Archive for the 'Nonfiction' Category

Juliet Menéndez’s Latinitas

h1 Thursday, January 21st, 2021


(Click image to enlarge)


 
In the introduction to her book, Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, February 2021), author/illustrator Juliet Menéndez writes that she wishes she had, as a child, discovered the women she features in this book. She adds: “When I first had the idea … I was working as an art teacher in Upper Manhattan. Like me, most of the students at the time were bicultural and had families from places like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. But as I walked through the halls, the posters on the walls were of historical figures like Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Dalí. I asked myself: What if some fresh, new faces, that looked more like my students, were up on these walls?” This was the birth of her book, which features women from all over Latin America and the U.S. and includes life stories that go back as far as the 17th century.

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Speaking the Unspeakable

h1 Tuesday, January 5th, 2021


“Once upon a time on Black Wall Street, there were dozens of restaurants and grocery stores. There were furriers, a pool hall, a bus system, and an auto shop —
nearly two hundred businesses in all.”


 
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre respresents one of the most heinous occurrences of racial violence in American history, yet students won’t read about it in most history textbooks. Acclaimed poet and author Carole Boston Weatherford addresses the story of the massacre and what spawned it in her newest picture book, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and on shelves early next month — Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (Carolrhoda Books). It’s a tour de force, this one.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #724: Featuring Stephen T. Johnson
and Romana Romanyshyn & Andriy Lesiv

h1 Sunday, January 3rd, 2021


— From Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv’s Sound: Shhh … Bang … POP … BOOM!


 

— From Stephen T. Johnson’s Music Is …


 
Who’s up for exploring the world of sound with me today? I’ve got two 2020 picture books here — Stephen T. Johnson’s Music Is … (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, October 2020) and Romana Romanyshyn’s and Andriy Lesiv’s Sound: Shhh … Bang … Pop … BOOM! (Handprint, October 2020). The latter was originally published in Ukraine and is translated by Vitaly Chernetsky.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #719: Featuring Jason Chin

h1 Sunday, November 29th, 2020



 
Jason Chin’s newest picture book, Your Place in the Universe (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, September 2020), is the kind of book that tiny-me would have looooooved. As a child, I’d sit and think about the immeasurable vastness of the universe and wonder what, if anything, was at the edges of it. Chin’s book is all about scale, size, and distance — on our own planet and in the universe as a whole. And he expertly, and beautifully, structures this small book about such a big cosmological subject — no small task, indeed.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #716: Featuring This Is Your Time

h1 Sunday, November 8th, 2020



 
I don’t have illustrations for you today, dear Imps, as I normally do. But I want to take a moment to highlight a book that will be on shelves next week — This Is Your Time (Random House), written by civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges.

This is a short (64 pages) and small but powerful book. Ruby Bridges, as you know if you know your American history, was the first Black student—at the age of six—to desegregate an all-white elementary school. We’ve all seen the images of Ruby being escorted by four federal marshals on her first day at William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans on November 14, 1960. Ruby was the subject of the Norman Rockwell painting on this book’s cover.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #714: Featuring James Otis Smith

h1 Sunday, October 25th, 2020



 
Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons, released by Toon Graphics last month, is the first book that James Otis Smith has both written and illustrated. It’s a book that shines a light on Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons—in three separate sets of comics. But there’s also a good deal of additional information provided, particularly in the book’s detailed backmatter. It all adds up to a book that gives readers a perspective on U.S. history that is not often seen and spotlights Black figures in history that have been routinely overlooked. The caption for the painting A Dash for the Timber (1889), which is included in the book’s introduction, says it all: ” … [R]enowned painter of the West Frederic S. Remington shows cowboys as a group of white men. In fact, a large number were Mexican or Native American, and as many as one-third were African American.”

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Reading Recommendations Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 1st, 2020



 

I love to be a part every July of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature’s (CCYAL) “Best of the Best” conference at the University of Tennessee, in which I gather with other librarians and book critics to discuss the most outstanding books we’ve seen in that year. Because of the pandemic, we didn’t gather this year. But after asking each of us presenters to name a few favorite books of the year, the CCYAL still created a list. If you’d like to see everyone’s recommendations (books published, generally speaking, in the latter part of 2019 and first half of 2020), the list is here. You can also click on the image above to be taken to the list.

Happy reading!

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #707: Featuring Rachelle Baker

h1 Sunday, September 6th, 2020


“Some words, when they CONNECT with the right people, become almost like potions or spells. These words become magical. That’s the way it was with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and verbs. She understood, almost intuitively, how and why verbs are not just words about being, but doing. Verbs are words that move the world forward.”


 
Let’s take a look today at a new picture book about politician Shirley Chisholm, who made history in 1968 by becoming the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. This biography—Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb! (Dial, July 2020), illustrated by Rachelle Baker—comes from author Veronica Chambers, who writes in a closing “personal note” that, as a child growing up in Brooklyn, she remembers seeing posters (“SHIRLEY CHISHOLM FOR CONGRESS”) in her neighborhood. She writes that “because of Shirley Chisholm, I thought, ‘I could be a congresswoman.’ After all, I passed a picture of a woman who looked a lot like me, who had that job.”

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Thanks to Frances Perkins:
An interview with Kristy Caldwell

h1 Thursday, August 13th, 2020



 
I’m pleased today to welcome illustrator Kristy Caldwell to 7-Imp as part of a blog tour for Deborah Hopkinson’s Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights (Peachtree, August 2020). Hopkinson frames this biography of the groundbreaking workers-rights advocate, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor (the first woman appointed to a presidential cabinet) for twelve years, with “math questions” for the young readers at whom the book is aimed: “How many yeras will it be until you turn sixty two?” and “What year will that be?” You’ll want to thank Frances Perkins, Hopkinson writes, when you get to that age.

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The Bookman in Zoomland:
A Guest Post from Dean Schneider

h1 Tuesday, August 4th, 2020


A spread from Kwame Alexander’s award-winning The Undefeated,
illustrated by Kadir Nelson: “… who shine / their light for the world to see
and don’t stop / ’til the break of dawn.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 
Here’s something a bit different today: I’m pleased to welcome a guest post from Dean Schneider, who teaches English and history at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. In his 45-year teaching career, Dean has taught in a variety of schools; served on several book award committees, including the Newbery and Caldecott; and written for several magazines.

Dean is a friend, and during a recent (socially-distanced, of course) visit, he told me about the books he has planned for a history course he’ll teach this school year. I am always interested in hearing Dean talk about his work—he’s an outstanding teacher, and his students are lucky to have him—but I was especially intrigued by what he had to say about teaching during a pandemic and how he wants books to remain in the forefront. As a school librarian by training, I often seek the thoughts of talented teachers like Dean. (For instance, see this recent piece from Donalyn Miller on the importance of continuing to read aloud to students during these uncertain, unsettled times of returning to school during a pandemic.) And when Dean agreed to let me host his thoughts here at 7-Imp, I was delighted.

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