Thursday, February 10, 2011

Exploring Black History through Children's books



I
t's only mid-February - still plenty of time left in the month to explore children's literature related to black history.

The Washington Post recommends three titles on the theme:

A Nation's Hope -- a picture book by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Kadir Nelson -- about boxer Joe Louis, during the era of U.S. segregation and the rise of Nazi Germany.

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon -- a novel based on the childhood of American author Zora Neale.

Freedom Stone by Jeffrey Kluger -- a time travel novel set during the American Civil War.

To read synopses and capsule reviews of all three books, see the Post story.

On a musical note, a few months ago, NPR aired a wonderful interview with the author of a recent picture book about Jimi Hendrix -- Jimi Sounds Like A Rainbow, by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (Clarion Books, 2010). The interview, excerpts and illustrations from the book can be seen on the NPR site. I like the idea of looking at history through a cultural lens. Jimi Hendrix is a part of black history, American history and the history of music too.

Any other reading suggestions on this theme? Please comment...

BTW -- I'm featured guest blogger on The Pen and Ink blog. If you haven't already seen it, please read my post, Brush and Paint, Inside the Creative Process.

18 comments:

Pen and Ink said...

I wonder when is Men-Named-After-Holy-Virgins History month.
Sincerely,
Macho-About-Town

Lee Rae said...

Bless that crazy man who is named after the Holy Virgin, may his fingers never stiffen.

Lee Rae said...

On a different note and more to Megan’ s main subject, I was goggling illustrator Frank Morrison today and found his artwork worthy of mentioning in black history month. I am almost certain this is thee Frank Morrison who illustrated Quacky Baseball. If you know differently Megan, please set me straight! Isn’t his artwork wonderful?

Megan Frances said...

Dear Mr. Macho

I think it should be celebrated on Valentine's Day!

Megan Frances said...

Lee Rae, as always, you are way ahead of me!
Yes, it is the same Frank Morrison who illustrated Quacky Baseball, the upcoming picture book written by my brother Peter. Frank Morrison is a wonderful artist and the award-winning illustrator of 16 books, including Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah and Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts. His work is a perfect addition to my list of books for Black History Month.
Thank you. I'm so glad you thought of it!

Pen and Ink said...

"...may his fingers never stiffen"
That's the problem. They never do. Sigh.

I was one of those elementary school kids who counted his Valentine cards in school - a paper envelope hung beside each desk - as a means of validating my existence.
Sincerely,
Immaculate Byte

Lee Rae said...

Happy Valentine’s Day! Oops I mean Happy Men-Named-After-Holy-Virgins Day!!!

Megan Frances said...

Happy Valentine's/Obscure Holy Virgin Male Namesake History Day to you too, Lee Rae. Delighted to read your perceptive witty comments always.

Flowers, hearts and chocolates to you -- and to all the readers of this obscure blog.

Pen and Ink said...

Francis y Lee Rae,
Thanks for the virtual chocolate. Hmmm...good, and I don't have to brush afterwards.
Sincerely,
Cocoa Cute

Julie Musil said...

A picture book about Jimmy Hendrix? What a unique idea. These are such great book selections for Black History Month. Thank you.

Megan Frances said...

Dear Cocoa

Unfortunately, virtual chocolate and flowers just make me want the real things!

Megan Frances said...

Thanks, Julie. Maybe I'll do another post on black history before the month is over. I'd really like to focus on books related to the theme from places other than the U.S. - like the Caribbean and Africa.

Lee Rae said...

Megan, have you ever heard of the Moomintroll series written and illustrated by the Swedish author Tove Jansson? From what I have read about them they sound wonderful! I can’t wait to receive my first few copies.

Megan Frances said...

No. I haven't heard of that series, Lee Rae. Thanks for mentioning it. I'll look for those books and add them to the ever growing stack that threatens to topple over. I need a new bookcase even though I read some things on my Kindle.

Lee Rae said...

Megan, please do research them and read bits of the books on Amazon. I have not read one yet, but I am dying to. Someone I respect so much loves these books and grew up on them. I would love to post an excerpt out of Moominland Midwinter but I think you should find out about the series first, just so you totally approve. (or disapprove!) They were written back in the later 1940’s by the way. Some reviews prefer specific translators over others also.

Megan Frances said...

Yes, I plan to do some research first. Thanks, Lee Rae. I'm intrigued! I'll let you know.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I love the title of that Jimmy Hendrix book. "...sounds like a rainbow." That's very cool. It seems to me writers are really reaching out and including many cultures in their writing these days, which is wonderful thing!

Megan Frances said...

You're right Lisa. The title is a wonderful metaphor. It instantly conjures an image of Jimi and the psychedelic costumes of the era.

Thanks for commenting!