Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

children separated by placeEcho by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a poignant story about the journey of a magical mouth harp (harmonica) through time and space. The masterful enmeshing of timeless fairytale and historical reality binds this powerful text into a strong narrative that highlights world events, prejudice, and social class distinctions. It all begins with Otto, who gets lost in a jungle where three sisters, bound by a witch’s curse, find him. Otto promises to break the curse by taking the harmonica out to the world. The harmonica, through its magical music, tangibly joins three children separated by place, which lifts the curse, freeing the three sisters. Continue reading

Refugee and Migrant Narrative In No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis, undocumented immigrant childrenThe well-executed plot of No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis follows the journey to freedom of three undocumented immigrant children. While the children struggle to reach the shores of England, a British orphan, released from the bonds of an oppressive uncle, joins them. These children, Abdul from Baghdad, Cheslav from Russia, Jonah from England, and the only female, Rosalia, a Romani, develop throughout the story. Ellis depicts a rich cultural background of the countries with distinct circumstances for each character. This story begins in France and culminates in England, providing a fine description of the traumatic lives many immigrants lead in France.
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Recent Refugee and Migrant Narratives in Picture Books and YA Novels

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

World populations relocated to varied geographical areas throughout history and time. Such movement contributed to the United States of America and its place of power in the world. The recent significant global impact of large bodies of refugee populations relocating and of forced movements of Mexicans and Muslims to the U.S., Europe and other Western nations present themselves at the forefront of national and international news and politics. One cannot turn on the TV or visit an internet or social media site and not find a reference to these emigrating populations.

Refugee and Migrant Narratives, refugee movements Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: What Elephants Know

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Book of the Month, July 2016
What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Twelve-year-old Nanda Singh (Nandu) is raised on an elephant stable in the southern-most part of Nepal. After he stops the king from killing a tigress, the Palace Wildlife Committee threatens to close the stable and Nandu must rely on fate to ensure that this does not happen. This incredible book offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the Nepalese people and endangered animals who co-exist in the Borderlands jungle. -Recommended by Desiree Cueto
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STORY in Storying Studio

By Prisca Martens, Ph.D., Towson University

STORY in Storying Studio stands as a verb as well as a noun. In addition to being a narrative, story/storying as verbs mean to compose by weaving together meanings in writing and art as in picturebooks. Children don’t write and illustrate; rather, they story. Story as a verb refers to the multimodal process of composing meaning in writing and art.

story in storying studio, Marcie
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READ in Storying Studio

By Prisca Martens, Ph.D., Towson University

When children read in Storying Studio, they learn that readers not only read written text, they read art. They consider how/why artists make particular decisions about color, shape, etc., similar to how/why authors make particular decisions about word choice, sentence structure, etc., when writing written text. We create text sets around particular themes, topics, or art concepts on which the teachers want to focus in the minilessons.

read in storying studio
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Storying Studio: Drawing Stories, Writing Pictures

By Prisca Martens, PhD, Towson University

storying studioPicturebooks convey stories in both written text and pictorial text (art), with both texts being essential to telling the story (Kiefer, 1995; Sipe, 1998). The art has meanings or perspectives not offered in the written text just as the written text has meanings/perspectives not available in the art. When no written text is present, the story is told only through the art. Typically these books are referred to as wordless books. My co-researcher Ray Martens, an artist and art educator, however, calls them pictorial books to emphasize the importance of the art in telling the story rather than identify these books as lacking words. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Smell of Other People’s Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Book of the Month, June 2016
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The interweaving of four teen’s lives in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1970 will both inspire and break readers’ hearts. How we touch one another and give each other hope –often unknowingly–are the wondrous and magical aspects of this remarkable and well-written story. -Recommended by Holly Johnson
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Book of the Month, May 2016
Salt to the Sea by Ryta Sepetys

Four teens tell of their journey during World War II as the Russian Army pushed Germans troops and refugees away from Baltic countries to the shores of the Baltic Sea where they were herded aboard ships to take them to Germany. When Russian subs sunk their ships, 25,000 of those people were killed. The characters are courageous and become dear as we discover their stories and the result of their ordeal. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter