A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane's wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength.
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
If you look up the phrase “hands up” in many dictionaries, you’ll likely see a negative definition written.
▪️an order given by a person pointing a gun. Source: Collins dictionary
▪️to admit that something bad is true or that you have made a mistake. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
▪️to deliver (an indictment) to a judge or higher judicial authority. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary (By the way, do you know the history behind raising your right hand to testify in court? Look it up, I found it quite interesting.)
This book shows a little Black girl named Viv putting her hands up in various everyday situations like: greeting the sun, playing peek-a-boo, raising hands in defense during a basketball game, raising hands in class, picking fruit off trees, and raising hands during praise and worship at church. In the end, readers see Viv a little older raising her hands in resistance and strength with a group of friends at a community protest march.
With sparse text and lively illustrations, Hands Up! cleverly shows readers lifting your hands doesn’t always imply negativity. It gently encourages children to feel happy and confident to raise their hands. It also supports reticent kids in speaking up or standing up for what’s right.
It was interesting and refreshing to be reminded of all the times we raise our hands throughout the day from stretching in the morning when we wake to reaching for something high on a shelf like a library book. My personal favorite page is little Viv raising her hands in church demonstrating joy and praise to God through worship. Viv sets her power aside and praises God by physically and publicly demonstrating to Him that she needs Him which empowers her.
The back matter has notes from the author and illustrator which explain why this book was written.
I worry that this world casts Black kids as victims, villains, or simply adults before they’re grown up. – Breanna J. McDaniel
This brilliant reminder from Breanna helped guide me back to lifting my hands in joy. – Shane W. Evans
Hands Up! is available now online and where books are sold. Ages 4-8 and up.
Your turn: Have you read this book yet? Feel free to share in the comments.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book from the author to share my review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you to the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Team for selecting me as a reviewer and a co-host!
Sarah E.Goode was one of the first African-American women to get a U.S. patent. Working in her husband’s furniture store, she recognized a need for a multi-use bed and through hard work, ingenuity, and determination, invented her unique cupboard bed. She built more than a piece of furniture. She built a life far away from slavery, a life where her sweet dreams could come true.
Reflection Prior to reading Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor I had never heard of Sarah E. Good before. I can honestly say I was blown away to learn about this woman. Why didn’t I learn about her and countless other inventors in school when I was growing up? It just goes to show there are a myriad of inventions created by Black people that are still unbeknownst to many. I’m so glad author Vivian Kirkfield decided to write this book and understands the importance to highlight contributions of African-Americans as inspiration for our present and our future.
Born into slavery, inventor and entrepreneur Sarah E.Goode was the first African-American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, for her invention of a folding cabinet bed on July 14, 1885. When Sarah moved to Chicago later in life, that’s where she met her husband, Archibald Goode. Her husband worked as a stair case builder and an upholsterer, and Sarah was the owner of a furniture store.
Most of Sarah’s customers lived in very small houses or apartments with cramped spaces. As a result, they couldn’t buy a lot of furniture since they complained that their homes couldn’t accommodate too many items. This is what drove Sarah Goode to invent the folding cabinet bed. She put on her thinking cap and went to work putting her masterful carpentry skills into full action. The bed that Sarah invented doubled as both a desk and a bed. Most importantly, it was compact which was exactly what her customers needed.
I truly enjoyed reading about Sarah Goode’s story! Not only was the story well written accompanied by vivid and lively illustrations, it was also engaging and highly inspiring too. I loved Sarah’s drive and determination to press on in spite of the obstacles she faced and rejection letters she received. I can only imagine how proud she must have felt to be the first Black woman to receive a U.S. patent for something that she created. Glory! Her idea filled a void in the lives of many, it was practical and many people appreciated it. Kudos to Sarah for opening up the doorway for many women to come after her and obtain their own patents!
The back matter of this book contains an author’s note, additional information about what a patent is, a timeline of Sarah Goode’s life and a handy timeline of Black women patent holders.
Aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and lovers of history are likely to be just as inspired by Sarah’s story as I was. I’m thrilled to be able to share this story with my children and so many others in honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Look for Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor when it publishes in May 2019.
Your turn: Have you ever heard of Sarah E. Goode prior to reading this review? If you’re curious about other items invented by Black inventors, you might enjoy reading this blog post.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.
We have all heard of Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Goodyear, Thomas Edison and other famous American inventors. Right? But you may not know that throughout American history, hundreds of Black inventors have also made significant contributions to almost every facet of life through their creations. Many of the inventions we still use today!
While researching different inventions for this blog post, I was shocked to discover some of the many incredible things that African Americans have invented, including the ice cream scoop, the ironing board, the lawn mower, and the mailbox! Who knew?
That’s right, for more than three centuries, Black inventors have been coming up with ingenious ideas that have changed the world for the better. I hope this blog post helps brings their stories to life and shines a light on these courageous inventors and discoverers.
Black shampoos and other hair care products (including the Straightening Comb)
Did you know Benjamin Banneker a mathematician, and astronomer, taught himself mathematics through textbooks he borrowed? As an adult, Benjamin used mathematics and astronomy to predict the weather and write his own almanac, which was used by farmers. He also invented America’s first clock made of wood in 1753.
On May 9, 1899, John Albert Burr patented an improved rotary blade lawn mower. Burr designed a lawn mower with traction wheels and a rotary blade that was designed to not easily get plugged up from lawn clippings. John Albert Burr also improved the design of lawn mowers by making it possible to mow closer to building and wall edges.
Helped to Popularize Peanut Butter
(also developed hundreds of products using the peanut, sweet potatoes and soybeans. ) Inventor: George Washington Carver Picture Book Recommendation:Who Was George Washington Carver? (Ages 8 – 12)
George Washington Carver was an American agricultural chemist, agronomist and botanist who developed various products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soy-beans that radically changed the agricultural economy of the United States. George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, but he made it more popular. The Aztec were known to have made peanut butter from ground peanuts as early as the 15th century. Canadian pharmacist Marcellus Gilmore Edson was awarded U.S. Patent 306,727 (for its manufacture) in 1884, 12 years before Carver began his work at Tuskegee.
The son of an African-American father and a Native American mother, George Crum was working as the chef in the summer of 1853 when he incidentally invented the chip. It all began when a patron who ordered a plate of French-fried potatoes sent them back to Crum’s kitchen because he felt they were too thick and soft.
Pull Out Bed/Convertible Bed/Folding Cabinet Bed
Inventor: Sarah E. Goode Picture Book Recommendation: Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor (Ages 5 – 9) Born into slavery in 1850, inventor and entrepreneur Sarah E. Goode was the first African-American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, for her invention of a folding cabinet bed in 1885. She died in 1905.
Super Soaker Water Gun
Inventor: Lonnie G. Johnson Picture Book Recommendation:Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Ages 7-10)
Lonnie Johnson is an American inventor and engineer who holds more than 120 patents. He is the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun, which has been among the world’s bestselling toys every year since its release in 1982.
Gas Mask, Traffic Light
Inventor: Garrett A. Morgan Picture Book Recommendation:To the Rescue! Garret Morgan Underground (Ages 5-8)
Garrett Morgan was an inventor and businessman from Cleveland who is best known for inventing a device called the Morgan safety hood which is now called a gas mask. He also invented the 3 light traffic signal which is still used today. After receiving a patent in 1923, the rights to the invention were eventually purchased by General Electric.
Your turn: Check out this list of other items invented by Black inventors. Which ones did you know about and which ones are you surprised to learn? What Black inventors/inventions would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.
3-DVG Glasses – Kenneth J. Dunkley Farmer’s Almanac – Benjamin Banneker Automatic Elevator Doors – Alexander Miles Blood Bank – Dr. Charles Richard Drew Clothes Dryer – George T. Sampson CompuRest Keyboard Stand – Joanna Hardin (1993) Disposable Underwear – Tanya Allen (1994) Door Knob & Door Stop – Osbourn Dorsey (1878) Dry Cleaning Process – Thomas L. Jennings (He was also the first Black person to hold a U.S. patent) Dust Pan (improved version) – Lloyd P. Ray Egg Beater – Willis Johnson (1884) Fitted Bedsheets – Bertha Berman (1959) Folding Chair – John Purdy Gas Heating Furnace – Alice Parker Golf Tee – Dr. George Grant Guitar (modern) – Robert Fleming Hairbrush – Lyda A. Newman Home Security System – Marie Van Brittan Brown IBM Computer – Mark E. Dean (He was a co-creator) Ice Cream Scoop – Alfred L. Cralle (1897) Ironing Board – Sarah Boone Lawn Sprinkler – Joseph A. Smith Light Bulb (Improved version) – Lewis Latimer Mail Box – Phillip A. Downing (1891) “Monkey” Wrench – Jack Johnson (1922) (Nicknamed a “monkey” wrench because it was invented by a Black man) Mop – Thomas W. Stewart (1893) Pacemaker(improved version) – Otis Boykin Pastry Fork – Anna M. Mangin (1892) Portable Pencil Sharpener – John Lee Love Rain Hat – Maxine Snowden (1983) Refrigerating Apparatus – Thomas Elkins Reversible Baby Stroller – William H. Richardson Sanitary Belt – Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner Street Sweeper – Charles B. Brooks Suitcase with wheels and transporting hook – Debrilla Ratchford (1978) Thermostat and Temperature Control – Frederick Jones Toaster (with a digital timer)– Ruane Jeter Touch Tone Telephone(improved) – Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson (Dr. Jackson conducted breakthrough basic scientific research that enabled others to invent the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.) Toilet Tissue Holder(improved version) – Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner Video Game Console/Cartridge – Gerald “Jerry” Lawson Windshield Wipers – Mary Anderson (1903)
Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.
Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions expressed her are my own are are not influenced by receiving this book for free.
How far would you travel to find a better life for yourself and your family? What if the journey took weeks or maybe even months under difficult conditions? If you answered “Whatever it takes,” you echo the feelings of an estimated three million Eastern European Jewish immigrants who came to America between 1880 and 1924.
Ellis Island afforded them the opportunity to attain the American dream for themselves and their descendants. Today, Ellis Island is an immigration museum with many exhibits containing photographs, artifacts, oral histories, and other displays. To this day, thousands of people immigrate to America each year in search of a better life and a safe place to call home.
Based on a true story, Gittel’s Journey takes readers on a journey from “Old Country” (it’s unclear which country “Old Country” is, maybe Russia or Poland) to Ellis Island in New York. Young 9 year-old Gittel and her mother are preparing to immigrate to America. When they arrive at the port to be inspected for approval in order to get on the ship, Gittel’s mother is denied entry by the health inspector due to having some redness in her eye. Gittel is terrified, but her mother tells her to be brave and go to America on her own.
Gittel’s mom assured her she’ll be safe and gives her a folded piece of paper, her ticket and some candlesticks. She tells her the piece of paper has her cousin’s name and address on it. Gittel is told to hand the piece of paper to an immigration officer once she gets to America.
Two weeks later, Gittel arrives safely and is greeted by the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island. When she pulls out the piece of paper the address information is gone and there is only a “fat blue smear”. How will Gittel find her mother’s cousin now? You’ll have to read it to find out how the story ends.
A beautifully written and illustrated story with themes of: hope, emotion, determination, family, immigration and bravery. Ages 5-8 and up. Publishes February 5, 2019.
Disclaimer: I was gifted a set of Ana & Andrew books by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions expressed her are my own are are not influenced by receiving these books for free.
Here’s the synopsis about the book series from the author’s website:
Ana & Andrew are always on an adventure! They live in Washington, DC with their parents, but with family in Savannah, Georgia and Trinidad, there’s always something exciting and new to learn about African-American history and culture. This series includes A Day at the Museum, Dancing at Carnival, Summer in Savannah, and A Snowy Day. Aligned to Common Core standards and correlated to state standards. Calico Kid is an imprint of Magic Wagon, a division of ABDO.
There are currently four books in the series and we adore each one! I mean where else can you find an early chapter children’s book series about Black kids eating roti, visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, going to Carnival in Trinidad and visiting one of the first Black churches in America? Trust me, these books are great. Oh, and I love that Ana’s favorite doll, Sissy always has on the same matching outfit as Ana. So cute!
Each book follows siblings Ana and Andrew going on a different adventure. In the first book, A Day at the Museum, Ana and Andrew visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture with their grandmother (Papa’s mother who is visiting from Georgia). At the museum the kids learn about Civil Rights leaders, the fight for equality and the history of African-Americans in the military and sports.
This series of books is perfect for early readers ages 5-8. Each book is only four chapters long which makes them wonderful choices for reading aloud during story time or reading independently by a child.
A Few Other Things to Note About this Series
They are published by ABDO, a small, family-owned publisher that solely focuses on educational reading material for schools and public libraries.
The author receives no royalties from these books – NONE, NADA! This was a project of love to ensure that young Black and Brown children saw themselves and their history represented in early readers.
They have a higher than normal price tag for most early readers. Why? This series was initially intended for public and school libraries (hence the library binding, hardcover and price tag.) Since these books are proving to be quite popular and in high demand (just check my Instagram post to see what others are saying), they may eventually be reprinted and made available in paperback, but that will remain to be seen.
The author is currently working on 4 more books in the series…YES! Ana & Andrew will be visiting Africa, learning about Frederick Douglass and more!
There will be a 2019 Ana & Andrew book tour! Be sure to visit Christine Platt’s website periodically or follow her on social media so you won’t miss the tour date announcement.
About the Author Christine A. Platt is a historian and author of African and African-American fiction and fantasy. She holds a B.A. in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida, M.A. in African and African American Studies from The Ohio State University, and J.D. from Stetson University College of Law. Christine enjoys writing stories for people of all ages. She currently serves as the Managing Director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Your turn: Have you read any of the books in this series yet? Feel free to share in the comments.
A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States. Two other women, Susanna A. Brunner in New York and Minnie Westman in Oregon, were known to be White mail carriers in the 1880s.
Born as a slave in Tennessee during the administration of Andrew Jackson, Mary was sixty years old in 1895 when she became the second woman and first Black person to ever work for the U.S. Post Office. Over the next six years, Mary and her pet eagle rode her stagecoach all over Montana and never missed a day of work, never failed to deliver mail and was never late once.
This story is so inspirational and empowering for readers of all ages. America was built in part by mail carriers and truckers, the people who move goods and products from place to place. Writer Tami Charles brilliantly explores the history of a woman whose contributions to the mail carrier industry was overlooked for years. I’m so grateful for historical picture book biographies like Fearless Mary that expose hidden figures like Mary Fields to ensure their stories are told to younger generations. It’s great for reading during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or anytime of the year. Recommended age range: 5-7 years and up.
Your turn: Have you read this book yet with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.
Just when I think I can’t love and admire Oprah Winfrey anymore, she goes and does something EPIC that leaves me speechless and even more inspired. I still remember her Golden Globes speech from 2018 that gives me chills every time I watch it. Every. Single. Time. I am in awe of her journey, philanthropic efforts, financial growth and business success over the years. She’s is a shining example of a woman who came from nothing and through hard work, perseverance, a grounded sense of faith, an open mind and heart went on to become one of the most successful women in the world.
If you know me well, then you know Oprah is my ultimate role model and has been since the age of 7. I have fond memories of running home after school to watch The Oprah Winfrey Talk Show which later went on to become one of the most successful talk shows in the history of television.
I could go on to talk about the many accomplishments and achievements Oprah has had over the years, but that would make for a really long blog post. Instead, I’ve rounded up a list of books that either feature Oprah as the main character or feature her among other inspirational women. Enjoy!
Celebrate Oprah Winfrey’s most motivational and powerful moments, with quotes from the media mogul, and vibrant illustrations by Alison Oliver.
Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by London Ladd
At age three, Oprah began performing in churches, becoming known to adoring crowds as the Little Speaker. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, “I want to be paid to talk.” Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows.
Oprah Winfrey: The incredibly accomplished media mogul did not always have the life of her dreams. Oprah grew up extremely poor on a farm town in the South where her family had to make her dress from old potato sacks. But Oprah had a gift and that was a talent for speaking. Oprah eventually used her gift to change the world and create the life of her dreams. This is the story about the girl who would grow up to be Oprah.
This biography series chronicles the lives of some of our best known leaders, inventors, artists and role models. A source of inspiration for young dreamers, each book is proof that, regardless of who you are and where you come from, dreams do come true. As long as you work hard and never give up.
Oprah Winfrey: An Inspiration to Millions by Wil Mara
Meet Oprah Winfrey. Born into poverty, Oprah made herself a promise when she was just four years old: that she would have a better life. Through hard work and perseverance she made good on that promise, becoming the only African-American billionaire in Americaand one of the most respected celebrities in the world.
When Oprah Winfrey was a little girl, she watched her grandma hang clothes out on the line. Oprah adored her grandma, but she knew in that moment her life would be different… And she was right.
Discover how Oprah became a billionaire CEO and media mogul in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Who Is Oprah Winfrey? by Barbara Kramer
We all know Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host, actress, producer, media mogul, and philanthropist, but the “Queen of Talk” wasn’t always so fortunate. She suffered through a rough childhood and went on to use her personal struggles as motivation. Oprah’s kindness, resilience, and determination are just some of the many reasons why her viewers–and people all around the world–love her. The richest African American person of the twentieth century, Oprah is often described as the most influential woman in the world.
The Oprah Winfrey Story (We Both Read: Level 3) by Lisa Maria & Sindy McKay
Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty and struggled with a very difficult and troubled life as a young girl. Yet, Oprah has become one of the most influential people in the world, inspiring millions to create a better life for themselves and others. The story of her life is a powerful reminder of how dreams can be realized through determination, perseverance, and the kindness of a helping hand.
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations. Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes. Meet figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams.
Girl CEO by Katherine Ellison
Mini-biographies of leading women entrepreneurs—from Katrina Lake to Oprah, Tavi Gevinson to Sheryl Sandberg, and Ursula Burns to Diane von Furstenberg—offer windows into what it takes to succeed, with a particular focus on the challenges faced (and overcome) by girls and women.
Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
Everyone has a purpose. And, according to Oprah Winfrey, “Your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be, and begin to honor your calling in the best way possible.”
That journey starts right here.
In her latest book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The book’s ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us.
Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life by Oprah Winfrey
In Food, Health, and Happiness, Oprah shares the recipes that have allowed eating to finally be joyful for her. With dishes created and prepared alongside her favorite chefs, paired with personal essays and memories from Oprah herself, this cookbook offers a candid, behind-the-scenes look into the life (and kitchen!) of one of the most influential and respected celebrities in the world. Delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare, these are the recipes Oprah most loves to make at home and share with friends and family.
Your turn: Which books would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.