Elizabeth Warren’s Big, Bold Plans (Laurie Ann Thompson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Elizabeth Warren’s Big, Bold Plans, written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Susanna Chapman, an illustrated biography of the popular Senator and once-Presidential hopeful.

Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, young Elizabeth Warren had no designs on politics. As a girl, she exhibited a passion for teaching, and proved herself an ambitious and hardworking student, even through her family’s financial struggles. After a rocky road of balancing college with the “traditional” expectations of marriage and family for women at the time, Elizabeth finally graduated school and realized her dream of being a teacher… only to promptly be fired when she became pregnant with her first child. Determined to use her mind to help others, she shifted her career goals to lawyer, then professor, even becoming an expert on finance law and asked to serve as an advisor to President Obama. Inspired to continue her work for the public, Elizabeth was elected as a US senator, and went on to campaign for president.

An interesting look at a notable present-day figure. Warren’s story is certainly an inspiring one, especially her early experiences with financial insecurity and sexism in the workplace. Especially encouraging are her school years, in which she showed academic excellence through hard work and dedication to her studies. However, the story begins to lose steam as it delves into her work in finance reform; it’s a difficult subject to explain to children, and the text never quite hits the mark between overly-complex and overly-vague. The narrative also bookends Warren’s story with her unsuccessful bid for presidential nominee, which is an odd choice, and omits one of her most inspiring and noteworthy moments in politics (“Nevertheless, she persisted”, anyone?). The artwork is dynamic, colorful, and even pleasantly diverse in it’s background characters. The length is better for slightly older bookworms, but JJ enjoyed the art enough to make it through to the end. An uneven effort, but one with good intentions and an aim to inspire; Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

A Is For Activist (Innosanto Nagara)

Hello, friends! Today, we read A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara, a children’s guide to human rights, equality, and civil disobedience. 

As with any alphabet book, the reader is taken through their ABC’s, this time using progressive subjects and topics to illustrate each letter. For instance, E is for Environmental Justice, L for LGBTQ rights, and F is for Feminism. Each letter provides a short primer of a multitude of subjects for young radicals, following trippingly free-verse rhymes to encourage little readers to question, support, protest and unite.

First thing’s first: if you prefer your children’s books apolitical, this is NOT the book for you. This book is thoroughly and unapologetically liberal, and focuses exclusively on civil and global political themes. However, if that is a mindset you want to introduce to little ones early on, this book is the perfect way to do it. The number of topics covered here is dizzying, each one being touched on briefly before moving to the next. This gives young readers the chance to be introduced to these issues with the intent of opening up conversation with the adults in their lives to expand on the information given. The mixed-media illustrations are colorful and bright, creating slightly abstract scenes that weave together the issues very nicely. And the detail of including a cat on each page for little ones to spot is a clever one. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. This is definitely a more niche book, but for those looking to encourage activism in their children’s lives, it’s near about perfect. Baby Bookworm approved!