My Giveaways Continue on this late August day. My theme is books about our immigrant neighbors. Some of the books tell stories set in the homelands of families now in the U.S. It’s meeting immigrant families here in my state that has led to read books to help me understand their cultures. Here is one: a memoir for teens and adults. ON TWO FEET AND WINGS.
Abbas Kazerooni offers the world a remarkable memoir as he tells of his escape from revolutionary Iran as a young boy. Faced with the prospect of never seeing his parents again, he struggles to find his way in Istanbul, where survival often depends on his skill in knowing who to trust and when to flee. This is a compelling story full of tension and heartbreak. To enter, comment here. If you are an educator comment about how the book could support your work.
Congratulations to the winner of my first August Giveaway – Amazing Books to Help Students Meet New Americans. One Good Thing about America by Ruth Freeman goes to a teacher in New Hampshire. This week, it’s a story of migrations for the youngest of readers, Duncan Tonathiu’s Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote. It’s an award winning hardback picture book, perfect for libraries. I’m reposting my original review that appeared in The Pirate Tree, Social Justice and Children’s Literature.
Photo journalist Sebastiao Salgado documents the movement of millions of the worlds people across countries and continents in his book Migrations. In the preface he writes about some things he came to believe after years of following and photographing people seeking a new home due to war and/or poverty. “More than ever, I feel that the human race is one,” he said and, “When poverty becomes intolerable, people seek to move on.” Mexican-American writer and artist Duncan Tonatiuh tells a tale of economic migration for the youngest of readers. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: a Migrant’s Tale is the next in Tonatiuh’s tales about families separated by the journey from Mexico to El Norte. In Dear Primo, a Letter to My Cousin, Tonatiuh creates a cousin in Mexico and a cousin in the U.S. Pancho Rabbit is the tale of a son in a family of rabbits. His father doesn’t come home to Mexico when he’s expected after months of work in the U.S., and the son follows in his father’s footsteps, traveling north to find him. Soon he is beholden to Coyote who promises safe travel if the rabbit-son will give him all the food he owns, one item at a time, as Coyote demands it. Children will fear for this young rabbit especially in the scene in which the coyote is shown as a dark shadow and threatens to roast and eat him. Father and son are reunited, return home to their family, but imagine the next trip north “if there is no food or work…” and danger looms. The illustrations are profound in the telling of this tale. Tonatiuh describes his paintings “as inspired by ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex.” He notes that his work is hand drawn, then collaged digitally. They are unique in children’s book illustration and deeply honor the Mexican cultural traditions in art. Tonatiuh bridges two cultures, having been born in Mexico City, and grown up in both the United States and San Miguel de Allende with a Mexican mom and an America dad. He offers an extensive author’s note and links to research sites on humanitarian issues around illegal immigration into the U.S.
Enter by commenting here. Comment on how you use the book.
Warren St. John, writer of Outcasts United about a soccer team made up of refugee kids in Clarkson, Georgia said “children live in this fantastic mosaic of society.” His hope for the book was that people “might risk the awkwardness of interacting with someone unlike themselves.” The coach of the team he profiled, Luma Mufleh, recently gave a Ted Talk called, “Don’t Feel Sorry for Refugees, Believe in Them”. She invites us to understand the background or refugees and the significance of their success in the world.
St. John’s and Mufleh’s words make if essential to me to do my First Ever Book Giveaway of books that can help us all to “risk the awkwardness” of interacting that St. John talks about.
Stories in general offer first interactions readers can have with what’s unfamiliar. I’m in the possession of some stellar ones for children and teens that came as review copies about recent immigrants and refugees. This week I begin a giveway to send them out into the world to teachers and librarians and parents who can share them with readers.
My first is One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman, a middle grade novel for kids approximately ages 8 -12. Freeman’s protagonist is Anais; she and her little brother and Mama come to the U.S. from Congo. Anais helps readers imagine how a child experiences fear and worry for her father; her family does not know where he is, only that he is somewhere in Congo fleeing from soldiers. Anais tells her story of her first experiences in the U.S. in a series of letters to Oma, her grandmother in Congo. Through writing, she develops skill in English and follows Oma’s wish to tell her things she discovers and learns from in the U.S. Anais shows us a skill that many refugees bring to this country – she is multilingual and her teacher admires this. Anais writes, “I told [my teacher] we speak Lingala, French, and English or maybe a little English. She said it was awesome to speak 3 languages!” (p. 133) One Good Thing About America offers the intimate voice of an elementary school-aged child and allows readers to meet her and to believe in her.
Would you like my advanced reader’s copy? To enter the giveaway, post a comment here on my blog. Include your e-mail address so I can reach you, and tell me how you could use the book.