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MTYT: Continuation through Adaptability and Change in Children’s Literature Epilogue

Intro:
For this final week we wrap up talking about continuation through adaptability and change in children’s literature. In the last few weeks, we talked about The Tree in the Courtyard, My Grandfather’s Coat, and Seven and a Half Tons of Steel. Here, Dorea Kleker and Seemi Aziz discuss how all three books tie into continuation in children’s literature.

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MTYT: Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

This brief but powerful non-fiction text projects the journey of continuation onto a steel beam from the World Trade Center. The beam lives on, becoming an integral and enduring part of the warship USS New York in the aftermath of September 11. The Governor of New York donates the steel beam and it is driven to a Louisiana foundry where the USS New York is being constructed, and the beam becomes its bow. Ten years after 9/11, it makes its way back to New York on September 11, 2011.

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MTYT: My Grandfather’s Coat

Written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, My Grandfather’s Coat is an adaptation of a Yiddish folk song that weaves a tale of immigration and continuation in a new land. This retelling is full of joy, with a rhythm and rhyme that excites readers young and old. The story follows a single coat as it transforms and changes shape over the years, becoming something brand new. The song is also present in Simms Taback’s Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Viking, 1999) and Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing (Scholastic, 1992) and is reimagined once more in this charming picture book.

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MTYT: The Tree in the Courtyard

My Take Your Take September
This month, Dorea Klecker and Seemi Aziz explore three picturebooks that feature the theme of continuation and the complex layers in which it may be interpreted, including adaptability and change. In the coming weeks, Dorea and Seemi will discuss My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock and Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan and Thomas Gonzalez. The conversation begins with The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld and Peter McCarty.

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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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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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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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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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Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

BaddawiBaddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq follows Ahmad, a struggling young boy raised in a refugee camp called “Baddawi” in North Lebanon. He tries to find himself and his identity while growing up in a place he cannot call home. His story represents one of the many thousands of refugee children born in Palestine who fled or were forced to leave their homeland after the war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.
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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