William’s Doll (1972), written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pene Du Bois, is the story of a little boy named William who wants a doll to nurture like he will nurture his future children.
The text opens: “William wanted a doll.” All the ways William will care for his doll are then discussed and mimed. In the first image, William is alone, a closed door behind him, as he cradles an imaginary doll in his arms. In subsequent images, the door has opened, and his brother and male neighbor watch William perform his nurturing routine before rudely interrupting to call him a sissy. Continue reading
Through the Eyes of Om: Exploring Malaysia, written by Sonny Tannan and illustrated by Agus Prajoro, is a sweet story told from the perspective of Om, a young boy with light-brown skin and big brown eyes. Om’s going on his first trip to Malaysia, his mother’s native country, where he will meet his grandparents and other family members for the first time.
Readers learn lots of fun facts about Malaysia, including customs for greeting elders, famous monuments, and basic geography. Prajoro does a lovely job creating vibrant images of clothes, food, and places. Continue reading
Antonio’s Card, written by Rigoberto González and illustrated by Cecilia Concepción Álvarez, was published in 2005 by Children’s Book Press, a non-profit publisher of multicultural children’s literature. The protagonist, a Latinx boy named Antonio, lives with his mother and her partner, Leslie.
Antonio’s peers make fun of Leslie, a tall woman with a boyish haircut and penchant for paint-splattered overalls. They suggest she looks “like a box of crayons exploded all over her” or “like a rodeo clown.” Antonio doesn’t share this with his mom or Leslie. Continue reading
Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom, written by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Simone Agoussoye, tells the story of a young enslaved woman who succeeded in escaping slavery, even though she was fleeing from the first president of the United States of America, George Washington.
Hooks is unflinching in her depiction of slavery, and weaves Ona’s personal story into the larger national story of enslaved blacks in America. Hooks explains that enslaved blacks had to work for no pay in conditions that provided no autonomy or dignity. She also notes that many children were sold away from siblings and parents. Continue reading
In Barbara Danish’s The Dragon and the Doctor (1971), Dr. Judy, a kind doctor with brown skin and curly hair, parties with a bunch of strange animals after helping a friendly dragon. The dragon stores objects, including roller blades, in her tail. Dr. Judy unzips the dragon’s tail, makes the dragon a bag out of a balloon to keep her things in, and is rewarded with a party invitation. The party is full of quirky animal characters doodled by Danish. At the party Dr. Judy helps Lucy, a yellow animal (perhaps a hedgehog) who has chicken pox. Dr. June and her dragon friend race Lucy home, where she is cared for by two moms. Continue reading
Kimberly Ballou’s When Daronte’s Father Went to Prison is a story told from the point-of-view of Daronte Williams, a young African American boy, who has the perfect life at the beginning of the story. Things quickly unravel and Ballou follows Daronte through the spiral, movingly representing his inner turmoil as he is forced to deal with the consequences of his father’s incarceration. Continue reading