Tag Archives: African American illustrator

Firebird by Misty Copeland


Dancer, Misty Copeland, the first African American prima ballerina, writes from a young dancer’s point of view. The character believes she will never fly as a dancer like Misty Copeland. The author uses metaphors such as “you are the sky and clouds and air” to show the girl’s feelings toward her idol. After the dancer expresses her lack of self-confidence, Misty’s character tells her she is just beginning saying, “let the sun shine on your face your beginning’s just begun.” She shares with the reader that she was once like the girl with only a dream. This is a wonderfully inspirational story about practice and goal setting that students could relate to as they struggle to meet their goals and dreams. Students who struggle with confidence and self-esteem could gain a new perspective from Misty Copeland’s story. The author includes a wonderful note of encouragement to the reader at the end of the book. The illustrations are fluid and superbly depict the flying ballerina. This book would be a wonderful addition to any library.

Schema: dancing, learning

Story Elements: Problem, feeling like she will never reach her goal

Solution: practice and never give up

Metaphors and similes are used throughout the story to show the feelings of the characters.

Mental Imaging: The reader can imagine how high the ballerina is leaping with the help of the illustrations.

New Shoes by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Schema: being discriminated against

In the story, the main character and her mother arrive at the shoe store before a white girl and her father. The store clerk helps the white family first, and the white girl is allowed to try on several pairs of shoes before making her purchase. Ella Mae’s mother has to trace Ella Mae’s feet on some paper provided at the store, and that is how her size is decided.

Text-to-Text Connection: Going Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack

In this historical fiction picture book, two young African-American girls find a way to help children like themselves to be able to try on shoes before buying them. The author’s note explains that in the south before the civil rights movement, black people were not allowed to try on hats, shoes, or clothes before buying them. The girls in the story collect used shoes, clean and polish them, and open their own store in their storage building to help families needing shoes for their children. The girls are excellent female role models.

Eric Velasquez, an African-American, provides very realistic paintings to convey the feelings of the characters.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Schema: being cruel and unkind

Text-to-Self: Feeling mistreated by other kids, not being accepted

Bullies: Chloe decides to be cruel and bully another student.

Mental Images: Imagine the ripple of the water and think how this is like an action of kindness or cruelty.

Metaphor: The ripple and the act are alike in one way; they both spread far from you.

Synthesis: What small things have you done to make the world, your home, your school, your family better?

Can you think of ways Chloe could make amends for the way she treated Maya if she never sees her again?

Peepers by Eve Bunting and illustrated by James Ransome

Schema: fall colors

Author’s POV: third person

Text-to-Self connections: brothers, helping parents with work

Metaphor and similes: bus crawling as slowly as a caterpillar, leaves  compared to boats, bus sleeping through the winter like a bear after tourist season is over, tree limbs like brooms sweeping the clouds away

Cause and Effect: Because the seasons change, the effect is that the tourist season ends.

Drawing Conclusions: Can you draw the conclusion that the boys have changed the way they view the “peepers” at the end of the season as they view the sky? Yes, they are embarrassed that they are in awe of the stars and the sky the way the tourist are in awe of the beautiful fall colors.

Math: The boys are standing by the water and the illustration is showing their reflection in the water.

 

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Schema: Underground railroad, escaped slaves

Author’s purpose: to share African American history

Author’s Point of View: 3rd person omniscient as we see the story from more than one character’s point of view

Cause and Effect: Because Henry’s family was sold, the effect was that Henry went to the extreme of mailing himself to escape the sorrow of slavery.

Characterize Henry: hard working, good listener, loving, strong

Mental Images: Henry imagined the carts carrying away his family and all that he loved every night.

Drawing Conclusions: Henry knew that the mail was delivered everywhere. He thought he could stand being in a box for many hours. He drew the conclusion that he could mail himself north to escape slavery.

After Henry’s family is sold, he purposefully pours sulphuric acid on his hand so that he could stay home from work in order to get some help in mailing himself to the northern states to escape slavery in the southern United States.

 

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Schema: Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Text-to-text:  Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Metaphor: The story uses an extended metaphor to compare the Civil Rights movement to a recipe throughout the story.  Author’sPurpose: to share a story about the civil rights movement and to teach us about African American history

Author’s POV: 3rd person

Cause and Effect: Because the demonstrators were nonviolent, the effect was that the national news only captured the violence of the angry white people which made Dr. King’s message even stronger.

Mental Images: Imagine having salt, ketchup, and coffee poured on your head and pepper thrown in your eyes and still sitting calmly

Organizational Strategies: the story is organized like a poem

This is the story of the four college men who began the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, February 1, 1960. The author shares a story in language and illustrations that tell what happened with a positive point of view and a message of hope for the future. The metaphor of a recipe is used to mix the ingredients needed to end segregation.