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Iron Hearted Violet
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Paris Pan Takes the Dare
Me and the Pumpkin Queen
Read All About It!
The Boy on Cinnamon Street
Nerd Camp
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Kidzone Blog

These picture book biographies are definitely NOT for little kids.  They are a perfect way for teachers to introduce students to the creators before they tackle the crafted words.

Do you need a way to introduce young children to the importance of knowing Black History?  Or maybe you need something to prompt a discussion with older students?  Either way you need one of these new picture books.

The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome
Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.  An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, this 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor-winning book is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.  Watch KidLit TV's Young at Art episode featuring the author/illustrator.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town by A. LaFaye & Nicole Tadgell
When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters―former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning―this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.  That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one.  Listen to the Reading with Your Kids podcast featuring the author.

Freedom Bird by Jerdine Nolen & James E. Ransome
Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.  This inspiring story is told in the tradition of American black folktales.  Read the Here Wee Read review to see how this book connects to Jerdine Nolen's other work.

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles & Jacqueline Alcántara
Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from.  Watch the food-filled author's appearance on Good Day Philadelphia.

I had already decided to do a blog during Black History Month called Basketball Brothers.  It was going to feature just two recent fiction titles that focused on the bond that comes from playing ball together.  Then Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.  The tragic loss of this American basketball legend prompted me to expand my scope.  Basketball helped him form bonds with the whole world . . . and his daughter.  A memorial service for Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna is planned for February 24, 2020.  It seats 20,000 people.  It won't be enough.

When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn’t just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen—one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl’s imagination.  A nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of the mesmerized Parker and it became an internet sensation, with Parker meeting the First Lady, making an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and sharing her experience about the importance of representation. ​

An everyday moment became an extraordinary one that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact.  Parker and her mother Jessica have partnered with illustrator Brittany Jackson to create a picture book about the experience.  Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia’s mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama…and almost passes it. But she stops...and looks up!  Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting. 

This is some counting fun with wild and crazy chickens!

Chicken Break! by Cate Berry & Charlotte Alder
E  BER  NEW BOOK
These chickens (ten to be exact) have one mission: to escape the coop and have some wild fun. One by one, the chickens break out. When all ten are out, they let loose! But chickens get tired, and after their wild day, one by one, they head back for some much needed relaxation. Even party animals need some rest.

Watch the adorable video of the author, her ukelele-playing friend, and a backseat full of chickens singing (yes, SINGING!) from the book.  You can find it on her website.

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