February 9, 2018 | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I I hope everyone had blessed holidays and is looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings. For the moment, enjoy this latest list of resources!

– Thanks to the Children’s Book Council, we came across this list of 10 Native Books to Inspire the Young Ones and Young at Heart!

– One of our favorite authors, Matt de la Peña, has released a new book, Carmela Full of Wishes, a children’s book that offers a moving take on Dreamer from a young girl’s perspective. On his Twitter feed, de la Peña explains, “In a time when we openly speak of building walls, I was moved to tell the story of one young Dreamer, Carmela, who is filled with hope and heart and just a little dash of sass – like any other girl her age.”

– Courtesy of Beacon Broadside (an online venue for writers, thinkers, and activists) Paul Ortiz recently published an article Five Key Terms to Understand the Shared Struggle for Black and Latinx Rights. Ortiz is the author of An African American and Latinx History of the United States, among other titles.

 – Jessica Agudelo, a children’s librarian at New York Public Library, reviewed the new YA novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora¸ on Latinx in Kid Lit. Written by Pablo Cartaya, this story tells of Arturo Zamora and his life dealing with gentrification, cultural identity, family, and coming of age. The novel’s generating a lot of buzz! Agudelo seems to share the all-around positive press, closing her review with the observation that “This novel was a true joy to read from beginning to end. A rare feat, even in children’s literature.”

– For those getting ready to bring candy hearts into the classroom, Lee & Low’s post on Culturally Responsive Teaching: Valentine’s Day in the Classroom may be appropriate. “Do teachers have to succumb to the greeting card version of February 14th? Regardless of whether and how your school celebrates Valentine’s Day, there are meaningful themes tied to the holiday, and ways to weave them into your culturally responsive classroom.”

– Also, Debbie Reese of the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature recommends How Devil’s Club Came to Be by Miranda Rose Kaagweil Worl and illustrated by Michaela Grade. Reese notes that “If you and the children you’ll share Devil’s Club with are not Tlingit, you’ll want to do some research first, to provide some background knowledge about where the story takes place and what Tlingit people say about themselves.” This is at once commonsense and wise advice to keep in mind whenever using a book depicting a culture not your own.

– With Carnival season upon us, the blog Anansesem has provided [Book List] Caribbean Carnival in Books for Children — including Malaika’s Costume, which you might have noticed from Kalyn’s review on Monday. “It’s carnival season! Carnival, along with steel pan music, the traditional music of carnival, is one of the things our region is famous for. Although different islands have different carnival origin stories, carnival is a festival with both African and European origins.” And while you’re on topic, why not also check out their pertinent discussion on Caribbean Stereotypes in Children’s Books?

– Lastly, in the spirit of Carnival, you might appreciate Hip Latina’s list of 6 Latin American Celebrations, which covers countries from the Dominican Republic to Uruguay.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Dessert Trucks. Reprinted from Flickr user carmaglover under CC©.

 

¡Mira, Look!: Malaika’s Costume

Buenos días!

We are excited to be back with our book reviews. Throughout the semester we will be interweaving book reviews in both English and Spanish, between our new blog member, Santi, and me. Santi will be writing reviews in Spanish, and I will be writing them in English. Since it’s February, the month of love, we will start by bringing you book reviews surrounding the theme of love for community.

Today we are excited to bring you a review of Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. This book is an Honorable Mention recipient of the 2017 Américas Award. It tells the story of Malaika, a young girl in Jamaica living with her granny while her mummy works in Canada to provide for them. In the story, Malaika is struggling with not having a costume for carnival, one of the most exciting festivals in her town. Malaika’s worries and frustrations with the costume are interwoven with missing her mummy, struggling to allow her granny to fill that motherly role, and optimistic expectations of no longer having financial issues since her mummy is working in Canada. In the end, Malaika and her granny find a resolution and Malaika dances beautifully in Carnival.

Luxbacher’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. I appreciated Malaika’s imaginative rendering of cold and snowy Canada, and how it contrasts her warm and colorful Jamaican hometown. The imaginative aspect of the illustrations mirrors Malaika’s personality. Hohn’s book as a whole explains important issues that countless children face with parents working from afar to provide for their families.

Also, her description of complex relationships from a child’s perspective is refreshing and necessary within today’s multicultural society. Furthermore, Malaika’s day-to-day interactions with neighbors and extended family members give us cultural insight to life in small-town Jamaica. Hohn includes definitions of different words she uses for understanding the cultural context of the text, including explanations of different types of music, instruments, characters and foods. Although the story is told from Malaika’s point of view, the last page’s illustration allows us to place her mother within the story, and better understand her love for her daughter.

I highly recommend checking out Nadia Hohn’s biography on her website. Nadia’s passion for children’s book diversity led her to publish Malaika’s Costume.

She teaches French, music, and the arts at the Africentric Alternative School where she has been an inaugural staff member since its opening in 2009.  She has taught in Toronto public schools since 2003. Out of her classroom and personal experiences, Hohn crafted edited two literary resources for teaching about Black heritage to grades 4-8, titled SANKOFA, which could be great for teaching this month, given that we are entering Black Heritage Month. Out of the resources in the guide, the SANKOFA Music book would pair well with Malaika’s Costume. While the music book must be purchased, Hohn also offers a number of free strategies for how to engage students with Malaika’s story.

Teachers interested in using this book with their students might also turn to the Smithsonian’s educator materials, particularly their lesson plan (grades 3-5), titled “The Sounds of an Island: Jamaican Music for the Classroom.” You can also explore excerpts of calypso rock songs by the famous Jamaican calypsonians, Horace Johnson & The Eagle Star, on the Smithsonian Folkways site. For quick reference, here is a full audio recording of Horace Johnson’s music. These resources pair with Malaika’s Costume given that this colorful children’s book is as much about music and dance as it is about family. During the Carnival celebrations that inspired the book, the street is full of soca and calypso – musical traditions that are explained on the website for the Trinidad and Tobago’s National Library and Information System.

If you enjoyed this book, we recommend that you check out the sequel, Malaika’s Winter Costume. Here is a promotional video for the sequel, which shows photos of Carnival in Jamaica.

Saludos,

Kalyn

 


Images Modified From Malaika’s Costume: Pages 3, 7, 29, 30