Monday, July 6, 2020

Book of the Week: The Old Truck


by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey

Norton Young Readers, 2020
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-324-00519-3

Ages 18 months - 3 years




An old truck is the one constant on a small family farm occupied by a Black family whose only child grows from toddler-hood to girlhood, through her teenage years and into adulthood. As she grows older, so, too, does the truck which eventually falls into disrepair and sits, rusting beside the barn, right where it’s always been. The old truck never moves, remaining in the same position on the page while the action of the family happens all around it. The short declarative sentences focus on the experience of the truck while the equally uncluttered illustrations focus on the girl. Astute observers will note that, from an early age, she’s always working alongside her parents, tinkering with machinery. So it comes as no surprise that, once she inherits the farm, she restores the old truck and gets it running again so that it can VROOOOOOOM off the page in a satisfying conclusion. The retro illustrations and the personification of machinery is reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton (and will appeal to the same audience) but there is a completely modern look to the art, as well, which the brothers created with 250 handmade rubber stamps. This deeply satisfying book is one that young children will want to hear again and again, and adults won’t mind a bit. (KTH)  ©2020 Cooperative Children's Book Center 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Book of the Week: When You Trap a Tiger


by Tae Keller

Published by Random House, 2020
304 pages
ISBN: 9781524715700

    Ages 9-12



When biracial (Korean/white) Lily, her older sister Sam, and their mom move to Washington state to live with Hamoni, who is sick, Lily begins seeing a large tiger, which demands Lily open the jars in Halmoni’s basement and release the stories inside. Like her grandmother, Lily believes in magic. Although she knows tigers are tricksters in Korean tales, Lily says she’ll release the stories if the tiger will make Halmoni better. Lily’s effort to adjust to the move is made more challenging because teenage Sam, with whom she used to be close, seems angry all the time, while their mother is overwhelmed by Halmoni’s illness--revealed to be a brain tumor that impacts Halmoni’s behavior, and only seems to amplify the differences between the two. The small-town library becomes the source of a quirky new friend for Lily, a hopeful new beginning for Sam, and another perspective on Halmoni who, it turns out, has been a central figure in the community for years, known for sharing traditional Korean stories, food, and healing—all things Lily thought might not have a place in the predominantly white small town. The tiger, meanwhile, proves benevolent, not a trickster: The stories it wants released are painful memories Halmoni locked away: of her childhood in Korea, and loss through separation and immigration. In this moving, masterfully paced tale, Lily discovers healing can happen in the heart and mind, even if a body can’t endure. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 22, 2020

Book of the Week: The Henna Wars


by Adiba Jaigirdar

Published by Page Street Books, 2020
389 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62414-968-9

Age 12 and older




Nishat is thrilled to see new student Flávia at her Catholic girls’ school in Dublin. They met at the wedding of Nishat’s cousin, and Nishat was immediately smitten. Like Nishat, Flávia is dark-skinned (her father white, her mother Afro-Brazilian), and the two stand out among their many white Irish classmates. At home, Nishat recently came out to her conservative parents, who emigrated from Bangladesh to Ireland; they don’t want her to bring shame on the family by being gay. At school, Nishat learns Flávia is the cousin of Chyna, who has made Nishat’s life a living hell of micro-aggressions and exclusion. Nishat’s interest in Flávia is further complicated when Nishat starts a Mehndi business for a class project and Flávia and Chyna do the same. For Nishat, the elaborate henna drawings she makes on customers’ hands are an important part of her cultural tradition. She’s upset that Flávia and Chyna think it’s ok to appropriate what they only see as pretty decorations, which Flávia learned about at the Bangladeshi wedding. Nishat and Flávia are fierce competitors even as their attraction intensifies, and Nishat can’t help but question whether Flávia’s feelings are genuine when both are willing to do whatever it takes to win, including sabotage and retribution. This unusual, compelling teen romance draws readers in with fully developed characters navigating queer politics, race, and culture. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Numbers Are In: 2019 CCBC Diversity Statistics

Each spring, the CCBC releases the numbers of children's and YA books by and about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) received in the previous year. We're later than usual with the 2019 numbers due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, work-from-home limitations mean we can't update the publishing statistics on our website. In the meantime, we hope that this blog will serve as a space to announce the 2019 numbers and provide a few visuals.

Brief explanations of our numbers and charts are included in this post. For a more thorough explanation, please see the Diversity Statistics FAQ on our website.

For the first time this year, we are counting books by and about Pacific Islanders. Previously, these books were included in the Asian/Asian American count; we learned that that was not an accurate way to represent them. Thank you to Uyenthi Tran Myhre for correcting us. We retroactively examined the 2018 numbers in order to extract Pacific Islander numbers from Asian/Asian American numbers for comparison in this post.


Children’s Books By and/or About People of Color and from
First/Native Nations Received by the CCBC
2019

US Publishers Only
Last updated: June 15, 2020

Year
Books
Received
at CCBC
Black / African
American Indian / First Nations
Asian /
Asian American
Latinx
Pacific Islander
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
2019
3,716
212
452
28
44
379
334
225
235
4
5

All Publishers
Last Updated: June 15, 2020

Year
Books
Received
at CCBC
Black / African
American Indian / First Nations
Asian /
Asian American
Latinx
Pacific Islander
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
2019
4,034
219
472
45
66
428
363
238
237
4
5

Please note that a single book may be counted in more than one category (e.g., one book may have two protagonists, one Black and one Native; a single author may identify as Afro-Latinx). Therefore, "by" and "about" numbers in the charts will not add up to the total number of books received. Likewise, percentages will not add up to 100.

The two charts below compare 2019 to 2018 "about" numbers (US publishers only). We count a book as "about" Black/African, for example, if a primary character, significant secondary character, subject, and/or setting is Black/African.

Black/African 2018: 390. 2019: 452. First/Native Nations 2018: 34. 2019: 44. Asian/Asian American 2018: 284. 2019: 334. Latinx 2018: 243. 2019: 235. Pacific Islander 2018: 5. 2019: 5.

In the chart above, take a look at the first two bars on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), we received 390 books that had significant Black/African content, including primary characters, significant secondary characters, subjects, and/or settings. In 2019 (red), we received 452 such books.

This may seem like a significant increase, but it actually represents just a 0.5% change. Since the total number of books we receive varies from year to year, it is helpful to consider percentages rather than raw numbers when comparing years.

Black/African 2018: 11.7 percent. 2019: 12.2 percent. First/Native Nations 2018: 1 percent. 2019: 1.2 percent. Asian/Asian American 2018: 8.5 percent. 2019: 9 percent. Latinx 2018: 7.3 percent. 2019: 6.3 percent. Pacific Islander 2018: 0.1 percent. 2019: 0.1 percent.

Above, take a look at the two bars on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), 11.7% of the total books we received were about Black/African characters, subjects, and/or settings. In 2019 (red), that number increased to 12.2%.

Black/African 2018: 193. 2019: 212. First/Native Nations 2018: 23. 2019: 28. Asian/Asian American 2018: 342. 2019: 379. Latinx 2018: 190. 2019: 225. Pacific Islander 2018: 1. 2019: 4. White 2018: 2,803. 2019: 3,091.

The above chart shows the number of books by--which means written and/or illustrated--at least one individual who identifies with the specified category. Take a look at the first two columns on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), we received 193 books written and/or illustrated by at least one individual who is Black/of African descent. In 2019 (red), we received 212 such books.

Black/African 2018: 5.8 percent. 2019: 5.7 percent. First/Native Nations 2018: 0.7 percent. 2019: 0.8 percent. Asian/Asian American 2018: 10.3 percent. 2019: 10.2 percent. Latinx 2018: 5.7 percent. 2019: 6.1 percent. Pacific Islander 2018: 0.03 percent. 2019: 0.1 percent. White 2018: 84 percent. 2019: 83.2 percent.

The above chart shows the percentage of the total number of books we received. Take a look at the first two columns on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), 5.8% of the total books we received were written and/or illustrated by at least one person who is Black/of African descent. In 2019 (red), that number dropped slightly to 5.7%.

Now let's take a closer look at primary characters (US publishers only). Below are the number of books that had at least one primary character who could be identified as belonging to one of the following categories.

Please note: These numbers are not the same as our "about" numbers. In addition to counting primary characters, our "about" numbers also include significant secondary characters, subjects, and/or settings. The numbers below are only primary characters.

Black/African: 441 (11.9% of total books)
First/Native Nations: 37 (1% of total books)
Asian/Asian American: 325 (8.7% of total books)
Latinx: 197 (5.3% of total books)
Pacific Islander: 2 (0.05% of total books)
Brown skin (see note below): 343 (9.2% of total books)
White: 1,555 (41.8% of total books)
LGBTQIAP+: 115 (3.1% of total books)
(Dis)ability: 126 (3.4% of total books)
Animal/Other: 1,085 (29.2% of total books)

Note: "Brown skin" indicates books in which the primary character clearly has brown skin (indicated by illustrations or text), but there are no specific racial or cultural signifiers in the illustrations or text.

For ease of comparison, here are the above percentages in a bar chart:

African: 11.9 percent. Native: 1 percent. Asian: 8.7 percent. Latinx: 5.3 percent. Pacific Islander: 0.05 percent. Brown skin: 9.2 percent. White: 41.8 percent. LGBTQ+: 3.1 percent. (Dis)ability: 3.4 percent. Animal/Other: 29.2 percent.

What does all of this mean? Our numbers continue to show what they have shown for the past 35 years: Despite slow progress, the number of books featuring BIPOC protagonists lags far behind the number of books with white main characters--or even those with animal or other characters. Taken together, books about white children, talking bears, trucks, monsters, potatoes, etc. represent nearly three quarters (71%) of children's and young adult books published in 2019.

Finally, as indicated by the addition of the Pacific Islander category in 2019, we are still learning as we do this work how best to do this work. We are grateful for the feedback and voices of Arab and Arab American colleagues on Twitter and elsewhere who have helped us understand the importance of adding Arab/Arab American as a category; this will be included and reflected in our statistics for 2020 and beyond.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Book of the Week: What Sound Is Morning?


by Grant Snider

Published by Chronicle, 2020
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4521-7993-3

Ages 2-5




“In the first morning light, all is quiet. Or is it? Listen. What sound is morning?” Starting in the home, the pages move through the sounds of morning: lights clicking on, a baby babbling, sprinklers hissing, a rooster crowing. As the world wakes up, other sounds join in: a man shouting after a bus, cars and trucks entering the city, hungry stomachs rumbling, frogs plopping into a stream. City sounds, home sounds, and country sounds flow seamlessly from one to the next as the sky brightens, before asking the reader to greet the new day and “fill the world with your song.” A saturated color palette showcases yellow, orange, pink, and red expanding across the horizon, while buildings and streets remain dark green and blue in the foreground. (MVL) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 8, 2020

Book of the Week: Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You


by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Little, Brown, 2020
294 pages
ISBN: 978-0-316-45369-1

Age 12 and older




This necessary book for our time is labeled a “remix” of Kendi’s 2016 National Book Award winner published for adults, Stamped from the Beginning. It’s an accurate description: Reynolds’ adaptation is intimate and conversational, a significant departure from the original compelling but academic tome. Frequently speaking directly to young readers in his distinctive and recognizable voice, Reynolds makes hard truths accessible in the tone of a trusted friend breaking it down with honesty, and even occasional humor. After documenting the origins of racist ideas, he introduces three categories of people based on their beliefs: racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. This is followed by a chronological exploration of the racial politics of United States, from the Puritans through the Obama era. Along the way are examples of historical people, from Cotton Mather to W.E.B. DuBois to Angela Davis, showing how each exemplified the definitions of racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. The narrative stops just before 2016, but readers have been given the foundation to begin to evaluate our current era on their own. Although Stamped is a real departure from Reynolds’ fiction and poetry, it still bears his trademark style, which will make it extremely appealing to his fans, and may even win him some new ones. An Afterword written directly to teens is especially moving and powerful. (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 1, 2020

Book of the Week: When Stars Are Scattered


by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Published by Dial, 2020
264 pages
ISBN: 9780525553915

Ages 9-13




Separated from their mother when soldiers attacked their Somalian village, Omar and his brother, Hassan, live in a sprawling refugee camp in Kenya, watched over by loving foster mother Fatuma. Fiercely protective of Hassan, who has a developmental disability and experiences seizures, Omar hesitates to begin school, but excels in his classes once he does. School provides structure to the otherwise long, monotonous days, which become years, of waiting: to be called for an interview, to be told they can be resettled in North America or Europe, to be reunited with their mother, whose fate is unknown, although Omar searches for answers every chance he has. This personal memoir, a collaboration between Omar Mohamed, who now works in refugee resettlement, and graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson, details the specifics of Omar and Hassan’s lives, including their friendships with others in the camp. In doing so, it illuminates the hardships of refugee life in general—crowding, food and water shortages, hopelessness—the challenge for people with disabilities, and the particular situations of girls and women. Colorful, expressive illustrations, a satisfying ending, and Mohamed’s illuminating author’s note with photographs, balance the very real trauma and pain of this moving story. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 25, 2020

Book of the Week: Red Hood


by Elana K. Arnold

Published by HarperCollins, 2020
368 pages
ISBN: 9780062742353

 Age 14 and older




Bisou was a little girl when her father killed her mother. Now 16, she's lived with her maternal grandmother, Mémé, ever since. When Bisou finally gets her period, she makes the discovery in an intimate moment with her boyfriend. Embarrassed, she runs off into the woods. In the dark, she senses something chasing her and discovers it’s a wolf, which Bisou kills in self-defense. The next morning, the naked body of one of her male classmates is found. It turns out Mémé has a secret: With her monthly blood came a calling and heightened ability to hunt men whose violence transforms them into wolves. Now Bisou bears the gift and the burden of being a hunter. Bisou, who is white, has always known that some boys and men consider it their right to claim girls and women—body and being--as their own; she remembers her mother's bruises, and finding her bloodied body. Still, she’d never considered speaking out or taking action. Her classmate Keisha does speak out, challenging the behavior of one boy in particular whose harassment of Maggie, another classmate, is frightening. Folkloric elements amplify the harshest truths of misogyny, as well as female fear and rage, in this gripping tale. Bisou’s and Mémé’s hunting, while unsettling, is in response to violent, deadly intentions. The power of friendship, solidarity, and truth-telling among girls and women, and supportive boys and men, also resonates across this tense, arresting work. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 18, 2020

Book of the Week: Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices


Edited by S. K.  Ali and Aisha Saeed


Published by Amulet, 2020
272 pages
ISBN: 9781419740831


Ages 9-12




The children, young teens, and families at the center of each slice-of-life offering in this vibrant collection come from many backgrounds and live in many different places. Each of them feels distinct, yet familiar and recognizable as they navigate feelings common to many children and teens regardless of faith or circumstance, such as being the new kid at school; or longing for traditions not to change; or feeling like an outsider in one’s own extended, bicultural family. Yet their Muslim faith is an essential part of their identities, and there is power in the breadth of these accumulated stories, all of which are set during one of the two Eid observances: Eid-al-Fitr or Eid-al-Adha. Vivid depictions of food, family dynamics, and friendship are woven into these tales full of hope and generosity that feels genuine to each story. In their introduction, editors Aisha Saeed and S. K. Ali write that this collection offers the “cozy and familiar” for many Muslim readers, while also extending an invitation to non-Muslim readers to join in on the celebration of Eid. This open-hearted offering, comprised mostly of prose stories but also including comics and verse, succeeds beautifully on both counts. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 11, 2020

Book of the Week: Cat Dog Dog

by Nelly Buchet

Illustrated by Andrea Zuill

Published by Schwartz & Wade, 2020
32 pages
ISBN: 9781984848994

Ages 3-7


This fresh, warm, funny account about members of a newly configured household learning to get along revolves around two dogs (one small, one large) and a cat. The small dog belongs to a white man. The large dog and cat belong to a brown-skinned woman. When the man moves in with the woman, the three animals have some adjusting to do. In a picture book perfect for beginning readers, the spare, repetitive text is limited to labeling the animals on each page (e.g., "Dog," "Dog Cat," "Dog Cat Dog"), incorporating an occasional surprise word related to several scenes ("Bird," "Frog"), including the surprise in the final one. The spirited ink and digital illustrations are full of humor in details familiar to any pet owner (3 boxes labeled “Dog Box” for the move; the animals' manic pursuit of one another; bed wars), while visual clues mark the passage of time across the seasons as the trio gradually moves from suspicion and uncertainty to a tight-knit bond. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 4, 2020

Book of the Week: Dragon Hoops

by Gene Luen Yang
Color by Lark Pien

Published by First Second, 2020
446 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62672-079-4

Age 12 and older


Part memoir, part history, and part riveting sports story, Yang opens his humorous graphic novel with a confession: He’s always hated sports. He’s classed himself as a nerd since childhood and even as a high school teacher hangs out with other nerds. In fact, it seems all the teachers hang out with kindred spirit groups from their own teen years. But he’s drawn to cross the divide by the power of story in 2015, when he begins hearing about the school basketball team’s current season. Seeking out the coach, he discovers they have a lot in common. Yang moves back and forth between chronicling the rest of the season—he becomes an avid follower and fan—and the lives of African American Coach Lou Richie, Richie’s former coach and mentor, Mike Phelps, and key players on the Bishop O’Dowd varsity team, the Dragons. As he relates pivotal moments that spurred each person forward, he weaves a narrative offering great depth in terms of story, plot, and characters, integrating historical context—about basketball, about society—throughout an account that is also an action-packed sports story. Yang also displays the creative side of what he’s doing as a writer and an artist, openly grappling with ethical decisions about who to include and how much to tell—or not to tell—in this fascinating, funny, and ultimately triumphant book. (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 27, 2020

Book of the Week: Leaving Lymon


by Lesa Cline-Ransome


Published by Holiday House, 2020
198 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4442-7

Ages 8-12




With his daddy in Parchman Farms, the state penitentiary, Lymon is being raised by his grandparents in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After his beloved Grandpops dies, his aunts move Lymon and his grandmother, who can barely cope with her own needs let alone Lymon’s, to Milwaukee. When his daddy is released, Lymon hopes they’ll be together again, but Daddy makes promises he doesn’t keep, arriving in Milwaukee one day and leaving the next, always on the road for musical gigs. Lymon’s mother, who left him as a toddler, reappears on the scene when his grandmother’s health declines. She takes him to live with her in Chicago, where he has two younger half-brothers and a domineering stepfather. African American Lymon, who first appeared as a school-yard bully in last year’s Looking for Langston, is seen here from the inside out. A story spanning a decade, from 1938 to 1947, shows Lymon’s anger and sadness build across years of abandonment and, eventually, physical abuse. The constant in Lymon’s life is music, which he “has an ear for,” and it’s music that brings respite, and adults stepping up that bring Lymon hope, by story’s end. Cline-Ransome demonstrates her genius for depicting setting and fully fleshed out characters with an economy of style that makes for a quick, yet deeply satisfying reading experience. (KTH)  ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Book of the Week: Hike


by Peter Oswald


Published by Candlewick Press, 2020
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5362-0157-4


Ages 4-7


A brown-skinned father and his child (who could be any gender) wake up before dawn, eat breakfast, pack their car, and head out of the city and into the wilderness, where they spend the day hiking. There are more than a few dramatic challenges for the adventuresome duo in this not-quite-wordless story, from crossing a creek on a single log bridge to scaling a steep rise. There’s plenty of nature appreciation, too (e.g., they stop to watch an eagle and later plant a small tree). Most of all, there is the camaraderie of father and child. Except for the judicious use of onomatopoeia, the muted watercolor illustrations tell the story of their day, which ends back at home as they place a selfie they took into a family scrapbook, next to photographs of three earlier generations of father/child hikers.  (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 13, 2020

Book of the Week: A Game of Fox & Squirrels

by Jenn Reese


Henry Holt , 2020

224 pages 

9781250243010


Ages 9-12


Samantha, 11, and her sister Caitlyn, 14, have just arrived at their aunt Vicky’s in Oregon, but Sam is already thinking about going home. Caitlyn, who has a broken arm, seems content. After Aunt Vicky gives Sam a beautiful old card game called “Fox & Squirrels,” Sam encounters the dashing fox and friendly squirrels from the game in the woods. She’s determined to succeed at the challenges the Fox sets to earn the Golden Acorn, with which, he explains, Sam can wish herself back home. But the fox’s requests are morally questionable and increasingly disturbing, while his unpredictable personality and the way the squirrels strive to not upset him mirrors a truth that Sam doesn’t want to admit—the truth of why they’ve come to stay with Aunt Vicky and her wife, Hannah: Sam and Caitlyn’s dad is dangerous in the exact same way, and Caitlyn’s broken arm was no accident. A book that explores child abuse and its impact within a family—their mother’s ineffectiveness at protecting them, Caitlyn’s efforts to protect them both—and across generations—Vicky and their dad were both victims as children--is tense but also beautifully reassuring, especially as Vicky and Hannah provide safety and support for the sisters. The line between fantasy and reality is never delineated in a book about a white family that allows readers to mine their own meanings from its depths. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center




Monday, April 6, 2020

Book of the Week: Prairie Lotus


by Linda Sue Park

Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020

260 pages
 978-1-328-78150-5

Ages 8-11



Hanna’s mama died when Hanna was 12. Now 15, she and Papa have left Los Angeles far behind to start over in the growing frontier town of LaForge, Dakota Territories, in 1880. Hanna has two strong desires: to get her diploma, and to make dresses for the fabric shop Papa is opening. Papa, who is white, doesn’t want Hanna to sew for the shop. He and Mama owned a dress shop, but because Mama was Chinese many assumed he married her to get free labor. Hanna knows her parents had a marriage of love and a true partnership in business, but Papa is worried what people will think. And when most of the other families pull their children out of school in protest after Hanna starts attending, Hanna isn’t sure people will even come to the shop once it opens. There are numerous similarities to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books here, many of them captivating. There are also critical, intentional differences. Racism on the frontier is openly acknowledged and examined through Hanna’s experiences and observations, while the Native people (Oceti Sakowin/Lakota) Hanna meets are portrayed with respect and dignity. Park writes about the Little House books, which she loved as a child, in an author’s note that begins, “I wrote Hanna’s story as an attempt at a painful reconciliation.” Familiar or not with those books, readers will find this one a deeply satisfying story with a resilient, winning protagonist. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 30, 2020

Book of the Week: Not So Pure and Simple



by Lamar Giles

Henry Holt, 2020

400 pages

ISBN: 978-0-06-234919-4


Age 13 and older


Del has had a crush on Kiera since grade school, and she’s finally boyfriend-free. He volunteers to join a youth group at church in which Kiera is involved as a way to impress her, only to discover that he’s unwittingly committed to a Purity Pledge: No sex until marriage. At Del’s high school, a rash of recent pregnancies has been perceived by some, including the media, as being the result of a pact among the teen moms to get pregnant (in truth it was the coincidental outcome of an unscheduled week of cancelled school and boredom). While the new moms, including Del’s friend Shianne, are often shamed, the fathers remain largely unscathed in public opinion; meanwhile, sex education in the curriculum is under fire. Del’s voice and situation are laugh-out-loud funny as he is drawn into the Purity Pledge group despite himself (it turns out they’re all hungry for accurate information about sex). Del, African American, is hopeful he has a chance with Kiera based on their exchanges; then she starts dating a guy Del can’t stand. After all he’s done to impress her, Del wonders, how could Kiera reject a nice guy like him? A novel that never loses its sense of humor asks essential questions about the sense of male entitlement that permeates Del’s perspective, and the damaging impact of toxic masculinity in our culture on both girls and women and boys and men. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 9, 2020

Book of the Week: A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas



by Evie Robillard

Illustrated by Rachel Katstaller


Kids Can Press, 2020

48 pages

ISBN: 976-1-5253-0056-1


Ages 5-9


A pitch-perfect picture book about Gertrude Stein’s life in Paris focuses on her art collection, her writing, her famous Salon, and her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Not a word is wasted in this engaging, masterful account. Robillard’s well-rounded portrait of Stein (and Toklas, too) includes just the right excerpts from Stein’s writing to give readers a sense of her singular style, her wit, her Steiny-ness. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations flawlessly echo the tone of the poems that comprise the text—both playful and profound, rather like Stein and Toklas themselves. They also extend the sense of place that was so important to Stein and her kindred spirits: Paris, specifically 27 rue de Fleurus “…a place that was once filled with paintings— / bright, bold, wild, impossible paintings. / And in that place lived a woman named Gertrude Stein / and her brother Leo. / And later on, her partner, Alice.” ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 2, 2020

Book of the Week: Women Artists A to Z



by Melanie LBarge

Illustrated by Caroline Corrigan


Published by Dial, 2020

56 pages

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7


Ages 6-11


In this accessible and arresting alphabet book for older readers, the alphabetical elements highlight artistic themes, media, and techniques as a way to engagingly introduce racially and culturally diverse women artists. “A is for Angel” in the paintings of Mirka Mora. “H is for Horse” in the art of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. “I is for Ink” in the work of Elizabeth Catlett. “P is for Pottery” in clay pieces by Maria Martinez. “V is for Veil” in the paintings of Helen Zughaib. Each page spread focuses on a single artist or, in one case, group of artists (“Q is for Quilt” features the Gees Bend Collective) and provides a brief introduction to their work. Short biographical sketches of the artists appear at volume’s end. (Most but not all lived during the 19th and 20th centuries). Matte, digitally rendered illustrations provide a unifying visual sense across the volume even as they also emphasize distinctive elements called out in the artists’ work. A framing visual story shows a girl and woman viewing a “Women Artists A to Z” exhibit. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 24, 2020

Book of the Week: Black Is a Rainbow Color



by Angela Joy

Illustrated by Ekua Holmes


Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2020

40 pages

ISBN: 9781626726314


Ages 4-10


A distinctive narrative begins with a young girl observing that there is no color black in the rainbow. She then notes things around her that are black—a crayon, her friend’s braid, the tires on a bicycle. As “black” subtly shifts to “Black,” the observations turn into marvelous references to African American culture. “Black is the robe on Thurgood’s back. Black are the trains on the railroad tracks. Black are the eyes on the salted peas. Black are the shadows of ooo-old magnolia trees.” An author's note places each allusion in historical and cultural context while a timeline also at volume’s end documents the use of terms such as “Negro,” “colored,” “Afro-American,” and even Malcolm X’s “so-called Negro,” concluding with “Black is back” and a note under “2020” stressing the importance of capitalizing Black “in the spirit of the W.E.B. DuBois campaign.” Ekua Holmes’ stunning illustrations visually extend this immersive, celebratory look at African American identity. For example, “Black is side-walking in spit-shined shoes” shows a sidewalk composed of historical newspaper headlines and stories, and her paintings echo stained-glass church windows throughout. As richly symbolic as they are, neither art nor text loses sight of the original child, whose final observation, “Black is a rainbow, too,” is set against an illustration showing Black people with a range of variations in their hair and skin. (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 17, 2020

Book of the Week: Cast Away: Poems for Our Time



by Naomi Shihab Nye


Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2020

156 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6-290769-1


Age 9 and older


Lifelong litter picker upper Naomi Shihab Nye documents and reflects on the leavings of our existence in keenly observant, probing, unabashed poems. Nye ruminates on the explosion of trash in our world and on related environmental issues, such as plastics in the ocean; on how so much is designed to be thrown away after one use (plastic straws and bottles, post-it notes …); on the mindset of those who litter, assuming picking up is someone else’s job. She also looks at the concept of “trash” through other lenses: the way something found can be a treasure or a surprise or a brief, mysterious glimpse into another life; how people are sometimes viewed as throw-away; and trash talk, including online: “People finding one another across the miles. / And plenty of trash scattered across the air. / You could disappear in there, / get lost so easily, / hours compressing into clicks.” (from “Lately the Moon”) There is despair, not only because of the trash itself but in references to disregarded lives, especially in today’s political climate, but she finds respite in quiet moments (“It’s fine not to know how to solve everything / It’s still a room to sit in”—from “Pine Cones”) and hope in surprise, and in children and teens today: “Nothing a child / ever does / is trash. / It is / practice.” (“Nothing”) She closes with “Ideas for Writing, Recycling, Reclaiming.” ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 10, 2020

Book of the Week: Honeybee



Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

by Candace Fleming

Illustrated by Eric Rohmann


Published by Neal Porter Books / Holiday House, 2020

40 pages

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4285-0


Ages 4-8


Drawing on the innate drama of the natural world, Fleming and Rohmann recreate the life cycle of a single honeybee from the moment she emerges from the egg to her death 35 days later. Before she even flies, there are so many specialized jobs within the hive—cleaning the nursery, nursing larvae, tending the queen, building the comb, handling the food, guarding the hive—before she finally flies off triumphantly on a double fold-out page that shows her over a field of flowers. Fleming perfectly paces the succession of in-hive jobs by concluding the description of each one with a child-friendly pattern: “It is time for her new job. Flying? [page turn] Not yet …” By the time she is ready to gather nectar, the honeybee has lived nearly three-quarters of her life. Rohmann’s larger-than-life watercolor illustrations give a great sense of bee’s perspective and of being right in the hive or atop a flower with them. The back matter includes a clear diagram of a bee, info on how to help honeybees, and more about different kinds of bees, their dances, and additional resources. (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 3, 2020

Book of the Week: A Map into the World



by Kao Kalia Yang

Illustrated by Seo Kim


Carolrhoda, 2019

32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3836-8


Ages 5-9


A quiet, contemplative story in which a Hmong American girl’s year of simple, joyful discoveries culminates with a gift for her grieving neighbor. Paj Ntaub and her family have just moved into a new house with a garden and a swing. Across the street are elderly white neighbors Bob and Ruth, who often sit on a bench in their driveway. The family’s first year in their new home is a busy one. Paj Ntaub has brand-new twin brothers, and she wants to show them everything: the pretty leaf that she finds in autumn, the snowball that she brings inside in the winter, the worm (named Annette) that she plucks off the sidewalk in spring. From her window, she watches as family arrives to comfort Bob when Ruth passes away. When it’s warm enough, she and her mother venture across the street to visit with Bob, who is sitting alone on his bench. With sidewalk chalk, Paj Ntaub draws an elaborate “map into the world” on his driveway. The route wends its way past her garden, Annette smiling on the sidewalk, and her own home before ending at the street, where the world awaits Bob when he is ready for it. Honor Book, 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © 2020 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, January 27, 2020

Book of the Week: For Black Girls Like Me


by Mariama J. Lockington



Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2019

321 pages

ISBN: 978-0-374-30804-9



Ages 9-13



Makeda (Kade), 11, and her family have moved across country to New Mexico for her dad’s musical career. Kade knows the adjustment, as always, will be complicated by questions: She is Black, and the rest of her family is white. Sometimes not even her family understands what she must navigate. “We don’t see color,” says her mother, which just makes Kade angry. When one of the popular girls at her new, private school uses the N-word, the school downplays it, focusing on Kade’s angry response. Their mother pulls both Kade and her older sister, Eve, out of school. Her decision to homeschool them is rash, spur-of-the-moment, but their mom’s been doing that a lot lately, causing tension between their parents. When summer comes and their dad leaves on a 6-week trip, Kade and Eve must deal with their mom’s increasingly erratic behavior on their own. Their mom has big ideas and big plans, until she falls hard. In the aftermath of her attempted suicide, she is diagnosed as bipolar and begins getting treatment. But everyone in their family has healing to do. A story that deftly explores big themes—transracial adoption, mental illness, racism—does so without minimizing any, integrating them into a hopeful, wonderfully realized exploration of a family learning how to talk about all of it. The relationship between Kade and Eve is especially compelling as the novel unfolds. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Johnny's Pheasant Is Winner of 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award




Full Press Release

Johnny’s Pheasant, written by Cheryl Minnema, illustrated by Julie Flett, and published by University of Minnesota Press in 2019, is the winner of the 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.

This gorgeous, graceful story about a Native family, written by an Ojibwe author and illustrated by a Cree-Métis artist, is both satisfying and surprising. The drama and wonder unfold in a spare, beautifully crafted text when Johnny and his grandma find “a small feathery hump” near the ditch. It’s a pheasant. Grandma guesses it was hit by a car, but Johnny is certain it’s only sleeping. The perfectly paced narrative is full of humor, warmth, and a deeply child-affirming sensibility. “Hoot! Hoot!”

The 2020 Charlotte Zolotow committee named five honor books: 

  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan)
  • A Map into the World written by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Seo Kim (Carolrhoda / Lerner) 
  • Pokko and the Drum written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster)
  • Saturday written and illustrated by Oge Mora (Little, Brown)
  • Truman written by Jean Reidy and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins (Atheneum / Simon & Schuster)

 The committee also named 7 highly commended titles: 

  • Beware of the Crocodile written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura (U.S. edition: Candlewick Press)
  • Daniel’s Good Day written and illustrated by Micha Archer (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial Books / Penguin Random House)
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle written by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña (Kokila / Penguin Random House)
  • One Fox: A Counting Thriller Book written and illustrated by Kate Read (Peachtree)
  • Small in the City written and illustrated by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House) 
  • The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter written and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin (Readers to Eaters)

The award is named for the late Charlotte Zolotow, author of more than 70 books for young children, and a distinguished editor of books for children and teens at Harper.