Mia Wenjen’s Sumo Joe

Sumo JoeI’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I get “book mail” often. In fact, my four-year-old always asks if the package I’m opening contains something we can read together, and it usually does. When I received Sumo Joe, Mia Wenjen’s debut picture book, the two of us did what we usually do – we cuddled up on the couch and read the book. Then we read it again, and again, and again. You get the idea.

This book is many things: 1) a lyrical kid-friendly introduction to sumo, 2) a story about sibling love (and competition), 3) clever and accessible commentary about gender and cultural traditions, and 4) an empowering story that reminds young readers that size doesn’t always matter, even in competitive fighting. Continue reading

Dinobibi’s Travel for Kids Series

Dinobibi publishes an exciting interactive non-fiction series of travel books for children. The Travel Series is accessible to school age children and each book comes at $12 price point that parents will appreciate! Countries available to explore include Spain, China, Italy, and South Korea.

Dinobibi sent me two titles to review: France and Mexico. Each book is jampacked with information about the highlighted country, including history, weather, flora and fauna, food and culture, famous people, and major cities and attractions. They are professionally written, illustrated, and edited with the clear aim of engaging young readers. Each book includes a variety of photographs to help introduce readers to each country’s rich diversity.

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Cultural Diversity

This fall my 4-year-old son began a French-track dual-language Pre-K program at a public school in North Texas. In addition to a rigorous language component, the school focuses on cultural diversity! My interest in children’s literature has always been shaped by my personal journey as a mom and I’ve been adding more books about cultural diversity to our library over the last few months.

I’ll be reviewing some of our favorite books here as well as tagging relevant past reviews. I have always very intentionally reviewed diverse books, but this category will focus less on social justice themes and more on books that help young readers become familiar with various religious, ethnic, and regional cultural practices. I hope my readers find this new dimension of the blog informative!

 

Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki’s The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption (2002)

The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption

The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption (2002), written by Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki and illustrated by Meilo So, is a story about international adoption that focuses on four North American families  bringing their adopted daughters’ home from China. Continue reading

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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