Tuesday, May 16, 2017

12 Books on Social Justice

Books with social justice themes have been rightly taking center stage in displays at bookstores, schools, and libraries around the country. Some could say this is a trend. But for us, it's no trend; it's an integral part of Peachtree's mission.

We've been publishing books with social justice themes for years, as a result of our collective perspective, interest, and our headquarters in Atlanta, which is home to a long history of activism and civil rights icons. We're proud of these works, and they're needed more now then ever.

Marching with Aunt Susan

Inspired by the diary of the real Bessie Keith Pond, a ten-year-old girl who lived in California during the suffrage campaign, author Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrator Stacey Schuett offer a thought-provoking introduction to the fight for women’s rights. A story of hope and determination, reminding readers that society cannot evolve unless people—even young people—dare to take a stand.

Dangerous Jane

Coming this September, this energetic and inspiring picture book biography of activist Jane Addams focuses on the peace work that won her the Nobel Peace Prize. Suzanne Slade’s powerful text written in free verse illuminates the life of this inspiring figure while Alice Ratterree’s stunning illustrations bring Jane Addam’s and her world to life.

Flowers for Sarajevo
Young Drasko is happy working with his father in the Sarajevo market. Then war encroaches. Drasko must run the family flower stand alone. Based on real events of the Bosnian War, award-winning songwriter and storyteller John McCutcheon tells the uplifting story of the power of beauty in the face of violence and suffering.

14 Cows for America

This New York Times best seller recounts the true story from Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah of a touching gift bestowed upon the United States by a tribe of Maasai Warriors in the wake of the September 11th attacks. With the stunning paintings by Thomas Gonzalez, master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this elegant story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures.

A Storm Called Katrina

A moving story of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people of New Orleans, as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy. Myron Uhlberg highlights resilience and hope throughout this sensitively portrayed fictional story based on the real events of Hurricane Katrina. Colin Bootman’s illustrations enhance the warmth and strength of the young narrator’s family as they work through such a great tragedy.

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells

In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation freed Ida B. Wells from the bond of slavery. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in America’s promise of “freedom and justice for all,” young Ida held her family together, defied society’s conventions, and used her position as a journalist to speak against injustice. Philip Dray tells the inspirational story of Ida B. Wells and her lifelong commitment to end injustice. Award-winning illustrator Stephen Alcorn’s remarkable illustrations recreate the tensions that threatened to upend a nation while paying tribute to a courageous American hero.

Miguel's Brave Knight

This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who, despite his difficult childhood, grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. Miguel looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family’s troubles with debt and struggling to keep food on the table, while also experiencing homelessness, fleeing, plagues, and wars, and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams. At a time when access to books is limited and imaginative books are considered evil, Miguel is inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals. He longs to tell stories of his own. When Miguel is nineteen, four of his poems are published, launching the career of one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language.

The Yellow Star

For centuries, the Star of David was a symbol of Jewish pride. But during World War II, Nazis used the star to segregate and terrorize the Jewish people. Except in Denmark. When Nazi soldiers occupied his country, King Christian X of Denmark committed himself to keeping all Danes safe from harm. New York Times best-selling author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy has poignantly recreated this legend, which is accompanied by Danish illustrator Henri Sørensen’s arresting full-color portraits. The result is a powerful and dignified story of heroic justice, a story for all people and all times.

Fault Lines in the Constitution

Many of the political issues we struggle with today have their roots in the US Constitution. Husband-and-wife team Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take readers back to the creation of this historic document and discuss how contemporary problems were first introduced—then they offer possible solutions. Each chapter in this timely and thoughtful exploration of the Constitution’s creation begins with a story—all but one of them true—that connects directly back to a section of the document that forms the basis of our society and government. From the award-winning team, Cynthia Levinson, children’s book author, and Sanford Levinson, constitutional law scholar, Fault Lines in the Constitution will encourage exploration and discussion from young and old readers alike.

We've Got a Job

In the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, the fight for civil rights lay in the hands of children like Audrey Hendricks, Wash Booker, James Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter. The children succeeded—where adults had failed—in desegregating one of the most racially violent cities in America. By combining in-depth, one-on-one interviews and extensive research, author Cynthia Levinson recreates the events of the Birmingham Children’s March from a new and very personal perspective.

Watch Out for Flying Kids! How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community

Author Cynthia Levinson explores the world of social circus—a movement that brings kids from different worlds together to perform amazing acts on a professional level. Levinson follows the participants of two specific circuses that also work together periodically: Circus Harmony in St. Louis, whose participants are inner-city and suburban kids, and Circus Galilee in Israel, whose participants are Jews and Arabs. As the kids’ relationships evolve over time, the members learn how to overcome assumptions, animosity, and obstacles both physical and personal.With Levinson’s combination of in-depth one-on-one interviews and extensive research, this inspiring nonfiction book highlights stories of collaboration, compromise, and overcoming obstacles.

Eleanor's Story

This dramatic autobiography of Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s youth, growing up as an American caught in World War II Berlin, is a story of trying to maintain stability, hope, and identity in a world of terror and contrasts. During the Great Depression, when she is nine, Eleanor’s family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where her father has been offered a good job. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic, and they cannot return to the United States. Eleanor tries to maintain her American identity as she feels herself pulled into the turbulent life roiling around her. She fervently hopes for an Allied victory, yet for years she must try to survive the Allied bombs shattering her neighborhood. Her family faces separations, bombings, hunger, the final fierce battle for Berlin, the Russian invasion, and the terrors of Soviet occupancy. This compelling story puts a very human face on the horrors of war and helps us understand that each casualty of war is a person, not a number.

To see more related titles, please visit our Edelweiss Catalog.

Check out more Peachtree reading round-ups:

8 Books to Celebrate Women in History

Reading Around the World: Books That Cross Borders

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Bosnian War and Reading Beyond Flowers for Sarajevo

Twenty-five years ago this month, one man overcame violence in war-torn Sarajevo with an act of beauty.

Flowers for Sarajevo takes place in Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. The Yugoslav wars of the 1990s began after 1991 when several of the Yugoslav republics declared their independence from Yugoslavia, actions that led to conflicts among Croatians, Bosnians, and Serbians. In early May 1992, Bosnian Serb groups launched an offensive against Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo. The mortar attack on the marketplace in this story occurred during the siege of the city on May 27 of that year. Tragically, thousands more innocent people were killed before the conflict came to an end in 1995.

Discussing war can be difficult with children, but there are plenty of resources to provide additional information and background, as well as more examples of how people have taken their experiences of something as awful as war and have turned it into beautiful and touching works of art and inspiration.

If you are interested in learning more about this conflict and the people involved, check out the resources below.

Further Reading

by Zlata Filiphovic
Penguin Books, 2006.

Zlata's Diary journals the day-to-day record of the life of a typical eleven-year-old girl who becomes a witness to the horrors of the Bosnian war on her hometown Sarajevo as she waits out bombardments in a neighbor’s cellar. 

by Nadja Halilbegovich
Kids Can Press, 2006.

Also a diary, My Childhood Under Fire is Nadja's personal account of becoming a teenager during wartime in Sarajevo as she and her fellow citizens try to live normal lives while forced to scrounge for even the most basic necessities.

Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95
by Joe Sacco
Fantagraphic Books, 2000.

Safe Area Goražde is a journalistic graphic novel that chronicles the Bosnian war and describes the author's experiences during the few months he spent in Bosnia by combining the oral histories of his interviewees with his own observations and feeling about being in a danger zone.

Resource Websites

Voices of Education—Read articles and blog posts from many different people who have been effected and inspired by the events in Sarajevo. This website also includes a list of wonderful books and poems that cover perspectives and stories of those who endured the Bosnian War, as well as photographs.

History OnlineFor a general overview on the Bosnian conflicts and specific information on the Bosnian Genocide, visit History's online coverage.

Holocaust Museum HoustonThe online resources from the Holocaust Museum Houston include information on the Genocide in Bosnia as well as the world's response.

Sarajevo Photo GalleryThis online gallery offers photographs of the city of Sarajevo and anecdotes about the Siege of Sarajevo to give viewers a more visual representation of the city and some of the aftermath from the war.

News Articles

"The Death of a City: Elegy for Sarajevo—A special report.; A People Under Artillery Fire Manage to Retain Humanity" by John F. Burnes

This New York Times article from 1992 introduces Vedran Smailovic and his acts of courage in
the midst of the war. This article and the story of Vedran is what inspired John McCutcheon to write his original song "Streets of Sarajevo," and eventually, Flowers for Sarajevo.

"Two decades later, 'endless sadness'" by Aida Cerkez

Written in 2012, twenty years after the start of the Bosnian war, this article highlights the remembrance of the event, including the 11,541 red chairs arranged on a main street to represent the people killed in the siege and the heartfelt reactions to the memorial.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Woman-Owned and Independent: An Inside Look at Peachtree Publishers

Peachtree Publishers launched in 1977 as a family business under the leadership of Helen Elliott, and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017. Following Helen Elliott’s passing in 1983, the company was run by her children. Current President and Publisher Margaret Quinlin assumed majority ownership in 1990. Since then, Margaret has taken Peachtree from a general interest, heavily regional publisher to an award-winning publisher of books for young readers. Peachtree has been a woman-owned small business for over thirty years.

We recently asked Margaret for her take on small businesses and how Peachtree has found long-time success and satisfaction as an independent publisher.

How has Peachtree managed to thrive for forty years as a small business? 

MQ: By pure determination, a good dose of luck, our love for the books, and our relationships.

We recently took the occasion of our 40th anniversary to look in-depth at why Peachtree continues to thrive, and it really does come down to our relationships. Many we've maintained for twenty+ years!

It's also the detail and care with which we tend those relationships and our businessfrom the authors and illustrators whom we help develop creatively to each detail of our books to our customers and the librarians, educators, and booksellers who use and recommend our books. Peachtree is truly "rooted in relationships, grown with care," and I think those values are critical for small businesses like ours to survive in a competitive marketplace.

Is it important to remain an independent business?

MQ: There is no more exciting experience than knowing you are in control and can make decisions for yourself. You sink or swim on your own ingenuity and passion as well as commitment to hard work. I strongly believe that publishing is an important cultural endeavor and as such, diverse voices across the country committed to publishing books for all kinds of readers is critically important.

In the early 1990s, you began narrowing your focus to children's titles for Peachtree’s frontlist. Was that a strategic small business decision on your part?

MQ: Yes and no. The focus occurred naturally through the interests of the staff, and in particular, our friendship with Carmen Deedy as she developed into an extremely talented author. But we also recognized that as a small business, we had to focus our time and talents and marketing dollars. Even within the children’s category, it is important to have sufficient depth in an area. Without that, it’s difficult to make an impression.

How does Peachtree compete among bigger businesses, conglomerate publishers with bigger budgets?

MQ: It’s challenging, but we're grateful for our relationships with influencers in the education, library and bookselling communities who recognize the importance of independent voices. Their word-of-mouth, trade reviews, and the awards they confer support us and help shine an invaluable light on our books. Earned media coverage is also critical as is social media and the use of our own platforms to deliver messages directly to our readers and other customers.

Peachtree has recently been certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE). What’s important about that designation?

MQ: We have been woman owned and operated for a total of thirty-three years. Several years ago I was encouraged to seek the official designation to make us eligible for federal dollars that are earmarked for woman-owned businesses. Small businesses can and should seek out whatever resources are available to thrive in today's competitive marketplace.

What’s your vision for the future of Peachtree as a small business?

MQ: I want Peachtree to be a more intense, more successful version of its present self. We love who we are as a small business and are eyeing a bright future as an independent publisher. We are lucky that we have such a fantastic team of brilliant, energetic minds right here in Atlanta who love cultivating books and voices that educate, entertain, encourage, and endure.

Here's to our future—may it bring more wonderful books for us to share.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Summertime Reading

In summertime, the livin's easy. Lots of sunshine, lemonade, and, most importantly, books! Making a summer reading list for yourself or your kids and students can be challenging. Either you don't know what to pick or there are too many options to pick from. To help you in your summer reading list making, we've put together some great summer reading titles for all ages. Also, if you're looking for summer-themed reading, check out our summer-themed reading round-up!

Picture Books

Izzy Gizmo

Izzy Gizmo’s inventions are marvelous, magnificent—and they often malfunction. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she just has to help! Izzy tries again and again to build a new pair of wings, but nothing is working. Can Izzy overcome her failures? Or is her friend destined to live as a crow who can’t fly?

Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett

Prince Ribbit

Enchanted prince or just a plain old frog? Pucker up, princesses! There’s only one way to find out... Jonathan Emmett’s clever twist on the “The Frog Prince” pits a spunky, bespectacled princess against a sly amphibian to teach a charming lesson on the pitfalls of trusting everything you read.

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin

Little Red

The big bad wolf has a plan…but so does Little Red! In this updated fairy tale with a mischievous twist, talented newcomer Bethan Woollvin uses sly humor, striking visuals, and dark irreverence to turn a familiar tale on its head.

Also check out:

The Boy Who Cried Ninja by Alex LatimerTiger in My Soup by Kashmira ShethCaptain Small Pig by Martin Waddell

Illustrated Chapter Books
King & Kayla Missing Dog Treats by Dori Butler

A lovable dog helps his human girl solve a mystery. Kayla made peanut butter treats for Jillian’s new puppy Thor. But now the treats are missing. What does Kayla know? —There are three treats missing. King was in the kitchen. King’s breath doesn’t smell like peanut butter. What does King know? —There’s an intruder in the house.  How will they solve the mystery?

When Claude spots a film crew on Waggy Avenue, he and his best friend, Sir Bobblysock (who is both a sock and very bobbly), can't wait to help behind the scenes. But when the movie loses its main star, the pals are launched onto the big screen. Quirky, delightfully odd, and positively surreal, Alex T. Smith’s illustrated early chapter book series promises giggle-filled bedtime reading and a laugh-out-loud option for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.

Also check out:
King & Kayla Secret Code by Dori ButlerClaude at the Beach by Alex Smith

Middle Grade

Leo Dog of the Sea by Alison Hart

After three ocean voyages, Leo, a hardened old sea dog, knows not to trust anyone but himself. But when he sets sail with Magellan on a journey to find a westward route to the Spice Islands, he develops new friendships with Magellan’s scribe, Pigafetta, and Marco, his page. In the fourth book of their Dog Chronicles series, Alison Hart and Michael Montgomery bring readers an exciting tale of friendship and loyalty through the eyes of a dog.

Lucky Enough

When Trey’s treasured lucky charm—a piece of blue sea glass he found near his grandmother’s beach house—“helps” him make it onto the Ravens travel team with his friend Cole, he is overjoyed. This stroke of good fortune reinforces his superstitious behavior, and the rituals become more and more important to him—he never steps on the foul line, he obsessively taps the corners of home plate when he’s at bat, he always chooses the same lucky bat. But when his sea glass goes missing, will his luck hold out? Author Fred Bowen continues his Sports Story series with play-by-play action that’s sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats! An afterword provides the real story behind superstition in baseball.

Charlie Bumpers Puny Pirates by Bill Harley

Charlie Bumpers is finally on the same soccer team as his two best friends, and they’re sure the Pirates will be the best team ever! But their high hopes are crushed on the first day of practice. Grammy Award-winner Bill Harley continues his fun series for young readers, using humor to illuminate important values such as working together as a team and making the best of a bad situation. For more on this series, visit the Charlie Bumpers website here.

Also check out:
Finder Coal Mine Dog by Alison HartGolden Glove by Fred Bowen

Young Adult

Meet Sophia, a former child prodigy and 17-year-old math mastermind, has been having panic attacks since she learned that after high school, former prodigies either cure cancer or go crazy. So Sophia doesn’t have the patience for games right now, including trying to figure out why all these mysterious playing cards keep turning up inside her textbooks. Joshua, a highly intelligent and cheerfully unambitious amateur magician, has admired his classmate Sophia for as long as he can remember and thinks now is the perfect time to tell Sophia how he feels. He doesn’t know how wrong he is. Author Melissa Keil will have readers falling in love with these relatable characters. 

Jennifer can’t go on like this—binging, purging, starving, and all while trying to appear like she’s got it all together. But when she finally confesses her secret to her parents and is hospitalized at the Samuel Tuke Center, her journey is only beginning.Using her trademark dark humor and powerful emotion, J. J. Johnson tells an inspiring story based on her own experience when she was hospitalized for an eating disorder as a teenager. The innovative format using blank verse and prose, changes in tense and voice, and forms, workbooks, and journal entries mirror Jennifer’s progress toward a healthy body.

You can find these books and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.