July 7, 2019- “From North to South”- By Rene Colato Lainez

Eyes on This Book: From North to South is a children’s picture book written by Rene Colato Lainez and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. This work was first published in 2010 by Children’s Book Press. It has been listed on the Commended Lists- Americas Book Award from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs and has also won the International Latino Book Award from Latino Literacy Now.

Book Type: Contemporary realistic fiction

Overview of the Author: Rene Colato Lainez was born in 1970 in San Salvador, El Salvador. He grew up writing due to the influence of family members, and continued to do so after immigrating to the United States at the age of 14. Lainez earned a B.A., and M.F.A., and continues to teach elementary school as an accomplished children’s book author writing about the experiences of Hispanic immigrants and children.

Overview of the Illustrator: Joe Cepeda was born in Los Angeles, CA and has degrees in engineering and illustration. After graduating, he moved to New York and immediately received an illustrating contract. He has won awards for his book illustrations and counts over thirty children’s books in his portfolio. He is published in magazines and other publications while continuing to illustrate, present at conferences, and visit schools.

Summary: From North to South is the story of a Mexican family living in San Diego whose mother gets deported while working, one day. Jose, the boy in the story, go to visit his mother who is currently living in Tijuana, waiting to return to the United States.

Multicultural Literacy: “Literature can be one of the most powerful tools for combating the ignorance that breeds xenophobic and judgmental behaviors” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). This sentence perfectly exemplifies what I believe can be accomplished through reading From North to South. To begin, the entire story is told in both English and Spanish, which is still not very common in children’s books, though Spanish is the second- most spoken language in the US. The book also portrays a very real experience that occurs daily in many parts of the country- family members being deported.

This book tells a story that is very real for many young and old people alike, who experience family members disappearing without any notice, all the time. The topic and illustrations make this text real, credible, and important for modern children to read! And, as immigration and deportation is a very real and politically-heated topic in our country right now, even if a young person does not have personal experience with immigration or deportation, they will most likely read about, hear about it, or learn about it in some way.

The author himself is a Hispanic immigrant which furthers the credibility of the story. Lainez immigrated from El Salvador and mentors/teaches many Hispanic students that no doubt have personal experience with the themes mentioned in his book. Representing this increasingly common experience in a children’s book, in Spanish and English, with relevant and seemingly-appropriate illustrations, while also mentioning real life places like Tijuana, San Diego, and El Centro Madre Assunta, projects a sense of cultural authenticity, at least in my opinion.

Visual Literacy: The colors and medium used on the part of the illustrator are immediately noticeable in this text. The bright colors represent the love Jose and his parents have for one another while also depicting a sense of light and hope for the future; for mama being able to come back to San Diego. The colors also represent the joy and vibrant nature of Mexico and Mexican culture. The medium of the paint used provides some depth and texture that is evident but does not detract from the overall intention of each illustration.

Furthermore, the illustrator uses perspective and intentional sizing to highlight the importance of the people in the story. Each page depicting a person it is noticeable that the people are painted almost a bit larger than life, certainly larger than the surrounding background. A theme of plants and flowers throughout the story, and placed on every page, also ties the thread of the text and illustrations together and alludes to a lively, hopeful, growth-minded family who will not give up until they are reunited back in San Diego. As Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan describe, illustrations can be used as “a unifying factor that threads its way through the traditional story” (2016, p.45).

Lastly, the inclusion of a realistic map on both the front and back end pages add to a student’s understanding, providing real-world context, and increasing visual literacy to support the story.

Contemporary Realistic Fiction: From North to South is a prime example of modern realistic fiction in that it is a story that could have happened and is very realistic, not to mention that this exact scenario does in fact play out in cities all over the US every single day. The main character, Jose, is a child who many children can relate to in that he has a loving mother and father. He struggles when his mother is unexpectedly deported, which is something that too many children can also relate to. Using a child’s experience to demonstrate a very real-world problem: immigration/deportation is important as it allows for the reader (children) to identify portions of the story with their own lives (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016).

Immigration and deportation is not a topic usually discussed among children, in the traditional and political sense. But it is somewhat controversial in society as a whole, which makes the genre of realistic fiction perfect for approaching this topic through story (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016).

From North to South is a problem story in that the characters face the huge problem of mama being deported. I’d also consider it a survival book, but not in the traditional sense of adventure. This family must survive their time apart, endure the heartache that comes with it, and remain hopeful until they might be reunited.


July 6, 2019- “The Distance Between Us”- By Reyna Grande

Eyes on This Book: “The Distance Between Us- Young Readers Edition” is an autobiographical work written by Reyna Grande and published by Aladdin in 2016. This is an adaptation of her original work, The Distance Between Us, for adults. The Young Readers Edition is the recipient of three awards: 2017 Honor Book Award for the Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, 2016 Eureka! Honor Awards form the California Reading Association, and the 2017 International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award.

Book Type: Autobiography, Memoir

Overview of the Author: Reyna Grande was born in 1975 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico into an impoverished family. Looking for better opportunities for his family, Grande’s father went to the United States, followed by her mother a few years later. Grande and her two siblings were left behind to live with grandparents in Mexico. When Grande was nine years old, she, along with her father and siblings, illegally immigrated to the United States. After a tumultuous childhood and adolescence, she became the first one in her family to earn a college degree, and later, an M.F.A. in creative writing.

“Mami had said she didn’t want me to forget where I had come from. “I promise I’ll never forget,” I said under my breath.” 
― Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us 

Summary: The Distance Between Us is the story of Reyna Grande’s life from her childhood in Mexico through her college experience in the United States. The book follows the author from living in poverty and abusive situations in Mexico, to becoming an undocumented immigrant in the US, to her gaining citizenship, going to high school, and enrolling in college. Along the way, readers encounter the joys and pains Grande experienced, along with her siblings, with an unattached mother and abusive/alcoholic father.

Multicultural Literacy: The Distance Between Us is most certainly contemporary, believable, and interesting as one of the most contentious and highly-debated topics in our country right now is that of immigration. Reyna Grande tells a detailed, yet engaging, story about her personal experiences with living in poverty and illegal immigrating to the United States in search of a better life and better opportunities, along with her family.

“Don’t ever think that your parents don’t love you,” he said. “It is because they love you very much that they have left.” The Distance Between Us

The text describes the culture, beliefs, and experiences of one family in Mexico, but whose life and ordeal is similar to many families choosing to leave everything they know in search of the unknown in the USA. It is possible that many of our students have experienced something similar or know someone who has, especially here in Colorado.

“Even now there are times when I think back on that moment when I begged my father to bring me to this country and the knowledge that he could have said no still haunts me. What would my life have been like then? I know the answer all too well.”The Distance Between Us

Tunnell, Jacobs, Young and Bryan (2016) claim that well-written multicultural children’s books may serve to help our new generation see people living in far-flung parts of the globe or even in their own city as equal and valuable citizens” (p.201). This is certainly true of this book as well. Many people have political opinions on the topic of immigration in the United States, especially with the current administration and political climate. What is often lost between the news stories and opinions is the humanity; the actual people- mothers, fathers, children, grandparents who are caught up in this hot button issue. It is not very often that the general public gets to witness, hear, or see the stories behind the immigrants’ faces. Having a story written from the point of view of an undocumented immigrant, for both adults and children, has the potential to open up peoples’ eyes to the real people who leave their homes for a better life, hopefully inspiring empathy and understanding.

“Then one day I realized that if I didn’t like where I was, I needed to figure out a way to change it. I realized there was only one person who could get me out of that hole. Me.”The Distance Between Us

The author being Mexican, herself, and having lived through leaving an impoverished life, dangerously escaping into the United States, and then successfully navigating difficult circumstances to graduate high school and college contributes to the cultural authenticity radiating from the pages. This story is certainly more credible being that it is factual and written from someone on the “inside” of something that happens daily in our country.

Active Learning and Construction of Knowledge: As previously mentioned, many adults have preconceived notions and opinions on the topic of illegal immigration in the United States. Many of those opinions are not positive or empathetic toward the immigrants themselves. Perhaps through reading The Distance Between Us, someone who had never physically met or known an illegal immigrant might discover that there are real people involved. Putting a face and name to an issue might change some people’s minds or at least spark some additional thought and consideration when discussing illegal immigration. The fact that this story end with Reyna Grande as a hard-working student and eventual author might also challenge some stereotypes people tend to hold towards immigrants, as well.

“I understand clearly now why Papi had said there were so many people who would die to have the opportunities we had, who would kill to get their hands on a green card, which we were lucky enough to have gotten.”The Distance Between Us

On the flip side, there are many people in our country who are immigrants, know immigrants, or who sympathize with the plight of immigrant people. These people deserve to see themselves represented in literature, especially when there is a positive ending. Stories like this validate the experiences of immigrants, letting them know that they are seen, understood, and cared for, but at least some percentage of the greater population.

Critical Literacy: The Distance Between Us is a story of immigrant children and families, yes, but it is also a story of a young girl who is navigating poverty, struggle, and ever-changing relationships with siblings and parents. These last few elements are certainly issues many young people deal with today, immigration aside. The point of view of the author allows the reader to relate to these aspects easily.

Students who read this book have an opportunity to relate to and learn from its characters. Specific stories of immigrants are not commonplace in our culture, especially for children. Exposing young students to the issue of immigration in an age-appropriate manner provides an opportunity for normalizing the issue and approaching it with care and concern instead of disregard. Similarly, students will be able to empathize with the main characters leaving their homes, going on a dangerous journey, and then figuring out how to survive.

Additionally, conversations may be held in the classroom on the topics of social justice and why stories of this nature are not common, prompting interesting and important discourse around political issues, discrimination, and difficulties that face many people in our country, not just immigrants. Students will be able to form their own opinions and thoughts rather than just accepting what the TV, news programs, or their parents are saying.


  • Grande, R. (2019). Award winning author and inspirational speaker. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from http://reynagrande.com/
  • Grande, R. (2016). The distance between us. New York, NY: Aladdin.
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

July 5, 2019- “The Crossover”- by Kwame Alexander

Eyes on This Book: “The Crossover” is a work of poetic fiction written by Kwame Alexander. This engaging work was first published in 2014, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The Crossover has won several literary awards including the 2015 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award Honor, NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize.

Book Type: Poetic fiction

Overview of the Author: Kwame Alexander was born August 21, 1968 in Manhattan, New York. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Alexander is the author of 32 books, a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, and a philanthropist. He currently lives in Manhattan, New York.

“A loss is inevitable,
like snow in winter.
True champions
to dance
the storm.” 

― Kwame Alexander, The Crossover

Summary: The Crossover, a story told through poetic verse, is about two African-American brothers and their love of basketball. Intertwined with basketball narrative, readers experience a close-knit family, brothers who are growing up and growing apart, and the loss of a loved one.

Poetry: Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, and Bryan (2016) suggest “children have a natural affinity for poetry (p.93),” and I do believe children would have a natural affinity toward The Crossover. The entire story is told through poetic verse using kid-friendly and engaging language, onomatopoeia, slang, and varied implementation of enlarged, bold, italics, and differing size texts.

Alexander draws readers into the story by immediately telling a highly engaging and relatable story about brothers, a family life, and sibling relationships in the form of rhythm, at times rhyme, which is very similar to rap music. The story line itself and the melodic tone of the words captures the attention of readers of all kinds, most especially reluctant readers. The format of the novel is unfamiliar to many students as entire books told through poetry are rare for young adults, and poetry is often unfamiliar or unapproachable for many.

“Basketball Rule #8

you have to
lean back
a little
fade away
to get
the best 
– The Crossover, p. 191

The author effectively tells his story through the use of very short mini “chapters” each with its own title. Outward and inner dialogue between Josh Bell and his friends and family help develop the story while beautifully-written prose is employed to narrate, as well. Carefully chosen and precis vocabulary and depiction of the words themselves give extra pizzazz to this story. For example, Alexander includes words like “fresh,” “sweet,” “hippest,” and “Boo-Yah.” Words like “zoom,” “crash,” “swoop,” “swooooooooosh,” etc. are included to illustrate the basketball aspect of the story. Many pop culture references are also mentioned, like Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, McDonald’s, etc. All of these well thought out choices on behalf of the author are done deliberately to include the reader in the story, allow him or her to visualize and “hear” the story, while also reading in a melodic manner.

Kwame Alexander indoctrinates students into the genre of poetry so effortlessly it almost goes unnoticed. Since poetry can sometimes be overwhelming for children (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016) he tries to lessen this effect by using language almost to the tune of music. Students can appreciate the genre of poetry through Alexander’s use of narrative poems that also incorporate lyrics. Rhythmic language is such a great tool to entice students into reading more poetry!

“Basketball Rule #2 (random text from Dad)
Hustle dig
Grind push
Run fast
Change pivot
Chase pull
Aim shoot
Work smart
Live smarter
Play hard
Practice harder
”  -The Crossover, p.51

Multicultural Literature: The Crossover tells a realistic, believable, and contemporary story about African American twin brothers and their parents. It is an excellent source of multicultural literature as it displays an often-marginalized minority group who function as a loving, upper-middle class family dealing with average difficulties like illness, growing up, and loss. Portrayal of African Americans in literature is sadly still more rare than one would hope, as is the positive portrayal of African Americans, especially males.

I am not from the same cultural group as the author or subjects of the story, so I don’t claim to know how culturally accurate this story is, but it seems as such to me. I assume given that Kwame Alexander is African American, he is writing partly from personal experience and partly from the experiences of people like him, whose culture he is also a part of. I further assume that this text is culturally authentic, though I would be interested to hear the perspective or opinion of various African American people. I would think that it would be comforting and familiar for African American boys who come from similar circumstances as the protagonists or enjoy basketball to relate to and enjoy the story. It is also true that people who don’t come from an African American background might learn more about this group of people and a specific subset of their culture through reading this text.

I think it’s important to not overgeneralize one person’s work for an entire group of people. Kwame Alexander is one African American man who has his own specific background, experiences, biases, and culture. I don’t belief it would be fair to say that just because he is an African American man that every African American person would enjoy his book or relate to the details. It is an enjoyable read, but just with an text ever written, people will have varying reactions and opinions of it.


  • Alexander, K. (2014). The crossover. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Alexander, K. (2019, April 05). Bio – Kwame Alexander. Retrieved July 5, 2019, from https://kwamealexander.com/about/me/c/2
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

June 29, 2019- “If I Was Your Girl”- By Meredith Russo

Eyes on This Book: “If I Was Your Girl” is a work of contemporary realistic fiction written by Meredith Russo. This text, first published in 2016 by Flatirons Books and is the recipient of the Stonewall Book Award, the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children and Young Literature Award, and the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature. This is the first book by the author.

Book Type: Contemporary realistic fiction

Overview of the Author: Meredith Russo was born in 1987 and is from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Russo is a transgender woman who transitioned in 2013, an experience which she has used to inspire her work. Russo is a mother to a four year old child and enjoys Star Wars and video games. She is also very active in campaigning for HIV awareness and the de-stigmatization for gender creative people.

“You can have anything. Once you admit you deserve it.” – Meredith Russo, If I Was Your Girl, 2016

Summary: If I Was Your Girl is a piece of contemporary realistic fiction written for young adult and adolescents. In this story, a transgender teenage girl experiences high school, traumas, falling in love, heartache, and so much more.

Contemporary Realistic Fiction: If I Was Your Girl is a fantastic work of contemporary realistic fiction for young adults, especially, but relatable to many. This story, though fiction, could have happen and continues to happen for many people who are struggling with high school and gender identity. The story that plays out across the pages of this text is similar to the experiences many high schoolers have- making friends, going to sports games and parties, falling in love, being bullied, etc. These predictable storylines are familiar for many young adults, yet so is the experience of Amanda, the main character, who was born a boy and transitions during high school. Russo writes so that Amanda becomes a “kindred spirit” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016, p.138) for the reader as it is possible to identify elements of one’s own life within Amanda’s.

Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, and Bryan (2016) suggest that contemporary realism, present in this book, exhibits a snapshot of society at the time, and that is completely true for If I Was Your Girl. Gender creativity has been a taboo in history and society since people have existed, and it is a topic that is still hotly debated. Historically, people who experience gender dysphoria have been unable to view themselves in modern literature and pop culture, though this is slowly changing in part due to works like this one. Amanda’s relatable struggle embodies this perfectly when she says, “For as long as I could remember, I had been apologizing for existing, for trying to be who I was, to live the life I was meant to lead.”  Russo gives hope to readers who are struggling with gender identity in a less-than welcoming America.

Besides being a work of contemporary realistic fiction, If I Was Your Girl might also be considered a problem novel– another category of realistic fiction as it presents a controversial topic as an acceptable topic of literature for young people (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). This book presents many common themes and problems of the human condition. Amanda struggles with things like peer pressure, friendships, being abused by her peers, falling in love as a transgender person, and finding her way in the world. These are all very heavy topics that make this piece of literature stand out.

“I know it hurts. I know it hurts so bad you can barely breathe sometimes. I know because I’ve been there. Please don’t leave us. I promise life can be good, and we need you too much.” 

Considering Critical Literacy: First and foremost, If I Was Your Girl most definitely can be used in the classroom with critical literacy in mind. One of the four tenants of critical literacy is completely applicable- disrupting the common place. This novel takes a high school novel and gives it a twist to show the experiences of an underrepresented portion of society, transgender people. This is a reality for many humans, both young and old, but this text gives young people a relatable character, which in turn, may assist them in their own lives. For people who may not understand what it is like to struggle with one’s gender in a society that is not accepting of this, this novel also gives the opportunity to understand what it is like to be a young person today and have such turmoil and torment in one’s life. The reader is able to empathize with Amanda going through a seemingly-normal high school time period, but who is trying to figure herself out and how she fits in the world.

“I’m not brave. Bravery implies I had a choice. I’m just me, you know?”

Upon reading this work of art, students may begin to question their preconceived notions about gender and people in general. Students may feel outraged by Amanda’s experience and rethink some of their own social interactions. Students who may have felt lost and unwelcome may find, finally, somewhere they fit in within the pages of the text. Students may begin to question why more books, TV shows, or movies do not cover the experience of transgender people and to wonder why this is. Why is our society structured in such a way that certain topics have been traditionally taboo, and others are more accepted? Asking such questions might eventually lead to a more well rounded, open-minded, and empathetic society. Similarly, students may begin to be more socially conscious and begin to notice, take on, and get invloved with social justice issues.

“Being a girl in this world means being afraid. That fear’ll keep you safe. It’ll keep you alive.”

Sometimes it only takes seeing or experiencing something form another’s point of view to change one’s mind and view on the world.


  • Russo, M. (2015). BIO. Retrieved June 30, 2019, from https://www.meredithrusso.net/bio
  • Russo, M. (2016). If I was your girl. New York: Flatiron Books.
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

June 28, 2019- “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”- By Grace Lin

Eyes on This Book: “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” is an incredible piece of children’s literature written and illustrated by Grace Lin. This text was first published in 2009 by Hachette Book Group and has earned the 2010 Newberry Honor and the 2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.

Book Type: Fiction, modern children’s fantasy

Overview of the Author: Grace Lin, born on May 17, 1974, is an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. Born of Taiwanese immigrant parents, Grace grew up in New York and later went to the Rhode Island School of Design. Her first husband, who died of cancer in 2007, helped her with many of her books. Today, Grace lives in Massachusetts with her second husband and daughter. Many of her works are inspired by her travels and her culture/background.

“You only lose what you cling to.” – Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, 2009

Summary: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a modern fantasy novel for children. This work of art weaves Chinese folktales into a story line about a young girl, Minli, who goes on a quest to bring good fortune to her family.

Modern Fantasy Fiction: This text, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is an incredible piece of modern fantasy that is steeped in Chinese stories and folktales. This book follows the guidelines of modern fantasy in that it has believable characters, a solid plot, and elements of the human condition, but it also has elements that do not adhere to laws of the natural world, ex: magic (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). The protagonist, Minli, is a seemingly normal girl with two parents who work long hours but remain poor, yet their family is mostly happy. This is a scenario many young readers can relate to, making it more realistic. However, Minli goes on a fantastical journey to bring fortune and honor to her family, along the way encountering talking gold fish, dragons, fantastical objects, and magical encounters, which brings about the fantasy element of the novel.

Good fantasy “tells the truth about life” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016, p. 130), and Grace Lin certainly takes great care to uphold this tenant in her writing. She includes a small family unit consisting of parents who want more for their child, and a child that wants more for her hardworking parents. This is certainly truthful for many peoples’ experiences. The Buffalo Boy has very little himself, but is happy, generous and kind to others. Again, a relatable character for many. Though she does use magic in her story, many of the magical creatures are personified to employ characteristics that relate to the human condition. For example, the dragon is a loyal and true friend who helps Minli on her journey and is ultimately rewarded with being able to fly. The Green Tiger and Magistrate Tiger, one more magical than the other, both represent evil and greed, which are eventually triumphed over by good- again something that is very common in many fantasy stories and a concept familiar for people around the world. The Old Man of the Moon is similar to a supreme, supernatural being with power to help those on Earth who are deserving. Though fantastical as this character may be, many young people believe in a higher power or religion, which can be compared to The Old Man of the Moon.

Lin beautifully mixes Chinese folktales and stories within the story to illustrate concepts and theme such as friendship, sacrifice, and being thankful for what one has. Tunnell, Jacobs, Young and Bryan (2016) remark how fantasy often more effectively and more meaningfully represents real-life concepts than other genres as children can learn about them through metaphor and fantasy. this is certainly true for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Minli goes on a long, harrowing journey to find good fortune for her family, only to show the utmost loyalty to her dragon friend by asking The Old Man of the Moon for his wish to be granted instead of hers. Then, she returns home to find that her family was fortunate all along to have enough to eat, have shelter, and have one another. She is, however, rewarded for her sacrifice and loyalty in that Fruitless Mountain turns into Fruitful Mountain and her family and village reap the benefits, thereby increasing everyone’s fortunes. Students can learn to be thankful for what one has, be empathetic, be a true friend, make sacrifices for others, etc. in a more enjoyable away than if they were to be given such advice in an informational, prescriptive manner.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon possesses all six basic fantasy motifs: magic, other worlds, good versus evil, heroism, special character types, and fantastic objects (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). Magic exists in the form of talking animals, the use of objects, abilities of certain characters, and travelling to other worlds like where the Old Man of the Moon Lives. We are also given glimpses into other worlds through the inclusion of Chinese stories and folktales which flash back in time to before the moon hung in the sky, or when dragons still existed. Good versus evil exists through the portrayal of the Magistrate Tiger and Green Tiger. Heroism is evident throughout Minli’s adventure as she encounters creatures, people, and foreign experiences. Special character types exist with the presence of dragons, talking/magical animals, and supreme beings like the Queen Mother and the Old Man of the Moon. Lastly, fantastic objects like the borrowed lines and dragon pearls are referenced throughout.

Considering Critical Literacy: Since critical literacy consists of seeing the everyday through a new lens, this is the route I would take if I were to use Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with my second graders. Admittedly, I would use this text in a read aloud capacity while also taking time to share the illustrations with students. I would take time to work with students to hear their opinoins and have them share with one another potential lessons that can be learned through studying the various characters and store elements as many of them are fantastical!

I would be sure to take much time to discuss with my students how this text differs from those they may have read before, in vocabulary, illustrations, story line, characters, and cultures represented. More specifically, I would work with my students to notice why they think this story is so different from others they have read before, or in other words, why are there not more books for kids representing Asian cultures and folktales in such a way? What can be done about this?

Additionally, I would have my students discuss the unique format of Grace Lin’s use of folktales intertwined with the story. I would want to know what they thought of that, why they think she did that, and if it helped them understand more about the story as a whole. Of if it didn’t. I would want my students to discuss among themselves, with the class, and with me, what we could do moving forward to continue to seek out learning about other cultures’ folktales and stories. Is there more research we can do? Are there other picture books we can seek out? Can we bring in some of our own resources or stories form home that represent who we are and cultures we are a part of?

To me, what I’ve gained through study of critical literacy, is that we as teachers should be giving our students the tools to observe, study, and question what they’re reading, writing, and learning. We don’t need to have all the answers prepared ahead of time nor do we need to steer conversations toward some ultimate goal all of the time. What I have suggested above are starting points for discussion and reflection topics for my students, however, I know that in actuality, in the classroom, things may turn out very differently and often times they do, for the better. Kids are wildly creative and reflective, and if given the understanding and know how to question an author’s motives, word choice, perspective, background, etc., they can really surprise you!


  • Lin, G. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.gracelin.com/index.php
  • Lin, G. (2009). Where the mountain meets the moon. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

June 27, 2019- “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña

Eyes on This Book: “Last Stop on Market Street” is a picture book written and illustrated by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Originally published in 2015 by Penguin Books, this amazing piece of children’s literature is the recipient of the 2016 Newberry Medal, is a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book as well as a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book, among many others. Click here to read more about this book’s awards: https://mattdelapena.com/books/last-stop-on-market-street/

Book Type: Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Overview of the Author: Matt de la Peña, born in National City, CA is an accomplished author for young adults and children, including having written seven novels and five picture books. He earned a BA from University of the Pacific as well as an MFA in the field of creative writing from San Diego State University. Among his novels and picture books, he has also written essays and publications for newspapers such publications such as Time Magazine and the New York Times. Additionally, de la Peña received the National Intellectual Freedom Award in 2016 from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). He lives in Brooklyn, NY, but also teaches and travels the country to visit schools ( de la Peña , 2019).

“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt…you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”  – (Matt de la Peña , Last Stop on Market Street, 2015)

Overview of the Illustrator: Christian Robinson, born on August 2, 1986, is an accomplished illustrator and animator. Graduating from the California Institute for the Arts, Robinson has worked with big names like Sesame Street and Pixar. He is a 2016 Caldecott Honoree and also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his illustrations in Last Stop on Market Street, for which he mixed paint and collage. He lives in San Francisco and continues to work in animation, illustration, and graphic artistry.

Summary: Last Stop on Market Street is a story about a young boy and his grandmother’s lively journey on a bus through a city. The reader experiences multiple perspectives and thought-provoking topics like disability, differences, poverty through the heartwarming and beautifully-illustrated pages.

Contemporary Realistic Fiction: Though created for a younger audience and through a picture book format, Last Stop on Market Street is a truly effective example of contemporary realistic fiction in that “presents a snapshot of society and the children’s place in it” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016, p. 139). The protagonist of the story, the young boy-CJ, is relatable and accessible to young readers as exhibited through his relationship with his grandmother, questions he asks, and his perspectives on the people he encounters. For example, when CJ asks, “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?,” he seems very childlike! Or when grandma patted CJ on the head and told him to “Come on,” this interaction may be very familiar to many kids, which is why realistic fiction texts are one of the most successful genres at drawing in reluctant and/or struggling readers (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016).

This text models new realism and sometimes-controversial topics that can take place in contemporary realistic fiction. As CJ is riding the bus with his grandmother, he asks questions about why people have things they don’t and why other people do things differently when they don’t have to. CJ encounters varying types of people both inside and outside the bus, which he notices, ponders, and asks his grandmother about, for example, CJ asks “How come that man can’t see?” about a blind man who entered the bus.

Additionally, the end of the story finds the characters getting off the bus in a different, more rundown and obviously poorer neighborhood. CJ comments on the conditions of the neighborhood, when his grandmother tells him that sometimes you have to see the dirt to be able to see beauty in things. Ending with both CJ and grandma serving at a soup kitchen, CJ realizes how fortunate he actually is in being able so serve others.

Topics alluded to throughout Last Stop on Market Street like envy, feeling sorry for one’s self, poverty, family dynamics, comparison, etc.are very real for many students who either experience them or witness them on a daily basis. But so is the joy that emanates from the pages when CJ is feeling the music on the bus or serving those in need at the soup kitchen, which makes this piece of realistic fiction particularly striking and relevant.

Considering Critical Literacy: Thinking about my second grade classroom and how I might use Last Stop on Market Street to promote critical literacy, I think I would first off begin with discussing with my students what the author wants us to think and how we know that. I would most likely read the story aloud to my students and then have a whole-class discussion on what the author wants us to think about the story. Then, I might use the document camera to display certain pages from which students could point out certain decisions made by the author/illustrator like word choice, inference, illustrative elements to influence the reader’s point of view. For instance, I might display the page in which CJ asks, “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?” or the page on the bus in which CJ was feeling sorry for himself, or even the last pages covering the walk up to and serving at the soup kitchen.

From there, I might move on to discussing who’s viewpoints are expressed in the story (CJ and grandma) and how that affects the story itself. The author has chosen to write the dialogue and narration focusing on CJ and his grandma, but so many other characters come in to play either through reference, illustration, or narration. I would work with my young students to discuss or imagine how the story might have been different if other peoples’ viewpoints like the fellow bus riders or recipients of the soup kitchen aid were included. This could be done through the use of discussion or sentence stems in small groups, role playing, brainstorming, small-group, partner or whole-group discussions, and so much more.

Another thought I had about using this text with an eye toward critical literacy is to have students notice and jot down their opinions/assumptions about CJ and his grandma and how they might change over the course of the story. I might do this by having several copies of the texts available for students to peruse or copying a few pages each for small groups to consider, then having students read through and jot down on sticky notes what they notice/think about CJ and grandma and their lives, and the why/how from the text that makes them think this way. For example, it might be a common assumption of some students to think that CJ and grandma are poor based on having to ride the bus, CJ being envious of the teenagers’ music player, etc. Or it might be a common assumption that CJ and grandma are kind by the way they help others and speak to strangers. I think opening up the lines of discussion would prompt some very interesting discussions, even for little ones, around the topic of assumptions, how authors can influence readers, how different people read the same story with varying opinions.


June 21, 2019- “Trombone Shorty”- By Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

Eyes on This Book: “Trombone Shorty” is an autobiographical picture book written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This piece of literature was first published in 2015 by Abrams Books for Young Readers. This book has won awards such as: the 2019 North Carolina Children’s Book Award Final Nominee, the 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and is a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book.

Book Type: Autobiographical picture book

Overview of the Author: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was born in New Orleans, LA on January 2, 1986. He got his nickname of “Trombone Shorty” due to the very large trombone he was always carrying around. Growing up in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, Trombone Shorty became something of a musical sensation by playing the trombone and leading his own band as a child. Today, he is still a musician, playing in the New Orleans Jazz Fest and all over the world. He is also a philanthropist, helping younger musicians the way those in his neighborhood helped him. Trombone Shorty has won many musical awards and was nominated for a Grammy.

“It’s like drinking water. You have to have water every day, and music is like water for me.” – Trombone Shorty (n.d.)

Overview of the Illustrator: Bryan Collier, born in 1967, is an accomplished illustrator. Growing up in Pembroke, Maryland, Collier was always interested in art, first focusing on painting and then incorporating collage into water color. After attending college, Collier became a Program Director for community artists in Harlem and eventually left to focus on illustrating children’s books as a full time job. Collier has won the Corretta Scott King Award as well as the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for his work first book for which he wrote the words and created the illustrations. He is a four-time Caldecott honor recepient and has won the Corretta Scott King Award six times!

“The experience of making art is all about making decisions. “ -Bryan Collier, 2011

Summary: “Trombone Shorty” is the story of how a boy from New Orleans grows into a successful musician. This book weaves elements of New Orleans culture into the story, explaining Trombone Shorty’s first experiences with the Trombone, practicing his music, forming a band, and becoming a touring musician who still has ties to his home, New Orleans.

Visual Elements: Immediately when opening the book, the reader’s eyes are drawn to the absolutely incredible illustrations. They are so interesting and different than what one sees in a typical picture book. The layers and collage provide so much texture, and Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan (2016) describe how using collage is the most applicable technique to demonstrate texture. Collage provides depth to the illustrations so that they almost take on their own life and prompt SO many questions upon closer inspection. Each illustration supports the story line in a detailed way, but in some cases, they tell a different story not shown in the text (ex: newspaper headlines, store fronts, photographs, etc.).

The book opens with the line, “Where Y’At?” meaning hello or how are you. This line is threaded throughout the pages and repeated several times to show cohesion and to remind readers of the start of the story and the place Trombone Shorty came from.

Dimension is created throughout each page with the use of 2D and 3D shapes, water color, collage, and shadowing technique. Many pages contain illustrations with an almost architectural nature, though they do have soft edges. Shadowing creates ribbon-like patterns on several 2-page spreads, as well.

Transactional Theory w/This Text: If a teacher were to use this text in the classroom and employ transactional theory while discussing it, the teacher would read the text aloud to students, all the while pointing out the various choices in craft: the language, the size of the print, the illustrations, the story line, the theme. The teacher would pause every so often to allow students to connect to the text, share their thoughts, notice and discuss. Since transactional theory suggests that meaning comes from text when it is brought to life by the reader, the teacher would be responsible for providing opportunities for students to explore what the text means to them/how it impacts them. The teacher would discuss story elements like plot, characters, setting, etc., if desired, but how the story sits with and makes students feel or think is of equal importance. If a student had a desire to learn more about Trombone Shorty, then, yes, of course he or she could read the story from an efferent point of view. The student could read the text to attempt to glean information about the main character’s life. While reading, though, the student may be distracted by the aesthetic portions of the text, getting wrapped up in the emotional experience of the entire text.


June 20, 2019- “El Deafo”- By CeCe Bell

Eyes on This Book: “El Deafo,” written and illustrated by CeCe Bell, is a funny and moving graphic novel first published in 2014 by Amulet Books. El Deafo is a 2015 Newbery Medal Honor book, an Eisner winner, and also counts itself among the New York Times most notable children’s books for middle grades in 2014. Find out more about El Deafo’s accolades here: https://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/book/landing/detailedview?itemcode=9781419710209J

Book Type: autobiographical graphic novel

Overview of the Author & Illustrator: Cece Bell was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1970. She became deaf at the age of 4 years old and used this experience to form the basis of her book, El Deafo. Bell has degrees in art, illustration, and design and became an author and illustrator after spending much time as a freelance illustrator and designer. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Tom.

“And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”  ― Cece Bell, El Deafo

Summary: Chains is an autobiographical graphic novel of Cece Bell’s life in which she is represented by a rabbit who becomes deaf at age 4 and subsequently gives herself the superhero name, El Deafo. This book follows Cece through her trials and triumphs as she learns to deal with her deafness/relationships at home, at school, among friends, and with her crush.

More About This Text: Cece, the main character in the book , is a spunky, creative dreamer in terms of personality type. Becoming deaf at a young age, she is someone who faces tremendous odds and has to overcome a life difficulty (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). She spends lots of time imagining scenarios and conversations with friends and family members and even designs El Deafo- her very own superhero alter ego! Cece Bell most likely decided to write this graphic novel about herself and her own experiences to shed light on the experiences of children who experience hearing difficulties. Growing up she did not have books to read with characters that represented children in her similar situation, so she wanted to create a resource for children and adults, alike. She may have also wanted to spread awareness about what it might be like for a child who has any sort of difference about them!

Freedman argues that the goal of a good biography should be to “breathe life and meaning into people and events” (as cited in Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016, p.168. Bell certainly does achieve this goal through the writing of this autobiography and incorporation of interesting writing strategies. Choosing the mode of a graphic novel, Bell is able to portray the thoughts, feelings, and actions of each character through speech balloons and comic strips! The author also employs another hallmark of effective biography composition: showing the readers the blemishes as well as the strong points of the characters’ lives (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). In the story, Cece’s good qualities were highlighted, but some missteps, misspeaking, and interesting behavior were also provided to the reader, enhancing authenticity and the relatability of the book. Bell is able to bring her characters to life through impeccably drawn illustrations, the use of humor, and the creative use of speech bubbles.

Visual Elements: Sharing a story like El Deafo through the lens of a graphic novel serves many purposes. First of all, graphic novels are often more enjoyable and more approachable for students who are intimidated by longer chapter books. They are also full of lots of supporting detail and pictures using cartoon art and unique artistry, which can assist with comprehension, especially for struggling readers.

The fact that Bell chose a rabbit to represent her as a child is wonderful and witty given that rabbits have large ears and Cece struggled with hearing!

The fabulous illustrations in this text support increasing visual literacy as the illustrations themselves literally carry the story from page to page! To begin, the use of simple shapes and lines make each picture easy to follow and comprehend without overwhelming the reader as they scan down each page. Bell uses lines to direct readers’ attention to specific aspects of a character’s conversation (Tunnell, Jacobs, Bryan, & Young). Additionally, the use of color is expertly done with the use of mostly warm color in muted tones establish the calm and heartwarming tone of the story line. Lastly, several details (often humorous) are subtly included on several pages, conveying details and asides that are not directly stated in the text.


  • Bell, C. (2014). El deafo. New York, NY: Amulet.
  • Bell, C. (2019, May 22). Bio. Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://cecebell.wordpress.com/bio/
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

June 19, 2019- “Chains”- By Laurie Halse Anderson

Eyes on This Book: “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson is an impeccably written and researched historical-fiction book first published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster. This book has earned several awards including the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, ALA Best Books For Young Adults Award. This piece of literature was also nominated as a finalist for the National Book Award and is counted among the ALA Notable Children’s Books. Check out more accomplishments here: http://madwomanintheforest.com/book/chains/

Book Type: historical fiction

Overview of the Author & Illustrator: Laurie Halse Anderson was born on October 23, 1961 in Potsdam, New York. Growing up, Anderson was always interested in reading, especially science fiction. She became a journalist and eventually ventured into writing novels and children’s books. She has written several novels, pieces of non fiction, and children’s books. She is most known for her writing of diverse and social-justice focused texts including the books, Speak and Chains, and she has won several awards for it as well as her other works. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.” -Laurie Halse Anderson, n.d.

Summary: Chains is a piece of historical fiction about a thirteen year old slave girl and her journey to find freedom, both literally and metaphorically. Isabel is sold to a Loyalist New York family during the American Revolution. As she befriends a fellow slave/soldier, Curzon, she becomes a spy for the Patriots and attempts to fight back against her owners and the country that traps her.

Chains as a Work of Historical Fiction: Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, and Bryan (2016) tell us that traditional history text books are not effective at teaching history to children. What is effective, however, what is effective at helping children feel connected to the past is through the use of stories and narratives (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). This sentiment is accurately captured in the book, Chains. Chains is a “story of historical events happening before the life of the author” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). Laurie Halse Anderson, as a modern author, was obviously not alive at the time of the American Revolution. What is evident, though, is that considerable time was spent and research conducted to accurately portray a slave’s point of view during the American Revolution in New York.

To add to the credibility of her writing, Laurie Halse Anderson brilliantly includes excerpts of historically-accurate and relevant texts at the beginning of each chapter. These snippets of text allow the reader to truly connect with both the fictional characters of the story as well as the real-life figures experiencing what is read about across the pages of the book. Additionally, the incorporation of primary sources and quotes allows for other perspectives on the same events being discussed to shine through, providing additional credibility outside of the narration of Isabel.

The inclusion of an Appendix with probably questions and ready-made answers at the close of the text adds to the reader’s experience. Assuming that many readers of Chains will be middle readers or older, they may or may not have extensive background knowledge on the Revolutionary War and/or the slave experience. Providing even more information in a question-answer format once again supports the reader’s understanding of history.

My Judgment of Chains: Historical fiction is and should be assessed based on similar criteria of other books: plot, characters, style, craft, etc. (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016). Anderson eloquently creates and develops each character, especially the protagonist Isabel and the “villain,” Madam Lockton. Through Isabel’s disappointment in leaving Miss Mary Finch’s place, to losing her sister Rachel, to being beaten and disheartened as a slave of the Locktons, to spying for the Patriots and befriending Corzon, the connection between the reader and Isabel intensifies and deepens as the book plays out. Using what seems to be historically-accurate language jargon, Anderson creates a kinship between the slave reality and the reader.

Chains is a work of fiction, but is based on actual events that took place during the Revolutionary War like the capture of Fort Washington in New York, attempted assassinations of George Washington, and the reference to Thomas Paine’s, Common Sense. Anderson seamlessly intertwines historical references into the experiences of the characters, the action that takes place, as well as the setting of the story. The characters experience the trauma of the time period while expert and detailed narration is provided to the reader.

Both the title and the cover art of this book perfectly represent the theme of the book, fighting for freedom, attempting to shed chains. The irony is not lost on me that Isabel is a slave, presumably to be enslaved her entire life, yet she is spying and fighting for victory on behalf of the Patriots. She herself might not ever be freed, yet she sees the larger picture and the possibility of freedom for those to come. Her tenacity, bravery, and selflessness are evident at every turn!


  • Anderson, L. H. (2008). Chains. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Anderson, L. H. (n.d.) . Mad Woman in the Forest. Retrieved June 16, 2019 from http://madwomanintheforest.com/about-the-author
  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

June 15, 2019- “The Wretched Stone”- By Chris Van Allsburg

Eyes on This Book: “The Wretched Stone” is a fascinating children’s picture book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. This work was first published in 1991 by Houghton Mifflin. Though this book has not been the recipient of any awards, it is a treasured piece of literature from this talented author.

Book Type: fantasy fiction

Overview of the Author & Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg is a well-known author and illustrator of children’s literature. Most famous for The Polar Express and Jumanji (both Caldecott Medal winners), he has also received a Caldecott Honor for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and written/published over 16 other books! Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18th, 1949 and was always a fan of art, beginning with sculpture and transitioning into illustrations, or telling stories through pictures! He currently lives in Massachusetts.

“The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what’s fascinating to me.” – Chris Van Allsburg, n.d.

Summary: The Wretched Stone is told in a journal-like format, through the eyes of a ship captain, whose crew find a strange, glowing rock on an expedition to a deserted island. The text follows the sailors through their obsession with the stone, all the while their actions are becoming more and more strange. Eventually, this mysterious hunk of earth turns everyone into apes, who are ultimately rescued by music, literature, and the arrival of another ship!

Visual Elements: The Wretched Stone provides a myriad of opportunities for students to experience and advance visual literacy. When flipping through the pages of The Wretched Stone, one’s eye is immediately drawn to the illustrations. On each set of pages, two-page panels are dedicated to each illustration, drawn with an almost-surrealist touch. Each illustration becomes its own focal point while also reinforcing the greater story.

The use of framing and perspective is evident throughout the text when Van Allsburg intentionally draws the reader’s eye into one major, larger-than-life focal point of the illustration, while leaving the background more hazy and dream-like. The drawing of characters, mostly with their faces skewed or with the backs to the foreground, is an interesting choice when it comes to perspective, as well. The captain’s perspective is used as a narrator for the story, while, most of the time, the other characters and participants in the story are left faceless, nameless, and voiceless.

Through the use of texture and shading, Van Allsburg is able to capture a whimsical side of realistic people and objects. He uses shadows, both dark and light to depict people, nature, and objects as they actually are. Incorporated into the use of shading and shadows is his interesting assortment of shapes, both 2D and 3D, “to create a tactile impression” (Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, & Bryan, 2016) of relatability and beauty.

Van Allsburg’s use of carefully crafted metaphor in both writing and illustrations present a variation on the story other than what is presented directly in the text. Finding the “beautiful and quite pleasing to look at” ( Van Allsburg, 1991) glowing stone, having all of his sailors become obsessed with the object, witnessing his men beginning to go crazy and be consumed/become ape-like, and rescuing the crew through reading and music can all be symbolic for addiction, too much of a good thing, and/or the advancement of technology into our every day lives. Tunnell, Jacobs, Young, and Bryan (2016) suggest that such artistic decisions are akin to cosmetics, if applied in an obvious manner, the intent is lost. As such, the author tells a fanciful story with an underlying message if the reader takes the time to notice.

Active Learning & the Construction of Knowledge: In my first graduate-level course, my professor read The Wretched Stone to the class and then had us students participate in a conversations about what the book’s theme or moral is. This very exercise could be mimicked in any classroom, across any age level. Providing an activity like this for students would allow for students to consider their own perspectives and interpretation of the story, reinforcing the notion that learning is personal. Additionally, students would be able to experience other students’ perceptions. The back and forth of ideas and view points beings shared in the classroom subsequently sets up the potential for students to change their original conceptual understanding of the story line, to construct knew knowledge based on interaction.

Through discussion, students might also be able to relate to the “too much of a good thing” theme, depending on their own experiences with such a phenomenon, ex: technology, food, candy, etc. More literally, however, this multi-faceted text might be used to bolster student’s interactions with journal entries, unfamiliar nonfiction vocabulary, moral/theme, and story elements.

“The men appear to have recovered completely, though some show an unnatural appetite for the fruit that is available here.” – Chris Van Allsburg, 1991, The Wretched Stone


  • Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Van Allsburg, C. (1991). The wretched stone. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Van Allsburg, C. (2015). Biography of Chris Van Allsburg. Retrieved June 15, 2019, from https://hmhbooks.com/chrisvanallsburg/biography.html