Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! The news from Hawai’i about the devastating fires in Maui is heartbreaking, and I wanted to share some opportunities to give to the community. If you’re an author, publisher, or editor, consider donating books or services to Books for Maui, a book auction fundraiser. If you’re able, consider a financial donation to the Maui Food Bank or the Kākoʻo Maui Fund.
In today’s newsletter, I review children’s books about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and two excellent new picture book releases. Before I get to those reviews, let me tell you about Book Riot’s New Release Index! Delighting velocireaders since 2017, Book Riot’s New Release Index will keep you in the know about all the latest books. New books for days. Subscribe today — you won’t be able to read them all, but it’s fun to try!
These Olive Trees by Aya Ghanameh (picture book)
This lovely picture book tells part of the story of the author’s grandmother, Oraib, and her childhood as a Palestinian refugee. Oraib was born in the Balata refugee camp. Before she was born, her family was forced to flee the Palestinian village Al-Tira, but Balata is the only home she’s ever known. Oraib loves helping with the olive trees, but when the war comes to the camp, her family has to flee once more, leaving the olive trees behind. The back matter includes a note from the author about her grandmother and the Palestinian refugee crisis as well as photographs.
The Walking School Bus by Aaron Friedland and Ndileka Mandela, illustrated by Andrew Jackson Obol (picture book)
Shaka and his sister Nandi walk with their father every day to school. But when his father gets a job in a mine far away, Shaka and Nandi can no longer attend school. It isn’t safe for them to walk alone. When the siblings find a toy school bus in the dirt, they decide to try and find transportation for all the students wanting to go to school but can’t because it’s too far and too dangerous. But doing so is a lot harder than they imagined. But maybe if all the children joined together, they could be the bus and keep one another safe? There are Xhosa words scattered throughout the book. Portions of the book’s sale benefit the Simbi Foundation, a nonprofit that aids remote and refugee students worldwide to gain access to education. One of the authors is the founder of the foundation.
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
August 26th is the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, when women were granted the right to vote. I live in Nashville, where it all went down, and have always been fascinated by the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Here are some of my favorite children’s books about the topic.
Dare to Question by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Udayana Lugo (picture book)
While Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are the most well-known leaders of the movement, it was Carrie Chapman Catt who led the Women’s Suffrage Movement when the 19th Amendment passed as a result of her campaigning and hard work. This picture book biography begins with a young Carrie asking questions, and refusing to stop asking questions even when her father mocked her. Because her father didn’t believe women should go to college, Carrie washed dishes to pay for it, and when she graduated, she joined the Women’s Suffrage Movement, led at the time by Susan B. Anthony (there were different women’s groups campaigning, but I’ll keep it simple here!). This follows Carrie all the way to Nashville, where she successfully campaigned and the 19th Amendment was passed. I love that this picture book includes Carrie’s long relationship with another woman, and doesn’t hide that Carrie was queer.
The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger (picture book)
This picture book centers on that final day of voting in Nashville, and how it all came down to one legislator, Harry Burn, and more importantly to his mother, Febb Burn. Harry had intended to vote “No” on the amendment, but then he received a letter from his mother with a big, old-fashioned guilt trip about how of course Harry would vote yes, how her beloved son knows how industrious his mother is, and how much she loves him and how (subtext) she will never forgive him and guilt him for the rest of his life if he were to vote no, but of course, he must already be planning to vote yes, because he loves his mother so. Harry was a good boy and voted yes. I’m really glad this picture book exists because no one I ever talk to knows about Febb Burn! Her voice is the one that won the vote.
Suffragette: The Battle for Equality by David Roberts (early reader/middle grade)
This is a beautifully illustrated, large nonfiction biography collection and history that I encourage anyone that enjoys learning about the movement to read. It covers the Women’s Suffrage Movement in both the United States and the United Kingdom. You probably recognize David Roberts’s illustrations from the Questioneers series, like Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer. It includes lots of fun facts about the movement, from badges to parades and more.
Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne (middle grade)
Black women were absolutely vital to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The vote would not have happened without women like Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells. Yet many white women suffragists were racist, and their racist beliefs and in-fighting hindered the movement. This middle grade nonfiction is a vital examination of the role of African American women in the movement. Dionne also connects how the struggles of Black women during the Women’s Suffrage Movement apply to current efforts to restrict voting access for Black citizens.
Now for something completely different. My daughter decided to take Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony to the park this week, where they enjoyed getting buried in a sandbox, thrown over and over into a creek, having their portraits drawn, and going on adventures in this artificial habitat when it started to rain. Quite a day for them! We’ve also been reading a lot of the My Little Pony books lately, all found at our library.
If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,