Peggy Fortnum Dies

Peggy Fortnum - Paddington:

The illustrator for Paddington Bear has died at the age of 96 according to an article in the Washington Post. She was a British illustrator who brought to life the bear so fond of marmalade. With his floppy hat and duffel coat, Paddington will live on in many of our minds exactly the way that Fortnum depicted him.


Elliot by Julie Pearson

Elliot by Julie Pearson

Elliot by Julie Pearson, illustrated by Manon Gauthier (InfoSoup)

Elliot was a little boy whose parents loved him very much. But there was a problem, when Elliot cried his parents did not understand why and when he yelled they did not know what to do. So one day a social worked named Thomas came and Elliot was taken to a new family with a new mother and father. It was different there and Elliot’s new family understood when he was hungry, when he was upset and when he needed attention. Elliot still got to see his parents sometimes too and they had a lot of fun together. His parents did try to care for him once again, but they still did not understand what he needed so he got moved to another family who could respond to his needs. Finally, Elliot came to a family where they wanted him to stay forever. They understood his needs even more deeply than any other family had and said things like “I love you forever, forever.”

This book is so very important. It is a book about the foster care system and one that is so intensely honest that it can be hard to read at times. Pearson manages to not make Elliot’s parents bad at all, keeping their neglect of Elliot vague enough to fit the experiences of many children. That also keeps the book appropriate for the youngest listeners. At the same time, Pearson shows the way children are moved from home to home, the way that they can go back to their parents, and the ability to finally find a permanent home where they are loved and cared for. The moment where parents finally use the word “love” with Elliot is so powerful because readers until that moment will not have realized that he had not been told it before. It’s a moment of realization that stings the heart.

Gauthier’s illustrations are done in cut paper collage. The colors are muted and quiet, creams and tans with lines on them. The background colors change slightly with the various families that Elliot lives with, but they are always muted. I appreciated this subtlety in the colors that supports the quiet and undramatic feel of the entire book.

Honest and vital, this picture book fills a huge gap in children’s books with its depiction of the foster system for small children. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Pajama Press and Myrick Marketing & Media.


ALA’s Frequently Challenged Book List for 2015

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has released their list of the most challenged books in the United States for last year. Here is the top ten:

  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  6. The Holy Bible
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Ah, once again so many of my personal favorites on the list. Though I am not surprised to see LGBT books on the list, since they have always featured prominently on the list, I am saddened to see two that are specifically about transgender teens and children being targeted. Both are about real people and offer a glimpse into the transgender experience from those who are living it.

Though this list always makes me sad, it also lights a fire to make sure that my community has open access to these books as well as books like them. To make sure that LGBT members of our community see themselves reflected in our collection. To make sure that those from religions other than Christianity see themselves in children’s books on our shelves. To have books for teens that contain sexual experiences because, seriously, they are teens.

What lights your fire?