I saw this list from Huffington Post and was really hoping for a big pile of books with diverse characters. Now, some of the books are, I’m sure. But the stack I brought home was not as diverse as I had hoped. Ooh! I just discovered this blog– EveryDay Diversity. It will help in my quest for diverse books.
First up is Jazz Day by Roxanne Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo, published by Candlewick. I love it when a picture book introduces me to a bit of history that I had not heard of. This famous photograph of jazz musicians, taken in Harlem in 1958, is explored by Orgill in poetry form. Some of the poems really sing, and the artwork does swing, like a good jazz album should. My favourite page is the “Click” on a black background that opens out to the actual photograph. This book is great for classroom poetry or music lessons.
Kwame Alexander’s Surf’s Up is next in my pile of books. Illustrated by Daniel Miyares, published by North South. This is a boogie-board of a poem featuring Bro and Dude – two pals (who Miyares depicts as frogs) spending a day at the beach.Bro is completely engrossed in reading Moby Dick, much to the chagrin of Dude. All this happens in a very few choice words, which Alexander excels at. The story is added to by Miyares’ froggy buddies, with a large white whale looking on in the backdrop.
Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London is a fun one for nature lovers. I really enjoyed the illustrations by Meilo So in this one — her watercolour otters swoosh through the pages in swirly paint strokes.
This one isn’t going to appear on anyone’s list of great diverse books of the year, but I have to add Little Red by Bethan Woollvin into the mix. I love a good absurd book, and this one fits right into that category. This British import is almost your typical Red Riding Hood story, until Little Red makes the most of the wolf and ends up in a wolf suit by the end. And granny? No rescue in this version. Eaten by the wolf in one big gulp and one grand spread. For kids who love the scary books and can handle a bit of dark humour.
I’m looking forward to reading more picture books from this list, and definitely will be looking for more books with diverse characters.