of 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change.
She is currently working on her second original graphic novel, Jukebox, with her husband Nick Giordano which is slated for 2021 release. She is an instructor in the Master of Fine Arts, Comics program at the California College of Arts.
Her media appearances include CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and BBC Radio. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, the Women’s March, My Modern Met, Bored Panda and India Times. Nidhi has worked with Disney, ABC, Airbnb, Sony, Microsoft, State Farm Insurance and a variety of other clients. Her non-fiction comics have appeared in the Nib. Everyday Love Art products are sold in retail shops across the country, including the San Francisco International Airport, Books Inc., and Therapy stores.
Nidhi draws and dreams every day with her husband, daughter and their attention starved cat in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Happy Saturday! We are thrilled to have been able to connect this week with Johana, also known as Mama Tortuga! She is a powerhouse of bilingual and herbal activism and knowledge, with a flair for business. Johana is a hustler and has tons of fantastic projects that she’s currently working on. We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!
Mama Tortuga: Hello, hola!! I am Johana usually called Mama Tortuga. I have created a bilingual website called www.mamatortuga.org to support and provide resources to families around the world, that want to raise free, eco-conscious, multilingual, global citizens. Our perspective is multicultural. We love to create community and to support communities that are working to create a better and improved world!!! I have a very eclectic point of view, from music and arts, to activism, to freedom, our family is here to support this and amplify those voices that need to be amplified!!!
TTA: What are you passionate about?
MT: Very passionate about a wholesome approach to live!! From intersectional feminism, mindful parenting, sustainability, arts, and love!!! I am a student of life!! I am also a lover of nature and work alongside my family in our small backyard garden.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
MT: Right now I am working on creating ways to support myself, an immigrant Latina mother, and support other women in my community in learning and healing. Always looking for ways I can generate funds and spaces for us to grow!! Locally, I am offering Spanish and English social classes in the area of West Palm Beach, Fl. I am also on a local Spanish radio, where I support ancestral knowledge on herbals and multicultural traditions. Online, I am offering platforms to support resources for global and conscious families. Also, I am documenting much of my adventures, because I believe our voices are important, even if my English is not perfect!! Always showing solidarity with oppressed groups and searching for a different mindset for our world!!! Right now working on a class to be offered at the Florida Herbal Conference of next year in Spanish!!!
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
MT: Thanks for asking this!! We offer a line of wonderful and original Mama Tortuga T-shirts on all sizes for you $21 for sizes S, M, L and $18 for children, includes shipping, we also offer custom orders for bigger sizes or special merchandise. Also, I would love to be offered jobs on translation, multicultural consultant and talks, that are paid. I had been doing a lot of these jobs in the past decade. Sadly, many times, we are not being acknowledged. Also, I would love to be part of online collabs and convos. It is about forming a supporting community!!!
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?
MT: So hard to choose!! Going to mention some: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, The Holly Wild by Danielle Dulsky and Jambalaya by Louisa Teish
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
MT: For my website to keep growing and new connections that make a reality the dreams I have about having a supportive community. That the passion that I have for justice and solidarity and healing can come to fruition in abundance of resources and love!!!
Happy Saturday! There’s a heat wave hitting us here in New England, so unless we venture to go swimming in the river later (which is also one of our favorite places to watch the sunset with a cold drink!) we will be inside all day! We are so stoked to feature Tyler this week, who is a dear friend of ours.
Lee and Tyler experienced the highs and lows of their late teens and early twenties together in the squalid co-cops of the University of Maryland and have been best buds ever since 2013!
The Tiny Activist: So we know who you are, but can you introduce yourself/your organization for our readers?
Tyler Vile: Hi! My name is Tyler Vile and I’m a writer, performer, and organizer from Baltimore, Maryland! I’m a founding member of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel, a radically inclusive synagogue. I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and I’m trying to get back into screenwriting and playwriting, and I’m learning to write scripts for comic books. Hinenu formed officially in 2017, and we often get asked what it means to be a radically inclusive synagogue as opposed to just inclusive. The best answer I can come up with is that we have disabled Jews, queer and trans Jews, Jews of color, and converts in our leadership, and we make our decisions entirely democratically. Many progressive synagogues will pay lip service to marginalized people’s needs and issues, but at Hinenu, we’re the ones making the decisions. We’re looking to the future right now with conversations about childcare, Hebrew school, and increasing learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We pray together, we celebrate together, we protest together. It’s incredible to have seen this grow from a rough idea to where it is right now.
TTA:What are you passionate about?
TV: I’m passionate about so many things! Writing, of course, but also ritual, justice, human connection. My passions are a big motivator in my life. As a disabled person, it’s literally physically difficult to get out of bed sometimes. Everyone has to find that balance, that sweet spot between passion and rest. I have to remind myself all the time that it’s okay not to do everything I’m passionate about at once. Fear of missing out can be hard, but as long as you’re confident in what you’re doing long term, you don’t need to be at every show, every protest, or every event.
TTA:Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
TV: Glad you asked! Right now, I’m working on a poetic reinterpretation of Bereshit (Genesis), the first book of the Torah. There’s so much in there that I think we take for granted. One thing I’ve learned in working with these ancient characters is that people really don’t change over thousands of years. There’s still jealousy, anger, hatred, and struggle, but there’s also still joy, humor, compassion, and liberation. I’m also working on a collection of sci-fi short stories about disabled characters and adaptive technology. I’ve always been a huge sci-fi fan and thought that we as disabled people live the most sci-fi lives, but we’re barely represented in the genre. When we are, it’s either as the villain or there’s a deus ex machina that fixes disability all together. I want to look at the consequences of “fixing” disability, the relationships we have with adaptive technology, and how disabled people are going to survive the climate crises that are headed our way.
TTA:How can people support you on your journey?
TV: You can make a tax deductible donation to Hinenuhere if you feel so moved. My personal Paypaland Venmoare always open if you’d like to donate to the work I’m doing. You can buy my first book, Never Coming Home. While monetary donations help, they aren’t everything. If you’d like to book me for a poetry reading, writing workshop, or panel appearance, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Other than that, be good to the people around you, support local artists and activists.
I think the world is going to be saved by small actions, small organizations, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Think globally, act locally. Leave the world a little better than when you came in. That way, we can all support each other.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?
TV: It has to be Making Spaces Safer by my friend Shawna Potter. Shawna’s in a band called War on Womenand is using her platform to make sure that public spaces are free from harassment and that everyone is afforded respect, dignity, and consent. I was a beta reader for that book and in offering feedback, I was blown away by how smoothly and directly she delivers some very necessary truths about the way we treat each other. I love the way she weaves other people’s narratives into the points she makes and invites readers to learn from what can go right as much as what can go wrong.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
TV: The Jewish New Year is right around the corner! September will be here faster than you think. It’s not just about celebration, although that’s a big part of it, it’s a whole season of self-reflection, forgiveness, and accountability. What I love about it is that it acknowledges that hardship and joy are equally likely and that even when we’ve made mistakes and missed the mark, we’re still worth it and can grow and change. So, I’m looking forward to growing, learning, working on my book and all the things I don’t even know I’m going to love yet!
Thanks so much for having me, I love you guys and I can’t wait until the next time we see each other!
Summary:Green is a Chile Pepper is a joyful celebration of the many colors found in latinx communities, from the orange marigolds for Dia de los Muertos to the blue of the ojo de dios craft that children create under a bright blue sky. Each new color is accompanied by a Spanish translation that is prominently visible on the page, and the illustrations feature children of color with diverse skin colors and gender presentations.
From food (yellow masa corn tortillas)to parties (watch out for the pink piñata!) each page also offers up an array of Spanish vocabulary, and each italicized word can be found in the glossary at the end of the book.
The glossary doesn’t just offer a translation, but goes above and beyond, including important information about Latinx culture that can broaden the readers perspective and understanding, even if they have never heard the words before.
Green is a Chile Pepper received the Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Honor for John Parra’s vibrant work, and won a Latino Book Award, and we can’t say enough about how fabulous it is!
What was your favorite color in the book?
What did you notice about the objects that the author picked to illustrate each color?
What was your favorite Spanish word in the book?
What are some other Spanish words you know?
Continuing the Conversation:
Look at the rainbow and what objects do you think of? Create your own version of the story with your community in mind, and translate your special words into Spanish-what do those words sound like? (Note: google translate doesn’t always have the correct translation-do you have friends who may be able to tell you if they are wrong?)
Create your own ojo de dios (“god’s eye”) which can be used to communicate with whatever spiritual connection you choose! Learn about the rich history of the god’s eye and how it can be found all over the world!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Roseanne Greenfield Thong is a journalist and English teacher. She is the author of Round Is a Tortilla, Round Is a Mooncake, Red Is a Dragon, One Is a Drummer, and Wish. She lives in Fountain Valley, California.
John Parra is an award winning illustrator, fine artist, designer, and educator, best known for award-winning picture books. Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos (written by Monica Brown, NorthSouth Books) was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book, and Smithsonian Best Book of the Year. John has received many awards and honors including three Pura Belpré Honors for Illustration, two SCBWI Golden Kite Awards for Illustration, and The Christopher Award, among many others. is an award-winning illustrator, artist, educator, and designer. His illustrations are featured in When Thunder Comes and Round Is a Tortilla. His Hispanic roots and heritage provide a rich cultural palette of inspiring imagery and customs. He lives in Jamaica, New York.
Summary: This book is a collection of poems about life in the Caribbean islands. The narrator is a young girl of color, and these short poems illustrate island life through her eyes. School, snail races, markets, and the sea are just a few of the topics the books covered. Beautiful paintings illustrate the moments captured in these poems, and help to showcase the people of color that call these islands their home.
In an Author’s Note on the last page, Lynn talks about her childhood growing up in Trinidad. She wrote the poems to remember this life, and share it with others. Poetry is a fun medium to introduce to young children, and commemoration of a childhood is a great topic for a book! Having a narrator that’s a young girl of color is a voice often erased, but this book celebrates the mundane moments that children find so special. We encourage you to check this book out and introduce it into your regular curriculum in a variety of subjects!
What was your favorite poem?
What did you notice about the subjects the narrator chose to write about?
What do you think makes a poem, a poem?
What do you do in your life that you could write a poem about?
Continuing the Conversation:
Learn more about Trinidad, where the author is from, or another Caribbean island. What is unique about them compared to other places? Take a classroom tour of these islands, and learn what is special about each of them.
Learn more about poetry, and it’s different styles. Try writing your own! Or, work in partners and one person can write a poem, the other can illustrate it.
The illustrator for this book has a very distinct style. Experiment with different painting styles and find the one you connect with! Paint to illustrate some of your poetry.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Lynn Joseph grew up in Trinidad, but moved to Baltimore when she was 10. After that, she spent lovely summers back in Trinidad. She received a Bachelor’s in English, and then went to law school! She currently lives in New York where she writes full-time and practices law part-time. Check out her website for a fantastic and in-depth interview to learn more about Lynn’s life!
Sandra Speidel is known for her figurative and abstract paintings, which reveal a rich and complex surface quality and ambiguous interpretation. Though her paintings are anchored in classic painting and drawing, they suggest a broader story through the exploration of abstract elements.
Sandra attended Duke University in North Carolina as an English and art major. She later received a degree in journalism and came to California to work as a writer for WomenSports Magazine.
She soon returned to art, studying at the San Francisco Academy of Art University. Before turning to fine art painting in 2000, she enjoyed a very successful career as an illustrator. Among her clients were Apple Computers, FTD Florists, the US Postal Service, and Warner Books. She illustrated 19 books for children, including three for Maria Shriver.