Tag Archives: relationships

The Paper Bag Princess

Written by: Robert Munsch

Illustrated by: Michael Martchenko 

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Freedom, Self-Confidence, Social-Emotional Learning, Feminism, Fractured Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Independent Thought, Stereotypes, Girls Outdoors,. 

Summary: 

“Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.”

This sick burn (pun fully intended) is the crowning achievement of Princess Elizabeth’s journey of self-discovery that takes place in The Paper Bag Princess. Despite the complete destruction of her home, her belongings, and everything she knows, Elizabeth doesn’t give up. Instead, her compassion leads her down the path of “burnt forests and horses’ bones” (we love an obvious villain). Once she reaches the dragon’s door, she refuses to leave. Using the skills undoubtedly gleaned from being raised female, her scheme uses the dragon’s bravado against him. She tires him out, and once he is sleeping, she completes the task of rescuing her betrothed.

It is here where The Paper Bag Princess turns everything on its head.

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Ronald is neither appreciative nor understanding of the trials that Elizabeth has gone through, and instead he focuses in on her outward appearance (sound familiar?) and immediately talks down to her.

This tennis-racket-carrying nonce can’t get out another word before Elizabeth delivers the thorough beat down that he deserves.

The princess has shown generations of readers, both male and female alike, that the “happy ending” we’ve been promised by Disney movies and romantic novels is really only the beginning. The reader is left imagining the adventures that Elizabeth will have as she scampers into the sunset, and if her exploits with the dragon are anything to go by, the rest of the kingdom had better watch out!

May we all carry ourselves with the grit and confidence of The Paper Bag Princess. 

This beautiful 40th anniversary edition of the book was sent to us by Annick Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

robert-munschRobert Munsch is a storyteller. From his website: “I write books for kids, I talk to kids, and I listen to kids.

But that is not all that I am. Several years ago I was diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive and manic-depressive. Those challenges have led me to make some big mistakes.

I have worked hard to overcome my problems, and I have done my best. I have attended twelve-step recovery meetings for more than 25 years.

My mental health and addiction problems are not a secret to my friends and family. They have been a big support to me over the years, and I would not have been able to do this without their love and understanding.

I hope that others will also understand. I hope that everyone will talk to their kids honestly, listen to them, and help them do their best with their own challenges.”

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Michael Martchenko has illustrated dozens of books, and is most famous for his work with Robert Munsch including Smelly Socks, Makeup Mess and We Share Everything!. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

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Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

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Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

Written by: Brandy Colbert

For ages: YA (underage alcohol use, marijuana use, sex, substance use/addiction)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Growing Up, Chicago, Relationships, Dating, Family, Police Interaction (racist treatment), 

Summary: In the summer between sophomore and junior year, Birdie’s aunt Carlene unexpectedly shows up at their apartment above the hair salon that Birdie’s mother Kitty owns and operates.  Birdie has been forced to give up soccer and misses it terribly, and is in a fledgling relationship with a boy named Booker who her parents wouldn’t approve of.  Birdie’s aunt has battled with substance use for the majority of her life, and it seems that everyone feels it’s only a matter of time before she relapses once again.

Birdie becomes frustrated trying to please her strict and overprotective parents, as well as trying to deal with the growing suspicion that there’s a family secret that may involve her.  could be described as a coming of age novel.  Birdie is trying to live her own life and make decisions for herself, feeling hindered by the expectations her parents have placed on her.  The author brings it about in an accessible way, it would be easy for readers to relate to the pressure Birdie feels.  She also has a pile of secrets that keeps growing as she schemes how to sneak out and see Booker.

We love that LGBTQ characters rethreaded throughout the book as well, normalizing the friendships between straight and queer people and having queer family members.  There is a strength to the family, especially in the way that Kitty doesn’t give up on her sister Carlene.

About the Author:

brandy-colbertBrandy Colbert is the award-winning author of Little & Lion, Finding Yvonne, Pointe, and the forthcoming The Revolution of Birdie Randolph (August 20, 2019). Her short fiction and essays have been published in several critically acclaimed anthologies for young people. She is on faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children, and lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

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

King and the Dragonflies

Written by: Kacen Callender

Cover Art by: Tonya Engel

For ages: YA

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, LGBTQ, Death, Relationships, Friendship.

Summary: We got this book from a friend who received a pre-release copy from the ALA Conference!  We are so excited to have been able to both read and review the book before the release date, because it was incredible!

King’s brother, Khalid, has just died.  He died abruptly, and King’s family is in shambles.  King is also trying to reconcile with who he is as a person along with the grief consuming him.  A few months before Khalid’s death, Khalid overheard King and his friend Sandy talking late one night during a backyard camp out.  Sandy had confessed to King that he was gay, and King responded that he might be gay too.  Khalid told King the next morning that he heard them in the tent, and that King shouldn’t hang around with Sandy anymore or people would start to think that King was gay too.  So King stopped being friends with Sandy, but King misses him and is filled with guilt about the ordeal.

King is also convinced that Khalid is now a dragonfly, that he shed his human skin and is now travelling the world as a jewel-toned bug.  On his way to the bayou to look for Khalid the dragonfly, King runs into Sandy for the first time in a few months and also the first time since Khalid’s death.  They have a brief conversation, and part ways.  When Sandy turns up missing, King is worried he’ll be implicated if anyone finds out that he was possibly the last person to see Sandy.

It takes a trip to Mardi Gras, letting go of secrets, and a wonderful Auntie to help the James family become close again.  Nothing we can write about the book can do the plot justice, and convey the emotion and strength in Callender’s words.  Highly recommend, I read this in a single afternoon!

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

79veuN9R_400x400Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen Callender is the award-winning author of the middle-grade novels Hurricane Child and King and the Dragonflies, the young-adult novels This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story and Felix Ever After, and the adult novel Queen of the Conquered.

Kacen was previously an Associate Editor of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, where they acquired and edited novels including Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles, the New York Times bestseller Internment by Samira Ahmed, and the Stonewall Honor award-winning novel Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake.

They enjoy playing RPG video games in their free time, and they really wish they had a dog.

Kacen currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Tonya Engel is the cover artist for this stunning book!

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Written by: Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

For ages: YA graphic novel

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ Relationships, Love, Friendship, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: Super quick read, I read this in about an hour!  The story is told from the perspective of Freddy, a biracial Asian teenage girl.  Freddy is hopelessly in love with Laura Dean, her on-again off-again unfaithful girlfriend.  Laura is a suave, blond, Shane-esque (from the L-Word) character who seems to like Freddy, but not enough to not continuously cheat on her with other girls.  To the reader, it is clear that Laura keeps Freddy around for when Laura doesn’t have plans, or is bored.  She is cocky and flirtatious, often found having trysts in closets with other girls.  In attempt to clarify what the relationship means, Freddy writes to a love advice columnist for help.  These emails are interspersed within the scenes of daily life with Freddy, her best friend Doodle (who is going through her own emotional issues unbeknownst to Freddy), and a few other queer friends.

As Freddy navigates life, and makes a new queer friend that invites her to a party, Freddy also invites Laura.  Laura never answers her texts, but Freddy sees her at the party kissing another girl.  Finally, Doodle calls Freddy out and gets honest with Freddy about how she has been ignoring their friendship because of Laura.  Doodle has slept with a married man, and is planning to get an abortion.  This is a really great story, getting to the quick of the emotional complexities that often accompany relationships and their impact on friendships.  It is a relief to be able to read queer stories where everyone is already out, and the focus can be on other nuances of the story-line rather than the coming out process itself.  Highly recommend!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

81ve7-jjPwL._US230_Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, and Canada’s Governor General’s award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown ups.

She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.

Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage.  Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.

In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.  Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances.  Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.

RVORosemary Valero-O’Connell is a cartoonist and illustrator with a BFA in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, but now lives in a little apartment in the ice and snow of Minnesota, self-publishing her books and working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. Rosemary’s work has been featured in comics anthologies, in galleries, and on many poster designs for MONDO. Rosemary’s one-shot comic What Is Left (ShortBox) was recently nominated for two Eisner Awards: Best Single Issue and Best Coloring. Rosemary is currently working on the upcoming Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me for First Second. With her intelligent designs and heartfelt storytelling, this young artist has a bright future ahead.