#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre International It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Seeing (and Experiencing) Wonder All Around Us in Picturebooks

"All Around Us" and "Where Wonder Grows" by amazing duo Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date).


For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

All Around Us (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Xelena Gonzalez Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia
Published by Cinco Puntos Press (2017)
ISBN: 9781941026762 (ISBN10: 1941026761) Literary Awards: American Indian Youth Literature Award, Best Picture Book (Honor Book) (2018)Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award (2018)Pura Belpré Award Nominee, Illustrator (2018). Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Using the cyclical nature of life as narrative frame, this story shows a young girl learning from her grandfather the beauty of the seen and the unseen; and how everything in life comes full circle in the end and starts back up again.

There is a surreal exuberance in the art that is linked into something rooted into the earth while floating in the ether at the same time, it is difficult to describe. Both the words and the colors awaken something deep and profound in the reader while freeing them as well, an explosion in the universe, scattered like rainbow colors in the skies.

The Author’s Note also explains the inspiration behind this story, with the author’s father debunking the myth of a person’s ‘timeline’ as something linear when their ancestral beliefs (rooted in a biracial mix of Native American Spanish ancestry) perceive this more as a circle.

There is the sense of interconnectedness that is enjoyed not just by human beings – but the integral connections we form with the earth, the land, the soil where our ancestors may be buried, and the skies above us. Published in 2017, I wish this book would receive more love than it is currently receiving.

Where Wonder Grows (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Xelena Gonzalez Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia
Published by Cinco Puntos Press (2022) ISBN: 9781947627468 Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Five years after the publication of the picturebook above, Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia paired up once again to share this story of wondrous women and the rocks that form the earth. A grandmother leads her granddaughters into the “special garden” where “wonder grows and stories blossom.”

In school we learn that rocks are things. But grandma has taught us they are beings. They are alive with wisdom, so we call them grandfathers and grandmothers.

This unquestioned certainty of the spirit of beings around us and the lessons they are able to teach us if we sit still long enough to truly listen is the real wonder conveyed by this book celebrating womanity in all their wisdom.

I love the poetry in the science here, reminding me of the astronomist Rebecca Elson’s injunction about our “responsibility to awe.” Truth be told, scientists are the greatest poets because they pay close attention to what the earth has to say.

This is a book that needs to find its way to more young children who may be way too enamored with gadgets and devices to marvel at rock-beings, corals and crystals, meteorites and medicinal rocks. There is much to be filled with wonder about, every single day, in this magical world we live in.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 101/102 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Monday Reading] Seeing (and Experiencing) Wonder All Around Us in Picturebooks

  1. Both are new to me, Myra, & found at my library! One is coming soon, the other on the way to me! Thanks. They both are enticing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These both look like amazing books. Will check them out. Happy reading

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vidya Tiru

    Again, two wonderfully beautiful books that are new to me!! Thank you for introducing them

    Liked by 1 person

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