Out the Window — now out everywhere

978-1-55498-370-4_l

Ingenuity saves the day in this cleverly constructed board book!

Bestselling author/illustrator Cybèle Young is back with a board book for the very young. The main character of this charming, nearly wordless story is a small unidentified mammal who accidentally loses his ball one day. Too small to look out the window, the little creature is frustrated at first in his attempts to see where his precious ball has gone. But undeterred, he perseveres until he comes up with a solution to his problem, at which point he discovers that an unusual parade is underway. This parade doesn’t feature the usual floats and mascots-instead, it is made up of amazing machines and strange hybrid creatures. Our young hero is thrilled, as young readers will be. And best of all? On the very last page of the book, the lost ball is returned to its rightful owner.

This leporello-style board book is designed so that the first half of the story focuses on the attempt to see what is happening out the window, while the second half, revealed only when the book is flipped over, shows a wonderfully inventive parade. Despite its simplicity, this is a story with much humor and many surprises. Nearly wordless, it is a book that even the youngest child will want to read independently as well as enjoy with others.

Black History is not just one month

Petura Burrows, Marketing and Publicity Intern

Petura Burrows, Marketing and Publicity Intern

This post about Black History Month is rebellious. I write it in March, after Black History Month is over, because a people’s history – though highlighted in one month – should not be confined. I’ve found that reading provides a way for me to celebrate black history throughout the year. This post explains why. 

February crams black history into twenty-eight days of concerts, exhibitions, workshops, lectures, you name it — all informative and exciting, but unfortunately, as fleeting as an addict’s high. I feel like that addict, jonesin’ for the taste of something black, desperate for events that have the slightest trace of my experience, running (literally) from venue to venue, chasing a history the colour of my skin. I absorb every last drop of this excitement, knowing that my high ends on February 28th.

Truthfully, my identity would starve after Black History Month, if not for books. Alive with the individual and collective stories of black people, books force black history out of its claustrophobic calendar month. History, when written, becomes an accessible, tangible thing that we read and reread to remind us of us.

Since I started this internship at House of Anansi / Groundwood Books, I’ve been able to touch some of that history. Groundwood publishes beautiful books, and they also publish books with faces that look like mine, with stories that sound like mine. That is how black history stays alive. Groundwood proves that black people are still writing a space and a history for themselves.

A Gift From Childhood The Name of the Tree Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! I See The Promised Land

I read my history in these books. My history looks like Baba Wagué Diakité’s A Gift From Childhood, a gorgeous illustrated memoir about progress and international accomplishments despite humble beginnings. My history feels like The Name of the Tree, where Celia Lottridge and Ian Wallace show how humility mixed with determination succeeds where false superiority and classism fails. My history is brave like Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged! In that book, Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki depict how just one person can rally a national movement. And my history looks like Arthur Flowers and Manu Chitrakar’s I See the Promised Land, graphic in both form and content. Most powerful, the book ends with a notion that black history did not end with Martin Luther King Jr. There is plenty still to be written.

These stories give black children a mirror that they won’t find in most children’s books. I can feel my childhood self getting excited. If I took her on a tour of Groundwood’s shelves, she’d smile at me with that sheepish one-front-toothed smile, fold those books in her dark chocolate arms, and thank me for sharing tangible history.

Then, I’d be smitten for sure! I’d have no choice but to read her life full of black history.

The Untold Story of The Lost Girls of Southern Sudan [guest post by Leah Bassoff and Laura DeLuca]

"South Sudan refugees in Uganda January 2014" by European Commission DG ECHO is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“South Sudan refugees in Uganda January 2014” by European Commission DG ECHO is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Much press has (deservedly) been given to the Lost Boys of Sudan, those boys who were displaced or orphaned during the civil war in Southern Sudan. Yet the question remains: what about the girls? Did any survive, and, if so, why hasn’t their story been told? 

Most of the young women we interviewed while writing our book said that, before the civil war, life in Southern Sudan was simple and good. These women were also quick to point out that, even during the best of times, it has always been tough to be a woman in Sudan. For one, girls are often discouraged from going to school. What is more, marriages are often arranged, leaving young women with little choice about their life partner. Because of the practice of bridewealth, girls’ families — especially poor ones — are often motivated to arrange marriages at a young age so they can receive gifts of cattle, goats, money and other gifts from the groom’s family. If a husband decides to beat his wife, for example, the woman often has little to no recourse.

From 1983 to 2005, Sudan was ravaged by a civil war that pitted the North against the South. Villages were burned to the ground, and children were forced to flee. Displaced and orphaned children made a treacherous thousand-mile trek by foot in order to reach the relative safety of a refugee camp. Along the way many died from starvation, dehydration, bombs and land mines. Yet despite these many dangers there were girls who, against all odds, survived, just like their male counterparts.

Unlike the boys who were encouraged to tell their stories when aid workers or resettlement agents came to the refugee camps, girls were discouraged from sharing what had happened to them. Girls were taught to keep silent about their suffering. For example, if a young woman was raped, she herself could be blamed for the rape. For this reason, many women decided it was better to keep silent.

While the boys were grouped together, many of the girls were placed with ad hoc foster families who, due to poverty and war, were motivated to arrange marriages without the girls’ consent so they could benefit economically from receiving the bridewealth. Often they were treated as servants or worse within these foster families. When resettlement agents looked for candidates who could be sent to countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, the town elders volunteered the boys, whom they considered to be better educated, stronger and more likely to find success in a new country.

Of the 3,700 young Sudanese refugees who were initially settled in the United States in 2001, only 89 of them were female.

978-1-55498-416-9_lLost Girl Found is the story of a girl who does survive and who wants, more than anything, to get an education. Though the book is fiction, it is based on the real stories of many female refugees who shared their stories with us. The common thread among all the women’s stories was one of resilience, a strong will and the desire to get an education. The young women we spoke with hope that by bettering their own situations they will eventually be able to return to and give back to their communities in South Sudan. They believe that, should their voices someday be included in the governing of the new, independent South Sudan, there may be hope for a more peaceful future.

All proceeds from Lost Girl Found will go to africare.org, an organization whose goal is helping African populations build sustainable, healthy and productive communities.

You can count on Numeralia

Numeralia by Jorge Elias Luján, illustrated by Isol, translated by Susan Ouriou

From the first page of this unusual and original collaboration between Jorge Luján and Isol, readers will realize that Numeralia is not just another counting book. Whether they are discovering that three is for bedtime kisses, or that five is for secret creatures hiding in a glove, children will delight in the poetic and sometimes surreal text. The illustrations by Isol, winner of the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, depict a world at once familiar and strange, a place where the three musketeers can suddenly become six, and the ugly duckling is not so ugly after all.

Numeralia

This is a book that presents children with the opportunity to go beyond simply learning to count from zero to ten. The book will encourage very young children (and older ones as well) to create their own meanings and make their own connections between the text and the art.

 

 

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