Tag: freedom

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers (9781452162812)

This book on the Statue of Liberty could not be more timely for our world today. The book first looks at the French origins of the statue made to celebrate the centennial of the United States. From small renderings to large pieces of the full-sized statue, Bartholdi, the artist shipped the statue to New York City in 214 crates. Statue assembly in New York took 17 months. The copper statue was originally copper brown, but aged to the green lady we know today. The book then focuses on the statue’s right foot, a foot that is moving rather than standing still. This symbol of our nation welcoming refugees and immigrants from around the world is stepping forward, just as we must to welcome new people to our shores.

This book is a lovely cross between a picture book and a nonfiction read. Shaped as a book that is shorter and thicker than most picture books, it offers illustrations on all of the pages. The text length is welcoming for younger readers and will also work as a read aloud.

The book moves from being a factual read about the statue itself and how it was built and came to America. It transforms into a call for our nation to live up to that symbol, to step forward as well. It becomes something more than the facts, more than the details. It brings the statue and our values to life.

Rumbles of awards surround this title. It deserves all of them. Unique and fabulous. Appropriate for ages 5-9. (Review copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (9781599903194, Amazon)

This novel looks at a piece of history that many people don’t know about. Mariah and her brother Zeke have been freed from slavery in Georgia as part of Sherman’s march. As she starts to realize that she may not have to return to the brutality she has lived in all of her life, Mariah begins to see new options for both her future and that of her brother. She is given a ride in a wagon by a young man Caleb who was raised in freedom. The two slowly begin to form a relationship with one another, born on their shared hope for the future and it being spent together. Still, there are soldiers and generals on the march who do not appreciate that the freed people are taking supplies from the military scavenging. Dangers continue to surround all of them as they make their steady way towards freedom.

Bolden writes in a poetic prose in this novel. She shares both the hope of freedom and the evils of slavery in the book. The horrors of slavery are offered with a frankness that allows them to fully be realized, each person having experienced their own personal hell. She makes sure to keep the tension high with the Rebels raiding the camps, pressures from within the northern forces, and the dangers of the march itself.

The relationship of Mariah and Caleb matches the pace of the march, steady and filled with bumps and revelations as well. It is a lovely lengthy courtship, given the space to blossom in a natural way that feels like the reader is falling in love along with them. The long journey gives them that time, even as the foreshadowing and dangers allow the reader to know they are not safe at all.

An important book on a little-known episode during the Civil War, this book is intensely personal and a dangerous mix of romance and horror. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins

dont-cross-the-line-by-isabel-martins

Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho (InfoSoup)

This very original picture book comes from an award-winning author and illustrator team from the publisher Planeta Tangerina and was first published in Portuguese. The book opens with an armed soldier standing towards the middle of the book surrounded by white space. A small dog enters and starts sniffing around and then a man comes on the page, but when he tries to head across to the right-hand page, the soldier stops him and tells him no one is allowed to go there by order of the general so he can join the story whenever he feels like and have plenty of room. More and more people arrive and the left-hand page gets crowded. Then some boys accidentally bounce their ball across the page and head over to retrieve it with others following along. The general then arrives and threatens to arrest the soldier who allowed them onto the other page. But the people stand up to him, rejoicing together in their new-found freedom to fill both pages.

This book is all about standing up to those in power and peacefully creating change. There is a wonderfully subversive tone to the entire book, winking and laughing at the threat of not being able to cross what is not usually a boundary in a book. Still, there is a real general and a real threat that is disarmed by numbers and action. It is a wonderful book to share when talking about the importance of demonstrating and standing for causes.

Carvalho’s illustrations are a delight. Filled with bright colors that add a wild and festive note to the story, they jump on the page. The end papers are filled with the characters of the book and their names. Looking into the crowd, one can follow each character through the story, from the astronaut who has trouble breathing to the escaping prisoners to the ghost and several animals. It’s a bright and vibrant group of people with large noses and lots of personality.

A great read perfect for our current political climate, this picture book is about peaceful demonstrations and the power of the people. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

Unbound by Ann E. Burg

Unbound by Ann E Burg

Unbound by Ann E. Burg (InfoSoup)

This novel-in-verse tells the story of Grace, a girl living as a slave on a plantation. Grace is selected to start work in the Big House, leaving her mother, stepfather and two little brothers behind. Grace is warned by everyone that she has to keep her eyes down and her opinions to herself, not even allowing them to show on her face or in her eyes. But Grace realizes that things are very unfair on the plantation where some people work in the fields from dawn to dusk and white people aren’t even expected to dress themselves. Grace finds it impossible to keep these thoughts deep inside her, and puts her family at risk. So they all flee to try to find freedom, heading deep into the Great Dismal Swamp where the men and dogs hunting them can’t track them.

The author of All the Broken Pieces returns with another verse novel just as stunning as her previous ones. Here she shares a piece of history that many don’t know about, slaves who found freedom by living deep in the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina. The entire book is fraught with dangers from whippings and punishments as a slave to the dangers of reaching possible freedom to the real dangers of the swamp itself.

Told in verse, the poems are in Grace’s voice and it rings with authenticity but also a righteous anger at what is being done to people because of the color of their skin. Readers hearing Grace’s voice will understand her situation and spirit on a deep level. That is the power of poetry, to cut past exposition right to the heart of the person speaking. Burg does this with a simplicity that adds to that power, cutting right through to the core.

Beautifully written, this powerful story tells of the importance of freedom for all people. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

 

Review: Dreams of Freedom

Dreams of Freedom

Dreams of Freedom: in words and pictures (InfoSoup)

An incredible picture book that follows its sister book, We Are All Born Free. In association with Amnesty International, this book celebrates freedom around the world in a variety of ways. With quotations about freedom, the book’s text flies and builds an expectation that no one should live in the different forms of slavery or abridged freedom. The freedoms are large and expansive: the freedom to be a child, the freedom to learn, freedom from fear and freedom from slavery. This book embraces them all, creating a place where conversation can leap from.

The quotes from various luminaries from around the world were carefully selected so that children will be able to understand them. Sources range from the Dalai Lama to Harriet Tubman to Anne Frank. The illustrations are also rich and varied. They are done by various master children’s book illustrators including Mordicai Gerstein, Birgitta Sif and Chris Riddell. Each page of the book creates a singular moment to explore that type of freedom and to create hope and peace.

A strong book about freedom that invites conversation, this book belongs in both public and school libraries. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Call Me Tree by Maya Christina Gonzalez

call me tree

Call Me Tree: lámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez

Released November 1, 2014.

This poetic picture book combines a celebration of trees with one of human diversity.  A boy starts to grow under the earth, reaching his arm up to break the surface of the ground.  His arm and fingers becomes a trunk and branches and soon he too is up in the air next to his tree.  Just as trees have freedom, so does he.  Just as each tree is different from another, he is different from the other people too.  Yet they all have roots and they all belong on the earth and in the world.

This very simple book is written like a free verse poem in both English and Spanish, closely tying biodiversity to human diversity in a clever way.  The connection of humans and trees is beautifully shown as well, in a way that ties each person to a tree like them.  It’s a book that is radiant in its delight in our connection to nature and the way that nature’s diversity reflects on our own.

Gonzalez both wrote and illustrated this picture book.  Her illustrations are colorful with deep colors that leap on the page.  The characters on the page are bold and different, each with their own feel of exuberance or quiet contemplation or strength.  Along with each different child, there is a tree connected to them that equally reflects their personality.  It’s a very clever way to clearly tie humans to nature.

This book could serve as inspiration for children to draw their own personal trees that express themselves or it can be a lullaby to dreams of blue skies and green leaves.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Children’s Book Press.

Two Parrots by Rashin Kheiriyeh

two parrots

Two Parrots by Rashin Kheiriyeh

Inspired by a tale by Rumi, this picture book takes an allegorical look at imprisonment and freedom.  A Persian merchant receives a parrot as a present and places him in a golden cage.   When the merchant heads out on a trip to India, he asks the parrot what gift he can bring back.  The parrot asks him to find his parrot friend and explain that the parrot would love to see him but is unable to due to his cage.  The merchant does as is asked and when he tells the parrot of his friend in the cage, the parrot falls down dead.  The merchant returns home to his parrot and has to tell him about the death of his friend.  At which point the parrot in the cage falls down dead too.  The merchant lifts the dead bird out of the cage and the bird promptly comes back to life and flies out the window to freedom.  The merchant is forced to admit the importance of freedom to living things.  Now he enjoys the beauty of the parrots free in his garden, uncaged.

This is not a straight-forward picture book, rather it is a moral and ethical tale that unwinds in a more traditional way for the reader.  It is a book that is best discussed with others who may see different aspects and different views in the story.  Many children may not have experienced this sort of story before, one that is not difficult in terms of vocabulary but instead presents a more challenging subject in an allegorical way.  Welcome to Rumi!

The art in the picture book is done by a young artist from Iran who has illustrated over 45 books for children.  His work is bright colored and full of texture.  The various papers used in his art have different textures and the colors are so strong and vibrant.  They have a great mix of quirky modern and traditional style. 

A delightful mix of traditional and modern storytelling, this picture book will get readers discussing and thinking about freedom and civil rights.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.