Harry Potter and the Goblet of NOPE!

magicinNA copy

Image Credit: Pottermore/Warner Brothers


Dear JK Rowling,

Alia here.

There’s no denying you’re one of the most brilliant minds of our era. You’ve created worlds that we get lost in and complex characters that we love dearly. But with MAGIC IN NORTH AMERICA, something went wrong.

Maybe it’s that you’re not from North America? But surely you did your research into the complexities that are the native peoples of this continent…Maybe it’s that you didn’t grow up constantly bombarded by stereotypical images of native people on TV, in movies, as Halloween costumes, etc.? Maybe it’s because you didn’t go to school here and didn’t receive an incomplete history of native peoples that basically stops after “First Contact” & “Thanksgiving” and ignores modern native people? Perhaps…

There are real issues here. You’re dealing with real people, cultures, traditions and religions and with that comes a lot of responsibility. Native people are already heavily stereotyped around the world as “Magical Beings” and now…they’re in your magical canon! Not only do you refer to them as a monolithic group (there are hundreds of nations in the US alone), you *seem* to imply that native wand-less magic is powerful but not as refined as European magic (due to the power of a wand).

I encourage you, Ms. Rowling, to respond to native academics, fans, etc. who are asking you tough, but important questions. Debbie Reese, Dr. Adrienne Keene and many others have tweeted at you. Herehere & here are some EXCELLENT articles that delve into your work from a native perspective. This one is excellent as well. I ask you to check out Debbie Reese and Dr. Adrienne Keene’s websites in general. Just look around. They do great work.

Let’s get this discussion going and please let us know who you consulted for this project because we’re SUPER CURIOUS. (at least I am…)

Representation Matters.

It really does and yes, anyone CAN write a story, but I’d hope they LISTEN and learn as much as possible before releasing it to the world, especially when you’re dealing with living people, religions, and NATIVE KIDS. There’s a long history of misrepresentation, exploitation and stereotyping of native peoples.

MAGIC IN NORTH AMERICA is problematic and we await your response…


A Fan

**SIPS TEA (out of the Goblet of Fire)**


When Marian Sang


Image Credit: Scholastic Press, Pam Muñoz Ryan/Brian Selznick

Take a look at that cover!

Not only is the cover beautiful, well designed and eye-catching, the entire book is gorgeous.

The story begins with young Marian in her house, set in the middle of a grand stage. When Marian Sang is a moving and beautifully told story of the life of singer Marian Anderson. There was never a moment she didn’t love to sing and people loved to listen. She was passionate about her faith and her music and by the age of eight, was performing for choruses in Philadelphia. Early on, Marian decided that music was something she wanted to dedicate herself to but because of her race, she was turned away from formal lessons.

Prejudice is intertwined with Marian’s story. Even though she was invited to sing across the country, she couldn’t even get a hotel room! But she continued to rise and share the gift of her voice with the world. Like Josephine Baker, she came back to the US and faced the challenge of performing as a black woman. The D.A.R. might’ve denied her performance at their hall but little did they know Marian’s spirit was destined for greatness. Eleanor Roosevelt and President Roosevelt set her up to perform at the Lincoln Memorial instead!! That performance was groundbreaking and memorable not only for the integrated crowd that witnessed it, but for the entire country. Marian continued to sing, inspire and move audiences for years to come.


Image Credit: Scholastic Press, Pam Muñoz Ryan/Brian Selznick

The art!! Selznick uses rich acrylics and his palette is lush and golden. He uses only browns, golds, rose golds, pinks, and creams for entire book. The layout is very wide and grand. The large pages are perfect for highlighting his art. His paintings glow and the combination of his art with Pam Muñoz Ryan’s beautifully poignant writing is perfect. What a team, what a book and what a story of an amazing woman!

P.S. Take some time to read through the notes in the back about the author and illustrator’s loving and thorough research. Also check out Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century. She was inspired by Marian Anderson!

#BlackGirlMagic #InternationalWomensDay


Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Family, Love, Relationships, Faith, Music, Girls in Music, Diversity, Black Girl Magic, Black Girls Rock, Determination, Inner Strength, Prejudice, Segregation, Choir, Opera, Spirituals, Integration, Philadelphia, Europe, Non-fiction, Biography
Book Info: When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan/Illustrated by Brian Selznick, 2002 Scholastic Press, ISBN: 9780439269674

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin


Image Credit: Abrams Books for Young Readers, Duncan Tonatiuh

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that Duncan Tonatiuh is one of my favorite author/illustrators. Not only does he write great stories, he’s an amazing artist. I got the chance to read this book (his very first one!) while preparing for my interview with him and I’ve also reviewed his more recent books Salsa and Funny Bones.

Dear Primo is a story about two cousins. Carlitos lives in Mexico, in the country and on a farm and Charlie lives in a big city in the United States. They write letters back and forth to each other, explaining their daily lives and the things they like to do. While Carlitos rides his bicicleta to school every day past the perros and nopal, Charlie rides the busy subway, which he describes is like a long metal snake that travels underground. The duality of the storytelling makes it easy for children to compare and contrast. At the end of the story, both boys come up with the same conclusion; it’s time to visit each other! 🙂

Though it seems their lives are very different, there are more similarities than differences. Duncan incorporates Spanish words into the text and they’re also printed in bold, white letters in the illustrations. Children can pick up the words and definitions easily, matching visuals to the words.

I’ll never get enough of Duncan Tonatiuh’s art style. Inspired by Mixtec codices, his figures are inspired by the past and updated for modern day. He uses digital collage for texture; an image of blue jean for Charlie’s pants and images of marbles for Carlito’s game of canicas! I love the well-balanced cover with crinkly lined paper in the background. As I mentioned to Duncan in our interview, it’s interesting to see how his lines have become cleaner and more polished over the years. Dear Primo‘s art is much more “raw” as he put it, compared to his most recent book Funny Bones, but I enjoy the art of both for their similarities and differences. Teachers, this book is great to introduce a unit on pen-pals. I think you’ll enjoy Dear Primo. Check it out!


Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Family, Cousins, Friendship, Duality, Relationships, City Life, Country Life, Culture, Cultural Relativism, Games, Daily Life, Traditions, Mexico, Mexican-American, Food Culture, Mexican Food, Spanish Language, Pen-Pals
Book Info: Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010 Abrams Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 9780810938724