Review: Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

Not My Idea A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham (9781948340007)

This picture book takes on the subject of white privilege in a way that makes the subject accessible to children. The book tells the story of a white child seeing news about a police shooting on the television while their mother tries to distract them and tells them that they are safe. But that is not what the child is concerned with, they want to know why they are treated differently in stores than black children and how this happened. The book grapples with what white children and adults can do to combat racism and get involved in social justice. It pushes children to speak out, even to their own family who are expressing racist ideas. It talks about the concept of “not seeing race” and then clearly explains why that is not true.

Higginbotham writes books about difficult subjects for children. She has taken on divorce, sex and death in the past. Still, this new one may be the most fraught subject yet. The way that she tackles the subject clearly puts the onus on white people to figure this all out, since it is a problem that they are responsible for. The book has just enough history to clarify that this is a long-standing problem and is systemic. Yet it is not willing to rest there, calling for action, clarity around the subject and a responsibility to step up.

The book is hand made and the illustrations and design of the overall book embrace that. The text is hand-lettered on brown paper, creating a book that is approachable and immensely personal. The illustrations, like the text, demonstrate the racism in our society and beautifully never put people of color in the position of having to teach or correct white people in the book. That is the job of white people, including children.

A strong primer on being white in America, examining our privilege and getting involved in tackling racism in our communities. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

2018 Best Picture Books!

What a year for picture books! This is always the hardest list for me to select for because I have so many favorites. I managed to keep it to my top 30 this year:

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin (9780316404488)

This is a beautiful tribute to the phases of the moon that tells the story in an original and modern way. – My Review

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (9781626720664)

The images are grand, beautiful and full of depth. They invite readers into this world of blue. – My Review

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb (9781536201734)

There are very few picture books that can make me truly weep. This was one of those. – My Review

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (9780399246531)

A marvelous pick to speak about diversity and acceptance with children. – My Review

Drawn Together by Minh Le Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Drawn Together by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat (9781484767603)

This is pure storytelling in art form and is exceptionally done. – My Review

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (9780823440559)

A dazzling and incredible picture book that is sure to win awards this year. – My Review

35297103 First Laugh - Welcome, Baby! By Rose Ann Tahe

The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara (9780735843127)

The entire book is filled with energy and action as the children take the initiative to create a field and play together. – My Review

First Laugh – Welcome, Baby! By Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson (9781580897945)

A warm look at the Navajo First Laugh Ceremony and a great depiction of a modern Native American family. – My Review

The Funeral by Matt James Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

The Funeral by Matt James (9781554989089)

James captures going to a funeral as a small child with a poignancy and beauty. Anyone who attended a funeral as a child will see their own memories come to life. – My Review

Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel (9781452150147)

Inviting, fresh and friendly, this picture book is exceptional thanks to its art. – My Review

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (9780316362382)

This is a quiet yet dramatic book, exquisitely written and illustrated. – My Review

A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith (9781626723146)

Seriously one of the best picture books of the year. This is treat by two master artists must be shared with children! – My Review

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoeet Imagine by Raul Colon

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoeet (9781524769567)

This picture book takes the large issue of bullying and gives children a way to not only talk about the issue but to do something about it. – My Review

Imagine by Raul Colon (9781481462730)

An exceptional wordless picture book, this one is a must-have for libraries. – My Review

Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love The Little Barbarian by Renato Moriconi

Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (9780763690458)

This one belongs in every library, it is sublimely diverse and accepting. – My Review

The Little Barbarian by Renato Moriconi (9780802855091)

A delight of a wordless read, this is one that children with their own toy swords will love. – My Review

Love by Matt de la Pena Marwan_s Journey by Patricia de Arias

Love by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long (9781524740917)

Readers are guaranteed to fall for Love. – My Review

Marwan’s Journey by Patricia de Arias, illustrated by Laura Borras (9789888341559)

An important book that beautifully captures the dangers and loss of a refugee child. – My Review

Mommy_s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins- Bigelow On the Other Side of the Garden by Jairo Buitrago

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins- Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn (9781534400597)

This lovely picture book beautifully ties a child’s playful imagination to wearing a hijab or khimar. – My Review

On the Other Side of the Garden by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yonkteng (9781554989836)

It is a journey of opening up, of finding new friends who warm you when the wind blows and who surprise and delight you. – My Review

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd (9781536200317)

This use of recycled material to tell the story of a scrap bike, sets just the right tone. And on that cardboard is a story of celebration and childhood. – My Review

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (9780735229358)

An intelligent look at big emotions and how best to deal with them and support one another, this picture book is exceptional.  – My Review

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies (9780062671271)

One of the top picture books of the year, this is a dead dog picture book worth reading. – My Review

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (9780763678838)

Her poem soars through the primordial darkness, journeys directly into the Big Bang, floats beside emerging planets, visits Earth, and welcomes children to life. – My Review

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora Groundwood Logos Spine

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (9780316431248)

A top read-aloud of the year, this picture book should be shared just like red stew. – My Review

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (9781419728518)

This is one of those books that you can read over and over again, different words and illustrations touching you each time. – My Review

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc The Visitor by Antje Damm

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc (9781616897239)

This gentle picture book has such depth to it. – My Review

The Visitor by Antje Damm (9781776571888)

Great illustrations lift a book about empathy and community. – My Review

We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell Zola's Elephant by Randall de Seve

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac(9781632896339)

A wonderful modern look at Cherokee traditions and our universal gratitude for community and family. – My Review

Zola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (9781328886293)

Beautiful and rich, this picture book is unique and imaginative.