Topics Covered: Muslim Women, Trailblazers, Historical Figures, Self-Empowerment, Feminism, Sports, Culture & Identity, Global Community, Own Voices.
This book is a lovely book, almost anthology-like, of 18 Muslim girls (and women) that are changing the world and blazing trails. Some are well-known public figures like Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, and champion fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Others, like Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah and comedian Negin Farsad might be less known. The beauty of this book is that the short single page profiles of these strong and intelligent women is that they span the globe and professional career market. Sports, fashion, legislation, and STEM. These women are fantastic role models for any job aspirations!
Muslim Girls Rise is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf, and having these women as inspiration to pursue one’s own interests and dreams. Unfortunately also, Islamophobia is so prevalent that this book can also serve as a line of defense. Collecting stories of strength and resilience helps a person develop their own, and have individuals to look up to in times of hardship or perhaps deciding on what career trajectory to take. Either way, these short stories will inspire any reader to change the world in their own way!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
SARIA MIR is a Muslim physician from Washington, DC, who has searched far and wide for books to help her daughter find feminist role models who share her heritage. Saira wrote Muslim Girls Rise for her, and hopes to share it with other children eager to learn more about these extraordinary, path-breaking women.
AALIYA JALEEL is a freelance illustrator, character designer, and visual development artist. She is currently majoring in animation at the University of Texas at Dallas with plans to work as a visual development artist after graduation.
This book opens with an Author’s Note talking about her inspiration to write the book. Emily’s young cousins had been in a school shooting a few weeks before the devastating event in Parkland, Florida. Her family was physically fine, and they were empowered to do more. One of them, Ryan (not the Parkland survivor Ryan, who wrote the Forward), helped to organize the March For Our Lives and their older brother took some time from college to help organize further events and demonstrations. Emily Easton decided to write a book that described the actions of 20 Americans and their protests to create ripples of change. In the back, there is also more historical information and dates related to each of the protestors.
The book itself is very easy to read, each page having a single line devoted to the protestor. They are fairly well-known historical figures like Samuel Adams and Susan B. Anthony that children will eventually learn about in school, but probably won’t learn about their activist side. I can describe the book as very entry-level, with the first half of it featuring well-known heavy hitters like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges. Rachel Carson is mentioned, which I loved, I don’t think she gets enough attention. I was also pleased to see Gilbert Baker, creator of the first Pride flag, and Colin Kaepernick as well.
We personally would have left off Samuel Adams (dressing up like Mohawk people before throwing out crates of tea is not so much a protest in our eyes, and more like a scapegoating) but seeing as how children in the majority of public schools will be learning about these figures, they should learn about this activist history at the same time. However, I do like that this story can be an easy access point into learning whole histories about these American figures and how they fought back against injustice. Social movements and activism is an important aspect of American history, and students should feel empowered to stand up for marginalized populations and learn about how they can become involved in social justice causes that they care about. This is a valuable book, because it is a perfect entry point for someone just beginning their journey into the world of social justice and activism.
Emily Easton was the Publishing Director of the Walker Books for Young Readers imprint at Bloomsbury Publishing, until the imprint closed. Now, she is the Vice President of Crown Books for Young Readers! Emily has diverse editorial taste, editing everything from board books to teen books, from fiction to nonfiction. She has published numerous bestsellers and award winners, including the Caldecott Honor Book Gone Wild by David McLimans, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans in World War II byMartin W. Sandler, the Pura Belpre Illustration Award-winner Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez, and the New York Times bestselling “Perfect Chemistry” trilogy by Simone Elkeles.
From illustrator Ziyue Chen’s website: “Hi! My name is Ziyue, pronounced as Zzz yuair or you can call me Angeline. I’m a Singapore based Illustrator and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. I love drawing and visualizing stories through illustrations. I work on mostly Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print.
My life goal has been to have an emotional connection with those who view my work. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, sketching, swimming and spending time with my loved ones. Mixed nuts, goji berries and avocado milkshake are my favourite snack. Yum.”
Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Women in Sports, Segregation, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity.
Althea Gibson was the first Black person to win a Wimbledon trophy! This book talks about how sporty she was as a child, and how Althea could never stop moving. When Althea found a Black tennis club a few blocks from her home in Harlem, she had the self-confidence to walk right in and start swinging a racket. Soon, Althea began traveling to play against other Black players.
The story also addresses how sometimes Althea did not exhibit the best sportsmanship during games, making fun of other players and getting upset when she lost. However, this drive also caused her to desegregate the women’s tennis league that competed globally for events like Grand Slams and Wimbledon. Althea fearlessly took on the challenge, gaining notoriety. She won Wimbledon in 1957 and then again in 1958.
Unfortunately, Althea’s fame and ability did not break down as many racial barriers as she had hoped and Althea left tennis feeling like the sport abandoned her. She did massive amounts of youth outreach and set up mobile tennis courts in neighborhoods that lacked them, but became jaded by the whiteness and racism that existed (and still exists) among the sports of the elite. Overall, this is a very positive book that focuses on Althea’s achievements and life, and does not go into details about her later life, which is fine (it is a children’s book after all) but there is a long Author’s note in the back, timeline of important events, and a list of other resources to learn more.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Megan Reid works in books and television. She’s lived in seven states and two countries (and gone to twelve schools!), but now she’s happy to be based in Brooklyn with her dog, Luna. Althea Gibson is her first book for children.
Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.
This lovely book is all about the lived experiences of an Indigenous family, comparing their traditional Native activities with other things the family does such as dancing, taking both ballet classes and practicing hoop dancing weekly. I absolutely love the pairing of hobbies and activities like cooking, riding bikes or horses, and camping.
The beauty of this book is both the positive messaging associated with Native culture and the pairing of what some might call “contemporary” activities like camping in a nylon tent rather than a tipi. Because schools so often teach Indigenous history as if it’s just that-in the past, this is a refreshing story that shows readers who may be unfamiliar with present day Indigenous practices the way that cultures meld together to create strong and resilient humans today. Classrooms and schools need these contemporary depictions of Indigenous families living their lives just as much as they need the books that focus on Native history and the history of colonialism in the States and globally.
This book is joyful, colorful, and a wonderful addition to any bookshelf! I particularly like that real photos are the basis for the illustrations. There are stunning and brilliant Indigenous and First Nations books with beautiful illustrations, but less often I have seen books that use photographs. This is true representation showing a real family, authentically living their lives together. Own Voices to the max!
The author, Violet, was kind enough to send us this book for review, but all opinions are our own!
About the Author & Illustrator:
Violet Duncan is an author, storyteller, educator & performer, (Native American Hoop & Powwow dancer). She’s a proud member of the Plains Cree of Kehewin Cree Nation & Taino.
Violet facilitates workshops to promote spiritual wellness & cultural education across the United States, Canada & Europe.
After becoming a mother of 4, she saw a need for Native American representation in literature. Violet took it upon herself to author two children’s books; “When We Dance” & “Let’s Hoop Dance!” She is now a featured storyteller at many Festivals Nationally & Internationally.
Some of Violet’s accomplishments include holding the “Miss Indian World 2006” title & representing all Indigenous people of North America. You can also see Violet in the 2013 music video “Big Hoops” by Nelly Furtado as the Native American Fancy Dancer.
Summary: Gino Bartali was a small and sickly child, but he loved riding a bicycle more than anything else. He got a part-time job at a bike shop to learn more, competed in his first race at the age of 12, but didn’t get his parents’ proper blessing to be a full-time professional cyclist until age 17. Gino worked incredibly hard and in 1938 got a spot to compete in the Tour de France. Even though he crashed his bicycle trying not to hit some spectators that decided to cross the road, Gino won! In his speech, he didn’t mention Mussolini who had taken control of Italy, and this angered the authorities. Mussolini had teamed up with Adolf Hitler, and many years of hardship had begun.
When Gino returned home, he received a call from his good friend who also happened to be a cardinal and the archbishop of a church in Florence. The cardinal had a plan to smuggle false papers into the country to help the Jewish folks assume non-Jewish identities for the duration of the war, keeping them safe from deportation to the concentration camps. Gino doctored his bicycle frame to hide papers and went on long training rides back and forth through the mountains, shuttling papers back and forth to help the cardinal.
This is a fantastic book about a historical figure in multiple arenas! We had never heard of Gino Bartali before reading this book, and are so glad his story was published. After the story is finished there is an Afterword containing a photo of Gino and more detailed information about his life. Overall, this is a fantastic book for elementary school students and we highly recommend it!
This book was sent to us by Capstone 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 & the Illustrator:
Amalia Hoffman an author/illustrator. Her board book, Dreidel Day is scheduled for publication by Lerners Publishing Group/ Kar Ben Publishing for Fall, 2018.
She also wrote and illustrated The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies. (Gefen Publishing House) Both books were chosen as notable stories for children by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The Klezmer Bunch was selected by the Tony Award winning choreographer/producer, Elizabeth Swados for inclusion in her play, Jewish Books Cooking.
Amalia’s article, Queen Esther and Me, was published in the March 2016 issue of Highlights Magazine for Children.
Amalia designed and illustrated Rose Bud, on oversized book with pop-up elements, created as prop for Israel’s children’s theater, The Train.
Amalia received the SCBWI portfolio award in the category of Fantasy in 2005. Her art was voted best at the illustration display in the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference in 2014 and she received 2nd place at the 2016 conference.
She actively promotes her books with entertaining presentations and was voted as
finalist in SCBWI storytelling competition.
Amalia is a teaching artist affiliated with ArtsWestchester. She is a member of SCBWI and Children’s Books Illustrator Guild.
I am Chiara
I was born in Milan in 1973. I live in a little village 50 km far from Milan where I live with my family and my pets.
I attended Art School in Milan and took a degree in Illustration at La Scuola del Fumetto in Milan. I had also attended several workshops with illustrators such as Gianni DeConno, Arcadio Lobato, Svjetlan Junakovic and a course with the publisher Paolo Canton (Topipittori) called Projecting Books.
I work mainly for children publishers all around the word, storyboarding for advertising and movie. Magazines. I use a combination of mixed traditional media and digital.
My artwork is varied and I feel my style is always evolving.
WORK EXPERIENCE Freelance illustrator, editorial designer, storyboard artist for advertising and movies.
I work with big and small Publishers in Italy, Greece, USA, UK, France, Germany.
I am currently represented by illustration Agency ASTOUND.US
Summary: This book is awesome! Each story takes a unique viewpoint and has a hero in it, but an unexpected one. There are stories about adoption, ghosts, sports, brilliant robot engineer twin sisters, and even one with an autistic main character who loves aikido!
This book is special because everyone can find something to connect with in these stories. They are diverse in viewpoint, in interests, and storylines. In one story, the hero is a camp counselor that buys something for a town zombie. In another, the hero is a young girl who realizes she must use fairy magic to stop a war between worlds. It’s hard to describe all of these stories without giving away everything! Trust us, this book is fantastic and the author list stellar. It’s a great introduction to a huge array of talented authors, and a jumping off point into their works. Highly recommend you check this book out and have at least a few copies for you classroom!
About the Authors & the Cover Artist:
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovichis the author of the8th Grade Superzero,which was named a Notable Book for a Global Society and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, includingAbove and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow,andSomeday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins.She is the coauthor of the middle grade novelTwo Naomis,which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel,Naomis Too.She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators, holds an MA in education, and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com!
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.
Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novel,Black Panther: The Young PrinceandThe Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel,Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest isThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Ronald grew up on Air Force Bases and has lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, and a bunch of other places he doesn’t remember. As a boy, he loved to read, especially fantasy and science fiction, and this inspired his lifelong passion of the fantastical. The book that inspired him to write more than any other wasThe Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planetby Eleanor Cameron.
Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.In 1997, she started writing her first book,Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, includingA Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal. She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.
Anna Dobbin is a writer, copy editor, and proofreader. She owns an adorable Italian greyhound named Pintxo. In middle school she played soccer three hundred days a year and also loved singing, reading and making art. Anna is Linda Sue Park’s daughter, and this story is just one of their second professional collaboration after they contributed to the collection Totally Middle School, edited by Betsy Groban.
Hena Khanis a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.
Suma Subramaniam works with children globally to promote education and is a WNDB volunteer. After a successful corporate career for many years, now, instead of chasing technical talent in the hi-tech industry, she chases characters in her fictional work for the most part of her time. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management.
For over forty years Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country.
Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Juana is also the author and illustrator for Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas, 1 Big Salad, ABC Pasta, and Sweet Shapes. She illustrated Smick! By Doreen Cronin, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese, and I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera. She has participated in two recent anthologies: We Are The Change (Chronicle, 2019) and The Hero Next Door (Crown Books, 2019). Juana has been lucky to earn recognitions from the Colombian Presidency, the National Cartoonists Society, the National Headliner Award, International Latino Book Awards, and Ridgway Award honors, among others — which is quite impressive for someone who was a less-than-stellar student and who often got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Despite all trouble caused, Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita.
Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He is a library professional by day, a writer (and ukulele player) by night and was a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (“Leitich” is pronounced Lie-tick. First a long “i,” then a short “i,” followed by a hard “k.”) is best known as an award-winning, bestselling author of fantastical and realistic fiction for young readers. She is the New York Times best-selling YA author of Hearts Unbroken and both the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. These novels were released by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. She also is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including: Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and Indian Shoes, all published by HarperCollins. In addition, she has published short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. She is based in Austin, Texas, and a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/. She holds both a bachelor of science degree (with majors in news/editorial and public relations) from the William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she was president of the Native Law Students Association and co-founded The Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. She also serves on the core faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is both a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of We Need Diverse Books.Order booksby Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. Ellen is the co-founder ofWe Need Diverse Books(WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. She is the author of the middle grade novel The Spirit Hunters, Book 1, and Book 2, Island of the Monsters, and the YA fantasy trilogy The Prophecy Series. She is the editor of WNDB’s middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and the YA anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings out in June 2018. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.
R. J. Palaciolives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel,Wonder, has been on theNew York Timesbestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world. A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother’s maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared inThe Village VoiceandThe New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, includingPeter Pan:The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world;andLast Summer.Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.
William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore atOberlin College, English at theUniversity of Vermont, and creative writing atClarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of theVCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of theGallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
Cover Art Designed by Michelle Cunningham. She is a designer at Penguin Random House working on the Middle Grade team. When she’s not playing around with book cover layouts, she’s also a freelance illustrator.
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:
Matt 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.
Dana Ledl is the cover artist for Barely Missing Everything! She lives in Prague, and is a freelance graphic designer.