WOW Currents Banner

Suggest Books to Explore Hunger and Poverty

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

This week I am in Caracol, Haiti, working at a camp that is an industrial park partially financed by USAID after the 2010 earthquake. It is hours away from Port-au-Prince where the earthquake occurred and is an attempt to provide factory jobs and low cost housing to Haitians. The industrial park was not constructed without controversy. Haitians who work for the textile factory work long days at a rate of $5 a day. They have to purchase their home, pay for all utilities, and eat with whatever income is left. It’s difficult to imagine how they manage and even more difficult to understand the logic of neoliberal trade agreements that allow large companies like Levi-Strauss to pay so little to those who have few means for their daily sustenance. In fact, meals are sparse, often with little nutritional value but high in carbohydrates and fat so that people can sustain a long work day on only one meal.

SeLavi

Interior illustration from SéLavi by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004)

Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

MTYT: The Red Tree

MTYT July 2017

This month we are continuing our conversation about the portrayal of disabilities in picturebooks (see August 2016 and February 2017). Our focus in the following discussions is on emotional and behavioral disabilities, so we will look at characters who wrestle with childhood depression, anxiety, and outbursts. The books we discussed last August and February won the Schneider Family Award for the Portrayal of the Disability Experience. The titles discussed this month, beginning with The Red Tree, have not won that award, but they could have!

The Red Tree Continue reading

WOW Currents Banner

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.

The Hate U Give Continue reading

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
Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

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.

Mama's Nightingale Continue reading

WOW Currents Banner

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

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.

Counting on Community Continue reading

WOW Currents Banner

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.

Continue reading

My Take Your Take Banner

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.

Stand Up and Sing! Continue reading

WOW Currents Banner

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