Category Archives: Diversity & Multicultural Books

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!

 

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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Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist Sewing Stories

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Written by: Barbara Herkert

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (October 2015)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: folk-art, quilting, community, survival, determination, resilience, US history, women’s history, slavery, emancipation, Civil War

 

Brief Synopsis: This story is about the life of Harriet Powers who is not well known, yet whose legacy of early African-American folk art is displayed in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Even though she lived her early life enslaved and remained poor throughout her adult life, Harriet believed, “You gotta take what you’ve been given and make something out of it.” And that she did.

 

After enslaved women labored in the fields and or made textiles for the plantation, they used their craft to create story quilts. Over time, sewing became a source of pride and income for Harriet. I imagine the craft had to have helped strengthen her community during the dark times of unfathomable oppression while living either enslaved or free.

 

Given the recent discussion about the picture book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, some question why Sewing Stories has not received the same criticism for “smiling slaves”. In my opinion, this book includes facts in the sidebars that touch upon a shameful part of US history while at the same time weaves a story of hope, resilience, determination, and community, despite the oppression. This author does take liberties in a couple sidebars. In this example she intuits, “For a few daylight hours, they might have felt free.” Although sewing and quilting was done for the master, Harriet and her community made the craft their own. After emancipation she used her skills to eventually earn enough to help buy a small farm. The images of characters smiling shows a universal human emotion. Yes, the enslaved had the ability to feel those same human emotions of joy, pride, and hope too. This story is not only about individual pride, it is representative of the grit and struggle people like Harriet demonstrated.

 

Opening pages:  “See that sweet baby girl lying on a quilt her mama made? What could she be dreaming of?

 

On a plantation near Athens, Georgia, Harriet’s mama worked from rise to set while Harriet slept between the cotton rows.”

 

Why I like this book: I recently had a discussion with a fellow writer about depicting slavery in picture books. She told me her 5-year-old mentioned something about slaves one day. When probed, he said, “They ran away. Brave people helped them run away and they were safe.”

 

In a sense, Harriet ran. She ran toward developing a craft that helped her contribute to her family’s income, create a sense of self-worth, and hope for herself, and her community. At the end of the story, Harriet had to sell one of her quilts after falling on hard times. An art teacher named Jennie Smith purchased it, recorded her story, and kept her promise to exhibit it. Jennie was brave.

 

As writers, we will make mistakes despite our good intentions. But there are many stories that need to be told. For this bright 5-year-old eager to learn, we must continue to create stories that help him understand sensitive and complex topics. And that will take courage.

 

Resources:

 

*School & Library Journal listed other picture books that celebrate African-Americans in the Arts here.

 

*KidLitTV shared Librarian  Scott Woods’ list of diverse books –28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball can be found here.

 

*Lee & Low’s collection of books to celebrate Black History Monty can be found here.

 

*Addressing the topic of slavery in the elementary classroom can be found here.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here.

 

Happy Reading!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Wednesday, January 27th!

official poster by Robert Trujillo
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  • TWITTER PARTY! Diversity discussion during #ReadYourWorld Twitter Party from 9-10pm EST.

  • BOOK GIVEAWAY every 5 minutes during the Twitter Party!

  • BLOGGERS BOOK REVIEWS: find links to reviews here (MCCBD blog)

  • TEACHERS: Giving away more than 600 diversity books to classrooms provided by the Junior Library Guild. Details here.

  • MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOKLIST:  find an extensive list of diversity books and extension activities for kids sorted by country, holiday, ethnicity, genre, and age group here.

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PLEASE SUPPORT MCCBD #ReadYourWorld SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsors:

Story Quest BooksWisdom Tales PressLil’ Libros

Gold Sponsors:

Candlewick PressTori Nighthawk: Don’t Judge A Bird By its Feathers

Silver Sponsors:

Lee & Low BooksChronicle BooksCapstone Young ReadersChina Institute.orgTuttle PublishingNY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze Sponsors:

Jacqueline WoodsonPomelo BooksPapa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books LLCAuthor Gleeson Rebello, M.D .,  Shout Mouse PressMahvash ShaheghLive Oak Media

Honorary Sponsor: 

The Junior Library Guild

Author Sponsors:

 Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos

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Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016 will kickoff, as always, on January 6th. New Orleans and Brazil are well known destinations for those who want to experience one of the greatest parties on earth – Carnival. Although the season varies, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras day will always fall on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, 40 days before Easter in accordance to the liturgical calendar.

To get this party started, those who celebrate will make, bake, or buy a King Cake on January 6th.

Here’s one from last year. Keyword…”one”…I make, buy, and eat them throughout the season!

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And to show how big a deal these traditional cakes are, the King Cake Festival is an annual event to honor these delicious confections. The 3rd annual festival is January 31st. It’s a FREE family friendly event benefiting Ochsner Hospital Pediatric Departments. There’s something for everyone; music, games, food, and lots and lots of King Cakes to sample! A People’s Choice Award is given to the bakery with the most votes for the tastiest cake of the season.

Past winners included:

2015 Maurice French Pastries

2014 Haydel’s Bakery

Very excited that I will be there in Champions Square this year as a vendor with The King Cake Baby. Click here for more details and updates on this event.

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There will be lots of celebrations on January 6th too.  Some will attend the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parade. Joan of Arc is a symbol of New Orleans’ French heritage. January 6th is her birthday.

Some will attend the ball of The Twelfth Night Revelers, a Carnival organization that had their first ball on January 6, 1870, a tradition that continues today. The female from their court who finds the bean- la fève – in the wooden King Cake is crowned Queen – La Reine.

The Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows will parade on the St. Charles Streetcar line the night of January 6th. That krewe is known as being the “dessert of Carnival”, a satirical and fun group. One of their mottos is “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men.”

Click here to read my post from last year about the history of Louisiana Creole Carnival celebrations –  Twelfth Night or Little Christmas or Feast of the Epiphany or Kings’ Day and Mardi Gras.

And you don’t have to be part of a high society, live in New Orleans or where King Cakes are sold to celebrate the kick off of Mardi Gras. You can make a king cake in your very own kitchen. Watch Alex the French Guy make a French version –La Galette des Rois, he’s adorable and funny. CookingAndCrafting demonstrates how to make a New Orleans King Cake from scratch. The recipe I put in The King Cake Baby is a very easy one because it’s made from frozen dough. I used it with a handful of adults and a cafeteria full of kids to make 50 King Cakes in a few hours that we sent to our troops in the Wounded Warriors Project at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

If you don’t have a plastic baby, use a bean or a coin (wrap the coin in foil for hygienic reasons) to hide. Just remember, before you take a bite, be sure to check for the baby or whatever is hidden inside!

Bon appétit!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

It’s the SCBWI Book Launch Party! Click here to visit, like, comment, and share my party page for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby.

 

Follow the baby on his Facebook page here.

While on the SCBWI site, check out other great kidlit titles.

 

Let’s get this party started!

SCBWI book launch

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules
DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!

Written: Jacqueline Jules   9780807517345

illustrated by: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (2009)

Suitable for ages: 6-8

Topics/Themes: Vietnamese culture, American Thanksgiving, cultural awareness, cultural diversity, acceptance, assimilation, acculturation

Brief Synopsis: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is the story of a girl of Vietnamese heritage who learns about Thanksgiving in school. The class makes a turkey from pine cones, sing Turkey songs, and her teacher refers to the day as turkey day, but her family always serves duck. Tuyet’s plan is to convince her family to eat turkey, known by many as the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving food. But they end up using her grandmother’s recipe for duck like they always do and Tuyet even has a second helping. When school resumes after the holiday, Tuyet is reluctant to talk about her holiday meal until other classmates tell about their dinners that included lamb, enchiladas, and noodles.

Opening pages:  To get ready for Thanksgiving, Tuyet’s class sang Turkey songs. They made pine cone turkeys. They talked about Pilgrims and Native Americans.

“See you Monday.” Mrs. Cook said when the bell rang. “Have a good Turkey Day.”

Why I like this book: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is a delightful book which introduces children to Vietnamese culinary traditions. It is a perfect fit to include in a  #weneeddiversebooks list. In addition to addressing cultural diversity, there is multi-generational component weaved into the story that I also enjoyed. It’s is a wonderful story that demonstrates there is no ‘right way’ to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  The day is also about giving thanks and spending time with family, not  only eating turkey!

Resources:

Click here for the Children’s Choice Award lesson plan on page 12.

Click here for the library sparks lesson plan.

Click here for multicultural Thanksgiving Songs by the Jacqueline Jules.

Click here to see the book trailer.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

I AM A BEAR by Jean-François Dumont

I AM A BEAR by Jean-François Dumont

I AM A BEAR  is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!

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Written/Illustrated by: Jean-François Dumont

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, English Edition 2015
Originally published in France under the title Je Suis un Ours by Kaléidoscore, 2010

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: homelessness, poverty, compassion, kindness, friendship, hope

Brief Synopsis: I AM BEAR is a story written from a bear’s point of view who sleeps on the sidewalk, on cardboard boxes, in old clothes. We learn early on people do not like this dirty, smelly, hungry, homeless bear which makes him sad until he meets a little girl.

Opening pages:  “I don’t know how I got here… I have no memory of my life before, just a few images that flash before my eyes from time to time, like the car headlights that sweep over my bed at night. All I know is that one morning I woke up here, on this street, and I haven’t left since.”

Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming story about what life is like for someone who is homeless and sleeps on the streets. It allows readers to experience the despair many homeless feel when trying to find food and or shelter. And the humiliation they feel when asking strangers to help. The bear realizes that people no longer pay attention to him but on one day when sitting on the sidewalk feeling grumpy, a little girl walks up to him and asks, “Why do you look so sad?” She reminds her of a ”teddy bear”. Unlike the adults bear encountered, this act of kindness gives him hope.

This is a wonderful story to introduce young children to a difficult topic. The bold illustrations keep readers engaged and helps deliver a message about social ills such as homelessness and poverty that exist everywhere.

Resources:

Click here for The Teddy Bear Project based on another book, The Teddy Bear about a boy who gives a bear to a homeless man.

Click here for teaching kids about poverty using chocolate. Especially good at this time of year when those of us celebrate Thanksgiving by overindulging in food.

Click here for lesson plans from Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center geared toward grades 3-5 about poverty and homelessness.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here  to go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

A #WeNeedDiverseBooks Perfect Picture Book Pair for Halloween!

Halloween PPBP

Title:  Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by: Marisa Montes
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a spooky bilingual Halloween poem that introduces young readers to spooky Spanish words. 

Amazon copy: Under October’s luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujascome on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren’t even there yet!

Title:  Bone Dog
Written/Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Bone Dog is a touching story that deals with the reality of death when a pet nears the end of life and makes a promise to his best friend.

Amazon copy: Gus doesn’t feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies. He doesn’t really even feel like dressing up for Halloween. But when Gus runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it’s Ella–his very own Bone dog–who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place. A book about friendship, loss, and a delightfully spooky Halloween.

Amazon Giveaway #2

Amazon Giveaway #2

The baby is on the run again. CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN! 

#‎AmazonGiveaway #2! Click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

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A Storm Called Katrina

A Storm Called Katrina

Title: A Storm Called Katrina

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Written by:  Myron Uhlberg

Illustrated by: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Suitable for ages: 4 and up

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, natural disasters, family, community, survival, compassion, empathy, courage

Brief Synopsis: A Storm Called Katrina is the story of a family’s experiences with Hurricane Katrina told through the voice of Louis Daniel, a 10-year-old boy who dreamed of one day playing his trumpet like Louis Armstrong. Like many in the city, the family prepared for the storm but did not evacuate. The day after the storm the water began to rise and the family was forced to leave their home. They left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing but Louis took his horn. They were rescued and ended up in the Superdome.  Although the family survived the flood waters, the conditions in the stadium were harsh and dangerous. When his father went out to find water for the family, Louis and his mother, feeling unsafe, moved to different seats. Fearing his father would not be able to find them, Louis ran down to the football field to play his trumpet. The family is reunited when his father hears him play.

Opening Pages: “HURRICANE’S COMING, Baby,” Mama said.

“I’m not a baby anymore, Mama. I turned ten last month.”

“Doesn’t matter how old you are, Louis Daniel. You’ll always be my baby,” she said. “Hush now and go to bed.”

The wind rattled my window something fierce. When the storm howled louder, I covered my ears and hid under the blanket.”

Why I like this book: Author Myron Uhlberg writes a moving story about a tramatizing event that shows how one family was able to navigate and survive a natural disaster. However it is presented in a way that is not too scary for children and is rather touching. Illustrator Colin Bootman adds to the story with his authentic images of New Orleans at the time of the flood. I especially like the page where sunlight beaming through the torn off roof of the Superdome shines on Louis as he plays his trumpet hoping his father will hear his music. This book is a wonderful tribute to family, community, and survival.

Resources:

Click here to find classroom discussions questions about A Storm Called Katrina.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for Scholastic site. Hurricane Katrina for upper primary and middle school kids.

Click here for a wealth of articles and lessons for kids from TeacherVision

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

In My Heart: A Child’s Hurricane Katrina Story on YouTube.

Children of the Storm on YouTube

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a folktale.[spacer height=”10px”] According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

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Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson to children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube  here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

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The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

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What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway of course!

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*updated with new titles

Follow my Gingerbread Man board on Pinterest.

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Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.

Swing Sisters

Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda

Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 7-11

Themes:  women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes

Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.

The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.

Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.

Opening pages:  “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.

A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”

Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.

Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here. Listen to their story on NPR. Listen to them play! Dare you not to boogie!

For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134766828/americas-sweethearts-an-all-girl-band-that-broke-racial-boundaries

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Every April the school my kids attended, The Summit Country Day School, hosts Hands Across the Water, a service project that educates students about global water crises. This event supports a mission of the order that founded the school, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) Clean Water Fund. This story highlights an important struggle across the developing world – the limited availability of clean, safe, drinking water resulting in thousands of deaths each year.

Capture thirst

Brief Synopsis: In what must be the most unselfish act of love, an Ethiopian mother gives up her daughter Alemitu for adoption because she can no longer feed her. Alemitu, which means you are the world, is renamed Eva, which means life, after joining her new family in the United States.

Opening pages:  “When I was Alemitu (ah-le-mee-too), my name meant world. I lived with my emaye, or mama, in a small village in Ehiopia. The sun was always smiling down on me and whispered my name with its hot, sticky breath.”

Why I like this book: This story is about Eva, the adopted daughter of the author. From visits with Eva’s birth mother, the author experienced the plight of finding clean water. Thousands of children die each day from drinking unsafe water. This book brings attention to the scope of this problem and gives readers more information about organizations that offer help.

Resources: 6 Elements of Social Justice Ed.TeachingBooks.net, Author interview on youtube

For more book reviews from April 24, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

The King Cake Baby

The King Cake Baby

Thanks to Video Production by Carrie Charley Brown!

 

Sugar – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Sugar – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

 

MCCB reviewer

January 27, 2015 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD). The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.

MCCBD raises awareness about children’s books that embrace diversity. Mia and Valarie share such titles with others. Even though census data show 37% of the US population identify as a persons of color, only 10% of children’s books traditionally published are representative of people in those groups. MCCBD’s mission is to provide information about diverse books and share with parents, caregivers, teachers, and librarians. And help get them into homes, schools and libraries. To keep current, follow them on social media. Links are provided at the end of this post. The MCCBD team, sponsors, and supporters understand that it’s important for all children to see their families, cultures, customs, traditions, languages, histories, and religions in books. And it’s equally important that others see them and stories about them in books too.

To support the mission of MCCBD, I reviewed the middle grade novel, Sugar, written by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown, 2013).

sugar

 

“Everyone likes sugar. But I hate it.” Says the ten-year-old girl, also named Sugar, an emancipated slave living on a sugar plantation and working as a sharecropper in post-Civil War Louisiana. Sugar knows first-hand that working with sugar cane is hard work and it kills. She also knows what her mother told her on her deathbed, “Do. See. Feel.” Despite the hard work, and poor living conditions Sugar finds ways, often frowned upon by the elders in her community and her ex-master, to follow her mother’s advice. She gets into trouble often. And she must navigate her world in order to honor her mother’s final word, “Survive.” The plantation owner’s son and Sugar become friends and that brings trouble. Chinese workers come to work on the plantation. Sugar wants to befriend the new workers against the wishes of her community. More trouble. But for every trouble, there is also change.

Rhodes writes a story about a very difficult period in Louisiana history. It is an American story. Mostly it is a story about a girl, once physically enslaved, then bound to a life of hard labor after emancipation. But the reader soon realizes Sugar’s mind is not enslaved or held in bondage. She just has to find a way to freedom.

How to celebrate and support Multicultural Children’s Books today & everyday: 

 

 

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns Book Review

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns Book Review

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! For more reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page. Today’s pick is:

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Title: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors [spacer height=”10px”] Domes

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Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 6, 2012)

Suitable for grades: PreK-2

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Themes/Topics: celebrating holidays, community, cultural awareness

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Brief Synopsis: Beautifully written and illustrated, this book highlights the colorful world of Islam. A little girl takes the reader with her as she navigates her world showing different parts of her culture that kids can easily relate to like clothing, food and different celebrations.

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Opening pages: “Red is the rug Dad kneels on to pray, facing toward Mecca, five times a day.”

“Blue is the hijab Mom like to wear. It’s a scarf she uses to cover her hair.”

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Why I like this book: I enjoy books that address culture. Others can peek inside the lives of those who may seem very different only to realize the things we enjoy and hold dear are often the same but celebrated differently.

Resources:

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Ghosts for Breakfast

Ghosts for Breakfast

Title: Ghosts for Breakfast

Written by: Stanley Todd Teraski

Illustrated by: Shelly Shinjo

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2002

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Japanese culture, immigration, ghosts, community, cultural awareness

Brief Synopsis: Neighbors fear there are ghosts in the fields where they farm. A man and his young son go out to prove otherwise.

Opening pages:  “PON! PON! PON!

The pounding at the door shattered my family’s peaceful evening

PON! PON! PON!

Who could it be at this time of night? I saw Mama’s puzzled look as Papa opened the door a crack and peered out.

“Ah, Papa delighted, “”The Troubelsome Triplets.”

Why I like this book: Set in a farming town during the 19th century when Japanese families immigrated to the west coast, this story is about how a father and son tackle fear of ghosts that their neighbors are convinced are real..

Resources: http://www.leeandlow.com/images/pdfs/activities/wordscramble-ghosts_for_breakfast.pdf

For more book reviews see author Susanna Hill’s page, Perfect Picture Book page.

Ghosts

Arturo and the Navidad Birds

Arturo and the Navidad Birds

Title: Arturo and the Navidad Birds

Written by:  Anne Broyles

Illustrated by: KE Lewis

Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. 2013, Fiction

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: honesty, accepting responsibility, courage, compassion, forgiveness, cultural awareness

Brief Synopsis: Arturo helps his grandmother Abue Rosa decorate her Navidad tree. She explains the origin of each ornament from her childhood, and those she received as gifts from friends. Arturo breaks one of her treasured ornaments when Abue Rosa is not in the room. And after she returns and asks if he’s seen the ornament, he hides it from her. Arturo then tries but fails to repair the ornament. But then he is remorseful and tells his grandmother what happened. Abue Rosa is forgiving and takes what Arturo made from the broken ornament and adds it to her Navidad tree and comforts him by saying to Arturo, “People are more important than things. mi’jo.”

Opening pages:  “Arturo bounced up and down in front of the pine tree. “Hurry, Abue!”

His grandmother called from the kitchen, “Momentito, mi’jo.”

Arturo saltaba una y otra ves frente al árbol de pino. “Date prisa, Abue!”

Su abuela lo llamaba desde la cocina, “Momentito, mi’jo.”

Arturo frowned at the sting of unlit lights. “Our Navidad tree looks empty.”

Abue Rosa wiped her hands on her apron as she bustled into the living room. “It will soon be full.”

Arturo fruncíó el ceño al mirar las luces de Navidad sin encender. “Nuestro árbol de Navidad se ve vacío.”

Abue Rosa secó sus manos en el delantal mientras caminaba dentro de la sala. “Pronto estará lleno.”

Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming story of the relationship between a boy and his grandmother. The themes are universal. The boy, Arturo makes a mistake, is not honest in the beginning, and tries a resolution that fails. His grandmother is forgiving and shows Arturo her love by explaining that people are more important than things.

This book is an example of what the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign running this May 1-3, 2014 is all about. The front cover and title tell us the book is representative of one of the underrepresented groups in the world of children’s literature because the illustrations include a child and adult who have toffee colored skin. All people can be described by color; but this book is written about people with skin of a particular color who are part of a particular culture. In addition, Arturo and the Navidad Birds is a story any child or adult, regardless of the color of their skin, will enjoy. And for an extra bonus, the reader may learn some Spanish words since the book is published in both English and Spanish. Kudos to the author and illustrator. Well done, Pelican Publishing.

Resources: Free teacher study guide on the author’s site.

Arturo

 

The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale

The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale

As a newbie to the field of children’s book writing and publishing, it was a thrill to meet award-winning author Linda Leopold Strauss at a local SCBWI workshop and listen to stories about her long and successful career. She shared wonderful stories as well as provided advice about the craft of writing and the business of publishing a newbie like myself will always cherish.

One of Linda’s books that comes to mind during this Passover is The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale. The story is about two very close Jewish families, the Lippas and Galinskys. The families are so close that Rachel Galinsky and David Lippa want to get married, but their parents get into a feud. The neighbors and town rabbi intervene and come up with a plan to bring the two families together to celebrate Passover.

In addition to an engaging story, the woodcut illustrations by Alexi Natchev help the person being read to, or the reader, to imagine the old country back then located somewhere around Poland and or Russia. ”Alexi Natchev’s beautifully colored block prints evoke an Old World feel but also are playful and filled with expressive detail and movement.” – Arizona Jewish Post, 3/20/2012.

Blogger Planet Smarty Pants recommendations.

By Linda Leopold Strauss Holiday House (February 20, 2012)

Elijah door

 

Suki’s Kimono

Suki’s Kimono
Title: Suki’s Kimono
Written by:  Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by: Stéphanie Jorisch
Kids Can Press,  2003, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: celebrating individuality, determination, cultural awareness, tolerance, acceptance
 
Brief Synopsis:  Suki’s decided to wear her kimono, a gift from her grandmother, on the first day of school. Although her sisters did not want her to, Suki wears it anyway. On her way to school the kids laughed at her, but Suki’s kimono helps her relive those happy summer memories of her Japanese grandmother’s visit and all the things they did together. Her classmates also laugh and tease her but when it’s her turn to share what she did over summer break, Suki’s enthusiasm and joy is mesmerizing.
 
Opening pages:  “On the first day of school, suki wanted to wear her kimono. Her sisters did not approve. “You can’t wear that,” said Mari. “People will think you’re weird.”
“You can’t wear that,” said Yumi. “Everyone will laugh, and no one will play with you,’’ said Yumi.
‘’You need something new, Suki.” You need something cool.’’
 
Why I like this book: Suki demonstrates her individuality by choosing to wear a kimomo to school even when her sisters disapprove and warn her it may be an unpopular choice. The dialog between Suki and a girl on the playground who asks her about her “funny’’ clothing and Suki ‘s explanation shows that it’s okay to question as long as you are open to understanding another’s opinion. Suki is delighted to both show and tell her classmates about the summer spent with her Japanese grandmother. Suki’s teacher and the classmates realize wearing the kimono helps her recreate those happy summer memories.  And from Suki we learn that despite being laughed at or teased for doing something  different, sometimes it just doesn’t matter.
 
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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad
Henry’s Freedom Box
A True Story of the Underground Railroad
 
Written by: Ellen Levine
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, January 2007, Historical Fiction
Suitable for ages: 7-10
 
Themes/Topics: Biography and Autobiography, Slavery, Underground Railroad,  Abolition, Determination and Perseverance
 
Brief Synopsis: Henry is born a slave one day around 1830 in the state of Virginia. But Henry does not know his birthdate or his age.  As a child, Henry is sold and taken away from his mother and family. Many years later, his wife and young children are also taken away from him and sold. Henry doesn’t know his birthday, but knows one day he wants freedom. Through heartbreak and time Henry finds others who want the same for him and he is able to break free from bondage.
 
Opening pages:  “Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.
 
Henry and his brothers and sisters worked in the big house where the master lived. Henry’s master had been good to Henry and his family.
 
But Henry’s mother knew things could change. “Do you see those leaves blowing in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.”
 
Why I like this book: Freedom. It’s something children desire very early in life. Humans want choice and independence. It’s what Henry wants but he is born in a time when his freedom is not allowed. This Caldecott Honor Book introduces kids to a very complex time in US history through a biography loosely based on a true story of a slave named Henry “Box’’ Brown.  Henry is sold to another master as a young child but tries to make the best of a terrible situation. He marries and has a family of his own and they mean the world to him. Then his wife and children are sold and Henry is devastated. Henry then enlists the help of an abolitionist and together they make a plan to mail Henry through the Underground Railroad to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and freedom. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are wonderfully supportive of the story. Readers of all ages can identify with Henry when he is accepting of his situation, when he is happy and when he is filled with despair. And all readers will certainly want for Henry what he wants for himself- freedom.
 
Resources:
http://library.echs.edwrds.k12.il.us/book-awards/information-contained-on-pages/bluestem-resources/Henrys%20Freedom%20Box.pdf
http://vimeo.com/20964070
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/henrys-freedom-box-lesson-plan
 
henry

Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale

Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Written by: Lorraine Johnston
Illustrated by: Preston Asevedo
Mascot Books, April 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: kindness, courage, community, cultural awareness
 
Brief Synopsis: An alligator at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo gets into colorful trouble when Scottish tourists ignore the sign “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS AT ANY TIME”. A little girl comes to the rescue through the help of local shopkeepers.
 
Opening pages:  “If you’re ever going to visit Audubon Zoo, remember this story, it is quite true. There is an old alligator who sits in his pen. He’s got quite a story, it all started when…”
 
Why I like this book: Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale written by Scottish author Lorraine Johnston weaves the love of her own culture with the culture of New Orleans through her choice of setting and characters. Themes and topics addressed are valuable teaching tools. The alligator learns there are consequences when rules are broken. A little girl shows kindness and courage by her desire and actions to help him solve his problem. And through cooperation with a community chocolate shop, the little girl helps the alligator return to his original self.

 LTG

 

 

Louisiana culture celebrated on Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Louisiana culture celebrated on Multicultural Children’s Book Day

In celebration of the first annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day I choose to highlight “Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras La Chatte Noire” written by Todd-Michael St. Pierre and illustrated by Diane Millsap. The book is about a cat who lives in Jackson Square in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) neighborhood of New Orleans. The cat searches for a friend and visits many historical spots in the quarter and around the city. The book is written in English and French. What a lovely tribute to the city of New Orleans!

Happy reading y’all!

Mardi Gras La Chatte Noire

Multicultural Book Day is January 27, 2014

Multicultural Book Day is January 27, 2014

One day there may no longer be a need to have a ”day” to remind people to read books about the diversity within our own country and the world. But until that day comes, I invite you to celebrate Multicultural Book Day. Yay!

Why you ask? Meera Sriram lists 10 reasons in her blog post. http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/07/10-reasons-to-read-multicultural-books-to-your-kids/

And who can argue with what Mahatma Gandhi said, No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. Diversity is all around us to embrace.

Anyone looking for titles can check out the sites below. Some of my favorite books are about different cultures found here in the USA and around the world. Read a few, or read a lot, and maybe some will become favorites of yours too.

http://www.pragmaticmom.com/multicultural-books-for-children/

http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/booklists/multicultural-books.htm

http://www.reading.org/General/Publications/blog/BlogSinglePost/rty/2013/04/17/multicultural-books#.UuBfff0o6os

Multicultural Book Day