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I have to share this picture book that I just bought for my library. I’m blown away by how fat positive it is (even though I will admit, it’s also a *little* strange in the language, but it was translated from French…)

The title is My Great Big Mamma by Olivier Ka, illustrated by Luc Melanson.

It’s about a little boy who talks about how big, soft, comfortable and loving his mamma is and he is upset when she goes on a diet to please other people. 

I’m sure I’m breaking some copyright laws, but take a look at some of the pages!

This is funny, it shouldn’t be but it is. Happy Friday everyone! 

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It’s the perfect day (and month) to revisit our coverage of Ezra Jack Keats’ classic The Snowy Day, which celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago. The Snowy Day, a 1963 Caldecott winner, was the first mainstream children’s book to feature a non-caricatured African-American protagonist.

In 2012, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation director Deborah Pope told NPR:

“There was a teacher [who] wrote in to Ezra, saying, ‘The kids in my class, for the first time, are using brown crayons to draw themselves.’ These are African-American children. Before this, they drew themselves with pink crayons. But now, they can see themselves.”

You can see the rest of that story (and hear the book read, in its entirety, by Reading Rainbow superstar Levar Burton) here.

(OK, I’m tooting my own horn a little here, because I produced this piece, back in my Weekend All Things Considered days, but come on – LEVAR BURTON! Who, by the way, was one of the most pleasant and delightful people I’ve ever dealt with.)

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{always recommending…}
›› The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn't like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books… if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favorite). And the more he eats, the smarter he gets—he’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world! But one day he feels sick to his stomach. And the information is so jumbled up inside, he can’t digest it! Can Henry find a way to enjoy books without using his teeth? With a stunning new artistic style and a die-cut surprise, Oliver Jeffers celebrates the joys of reading in this charming and quirky picture book. It’s almost good enough to eat.

[goodreads] [b&n] [artist’s website]

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This Veterans Day, we bring you images from the lovely children’s book Coming Home, by Greg Ruth – an almost wordless meditation on the bonds of family, love and duty. Ruth sent us this essay about the book and what inspired it:

For me as a citizen, Veterans Day is about remembering the personal connection we all have to our service men and women, from every generation. It’s to remind me that families serve alongside the soldier that deploys for long missions away. That families feel the brunt of the loss when the soldiers don’t always return home, and to remember the cost to all of us when we neglect the essential value of service. Especially for those who rush headlong into danger in our names and for our own families. However the shape of war and combat may change, the core ethos of service remains a base, underpinning all the generations which stand, fall and rise together, whether it directly effects our lives or not. Our veterans are everywhere, in all aspects of our lives. They are our neighbors, friends, and family and what they do, they do in our names. We can only begin to truly honor our vets by rising to meet them when they return, and remembering to make ourselves worthy of their service by remembering them each and every year. 

– Petra

Help fund a bilingual picture book with a Latina protagonist (and ADORABLE illustrations). They have 3 days to raise ~$2000. Children of color rarely see themselves represented in picture books, where protagonists are vastly more likely to be talking animals than people of color. Publishers often argue that there’s not enough demand for POC—please help show them they’re wrong!

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One of my 2015 resolutions has been to expand my involvement with feminism; becoming more well-read in women’s studies and feminist books, speaking my mind more often, sharing my beliefs publicly, and supporting the cause in general. It hasn’t taken me long to realize that this resolution is also going to affect my life as a bookseller; especially a bookseller who often works with children and teens. What I’m recommending to others needs to reflect my own personal taste and opinion (unless someone is asking for something specific that falls outside of my personal scope of experience or knowledge). This means I’ve been reviewing some of my go-to picture books and making sure they stand up to what I want to impart to the next generation – besides a love of literature, of course. I’ve also been scouring the web and asking friends for their recommendations. Below is a list of some of the best feminist picture books perfect for the budding feminist (this means boys and girls) in your life. In these books you’ll see adventurous and self-reliant heroines, wide-ranging definitions of femininity, a peaceful co-existence with the earth, girls being true to themselves and their identities, and girls embracing their individuality and ambitions. Are these the only feminist-friendly children’s picture books? Of course not! And for that I’m so grateful. But hopefully this list will inspire you and I’d love to see the comment thread explode with countless other titles and ideas.

– from The Best Feminist Picture Books by Brandi Bailey

There's no such thing as a bisexual picture book..... so Happy Picture Book Month?

When we first started this blog, Sarah sat down with her former roommate (a children’s librarian) and set out looking for bisexual picture books.   We figured there must be some somewhere.   After all it had been like 20some years since Heather Has Two Mommies and there are tons of gay, lesbian, and transgender picture books now.  There must be somewhere, from some small press or dedicated but obscure author, bisexual children’s picture books.

*crickets chirp*

We have been at this blog for almost 20 months and we have not found a single bisexual picture book.  No picture books about bisexuality, no picture books explaining bisexuality, no picture books with bisexual characters.  No quirky thing from the 70’s or the 90’s with terribly dated pictures.  No cutting edge kickstarted thing the just came up now.  

None, zip, zero.   

We’ve talked about this more with former roommate and with other children’s literature professionals, and we’ve narrowed it down to two possible reasons:

1) The word bisexual has the words ‘sex’ and 'sexual’ in it  This is terrifying to parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and publishers.  

2) Picture books are very much focused on helping children understand a situation in the here and now.  When queer children’s picture books do exist, they are often about helping children understand a friend or relative who is in a same-sex relationship, transitioning, or doing the things queer people do that straight people also do - like get married and have babies.  A few are fantasy stories about princes and princesses that fly in the face of conventional gender expectations.  

This means that it’s not immediately easy to use a picture book to explain bisexuality.  If Mommy has a girlfriend now that will be the focus of the book, not her identity label or her former boyfriend.   

But while those two reasons may explain a lot, it’s still not good enough.

This is Picture Book Month and Carolyn Dee Flores recently had this to say about the power of picture books:

Picture books ignite our souls.

I didn’t own every one of the books I read when I was little, but I FELT like I did. When I was really young, and read a book, and saw the pictures, and felt the pages, I remember thinking, “Wow, someone thought enough of me to do this, to make THIS for ME.” It made me feel important. Worthy. Like I had a future.

Think about all the kids out there that will one day grow up to be bisexual.  Or all the kids out there who have bisexual parents and relatives.  Plus all the bisexual adults out there who would LOVE to give a bisexual picture book to a child in their life….

Picture book authors, publishers, and illustrators are dynamic, creative, and passionate people.   To them, we’re issuing the following challenge:

Find a way to make bisexual picture books.

Soon.  Now, if you could.  Because it is long past due. 

- Sarah, Ellie, and Evan