I am Mixed


Authors: Garcelle Beauvais & Sebastian A. Jones

Illustrator: James C. Webster

Publisher and Year: Stranger Comics 2013

Number of pages: 36

Genre: Picture Book


I am Mixed is a short picture book centered around two children, Nia and Jay, who are twins. The book depicts the twins with different skin tones and hair color. It starts out with Nia talking about how because she is mixed she is different than most people, even her own brother. Nia goes on to say that she loves who she is and is proud to be mixed. The book then shows Nia with her mother who is telling Nia how much she loves her. The same thing repeats with Jay and their father. The book ends with the phrase, “I am mixed,” and shows Nia and Jay smiling happily.


The illustrations in I am Mixed are colorful, bright, and inviting. Throughout the book, there are many pages that contrast with each other and reflect the texts meaning. While the texting is talking about the diversity of biracial or multiracial children, the illustrations are representing different cultures. On every page, Nia and Jay are smiling largely and appear to be very happy with their family and their culture. Having the Nia and Jay smile throughout the book shows that this book is geared towards encouraging biracial and multiracial children to be confident in themselves and their culture. While the drawings lean towards being cartoonish and inviting, on several pages, the smiles that Nia and Jay have seem a little unsettling. This may not be picked up by children but as an adult, some of the pictures seem a little too happy for the context.


Along with the pictures in the book, the text is very kid friendly and easy to see and read. The text has a short flow to it and physically some words are emphasized through different colors of font. This text is potentially entertaining to children because it rhymes and has little text on each page and draws the attention to the illustrations. The text and the illustrations work in tandem to create a cohesive story that would be incomplete without the text or illustrations.


Overall, I am Mixed is a great source of empowerment for biracial and multiracial children. It discusses the experience of biracial and multiracial children in school and in their family lives. This book can serve as positive representation for biracial and multiracial children. It can also help non-biracial children learn about biracial children and the cut down on common stereotypes biracial and multiracial children face.

Henry’s Freedom Box


Author: Ellen Levine

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 2007

Number of pages: 36

Genre: Non-Fiction Picture Book


Henry’s Freedom Box is the recipient of a Caldecott Honors. This book tells the story of Henry “BOX” Brown. Henry is a slave and as a child his master sends him to work for his master’s son. While working in a factory for his new boss, Henry meets Nancy, another slave who is owned by a different master. Their masters allow them to get married and they end up having three children. Unfortunately, Nancy’s master runs out of money and sells her and her children. They are carted off before Henry gets to say a proper goodbye and he is heartbroken. Henry goes on to meet Dr. Smith who helps Henry escape by shipping him to Philadelphia in a box. Henry gets shipped, and is free in Philadelphia.


The story of Henry’s Freedom Box has the potential to be very influential to a classroom. It is sometimes difficult to find a historical book about slavery that does not shy away from the horrors of the time, but this book stays historically accurate. The illustrations in this book add to the historical accuracy of this book because they are mostly realistic. The illustrations were created by starting with a pencil sketch and applying watercolors and oil paints. This helps creates realistic looking pictures that also have a sketchy texture to them. Having the illustrations look realistic and sketchy at the same time adds depth and interest to the story. Instead of having it look like recreations of photographs, the sketchiness allows for more texture to the drawings where it may not typically be.


The text placement is seemingly random, but it is placed to fit with the pictures.  The illustrations take up the entire page and add a lot of depth to the story. Because the illustrations take up so much space, the text is sometimes placed off to the side or is placed over a portion of the illustration that is not the main focus. The disruption of the placement of the text from page to page draws the attention of the reader to the illustration as they scan the page to see where the texted is placed. Overall, this book is beautifully crafted and would be an excellent tool to use in a classroom when discussing slavery.


Harlem’s Little Blackbird


Author: Renée Watson

Illustrator: Christian Robinson

Publisher and Year: Random House 2012

Number of pages: 31

Genre: Picture Book


Harlem’s Little Blackbird is the story of singer and performer Florence Mills and her success in a business where black people were not welcome. The story begins in Florence’s childhood home when it is storming. Her mother is singing and says it is the best way to block out the storm. Florence starts singing and when the storm passes she thinks “If my voice is powerful enough to stop the rain, what else can it do?” Florence continues to use her powerful voice and become well known for being a performer and challenging the racial segregation of the time. Florence is not always welcome where she is preforming, but it does not stop her from inspiring change in others through her powerful voice.


Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a beautiful story that combines illustrations and text to cultivate a unique experience. Twice in the story Florence says a phrase along the lines of “if my voice can do this, what else can it do.” Each time Florence says this it marks a change that is about to happen. The first time she says it she is before she starts singing and preforming for other children and then eventually adults. The second time she says it is before she decides to advocate for change in the way black people were treated in theatre. Each time she says this phrase, the phrase is done in a different font and surrounded by borders which further emphasizes the idea that everyone can make a change if you start small.


The ideologies of this story are very beneficial to a classroom. Harlem’s Little Blackbird does not shy away from the problems that Florence faced in her time as a performer. The book blatantly shows that the struggles Florence faced by being a black performer in a society that only valued white people. It depicts how Florence’s family was not allowed in to see her preform when she was a child and that she had to threaten not to preform to get them into the show. This reinforces the idea that at the time, and still today, a lot of media marginalizes a certain group for another group’s entertainment. Overall, this story is a great historical story to read with a class because of its engaging illustrations and important message.


The Reverend Thomas’s False Teeth

Author: Gayle Gillerlain

Illustrator: Dena Schutzer

Publishing Information: BridgeWater Books, 1995.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

teeth 1 teeth 2


Reverend Thomas was coming to Gracie’s home for dinner. Gracie and her family were so busy preparing the dishes for Reverend Thomas. However, he accidentally lost his false teeth overboard. Everyone tried to get the teeth for Reverend Thomas but they all failed. Finally, clever Gracie helped him find the teeth and they all enjoyed the delicious meal together.

This book includes spiritual and religious elements. The text serves as a window for children to look at one specific aspect of culture. Through the book, readers can have a glance at what the life of a Christian family is like. Therefore, readers can better connect the story with their own life.

I find this book problematic in various ways. Firstly, gender stereotypes and discriminations are presented. In the story, Gracie stayed at home and helped her mother prepare the dinner. We can see that her father was not doing anything because he is only mentioned by “Daddy rushed off with Will” (P. 8). Her brother was playing outside and not helping either. Besides, when people tried to think of methods to get Reverend Thomas’s teeth, nobody listened to Gracie. Secondly, when things happened accidentally, people pray. However, with all due respect, praying is not the way to actually solve the problem. After Reverend Thomas dropped his false teeth, the only thing he did was “praying for the safe return of his lost teeth” (P. 8). All of the neighbors helped him look for the teeth and Gracie’s brother Will even jumped into the water. It is not fair for everyone else to do the job for him even if he is honorable. Thirdly, when I read the method Gracie used to get the Reverend’s false teeth, I got a little confused. I think the author should elaborate it a little bit more about how Gracie used chicken for bait to catch the teeth.

Perceptually, the illustrations use bright colors to depict the joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed. Therefore, readers can have the view from within. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to use their wisdom to solve problems instead of doing things without thinking.

Nice Little Girls

Author: Elizabeth Levy

Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein

Publishing Information: Delacorte Pr 1974.

Number of Pages: 46

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

nlg 1 nlg 2


Jackie is a different little girl. Everyone in her class calls her a boy. She does not wear dresses as other girls in her class do. She wants to build a box. However, her teacher Mrs. James always wants Jackie to be a nice little girl. Suggested by her parents, Jackie decides to be herself. Finally, her classmates realize that Jackie is actually brave. At the party, they paint moustaches on each other’s faces.

The text functions as a mirror for children to have a reflection on their own school life. Readers of different ages may have different takeaways from the story. For children, they might ask themselves if they are in a similar situation as Jackie is or if there is any student like Jackie in their class and how they have treated him or her. For parents, they might reconsider the way they communicate with their children. When teachers call and tell them about the problems of their children, do they just take what the teachers say and blame the children right away or do they do the same thing as Jackie’s parents did, “hear the children’s side of the story” (p. 20).

While gender stereotypes and gender discriminations do not exist in the text, race discrimination is presented. In the book, all characters from the teacher to all of the students are illustrated as white people. Children might get the wrong impression about school. Diversity should be stressed in children’s literature, especially in those with the theme of school life like this one.

Perceptually, the illustrator use pencil sketch to draw the pictures. Such delicate illustrations can definitely attract readers. The images are not framed which help readers to put themselves in the plot development. Structurally, text and images do not overlap which give readers a clearer view of the story. Ideologically, the book teaches children that there is no such thing as a “girl’s job” or a “boy’s job”? They can pursue any kinds of hobby as long as they enjoy them. Secondly, the story also shows children that teachers are not always right. It is important to communicate with parents. Thirdly, the book tells children that if some students in your class seem different than others, do not judge them and if you get to know them personally, they might be very nice people.


Author/ Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats

Publishing Information: the Penguin Group, 1969.

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

gg 1 gg 2


Two boys Archie and Peter find a pair of goggles. They like it very much. However, some big boys appear and threat Archie and Peter for their goggles. Archie and Peter try to escape with the help of their smart dog Willie. Finally, they fool the big boys and run away with their precious goggles.

The main characters of the book are African Americans. The text serves as a door to for children to explore the life of minorities. I found the book problematic in the following two ways. First of all, although the story is about African Americans, I do not think it can count as a multicultural book because there is hardly any cultural elements presented in either the text or the illustrations. The story only exposes the dark side of African American society. The whole book is about two boys running away from bully and blackmail. Besides, I notice the poor environmental condition in the illustrations. Readers might get wrong impressions about African Americans. That is how stereotypes are made. Also, younger children who read the book might develop a fear for older children which leads to a result that they may be reluctant to school or any other places where there are children older than them.

Perceptually, the first part of the book uses a lot of dark colors to demonstrate the depression and the confined situation Archie and Peter face. But after they escape successfully and save the goggles, the main colors of the illustrations become brighter which depict free and joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed so that readers can have a view from within. There are a lot of dialogs in the text which make the story vivid. Structurally, text and images overlap so readers can easily combine the text and illustrations together. There are not many ideologies conveyed through this book. The only thing I notice as a takeaway is to keep calm and be brave in front of danger. Use your judgement and find the best way to save yourself.

Puzzled By Pink

Author/ Illustrator: Sarah Frances Hardy

Publishing Information: Penguin Group, 2012.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

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Rose is a little girl who loves pink. She wants everyone coming to her birthday party wear pink fairy wings and tutus. However, her sister Izzy hates pink and tutus. She does not believe in magic or the wand. Suddenly, the wand works and turns Izzy’s cat into a dragon. They play together at the party downstairs.

The text functions as a window for children to look at the story of other people’s life. The author and illustrator really did a great job presenting diversity through the story. There are both boys and girls coming to Rose’s party and boys can be fairies. Children who show up at the party have different skin colors. It teaches children that people of different races or different genders can be friends.

In the story, the character Izzy is kind of mean to her little sister Rose. It was Rose’s birthday but in the text Izzy never congratulates her or even wishes her a happy birthday. It is not the right way how sisters should treat each other. Even though Izzy comes to the party downstairs and plays with Rose in the end, the reason she does that is to escape from the dragon instead of celebrating her sister’s birthday. A possible revision of the text could be even though Izzy won’t wear pink things, she still helps Rose prepare for the party and has fun. Also, for me, the ending is a little confusing. The fact that the dragon shows up as a vicious creature at first but then it comes downstairs to play with children might confuse readers.

Perceptually, the book uses contrastive colors to demonstrate the differences of personality between Rose and Izzy. Rose always wears pink while Izzy wears black and white. The images are not framed so that readers can actually participate in the story. When Izzy decides to go upstairs and has her own party, she moves to the right which conveys a sense of less security. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Children might not have any insightful takeaways from the book but they can notice the diversity of people through this interesting little story.

March: Book One


Authors: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Illustrator: Nate Powell

Publisher and Year: Top Shelf Productions, 2013

Number of Pages: 121

Genre: Non-fiction

march book one page preview 1In March: Book One John Lewis tells about the struggle he has gone through and witnessed since the beginning days of segregation. He highlights the highs and lows of the Civil Rights Movement, and how much influence he had in the process.

This book works hugely as a mirror. There are so many people that can identify with this text, and it is always helpful to get history on one’s culture. This book could work as a mirror for those who can identify with it, a window for those who can’t, and a door for those could learn a lesson from it. The 1950’s-1960’s weren’t an exciting time for African Americans, and John Lewis elaborates on that. In the beginning of the graphic novel, the Whites have all of the power. As time goes on and more Black people realize how powerful a peaceful protest could be, they begin to gain power. The use of peaceful protests is something that is still prevalent and effective today. Perceptually, the pictures mirror and add to the text, and vice versa. Most of the text is dialogue, and the rest are descriptions of scenes, people, and situations.

Structurally, the novel is set up as typical graphic novel would be: pop-out speech balloons and lots of pictures. The characters continuously move to the right, which symbolizes them moving forward. The entire book is in black and white, but the reader can still feel when a scene is “darker” than others. This may also be because the book was about problems between Blacks and Whites, so it would make sense to have the book in black and white only. Some backgrounds are white with black panels, which makes us feel lighter and less tense about what is going to happen next. Other backgrounds are black with white panels or no frames at all. There is usually a life-changing moment occurring on these pages. Ideologically, this story can serve to teach readers about African American history, if nothing else. It shows that everything does not have to be solved with violence, and that peacefully hashing things out can be more beneficial. This story also teaches readers that there are perks to being the bigger person and not letting others get to you.

Mule Train Mail

Title: Mule Train MailIMG_6204

Author: Craig Brown

Illustrator: Craig Brown

Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2009

Number of Pages: 34 pages

Tags: Adventure, Animals, Culture, Diversity, Non-fiction, Picture Book, 4-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Non-Fiction

Analysis: Anthony the mail man delivers mail to the town of Supai on a mule for through the Grand Canyon. This nonfiction book tells the story of Anthony’s journey, the only mule train delivery system left in the United States.

This story acts as a window for children to see the culture of the Supai village. The Supai village is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This is very unique because people can only access this area by horse, mule, or helicopters.  The cultures represented in this book are depicted accurately. The author is very knowledgeable about this culture and delivery system because he took the journey himself before writing this book. He discusses his experience at the end of the book.

IMG_6205The images, created by the author, begin with a map tracking the map the mule train follows. As Anthony starts his descent to the Supai village, the images turn long-wise, emphasizing the downward descent of the mountain. The images display the different types of weather that the mules face such as snow and ice or very hot. The illustrations accurately depict the terrain in the Grand Canyon.  As they reach the bottom of the mountain, the images turn back to horizontal. The double spread page allows the reader to engage themselves in the journey alongside Anthony.  The book is told in a narrative manner, as if the author is retelling the story of his journey to a friend. Since this book tells a true story, it introduces children to a different culture. Students who read this book will be introduced to a different type of public service. In addition, it raises awareness about a culture that does not receive a lot of recognition. This book can also be used to show the dedication and determination that Anthony has for his job. The mail gets carried through very dangerous weather that could harm both Anthony and the mules.

My Mom’s Having a Baby

IMG_6197Title: My Mom’s Having a Baby

Author: Dori Hillestad Butler

Illustrator: Carol Thompson

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Number of Pages: 32 pages

Tags: Emotion, Family, Non-fiction, 2-3, 4-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Non-Fiction

Analysis: This non-fiction book goes through the different stages of pregnancy in each month. The main character, Elizabeth, learns all about the baby’s development and growth inside her mom’s stomach. She seeks to answer many of the questions that young children have when they are expecting a baby brother or sister.

This book allows the children to see how the pregnancy process works. It is a very informative book with lots of information. Boys and girls can see how they individually play a role in creating a baby. This book also allows them to reflect on when they were conceived as well. This book gives children the power because it is told from Elizabeth’s point of view.

The book is set up by explaining what happens in each month that Elizabeth’s mom is pregnant. Each month the images show the growth and development that takes place. For example, in October, Elizabeth explains tIMG_6199hat the baby has finger nails, eyes, and ears. It shows the actual size of the embryo at this point in the pregnancy. When Elizabeth wonders how the baby got there, the process of creating a baby is explained. The images include the human anatomy of the female and the male as well as an honest explanation of how the baby got there. The images are pencil drawings with some water color. The use of text bubbles emphasizes the idea that the questions asked in this book are common from children who are expecting to be a big brother or sister. The text in the bubbles also resembles a child’s handwriting, giving it a sense of authenticity.

Since this book is completely honest while answering questions regarding how making a baby works, some people may be against this. Some may think it ruins a child’s innocence if they know truly how a baby is conceived. However, others may be attracted to the honest answer to many children’s wonders. This book offers a non-fiction, medical explanation of pregnancy. It also allows children to see the development of the baby inside of a mother’s stomach. However, because of the content and illustrations of this book, teachers should not read this book in classrooms without parental consent. IMG_6198