June 16 – It’s Pride Month

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About the Holiday

To commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place in Manhattan on June 28, 1969 as a protest demanding the establishment of places where LGBTQ+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest, Brenda Howard instituted Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in 1970. These events later inspired the New York City Pride March, which became a catalyst for the formation of similar parades and marches across the world. Pride Month was officially recognized in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. During the month of June the LGBTQ+ community celebrates diversity, cultural accomplishments and influence, and the strides that have been made politically and socially.

The month also highlights that there is still far to go before the LGBTQ+ community achieves full equal rights and acceptance. Globally, activists work year-round to end abuses and advocate for laws and policies to protect all. Around the world, the rainbow flag, designed in 1978 by American artist, gay rights activist, and U.S. Army veteran Gilbert Baker, flies proudly over a variety of events, including parades, marches, concerts, book readings, parties, and workshops.

Megan Rapinoe: Little People, BIG DREAMS

Written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara | Illustrated by Paulina Morgan

 

Megan grew up with her twin sister Rachael in Redding, California. Both girls loved playing all kinds of sports with their brother and other kids, especially soccer. “Chasing the ball like a wild animal, Megan ruled the soccer field.” But everything changed in sixth grade. Suddenly, no one wanted to play anymore. Everyone was too busy pairing off as girlfriend and boyfriend. “Megan wasn’t sure she was interested in boys” and she “felt different from most of the other girls.”

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Image copyright Paulina Morgan, 2021, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2021. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

While the other girls wore dresses and had long hair, she liked wearing sweatpants and wore her hair short. “She knew there were lots of ways to be a girl” and “she just wanted to be herself.” On the soccer field she could be. While in high school, Megan and Rachel began playing in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which earned them both scholarships to college.

When Megan turned pro, she played in Chicago, Australia, and Europe. People took notice of this “playful and inventive” winger. Megan was an inspiration on the field, but she also wanted to be an inspiration off the field. During her college years, Megan had “realized she was attracted to women.” Before she played in the 2012 London Olympics, Megan “told the world that she was gay…. Being honest about who she was helped Megan to play her best.”

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Image copyright Paulina Morgan, 2021, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2021. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Her phenomenal play helped the US team win the Olympic final. In 2015, she and her team won the World Cup too. And then in 2019, Megan not only helped her team win the World Cup again, but Megan was awarded the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball, recognizing her as the top scorer and the best player of the tournament. With Rachel, Megan then ran a soccer camp for kids based on working hard, having fun, and most of all being true to yourself.

A timeline of Megan Rapinoe’s life, with photographs, follows the text.

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Image copyright Paulina Morgan, 2021, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2021. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara inspires kids to always be true to themselves and love who they are in her well-focused and uplifting biography of Megan Rapinoe for young readers. Vegara clearly outlines Rapinoe’s life from her love of sports—and especially soccer—to her self-awareness in middle school and college to her activism for LGBTQ+ rights in a way that empowers readers to find the best in themselves. Vegara’s emphasis on being honest with oneself and with others as a way to find happiness and success is an important lesson.

Paulina Morgan’s appealing illustrations brim with enthusiasm and confidence as Megan grows from a child in California to become one of the world’s most inspiring athletes on and off the field. Vivid colors highlight Megan’s prowess on the soccer field as she makes goals as a tween and Olympic star and celebrates with her sister Rachel and her teammates. Readers also see her self-assurance as she stays true to her own style of dressing and wearing her hair during the formative years of middle school. A two-page spread captures the press conference in which Megan “told the world that she was gay,” offering encouragement to other gay athletes. Final images reveal Rapinoe’s continuing influence on young athletes.

An excellent biography of an iconic and inspirational athlete and activist for young readers, Megan Rapinoe: Little People, BIG DREAMS offers encouragement to all children and would be an uplifting addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 7

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-0711257832

Discover more about Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and her books on her website.

You can connect with Paulina Morgan on Instagram.

Pride Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-soccer-maze

Kick It In!

 

Use some fancy footwork to move the soccer ball down the field and score in this printable puzzle!

Kick It In Maze Puzzle | Kick It In Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-megan-rapinoe-cover-2

You can find Megan Rapinoe: Little People, BIG DREAMS at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

March 12 – It’s International Ideas Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate something that you can’t see or hold but which is real all the same. What is it? An idea! Ideas are amazing things. Sometimes seemingly conjured up out of thin air; sometimes borne out of necessity as in today’s book; and sometimes the “Eureka!” result of long, hard work, ideas fuel our arts, sciences, education, and home life. So today, write down those ideas you have while driving or commuting to work, while in the shower, when you’re daydreaming, or just as you turn off the light to go to sleep. You never know what they might become!

The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field

Written by Scott Riley | Illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien

 

Like all of the villagers living on the small island of Koh Panyee, Prasit Hemmin’s home was built on stilts. His father was a fisherman, and every morning Prasit helped him load his boat before school. Today was an exciting day, and Prasit hurried to meet his friends at Uncle’s coffee shop. They had big decisions to make: “Who will carry the poles? Who’s on which team? Who gets to kick off first?” The full moon had come and later the tide would go out.

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Image copyright Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien, 2021, text copyright Scott Riley, 2021. Courtesy of Millbrook Press.

By the time school was over, the sandbar with its glittering sand was ready, beckoning to the boys to come play. They set up their goal and dropped the ball then “they dug in their toes and chased it across the hard-packed ripple of sand. They weaved in between other players to get open. And when they got close, they took a shot. GOAL!” The boys played until the sun went down and the fisherman’s longboats returned home. Then they “could only dream about playing until the tides were low enough once more.”

Fortunately, the World Cup was being held this month, and the boys watched the games on the small TV at Uncle’s coffee shop—“the only one on the island.” The boys decided that they needed a team of their own. But where would they play? Prasit looked around at their floating village and had an idea. They could build their own field. The next day, they collected materials and got to work. With planks and barrels, they built a platform. When it was ready, they tethered it in place, painted the lines, and put up goals.

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Image copyright Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien, 2021, text copyright Scott Riley, 2021. Courtesy of Millbrook Press.

Every day, Prasit and his friends played on their floating field, learning some fancy footwork to avoid rough spots on the boards. The villagers who once thought they were crazy for building the field now stopped to watch. One day the boys heard about a tournament being held on the mainland, and they signed up. On the morning of the tournament, just before they left for the mainland, the villagers surprised them with new uniforms and “the Panyee Football Club was born.”

The boys stood nervously on the field before their first game began, but once the ball was in play, they knew just what to do. “They passed it down the field. They weaved in between other players to get open. And when they got close, the took a shot. GOAL!” The Panyee Football Club won several games, but by the afternoon, the weather had turned and rain pelted the field. While their opponents knew how to play on the soggy field, the Panyee boys didn’t. At halftime they were down 2 – 0. Prasit had an idea.

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Image copyright Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien, 2021, text copyright Scott Riley, 2021. Courtesy of Millbrook Press.

Back on the field, the boys ran barefoot, just as they did at home. They were quicker and more agile, and they were able to tie the score. But with only minutes left in the game, the other team scored—and won. “But that day, in their very first tournament, the Panyee Football Club came in third place.” On the boat ride home, the boys celebrated, eager to get back on their floating field “where they could play the game they loved, whenever they wanted.”

Extensive backmatter includes an Author’s Note, complete with photographs, reveals some unusual places soccer is played and more about how this story came to be; a note from Prasit Hemmin about his childhood experiences and the future success of the football club he and his friends started; and a glossary of soccer vocabulary in English and Thai with pronunciation tips. There is also a list of resources for further reading.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-floating-field-sandbar

Image copyright Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien, 2021, text copyright Scott Riley, 2021. Courtesy of Millbrook Press.

Soccer fans and sports lovers of all kinds will find the story of Prasit Hemmin and the soccer field he and his friends designed enthralling. The idea that these boys could only play their favorite game twice a month will be eye-opening for kids used to daily or weekly practice, and their ingenious solution will inspire them to greater problem-solving. Through Scott Riley’s detailed storytelling, readers gain knowledge about life on the small island of Panyee as well as how the boys built their floating field. Riley also showcases the camaraderie between the boys and the pride of the villagers, making this a beautiful story of community.

Through various perspectives, Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien’s gorgeous and vibrant illustrations introduce readers to the island of Panyee with its dense collection of homes and businesses that left no room for a soccer field. The blue ocean water shimmers under the sun and ripples where longboats skim over the surface. Immersive images take kids into the Hemmin home and Uncle’s coffee shop, where Prasit’s mother makes breakfast while Prasit and his father ready the fishing boat for the day. Depictions of the boys playing soccer on the sandbar and later on the floating field they built are exciting and full of action. Soccer players may be fascinated by the proportions of the floating field and its goals and appreciate the precision with which Prasit and his friends scored. The contrast between the island and the mainland soccer field will also give readers an appreciation for the Panyee Football Club’s accomplishment in winning third place in their first tournament.

A stellar addition to any child’s library as well as to classroom and homeschool geography, STEM, and multicultural lessons, The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field is highly recommended for home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 7 – 11

Millbrook Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1541579156

Discover more about Scott Riley and his book on his website.

To learn more about Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien, their books, and their art, visit their website, Kaa Illustration.

International Ideas Month Activities

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-soccer-maze

Kick It In!

 

Use some fancy footwork to move the soccer ball down the field and score in this printable puzzle!

Kick It In Maze Puzzle | Kick It In Maze Solution

Visit Koh Panyee

Learn more about this unique village with this video about Koh Panyee!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-floating-field-cover

You can find The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review