Tag Archives: #NF

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Todos Iguales/All Equal

I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book in a listing of recent non-fiction picture books. The bilingual title and the cover image intrigued me, and I knew I had to share it with you.

Title: Todos Iguales/All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove, Y El Primer Caso Exitoso de Desegregación Escolar/A Ballad of Lemon Grove and the First Successful School Desegregation Case

Written & Illustrated By: Christy Hale

Publisher/Date: Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books/2019

Suitable for Ages: 6-10

Themes/Topics: Mexican-Americans, California, bilingual, school desegregation, #NF

Opening:

Weekday mornings, while the sun was slowly ripening over Lemon Grove, California, twelve-year-old Roberto Álvarez raced out the door. He loved school and didn’t want to be late. He hurried along North Avenue and around the corner to Olive Street, where he joined his friends on their way across town.

Brief Synopsis: In Spanish and English, Todos Iguales/All Equal recounts the true story set in California in 1931 of the first successful school desegregation case in the United States.

Links to Resources:

  • Find additional background information, discussion questions, and more in the comprehensive Teachers Guide;
  • Have you ever felt like you weren’t being treated as an equal because of your age, gender, cultural background, citizenship status, abilities, race, heritage, or religion? How did this make you feel? What did you do about the situation?
  • Do you have a friend who faces discrimination? How do you think you can support this friend?

Why I Like this Book:

Todos Iguales/All Equal broadens our history of the fight to end school segregation by bringing to light a little-known desegregation case in California that preceded the famous Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision by over 20 years.

In Todos Iguales/All Equal, Hale introduces us to the main child witness, Roberto Álverez, at the outset, and shows readers how he loved school. But the school board of this agricultural district populated by many farm workers of Mexican descent decided that Roberto and the children from his part of town should not mix with the Anglo children, and they hastily built a school that was little more than a barn for the Mexican American children. In response, the Mexican American community came together, hired a lawyer, and took the school board to court. Although the decision was not decided on racial grounds, the resolve showed by the Mexican American community and the role of the children, in this case as a witness in the trial, foreshadows the actions of later communities in fighting school segregation.

Not only does Hale provide a wonderful introduction to the characters and issues involved in this landmark legal case, but she precedes the text with a ballad, a song about the events that will be described. I can envision a roving troubadour singing it throughout the land, lending a mythic quality to this epic fight.

Hale’s illustrations in gouache and relief printing inks, often full-page spreads, feature the fruits and colors of the region, and place readers firmly in this period.

Backmatter includes notes on the area and migration from Mexico to the region, the participants in the case, the aftermath, the history of Corridos, and sources.

Todos Iguales/All Equal is a wonderful addition to classroom and school libraries. By publishing it in Spanish and English, with the Spanish text preceding the English text, I think Lee & Low have increased its value for Spanish-speaking communities who are battling discrimination today.

A Note about Craft:

The story of a little-known state court decision can be quite dry and boring. So how does Hale gain readers’ interest? Before jumping into the story, Hale offers A Ballad of Lemon Grove, a song, complete with melody, that recounts the facts of the case and elevates it to legend status. My interest was immediately piqued! Next, Hale begins the text by introducing young Roberto, smiling as he walks to school, joined on the second spread by his fellow Mexican American students. The emphasis is placed immediately on what’s so important in the case: these children. Finally, she shows, in text and pictures, how the community rallied to sue the school board, pointing out instances when the children themselves played a part: helping to fundraise via rummage sales, boycotting the new school, and, in Roberto’s case, even testifying at the trial.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Peace and Me

Today’s Perfect Picture Book debuted one month ago, on 21 September, the International Day of Peace. I think this is a perfect day to review it as the 66th annual Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony takes place in New York City this afternoon.

Peace-And-Me-UK-807x1024

Title: Peace and Me

Written By: Ali Winter

Illustrated By: Mickaël EL Fathi

Publisher/Date: LantanaPublishing/September 2018

Suitable for Ages: 7-11

Themes/Topics: peace; Nobel Laureates; #NF; biography

Opening:

ALFRED NOBEL invented a substance that helped countries go to war, but he is best remembered for his amazing contribution to world peace. How did this happen?

Brief Synopsis: A collection of 12 short biographies of winners of the Nobel Peace Prize of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Links to Resources:

  • Complete the sentence “Peace is…” by writing or drawing what you think peace means;
  • View the book trailer;
  • Learn more about the Nobel Prizes and check out the teacher resources for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

Why I Like this Book:

Arranged chronologically, Peace and Me introduces children to 12 well-known and lesser-known winners of the Nobel Peace Prize from around the world. Linked together with tag lines that explore what “peace is” in the context of each winner, the one-page biographies highlight the impact the winners had on the world.

From such well-known figures as Bishop Desmond Tutu (1984 winner), whose peace includes “finding ways to forgive” and Jane Addams (1931 winner), whose peace includes “giving people the skills to thrive”, to lesser-known Fridtjof Nansen of Norway (1922 winner), whose peace is “making sure everyone has a home”, Peace and Me provides not only important biographies of peace builders but also explores the various aspects of peace their work represented.

IMG_1606

Photograph of interior spread from Peace and Me

Filled with gorgeous, full-page, vibrant collaged illustrations, Peace and Me will be a valuable resource for classrooms, libraries and home. I particularly love how each biography shows what one person can do to help the world and support an aspect of peace, and how it also encourages readers to take action to promote peace in some way. I also like that Peace and Me begins with a brief biography of Alfred Nobel and his bequest to fund Prizes, thus providing context for the biographies. The addition of a timeline, world map, and endnote summarizing what peace is and asking “What does peace mean to you?” further the impact of this timely and beautiful book.

img_1605.jpg

Photograph of interior spread from Peace and Me

A Note about Craft:

A compilation of 12 (really 13, including Nobel) short biographies could quickly become tedious and boring, too listy. How does Winter avoid that? I think by starting with a definition of peace, “Peace is…”, for each honoree, and then relating that definition to a particular individual, Winter draws the reader into the narrative and provides a framework for examining each person and the concept of peace.

For younger children and more visually-minded readers, EL Fathi has hidden a young girl in every illustration.

From the book jacket, Ali Winter is “an experienced anthologist and non-fiction writer from the United Kingdom”. View more of French-Moroccan illustrator EL Fathi’s work on his website.

UK-based Lantana Publishing “is a young, independent publishing house producing inclusive picture books for children.” Lantana’s books are distributed in the US and Canada by Lerner Publisher Services.

Amnesty International has endorsed Peace and Me. Read a review at The Book Activist.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!