Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie
This picture book is filled with gorgeous photographs of diverse people who live in the United States. The book speaks about the way that families came to our country. It talks of the dreams that they had and how difficult it was to make the journey and learn a different language. It is about the hard work that it takes to be an immigrant, the mistakes that are made, the way money is sent back home. At it’s heart this is a book about determination, grit and resilience, qualities that make our country great and that exemplify the immigrants who add so much.
Coy’s words are simple and yet very powerful. He states each fact in a way that makes it easy to understand but also in a tone that rings with truth. His focus is on humanizing immigrants, showing that they are just like all of us who may have been born here, no matter how they worship, dress or what language they speak. Don’t miss the final pages of the book where the author and the illustrator speak to the ways both their families arrived here.
The photographs in this book are what make it so lovely. Done in a mix of black and white and color, the photographs capture people of various backgrounds and cultures. There are children, adults and the elderly and each page opens to reveal faces that form a tapestry of diversity on the page.
A very timely and important picture book, this book will open discussions for elementary-aged children about the larger topic of immigration in a way they can understand. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from library copy.
Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker (InfoSoup)
Waylon loves science and spends a lot of his time thinking about all of the cool inventions he could create from his scientific knowledge. His favorite ideas right now focus on how to manipulate gravity for his own means. But things in his life are not all going smoothly right now. His sister, who insists on being called Neon, doesn’t act like she used to now that she’s a teenager. One kid at school is splitting the fourth grade boys into two teams and Waylon isn’t sure which team he is on. A kid with a criminal record just came back to school and is even scarier than last year. It’s all changing around him and it looks like only Waylon can solve the crisis by being a bridge from one side to the other.
This novel brings young readers another amazing character from the author of the Clementine series. Waylon, just like Clementine, is incredibly easy to relate to. He is dynamically human, getting into scrapes and situations that readers may face themselves. As always, Pennypacker’s prose is written with a surety and skill that allows young readers to relax and simply immerse themselves in the world that she has created for them.
Pennypacker makes sure to bring just enough humor to the novel to make it accessible for reluctant readers. The playground dynamics set just the right tone. The unique way that Waylon views the world through science makes those issues more dramatic as Waylon sees himself very isolated. The theme of loneliness and then finding a way to reconnect is done in just the right tone.
An awesome new protagonist from Pennypacker is something worth celebrating! Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Disney-Hyperion and Edelweiss.