Tag Archives: trailblazer

Ho’onani Hula Warrior

Written by: Heather Gale

Illustrated by: Mika Song

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English and Hawaiian

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Hawaiian Culture & Traditions, Hula, Indigenous Voices, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Trailblazer, History, Historical Figure, Biographical, Self-Esteem, Family, Acceptance. 

Summary: 

This is an incredible book based on a real person!  Ho’onani is a young girl that feels in the middle of being a girl (wahine) and a boy (kane) but still uses feminine pronouns.  Indigenous Hawaiians have a term for this, called mâhû. In the story, Ho’onani is accepted and encouraged by her family, except for her sister (in real life, this is not true!) who wishes Ho’onani would conform to traditional gender roles.  Luckily, one of Ho’onani’s teachers named Kumu Hina, (Kumu is Hawaiian for ‘teacher’) supports Ho’onani and allows her to be herself, in the middle.  Ho’onani wants to lead the boys hula performance at the end of the school year, something a girl has never done!  Luckily, Ho’onani’s community is supportive, and she makes history onstage, winning over the approval of her aforementioned sister that is on the fence with how openly Ho’onani embraces her identity.

There was a documentary made about the real Ho’onani by PBS in 2015!  Something that the documentary addresses that there isn’t enough room for in the children’s book is the fact that Ho’onani’s teacher, Kumu Hina, is a transgender woman.  The pair are very close, and Kumu Hina has developed her own terminology for the classroom to be more inclusive for gender non-conforming students mâhû students.

Indigenous Hawaiian gender identities are also discussed in the academic text, Critically Sovereign, which goes more in-depth about how colonialism shaped Hawaiian sexuality and gender identity, oppressing those that were not within the male-female binary.  The chapter about mâhû identity also takes into account the struggle for marriage equality within Hawai’i that started earlier than any other state, in the 1990’s.  The marriage equality debate is also wrapped up into the debate about Indigenous Hawaiian sovereignty, and if there should be a seceding from the greater government to create their own nation much like other Indigenous tribal nations found on the mainland.

You can watch the documentary about Ho’onani for free, here!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

I'm glad you've stopped by!

HEATHER GALE is a former orthotist and author originally from New Zealand. Heather loves stories of all kinds, but she especially loves those that feature real people like Ho’onani. She fell in love with the art of storytelling during long car rides, making up stories to go with the scenes flashing by. Heather has two sons and now lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs.

 

 

 

Image result for mika song illustrator

 

MIKA SONG is a children’s author/illustrator who makes stories about sweetly funny outsiders.

Mika Song grew up in Manila, Philippines. As a child she wrote letters to a mouse who lived under her mother’s desk. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and cat.

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!

Firebird

Written by: Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones

Illustrated by: Christopher Myers

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Ballet, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Art, Growing Up, Hard Work, Inspiration. 

Summary: This book is a beautiful conversation between trailblazing ballerina Misty Copeland and a young hopeful.  Lyrical text and flowing illustrations help capture the long road to becoming a professional dancer.  Copeland is encouraging as she talks about the thousands of repetitions she’s done, perfecting each move and stance before even taking the stage to perform.

Copeland writes to inspire and ensure young dancers of color that they can accomplish their dreams, despite them seeming far off.  She ends the book with a personal letter talking about how she didn’t see herself reflected in ballet books, and hopes that by continuing to dance and publish books, she can help inspire future generations of dancers and be the mirror she needed when she was their age.

Like so many other areas, diversity in professional dance has a long way to go.  Misty Copeland is only the second African American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.  She strives to be the person she needed when younger, and this message resonates with us.  While we are white, we are LGBTQ and want to be the people we needed to see when we were younger: happy, successful, and making the world a better place.  With stunning illustrations, Myers brings Copeland’s message to life in the most beautiful way possible.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

web_header_inspiredBorn in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In June 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.

In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential.  Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.

Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Misty is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014.  She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.

qY71wcZ0_400x400Charisse Jones works for USA Today, is a journalist, and assisted in the writing of Firebird. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72414356_thChristopher Myers is a multimedia artist, author, and playwright from New York City born in 1974. Myers earned his B.A. in Art-Semiotics and American Civilization with focus on race and culture from Brown University in 1995. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at venues including MoMA PS1, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Mistake Room at Paos GDL, Akron Art Museum, Contrast Gallery Shanghai, Goethe-Institut Ghana, Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Rwanda, San Art Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and The Studio Museum Harlem. Myers won a Caldecott Honor in 1998 for his illustrations in the book Harlem and a Coretta Scott King Award in 2016 for illustrating Firebird with Misty Copeland. Myers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

The Only Woman in the Photo [Being Released February 2020]

Written by: Kathleen Krull

Illustrated by: Alexandra Bye

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, Women in Leadership, Historic Figures, Feminism, Women’s Suffrage, Historic Events, Activism, Women in Government. 

Summary: Oh buddy do we love Frances Perkins!  This book is awesome, it tells the story of one strong badass lady when there were a distinct lack of badass ladies in government at the time.  Starting off as a shy child, Frances became inspired and motivated by her grandmother to take every opportunity that came her way, especially because she was a woman.

Her family was very supportive of her education, although it dwindled when she preferred to move to New York City and become a social worker rather than get married.  Frances continued to affect labor law changes for the better, affecting a myriad of industries and populations.  She was noticed by FDR and hired as one of the top officials in the country, eventually helping him draft the New Deal which revolutionized the benefits available to citizens of the country.

Something we also love about this book are the direct quotes by Frances, and the way the quotes are artistically drawn into the illustrations on the pages.  Frances is an incredible example of doing what is right and facing fears in order to help others.  Tackling challenges is a scary thing, but with a role model like Frances to inspire the next generation we have good feelings about them being faced head on.

This book was kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Kids, but all opinions are our own.   We are thrilled to be able to feature such an incredible book about a driving force of humanity that radically shaped America for the better.  This book is being released in early February, and we are thrilled to have been able to read the book early!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

There’s No Such Thing as Reading Too Much

When she was fifteen, Kathleen Krull was fired from her part-time job at the library in Wilmette, Illinois. The reason? Reading too much–while she was supposed to be working. Luckily, she had other jobs. One began when she was twelve: playing organ at her church. At seventeen she taught piano lessons to kids in her town. Her musical background did inspire many of her books. Another job involved selling doughnuts and cupcakes at a bakery, which hasn’t led to any books so far.

Then, the day after she graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, she began a career in publishing. She worked for four companies as a children’s book editor. While on the job, she wrote mysteries in the Trixie Belden series and other books. Finally she started working at home, writing her own books. She loves getting the chance to explore subjects she’s passionate about, like history, music, and extraordinary people.

She is married to children’s book illustrator and sometimes writing partner Paul Brewer and live in San Diego, California.

As a child she thought books were the most important thing in the world, and that perception is actually more intense now. She’s grateful, for so many reasons, to be able to work in this exhilarating field: preserving literacy. One of the benefits of the writing life is that she can’t be fired. Especially for reading too much.

e27bd834-6f26-4f92-9133-6b32758615f4-4698-00000c4e91113430Alexandra Bye is an illustrator specializing in fun, colorful illustrations for a variety of media, such as editorial and children’s publications. She lives in New Hampshire, where she enjoys backpacking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking with her dog.

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

Written by: Nadia L. Hohn

Illustrated by: Eugenie Fernandes

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English & Jamaican/Caribbean Patois 

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Global Community, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity, Jamaica, Language, Literacy. 

Summary: Louise is a young girl living in Kingston, Jamaica.  She loves words and writing poetry, but the words get stuck when she tries to speak.  Louise gains inspiration for her poetry by listening to the sights and sounds of those around her, but she is shamed for it at school.  Louise ends up going to another school, but has trouble reciting the poems she memorized out loud.  Instead, she musters up courage to speak the lyrical flow of Jamaican Patois that she hears on the streets and in her house, rather than the formal English that she feels might be expected of her in school.  To her surprise, her classmates and teachers love Louise’s poem!  

This book is amazing for several reasons.  First, it introduces young children not only to poetry but also to an accomplished poet that they might not be familiar with if they don’t live in Jamaica!  Second, it helps normalize the linguistic cultural funds of knowledge that students bring into the classroom with them.  Many times, children of color that might speak a patois, pidgin dialect, or AAVE outside of the classroom are shamed for bringing it into school.  This invalidates their experiences and furthers the elitism associated with formal/standard English.  We should be embracing the lived experiences of students, and having this book that celebrates such a prolific woman is a great addition to bookshelves!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

4635690Nadia L. Hohn is a dynamic “story lady” who has presented to audiences in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jamaica, and Trinidad.  From the age of six years old, Nadia L Hohn began writing stories, drawing, and making books. Her first two books, Music and Media in the Sankofa Series were published by Rubicon Publishing in 2015.  Her award-winning first picture book, Malaika’s Costume was published in 2016 and its sequel Malaika’s Winter Carnival 2017 by Groundwood Books.  Nadia is also the author of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, an early reader by Harper Collins published in December 2018.  A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett-Coverley Found Her Voice, nonfiction picture book about the performer, playwright, author, and Jamaican cultural ambassador, Louise Bennett-Coverley otherwise known as Miss Lou, will be published in 2019 (Owlkids). Nadia was 1 of 6 Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018 and the first SCBWI Canada East Rising Kite Diversity Scholarship recipient in 2018. Nadia  will be a touring in Alberta as a presenter in the TD Canada Children’s Book Week in 2019.  In summer 2019, Nadia will be the writer in residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nadia is an elementary school teacher in Toronto and has taught early years music in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Nadia L. Hohn studied writing at the Highlights Foundation, Humber College School of Writers, George Brown College, and the Voices of our Nation (VONA).  She holds an honours arts degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo as well as Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT).  Nadia is currently working on two young adult novels, a play, the next Malaika… book, and others.  She lives in Toronto she teaches, reads a ton, and crafts stories. She also loves to write (songs, blogs, journals, stories), play piano, cook vegan dishes, travel, study arts and cultures of the African diaspora especially Caribbean folk music, Orff music education, and run.

eugenie_fernandes-2Eugenie Fernandes has illustrated a myriad of books for a whole slew of publishers!  Here is a brief blurb about her from the Kids Can Press website: “My world is yellow and blue and green. I grew up on the beach. I painted with my father — comic-book illustrator Creig Flessel. We made up stories sitting on the front porch. Birds flew down from the sky and sat on my shoulder. Cats purred. Frogs hopped. I have always lived on islands …a house on Long Island, an apartment on Manhattan Island, a thatch hut on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, and now … I live and work in a little house … on a little island … in a little lake in southern Ontario. Summer and winter …starting at the crack of dawn, I paint every day. Sometimes, I write stories. Sometimes, I sell the stories. Then I paint again … I paint my stories … I paint other people’s stories. Sometimes, I paint paintings for myself … abstract paintings … big … free … Sunshine fills my studio.I am surrounded by water and birds and trees.My world is yellow and blue and green. Eugenie graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1965. Her paintings from Earth Magic and One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference are at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.”

Make Trouble (Young Readers Edition)

Written by: Cecile Richards with Lauren Peterson

Cover Art by: Eugenia Mello

For ages: Young Adults

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Trailblazer, Politics, Women in Politics, Activism, Feminism, Bodily Autonomy, Memoir/Biography, Political Activism, Family, Planned Parenthood, Inspiration, Growing Up, Community Involvement. 

Summary: For our first skill to take into the new year we’ve chosen: Activism! This is what we want to embody most throughout the next decade, and Make Trouble is the perfect place to start.  Through the acts of many we can create waves of change.  Let’s join together and take this new beginning as a time for hard work, direct action, and step into our power!

This book is awesome!  It is part memoir, political history, and call to action for everyone reading the book.  Something I really love about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from the really difficult parts of campaigning and activism, but the unfairness of the system that we’re up against doesn’t diminish Cecile’s hope for a better future.

Make Trouble guides the reader through Cecile’s life and career (especially at Planned Parenthood), she comes from a long line of political organizers and continues that tradition with her children today.  Throughout the book there are questions for the reader to be able to reflect on their own lives and become inspired to change thing about the injustices experienced in daily life.  Being able to find the courage to speak out and begin to organize for change is a difficult and necessary job for young people today.  Luckily, they’re already doing a great job!

This book makes the point over and over again that we must persevere through the garbage and keep fighting on the ground to create ripples of change for both our lives and the lives of others.  Organizing and activism are long roads filled with late nights, tired feet, and disappointment.  But we can join together to affect great change and ensure that all humans enjoy their personal liberties and work to counteract the systems of oppression that keep cycles of marginalization spinning.  Our work is not over, but we are together for the fight.

About the Authors & Cover Artist:

image-1

Cecile Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health, reproductive rights, and social change. She began her career helping garment workers, hotel workers, and nursing home aides fight for better wages and working conditions. After years in the labor movement, she moved back home to Texas to help elect the state’s first Democratic woman governor: her mother, Ann Richards. She went on to start her own grassroots organizations, and later served as deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of Timemagazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. For over ten years, Richards served as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues related to women’s rights and activism. Richards serves on the board of the Ford Foundation. She and her husband, Kirk Adams, have three children and reside in New York City.

987250a4-4662-4569-9c18-950cd705635b-505-000003e25f6f63b7

Lauren Peterson is a writer, strategist, and the co-author of New York Times bestseller Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards.She was a speechwriter and digital strategist on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, where she wrote about issues ranging from jobs and the economy to reproductive rights and immigration reform. Previously, she worked as a senior advisor and writer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and a senior writer on President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Lauren is passionate about progressive politics, storytelling, and finding the clearest way to communicate a compelling message to the right audience. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she has been featured in Medium.com’s “Words That Matter”CosmopolitanTeen VogueFusion’s “30 Women Who Will Change the Election”, and Madison MagazineLauren lives with her fiancée, Liz, and their rescue dog, Basil, in Brooklyn.  

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetEugenia Mello is an illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina currently living and drawing in NYC.
She studied Graphic Design at the University of Buenos Aires, where she also taught Design and Typography courses for several years.
She holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Latin American Illustration, Creative Quarterly and 3×3 Magazine, among others.
She is passionate about rhythm, movement and feelings, and uses color and shape to translate into drawing the things that are difficult to put into words. She is always hoping to get music out of her images.

She was recently awarded a Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for her illustrated moving piece Hope for the Day

Little People Big Dreams: Zaha Hadid

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Asun Amar 

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Women in STEM, Biography, Women in Architecture, Trailblazer, Feminist.

Summary: This book talks about the life of prolific architect, Zaha Hadid.  She was creative from a young age, and was soon designing her own clothing and furniture.  Zaha was lucky to travel around the world, becoming inspired by architecture and art.  She went to boarding school in Switzerland and instead of skiing like her classmates she would stay indoors (we can relate to this) and design funky buildings with shapes that no one had ever created before.

Zaha became a professor and continued to trailblazer for women architects everywhere, smashing barriers.  We love the timeline and real photos of Zaha in the back of the book!

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.

c3218357867537.58570417b318fAsun Amar is a freelance architect based in Barcelona, Spain! (She’s also difficult to track down online!)