Joelito’s Big Decision

Joelito'sBigDecision

Image Credit: Hard Ball Press, Ann Berlak, Daniel Camacho, José Antonio Galloso

This book discusses making change and social justice in an easy way for children to understand. They can connect to Joelito, his friend and his struggle to make a big decision. It’ll get your children thinking about what they can do to improve our world and to ensure that everyone makes a living wage.

In Joelito’s Big Decision, Joelito wakes up Friday morning thinking about his family’s weekly trip to MacMann’s for burgers! At school, when his sister’s best friend’s backpack is stolen, he makes a comment that she can just go buy another one; he doesn’t get that his family is economically in a better place than his friend’s. Excited to finally get his burger, his family heads to MacMann’s but there are a lot of people standing outside with signs and no one’s eating. A big protest is happening because MacMann’s pays low wages and the workers can’t live on what they make. Turns out his best friend Brandon’s mom and dad work there and they’re a part of the strike too! When Brandon invites Joelito to join the strike, Joelito is hesitant (he wants to sit and eat his burger!) and he has to decide what is most important to him.

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Image Credit: Hard Ball Press, Ann Berlak, Daniel Camacho, José Antonio Galloso

Joelito has to step outside his comfort zone. Until he encounters the strike, he doesn’t really notice that his friend’s family is struggling to make ends meet. Things become personal for him and he empathizes. Sometimes, something as simple as giving up a favorite treat can show how much you care for someone…and for a cause.

Daniel Camacho’s illustrations are very cool. I like the raw sketchy quality of the color pencil, his use of color, and the large, chunky bodies and hands of his figures. His illustrations suit the story very well. An extra treat to this book is that it’s bi-lingual (English & Spanish) and this duality will make it accessible to more children, which is excellent and needed.

I really recommend this book for discussion and learning. Teachers, look at this page from Hard Ball Press for ideas on how to use this book in the classroom!

 

Recommended for: 1st grade and up
Great for: Social Justice, Social Issues, Friendship, Change, Economic Inequality, Empathy, Family, Immigrants, Latin-American, Low Wages, Moving, Perspective, Poverty, Relationships, Spanish Language, Struggles, We Need Diverse Books, Diversity
Book Info: Joelito’s Big Decision by Ann Berlak/Illustrated by Daniel Camacho/Translated by José Antonio Galloso, 2015 Hard Ball Press, ISBN: 9780986240096

 

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

 

MrTigerGoesWild

Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Peter Brown

Ah, this is one of my favorites. ❤

Sometimes you just have to say screw it all and let out your inner tiger. Similar to the book Wild by Emily Hughes, this book explores themes of self discovery and acceptance in face of criticism.

Just look at his face! Look at it! He’s adorable! In Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Mr. Tiger is in quite a predicament. His posh neighbors are very posh but for some reason he’s not feeling so posh anymore…change is coming for him and he doesn’t even realize it yet. One day, he s…l…o…w…l…y bends down on all fours (GASP!), runs around town like the wild animal he is and before he knows it, he’s NAKED! How unacceptable. His neighbors have had enough and tell him to go to the wild and so he does! But he gets lonely without his friends and when he comes home, it looks like he’s influenced them to be a little wild sometimes too. 😉

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Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Peter Brown

I love Peter Brown’s art. Though he uses mostly muted colors in this book (browns, grays, blacks, greens) there’s a vibrancy to his style. He draws blocky bodies, uses simple shapes and creates expressive faces (I LOVE MR. TIGER’S EXPRESSIONS!) with ink, watercolor and gouache. The very first spread stands out; as Mr. Tiger is surrounded by the townsfolk with their gray bodies, closed eyes and haughty expressions, you can’t help but be attracted to his annoyed expression and bright orange skin. My favorite spread is the one where Mr. Tiger slowly…drops…down…to the ground, ready to be wild!

I hope you’ll enjoy this book with your little wild ones. ROOOOAAARRR!

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Community, Criticism, Etiquette, Proper Behavior, Self Actualization, Freedom, Friends, Relationships, Self Discovery, Acceptance, Change, Difference, Discussion
Book Info: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, 2013 Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ISBN: 9780316200639

Where Do We Go When We Disappear?

WheredoWeGoWhenWeDisappear

Image Credit: Tate Publishing, Isabel Minhós Martins/Madalena Matoso

I first discovered author Isabel Minhós Martins through The World in a Second. Because I enjoyed that book so much, I wanted to read more of her work. I found a few more titles of hers at my local library. Not all of her books are translated to English yet (from Portuguese) but out of the few I could get my hands on, I thought this one was very good.

Death, loss and change aren’t easy topics to discuss at any age and I know that parents often look for books that gracefully tackle these subjects. What I like about Where Do We Go When We Disappear? is that it’s very reflective, thought provoking and it isn’t necessarily about death, so parents can use this book however they need.

Martins says that for someone to disappear, someone must first notice the disappearance. Therefore, it always takes at least two people for someone’s loss to be recognized; for the missing to begin. And with the missing begins the questions and Martins opens the story to the discussion of disappearance of all kinds of things in our world! This can help a child begin to make connections and start healing. Even socks disappear, for example! (Who knows where they go??) Nothing lasts forever and some things take longer to disappear. But everything doesn’t disappear to NOTHING. Matter is recycled, exchanged and shifts and on and on it goes…

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Image Credit: Tate Publishing, Isabel Minhós Martins/Madalena Matoso

Martin’s evocative text is accompanied by Matoso’s bold illustrations. The bright, blocky illustrations are just enough for the text, to spark discussion. Smiling humans, sad humans, trees, winding roads, nature and the ocean; the pictures are strong yet gentle. Where Do We Go When We Disappear? is a beautiful book that’s good for all ages. It does a great job of starting conversations about existence, life, death and change.

 

P.S. For parents looking for a secular book about death, this book does mention “heaven” but in relation to where puddles go to eventually become clouds. It’s quite interesting.

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Discussion, Change, Death, Family, Loss, Nature, Permanence, Reflection, Relationships, Sadness
Book Info: Where Do We Go When We Disappear? by Isabel Minhós Martins/Illustrated by Madalena Matoso, 2013 Tate Publishing, ISBN: 9781849761604