Tag Archives: Families

Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey Of His Life

Through a magical conversation with a young girl in a horse-drawn carriage, Hans Christian Andersen tells his life story. “The most wonderful fairytale is life itself.” He was a cobbler’s son who left his town in Denmark, with thirteen coins in his pocket, to go to Copenhagen to seek his fortune. He wanted to be an actor or a dancer, but things did not work out for him. What he really enjoyed was writing. A sheet of paper became his stage. He wrote poems, stories, fairytales, and plays. He traveled around the country meeting people who loved the theatre – people like himself. Hans goes on to tell the girl some of his stories, such as The Flying Trunk, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, Clumsy Hans, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Snow Queen. The sumptuous illustrations use graphic novel elements to tell the story. In the illustrations, there are references to well-known authors of children’s books and some famous children’s book characters, like The Little Prince, Pinocchio, and more. An author’s note tells more about Hans Christian Andersen’s life. mjw
Title: Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey Of His Life
Author: Heinz Janisch
Illustrator
: Maja Kastelic
Publisher
: NorthSouth Books, Inc., New York
Copyright
: 2020
Original Language
: German
Translator
: David Henry Wilson
Original Title
: Hans Christian Andersen: Die Reise seines Lebens
Original Publisher
: NordSud Verlag AG> Zurich, Switzerland
Original Copyright
: 2020
ISBN
: 978-0-7358-4388-2
Hardcover pages
: 56
Age range
: 4-8
Genre
: Picture Book Biography
Book setting
: Denmark
Author’s ethnicity
: Austrian
Author’s residence
: Vienna
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Born in Slovenia
Awards
: White Ravens Award – Illustrator
Subjects
: Biography, Denmark, European history, Fairytales, Literary biography

Welcome To Nowhere

Twelve-year-old Omar lives in Bosra, Syria with his family.  He dreams of being a businessman and his sister wants to be a teacher. Their hopes are shattered when  war breaks out. The family is forced to flee Syria by foot to get to Jordan. This is a moving and sensitive novel with lovable characters. A Letter from the Author provides more information about the war in Syria. Also included is a section What Can You DoTo Help? that tells about the Hope School in Jordan. mjw
Title: Welcome To Nowhere
Author: Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator
: Lucy Eldridge
Publisher
: Macmillan Children’s Books
Copyright
: 22017
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-5098-44047-2
Paperback pages
: 329
Age range
: 9-11
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Syria, Jordan
Author’s ethnicity
: Born in new Zealand of Scottish parents
Author’s residence
: Britain
Awards
: Winner of the UKLA Book Award
Subjects
: Cerebral Palsy, Homelessness, Middle East, Poverty, Refugees, Syria

We Kiss Them With Rain

Fourteen-year-old, pregnant by rape, Mvelo lives with abuse, poverty, and disease in South Africa, and her mother has died of HIV/AIDS. She finds resources and hope in unlikely benefactors. Wonderful characters make Mvelo’s story a joy to read. An Afterword tells of the inspiration for the novel. A Q&A with the author section offers more insight and a list of Discussion Questions would make this a thought-provoking read for high school students. mjw
Title: We Kiss Them With Rain
Author: Futhi Ntshingila
Publisher
: Catalyst Press. Livermore, California
Copyright
: 2018
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-946395-04-7
Paperback pages
: 160
Age range
: 14 up
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Durban, South Africa
Author’s ethnicity
: Born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Author’s residence
: Pretoria, South Africa
Subjects
: Africa, AIDS, Coming of age, Generations, Poverty, Sexual abuse, Women’s sagas

Brown

Three bullies – Anton, Ruben, and the minister’s son – destroy the fort that young Rusty and his friend Jack have constructed from scrap.  Dressed in a brown cape and mask, Rusty, as super hero “Brown”, sneaks out at night to paint Ruben’s bicycle brown. Jack becomes “Black” who paints Anton’s bike black. Another friend Lou, as “Blue” joins them, only to discover that most of their stash of blue paint has disappeared. They still manage to paint all three bikes blue. Rusty feels guilty, but does not get into trouble because the three bullies have written rude words in blue on the church’s spire. This is the first book to be translated from the award-winning trilogy My Alter Ego Is A Superhero series from Norway.  It has been translated into more than thirty languages. Fine-lined ink drawings with washes of color add humor to this fun story. mjw
Title: Brown
Author: Hakon Ovreas
Illustrator
: Oyvind Torseter
Publisher
: Enchanted Lion Books, New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: Norwegian
Translator
: Kari Dickson
Original Title
: Brune
Original Publisher
: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag AS
Original Copyright
: 2013
ISBN
: 978-1-59270-212-1
Hardcover pages
: 136
Age range
: 6-10
Genre
: Fiction
Author’s ethnicity
: Norwegian
Author’s residence
: Norway
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Norwegian
Illustrator’s residence
: Norway
Awards
: 2020 ALA Mildred Batchelder Award, Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s Literature Prize
Subjects
: Grandfathers, Superheroes

The Pencil

Based on the author’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this story is about being responsible for belongings and community.  Susan, her sister Rebecca, and brother Peter are home with their father in their iglu. Mother has gone to help a neighbor.  The children get tired of playing games. Father brings out a pencil from the box where they keep special things. All of the children begin drawing and drawing until they start to worry about what Mother will say when she gets home. They are supposed to use things wisely. Mother just reminds them that they shouldn’t waste things because they are hard to get. They only have one pencil. But she is glad that drawing brought them such joy. The illustrations have a sketch-like quality and are done in pencil. mjw
Title: The Pencil
Author: Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula
Illustrator
: Charlene Chua
Publisher
: Inhabit Media Inc. Iqaluit, Nunavut
Copyright
: 2018
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-77227-216-1
Hardcover pages
: 36
Age range
: 5-7
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: Nunavut, Canada
Author’s ethnicity
: Avinngaq born in Nunavut
Author’s residence
: Both authors – Nunavut
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Illustrator’s residence
: Hamilton, Ontario
Subjects
: Canada, Community, Drawing, Iglu, Inaktitut, Polar regions, Thrift, Writing

When Spring Comes To The DMZ

The beautiful paintings in this book show the changing seasons and the variety of wildlife that live peacefully in the Demilitarized Zone of Korea. Readers can also see the ever-present fences and soldiers. Salmon swim bravely upstream and mountain goats jump after their mother.  Grandfather goes to the DMZ every season and dreams of flinging the gates wide open and walking inside and looking up into the blue sky. The book is part of the Peace Picture Book Project by illustrators from Korea, China, and Japan. A map of Korea and historical facts are included as back matter and the endpapers provide a world map. mjw
Title: When Spring Comes To The DMZ
Author: Uk-Bae Lee
Illustrator
: Uk-Bae Lee
Publisher
: Plough Publishing House. New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: Korean
Translator
: Aileen Won
Original Title
: Bimujang chidae e bom i omyon
Original Publisher
: Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. Paju, Korea
Original Copyright
: 2010
ISBN
: 978-0-87486-972-9
Hardcover pages
: 40
Age range
: 5-8
Genre
: Picture Book, Historical Fiction
Book setting
: Korea
Author’s ethnicity
: Korean
Author’s residence
: Korea
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Korean
Illustrator’s residence
: Korea
Awards
: 2020 ALA Mildred Batchelder Honor Award
Subjects
: Grandfathers, Korean Demilitarized Zone, Seasons, Soldiers

The Distance Between Me And The Cherry Tree

Ten-year-old Mafalda has Stargardt Disease, which causes progressive vision loss and eventual blindness. She has six months of sight left and she hides this fact from her family and friends. She keeps a list of all the things she cares about, like climbing the cherry tree near her school and counting stars. She makes a plan for when she can’t see and runs away to live in her favorite cherry tree.  This is a powerful, thought-provoking story of a young girl’s fears. mjw
Title: The Distance Between Me And The Cherry Tree
Author: Paola Peretti
Illustrator
: Carolina Rabei
Publisher
: Hot Key Books, London
Copyright
: 2018
Original Language
: Italian
Translator
: Denise Muir
Original Publisher
: Rizzoli
Original Copyright
: 2018
ISBN
: 978-1-4714-0755-0
Paperback pages
: 195
Age range
: 8-12
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Italy
Author’s ethnicity
: Italian
Author’s residence
: Verona, Italy
Translator’s residence
: Edinburgh and Abruzzo, Italy
Awards
: 2020 ALA Mildred Batchelder Honor Award
Subjects
: Blindness, Cats, Emotions and feelings, Sight, Special needs, Stargardt disease, Trees

Stand On The Sky

Twelve-year-old Aisulu is an expert equestrienne who loves to ride horses across the mountains. She is one of the Kazakh people of Mongolia, who are nomads and androcentric. It goes against all tradition for her to train eagles. But because her brother is disabled and he and their parents have to travel to a hospital in a faraway big city, she is left with her aunt and uncle and she secretly starts caring for an orphaned baby eagle. She becomes an Eagle Hunter. The setting for this animal-friendship story is unique and fascinating. A glossary of Kazakh and Arabic words and phrases, a list of characters, and an author’s note help readers gain a better understanding of Mongolia and nomadic culture. mjw
Title: Stand On The Sky
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher
: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-328-55746-9
Hardcover pages
: 336
Age range
: 9-14
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Kazakh nomads in Mongolia
Author’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Author’s residence
: Ontario, Canada
Awards
: 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award
Subjects
: Asia, Birds, Eagles, Horses, Mongolia, Mountains, Nomads, Wildlife

The Village By The Sea

Thirteen-year-old Lila and her twelve-year-old brother Hari live in a small village called Thul in western India.  They also have two younger sisters.  They live with their mother, who is ill and bed-ridden.  Lila and Hari manage the family because their father is an alcoholic. Their life is hard.  Hari decides he has had enough and leaves for Bombay to find work.  He gets a job in a restaurant and befriends Mr. Panwallah, the watch repairer.  Back home in Thul, a rich family offers to help them and their mother is taken to a hospital for treatment.  And their father turns over a new leaf.  Hari returns to the village with plans to open a repair shop. Together, the whole family starts a small chicken farm. A helpful list of Indian words is included. mjw
Title: The Village By The Sea
Author: Anita Desai
Publisher
: New York Review of Books
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
Original Publisher
: Heinemann. London
Original Copyright
: 1982
ISBN
: 978-1-68137-351-5
Paperback pages
: 263
Age range
: 12 up
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Thul and Bombay, India
Author’s ethnicity
: Indian
Author’s residence
: U.S.A.
Awards
: 1983 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
Subjects
: Asia, Brothers and sisters, Family life, Family problems, Poverty, Rural life, Siblings

Child Of St. Kilda

Norman John Gilles was one of the last children born on St. Kilda, a group of islands with high cliffs off the Scottish coast.   People lived there for over four thousand years, thriving in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. They survived on sea birds, eggs, and potatoes. There was no crime or need for money.  They had no automobiles.  They trusted and cared for each other. The community came to an abrupt end in 1930 when the remaining St. Kildans begged the British government to evacuate them to the mainland. No one knows what happened. Today, the islands have become a World Heritage Site, recognized for their unique wildlife and vanished culture. The book concludes with a St. Kilda Sketchbook that provides more information and a map.  The stunning images were created by hand using monoprinting techniques. mjw
Title: Child Of St. Kilda
Author: Beth Waters
Illustrator
: Beth Waters
Publisher
: Child’s Play. Auburn, Maine. USA
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-78628-188-3
Hardcover pages
: 64 
Age range
: 4-9
Genre
: Picture Book, Information Book, Nonfiction
Book setting
: Scotland
Author’s ethnicity
: English
Author’s residence
: Cambridge, U.K.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: English
Illustrator’s residence
: Cambridge, U.K.
Subjects
: Birds, History, Immigration, Mystery, Storms, Survival

The Girl Who Stole An Elephant

Chaya is a rebellious and fearless schoolgirl.  She steals from the rich in her Serendib (Sri Lanka) village to help the poor.  One day, she goes too far and takes some of the Queen’s jewels and, consequently, gets her best friend arrested.  She and her friends, loyal Neelan and clever Nour, escape to the jungle where they have amazing adventures.  She also manages to steal the King’s elephant Ananda.  This fast-paced novel is full of gorgeous and vivid imagery and bits of interesting information about jungle flora and fauna. The book ends with a little twist. mjw
Title: The Girl Who Stole An Elephant
Author: Nizrana Farook
Publisher
: Nosy Crow Ltd. London
Copyright
: 2020
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-78800-634-7
Paperback pages
: 247
Age range
: 8-12
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Serendib. Sri Lanka
Author’s ethnicity
: Born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Author’s residence
: Hertfordshire, England
Subjects
: Adventure, Bandits, Elephants, Girls, Jungles, Royalty, Theft

My Long List Of Impossible Things

Sixteen-year-old Katja, her eighteen-year-old sister Hilde, and their mother are forced out of their house in Germany when Soviet troops take over their village after WW II. German society has collapsed and there is much hardship and violence.  Their mother is killed and the two girls make a long and dangerous journey to another town on their own.  The story is told from the point of view of Katja and the German teenage post war perspective and is rarely examined in young adult fiction.  Katja questions so much about her country, but manages to make a new life for herself.  One thing that saves Katja is her love of the piano.  Interesting facts about famous composers are sprinkled throughout this brilliant novel. mjw
Title: My Long List Of Impossible Things
Author: Michelle Barker
Publisher
: Annick Press. Toronto
Copyright
: 2020
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-77321-364-4
Paperback pages
: 360
Age range
: 9 up
Genre
: Historical Fiction
Book setting
: Germany
Author’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Author’s residence
: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Subjects
: Music, Musicians, Nazism, Piano, Soviet occupation, Violence, World War II