Cubbie Blue and His Dog Dot

Cubbie Blue2940015722376_p0_v1_s260x420Cubbie Blue and His Dog Dot, Book 1

Randa Handler, Author and Illustrator

Premier Digital Publishing, Dec. 12, 2012

Available eBook on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Google and Sony

Suitable for Ages:  5-8 years

Themes: Friendship, Diversity, Magic, Right and Wrong, Problem-Solving, Equality

Opening: “In the mists of Cylon, the oldest Antarctic iceberg, was the enchanted land of Baltar, with diamond-faceted ice stalactites and stalagmites that twinkled in any light.  The sky-blue-skinned Baltarians were always happy, doing cartwheels as they walked and giggling when they talked.  They were only a few inches tall but big in knowledge.”

SynopsisCubbie Blue and His Dog Dot is a story about Cobalt, a 150-year-old child, who stands three inches tall, is blue and has a long blue beard.  “Cubbie” has a family and a miniscule dog, Dot, who has multiple tails.  They live in a peaceful nation of Baltar, which is on an iceberg in Antarctica.  The Baltarians communicate telepathically.  There is another nation, Aryon, which wants to capture Baltar.  Therefore, Baltar has a protective energy field around it and all Baltarians are warned not to leave.   While playing in his father’s transport vehicle,  Cubbie” pushes too many buttons and finds himself far away from Baltar and in a land of people who are friendly, but are giants.  Cubbie finds an unlikely friendship with three multi-racial boys, Brian, Chris and Derek, who find their new friend quite unique.  Cubbie can read minds, disappear, and create magical transport bubbles to explore his new environment (cities, mountains and rivers) with his friends.  They have a lot to learn about each other, including right and wrong, tolerance, equality and problem-solving.

Why I like this book:  Author Randa Handler has written a magical and quirky story that will not only entertain children, but will teach them about diversity, problem solving, multicultural differences, and social justice issues.  In fact today marks the UN World Day of Social Justice.  To celebrate, Randa Handler and Premier Digital Publishing are giving away the first book in her new eBook series that promotes diversity, tolerance and equality.   Says Handler, “If children are taught early on that being different is cool, the world will be a better place to live in.”   This is an excellent book to encourage kids to use their imaginations.  Her illustrations are bold, funny and colorful.  Cubbie Blue can be downloaded for free by “liking” Premier Digital Publishing’s Facebook page from Feb. 20-28, 2013.   You may visit Randa Handler at her website and view her other books in the Cubbie Series and another book If I Were King.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of her first three books will go to the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King9780375858871_p0_v1_s260x420I Have A Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kadir Nelson, illustrator

Schwartz & Wade Books, Oct. 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes:  Dr. Martin Luther King, African-Americans, Civil Rights, Freedom, Diversity

Opening/Synopsis:  “I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Book CoverFrom Dr. Bernice A. King:  “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us — those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

Why I like this book:  Artist Kadir Nelson has taken one of the most powerful and inspirational speeches in history, and created a  beautifully illustrated book set to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic speech delivered on Aug. 28, 1963.   Nelson’s oil paintings are masterpieces  and a feast for the eyes and soul.  I was mesmerized by the strength and power in each painting.  Now a new generation of children will have the opportunity to learn about this great civil rights leader.

Resources:  There is a CD that accompanies this book.  The entire speech is printed at the end of the book.  With the inauguration of President Barak Obama, our first African-American President,  falling on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Day, it is right to combine the two.  In honor of both, tomorrow, January 19, has been named a National Day of Service, and Americans are being urged to get involved in a local community service project.   Just check on the website for information

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

GreenBean: True Blue Family

GreenBean180801648GreenBean:  True Blue Family

Elizabeth Blake, author and illustrator

Nisse Press, LLC, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 4 and up

Themes:  Adoption, Different Families,  Identity, Visual Impairment

Opening/Synopsis:   “Oh No! Green Bean thought.  Maybe I don’t belong in this family.  I am green.  They are blue.”  GreenBean one days realizes that she doesn’t look like the other members of her family.    She has long ears and they have short ears.  She frets about all the differences and compares herself to her friend Anna who is the same color as her family.   It isn’t until GreenBean’s blind brother is surprised by her statement and offers her a new perspective of family.  GreenBean begins to see the diversity among her friends.  And, she learns that being loved and accepted by her blue family is what counts.

What I like about this book:  This is the first book written and illustrated by Elizabeth Blake.   The language is simply written as are her bold and colorful illustrations.   Both my children are adopted and struggled with identity issues and feeling different.  I would have welcomed her book.  In today’s world, there are many different kinds of families — divorced, single-parent, foster, mixed multicultural and ethnic, and gay families.  Blake’s excellent book  helps children understand diversity is part of who we are globally.   Otherwise we’d be pretty boring.   Blake’s credits her blind brother  “who taught her that sight is not necessary for insight.”   He has been inspiration to her in learning about uniqueness and differences.  Visit Elizabeth Blake at her website.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work. 

A Summer Secret – Amish Series

A Summer Secret141813089A Summer Secret: The Mysteries of Middlefield Series

Kathleen Fuller, author

Tommy Nelson Publishers, Fiction 2010

Suitable for:  Ages 12 and up

Themes:  Amish Lifestyle,  Sibling Rivalry, Mystery, Adventure, Friendship

Opening/Synopsis:  Mary Beth Mullet is a 13-year-old Amish girl living with her parents and three mischievous and noisy brothers.  She seeks a quiet place of her own where she can day-dream, write and sketch in her journal.  Many readers will identify with her situation.   She finds refuge in an old abandoned barn her parents have forbidden her to visit.   One day she finds a button that she knows must belong to a Yankee (non-Amish) person.  It is unsettling for her because she realizes her secret place has been violated.  Her twin brother, Johnny, discovers her secret place when he follows Mary Beth one day to the barn.  There a mystery begins to unfold when the twins discover a young runaway boy hiding in the barn.  Who is he?  Why is he hiding?  They have some decisions to make that may involve an element of risk and danger.  What will they do?

Why I like this book:  Kathleen Fuller has written a richly detailed and beautiful coming of age book.  Although it is designated for young adults, I believe middle graders would enjoy this clean read, as well as adults.  And, I would also recommend the book for boys because it is full of adventure, mystery and has many twists and turns.  The plot is strong and the characters are well- developed.  Fuller has thoroughly researched and accurately portrayed the humble Amish lifestyle.   Growing up in Ohio, she writes about Middlefield, the fourth largest Amish community in the world.    She weaves their history into the book, using some of the Old Order language.  There is a glossary in the book.    I loved the book and couldn’t put it down.  I’m also from Ohio, and am drawn to stories about the Amish communities.  I look forward to reading the remaining  two books in the series:  The Secrets Beneath and Hide and Secret.   Check out Kathleen Fuller’s website.

The Other Side – Black History Month

The Other Side

Jacqueline Woodson, Author

E.B. Lewis, Illustrations, Fiction, 2001

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and Up

Themes:  Diversity, Friendship, Racial Equality, Segregation

Opening/Synopsis That summer the fence that stretched through our town seemed bigger.  We live in a yellow house on one side of it.  White people live on the other.  And Mama said, “Don’t climb over that fence when you play.”  She said it wasn’t safe.  Two girls, one white (Annie) and one black (Clover)  live in houses on the opposite sides of the fence.  Every morning, Annie climbs up on the fence and sits and watches Clover and her friends jumping rope.  They don’t invite Annie to play.  She sits on the fence every day rain or shine.  She dances in rain puddles by herself.  One day Clover goes over to the fence and climbs up to sit with Annie.   They become good friends and spend the entire summer sitting on the fence that the adults built to separate their two communities.

What I like about this book:  This is an excellent book to discuss the history of racism and diversity with children.  Clover narrates this realistic and lyrical book by Jacqueline Woodson.  E.B. Lewis’s beautiful water-color illustrations give the book a warm and friendly feeling.   This book clearly shows how children don’t see color.   They are puzzled by the fence between the black and white neighborhoods in their small town.  They don’t disobey the rules, but find a clever way around them by sitting together on top of the fence.  They aren’t going to let a fence get in the way of  their friendship.  Woodson does an outstanding job of showing that friendship can overcome any racial barrier.  This is the 11th anniversary of this classic book.  It continues to be a great book  for classroom discussions.

Activities:  There are two resource links for  The Other Side.  The second is an activity section that can be used with Woodson’s book.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

Perfect Picture Book – Chocolate Me!

Chocolate Me!

Taye Diggs, author and Shane W. Evans, illustrator

Feiwel and Friends, September 2011. Fiction

Suitable for: Preschool and Up

Themes:  Racial,  Diversity,  Self-esteem, Self-respect

Synopsis: “Sitting on my stoop when I was five not like Timmy or Johnny, or even Mark.  Though I wanted a name like theirs.  Chocolate me.  When we’d play, they’d say, ‘Look where your skin begins!  It’s brown like dirt.  Does it hurt to wash off?  Chocolate me.”   A boy recognizes that he’s different when his friends ask him why his skin is so dirty, his hair so poofy, his teeth so white, his nose so big and wide.  His feelings are hurt until he discovers he’s perfect in every way.

Why I Like this book:  Chocolate Me! is a touching story for children of color who sometimes feel different and left out.   It has a very simple message, love who  you are even if you look different from your friends.   The book is also for families who want to start teaching their children about diversity at an early age.  Activity:  This is a beautiful book for classroom discussions about diversity — how we may look different and how we are alike.  For classroom activities and resources visit Precious Children: Activities that Promote Racial and Cultural Awareness.  For more information about other books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Every Friday I will share my Perfect Picture Book, as will other writers on their blogs.  We will post our selections on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website under Perfect Picture Books.  We hope to develop a list of favorite picture books for parents, teachers, librarians,  writers, homeschoolers and gift-givers.

Copyright (c) 2011,  Patricia Howe Tilton, All Rights Reserved

Books that Celebrate our Uniqueness and Diversity

I want to share children’s books that celebrate our uniqueness and diversity.  The books I’ve selected are gems that children will love, easily grasp their meaning and want to read again.  All three books are great books for home and in the classroom.

All the Colors of the Earth, is written and beautifully illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka.  She reveals through soft verse that despite our physical differences, children everywhere are lovable and all the same.    The book opens with “Children come in all the colors of the earth…”  Hamanaka creatively uses the colors of the earth to depict how closely we are all related, even through nature.  Children come with hair like lambs and hair that flows in water.  They come in all colors of love of their families, and in cinnamon, wheat and caramel and chocolate and honey bees.   Their vibrancy and innocence has a valuable impact on our land, and unite us as one.   Her book leaves one hopeful for our future.   I also appreciate that Hamanaka  carefully includes children with special needs in her illustrations.   Her book is inspired by her own two children’s multi-ethnic heritage.

Whoever You Are, is written by Mem Fox and richly illustrated by Leslie Staub.  Fox’s book focuses on the differences between people around our planet, and the similarities that unite us, such as love, pain and joy.  It is a beautiful celebration of  all human life.   Her message is simple –there are children just like you all over the world living in different homes, attending different schools, speaking different languages,  and living lives that are culturally different.  But no matter where they are, they all smile, laugh, cry and love.  Such a powerful story.

The Colors of Us, is written and boldly illustrated by Karen Katz.   Lena’s mother is an artist and she very creatively explores and teaches her daughter the many differences in the color of their friend’s skin through her paint palate.   Lena describes her mother as the color of French toast.  Her mother shows Lena how to mix the right paint combinations that will match her own skin.  Lena is a shade of brown, so her mother takes her for a walk to show her the beautiful colors of skin.  She finds friends who are the colors of creamy peanut butter, honey, reddish-brown, butterscotch, golden brown like pizza crust, bronze and amber.  Lena is very excited with all she observes and begins to see each friend as a beautiful shade of color.  Lena ends the day with all of her paints and begins to mix the colors so she can paint a picture of all her friends — “the colors of us.”   Great read!