Violet Shrink, by Christine Baldacchino, and illustrated by Carmen Mok, is really a parents’ how-to manual masquerading as a children’s picture book, but not to worry, kids will appreciate it too.
Mónica and Hannah have a new teacher, Miss Shelby, and they have more in common with her than they think. Mónica is from Bolivia, and misses her grandmother, and the hummingbirds they fed together in the backyard. Hanna is from Israel, and misses the way the wind whooshes through the desert, and the tortoise that lived in the sand dunes outside her house. Together, Mónica and Hannah form the Homesick Club
There are people who carry a pocket US Constitution in their, you know, pocket. This book is not for those people. In my experience, the folks with the slim black copy of the Constitution in their jacket pocket tend to take the document as an unchanging lodestar, practically perfect in every way. I suspect they wouldn’t like this marvelous book aimed at middle grade Con Law scholars , because the authors present a more sophisticated, nuanced, and dare I say, correct view of the matter, one that shows us where the Framers got the Constitution right, and where they just got it written. And you know what? It’s a serious page turner.
From the streets of Oakland, to the plains of Zambia, from snowy Montreal to historic Howard University in Washington DC, we follow Kamala’s story as she sees injustice and tries to right it in ways big and small. Illustrator Laura Freeman’s colorful and bold illustrations are gorgeous, and Grimes’ prose is poetic but to the point.
It’s easy to read Paola Santiago and the River of Tears as the spellbinding story of the supernatural that it is, but just as Pao learns that there’s more going on beneath the surface of the Gila River, the reader discovers there’s more depth in the book too. Themes of place and belonging are brought into sharp relief as Pao chafes at what she sees as her mother’s backwards beliefs.
In a story about women using their voices, not only is the protagonist a male, but the reader is left wondering how exactly Henry’s mother persuaded him to change his mind. The Voice that Won the Vote is Harry’s, not Febb’s. Harry’s mother’s voice is silent. Febb’s voice is drowned out.
Isa is a dancer, but her mother doesn’t approve of ballet as a career. Alex is a pitching prospect who wants to be a poet.
Unger’s straightforward prose and Velez Aguilera’s black and white illustrations present an incomprehensible subject – war – in a simple way. And although the topic is serious and scary, Davico finds solace in the embrace of his family, and we the readers do too.
The rhythmic, repetitive language acts as a soothing balm, as do the soft pastel illustrations. I wish I had taken my blood pressure before and after reading this little book, as I’m pretty sure it went down. I barely needed the mindfulness tips Carnavas includes after the story concludes, although teachers and parents will find them helpful.