Vol. 19, no. 3
May -- August, 2007
In this issue:
From the Editor
After hours and hours of reading and deliberation, we present you with this year's Skipping Stones Honor Award books! We reviewers—editors, students, teachers and parents—chose the winners by reading and critiquing dozens and dozens of books of every kind: thick books, picture books, nature books and books on many different cultures, just to name a few. It's amazing how, once written down, even a story from a distant land, or the tale of a tiny insect living in the deepest forest, is within arm's reach. Simply by opening a book, we become members of its secret world.
As we began reviewing the books as a group, I realized something else: No two people ever read the same book. What do I mean? Well, of course, we can each pick up the same title and read it. But, we never really read the same book. We interact with what we read—each of us zeroing in on different details and coming away with different understandings. One reviewer loved a book for its illustrations. Another thought the book was wonderful because it accurately reflected her childhood experiences. Yet another reviewer loved the book for its poetic language. Everyone was talking about the same book, but each of our responses is unique, based upon our own values and experiences. In a sense, books hold up mirrors—our reactions tell us much about ourselves—our beliefs, experiences and tastes.
As we narrowed down our list of possible winners, and re-read some of the books, another truth emerged: You can never read the same book twice. Maybe you have noticed this phenomenon, too: As time passes, and you read your favorite books again, the story is familiar, but the feelings and insights it gives you change with each reading.
Of course, in some ways none of this comes as a surprise—as human beings, we're always reinventing ourselves and reinterpreting the world around us, each from our own vantage points. Here at Skipping Stones, our hope is that the books we've selected allow you to open closed doors and hear stories seldom told. We hope you will find not only new characters between the covers of these books, but also someone who looks awfully familiar—yourself—your dreams, imagination, courage and weaknesses as a member of our human family on Earth.
Dear Readers, as you read these true and fictional tales, do not forget that you, too, have a story to tell. It may not be written down yet, but you are writing it as you live each day of your life, in your heart and in the hearts of others. It is a story you can tell for yourself, for your friends, for the world, or even for all of those whom, silenced by fear, gagged by history or muted by lives ending too soon, could not tell their stories.
This summer, as you lose yourself in a few good books, don't forget to make your own story interesting! Make it challenging! Make it joyful! Make it memorable! Make it a story only you can tell! And if you feel moved to do so, we invite you to put it down on paper—keep a journal. You can even send us what you write. Our next issue features the Annual Youth Honor Awards. See page 9 or our website for details on how to enter.
-- Nicole Degli Esposti
2007 Skipping Stones
This year, we honor 25 exceptional books with the 14th Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards. Together, these books encourage understanding of the world's diverse cultures, as well as nature and ecological richness. They promote cooperation, nonviolence, respect for differing viewpoints, and close relationships in human societies.
We present these new books to you as the summer season stretches before us. It's a time of year when many travel to explore new places in the world, or to revisit meaningful ones. Reading books is also a way to travel! Through these books, you will explore new places and even other time periods. Reviews of the 2007 winners appear in our Summer 2007 issue, available now. Welcome to this wonderful world of words!
Multicultural & International Awareness Books:
Multicultural & International Awareness Books:
Landed by Milly Lee, illust. by Yangsook Choi. Picture Book. Frances Foster/FSG Books; www.fsgkidsbooks.com. ISBN: 0-374-34314-4
Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven, illust. by E.B. Lewis. Picture Book. Melanie Kroupa/FSG Books; www.fsgkidsbooks.com. ISBN: 0-374-31266-4
Grandmama's Pride by Becky Birtha, illust. by Colin Bootman. Picture Book. Albert Whitman; www.albertwhitman.com. ISBN: 0-8075-3028-X
Drumbeat in Our Feet by Patricia A. Keeler & Júlio T. Leitão, illust. by Patricia A. Keeler. Picture Book; Lee & Low; www.leeandlow.com. ISBN: 978-1-58430-264-3
Little Mamá Forgets by Robin Cruise, illust. by Stacey Dressen-McQueen. Picture Book. Melanie Kroupa/FSG; www.fsgkidsbooks.com. ISBN: 0-374-34613-5
Ryan and Jimmy And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller. Picture Book. Kids Can Press; www.kidscanpress.com. ISBN: 978-1-55337-967-6
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle, illust. by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. Picture Book. Cinco Puntos Press; www.cincopuntos.com. ISBN: 0-93817-77-6
Malian's Song by Marge Bruchac, illust. by William Maughan. Picture Book. Vermont Folklife Center; www.vermontfolklifecenter.org. ISBN: 0-916718-26-3
David and Max by Gary Provost and Gail Provost Stockwell. Middle grades. Jewish Publication Society; www.jewishpub.org. ISBN: 978-0-8276-0837-5
John Lewis in the Lead: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illust. by Benny Andrews. Picture Book. Lee & Low. www.leeandlow.com. ISBN: 978-1-58430-250-6
Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II by Joanne Oppenheim. Middle & high schools; educators. Scholastic Nonfiction; www.scholastic.com. ISBN: 0-439-56992-3
Time's Memory by Julius Lester. Middle grades and up. Farrar, Straus, Giroux; www.fsgkidsbooks.com. ISBN: 0-374-37178-4
Face to Face With Katrina Survivors: A First Responder's Tribute by Lemuel A. Moyé. Middle & high schools; educators. Open Hand; www.openhand.com. ISBN: 978-0-940880-771
Royal Koi and Kindred Spirits by Richard M. Wainwright, illust. by Becky Haletky. Middle and upper grades. Family Life; www.Rmwainwright.com. ISBN: 1-928976-02-6
Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America by Deborah Hopkinson. Middle grades and up. Scholastic Nonfiction; www.scholastic.com. ISBN: 0-439-63901-8
Rules by Cynthia Lord. Middle grades. Scholastic; www.scholastic.com. ISBN: 0-439-44382-2
The Ruiz Street Kids by Diane Gonzales Bertrand. Upper elem. and middle grades. Piñata Books; www.artepublicopress.com. ISBN: 1-55885-321-9
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai, illust. by Felicia Hoshino.
Picture Book. Children's Book Press; www.childrensbookpress.org. ISBN: 0-89239-215-0
Nature and Ecology Books:
Nature and Ecology Books:
Just for Elephants by Carol Buckley. Picture Book. Tilbury House; www.tilburyhouse.com. ISBN: 978-0-88448-283-3
No Room for Napoleon by Adria Meserve. Picture Book. Farrar Straus Giroux; www.fsgkidsbooks.com. ISBN: 0-374-35536-3
Well-Schooled Fish and Feathered Bandits: The Wondrous Ways Animals Learn from Animals by Peter Christie. Picture Book. Annick Press; www.annickpress.com. ISBN: 1-55451-045-7
Kelly of Hazel Ridge by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, illust. by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. Picture Book. Sleeping Bear Press; www.sleepingbearpress.com. ISBN: 1-58536-268-9
Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades by Mary Cowhey. For educators and parents. Stenhouse Publishers; www.stenhouse.com. ISBN: 1-57110-418-6
Nurturing the Peacemakers in Our Students: A Guide to Writing & Speaking Out about Issues of War & of Peace by Chris Weber. For parents and educators. Heinemann; www.heinemann.com. ISBN: 978-0-325-00749-6
People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence? Edited by Rosie Woodroffe, Simon Thirgood & Alan Rabinowitz. For educators, policy makers and nature lovers. Cambridge University; www.cambridge.org. ISBN: 0-521-53203-5
No School for a Year!
Two brothers, Peter Picado-Curtis, 13, and Paul Picado-Curtis, 11, share what it was like to travel around the world for a year with their family instead of attending regular school. —editors
Peter: Skipping a year of school was no problem for my brother Paul and me. During our adventure around the world, tackling four continents and 27 countries all in one year, we acquired a great wealth of knowledge that we could not have possibly gained if we had attended our regular school for our eighth and sixth grade years.
Paul: We started in Central America and spent about two months traveling there. Then we moved to Asia for four months. Our next stop was East Africa for two months. For the last part of our trip, we traveled through Mediterranean Europe, where we spent five months.
During the trip, we also worked on three volunteer projects—one in Thailand and two in Africa. In Khao Lak, Thailand, the community hardest hit in the tsunami, we made boats for fishermen who had lost theirs.
On the trip, we were home-schooled, but it was different than regular home-school. We had a math workbook, read some other books, and learned about the cultures of the countries we visited by reading CultureGrams.com about each of the countries, but most of our learning came from the trip itself. As we visited the sights, we learned about the natural, historical and cultural aspects of each country.
Throughout the trip, we kept a travelogue of what we did and learned, and at the end of our visit in each country, we wrote a "cultural reflection" about one of the highlights of the country. For example, after volunteering in Thailand, as part of a cultural reflection, I wrote: "After this week I've learned a lot. I learned how to use power tools, carve, build boats, the steps in sanding wood, and learned more about the tsunami. I also learned that I really like to volunteer and I want to do more volunteering. "
Peter: This independence in our education allowed us more freedom in our learning than a prescribed curriculum does. We sharpened our writing skills by writing essays on the books that the school gave us before we left and through our daily travelogues. In Uganda, I was inspired to start writing a book, and I'm looking to complete it in the upcoming year.
A down-to-earth understanding of science came as we studied and documented species of mammals and birds in their natural habitats. My brother Paul became the trip guide as he usually spotted more animals than the professional guides!
Paul: I got really into seeing all the animals across the world and began recording every animal we saw. I eventually created an Excel spreadsheet that documented common and scientific names, how many of each species we saw, in which park the animal was sighted, and notes about the animal's behavior, appearance or other interesting observations. Overall, we saw 23 primates, 195 birds, and 60 mammals—over 278 animals. One of my favorite sightings was two tiger cubs and their mother in Kanha National Park in central India. We didn't get to stay long with the tigers but it was still in the top five most amazing experiences of my life.
Peter: Of course, geography was a given as we learned all the main cities and some small towns, rivers, mountains and other major geographical landmarks in each country that we visited.
Paul: In India, we saw the first, third, fourth, and fifth highest mountains in the world: Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu. As the sun came over the clouds, it illuminated half of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest. Everyone was running to get the best view. I spilled half my hot tea because one guy screamed at the top of his lungs that the sun was rising as I was walking by him! When the sunrise was done, everyone started to leave but there were still some great views. We got to see Mt. Everest, just the top of it, but we saw it and Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Makalu!
Peter: Languages also come much easier if you are actually in the country having to speak another language. Though we never had to rely fully on another language to get by, we did acquire a basic understanding of all languages of the countries we visited (except Hindi which was very difficult). I was able to develop minimal proficiency in Spanish, Malay/Bahasa Indonesian, Kiswahili, Italian and Portuguese. I understand basics of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese which I still use and study today.
History was abundant in all the places we visited, though we were aided by a helpful resource in the CultureGrams. Lonely Planet also provides considerable information about each country in the front of their books. Our view of the world is much different now that we have visited all these places.
Paul: It didn't feel like we were learning, but we were. It's different from school where you're sitting in a classroom; on the trip, we were learning while we were seeing things—and seeing really cool things!
Peter: Music, of course, is heard the world over, though we did not get to participate in making it as much as we do at home. However, I did start to learn the basics of playing the guitar in Kenya when we went to the house of our good friend Sampuli, who was our Maasai safari guide and a very talented musician. He taught me a song on the guitar.
Paul: For me, one of the highlights of the trip was celebrating my 12th birthday in the Maasai village of Enoosaen. After my birthday, one of my Maasai friends, Elijah, took Peter and me herding with him for a couple of days. We learned his routine of taking the cows down to the river to drink water and then sitting with them as they eat grass. We left the cows grazing and then went and got the goats to drink at the river and graze. In the afternoon, we gathered them all together and herded them back to the stalls where they would be safe for the night.
Peter: I discovered, first-hand, that the media plays a significant role in shaping public opinion, for better or for worse, usually the latter. Before leaving on this trip, I was a twelve-year-old 7th grader. Back then, the world appeared daunting. Initially, I was unsure of the challenges or setbacks we would face. The media was successful in sparking a fear in me. Although common sense would usually kick in, there was always a nagging thought that terrorists and bombs would be waiting for us at every turn.
We only felt unsafe once, in Uganda while the country was trying to overthrow its leader who had been in command for twenty-five years.
Never did we feel threatened because we were American; actually it was much to the contrary. In Laos, a country where Americans dropped over two million tons of bombs in an effort to squash the Pathet Lao and destroy the North Vietnamese supply lines during the Vietnam War, we encountered extremely warm-hearted people. Our two Laos guides (To and Ta), on our three-day trek into a natural area in northern Laos, invited us over to their homes, and we still keep in contact with them. We encountered this kindness all over the world and in every country.
Also, some people will say that in larger cities, like the capitals of many countries, there is lots of unchecked violence. Yes, I agree that usually you will find more crime in the big cities; we were robbed in Nairobi. However, just because there is crime in the big cities does not make the entire country undesirable or unstable. If this criterion were applied to the USA, the States would be considered highly dangerous.
Paul: Now that we're back in regular school, Peter and I are doing fine academically. It seems that we learned just as much on the trip as we would have in school, but had a lot more fun because we got to see so many sights.
Peter: One of the main questions when we arrived back was about our schooling. No, we did not have to re-do a year; I'm currently a freshman in high school. Our teachers were extremely supportive of our endeavor. Our learning came more naturally, and I think that some of these subjects were much better taught out traveling than in a classroom.
The trip was an unforgettable experience that I am truly fortunate to have been a part of. It taught me about other cultures and civilizations that I had no clue existed. I was given a different perspective of the world that has changed how I look at everything now.
Being half-Chinese and half-Caucasian has made me aware of other people who are biracial, particularly half-Asians. For my senior project, I have taken twenty-one portraits of high school and college students in the Seattle-area, who are half-Asian.
I asked each person to tell me how they felt about being biracial. They brought up the following themes, all of which I have also felt.
National Geographic Steve McCurry's portraits of people from different countries greatly influence me because of their ability to show the vibrancy and uniqueness of each person. I hope that my portraits can capture the liveliness and versatility of mixed race people. I have taken my portraits with a single lens reflex camera using b & w film and have printed them on fiber paper using traditional dark room techniques.
Through these portraits and quotes I wish to portray the diversity of people who are mixed, and share some feelings that they have about their identities. Although they all share the common experience and identity of being mixed, they are all very unique. I hope that you will be able to gain a better understanding of who people are.
—Kaitlin Banfill, high school senior, Washington.
Kaitlin adds, "For eight months in 2003 I lived in Shanghai, China, where my mother's family is from. I am interested in the history and culture of different cultural/immigrant groups. I plan to return to Shanghai to study Chinese after high school."
Skipping Stones Magazine