Friday, October 21, 2016

October 2016: Spotlight on Julie Flett

We Sang you Home by Richard Van Camp illustrations by Julie Flett (2016) #ownvoices (board book)

I was overjoyed to get my hands on this much-anticipated new board book. Julie Flett is one of my favorite illustrators these days, and I loved this duo's previous collaboration, Little You. After getting my copy of We Sang You Home in the mail, I literally just ordered five more copies, because this is going to be my go-to baby gift book for the rest of my life. There are so few picture books by or with Native characters to begin with, and even fewer authentic/non-problematic ones, it can be really really hard to find anything to share in storytime. I will definitely share this one in my baby storytimes, and if I had smaller family storytimes I would share it there too.

We Sang You Home, like On the Night You Were Born (Tillman) before it, captures that mysterious juxtaposition we feel when we're celebrating a new life--the world is the same, the world is different.  The mundane occurrence of birth alongside the primal miracle of new life entering the world. One of my favorite things about this book is the respect and agency that the child is given. We Sang You Home celebrates the way that a family belongs to and has responsibility to and for each other.

We sang you from a wish. We sang you from a prayer / We sang you home and you sang back / 

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith illustrations by Julie Flett (2016) #ownvoices (board book)

I reviewed this on for SLJ pre-publication*, and fell completely in love. I recently ordered a set of 16 copies "My Heart Fills with Happiness" to add to my library's selection of books to share during baby storytime, since we follow a one-to-one model of book sharing with babies. If you have a smaller storytime, this would definitely work with older ages as well.

 *You can read my review on Amazon here.

When We Were Alone by David Robertson illustrated by Julie Flett (2017) #ownvoices

Watch out for Flett's March 2017 collaboration with David Robertson, When We Were Alone. Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature has seen it and reviewed it well, so I'm really looking forward to taking a closer look when it comes


Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Round Up

All titles are listed at the end of this post--enjoy!

The Storm by Akiko Hiyakoshi (2016, English ed.) #ownvoices

This is a first person story about a child who is looking forward to a day at the beach with their family. Unfortunately, an impending storm threatens their plans. As the grownups prepare for the storm, the child mopes and complains, and their feelings turn to worry and fear as the storm hits. Safe in bed, the child begins to imagine/dream that they have a ship with big propellers to drive the storm away.  They navigate safely through the darkness of the storm, waking to face a bright beautiful day--perfect for the beach. The dark charcoal illustrations and and first person narrative make this title better suited to intimate storytimes or a classroom setting, but it's definitely a title to make available in your collection or available for browsing after a related storytime.

Themes/Topics: weather, patience, dreams, beach, worry

Sample text--all the pages have about the same amount of text:

I just mope. 
"If we can't go tomorrow, we'll go next week," my mother says. 
I don't want to go next week. I want to go tomorrow. 

I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel (2016)

Winnie wants a monster more than anything. All her friends have monsters! She finally convinces Dad to take her to the Monsterium to pick out a monster-it's the best day of her LIFE!  Unsurprisingly, raising a baby monster is a bit more complicated than Winnie anticipated, but she's up to the task. This title is a super fun, energetic read, with lots of little asides that can be read or skipped depending on your audience (similar style to Bob Shea's Buddy and the Bunnies). Too long and detailed for toddler storytime, but a great fit for school visits and storytime groups that skew a little older. The silly monster names and zany illustrations combined with the tongue-in-cheek serious text really make this one a winner

Themes/Topics: monsters, pets, dads,

Sample text:

Papa has a crush on this little guy. Isn't he absolutely adorable? He's a baby Oogly-Wump. [illustration shows monster waving and saying, 'arf.'] 
According to my book, Oogly-Wumps are cuddly with red hair, and they smell a bit like pirate feet. 
"We'll name him Gus," says Papa. 

Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen illustrated by Pippa Curnick (2016) #ownvoices

'Can a frog stand on its head?' wonders the pig-tailed child standing on her head in her bedroom, stuffed frog on the floor nearby.  Mom comes in with news of bedtime, and "not yet" becomes the refrain as mom guides her through the nightly routine. Each new request from mom sparks rhyming flights of fancy taking the girl to the habitats of the animals seen in her home. This one is made for storytime, and is a welcome and natural addition to the bedtime book shelves.

Themes/Topics: bedtime, animals, imagination

Sample text from two spreads:
"See the clock? Hear it chime? You know it's bedtime!"
"But I must hug my pup!"
"And I must tuck you up!"
"I will kiss kangaroo!"
"NO, now I'll kiss you!
"Will you turn out the light, and hug me good night?"
"YES! I love you, I do!" 
"And I love you too! Night night!"

Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn illustrated by Ruth Hearson (2016)

The Leo books are all so perfect for baby and toddler storytimes, and this new one is no different.  First Leo is shown in the bathtub, and we're told that he loves water, like a little fish. Tomorrow Leo is going to swim class with Daddy. Simple text and endearing illustrations show children what to expect when they go swimming at a pool or to a swim class. I love the emphasis on family relationships these books always have, and although the text is straightforward,  it is still very warm, sweet, and useful.

Themes/Topics: swimming, water, dads, exercise

Sample text from two spreads describing the end of swim class:

Then Daddy is Daddy Fish, and Leo is Baby Fish. Leo loves that. /
Next it is off to the shower. They use sloshy soap...and sloppy lotion. 

Don't Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Neson, illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon (2016) #ownvoices

A young girl tells readers about her relationship with her Great Grandmother Nell--never 'grandma'--who doesn't hug or kiss, and expects her granddaughter to behave just so. The girl loves her elegant and fierce relative and is fascinated by her despite her rather prickly demeanor. The girl tells readers all about her great-grandmother, and as we learn about her, we can't help but be charmed as the girl finds ways to relate to and love Great-Grandmother Nell on her own terms.

Themes/Topics: Grandparents, family,

Sample text:

"Here," she says and dabs me with something that smells like vanilla. Then she sniffs me hard and loud with her wide nostrils. 

Great-Grandmother Nell is stern, but she is glamourous. Her skin is chocolaty brown, and her lips are painted ruby red. After she puts on lipstick, she presses her mouth to a tissue. She colors my lips too, then shows me her tissue trick. "To make sure you are wearing just enough, but not too much," she explains. I pucker my lips and kiss the air. 

Great-Grandmother Nell never kisses. 

Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2016)

Move over, Fancy Nancy, Mary has arrived! Following the cadence of the familiar rhyme, this Mary shepherds fashion rather than sheep. On her first day of school she is alarmed to find her nursery-rhyme classmates to be a fairly drab bunch, but jumps right in to educating her whole school in the art of natty dressing. But at recess, Mary and her elegant crew are faced with the realization that they are dressed all wrong for fun in the muddy playground. Never fear, Mary and her classmates waste no time abandoning their fancy dress for some good clean (messy!) fun. Ultimately, the message that Mary imparts on readers is that we can be complex people with many interests--even if those interests seem to be counter to each other.

Themes/Topics: clothing, first day of school, getting dressed, fancy, princess

 Sample text:

Mary had a little glam that grew into a LOT. And everywhere that Mary went, she wasn't hard to spot. 

But on the day she started school, she caught some by surprise. Sweet Mary shrugged and hugged her mom. I must accessorize!"

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (2016, English ed.) #ownvoices
I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel (2016)
Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen illustrated by Pippa Curnick (2016) #ownvoices
Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn illustrated by Ruth Hearson (2016)
Don't Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Neson, illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon (2016) #ownvoices
Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2016)