Weekend Round-up: #WhereIsRey & other problems in children’s toys and media

mosaic5423a0304e0f4624a389d472dbfd4f0e3549a700

I’ve been reading/listening to some interesting debates and discussions on social issues in children’s books and toys lately. Here are a few links worth checking out.

1. Missing in action figures

Without seeing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I’ve heard enough about to know that the main protagonist, Rey, is female. So I was surprised to hear about her absence from most of the film’s merchandise. The Brood, a parenting podcast/radio show, dives into the details, reactions and corporate explanations.

2.  More smiling slaves making desserts, more controversy

You may have heard about the backlash a few months ago over the portrayal of slaves in “A Fine Dessert.” Now a new picture book, “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” is receiving similar scrutiny.

3. ALA’s Youth Media awards are here, and so are some ugly reactions

The Caldecott, the Newbery and all the other annual Youth Media Awards from the American Library Association were announced Monday. I was happy to see many great books I read last year in the mix, including a good number with diverse characters and authors. Apparently not everyone was as pleased. The Reading While White blog rebuts some commenters’ claims that committees must have been kowtowing to PC-ness. The short post ends in a perfect way, by using the beautiful last line from Newbery winner “Last Stop on Market Street.”

Add these to your to-read pile! Newbery winner and more

In case you didn’t hear, the American Library Association announced its 2015 youth media awards on Monday. That includes the Caldecott Medal (for picture books), the Newbery Medal (for middle grade), various Coretta Scott King awards (recognizing African American authors and illustrators) and the Printz Award (for young adult books.)

While I’ve read several books that were honorees — like “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “El Deafo” — I haven’t read the top winners of either the Caldecott or the Newbery.

The Crossover

“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” written and illustrated by Dan Santat won the Caldecott. It’s the story of an imaginary friend seeking the perfect child to pair with. “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander won the Newbery. It’s a novel in verse about twin brothers dealing with growing up, family ties and basketball.

Count them among my to-read pile, along with a bunch of the others on the ALA list.

Also count this children’s book on my to-read pile when it debuts next month: “Rad American Women A-Z.” It’s an alphabet book featuring biographies of women from Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston. According to Bitch Magazine, the selected women are “diverse in terms of race, era, and in their field of work, ranging from scientists to writers and activists.” I can’t wait to check it out!

Rad American Women A-ZA book that came out this week that I hope to pick up soon is “One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia” by Miranda Paul, who is in one of the online writers community I participate in. It’s the true story of five women tackling the plastic trash problem in their village.

One_Plastic_Bag_Cover_Miranda_Paul

What rad children’s books have you added to your to-read list lately?