Tomie dePaola’s Bonjour, Mr. Satie (1991)

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Bonjour, Mr. Satie (1991) by Tomie dePaola is the story of two children, Rosalie and Conrad, their uncle, Mr. Satie, and his “companion,” Ffortusque Ffollet, Esq.

When the two world travelers visit their family, they bring Paris to America through French cuisine, a smattering of French words, and enchanting stories of the artists, authors, and other characters they befriend in Paris.

The story manages to be kid-friendly and subtly sophisticated through references to Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. This is an early and quite casual representation of homosexuality that is both campy and cozy. It remains well worth the read nearly THIRTY years after it was originally published and is widely available used.

Broutman, Green, and Rabias’ Chicago Treasure

Chicago TreasureChicago Treasure is a clever collection of diverse and disability-inclusive photographs of children digitally imposed onto fairy tale images, well-known works of art, and popular Chicago landmarks. This beautiful, full-color, book contains over 150 captivating images. Larry Broutman is responsible for the concept as well as photography and text, Rich Green produced illustrations and text, and John Rabias created the digital effects.

In the first section, Just Imagine!, original images are paired with abridged versions of classic stories like Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty as well as updated nursery rhymes. In one image, a young girl sits in a wheel chair as a delighted Prince Charming kneels before her. In another image, a toddler relaxes precariously beside Humpty Dumpty on a wall. In a third, a young blond girl with glasses makes an adorable Miss Muffett as she reaches for the spider that sat down beside her. Less familiar tales, such as Pear Blossom and the Dragon, based on a Chinese legend, introduce readers to diverse stories.

In the second section, Now Showing!, children step into popular paintings, including Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Chop Suey. Some of the children fade into the landscape as if they belong, while others clearly do not.

The final section, Sightings!, melds fantasy and reality as adorable children and scary creatures wander the Chicago landscape. In one image a young person walks a porcupine and a skunk. In another image, a woman walks a panda. In still others, families ride bears and zebras around town.

The ages, races, and abilities of children are refreshingly diverse, disrupting the whiteness and able-bodiedness ubiquitous in most story books and museums. I’m a bit disappointed that gender norms were not challenged more, but overall, I am thrilled this beautiful book exists.

I recommend Chicago Treasure for personal collections. It makes a lovely coffee table book likely to encourage thoughtful conversations. It will also be a great addition to classroom libraries. Many lessons can be planned around the book in areas like art appreciation, disability awareness, and cultural diversity. It’s a delightful book that does a lot of work, literally disrupting dominant narratives by replacing images of able-bodied white people with a far more diverse cast of characters.

Many of the models are students at Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled’s preschool and author proceeds will be donated to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living Chicago.

Available for Purchase March 1:

Everything Goes Media

Amazon

I was provided a review copy of this book.

Three Month Blogiversary

Tomorrow is my three month Blogiversary. My first post, on July 28, was a review of Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid. I had given a presentation about it as well as Thomas Scotto’s Jerome by Heart at ChLA in June and wanted a larger audience for my work.

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Since then I have completed dozens of reviews about socially relevant children’s literature. My blog has nearly 800 followers, my Twitter account, which I also started this summer, has over 700 followers. Even more, I am a Cybils Round One Judge for Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books, and am creating reviews about the amazing work I am coming across as a judge.

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I am continuing to present my work about children’s culture at national academic conferences like NWSA’s 2018 conference in Atlanta this November.

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I am so glad I started RaiseThemRighteous! I have met tons of wonderful bloggers, activists, writers, illustrators, publishers, and academics invested in diverse children’s literature. This blog is just one of many venues I use to circulate my work, but it is the most immediate and accessible.

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A huge “thank you” to everyone who has followed, commented, retweeted, or just taken a moment to read my reviews! I appreciate you! Email me at jlmiller1@gmail.com if you want to talk kid’s culture!

Jennifer

 

 

Minh Lê’s Drawn Together

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.

Much of the story unfolds in comic book form. It opens in silence and, mirroring the relationship between the Thai grandfather and grandson whose bond anchors the text, relies heavily on images.

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