Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Searching for just the right gift for an adult on your list?
 Books marketed for children can be spot-on for grown ups, too!

Here are a few ideas:

Are they passionate about immigration?

Her Right Foot, written by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris
published in 2017 by Chronicle Books

This is the only book on today’s list that hasn’t been on my blog yet so just let me say: It is tremendous!

Dave Eggers, with his nonchalant, conversational tone, wows us with fascinating tidbits about our treasured Statue of Liberty, all building up to a surprising reveal about that Lady’s right foot! Shawn Harris knocks it out of the ballpark with his strong, vibrant artwork. 

This one sneaks up on you with understatement, then moves you to tears. One of the best of 2017, for ages 5 through Adult.

Do they treasure the beauty of flora and fauna?

Try: The Lost Words (review here)

Are they enamored with words?

Try: Ounce Dice, Trice (review here)

Do they dream of world travels?

Try: City Atlas (review here)

Did they recently become parents after a long, difficult wait?

Try: Wish (review here)

Have they loved books since they were knee-high to a grasshopper?

Try: A Child of Books (review here)

Are they allergic to morning?

Try: Pug Man’s 3 Wishes (review here)

Is Norse mythology their thing?

Try: Odd and the Frost Giants (review here)

Do they cry every time they watch You’ve Got Mail?

Try: Skating Shoes (review here)

Need a book for your favorite feminist?

Try: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (review here)

Have someone interested in African-American history? 

Try: Freedom Over Me (review here)

Or: Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph (review here)

Or: One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance (review here)

Or: March Trilogy (review here

Would they appreciate a gorgeous Minnesota read?

Try: Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (review here)

Are they jazzed by Art Deco?

Try: Snow White: A Graphic Novel (review here)

In addition, you might consider…

…a children’s book written by an author they love. I’ve reviewed children’s books by Sylvia Plath, Salman Rushdie, Aldous HuxleySherman Alexie, Chinua Achebe, Jane Gardam, Frank McCourt, Sigrid Undset, and a number of others you might consider.…a favorite book from their childhood that’s out of print now. It might take some tricky questioning to find out which stories they loved best decades ago, but especially for friends or family members getting on in years, this might be a lovely gift. Amazon and Abe Books are great sources for purchasing out-of-print titles.

Know any other children’s books that feel like perfect grown-up gifts? Let us know in the comments!


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Independence Day celebrations are about to blast off across the U.S.A. Here’s a star-spangled set of books to celebrate with!

The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam

The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam

I’ll begin with a pair of titles on the rich gift of immigrants to our nation as I feel so strongly about maintaining a posture of open arms.

My grandparents immigrated at the outset of the 20th century, seeking refuge from militaristic overlords and a chance at a better life. My dad was a first-generation American who fought in WWII alongside guys hailing from many ethnic backgrounds. That’s America, and that’s the vision presented by beloved Harlem artist Faith Ringgold in her newest book:

we came to america cover image

We Came To America, written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf

The vivid, pulsing beauty of diversity courses through this small catalog of peoples who make up America from “every color, race, and religion, from every country in the world.”

we came to america interior by faith ringgold

Some were here to begin with. Some came in chains. Some fled here. All have contributed to the glorious medley of ideas and strengths that make us who we are. Ringgold’s vigorous, brilliant color and primitive line rivet us to the array of faces and styles of these lovely humans. A joy to contemplate with ages 2 and up.

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Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land, by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie
published in 2016 by Carolrhoda Books

I’m so pleased to call your attention to this book by two Minnesotans, from a Minnesota publishing house. The Twin Cities are home to an abundance of immigrants and refugees, so this is a most fitting collaboration.

their great gift interior coy and huie

It’s a lovely, thought-provoking photo-essay. Page after page of faces and simple phrases invite us to revel in beauty, appreciate diversity, wonder over a host of life-stories, enter homes, empathize with newness. The arrival stories of John Coy’s European family and Wing Young Huie’s Asian family are, happily, included. It’s a treasure to meander through with ages 2 to 100.

Moving on to a trio of Revolutionary history titles…

the founding fathers cover image

The Founding Fathers: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’, Gentlemen Who Started America, by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt
published in 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Jonah Winter has written eminently-readable introductions to 14 Founding Fathers — “some of the most tremendously smart people who ever lived.” And what a diverse bunch!

the founding fathers interior winter and blitt

Each of these guys gets a hefty paragraph describing their contributions, personalities, and uniquenesses, as well as a fascinating little section of stats and some famous quotes. As you’d expect from Winter, he strikes a great balance between a casual tone and intelligent style.

All of this is illustrated with lighthearted, ink and watercolor portraits and vignettes, with some added hand-lettering touches. Putter your way through this fascinating, slim volume with kids ages 8 and up and learn a LOT effortlessly.


The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence, by Judith St. George, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
published in 2005 by Philomel Books

Follow the ins and outs and ups and downs of one of the most famous documents in human history which “has had more homes than a traveling circus.” 

the journey of the one and only declaration of independence illustration will hillenbrand

From Jefferson’s quill it began it’s course by horse courier and wagon, by ship and rail. Hidden, harassed, hustled! Signed, singed, shrunk! Read it’s careening life story, masterfully told by Judith St. George. I hope you’ve discovered her other work by now — she’s a national treasure herself! And warmly, humorously, brilliantly illustrated by the talented Will Hillenbrand. It’s lengthier than your average picture book. Enjoy it with ages 6 and up.

those rebels john and tom cover image

Those Rebels, John and Tom, by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
published in 2012 by Scholastic Press

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Utterly unalike. Best of friends. Bitter enemies. Two of the most important men in the history of our country.


Take a look at the overlap of their lives in this most-pleasant account. Kerley writes with elegance and polish and then dapples the whole business with charm. Fotheringham’s fabulous illustrations combine period styling and clever wit. A winning combination that will satisfy ages 6 and up.

And now for the fireworks and picnic!

the explosive story of fireworks cover image

The Explosive Story of Fireworks, by Kama Einhorn, illustrated by Daniel Guidera
published in 2015 by Simon Spotlight

This is an early reader in a great series called History of Fun Stuff, geared to the upper level of independent readers. 

Begin back in 200BC in ancient China and learn how fireworks were invented, how they’ve been used and improved over the centuries, and why they’ve come to be so inextricably associated with the Fourth of July.

the explosive story of fireworks interior einhorn and guidera

Engaging pages with plenty of full-color illustrations make this a good read-aloud for curious folks ages 5 and up; independent readers need to be up for vocabulary such as lithium, strontium, and pyrotechnicians! Extras inform us about bamboo, independence celebrations around the world, and the color wheel.

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McDuff Saves the Day, by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
published in 2002 by Hyperion Books for Children

There are a number of charming stories about the lovable Westie, McDuff, and his dear family — Lucy and Fred, and The Baby. If you haven’t found your way to them, you ought to.

mcduff saves the day interior wells and jeffers

In this episode the crew is on their way to Lake Ocarina for a Fourth of July picnic. The car ride is a bit of a bother for McDuff, but worse trouble is ahead in the form of Marauding Ants. Enjoy this delightful story and discover how McDuff winds up saving the day. Packed with 1920s-era charm and ready to be loved by ages 2 and up.

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