YA Holiday Reads - Melting Pot
As we slide into the holiday season, I always head to the children’s section of my favorite bookseller. I usually strike up a conversation with the staff by introducing myself and telling them that I write this column. Then I ask:
“What are some of the best multicultural releases from this year and last year?”
Back in 2014, when I first asked this question, the staff member and I embarked on a two-hour hunt. This year, I am happy to say, they simply pulled a stack of books from a nearby shelf. “More people are asking that question; so we keep a stack of books handy.”
YAY – PROGRESS!
Here is just a sampling of the awesome diverse and inclusive reads for your favorite young person this holiday season! ENJOY!
Love is is the story of a girl who finds and raises a baby duck. What I really enjoyed about this book is the fact that it teaches love is often about letting go. Love is missing someone and being sad that they are gone. Showing a broad spectrum of emotions relating to love as natural and acceptable is often counter to what society preaches to our children. Don’t worry…there is a happy ending…and the illustrations made me think of some of my favorite childhood books. Love is is simply a jewel that I highly recommend.
Love is by Diane Adams, Illustrated by Claire Keane
Perfect for any fond gift or tender moment, this story of a girl and a duckling who share a touching year together will melt hearts old and young. In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned.
Peace is an Offering speaks directly to our current times. It is the first children’s book that subtly mentions The Twin Towers and helping a friend dealing with grief. The illustrations feature a variety of age ranges and skin tones all supporting and helping one another. It’s simple message is potent and beautiful.
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox, Illustraited by Stephanie Graegin
A warm, comforting poem about finding peace in a community of neighbors
Peace is an offering.
A muffin or a peach.
A birthday invitation.
A trip to the beach.
Join this group of neighborhood children as they find love in everyday things—in sunlight shining through the leaves and cookies shared with friends—and learn that peace is all around, if you just look for it. With rhyming verse and soft illustrations, this book will help families and teachers look for the light moments when tragedy strikes and remind readers of the calm and happiness they find in their own community every day.
Even a humble garbage man can have a HUGE positive impact! One man’s love for his city can be a powerful force for change and healing. Based on a real person, Marvelous Cornelius is a story of tragedy, love, healing, and community.
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Para
In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater than anyone had seen before. In this heartwarming book about a real garbage man, Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspiring story of a humble man and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Ok, I will be honest and say that I have never seen a bee in winter (see the illustrations at the end of the book), but I am willing to suspend my belief and dive into Luna and Bear’s world. This story has a beautiful message about friendship.
A Flower in the Snow by Tracey Corderoy, Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp
Luna and her polar bear friend (Bear) discover a beautiful gold flower growing in the snow. But when the flower fades, Bear goes on a search around the world for another to bring to Luna. It's only when he returns home that the true strength of their friendship is revealed.
A beautifully illustrated picture book that celebrates the joys of friendship, A FLOWER IN THE SNOW has the look and feel of an instant classic.
I am a sucker for multi-generational stories and Disney does a lovely job of illustrating four generations of one family under one roof. This colorful book includes stickers and paper dolls that can be used by children to create their own stories and engage in imaginative play!
Coco: Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and Aaron Rivera-Ashford, illustrated by The Disney Storybook Art Team
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist Monsters University), and produced by Darla K. Anderson (Toy Story 3), Disney/Pixar’s Coco opens in U.S. theaters on November 22, 2017. Children ages 3 to 7 will love this full-color storybook with a shiny cover, game cards, and over 50 stickers based on the film.
For Older Readers
All of these books are on my ‘To Be Read’ pile and I am excited to read them all. I am especially looking forward to reading Akata Warrior, since I featured the first book in the series – Akata Witch – in my September 2017 column. Oh…and did I mention, there is an anthology on they list! (Oh, how I LOVE an anthology!)
Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Timesbestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.
Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess
Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.
In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.
Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.