Good Reads With Ronna
is a proud participant in
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2015
Featuring Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day and we’re SO excited!! We’ve got one book from our friends at Lee and Low Books that we’re talking about today, and two more we’ll mention below that are also must-reads. But before you get the scoop about Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, learn about the origins of MCCBD and help us celebrate and promote diversity in kidlit. Use the hashtag #ReadYourWorld and spread the word!
THE MISSION OF MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY:
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is to create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.
You can find the MCCBD blog and links to all the other participating sites here.
REVIEW: Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Pick an instrument, any instrument – would you pick the trombone? Well, in Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, (Lee and Low, $18.95, Ages 4-8) by Katheryn Russell-Brown with illustrations by Frank Morrison, that’s exactly what Melba Doretta Liston did and never once looked back! This eye-opening fictionalized picture book biography recounts the story of a jazz pioneer whose contribution to the music industry is presented in irresistible prose and artwork certain to get your toes tapping and fingers snapping.
Born in pre-Depression Kansas City, Melba had the music in her from an early age. In fact making music would always matter to Melba. It was easy to be influenced when “avenues were lined with jazz club, street bands, and folks harmonizing on every corner.” From blues to jazz to gospel, Melba loved it all and soaked up all the sounds around her. At age seven she chose a “shiny trombone: from the traveling music store and, with the help of her grandpa and her keen ear, Melba learned how to play it.
Interior artwork from Little Melba and her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown with illustrations by Frank Morrison, Lee & Low Books, ©2014.
In the years following the Depression, things got tough financially for Melba’s mom so together the two moved to Los Angeles where Melba’s trombone talent really took off. Eventually, when she was just seventeen, Melba toured the country with trumpeter Gerald Wilson’s band. With the popularity of jazz sweeping the nation, Melba’s prowess on her beloved brass instrument stood out on stages everywhere. “She composed and arranged music, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs.”
This young woman was a musical force to be reckoned with. But the harsh realities of racial segregation she and the band experienced while touring down South meant “some white folks didn’t show good manners toward folks with brown skin.” This brought Melba to the brink of quitting, but ultimately she persevered, playing her horn with the likes of “Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and more.” She even toured briefly with Billie Holiday. Melba’s career took her around the world and garnered her numerous awards including being named Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, “the highest honor the U.S. gives to a jazz artist.”
Helpful back matter includes an Afterword, a Selected Discography and Author’s Sources. This pioneering, brass playing woman has left a legacy of music to learn and love, as well as a tale that begged to be told. I’m thrilled Russell-Brown found Melba’s inspiring story and conveyed it so beautifully. Russell-Brown’s words coupled with Morrison’s warm and spirited illustrations take us back in time so when we’re done reading we feel as if we’ve been on the road with Melba Liston, and that’s really something special! – Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Check out Lee and Low Books today for these and other diverse books:
Lend a Hand and The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen.
RELATED ACTIVITY: Make a musical instrument with your child
Simply get an empty toilet paper roll, scissors, wax paper, a rubber band (or masking tape), fun stickers, and something sharp like the point of the scissors (NOTE: for parents to do only!). Cut a piece of the wax paper that is large enough to completely cover the hole at one end with room to spare for fastening it down. Use a rubber band or masking tape to hold the wax paper in place. One option is to make small holes in the wax paper then have your child decorate the toilet roll with stickers or patterned duct tape and try out the sound. Another option is to make one hole in the part of the toilet paper roll that is not covered by the wax paper, and no holes in the wax paper. Have your child ompare the sounds these two types of kazoos make. Try making the instrument with a paper towel roll instead. Is the sound any different using a long paper roll? Will more holes cut into the toilet paper roll or paper towel rolls make the sounds change?
MORE ABOUT MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY
MCCBD Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents is now available.
MCCBD’s new Facebook page
MCCBD’s new Twitter using #ReadYourWorld
curated by Jenny Broom (author) and Katie Scott (illustrator)
(Big Picture Press, $35.00, Ages 8-12 – but will be enjoyed by all ages!)
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
✩Starred Reviews – Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Shelf Awareness
Turn off the TV, power down the devices, and take the children to the museum … simply by opening up this visually impressive book! Colorful, intricately drawn animal life forms, will instantly grab children’s attention.
Beginning with its oversize format and a bronze-colored admittance ticket, the book’s design was intended to create (or recreate) a museum visit. Turn the pages and step into the “museum.” At the “Entrance,” the “curators,” Jenny Broom and Katie Scott, welcome children and invite them to “See for yourself how the tree of life evolved from the simple sea sponge into the diverse array of animals found on Earth today (p.1).”
A breath-taking two page spread of the “Tree of Animal Life” follows. The curators explain that this unusual tree illustrates ” … how organisms that appear to be very different have … evolved from one another over millions of years … (p. 5).” Children (and adults) will find it fascinating to follow the branches up from the stem (Invertebrates) to see the development of, and interrelationships between, animal life forms. For example, a lungfish and a cockatoo once shared the Vertebrate branch. The curators note that the further away from the stem a species is, the more the species has evolved in order to survive.
As children continue turning pages, they enter individual “galleries” (or book chapters) which are ” … arranged by shared characteristics and in evolutionary order to show how the animal kingdom… (p.1) ” developed over eons of time into invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Interior spread from Animalium by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott, ©2014 Big Picture Press.
The curators encourage their young visitors to ” … look for characteristic similarities and read the text to find out more about how the animals are comparable. (p.1).” Each gallery also sports a “habitat diorama” where children can learn about the ecosystem that supports those animals and how they have adapted to life in that environment. In examining the Arctic Tundra, children will learn that many of the mammals there, such as the polar bear, are predatory carnivores, requiring the protein found in meat to help fuel the energy these animals need to keep warm.
Broom’s narrative is engaging and flows smoothly. While age appropriate, it is not simplistic nor condescending. Scientific vocabulary (cnidarian, amphibian, phylum) is used throughout the book with the meanings gracefully woven into the narrative.
Two page spreads feature general information and characteristics about a group of animals. A “Key to the plate” presents information specific to the animals found in the accompanying illustration, numbered like a field guide. Scott makes excellent use of the book’s oversized format with a stunning full-paged spread of the Emperor Penguins and a diagram of the Nile Crocodile’s skeleton. Other spreads, such as the European frog, cover the bottom halves of two pages. This enables Scott to effectively and sequentially depict the frog’s five stages of development from frogspawn to adult. Her intricate pen and ink drawings, digitally colored, are reminiscent of work done by artists and naturalists like John James Audubon.
Additional material in the book includes a preface by Dr. Sandra Knapp of the Natural History Museum of London, England stressing the importance of biodiversity and a “Library” of several online resources.
Check out Big Picture Press to see several images from the book and Candlewick Press for information on the author and the illustrator and to order your copy. Watch the YouTube book trailer below, too.
So visit a “museum” that never closes-and keep children engaged for many hours. Animalium is a highly recommended middle grade nonfiction book for home, schools, and public libraries plus there’s never an admission fee.
– Reviewed by Dornel Cerro
Celebrate All Hallows’ Eve With Comics:
Get free comic books & purchase mini-comics
to hand out instead of candy.
In homes across America, families are preparing for Halloween. Many are looking for a candy substitute, something to offer as a treat. Is there something sugar-free that will still bring a smile to kids’ faces? Consider this great idea – comic books!
Take note parents! On Saturday, October 25th, participating comic book shops will be handing out FREE comics to anyone who comes to their stores in celebration of Halloween ComicFest in addition to hosting special Halloween activities in communities across the US, Canada and internationally. There are 19 free comics available to choose from that are great for readers of all ages with titles that include, Scooby Doo and Batman Team Up, Marvel Secret Wars, My Little Pony, Afterlife with Archie, Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and more!
Also, it’s a great time to consider giving out comics instead of candy. So, while getting your free comics, pick up Halloween ComicFest Mini-Comic Packs because they’re “just as sweet and last a lot longer than candy!”
Each pack contains 20 mini-comics and are only available to purchase at comic book shops for just $4.99 per pack. Such a delicious deal that won’t get stuck in your teeth! There are seven titles to choose from which include Angry Birds, Betty and Veronica, Plants vs. Zombies, BOOM! Studios Fright Fest, LBX Little Battlers, Mermin and Vamplets. The Mini-Comic packs are a healthy alternative to candy, promote literacy, provide entertainment for families to enjoy, can be used as prizes for Halloween games or prizes used in the classroom.
Click here to find participating comic shops in your community.
“Our BOOM! Studios Halloween Fright Fest mini-comic, featuring stories from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Fraggle Rock, is sooooo sweet that you don’t need to eat any candy! Plus, you won’t get any cavities from reading it either. Because it’s comics!” – BOOM! Studios publisher.
“The LBX Halloween Comic-Fest sampler is better than candy because super-strong cardboard robots that battle each other on command are pretty much better than anything, right? And this new manga series is actually about super-strong cardboard robots who battle each other on command!
Kids will love LBX because it’s about kids who do tournament battles with super-strong cardboard robots that battle each other on command (which is, of course, better than candy…or most anything). It’s a kid-safe comic starring an actual kid trying to save the world with his paper robot. What’s not to love, really.
Handing out the LBX mini-comic will make even the dullest, apple-giving, toothbrush house the most popular because you can win anyone over with manga, even the most super-strong cardboard robot-hating neighbor kid. Only, since there aren’t any kids who hate super-strong cardboard robots (especially if they can battle each other on command), you don’t have to worry about that. Can’t help you with the toothbrushes, though.” – Joel Enos, editor of the Little Battlers comic from VIZ Media.
MIX IT UP! FUN FOR EVERYONE
Good Reads With Ronna recently interviewed notable Parisian artist and author Hervé Tullet via email before his upcoming trip to Los Angeles. Tullet, the creative force behind the best-selling Press Here, and his latest, Mix It Up!, will be at both MOCA & LACMA this weekend conducting mural workshops for children using his books as inspiration. Both books are published by Chronicle Books, cost $15.99 each, and are recommended for ages 3-5.
Mix It Up! is an interactive board book of the coolest kind. It’s the type of book children will reach for frequently, and each time engage with it in a new and exciting way. Picking up where Press Here left off – although each book stands on its own – Mix It Up! requires no battery or password. In fact it’s better than any app because youngsters get to hold the book in their hands and take a journey through color under Tullet’s expert tutelage. Note: Insert fab French accent here, “Tap that gray spot. Just a little, to see what happens.”
Written in the second person, Mix It Up! invites kids to place their hands on the page, close their eyes, and count to five then MIX IT UP! They can tap, rub, smudge and smoosh to their hearts’ content without getting a drop of paint on them. I couldn’t wait to turn each page to see what Tullet had in store. This book got me away from the computer and onto my feet, moving, tilting and turning pages to and fro, but really, it’s okay to read it seated as well! The best part is finding out what happens when various colors come together on the page. Tullet’s text will make each youngster interacting with Mix It Up! feel satisfied, successful and ready to smoosh some colors on their own. – Ronna Mandel
Good Reads With Ronna: At what age would you recommend parents begin introducing art to their children to look at? To engage in?
Hervé Tullet: Babies don’t know anything, which is why I think they know everything. With their eyes they experience everything as new and interpret everything without any prior experience. This is imagination. They are the artists, our real artists, that’s why I think that museums are the perfect place to feed them with colors and shapes and sensations without any restrictions (except maybe at feeding time!)
GRWR: Were you stirred and moved by art as young as age three – five like the age of the kids your books are geared to?
TULLET: It was a different time, and people didn’t raise children the way they do now. During my childhood, I learned a lot from being alone, from being bored, from not knowing. When I was a teenager, books and museum became my way out, my breath, my salvation
GRWR: Your new book is just so kid-friendly. Why do you think no one has thought of your brilliant idea for a book like Mix It Up! sooner?
TULLET: On the one hand, hand I think that ideas are in the air and everybody can catch them. That’s what happens when you find one; it looks like it came out of the blue. On the other hand, I think that it is a long process of maturation and that I spent lot of time on, nearly obsessed, to find, to think, to search, go on thinking again, erase, cut and at last find the ideas.
Press Here and Mix it Up! are the result of this long process, the high point of 20 years of exploration and work.
GRWR: By having kids get down on their hands and knees with some color and a paintbrush (at your workshops), while you’re out there motivating them, what are the things you’d like to achieve?
TULLET: I’m motivated by having a great time all together and making great memories. And maybe, from this experience, it will create a desire to have another one, or it will be a seed that will flourish later on, out of the blue. Or, maybe not exactly out of the blue.
GRWR: What do kids say to you after they’ve worked on the enormous mural?
TULLET: A look, a smile, a word, a hand shake, a kiss, a sign, a thank you. All these are so deep, so sincere, so true, to me that I accept all of them as true gifts.
Here’s some advice Tullet offers attendees to this weekend’s artsy workshops: “… one thing, please listen to my prompts very carefully. That’s it! That’s all what you have to do! Except the babies of course, they’re going to do whatever they’re going to do!”
Don’t miss Tullet’s L.A. appearances this weekend at MOCA & LACMA on Saturday, 10/11 and Sunday, 10/12. Head to L.A. Parent to get more details by clicking here. In that article, you can also read Tullet’s reply to my question: Is there anything you’d like to say to the families of L.A. and Southern California who will be attending your events? I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of his warm and welcoming response.
To purchase Press Here and Mix It Up! head to your local independent bookseller.
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Good Reads With Ronna and Oceanhouse Media
Celebrate the 17th Annual
Read Across America Day 2014
We’re happy to share some wonderful opportunities with you from Oceanhouse Media on the occasion of NEA’s Read Across America Day!
In honor of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and Read Across America Day, Oceanhouse Media has created this fantastic offering that we’re certain will mean smiles around!
-More than 60 Dr. Seuss apps are on sale for iOS and Android through March 6th, starting at just $.99. Find all the deals here
-On Monday, March 3rd (Read Across America Day) Oceanhouse Media will have hourly promo code giveaways on their Facebook page
from 12pm-5pm PST.
GIVE BOOKS AS GIFTS THIS YEAR
Today’s must-have, Santa Claus: All About Me (by Me), written and illustrated by Juliette and John Atkinson, (Minedition Books, $34.95, all ages) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
Santa Claus: All About Me by Juliette and John Atkinson, Minedition Books, 2013.
Santa Claus: All About Me (By Me) is simply a gorgeous book. Perfect for the Christmas-lover in your life, it is chock full of information and astounding artwork. The reader learns many interesting details about the evolution and history of Santa and Christmas throughout the world and the ages. For instance, did you know that Christmas was officially banned in England during 1647-1660 and then in America during 1659-1681? Christmas crackers—those fun, paper, party poppers—were invented by an English confectioner named Tom Smith in 1847. They have been an English tradition, filled with a paper crown, a trinket, and a joke, ever since. Today, Santa is seen as wearing red; however, earlier portrayals had him in luxurious green and blue gowns.
Interior image of poppers from Santa Claus: All About Me by Juliette and John Atkinson, Minedition Books, 2013.
Presented as Santa’s own scrapbook, and two years in the making, Santa Claus: All About Me has flaps, booklets, a sixpence, recipes, a 3-D snowflake, letters, and so much more to explore. Every time I open this book, I discover something new. The artwork ranges from historical representations of Santa, such as etchings, to photographs and paintings. A wide range of co-characters fills the pages. Some such as Mrs. Christmas (Mrs. Claus) and the elves are to be expected, but in comes Charles Darwin. What could possibly be the connection? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Santa Claus: All About Me is a wonderful choice for a coffee table or gift book that will provide hours of entertaining and informative reading, as well as a visual feast. Your family will look forward to taking it out, displaying and sharing it for years to come.