We Need All the Poetry We Can Get & Newsweek Features the Green Book #JACBA Newsletter 31Mar2017

April 28th: Video announcement and press release made public
Watch this space for a special announcement regarding the announcement of this year’s Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees!

Word Around Town Combines Public Art With Poetry

The temporary public art project, Word Around Town, consists of two arrow-shaped signs rimmed in flashing lights and lit from within, situated in the yards of two corner houses facing North Flores Street. Rather than selling hamburgers or tires, each side features a tiny poem, almost a haiku, by distinguished local poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Jenny Browne, current poet laureate of San Antonio.

“We need jokes,” Nye said. “Call them anything – medicine, aphorism, jokes, horoscopes…feel free, people.”

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‘Out Of Wonder’ Aims To Inspire A New Generation Of Poets

Kwame Alexander on his poem celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye, “How to Write a Poem”: ‘she writes such accessible, such wise, such warm words … and that’s what most of us feel when we’re trying to ask the questions about our lives – I think poetry is a way of helping us at least begin to understand ourselves better, and eventually, each other.’

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Habibi written by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee


What began in 1936 as a barebones aggregation of New York-area advertisements would eventually create what the historian Jennifer Reut calls an “invisible map” of America. The guide’s creator, Victor Hugo Green, had recognized that such a map was necessary. But he also hoped that his work would eventually be obviated by social progress.

In 2010, as the brief post-racial moment waned, Calvin Alexander Ramsey published Ruth and the Green Book, a children’s book about an African-American girl who travels with her parents from Chicago into the segregated South.

While the Green Book highlights the struggles of African-Americans, it is also evidence of a broader integration of American society. The African-Americans who intrepidly set out with Green Book in glove compartment “laid the groundwork” for interracial couples, ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians who wanted the freedom already enjoyed by whites.

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Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend written by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, illustrated by John Holyfield 2012 Awardee

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss and illustrated by Floyd Cooper 2011 Awardee

Lynda Blackmon Lowery visits NYC students

Lynda Blackmon Lowery did two assemblies for the students of PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington. Students presented their works to her in the Library. Students had created posters, and a variety of writing pieces, plays, and comic strips. They did a project on Activism rising from her book.

Brooklyn News Channel 12 coverage

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery 2016 Awardee

37 Beloved Children’s Books That’ll Leave You Feeling Nostalgic

HarperCollins Publishers is celebrating 200 years of great books in 2017. Check out our anniversary website to journey through the history of HarperCollins, explore significant moments in our past, take a look into the archives, browse a collection of 200 iconic titles from across the globe, and check out what your favorite authors have to say about why they read.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
This Newbery Medal-winning modern classic is a tale of friendship and loss. It was also named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature.

Journey to Jo’burg by Beverley Naidoo, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Banned by the apartheid government in South Africa, this is the story of two children’s courage and determination to find their mother and bring her home.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award and a Coretta Scott King Award, and finalist for a National Book Award. A provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager facing prosecution for armed robbery and murder.

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The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson 2003 Awardee

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson 1979 Awardee

Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope, written by Beverley Naidoo 2004 Awardee

The Other Side of Truth written by Beverley Naidoo 2002 Awardee

Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom written by Walter Dean Myers 1992 Awardee

Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam written by Walter Dean Myers 2003 Awardee

Sprague School Celebrates Reading with the aCATemy Awards

On March 3, Sprague School held its 10th annual aCATemy Awards ceremony to celebrate both Dr. Seuss’s March 2 birthday and reading. Students, teachers, and staff dressed up to honor books in categories chosen by librarians Sara Jauniskis and Sammy Gradwohl.

The assembly included a presentation of the “Hat’s Off” award to local author Elizabeth Suneby. “I write to share things that are important to me,” she said, “so they will be important to others.” Suneby noted that 69 million children, mostly girls, around the world, don’t get to go to school. Her book “Razia’s Ray of Hope” is based on a true story that recounts a girl in Afghanistan who convinces her family she should be allowed to attend school. The Zabuli Education Center for Girls outside of Kabul was founded by Razia Jan, a CNN hero, who is in the story. Suneby showed a video made by students of the school, giving a virtual tour.

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Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education written by Elizabeth Suneby and illustrated by Suana Verelst 2014 Awardee

Author And Illustrator Lita Judge Visits Sandy Hook Elementary School

Sandy Hook Elementary School students gathered in the school’s library in groups on Friday, March 3, to hear author and illustrator Lita Judge share information about her books and her life.

Her mother gave her blank books to draw in while her parents would be quietly waiting to take pictures of wildlife. She shared some of her drawings and writings from one of the books with the students. Journals, she said, are a place for artists and writers to develop their skills. She encouraged the students to keep their own.

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

Minneapolis writer Louise Erdrich wins NBCC award for fiction

Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich was visibly moved Thursday night when her name was announced as the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction for her novel, “LaRose,” the final book in her justice trilogy.

Erdrich said, “We are all in this together. It is so important right now, as truth is being assaulted not just in this country, but all over the world. Let us dig into the truth. Let us be fierce and dangerous about the truth. Let us find in that truth the strength to demand that truth from our government.”

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 2000 Awardee

Award-winning author gives presentation to Austintown audience

Ninety-five students from Austintown Intermediate School were selected to come watch Andrea Davis Pinkney’s presentation at the library. Some students were selected based on their good behavior, others were selected as a reward for working hard and some were selected based on an essay they wrote.

Pinkney talked to the students and other guests at the library about how she became an author, her family and her books. She created a slide show that contained a few pages from some of her books. The artwork in her books is created by her husband, Brian Pinkney.

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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

4 Questions for National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson at Drew

Renowned author Jacqueline Woodson read from her books and answered questions about writing at Drew University.

You interviewed several family members when you were writing Brown Girl Dreaming. Does a consistent family history exist?
“The thing about a memoir is, it’s your memory of the thing. This is my memory of the stories my relatives told me. This is my memory of what I experienced as a child. I have two brothers and a sister. They’ll all have a different story, and of course they will, because they’re different ages. What I remember at 5, they remember differently at 10 because they had a different context.”

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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

Top 15 Children’s Books for Black History Month

With books about everything from jazz and Jackie Robinson to slavery and segregation, there are many rich biographies and themes to explore with children during Black History Month (February) or any time of year.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
By Ellen Levine
Recommended ages: 6 and up
This is the incredible story of Henry “Box” Brown escaping slavery by shipping himself to the north in a wooden crate. We learn that as a boy, Henry doesn’t know his age because nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. As an adult working in a warehouse, he decides to take a major risk and mail himself in a box – to a world where he can have a “birthday” (his first day of freedom).

Follow the Drinking Gourd
By Jeanette Winter
Recommended ages: 5 and up
This is a folktale about a white sailor named “Peg Leg Joe” teaching a group of slaves a song to “follow the drinking gourd” (the Big Dipper) north to escape slavery. The rhythmic story and colorful paintings help show children the importance of the Underground Railroad – the secret path to freedom for thousands of African-Americans.

The Other Side
By Jacqueline Woodson
Recommended ages: 5 and up
The fence behind Clover’s house marks the town line that separates black people from white people. Clover’s mother warns her that it isn’t safe to cross the fence, but Clover is curious to meet Anna, the white girl who lives on the other side. The two girls work around the rules of segregation and form an unlikely friendship by sitting together on top of the fence.

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Doreen Rappaport
Recommended ages: 5 and up
The author weaves immortal quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings and speeches into this award-winning biography for kids. The multimedia illustrations carry readers from King’s youth – when he first noticed “Whites Only” signs – through his remarkable life as a leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
By Carole Boston Weatherford
Recommended ages: 5 and up
Introduce children to Harriet Tubman, the champion of the Underground Railroad who earned the nickname “Moses” for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. Spirited text and paintings portray how Tubman’s compassion, courage, and deep religious faith helped her lead 19 trips from the south to the north in order to help fellow African-Americans.

Tar Beach
By Faith Ringgold
Recommended ages: 5 and up
It’s 1939, and young Cassie Louise Lightfoot is picnicking with her family and friends on “tar beach” – the hot, black rooftop of her family’s Harlem apartment. Cassie lays down and dreams that she is soaring above New York City – finding beauty in the views of the George Washington Bridge (which her father helped build) while also noting the signs of social injustice in the crowded city below.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans
By Kadir Nelson
Recommended ages: 8 and up
This richly illustrated 108-page book chronicles the immense challenges and important societal contributions of African-Americans throughout history. It’s told from the unique perspective of a wise, old African-American “Everywoman” narrator whose ancestors arrived on slave ships and who lives to proudly cast a vote for the nation’s first black president.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963
By Christopher Paul Curtis
Recommended ages: 8 and up
This middle-grade novel is narrated by 9-year-old Kenny – the younger brother in a middle-class African-American family from Michigan. Kenny’s older brother, Byron, is a juvenile delinquent who could use some stern discipline from their no-nonsense grandmother, who lives in Alabama. When the family heads south to bring Byron to Grandma’s house, unthinkable events happen and shape the family’s life forever.

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Roundup of children’s books

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story
By Emily Arnold McCully
(ages 6-10)
Continue the celebration of Women’s History Month beyond March with this inspiring picture biography of an 18th century astronomer and innovator. The German-born Caroline Herschel becomes the first woman to discover a comet and be paid for scientific work. Hers is an unlikely story, captured in clear prose and charming watercolors. Suffering typhus and smallpox as a child, Caroline is small and scarred. Only brother William sees her potential and brings her to England, where together they perfect “the best telescope in the world” and make remarkable discoveries – Uranus, new nebulae and galaxies and comets galore. Kids know unfairness when they see it. Caroline is expected to cook, clean, keep the books, collaborate and count objects in the heavens too. A stellar woman! Here, thankfully, a Caldecott-winning author-illustrator further pursues her career-long interest in “girl” power.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet
By Carmen Agra Deedy; illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
(Scholastic; ages 4-8)
In sunny La Paz, villagers are happy but for constant noise. Dogs bark, engines hum, and people sing in the shower. What to do? Fire the mayor. What ensues? Absolute quiet, imposed by a new mayor. Thus, this rollicking original tale develops themes of oppressive governance and squelched identity within a fanciful scenario that unfolds seven years hence when a rooster shows up, full of joyful song and righteous indignation. Turns out civil disobedience is also his thing. Art, both folkloric and quirky, captures details of life with and without music. Further, caricature nails the tyrant at the top, an archetypal bully. Author Deedy is Cuban American, and illustrator Yelchin a Russian émigré. Perhaps drawing from personal experiences with dictatorship, they relay a pleasant yarn with greater purpose – to honor freedom and inspire us to resist being censored and silenced.

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

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark written by Carmen Agra Deedy 2001 Awardee

An Eclectic Assortment of Collages, Cut from Context and Pasted Together

The show, entitled Collage: Made in America, does not try to be an exhaustive or even chronological survey of the genre. Since there is no press release or curatorial statement, the title of the exhibition serves as the only its description and indication of the show’s organizational umbrella.

In the rear of the gallery, one entire wall is filled by the monumental “Circle (The Bicentennial Series)” (1973) by Benny Andrews, a huge, searing indictment of racism in America. Twelve canvases hung together depict the crucifixion of a man on an old-fashioned iron bed. A surrealist mechanical “creature” has pulled his heart out – but his heart is a watermelon. Made of collaged and painted elements, he is several colors, a metaphoric depiction of all who are oppressed in America. The bed, off-centered in the gigantic installation, is surrounded by people in various states of reaction to the ghastly act they are witnessing. Some are passive, some agitated. It’s an overtly angry and political work of art, one that has continuing resonance today.

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Delivering Justice: W. W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights, written by Jim Haskins, illustrated by Benny Andrews 2006 Awardee

Raising funds for clean water wells

After being inspired by the novel, “A Long Walk to Water,” by Linda Sue Park, seventh grade students at Stephen Decatur Middle School decided raising funds to help build clean water wells in South Sudan was the right thing to do.

From 7:45 a.m. until school came to a close on Monday, 320 teenagers walked in shifts carrying the flag of South Sudan, awareness signs and large jugs of water to bring awareness and show empathy for the struggles people face in South Sudan every day.

“When they carry the jugs of water, we are teaching the kids empathy,” Hammond said. “It is so motivating. If we raise the most money, we are hoping to earn a visit to our school from Salva Dut, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.”

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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

Imaginative Books About Art For Kids

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe focuses on Basquiat’s desire to be an artist from a young age. His mother was an artist and encouraged her son, taking him to museums all over the world. Deep down, he wanted to be a famous artist with his art on the walls of museums he visited. Steptoe gathers the essential details of Basquiat’s childhood and creates resplendent illustrations, paying homage to his subject. Painting on discarded wood, photos, toys, and other objects, Steptoe expands the writing way beyond the bounds of the “story.” He creates a mood, examines culture, and shows how life inspires art.

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

Where Fiction and Reality Collide: Books and Black Lives Matter

Below are six books for young readers that address police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘Ghost Boys,’ by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes, an award-winning children’s book author, has never shied away from emotionally challenging subjects. Her previous novels have addressed national tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Her next novel, “Ghost Boys,” which Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will publish next spring, is a surreal tale that tackles recent police shootings and the country’s long history of racially motivated crimes.

The narrative unfolds from the point of view of a ghost – a young black boy who is shot by a white police officer and observes what happens after his death. In the afterlife, the boy meets the ghosts of other black boys, including the spirit of Emmett Till. Because of the book’s violent premise and its proximity to real events, the novel is being recommended for slightly older middle-grade readers, ages 10 and up.

“Children and teens are reading and hearing about this in the news all the time, and fiction gives them an entry point to understanding it better and helping them to empathize with all sides,” said Alvina Ling, the vice president and editor in chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

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Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes 2014 Awardee

The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 2011 Awardee

Looking to teach kids about tolerance? There’s a book for that

To help promote the ideas of tolerance and peace, a former librarian from Yucaipa has created a bibliography of works directed at young children.

Joan Clark’s “Children’s Books Promoting Peace” list is a response to anti-Muslim chatter following the Dec. 2, 2015, terrorist attack in San Bernardino and the current division the nation is experiencing, she said. And she hopes the list will start conversations between adults and children about differences and similarities people share.

Engle, Margarita. “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir”

In this poetic memoir, which won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was a YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, and was named a Walter Dean Myers Award Honoree, acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not. Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again? Antheneum, 2015. (ages 12 and up)

Ringgold, Faith. “We Came to America”

From the Native Americans who first called this land their home, to the millions of people who have flocked to its shores ever since, America is a country rich in diversity. Some of our ancestors were driven by dreams and hope. Others came in chains, or were escaping poverty or persecution. No matter what brought them here, each person embodied a unique gift-their art and music, their determination and grit, their stories and their culture. And together they forever shaped the country we all call home. Vividly expressed in Faith Ringgold’s sumptuous colors and patterns, We Came to America is an ode to every American who came before us, and a tribute to each child who will carry its proud message of diversity into our nation’s future. Knopf, 2016. (ages 4-8)

Winter, Jeanette. “Wangari’s Trees of Peace”

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something-and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans. This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change. Harcourt, 2008. (ages 4-8)

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Brown Girl Dreaming”

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014. (ages 10 and up)

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Each Kindness”

Each kindness makes the world a little better. Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya. Winner of the Jane Addams Peace Award. Penguin, 2012 (ages 4-10)

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Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle 2015 Awardee

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, written by Margarita Engle 2009 Awardee

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

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

10 books for women’s history month

Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

Woodson’s first novel for adults is a short but powerful story about female friendship, memory and growing up.

Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach

“Tar Beach” is based on a quilt series by artist, political activist and writer Ringgold that is currently featured in the Guggenheim Museum. The book’s main character lives in Harlem, and its story simply but lyrically weaves in African-American folk lore aimed at younger readers.

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Meet Faith Ringgold: A Woman Who Impacted the World With Her Art

What is so phenomenal about her quilts is that Ringgold didn’t stop once she made them. She tried her hand at publishing and has written children’s books based off of her quilts such as Tar Beach, which was based on the narrative quilt of the same name.

So, really, what hasn’t Ringgold done? She’s spent her life pursuing all of her dreams, never taking “no” for answer, teaching us that there is always a solution and truly giving meaning to the phrase “where there’s a will there’s a way.” Ringgold wanted to share her art and her story with the world and at 86 years old, with over 25 awards in the arts and many of her works displayed in noteworthy establishments, we would say she certainly did.

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Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold 1993 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 2016 Awards.

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