Introduction and Editor’s Note:
WOW Review, Vol. VII (iii), offers reviews of books that reflect a diversity of characters, contexts, and global communities. While certain strands or themes often emerge from the titles selected for unthemed issues, there are often those stand-alone treasures that point to the many ways readers can explore the world through story. This issue includes chapter books that reflect variations on the theme of youth resistance and resilience while the picture books provide universal experiences to which young readers around the world can connect.
History offers many examples of youth taking action for self and others, such as Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass, the story of one youth’s efforts to resist Hitler’s regime and Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail, another WWII Holocaust story about a young pianist whose playing spares her life and helps provide food for others. Resilience in more contemporary situations are depicted in Across the Tumen by Young Sook Moon, the fictional story of young people illegally leaving North Korea to find food for their families in China. Resisting the social factors that suppress one’s identity is the theme of Playing a Part by Daria Wilke, while My Cousin’s Keeper by Simon French reveals a young person extending his identity to include a family member who needs support. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is another family focused story in which sisters journey into Mexico and are able to resolve family problems as they grow in their own identity. In Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell, a young girl must leave her beloved life in Zimbabwe after the death of her parents and is challenged to maintain her own spirited identity which differs from others at her school in England. Beyond the Door and the sequel The Telling Stone by Maureen D. McQuerry take readers into a fantasy world where a good versus evil quest of the young protagonists weaves throughout mythic figures from British, Celtic, and Welsh mythologies.
The picture book gems in this issue include Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakaii that invites readers to share a young girl’s activities when others in the house sleep. The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers is another delight as young readers relate to a black rabbit fearful of his shadow. All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino is an immigration story that speaks to family values and the unique artifacts that symbolize these values. Continuing the theme of migrating from one place to another, From There to Here by Laurel Croza focuses on a child’s acceptance of the differences in cultures when the family moves from Saskatoon to Toronto. These four picture books invite personal connections for all readers as they recognize their own experiences within each story.
As you read this issue of WOW Review, we invite you to share your own connections to each story’s characters and themes as well as to other books that align with these books.
Janelle Mathis, Editor