Category Archives: multicultural children’s books

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is UNDER MY HIJAB.

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, February 5, 2019

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics:  hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion

Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.

Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.

Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.

At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.

I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

Resources:

  • Resources: For more about Islam for kids, see the World Religions website.
  • See examples of modern hijabs at this London fashion show.
  • Watch this tutorial on youtube by a young girl on how to style different headscarves.
  • Read this interview on the Lee & Low Book blog with author Hena Khan.

To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

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A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about sharing the spotlight with younger sibling. These stories feature the cutest DIVAS!

In STARRING CARMEN by Anika Denish and illustrated by Loren Alvarez Gómez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017, Carmen is a showgirl! She loves an audience, the attention, and the applause! But her little brother Eduardo wants to perform with her. Can Carmen make room for him?

In FAMOUSLY PHOEBE author Lori Alexander and illustrator Aurelie Blard-Quintard, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017, Phoebe was always the family star, followed by camera-carrying “paparazzi” until the arrival of a new sibling. Can Phoebe find a new role to play?

A Perfect Picture Book Pair or #PPBP showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Follow  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  #ReadYourWorld for more selections of diverse books.

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Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is the 5th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!  I am honored to once again participate in this wonderful event as a book reviewer.

Children want to see stories about their families, cultures, customs, traditions, histories, and religions in books. And it’s important to expose all children to literature that reflect people who are different from them. One way to introduce kids to diverse stories is through characters in picture book biographies. NINA: JAZZ LEGEND AND CIVIL-RIGHTS ACTIVIST NINA SIMONE is an introduction to the civil rights diva, High Priestess of Soul, and icon of American music, Nina Simone.

by Alice Brière-Haquet; illustrated by Bruno Liance; translated by Julie Cormier;  published by Charlesbridge; ages 4-8

The publisher sent a copy for me to review, however all opinions expressed are my own.

The story begins with a tender moment, a mother telling her child a story. The mother is Nina Simone, the child is her daughter. The story Nina tells is about her own life.

To set the story in motion, Nina shares her earliest memory of learning to play the piano. She compares her blackness to the physical difference between the notes on her keyboard. The imagery is powerful.

“The white keys are whole notes and the black keys are flats, or half notes,” my teacher explained. 

I asked why.

“Because that’s just the way it is.”

Yes, that’s the way it was. White was whole. Black was half.

Despite her experiences growing up in a country where white people and black people were treated differently, Nina didn’t allow discrimination to interfere with her dreams. When Nina was 12, she refused to sing when her mother had to give up a front row seat to white people at a concert. This early memory demonstrates how Nina learned to use her voice to fight for social justice too.

Music has no color.  In music there is only one rhythm. Only one heart.

The story of Nina Simone is about a talented artist and how she feels about the world in which she lives. Readers learn why and how she speaks out against injustice. This is the kind of story that would inspire children to believe they too, can use their voices to do the same.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers.

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm. #ReadYourWorld & #MCBD2018

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina, Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan BernardoAuthor Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne BroylesAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports QueenAuthor Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

 

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The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is THE RING BEARER. It’s normal for the bride and groom to be nervous on their big day, but imagine a young child who is part of a wedding party feeling nervous. Now imagine it’s his mother’s wedding!  

Written/Illustrated by:  Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Philomel Books (April 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3– 7

Themes/Topics: overcoming fear, anxiety, dealing with change, love, weddings, blended family

Brief Synopsis:  Jackson’s mother is getting married. And he is an important part of the ceremony. Jackson is the ring bearer! But he’s worried. What if something goes wrong? He could trip. He could drop the rings. Sophie, his younger new stepsister is part of the ceremony too. She’s the flower girl. But Sophie isn’t worried at all. In fact, she’s having fun.  

Opening pages“Mama is having a wedding, and Jackson is worried. What will it be like to call Bill “Dad”? And share stuff with Sophie, his new little sister? Things won’t be the same around here anymore.” 

 Why I like this book This story made my heart smile. I adore the cover with a cautious Jackson and playful Sophie. Through text and illustrations, Floyd Cooper created an endearing story about the power of family. Readers will love his inter-generational characters and blended family because they express their love of one another throughout the story.

With the support of his family, old and new, Jackson is able to overcome his fear. And because of the wonderful examples in his life, Jackson even saves the day!

Resources

  • Find answers to your burning questions about having children in a wedding party here.

  • Find the article from the site, Today’s Parent, Kids at weddings: Essential do’s and don’ts here

  • Find an article, Children’s feelings about blended families, here.

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

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Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

I had wonderful time celebrating Mardi Gras 2017. The King Cake Baby and I ran all over south Louisiana parishes visiting with students, parents, teachers, and school librarians.

As a guest author for Scholastic I met many wonderful educators who work tirelessly to bring books into schools for kids. Book fairs are quite popular in Louisiana and the state is recognized as one of the top sales areas!  📚

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And while there of course I ate a lot of different types of King Cake!  I even ate a King Cake hamburger. Yes. I. Did. The food truck @FoodDrunknola sold them at the King Cake Festival. To my surprise, it was deliciously sweet and savory. Yum.


     

I was fortunate to visit Impact Elementary School at their Family Literacy Night. And had delightful visits at Port Allen Elementary and North Iberville Elementary. Watch these Port Allen Pre-K students dance! 🎶🎶

Second graders sang the 12 Days of Carnival. So much fun!  🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 

Kindergarten students at North Iberville sang “Five Little King Cake Babies“. Cutest babies and baker in the city!

The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes, especially during Mardi Gras. We hung out with a great group of first grade students in Kentucky who knew all about Kings’ Day.

Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always during Carnival season. So the baby ran west…to Texas!

All hail the North Pointe Elementary grade 2 Kings and Queens!

                                                                                

                                              💜💚💛🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 📚

It was wonderful to see kiddos from coast to coast celebrating Mardi Gras, like this Girl Scout troop from San Diego!   💜💚

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 Every year I bring a King Cake to my tennis club. Guess who got the baby?

Eating King Cake during Mardi Gras is a longtime tradition and fun no matter your age or where you live. But no worries if you don’t eat any by Fat Tuesday on February 28th, there’s always next year!

                                                                                                                                                 

 

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Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Eh la bas! A young kidlit blogger at Bridget and the Books is hosting a giveaway of THE KING CAKE BABY. Run to her blog and comment on her post to enter. Last day to enter is February 17th. Good luck!

Happy Mardi Gras! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎭🎶👑

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ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

This Friday we celebrate the fourth annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

As readers, reviewers, and writers this day is an excellent way to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kidlit that address diverse topics and feature people of color. Even though census data shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that. You will find hundreds of book titles and reviews to read at this linky. Raising awareness of these titles will help you create a more diverse bookshelf, and make it easier to get these books into homes, schools, libraries, and into the hands of young readers. And for this reason, the co-creators of this unique event, Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom  have chosen #ReadYourWorld as the official hashtag

 ABC, ADOPTION & ME was sent to me by authors Gayle H. Swift, and Casey A. Swift to review. Published by WRB Publishing, the book has won recognition and many awards.

  • Named a Favorite Read of 2013 by Adoptive Families national magazine
  • Named a Notable Picture Book for 2013 by Shelf Unbound in their Dec/Jan 2014
  • Honorable Mention – Gittle List of 2014; 
  • Finalist; IPNE 2014 Book Awards (Independent Publishers of New England)
  • Honorable Mention 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award 
 ABC, Adoption & Me is an informational ABC concept book. Written from a child’s point of view, it skillfully addresses complex information about adoption, such as who can be adopted, feelings about birth parents, and the different ways to adopt, all explained in an age appropriate way for young children.

Page samples:
“C is for children. You can be adopted at any age, from tiny babies to teens.”   
“M is for miss. Sometimes I miss my birth parents. I wonder if they miss me too.”  
“O is for open adoptions. In open adoptions, adoptees know their birth parents. They visit each other and spend time together – a little or a lot.” 

The illustrations are colorful cartoon-style drawings that show an array of multicultural characters and families. What I like most about this book is that it includes the challenges and difficulties kids face when adopted, in addition to the positive experiences. It also includes an introduction to show adults how to use the book. It mentions the Adoption-attunement Quotient (AQ) which considers how adoption influences a child. The book would be a valuable resource for caregivers, parents, and schools to use when discussing adoption. And especially helpful for adoptive families who want to talk about adoption with their adopted children. The authors have provided a very informative, inclusive, and kid-friendly guide on the subject.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

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Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

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This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use, and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

 

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press   (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

Kids love to see their own reflections in books. Join me and  #ReadYourWorld!

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Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat 

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Written by:  Susan Lendroth

Illustrated by: Kathryn Otoshi

Publisher: Shen’s Books (July 2010)

Suitable for ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: Japan, legend of Maneki Neko, folk tale, gratitude

Brief Synopsis: A cat named Tama lives in a small Japanese village with a poor monk at the Kotoku Monastery. During a great storm a samurai takes cover under a tree not far from the temple. Tama is also stranded outside. When Tama is cleaning her face with her paw, the samurai sees the cat beckoning him. He moves toward the cat and the tree is hit by lightning. He believes the cat saved his life. 

In his gratitude, the samurai shared his wealth with the monk who then shared the riches with his village. When the cat died, the monk created the legend of Maneki Neko  “beckoning cat” or “lucky cat” to honor Tama. 

This is one of many versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. 

Opening page: You have come to the wrong place, little one, for I am as poor as you with few scraps to share,” said the monk when he first saw the cat sunning herself outside his door. Still, he smiled, scratching the thin fur behind her ears and the spot on her back, round as a child’s ball. 

The cat rolled, rubbing her head between the monk’s hand and the hard-packed earth, then immediately sat up to polish the dust from her face. One curled paw dipped and rose, beckoning to the monk like an old friend. 

Why I like this book: The artwork by Kathryn Otoshi captures the peacefulness and serenity of the landscape in many rural areas in Japan. 

The story is a beautiful memory of my years living and working there. These small figurines are found all over Japan and throughout Asia. Homes and businesses have Maneki Neko statues displayed with either its left or right paw raised. Businesses display cats with the left paw raised to bring in customers. A raised right paw is said to bring luck and money. The figurines come in a variety of colors that symbolize a different kind of luck. White is for happiness, gold brings money, black is for good health, and red is for love and relationships. 

The book introduces readers to Japanese culture and folklore.

meneko-pic

Photo : Sarah on Flickr

Resources:

See Sushi Cat for concentration and memory games. 

See DLTK for directions for making a Maneki Neko craft Education.com and Coloring Castle for a coloring pages. 

See Mr. Dunn‘s site for links, PowerPoint presentations, maps, and lesson plans about Japan for students of all ages. 

For more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

Happy reading!

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Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Catherine’s Pascha – A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church

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Written by: Charlotte Riggle

Illustrated by: R. J. Hughes

Publisher: Phoenix Flair Press (2015)

Suitable for ages: 6 and up

Themes/Topics: Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian Easter, Eastern Orthodox Church, religious celebrations, religious diversity, cultures from around the world

 

Brief Synopsis: Through the eyes of a young girl named Catherine, readers learn about Pascha [PAH-ska], the Orthodox Christian Easter service celebrated in communities around the world. Catherine is determined to stay awake on Holy Saturday this year so she can experience the Pascha (Easter) service at her church. In beginning of the story, while Catherine naps, the family is busy with preparations for the feast that follows the service on Easter Sunday. After they leave for the service, the author takes us inside the church to experience the details of this special celebration. The illustrations show different churches from around the world, in all seven continents, where Pascha has been celebrated – yes, even in Antarctica!

In addition to the story, the author includes back matter, a glossary and Frequently Asked Questions pages for easy reference.

 

Opening pages:  Mom says I have to go to bed at my regular time, even though it’s Holy Saturday.

 

“But, Mom!” I say. “It’s going to be time to get up in just a little while!”

 

“All the more reason for you to get a little nap,” she says, and she turns off the light.

 

Well, Mom can make me go to bed, but she can’t make me go to sleep. I’m going to stay awake until it’s time to go to church.”

 

Why I like this book: Catherine’s Pascha is a lovely story packed with details about a special annual event still celebrated today. Children will certainly identify with the child centered character of Catherine the author created. Given I was raised Roman Catholic, this story brought back many memories of Christmas midnight mass, including the excitement of wanting to stay awake. Although our Easter was celebrated in a daytime service, just as Catherine and her family, we celebrated Easter by wearing new clothing, and eating special food after fasting for Lent.

This story would be a good addition to any collection of books on world religions, Orthodox traditions, and Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

 

Resources:

See the Charlotte Riggle’s website which is filled with further reading, resources, activities, and more.

Listen to Charlotte Riggle’s interview by Bobby Maddex with Ancient Faith Ministries podcast.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here to read more of today’s book reviews.

 

Happy Reading!

 

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Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month

Anyone celebrating Women’s History Month should take a look at the blog post here from Kid World Citizen. It’s an international celebration of women around the world! Link your titles to her blog.

There are so many wonderful children’s books, including picture book biographies about women and the contributions they have made to our nation and the world. This list happens to feature female scientists.

When I think my mother was born the same year women gained the right to vote in the United States, I really do think, “We’ve come a long way baby!”

 

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Mardi Gras 2016 Visits

Mardi Gras 2016 Visits

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School visits are a wonderful way for authors to share their passion for literacy and share the joys of living a creative life. This baby ran all over New Orleans, over the Mississippi River, and across the Twin Span Bridge! I am very fortunate to have met wonderful faculty and great students during each visit.

 

The kids and I had a blast reading The King Cake Baby and singing 12 Days of Carnival. My song is all about New Orleans food. And what food tops the Mardi Gras food pyramid? King Cake!

The following links are to pages dedicated to each school visited:

St. Pius X Catholic School, New Orleans

Terrytown Elementary School, Jefferson Parish Schools

Akili Academy, New Orleans

Abney Elementary School, Slidell

Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans

St. Michael’s Special School, New Orleans

 

I also attended my first King Cake Festival, a benefit for Ochsner Pediatrics! And as you can imagine, ate lots and lots of King Cake! Maurice French Pastries won the People’s Choice Award for the second year. Delicious. Félicitations!

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I am so fortunate to be able to participate in this wonderful tradition and be a part of a very unique culture. And it’s celebrated year after year! Can’t wait till January 6th to kick off Carnival 2017. Mardi Gras Day is February 28, 2017. Who’s counting? ME, Baby!

Mardi Gras 2017 Countown

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