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Tag Archives: authors
November is National American Indian Heritage Month, and we have been reading books by Native American authors. Here are some picture books, children’s chapter books, and poetry to try:
Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
This is a story about the Navajo Marines during World War II who used their native language as a code that could not be broken by our enemies. -Ms. Cathy
Grandpa’s Girls by Nicola I. Campbell
A girls describes a family visit to grandpa’s house and what she and her cousins do there. The story has a nice mixture of images that are universal (“when our moms and aunties are together, they laugh so long and so loud that sometimes they get the snorts”), culturally specific (“The yuxkn is a small log building… It’s a storage shed now, but a long time ago my grand-auntie lived there…), and personal (“The walls are covered with photographs of family and rodeos…Grandpa’s army regiment…and Yayah, young, with a beautiful smile”). -Ms. Sarah
Holler Loudly is a very fun picture book about a boy who was born very loud. His parents called him Holler. He comes from generations of other loud men in his family. As he grows, the town that he lives in becomes very aware of how loud he is! He is so loud that eventually the town won’t let him go to school, or go fishing, or even go to the movies. Holler becomes very frustrated until one day he hears music from a quartet. He learns that quiet times can be good times too, especially when there is beautiful music playing. As the music was playing, when all was quiet, a tornado appeared! Holler then learned that there are also times when he needs to be loud! He yelled so loud that he whooshed all the townsmen off their feet and into safety. Then he began to yell at the tornado, but the tornado persisted. Holler then took a big breath and yelled as loud as he could at the big gust of wind to GO AWAY! The tornado listened and disappeared. Holler saved the town! He not only became a hero but he also learned a valuable lesson about listening. -Ms. Ashley
Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ray Halfmoon, age 12, lives with his Grampa Halfmoon in a red-brick bungalow in Chicago. His parents were killed in a storm in Oklahoma. Ray and Grampa go to Cubs games and eat hot dogs, take care of the pets of out-of-town neighbors, and participate in a family wedding. Ray trades his hightops for a pair of authentic moccasins for Grampa, and Grampa teaches him the art of fishing in the very early morning in Oklahoma. This short novel is a heart-warming depiction of a close family relationship. -Ms. Nancy S.
Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell
Shin-chi’s canoe is a story about two Native American children who are sent away from their families to be educated in a government-sponsored, church-run residential school. Shi-shi-etko is Shin-chi’s older sister and she has already been in school for a year. She tells him what to expect and how to behave at the school. The months at school are filled with lessons, hard work and hunger and the little boy feels lonely and is missing his family. He is not allowed to speak to his sister. He finds some solace by going down the river and letting go on the water a toy from his father. The children are looking forward to reunite with their families at the beginning of the summer a time marked by the return of the sockeye salmon in the river. The author of this book is a descendent of Interior Salish and Metis. Her mother and grandfather attended residential schools. The illustrations of the book are inspired from archival photographs and discussions with elderly people. -Ms. Andreea
Songs for the Seasons by Jamake Highwater
This poetry book takes the reader from one season to another with delightful pictures and text. -Ms. Cathy
When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger
This is a great story of the Lenape Culture told in two stories of the Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister. The illustrations by David Kanietakeron Fadden are beautifully done showing nature how it was then and now. The Lenape culture glossary in the back on the story brings the history of the culture into the story. -Ms. Nancy L.
Papel picado is a traditional cut-paper craft from Mexico. What does it look like?
If you look at the covers of these picture books, you can see papel picado hanging as decorations:
The Dead Family Diaz by P. J. Bracegirdle
Angelito Diaz is afraid of walking among the Living on the Day of the Dead, especially with his older sister, Estrellita, teasing him, but once in the Land of the Living, he quickly makes a new friend.
F is for Fiesta by Susan Middleton Elya
A rhyming book that outlines the preparations for and celebration of a young boy’s birthday, with Spanish words for each letter of the Spanish alphabet.
Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya
Retells the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in rhyming text interspersed with Spanish words, which are defined in a glossary.
You can take a closer look at cut paper panels in Carmen Lomas Garza’s book Magic Windows:
The author and artist pairs cut paper panels with descriptions in Spanish and English. She shares some of the personal stories and cultural background behind the images.
Two of your librarians had the great good fortune to attend a workshop Carmen Lomas Garza gave on making papel picado. She wrote an excellent book on the topic, Making Magic Windows.
You can also see examples of papel picado in some of her paintings in the bilingual books
You can find more examples of Carmen Lomas Garza’s art on her website. There are lots of good online resources for learning to make papel picado. If you’ve never made it before, it’s easy to get started. All you need are tissue paper and scissors, and the same kind of cutting and folding skills you use to make paper snowflakes.
Pat Mora has a good handout with papel picado instructions:
PBS Kids featured papel picado as a ZOOMdo:
The craft site DTLK also has instructions:
You can also watch a video:
You might not be able to wait for the library’s special Lorax activities on Monday, March 5, so here are some sites you can visit online to help you celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the release of the new Lorax movie, and Read Across America Day!
Find out what other communities are doing for Read Across America Day. You can share what you will be doing, too!
Reading Rockets will show you how to make a Family Literacy Bag that combines a fiction book, a nonfiction book, and printable activities the family can do together.
ReadWriteThink.org has ideas for a book discussion and a selection of activities from Earth Day that you can reuse.
If you are a fan of Seussville, you may already know about The Lorax Project, which has downloads (like printable stickers or pictures for your computer desktop), an online game and online coloring pages, information about endangered forests and the animals that live there, ideas for how to help the Lorax (and the environment), and even a page where you can send the Lorax e-mail!
You can also see a sneak preview of the miniature truffula trees we will be making. Here are some of the sites we consulted as we experimented with making a Chia Lorax:
Fun on a Dime’s Chia Pet Head
eHow also has instructions for a caterpillar Homemade Nylon Chia Pet.
I didn’t see a mustache craft that looks exactly like the one we will be doing, but there is a similar one on Pinterest along with a mustache template and lots of other ideas for Seuss crafts.
The winners of several children’s book awards were announced last Monday, including the winners of the Coretta Scott King Award. We were happy to note that one of the honor books this year was illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, who will be visiting the library on February 19 as part of our Coretta Scott King Award Festival. You will have a chance to buy one of her books and have it signed, and also to listen to her talk about what it’s like to be an artist!
Here are a few of the award-winning books she has illustrated:
Nathaniel Talking was a favorite in 1990. Mrs. Gilchrist won the CSK Illustrator Award, and the book also earned a CSK Author Honor for Ms. Greenfield.
Night on Neighborhood Street was an Honor Book for both the author and the illustrator in 1992.
You can learn more about Jan Spivey Gilchrist by clicking on her photograph. You can find many more books she has illustrated here at the library!
This month, the Librarian of Congress named Walter Dean Myers the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He is also a five time Coretta Scott King Award winner and seven time honoree for young adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (The poetry often features illustrations by his son Christopher Myers, an award-winner in his own right.) His books have also earned the Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and multiple Newbery Honors, among other awards. He is best known for what is often called “urban lit,” which he has been writing since the 1970s and which was a major focus of the interview I heard on the radio this morning. In addition to these stories about contemporary city life, he is known for his war stories and his research into unusual historical topics. His stories for younger children are less well-known, but Me, Mop and the Moondance Kid often makes lists of recommended books for adopted children.
We’re about to try something new at the library and bring a little more attention to the Coretta Scott King Book Awards with some special events. These are prestigious awards especially for African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
There has been some debate about whether it is necessary to have awards that focus on a specific ethnic group. It might seem unfair to have awards that not everyone is eligible to win.
As we consider those issues, I think it is helpful to look at the history of children’s book publishing and children’s book awards. What prompted the creation of the Coretta Scott King Awards? What books were being published before and after the awards were established?
Today, since the weather just started to get snowy, I’m going to share the article Recognizing the Impact of Ezra Jack Keats by Rocco Staino that recently appeared in American Libraries Magazine. This is a glimpse of the period before the CSK Awards, 50 years ago.
Staino’s statement that Keats was “the first author/illustrator to depict an African-American protagonist in a full-color picture book” is not quite as outrageous as it might first appear, if you keep the qualifier “full-color” in mind. The older, and still well-loved, Goodnight Moon alternates full color spreads with black and white ones. A few years after The Snowy Day earned Keats the Caldecott Medal, Sam, Bangs & Moonshine won the same award with illustrations in black, white, and brown. Full color picture books became more common as picture book technology progressed.
Henrietta M. Smith wrote an interesting background piece on African American Children’s Books in The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators. In her descriptions on children’s books with African American characters and books by Black authors from the 1930s through the 1970s, I can’t find a mention of any picture books predating The Snowy Day that weren’t marred by stereotypes (though she mentions books of other types, such as poetry collections, primers, nonfiction, and children’s novels). Librarians such as Augusta Baker actively encouraged building collections of books with appealing illustrations of Black children. Evidently, finding good titles for the picture book section was particularly difficult.
Staino quotes another author, Anita Silvery, observing that “Because a wide range of libraries bought copies, often The Snowy Day was the only title that children saw for years to feature a child of color.” The character Peter was important to children of color (African American or not) who rarely saw themselves mirrored in picture books. Caucasian kids like me, growing up in the snowy Midwest, could also see ourselves in the little boy doing all the things small children do in the snow. The only thing that was unfamiliar to me was that Peter “called to his friend from across the hall,” and as a child I had not yet lived in an apartment.
Living in an apartment would have been familiar to Ezra Jack Keats, who was born in Brooklyn. As a child I had just sort of assumed he was Black, and it was only as a librarian that I learned he came from a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland. In a way, his own background inspired him to create stories like The Snowy Day, or an earlier story with a Spanish-speaking character, My Dog is Lost! The Jewish Museum, hosting the exhibit The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, provides the following description on its website:
Keats’s experience of antisemitism and poverty in his youth gave him a lifelong sympathy for others who suffered prejudice and want. “If,” he once remarked, “we all could really see (‘see’ as perceive, understand, discover) each other exactly as the other is, this would be a different world.”
When The Snowy Day was first published, African American writers and artists were not finding very many opportunities to get published as children’s book authors and illustrators. In 1969 two school librarians, concerned that no African Americans had yet won the Newbery or Caldecott awards, decided to create a new award that would highlight their work. The new Coretta Scott King Award helped change children’s book publishing, making more books by and about African Americans available to children.