Cynthia L. Copeland’s new middle-grade graphic memoir, Cub, is an intimate and atmospheric coming-of-age story that follows 12-year-old Cindy as she navigators the hormonal halls of middle-school and an informal internship at a local paper. This snapshot of author Cynthia L. Copeland’s middle-school years takes place during 1972 and 1973 and is packed with recognizable cultural references. Adult readers will likely find themselves chuckling at references to sea monkeys and trolls that younger audiences may not be able to fully appreciate. However, there is plenty of charm and relatability to keep the intended audience of eight to twelve-year-old readers engaged. Continue reading
Getting girls excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as recognizing structural barriers to the participation of women and girls in STEM fields, have been part of public discourse for awhile now. I’ve reviewed several children’s picture books that explore important contributions women have made to STEM fields, including books written by Julia Finley Mosca for Innovation Press’ Amazing Scientists series about Patricia Bath and Temple Grandin. Other available books seek to make STEM accessible and exciting to young readers while prompting them to imagine themselves as creators. Picture books that take that strategy include Josh Funk’s How to Code a Sandcastle and Laura Roettiger’s Aliana Reaches for the Moon.
A lot of stereotypical representations inevitably make their way onto young readers’ bookshelves. Elizabeth Rhodes’ Feminism is for Boys challenges near ubiquitous gender stereotypes by providing an accessible introduction to feminism.
The first page proudly declares: “Feminism is for Everyone… Including Boys!” Bright images of children with many different complexions shatter gender stereotypes and permit boys to feel all their emotions and experience life to the fullest. Continue reading
What Makes Girls Sick and Tired, written by Lucile De Pesloüan and illustrated by Geneviève Darling, will be published March 19 by Second Story Press. It’s a brief and simple text that pairs minimalist illustrations of diverse girls and women with short descriptions of forms of discrimination, stereotyping, and oppression experienced because of gender and sexual identities. Continue reading
The Water Walker (2017), written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson, a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, brings attention to the work of Mother Earth Water Walkers. The group began walking around large bodies of water, beginning with Lake Superior in 2003, to bring attention to the water crisis. Robertson’s book, written with urgency, optimism, and humor, makes this important environmental issue accessible to young children. Even more, the story explores Indigenous traditions and values while depicting the important environmental activism of Indigenous women.
Written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (2016), is a deeply layered children’s picture book that tells a uniquely American story through the biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Instead of suggesting young girls should smile demurely it treats disagreeing intelligently and passionately as a moral imperative.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (2017), written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is a smart biographical children’s picture book about Dr. Temple Grandin, a compassionate scientist with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Born in 1947, Temple Grandin became an important figure in the farming industry for her work refining the treatment of cattle. Grandin negotiated ASD and the sexism in her field at a time when ASD was poorly understood and women didn’t do “men’s” work. Writer and illustrator both do a very good job representing neurodiversity as a critical lens for seeing the world differently and making a difference in the world.