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


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