For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:
Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
Olu and Greta (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written and Illustrated by Diana Ejaita
Published by Rise X Penguin Workshop (2022)
ISBN: 0593384903 (ISBN13: 9780593384909) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This picturebook reminded me a great deal of Duncan Tonatiuh’s Dear Primo: A Letter To My Cousin (Amazon | Book Depository) about two cousins writing each other, one from Mexico and the other one from the US – except that instead of having US as the default base (like in most picturebooks), Diana Ejaita has shifted the readers’ mind-sets entirely with Olu coming from a city near Lagos, and Greta coming from Milan. Olu is from Nigeria while Greta is coming from Italy.
While they are not able to see each other face-to-face, the young reader sees that there are now a myriad of ways to get to know a cousin who lives on the other side of the world.
At turns playful and wistful, there is a clear sense of identity and place that can be discerned in Italian-Nigerian Diana Ejaita’s bold and bright figures. I would be sure to seek out any other picturebook that she publishes in the future. One interesting fact is that Diana Ejaita is now based in Germany – talk about a transnational artist, indeed.
What a wonderful reminder that our world grows smaller – even as it grows bigger – each day.
See You Someday Soon (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller Illustrator Suzy Lee
Published by Roaring Book Press (2022) ISBN: 1250221102 (ISBN13: 9781250221100) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
Any new book by Suzy Lee is a cause for celebration, and so I let out a very unladylike squeal when I discovered this new title via Overdrive.
In this story, a young child is longing for a grandmother who is very far away. Similar to Olu and Greta, the two leverage on technology to ensure that they are still able to connect to each other despite the distance.
I feel that this title would take on an even greater emotional resonance with loved ones unable to physically visit each other over the past two years due to the pandemic. And who better to capture that affective essence but the inspirational Pat Zietlow Miller of Be Kind and When You Are Brave fame. There is yearning and excitement and the anticipation as both try to figure out from little details found in each other’s homes the many things that they miss and look forward to seeing again.
I feel that I am missing out a bit since I read this via Overdrive instead of actually physically touching the book that I can tell had been cleverly cut out in some parts (see the green screen above, for example) by the brilliant book engineer, Suzy Lee, who is unparalleled when it comes to seeing things in such a textured/layered perspective. See another one below.
Regardless, this is a beautiful story that has captured the spirit of all that we have missed these past two years. Make sure you go out and buy yourselves multiple copies of this clever and heartwarming book and give to loved ones while hugging them tight.
#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 91/92 out of target 100