Feminist Children’s Books & Explorations of Gender Stereotypes #JACBA Newsletter 24Nov2017

Book Highlight: part 3

This third installment of our multi-part series on the 2017 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features an introduction given by Book Award Committee Member Jenice Mateo-Toledo for We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, written by Russell Freedman, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, named an Honor Book in the Books for Older Children category.

Introduction by Jenice Mateo-Toledo

Russell Freedman writes:

The year was 1942 and World War II was in its third year, leaflets began to appear mysteriously in mailboxes all over Nazi Germany…. A person could not be too careful. Anyone caught with a seditious leaflet was marked as an enemy of the state and could land in a concentration camp, or worse… Neatly typed documents headed [with]… “Leaflets of the White Rose…” assailed the Nazi dictatorship as evil, denounced Adolf Hitler as a liar and blasphemer, and called on the German people to rise up and overthrow the Nazi regime.“ [but]… Who was the White Rose?…

Russell Freedman expertly utilizes eloquent prose, first hand accounts, and carefully curated black and white images to transport the reader to a time when German citizens were disappearing, when rumors of death camps were swirling, and when speaking out in public would warrant a visit from the Gestapo. It was a time when children were indoctrinated through their participation in the Hitler Youth Program, and the culture of fear and violence permeated every aspect of German life.

Yet… there was resistance.

The Scholl family and their like-minded friends were outraged by the occurrences in their country, and longed for the days when they spoke freely. They would not idly stand by and allow their beloved country to fall unchallenged into the hands of leaders who lost their humanity. No… the culture of fear and intimidation did not stop Hans and Sophie Scholl, along with other youth who attended Munich University. Instead, they met in secret to create the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that focused on publicizing Nazi atrocities and called on citizens to resist the Nazi regime. The students secretly cranked out thousands of leaflets in their hand-operated mimeograph machines and disseminated copies widely. Under the leadership of Hans and Sophie Scholl, this group of brave young students became the conscience of a nation, through printed word, when it appeared that all humanity was lost.

For creating a book that inspires young people to resist tyranny and oppression in our world, for reminding us all about the power of the printed word, and for sharing Han’s final words with us… “Long Live Freedom!”…

I present the Jane Addams Honor Children’s Book Award, in the Books for Older Children Category to Russell Freedman.

Acceptance speech by Dinah Stevenson, Editor at Clarion



14 Feminist Children’s Books To Give To The Young Activists In Your Life This 2017 Holiday Season

‘The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist’ by Cynthia Levinson

9 year old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in The Youngest Marcher, a moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

‘The World Is Not a Rectangle A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid’ by Jeanette Winter

Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. In The World is Not a Rectangle, get to know Zaha Hadid and her triumph over adversity to become one of the most famed architect’s in the world.

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

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter 2010 Awardee

Educational Leadership Summit preparing educators to lead the learning effort

As a child in a migrant Mexican family, Francisco Jimenez had a hard time learning English in California schools as he needed to travel with his family to follow the crops.

Jimenez, a retired professor and author of several books, was the keynote speaker for the third educational leadership summit for Monterey County educators at the Inn at Spanish Bay.

Jimenez used his own story to illustrate the importance of multicultural education. Students who see themselves reflected in the curriculum feel valued in school and gain more interest in their studies, he said.

“I had a traumatic experience when I went to school,” he said. “Many, many years ago, we were not allowed to speak our language. As a matter of fact, we were punished for it. The language we use communicates our cultures, communicates who we are. If my language is not appreciated and valued in school, the message is that I, as a person, I’m not valued.”

And that’s why it’s important to value all languages and cultures, Jimenez said. Not just Latino cultures but also Afro-American, Asian American, Native American, and all the cultures that have found a home in the United States.

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The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jiménez 1998 Awardee

Rosie O’Donnell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and others contribute to new anthology How I Resist

“When is a YA publisher going to put together an anthology of essays about resistance?”

How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation, [is] an essay collection featuring contributions from celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and Jessie Tyler Ferguson, and authors like Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, and many more.

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Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee


Lowry’s favorite book was a book called “Indian Captive” written by Lois Lenski. She was heavily inspired by this book.

“I discovered my love for books and I could relate to the character in the book,” said Lowry. “When I started writing books, I got a letter from a girl talking about how she loved that book and thought it was me.” She apologized and stated it was Lenski who wrote “Indian Captive”.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 1990 Awardee

Mansfield students raising money for Sudan water project

On Tuesday, fifth-grade students at Jordan-Jackson Elementary School will walk a mile around their school with pairs of students carrying a gallon of water in a quest to raise $15,000 to aid Water for South Sudan, a charity that drills new wells and rehabilitates others in the African nation to make drinking water available to all.

The students recently participated in the the 2017 Global Read Aloud by reading “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. The story recounts the extraordinary 1985 experiences of Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy” of South Sudan and blends in a fictional character living in South Sudan in 2009.

While reading the book, the students were moved to help the people of South Sudan by holding a walk-a-thon.

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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park 2011 Awardee

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park 2003 Awardee

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico’s first steps

“Danza! Amalia Hernandez and Folklorico de Meico” written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh is a work of art in many ways. It should inspire parents to give their children some leeway in where their interests take them.

The book includes a glossary, rich history and spectacular art making it a worthy addition to any child’s library.

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Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight for desegregation, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh 2015 Awardee

Reading Corner: Celebrate Native American stories and Thanksgiving

The November calendar celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month and the Thanksgiving holiday, so now is a fitting time to introduce the family to the works of a prolific author, Joseph Bruchac. An award-winning poet and storyteller of 120 works for children and adults from upstate New York, he draws upon his family’s Abenaki ancestry to bring to life stories centering on Native Americans.

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The Heart of a Chief by Joseph Bruchac 1999 Awardee

This new film series will make you painfully aware of gender inequality in the art world

The series is separated into past, present and future. The first video, “Past,” features some art world heavyweights, including sculptor Barbara Zucker, co-founder of A.I.R. Gallery (the first artist-run gallery for women in the U.S.), alongside artist and activist Faith Ringgold, figurative painter Joan Semmel, early new media pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson, and art advisor Todd Levin.

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

THEATER REVIEW Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White

Despite significant writing credits, Alice Childress’ steadfast refusal to compromise in her depictions of injustice lurking in the shadows of our nation’s history has resulted in a half-century of drama students imbued with the erroneous impression that the sole African-American playwright previous to August Wilson was a one-play-wonder named Lorraine Hansberry. Audiences in 1966 may have been ready for Herman’s mother spewing forth racist epithets belying her patrician affectations, but they balked at hearing those whom she abused engage in offensive diatribes directed at likewise marginalized minorities.

The Artistic Home has displayed a welcome willingness to recognize this all-but-unknown author’s significant contributions to the North American literary canon, however. Although Childress’ script, by virtue of its period, could have succumbed to heavy-handed melodrama, Cecilie Keenan’s direction keeps the action in this meticulously crafted production flowing smoothly and effortlessly, while an ensemble of marathon-sturdy actors deliver emotively nuanced performances, enhanced by Joseph Cerqua’s wistful incidental music. They all remind us that tragic tales of love thwarted by filial obligation and societal pressure in an age characterized by pessimism, xenophobia and divisive unrest have not diminished in their timeliness.

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A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich by Alice Childress 1974 Awardee

Book examines labor history through music of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the 1913 Calumet Massacre

Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913. Wolff explores the 20th century through the lives and songs of Dylan and Guthrie, which led him to the story of the tragedy on Christmas Eve 1913 in Calumet.

The ‘1913 Massacre’ is the same kind of testament to a sort of lost chance. And a lost hope. Guthrie wrote it, as you say, during the Second World War. And it’s, you know, Guthrie was famous for saying, ‘I write songs that build you up, that give you hope.’ This isn’t one of them. This is about a massacre and a tragedy.“

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This Land Is Your Land words and music by Woody Guthrie, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen, 1999 Awardee

Benway, Bidart, Gessen, and Ward Win 2017 National Book Awards

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson took the stage to name Jesmyn Ward the winner of the National Book Award in Fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner). It is Ward’s second NBA for Fiction, and she is the first black person and the first woman to win two NBAs.

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Jamie Hogan Book Launch: Ana and the Sea Star

Peaks Island illustrator Jamie Hogan will have a program at the Peaks Island Library to launch her new picture book, Ana and the Sea Star, written by R. Lynne Roelfs and illustrated by Jamie.

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

The Best Animated Film of the Year Confronts Islamic Misogyny

Nora Twomey’s ‘The Breadwinner,’ executive-produced by Angelina Jolie, is a harrowing-and spellbinding-exploration of life under Taliban rule.

Far from light and frivolous, it’s a lament for the continuing persecution of women in a land beset by endless conflict, as well as a tribute to those valiant females, young and old alike, who refuse to reside quietly in the shadows.

… this parable speaks to fiction’s ability to embolden, and define-which is also true of The Breadwinner itself, a movie whose own narrative aims to affect change by speaking defiant truth to sexist authority.

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Children’s literature still in an utopian state, says Malayalam writer N S Madhavan

Extending his argument further, Madhavan said books such as Bread Winner and Sparrow Girl authored by Deborah Ellis and Sara Pennypacker have sought to break the stereotypes surrounding women in general and girls in particular by highlight the role that protagonists Parvana and Ming Li play in Afghanistan and China in the two novels respectively. “Children’s literature should break such stereotypes and bring the readers in sync with modern realities,” he argued.

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Using Her Imagination: Nora Twomey’s ‘The Breadwinner’ follows an Afghan girl’s struggle for her family

“Deborah Ellis went to Pakistan and interviewed a lot of Afghan women who were in refugee camps and that’s what she based her book on,” explained Twomey while attending the world premiere of The Breadwinner at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

“Certainly, my biggest challenge on the film was not being able to go to Afghanistan myself and not being able to time-travel back to the period,” Twomey confides. “There was not much photographic reference as to what it was like during that period, because photography was banned. That was difficult. Having to make sure that I talked to enough people who understood the time that we portray in the film so that it could be authentic as possible and making sure that the time pressures never got to the point if someone pointed out and said, ‘That wouldn’t happen at that time.’ Or a prop doesn’t look like it should exist in Kabul. We were always respectful of that and responded to that. It was important.”

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Interview: Saara Chaudry Calls The Breadwinner a Hopeful Story About the Power of Girls’ Education

Parvana is voiced by 13-year-old Saara Chaudry. Chaudry’s lends her voice to Parvana, who herself plays several roles.

Saara Chaudry: When I was 9 I asked my librarian to recommend a book for me to read over March break. She handed me the Breadwinner. I started reading the Breadwinner, the first novel in the trilogy, by myself. Part way through, there were some scary parts, so I asked my mom to read the rest of the trilogy with me. I could not put the book down and read the entire trilogy in 10 days.

For myself, I think I am drawn to stories that have characters that are like me – that perhaps look like me, having similar experiences. Or like Parvana, has characteristics I can relate to: a young girl the same age as me, from the same region of the world where my relatives came from. The Breadwinner made me realise that if my grandparents and great great great grandparents had not been as lucky to have moved to South Africa and England and then Canada, I could have been one of those Parvanas.

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Breadwinner author Deborah Ellis remains hopeful

Canadian author’s work draws on her experiences visiting some of the world’s most troubled places, and her need to tell untold stories.

“I think it’s just all about courage, right?” she said. “We all look for courage in our own lives. We look for examples of it wherever we can find them because we think if we can learn from other people’s courage, that will help us to have courage ourselves.

“The Breadwinner is all about courage.”

If there’s something motivating about the courage of others, Ellis is as inspiring figure in her own right.

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The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis 2005 Awardee

The Breadwinner Trilogy, three books by Deborah Ellis 2004 Awardee

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis 2003 Awardee

Author Louise Erdrich can do anything – even your basic apocalypse

But as another far-from-original phrase points out, there is nothing new under the sun. So perhaps originality isn’t what readers should be looking for from this story. With its themes of evangelical fanaticism, racism and patriarchy, it gains resonance in being released during the Trump regime, which has cut off global health funding to organizations that offer or merely mention abortion as part of family planning.

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Louise Erdrich: Reproductive Nightmares, Real and Imagined

The author on control of women’s bodies and writing dystopian fiction in dark political times.

Future, in Erdrich’s words, “extrapolates a new reality from” the world we’re currently bumping up against. Though the world is invented, its parallelism to today is eerie, at times dizzying.

Guernica: It was interesting to learn that you started this project in 2002, the year after George W. Bush passed the global gag rule and the Patriot Act, which are crucial to this story. You started writing at that time, but then you put the book away for a few years and wrote The Round House and LaRose.

Louise Erdrich: Yeah, I think it was about eight years. I had to reconstruct it. I came back [because] I really couldn’t go back to the book I was working on after the election. In November, I just had to finish this book. I was compelled to finish it.

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Do we need another ‘Handmaid’s Tale’?

This is the awkward question inspired by Louise Erdrich’s new novel, “Future Home of the Living God.” … “Future Home” marks a striking departure – an experiment of sorts, inspired 15 years ago and then reignited by the incendiary election of Donald Trump.

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Future Home Of The Living God’ Is A Rare Stumble From A Great Writer

Erdrich’s gift for innovation has paid off in the past, but her latest novel, Future Home of the Living God, is an overreaching, frequently bizarre book that never really comes close to getting off the ground.

It’s never really clear, even by the end of the novel, what happened to cause the reversal of evolution, or, indeed, what that even means. The vagueness is certainly intentional, but it’s also inexplicable, and it makes the novel nearly impossible to parse. “The first thing that happens at the end of the world is that we don’t know what is happening,” she writes. But neither does the reader, and that’s a problem.

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Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich

Margaret Atwood literally wrote the book on a society of female procreative slaves: The Handmaid’s Tale. Now Louise Erdrich is churning her own vision of that future in her new novel.

So who better to interview Erdrich about her new novel than Atwood? Lo and behold: They agreed! Over the summer, the two writers-one in Toronto, one in Minnesota-amid jaunts to the Arctic and Winnipeg, engaged in a cross-border digital interview about the novel, their prophetic fears, politics, climate change, and why we idealize Canada.

Erdrich: And, of course, The Handmaid’s Tale, which I profoundly admire. Your book has always resonated for me. Fundamentalist religions always include religious laws that control the female body-you got that perfectly right, and invented such a horrifyingly normal society based on literal readings of scripture. Of course, The Handmaid’s Tale draws enormous energy from biological shuttering, or refusal. No babies, no future. No human race. Men find ways to engulf women and to manipulate the female body. We keep thinking about it, because we are always close to the edge. Women’s rights are just a watery paint on the walls of history. We must not forget.

Future Home of the Living God is more about things falling apart, about the chaos in the wake of disaster, and about how little we know when we need information the most. It is about how vulnerable women’s rights are.

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Shades of Atwood and Vonnegut in Louise Erdrich’s Dystopian Novel

The funny thing about this not-very-good novel is that there are so many good small things in it. Erdrich is such a gifted and (when she wants to be) earthy writer; her sentences can flash with wit and feeling, sunbursts of her imagination.

Signs and portents, auguries and premonitions. Erdrich’s novel is packed with them, push notices from an onrushing nightmare. One character says, in this novel’s most pungent snippet of dialogue, “We ain’t on no GPS, and Siri’s dead.”

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 2000 Awardee

The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually recognizes children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.

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