Tag Archives: trailblazers

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Bàrbara Alca

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Women in Music, Musicians, Trailblazers, Biography, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: Ella was a young girl fascinated with performing and music.  When she was 15, her mother died and radically changed her life.  Running away from a reform school, she began performing.  Two years later Ella won a contest at a nightclub and was discovered by Chick Webb, a big name in jazz at the time.  This jumpstarted her career, turning her into the First Lady of Song, as she is now known!

This is a basic overview of the prolific singer that is Ella Fitzgerald, and a good book for an introduction to the subject.  We really love the timeline in the back of the book with the photos of Ella throughout her career.  This book, like the other books in the series, is adorable!

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.

DeHda4TXUAAg0LNBàrbara Alca is an “extremely beautiful and enthusiastic Graphic Designer, Comic Artist and Illustrator based in Barcelona.

I make my own zines, work as a freelance illustrator for press such as El País, Ajuntament de Palma, El Jueves, Revista Cactus, and for editorial projects with Planeta, Alba Editorial and Sapristi.

Most of my work is mixed media, hand drawn lines with digital colouring.

I have a dark sense of humour, but I also love lace and bows which results in an eclectic style.”

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.

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:

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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.

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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!)

Becoming RBG

Written by: Debbie Levy

Illustrated by: Whitney Gardner

For ages: 10 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: History, Legislation, Women in Leadership, Trailblazers, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Activism, Graphic Novel. 

Summary: This is an AWESOME  graphic novel!  Something we like about it very much is that while it very closely follows the life of the one and only powerhouse Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it also gives an amazing amount of historical context and vocabulary for the reader.  We begin the book with Ruth’s birth and follow her trailblazing journey beyond her appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It was really cool to see Ruth grow up and be unafraid to be seen as smart, capable, and driven the entire time.  The graphic novel was thorough and well-researched.  We learned so much!  Challenging sexism and higher education, RBG saw firsthand the tides of change.  In fact, she was often the one strategizing.  Undoubtedly, Ruth has inspired generations of young people already.  This book is the next iteration, having a graphic novel about historical figures is really neat and brings a new dimension of learning into the equation.

There are a myriad of little details within the book that make it special, like her mother’s ghost that follows her around, reminding her of advice she was once given.  The book emphasizes being a good person with a strong moral compass for doing what’s right, even if it may be hard or scary to stand up for what you believe in.  It does not gloss over the fact that RBG worked constantly and steadfastly to change the world, it did not happen overnight.  The book does not shy away from her legal falters either, it gives a well-rounded storyline of the trials and tribulations of her career.  The graphic novel serves as both an incredible learning tool as well as a call to action for more activism for equality!  RBG is a strong role model for young people, and we are very lucky to still have her around showing us how to rise up and create change.

This book was generously sent to us by Simon and Schuster Kids, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Debbie Levy writes books—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—for people of all different ages, and especially for young people. Before starting her writing career, she was a newspaper editor with American Lawyer Media and Legal Times; before that, she was a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now called WilmerHale). She has a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and a law degree and master’s degree in world politics from the University of Michigan. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Rick Hoffman. They have two grown sons. Besides writing, she loves to kayak, boat, and fish in the Chesapeake Bay region, swim, bowl duckpins, and tramp around the woods. And, of course, she loves to read.

Whitney Gardner is an author and cartoonist who spends most of her time hidden in the Pacific Northwest wrapped in a fuzzy sweater. She brings joy to those who happen to spot her and her suspiciously large feet. Before becoming an author she worked as an art teacher and school librarian where she fell utterly and completely in love with children’s books. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, or roasting coffee.

 

Leading the Way: Women in Power [Being released 10/8]

Written by: Senator Janet Howell & Theresa Howell, forward by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Illustrated by: Kylie Akia & Alexandra Bye

For ages: YA middle & upper grades to read themselves (ages 10 and up); great bedtime story for younger children.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, Women in Politics, Government, Leadership, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Feminism, Politics. 

Summary: Something right off the bat that we really liked about this book are the “Power Symbols” in the beginning.  These are small badge icons that represent different characteristics that the women profiled in the book embody.  The Power Symbols are: Integrity, Community, Resourcefulness, Diligence, Courage, Persistence, Empathy, Communication.  They each have their own icon, and a list of categories that help define the trait.  This is helpful for the reader to expand their vocabulary and be able to attribute certain personality aspects to themselves and others.

The layout of this book has several sections.  The largest section (obviously) is the profile of 50 women leaders in the United States.  Besides an illustration of the figure, there are two quotes from the woman profiled, a biography, and years lived with titles held above the Power Symbols.  The book is decidedly apolitical, featuring women from various political parties throughout history.  Abigail Adams, Tammy Duckworth, Frances Perkins, Shirley Chisholm, Wilma Mankiller, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are just a handful of the women featured.

After these fantastic women are featured there is an action guide for the reader on how to “stand up, speak out, and make a difference” which is awesome!  Empowerment is key for women and young girls to be able to continue to become elected in American government.  There are also more leaders to discover, source notes, and an index.

This book was put out in celebration for white women having the right to vote for a century.  This is quite an accomplishment, and having women’s voices in spaces historically dominated by men is vital for opinions and concerns to be heard and considered in matters of legislation.  The book does not cover the intricacies of Black women’s voting rights in detail, although there are activists who worked on voter registration campaigns such as Fannie Lou Hamer profiled.  The authors do discuss the unfair voting tests that Black individuals were subject to as well as corresponding demonstrations.  Overall, this is a great book and amazing resource for talented women involved in politics.  many of these profiles could be used as a jumping off point for more in-depth research projects for middle school students. We were sent this book from the publisher, Candlewick, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Senator Janet Howell has been a Virginia State Senator since 1992. A community leader prior to running for office, Janet was a PTA president, community association president, and Chair of the State Board of Social Services. Senator Howell is one of Virginia’s most influential senators.  She was the first woman to serve on the powerful Senate Finance Committee. She also serves on the Courts of Justice, Education and Health, Privileges and Elections and Rules committees, and is a Senate budget conferee.  Senator Howell is credited with major legal reforms. She headed the overhaul of Virginia’s family violence laws.  She led efforts to protect children from sexual predators. Virginia has genetic information privacy legislation due to her efforts.  She spearheaded the mental health law reform in the Senate following the Virginia Tech tragedy. Education, children, and families have always been top priorities.

Theresa Howell is the co-author of Maybe Something Beautiful (co-written with F. Isabel Campoy & illustrated by Rafael López), which was inspired by the Urban Art Trail project in San Diego spearheaded by Rafael and his wife, Candice, and has led to similar community art projects throughout the United States. Maybe Something Beautiful was selected as the 2018 Read for the Record title, is the winner of the 2017 Tomás Rivera Book Award, and was named an ALA Notable Book as well as a 2016 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus, the Huffington Post, the Chicago Public Library, and SLJ’s Fuse#8 blog. The Spanish edition of Maybe Something Beautiful, titled Quizás Algo Hermoso, is now available. Theresa is also the author of the picture book series Scout Moore, Junior Ranger (Grand Canyon Conservancy and Muddy Boots Books), featuring the bright, curious, outdoor-loving Scout who motivates young readers to get out there and explore our national parks and nature for themselves. Her latest project, Leading the Way: Women in Power (Candlewick Press) with Senator Janet Howell, spotlights the careers of fifty American women in politics — and inspires readers to make a difference. With foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Theresa began her career in publishing as a children’s book editor with Rising Moon, where she helped establish the bilingual imprint Luna Rising and published a number of award-winning titles. She lives in Colorado with her scientist husband and two creative, nature-loving daughters. There, she hikes, reads, dances, and dreams.

Kylie Akia is a digital illustrator and painter. Her work creates a narrative of juxtaposition through the use of color, subject, and content. Leading the Way: Women in Power is her picture book debut. Kylie Akia lives in Chicago.

 

 

Alexandra 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 Song for Gwendolyn Brooks

Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Black Culture & Identity, Women Poets, Own Voices, Trailblazer, Historical Figure, Historical Events.

Summary: This book is a fascinating rendition of poetry surrounding Gwendolyn Brooks, some of it is her own poetry and some is the author’s.  The author creates her own song to celebrate Brooks, and text winds around beautiful illustrations.  This book is very hard to describe, it’s more of an immersive experience than a traditional story!

Gwendolyn was born in Kansas but spent most of her life in Chicago.  Her parents were extremely supportive of her gift with words, and fought back against a teacher who accused Gwendolyn of plagiarizing.  Brooks wrote tons of poetry throughout her entire life, and sought inspiration from what she saw outside her window.  She was the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner, being awarded this high honor in 1950.  An author’s note with more concrete details about the life of Brooks is in the back, including a detailed timeline spanning two pages and suggested readings by Brooks herself!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you know about poetry?
  • Do you think songs and poems are the same thing?
  • Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • How do you think Gwendolyn felt when her mother believed her, and defended her to the teacher that thought she was plagiarizing?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

M6beHbvg_400x400In the words of Alice Faye Duncan herself:

I am my mother’s only child and Memphis is my home. I went to library school at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). While there, Professor Glenn Estes introduced me to picture books. At the University of Memphis, I took a Children’s Literature Class from Professor Ramona Mahood. She introduced me to author, Charles Turner, who inspired me to write WILLIE JEROME–my very first book. Macmillan published it in 1995. Picture books are my favorite to write! They allow me to “sing” without a music education or singing voice. YOU DON’T WANT ME TO SING. Really. 

I discovered the poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, when I was a child searching the crowded shelves in my parents’ personal library.  While I loved each poet, my early writing was most similar to Paul Laurence Dunbar.  I wrote for the ear to hear and the voice to speak words like I heard them spoken in school, church and the sundry store. Langston, Gwen and I, have Dunbar in common.  It was Paul Laurence Dunbar who moved us early in life to make words our vocation. Words are my work and my pathway to words began with poetry.  

My picture books include biographies of Black artists and moments in American History seldom told. I also write lyrical stories that celebrate the sustaining power of love between a mother and child. My books are illustrated by award winning artists like Gregory Christie, Xia Gordon, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (YES! of the Famous Pinkney Family) and Mary Uhles. MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP won a 2019 Coretta Scott Honor Medal for illustrations.

28539_profile_1382809390Xia Gordon is an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up in Orlando, FL and graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Cartooning & Illustration in 2016. She studied as a Teaching Assistant Intern at the Robert Black Burn Printmaking Worskshop in 2016 and was a Visiting Artist at the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2018.

Her comic Kindling was published by 2dcloud in early 2017 and was named one of The Comic Journal’s Best Comics of 2017 and 2018. She also Illustrated A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks written by Alice Faye Duncan (Sterling Children’s Books.)

Selected Clients: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Penguin Random House (Classics)VICE NewsBuzzfeed News, Lenny Letter, Narratively, The Baffler.

Some nice words from: Philippe LeBlanc at ComicsBeat, Ardo Omer at Book Riot, and Rob Clough of High-Low Comics.

Interview for FRESH at Communication Arts.