Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book of the Week: Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

Tiger Boy

by Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Published by Charlesbridge, 2015

144 pages

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Ages 7-10

Neel lives on one of the Sundarban islands off the coast of Bangladesh. Neel’s father has always said it’s important to protect the land and the tigers, so Neel is dismayed when Baba agrees to work for wealthy Mr. Gupta hunting a tiger cub that escaped from a nearby refuge. Everyone knows Mr. Gupta wants to sell the cub on the black market. But hardworking Baba needs extra money to hire a tutor to help Neel prepare for an upcoming scholarship exam. Neel doesn’t care about the scholarship; he has no desire to leave the island for further schooling. He does care about the little cub, however, so he and his older sister, Rupa, who wishes she could go to school, are determined to find the cub before anyone else, even Baba, and return it to the refuge. The sense of urgency that propels Neel and Rupa’s hunt for the cub creates the perfect amount of tension in an engaging story wonderfully grounded in Neel’s point of view and his experiences in his family and community. Their effort to save the cub helps Neel understand how furthering his education is one means of helping protect the place he lives. Just the right amount of information about the complexities of economic and environmental issues is seamlessly incorporated into this warm, lively chapter book featuring occasional illustrations and a satisfying and believable ending. An author’s note tells more about the islands and their environmental and economic struggles. (MS)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Dessert

by Emily Jenkins

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2015
36 pages   4-8 years

Stretching across time, place and situation, four parent-child pairs make blackberry fool in this entertaining and educational look at changes in technology and culture. While the simple recipe, the delight in the dessert, and the obvious love between parent and child remain constant through the four centuries, the means for making the dessert as well as the lifestyles of families and communities change radically. The book begins in 1710 in Lyme, England, where a mother and her daughter pick wild blackberries, whip cream with a whisk made of wooden sticks, chill the dessert outside and enjoy the dessert at the family dinner. In 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina, an enslaved mother and daughter pick berries in the plantation garden, whisk the cream, chill the blackberry fool, and serve the master’s family. The mother and daughter taste the dessert by sharing the scrapings of the mixing bowl. In 1910, a mother and daughter in Boston buy berries, beat the cream with a manual, metal mixer, and store the dessert in the kitchen icebox. Finally, in San Diego in 2010, a boy and his father zip by the market for cream and berries, find an Internet recipe, and whip the cream with a powerful electric mixer. They then gather friends for a festive meal. There is much for adults and children alike to enjoy and discuss in this beautiful and well-researched book, from kitchen tools, food storage, and work to style of dress, family relationships, and leisure. Both Jenkins and Blackall offer thorough and thoughtful author and illustrator notes and cover the necessity yet difficulty of representing slavery in a history of blackberry fool. A blackberry fool recipe is sure to tempt readers to make and taste this fine dessert. (ET)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book of the Week

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

by Sean Taylor

Illustrated by Jean Jullien

Published by Candlewick Press, 2015

48 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7578-3

Ages 4-8

Unconventional Hoot Owl concocts one outrageous costume after another as he attempts to bag his evening meal. But just as his carrot disguise doesn’t fool a rabbit, his ornamental birdbath get-up fails to result in a pigeon dinner. Undaunted, Hoot Owl moves from one lost opportunity to the next, finally nailing an inanimate pepperoni pizza while wearing the white jacket and toque of a waiter, complete with a mustache penciled below his beak. Despite his repeated failures, this bird of prey remains unfailingly confident (“I swoop through the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air”) as he invokes his flamboyant descriptive powers (“The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast.”) Bold black outlines and saturated, flat colors add dramatic flair to Hoot Owl’s nighttime escapades, while his melodramatic prose extends the humor of his plight. After scarfing his pizza, Hoot Owl flies off “into the dark enormousness of the night. […] And the world can sleep again.” (MVL) © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, March 2, 2015

CCBC Diversity Logs on Pinterest

screen cap of CCBC Pinterest page

 For those of you interested in keeping up to date with new books by and about people of color, the CCBC now maintains a Pinterest site with a visual record, CCBC Diversity Logs.

In addition to books by and about African Americans, American Indians, Asian Pacific Americans and Latinos, we will also keep track there of three other categories of books we're frequently asked about:
  • Books featuring characters with disabilities
  • Books set in the Middle East, or about characters of Middle Eastern heritage set elsewhere
  • Books with LGBTQIA characters 
As with our diversity logs in general, not every book noted is recommended by the CCBC. It's just a record of what we're seeing. We will, however, include a link to any reviews or discussion the CCBC posts for the books included in the diversity log.

(Please note that you do need to have a Pinterest account to access the content but you can sign up for free.)

Book of the Week

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

by Margarita Engle
Illustrated by Rafael López

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
40 pages  ISBN: 978-0-544-10229-3  Ages 4-8

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the rhythms in the world around her, and inside her. She dreamed of drumming, but only boys and men learned how to play at that time. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” Her father said no when her sisters asked ten-year-old Millo to join their band. Only boys should play drums, he said. But Millo couldn’t silence the sounds. Eventually her father found her a teacher who listened to her, and taught her, and gave her the chance to change the way people thought about girls and drumming. Margarita Engle’s poem makes a striking picture book narrative and is set against the vibrating tropical colors of Rafael López’s lush illustrations. A note tells how Millo went on to a world-famous musician who played alongside jazz greats, in addition to changing hearts and minds with her beats.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Numbers Are In

Every year around this time for the past 30 years, the CCBC has published the number of books by and about people of color. We started doing this in 1985 when our Director, Ginny Moore Kruse, was on the Coretta Scott King Award Committee and knew that there were only 18 books eligible for the award that year. We were so shocked at that number that we decided to document it in our annual publication, CCBC Choices.

That number got around. Most people knew there weren't many books being published by Black authors and illustrators; they just didn't know the number was that small.

The next year it was the same -- 18 again. After that, it almost doubled, and started going up a bit each year until it peaked in 1992. Since then it has plateaued.

Before too long we were being asked for the number of books by and about American Indians, Asians/Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos, and we started keeping track of those numbers, too. CCBC librarian made a graph that shows the progress (or lack thereof) since 2002.

 Looking at this graph you can see what I mean when I say the numbers have plateaued. Some years the numbers go up, only to go down again the next year.

This year we saw an increase in the number of books about Africans and African Americans, Asians/Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos. the number of books by and about American Indians increased by two. It'll be interesting to see if next year the lines on our graph continue rising upward.

In the meantime, you can look at the statistics on more detail on our website: Children's Book by and about People of Color Published in the United States.  This year for the first time, we've decided to post our list of the authors, illustrators, and titles we've documented. Just click on 2014 to find the link to the lists for African American and American Indian (The list of Asian and Latino books are coming soon.)

Over the next several weeks we'll be blogging about these statistics, discussing some of the questions and observations that have come up, and talking about how we collect our data. Please post any questions you have here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book of the Week

Gone Crazy in Alabama

by Rita Williams-Garcia

Published by HarperCollins, 2015
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-221587-1

Ages 8-12

In the third and final volume about the Gaither sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are sent to rural Alabama to spend the summer of 1969 with their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Before putting them on the Greyhound bus, their father tells them: “The South’s not like Bed-Stuyvesant and you can’t get more southern than Alabama. … Once you cross the line from North to South all of that black power stuff is over.” At 12, Delphine is old enough to understand the important difference in social mores and feels she is capable of keeping her younger sisters in line as Pa instructed her to do. But 10-year-old Vonetta is ready to strike out on her own, enjoying the attention of Ma Charles and her half-sister and life-long rival, Aunt Miss Trotter. The two elderly sisters haven’t spoken to each other in years and dramatic Vonetta is only too willing to serve as a conduit between them, as they pass information and insults back and forth, taking advantage of Vonetta’s twin skills of mimicry and showmanship. The sisters’ daily trips across the creek to the Trotter home ultimately offer them insight into their own family history, and an understanding of their family’s place within a specific rural Southern setting, all of which seems more than a little crazy to Delphine. And this all lays the groundwork for some much-needed family unity when a tragedy strikes. The witty dialogue and singular characterizations that were hallmarks of the first two volumes, One Crazy Summer and P. S. Be Eleven continue here. And like its predecessors, this novel offers insights into social history as it was lived by several strong African American women, who each took different paths during a pivotal time of change.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center