#DecolonizeReading2023 Books Books by Region Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Of Fields And Sunflowers in 2022 Picturebooks

In "Loujain Dreams Of Sunflowers" by Lina AlHathloul and Uma Mishra-Newbery and Rebecca Green | "Emile And The Field" by Kevin Young and Chioma Ebinama


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). It has been awhile since I joined this reading community and I intend to be more present this year, life circumstances permitting.

Similar to last year, 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
  5. Translated or international literature

Emile And The Field (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Kevin Young Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama
Published by Make Me A World (2022)
ISBN: 9781984850423 (ISBN10: 1984850423) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I have been seeing fellow book bloggers share their thoughts about this book, and I am glad it has found its way into my hands. It is a celebration of a young child’s love for open spaces…

… an entire field of “wide and blue” that he considers to be his; only he had to share it during winter time when the ground is all covered with snow, and other children use it for sleds and snow angels.

It was interesting to see the young boy, Emile, being enamoured with the outdoors rather than gadgets and devices. There was just this spontaneous, unbidden, instant kinship with this vast space that he realizes is not his alone, but shared with everyone else who discovers its beauty.

I was especially taken by publisher-artist Christopher Myers’ Afterword when he talked about his experience as a city boy, being brought in a bus with other school mates to open fields to be close to nature by their well-meaning teachers:

It took me years to see what those nice people were awkwardly trying to show me. There is a gift to being in different spaces. There is a way the earth can talk to you. You can talk to the planet, to the green of it, to the sounds of water on the lake or of leaves. You can be part of the larger conversation that we as people have been having with the world since forever.

This book is an invitation to start initiating these conversations yourselves with whatever vast open spaces you are privileged to witness or be a part of, just waiting for you to fall in love with them.

Loujain Dreams Of Sunflowers (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Lina AlHathloul and Uma Mishra-Newbery Illustrated by Rebecca Green
Published by Minedition US (2022)
ISBN: 9781662650642 (ISBN10: 1662650647) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Told in myth and metaphor, this is a story of a young girl named Loujain who wishes to fly out into the sky, soaring above fields of sunflowers in a society that prohibits young girls from doing so.

It is clear that Loujain has this strong conviction and certainty (see above) of being able to fly in due course, because her family, especially her father, had always encouraged and affirmed her dreams, notwithstanding societal expectations and prohibitions.

Loujain’s story is inspired by the real-life story of Loujain AlHathloul, the sister of author Lina AlHathloul, who was imprisoned because of her advocacy for women to be able to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. Loujain has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts towards women’s rights, and was awarded the French Prix Liberte (French Freedom Prize) in 2020.

This is definitely a narrative that could potentially engender thoughtful conversations about rights and privileges, societal norms and individual freedom, and the costs and benefits of realizing dreams not just for one’s self – but for others too.

#DecolonizeReading2023 Update: 6/7 out of target 100 (for Migrations)

How about you? Do you have nearby open spaces you go to for peace and beauty?

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] Of Fields And Sunflowers in 2022 Picturebooks

  1. I know about Loujain but still haven’t read it, a timely book for today with restrictions for women happening in so many places, including here in the US! Thanks for the Emile book, too, Myra. It sounds and looks special! Hope all is going well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These books look great! I hope you enjoy them.

    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these books today Myra. Not only are both books in my library, they are available as ebooks for me to read ASAP. Happy reading this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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