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.
Book of the Month, June 2017
Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors and Submarines in The Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson
These engrossing, fascinating stories focus on particular sailors, skippers and submarines that operated in the Pacific for some years as practically the only part of our navy that survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Special sections such as Dispatch, Briefings, Submarine School (operating the head should be a hit), Skippers Recommendations, Timelines, Maps, and Photographs deepen the telling of the stories and add historical facts without being didactic. The After section is superb with more fascinating information. The whole book is a page turner. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Book of the Month, May 2017
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
As the summer of 1921 kicks in, racial tensions in Tulsa strain to the point of violence. This leads to the (controversially named) Tulsa Race Riots, which are not officially part of the Oklahoma History curriculum until July 1, 2012. In this setting, Will and Rowan, biracial teens struggling with both privilege and prejudice, live 90 years apart. A murder ties them together. Dreamland Burning blends historical fiction with mystery to show how “history has a way of sneaking back around.” Carefully paced, compelling, and true-to-life, this is a book I needed growing up in Oklahoma. -Recommended by Rebecca Ballenger
Book of the Month, April 2017
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Comport
Ada lives next to a landfill where people comb the trash looking for items to sell for recycling. There is little hope or stimulation in her life until a teacher offers music lessons. Inspiration flows from this true story of how children in a orchestra with instruments made from the trash becomes a international sensation. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
Book of the Month, March 2017
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson
Sachiko, was 6 years old when the bomb was dropped on her city. This book tells how she survived when her four siblings did not. The story is heart rendering and is based on five interviews the author did with Sachiko. Maps, photographs, sidebars about the period give more information. Sachiko is a finalist for the National Book Award. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter