Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution. by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

Published by Random House

Image result for stonewall christoph amazon

Image result for stonewall christoph amazon

Summary:  Narrated by the building that became Stonewall, this story begins in the 1840’s when the original structure was created to stable horses.  There’s a brief history of the building’s other incarnations and the evolution of Greenwich Village before reaching the 1960’s when the Stonewall Inn became a club for gay men and women, as well as for “teenagers, transgender people, drag queens, veterans, businesspeople, students, people of different colors, religions, and cultures”.  The club was raided regularly, and each time some of its clientele would be arrested, while the rest would quietly go home. But on the night of June 28, 1969, the angry crowd confronted the police, who were driven inside Stonewall until they could call in reinforcements. In the 50 years since that night, people have celebrated June 28 as the beginning of the movement for LGBQT+ rights.  Includes additional history and photos of the Stonewall Inn; an interview with activist and Stonewall Uprising participant Martin Boyce; a glossary; and a list for further reading. 40 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  An excellent introduction to the Stonewall Uprising that emphasizes the importance of inclusivity through the story as well as with the gorgeous illustrations.  Using the building as a narrator is a perfect way to relate the entire history of the place, placing the night of June 28, 1969 in context.

Cons:  A few reviews I saw felt there was not enough inclusion of trans people in this telling; since I’m not familiar with the history, I can’t say if this is true or not.

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Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid by Adrienne Wright

Published by Page Street Kids

Image result for hector a boy a protest and the photograph that changed apartheid

Image result for hector a boy a protest and the photograph that changed apartheid

Summary:  In 1976, Hector Pieterson was an ordinary 12-year-old boy living in Soweto, South Africa.  He went to school, played soccer, did chores, and hung out with his friends. On June 16, he went to school like he did every day; when he got there, he discovered a student demonstration going on to protest a new law forcing them to have half their lessons in Afrikaans instead of English.  A single moment is shown from three different perspectives: Hector, his older sister Antoinette, and Sam Nzima, the photojournalist who took a picture of Hector getting shot by police. The police confiscated all the film, but Sam managed to hide a roll in his sock. His picture of Hector’s lifeless body appeared in The World newspaper the next day, ending Sam’s career, but opening up the eyes of the world to apartheid in South Africa.  48 pages; grades 3-8.

Pros:  I didn’t know this story, and was shocked when Hector was killed at the end of it, much as Hector’s family must have been shocked by the turn of events on June 16, 1976.  This is an important book for American kids, many of whom are probably unfamiliar with South African apartheid.

Cons:  It’s difficult to know what ages to recommend this for.  It definitely could be disturbing to younger kids, and would be best read with some adult discussion.

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Image result for hector a boy a protest and the photograph that changed apartheid

Groundbreaking Guys: 40 Men Who Became Great By Doing Good by Stephanie True Peters, illustrated by Shamel Washington

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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Summary:  From John Stuart Mill to Kendrick Lamar, these 40 men have become great by being good people.  As the author states in her introduction, “These men served their communities. They treated people with respect.  They lifted up others. They chose to listen and to care, even when doing so meant giving up control or feeling nervous or standing out.”  The men are from a variety of countries, mostly the United States and Great Britain, but also others like Japan, China, and Bangladesh. They contributed in all sorts of areas, including politics, literature, art, and music.  Some names will undoubtedly be familiar to readers, while others will be new, but all will inspire and possibly lead to further research. Includes source notes for each subject. 96 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  There have been a lot of collective biographies of women lately, so it’s nice to see this collection of interesting men, particularly with the theme of men who contributed positively to the world.  Each profile has a head shot of the subject. The interesting profiles and endnotes would make this a great resource to begin a biography research project.

Cons:  A timeline would have been a nice addition.

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Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a boy imprisoned in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II by Andrea Warren

Published by Margaret Ferguson Books

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Summary:  Norman Mineta spent his first decade living a happy middle class life with his family in San Jose.  His father sold insurance and his mother was a housewife. Both his parents were born in Japan, but second-generation Norm felt very much an American.  After World War II started, though, all Japanese Americans were seen as suspect, and in May of 1942, the Mineta family was forced to leave behind their home and business for the Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming.  They were more fortunate than most: Norm’s father eventually got a job in Chicago, and after a little over a year in the camp, the family was able to relocate there. They rented their San Jose house, and moved back at the end of the war.  During his time at the camp, Norm met a local boy named Alan Simpson at a Boy Scout gathering; the two became friends, and later reunited when both served in Congress as adults. Extensive back matter tells more about the Japanese American experience during World War II and lists many resources for further research.  224 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  The story of Norm’s journey from a seemingly all-American childhood to being held prisoner by his own country is an eye-opening one that is told in terms many young readers will relate to.  The Mineta family’s unwavering optimism and courage is inspiring.  Andrea Warren should receive some Sibert award consideration.

Cons:  It would have been interesting and informative to hear more details about some of the Japanese American families who didn’t fare so well at the end of the war.

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Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Published by Salaam Reads/Simon and Schuster

Image result for bilal cooks daal

Image result for bilal cooks daal

Summary:  Bilal invites his friends over for dinner to sample some of the daal his father  is cooking.  The kids help get things started, but when his friends think the ingredients look and smell funny, Bilal is worried. Dad starts the cooking, then tells them to go outside to play, as it will take a long time.  They have fun together playing hopscotch, swimming, and hiking, but after each activity, they stop back at Bilal’s to check on the daal, only to hear “Daal takes time”. Finally, as the sun sets, the daal is almost ready.  It’s time for Dad and the kids to add some herbs and spices, then sit down to eat it with some naan and rice.  Bilal can breathe a sigh of relief as his friends dig in and give the dinner two thumbs up. Includes an author’s note and recipe for chana daal.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Suffice it to say that this very cute book has inspired me to plan on trying out the recipe myself next week.

Cons:  The recipe doesn’t specify how many servings it makes.  I may be eating daal all week.

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You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk

Published by Atheneum

Image result for you are home turk

Image result for you are home turk

Summary:  “To the chipmunk in her burrow, sleeping beneath the leaves to keep warm; to the resilient bison in the steaming oases of of an endless winter: you are home.”  Evan Turk goes on to welcome animals and humans from all over America to more than 20  national parks: children in the city, children on farms, children who have just arrived to the United States, as well as those whose ancestors predated the United States by centuries are all welcomed.  The accompanying illustrations show scenes from the parks, each one captioned with a small label to identify it. The author’s note tells more about the history and importance of the parks, as well as the need for changes to preserve them going forward. There’s also a note about the art that encourages kids to experience some of the parks by creating art in them.  56 pages; ages 5 and up.

Pros:  This touching and beautiful ode to America’s national parks would make a perfect read for Independence Day, and is sure to inspire readers of all ages to spend some time in a national park or two this summer.  A Caldecott contender for sure.

Cons:  I guess the word “ode” in the title should have tipped me off, but I was hoping for more travel guide type information about each park.

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Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and A Journey to the New World by David Macaulay

Published by Roaring Brook Press

Image result for crossing on time macaulay amazon

Image result for crossing on time macaulay

Summary:  In September of 1957, David Macaulay left with his mother, sister, and brother to travel to America, where his father had been offered a new job.  Their mode of transportation was the SS United States, the fastest, most advanced steamship ever built.  Macaulay starts the story with himself at age 10 getting ready to go to America, then goes back to the 18th century and traces the history of steam power and the steamship.  The text is illustrated with his trademark detailed, technical drawings illuminating each page, including a six-panel foldout cutaway of the United States with 100 labeled parts.  The last chapter tells about his family’s journey and their move to New Jersey.  Includes an afterword, a timeline, and a list of selected reading. 128 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  If you’re interested in engineering, you will never go wrong with David Macaulay.  The personal connection to his family made the story interesting to non-techies like myself.  The illustrations range from amazing to truly mind-boggling, like the one of the ship described above.

Cons:  It will take a pretty dedicated shipping enthusiast to get through all the details in the text.

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