Surfer of the Century

SurferoftheCentury

Image Credit: Lee & Low Books Inc., Ellie Crowe/Illustrated by Richard Waldrep

 

Ah, what a COOL guy. This excellent biography is about Hawaiian athlete Duke Kahanamoku who’s credited for spreading surfing all over the world with his passion for the sport and the waves.

Duke didn’t grow up with much but he grew up a boy of the island Oʻahu and its waters. He wasn’t the best at school work but he was a natural athlete and a powerfully fast and gifted swimmer. When he was a teen, he lucked upon a coach, started a “poor man’s swim club” and continued perfecting his swimming as well as the curve and design of his surfboards.

At a local AAU swim meet, Duke shattered the world record and AAU records but people on the mainland didn’t believe it! His community would raise money to send him to California to try out for the US Olympic Swim Team where he’d easily qualify and set off to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Duke faced a great deal of discrimination and racism on the mainland for being a person of color and Crowe addresses these issues in the book. Though he faced several challenges, he overcame them and and became a symbol of Hawaii. In his lifetime, he won multiple medals, gained adoring fans from all over the world and would share his love for surfing with the global community.

Duke Kahanamoku truly embodied the spirit of aloha (love/kindness) in everything he did! He rightfully deserves the title of Surfer of the Century and continues to be a role model to this day.

ThorpeandKahanamoku

Image Credit: Lee & Low Books Inc., Ellie Crowe/Illustrated by Richard Waldrep

[Jim Thorpe and Duke Kanahamoku on their way to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden a.k.a. #IndigenousBadassery]

 

Now an excellent book about surfing needs excellent illustrations and luckily, Walrep comes through strong. The gouache illustrations are absolutely glowing and gorgeous. Blocks of color, excellent lighting, shining dark brown skin, confident smiles, and blue waves with wispy foam transport readers to Hawaii. Surfer of the Century is a worthy tribute to a great sportsman and human being.

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Community, Diversity, Surfing, Aloha, Hawaii, We Need Diverse Books, Biography, Discrimination, Segregation, Discussion, Social Issues, Family, History, Swimmers, Non-Fiction
Book Info: Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe/Illustrated by Richard Waldrep, 2007 Lee & Low Books Inc., ISBN: 9781584302766

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Today is the Day

TodayistheDay

Image Credit: Tundra Books (Penguin Random House), Eric Walters/Eugenie Walters

This story is joy. 🙂

All the children in the orphanage are waiting for their special day, their birthday! Today is the Day is inspired by real life events at the Creation of Hope orphanage in Kikima, Kenya. The author notes at the end of the book that “birthday celebrations” in general are often not a big deal in several cultures around the world BUT this orphanage decided to make a yearly birthday celebration to remind the children that they are special. Many of the children at the orphanage’s parents died from HIV and AIDS and they don’t know their birthdays. So, once a year, they hold a special celebration to celebrate their existence and they also get a government-issued birth certificate!

In the story, Mutanu wakes up excited for the day because she knows it is their birthday! Her energy is contagious and she walks around their home, doing her chores and checking on the baby animals. She remembers their birthdays as well! Mutanu is at the orphanage because her parents died and she went to live with her grandma but when her grandma got too old to care for her, she had to take her to the orphanage. On this special day, she reunites with her beloved grandma and can hardly wait to hear her name called to get her gift bag and to sing Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday Mutanu! It’s truly your day.

Today is the Day features very cute acrylic illustrations that are joyful and full of energy. Fernandes bases Mutanu on an actual girl (her photo is in the back) and she is happy with eyes full of love and kindness. This book is a great way to introduce important social issues to your child; issues of HIV and AIDS in Kenya, homelessness, orphans, building community and self-confidence. If you enjoy this story, Eric Walters and Eugenie Fernandes have two more books in this series called My Name is Blessing and Hope Springs.

P.S. The cover of the book opens to a beautiful poster!

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Community, Friendship, Birthdays, Orphans, Social Issues, Diversity, Cultural Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Kenya, Joy
Book Info: Today is the Day by Eric Walters/Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, 2015 Tundra Books (Penguin Random House), ISBN: 9781770496484

 

If You Plant a Seed

IfYouPlantaSeed

Image Credit: Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins), Kadir Nelson

 

If You Plant a Seed is gorgeous. Kadir Nelson is a master painter and in this book, he combines his paintings with a memorable story about the importance of sharing and kindness.

In this simple tale, Rabbit and Mouse nurture their seeds, wait patiently and finally have the most beautiful tomato, carrot and cabbage plants. They nibble them and smile at the fruits of their labor. But soon, their bounty attracts curious visitors; the birds take notice of their beautiful vegetables. But Rabbit and Mouse are selfish, and so, chaos happens and a major argument ensues. Slowly they realize that it’s much better to be kind and to share, because when you’re kind, that kindness grows and grows and maybe you’ll get more than you ever imagined.

This book is one of my favorites because the story is so simple yet so powerful. There’s nothing more powerful than a message of love and kindness and this book teaches that message to little ones in a beautiful way. Nelson’s oil paintings are beautifully vibrant and alive. Lush vegetables and realistic animals fill the pages. Your children will love pointing out all the animals! This is a great book to add to your collection.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Animals, Lessons, Friendship, Gardening, Teamwork, Community, Kindness, Sharing, Springtime
Book Info: If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson, 2015 Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780062298898