Daniel Vandever’s “Fall in Line, Holden!”

Written and illustrated by Daniel W. Vandever, “Fall in Line, Holden!” (2017), subtly references the American government’s forceful separation of indigenous children from their families, community, and culture. Sent to boarding schools, indigenous children were required to adopt Western names, hairstyles, language, and culture in a violent effort at assimilation. Vandever focuses the story on the rebellious spirit of a child who refuses to fall into line, highlighting the inability of powerful groups to stomp out resistance.

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Zetta Elliott’s Milo’s Museum

I love Zetta Elliott’s 2016 picture book Milo’s Museum. This book is clever, original, relatable, politically relevant, and sweet; in other words, everything I could want in a children’s book and a few things I need.

Purple Wong’s detailed and deeply meaningful illustrations complement Elliott’s story brilliantly. Wong adds multiple layers of significance by helping the reader see what the title character, Milo, experiences. Continue reading

#TBT Gwendolyn Brooks’ Bronzeville Boys and Girls

I was initially attracted to Gwendolyn Brooks’ collection of poems, Bronzeville Boys and Girls, because I enjoy the author’s work for adult audiences. I was not disappointed. Originally published in 1956, when depictions of African Americans in children’s literature were even more dismal than they are now, Brooks managed to create an assortment of poems that represent children and childhood complexly and with dignity and humor. She carefully walks the line between representing relatable emotions and experiences and refusing to abandon the specificity of the urban black community represented.

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Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid

Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid celebrates gender expansive youth, femininity, and Brooklyn’s Mermaid Parade, which was founded by the non-profit arts organization, Coney Island USA, in 1983.

The text opens with an image of Julián in a pool with five women; one of the women is his abuela. Julián and his abuela are then shown walking towards a subway, while three women with dramatically made up hair trail behind in mermaid attire. Continue reading