Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia.
Kane Miller, EDC Publishing, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2010. (First published in London in 2007.)
Elementary chapter book fiction, 112 pages.
Lexile: 670L .
AR Level: 4.1 (worth 1.0 points) .
NOTE: This is the first book in the Anna Hibiscus chapter book series.
Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her mother and father and baby brothers Double and Trouble.
I’d heard about this author for a while but could not get any of her books. Once I found them on Amazon, it took some time to determine the order. This is the first chapter book in the Anna Hibiscus series (Atinuke also has other books).
“The barbed-wire fences, the guards, and the surrounding wasteland were always there to remind the detainees that they were exiled, incarcerated Americans, who didn’t know whether they would ever be allowed to return to their former homes.” page 71
Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels. (Revised Edition)
Hill and Wang, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 2004. (Orig. pub. 1993)
Nonfiction, 162 pages including index, appendices, and further reading.
An overview of the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII, including anti-Asian prejudice before the war, and eventual reparations 50 years after the camps.
Every American should read this book. Daniels distills decades of scholarly research on this and related topics into a succinct and incredibly readable overview. Nonfiction normally takes me much longer than fiction, but I suspect that I could have read this in one day had other obligations not interfered.
William Wells Brown is an author with prolific and varied output. He’s written a novel, collection of hymns, memoir, travelogue, and the 1874 book Painter cites, titled The Rising Son; or, the Antecedents and Achievements of the Colored Race. I have yet to find that one online but am sure it must exist.
Aside from those new-to-me reads, this book also got me thinking about the concept of whiteness. Not just racially, but also in art (since race and art can intersect beyond literature).
“In the end, the only certainty may be that America had lost one of its most original and outspoken leaders.” page 101
Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography by Andrew Helfer, art by Randy DuBurke.
Serious Comics, Hill and Wang, Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York, 2006.
Graphic novel biography, 102 pages plus extras.
Lexile: not leveled
AR Level: 6.6 (worth 3.0 points) .
A black and white comic-style graphic novel biography of Malcolm X.
For some time now, I’ve been trying to find a great middle grade children’s biography of Malcolm X. I’ve gotten some from the library, and purchased a few. So far none have greatly impressed me, which is why I’m just now getting around to reviewing them. Children’s biographies of Malcolm X have a tricky balance to strike. Islam must be included, since it was an important part of his life and work. His militant views (and later ideas about a more hopeful society) can’t be left out, but should be presented in a way appropriate for children. It’s a tall order.
“at least they made me feel I was part of his family. Until that afternoon, no one in my family had paid me that kind of visit since I’d got married.” page 7
Stay with Me: a novel by Ayobami Adebayo.
Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Realistic fiction, 260 pages.
Stay with Me is the story of a marriage, a love match gone wrong. It asks how much we’re willing to, or will sacrifice for family, for ourselves, for our partner, for a child.
This book is a rollercoaster in all the best ways. I don’t entirely know how to explain. The love and marriage of Yejide and Akin are the center of the book, but this isn’t really a romance novel. Rather, this book reads like an impossible true story.
Our tenth board book will bring joy to your heart.
And has narwhals!
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrations by Julie Flett.
Orca Books, 2016.
Board book, 24 pages.
Lexile: AD280L ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
This simple book asks us “What fills your heart with happiness?” and gives many examples of things that might make us happy.
Julie Flett is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. She has a great sense of color and space. As soon as I saw the review at AICL, I wanted this book! Most of the libraries I work at don’t circulate board books, so this was high on my wish list, but it took a while to arrive which is why this and We Sang You Home were not in use sooner.
So, a while back I mentioned that when I started reviewing board books, it was difficult to find diverse board book lists. That wasn’t so much because they don’t exist, as because most of the ones I found have problematic content, or are board and picture books mixed together. Here are a few pretty good ones.
This is important because most other lists (including some I’ll share) have poor indigenous representation. I always look for a review from AICL or an #ownvoices reviewer, and check if the author/illustrator are Native.
While it wasn’t recommended as a “diverse books list”, I loved that most of the books on this list are diverse, including Hawaiian, Native, and specialty religious books that are diverse.
And finally, Drivel and Drool has a list broken down by ethnicity of the main character, with again the caveat to please check the Native books against AICL’s listing as some are problematic. I like that this book includes some nonfiction board books.