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.