Tag Archives: strength

The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery

Written by: Jehan Jones-Radgowski

Illustrated by: Poppy Kang

For ages: 9-13 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Abolition, POC-Centric Narratives, Resilience, Strength, Own Voices.

Summary: This book is phenomenal.  Robert Smalls was an enslaved man that was able to hold a job away from the person that enslaved him.  Because of this, he worked on a ship called The Planter during the Civil War and hatched a plan to save himself and many others.  Because Smalls was brave, intelligent, and cunning, he planned to impersonate the captain of The Planter and sail himself, his family, and around two dozen other enslaved people to the North where they would be free.  Robert set out and was able to sneak the large ship past several Confederate forts by carefully studying the actual ship captain’s movements, not raising suspicions of the soldiers stationed.

This book tells about the entire journey Robert Smalls underwent, and how his bravery also brought weapons to the Union army when the ship arrived.  After the story is an Afterword which talks more about enslavement and the Civil War.  I love the language that is used in the book, it is person-first and comprehensive without sounding like a lecture.  It puts forward Robert’s intelligence in carrying out his plan to help himself and others, rather than telling the story from a savior of abolitionist perspective, Robert is in charge of his own story.  There is also a glossary and a list of books that the reader can seek out to learn more, as well as a bibliography and a real photo of Robert!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0*sEWcmQeqnzW8U7AWJehan Jones-Radgowski is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. She has lived all over the world, including South Africa, Spain, Venezuela, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Jehan currently lives in Germany with her family.

 

 

 

CTNPT_1258Poppy Kang is a freelance Illustrator and Visual Development Artist based in Los Angeles, California.

Granddaddy’s Gift

Written by: Margaree King Mitchell

Illustrated by: Larry Johnson

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Modern Back Freedom Struggle, Voting Rights, Family, Activism, Racism, Strength, Resilience, Education, Own Voices, Historical Fiction. 

Summary: This story is told from the perspective of a young girl, who everyone calls Little Joe on account of the fact that she follows her grandfather Joe around everywhere. She and her siblings live with their grandparents on a farm in the South.  Little Joe tries to skip school one day, but her grandpa catches her and on the drive to school she complains about the ragged books the school gets handed down from the white schools.

Things change a bit for the family when Granddaddy volunteers to try and register to vote, agreeing to take the test on the state constitution.  He studies and passes, but the community church is set on fire and burns to the ground as retribution for exercising the right to register.  Undeterred, more members of Little Joe’s community vow to study and register themselves to vote.

This story is an introduction to the struggles that African-Americans faced trying to register to vote before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.  The violence within the story is light, with no one being injured in the church fire and instead using the arson as reason to have more folks register to vote.  The story is appropriate for children, and we would consider the book a primer about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle for younger audiences, to prepare them later for more complex storylines surrounding the topic of both the struggle and the voting registration activism that took place (ex: SNCC, bussing, boycotts, etc.). Great read with beautiful illustrations!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

FullSizeRender-1-624x468Margaree King Mitchell is the author of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop (Simon & Schuster), Granddaddy’s Gift (Scholastic), When Grandmama Sings (HarperCollins), The People In The Park (Watershed Books), and Woman In The Pulpit (Castlewood Books). From her “about” section of her website:

She has been “featured on the PBS show Reading Rainbow, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is on a multitude of school lists of required reading throughout the United States. It is also reprinted in several international textbooks.

The team of David Wohl, Kenneth Grimes, and Susan Einhorn has adapted Uncle Jed’s Barbershop into an award-winning musical featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus as Uncle Jed.  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop was a featured show in the New York Musical Theater Festival and won the National Music Theater Network’s Directors Choice Award.

In my books for children I use history to encourage students to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives.  If they can see the accomplishments of people who lived long ago who achieved their dreams in less than ideal situations, I hope students will be inspired and know they can do even more with their lives.

Several years ago I visited with students who didn’t believe they were special.  They certainly didn’t believe they had special gifts to share with the world.  I was surprised that no one in the entire room thought they had within them the power to change the world.  I asked why.  They said no one had ever told them so.  Therefore, whenever I speak to children, I try to inspire them to dream big dreams for their lives and believe those dreams can come true.

In my teen fiction book, The People In The Park,   I explore what happens in the lives of teens when something devastating happens through no fault of their own.  Teens are blamed for lots of what’s wrong in the world.  But there are teens who are good students and good citizens who  successfully navigate life changing situations.  I thought it would be interesting to show through a story how they work through their issues and return to normal, while becoming better for having gone through the experience.

I hope teens groups use The People In The Park for discussion.

Teens throughout the country are weighing in on Lauren (the main character in The People In The Park) and her situation.  Lively discussions are taking place on whether teens agree or disagree with Lauren and the decisions she makes.

I wrote Woman In The Pulpit after listening to several friends, who are female ministers, talk about their experiences in the pulpit. Through the book I attempt to show the challenges women in the ministry face as they seek to carry out their calling.”

6923840Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Larry Johnson attented The Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.  For over thirty years Johnson was the Editorial Sports cartoonist for The Boston Globe, The National Sports Daily, ESPN’s Quickie page and Weei.com.

Larry has been an illustrator for over twenty five years in book  publishing, magazines and agencies. His work includes assignments for Fortune magazine, Lee Low, Scholastic, Little Brown, The Boston Globe, ESPN.com. Hill Holiday and the Sporting News.  He has illustrated biographies on Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph and The Wilt Chamberlain story.  His work has been acknowledged in New York’s Society of Illustrators.

As a Fine Artist, Johnson has had much success selling his original work to celebrity clients such as Oprah Winfrey and Vernon Jordan.  Corporate clients include Pepsi-Cola, Hallmark and The National Football League. His work has been seen on The Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Johnson works in all mediums.  His ability to capture a likeness as well as draw people of every ethnicity makes him very sought after talent for commissioned assignments. His greatest asset is his ability to work in a plethora of styles from a literal rendering to wonderful children’s books.e to edit.

Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom

Written by: Gwendolyn Hooks

Illustrated by: Simone Agoussoye 

For ages: 9-12 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figures, Historical Events, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, American History. 

Summary: Ona Judge is a woman enslaved by George Washington.  Yes, that George Washington.  Ona is very intelligent, and in moving around with the Washingtons to various cities, she becomes aware that she could be freed and live amongst other free Black individuals.  Ona gets word that she is going to be given as a wedding present to a relative, and knows the time to escape is upon her.  Ona hid on a ship, stowing away to Portsmouth and frees herself.  This book is a story of a strong woman who refused to endure a life of enslavement, even when she was found by associates of Washington, she did not surrender herself and instead led a fulfilling life on her own terms.

Simone Agoussoye is an incredibly talented artist, you should definitely check out her website below!  Our only concern with the style of art in this particular book is that readers may interpret the story as being for younger children.  The cover art is stunning, we wish all of the illustrations were done in that style.  Because of the seriousness of the subject matters covered in the book, and the sophisticated language inside of it, we would love for the illustrations to match it. However, we love this book very much and the story of Ona Judge is one that everybody should be exposed to. 

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:

Gwendolyn-BrooksGwendolyn Brooks is one of the most “highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young Black militant writers of the 1960s.”

artist_simone_agoussoye_art_480x480Washington, DC born artist, Simone Agoussoye, “has been honing her skills in portrait artistry for the past several years. Always known for her creative depiction of people, Simone blended her portrait skills with new non conventional techniques which has driven her to become more of a contemporary artist.

Simone’s evolution in portrait artistry has allowed her to explore using materials such as broken crushed glass in her portrait work. The use of this material has sharpen her craftsmanship and execution proving that she is very talented and creative having a drive to continue to grow and develop as an artist. Although known for her portrait artistry her subject of paintings vary from animals, to landscape, and abstract art.

As a child and throughout her life Simone received prizes for her artistic ability and creative talent. From a young age she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up which was an artist. She pursued her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Washington and graduated class of 2011. She is also the recipient of various Awards from Country Fairs and State Competitions.

Simone’s artwork has been showcased at exhibitions in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and more including “Artist Evolutions” at the Art Avenue Gallery located at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD. Her artwork is included in numerous private art collections throughout the U.S. and U.K. She has also created many commissioned works of art.”

 

Miep and the Most Famous Diary

Written by: Meeg Pincus

Illustrated by: Jordi Solano

For ages: 6-12 years

Language: English & very little German

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Historical Events, Holocaust, Judaism, Global Community, WWII, Activism, Strength, Resilience. 

Summary: This book opens with Miep hearing the footsteps of Nazi soldiers, coming to arrest the 8 Jewish people that she’s been helping to hide in attic storage rooms for the past two years.  Miep manages to avoid arrest by realizing that she and the soldier are both from Vienna, and is left alone.  Miep is able to summon the courage to go upstairs to the secret annex where the Franks and others have been hiding, and she saves Anne’s diary.  She is able to hid the diary until the war is over and Mr. Frank returns, he is the only one that makes it out alive.  Eventually, the diary is published.

This book is somber, tender, and based on Miep’s autobiography.  It gives another facet of the WWII experience, this time from a non-Jewish activist committed to the anti-Nazi cause.  While the story of Anne Frank is well-known throughout the world, Miep’s story is lesser known.  In the back of the book is an author’s note, more information about Miep, and a timeline of her life.  She is a beautiful, courageous person.  Although she didn’t do any of the actions she’s famous for for glory, she did it to be a good person, not seeing herself as a hero but rather a person just doing her duty.  This is a beautiful book to add into any Holocaust education/curriculum, or world history learning.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as an entry in the Best Books of 2019 list, but all opinions are our own, as was the decision to review the book separately from the list project.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Meeg Pincus 2018 headshot tightMeeg Pincus is a “kidlit nonfiction author. Humane educator. Book editor. Library lover. The happily book nerdy list goes on.

I have a lifelong passion for nonfiction books. Reading them, writing them, editing them. I’ve been writing & editing nonfiction in some form or another for over 20 years—and I still love it. (Learn more about my writing/editing background—and my much longer, full name—here.)

I’m also passionate about education & making our world a kinder, healthier place. This led me to the field of humane education: teaching people to be “solutionaries”—problem-solvers who help people, animals & the planet.

Nowadays I write “Solutionary Stories” for elementary-age children—nonfiction & informational books that inspire kids to make a difference.

I’m a former newspaper journalist & scholar-in-training (four years of graduate school in cultural studies/communication—focusing on race/class/gender—at UW-Madison & UC-San Diego). So I have a background in, and love for, research that means I dive deep & attempt to be incredibly accurate in every topic I write about.

And I’m grateful to have a diverse family (with a mix of religions, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities), so I’ve always incorporated diversity of many kinds into my writing. For me, part of being a solutionary is focusing first on compassion for all beings, and giving voice to those who are marginalized.

I’m active in SCBWI (San Diego chapter) and have participated in the Highlights Foundation Nonfiction Master Class, nonfiction workshops with the Writing Barn, 12×12, and more, to always keep improving my craft. I’m also the co-founder of 19PBbios, a promo group of 19 diverse picture book biographies releasing in 2019 from diverse creators.”

Solano_JordiJordi Solano was born in Barcelona and although he still lives there, he likes to visit and stay in almost every other country. He studied fine arts and illustration and has been illustrating books for the last ten years. Recent projects include Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark; Beyond the Sixth Extinction; and iDoyle: The Interactive Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – A Scandal in Bohemia, an interactive book. Stories are his very favorite thing in the world: watching, reading, or telling them, so he’s very happy with the job he has.

Family is a Superpower

Written by: Michael Dahl

Illustrated by: Omar Lozano

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Family, Superhero, Love, Kindness, Compassion, Education, Strength, Global Community, LGBTQ Families.

Summary: This book embodies the third characteristic we wish to take into 2020: Family (Chosen and/or Biological)! This book pairs superhero traits with traits families and individuals can take into their daily lives to help others and be the best they can be for their community.

We really like how the book it setup, one page showing DC superheroes helping and the other showing a regular family doing the same.  Standing up to bullies, cleaning up their community, a dad staying home with his kids while their mother goes to work.  The narratives are showing real, diverse, and multifaceted look at the families that make up our community.  The juxtaposition between the two world, DC and real, shows readers that they can be real-life superheroes and help others (whether that be welcoming someone to dinner or showing strength through a hard time.

One thing we wish from this book: On the jacket flap it says the families in the book are based on real life diverse families, and we wish they were pictured!  Recognizing the families maybe in a compilation in the back, actual photos and names, or something else would have really tied the whole book together and drawn parallels to the real world.

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:

Michael-DahlMichael Dahl is the author of more than 100 books for children and young adults. He loves to write mysteries His five-book Finnegan Zwake mystery series published by Simon & Schuster won rave reviews. He also wrote a creepy series called The Library of Doom and another called Dragonblood. His nonfiction has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times. Not once, or twice, but three times! His Finnegan Zwake books were shortlisted for the Edgar and the Anthony Mystery Awards twice. He speaks at schools, libraries, and conferences across the country on graphic novels, mysteries, and books for boys, and has been a featured speaker at ALA, AASL, NYAEC, TLA, NOLA, EncycloMedia and IRA.

OmaWEFrFrom Omar Lozano’s website:

Hello there and welcome to my portfolio!

My Name is Omar, commonly known as ‘Omarito’. I started my professional career as assistant for colors in a studio called Graphikslava where we used to paint comic books for Marvel, DC, IDW and Stonearch. There I had the chance to work as illustrator in the remake of the 90’s mexican comic ‘Ultrapato’ (Ultraduck) and right after that I had the chance to enter CGBot where I worked mostly making art for mobile games. Then I became freelancing for various companies being Capstone the one I have worked with the most, making several children books with them led me to the chance to work in some DC IP’s such as Wonder Woman, Superman and Supergirl. Recently I have worked on ‘Valiants’ (Again a remake of a 90’s Mexican comic book and spin-off of Ultraduck). As of now I’m still loking to give my best in each book or character I make!

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
redesigned-milikan-ohlonemap
Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

ruth azul
Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

gender-wheel-poster-web
The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!