…storytime, books, and ideas

Posts tagged ‘diversity’

Looking for diversity

I saw thjazz dayis 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. surfs

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.

ottersOtters 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 littleredLittle 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.

A few for summer

Only a few to recommend this week, but they are all winners.

Picture booksthunder boy

Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown Kids

What a power combo for a picture book! Alexie has a pitch-perfect voice for the main character, and Morales has a gorgeous palette & joyful line to match the tone. In this story of a boy who wants his own name, Alexie gives us a peek into a father-son relationship that just happens to be from a Native viewpoint. (Alexie is from the Spokane tribe, and so we may intuit that their naming traditions are portrayed here.) This book is a lovely look at how a child feels about his own selfhood; it just happens to contain a cast of diverse characters, beautifully portrayed in Morales’ cartoon-realism style. If you use it in a classroom, read this link.


gardenerThe Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers, Simon & Schuster

Terry & Eric Fan are Canadians – so if you are looking for some Canadian content, shout hooray, because this book is a real looker. I am hooked on the art- shades of green and blue and grey alternating with sepia-toned pages move the story along. And the story is a fine as the pictures. A sad, grubby street is suddenly brought to life by a man who creates topiary during the night. A young boy follows him, and learns the trade. The transformation lasts as the Night Gardener passes his secrets along to this small, lonely boy. A gorgeous book, at storytime or one-on-one.

For teachers….pinny

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, Groundwood

In four short chapters, this little charmer follows Pinny and her three friends as they pick berries on a summer’s day. They meet a seagull, and Pinny teaches them (and the reader) a lesson in patience. Teachers could use this as a writing example—the whole book takes place in one day, with several events that tie together. Child-like illustrations add ambiance to the text, but do little to advance the story. Put it on your suggested Summer Reading list.

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