Friday, October 25, 2013

Illustrator Reveal! and Perfect Picture Book Friday

I've been sitting on this news for awhile, and finally have been given the green light to announce it publicly:

One Plastic Bag will be illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon!

Those of you who know the story of One Plastic Bag and are familiar with Ms. Zunon's work already know how perfect this illustrator choice is for my book about a West African environmental leader. But if you don't know her work—don't worry! Today's Perfect Picture Book review will introduce you to Elizabeth Zunon's amazing talent and artistry.

Today's Perfect Picture Book selection is. . .

LALA SALAMA: A Tanzanian Lullaby


Title: Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby

Author: Patricia Maclachlan (Newbery-award winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall)

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator of My Hands Sing the Blues and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind)

Publisher: Candlewick, 2011

Genre: Picture Book

Ages: 3-7

Topics: Lullaby, Bedtime, Africa (Tanzania), Love, Culture/Multicultural

Opening Page:

Long ago, this morning,
the sun rose
above the hill
above our house,
spilling light over the hills of the Congo
and the lake with the beautiful name,
Tanganyika,
like a song.

Lala salama, little one.

Why I chose this book: 

Apart from the absolutely stunning illustrations and soft, poetic text, this book presents a slice of life in an African country (Tanzania) that is safe, calm, warm, and loving. It focuses on the progression of a day and the relationship of a family. While infused with words and experiences different from those of many of its readers, the book focuses on some of the universal human experiences and emotions that unite us all. Plus—it's a great "wind down" bedtime story (what mother doesn't love having a few of those around?).

If you're not familiar with Perfect Picture Book Fridays, by the way, visit Susanna Hill's blog here.

Additional Activities:

The book's title is a Swahili phrase for "sleep well." TIME magazine for kids has a website where you can learn some more Swahili phrases with your children or students here:

http://www.timeforkids.com/destination/kenya/native-lingo


In the book, the baby is carried on Mother's back. One activity to try with students, (using dolls), is to take a large cloth or sheet and try carrying a baby doll around on the back! Watch this two-minute video for pictures and a video at the end so you can see how to lay out the cloth and tie knots at the top and bottom:




Lake Tanganyika is also one of the worlds largest, longest, and deepest freshwater lakes. You can use this book as an opportunity to open up a unit on water around the world. Here's an article with a little more information on this great African lake:

http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/article-435760/Tanganyika-Lake

And here's a fact sheet with a chart about the largest lakes of the world (by volume):

http://iaglr.org/docs/llotw-factsheet.pdf

Have fun reading and learning. I can't wait to see the art that Elizabeth Zunon will create for my book. Today is such a thrilling day! Thanks for stopping by!



Friday, October 11, 2013

We Stand Up for Girls!

Last February, on one of my first nights of the library project in Gambia with Isatou Ceesay, our colleague got a phone call. His wife was in labor! 

The rush to find a vehicle began. We needed to get her to the clinic ASAP. We hurried and arrived as soon as we could, but it took us so long that she ended up walking 2/3 of the way to the clinic while in labor. 

An amazingly short time later, we welcomed a baby girl into the world. And an even amazingly shorter time after that, Mom and baby rode home with us that night and we bathed the little baby girl by candlelight in the living room.

Isatou Miranda on the night she was born, with her older sister.

One week later, at the naming Ceremony, Isatou and I found out that the baby would be named Isatou Miranda. What an honor!

But these are mostly the joyous parts of the story.

 Since Isatou Miranda isn't old enough to speak for herself yet, we're standing up to tell the harder part of her story for her today, October 11, which is International Day of the Girl.

Isatou Miranda's family is under pressure to submit the baby to a circumcision camp where she will undergo a process called FGM. The way it is performed in rural Gambia, it is extremely hazardous to the immediate and long-term health and wellness of girls. Isatou Ceesay, Isatou Miranda's family, and I are making the pledge to keep her safe and the right to be able to make her own choice when she's grown. We know that this girl will face a lot of adversity in the form of teasing, taunting, and feeling outcast because of the decision not to undergo this practice. But we will be there to support her as she grows old enough to make her own choices for herself and her health.

So, my son and I STAND UP FOR GIRLS! Here's the video we made to show the world that we're joining forces with LitWorld's campaign today. Thank you for sharing Isatou Miranda's story.




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