Tag Archives: racism

The Vast Wonder of the World (Biologist Ernest Everett Just)

Written by: Mélina Mangal

Illustrated by: Luisa Uribe

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Black Culture & Identity, Scientists, Historical Figure, Outdoors, Natural World, Trailblazers, Curiosity, Education, Racism. 

Summary: 

In 1911, Ernest was a scientist in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Woods Hole is on Cape Cod, and still a massive town for oceanic research today!  Ernest was gifted at caring for the creatures he took from the ocean, when others weren’t so careful, and Ernest was gifted at seeing the whole picture instead of just the tiny piece he was currently researching.  Ernest was especially gifted at studying how life begins from an egg, and became the entire world’s leading authority!

Ernest loved reading, but as a child had to relearn to read all over again after he contracted typhoid fever.  He observed everything around him, especially the natural world.  Ernest left the segregated South for boarding school, but when his mother died he didn’t know how to cope, so he just studied harder.  When he took a biology class in college, his entire world opened up and his lifelong fascination with cells began.  Ernest became a professor and taught his students to care for both the organisms they studied and their scientific instruments, to be kind and to observe as much as possible.  When he showed that the egg was just as important as the sperm in creating new life, he became world-famous and often worked in Europe where he was treated better.  He eventually moved with his family to France and became an independent researcher.

This book’s storyline is gorgeous, and the illustrations stunning. The story addresses both science and the systemic racism and oppression that Ernest faced because he was Black, despite being one of the most talented and intelligent biologists in the country.  In the back there is a lengthy Author’s note with a photo of Ernest, and timeline of his life, detailed information about his scientific work, and some quotes by Ernest himself.  This is a beautiful book and we are glad we found this to learn about someone new in the scientific world that worked for so many years nearby where we live!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

melina-mangalMélina Mangal loves being outdoors! From her website: “My earliest memories begin near the shores of Lake Superior, climbing trees, collecting rocks, and listening to birds. I love writing about nature and its place in young people’s lives.  Stories from faraway times and places have always captured my imagination as well.  I like to imagine what life was like as I walk along the river, or visit an historical site.  I work as an elementary school librarian, introducing students to great books, the exciting research process, and new technology.”

image-asset-4Luisa Uribe is an illustrator “living in Bogotá, Colombia. I love children’s books but venture into other fields from time to time. My favorite activities in no particular order are drawing, reading and chasing the cat around the house.”

Little People Big Dreams: Josephine Baker

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Agathe Sorlet 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Biography, Historical Figure, Musician, Women in Music, Trailblazer, Segregation, Racism, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, WWII. 

Summary: Josephine was a born performer, and found her fame dancing on a chorus line in New York City.  Due to ongoing segregation and general racist American society, she moved to France to work on a new show.  Josephine became incredibly famous, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a film.  She also adopted a bunch of animals and a dozen children!  During WWII, Josephine became a spy in the French Resistance.  She’s really just an overall badass. Josephine eventually moved back to the States and became engaged in activism for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

We love Josephine and are so glad this book exists that also talks about all of her achievements besides being an amazing performer!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

50.jpgAgathe Sorlet is an illustrator based in Paris, France!

Barely Missing Everything

Written by: Matt Mendez

Cover Art by: Dana Ledl

For ages: Young Adults

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Latinx Identities, Racism, Sports, Alcohol & Marijuana Use, Family, Incarceration, Filmmaking, Friendship, Police Brutality, Pregnancy. 

Summary: This book was one of those stories that everything I anticipated to happen did not happen, I was constantly surprised at the deft storytelling of Mendez’s plot line.  Told from three viewpoints, the reader gets the full scope of what life is like for these characters.  Barely Missing Everything is a text that normalizes the experiences of working Latinx families barely making it, and the dreams that accompany hardly making ends meet.

Juan and his best friend JD are almost out of high school, and both love basketball. (I don’t particularly even like sports, but this book is incredible!)  Fabiola is Juan’s mom, and she’s just holding on while trying to balance raising Juan, their awful landlady, a surprise pregnancy, and Juan getting arrested after a party he attended got broken up by police.  So many of these moments in the book made me cringe and think “No! Why that decision?!” but the plot is so believable the reader can imagine knowing these characters and caring about them, wanting what’s best for them in the long run, which led to those protective thoughts.

Each character we come across has hopes and dreams, desperately wishing to escape their situation for a better one.  This is a book that normalizes the experiences of marginalized populations, and allows for diverse experiences to be broadcast to a wide audience.  Barely Missing Everything is emotional, raw, and impossible to put down. I mean Jason Reynolds said the book is “sure to bring a quake to the literary landscape” so really what else can we say to convince you to read it?

Simon and Schuster were kind enough to send us this book, but all opinions are our own along with the decision to review the book!

About the Author & Cover Artist:

rs=w-1240,h-620,cg-trueMatt Mendez has worked on airplanes all of his adult life and is the author of the YA novel Barely Missing Everything and the short story collection Twitching Heart.  He earned his MFA from the University of Arizona where he also taught creative writing.  His work has appeared in Pank, The Literary Review, Huizache, and other places.  Matt is from El Paso, Texas but now lives with his wife and two daughters in Tucson, Arizona.  You can visit him at mattmendez.com or follow him on Twitter @mgmendez.

 

me-ondrej-szollos_1000Dana Ledl is the cover artist for Barely Missing Everything! She lives in Prague, and is a freelance graphic designer.

Juliet Takes A Breath

Written by: Gabby Rivera

Cover Art by: Cristy C. Road

For ages: YA Book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Queer Theory, Racism, White Feminism, Growing Up, Relationships, Family, Love.

Summary: Ya’all this book is SO IMPORTANT.  Juliet is a young Puerto Rican woman on her way to the internship of her dreams.  All she has to do is come out to her entire family at her going away dinner and then hop on a plane.  Once in Portland Oregon, this Bronx girl gets the culture shock of a lifetime.  Hippies, White Feminism, learning how to be both an intern and away from her girlfriend for the entire summer-it’s a doozy.  Juliet is able to take the time to get to know herself, navigate growing up and getting a crash course in queer theory politics takes up most of her time.  Not to mention there’s dealing with the emotional fallout of a mother who thinks her sexuality is just a phase, and getting to know the very cute librarian Kira during her research as well.

This book is something everyone can relate to.  Having a book that centers queer brown voices is something that youths today need.  It openly calls out racism found within white feminism, and how it permeates every space.  Juliet learns a lot about the world, her place in it, and how sometimes running away isn’t going to solve things.  Juliet wrestles with emotions, long-distance relationships, and idolizing mentors that don’t turn out to be exactly what she expected.  Everyone should read this!!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

5b05dd521e00007d038e66b1Gabby Rivera’s critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was called “f*cking outstanding” by Roxane Gay and will be published in hardcover for the first time in fall 2019 by a new publisher. Gabby has also written in the Lumberjanes universe for Boom! Studios. Her latest short story O.1 can be found in Victor LaValle’s recent anthology A People’s Future of the United States. Gabby is currently working on her next novel.

When not writing, Gabby speaks on her experiences as a queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx, an LGBTQ youth advocate, and the importance of centering joy in narratives as Latinx people and people of color at events across the country.

Gabby is signed with the LAVIN agency speakers’ bureau. She’s represented by Jo Volpe and Devin Ross at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

Gabby Rivera is so damn thankful she was able to finish this book. She wants queer brown girls to see themselves everywhere and to be proud of who they are. Gabby was a nerdburger who always wrote in journals, on stray napkins, and even on her sneakers when it was cool to do that. She’s been published in anthologies and journals put together by other radical, creative folks who also see a world that strays far from the mythic norm. Gabby has worked with Autostraddle for almost five years. In that time, she’s written about feminism, kissing girls, Nicki Minaj, radical politics and falling in love with queer brown communities. She is currently the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN and is developing their National Student Council and curriculums for GSAs across the country. She’s fostered other LGBTQ youth groups and taught as a multi-media artist for organizations such as the DreamYard Project. She’s gonna write more books, y’all. Please read them. It’s very important. Be on the lookout for her latina punk band sci-fi epic, Supermoon. Coming some time in the distant but gorgeous future.

cristy-roadCristy C. Road is a Cuban-American artist, writer, and musician. Through visual art, storytelling, and punk rock music, C.Road has thrived to testify the beauty of the imperfect since she began creating art in her hometown of Miami, FL. She grew up as a self-taught figure drawing artist with a penchant for all things that questioned society and began publishing Green’Zine in 1997– a fanzine which was originally devoted to the punk rock group, Green Day. Merging with the anti-authoritarian intentions of the punk rock community, the zine transformed into a manifesto about being a queer Latina abuse survivor, and her journey towards self-acceptance. Her preferred visual art mediums are Micron Ink pens, Chartpak markers, acrylic paint, Gel Pens, white-out, (and sometimes Photoshop). While taking both writing and visual elements to a more serious level, her diagram of lifestyle and beliefs remain in tune to the Greenzine’s foundations.

C.Road graduated from the the Ringling School of Art and Design in 2004 with a BFA in Illustration, in order to support her ambition to eventually teach. Although, at a private art school in a red state, she was fairly infamous, as the punk feminist who changed her legal name to a Green Day song and spent most of her time protesting the representation of gender and race in art. Now, C.Road has almost 20 years of independent publishing under her belt, along with years of creating countless illustrations for a slew of magazines, record albums, event posters, and social justice organizations; as well as years of teaching through workshops, proffesorships, and lectures across the nation.

In early 2006, C.Road released her first illustrated novel, Indestructible (Microcosm Publishing), a 96-page narrative about high school. In 2008, she released Bad Habits (Soft Skull Press), an Illustrated story about healing from abuse; and lastly in 2013, her most recent book, Spit and Passion (Feminist Press, 2012), a coming-out memoir about Cuban identity, discovering Green Day, and survivng in the closet. C.Road’s most recent project is The Next World Tarot (2017), a 78-card tarot deck detailing themes of justice, resilience, accountability, and reclaimed magic; illustrated, written, and initially self-published by C.Road.

Aside from creating art; Road is a songwriter and guitarist, having fronted the pop-punk group, The Homewreckers from 2008-2016. She currently fronts Choked Up, a project that doesnt stray too far from the Homewrecker’s foundations, but proves a departure in style and bilingual lyrics.

Having organized entire tours for The Homewreckers, Road has been performing readings, workshops, and lectures since first touring with her art in 2005. She’s traveled nationally and internationally on her own, and namely with The Homewreckers, Sister Spit: The Next Generation (an all queer spoken word performance tour), and Race Riot! (A national tour hosted by The People of Color Zine Project). Cultivating a performance trajectory with a consistent show of defiance, she performs at bookstores, record stores, basements, bars, college campuses, and beyond. Some notable presentations have been held at The New Museum, The Latina Health Summit, Smash it Dead Fest, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, La Mama Theatre, Yale University, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Cristy C. Road is a Gemini Sun with a Moon in Cancer and lives in Brooklyn, NY

Front Desk

Written by: Kelly Yang

Cover Art by: Maike Plenzke

For ages: Middle Grades YA Book

Language: English, slight Mandarin.

Topics Covered: Immigration, Racism, Friendship, Family, Growing Up.

Summary: Mia Tang and her parents emigrated from China two years before the book begins.  When the book begins, it is summertime in California and the family is living in their car.  Soon, a job opportunity to manage a hotel pops up and the family jumps at the chance.  The owner of the hotel is named Mr. Yao and he is not kind.  He finds every opportunity to withhold paychecks from the family.  He is racist, rude, and Mia does not like him one bit, especially because he won’t let her go swimming in the pool.  The hotel is in a new school district, and when Mia starts the 5th grade she is only 1 of 2 Asian students in the whole grade.  The other is Jason, Mr. Yao’s son.  The pair do not get along.  Mia takes on front desk responsibilities with gusto, and befriends the “weeklies” quickly.  These longtime guests live at the hotel, and together they form a ragtag family.

Mia makes a single friend at school, Lupe.  Lupe and her family are also immigrants, and very poor like Mia’s family.  Other than Lupe, Mia is teased mercilessly.  Mia is hurt, but has other more important things to spend her time doing.  She desperately wants to be a writer, despite her mother telling her to focus on math instead.  Mia begins writing letters to get practice, and comes across an essay contest where the winner receives a small motel in Vermont!  Earning the money for the entry fee, working the front desk, and dealing with Mr. Yao is more than enough for a young girl to handle.  Then her parents begin receiving visitors.  Other immigrants from China that are in much worse states than the Tangs.  Mia’s parents let them stay the night for free at the hotel without Mr. Yao’s knowledge, and feed them.  Soon a system is developed where Mia wears a hat when Mr. Yao is around so people know not to show up.

This book is fascinating, and comes with an extensive Author’s Note detailing many of the events in the book and how they happened to the author herself, in real life!  There are many parallels between Mia and Kelly’s life, as Kelly Yang’s family also managed hotels in California when Kelly was young.  This is an awesome book.  It’s funny, heartfelt, and talks about the strength and resilience found in the immigrant youth experience.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

Kelly-Yang-300x300-circleKelly Yang is the author of FRONT DESK (Scholastic) and the winner of the 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. FRONT DESK is an award-winning debut middle grade novel about a 10 year old Chinese American immigrant girl who manages the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. FRONT DESK was awarded the 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal, is the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and has earned numerous other honors including being named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a NPR Best Book of the Year, and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.

 

Kelly immigrated to America when she was 6 years old and grew up in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science, and Harvard Law School. After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project (kellyyang.edu.hk), a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia.

 

As a teacher, Kelly helped thousands of children find their voice and become better writers and more powerful speakers. Before turning to fiction, she was also a columnist for the South China Morning Post for many years. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She has three children and splits her time between Hong Kong and San Francisco, California. 

maike-profile02_small_400

Maike Plenzke and is a freelance illustrator and comic book artist from Berlin.
She loves drawing diverse women and to explore nature in her work.

Not Quite Snow White

Written by: Ashley Franklin

Illustrated by: Ebony Glenn

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Acceptance, Racism, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Development, Family, Love, Friendship, Perseverance, Theatre, Own Voices.

Summary:  Tameika was born to perform.  She sings, dances, and taps everywhere she goes.  With a fantastic imagination, she breathes life into a myriad of characters such as a space cowgirl and even a pickle! Tameika has never been a princess, but luckily one day at school she spots the audition poster for Snow White-finally this is her chance!  After the audition, Tameika hears her classmates talking about her.  She can’t be a princess, she’s too tall.  She’s too chubby. Tameika is too brown.  Her heart sinks.  Is she all of those things?  Tameika slouches and sucks in her tummy, but the brownness remains.  Tameika slumps home and doesn’t sing through dinner like usual.  Before bed, her parents are finally able to get what’s wrong out of her.  Tameika’s father assures her that Snow White isn’t real, but Tameika is his real-life princess.  Her mother tells Tameika that she’s the one who has it wrong-she’s just tall enough, just brown enough to be a princess.  Heartened by this, Tameika begins to feel better.  At the second day of auditions, Tameika sings her heart out.  She is in fact, perfect amounts of everything to be a princess. Specifically, Snow White.

This book is so important.  It nails the crux of the issue-there is too little representation in the media that children consume.  We are used to seeing white princesses that are petite and beautiful with flowing blond hair.  Without diverse role models, children believe that they can’t in fact be what interests them.  We see this dilemma of the single story with fairy-tales, women in STEM careers, and men in careers that are deemed “feminine” like nursing and dancing.  The racial diversity or lack thereof is a plague that children subconsciously become imprinted with, and this develops into beliefs like the ones that Tameika’s classmates were spouting off behind her back.  By having these conversations in books and with young children, coupled with reading and creating an intentional bookshelf we can begin to combat these harmful notions that not everyone can achieve anything.

Reflection Questions:

  • What would you say to someone that you overheard talking about someone else?
  • Has there ever been a time that you felt the way Tameika did when she heard others judging her appearance?
  • What do you think a princess looks like?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Have you ever acted in a play?  You can turn your favorite classroom stories into short and fun plays to perform for other classes or each other.  Some ones that have been popular in classrooms we have been in are King Bidgood and The Book With No Pictures. These were adapted from the books into short plays with simple lines that 4-5 year old students could memorize and perform.
  • Have class visitors that would be deemed “unconventional” visit your class.  A female pilot, male dancer, a non-binary actor.  Begin to show the representations you feel are lacking in books and the media that your classroom or family consume.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ashley.Franklin headshotAshley Franklin is the author and this is her debut book!  Here is a fantastic interview with KidLit TV, which I bet you’ll enjoy! Ashley Franklin is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her debut picture book, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, was published in Summer 2019 by Harper Collins. Ashley received her M.A. from the University of Delaware in English Literature. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and two sons, ages 6 and 4.

 

 

IMG_2487-copyEbony is also the proud recipient of the 2018 Wonders of Childhood Focus Fellowship, an award given by AIR Serenbe, a nonprofit artist residency program of the Serenbe Institute in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.  We’ve even talked about Ebony before when reviewing the book Mommy’s Khimar as well as featured her on one of our Sound Off Saturday posts!

A passion for the arts, great storytelling, and advocating diversity in children’s books, she aims to create illustrations that will foster a love of reading in young readers.  She also loves to create joyful and heartwarming crafts to satisfy her endless need to always make new things.

When Ebony is not giving in to her creative itch of art-making, you may find her lost in the pages of a good book, learning some new hula-hooping tricks, or going on an adventure with her pups, Louie and Gabby.

Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: James E. Ransome

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Music, POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Historic Events, Musician, Activism, Abolition, Racism, Trailblazer.  

Summary: This is an interesting and historic tale of a gifted musician, which begins on a West Indies sugar plantation in 1739.  The plantation owner Guillame-Pierre is awaiting the birth of his first child, an interracial boy birthed by Nanon, one of the Guillame-Pierre’s enslaved women.  There is an underlying message that the plantation owner and Nanon were in love but unable to be together in a traditional capacity throughout the book, which will be discussed later on.  The baby is named Joseph, and contrary to a lot of historic narratives from this time he enjoys a life with a very involved father and no labor.  Joseph is free to play and spend time with his father, as well as a private tutor and music lessons.  Nanon and Joseph lived in the main house with his father, but loved to listen to the music played by the enslaved people who lived in their own quarters.  When Joseph was 9, his father moved himself, Nanon, and Joseph back to France.  Nanon was now a free woman, and had her own apartment in a village outside of Paris while Joseph and his father lived in the city.  This is another clue that Nanon and Joseph’s father were in love, as he financed her move and her life as a free woman in France.  Although Joseph was of noble birth, because he was interracial he was unable to fully assume the title he was born into and instead held Chevalier, which was a noble title but the lowest ranking one available.  He continued to receive high class academic education as well as excelled in many sports, which delighted Guillame-Pierre.  Joseph would visit his mother at her apartment every night and tell her about the things he did, knowing she would be unable to experience them due to the color of her skin.

When Joseph was 21, he decided to fully devote himself to music.  In 1769 he was offered first violin and timekeeper for the les Amateurs orchestra, an extremely high honor.  He created new techniques and elevated the orchestra to new heights, playing for the elite night after night.  He composed 6 operas, and a myriad of other musical pieces.  True to the title of his book, he inspired Mozart to continue with his musical undertakings and the two began to play alternating nights at the concert house.  Joseph eventually met and played for French royalty, and was appointed the Queen’s personal music instructor.  In an Author’s Note in the back, we learn during the French revolution he was falsely accused to misusing public funds and imprisoned, but was released and became an abolition activist.

This book is hefty, with a lot of information on each page.  While the age says suited for 5 years and up, most young readers will need assistance in the form of our good old Zone of Proximal Development.  The reader gets a sense of the privilege Joseph was born into, and how it enabled him to become known worldwide for his enthralling musical abilities.  Joseph was the product of two people in love, unable to be together because of both social stigma and legislation.  This is a fascinating story of a little known historical figure and trailblazer, being the first person of color to perform for royalty in the French palace.  The complexities of Joseph’s social situation can be more easily understood by older readers, but the main points of the story can be understood and enjoyed by readers much younger.  The illustrations by Ransome are in typical fashion, beautiful and evocative.  Highly recommend this book, but definitely needs a read through by the educator beforehand!

 Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever moved to a new place?
  • What do you think was going through Joseph’s mind when he was on the ship back to France?
  • Why do you think some people are upset by different skin tones?
  • Do you think Joseph wanted his parents to be able to live together?
  • How proud do you think Joseph was when he worked very hard and was given the first violin position because of that hard work?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Why was the West Indies a popular spot for sugar plantations?  Learn about the history, and why Guillame-Pierre would have moved there temporarily to make money before moving back to France.
  • Joseph was a prolific composer.  Listen to some of his music.  What does it make you feel?  Does it sound different than the music you listen to?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lesa_nola-2Lesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to the local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating my own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.

james-e-ransome-1261135The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky?and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections. PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999 Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.” In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work.  How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book chose Visiting Day as one of the top ten diversity books of 2002.  In 2004 James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist.  He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC. He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs the Board of Education.  His traveling Exhibit, Visual Stories has been touring the United States since 2003.  His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.