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
I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon, written by Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, is a non-fiction account of environmental activism in Cameroon told through the story of farmer and activist Tantoh Nforba who works to bring organic gardening and clean water to Cameroon. Continue reading
In A Different Pond, author, Bao Phi, and illustrator, Thi Bui, both Vietnamese Americans, create a necessary and impactful story that is both a tribute to their working-class new immigrant childhoods and a valuable #OwnVoices contribution to children’s literature. The story is anchored in a purposeful fishing trip a father and son take to secure food for the family. Rich colors and a creative use of panels provide intimate portraits of the duo. Continue reading
The Water Walker (2017), written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson, a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, brings attention to the work of Mother Earth Water Walkers. The group began walking around large bodies of water, beginning with Lake Superior in 2003, to bring attention to the water crisis. Robertson’s book, written with urgency, optimism, and humor, makes this important environmental issue accessible to young children. Even more, the story explores Indigenous traditions and values while depicting the important environmental activism of Indigenous women.
Sweetest Kulu, written by Inuit throat singer, Celina Kalluk, and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis, is a soothing picture book, perfect to curl up with at bedtime. Kulu is a term of endearment used by Inuit. The lyrical and delicately unfolding story is steeped in cultural and regional specificity as well as universal emotions of love.
Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and imaginatively illustrated by Dan Santat, lives up to its clever and dimensional title. It is a thoughtful story about collapsing linguistic and generational divides through love and shared passion, in this case, of art. Drawn Together is a significant contribution to children’s literature that tells both a specific tale about immigration and assimilation and a more general one about establishing inventive ways to connect. Continue reading
La Frontera: My Journey with Papa (2018) is a much-needed bilingual children’s book that thoughtfully explores one family’s experience of immigration to the United States. Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva co-authored the text, which is based on Alva’s experience arriving in the United States with his father over thirty-years ago. Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro’s beautifully detailed images help communicate the emotional significance of the story by carefully capturing expressions and gestures of characters. Importantly, La Frontera does not just make us feel; it also makes us think about immigration contextually by subtly introducing political and economic explanations for the actions and experiences of the characters.