January Books: Fueling Imagination

By on January 14, 2015

Sponsored by The Children’s Trust

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During January we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. This can be an opportunity to remember his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. It can also be a time for reviewing our country’s past and noting changes that move us toward a brighter future. The books below offer children and families a chance to spend time reading aloud and talking together. Give your child the gift of time with you to wonder about how the months ahead of us can be transformed by our current national conversation.

 

We March

by Shane W. Evans

Books-wemarchA family wakens and prepares for this march by attending church, painting signs and traveling by bus. They are participants in the 1963 March on Washington. They walk, sing, and although hot and tired, are hopeful.

The dusky colors of morning brighten into the greens and blues of a golden August day. Brushstrokes add detail, movement and depth. Although largely African American, the pictures clearly reveal a rainbow of participants.

Additionally, illustrations show the Washington Monument, where the march began. Also familiar is the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about his dream.

Using few keenly chosen words and compelling images, Evans conveys a simple but powerful story of why the march happened and how. A note from the author is at the end.

Roaring Brook Press, $16.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, and Culmer Overtown.  Also may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Ellen’s Broom

by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter 

This cheerful story set during Reconstruction, celebrates the end of slavery. An announcement is made from the church pulpit that former slaves can now register their marriages legally. As part of the beginning of freedom, Ellen and her family join others in merry-making. Minter’s beautiful hand painted linoleum block prints show the tradition of “jumping the broom” – a ritual slaves used at their weddings. Together, Ellen’s family walks to the courthouse to get a legal marriage certificate. Mama holds the broom, through which Ellen has woven flowers. Later, it is hung, with the certificate, above the home fireplace.

Brown faces, colorful clothing and textures of stone and wood in the artwork glow with vitality. They link emotional expression to the vibrant text and vivid dialog. Quieter colors show scenes from slave times, as Papa explains why the broom was used.

An Author’s Note reveals how Lyons’ family history inspired this lively picture book.

Putnam, $16.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Coral Reef Branch, Homestead Branch, West Dade Regional, & South Dade Regional.  Also may be purchased from local & online booksellers.)

Tea Cakes for Tosh

by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Books-TeacakesTosh loved his grandma Honey’s delicious golden tea cakes. She matches them with a memorable story from family history. A plantation cook hides tea cakes in her pocket, to give her grandchildren “a taste of sweet freedom.”

When Honey’s memory begins to fail, Tosh decides to bake tea cakes to share with her. Lyons lyrical text and easy dialog show the strong family ties between generations.

Award winning illustrator Lewis’ trademark watercolors match life-like paintings to realistic language. Muted colors help the reader shift into the past, from Honey’s colorful kitchen. This gentle tale emphasizes the importance of sharing memories to strengthen family traditions. A recipe for tea cakes is included at the back.

Putnam, $16,99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to purchase from local and online booksellers.)

ADDITIONAL HISTORICAL TALES 

Books-BelleBelle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, illustrated by John Holyfield.   Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Grade 2–Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Arcola Lakes, Allapattah, Culmer Overtown, Edison, Lemon City, Little River, North Dade Regional, & North Shore.  Also may be purchased from local & online booksellers.)

Books-HopeHope’s Gift

by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Don Tate
Putnam, $16,99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Allapattah, Homestead, North Dade Regional, & South Dade Regional.  Also may be purchased from local & online booksellers.)

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: www.meribeths.blogspot.com

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