The finalists for the 2015 Lammys have been announced. There are many categories to this award, and one of them is LGBT Children’s/Young Adult books. Here are the finalists in that category:
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke
This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Gordon Parks had a rough beginning to his life from being born almost stillborn to losing his mother at age 14. He was told by his white teacher that he and the rest of his all-black class would end up as either porters or waiters. Parks did do those jobs, but then he purchased a used camera and everything changed. He started photographing models and then turned his camera towards the struggling families in Chicago and Washington DC. He is pointed towards one specific subject who will create his most famous image, American Gothic, the picture of an African-American cleaning woman standing in front of the American flag with her mop in hand. Parks managed to show racism with a clarity thanks to just picking up a camera at first.
Weatherford keeps this book very friendly with a minimal amount of text in the bulk of the book. She does include an author’s note at the end that fills in more of the extensive career of Parks as a film director and Renaissance man. The focus here in this picture book biography is Parks’ photographic work and the impact he had on exposing racism and poverty in the inner city, showing hard working people who were still in poverty. Make sure to turn to the end of the book to see his photographs and their intense message.
Christoph’s illustrations are stellar. Using a subtle color palette, the images echo the photographs that Park took, but not too closely. Instead they build upon them, showing Parks taking the images and embracing the dark beauty of the back streets of urban spaces. He also beautifully captures emotions and the humanity of Parks’ subjects that also shines in his photographs.
An important picture book biography, this book shows how one person can make a difference and have a voice. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Fly! by Karl Newsom Edwards
Little Fly can’t do what the other bugs in the garden can do. He tries to act just like them, but it doesn’t work out quite right. He can’t wiggle like a worm or jump like a grasshopper. He can’t march in formation like the ants or swing like a spider. He’s hopeless at digging and chewing leaves too. It’s not until some flying insects inspire him to try his wings that he figures out exactly what he’s meant to do – fly!
This very simple picture book works so well. The insect who is doing the movement or action states it with confidence and in their own unique font. Then Fly tries it too but always with a question mark wondering about it. So the book reads aloud well and offers plenty of options for tone and approach as a teacher or librarian. In other words, be just as silly as you would like and it will work well.
One of the huge strengths of this book is its illustrations. From the pop-eyed little fly to the other insects, they are all distinctive and brimming with personality. Sharp-eyed readers and listeners will hints of the next insect before you turn the page, creating a feeling of moving along a path of insects. Make sure to check out the Bug Facts at the end of the book for the names of the insects you meet in the story.
Simple and innately funny, this picture book has a zingy personality all its own. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from digital copy from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.