Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
By Duncan Tonatiuh
Published in 2014 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
For Grades 2-5
In 1947, seven years before Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was Mendez vs. Westminister, an early desegregation case whose ruling stated that all children in California were allowed to go to school together regardless of race, ethnicity, or language. Using illustrations influenced by ancient Aztec art, Tonatiuh tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family’s struggle against racist policy. Mendez being of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent in the 1940’s, only had the option of attending an inferior school designated solely for Hispanic children. Her parents did not accept this and made it their mission to change the injustice their children faced. Mendez went on to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for her work in educating others about her family’s work towards ending school segregation.
Pair this with a short listen to an NPR story also focusing on Sylvia Mendez.
By Rob McClurkan
Come September, I’m always on the lookout for quality fall-themed picture books that work well as a read aloud. There is an abundance of books with leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, or scarecrows but not a lot that will keep the attention of a classroom of kindergartners who just had fruit loops & powdered doughnuts for breakfast.
Then I came across a copy of Aw, Nuts! and figure kids will basically get hooked solely on the exaggerated frustration the title implies. Of course the squirrel narrator utters “Aw, nuts!” no less than ten times throughout the slapstick story of a squirrel who doesn’t quite understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Check out the book trailer
If you like contrasting could things get any crazier/Whew! structuring of this story I would also recommend Remy Charlip’s adventurous book Fortunately (1964).
The Farmer and the Clown
by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books 2014
Tenderhearted book about the kindness of strangers. No words are needed to tell the story of a young clown who is separated from his circus train and the farmer who takes care of him. Readers follow both characters as they are transformed by their friendship.
Mix it Up!
By Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books 2014
Hervé Tullet, author of the widely lauded Press Here (2010) which resulted in a landslide of interactive picture books being published has applied that formula rather successfully to his latest offering Mix It Up.
Children now able to swipe before they walk get results similar to a handheld screen in the pages of a book. All you have to do is follow directions then simply turn the pages getting a little poof of picture book magic.
Tullet allows readers to vicariously experiment with paint as well as introduces color combining in this fantastic work that promises to be yet another bestseller.
For children continuing to learn more about working with color, I suggest pairing Mix it Up with Mouse Paint (1995) by Ellen Stoll Walsh and Little Yellow and Little Blue (1959) by Leo Lionni.
By Dorothee de Monfried
Gecko Press, 2014
A tiger gets it’s just desserts in this delightfully snarky tale of failed collaboration.
I’m curious if the teddy bear has a gluten intolerance.
The Bear’s Sea Escape
By Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books 2014
We meet Papa Bear and Little Bear again in this follow up to Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. This time instead of hunting for his cub throughout an opera house, Papa Bear tails him from a snowed-in city to a faraway tropical island. Saturated colors and mountains of details to wade through make for a delightful picture book not just to read but study.
Very Little Red Riding Hood
By Heapy & Heap
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
The Big Bad Wolf has his work cut out for him after encountering a pint-sized girl on her way to Grandmama’s house. Very Little Red Riding Hood insists on calling him “Foxie”, she refuses to share her delicious cakes, and throws more than one tantrum before they even reach their destination. Heapy & Heap rearrange a classic in the most adorable way possible.
By Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books 2014
Explore the world outside at night in this brilliant and original wordless picture book by the author of Inside Outside. With the aid of a flashlight, we are shown contrasting color scenes that splice through the black and silver darkness.
Pig and Small
By Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers 2014
Friendship isn’t always easy, and pig & bug almost give up on theirs due to having incompatible sizes. They come to realize there are more things they can do together than can’t.
By William Bee
Nosy Crow Publishing 2014
Put on your hard hat and join Digger Dog in his hunt for a bone that turns out to be much bigger than expected. Rhyming text and fold out pages make for an engaging read with a surprise ending.
Recipient of the 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me delivers both a visual and emotional punch. It begins with a simple game played between an adoring son and his father, but just a few pages in the boy experiences a great loss. His father disappears, but not in the magical way that parents frequently go absent in children’s literature thus allowing children the narrative freedom to go on great adventures. The father of the boy in this story is simply gone.
“Papa, come home, ’cause I miss you, miss you waking me in the mornings and telling me you love me. Papa, come come ’cause there are things I don’t know, and when I get older I thought you could teach me.”
The story is a sad one, but not uncommon. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me is based on the author, who at three years old experienced his father being incarcerated. As an adult, Beaty an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and composer produced this version to “…tell the story of loss from a child’s perspective and also to offer hope that every fatherless child can still create the most beautiful life possible”.
Definitely check out the author performing the monologue that inspired the picture book.