Due in part to institutions such as residential schools, Aboriginal languages in Canada and the US are in danger of going extinct. But children’s books are doing their part to prevent this tragic result, with several books coming out recently that introduce the language, culture, or history of vulnerable languages. Quill and Quire, a Canadian magazine of book news and reviews, reviewed picture books focused on the Cree language, including Stolen Words. Written by Melanie Florence and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, Stolen Words tells the story of the relationship between a young girl and her Cree grandfather. When the young protagonist discovers her grandfather lost his Cree language from the residential school system, she sets out to help him relearn the language. Quill and Quire praises the picture books evocative description and illustrations and its frank confrontation of the trauma of the residential schools. Gabrielle’s illustrations are described as “beautiful and disturbing.” Quill and Quire’s full review is available here. Stolen Words can be purchased online here.
NPR recently released their list of over 350 books they recommend as the Best Books of 2017. In the kids’ section, two of our artist’s works were included! These were Bird, Balloon, Bear and Lucía the Luchadora. Bird, Balloon, Bear, written and illustrated by Il Sung Na, is the story of a bird who wants to be friends with a bear but finds a balloon getting in the way. NPR praises the “sweet story” and calls Il Sung’s illustrations, “gorgeous” and “warm and endearing.” Bird, Balloon, Bear is available for purchase here. Lucía the Luchadora, written by Cynthia Leonor Garza and illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, follows a little girl who wants to be a superhero but is told that it’s impossible for girls. When she learns of her family’s history of female lucha libre wrestlers, she finds the bravery to stand up for herself and others. NPR calls it, “a story of empowerment and doing the right thing.” Lucía the Luchadora is available for order here. Check out NPR’s full list of recommended books for 2017 here!
Sometimes dads are all wrong and it’s up to kids to save the day! That’s certainly the case in The Adventures of Wrong Man and Power Girl!, written by C. Alexander London and illustrated by Frank Morrison. A picture book/comic book mash up, this humorous story follows the imagined superhero adventures of a little girl and her dad. Kirkus wrote a review of Wrong Man and Power Girl. They call it “sweet and amusing” and praise the imaginative nature of the story. They praise the diverse characters and the father-daughter relationship between characters of color. Of Frank’s illustrations, they write, “Morrison’s colorful artwork nicely mimics the style and feel of a vintage comic book, panels and layering lending the book a dynamic feel.” All in all, they conclude that Wrong Man and Power Girl is, “A lighthearted adventure story that charms and entertains.” Kirkus’s full review is available here. The Adventures of Wrong Man and Power Girl! is coming out in March 2018. Pre-order it here!
With the modern drive to focus on diversity in picture books, more stories than ever feature amazing female protagonists. The Washington Post recently compiled a list of the some of the best of these female-driven picture books in an article titled, “These books can help build strong girls — and boys — for today’s world.” Included on this list was The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. The Youngest Marcher is the story of one of the youngest children to march in the Birmingham Children’s March in the civil rights era. The Post describes The Youngest Marcher as ” a celebration of her bravery and refusal to back down.” The Washington Post’s full article is available here. The Youngest Marcher is available for purchase here.
Coming out in February 2018, Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School is the true story of an amazing woman. Written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by London Ladd, Midnight Teacher tells the story of Lilly Ann Granderson, a woman living in slavery who ran a secret school to teach her fellow slaves how to read, despite the high potential for punishment. Kirkus reviewed Midnight Teacher and gave it a starred review. They praised the importance of the story, calling it a “remarkable, true story.” They write of London’s illustrations, “[The] picture book’s detailed, realistic illustrations were created using acrylic paint and colored pencil. Ladd’s artwork shows Lilly Ann’s determination to improve lives through literacy and will also familiarize readers with the book’s historical settings.” In all, they conclude that Midnight Teacher is, “An excellent homage to an African-American woman who taught ahead of her time.” Kirkus’s full starred review is available here. Midnight Teacher is coming out February 6th. Pre-order it here!
Gene Barretta‘s newest picture book is a continuation of his series on word play. Having previously examined homographs and homophones, he has now moved on to homonyms with The Bat Can Bat: A Book of True Homonyms. A humorous examination of words that are spelled the same but have different meanings, The Bat Can Bat was recently reviewed by Kirkus. Kirkus praises the hilarious illustrations and the clever explanation of this difficult concept. They write, “Barretta is a master of wordplay…and his hugely expressive, brightly hued watercolor cartoons certainly depict both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all with endless humor and charm.” They also praise the educational quality of the book which teaches without lecturing, writing, “Youngsters will laugh out loud while they are unconsciously, painlessly learning.” Kirkus’s full review is available here. The Bat Can Bat is coming out this February and can be pre-ordered online here.