WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Wishes

A group of emigrants wrapped in blankets huddle on a sailboat while one girl looks at the reader against a starry, foggy background.Wishes is a compelling story about a Vietnamese family’s escape to find a new home across the world and the impact of their journey on one of the youngest children. The story is told through the young girl’s experiences and the wishes made by inanimate objects such as the rice packets that wishes they were deeper and the clock at the departure that wishes it was slower. The story is inspired by the author’s autobiographical accounts of her personal fears and experiences as a young immigrant and refugee in the 1980s when she and her family were forced to leave Vietnam. The story is seamlessly told in prose with beautiful illustrations resembling each wish along her journey. Each illustration and wish leads to her final wish—for a place to call home. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua

A young girl with braids holds a basket full of fruit on her head. She stands in front of a field of pink flowers, and two mountains in the background frame the cover.As a reader and educator who is drawn to the artistry of Duncan Tonatiuh as well as stories of indigenous people, I immediately welcomed Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua into my library. Both the author and subject were new to me, and after many close readings I am still finding multiple reasons to appreciate the poetic text and research of Gloria Amescua, the uniquely created illustrations of Tonatiuh, and the biography of a woman, Luz Jiménez, whose life is both a historical monument and an example of being true to one’s cultural identity. Continue reading

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Ukraine: Unexpected Connections and Insights

by Charlene Klassen Endrizzi and Grace Klassen

A single story or book cannot completely portray the richness or ambiguities of one culture (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2009). As we study media images of atrocities occurring within Ukraine, we pause to wonder about these vibrant, resilient people and their varied stories. This exploration allows us to develop a more comprehensive understanding of universal themes relevant to many cultures which emerge from Ukrainian children’s authors. Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part II

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

This week Daliswa (Didi) and I continue our look back at her African American Read-In experience with third graders, inspired by their exploration of Let the Children March. We share letters sent to students from foot soldiers still residing in Birmingham, Alabama and then consider third graders’ reactions. This insight from Desiree Cueto sums up our overarching intentions. “Our hope is that this work will inspire others to be courageous in their teaching and in their resolve to usher in a new generation of thoughtful and compassionate citizens.” Continue reading

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Children Draw Themselves: Self-portraits from All Over the World In Times of Covid

As COVID-19 began its spread around the world, the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany, invited children to portray themselves during this unusual time. The response was overwhelming. Over 800 self-portraits from 42 countries and every continent arrived at the IYL. Children aged 3 to 18 depict themselves grey and frightened or colorful and lively, sometimes with a face mask and sometimes without–mostly with big, alert eyes. A curated portion of these self-portraits make up the exhibit Children Draw Themselves: Self-Portraits from All Over the World In Times of Covid, now on display in Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures (WOW) in the UArizona College of Education.

studio hung with children's self portraits during covid-19 quarantine and books on tables

The exhibit displayed in WOW, with portraits hanging on the wall and books on the tables.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Borders

Questions of sovereignty, citizenship, and who gets to decide are the central issues in Borders (2021), a graphic novel with expressive colorful illustrations representing a realistic sensibility. A first-person narrative told from the perspective of a young boy, readers follow along on a road trip between the Blackfoot Reserve in Canada to the border between Canada and the United States. Upon reaching the border, those wishing to cross the border either for returning to their own country or entering the visiting country must declare their citizenship. When asked for her citizenship, the boy’s mother responds, “Blackfoot.” This creates a dilemma for the border guards, as she is expected to answer either “Canadian” or “USA.” Because she refuses to claim any citizenship other than her tribal affiliation, the boy and his mother are not allowed in the USA, and are turned back. But once they return to the border crossing into Canada, they not allowed into Canada because the boy’s mother responds in the same way when asked her citizenship. Continue reading

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Picturebooks: The Wisdom Found in Ages

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The last week of December, and of 2021, is a great time to think about wisdom, and what we can learn not only from the past year, and from those who have lived many years. Four picturebooks highlighted during the last 12 months include the wisdom of the ages—three grandparents and one country leader. I Dream of Popo is the story of a young girl who misses her grandmother when her family moves to the United States from Taiwan. The young protagonist remembers what her grandmother means to her, and what she learned from her grandmother. And while they are able to use technology to “visit” one another, there is still the longing to be with, and to continue to learn from, this very special person. Readers can relate to the wisdom of their own grandparents or older family relatives. There are their family stories to be heard, memories to hold, and love to take with them as they venture out seeking further knowledge and perhaps, wisdom as they grow. Continue reading

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Government Practices & Policies, and the Dangers to Individuals

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The four novels this week address issues of government practices and policies and how those initiatives impact human beings. The Firekeeper’s Daughter, Your Heart, My Sky, The Beatryce Prophecy, and Unsettled as a text set are a blend of historical realities, fable/fairytale, as well as legends and cultural traditions. The power of these novels is the ability of the authors to create realistic contexts that are often too familiar while highlighting individuals and their responses to that political context. Each of these narratives invite questions about government programming and the gaps within the lived reality as well as the historical documentation of that programming provides entrée into the study of history itself. Who and what is fore fronted? Who or what is silenced or rendered invisible? How can history be re-envisioned, and in what ways can more of the “story” of history be brought into view? How can students of history look beneath the official narrative and, perhaps, bring about change? How do people actually live within the history given? How does one make a life in dangerous times? Continue reading

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Historical Conflicts and the Toll on People and Other Living Things

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Cover art for Cane Warriors features a blue and black photograph of a young Black boy with an ink drawing of Tacky's Rebellion in the background.

Four of the books from WoW Recommends 2021 address the toll of historical conflict: Cane Warriors, Brother’s Keeper, Cat Man of Aleppo, and They Called Us Enemy. All offer spaces of contemplation and discovery, discussion and decision-making. All are great reads. Continue reading

Authors' Corner

Author’s Corner: Ray Jaramillo

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Ray Jaramillo’s first picturebook for children, Gust, Gust, Gust! (Page Publishing, Inc., 2021), is the story of a young boy who is afraid of the wind. Gustavo, called Gust, lives in a village located in southwestern New Mexico, U.S.A. where the wind blows constantly. To comfort Gust, his Tata plays the bongos each time the wind begins to whirl. Eventually, the villagers grow tired of listening to Tata play his bongos and ban him from ever playing again. Unbeknownst to the villagers, banning Tata’s bongo playing has devastating consequences for the village. To find out if the villagers can survive without the music of Tata’s bongos, pick up Ray’s new picturebook, Gust, Gust, Gust! Continue reading