Featuring Jane Addams Artist and 2017 Caldecott Winner Javaka Steptoe #JACBA Newsletter 15Jul2017

Profile of 2017 Caldecott Medal and CSK Illustrator Award winner Javaka Steptoe by Azure Thompson

Javaka’s commitment to this truth is evident in his more-than-two-decade career of illustrating black faces and bodies in various settings and situations. His first book, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, shows the diversity of relationships among black grandfathers, fathers, and children.

The night after Javaka won the Caldecott Medal, he told a roomful of librarians in Seattle, Washington, that the award means his voice will be amplified. It will help ensure that he continues to tell stories about the black experience, as he is committed to expanding the boundaries of how we see people of color. And it ensures that we will listen to him more than ever before.

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Caldecott Medal winner for best picture book visits Skokie

It took illustrator and writer Javaka Steptoe five to six years to complete his multi-award winning picture book on the early life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

It took an eager group of children less than an hour to recreate some of the book’s story of Basquiat in a playful version Monday at the Skokie Public Library.

“Art is the street games of little children, in our style and the words that we speak,” Steptoe writes. “It’s how the messy patchwork of the city creates new meaning for ordinary things.”

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Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, with collage art of Javaka Steptoe 2005 Awardee

Library: Read, white and blue

“Give Me Liberty! The story of the Declaration of Independence,” by Russell Freedman. For upper age elementary students, this noted work begins with the early events of the Revolutionary War and leads up to the writing of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson. The impact of this important document is also discussed.

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman 2017 Awardee

Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman 2007 Awardee

Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freedman 1995 Awardee

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman 1994 Awardee

Books that celebrate America’s diversity and freedom

“Blue Sky White Stars” by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Penguin, 2017

This seemingly “simple” book with its spare, profound text and sumptuously rich illustrations should be read slowly; a quick read does not do it justice.

Blue Sky White Stars is a deep reflection on what the American flag stands for and what it means to be an American. We are a nation of proud people of every color and we stand together as one, working hard to be the extraordinary country that we are – a country that defines freedom

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Check Out Kadir Nelson’s Gorgeous Illustrations from Blue Sky White Stars

Blue Sky White Stars is the picture book we wish we’d owned as kids. Written by Sarvinder Naberhaus, the book features simple, stunning verses inspired by the American flag. Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous illustrations bring the text to life, depicting iconic moments throughout the nation’s history and celebrating the country’s diverse population.

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The Village That Vanished written by Ann Grifalconi and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2003 Awardee

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2012 Awardee

The Brilliance of Lucille Clifton

Clifton wrote about immensely intimate things with unsparing vision. She also wrote some 22 children’s books. As her first collection title, Good Times, suggests, she knew how to find and exalt celebration and joy. Such a reflex was necessary in a difficult life, one that started with sexual abuse and poverty, and later saw illness (cancer and kidney problems) as well as the deaths of her husband and two of her children.

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Amifika by Lucille Clifton 1978 Awardee

Samantha Smith’s mother said it is a true honor that Artek still remembers her daughter

Jane Smith, mother of the U.S. schoolgirl Samantha Smith, said it is a true honor that Russia’s Artek summer camp devoted its new session of the 2017 season to her daughter.

Samantha Smith visited the USSR in 1983 as the Goodwill Ambassador and became a symbol of international child diplomacy. In 1981, Smith wrote a letter to the head of the USSR with questions about concerns related to the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, and two years later she visited Artek. This year, she would be 45 years old.

“It is so important that we are all continuing to work hard toward making this a safer world for future generations,” Jane Smith stated.

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On this day: Samantha Smith visited the Soviet Union

Mikhail Gorbachev had sent his condolences to her family, saying that “Everyone in the Soviet Union who knew Samantha Smith will forever remember the image of the American girl who, like millions of young Soviet men and women, dreamt about peace and about friendship between the peoples of the United States and Soviet Union.”

Smith attracted huge media attention in both countries as a “Goodwill Ambassador” and became known as “America’s Youngest Ambassador.”

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Journey to the Soviet Union by Samantha Smith 1986 Awardee

Authors, illustrators named for Words & Pictures series

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures has announced the 2017-2018 lineup for Words & Pictures, its children and young adult writers series.

Katherine Paterson, Dec. 3, has twice won the Newbery Medal for “Bridge to Terabitha” and “Jacob Have I Loved,”plus the National Book Award for both “The Master Puppeteer” and “The Great Gilly Hopkins.”

Bryan Collier, Feb. 4, a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient and a six-time Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award recipient who combines watercolor and detailed collage in his depictions of Martin Luther King Jr., Roberto Clemente and President Barack Obama.

Melissa Sweet, March 11, has illustrated more than 80 children’s books, including the Caldecott Honor books “The Right Word and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams.”

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The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson 2003 Awardee

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson 1979 Awardee

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. written by Doreen Rappaport with artwork by Bryan Collier 2002 Awardee

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 2014 Awardee

Literary Festival to feature acclaimed writers, workshop, book fair and more

The first ever Flint Literary Festival takes flight July 21-22 with a lineup of four acclaimed writers with Flint roots, along with panel discussions, book-signing receptions and a fiction writing workshop.

The festival’s featured authors, all acclaimed and much-published, are poet Sarah Carson, novelists Christopher Paul Curtis and Christine Maul Rice, and short story writer Kelsey Ronan.

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Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis 2008 Awardee

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis 1996 Awardee

Edwidge Danticat Wrestles With Death, in Life and in Art

In her latest book, “The Art of Death,” Danticat writes about her mother’s death from cancer a few years ago, and the last months she spent by her mother’s bedside remembering the stories and jokes and walks they shared, and trying to piece together – or imagine – her early life and the years they’d lived in different cities or countries.

The reader gradually comes to understand why the author is circling around and around an almost unbearable loss: As a grieving daughter, she wants to understand how others have grappled with this essential fact of human existence; and as a writer – a “sentence-maker,” in the words of a DeLillo character – she wants to learn how to use language to try to express the inexpressible, to use her art to mourn.

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Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation written by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub 2016 Awardee


A Kickstarter campaign launched June 20 to help provide financing for the film “The Bessie Coleman Story”, which will be the fourth in a series of Sweet Blackberry’s animated shorts. Award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne will narrate the film, while celebrated illustrator R. Gregory Christie will bring Bessie’s story to life visually.

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The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie 2016 Awardee

The Porchlight: Episode Ten with Cynthia Levinson & Donna Janell Bowman

Episode 10 features Cynthia Levinson, author of We’ve Got a Job; Watch Out for Flying Kids: How Two Circuses, Two Countries and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community; Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can; The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Henricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist (illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton) and the forthcoming Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights and the Flaws that Affect us Today (with co-author Sanford Levinson)…

Our Porchlight conversation with Cynthia and Donna explores their love of discovering true stories through research and finding fascinating hidden histories. They discuss their publishing journey, as well as how illustrations enhance the tone of picture book biographies.

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We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson 2013 Awardee

What is the most popular Irish book?

One way of measuring popularity is to look at library holdings: the number of appearances by an author or work in library collections worldwide. Libraries reflect popular interest. However, they also reflect scholarly interest and have collected the published output of nations over time. Library collections are where world literature is stewarded and defined.

Rounding out the top five most popular works by an Irish author include Eve Bunting [born in Maghera in 1928, the US-based author of more than 250 novels, most for children].

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The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting 1990 Awardee

Children’s Primers Court the Littlest Radicals

Those books and their reform-minded kin have descended like crickets on indie stores and megachains, their authors, by turns upbeat or admonitory, addressing themes of immigration, climate change, racial and ethnic diversity, feminism and gender identification, all gathered under the rubric of social justice.

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This art belongs to the people – and Miami’s outdoors (for now)

Through August, replicas of select artworks owned by PAMM are displayed in parks, on the beach, along a canal and throughout city streets in three Miami neighborhoods: Little Haiti, Surfside and North Miami Beach.

The project name says it all: Inside/Out.

Off Northeast Second Avenue in Little Haiti Soccer Park, visitors will find a graphic mask-like face entitled “Big Black” by Faith Ringgold, a floral riot by Beatriz Milhazes and a dramatically different take on tropical foliage by the late pop-art master James Rosenquist.

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Despite these disappointments, Ringgold persisted-and was rewarded for doing so. She eventually became famous for the children’s book Tar Beach, about growing up in Harlem, as well as others, most notably We Came to America. I’ve read both to my daughter without realizing Ringgold’s history as an artist. But if the children’s books are popular (and they are, immensely), her political art is essential in another way. “I’m the one who has to speak up for who I am and what my story is,” she says. “I’m the one gotta say what I was doing in the ’70s when other people were keeping quiet.”

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Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold 1993 Awardee

Kids Books: Carole Boston Weatherford will release four new picture books this year

Her books of poetry for children have won honors and awards almost every year, and she is on track to publish four picture books of poetry this year.

“The Legendary Miss Lena Horne” is a beautiful biography written in free verse by Weatherford and illustrated by collage and paint artist Elizabeth Zunon. Released in January of this year, the book has garnered positive reviews. Weatherford uses free verse to describe the life of the first-ever African-American actress to be under contract to a studio.

A second picture-book biography written by Weatherford and released in February is “Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression,” illustrated by Sarah Greene and published by Albert Whitman and Co. In the 1930s, Dorothea Lange was a female photographer who managed to bring the attention of the nation to people forgotten and neglected during a time of national crisis.

Weatherford also will publish two other picture books in September, both illustrated by exemplary veteran artists.

“In Your Hands,” illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Simon & Schuster), is a poetic ode to motherhood. Weatherford incorporates her own hopes and dreams for her son with those of many African-American mothers into a poem.

“Schomurg, The Man Who Built a Library,” illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Candlewick), is another picture biography. Readers may recognize the name given to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

In 2018, readers will look forward to Weatherford’s “Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You,” illustrated by James Ransome, and published by Bloombury.

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Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford 2008 Awardee

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney 2011 Awardee

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney 2010 Awardee

Sherman Chamber Ensemble presents two concerts July 8

The Sherman Library and Sherman Chamber Ensemble present “Famous Children’s Stories in a Musical Setting” in a free concert for families and kids of all ages at the Sherman Public Library Barn.

The Ensemble will also present “Mirette on the High Wire” – an original composition by Bailen for cello and flute. Based on the children’s picture book written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, published in 1992. Mirette lives in a boardinghouse in France. One day her life is changed by a man named Bellini, a famous tightrope walker, who teaches Mirette how to walk on a tightrope.

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The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom by Emily Arnold McCully 2008 Awardee

SUNY Plattsburgh nets $13K ‘Big Read’ grant

The $13,500 “Big Read” grant will help fund a community-wide reading program.

The program is set to kick off in April of 2018, in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Celebrate Diversity Month and National Poetry Month.

Louise Erdrich’s “The Round House” – a 2012 coming of age story about a Native American boy’s experience in the wake of a racist attack on his mother – has been chosen as the first community read.

Six institutions and organizations elected to feature “The Round House” for their Big Reads for 2018.

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 2000 Awardee

Flight School, The Musical

SYNOPSIS: It’s the first day of Flight School, where they teach birds to fly. Penguin has the soul of an eagle and is ready to live on the wind. But he wasn’t built to soar, as the other birds constantly remind him. Penguin’s spirit won’t be grounded. With some friends of a feather, and a little help on the technical parts, Penguin follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! With book by Cara Lustik, music by David Mallamud, and lyrics by Joshua H. Cohen, Flight School The Musical is based on the book Flight School from best-selling author Lita Judge.

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One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II by Lita Judge 2008 Awardee

‘Rickshaw Girl’ Film Adaptation to Bring Bangladeshi Muslims to Silver Screen

A popular children’s book about a Bangladeshi girl who decides to disguise herself as a boy in order to work and help pull her family out of poverty is being adapted for the big screen.

First published in 2007, Mitali Perkins’s “Rickshaw Girl,” follows Naima, the daughter of a rickshaw driver who lives with her family outside of a large city. Already acknowledged as a gifted artist with a flair for creating “alpanas”- painted designs created with rice flour and water popular in Bangladesh and West Bengal – Naima longs to be able to use her talents to help her parents. To do so, she decided to dress as a boy and go out into the working world.

“I lived in Bangladesh for three years and I speak Bangla,” Perkins told NBC News, adding that she worked with several non-government organizations and became familiar with the work of the microlending platform Grameen Bank during that time.

“I was talking to women and I’d hear how empowering it was for women to be able to contribute to the family economically,” she said. “The idea was just in my mind.”

Given the setting and Perkins’ own personal history, she said she is particularly happy “Rickshaw Girl” will be directed by a Bangladeshi filmmaker, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, and that the Bangladeshi-American writer Sharbari Z. Ahmed will assist with the screenplay as a script consultant.

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Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrations by Jamie Hogan 2008 Awardee

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges
books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the
Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace,
justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books
also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Read more about the 2017 Awards.

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