Danza! tells the story of Amalia Hernandez, the founder of El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. She drew from local dance traditions throughout Mexico and combined them with ballet and modern techniques to create spectacular performances. The costumes are inspired by local tradition and when the company tours it takes more than three tons of costumes with it! Tonatiuh captures these beautifully by combining digital collage with his hand-drawn illustrations. I love this mixed-media approach which uses photographs to fill in fabric, hair, and other materials and adds a wonderful texture. Amalia's life and the spread of Mexian folkloric dance is an inspiring tale. I'm lucky enough to have seen the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico perform and recommend that you do too, but first read this book!
This book is inspired by an annual event in the author's community. Hundreds of volunteers come together for The Labor of Love gathering where they help repair the homes of the elderly, disabled and needy. Young Wilson visits his elderly neighbor GiGi and each time tells her that ONE DAY he will fix a part of her house that is worn or broken. All year he dreams of the plan until the day comes when neighbors and friends come together to take care of one of their own. One day is here. Share this story of compassion and generosity to spark the spirit of can-do kindness.
This books is about your heart. (The little bit inside of you that makes you, you!) In simple words and evocative images, the message is conveyed that words have extraordinary power. They can heal or hurt, they can create or destroy. Words can spread love. Read this book and foster empathy and compassion in the youngest readers. "Today, somebody's world can be a better place because of you! Doesn't that make your heart feel good?" Pass it around.
Reading comforts me. I find magazines in trash piles. Reading leads to writing. I find poetry in tomato fields, and stories in the faces of weary workers.
-from "Tomas Rivera" by Margarita Engle
This gorgeous collection of poetry highlights many lesser-known figures from artists to activists. The poems are short but inspiring and made me want to learn more about the people described. It would be a great class share, especially with the full-page mixed media illustrations that could each make beautiful posters on their own. Brief additional biographical information is included in the back, but you will probably want to do more research on your own after reading.
Bravo!: Poems about amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael Lopez
When Lola spills orange juice all over a nice, white armchair she exclaims "I've ruined everything! I'll hide in the library! They have books and bathrooms. And I'll stay there till I'm a grownup." But on the way to the library one catastrophe follows another and soon Lola's gathered a large group. When everything seems to go wrong a little bird whispers "accident" and shows everyone how to own up to their mistakes make it all better again instead of running away.
I would have spent hours pouring over the details in these illustrations as a kid. There's so many small, humorous moments in the background. Above all I like that it emphasizes that accidents are okay and everyone from kids to adults can have them. The characters' overreactions are funny, but in the end the message that is clear that calmly admitting your mistake and helping to fix it is the way to go.
Dog used to be monkey's friend. They used to play together for hours. They used to have so much fun. Not anymore. Dog stole monkey's ball and monkey stole it back. Now monkey has his ball, but who will he toss it to?
This short story is full of emotion and describes a common childhood experience. Monkey gets upset at his friend, Dog, but after a while realizes he misses Dog. All is forgiven and they're back to happily playing a game of catch. The pictures vary from close-ups of monkey to action sequences with multiple scenes depicted on a page. The emotions are clearly visible on all the animals and the background colors further emphasize the emotions. There's happy pastels in the scenes with friends playing and brown, blue, and red on the close-ups of an upset Monkey. The animals all have a fabric texture that makes you want to cuddle them. This would be great for sparking a discussion about friendship and sharing with young kids.
Daniel Kirk has a website where he describes the inspiration behind the book and some of the process of making it: "I have long been interested in writing a book where the main character has feelings and points of view that to us, the reader, are clearly wrong." He also includes a great list of questions for discussion and things to do after reading the book, "Try writing an 'I’m sorry' letter to someone. If there’s anybody out there you owe an apology to, try telling them in a letter. Even if you choose not to send it, it will help to see your thoughts and feelings in writing."
You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk
Since we left home we haven't stopped singing. My father says if we keep singing, we'll scare away all the tiredness and the fear and become a song.
This collection of poems tells the story of migration from Central America to the United States. The author himself grew up in El Salvador and came to the United States in the 1980's, fleeing war in his home country. The poems range from the specific story of an individual to describing the migrant experience as a whole. They move in time chronologically starting in Central America and ending in the United States. Each poem has both a Spanish and English version and they're accompanied by beautiful, dreamy acrylic paintings. The poems are short, but their impact is big and could easily spark longer discussions and more research into the migrant experience.
A lone wolf strikes out from his pack and heads south to California. His radio collar allows scientists and animal lovers to follow his progress. Abby watches with excitement as he heads closer to where she lives, but she's also worried. Some people don't want the wolves to come back to their land. Will this one survive?
Journey alternates between the perspectives of the wolf and a young girl following his progress. The young girl's story provides context and adds tension as she worries over the fate of the wolf. She even participates in a contest to name him. The wolf is from Oregon and the girl lives in Northern California. Even the girl's grandparents as far away as Mexico follow the wolf's progress. This is based on real events and there's a lot of great back matter including the real Journey's path, a timeline of wolf conservation efforts, and questions and activities for a classroom.
The giant squid is a tantalizing mystery. We have more close-ups photographs of Mars. We know more about dinosaur behavior. Much of what we do know about giant squids comes from pieces we have found and dissected--pieces often found in sperm whales. Despite how rarely giant squids are sighted by humans, sperm whales have been found with as many as 7,000 indigestible giant squid beaks in their stomachs. Get a glimpse into the life of these mysterious and beautiful creatures with Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.
This book is beautiful and a bit terrifying, much like the creatures it describes. What little we know is described in a poetic language that creates a rich atmosphere. The pictures are gorgeous, showing parts of the squid to emphasize its size and the sense that it's lurking just out of sight. This would make a great read-aloud for budding science enthusiasts.
During the Nazi invasion of France, thousands of Jewish people found sanctuary in the Grand Mosque of Paris. This book describes how Muslims in Paris helped their Jewish brothers and sisters during World War II. They saved lives in a myriad of ways ranging from writing false papers identifying Jews as Muslims, to secreting Jewish people and resistance fighters through hidden tunnels and out of Paris in emptied wine barrels.
There are so many fascinating vignettes of courage and defiance in this book. The actions described were secretive by nature and never officially documented, but the authors have hunted down the scraps of information they could find to present these stories. Full-page oil paintings throughout illustrate the story. There's a glossary, bibliography, index and further information in the back.
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A story of how Muslims rescued Jews during the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix