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 355 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 261 (33.72% 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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book of the Week: I Got a Chicken for My Birthday


I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

 

by Laura Gehl
Illustrated by Sarah Horne

Published by Carolrhoda, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-11-5124-3130-8

Ages 4-8


A girl who wants tickets to an amusement park for her birthday gets a chicken from her Abuela Lola instead. A chicken that isn’t interested in eating and doesn’t have time to lay eggs. It does, however, have a list. At the top of the list: 100 steel girders. At the bottom: a partridge in a pear tree. In between is everything from a winch, cement, a horse, and firewood to a bird, a cat (to catch the bird), a dog (to catch the cat) and poms poms. The chicken also has a plan. It involves complicated construction, which the chicken oversees as it puts the various animals to work. When the chicken arranges for Abuela Lola to visit it puts her to work too. “I got a chicken for my birthday,” says the young narrator with each turn of the page before describing the latest developments in a spare, droll accounting paired with colorful India ink illustrations that spare no details in documenting the absurdity (the chicken in a hardhat is priceless). The end result? A fully functioning amusement park. “I got a chicken for my birthday. And the chicken is a genius … Next year, I’m asking Abuela Lola for a trip to the moon.” ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book of the Week: Snow Lane


 

Snow Lane

by Josie Angelini
Published by Feiwel and Friends, 2018
197 pages pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-15092-9
Ages 10-13


Ten-year-old Annie Bianchi is the youngest of 9 kids in a Catholic family in mid-1980s Massachusetts. Exceptionally bright and creative, Annie’s in a class for gifted students despite struggling with dyslexia. Although Annie doesn’t always follow the nuances of social interactions, she looks for the good in people and has a wonderful friend at school in her lab partner, Jordan. At home, she doesn’t think of her family as poor, or even unusual, although Annie knows her teenage sister Fay’s physical abuse and cruelty, usually directed at her sister Nora, is wrong, just as she knows her mother is often overwhelmed. A narrative grounded in Annie’s perspective, told in her engaging, ingenuous voice, offers a masterful slow reveal of the larger truths hinted at in small details and occasional dramatic moments that are part of Annie’s daily life. It’s not that Annie’s an unreliable narrator; it’s that she only begins to fully comprehend that things at home are not typical when she gets a glimpse of her family through the perspective of outsiders after Nora runs away. Everything and everyone is more complicated, and more poignant, than at first revealed in this moving, captivating work about family, and resilience, and survival, and the love, in spite of everything, that is never in doubt. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Friday, April 6, 2018

CCBC 2017 Statistics on LGBTQ+ Literature for Children & Teens

In 2017 we expanded our CCBC diversity statistics to include books with LGBTQ+ content and/or characters, and the results have been both fascinating and eye-opening.

Of the approximately 3,700 books we received at the CCBC in 2017, we counted:

  • 135 (3.65%) with significant LGBTQ+ content.
    • Of these, 21 (15.56%) were #OwnVoices (written by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+). However, this does not necessarily mean that the author's identity aligns with that of the character, e.g. a cisgender bisexual woman could create a transgender lesbian character.

This number (135) includes books with LGBTQ+ primary or significant secondary characters, LGBTQ+ families, nonfiction about LGBTQ+ people or topics, and what we've been calling "LGBTQ+ metaphor" books (more on that in a moment). Here's the breakdown:
  • 62 books (45.93%) feature an LGBTQ+ primary character
  • 36 books (26.67%) include an LGBTQ+ secondary character without an LGBTQ+ primary character
  • 25 books (18.52%) include an LGBTQ+ family
  • 9 books (6.67%) are nonfiction (not including graphic novels)
  • 3 books (2.22%) are anthologies with significant LGBTQ+ content
  • 2 books (1.48%) are LGBTQ+ metaphors

The two books we consider "metaphor" books are Bunnybear, written by Andrea J. Loney and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña, and Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima. Both books can easily be interpreted as metaphors for coming out to one's self and/or others and finding community.

We also took a closer look at the identities of primary characters. We used widely recognized identities in an effort to be consistent in our counting, as terminology within the LGBTQ+ community evolves and changes regularly. We counted queer (but not explicitly bisexual) cisgender women as lesbians, and queer (but not bi) cisgender men as gay. We had a category for transgender characters, and one for the non-binary umbrella (genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, etc.). In a separate category, we counted books in which a character questions their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

That being said, of the 62 books featuring an LGBTQ+ primary character, we counted:
  • 16 (25.81%) lesbian
  • 14 (22.58%) gay
  • 15 (24.19%) bisexual
  • 3 (4.84%) transgender
  • 5 (8.06%) questioning
  • 8 (12.9%) non-binary
  • 1 (1.61%) asexual
Little Pig has two grandpas.

Finally, our total count includes fiction, nonfiction, and picture books. There are very few picture books with LGBTQ+ characters or content. Of those we received, most were about families in general or had secondary or tertiary LGBTQ+ parents. Picture books with gender-expansive characters most often feature a child who was assigned male at birth and likes to wear skirts, dresses, or other clothing traditionally considered to be "feminine." Within the fiction category, few are middle grade titles; the majority are YA.

Of the 135 books with LGBTQ+ content or characters:
  • 13 (9.63%) are picture books
  • 18 (13.33%) are nonfiction, including graphic novels
  • 104 (77.04%) are fiction

Although it is a slow improvement, there are books being published that better represent the vast diversity of identities and experiences within the LGBTQ+ community. In the months and years ahead, we hope to see even more, especially books with LGBTQ+ characters of color and gender-expansive characters, as well as more #OwnVoices stories.

Last updated 6/11/2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Book of the Week: Martin Rising



Martin Rising: Requiem for a King

by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Published by Scholastic Press, 2018
127 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-70253-9

Age 9 and older


In early April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., returned to Memphis to stand again with striking sanitation workers. Fevered and tired, he wanted to skip the April 3 evening rally at Mason Temple, but went and roused the crowd with his oratory and his faith in the path of nonviolence and the promise of the future he knew he may not live to see. Late afternoon April 4, he participated in a gleeful pillow fight in his room at the Lorraine Motel before dressing for dinner. These and other moments illuminated in poems detailing King’s life, and especially his final days, his death, and the grief that followed, are full of poignancy, power, and tension. Divided into three sections—Daylight, Darkness, Dawn—the poems’ language and cadence don’t just invite but almost insist on being spoken aloud. Impeccably researched and documented, the poems, paired with expressive mixed-media illustrations, conclude with a brief photo essay about the Memphis strike and King’s assassination, along with a timeline, sources, and an essential author’s note. “Can a dream ever die? / A burst of sun replies: / His life well lived for peace and good, / Martin’s spirit—still alive! / And with love, / we all shall rise.” The pain of King’s loss feels immediate and shocking, the hope of his legacy lasting. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book of the Week: Captain Starfish



Captain Starfish

by Davina Bell
Illustrated by Allison Colpoys
U.S. edition: Abrams, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4197-2837-2

Ages 3-6


“The day before the Underwater Dress-Up Parade, Alfie got that feeling.” It’s a familiar feeling, and not a nice one. He had it before a race once, and when he worried about playing musical chairs. Alfie tells himself he’s brave enough to be Captain Starfish in the parade, but that night he dreams of sea monsters. In the morning his tummy hurts and he doesn’t go. His parents take him to the aquarium instead. During their visit, Alfie notices a small clown fish who swims to the glass for just a second before darting away to hide in the coral. Inspired by that brief encounter, Alfie realizes it’s okay not being Captain Starfish this year, but decides that next year he’ll be a clown fish in the parade. Alfie’s fear will be relatable for many children with social anxiety. His parents’ calm acceptance means they don’t try to push Alfie, or treat him like there’s something wrong that needs fixing. It makes the final page spread showing clown fish Aflie one year later all the more satisfying: Alfie decided he’s ready. A limited, unusual color palette with soothing blues and punctuations of bright coral adds further distinction to this welcome picture book. (MVL) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book of the Week: Boots on the Ground



Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam

by Elizabeth Partridge
Published by Viking, 2018
224 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-78506-3
Age 12 and older


Chapters detailing the experiences of diverse individuals in Vietnam during the war—soldiers, a military advisor, a military nurse, a young Vietnamese woman trying to flee the country with her family after the fall of Saigon—alternate with chapters focusing on the political front in the United States in this arresting account of the Vietnam War. Each individual story illuminates how the perspectives of those with “boots on the ground” differed vastly from the official government narrative, as well as how far removed political and military decisions are from the lives of those whom they impact, often devastatingly. The chapters set in the United States illuminate the thoughts and actions of presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford) and protesters (Martin Luther King, Jr., who was criticized within and beyond the Civil Rights Movement for his decision to speak out against the war, and Country Joe MacDonald, who wrote one of the most popular anti-war anthems). The narrative turns toward healing as it documents efforts to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, including initial backlash against architect Maya Lin’s design, and the Memorial’s cathartic impact (built as she envisioned it). Photographs throughout, detailed notes, a comprehensive bibliography, and brief updates on the lives of those Partridge interviewed to show us the war through their eyes round out a forceful work. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book of the Week: Harriet Gets Carried Away



Harriet Gets Carried Away

by Jessie Sima
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2018
42 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-6911-1
Ages 3-6


Harriet wears costumes everywhere, from the laundromat to the park to the dentist. When her dads take her shopping for her birthday party snacks, she’s dressed as a penguin and waddles off in search of party hats. “… don’t get carried away,” they tell her, knowing their daughter. Harriet does get carried away—literally—by a passel of penguins she meets in the frozen food aisle. “Where are we going?” It turns out the penguins are going back home, in hot air balloons. “I don’t think I belong here,” Harriet says when they arrive. One penguin suggests she get rid of her red bow tie in order to fit in. “But Harriet didn’t care about fitting in—she cared about getting back to the store.” She negotiates a ride from an orca, and her dads are still in the snack aisle when she soars back into the store with the help of a flock of gulls. Wonderful illustrations chronicle biracial Harriet’s unusual journey and warm, funny, realistic details of her life in the city with her dads (one Black, one white) in an affirming story that celebrates imagination. (MS) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center