Debbie Michiko Florence’s delightful early chapter book series, about an 8-year-old Japanese American girl named Jasmine Toguchi, provides readers with accessible and engaging snapshots of Japanese cultural traditions as well as universal struggles of growing up in the US. Continue reading
Families (2017), co-written by Jesse Unaapik Mike and Kerry McCluskey and illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko, introduces young readers to family diversity through the lives of students at a school in Iqaluit, the capitol city of Nunavut, a Canadian territory, which is majority Inuit. The lesson that all families are different is deftly introduced as the protagonist, a child named Talittuq, moves through his first day of year two at school.
Sweetest Kulu, written by Inuit throat singer, Celina Kalluk, and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis, is a soothing picture book, perfect to curl up with at bedtime. Kulu is a term of endearment used by Inuit. The lyrical and delicately unfolding story is steeped in cultural and regional specificity as well as universal emotions of love.
La Frontera: My Journey with Papa (2018) is a much-needed bilingual children’s book that thoughtfully explores one family’s experience of immigration to the United States. Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva co-authored the text, which is based on Alva’s experience arriving in the United States with his father over thirty-years ago. Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro’s beautifully detailed images help communicate the emotional significance of the story by carefully capturing expressions and gestures of characters. Importantly, La Frontera does not just make us feel; it also makes us think about immigration contextually by subtly introducing political and economic explanations for the actions and experiences of the characters.