CÓMO HACER UNA CASA EN UN ÁRBOL

Written by: Carter Higgins

Illustrated by: Emily Hughes

Available in English and Spanish

Age: 5-10

This beautifully illustrated book invites young readers to use their imagination to create a treehouse. “All you need to build a treehouse is time, look up and imagine a house of wood.” The story takes us to many different settings where treehouses are possible even in a neighborhood without trees.

Children live in many different environments including the city, country, forest, suburbs, etc. so allowing students to find themselves and their situations in a story promotes inclusion and a sense of belonging. The story focuses on each aspect of a treehouse brining readers attention to details and the many possibilities when it comes to creating what you imagine. As we read the lyrical story we are reminded of the special, wild, and exciting places we can go with just our imaginations.

Este libro bellamente ilustrado invita a los jóvenes lectores a usar su imaginación para crear una casa en un árbol. “Todo lo que necesitas para hacer una casa en el árbol es tiempo, mirar hacia arriba e imaginar una casa de madera”.

La historia nos lleva a muchos escenarios diferentes donde las casas en los árboles son posibles incluso en un barrio sin árboles. Los niños viven en muchos entornos diferentes, incluyendo la ciudad, el campo, el bosque, los suburbios, etc., por lo que permitir que los estudiantes se encuentren a sí mismos y sus situaciones en una historia promueve la inclusión y el sentido de pertenencia. La historia se centra en cada aspecto de una casa en el árbol que llama la atención de los lectores sobre los detalles y las muchas posibilidades cuando se trata de crear lo que imaginas. A medida que leemos la historia lírica, recordamos los lugares especiales, salvajes y emocionantes a los que podemos ir con solo nuestra imaginación.

Additional Resources:

Author’s website: https://www.carterhiggins.com/

Video Introduction of illustrator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyNOddZrRkA

Amanda y La Muerte

Written by/Escrito por: Mariana Gardella

Illustrated by/Ilustrado por: Mariela Califano

Este libro fue un placer de leer y saca a relucir un tema difícil de romper con los niños, la muerte. El gato de Amanda, Artigas, fallece al comienzo de la historia, lo cual es muy difícil para ella. Aunque una de sus madres le dice que es normal que los gatos mueran cuando son viejos, Amanda todavía está triste y luchando con la pérdida de su querida amiga de cuatro patas. Luego le pregunta a su mamá: “¿Y la personas mamá? ¿También mueren?” Mientras su madre lucha por responder, Amanda tiene la sensación de que este es un tema difícil de hablar para su madre.

Luego recuerda las historias que su amigo Manuel le ha contado sobre el Día de Muertos en México. Manuel celebra a los seres queridos que han fallecido poniendo sus fotos en la ofrenda y preparando su comida favorita. Esto le trae consuelo a Amanda y la anima a buscar fotos de Artigas. Mientras mira fotos de su gato, también encuentra viejas fotos familiares de ella y su familia. Recordar mirando fotos de Artigas y de su familia llena de alegría a Amanda y ayuda a aliviar el dolor de la muerte de su gato.

La autora Mariana Gardella es de Argentina donde tiene un doctorado en filosofía de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Su intención cuando escribió Amanda y La Muerte era cultivar conversaciones filosóficas y pensamientos en los niños. Hay preguntas en cada página para impulsar el diálogo con los niños sobre la muerte y la muerte para alentarlos a cuestionar, pensar y articular sus visiones del mundo. Además, la portada y la contraportada tienen más pensamientos e ideas sobre cómo usar el libro para generar compromiso.

This book was such a pleasure to read and brings forth a difficult topic to breach with children, death. Amanda’s cat Artigas passes away at the beginning of the story which is very difficult for her. Although one of her moms tells her it is normal for cats to die when they are old, Amanda is still sad and struggling with the loss of her beloved four-legged friend. She then asks her mom, “and people mom? Do they die too?” As her mom struggles to answer Amanda gets the feeling that this is a difficult topic for her mom to talk about.

She then remembers the stories her friend Manuel has told her about the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Manuel celebrates loved ones who have passed away by putting their photos on the ofrenda and preparing their favorite food. This brings Amanda comfort and encourages her to look for photos of Artigas. While looking at photos of her cat, she also finds old family photos of her and her family. Reminiscing by looking at photos of Artigas and of her family fills Amanda with joy and helps ease the pain of her cat’s passing.

The author Mariana Gardella is from Argentina where she holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Buenos Aires. Her intention when she wrote Amanda y La Muerte was to cultivate philosophical conversations and thought in children. There are questions on each page to prompt dialogue with children about death and dying to encourage them to question, think, and articulate their world views. Additionally, the front page and back page have more thoughts and ideas of how to use the book to generate engagement.

Additional Resources:

Publisher’s website: https://www.editorialcapitalintelectual.com.ar/productos/amanda-y-la-muerte/

Amanda y el Cuerpo: https://www.editorialcapitalintelectual.com.ar/productos/amanda-y-el-cuerpo/

Mariela Califano’s website: http://www.marielacalifano.com.ar/

Umi y Su Perro Rap

Written by: Fernanda Mejía

Illustrated by: Mariana Pereyra

Ages: 3-6

Region: Argentina

Language: Spanish

Este es un lindo libro para niños sobre un niño y su perro Rap. A los dos les encanta jugar, abrazarse, consolar al otro cuando se sienten deprimidos y pasar la mayoría de los días juntos. La historia es ideal para niños pequeños que tienen mascotas o interactúan con animales.

A veces es difícil para los niños entender los límites y la forma adecuada de tratar e interactuar con otras personas, y mucho menos con los animales. La cariñosa relación entre Umi y su perro es evidente en la historia, que también destaca que no podemos ser rudos con nuestros animales, incluso si no tenemos la intención de hacerlo. Fernanda Mejía describe cómo se siente Rap cuando Umi lo abraza demasiado fuerte: puede enojarse y morderle y si se siente atacado, estará a la defensiva. El autor presenta interacciones saludables y amistosas entre los dos que los mantendrán felices y seguros. Ella enmarca estas interacciones como las que tendrías con tus amigos o hermanos. Este es un gran libro para mostrar suavemente a los niños cómo sus acciones pueden afectar a los animales y las personas que los rodean.

This is a sweet children’s book about a boy and his dog Rap. The two love to play, cuddle, console the other when they are feeling down, and pass most days together. The story is great for young kids who have pets or interact with animals. Sometimes it is hard for children to understand boundaries and the appropriate way to treat and interact with other people, let alone animals. The tender relationship between Umi and his dog is apparent in the story which also highlights that we cannot be rough with our animals even if we are not intending to do so. Fernanda Mejía describes how Rap feels when Umi hugs him too tight: he can get mad and bight and if he feels attacked, he will be defensive. The author presents healthy and friendly interactions between the two that will keep them both happy and safe. She frames these interactions as those you would have with your friends or siblings. This is a great book to gently show children how their actions can affect the animals and people around them.

Additional Resources:

Illustrator’s website: https://www.pupeilustra.com/

The Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del Arcoíris

Written by: Linda Elovitz Marshall

Illustrated by: Elisa Chavarri

Children’s Book Press 2016

Ages: 3-7

Region: Guatemala/Central America

Ixchel lives in the Highlands of Guatemala, and is longing to learn how to weave, like her mother, and grandmother, and many generations of Mayan women before her. Ixchel’s mother uses part of the proceeds that her weaving earns to pay for Ixchels school fees and books. Ixchel not only wants to learn the way of weaving like her ancestors before her, but also wants to help her mom pay for her school and books. Unfortunately, there is not enough thread to spare, and Ixchel can only watch. Frustrated Ixchel sets off to find a different material to weave with, first it is grass, second is wool, but to no avail. Right when Ixchel is about to give up she notices the vibrant colors of the plastic bags on the roads and in the ditches. Putting her creativity to the test Ixchel repurposes the colorful plastic bags into weaving material to be sold at the market, starting a movement that catches on amongst other weavers in the village.

Ixchel vive en las tierras altas de Guatemala, y tiene un gran deseo aprender a tejer, como su madre, abuela y las muchas generaciones de mujeres Maya que vine antes de ella. La madre de Ixchel usa la ganancia de su tejido para pagar para la escuela y los libros de Ixchel. Ixchel quiere aprender a tejer no solo para ser como su antepasadas, before también para ayudar su mama pagar para su escula. Desafortunadamente, no hay suficiente hilo para sobrar, como resultado Ixchel solo puede mirar. Frustrada, Ixchel se desembarca para encontrar otra material para poder tejer, primero usa hierba de pajón, segundo usa lana, pero sin suceso. Al momento que Ixchel se va rendir, se nota los colores vibrantes de las bolsas de plástico en el camino y colgando de las ramas. Usando su creatividad Ixchel se reutiliza las bolsas de plástico en material de tejido para vender en el mercado. Su creatividad se prende entre las otras tejedoras empezando un movimiento en su pueblo.

Additional Resources:

Teacher’s Guide to Rainbow Weaver

Spanish Playground Rainbow Weaver Activities

The Author’s Website

Written in Starlight

Isabel Ibañez (Page Street 2021)

Region: Bolivia/South America

Age: High school

Isabel Ibañez’s second book, Written in Starlight, details the captivating coming of age story of Catalina Quiroga. Catalina, the last royal Illustrian, has been banished to the Yanu Jungle for disobeying the new Queen.

It is pure luck that she runs into Manuel, the son of her old guard, whose been trying to make contact with the Illari the last sixth months. With Manuels survival skills the two team up to try and find the Illari’s golden city to ask for an army to re-conquer the Inkasisa. But something dangerous is afoot in the jungle, beyond the poisonous plants, crocodiles, pumas and the unfriendly Illari. Will Catalina’s powers as a seer help uncover the evil thats lurking in the jungle? And will she be able to win back the throne? Find out in the sequel to Woven in MoonlightWritten in Starlight.

Discussion Questions:

What’s one lesson Catalina learns while in the Jungle?

Describe Catalina’s character development. Give examples.

Additional Resources:

The Author’s Website

Interview with Isabel Ibañez

Red Palms

Cara Haycak (Wendy Lamb Books 2004)

Region: Ecuador/ South America

Age: 12 and up

Benita Mariah, a wealthy young girl from Guayaquil Ecuador, has her world  turned on its axis, when her father tells her and the rest of the family that they’ve lost their fortune as a result of the Great Depression. The Mariah’s are forced to sell all of their things, pack up, and move to the small island of Paita. Her fathers plan is to create a coconut plantation and restore their riches, but Josef doesn’t know the first thing about farming, let alone the culture and customs of life on Paita.

Benita and her father soon begin to clash, Benita has been forced to grow up and no longer believes in her father, as a result of their escalating situation she runs away to the other side of the island with Raul, a local young man who has wooed Benita, much to her fathers chagrin. Benita’s coming of age story is about acting on what she believes is right, even if that means defying the ones she loves most.

Principle Themes:

As a coming of age story its only natural that there exists some child-parental tension. At the beginning of the book Benita and her father have a close relationship for she has blindly put her trust in him, but as Josef continues to obscure the truth, Benita is disillusioned and learns she must find her own way, even if her father disagrees. Religion is another principal theme of the book, the Mariahs are Christians, and the Indigenous people of Paita have their own religion. There is a tension throughout as Josef disparages the Indigenous people for their ways of life, and Benita  learns from and comes to respect the Indigenous people of the Island through her relationship with Raul, despite her fathers racist and disparaging comments. Lastly, Benita’s story is about finding oneself, throughout the book she puts her trust and faith in different people, but this only take her so far, before Benita finds the courage to believe in herself and do what she must to lead a fulfilling and purposeful life.

Additional Resources:

Author’s Bio

Zonia’s Rainforest

Written by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick Press 2021)

Zonia is Asháninka, a member of “the largest Indigenous group living in the Pruvian Amazon, with a poulation estimated at more than 73,000”. Zonia’s Rainforest details all of the friendships she has with the many different animals that live in the verdant and lush rainforest. Towards the end of her day she come across a deforested patch of land, where nothing grows, and none of her friends can be seen, all of the vibrancy and life of the jungle is gone. Zonia answers the rainforest call for help, and encourages the reader that it is a call “we all must answer”.

Discussion Questions:

What call do you think Zonia is being asked to answer?

How can you play a role in protecting rainforests/and stopping deforestation?

What are some things you think Zonia can do to protect her rainforest?

Additional Resources:

The Authors website

The Asháninka Peoples

Zonia’s Rainforest Classroom Activities

Region: The Amazon (South America)

Ages: 3-6

My Day with the Panye

Written by Tami Charles

Illustrated by Sara Palacios

(Candlewick Press 2021)

Who? What? Where?

Fallon is a young girl living in the mountainous region of Haiti. Her story begins with a an eagerness and insatibale desire to carry the Panye. To carry the Panye is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and is done around the world, it is the act of carrying and holding important items in the Panye on top of the head, as such it is practically a rite of passage for young girls like Fallon. On a visit to the market, wit her mother, Fallon keeps wanting to prove that she is ready to carry the panye without much success, her mother however has some lesson to teach Fallon first. Carrying the Panye is more than a method of transporting important goods it is also about grace and strength, and along the way Fallon learns the meaning of her mothers XX “Pitit, pitit, build your nest.”

Principle Themes:

Fallon, is taught patience throughout My Day with the Panye, she is eager to carry the basket all at once and carry barely contain her excitement, and her mother has to teach her the virtue of taking it one step at a time, “pitit, pitit, build your nest.” A rite of passage is another theme in the book, Fallon is so eager to learn in part because she sees so many other young girls and their mothers’ carrying the Panye so gracefully, yet Fallon learns that she too will be ready in her own time.

Discussion Questions:

Why is it important for Fallon to carry the Panye?

What message do you think “Pitit, pitit, build your nest” is trying to convey?

Can you think of any other rites of passage?

Additional Resources:

Tami Charles’ Website

Candlewick Press Teacher Tips

Region: Caribbean (Haiti)

Age: 3-7

The Grief Keeper

By: Alexandra Villasante published by Penguin Randomhouse (2019)

Who? What? Where?

Marisol and her younger sister, Gabi, are seeking asylum in the United States. The book begins with Marisol’s credible fear interview at an unnamed detention center. The two have fled El Salvador, leaving behind  their family, their home and the lives they once knew in search of refuge. The burden of ensuring Gabi’s safety weighs heavily on Marisol. Marisol fears they won’t be granted asylum, securing their future in the U.S. becomes ever more precarious, that is until she is offered a deal. Marisol must participate in a new experimental study in exchange for asylum. The experiment requires Marisol hold the grief of another, but the study never intended for her to meet the beneficiary. As Marisol navigates the grief of another as well as her own in this new and unfamiliar place, a relationship between her and the beneficiary of the experiment deepens. The Grief Keeper is a story of immigration as much as it is a story of love, and the depths to which Marisol will go to protect the ones she loves most.

Principle Themes

The Grief Keeper explores the many facets of trauma. Trauma impacts the main characters in different ways. At times it drives them a part, and at others it creates a shared bond. Love is a theme as central to the book as trauma. It is Marisol’s love for her sister that drives her to persist despite all that Marisol has already endured. The Grief Keeper explores these themes in tandem, unearthing how love and trauma inform each other.

Additional Resources:

An interview with Alexandra Villasante

Teaching the Grief Keeper

Review of the book by Latinxs in Kid Lit Blog

Region: North America/United States

Age: High School

Maxy Survives the Hurrican / Maxy Sobrevive el huracán

By/Por Ricia Anne Chansky &/y Yarelis Marcial Avecedo

Illustrations by/Ilustraciones de Olga Barinova

Who? What? Where?/¿Quién? ¿Qué? ¿Dónde?

Maxy the dog lives with Clarita and her family in Puerto Rico. Maxy has a great life with Clarita and the two of them spend their days with each other. On a day in September however Maxy notices a change in Clarita and her family, they all seem to be preparing for something, putting belongings on high shelves, collecting water and canned food and flashlights. Not long after Hurricane Maria makes land in Puerto Rico causing destruction of the land and its infrastructure. Maxy was terrified. After the hurricane was gone Maxy continued to be terrified of the rain, afraid it would bring the next Hurricane. Clarita and her family explain why rain and water are good, and that “not every rain is a hurricane.” Maxy Survives the Hurricane/Maxy sobrevive el huracán was written for the children of Puerto Rico whom in the wake of the hurricane were afraid of the rain and the dark caused by the power outtages. “The authors hope that Maxy helps children around the world who have had similar experiences with natural disasters.” 

Maxy el perrito viva con su family en Puerto Rico. Maxy tiene una gran vida con Clarita, los dos pasan su días juntos. Pero un día en Septiembre Maxy se nota un cambio en Clarita y su familia, todos parecen estar preparando para algo, poniendo sus pertenencias en sitios altos, recogiendo agua y aliementos enlatados y linternas. Poco después huracán Maria destruyendo tierra y infraestructura. Maxy estaba aterrorizada. Despues de que se fue el huracán Maxy seguio aterrorizada de la lluvia, pensando que iba a traer el próximo huracán. De repente, Clarita y su famili le explica que la lluvia es buena cosa y que “no todas las lluvias son huracanes”. Maxy sobrevive el huracán fue escrito para los niños de Puerto Rico quienes como resultado del huracán tenían miedo de la lluvia y la oscuridad a causo por las cortes de energía. “Las autores esperan que Maxy ayude a los niños alrededor del mundo quien han tenido experiencias parecidas con desastres naturales”.

Principle Themes/Temas principales

Fear is one of the principle themes in Maxy Survives the Hurrican, Maxy has to learn how to cope with his fear after the hurrican and with the help of his family is able to overcome it. Family is another principle theme in the text. Family comes together in preparation of the hurricane and is there after to support one another. Lastly, Resiliency is an apparent theme in the book as Clarita’s family perseveres after the devastation and continues to work towards rebuilding their communities and lives.

El temor es uno de los temas principales en Maxy sobrevive el huracán, Maxy tiene que aprender como enfrentarse con su miedo después del huracán, y con la ayuda de Clarita y su familia lo supera. Familia es otro tema principal en el texto. La familia se une en preparación para la huracán y se apoyan mutuamente después del desastre natural. Ultimamente, resistencia es aparente en el libro por la manera en que la familia de Clarita se reconstruya la comunidad tras el impacto del huracán María.

Discussion Questions/Preguntas de discusión

Why is Maxy scared of the rain after the Hurricane? Por que Maxy tiene miedo de la lluvia después del hurracán

How does Maxy overcome his fear of the rain? ¿Cómo supera Maxy su miedo a la lluvia?

Additional Resources/Recursos adicionales

A profile on one of the authors, Yarelis Marcial Acevedo: https://www.uprm.edu/english/student-feature-yarelis-marcial-acevedo/

A list of books that help children understand natural disasters: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2017/08/30/8-books-to-help-children-understand-disasters-and-cope-with-anxiety/?sh=1cf2b6e042e9

Region

Caribbean

Age

Elementary