Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Mitali Perkins

By Rebecca Ballenger, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Mitali Perkins laughing.Mitali Perkins writes books for readers to explore crossing borders. Her work explores the themes of poverty, immigration, child soldiers, microcredit and human trafficking and is based on her experience living overseas and her study of Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. WOW spoke to Perkins about a new movie based on an old book, code switching, her expanding career and connecting with readers. Continue reading

Decorative WOW News Header

Travel Around the World in 70 Maps with New Exhibit

The exhibit, Around the World in 70 Maps: Three Centuries of Cartographic Treasures from Children’s Literature, has itself traveled around the world. However, Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures (WOW) in the University of Arizona College of Education is the first venue in the U.S. to show this imaginative collection from the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany.

Young teens reading and discussing the books and posters on display.

Students from Paulo Freire Freedom School explore the exhibit, Around the World in 70 Maps.

Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Jacket art for Firekeeper's Daughter depicts two young Ojibwe women nose to nose in profile. Their skin tones vary slightly. Their profiles form the interior outline of a butterfly whose tail extends long enough to wrap around the title. The author describes the feeling of the art as purely 'Nish or Anishinaabek.Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, is a contemporary YA thriller about an Ojibwe teen living in the Great Lakes area who struggles to balance her identity, honor her community and pursue justice. Just out of high school, Daunis Fontaine halts her plans to go away for college and instead stay home to care for loved ones. Jamie, an intriguing new guy in town with a mysterious scar, captures her attention before pulling her into an FBI investigation. From here, Daunis experiences trauma to top an already challenging existence. This includes drugs, murder, rape, kidnapping and betrayal. Continue reading

Decorative WOW News Header

WOW Stories Indexed by Directory of Open Access Journals

By Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director, Worlds of Words

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) now indexes WOW Stories: Connections from the Classroom, a free, open access, on-line, academic publication of Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures in the University of Arizona College of Education. WOW Stories contains blind, peer-reviewed vignettes written by educators about children’s experiences reading and responding to literature, the content of which will increase in reach as aggregators, databases, libraries and other publishers access the entry in DOAJ.

WOW Stories banner has a solid background and lists the journal title Continue reading

Decorative WOW News Header

Virtual Tour of Critique to Support and Stretch

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Brutal honesty connects award winning illustrators Juana Martinez-Neal and Molly Idle. An exhibit of original illustrations and picturebooks put this partnership front and center at Worlds of Words. The pandemic brought Critique to Support and Stretch: A Conversation between Juana Martinez-Neal and Molly Idle to an early close–but not before we filmed a virtual tour. Take a look!

Virtual Tour of Worlds of Words Center’s Critique to Support & Stretch Exhibit from UArizona College of Education.

Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Re-Introducing Our Advanced Search Function

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

This month, we take a look at recent updates to our website made possible with help from Longview Foundation. We highlighted our book lists and will discuss our work with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals. This week, we share our advanced search function and tips on how to use it to narrow search results.

Top navigation bar with spy glass icon circled. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Website Improvements Include Updated Book Lists

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

With help from Longview Foundation, Worlds of Words spent a year improving our website. Much of this work won’t be noticeable to the average visitor, who is likely less concerned that we reduced the size of our website by a third without losing any content than they are accessing the content. This month, we take a look at some of the noticeable changes, including updating our book lists and resources, re-launching our Advance Search function and partnering with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals.

The Longview Foundation logo is the institution name where the O is replaced with a globe gridded on the diagonal. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Cane Warriors

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.Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle follows a fictional character in the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica in 1760. In this book, 14-year-old Moa works the Frontier sugarcane plantation for endless hot days and endures the lash of white enslavers. Recruited to participate in an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky, Moa is terrified but resolved. He agrees to be a cane warrior and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in nearby plantations.

Never look forward to war. It’ll come to we when it’s ready and when it come it never pretty.” (p. 117) Continue reading

Imagination Friday with Michael Rex

Join us for some fantastic fun as We’re Going on a Goon Hunt with Michael Rex! A goon hunt is no easy task. A twisted tangled pumpkin patch, murky bubbling swamp and foggy crumbling graveyard are just a few of the obstacles these kids will have to go through, skulking monsters included. When the Goon finally makes an appearance–under the covers they go! Except one brave child who finds monsters more fun than scary. This event will have time for a Q&A and an activity for children of all ages.

Imagination Fridays participants can order signed copies of the books featured at

Host: Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director of WOW
Panelists: Michael Rex
Co-Sponsor: Tucson Festival of Books

Michael Rex is the creator of over thirty books for children, including the number one bestseller Goodnight Goon and the Fangbone! series. He also illustrated With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck by David Friend. He was inspired to create Icky Ricky by his two boys, Declan and Gavin, who are fine young citizens, but very disgusting. Gavin eats ketchup on cake, and Declan uses a marker to color his belly button. Along with the boys, Michael lives with his wife and their dog, Roxy, in Leonia, New Jersey. His wife and the dog are not disgusting at all. Visit him at You won’t get dirty.

Imagination Friday is co-sponsored by the Tucson Festival of Books and Worlds of Words, University of Arizona College of Education and occurs Fridays from 1 to 1:40 p.m. through December 2020 with a different author or illustrator each week. Add some excitement to Fridays with world-renowned children’s authors and illustrator to promote new books and encourage children as readers, writers and illustrators.

Tucson Festival of Books logo with sponsors listed

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Resources Around Epidemics and Pandemics

Cholera warning posters by seventh gradersMany readers are looking for virtual escape as movement is restricted due to the spread of COVID-19. Schools nation-wide are closed, but they will soon open either on line or face-to-face and teachers will be keen to help young people make sense of current events. The Executive Board of Worlds of Words came together to determine how we might assist in the effort to find quality literature for young people around epidemics and pandemics.

This post includes a booklist of recently published fiction and non-fiction books as well as links to previously published WOW Currents posts with this focus. We’d love to hear from you too! Provide your comments and recommendations of books and other resources below. Continue reading