From the back of the book, “For the seven days of Kwanzaa, join in a celebration of rich African-American culture and traditions, from lighting candles, storytelling, and song, to making mkeka mats. Harambee! We are pulling together to make things better. Green is for the land. Red is for the blood. Black is for the people whom we love.”
This is a lovely picture book outlining the seven principles of Kwanzaa for children and newcomers to the celebration alike. Each day has its own page and illustration, along with the date, the principle, the symbol and a poem or song. I really liked how each page gets a little longer length-wise and edged in a different African pattern. It’s very pretty. The illustrations are colorful and meaningful; my favorite was for the seventh day, or Imani (faith) where the picture shows a grandfather telling stories to the younger children.
Even if you and your kittens don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, this book is a good way to introduce young ones to other cultures in order to teach them respect and acceptance of cats from all over the country and the world.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws for the accessibility and ease with which the celebration Kwanzaa is shared.
From the dust jacket: “Thanksgiving is turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It is parades with giant balloons. It is a holiday for remembering the Pilgrims and the Indians they met. Most of all, it is a time to share with family and friends, and a time to give thanks for many blessings.”
The author of this picture book gives the reader a nice overview of why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, both past and present. She also covers harvest festivals of the way, way back past – like ancient Egypt and Greece as well as the Middle Ages. The illustrations are nice watercolors of mostly the same face just in different clothing. There aren’t enough persons of color in the scenes, but like I said the paintings are nice.
Rating 3 out of 5 paws because the overall message of the book is to be thankful for our many blessings!
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005
From the dust jacket, “In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.”
This is a true story of 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a couple and built a nest for an egg that never came. One of the zookeepers placed an extra fertilized egg in the boy penguin’s empty nest and they each took turns to sit on it and eventually, a female chick, Tango, was hatched.
The penguins in the story are so sweet – they’re like any other animal couple – playing, sleeping and eating together; and, most of all, their inborn desire to have a chick. When I was reading it, my heart hurt a little when Roy and Silo built their little nest and tried to hatch a rock – which of course, didn’t hatch. Thank goodness for attentive zookeepers who care for their charges and want to provide the best for them.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws for cuteness of the penguins, of course, but more importantly, for the honesty and forthrightness with which the story is told. No apologies or excuses, here. Just the facts, ‘mam, just the facts. Two boys can make a family!!
If you want to read about the multiple times this book has been challenged and banned, please scroll past the adorable illustrations!
You can imagine why this book is banned and challenged… The ALA reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most frequently challenged book from 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most frequently challenged…and thank you to the ALA for the following information.
• One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. And that copies of the book would be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.
• Frequently challenged in the U.S. for the following reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, as well as “promotes the homosexual agenda”
• Pulled from the Gibbs Elementary School in Rochester, Minn. (2011) as inappropriate for elementary school students and removed from school library shelves. This decision was later reversed as a mistake for failing to follow district policy. Eventually, a “temporary resolution” was reached requiring that one of the parents who challenged the book be present when their child checks out books from the school media center in the future.
• Challenged, but retained in the North Kansas City, Mo. schools despite a parent’s concern that the book wasn’t age-appropriate, didn’t follow the district’s policy on human sexuality education, and tries to indoctrinate children about homosexuality. In subsequent discussions, the schools appear to be headed towards segregating elementary school libraries according to “age appropriateness.” Students might be restricted to view or check out materials in their own age-class or younger.
• Returned to the general circulation shelves in the 16 elementary school libraries in Loudoun County, Va. despite a complaint about its subject matter.
• Withdrawn from two Bristol, England, U.K., primary schools following objections from parents who claimed the book was unsuitable for children and that they had not been consulted on their opinions.
• Challenged, but retained at the Eli Pinney Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio despite a parent’s concerns that the book “is based on one of those subjects that is best left to be discovered by students at another time or in another place.”
• Challenged in the elementary school library in Ankeny, Iowa by parents who do not want their children to read the story of two male penguin parents in the Central Park Zoo due to concerns that it promotes homosexuality. On Dec. 15, 2008, the Ankeny school board members voted six to one to keep the book.
• Retained in the Chico, Calif. Unified School District, over complaints that the book is inappropriate for elementary school students. The district review committee determined that the book meets library selection standards and district policy.
• Retained by the Calvert County Library in Prince Frederick, MD after requests that the book be removed from the children’s section and shelved in a labeled alternative section.
• Retained in the Meadowview Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. despite a parent’s concern that “a topic such as sexual preference does not belong in a library where it can be obtained by young elementary students.”
• Challenged at the Lodi, Calif. Public Library by a resident deriding what she called its “homosexual story line that has been sugarcoated with cute penguins.”
• Moved from the children’s fiction section to children’s nonfiction at 2 Rolling Hill’s Consolidated Library’s branches in Savannah and St. Joseph, Mo after parents complained of its homosexual undertones.
• Challenged at the Shiloh, Ill Elementary School library. A committee of school employees and a parent suggested the book be moved to a separate shelf, requiring parent permission before checkout. The school’s superintendent, however, rejected the proposal and the book remained on the library shelf.
• Pulled from 4 elementary school libraries in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC area after a few parents and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James questioned the controversial but true story. The books were returned after the local paper questioned the ban. It should be noted that there was no formal request for the book’s removal.
Illustrated by Claudine Gevry
A Lion Children’s Book, an imprint of Lion Hudson plc, 2011
From the back of the book, “Let this story take you to the heart of the very first Easter… from the excitement of Palm Sunday, through the sadness of Good Friday to the good news of Easter morning… the day when Jesus showed his friends that God’s love is for ever.”
This small book is perfect for reading to young kittens to help them understand the story of Jesus, Palm Sunday and the week that followed leading up to and including Jesus’ Ascension. It provides a very brief overview of the events without delving into details.
Although the book follows the Bible, I was bothered by the lack of continuity – something kittens won’t notice I’m sure, but it bugged me. It was like the author felt she had to make the story fit within so-many words and on so-many pages so some stuff got left out. The illustrations are simple but colorful. There’s even a cat in one of them – but it’s a black cat like me shown on the same page as Judas talking to the Pharisees. Hmmm, that gives me paws to think of why the illustrator did that and is she perpetuating the terrible superstition of black cats bringing bad luck? I hope not, but as there is no other cat shown it does make me wonder.
Rating 2 out of 5 paws because it’s a nice book that is basically a condensed version of the Bible Story and I personally object to the suggestion of lingering black cat superstitions.
The black cat shown on the same page as Judas betraying Jesus. I don’t like the implications of this scene.
From the dust jacket, “Thanksgiving was not always a national holiday. One hundred and fifty years ago, many Americans didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all! To Sarah Josepha Hale, a trailblazing writer and magazine editor, Thanksgiving was an important time to recognize the good things in life. She felt every American should celebrate this special day, and she was going to do whatever it took to make Thanksgiving an official holiday, even if that meant going all the way to the top—to the President of the United States!”
This historical picture book tells the story of Thanksgiving, not the pilgrims-Native American version but how it became a national holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale was an amazing woman who supported her 5 children through writing after her husband died in 1822. She never remarried and started her writing career with a few small works of poetry and, over time, worked her way to becoming the editor of one of the largest women’s magazines of her day. As editor, each year she would write about Thanksgiving, what it meant to her and why everyone in the country should celebrate it and gradually the public began to agree with her. It took her 36 years and 4 presidents before Abraham Lincoln agreed with her and on October 3, 1863 – smack dab in the middle of the Civil War – Thanksgiving became an official holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
All of this history was new to me and I enjoyed learning about it. When famous women come to mind, Sarah Josepha Hale is nowhere near the top of the list. But she should be – she was ahead of her time, intelligent, a savvy business woman and her refusal to be turned away from her dream has influenced countless of generations after her. The book is well written, well researched and beautifully illustrated with soft watercolor paintings.