Picture Books

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

By Laura Veirs, Illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Chronicle Books, 2018
Picture book, non-fiction
Ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
ISBN 10: 1452139962
Additional Format: e-book
Honors: Junior Library Guild Selection

Libba celebrates the life and accomplishments of acclaimed African-American singer-songwriter and folk musician, Elizabeth Cotten, whose childhood curiosity and determination ignited a lifelong love of music and desire to create. Left-handed, she taught herself to play her older brother’s guitar by strumming the instrument upside down and backwards. She wrote one of the most famous American folk songs of her era, Freight Train, when she was just eleven years old and performed the song (and many other original songs) all across the globe. Growing up in the segregated South, she faced many obstacles in her life and overcame barriers and prejudices to pursue her craft. A believer in lifelong learning, Libba Cotten knew her life’s purpose was to play, and she won a Grammy when she was in her nineties!

This picture book biography is an infectious work of love and devotion by author and singer-songwriter Laura Veirs and artist-activist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. A gentle, magical reminder to never give up, Libba will inspire and uplift early bloomers, late bloomers, and bloomers of every sort. – GA


Mabel and Sam at Home: One Brave Journey in Three Adventures

By Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
Chronicle Books, 2018
Picture book
Ages 4-8, Grades K – 3
ISBN-10:1452148570
Additional Format: e-book

“I am in command and we are safe,” Mabel assures her little brother on their first day in their new home. In this three-in-one Moving Day adventure, Mabel and her little brother, Sam, dig deep and face their fears and uncertainty in a new home, where even the same old things are different. Big sis Mabel takes charge, using her imagination to help Sam settle into the new environment.

Play acting on the high seas, in the gallery of the New House Museum, and in outer space Mabel is the kind of older sibling every little brother or sister deserves – a dash of bossy, a dollop of bold, and heaping serving of sisterly devotion. Mabel takes the helm as she and Sam adjust to the new place. With tenderness and humor, Linda Urban’s clever and funny text combine with Hadley Hooper’s cheerful color illustrations to create an endearing portrait of a lovable, creative big sister. – GA


Sarabella’s Thinking Cap

By Judy Schachner
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017
Picture Book, ages 4 – 8, grades PK – 2
ISBN: 978-0525429180
Additional formats:  Kindle

“Sarabella had no time for small talk. In fact, she never talked much at all…because she was too busy thinking.”

Sarabella is a dreamer. Her days are filled with fascinating thoughts dancing through her imaginationdoodles of poodles, painted ponies racing across the sky, a garden growing animals, and even a bear with a good head for numbers. Her family, daydreamers themselves, see no issue with Sarabella’s way of thinking. Yet, there are times Sarabella’s imagination prevents her from concentrating on other important things, such as her schoolwork.  

But one Friday, Mr. Fantozzi, Sarabella’s teacher, sends the class home with the following task:

“A Penny for Your Thoughts: Draw a picture of your favorite daydreams.”

Sarabella is immediately excited by the assignment, but upon returning home, she realizes the challenge in trying to fit all of her ideas onto a piece of paper. With the help of an imagined whale, that suggests “to share it, you’ve just got to wear it,” Sarabella comes up with a solution. With only a brown paper bag and a few craft supplies, Sarabella creates a her thinking cap, “a spectacular collection of doodles and daydreams right on top of her head.”

With whimsical mixed-media collages, Judy Schachner brings us a heartwarming story of a little girl with a big imagination. Sarabella’s Thinking Cap shows the reader the value imagination and sends the message that creativity should be cultivated and nurtured.  -JD


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

by Eleni Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
Timbuktu Labs, Inc. 2016
Picture book
Ages 4 and up
ISBN 978-0120420476

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a unique collection of 100 stories about women around the world of all ages. It tells about each woman from the past and present who changed the world in some way with the actions they took despite the challenges. Each story is one page biography about the amazing feat each one conquered. There are stories about scientists, painters, chefs, dancers, boxers, writers and the list goes on and on. Every girl can find that one person who will inspire them to push the envelope and be extraordinary.  The illustrations are by 60 women artists from around the globe. All the styles are different and fascinating. They really add more dimension to the stories.

This type of book is perfect to get girls of all ages reading and learning about how one person’s ideas, thoughts, and struggles can change an entire culture. It sparks the interests to go out and read more about these strong women as the book just gives them a small taste of each woman’s life. It is meant to inspire us all, but especially our young girls, to dream big- be confident- find our strengths- and help our fellow people. EM


What Will It Be, Penelope?

By Tori Corn, Illustrated by Danielle Ceccolini
Sky Pony Press, 2013
Picture Book
Ages 3-6, Grades PreK-K
ISBN 978-1620875421
Other formats: eBook

Have you ever had a hard time making decisions? Ever have a child melt down because you made a decision for them or know someone who does? This book is for you.

Penelope is a little girl who is indecisive about everything because she likes everything she sees. Every day there are decisions to be made. What should I wear, what do you want to eat? Where do you want to go? What do you want to play or do? Poor Penelope just can’t make all these decisions. Everyone gets frustrated with her as she tries to figure it out. Finally, everyone starts making decisions for her- even her best friend Eliza. Soon Penelope isn’t making any decisions on her own. She learns the hard way that not making any decisions has consequences.  Through a lot of trial and error and not liking some of the decisions made for her, Penelope finally starts making some choices of her own. They may not be all that great a choice, but it is her choice and she learns to feel confident and proud by sticking to the decisions she makes. Now she thinks she is a great thought processor and learns from her mistakes.

What Will It Be, Penelope? Addresses the importance of making your own decisions and sticking to them and sometimes learning from the mistake of poor decisions. Children will recognize the struggles Penelope has as something they have probably gone through as well. Sweet, funny, and a great life lesson learned at an early age. EM


Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos


By Monica Brown, Illustrated by John Parra
NorthSouth Books, 2017
Picture book, non-fiction
Ages 4 – 8, Grades PreK – 2
ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Honors: Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor * 2018 ALA Notable Children’s Book 2018  * New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2017

As a child, Frida counted among her closest companions two spider monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn! As friends, they inspired her and easily took on human characteristics in her paintings.

It is through this lens that author Monica Brown introduces us to the life of Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), one of the most curious and talented 20th-century artists, who would inspire generations. Frida was the daughter of a German/Hungarian photographer and a Mexican mother who encouraged her to observe nature, enjoy animals, paint, and follow her dreams and imagination. Due to polio and a bus accident, she lived in physical discomfort most of her life, but art provided an escape.

Brown’s beautiful and bold biography works in perfect orchestration with the illustrations of John Parra. His understanding of Mexican heritage and love of Frida’s paintings and palette invite us to become part of her world and environment. We discover the personalities of each of her pets and how they contributed to her life and art.

Frida’s story is about how art can heal and is integral to daily life, and Brown’s interpretation of this famous artist’s story captures this essence with brilliance. Girls everywhere, artistically inclined or not, will be creatively inspired on every page. – PP


Willow

by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan, illustrated Cyd Moore
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008
Picture book
Ages 5- 8, Grades K-4
ISBN:  978-1585363421
Honors:  Comstock Read Aloud Honor Book

Willow is a little girl with an incredible imagination. She paints and draws what she sees when she closes her eyes much to the distress of her very rigid teacher, Miss Hawthorn. Miss Hawthorn wants everyone to be the same, do the same things, see things the same way. Willow has a difficult time following these rules and gets fussed at a lot but doesn’t let it upset her or change the way her imagination soars.

Willow is also the only student to give Miss Hawthorn a present at Christmas, her favorite art book. Miss Hawthorn starts to look at the book and realizes the importance of how a strong and vivid imagination can take you places. She starts to paint, draw, and be creative. When the students come back to school after the holidays, they see their dreary room has been transformed. It is now bright and colorful. There are pictures everywhere, but the willow tree in the middle is the most special—a dedication to Willow for showing everyone the power of creativity, being yourself, using your imagination, and helping others find theirs.
-BSM


My Heart Fills with Happiness

by Monique Gray Smith, Illustrated by Julie Flett
Board book
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
Ages 2-4, PreK-K
ISBN: 9781459809574
Honors: Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize * BC Book Prize Finalize

“What fills your heart with happiness?” asks this inspiring board book that opens with a little girl stroking her mother’s cheek, and, in her mother’s beauty, also seeing and touching her own. Each scene depicts sources of joy within self, family, community, and culture. The illustrations, in a rich and earthy palette, ground the story and resonate a happiness that is simultaneously culturally-specific to First Nations and infinitely transcendent.

This book, while printed in a sturdy format made for the very young, is a precious gift for readers of all ages. Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett remind us how at our core human beings are meant to be together, connecting in ways that allow us to show and share our truest selves through song, dance, food, and story – across generations, in harmony with creation and each other.
– GA


A Morning with Grandpa

by Sylvia Liu, Illustrated by Christina Forshay
Lee & Low Books, 2016
Picture book
Ages 5-8, Grades PreK-3
ISBN:9781620141922
Honors: Lee & Low Books New Voices Award

One morning, Mei Mei observes Gong Gong practicing his tai chi, and Gong Gong invites her to practice with him. When Gong Gong shows her such motions as Pick up the Needle or White Crane Spreading Its Wings, his moves are smooth and sweeping, “like seaweed brushing the ocean floor.” Mei Mei watches and tries the movements herself, but her energy hops and bops and bounces into Grandpa. She soon offers to teach Gong Gong her favorite yoga poses.

This uplifting, energetic picture book celebrates adventures in lifelong learning that occur when children and elders discover common interests. Mei Mei and Gong Gong accept each other just as they are! In some ways, they are not alike at all: Mei Mei’s energy is like a bouncing ball; Gong Gong’s energy is like a cool breeze.
-GA


Each Kindness

by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012
Picture book
Ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
ISBN: 978-0399246524
Honors:
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award * Coretta Scott King Honor Book * Charlotte Zolotow Award * School Library Journal Best Book of 2012 * Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award

Each Kindness is a story of growth and regret told from the perspective of Chloe, a young girl who refuses to accept small gestures of friendship from Maya, the new girl at school.

Maya wears spring shoes in the snow and plays alone, snubbed by classmates who laugh and name her “Never New” for her hand-me-down wardrobe. Yet she continually reaches out, extending a glance, a smile, some jacks, a ball–ever optimistic that one day her affection will be returned. It never is. Chloe and her classmates turn their backs and refuse to smile at Maya.

One day, when Maya is absent from school, their teacher gives a lesson in compassion. She drops a small stone into a bowl of water, observes the ripples, and says, “This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”
Chloe is moved and resolves to be kind and make the world better by simply returning Maya’s smile. But her realization comes too late, and Chloe’s left to grapple with the sting of kindnesses withheld.
-MPS


Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

by Dean Robbins, Illustrated Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Orchard Books, 2016
Picture book
Ages 4-8, PreK-3
ISBN: 9780545399968

Two Friends visits a fascinating corner of 19th Century American history, when slavery still gripped the nation and when women hadn’t yet won the right to vote. Even then (and still today!) Americans were fighting for equality for all, which is promised to us in the Declaration of Independence.

In the midst of freedom movements, people draw together to share ideas, to lift each other up, and to help each other keep trying to make change. So, it shouldn’t have been surprising for me to learn from this picture book that Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass found solace and support between them in Rochester, NY.

But, it was a delightful surprise to learn that by candlelight, over tea and cake, Anthony and Douglass imagined what change might look like and feel like and what it might take. They never doubted that enslaved people would become free or that women would vote.

Two Friends reminds me that at the heart of any kind of change we will find friendship and shared dreams.
-GA


The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

bookCovers_Loving

by Selina Alko, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Grades 1- 5
ISBN: 978-0-54-47853-3
Arthur Levine Books, 2015
Honors:
Society of Illustrators Original Art Show 2015 * NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award 2015 * Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015 * Book Links 2015 Lasting Connection * A New York Public Library Notable Book for Reading and Sharing

Author-illustrator, husband-wife duo Selina Alko and Sean Qualls collaborate to present this celebratory portrait of a bi-racial family in The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Through intimate, simple language readers follow the courtship of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred “String Bean” Jeter, a woman of African American and Cherokee descent.

The two fall in love, but according to Virginia law in 1958 interracial marriage is illegal, so they exchange vows in D.C. Soon after the newlyweds return home, the police raid their bedroom in the night and arrest them both. “Tell the court I love my wife, and that it’s just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia,” Richard told his lawyers.

Their legal battle rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, after which Richard and Mildred returned to Central Point, having won the right for themselves and other interracial couples to marry. This book gives young readers the opportunity to reflect upon racial justice, self-identity, and ways in which historical narratives shift over time. A mixed medium of paint and collage contrasts bold, stark images of injustice against whimsical, uplifting panels that leave no doubt about it: love will prevail.


The Princess and the Pony

bookCovers_pony

by Kate Beaton
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015
Ages 4-8
ISBN: 978-0545637084
Honors:
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year * Children’s Choice Book Award * ALA Notable Children’s Book * E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor

Princess Pinecone is nobody’s frilly, silly princess! She’s bold, ferocious, and ready for battle! She’s all set to lead an army except for one key, missing ingredient: a great battle horse of her own.

When Pinecone’s birthday rolls around, does she get what she wants? Nope! No battle stallion for this little lady, at all. Instead, the tiny princess gets a tiny pony. Is he bold, ferocious, and ready for battle like Pinecone? Hardly. Try cute, fluffy, and prone to farting.

Will the princess learn a lesson in diplomacy from her royal steed? After all, who can resist the allure of a pony?


Rosie Revere, Engineer

bookCovers_Rosie

by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
Ages 5-7, Grades K and up
ISBN: 978-1419708459
Honors:
Parent’s Choice Award * Amelia Bloomer Project * ReadBoston Best Read Aloud

Have you ever invented something cool but were too afraid to show anyone? That’s how Rosie Revere feels all the time. Rosie is a creative girl who likes to invent new gadgets for her family and then hide them under her bed. She is too afraid of failing or having people think they are not very good.

One day her great-great aunt, Rosie the Riveter, visits and teaches little Rosie that the only time you fail is when you quit trying something new. Not everything always works the way you want it to at the beginning. You just need to keep trying and fixing and NOT be afraid to show off your inventions.

A great tie-in with Rosie the Riveter history, this book reminds us never to give up on our dreams or things we love.


Firebird

bookCovers_firebird

by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014
Ages 5-8, Grades K-3
ISBN: 13: 978-0399166150
Honors:
2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award * 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Writer Honor * NPR Best Book of 2014 * Amazon Best Book of 2014 – Ages 6-8 * Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014 * Essence Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014

In a stirring love letter to young dancers, author and ballerina Misty Copeland welds the seeming divide between the impossible and possible. “The space between you and me is longer than forever,” a young girl bewails about the distance between her own dance dream and the achievements of prima ballerina, Copeland.

Copeland, who began ballet at age thirteen, shares how she struggled to find her place in the world, even within her own family. Through dance she connected to her true self – body, spirit, and soul. What ballet books reflected back to her, however, was that ballerinas weren’t “me, brown with tendrils.” With mentorship from African American ballerina Raven Wilkinson, Copeland forged her own path and transformed ballet.

Firebird speaks to girls (and boys!) who dance under starlight and moonbeams, who hold a dream in their hearts and souls, yet do not yet believe they can cross the divide. Here, Copeland shows them that “forever is not so far away.”


Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

bookCovers_mamaNightinggale

by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Straub
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Picture book, ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
978-0525428091
Honors:
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Jane Addams Book Award honor 2016

Saya’s mother has been arrested at work by the “immigration police” and sent to a detention center because she has no papers. Until Papa and the attorney can clear the matter, Saya is without her mother. Short visits are of some comfort, but Saya finds that Mama’s voice fades away from her memory too quickly.

Mama begins recording cassette tapes of Haitian folktales, so that Saya can have a bedtime story. Mama’s voice fills Saya’s heart and dreams with images of soursoup and nightingales, rainbows and sky travels.

As Saya watches her parents struggle to keep the family together and to secure Mama’s papers, she decides that she has her own story to tell. Saya’s story might just have the power to bring Mama home.

Separation with little hope for reunion is every family’s nightmare. Saya misses her mother desperately, and she never gives up hope. Through her parents’ examples of advocating for justice, Saya realizes that her own strong voice has the power to make change.


Ballet for Martha: The Making of Appalachian Spring

bookCovers_ballet

by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press 2010
Picture book, non-fiction, ages 7 and up
ISBN: 978-1-59643-338-0
Honors:
Robert Silbert Honor Award * NCTE Orbis Pictus Award * ALA Notable Books 2010 * Numerous best books lists for 2010
Additional formats: ebook and audio

This historical picture book is about how Appalachian Spring, one of the most famous dances of all times, came to be. It is a dance about the pioneer movement, and it was a collaboration between Martha Graham, Aaron Copland, and Isamu Noguchi. Martha had to persevere through audiences who didn’t necessarily understand the new language she was crafting in American dance. Martha Graham Dance was the first integrated dance company in the US. Appalachian spring, which earned Copland the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1944.


Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

bookCovers_melba

by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Lee & Low Books, 2014
Picture book, non-fiction
Aages 7 and up
ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8
Honors:
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor * Notable Children’s Book, American Library Association (ALA) * Listed on multiple “best books” lists

This is the story of how a little girl born in 1926 fights racism and sexism to become one of our country’s most accomplished musicians.

Melba Loretta Liston was a famed jazz trombone player and arranger who created gorgeous rhythms, harmonies, and melodies in songs for jazz greats like Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few.

The illustrations are delicious. I’d pair this with Acoustic Rooster by Kwame Alexander for a summer study on jazz.


Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

bookCovers_voiceOfFreedom

by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2015
Picture book, non-fiction, poetry
Ages 9 and up, Grades 4-7
ISBN:
978-0-7636-6531-9
Honors:
Caldecott Honor illustration 2016 * Coretta Scott King New Talent award for Illustration 2016 * Silbert Informational Book Award 2016 * Marion Vannett Ridway Award Honor * NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts * Bank Street College Flora Steiglitz Straus Award * Amelia Bloomer List * CCBC Choices and multiple best books lists of 201

The first-person poetry of Carole Boston Weatherford and tactile collage of Ekua Holmes combine for a perfect-pitch picture book biography of Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.

Voice of Freedom transports readers to the Mississippi Delta of Hamer’s childhood and into the heart of Hamer’s own journey, a sometimes harsh journey at the mercy of discriminatory, oppressive policies and practices in America. Hammer quit school at sixth grade to pick cotton with her family. She was later sterilized by a doctor (without her knowledge or consent) while undergoing tumor surgery,  Hamer not only survived, she rose up to become a driving force in the fight for equality.

Often on Girls of Summer, we celebrate stories of those who have changed history as children. This book shows us a woman whose childhood and life unfolded to prepare and strengthen her voice to boom forth, at middle age, in a song of protest and triumph and remembering.


I Am Jazz

I Am Jazz

I Am Jazz

by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings,
Illustrated by Shelagh McNichols
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
Picture book, Memoir
Ages 4-8
ISBN-10: 0803741073/ ISBN-13: 978-0803741072
Additional formats: E-book
Honors: ALA’s Rainbow List

This is the story of Jazz Jennings, a girl who loves pink and silver and green. A girl who likes to dance and sing and do back flips. A girl who likes to pretend she’s a pop star or a mermaid. A strong girl who was born with the body of a boy. I Am Jazz recounts the early childhood experience of Jazz Jennings, a teen advocate and co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, who felt like a girl born into a boy’s body from the time she was two-years-old.

“Pretending I was a boy felt like a lie,” Jazz writes. At first, her parents are confused when Jazz tells them of her feelings. But when the family meets a doctor who teaches them the word “transgender,” everything starts to change.

“Be who you are. We love you no matter what,” are words every child deserves to hear. I Am Jazz is a perfect title to discuss concepts such as acceptance and belonging and will make an important addition to the family or school library. – Gigi


The Promise

The Promise

The Promise

by Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Laura Carlin
Candlewick Press, 2014
Picture book
Ages 5 and up
ISBN-10: 0763666335 /13: 978-076366633
Honors: English Association Picture Book Award Best Fiction

Can one heart and two hands change the world?

In The Promise, a little girl has become hardened and cold like the city she lives in. Her heart had “shriveled as the dead trees in the park.” Isolated and disconnected from people and from nature, the girl turns to thievery. She steals for her food; she never smiles. One night the girl spots an old lady walking alone, easy pickings for the seasoned young thief. So she thinks! The girl grabs ahold of the woman’s purse, a struggle ensues, until finally the old lady says, “If you promise to plant them, I’ll let go.”

Alas, the bag is not full of money or food or anything useful, but rather it’s crammed full of acorns.

“I held a forest in my arms, and my heart was changed,” the girl says.

A girl must keep her promises. She plants the acorns everywhere—abandoned buildings, bus stops, and factories. Soon, the city is flourishing with green and bursting with tiny oaklings and, best of all, the people are smiling and planting trees and flowers of their own.

This simple story, a retelling of Jean Giono’s 1953 story, L’homme qui plantait des arbres, is a strong message about conservation and action that emphasizes our human belonging to the natural world. It’s also an uplifting call to action for each reader to give their own heart and hands over to the stewardship of our earth by planting something green! – Gigi


Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Separate is Never Equal

Separate is Never Equal

by Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014
Picture book, ages 5 – adult
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1054-4
Honors: Pura Belpré Honor book 2015 * Robert Seibert Honor Book, 2015 * Amèricas Book Award, 2015

When we think of Civil Rights in this country, it’s easy to overlook the role of Latinos in that struggle. Yet in 1944, when California schools were still segregated, Sylvia Mendez and her siblings were forced to enroll in a school for Mexicans. Despite the fact that they were natural American citizens, the Mendez children were required to attend a school that was farther from home and lacking in the same amenities as the school designated for white students.

Thus began the Mendez family fight to integrate schools for Latinos.

Separate Is Never Equal
by award-winning author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh is the perfect blend of picture book, history, and a strong-girl story. It’s about everyday people fighting injustice with conviction. Readers can follow the court proceedings and meet the essential people who joined the lawsuit. It’s a revealing look at the thinking of the time, such as the ideas that Mexicans had deficient language skills, poor social skills, head lice, impetigo, and other illnesses.

With distinctive art based on the Mixtec Codex, an excellent glossary, photographs, and list of resources, this is a rich picture book for all ages. I love this book for Girls of Summer in particular because strong girls do, in fact, help change history. ~MM


Viva Frida

Viva Frida

Viva Frida

by Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook Press, 2014
Picture book, ages 4 – 8
ISBN: 978-1596436039
Additional formats: bilingual edition
Awards: Caldecott Honor 2015 * Pura Belpré Award 2015 for illustration

I can’t stop looking at the pictures in this lovely book that earned Yuyi Morales a Caldecott honor, the first for a Latino illustrator, this year.

It’s the story of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo whose life has been well covered. However, that has made absolutely no impact on this book’s originality and freshness. Each page is a beautifully photographed tableau of Kahlo’s life—in painting, in puppets, in collage. There are sophisticated references to her husband, Diego Rivera, and images that would find themselves into her art, which make it especially fun for adult readers, too. The details are charming—everything from those signature eyebrows down to the jewelry and embroidered skirts. Most impressive, though, is that the simple words capture how an artist discovers her voice and passion—two essentials for strong girls everywhere. Bravo! ~MM


Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit

Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit

Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit

By Amrita Das
Tara Books, 2014
Picture book
Ages 10 and up
ISBN-10: 9383145021/13: 978-9383145027
Additional formats: La esperanza es una niña vendiendo fruta (Spanish edition)
Honors: ALA Outstanding International Book

In Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit, a young artist travels by train from her village in India to a small town in a different region to study art with a new teacher. In her work, she struggles to find inspiration until she remembers a poor girl on the train.

“I knew at that moment, how I was going to tell my story. It is her story, too,” Das writes.

In this visual and narrative study of a young woman watching a young girl, hopes and dreams and constraints and threats unite the travelers in the experience of being female.

“Freedom. What does that word mean to us? Going to school? Learning? And then? Marriage? Does that set you free?”

With drawings rooted in a folk art style called Mithila, Das explores the world of women and girls in northern India and invites readers to scale the boundaries of tradition and culture in their lives, too. -Gigi