Coming in April: Kelly Starling Lyons’ Going Home with Daddy

Going Home with Daddy, written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Daniel Minter, is gorgeous.

The story unfolds from the point-of-view of a young African American boy heading to his great-grandma Granny’s for an annual family reunion. The text is heavy with emotion, but none shine as boldly as joy.

Young readers will want to slow down to enjoy the lyricism of Starling Lyons’ poetic prose. Take, for example, the simplicity of her opening line: “We leave when the sky is still dark with sleep.”

Alan, the narrator, has many conflicting emotions about the reunion and the celebration to honor Granny that is a big part of it. He’s excited to see family but sad he hasn’t come up with anything to share during the celebration.

When Alan and his family arrive, he’s greeted by grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, and more cousins than he can count. All his cousins seem to have thoughtful things to share with Granny, including scrapbooks, songs, and poems.

After reflecting on his deep connection to the land and his family Alan eventually does find the perfect thing to share.

Word and text dance on the page. Minter’s illustrations are deeply textured, and he uses color to prompt mood. Dialogue drips with vernacular sounds and sayings, bringing characters to life. Descriptions of the land, food, and fun give the story a strong sense of place.

Going Home with Daddy is the perfect addition to family libraries. Whether your family has traditions that mirror Alan’s or different ones, the universality of emotions depicted can inspire us to be different together.

You will need to wait a bit for this one, it will be released April 1, but it’s worth the wait. I accessed an advance copy at NetGalley.

Laurel Dykstra’s Uncle Aiden (2005)

Uncle Aiden (2005), written and illustrated by Laurel Dykstra, might just be my favorite gay uncle book. And, there are probably as many gay uncle books as there are books about boys who wear dresses, which is to say competition is fierce.

The first-person narrative is relayed from the point-of-view Anna Maria Flannigan Cruz. She has a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins, but red-haired and pierced Uncle Aiden is her favorite. He plays pirates and tea party. He introduces Anna Maria to all his boyfriends, and he takes her to Pride. He’s wise and willing to learn Spanish.

Anna Maria wishes everyone could have an uncle like hers.

It’s a fun book and very accessible to even the youngest readers. I appreciate the incorporation of cultural diversity, eschewal of gender stereotypes, and inclusion of polyamory.

I like Anna Maria and Uncle Aiden, and I think you will too! But, it’s not easy to find so if you stumble upon a copy pick it up!

Jennifer Carr’s Be Who You Are (2010)

Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr (2010-11-23)Be Who You Are (2010), written by Jennifer Carr and illustrated by Ben Rumback, explores a young transgender girl’s transition. Although Hope’s sex assignment was male, she always felt like a girl. She tells her very accepting parents while she is quite young, and they support her. However, Hope isn’t comfortable being as open about her gender identity at school, and her gender is repeatedly policed by a teacher who sees her as a boy. This happens when Hope draws a picture of herself as a girl and when she stands in line with other girls. When Hope shares her discomfort at school with her parents, they become advocates. They introduce her to a therapist who encourages her to share her feelings about gender. Hope soon begins to transition; first growing her hair long, and then wearing girl clothes more and more frequently. Like her parents, Hope’s younger brother becomes a supportive ally.

This is one of a small handful of books about transgender children. Carr is a parent-advocate of a transgender child and Be Who You Are is unambiguously trans* affirming throughout. It provides an accessible trans* narrative for young readers.

I prefer Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings’ I am Jazz, which delivers the same story but is co-authored by a transgender child and told in the first-person. However, this book predates I am Jazz by several years and depicts its important lesson of transgender acceptance very nicely.

Linda de Hann’s King and King (2002)/King and King and Family (2004)

King and KingKing and King and Family

King and King, written by Linda de Hann and illustrated by Stern Nijland, queers the traditional fairy tale.

In this version, the queen, crown prince, and their pet cat live together. The very controlling queen orders her son to get married so he can rule the kingdom. As she barks demands at him, spittle rains from her mouth. After a day of being bullied, he agrees to be wed. His mother quickly arranges to have a group of single ladies paraded in front of him.

Almost all the princesses are physically unattractive: one is overweight, another’s arms are disproportionately long, a third wears glasses and has bad teeth, a fourth is very tall and skinny. The last princess is fairy tale princess-pretty. She has long blond hair and an hour glass figure. This princess arrives with her brother: Prince Lee.

The two princes fall in love at first sight. They quickly marry and become known as king and king. Of course, they live happily ever after.

Two years after its English release, King and King was followed by King and King and Family. The same writer/illustrator team created the book, which depicts king and king’s honeymoon. It is illustrated in the same style, which provides a sense of consistency across texts.

The men travel to the jungle and their pet cat stows away in their suitcase. As the threesome make their way through the jungle, the newlyweds delight in watching animals’ parent their offspring. This makes King Bertie wish he had a child of his own.

When the couple and their cat arrive home a little girl wearing a bright colored tank top and prettily patterned skirt pops out of their suitcase. She has a tan-skin tone and is ambivalently raced. The girl is immediately made a part of the family. She shares her adventures with the couple, although the reader is not privy to her story.

King and king officially adopt her, and it is noted that the process involves a lot of paperwork.

I am not a fan of these books. I don’t appreciate the abject depictions of women in the first book, and I don’t understand the choice to make a little girl magically appear in the two kings’ suitcase once they arrive home in the follow-up.

Takaoka’s Yumi’s Extraordinary Collection_Reviewed by Sara Austin

Yumi's Extraordinary Collection by [Takaoka, Elsa]

In Elsa Takaoka’s picture book Yumi’s Extraordinary Collection, the title character, a Japanese American girl around eight-years-old, is looking for the perfect collection.

Like her grandmother, Yumi is a story-teller, but unlike her grandmother Sayuri, Yumi tells stories through her art. To connect with her sick grandmother Yumi begins drawing her grandmother’s stories. Yumi reaches out to extended family including aunts, parents, grandparents, and siblings to collect stories about her grandmother. Yumi then illustrates these memories.

Yumi pastes the drawings in her grandmother’s hospital room. The book makes connections between multiple generations of a family and shows them supporting one another. The illustrations are also charming, highlighting Yumi’s own vibrant art and the collections of her family members from her sister’s dolls to her parent’s rocks painted to look like owls.  Yumi’s art blends seamlessly into the environment around her. One of my favorite parts is the cat who appears on several pages, batting at pencils and reaching for Yumi’s drawings.

The end of the text jumps from Yumi visiting her grandmother in the hospital to an older Yumi remembering her grandmother in a drawing, suggesting that the grandmother has died without ever directly presenting this information to the reader. Overall, Yumi’s Extraordinary Collection highlights a family’s connection and history in a smart and fun way.

I was given a copy of this book by the author.

Sara Austin is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Miami University. Her research focuses on bodies, identity, and power in children’s and young adult literature, media, and culture.

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-

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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.

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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.

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Atkins’ A Name on the Quilt (1999)

A Name on the Quilt (1999), published by Antheneum Books, was written by Jeannine Atkins and illustrated by Tad Hills. Simple, but warm illustrations face evocative text that describes the family and friends of Ron, a man who passed away from AIDS complications, sewing a quilt to memorialize him.

The story is told from the point-of-view of Ron’s niece, a young girl named Lauren. Lauren, her parents, grandmother, and little brother, all gather, along with three of her uncle’s friends, to work on the quilt.

Making the quilt brings memories of her uncle to the surface. Lauren and Ron had a very close relationships; she recalls swimming in ponds, ice skating on them, dancing and laughing, with her uncle.

As the group makes the quilt, Lauren takes her negative feelings out on her little brother. She doesn’t think he understands how serious their project is, but she eventually realizes he is mourning too.

This story of love and loss beautifully captures the pain of mourning and does a wonderful job making the important work of memorializing present throughout.

Although Ron’s family and friends are clearly participating in a community ritual by making the quilt, the story is deeply personal, only subtly gesturing towards the AIDS Memorial Quilt as a social and political project. However, information on deaths related to AIDS complications and the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project are discussed in the back-matter.

This is a wonderful book about grieving loved ones that also introduces an important form of community activism and collective memorializing. As described on the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project website, the quilt is “a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic”.

I recommend A Name on the Quilt for personal and school libraries. Although almost twenty years old, the book remains relevant and is a sensitive, age-appropriate discussions of the themes mentioned in my review. The content and fairly text-heavy style make it most appropriate for children over five-years-old.

Alexander, Rudin, and Sejkora’s My Dad Has HIV (1996)

My Dad Has HIV (1996) is an accessible text about HIV told from the point-of-view of a seven-year-old child whose father has the virus. The book, published by Fairview Press, was co-written by Earl Alexander, an HIV/AIDS instructor, and two elementary school teachers, Sheila Rudin and Pam Sejkora. It is colorfully illustrated by Ronnie Walter Shipman whose images reinforce the events and ideas discussed in the text.

 

The narrator, Lindsey, is a second grader who describes being nervous about telling teachers and friends that her father has HIV. With the help of caring adults, including her father, Lindsey does tell her classmates. They are all very accepting once they learn the facts about HIV.

Along with helping children with HIV-positive family members find a representation of their experience, the book does a great job demystifying HIV for even the youngest readers. Interestingly, Lindsey’s father’s sexuality is not discussed. In fact, he appears to be a single parent.

The tone is upbeat, the writing is accessible, and, although the book is now over twenty years old, it does not appear dated and would make a strong addition to personal and classroom libraries. My Dad Has HIV remains available and affordable if purchased used.