By Desiree Cueto and Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
African diaspora folklore, myths and legends have been passed down through oral traditions from generation to generation. A prominent figure in stories told across different African nations is that of the mermaid. The half human/half fish water spirit is referred to by different names depending on the specific African nation and unique cultures within. For example, Mami Wata is a deity whose story is told throughout different parts of West Africa. She is known for bestowing wealth and power as well as destruction. A similar figure, called Yemoja is known to the Yoruba people of Nigeria to be a giver of life, and La Sirene is a Haitian spirit of the sea. Over time, the oral stories of mermaids and sirens have been written and published throughout the world and have become the inspiration for several recent picture books and novels. This set of books features twelve books that center on Black mermaids and African mythology. Continue reading
Angelica Serrano, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ
A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and their Impact is a set of twelve books, both picturebooks and graphic novels, that embrace and celebrate the voices of children across the globe who have used their voices, creativity and thinking to make a change for themselves and others. This set honors World Children’s Day celebrated on April 30. To commemorate this special holiday, the dozen books selected here resonate the power found within each child as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Children have made tremendous changes for the world and this list commemorates the power that children have within them. We invite you to take a closer look at these books and encourage you to embrace the depicted voices of these children into your hearts as we celebrate their impact on the world. We hope that as you browse through these titles you will be inspired to share them with your children, classrooms, fellow educators and communities so that children’s voices can be known and heard. Children are our greatest teachers and there is so much we can learn from them. It is imperative that we invite children to continue to inspire others with what they have to say. Continue reading
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.