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MTYT: The Day Saida Arrived

Janine Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX, and Jeanne Fain, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN

This month in My Take/Your Take, Janine Schall and Jeanne Fain focus their discussions on the book The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo and Sonja Wimmer, translated from the original Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. Along the way we’ll mention related books. In this first installment, Janine and Jeanne talk about the use of Arabic within the text.

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Website Improvements Include Updated Book Lists

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

With help from Longview Foundation, Worlds of Words spent a year improving our website. Much of this work won’t be noticeable to the average visitor, who is likely less concerned that we reduced the size of our website by a third without losing any content than they are accessing the content. This month, we take a look at some of the noticeable changes, including updating our book lists and resources, re-launching our Advance Search function and partnering with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals.

The Longview Foundation logo is the institution name where the O is replaced with a globe gridded on the diagonal. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Cat Man of Aleppo

Cover of The Cat Man of Aleppo, depicting a man in a red and grey jacket surrounded by cats with a city in the background.
This true story of The Cat Man of Aleppo will always remain in my heart. In this time of the virus and difficult challenges, this true story is an inspiration. A note from the Cat Man, Mohammad Alaa Aljsleed, in the beginning of the book says, “This is a story about cats and war and people. But most of all, it is a story about love”. His love for cats and how he cared for them after the terrible destruction of the civil war in Syria is the focus of the story. Continue reading

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MTYT: Never Look Back

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the fourth and final MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera. The Young Adult novel was the winner of the Pura Belpré Award.

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Chapter Books on the Loss of a Family Member

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

In thinking about particular trends and themes in books explored during 2020 while serving on ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee, I want to share some of my heroes and heroines found within the pages of novels, especially in light of issues of family loss through death and separation. As is a common trait of fiction for adolescent readers, the protagonist is faced with a situation or problem around which the plot develops and the character evolves. The situation is one that is believable and invites the reader into the lives, actions and decisions of characters who experience identity shaping events. While the stories can be emotionally charged and often mirror the increasing complexity of a young person’s life, at times without a definitive conclusion, they do end with hope. So, I was not surprised to find the characters in books I read and discussed in 2020 to be in complicated situations; however, interesting was that most experienced the loss of a family member who played an important role in their life. The loss was through death, separation, or the ability of the person to function in the supportive way that they did prior to a change in health, mental abilities, or other life changes. In spite of and because of their loss, characters became resilient, self-reliant, and self-aware. Readers become immersed in their stories and lives, with the potential of learning more about themselves. A few of the books that continue to resonate in my thoughts follow. Continue reading

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MTYT: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the third MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Lupe Wong Won’t Dance written by Donna Barba Higuera. The middle school novel was the 2021 Pura Belpré Award Winner.

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MTYT: Efrén Divided

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In the second MTYT installment for April 2021, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson provide their take on Efrén Divided written by Ernesto Cisneros. The middle school novel was the 2021 winner of the Pura Belpré Award.

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Picturebooks That Focus on Black Children and Their Families

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Cover of Tiara's Hat Parade depicting a young black girl smiling with a blue hat on her head as her mother smiles down at her while making a green hat.

As I continue sharing topics or theme that seemed to be predominant in the many books read by our Notable Children’s Books (ALA) committee, in this WOW currents I will share picturebooks focused on Black children and their families. While this is not a new topic within the books published each year, children’s literature advocates are quick to note that among our diverse populations, the demographics, as continuously recorded by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center regarding populations does not align proportionately with the books published that reflect diverse children. Books sharing the stories of Black / African American children have been continuously increasing in terms of rich tapestries of historical events, previously untold stories of significant individuals, and general narratives of childhood across genre. However, this past year I found interesting, important, and pleasing, the continuous and abundant submission of realistic fiction picturebooks to our committee that specifically focused on the contemporary Black child and family relationships. Among these many books from 2020, I noted culturally specific stories, universal narratives around Black families, and books that celebrate and affirm identity for a child within these families. The seven titles shared here are merely a sampling of these books that stood out for me over 2020 but ones that uphold the potential of children’s literature to serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990) for children across the globe. Continue reading

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MTYT: We Are Not From Here

Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

During the month of April, Mary Fahrenbruck and Violet Henderson give their take on the 2021 Pura Belpré award winners and honor books. Readers will recall that the award is named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré award “is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth” (ALSC, 2021).

In the first installment, Mary and Violet discuss We Are Not From Here written by Jenny Torres Sanchez. The Young Adult novel was a Pura Belpré honor book.

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