Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (9781943147724)

A little girl tells her mother that she won’t be going back to school because no one could say her name, not even her teacher. So her mother explains that names are actually songs, and offers various examples, each accompanied by phonetic help in pronouncing them. The little girl goes on to explain the bullying behavior of some of the other students, pretending to choke on her name. Her mother explains that some names are not pronounced in the throat, but in the heart. Some of the children at school were scared of her name too, but her mother explains that certain names contain fire because they are so strong. What about the children who said her name was made up? Names come from dreamers who create new names when old ones were stolen, explains her mother. The next day, the little girl heads back to school, ready to sing her name for her teacher and class.

This picture book is completely inspiring, both for children with unique or unusual names but also for teachers and classmates to help lead everyone to inclusion of diversity in their classrooms. I love the help in pronouncing the rainbow of names shared in the story, particularly when that same pronunciation help extends to names that are not unusual such as Benjamin, Olivia and Ms. Anderson. It’s a clever way to show that we all have interesting names and we have learned to pronounce them all.

The illustrations show a diverse class of children in an urban setting as the little girl and her mother walk home together. As her confidence in her name grows, the world around becomes filled with colors, streaks of pinks and golds, clouds of pastel. These same bursts of cloud and fire return when she goes to school, declaring her griot-inspired name for everyone: Kora-Jalimuso.

A book that shows how powerful inclusion is, simply by saying someone’s name with care and conviction. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Innovation Press.

2020 CBC Book Awards Finalists

The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for their 2020 Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards. The awards are the only national book awards selected by children and teens.  Here are the finalists:


The Babysitter from Another Planet by Stephen Savage

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

The Good Egg by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald

I Am Love by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds

I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins

No Place Like Home by Ronojoy Ghosh

The Perfect Sofa by Fifi Kuo



Chapter Two Is Missing by Josh Lieb

The Immortal Jellyfish by Sang Miao

The Karate Kid by Kim Smith

Mr. Posey’s New Glasses by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Daniel Duncan

Science You Can Eat by Stefan Gates

The Seekers by Hari Panicker and Deepti Nair

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson



Earth by Steve Jenkins

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Hicotea by Lorena Alvarez

Pandora’s Legacy by Bones Leopard, illustrated by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

Rising Water by Marc Aronson

Survivors of the Holocaust edited by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Whittingham



Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden

Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot De Rhoads

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

It’s Trevor Noah by Trevor Noah

Mirror, Mirror by Jen Calonita

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan