Tag Archives: middle grade

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work

Written by: Tiffany Jewell

Illustrated by: Aurélia Durand

For ages: YA middle grades and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: BIPOC Narratives, Social Justice, Activism, Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias, Education, Community Organizing, Self-Empowerment, Self-Reflection, Race Theory, Own Voices.

Summary: 

Alright so we might be a little late on this book coming out, but our lives are a bit wonky (just like everyone else’s!) and we’re just getting around to writing about this brilliant book now.  Seriously, where to even begin? This is the book we all need when we’re young.  Written by powerhouse Tiffany Jewell and beautifully illustrated by Aurélia Durand, this book was carried around and devoured immediately upon arrival to our house.  

This Book is Anti-Racist takes what young people know about the world and themselves and expands upon it, empowering young people to stand up for themselves and others by understanding the systems of oppression that are at work everyday.  While this and so much more social justice education should be typical curriculum in schools, it’s often not.  Even CRT classes are hardly offered in teacher education programs, which is a travesty.  In order to create ripples of change, we need education.  Not addressing the white supremacy and oppression that subversively operate is what keeps the wheels of marginalization turning effectively.  This book is one that can be sand in the gears, teaching readers to examine their own lives and the world around them while seeking out ways to change it for the better.

Brilliantly created, this book is required reading for every single human on the planet.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0115_RW_Tiffany_Jewell_photo_credit_James_Azar_SalemTiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer, antiracist educator and consultant, and mama. She spends her time baking bread and macarons, building LEGOS, watching British detective shows, and dreaming up how she can dismantle white supremacy. Tiffany currently resides on the unceded traditional land of the Pocumtuc and the Nipmuck with her two young activists, her partner, and a turtle she’s had since she was nine years old. She is in her 15th year as a Montessori educator and nearing two decades of work in schools with young folks, families, and educators. This Book Is Anti-Racist is her first book for children and young adults (and definitely not the last). Follow her on social media @tiffanymjewell.

Portrait-Aurélia+DurandAurélia Durand’s art is a vivid celebration of diversity. She dedicates her artistic voice in making representation matters. Aurélia represents Afro-descendants as joyful, proud, and empowered — a united community whose destinies are intertwined. These colorful personalities present the unified voice of a global community whose hopes, dreams, and desires present a future inclusive of all. 
Aurélia has made a wild variety of creations with augmented reality, animations, paintings, murals, and illustrations.
She has been working with different clients such as Adobe, Facebook, GIPHY, DIPSEA, Instagram, Tinder, Apple music, Standford University, QuartoKids, Refinery 29, Califia farms, ESPN, and more.
Recently she illustrated the book “This book is anti-racist ” through the publisher “Quarto kids” printed for the US, Canada, and the UK.
Take a look at her Instagram: www.instagram.com/4ur3lia/

 

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

Canadian Women: Now + Then

Written by: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrated by: Maïa Faddoul

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Biography, Canadian Women, Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Women in STEM, Women in Sports, Feminism, Journalism. 

Summary: 

Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a fantastic day to honor those past and present who have changed the world, and Canadian Women: Now + Then is a sensational book that we want to celebrate on this day.

I absolutely love how this book pairs up women from the past and present day who changed the face of history.  Going alphabetically, the reader learns about activists, astronauts, culture keepers, poets, and SO MANY more badass women that everyone needs to know about, especially outside of Canada.  We live in a very Eurocentric world, and particularly American culture and politics has pervaded  much of the media and education system.  This sounds fake, but I have had Canadian friends have to explain to Americans that they celebrate Black History Month in Canada but not MLK Jr. Day.  These assumptions are caused by elitism and ignorance, and the best way to combat these harmful ways of living is through education.  

Dang, I’m glad this book exists.  The women profiled in Canadian Women are diverse and from all walks of life, with a solid amount of First Nations women included as well such as dancer Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa) and Shanawdithit, who preserved her Beothuk culture the best she could under the crushing force of European colonialist invasion. It’s clear that the creators of the book put First Nations and women of color at the forefront, and I am so pleased with that choice!

In the back are smaller profiles of even more inspiring Canadian women, such as one of our favorite artists Kenojuak Ashevak!  Jam-packed with historical information and adorable illustrations, this book will be sitting on our bookshelf for ages to come.

This book was sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elizabeth_macleodElizabeth MacLeod became a writer at a young age. When she and her older brothers were supposed to be doing homework, instead they were sliding crazy drawings and silly stories under one another’s bedroom doors. Elizabeth couldn’t draw (unfortunately, she still can’t), so she wrote wild tales about mad scientists and creatures from alien planets. Not a lot of homework got done!

While at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth didn’t take a single writing course. Instead, she studied science, graduating with an honors degree in biology and botany. That science training came in handy when she started in children’s publishing as the managing editor at OWL Magazine. Then she became an editor and writer at Kids Can Press, where she’s written on subjects ranging from Albert Einstein and horses to Mount Everest and Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Now Elizabeth is a very nosy freelance writer who loves finding out why people do the things they do, so she especially liked writing the books in the “Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History” series (for kids ages 8 to 12) and the “Inspiring Lives” series (for kids ages 6 to 8).

A proud Canadian, Elizabeth loves writing about people who live in Canada and have changed the country — and sometimes the world. As a female writer, she thinks it’s vital that kids know about the courageous women who have improved our lives, so she’s really pleased to share her book Canadian Women Now + Then with readers. Elizabeth wrote about a different kind of brave Canadian in her book Bunny the Brave War Horse, the incredible true story about a horse from Toronto, Ontario, who served with amazing courage in World War I.

Elizabeth and her husband live in Toronto, where their cat, Cosimo, is usually sprawled across her desk!

ma_a_faddoulMaïa Faddoul was born in Montreal, Quebec, to an Argentine mother and a Lebanese father. Her maternal grandfather was a theme park illustrator, and she’d always been interested in drawings and imagery of any kind. Having studied both illustration and design at Dawson College and UQAM, she now works as a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer, creating empowering, bright and colorful imagery, often with an important message.

Her upbringing, heavily rooted in core intersectional feminist values, has led her to work on many projects centered on women and the LGBTQ+ community, in the hopes of using her talent and creativity to help bring more visibility and power to young and misrepresented groups across the globe. This aspect of her work has allowed her to collaborate on a variety of great projects with clients such as Teen Vogue, Showtime, Time’s Up, the National Film Board of Canada and many more.

Maïa still lives in Montreal and works from her colorful and bright downtown studio which she shares with her partner and fellow illustrator. Visit her website here!

Work it, Girl: Michelle Obama [released March 3]

Written by: Caroline Moss

Illustrated by: Sinem Erkas

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Black Culture and Identity, Historical Figure, Feminism, Growing Up, Biography, Trailblazer, Lawyer. 

Summary: 

This is an amazing upper elementary series that has chapters, but also a ton of beautiful papercut illustrations!  The book is jam packed with information about Michelle’s life from childhood to the end of her terms as FLOTUS, giving a comprehensive look at her drive and passion for the education of herself and others!

Michelle was a young student that always wanted to focus on learning and lived with her large family in a Chicago apartment.  She was driven and focused, achieving her goals and becoming a successful lawyer before meeting her husband Barack when she was his advisor at work!  After Michelle’s father died, she reevaluated what she wanted from life and got into community organizing and worked for Chicago City Hall.

Many of know Michelle as Barack Obama’s husband, but she is so much more than that.  The two of them have an incredibly loving relationship of mutual support and tenderness.  Michelle is an icon that we can all look up to for believing in our own power and stepping up to do the hard work to achieve our goals.  In the back of the book are some self-reflection questions, 10 key lessons for readers to learn from Michelle’s life, and a list of further reading.  It is so important for there to be role models for everyone, and having a strong Black woman that is highly educated can normalize the goals for women that may not see themselves in our media very often, especially in law.  This book is an awesome addition to any shelf, and Michelle is a fantastic inspiration for the benefits of studying hard and doing community-driven work that benefits others.

This next volume in the Work It Girl! series will be out on March 3rd! This book was sent to us by Quarto, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Benjamin PuCaroline Moss began her writing career as a technology and culture reporter at Business Insider, where she rose the ranks to deputy editor over two and a half years at the company. Caroline covered viral content, YouTube and social media stars, and internet trends before leaving to write “HEY LADIES!” with Michelle Markowitz, a book based on their popular series at The Toast. A few years later she joined BuzzFeed News to help produce their morning show, AM to DM, and it was there that Caroline wrote the first two books in the “Work It, Girl!” series.

In between, she has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Hairpin, Racked, VICE, and more. Caroline’s books have appeared in The New York Times, Refinery29, Bustle, and more.

thumbweb-xoxoSinem Erkas is a graphic illustrator and art director with an appetite for experimentation and a good sense of fun.

Her practice ranges from digital artworks to 3D photo-illustrations and her favourite projects involve creating playful and bold imagery that make you look twice.

Based in London, she graduated from CSM in 2008 and has since acquired numerous design awards and clients that include Profile Books, Elle Decoration, Hachette Publishers, Google, SHOWstudio and Warp Records amongst many others.

Sinem’s first illustrated book The Girl Guide has been published in 16+ languages and she is currently working on a series of illustrated biographies Work It, Girl.