Julian Is a Mermaid is a wonderfully imaginative story of a young Afro-Latinx boy who realizes he loves mermaids so much that he decides to be one. It began one day after he and his abuela take the subway home from the pool. Julian sees three beautiful mermaids from his subway seat, and he is mesmerized by their dress, accoutrements and amazing fishtails. When Julian and Abuela arrive home, he daydreams about being a mermaid. The illustrations of his transformation beautifully depict his daydream. While Abuela leaves Julian alone for a moment to take her bath, Julian’s imagination allows him to transform into a mermaid using fern clippings and flowers taken from Abuela’s vase to make a headdress and Abuela’s long white drapes for his mermaid tail. Before Abuela returns from her bath, he looks in the mirror and continues his transformation with her make-up. When Abuela sees him, she is noticeably surprised but composed. In fact, she hands him a string of pearls to place around his neck and takes him to join the other mermaids in New York’s Annual Mermaid Parade.
Japanese author and illustrator, Taro Gomi, first published I Really Want to See You, Grandma in Japan in 1979. Finally, it has been published for the first time in English so preschool children can enjoy the simple story and the humorous illustrations. The beginning words and illustration set up the story: “Yumi’s house is on a hill. It has a pink roof. Grandma’s house is on a mountain. It has an orange roof.” Continue reading
By Janine M. Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
This month in WOW Currents my colleagues and I discuss various aspects of children’s literature that features Latinx characters and settings. The Latinx population in the United States has grown dramatically and Latinx people now make up about 20% of the U.S. population. Yet this group remains underrepresented in the media, including children’s book publishing. Continue reading
In Drawn Together, written by Min Lê with illustrations by Dan Santat, a young boy is dropped off to visit his grandpa. The boy looks reluctant. The Grandpa greets him with joy. The Grandpa speaks Thai, the boy, English. The Grandpa prepares an Asian dish for himself and a hot dog for his grandson. They try to communicate but are unable to cross their language divide. That awkward silence is broken when the boy brings out his drawing pen and his markers. The Grandpa is inspired to bring out his own art supplies, a sketch book, ink and pen. Together they create a new story. The boy says, “Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words. And in a FLASH–we see each other for the first time. All the things we could never say come pouring out.” Through their collaboration in drawing scenes together they build “a new world that even words can’t describe.” Continue reading
By Elizabeth Trahan, Content Coordinator Intern, Worlds of Words
The art of award-winning picturebook illustrator Ronald Himler captures how the resilience of children creates hope for the future. Worlds of Words’ new exhibit, “Creating Hope through Resilience: The Picturebook Art of Ronald Himler” displays original illustrations from his books that lay bare the struggles children face when they grow up near conflict zones. Himler’s artistry features striking watercolors depicting children in global contexts coping with challenging experiences in their lives. The new exhibit can be viewed through at Worlds of Words in the UofA College of Education.
Imbued with lyrical and poignant language, readers of The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard are invited into 15-year-old Alice Nightingale’s wonder and promise-filled world even as she remains on the margins. Alice attempts to manage a broken life and family after being attacked, leaving her with brain damage that may result in her being “twelveness” for the rest of her life. But Alice is resourceful and starts to grow away from her twelveness by relearning language through writing poetry in her Book of Flying, by connecting with Emmanuel (Manny) James, who also has been damaged by the world, and by remaining true to never forsaking her younger brother Joey and “Grandma Glorious.” Alice’s father is dead, and her mother left the country to pursue her career. Grandfather Papa is in prison for killing the men who attacked Alice, leaving the family of three living outside of their Australian town, hidden away from most of the world. Alice is artistic and fills her days with making fishing lures and writing while Joey goes to school bringing books and information for Alice to learn. Because she is often overwhelmed by typical human interactions, Alice cannot attend school and thus spends much of her time alone–until she sees and is seen by Manny. Readers venture with Alice as she grows into her adolescence, hoping for love and connection outside of the family. And as Alice’s world becomes more and more precarious, readers will fall in love with Alice and Manny as they share their pain and love with each other in hopes of overcoming. -Recommended by Holly Johnson. Continue reading
This month we examined four books that portray the theme of Sense of Place. A sense of home or belonging is incredibly valuable to humans. The books selected for this month highlight characters who discover that special sense of place, or must leave their longtime place and find a new one. Our final book for the month of August is Forest World.
By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache
In North American Indigenous children’s literature, storytelling is characterized by focusing on origin, cultural identity and traditional knowledge systems. Origin is often explained with the aide of animal characters, but these are not the only types of stories to use animals. Animals are also used to explain dilemmas when it comes to ethical and moral decisions. As originally told by the elders, these stories are embraced by members of the community as our way of knowing and being. Narratives are transmitted orally and by physical expression (body language, facial expressions, gestures, ect.) through songs, chants, ceremony, dance and ritualized storytelling.
This month we’re examining four books that focus on the theme Sense of Place. Having a sense of home or belonging is something humans value almost as much as family. The books selected for this month center around characters who find that special sense of place, or have to leave their longtime place and find a new one. This week’s selection is Insignificant Events In the Life of a Cactus.
By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache
Dr. Gregory Cajete, the editor of A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living, puts together many voices to focus on health and healing in Indigenous cultures. This book provides a substantial contribution to our knowledge of many subjects, including foods, food traditions and farming among Indigenous peoples; health problems resulting from the adoption of a “modern” diet by Native communities; efforts to restore the self-reproducing food plants that are the foundation of sustainable agriculture; permaculture and environmental restoration; the folk healing system known as curanderismo; the renaissance of ancient building practices; and organic foods retailers as activists.