Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December '16 Round Up: Six New Racially Diverse Books for Storytime




All the book/title/author information is also listed at the end. Enjoy!


Can One Balloon Make and Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards and Jeff Newman (2016)
Visiting the zoo with his mother, Evan keeps asking if x amount of balloons will make each animal fly. Mom, thinking he’s referring to toys, confirms yes to each question—and doesn’t notice Evan handing balloons to the animals in the cages as she ties balloons to the small plastic toys. As mom releases the small plastic toys, Evan looks over her shoulder at the real life animals serenely taking flight as well. Both agree that it’s amazing, although mom is none the wiser.

Themes/topics: zoos, imagination, balloons, miscommunication, fantasy, flying

Sample text:
“Can two balloons make a hippopotamus fly?”
“For you, Evan, two balloons should be plenty to make a hippopotamus fly.”


Look Up! By Jung Jin-Ho (2016 US copyright) #ownvoices

A lonely young girl in a wheelchair looks down on the tiny people in the street below, wishing for someone to look up. Eventually, another child does look up, and after a shouted conversation he lays in the street so she can see more than the top of his head. Others follow suit, and the two new friends are shown in the end on street level, looking up with giant smiles. While this mostly wordless book is best suited for very small groups, it has so much potential for art programs, particularly when talking about perspective and seeing things differently. I think it would pair well with Wenzel’s They All Saw a Cat.

Themes/topics: friendship, perspective, seeing

Sample text from three spreads:
Come down! You can’t see well from up there.
You’re right! I can only see the tops of people’s heads!
[wordless spread with boy laying down]
[another person walks up to the boy] Why are you lying on the sidewalk?
So the girl up there can see me.


Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena Illustrated by Angela Dominguez (2016) #ownvoices
Marta just might be the cutest human character of 2016. She’s open, delightful, and authentically childlike. The repetitive language and simple storyline teaches opposites while still providing dramatic tension, making this an excellent storytime choice. With her backpack and adventurous spirit, she may remind readers of another Latina explorer, but Marta stands tall on her own merits. Top notch!
Themes/topics: opposites, animals, snakes, exploring
Sample text from two spreads; the Spanish words are in a different color and font.
To a bug, Marta is grande. Big, very big.
To an elephant, Marta is pequeña. Small, very small.


A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery (2016)
This one might be hard to pull off in storytime, but it’s SUCH a delightful exploration and visual representation of the process of marks turning into letters turning into words turning into a story. There just has be a program in this book! The story is mostly told through dialogue, which can be difficult to pull off as a read aloud—but again, it’s just so clever, delightful and inspiring!
Themes/topics: writing, stories, siblings, imagination, reading

Sample text from one spread, which switches between text and dialogue bubbles.
“What are you doing?” I ask one day while we’re sitting at the kitchen table.
“I’m writing a story.” [answers his sister]
“I wish I could write a story”
“You CAN. It’s easy.”
“How? I know my letters but I don’t know man words.”
“Write what you know. Every story starts with a single word, and every word starts with a single letter. Why don’t you start there, with a letter?”


The Class by Boni Ashburn and Kimberly Gee (2016)
This rhyming text compares and contrasts the experiences of a group of kids as they get ready for school. Fun, funny, and poignant, this is a great fit for any “first day of school” storytime. The kids are both racially and economically diverse, and the illustrations avoid stereotypes between the two. Fun to read in a group, but extra rewarding to close readers who can track individual children throughout the book and follow their individual stories, this one is worth putting on your radar.
Themes/topics: school, getting dressed/getting ready, growing up
Sample text:
Ten have bed head. Nine use combs. One tries brushes…sprays…and foams…
Two put ribbons in their hair

Four wear day-old underwear. Five can’t find a matching sock.
One yells, “Don’t you ever knock?!” [baby sis opens bathroom door]


When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz illustrated by Melissa Manwill (2016) #ownvoices?
Penny’s mother works at the White House. Penny hears the term “POTUS” a lot, and imagines that POTUS is a kind of monster—which leads to much confusion when she comes face-to-face with the real POTUS—who turns out to be a woman. Penny and her mother have dark hair and eyes, and may read as “white” to most viewers, but close readers will note that while Penny and the POTUS’ skin is a similar shade, Penny’s skin tone is more brown than the President’s, and considerably darker than some of the other White House staff, particularly the gardener.
Themes/topics: Presidents, The White House, voting, elections, women, empowerment, monsters

Sample text from three spreads:
“Penny looks at the woman. “You’re POTUS?”
The woman nods, smiling. “POTUS is a nickname people use for me,” she says. “It stands for President of the United States.”

“You’re the president?” Penny asks. “But you’re a—“
[the president is shown in a power pose with a word bubble that reads, “That’s right, I’m a—“]

“Human,” Penny says.
She feels a little disappointed.

Can One Balloon Make and Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards and Jeff Newman (2016)
Look Up! By Jung Jin-Ho (2016 US copyright) #ownvoices
Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena Illustrated by Angela Dominguez (2016) #ownvoices
A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery (2016)
The Class by Boni Ashburn and Kimberly Gee (2016)
When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz illustrated by Melissa Manwill (2016) #ownvoices?

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