Colin Kaepernick to release ‘deeply personal’ children’s book inspired by his own childhood

I Color Myself Different will be released on 5th April 2022

I color myself different cover

Colin Kaepernick has just announced he will be releasing a children’s book in 2022 that will be inspired by his own life.

The book, entitled I Color Myself Different, will be published on the 5th of April next year though his own publishing company and Scholastic. According to a statement from the athletes media company this is the first in a multi-book deal. The book’s illustrations will be handled by Eric Wilkerson.

“This story is deeply personal to me, and inspired by real events in my life. I hope that it honors the courage and bravery of young people everywhere by encouraging them to live with authenticity and purpose,” Kaepernick announced in a press release. “I’m excited for Kaepernick Publishing to be collaborating with Scholastic on books with Black and brown voices at the forefront. I hope that our books will inspire readers to walk through the world with confidence, strength and truth in all they do.”

Kaepernick’s work is a picture book “inspired by a significant childhood memory of when Kaepernick first documented that he was different from his adopted white family”, Scholastic has said in a press release. “During a kindergarten exercise on drawing families, Kaepernick remembers putting down the yellow crayon he had been using to draw his family and picking up the brown crayon for himself.

This moment crystallized for him the differences marked by his adoption, and how acknowledging those distinctions could encourage us all to be more accepting of ourselves and each other.”

Colin Kaepernick became a national symbol in the US for racial justice when he first decided to take a knee during the US national anthem before a San Francisco 49ers preseason match back in 2016.

He did so to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism in the US. Since the end of that season Kapernick has not found a team. NFL teams stand accused of blackballing him simply because of his political stance.

Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic said: “Colin Kaepernick’s inspiring story, with themes of identity, race and self-esteem, will resonate deeply with all kids.”

Marcus Rashford scores well in book charts with You Are a Champion

Public support for the England striker has seen sales of his children’s book soar

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England footballer Marcus Rashford’s children’s book ‘You Are a Champion’ has just shot to the top of the charts following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

The book is a guide for young people in which the footballer shares stories from his own life and discusses how to “find your team”, and to “dream big”. You Are a Champion was published back in May and was co-written with Carl Anka. After it’s release it topped the charts for four weeks before being knocked off by David Walliams’ new book Megamonster.

In the wake of last weekend’s defeat however – and the support that has surrounded Rashford after his missed penalty and the racist abuse that followed – You Are A Champion has shot to the top of Amazon’s book chart, putting it ahead of bestsellers by Walliams, Matt Haig and Richard Osman.

Richard Osman tweeted out his congratulations…

A number of UK bookshops have launched crowdfunding campaigns this week to get as many copies of Rashford’s book as possible into children’s hands. A welsh bookstore called Book-ish has raised more than £8,000 to buy copies for a local secondary school.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have donated over £1,000 to get his book to local children,” said Vivian Archer at Newham Bookshop. “One person who bid for a signed copy said he will donate that to a child who could be inspired to go on to great things. Thank you Marcus.”

The books published Pan Macmillian has also pledged to donated 20,000 copies to a number of these campaigns. “It is wonderful to see how our industry has pulled together to take positive action to support Marcus Rashford and his message of hope, and we are delighted to be adding support to the campaigns,” said Macmillan Children’s Books’ Belinda Ioni Rasmussen. “Marcus is an inspirational young man and his book speaks directly to children and young people, reinforcing the message that you can be whatever and whoever you want to be, regardless of your background.”

Shortly after publishing his book Rashford worked with Macmillan to launch the Marcus Rashford Book Club, an organisation that aims to encourage reading and improve literacy in children between the ages of 8 and 12.

Hungary fines bookshop chain over picture book with LGBT families

Líra Könyv fined £600 for selling a book with ‘a family that is different than a normal family’

A bookshop chain in Hungary has been fined for selling a children’s picture book that depicts the day to day life of a child with same-sex parents, a number of the countries officials have also publicly condemned the book.

The book is a Hungarian translation of two titles by the US author Lawrence Schimel. In it we are shown a young boys morning routine with his two mothers and the night time escapades of a girl with two fathers who doesn’t want to go to bed.

According to Reuters the fine of 250,000 forints (£600) was imposed on the bookshop chain, Líra Könyv, by Pest county, the local authority for the area surrounding Budapest. According to the county commissioner, Richard Tarnai, the bookshop chain had violated the rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to disclose that the book contained what he called “content which deviates from the norm”.

“The book was there among other fairy-tale books and thus committed a violation,” Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”

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The books author took to Twitter to accuse the Hungarian government of “trying to normalise hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine … which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in.” He also spoke to the Guardian to say that the idea behind his books was to “celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts”.

“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun,” he said.

Líra Könyv said in a Facebook post that it will now be putting up signs in its stores to warn shoppers that it sold “books with different content than traditional ones”.

“Rainbow families are completely normal, ordinary families,” the book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, said in its own statement. “These families haven’t had their own story book so far. That’s why we thought it was important to publish a fairytale book about them – and first of all for them.”

Despite what happened in Hungary Schimel has said that he is “more determined to keep trying to create books like these – books that respect the intelligence of children and offer the vast, complex world to them, in fun and accessible ways”.

These books will be published in the UK this autumn in both English and Welsh.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding Review

Lord of the Flies cover

During the silent but terrifying Cold War William Golding produced his masterpiece, Lord of the Flies. Not only is it a gripping tale about a group of schoolboys forced to survive on a deserted island after a plane crash, it is also a brilliant allegorical tale about the conflicts between civilization and primal savagery.

This simple and easy to understand symbolism has made Lord of the Flies on of the most popular and beloved books in the world. It is a memorable and chilling tale with characters portrayed with nuance and subtlety.

The novel focuses on a series of events that occur after a plane crash leaves a group of young schoolboys stuck on a deserted island at the height of a nuclear armageddon. It is at its heart a story of those boys shocking survival.

At the beginning the boys feel like their dreams have miraculously come true. They find themselves master of their own domain, without an annoying adult to be found. However, it doesn’t take long for them to realise they need a leader, someone to follow. The books main protagonist, a boy named Ralph, is quickly chosen to lead the group, thanks mostly in part to his popularity.

It isn’t long though before dissent begins to ferment. What appeared to be a dream situation at first quickly unravels and sinister moments quickly sprout up throughout the story.

The Lord of the Flies is a thought provoking and action-packed story of surviving against all the odds, but it’s also deeper than that.

William Golding uses his novel to explore three important aspects of human society. Human’s gravitate naturally towards social and political order, we want and need legislation and governments to have order in our society, hence the boys use of the conch and platform.

Secondly human’s are naturally inclined to being violent and savage if given the chance. This leads to a natural need for a military for defence, as shown by the boys who become hunters and then murderers.

Finally Lord of the Flies shows us that human society is naturally tuned to believe in divine interventions and supernatural beings, as shown in the sacrifices and dances the boys use to appease what they call the “beast”.

If you have never had the chance to read Lord of the Flies before now I heartily recommend you rectify that immediately.

Popular children’s author Joanna Cole dies aged 75

Joanna Cole, the author of the Magic School Bus series of children’s books has sadly passed away at the age of 75. The cause of death was announced as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

“Joanna Cole had the perfect touch for blending science and story,” Dick Robinson, the Scholastic chairman and CEO said in a statement released on Wednesday. “Joanna’s books, packed with equal parts humor and information, made science both easy to understand and fun for the hundreds of millions of children around the world who read her books and watched the award-winning television series”.

The idea for Magic School Bus came in the mid-1980’s as teachers across America continued to request that Scholastic publish more books that explored the topic of science through the medium of storytelling. Cole was brought on board to pen the stories and the rest, as they say, is history.

Magic School Bus has taken tens of millions of children from the far reaches of space to the dark depths of our ocean. But it wasn’t just on the page that children got to fall in love with Ms Frizzle and her gang of students, there is also a popular TV show and a Netflix series based on Cole’s creation. It will even be arriving on the big screen in the future with Elizabeth Banks set to play the inspiring Ms Frizzle.

“I think for Joanna the excitement was always in the idea. What? Why? How?” The series’ illustrator Bruce Degen said in a statement. “And with The Magic School Bus it was how to explain it so that it is accurate and in a form that a kid can understand and use. And you can actually joke around while you are learning. She had a rare sense of what could be humorous.”

Cole and Degen only just recently completed The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution which is scheduled to come out next spring.

Cole was a lifelong fan of science and worked as a librarian and magazine editor before finding her true calling with The Magic School Bus.

The world of children’s literature is a little sadder today.

The Amulet of Samarkand Review

The Amulet of Samarkand is a very unique novel, and one that bridges the gap between children’s and young adult fiction with great success.

This is the story of an ambitious but young magician and an ancient exasperated demon bound to do this childs bidding. For children this is a nice challenging read, and for adults it’s a witty, fast paced adventure tale with plenty of humour to keep you coming back for more.

As with all young apprentice magicians our young hero Nathaniel has no parents, they sold him to the government to give him s chance at power, after all in this world only magicians can run the country.

Nathaniel grows up without much love, only his masters wife shows him any sort of affection, and Nathaniel returns this with loyalty and love of his own, yet she must still stand by and watch as her husband bullies and berates Nathaniel at every turn.

While you would rightly expect the reader to feel sympathy for this lonely and downtrodden young boy you would also be wrong, hes not a particularly sympathetic character. He is naturally gifted and has an aptitude for magic far beyond that of his master, which leads him to study advanced magic without supervision and for wildly immoral, though understandable reasons. He is an egotistical jackass most of the time.

But forget about Nathaniel for a moment and let me introduce you to the books standout character, Bartimaeus. This ancient demon is a proud creature with a Nobel reputation. You can imagine his displeasure then at being summoned by an overly ambitious twelve year old and being ordered to undertake a dangerous mission. A mission that will open up a world of conspiracy and place both our heroes on a path to save the world.

The book is split into two halves, one half is a traditional story that follows a normal patter, while the second gives us Bartimaeus’ inner thoughts in the form of footnotes. And his inner thoughts are brilliantly witty and cynical, they are the standout moments within what is already a very good book.

The Amulet of Samarkand is highly recommended for both children and adults.

Gender gap in children’s reading has grown in the UK during lockdown

A new study has suggested that during the UK’s lockdown boys have fallen even further behind girls when it comes to reading regularly and enjoying it.

A new study has suggested that during the UK’s lockdown boys have fallen even further behind girls when it comes to reading regularly and enjoying it.

This finding has prompted fresh fears that young boys could be at risk at losing out academically as a direct result of the coronovirus pandemic.

The report from the National Literacy Trust (NLT) says that greater access to audio-books at school and at home may help to re-engage boys with literacy as those were the most popular methods of consumption with those studied.

Fiona Evans, the director of schools programmes at the NLT, has called for more schools to create what she calls “audio libraries,” and for more fathers and grandfathers to take an active role in encouraging more reading amongst young boys.

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The research, based on surveys of children aged eight to 18 in the UK before and during lockdown, has found that more girls and boys have been reading daily and have said they enjoy reading while at home, but that the gap between the two has increased five fold.

Three in five girls (60.2%) have said that they enjoy reading during lockdown, compared with 48.9% beforehand, while only 48.7% of boys said they enjoyed reading amid the pandemic, compared with 46.6% before the lockdown.

More girls than boys said that they read in their free time pre-lockdown and this trend appears to have continued, with the gap widening in recent months

“It remains to be seen whether these changes are sustained or whether a return to school and a degree of known normality will help boys catch up,” the report concludes.

While reading appears to be the favourite of girls slightly more boys (around 25% to 22.4%) have said they had listened to audio-books during lockdown with more than half of those boys saying audio-books had given them more interest in reading in general.

Audio-books may be a way to encourage more boys to read

Audio-books may have a “cool factor” that encouraged the boys to use them, Evans said, as they are able to listen to them on their phone with headphones so as not share what they have chosen to read.

Perhaps the fact that many audio-books are voiced by well known actors may have encourage boys to try them out, she added

A total of 58,346 children aged nine to 18 in the UK were surveyed between January and mid-March 2020; and 4,141 children aged eight to 18 were surveyed between May and early June 2020.

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The Indian in the Cupboard Review

When Omri turns nine he is disappointed to find that all his best friend Patrick got him was a small plastic native American brave. He also gets a metal cupboard from his older brother, a cupboard which can be locked by a mysterious skeleton key that had once belonged to his great-grandmother.

Omri places the little figure in the cupboard over night and turns the key, little does he know that with this simple gesture he had just changed his life for ever. For when that cupboard is locked the ordinary plastic figure is turned into a real live man who has his own life in a very different time and place.

While Omri and the tiny warrior, Little Bear, are very different people from wildly different lives they quickly form a strong friendship, but there are more than a few storms on their adventure together.

Indian in the Cupboard is great book for children to read, and even to this day I’ll occasionally read it just for the nostalgia trip alone, every child at one point or another wishes their toys could come alive.

It’s not just a fun loving adventure story though, there are deep lessons children should learn here. Omri lets go of his own desires and becomes a more caring character as the book progresses. He puts his own wants to one side to care for his new friend, to help him feel at home, even going so far to find him the perfect plastic horse and wife figure so that Little Bear wouldn’t feel so sad. It is almost like Omri is the parent for this tiny but fierce warrior.

There are some things to note however if you wish to have your children read this book, or if you’re planning to read it to them. This book is full of stereotypes of Native Americans and Little Bear is nothing but an amalgamation of the most common misconceptions about Native Americans, particularly the barbaric nature of their culture. For instance when a cowboy is introduced the first thing Little Bear says is that he wants to scalp him, this is obviously problematic for today’s audience and has rightly raised controversies over the book. Words like “Injun” and “red man” are also commonly found throughout.

But that is a conversation for a longer essay in the future.

At its core though this is a fun adventure book about two very different souls who are thrown together by mistake and who grow into better versions of themselves because of it.

Rating

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

If you’d like to enjoy this book for yourself you can find it on Amazon.

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James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra Review

James Clyde did not have the greatest start in life, as an infant he was deposited at a children’s home by his wounded, blood-soaked grandfather. As a result, he grows up under a cloud of mystery.

His grandfather remains in his life and James always visits him over the Christmas holidays, he is a rather unusual man it has to be said. It is on one such visit, when James is just eleven, that his grandfather is murdered by an evil, black clad figure who stands at the head of an army.

Finding his grandfather on his deathbed James is handed a large diamond and is instructed to keep it safe. Told that the diamond will grant him one wish Clyde uses it to escape the hunting army. James finds himself running for his life as the black clad figure and his bloodthirsty army hunt him down.

James finds himself whisked away to Orchestra, a strange land which is on the verge of being conquered by the evil Queen of a land called Darken. It turns out, in pretty predictable fashion, that James is the missing King of Orchestra and that he is the promised prophet who will one day return and lead Orchestra to safety.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is predominantly a children’s/Young Adults book, but it does have enough surprising twists and turns to hold anyone’s attention for the length of the novel. I found myself picking this book up any spare moment I had. It would be whipped out on the bus, over breakfast and even at the dinner table. But it was a great read and each little twist and turn was so well placed that it just made me keep reading on to find out what the truth actually was.

There is a little violence to be found in these pages, the murder of James’ grandfather being the pinnacle of it, yet most of the violence is left off the page so worried parents have no need to worry about doing their child any sort of psychological harm.

This book is beautifully well crafted with an intricate backstory and some fantastic and well paced narration which will hold a child or teenagers attention long enough to constitute as reading.

Some children nowadays do not enjoy reading as much as they should. TV and games come first for too many children. But with books like this out there they have no excuse not to pick up a book and read. This is a great story with a compelling lead character and a well envisioned world within which to escape.

Rating

Rating: 8 out of 10.

If you’d like to check out James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra you can grab a paperback copy on Amazon.