Vanita Oelschlager’s A Tale of Two Mommies (2011)

Ebook cover imageA Tale of Two Mommies (2011), written by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike Blanc, is an affirming story about a little boy and his two moms.

Three small, racially diverse children enjoy a day at the beach. One of the children, a little boy, has tawny beige skin, another is a girl with suntanned skin and red hair, the boy with two mommies has medium brown skin, curly-hair, and big brown eyes. The two moms’ faces are never shown but they both have pale skin with pink undertones.

The little boy with two moms is bombarded with excited questions from his friends who are curious about what activities his momma does with him and what activities his mommy does with him. He answers their sometimes very silly questions with ease, demonstrating that his moms have all the important stuff like cake baking and boo-boo kissing covered.

A Tale of Two Mommies is a fun book. The colors are bright and sunny like the day at the beach the characters are enjoying. It’s an accessible book with a clever lyricism that makes it fun to read aloud. It will make a solid addition to family libraries of very young readers who are sure to giggle along with the characters as they find answers to important questions like which mom is the best kite flying partner.

I accessed a review copy through NetGalley.

Rashad Malik Davis’s Chapter 1: Root the Brave

Carefree, Like Me! - Chapter 1: Root the BraveIn 2017, writer/illustrator Rashad Malik Davis published Chapter 1: Root the Brave, the first installment in his fun and suspenseful book series Carefree, Like Me!. Davis envisions creating a total of seven “chapters” released at the pace of about one a year. Two are currently available.

Davis describes the series as “an epic fantasy adventure, encouraging children to understand and develop a language for: empathy, emotional literacy, and diverse historical representation.”

Chapter One: Root the Brave centers the friendship of two nine-year old children: Amir and Neena. Amir is a super skinny brown-skinned boy with subtle glasses and amazing hair. Neena’s tan-skin has a rosy glow and her shaggy brown hair hangs over her face framing bold glasses. The two children obviously share a strong bond, even though they’ve grown bored with all their old games. It’s this boredom that prompts Amir to complain to his dad who gives him a very special necklace. The necklace transports Neena and Amir into another world. In this realm they are heroes tasked with saving King Root from the monsters under his bed. They are successful and the first chapter of their adventure ends. But as this adventure closes, they are sucked into another land!

Stay tuned for Chapter Two: Sacra the Joyous available for pre-order now!

Davis is a very talented writer and illustrator. He brilliantly captures his characters colorful emotions and caring relationships in his images. The story is written in clever rhymes that are fun to read out loud and will surely entertain young readers. The pace is perfect for building suspense, but the story isn’t too scary for its target audience of 6 – 10 year olds. I highly recommend this book. I am a sucker for girl-boy besties and really appreciate the cultural diversity in this series!

Davis won the 2017 Best Indie Book Award in the Children’s Category for this amazing debut.

You can purchase Davis’s books and prints directly from him at his website.

Bryan Smith’s Diversity is Key

Diversity if KeyAt first, I was suspicious of Diversity is Key, which is written by Bryan Smith and illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin. The first-person narrative unfolds from the point-of-view of a blond girl with pale white skin named Amelia. A new student from Japan will be joining her class, and this just happens to coincide with “diversity week.” The plot is a bit contrived and the tone is a bit didactic, but overall it works.

The narrator seems to have never heard of diversity before her teacher begins discussing “diversity week.” But she quickly catches on and is receptive to the lessons her peers impart about their cultures. For instance, the new Japanese student demonstrates how school in Japan differs from school in the US. She explains that in Japan students serve lunch, eat in classrooms, and cleanup after themselves. A Mexican American student describes the importance of family to her community through a discussion of Dia De Los Muertos. The week ends with a Hawaiian celebration at a student’s home.

Importantly, learning about cultural difference prompts the narrator to reflect on and change her own behaviors. She will clean-up after herself at school and she will celebrate her deceased grandmother’s birthday by making spaghetti and meatballs.

Although it’s not a must have title, I appreciate the book. Back matter introduces activities parents and educators can use to extend the story’s lessons.

*I received a review copy of the text via NetGalley.

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.

Breanna J. McDaniel’s Hand Up!

Hands Up!“Hands up,” a command that demands a gesture of compliance, was resignified by activists as a gesture of protest following the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The act of resistance quickly made its way onto the football field and the Grammy Awards’ stage –  even members of the US House of Representatives were using it to protest police shootings of unarmed Black men and women.

Breanna J. McDaniel makes this gesture of resistance available and accessible to children in her joyful new children’s picture book Hands Up!, which is warmly illustrated by Shane W. Evans to visually communicate exuberant expressions of family and community love.

In Hands Up!, a young girl with glowing brown-skin is the clear star of the story. She is the sunny center of her family and community.

Throughout the short picture book, the girl, her family, and her community put their hands up in various gestures of excitement, care, and protest.

Her parents put their hands up to play peek-a-boo. Her grandmother gently guides her to put her hands up as they do her hair. In school, she throws her hands up, excited to share an answer with her class. After winning a basketball game, she stretches her hands up in pride, holding a trophy.

In the last image, she leads community members on a march. All hands are up carrying signs in protest of injustice: “Black Lives Matter,” “Water = Life,” and “Love Your Neighbor.”

This is a sweet-strong book. Young readers will enjoy the carefully worded text that reads like poetry. Older children will be encouraged to have socially relevant conversations about race and the abuse of state power after reading it.

Image and text are in perfect harmony, communicating a sense of warmth and universal humanity where it is often denied. This is a book that can be read over and over, taking on new meaning as the child(ren) in your life mature. Highly recommended for personal and school libraries.

Author Zetta Elliott provided me with a copy of the book to review.

Art Coulson’s Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army (2018)

Cover of the book Unstoppable by Art Coulson showing an illustration of Jim Thorpe running with a football

UnStoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

Written by Art Coulson

Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle

Published by Capstone in 2018

 

Capstone, the publisher behind Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army, approached its author, Art Coulson (Cherokee), about writing a non-fiction children’s picture book focused on a 1912 college football game between Carlisle Indian School and West Point. In an interview for the blog Cynsations, Coulson notes: “This was a game that the press built up as a rematch of the Battle of Little Big Horn.” Coulson and illustrator Nick Hardcastle do a wonderful job making this snapshot of US history available to young readers in vivid detail that accounts for the difficult circumstances that led Jim Thorpe to the Carlisle Indian School. Coulson maintains a serious tone, at points just shy of celebratory, to bring the unstoppable Jim Thorpe’s story to life.

Coulson takes readers on a journey through Jim Thorpe’s life introducing him as a twelve-year-old football fan excitedly watching a college football game and imagining himself playing. Jim’s challenging childhood is noted but not lingered on, as is the lengthy history of Native American boarding schools which existed to force assimilation, often without the consent of children or their families.

Coulson focuses on Jim’s athleticism, the area of his life in which he truly was unstoppable. For instance, after leading Carlisle to victory against Army, his coach, Pop Warner, helped him train for the Olympics where he won many events, several in a pair of shoes he found in a trash can after his were stolen.

Coulson is generous with his praise, not only of Jim, but other members of the team and coach Warner. He details the creative plays they brought to the field and describes the team’s skill as strategy-based.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story but would have liked to see the historical significance of the game elaborated on. Perhaps I am just a greedy reader!

I appreciated the back matter, including an accessible description of Jim’s post-1912 accomplishments, short biographies of other Carlisle players, and a description of Carlisle Indian Industrial School that details the real horror of boarding schools.

I recommend this book for personal and school libraries. It is a well-researched and descriptive biography of Jim Thorpe that foregrounds the social, political, and familial hardships he negotiated in his remarkable life.

The publisher sent me a copy of the book for review

I reviewed the book for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019.

#MCBD2019

#ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-

*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it,  Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Shereen Rahming’s Ahni and Her Dancing Secret_#ReadYourWorld

Ahni and Her Dancing Secret

Written by Shereen Rahming

Illustrated by Jeff Vernon

Published by Read and Glow Books in 2016

 

 

Ahni and Her Dancing Secret is an inviting picture book about the importance of both confidence and practice for success. Accessibly written by Shereen Rahming and warmly illustrated by Jeff Vernon, this sweet story is a must have for small children who have a little bit of trouble trying new things. Although about ballet, the life lessons presented in the text are widely applicable and will appeal to lots of little girls and boys.

The light-brown-skinned protagonist, Ahni, is depicted throughout in a pink leotard and tights with a matching tutu. Ahni has always wanted to be a ballerina and starts her first class with confidence but is soon intimidated by her far more prepared classmates. She is committed to participating and gives it her all, but without training she isn’t very good, and the other students laugh at her.

Madame Sabina, the wise dance teacher, catches Ahni as she runs out of class. Madame Sabina explains the importance of practice and introduces Ahni to the power of affirmations and positive thinking. Affirmations help build Ahni’s confidence and practice helps her perfect her moves. She is soon dancing alongside her previously jeering classmates who appreciate her hard work and improved performance.

Vernon’s generous use of bright yellows and rich golds bring the story to life. Rahming writes with an understated lyricism that makes the short but powerful text a pleasure to read aloud. I loved the message, the multicultural cast of major and minor characters, and the use of affirmations. This is a lovely book to have around in case of self-confidence emergencies!

The author sent me a copy of the book for review.

Reviewed for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-

*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it,  Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.