WOW Currents

A Tale of Two Countries and The Hate U Give

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

My visit to Haiti this summer has made me reflective about the direction of my own country. For the past month, I worked on three projects that focus on critical problems that have deep roots tied to poverty, opportunism, and politics. However, there are striking parallels to the direction in which the United States is heading with respect to caring for the most needy and vulnerable, honoring civil liberties and human rights, as well as supporting education for all because democracy in any form cannot exist without a well-informed and educated populace. In Haiti, extreme poverty, weak institutions, and natural disasters hold in place the unfortunate status quo for most Haitians. The United States, on the other hand, is among the most privileged countries in the world. Yet, our government and institutions are fervently deciding to pull support from education and social programs while civil liberties continue to be tested by the Trump Administration. This month, I write on four themes that connect realities in United States with those in Haiti. For each theme, I will feature a young adult novel that delves further into that theme. This week, I use The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas to explore racism and police brutality.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs, with translation by Falah Raheem and illustrations by Nizar Badr
Book of the Month, July 2017
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs, with translation by Falah Raheem and illustrations by Nizar Badr

Bilingual English/Arabic text and expressive artwork made from stones tell the story of a boy and his family who must flee their home in war-torn Syria. Their journey is dangerous and grueling, but eventually they find a safe haven. This timely book is an excellent introduction to the concept of refugees and will spark powerful discussions about the consequences of war and the treatment of people forced out of their homes. -Recommended by Janine Schall
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MTYT: Mama’s Nightingale

This post continues June’s My Take/Your Take conversation around books that highlight multiple forms of protest and the power of voice for younger readers. This week Dorea and Lauren consider Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat with illustrations by Leslie Staub and how it relates to children’s perspectives of their own stories. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to the first three posts in this conversation.

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WOW Currents

Global Poverty in Ada’s Violin and Malaika’s Costume

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

As I continue to look at representations of global poverty in picturebooks, resourcefulness remains a predominant theme. Two examples of characters who live in poverty and show resourcefulness come from the books Ada’s Violin, which has been a WOW Recommends: Book of the Month selection, and Malaika’s Costume.

Ada's Violin The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport Continue reading

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MTYT: Counting on Community

This post continues June’s My Take/Your Take conversation around books that highlight multiple forms of protest and the power of voice for younger readers. The conversation starts with The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!, continues with Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich and Adam Gustavson and now features Counting on Community. This week Dorea and Lauren consider the power of voice.

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WOW Currents

Resourcefulness and Poverty in Pablo Finds a Treasure

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

The lives of children in refugee camps and displaced people are no different from the protagonists in Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant. The book cover reflects this plight as the audience/reader is invited into the story by faces of two disheveled, scrawny children looking directly out. Pablo and his sister, Sophia, live in unnamed slums in Latin America. They sleep on the floor and look tired and bedraggled, as did Gie Gie in The Water Princess. They similarly have to wake up early and look for “treasure” by rummaging through the huge garbage dump close by. The treasure being anything of value they can find, which includes whatever is barely edible, one shoe, or a torn up book. They do this day in and day out while dreaming of a better life. They represent a myriad of individuals, mostly children.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

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MTYT: Stand Up and Sing!

This post continues June’s My Take/Your Take conversation around books that highlight multiple forms of protest and the power of voice for younger readers. The conversation started with The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! and continues with Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich and Adam Gustavson. This week Dorea and Lauren consider folk music and the path to justice.

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WOW Currents

Access to Water and The Water Princess

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

I begin with thirst, dry, parched thirst, and the search for clean drinking water in an arid land. Mostly because Ramadan in Arizona in 106-109 degree heat lends to a desperate empathy with all the people who do not have access to water, globally. Being without water and food from sunrise to sunset in this long hot summer month takes its toll. By afternoon it becomes hard to concentrate and one becomes excessively lethargic. This month causes a strong compassionate association to people who do not have access to food and water. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, where clean, cold, clear water and abundant food awaits most fasting people here in Arizona.

An illustration from The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds relates the difficulties associated with global access to water. Continue reading

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MTYT: The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet

MTYT June 2017The recent presidential election in the U.S. brought forth many strong feelings and various reactions. As early childhood teacher educators, elementary teachers and mothers of young children, we are interested in exploring a set of books that highlight multiple forms of protest and the power of voice for some of our younger readers. Dorea Kleker and Lauren Pangle begin with their take on The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin.

MTYT Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet
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WOW Currents

Poverty Representations in Children’s Literature

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

Poverty and social exclusion (due to poverty) are a sad fact of life, globally. Abject poverty and insatiable hunger and thirst impacts various walks of life and all kinds of people, but its impact is stronger, heart wrenching, and more powerful when it comes to young children. Hunger and thirst are a part of this, and it is never more deeply felt than now when Muslims are observing Ramadan globally. Consciously refraining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset every day for a month while living in the affluence of urban life in Western nations is very different from shortage or lack of food or water in refugee camps or war torn regions where water and food are already scarce in the relentless heat of summer months. Children’s literature in the USA has mostly been resistant to share these hardships and facts of life with the youth. Happy thoughts and memories are shared freely within picturebooks. We can observe this trend continue but with many recent exceptions where poverty, lives of young refugees and children living in war torn countries, are coming to the fore.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

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