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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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

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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WOW News

Visit Our New World Language Collection

By Rebecca Ballenger, Coordinator of Outreach and Collections, Worlds of Words

Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education added a World Language collection of over a thousand texts to its main collection of 36,000 global books. Due to what the book industry refers to as the “translation gap,” it’s likely that fewer than 3.7 percent of WOW’s new World Language collection has an English version.

World Language Collection
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WOW Currents

The Importance of Family: Learning through Our Heritage

By Josh Hill, Kami Gillette, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Bishop (1990) discusses texts as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Texts, Bishop explains, allow children to see into another person’s reality and should also allow children to see themselves and their own realities in a book. The three texts we discuss this month, Valerie Muñoz’s story, Los Hormigueros, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, and One Crazy Summer, can serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors and provide clear examples of Yosso’s (2005) notion of Community Cultural Wealth, specifically of familial and resistant capital.

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WOW Currents

One Crazy Summer: Learning about Your Culture and Heritage

By Kami Gillette, University of South Carolina

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is about three African-American sisters, Delphine (11), Vonetta (9) and Fern (7) Gaither who take a summer trip from Brooklyn to Oakland, California in 1968, to meet their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them when Fern was a baby. The girls have been raised in Brooklyn by their father and his mother, Big Ma. While in Oakland, the girls hope to form a close bond with their mother and visit Disneyland; however, Cecile is hesitant to acknowledge their existence and sends them out daily to attend the People’s Center, a day camp run by the Black Panther party.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
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WOW Currents

Evelyn Serrano: Rediscovering and Reconnecting with Cultural Heritage

by Josh Hill and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano is about a young Puerto Rican girl, Evelyn, coming of age in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood of New York City during the summer of 1969. Evelyn’s Abuela left Puerto Rico and moved in to the family’s tiny apartment adding to the already tumultuous time in their home and neighborhood. Not only is there one more body in their tiny apartment, she has taken over Evelyn’s bedroom. Their relationship changes however, when the Young Lords, a group of Puerto Rican activists, begin to agitate for change in the neighborhood. The Young Lords presence in the neighborhood causes Evelyn to become intrigued with her Puerto Rican heritage and family history leading her to see Abuela as a source of knowledge and connection to her past.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
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WOW Currents

Coming Home to Los Hormigueros

By Valerie Muñoz and Julia López-Robertson

While considering what to write in the blog this month, it is difficult not to make connections to our current political situation, namely issues surrounding immigration. Almost a year ago, a colleague contacted me with excitement over a piece of writing that a preservice teacher in her writing methods class had crafted during a writer’s workshop. Los Hormigueros, the piece written by Valerie Muñoz, a graduating senior at the University of South Carolina, takes us into her life as she examines childhood memories based on true events. This story recounts the memories Valerie had as a young girl — a memory of when she became aware that she is an immigrant. We invite you to read Valerie’s story.

Los Hermigueros, traveling between Mexico and the U.S. Continue reading

WOW Currents

Crossing Educational Borders with Children’s Literature

By Janine Schall

When I was in fifth grade, each child in my class had to demonstrate a science project. We chose our own topics and after much consultation with my parents and science fair books I decided to mix baking soda and vinegar in a bottle so that I could pop off the cork and make it fly across the room. The ‘POP’ was very satisfying.

educational borders

I don’t remember what grade I got for the project, but it was probably pretty good; most of my grades were. I knew how to perform at school, and, with a few math-related exceptions, I did well academically. Both of my parents completed post-secondary education and it was always quite clear to me that I would go to college after high school. Our school district started tracking children in middle school and there was never any question that I would be in the college-prep track. I believed I was smart because my parents, teachers, and friends believed I was smart. Continue reading

WOW Currents

Crossing Linguistic and Cultural Borders

By Janine Schall

The majority of my childhood and teen years were spent in a small, rural Midwestern town. It was a great place to grow up; safe, good schools, and nice people. I learned a lot about myself and about the world in that little town and when I left after college, in most ways I had an excellent foundation for my future life.

However, in one particular way that place failed me. In the ’70s and ’80s, almost the entire population in that geographical location was White, English-speaking, some variety of Christian, and middle or working class. I grew up surrounded by people who looked like me, sounded like me, worshipped like me, and shared values with me. Life there did very little to prepare me for living in a diverse and global society.

cultural borders Continue reading