Monday, August 13, 2018

Book of the Week: Jerome By Heart

By Thomas Scotto
Translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick & Karin Snelson from the French.
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec  

U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 9781592702503

Ages 3-8


Raphael loves his friend Jerome, who holds his hand and chooses him for a buddy on field trips. Jerome, who is fun to be with and makes Raphael feel safe. Raphael’s parents think he talks and thinks too much about Jerome. “Now that’s enough,” says his dad. “Dad’s voice is like sharp fish bones in my hot chocolate.” But Raphael knows “Jerome” is not a bad word, and is determined to find the perfect gift for his friend, who is always up for an adventure, and would never hide his head in shame. “Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It’s easy.” Illustrations that are soft yet slightly quirky showcase the deep and genuine affection between the two boys, and the temporary dissonance and isolation caused by adult disproval before Raphael affirms feelings that bring him such contentment and joy. This welcome picture book offers sweet and essential conformation of emotions that children are too often encouraged to deny or suppress, particularly when it comes to same-gender friendships/relationships, and especially between boys. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 6, 2018

Book of the Week: Running through Sprinklers



Running through Sprinklers

by Michelle Kim
Published by Atheneum, 2018
209 pages pages
ISBN: 9781481495288

Ages 9-12


Sara, 12, has been best friends with Nadine since they were in diapers. Both are biracial, Sara Korean/white, Nadine Japanese/white, and have grown up on a cul de sac in Surrey, BC, moving in and out of each other’s houses and families and traditions with ease. Sometimes it seems to Sara they’re a single person, and she likes that feeling. As the summer before grade 7 winds down, two things disrupt Sara’s sense of security: A boy named Daniel Monroe disappears without a trace, and Nadine announces she will be skipping a grade and entering high school (grade 8 in Canada). Sara’s sense of hurt at the last-minute announcement is amplified by the feeling that Nadine is ready to leave her behind. When school starts, Sara focuses on getting good grades in the (unrealistic) hope of skipping to grade 8 midway through the year. She also becomes closer to Nadine’s younger sister, 6th grader Jen, but still longs for reconnection with Nadine. Sara is imperfect, at times incredibly selfish, but genuinely grieving and achingly real as first-time novelist Kim writes with a singular style and sure hand, immersing readers in Sara’s slowly expanding perspective in a story that explores friendship, family, growth, change, loss, and finding the light again. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 30, 2018

Book of the Week: The Field



The Field

by Baptiste Paul
Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
Published by NorthSouth, 2018
28 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7358-4312-7

Ages 5-8


A game of futbol on the island of Saint Lucia isn’t going to be stopped by anything. Not cows on the field (“Shoo!”) or the arrival of rain (“Dash. Splash. Slip-slide. Belly flop!”) or the calls of mamas that it’s time to come home as the sun begins to set (“Vini, abwezan! Come now!”). Only when the game is finally over do the children disperse, racing off to their homes in the dusk. “We dream about futbol. We dream about friends. Until the field calls again.” A spare, energetic narrative that weaves in words from the author’s native Creole language expresses a joyful sense of childhood and community that is extended by marvelous illustrations full of energy, color and movement. An author’s note about his childhood playing futbol on Saint Lucia, and a glossary of Creole terms, is provided at story’s end. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book of the Week: The Place Between Breaths



The Place Between Breaths

by An Na
Published by A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2018
181 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-2225-3

Age 13 and older


Grace is a high school senior with a coveted intern position at the genetics lab where her dad recruits scientific researchers. Grace’s schizophrenic mother left them when she was a small child, a loss that echoes continuously. But Grace finds her dad’s obsession with the lab’s work trying to isolate a gene for schizophrenia frustrating. It’s not like isolating a gene will lead automatically to a cure, and it’s not like her mom will benefit regardless—they have no idea what happened to her. Grace wishes her dad devoted more of his time and attention to her. A beautifully written narrative moves between Korean American Grace in the present day—her lonely life at home, her work at the lab, where she meets graduate student Will; her early childhood memories in which her parents’ love and her mom’s increasingly unpredictable behavior and growing sense of her desperation filters through; and second-person chapters in which an unknown speaker addresses an unknown “you.” Locating oneself in the story becomes more and more challenging in a novel that parallels Grace’s own experience as it becomes clear she has schizophrenia, too. Like Grace, we aren’t quite sure what is real. But beyond the fear, pain and sense of loss in this aching, deeply resonant novel, are glimmers of hope, too. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book of the Week: Champion



Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree

by Sally M. Walker
Published by Henry Holt, 2018
144 pages
ISBN: 978-1-260-12623-1

Age 11 and older


A fungus wiped out the majority of the majestic American chestnut trees in the first part of the 20th century. This fascinating account documents how the fungus was identified and three scientific programs to bring the American chestnut back from the brink. An inoculation program injects a weaker form of the fungus, found in Japanese and Chinese chestnuts, into infected trees. If it spreads it turns the deadly fungus into a milder form of blight the trees can survive. (A stand of trees near West Salem, Wisconsin, is one of the test sites). In the backcross breeding program, healthy American chestnuts are bred with blight-resistant Chinese chestnuts. Resistant offspring are crossed with another American chestnut until there is a blight-resistant sixth-generation tree that is mostly American chestnut. The first of these were planted in forests in 2009. The third effort is a high-tech: wheat genes that produce oxalate oxidase (OxO), which breaks down the oxalic acid that the killer fungus produces, are injected into American chestnut embryos in hopes the resulting trees will be healthy. Science is accessible and engaging in this real-world, problem-solving mystery. There is outstanding documentation and a treasure trove of intriguing back matter, from research into a Longfellow program to an account an American chestnut classroom science project to research involving squirrels. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book of the Week: Give Me Some Truth



Give Me Some Truth

by Eric Gansworth
Published by Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 2018
432 pages
ISBN: 978-1-338-14354-6

Age 13 and older


In 1980, Carson Mastick and his best friend, Lewis Blake, are high school seniors living on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York. Maggi Bokoni, 15, has just moved back to the reservation with her older sister, Marie. Former honor student Lewis paid a heavy price at school for standing up to a white bully years before. His future uncertain, he works cleaning buses for the school district. Maggi also gets a job there and meets Jim, a white grounds supervisor in his early 30s, who seems to understand her desire to make art beyond traditional beadwork. Hopeful musician Carson forms a band with reluctant Lewis on bass and Maggi on water drum, intent on winning a competition that could lead to New York. And Marie is in love with one of her former high school teachers from the city. Their stories, individual, intertwined, unpredictable, play out over a series of months in which Carson also mounts a protest against “Custard’s Last Stand,” a restaurant glorifying General Custer that blatantly posts a “No Indians” sign. Though most from the Rez avoid the place, Carson, who can pass as white, wants to confront the racism directly. The nuances and intricacies of these smart, tender characters and their lives unfold in a novel that is consistently funny and righteous and illuminating. Songs of the Beatles and John Lennon and Yoko Ono provide chapter titles and touchpoints as the teens find solace and inspiration in both music and art. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book of the Week: Libba



Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

by Laura Veirs
Illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh 

Published by Chronicle, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4521-4857-1

Ages 5-9


As a child in rural North Carolina in the early 20th century, Libba Cotten “heard music everywhere.” She borrowed her brother’s guitar when he wasn’t home and played it upside-down and backwards, because she was left-handed. “Nobody else played that way, but it was the way that felt right to Libba.” Libba composed the song “Freight Train” around age 11, inspired by the sounds of trains on nearby railroad tracks. “But even trains get derailed.” Libba stopped playing to work and raise her daughter. She was a grandmother working at a department store in Washington, D.C., when she met musician Ruth Crawford Seeger. Ruth hired Libba as a housekeeper, and Libba was immersed in music in the Seeger home. When she picked up a guitar again, she impressed the Seegers and their musician friends. The Seeger family helped promote Libba’s music, “[b]ut it was Libba’s perseverance, her love of music, and her belief in herself that gave the world her voice.” An understated, concise yet lyrical text is followed by a concluding note, which touches more on the realities of Libba’s experience as an African American woman, and sources. Libba’s story is warmly illustrated in softly-shaded graphite art with digital color. (MVL) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 25, 2018

Book of the Week: Julián Is a Mermaid



Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love
Published by Candlewick Press, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9045-8)

Ages 3-8


Riding the train on their way home from the swimming pool, Julián and his abuela see women clad in elegant, mint-green dresses trailing tail fins: mermaids. Wide-eyed Julián drifts into a fantasy: submerged in water, his hair lengthens as he sheds his tank top and shorts before being swept up in a stream of sea creatures. He discovers a tail where his legs had been, and accepts a coral necklace from a large, blue fish to complete the look. Once they’re home, while Abuela takes a bath Julián removes his clothing, tucks fern leaves and flowers into a headband, and kneels on the vanity to apply lipstick. From the gauzy window curtain he fashions a tail and strikes a pose—only to be discovered by a towel-wrapped Abuela, who promptly walks away. After a moment of apprehension, Julián’s relief is palpable when Abuela, dressed in blue, returns to present him with a beaded coral necklace. Without a word, she takes Julián’s hand and leads him to the mermaid parade, where they join in the celebration. A soft, colorful palette and gorgeous watercolor and ink illustrations on brown paper realistically portray bodies of all different sizes in this touching story of an abuela’s love and acceptance of her gender-creative grandchild. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book of the Week: The Book of Pearl



The Book of Pearl

by Timothée de Fombelle
Translated by Sarah Ardizzone and
    Sam Gordon from the French
Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2018
355 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9126-4

Age 12 and older


A young prince, Ilian, in love with a fairy, is banished to another world--our world, in late 1930s France. A Jewish couple, the Pearls, take in the homeless young man who appears outside their Paris shop. He becomes like a son to them. When French officials don’t believe the Pearl’s late son is dead, the exiled prince takes the place of Joshua Pearl and joins the French army. As time passes and his losses in this world mount, the prince’s/Joshua’s driving passion becomes tracking down relics from the place he came from as proof that the world of stories is real in hopes they will help him find his way back. This astonishing work moves between our world and Prince Ilian’s, and between present and past in both places. It includes the story of Olia, the fairy in love with the prince, also banished to our world but who agreed never to let Ilian know she was there in exchange for his life. And it includes the story of a heartsick French teenager who has a memorable encounter with the eccentric, middle-aged Joshua Pearl and grows up to become the masterful teller of this tale, one he finds it impossible to believe even as he is telling it. This extraordinary account of love and exile, cruelty and kindness, loss and longing honors the power of story to hold it all, and all of us, in place. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 11, 2018

Book of the Week: Puddin'



Puddin'

by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzar + Bray / HarperCollins, 2018
448 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-241838-8

Age 12 and older


Summer may be months away, but Millie Michalchuk is planning ahead: This year she’s applying for broadcast journalism camp. Millie is fat, and she’s comfortable with it—unlike her mother, who persistently fills the fridge with diet foods and can’t believe Millie doesn’t want to spend another summer at Daisy Ranch Weight Loss Camp; or classmate Callie Reyes, who treats Millie with contempt. Callie is co-assistant captain of the school’s highly accomplished competitive dance team. When a local gym is forced to withdraw funding for the team, Callie and her teammates retaliate by vandalizing the gym, where Millie happens to work. Millie identifies Callie in the security footage, and Callie takes the fall for the team, agreeing to pay off the damages by working at the gym for free. Outgoing and forgiving, Millie befriends a suddenly friendless and dance team-less Callie, even inviting her for weekly sleepovers with her friends, and seeking Callie’s advice on making a move with her crush, Malik. Biracial Callie, who feels alone both at school and at home, where she is the only brown Latina living with her white mom, stepdad, and little sister, begrudgingly finds herself enjoying Millie’s company. This funny and endearing companion novel to Dumplin’ (2015) champions young women in all their glorious flaws and complexities. Fat or thin, bubbly or cynical, asexual or boy crazy, the important thing is to support one another. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 4, 2018

Book of the Week: On the Other Side of the Garden



On the Other Side of the Garden

by Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Translated by from the Spanish by
    Elisa Amado 
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press,  
    2018
54 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55498-983-6

Ages 4-7


On her first night at her grandmother’s house in the country, Isabel is lonely and uncertain. She doesn’t know her grandmother and she doesn’t know how long her father will be gone. Then an owl, a frog and a mouse appear at the window lead her out into the moonlit yard. The owl is a gentle caretaker, the frog forthright and full of questions, the mouse shy and hoping for a snack. They tell her about her grandmother, who is kind, and perhaps a little lonely, too. She tells them about her mother, who lives in another country and writes her letters, and her dad, who is looking for work. The dark night eventually becomes a bright morning, and waiting for Isabel back at the house is her grandmother, offering matter-of-fact reassurance. The warm colors and rounded shapes of the three animals against the dark-sky pages, the small moments of humor throughout the striking digital illustrations reminiscent of pen-and-ink, and the brightening palette mirroring Latina Isabel’s shifting outlook all contribute to the sense of comfort this picture book provides. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Closer Look at 2017 Latinx #OwnVoices Books

With the ever-growing call for #OwnVoices books in youth publishing, we delved deeper into the CCBC's 2017 diversity stats, with a particular focus on 2017 #OwnVoices books. We started by examining the African/African American stats; in this post, we take a look at the Latinx #OwnVoices books and consider creator roles, book type, and countries and cultures that are represented.

First, a bit of background: To compile the CCBC diversity stats, we consider the race/heritage of primary characters, and of secondary characters who appear throughout the story and have a strong bearing on the plot. Consider, for example, Jason Reynolds's Miles Morales: Spider-Man. The primary character, Miles, is Afro-Latino, so this book belongs in both the African/African American and Latinx categories. Miles's Korean American best friend, Ganke, is a signficant secondary character, so this book is also included in the Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American category.

For picture books, we also note the number of times a character appears in the illustrations. For instance, if a book with a white primary character has an African American secondary character who only appears on 3 out of the 32 pages, it is unlikely that we will count that book in the African/African American category.

Apart from characters, we consider other significant content. If a book is set in Tanzania, for instance, it is included in the African/African American category. Likewise, a Mexican folk tale with animal characters would be included in the Latinx category, and possibly, depending on the origin of the tale, in First/Native Nations.

Each book is, of course, different, and the process is somewhat subjective. We always consider characters and content within the context of each individual book, and we strive for consistency in our counting.

As of our most recent count, we received a total of 216 books with significant Latinx characters and/or content published in 217. Of these, 73 are #OwnVoices, meaning that they have at least one author and/or illustrator who is Latinx.


Creator Roles

Of the 73 #OwnVoices books, 38 are illustrated. Of these 38 illustrated books:

  • 11 have a Latinx author and a non-Latinx illustrator
  • 5 have a non-Latinx author with a Latinx illustrator
  • 21 have both Latinx authors and illustrators

Of the 73 #OwnVoices books:

  • 68 have Latinx authors
  • 26 have Latinx illustrators


Type of Book

Of the 73 #OwnVoices books:
  • 25 are picture books
  • 36 are fiction
  • 12 are nonfiction


Percentage of #OwnVoices in Countries/Cultures Represented

Below is a list of countries/cultures represented in the books received by the CCBC. The percentage is the number of #OwnVoices books out of the total number of books representing that country. For example, we received a total of 34 books about Mexican Americans. 16 of those (47.06%) were #OwnVoices (OV).

We recognize that everyone living in the Américas is American. For the sake of clarity, we will specify various Latinx peoples living in the United States by using the word "American", e.g. Venezuelan American indicates a character or book creator of Venezuelan descent in the United States. 

  • Unspecified/General Latinx topic: 14 of 26 (53.85% OV)
  • Unspecified Latinx in the United States: 13 of 77 (16.88% OV)
  • Argentinian American: 0 of 1
  • Brazilian American: 0 of 2
  • Colombian American: 1 of 3 (33.33% OV)
  • Cuban American: 5 of 5 (100% OV)
  • Dominican American: 1 of 2 (50% OV)
  • Mexican American: 16 of 34 (47.06% OV)
  • Nicaraguan American: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Peruvian American: 1 of 2 (50% OV)
  • Puerto Rican American: 3 of 8 (37.5% OV)
  • Salvadoran American: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Trinidadian American: 2 of 3 (66.67% OV)
  • Venezuelan American: 0 of 1
  • South American (Unspecified or multiple countries): 0 of 1
  • Colombian: 0 of 1
  • Dominican: 0 of 1
  • Unspecified Latinx in Canada: 0 of 4
  • Jamaican Canadian: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Mexican Canadian: 0 of 1
  • Latin American (Unspecified country): 0 of 4
  • Belizean: 0 of 1
  • Bermudan: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Bolivian: 0 of 1
  • Brazilian: 1 of 5 (20% OV)
  • Caribbean (unspecified location): 0 of 1
  • Chilean: 2 of 2 (100% OV)
  • Colombian: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Costa Rican: 0 of 2
  • Cuban: 3 of 7 (42.86% OV)
  • Ecuadorian: 0 of 1
  • Salvadoran: 0 of 1
  • Haitian: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • Jamaican: 1 of 5 (20% OV)
  • Mexican: 4 of 7 (57.14% OV)
  • St. Lucian: 0 of 1
  • Peruvian: 0 of 2
  • Brazilian British: 0 of 1

Observations

Our observations of books with Latinx content and characters are similar to those of books with African/American content or characters. First, books written by non-Latinx authors often include a diverse, ensemble cast that includes one or two Latinx characters. This happens most often in fiction (e.g. Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail; The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone), and especially in chapter book series (e.g. "Girls Who Code" series by various authors; "The Hidden World of Changers" series by H.K. Varian).

Picture books written and/or illustrated by Latinxs more often include culturally specific details (e.g. Rudas: Niño's Horrendous Hermanitas by Yuyi Morales) than do picture books by non-Latinx authors and/or illustrators.

The percentage of picture books with Latinx content and/or characters that are #OwnVoices is quite high. Out of 28 picture books about Latinxs, 25 of those (89.29%) are #OwnVoices. Conversely, the percentage of fiction that is #OwnVoices is low: only 36 out of 156 (23.08%).

Nonfiction about particular locations, which often includes series or "formula" nonfiction, is more often written by non-Latinx authors than by Latinx authors (e.g. Let's Explore Cuba by Walt K. Moon). Nonfiction written by Latinxs is often about historical or contemporary Latinx people (e.g. Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López; Martí's Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal; Danza! Amalia Hernandez and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh).

We'll continue our examination of #OwnVoices books here on the CCBC blog over the next couple of weeks by looking at the First/Native Nations and Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American books we received in 2017.

Last updated 6/11/2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Join us October 13 at the Charlotte Zolotow Symposium: Illuminating Experience


Registration is now open for the Charlotte Zolotow Symposium: Illuminating Experience
 

Saturday, October 13
Pyle Center, UW-Madison Campus

 

  • Angie Thomas  
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz   
  • Candace Fleming  
  • Crescent Dragonwagon  
  • Eric Rohmann  
  • Javaka Steptoe   
  •  
and editors Anne Hoppe and Neal Porter

Zolotow logo
Logo by Philip Hamilton based
on original design by Harriett Barton
The CCBC established the annual Charlotte Zolotow Award and the annual Charlotte Zolotow lecture to honor UW Madison alumni and distinguished children’s book author and editor Charlotte Zolotow.

We’re celebrating more than 20 years of the award and lecture with a daylong symposium that pays tribute to Charlotte’s legacy. As a writer and editor, Charlotte was forward-thinking, insightful, and committed to exploring and illuminating the experiences of childhood and young adulthood with honesty and grace.  

The same is true of our panel of speakers:
  
Charlotte’s daughter, author Crescent Dragonwagon, will reflect on Charlotte’s career to kick off an inspiring day. 

We hope you can join us!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book of the Week: Mary's Monster



Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

by Lita Judge
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2018
312 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62672-500-3

Age 13 and older


“She conceived me. / I took shape like an infant, / not in her body, but in her heart, growing from her imagination / till I was bold enough to climb out of the page / and into your mind.” Frankenstein’s monster speaks the Prologue, but it’s Mary Shelley’s voice that cries out across fictionalized, first-person poems recounting her life from childhood up until shortly after writing Frankenstein when she was barely more than 20. Raised with her father and late mother’s feminist ideals but abused by her controlling stepmother, Mary left home as a young teen to live with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a passionate (married) writer who struggled with severe mental illness. She was deeply in love, and soon pregnant. The years that followed were marked by turmoil, betrayal, and loss, all of which contributed to the conception of her literary masterpiece, which was crafted over a period of 9 months. Full-page grayscale ink wash illustrations throughout set the perfect mood, while notes and documentation at volume’s end provide additional information, as well as commentary on how Judge, who drew on Mary’s letters and diaries as well as other sources in her research, navigated the space between fact and fiction. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Closer Look at 2017 African/African American #OwnVoices Books

With the ever-growing call for #OwnVoices books in youth publishing, we delved deeper into the CCBC's 2017 diversity stats, with a particular focus on #OwnVoices books. In this post, we examine the African/African American #OwnVoices books and consider creator roles, book type, and countries and cultures that are represented.

First, a bit of background: To compile the CCBC diversity stats, we consider the race/heritage of primary characters, and of secondary characters who appear throughout the story and have a strong bearing on the plot. Consider, for example, Jason Reynolds's Miles Morales: Spider-Man. The primary character, Miles, is Afro-Latino, so this book belongs in both the African/African American and Latinx categories. Miles's Korean American best friend, Ganke, is a significant secondary character, so this book is also included in the Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American category. 

For picture books, we also note the number of times a character appears in the illustrations. For instance, if a book with a white primary character has an African American secondary character who only appears on 3 out of the 32 pages, it's unlikely that we'll count that book in the African/African American category.

Apart from characters, we consider other significant content. If a book is set in Tanzania, for instance, it is included in the African/African American category. Likewise, a Mexican folk tale with animal characters would be included in the Latinx category, and possibly, depending on the original source of the tale, First/Native Nations.


Each book is, of course, different, and the process is somewhat subjective. We always consider characters and content within the context of each individual book, and we strive for consistency in our counting.

As of our most recent count, we received a total of 354 books with significant African or African American characters and/or content published in 2017. Of these, 111 were #OwnVoices: They had at least one author and/or illustrator of African descent.



Creator Roles


Of the 111 #OwnVoices books:
  • 95 had African/African American authors
  • 41 had African/African American illustrators

Of the 111 #OwnVoices books, 62 were illustrated. Of these 62 illustrated books:

  • 24 had an African/African American author, a non-African/African American illustrator
  • 15 had a non-African/African American author, with an African/African American illustrator
  • 25 had both African/African American authors and illustrators

Type of Book

Of the 111 #OwnVoices books:
  • 26 (23.42%) were picture books
  • 54 (48.65%) were fiction
  • 31 (27.93%) were nonfiction (including one graphic novel)

Percentage of #OwnVoices in Countries/Cultures Represented

Below is a list of countries/cultures represented in the books we received. The percentage is the number of #OwnVoices books out of the total number of books representing that country/culture. For example, we received a total of 4 books about Haitian Americans, and 1 of those (25%) was #OwnVoices (OV).

  • Characters of African descent (unspecified fantasy setting): 0 of 2
  • African American: 88 of 260 (33.85% OV)
  • Haitian American: 1 of 4 (25% OV)
  • Nigerian American: 0 of 1
  • Trinidadian American: 2 of 3 (66.67% OV)
  • African Canadian: 2 of 5 (40% OV)
  • Jamaican French Canadian: 1 of 2 (50% OV)
  • Caribbean (unspecified location): 0 of 1
  • Cuban: 0 of 7
  • Haitian: 0 of 2
  • Jamaican: 1 of 4 (25% OV)
  • St. Lucian: 0 of 1
  • West Indian: 0 of 1
  • African British/Irish: 1 of 7 (14.29% OV)
  • Ethiopian British: 0 of 1
  • Jamaican British: 0 of 2
  • Nigerian British: 2 of 2 (100% OV)
  • African Brazilian: 0 of 1
  • African French: 0 of 2
  • African Australian: 0 of 1
  • African (unspecified or multiple countries): 5 of 16 (31.25% OV)
  • Congolese: 0 of 3
  • Egyptian: 1 of 7 (14.29% OV)
  • Ethiopian: 0 of 2
  • Kenyan: 1 of 3 (33.33% OV)
  • Liberian: 0 of 1
  • Nigerian: 3 of 4 (75% OV)
  • Senegalese: 1 of 1 (100% OV)
  • South African: 2 of 4 (50% OV)
  • Tanzanian: 0 of 2
  • Ugandan: 0 of 1
  • West African: 0 of 1
  • Zambian: 0 of 1

Observations

We observed that books with African/African American characters written by non-African/African American authors often feature diverse casts of characters that include one or two characters of African descent. This is true for both picture books (e.g. Hats Off to You! written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by LeUyen Pham) and fiction (The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood), although it is most noticeably a common characteristic of chapter book series (e.g. "Girls Who Code" series by various authors).

Picture books with authors and/or illustrators of African descent more often contain cultural identifiers or address race in some way (e.g. In Your Hands, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Brian Pinkney; and Justice Makes a Difference, written by Dr. Artika Tyner and Jacklyn Milton and illustrated by Jeremy Norton and Janos Orban) than do picture books by non-African/African American authors and illustrators.

There were also quite a few picture books written by non-African/African American authors and illustrators with a protagonist who definitively appears to be of African descent in the illustrations, although cultural and racial identifiers are absent from the text (e.g. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall; and We Love You, Rosie, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Linda Davick). 

Additional posts providing further detail about the CCBC's Latinx, First/Native Nations, and Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American stats are to come, so keep an eye on this blog in the near future.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book of the Week: Children of Blood and Bone



Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi
Published by Henry Holt, 2018
531 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Age 11 and older


Zélie was three when she saw her mother murdered along with the other maji in Orisha. Their deaths severed the links with the gods of the ten maji clans. As a result, young diviners like Zélie, identified by their white hair and disparagingly called maggots, can’t come into their magic. Amari is the daughter of King Saran. Her father killed the maji, believing magic a threat to Orisha. When Amari sees her maid and best friend Binta, a diviner, murdered by her father after Binta touches a scroll that awakens her power, she steals the scroll. She asks for help fleeing her pursuers from the first diviner she sees: Zélie. A fast-paced, richly imagined fantasy set in a world that draws on African cultures and geography (the almost-lost language of magic is Yoruba), follows Zélie, Amari, and Zélie’s brother, Tzain, on their quest to reestablish the connection between maji and their gods. The king’s guard in pursuit is led by Amari’s brother, Inan, who loves his sister but falls easily under the spell of their cruel father’s logic. Inan is also desperate to keep his own magical gifts, awakened by the scroll, hidden. The opening volume of this immersive new series offers twists, turns, and surprises as Zélie, Amari, and Inan, haunted by their separate pasts, each seeks to change the future, although not necessarily in the same way. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book of the Week: The Prince and the Dressmaker



The Prince and the Dressmaker

by Jen Wang
Published by First Second, 2018
290 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62672-363-4

Age 11 and older


When an unconventional dress design (“‘Make me look like the devil’s wench,’” says the client) costs Frances her job, it attracts the attention of a wealthy new patron in search of a personal seamstress. Whisked away to the palace, Frances discovers she’s been summoned by Prince Sebastian, heir to the Belgian throne. After a brief, half-hearted attempt to conceal his identity, Sebastian confesses that it is he who would like to wear her dresses. Although sometimes comfortable as Sebastian, the prince has an alter ego: the confident and charming Lady Crystallia. Soon, transformed by gown and wig, Lady Crystallia invites Frances to accompany her to a beauty pageant after dark. Under pressure from his loving but clueless parents to find a bride, Sebastian finds respite in several clandestine outings with Frances, dancing and meeting new people—one of who happens to be Frances’s idol, the famous designer Madame Aurelia, who offers Frances a spot in an upcoming fashion show. Frances jumps at the opportunity, but Sebastian is terrified it will lead to the discovery of his secret. This clearly and brightly illustrated graphic novel offers a wonderfully affirming message of acceptance of gender-expansive identities. (MCT)  ©2018 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, May 7, 2018

Book of the Week: The Little Red Fort



The Little Red Fort

by Brenda Maier
Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Published by Scholastic Press, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-85919-6


Ages 3-7


When Ruby decides to build a fort, her brothers Oscar Lee, Rodrigo, and José, tell her, “You don’t know how to build anything.” Ruby simply shrugs and says she’ll learn. “And she did.” When she asks who wants to help draw plans, the boys say no. Ruby says she’ll draw them herself. “And she did.” So it goes as industrious young Ruby is undeterred by her brothers’ laughter and disinterest, which lasts until the fort is finished. When Ruby asks who wants to play inside, all three boys are eager. “Not so fast,” says Ruby, who invites them in only after they’ve shown their willingness to lend a hand. A fresh, original take on The Little Red Hen features a self-possessed young Latinx girl and her family. While the dialogue features only Ruby and her brothers, the equally energizing mixed-media illustrations show Ruby’s adult family members, who look to be her mom, dad, and grandmother, helping her get the job done. The author shares her enthusiasm for The Little Red Hen variations in a note following this captivating new version. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 30, 2018

Book of the Week: Hurricane Child



Hurricane Child

by Kheryn Callender
Published by Scholastic Press, 2018
214 pages
ISBN: 978-1-338-12930-4

Ages 10-13


Every morning Caroline Murphy hops on a speedboat and makes the short trip from her home on Water Island to her Catholic school on St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Caroline’s thick hair and skin “darker than even the paintings of African queens hanging in tourist shops” make her an easy target for bullies and contemptuous light-skinned teachers. Home isn’t much better: Her mother left Caroline and her father about a year ago, but the tenacious twelve-year-old is determined to find out what happened to her. When a new girl, Kalinda, transfers to Caroline’s school from Barbados, Caroline is immediately drawn to her and determined to make Kalinda her first friend—and possibly more. She suspects that Kalinda, like Caroline herself, can see spirits, and she enlists Kalinda’s help in communicating with them in the hopes that they will lead her to her mother. This emotionally complex novel thoughtfully explores the anguish that occurs when a mother’s survival comes at the cost of her daughter’s happiness. A vivid Caribbean setting and a tentatively hopeful ending will bring readers some relief on behalf of this determined and aching young girl. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book of the Week: The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2018
331 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-94617-9

Ages 8-11




At her late grandmother’s house in Lambert, South Carolina, for the summer, African American Candice discovers an old letter referencing a hidden treasure in town. Her grandmother tried to find it to benefit the community years before. Instead, she left town in disgrace after losing her job as city administrator. Candice, who loves puzzles, teams with neighbor Brandon, who has research skills (and internet access at home), in hopes of finding the money and redeeming her grandmother’s name. Candice and Brandon’s emerging friendship slowly solidifies as details about their lives unfold (Candice’s parents are separated; Brandon is dealing with a bully and a disapproving grandfather) along with the mystery. Clues in the letter from the mysterious benefactor reference Lambert’s mid-twentieth century history, when Siobhan, the talented, forthright daughter of the tennis coach at the Black high school, was in love with Reggie, the best player on the team, despite her father’s disapproval. Chapters set in the past expand on the story Candice and Brandon are uncovering: When a secret 1957 match between the white and Black boys’ tennis teams triggers violent racist attacks after the Black high school team wins, Siobhan’s family and Reggie must flee town for their own safety. The teens’ resulting separation is at the heart of the mystery in this entertaining homage to The Westing Game that deftly yet meaningfully incorporates social justice issues from the past and the present (e.g., ongoing racism, homophobia).  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center