Tag Archives: new places

When You Need Wings

Written & Illustrated by: Lita Judge

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Fear, New Places, Anxiety, Growing Up, Mindfulness, Coping Strategies. 

Summary: 

In this uncertain time, we know fear is at an all-time high for a lot of folks.  We’ve been making an effort to share books that focus on social-emotional learning and development, and coping strategies for big feelings.  When You Need Wings is all about a young girl starting a new school, and coping with her fear of being in a new environment.  Scared on the playground after her dad leaves, our main character takes some deep breaths and remembers that she has wings and can fly away using her imagination to find solace.

Being able to take a moment to ground yourself when in a moment of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty is a very powerful way to remain calm.  While starting a new school is the catalyst for this young girl to practice mindfulness strategies (and none of us are starting new schools anytime soon) this can be so helpful when getting overwhelmed about responsibilities at home, homeschooling, or the state of the world.  We’re also in love with the illustrations!

This book was kindly sent to us for review by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

IMG_5913_hires_smLita Judge has had a fascinating life!  She was born in Alaska, interned as a paleontologist during the summer when she was a teenager, and has a myriad of critters in her home.  Check out the about me section of her website, we were sucked in immediately.  She’s been on so many adventures!  Lita Judge is the author and illustrator of 24 fiction and nonfiction books including, Mary’s Monster, One Thousand Tracings, Born in the Wild, Red Sled, and Hoot and Peep. Her book, Flight School, has recently been adapted into an off-Broadway musical which is currently showing in New York City and China. Awards for her books include the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, an ALA Notable, NCTE Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book, and the Jane Addams Honor. Before she created art and books, Lita was a geologist and worked on dinosaur digs. But a trip to Venice Italy inspired her to quit her job and pursue a lifelong passion for creating art. Now, when not in her studio, she can be found backpacking through Europe with her sketchbook and easel in hand. Painting in the streets of Italy, France, Sweden, Russia and many other places have inspired her many of her books. The novel, Mary’s Monster, was inspired through reading Mary Shelley’s journals while exploring places she had traveled. This book created a rich opportunity to explore working in a completely new form, that of combining free verse with full page illustrations in novel form. Lita was drawn to capturing the interior world of Mary Shelley’s mind, as well as the realistic images of her life. Creating this book was a journey in itself and took five years to complete. Lita lives in New Hampshire.

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.