I am an elementary school librarian in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Through the work of creating a more representative and inclusive library collection for my students, I learned a lot about the politics of the publishing industry, the accepted institutional racism and purposeful exclusion of communities in books and that we should be outraged at the continued disenfranchisement of our children.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Digging In: My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood

"My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood" is written in verse, by Tameka Fryer Brown and illustrated by Shane Evans. I like to think the cold plums are a nod to the great William Carlos Williams.

Often with picture books, I tend to initially be attracted to the illustrations of books- and Shane Evans does not disappoint. Bright and saturated colors fill these pages, with simple yet expressive characters and their surroundings.

The book follows a boy, a middle child, through his day and activities and most importantly his MOODS. This little boy has feelings. His feelings have color. He is green and happy drawing with one of his sisters, he is gray and annoyed and brown and grounded. We end the story sharing a meal with his family- and we feel happy, full and yellow.

This book pairs well with Dr. Seuss's, "My Many Colored Days"- great for figurative and descriptive language lessons. 

Tameka Fryer Brown has some activities that go along with the book as well, visit her website:
Ms. Brown is also part of one of my most favorite literature projects, The Brown Bookshelf.
Do yourself a favor and take some time to go through this blog:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Digging In: The Big Red Lollipop

The Big Red Lollipop, by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

This book just makes me happy. I know that is not a very objective or descriptive thing to write about a book, but it's true. I just love it.

My son is in first grade and he is beginning a unit on family culture and traditions. I immediately thought of this book. Sometimes, our cultural traditions are not the same as the dominant culture's that we find ourselves in. That is true for Rubina, a little girl who received her first birthday party invitation. Her mother, Ami, was new to this custom but allowed her to go, on one condition, her little sister, Sana, also went.

This put Rubina in what she found to be an uncomfortable social situation, she wanted to be part of the celebration just like "everybody else", but her mother held tight to an important tradition in their family and Rubina has to call her friend and ask if it's all right for her little sister to come too.
                    I beg and plead, but Ami won't listen. I have no choice. I have to call.
                    Sally says, "Allright." But it doesn't sound all right.  I know she thinks
                    I'm weird.

In the end, the friendship remains intact and the sisters have an even stronger bond. Khan gives us a glimpse into the inner dialogue and sometimes struggle of a child that wants to honor the many cultures in which she belongs.

I would be loathe not to mention the illustrations. They are warm and sunny and sweet. I love the expressiveness of the faces and the beautiful jewel tones in the clothes. The characters are incredibly emotive and we get a sense of how Sana and her sisters are feeling not only through words, but through pictures.