Elliott, Zetta. Say Her Name. Little, 2020. 978-1-368-04524-7. 96 p. $18.99. Grades 8+.
A beautiful collection of poetry that celebrates the voices of Black women and girls throughout the ages. The colorful pages call the reader to reflect and act in the world in which we live. Four poems are tributes to and inspired by strong Black women’s voices of the past including Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley. The collection is clearly meant for Black women and girls, but can be enjoyed by all readers, regardless of their identity. Each page is empowering and can be a solid springboard for discussion.
THOUGHTS: Although stunning, this remarkable collection is recommended for high school libraries who need to revitalize their print poetry material or who have readers interested in reflection, self-care, and individual insight.
811 Poetry Samantha Hull, Ephrata
Murphy, Frank. A Girl Like You. Sleeping Bear Press, 2020. $16.99. 32 p. $16.99. 978-1-534-11096-0. Grades K-3.
A Girl Like You is a celebration of all of the things a girl can be: brave, bold, empathetic, radiant, proud, and more. The story begins with a girl who stands apart from a sea of adults and then moves through all of the ways that she is unique. Mantra-like text such as “radiant girl, stand tall” is supported by diverse portrait style illustrations showing girls in action demonstrating the qualities discussed. The main character shows bravery when standing up for herself and boldness while leading others to speak out. Girls are encouraged to learn, lead and care for others without forgetting to take care of herself. The main protagonist of this story presents as Asian with a lovely dark golden complexion, rosy cheeks, and long straight dark hair past her shoulders which is often worn in a loose braid. The myriad of girls included throughout the book represent nearly every skin, body, and hair type imaginable including permanent and temporary differing abilities. Multiple images of girls with wheelchairs and prosthetic or missing limbs are included throughout. Girls with Vitiligo, Albinism, and freckles appear along with a rainbow of skin tones. Many girls wear khimar, scarfs, or bandannas. A few are bald or have very short hair including one that is presumably due to medical treatment. Children appear to be elementary age. Some scenes include boys working and playing alongside, but the focus remains on encouraging young girls.
THOUGHTS: As inclusive as a children’s book can possibly be, this book is a good one to have on hand when discussing differences with children or introducing women’s history celebrations to younger readers.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD
Beatty, Andrea. One Girl. Abrams, 2020. $16.99. 32 p. 978-1-419-71905-9. Grades K-3.
One dejected looking little girl sits all alone on the steps of a remote porch underneath a starry sky when a glowing book falls to her feet like a comet. Immediately upon opening it, her world changes into a brightly colored fantasyland where books grow on trees and pencils sprout from the earth. As the young girl travels through this wondrous land, she witnesses diverse women working independently as artists, scientists, and leaders. The next morning she races to school to share her treasure with an eager and diverse group of students. Shortly after, she picks up a pencil and begins writing while astonished classmates watch the magic spill from her hand. Next, boys and girls alike follow her lead and begin to read, write, and share their unique stories while elements of their stories: a tiger, a grand piano, a helicopter, and hot air balloons float overhead. Later, by the light of the moon another girl sits on the front steps and watches as several new glowing books fall from the sky. Lovely, repetitive prose “One girl glowing/shares her song” reinforces the beauty of a young girl finding her voice yet also allows the reader to be fully immersed in the opportunities she has opened with her love of books. The young girl protagonist along with her supportive teacher present as Asian with medium-beige skin and beautiful dark hair. Classmates all wear the same school uniform but represent a variety of ethnicities among skin and hair colors.
THOUGHTS: One Girl is a loving tribute to the power of reading, writing, and storytelling. In addition to being a lovely read aloud, this title would make a great introduction to a writing unit or a classroom conversation about how words and actions can affect others. Short and repetitive text surrounded by stunning art with some graphic elements make this a nice option for sharing with pre-readers or English language learners who may need a little nudge to find their reading groove. This book has a place in any school library collection, classroom libraries, and beyond.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD
Sanders, Jessica. Love Your Body: Your Body Can do Amazing Things. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 2020. 978-0-711-25242-4. $17.99. Grades 5-8+.
“Freedom is loving your body with all its “imperfections” and being the perfectly imperfect you!” As stated on the back of the cover, your body is perfectly imperfect and designated for you! What if every young girl thought this way about their body? What if all young girls loved their body? This book shares how all bodies come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and they are ever changing. Self-help tips, strategies to help love your body and build your confidence, and even help to talk to someone when you are feeling down is all found within this book. “My body is strong. My body can do amazing things. My body is my own.”
THOUGHTS: A great read for girls struggling with body image and health self-help and care. Although I would recommend for grades 5-8, I believe this book is equally as important for older readers.
155.43 Body Image Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD
Woollvin, Bethan. Bo the Brave. Peachtree Publishing, . 978-1-682-63182-9. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.
When Bo’s older brothers set off on a monster hunt, she wants to accompany them, but they refuse, telling her she’s too little. Instead of accepting their words, Bo begins her own quest. Each monster she encounters makes her pause, and she takes time to look past first impressions and gets to know each creature’s true nature. This insightfulness ultimately leads her back to her castle where she pulls off her final, most heroic act. A tight palette of orange, pink, teal, and gray provide the inspiration for this alpine world, dotted with mountains, lakes, forests, and seas. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the foreshadowing of each monster from one spread to the next.
THOUGHTS: Instead of accepting peoples’ opinions, Bo sets out to prove she’s smart and brave and strong. Her self-confidence is refreshing and will inspire readers, particularly girls, to follow their own dreams and set off on their own adventures instead of remaining on the sidelines. Themes of acceptance and not judging based solely on appearance also shine through in this medieval remix.
Picture Book Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD