Poetry Friday ~ PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

Friday, November 9th, 2012

[Time is running out to enter our Tenth Anniversary Draw – the deadline is tomorrow – so if you haven’t already, take a look here for the chance to win some fantastic prizes for you or your school or library]

Sally Ito is a poet, editor and translator living in Winnipeg, Canada, where she also teaches Creative Writing; she is currently writer.  Sally was  a book reviewer and contributor to the PaperTigers blog until earlier this year and wrote many of our contributions to Poetry Friday during that time (which is why we decided to post Sally’s selection on a Poetry Friday day!).  So we are delighted to welcome her back with her Top Ten list of favourite books, encountered through her work with PaperTigers.

As a prelude, do listen to Sally reading the title poem from her collection Alert to Glory (Turnstone Press, 2011) in the video below.

My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

When I joined the Paper Tigers blog contributor team in 2008, the thing I was most excited about was getting to read and review great multicultural books for kids.  What I discovered was a plethora of wonderful books that reflected who I was culturally and who my community was, culturally, as well.  From my short time with PaperTigers, these are my ten picks of multicultural books for kids.  It’s a little Japan-heavy, I realize but I hope you indulge my bias!

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin, 2008) – I found this quirky picture book amazing and it was an inspiration for me when I was teaching to take my creative writing students out into our immediate neighborhood (an historic district called The Exchange) in Winnipeg to see what we could make of our environment in a creative way.

Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa, illustrated by Ruth Ohi (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2008).  This book is about a cherry tree and a Japanese Canadian girl who grew up with it and was separated from it by the circumstances of the Second World War.  This book was a personal favorite since the author’s history reflects my own family’s in Canada.

Granny’s Giant Bannock by Brenda Isabel Wastasecoot, illustrated by Kimberly McKay-Fleming (Pemmican, 2008).  This is one hilarious book about a Cree-speaking grandmother and her grandson Larf who accidentally bakes a giant bannock by misunderstanding his grandmother’s instructions on how to make the doughy confection from scratch.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano (Scholastic, 2009).  This book is a translation of a popular fantasy series that was also made into a TV series.  The story is set in early imperial Japan and features a woman warrior named Balsa who protects the son of the emperor, Chagum, as he carries within him a spirit from another dimension who must lodge in a human host in order to survive.

The Song of the Cicada by Shizue Ukaji.  This is a Japanese book, yet untranslated into English, that I discovered while living in Japan in 2011.  It’s an Ainu folktale illustrated with textile creations made by Ukaji herself.  It’s the story of a woman who prophesies disaster – namely a tsunami – to her people and what becomes of her as a result.  A timely read for the year I was visiting the country.

The Fox’s Window and Other Stories by Naoko Awa, translated by Toshiya Kamei.  This is a collection of short stories spanning a career of writing by Japanese author Naoko Awa.  Magical, enchanting and absorbing are the words I’d use to describe these stories, which have also been referred to as ‘modern fairytales.’

David’s Trip to Paraguay by Miriam Rudolph.  A bilingual book with German and English text, this story is about a young Mennonite boy named David who travels to Paraguay from Canada in the late 1920s.  Rudolph, an artist, charts the arduous journey with vivid and colorful illustrations of the things David sees on the trip.

Gifts: Poems for Parents edited by Rhea Tregebov (Sumach Press, 2002).  We say we read to our children for their sake, but it’s just as true that we read to feed ourselves, too.  Poetry is a kind of bread for the soul, and this particular treasury of poems by Canadians really fed me as a poet and a parent.

Bifocal by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters.  This is one book I read in part with my son, who later went on to have the book assigned to him for his English class in junior high school.  It’s about two teenagers – Haroon and Jay – who have to negotiate their cultural identities during a tense lockdown situation at their high school.

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie.  I started covering graphic novels for PaperTigers a few years ago as I felt this was a developing trend in books for young people.  And this book was one of my favorites!  Aya is about a young woman growing up in Cote D’Ivoire, looking to become a medical student, but whose life is inevitably shaped and influenced by those around her with less lofty goals than her.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ed at Think Kid, Think – head on over.

PaperTigers 10th Anniversary ~ Top 10 “Books that Open Windows” selected by Deborah Ellis

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Today we bring you the first in a series of “Top-10” posts as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations.  First up is a selection of “Books that Open Windows” by award-winning writer Deborah Ellis.

Deborah’s latest novel came out last month: My Name Is Parvana (Groundwood Books, 2012) is the long-awaited sequel to her acclaimed The Breadwinner Trilogy.  As well as fiction, Deborah has written non-fiction highlighting global social issues from children’s perspectives, such as war, AIDS and bullying, and giving affected children a voice.  You can read PaperTigers’ interviews with Deborah here and here.


Top 10: Books that Open Windows by Deborah Ellis

Jean Little is a wonderful Canadian author of books for young people. She has a special place in my heart because when I was a child, my parents were friends with a friend of Jean’s – Jane Glaves – and I would get Ms. Little’s books for Christmas. One of my favorite Jean Little books is Look Through My Window, where one character talks about looking through someone’s window into who they are and what their lives are like.

The following books are ten I would recommend to anyone interested in seeing what’s inside someone else’s window.

1.   From Anna, by Jean Little ~ Novel for young people about a German family who comes to Canada just before the start of World War 2. The youngest, Anna, has struggles with her eyesight, her awkwardness and figuring out where her place is in her family and in this new world.

2.   All of a Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor ~ First in a series of books for young readers about a Jewish family in turn of the century Brooklyn. As the girls go about the adventures of their lives – such as earning money to pay for a lost library book – the family celebrates the calendar of holidays. As a Protestant-raised small-town girl, this was my first window into a different religion, and set off a respect and fascination for Judaism that continues to this day.

3.   Obasan, by Joy Kogawa ~ Moving telling of a young girl’s experience in a Japanese internment camp in Canada during World War 2.

4.   Nobody’s Family is Going to Change, by Louise Fitzhugh ~ Novel for young people about a girl in New York who can’t make her father see her for who she is. She grows to learn about other kids in other families and their struggles.

5.   A Dog on Barkham Street and The Bully of Barkham Street,  by Mary Stoltz – Look at the same story from two points of view. They taught me how to look for more than one side of the story.

6.   Mighty Be Our Powers, by Leymah Gbowee ~ A powerful memoir of a woman who survived the Liberian civil war and won the Nobel Prize for her work to rebuild the country.

7.   Amazing Grace, by Jonathan Kozol ~ About homelessness and poverty in America and the power of the education system to hurt or help the children in its care.

8.   Shannen and the Dream for a School, by Janet Wilson – part of the Kids’ Power Book series for young activists, this is a profile of Shannen Koostachin and her First Nations community of Attawapiskat as they try to get a safe school built.

9.   Bury Me Standing, by Isabel Fonseca ~ A moving, detailed history of the Roma people.

10.   Grey is the Color of Hope, by Irina Ratushinskaya ~ Prison diaries of the Soviet poet who spent seven years in the Gulags. One of the few records we have about what that time and place was like for women.

Anti-Bullying Week is Just the Beginning…

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Last week was Anti-Bullying Week in Canada and in the UK, where there is currently a move to make the focus on this important issue last for the whole of November.   But of course, the issues highlighted don’t disappear when you’re not looking at them – in fact, bullies are usually very clever at keeping their actions hidden.  The message still needs to be got across at all times that bullying is not acceptable.  We adults have a responibility for teaching respect for others and ourselves, both through formal education and in the example we set in our own behavior.

I have recently been reading two books in which young people tell of their experiences of bullying in their own words, accompanied with photographs and names in most cases.

The first, We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying is by Deborah Ellis (Coteau Books, 2010), who is well-known for drawing attention to the plight of children around the world caught up in mess caused by adults, both in her fiction (The Breadwinner Trilogy, set in Afghanistan; and the Cocalero novels, set in Bolivia), and in her non-fiction (Off To War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children; Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees).  We Want You to Know brings together the stories of young people aged 9-19 who have been bullied, who have bullied others, and who “have found strength within themselves to rise above their situations and to endure.”  They are all from Ellis’ “little corner of Southern Ontario” in Canada, following her involvement in a local Name It 2 Change It Community Campaign Against Bullying (and, indeed, royalties from the sale of this book go to the organization).  At the same time, interspersed with the longer accounts from the Canadian children are shorter highlighted statements from children across the world – Angola, Japan, Madagascar, South Korea, Uganda, the US.  Yes, bullying happens everywhere.

The book is divided into five main sections, You’re Not Good Enough, You’re Too Different, You’re It—Just Because, We Want to Crush You, and Redemption.  Each account has a couple of follow-up questions, asking “What Do You Think?”, and then there are discussion questions at the end of the sections.

The other book is Bullying and Me: Schoolyard Stories by Ouisie Shapiro with photographs by Steven Vote (Albert Whitman, 2010).  Again, it features first-hand accounts of young people who the introduction reminds us, “had a hard time reliving their experiences”, while recognising the importance of not remaining silent, to remind others who are bullied that “you’re not alone.  And it’s not your fault.”  Each account is followed by useful summarising statements from Dr Dorothy Espelage, a psychologist specializing in adolescent bullying.

Both these titles are aimed at young readers – but make no mistake, they are hard-hitting books that deliver a punch at any adult complacent enough to think that bullying is not a relevant issue in their community.  Where it’s not happening, it’s because an effective anti-bullying policy is in place AND adhered to.  What comes through time and time again in these accounts is the ineffectiveness of schools to put a stop to bullying – either the problems are trivialized or too much onus is put back on the victims to work through the situation, rather than dealing with the bullying that is the actual source of any problems.  Ellis says in her introduction:

Many kids talked about how teachers in their school seem to do nothing to stop their tormentors.  I know that teachers do a lot, but rules of confidentiality prevent them from sharing information about all their efforts.  But somehow we must find a way to show the victims of bullying that they are being heard.

As an adult reading these books, here are a few of the quotations from We Want You to Know that made my blood run cold:

Sometimes the teachers tell me, “If you don’t want to get beat up, stay inside for recess. [..] My mom tries to help.  She calls the school and she calls the principal, but the principal doesn’t believe her, even!  The principal will say, “You can’t prove Adam was hurt on school property, so there’s nothing we can do about it.”

They started calling me names again.  I told the teacher and the principal, and the teacher said, “Well, if you stop bugging them, they’ll stop bugging you,” but I’m not the one who is bothering anyone.

The principal said she’s not going to do anything more because I’ve had so many problems with this before, she’s starting to think it’s me that’s the problem.  She says I’m old enough now [12] to walk away and ignore it.

My mom and dad went to the school a few times to talk to the vice principal and the principal.  They were sort of supportive, but they never called it bullying.  They have a zero tolerance for bullying, but it happens.  And when it happens, they don’t call it bullying so they can say that bullying doesn’t happen.

Of course, the main focus of these accounts is what actually happened to the children, how they coped, and how it has affected them and their aspirations for the future.  For children who find themselves the victims of bullying, these books will be an invaluable tool – reading about someone’s similar experience will help them not to feel so alone, and they will hopefully also pick up some useful pointers for how to deal with their own situations.  In schools and youth groups, individual stories can be used as the focal point of a forum/assembly on bullying in general or in response to a specific incident.  (And I also recommend Suzanne Gervay’s I Am Jack as a class fiction readaloud – as well as every teacher’s and parent’s bedtime reading).

Bullying and its effects must be taken seriously.  It’s not about putting out the fire when an incident occurs.  The whole ethos of a school and the way it deals with the unhappiness, fears and inadequacies of bullies and bystanders as well as victims needs to be a high priority across the board.  Schools aim for excellence in learning, but if the safety and welfare of their students are not taken seriously, not only do those students fail to thrive, but effective learning is impossible.  Bullying is a whole-school issue: every adult who works in a school should be signed up to and implementing a school’s anti-bullying policy – and so should the children.  Anti-bullying week is a start, but the work doesn’t finish there…

Q&A with Patsy Aldana of Groundwood Books, publisher of "My Little Round House"

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Groundwood Books logoEstablished in 1978, Groundwood Books is a small children’s book publisher, associated with House of Anansi Press, that specializes in Canadian authored books (with a special interest in books by First Nations authors), bilingual books in English and Spanish, translations from around the world, and a non-fiction line aimed at young adults. Their catalog features a long list of award-winning titles that reflect individual experiences and are of universal interest.

Patricia (Patsy) Aldana, founder and publisher of Groundwood Books (and president of IBBY, the International Board on Book for Young Readers, since 1997), answered our questions about My Little Round Rouse, one of the seven titles selected for inclusion in our Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set Donation Project; her commitment to publishing books by First Nations authors; the multicultural titles on their Fall list, and more.

In our series of interviews with the publishers of the books selected for our Spirit of PaperTigers project, I normally start by asking how the book in question came about as a project for the publisher. Since we already know the answer to this question in relation to My Little Round House, both from our interview with author Bolormaa Baasansuren and from translator Helen Mixter’s article, My Little Round House: The Journey of a Picture Book from Mongolia to Canada, we’ll start by asking…

PT: What in particular attracted you to My Little Round House?

PA: I thought it was a really special book about people whose lives are very different from ours. I also thought it was a very unique look at a baby’s life, a life that despite being nomadic seemed wonderfully cosy and safe.

PT: The books you publish often tell the stories of people whose voices are underrepresented. What first motivated you to start on this path and how do you manage to stay true to your mission?

PA: Being a Guatemalan, I guess that seeing the world through the eyes of the marginal has always come naturally to me. There are so many books published from and for the mainstream that, for me, focusing on underrepresented authors and illustrators was one way to justify being a publisher. As a small Canadian house, this focus has also been a way for us to distinguish ourselves from the huge multi-nationals with whom we have to compete.

PT: How did the decision to stop selling rights to the American market and to start publishing your books in the US come about?

PA: As US publishing changed from the editor-driven houses that I first came to know (Margaret K McElderry, Dorothy Briley, Susan Hirschman, Phyllis Fogelman, etc.), it became harder and harder to sell rights to our books in the US. At the same time Canada began to cut funding to school libraries and as a result (more…)

Deborah Ellis, Groundwood Books and USBBY Present a Fundrasing Event for the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

PaperTiger’s current issue features an excellent interview with internationally acclaimed author, humanitarian and peace activist, Deborah Ellis. Deborah has traveled the world to meet with children affected by poverty, war, racism and illness and to hear their stories. Her fiction and non-fiction books give us a glimpse into the lives of children from Afghanistan (The Breadwinner Trilogy), Bolivia (I am a Taxi, Sacred Leaf), the Middle East (Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak) and Southern Africa (The Heaven Shop).

Deborah’s latest book, Off To War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children is a collection of interviews with children of Canadian and American soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her next book, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees, is due out in March, 2009. Royalties from both books are to be donated to the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY. This Fund is a program designed to bring books to children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster. The two main activities supported by the Fund are the therapeutic use of books and storytelling in the form of bibliotherapy, and the creation or replacement of collections of selected books that are appropriate to the situation. IBBY hopes that the program will not only provide immediate support and help, but that it will also make a long- term impact in the communities, thus supporting IBBY’s goal of giving every child the Right to Become a Reader.

Tomorrow, January 23rd, from 7:30 – 9pm, Deborah and Groundwood Books, in partnership with USBBY, are presenting a special fundraising event for the Children in Crisis Fund at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver, Colorado. Attendees will hear Deborah reflect on her conversations with the children whose words and experiences are shared in her most recent books and will have the opportunity to chat with her. Patsy Aldana, president of IBBY and publisher of Groundwood Books, will speak briefly about the IBBY bibliotherapy programs already underway. Signed copies of Deborah’s books will be for sale and all proceeds from the event will go to the Children in Crisis Fund.

January 2009 Events

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

(Click on event name for more information)

Golden Feather Literature Festival~ ongoing until Jan 31, Mongolia

5th Tales in the Park Festival~ ongoing until Feb 7, Bangkok, Thailand

Discovering Ethnic Minorities – Storytelling Workshops for Children~ ongoing until May 31, Hong Kong

2008 Cybils (the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) Finalists Announced~ Jan 1

Costa Book Awards Winners Announced~ Jan 6, London, United Kingdom

7th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities~ Jan 9 – 12, Honolulu, HI, USA

Mitali Perkin’s Secret Keeper Book Launch Party and Writing Workshop~ Jan 15, Palo Alto, CA, USA

CISA World Symposium and Storytelling Festival: Indigenous Voices, Ancient Trade Routes~ Jan 15 – 17, San Leandro, CA, USA

Storytelling by Winners of the First Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative 2008~ Jan 17, Singapore

Newberry Library Lecture – Babes in the Wood: The Death of Childhood and the Birth of Modern Children’s Literature~ Jan 17, Chicago, IL, USA

Presentation Ceremony for the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation~ Jan 20, London, United Kingdom

20th Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities~ Jan 20 – 25, Eatonville, FL, USA

Presentation by Award Winning Author and Literacy Advocate David Bouchard~ Jan 21, Port Moody, BC, Canada

Jaipur Literature Festival~ Jan 21 – 25, Jaipur, India

SCBWI Tokyo Presents Alison Lester: From Arnhem Land to Antarctica as a Children’s Author and Illustrator~ Jan 23, Tokyo, Japan

Deb Ellis and Groundwood Books Partnership with USBBY in a Fundraiser for IBBY’s Fund for Children in Crisis~ Jan 23, Denver, CO, USA

2nd Children’s & Young Adults’ Book Fair~ Jan 23 – 26, Marousi, Greece

American Library Association (ALA) 2009 Midwinter Meeting~ Jan 23 – 29, Denver, CO, USA

ALA Youth Media Awards Announcement~ Jan 26, Denver, CO, USA

Yabun 2009: Celebrating Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Cultures~ Jan 26, Sydney, Australia

No Name-Calling Week~ Jan 26 – 30, USA

Family Literacy Week~ Jan 26 – 31, Province of British Columbia, Canada

Family Literacy Day~ Jan 27, Canada

SCBWI South Africa – Cape Town Presents What’s Happening in the SA Educational Book World~ Jan 28 , Cape Town, South Africa

3rd International Galle Literary Festival~ Jan 28 – Feb 1, Galle, Sri Lanka

Kolkata Book Fair~ Jan 28 – Feb 8, Kolkata, India

Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award Entry Deadline~ Jan 30, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

SCBWI Annual Winter Meeting~ Jan 30 – Feb 1, New York, NY, USA

Books at Bedtime: Nim and the War Effort

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

In her recent interview with PaperTigers, Deborah Ellis talked about the background to her most recent book, Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children. This is a very thought-provoking book for children aged 9+ about the effects on the children left behind of having parents fighting overseas. In a way, these are children whose day-to-day existence is not outwardly affected by conflict and yet on whose lives the consequences of war can and often do have a profound effect.

A book I have read again recently to my children is Milly Lee’s Nim and the War Effort, illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Sunburst/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002). Set in San Francisco during the Second World War, it tells the story of Nim, a little girl who is intent on beating her arch enemy, Garland Stephenson, an unprincipled bully, from winning the school drive to collect old newspapers “for the war effort”. She strikes lucky when she is offered a garage piled high with bundles of newspapers and resourcefully calls the police to help her to get them to the school in time…

Nim’s rather strict upbringing is ostensibly unaffected by the fact that the Second World War is going on – but it pervades her life nevertheless. Her grandfather wears a lapel pin of crossed American and Chinese flags; and she is fully aware of what certain symbols around her mean – like a gold star on a white background in a front window, to show that “the family who lived there had lost someone in the war”. At the same time, their deeper significance is perhaps lost on her. She is too young to understand that the lapel pin is there to protect her family from the prejudice against Americans of Japanese ethnicity at that time; nor what the emotional impact of losing a loved one in a war overseas actually means. However, (more…)

Refugee children and their stories

Friday, June 20th, 2008

The Suitcase StoriesI recently found out, via the Library Boy blog, that the UN Refugee Agency has teamed up with Google maps to allow internet users to locate refugee camps in remote areas of Chad, Iraq, Colombia, Sudan’s Darfur region, etc. Now with a few clicks one can “see, hear and start to develop an emotional understanding of what it’s like to be a refugee.”

Reasons for displacement and relocation, as history and the news show, can be various (war; religious and cultural persecution; intolerance on grounds of race, sexual orientation, etc) and the challenges facing refugee children, in particular, are many, since they find themselves swept up in the consequences of adult conflicts and intolerances they don’t necessarily understand. World Refugee Day, coming up on June 20, is a good reminder for us to do what we can to educate others about these issues and to support efforts to lighten the plight of refugees around the world.

The term “refugee” is one that, unfortunately, still carries many negative connotations for both governments and individuals, being often associated with distrust, rather than distress. Books, as usual, can help counteract stereotypes and promote true understanding, so here are some titles that come to mind on this difficult topic – because the earlier we start children on the path to empathy, the better:

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed (Eerdman, US 2008) Ages 4-8

This book was inspired by a refugee girl’s question to co-author Khadra Mohammed about why there were no books about children “like her” in the US. You can read our review here. And on the author’s website you can read about how the book was received by a group of children at a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Refugees by David Miller (Lothian, Australia 2004) Ages 5-8

In this perfect introduction for very young children to the plight of refugees, two wild ducks become refugees when their swamp is drained and they have nowhere to swim, eat or sleep. Their search for a new home takes them to areas where they are not welcome or where they cannot find shelter or food. The ducks are close to giving up when “the intervention of an unknown person changes their fate.”

“The Breadwinner” Trilogy (The Breadwinner (2000), Parvana’s Journey (2002) and Mud City (2003) by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books) Ages 9-12

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Set in Afghanistan and inspired by the author’s experiences helping at an Afghan refugee camp at the Pakistan border, in 1997, when she had a chance to interview many women and children. Royalties from the books go to the Canadian not-for-profit organization “Women for Women” (formed just after the Taliban take-over of Kabul) which promotes education for women and girls in refugee camps in Afghanistan.

The Suitcase Stories: Refugee Children Reclaim Their Identity by Glynis Clacherty (Double Storey Books, 2008) Ages 12+

To help a group of unaccompanied refugee children deal with the trauma of their flight and arrival in South Africa, the author, who is a researcher specialized in participatory work with children, provided them with suitcases on which to paint their personal stories and recent histories. Photographs of the painted suitcases and accompanying accounts of hardship, resistance and hope make this touching, challenging book.

This slideshow, from a 2007 exhibit called “Through the Eyes of Children” presents sixty photographs taken by children and young adults ages 12-20 at a refugee settlement in Uganda. These images capture the pain and struggles of life as a young refugee and, by seeing things through their eyes, we come closer to understanding what it means to walk in their shoes, and to realizing what we can do to help.

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 4!)

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

I Am a Taxi by Deborah EllisOur fourth geographical area for our readaloud PaperTigers Reading Challenge book this month is the Americas and we chose Deborah Ellis’ I Am a Taxi. I was slightly concerned that it might prove too much for Little Brother (aged 7): but by making sure that we read the last few chapters during week-end morning “book sessions” rather than at bedtime, we had plenty of discussion time (drugs…) and no nightmares! Diego, the book’s 11-year-old hero, became a real person to my two boys. They absorbed details about Bolivia; they compared details of Diego’s life with their own; and they goggled at the encounters with nature in the jungle. It was salutary for me to observe that they did not really pick up on the sinister side to Smith until it was completely obvious, but trusted him as someone who was kind to Diego, which in the immediacy of dealing with jungle beasties, he was. This did, however, make the climax particularly shocking for them. It is a book that I think they will both pick up and read for themselves in a few years’ time – for now, it has been a very exciting readaloud for us all.

For more, take a look at what Shelf Elf and Elisabeth thought about it too.

Little Brother’s book also came from the Americas – Napí by Antonio Ramírez and illustrated by Domi. Here’s what he has to say about it:

Napi by Antonio Ramirez and Domi

Napí is about a little girl called Napí who loves to dream. She is a Mazateca Indian from Mexico. She likes herons and I think it’s beautiful when it says the trees bloomed with herons and it’s also quite funny. Napí often dreams she’s become a heron. The river dresses itself in different colours. The river smiles up at her and the rocks on the riverbank form teeth. In her dream she was followed by the moon and carried by the river and the moon had a face and the river had hands. The pictures had all the colours I know and some I didn’t. They are so spectacular! I give it 10/10!

La Bloga and Gina MarySol Ruiz have both published reviews in the past too…

Meanwhile, Older Brother (9) travelled to the other side of the world and read Kakadu Calling by Jane Garlil Christophersen, an elder of the Bunitj clan in Kakadu National Park, Australia:

Kakadu Calling by Jane Garlil Christophersen

These adventure stories are all set in the Australian Bush. I liked the book because all the stories had animals in them – a snake, a dingo and a hermit crab – as I love animals and it’s wonderful to me to be reading about wild animals in Australia. My favourite story was about a young boy who had to wait four full moons until his parents came to pick him up from his grandparents but he decides he wants to get home sooner and runs away. On his way he meets some buffalos and he wakes up to find a snake slithering across his chest. He wanted to run but he heard his father’s voice telling him to stay really still.

So, we have but one more book to go in our Reading Challenge 2008… We’ve been taking it gently but I would say there’s still time to leap in there; and at the end of the month, be ready to tell us your final booklists. We can’t wait to hear from you!

A standing, well-deserved ovation

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Jane Addams AwardThis year’s winners of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature have received the online equivalent of a standing ovation. The all-star lineup of awardees is indeed a reason to cheer and celebrate: they are exceptionally wonderful stories about social justice, equality, world community and other timely subjects.

Among the winners, honorable mentions and commended titles are books that have been praised, time and again, since published last year, by those involved in the children’s book community, PaperTigers included. The following titles (and certainly the ones not mentioned by name in this post) are well worth visiting and revisiting:

Américas Award Winner
Yum! Mmm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings by Pat Mora, illus. by Rafael López

Américas Award Honorable Mention
Americas Award Little Night, by Yuyi Morales

Américas Award Commended Titles
My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo, by Maya Christina González (scroll down the page to see it featured as our Jan’08 book of the month)
Come Look With Me: Latin American Art, by Kimberly Lane
Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana, Que Sorpresa!, by Amada Irma Pérez, illustrated by Maya Christina González
Tricycle, by Elisa Amado and Alfonso Ruano
Sacred Leaf, by Deborah Ellis

Jane Addams Honor Book
Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins (more about Mitali and Rickshaw Girl here).