Concept picture books: a much-needed multicultural spin...

Oct 7, 2013 by

Round is a Tortilla has a refreshing take on the common concept picture book about shapes. Usually these kind of books target very young readers, and hence there isn’t a narrative; there are typically words with accompanying pictures. What I really loved about this book was how Roseanne Greenfield Thong‘s charming text and John Parra‘s gorgeous illustrations transport you into a distinctly Hispanic cultural space with a wonderful Latino flavor to it. Even though at its core it is still a ‘list’ book (where there isn’t really a plot), both the written and visual narrative elevate it to something more meaningful and creative than your standard concept book.   Spanish words pepper the rhyming English narration, and make for a great read-aloud experience. I’m not usually a big fan of rhyming text, but it’s quite effective...

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Ezra Keats and multicultural picture books...

Mar 11, 2013 by

Today is a very special children’s book icon’s birthday: Ezra Jack Keats‘s. He  is widely credited with introducing multiculturalism into mainstream children’s publishing in the US. For over 25 years the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has given an annual award to the best new author and illustrator that represents the “universal qualities of childhood… and the multicultural nature of our world.” In fact, this year’s winners were announced just a few days ago.  So today  seems especially apt to look back at this wonderful author and illustrator, because what he contributed and represents are the most important elements to me as a reader, lover, and creator of picture books — inclusion and diversity.   The book that brought  widespread recognition to Keats was The Snowy Day. It is a delightful picture book with an endearing African-American boy (Peter) as its protagonist,...

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