Have you ever stopped to think about the power we possess in our hands? I mean, in this very moment I am using my hands to type this post. I’m using them to push my glasses further up my nose every so often. Earlier I used them to turn the pages of some amazing picture books that I will review here on the blog. So with that idea in mind, I present These Hands written by Hope Lynne Price and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This is a beautiful picture book that will teach young children about everything that hands can do. Some are immediately relatable, such as tickling, writing, and clapping. Others, such as helping grandma to walk, may lead children to learn about new experiences.
The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Firstly, many have a textured element that is different from standard illustrations. Secondly, the illustrator does a great job conveying action. There is a page where the main character is getting her hair done and it looks so lively. I could swear I could actually see her mother parting her hair.
Dearest Book Lovers, do you have older siblings? Can you recall instances where you got frustrated because they were able to experience things first? Perhaps your kiddos can relate and desire the chance to one up their big sister/brother. If these sentiments ring familiar, then you’ll love Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen.
Jasmine is tired of doing everything after her big sister Sophie. Just once she wants to lead the way in doing something and she wants it to be something BIG! When her family comes into town to celebrate the New Year, divine inspiration strikes. Jasmine is going to help pound the rice used to make mochi, a yummy dessert they enjoy during their celebration. Pounding mochi is a task typically reserved for the men in the family as it requires lots of strength to execute properly. Rolling the mochi balls is what the girls and women do and this year is the first time that Sophie is old enough to participate. Yet another task where Jasmine cannot be the first! So she sets out to become the first girl in her family to pound mochi. Will Jasmine’s father think she’s tough enough to join in? Will her mom and grandmother, with their focus on tradition, allow her shake up the rules? Grab a copy of Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen to find out!
Your young reader will enjoy this tale of determination and relate to Jasmine’s desire to create her own path in life. She is truly a character that you will find yourself cheering on. Bonus? Jasmine Toguchi is a series so you can enjoy more of this spirited character. The way this page turner gently brings you into its world and makes everything so engaging, I am certain you will like to read more. And if you find that this sweet read leaves you craving a little treat, there is helpful surprise at the end of the book that can help you out. 😉
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen was written by Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. It is for young readers 6-9 years old.
Grief can be an overwhelming emotion to navigate. How are you supposed to handle seeing and talking to someone everyday and then one day they’re just totally gone? It is difficult for everyone, especially children. With their pure view of the world, they ask the questions that adults don’t have real answers to: What happens when we die? Where does the soul go?
In the beautifully written Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Rita Williams-Garcia presents the story of Clayton Byrd–Bluesman in training. He loves nothing more than to spend time with his grandfather and play his harmonica. Cool Papa is a blues musician and Clayton studies under him every chance he gets. This is much to his mother’s frustration since Juanita doesn’t care for the lifestyle that comes along with the music world.
When Cool Papa dies unexpectedly, it sends Clayton and his mother through a whirlwind of emotions. Juanita tries to reconcile losing the father that she had a tense relationship with ; the father that she felt abandoned her during childhood. Clayton is shattered having lost his best friend. His mom didn’t love Cool Papa the way he did. How could she possibly understand how he feels? Wrapped up in emotions Clayton skips school and what follows is a crazy adventure that involves traveling through the subway system, playing music for money with a group of teenage boys, and the police! To learn more about the outcome, grab a copy of Clayton Byrd Goes Underground from your local book retailer or library.
It’s the last day of school and Sasha Savvy is excited to put fourth grade behind her and start summer vacation. She is looking forward to visiting local museums and traveling with family. The biggest excitement of all? Summer camp! As she tries to decide on what classes to take, her mother introduces her to a new option–coding.
Sasha Savvy Loves to Code, written by Sasha Ariel Alston and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, tells the story of how Sasha Savvy becomes interested in coding. This book provides readers with a high level understanding of the computer language and how programmers use it develop apps, games, and more. It breaks down the process of coding with a helpful acronym- Communicate, Organize, Demonstrate, Express. In addition to informing, Sasha Savvy also promotes girls getting involved in STEM and having the tenacity to achieve all of their dreams.
My favorite part of Sasha Savvy Loves to Code is that it takes readers on a realistic journey. We start with Sasha being unfamiliar with coding and questioning if she’ll enjoy it. Then she learns enough to peak her interest and goes on to persuade her best friends to join her. Once in coding class, Sasha’s enthusiasm is temporarily dampened but she receives the support necessary to regain her focus. All of that feels so realistic of children that age!
Sasha Savvy Loves to Code is an informative and inspirational read. It is an early reader chapter book for book lovers 7-10 years old
This past weekend I attended the Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference. As a first timer, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I knew that I was excited to be surrounded by other creators dedicated to increasing diversity within children’s literature. I walked in with an open mind, ready to learn.
The experience was phenomenal! The lessons learned and connections forged far surpassed my expectations. If you are a person of color who is interested in writing or illustrating, here are the top five reasons why Kweli is the best conference for creators of color.
5. Rare opportunity to mingle with writers and illustrators you’ve admired for years. There are so many notable people milling around, participating in panels, and signing books that it can feel a tad surreal. Like, you mean I can just walk up to this literary ICON and say hello?? Yes, that’s precisely what we mean. During the lunch break I was able to speak with Pat Cummings and tell her that her illustrations have heightened some of my favorite childhood books. Just Us Women anyone? Classic.
4. Infectious energy. Everyone at Kweli was so welcoming and genuinely excited for the day. People were reconnecting with friends made during past conferences and meeting new folks. My introverted side tends to show up more during events like this. Fortunately, Kweli was more family reunion than scary and I appreciated that.
3. Diverse workshop tracks means there’s something for EVERYONE! Do you have a fully developed manuscript that needs feedback? There are special sessions for that. Are you new to the field and curious about the publishing world? There are workshops for that. Regardless of your stage in writing/illustrating, there was truly something for everyone at the Kweli.
2. The speakers and panelists are all leading experts in the field. I think this speaks for itself. Everyone from the master class instructors to the keynotes speakers to the panelists are leaders in the field of literature. They were tapped to participate because they’ve honed their craft and have the ability to teach others.
1. It’s for us and by us. This is a conference planned by people of color, for creators of color, to help children of color see themselves represented more frequently in literature. And that, dear readers, is a beautiful thing!
I am forever changed by my experience at the Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference. I can’t wait until 2020!
When people ask if I have a favorite book, I usually say no. I mean, I have read so many enjoyable books in my life that it is impossible to narrow it down to just one!
Well, I have a confession. I definitely have a top book. A book from my childhood that stands out so clearly that I still remember the first time I read it–back in first grade! It is a book that, when I ran across it unexpectedly in my neighborhood library, I gasped. Out loud. Literally. It is just that special to me.
So I’m sure you’re reading this and saying, “Enough already! What is this fabulous book?” The book is entitled Flossie & the Fox, written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. Flossie Finley is a precious young African American girl. One day Flossie’s grandmother asks her to take some food to a neighbor. In doing so, she warns her to watch out for any foxes because they can be very sly. Certainly enough, Flossie encounters the fox in the woods. He wants to get the tasty treats in her basket but Flossie is one step ahead. I won’t spoil the entire plot but just know that she outsmarts the fox in a masterful way.
Flossie & theFox is a beautifully written book. It captures Southern dialect and the unique voice of each character in a way that makes reader feel like they’re right there watching the action unfold. Moreover, the story contains a very critical lesson that parents will want to discuss with children: You should never let anyone tell you who are or are not. They don’t have say over your character and you should never give them any power to think they do.
This book is perfect for little readers 4-8 years old.
From both her parents, Michelle learned to dream big.
Throughout her life, dreaming big is what allowed Michelle Robinson Obama to achieve success during her life. Michelle, written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by AG Ford, chronicles the future First Lady’s life from childhood to the night she danced at her first inaugural ball as an adult. Michelle was born to parents who valued education and instilled that into their children. Whether it was learning to read at a young age or becoming middle school salutatorian, or gaining admission into an Ivy League institution, she always pursued academic excellence.
Her perseverance paid off and she started working at a law firm soon after graduating from Law School. There, she met a young man who was passionate about serving the community. Michelle was impressed by his drive and they started dating. That man was Barack Obama. Together, they dreamed big about the ways they could help this country to be even better and create unity among all people. When Barack ran for President of the United States, Michelle was right by his side. On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the U.S. The woman who grew up on Chicago’s South Side became the First Lady of the U.S. Barack and Michelle Obama (along with their two daughters) made history as they became the first Black First Family. It was a historic moment that many people will never forget.
From Michelle Obama we can all learn a valuable lesson: If you dream big and put in the work to actualize those dreams, you can accomplish anything.
Michelle is for readers 7 and up.
This is another selection in our Women’s History Month series. In the comments below, tell me what other powerful women you’d like to read about.
In honor of March being Women’s History Month, here at Peachy Reads we’re going to highlight some books about strong, powerful women who have made or are continuing to make a difference in the world.
Oprah Winfrey is best known for building a media empire that began with her eponymous daytime talk show. She is the first Black woman to become a billionaire. However, Oprah was not born into a life of privilege and wealth. In Oprah: The Little Speaker, readers gain more insight into Oprah’s childhood. Raised by her grandmother, she was taught to read and write at a very young age. This laid the foundation for her to become a strong orator. While this endeared her to adults, it left her open to teasing from her peers.
Although Oprah faced various challenges throughout her adolescence, it was clear that God had a bigger plan for her life. He placed people and opportunities in her life to set her up for success. Oprah: The Little Speaker was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by London Ladd. It is for readers 6-8 years old.
In the comments below answer this question: If you could ask Oprah Winfrey one question, what would it be and why?
For a young boy growing up in the projects of Connecticut, life can be pretty difficult. For soon to be ten year old Reeve McClain, Jr., it is like living in Never Land. Everyone is angry, fighting, abusing drugs and alcohol, and using weapons. It seems like the only option in a neighborhood that doesn’t nurture the dreams of children. Despite this, Reeve (best known as Junebug) holds on to his dream of sailing a boat with every fiber of his being. Through everything–losing a big brother figure, looking after his little sister, and handling an aunt who lacks family loyalty–Junebug focuses on a special act on birthday that he hopes will turn his dreams into reality.
Junebug is a very captivating read. I found my heart truly aching for everything this boy had to endure when he should be afforded the opportunity to just be a child. The biggest lesson that readers can take away from this book is that it is always appropriate to be true to yourself and resist negative peer pressure. A dream and determination is often all you need to get out of trying situations.
Most of us know that Mardi Gras is a celebration that is observed in New Orleans. We know about the parties, the vibrant colors, and the excitement that washes over the city. By reading, On Mardi Gras Day, we can take that understanding to another level. This picture book tells the story of two siblings who partake in all the jubilation. Readers learn about the various parades that take place such as Zulu, which makes fun of the Southern traditions that once separated Black and White people. You will also read about the Mardi Gras Indians who parade in the streets wearing elaborate costumes while singing and chanting.
The celebration is also about fellowship with loved ones. The children enjoy a large lunch with their extended family and play in the streets with friends. Personally, I’ve never researched Mardi Gras so I learned a lot from this book. Mardi Gras 2019 is on March 5th so kick off the celebration with this informative read!