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The Whole World on One Page: International Wimmelbooks

By Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director, Worlds of Words Center

A thousand stories await discovery on every page of a wimmelbook: Where is the girl with the balloon going? And the dog with the bone? Why are those two boys wrestling? In 1968, Ali Mitgutsch created his first wimmelbook in Germany, Rundherum in meiner Stadt (All Around My Town), and since then these picturebooks have become a regular presence in many children’s libraries. For a limited time, Arizonans can take in The Whole World on One Page: International Wimmelbooks at the Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures (WOW) in the UArizona College of Education.

44 vibrant illustrations on the walls of a studio with books and activities set out in the center. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Cousin Love

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

At the 2022 Latinx Kitlit Book Festival, one of the featured authors mentioned the power and sanctity of “cousin love.” The audience’s overwhelmingly positive reaction caught our attention and caused us to think about picturebooks and young adult novels that featured the special bond between cousins.

Drawing from personal memories about the unique connections we share with our own cousins, we selected picturebooks and young adult novels that highlight the complex family relationships that develop across time and place. These texts highlight the creative ways that cousins sustain their bonds through various forms of communication from letter writing to social media, and gap the distances through visits by car and air travel. Continue reading

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Books for Exploring the Dignity of the Non-Human World

Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Pax by by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon KlassenThe environment has become a critical issue for a majority of people around the world. There are a number of ways to address the issue, and one of those ways is through an eco-cosmopolitan perspective. Eco-cosmopolitanism is “an attempt to envision individuals and groups as part of planetary ‘imagined communities’ of both human and nonhuman kinds” (Heise, 2008, p. 61). In children’s literature, we often get the perspective of an animal or insect. From Peter Rabbit (Potter, 1999) to Watership Down (Adams, 2014) to Charlotte’s Web (White, 2012) to more current texts such as Alice’s Farm (Wood, 2020) and Pax (Pennypacker, 2019), readers are delighted by the antics and/or adventures found within these marvelous examples of non-human creatures interacting in the world. Humorous tales such as the two Skunk and Badger stories (Timberlake, 2020; 2021) make us laugh, while Pax (Pennypacker, 2019), Pax Journey Home (2021) and Charlotte’s Web (White, 2012) can develop empathy for the living things outside the “human” realm. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Korean Books Translated Into English

By HeeYoung Kim, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas

Welcome abroad! This month’s WOW dozen takes readers on a journey to Korea. Each picturebook and novel in this column were originally published in Korea and later translated into English. These titles are written by Korean authors who speak Korean and live in Korea. Rudine Sims Bishop’s metaphor of mirrors and windows for multicultural children’s literature is an an invaluable tenet when reading global children’s literature too. Each book on this list introduces readers to the Korean culture as well as themes around imagination, love, loss and hope. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The New Rooster

A bright rooster runs while pulling a suitcase on wheels behind himThe New Rooster by Rilla Alexander is a universal and fanciful story about the challenges of communicating when many different languages are spoken. The story starts on the title page when Rooster, clutching his roller bag, parachutes from a plane. He has come a long way for his new job in a new country. We notice on the front endpapers that he has been hired to give the wake-up call at the ZZZ Hotel. But when he crows just as he had back home, no one is aroused. Even when he yells at the top of his lungs no one gets up. Repeated efforts until 3 p.m. fail to get anyone out of bed and the rooster figures he is out of a job. He realizes that he will need a good breakfast if he must make the long journey home. When the delicious smells of his cooking finally arouses the hotel guests they share a breakfast and chat. “They didn’t understand every word they heard, but they tried their best.” The ending will leave smiles on listener’s faces as this book makes a terrific read aloud. Don’t miss the punch line on the back endpapers — “Did you know the Rooster speaks pig latin?” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Blue

A Black girl with a crown hairstyle grinds plants to make the color blueBlue by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond with illustrations by Daniel Minter is an informative and unusual nonfiction book. The beautiful illustrations extend the text that describes varied aspects of the color blue; the complicated history, impact on art, science and much more.

That history started way back in time. “As early as 4500 BC, diggers found blue rocks called lapis lazuli in mines deep below Afghanistan’s Sare-e-Sang valley.” Early sources of the color came from crushed rocks and “in the belly of a certain shell fish.” Later, dyers produced blue from the indigo plants. “In parts of Africa, some merchants used strips of indigo cloth to buy people, and sell them into slavery. … In this evil side of the trade for blue, landowners around the world abused or enslaved countless people just so they could grow more indigo.” In 1905, scientist, Adolf von Baeyer, won the Nobel Prize for “creating a chemical blue.” He made that achievement after forty years of trying. Continue reading

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Rompiendo nuestra burbuja: An International Perspective on Culturally Specific Literature from the United States

Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán, Teachers College, Columbia, New York, Dámaris Muñoz Cataldo and Katherine Keim Riveros, Universidad de O’Higgins, Rancaqua, O’Higgins, Chile

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, cover art“Rompe nuestra burbuja” were the words that Mariposa (self-selected pseudonym), an eight-grade Chilean student, used when giving her opinion about the benefits of reading stories that explore how people from different cultures live. She revealed, “Porque uno aprende nuevas cosas y rompe nuestra burbuja, nos muestra diferentes realidades de la vida diaria [because we learn new things, and it pops our bubbles. It shows us different realities from daily life].”

Teachers in U.S. classrooms are continuously looking for ways to engage their readers with children and young adolescent literature from various cultures, not only to support students’ reading but also to promote cross-cultural understandings needed to cultivate solidarity. Muhammad (2020) captured this concern in her question: “How will my instruction help students to learn something about themselves and/or about others?” (p. 58). Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Global Picturebooks for the Secondary Classroom

By Celeste L.H. Trimble, St Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

There is a common misperception that picturebooks are only for early elementary students. Secondary students and even students in upper elementary often miss out on the particular artistry and poetry that come through the picturebook form. In this month’s WOW Dozen, I bring together examples of global picturebooks that can be explored and enjoyed in secondary English Language Arts as well as the content areas. Books in this list can be used as models for writing, artworks for practicing analysis, avenues for identity development as well as exploration of the experiences of others, inspiration for creativity, tools to deepen content knowledge, and so much more. Of course, picturebooks are vital additions to the classroom library in any secondary classroom, just for the pleasure of reading. Continue reading

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Korean Picturebook Authors and New Trends in Japan

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Summer Is Coming Hangul Cover shows line drawing of a girl with a hose spraying perfect water circles.In recent years, increasing numbers of translated and non-translated Korean children’s literature are available to Japanese readers. Yes, Japanese readers read and consume Hangul (written Korean) directly beyond literature experiences (e.g., language learning). We’ve found several major Japanese publishing companies, JBBY (Japanese Board on Books for Young People), bookstores, and public and school libraries feature books by Korean authors and illustrators through social media and physical spaces. Three beloved Korean authors who also illustrate their work influenced Korean picturebooks’ reputations in Japan positively beyond what Japanese audiences are familiar with over the years (i.e., postcolonial texts). In this post, we share three Korean authors, Heena Baek, Suzy Lee and Heeyoung Ko who are among those gaining great popularity in Japan. Continue reading

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Exploring Korea’s Post-Coloniality through Korean Picturebooks Translated into Japanese

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, recently passed away at age 96, after reigning for 70 years. Fourteen countries continue to maintain the monarch as their head of state after gaining independence, despite the collapse of the British Empire in the last century. The death of Queen Elizabeth II could readily accelerate the push by former U.K. colonies to ditch the British crown amid heightened anti-colonial sentiments in the remaining Commonwealth realms (Halb, 2022).

Former UK colonies’ anti-colonial sentiment made us think of colonial histories and facts that are not current hot topics discussed within the global community. Global knowledge of physical outcomes of colonization history is now often romanticized as the beautiful substance of architects, food, festivals, tourism, etc. European countries’ colonial histories in Africa and South America remain aesthetically appreciated based on the historical background of languages, hybrid cultures, diverse ethnicities and educational contexts. Lost are critical perspectives on the colonizers’ past and the colonial indigenous cultures. This leads Junko and I to realize how colonial history among Asian countries is often simplified as Asian history; not knowing who colonized whom in Asia is often a common misperception.

Asian Dragon swoops over landscape to challenge a person in a fieldThis month, Junko and I explore Korean picturebooks translated and published in Japan to analyze colonization patterns in Korea. In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan after years of war, intimidation and political machinations; Japan ruled Korea until 1945, the end of World War II. Until then, Korea was one of Japan’s colonies. During the Korean War that followed, South Korea established strong ties to the U.K. Continue reading