Some terrific new childrens books

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BOOKREVIEW



Right now public libraries and local bookstores are featuring titles for African American history month, and next month they will be featuring titles on women’s history. Here are some new titles for children that you won’t want to miss.

“Yo Jo!,” written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora for youngsters age 3 - 7. A vibrantly illustrated picture book about little Jomar’s adventures in his family-oriented, urban African American neighborhood. The text features short, colloquial phrases that all the kids today use. A warm and loving story.

“Jazz Baby,” by Lisa Wheeler with illustrations by R. Gregory Christie. Little ones will love this celebration of dancing, singing and playing music — and so will the grownup that is reading the story aloud.

“Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Que Rico¡: America’s Sprouting,” by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael López. What a multi-cultural delight! A collection of 14 absolutely delicious haiku celebrating the foods that originated here in the Americas — South, Central and North — that tells about such tasty bits as peanuts, chili pepper, blueberries, and pumpkin. The luscious illustrations make this irresistible.

“Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color,” by Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Twenty-four sonnets give voice to participants in Prudence Crandall’s struggle in the early 1880s to integrate her Connecticut boarding school for girls. An unusual attempt to tell a complex political story through poems and artist’s sketches.

“Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, and Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, and Invent Investigative Journalism,” by Ann Bausum. An inspiring book for older readers on the exciting history of “new journalism,” starting with early 20th century exposés of corporate corruption in the oil and meatpacking industries. Then Muckrakers brings its story to the present day with Internet bloggers.

“The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano,” by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sean Qualls. An absorbing and beautiful collection of poems about the most ugly institution of slavery. Manzano was born a slave in Cuba in 1797. He first memorized and recited poems as a child and was brought out to entertain house guests. Later he went through terrible punishments for learning to read and write. While showing the painful cruelty and brutality Manzano endured, the book also inspires with his struggles to be free.

“Chess Rumble,” by G. Neri, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson. Marcus is an angry 11-year-old whose difficult life threatens to explode. Then he meets CM, Chess Master, the smart, patient, caring chess club adviser. This is a novel told in verse that moves quickly and authentically through the emotions and struggles of a boy whose words and experiences will pull in all kinds of readers — reluctant and booklovers alike.

“That’s Not Fair!/No Es Justo! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia,” by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca, illustrated by Terry Ybanez. The true story of a young Mexican American girl growing up in San Antonio in the 1920s, a time when many Mexican Americans were starving and working long hours at slave wages in the pecan-shelling factories. At age 21 Emma led 12,000 workers in the historic pecan-shellers strike. A story of courage, compassion and the role we all need to play to make the better world that is possible.

Ask for these books at your public library, bookstore or online ordering service.