Written by Australian author, Mem Fox, and illustrated by American Leslie Staub, this book is truly a multicultural book--both composition-wise and inWritten by Australian author, Mem Fox, and illustrated by American Leslie Staub, this book is truly a multicultural book--both composition-wise and in subject matter. In this simple story, children can learn that although they may have different cultures, languages, homelands, they all have similarities. This book is a bit simplistic in style, and the people all seem to have similarly shaped eyes, lips and noses, still this would be a nice introduction for K-2 into the world of multicultural studies. They could try to guess what cultures and countries are being represented, and then perhaps after some research, go back and take a closer look at the book to see what they might do to improve the book, if they were the illustrator or author....more
This is the sweet story of a very shy boy named Sebastian who learns confidence and finds his voice through an abandoned pair of roller skates. The ilThis is the sweet story of a very shy boy named Sebastian who learns confidence and finds his voice through an abandoned pair of roller skates. The illustrations are a combination of a colorful, whimsical, cartoon-like pictures and collage. The book was originally published in Spain under the title, “Els patins d’en Sebastia.” Both the author and illustrator are from Spain. The impressively, according to the back flap of the cover, the author’s works have been translated into many different languages including Italian, Korean, English and even Braille! The multicultural aspect is subtle and apparent only in the Spanish words included in the illustrations and collage pieces. Of course these would not be considered multicultural elements in the native country of the author and illustrator, but to those of us reading the translated editions of the book in countries other than Spain, this gives the reader a glimpse into the world of the shy protagonist growing up in what is presumably Spain.
This would be a wonderful book to use in a K-3 classroom to show how a painfully shy child can gain confidence in the most unlikely of ways. The fact that is an international book can be shared with the students to demonstrate that kids in other countries deal with the same sorts of things as kids here in the United States. ...more
I was excited when the librarian at my local library told me about this book and the one written previous to it, King & King. I really wanted to rI was excited when the librarian at my local library told me about this book and the one written previous to it, King & King. I really wanted to read the first book which took the idea of a royal prince searching for the perfect mate and flipped around. Instead of finding a princess as a perfect companion, he falls in love with a prince. Alas, the library did not own this one, only its sequel, this book. In this book, the two princes go on a jungle adventure for their honeymoon. On this trip, they see many animal parents and their young and comment on how lovely happy they seem. King Bertie seems to be the more nervous of the two, and is quite sure that someone is following them. When they get back home, their suitcase seems very heavy. It turns out that a girl from the jungle had in fact been following them and followed them all the way back home in their suitcase! The princes are thrilled and decide to adopt the girl making a happy family of three.
Perhaps it was the fact that the book was written by a writer/illustrator duo (they did actually work on the book together) in the Netherlands and has been translated into English, but I thought the book a bit simplistic and the style rather different. The majority of the story took place during the honeymoon jungle adventure. It didn’t explain why the girl from the jungle had followed them in the first place, nor did it explain why she did not already have parents of her own. I did like the colorful whimsy of the mixed media illustrations, though sometimes it was hard to focus on everything in the pictures because they were just so busy.
I am glad that more books are coming out about families with same-sex parents—especially because I have a number of gay friends whose kids could have used books that featured such characters—however I’m not sure if this is the best example of such a book. I would very much like to read the first book, King & King to see if it is a bit more rounded out. If I am going to fight to have a book included in a study on families or to have in the classroom or school library, then I would want it to be a really excellent example, otherwise the point is lost. I do not want to say that it is not a well-written book, as it is hard to know if this is simply a matter of cultural style or the style/product of this particular writer/illustrator pair. All I know is that for me, it was all right, but not the best. ...more
This is an adorable, humorous book that gives us the world of a wombat through the animal’s point of view. The wild wombat tells us in a sort of schedThis is an adorable, humorous book that gives us the world of a wombat through the animal’s point of view. The wild wombat tells us in a sort of schedule/ date-book format what it does each day. Mostly it involves a lot of sleeping, eating, scratching, digging, and begging for food from its new human neighbors. My favorite parts are where it is battling a “flat, hairy creature invading my territory.” Then having won the battle, she demands a reward (and receives one in the form of tasty carrots.) As the reader can see, it is not really a creature at all, but a bristled outdoor “Welcome” mat. When sharing this part with children, I would read them these two pages first, and then show them the pictures, so that they could see what the beast actually is!
I would love to share this book with K-2 students when studying animals as a way to incorporate animals found in other parts of the world. Although this book does not specifically focus on multicultural issues, it can be used to introduce students to animals indigenous to other countries/ continents in a non-zoo setting. I would point out that the author and illustrator, both, live in Australia and that this lends to the authenticity of the story. Research through technology could be used by taking a guided look at a couple of websites that include information on these marsupials. If working with older students, this book could serve as a jumping off point by introducing an animal that they may wish to learn more about for their own research projects. In either case, I would guide them to note (unless they figure this out themselves) that wombats (from what I could discern) are not usually found living right next-door to people. However, their behavior can be quite destructive, even though they are so cute. Thus, as many people have found out there, they do not make great pets. This would be like someone here in The States having a skunk, prairie dog, or squirrel. Their natural behaviors, while great for their lives out in the wild, are not ideal for home situations. For further information on wombats, check out this website: http://www.wombania.com/wombats/. ...more
Creatively told from the point-of-view of instruments that belonged to the members of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, this story told in poetCreatively told from the point-of-view of instruments that belonged to the members of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, this story told in poetry tells of the history of this all-women band during the Age of Swing and Big Band music (1930s-1940s). Although this book can easily be classified under African American juvenile literature, as the majority of the members were African American, it is also the story of a diverse group of remarkable women who toured the U.S. and overseas bringing music to people at a time when many people needed the escape from thoughts of war and their everyday lives. With the men of the United States off busy with the war, these women (under the guidance of Rae Lee Jones) took advantage of the situation and played to record-breaking, sold-out audiences in places such as Chicago; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Memphis, TN; and finally overseas for the troops. Unfortunately, after the war ended, women all over the U.S. had to step aside for the men returning from the war. The world of music turned out to be no different. Likewise, the days of Swing and Big Band were coming to an end, giving way to the new sound of Be Bop.
Famed writer Marilyn Nelson’s words are reminiscent of the lively music these women (and their instruments) played. The titles of the poems are, themselves, titles of famous songs of the era. These poems along with art from award-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney paint a vivid picture for the reader, introducing children and young adults to the historic world of Swing and Big Band. I would probably use this book with older elementary, middle school, or even high school. The higher level wording along with more conceptual style of writing from the point-of-view of instruments might be confusing for younger students and the messages of the story might be lost. This would be excellent to use in a music, American lit, or American history class as students study the time period around World War II. It demonstrates the role of women, diversions from the seriousness of world politics/war, and positive contributions of women of color. Although according to the end notes of the author there are few recordings available of the International Sweethearts’s music, sound recordings of the songs referenced in the poem titles can be found as performed by other musical artists. The idea of segregation and its impact on music and other areas of performance can be addressed, as well, through this book. Because the group was predominantly African American AND integrated with women who were white, Chinese, Mexican, Native American and Hawaiian (it was not yet a state), this caused some challenges. Women of color sometimes had to enter performance spaces through back ways, such as the kitchen. Also, as integration was illegal in the South, when they performed in these states the couple of white performers had to darken their skin through make-up, hoping that they would not sweat too much and accidentally wipe off their darker “skin.” In general, I think that this beautiful work could be a very positive and useful book for older students! ...more
This is a cute book about a little girl with two daddies. In simple rhyming text, a boy asks her which of her dads helps her do certain things, from bThis is a cute book about a little girl with two daddies. In simple rhyming text, a boy asks her which of her dads helps her do certain things, from building a tree house to helping with homework. Some things her Poppa does. Some things her Daddy does. Some things both dads do, and sometimes neither one does it because she does it on her own. The bright, humorous, cartoon-like pictures show us the little boy and the little girl talking, shifting to pictures of her doing activities with her dads. Like some cartoons, we never see the dads' faces, only their hands or from the chest-down. This gives an emphasis on the girl and her loving experiences with her fathers, without putting too much focus on the adult world of the two daddies.
This book is a perfect way to deal with the idea of a kid who has to two parents of the same gender in an age appropriate manner. Kids can see through the eyes of the girl that her dads do many of the things other parents and guardians do. They help her, take care of her, and love her. This is the important thing for children to know. This could be used with K-2 (if the classroom atmosphere allows for such inclusion), along with other books that look at the experiences of kids who have various kinds of care-takers--especially in a positive light. This would also be a nice one to include in a family's home library. I highly recommend this book....more
At my synagogue(s) I had often heard about the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, especially during the rabbis’ sermons. I realized tAt my synagogue(s) I had often heard about the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, especially during the rabbis’ sermons. I realized that the destructive fighting had escalated as the years went on. However, I had often tuned some of it out, not fully grasping the horrors that were going on over there. After all, I live in America. I do not live in the vicinity of this conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the situation, and I did care about the violence and bloodshed, however, until reading this book, I did not realize the extent of the situation, especially when it came to the lives of the children living there.
As the title suggests, in this book children from both sides of the conflict tell about their experiences living in this war-zone. The children, ranging in ages from 8 to 18, are frank about what is happening around them. The author gives us background before each child’s own words, helping us to understand more about their situation and the specific foci of the child’s story. It hardly seems fair to call them children, though, after reading these, as they have seen and dealt with so many adult issues and such violence. Many know people who have been killed or seriously injured in the destructive practices there.
There are many themes that are brought numerous times in the interviews; violence, hatred, and fear being top among these. Violence is seen or heard about everywhere. The children are accustomed to seeing soldiers with guns. Bombs and killing can occur anywhere, often seemingly without cause. Many talk about the fear that goes along with this and that they do not feel safe. People can get shot or bombed no matter if the victims are good or bad people. There is no escape from the war and children essentially live with PTSD (post-traumatic shock disorder).
Anger, resentment, animosity, and isolation were typical mentions by the children. Much of the hatred is directed at the soldiers, though animosity is projected at the opposite side as well. Many of the children have not even had contact with other children of the opposite side, due to the strict isolation of the Palestinians and Israelis. It sounded like Israelis had more freedom to move about and that there were many more restrictions for the Palestinians as to where they could go. To go to school (or anywhere), these children often had to wake up extremely early so that they could wait in line for hours just to get through a checkpoint. Soldiers had all the control as to how long they let people wait, no matter if the civilians were ill or elderly. Typically, even though children got up very early for school, they were still late. Curfews were imposed on Palestinians, as well, causing people to have to stay in there houses, and children to forgo school for those days, impeding their education and their freedom. If they went out, they could be shot. It is no wonder that there is much resentment and animosity.
A final common theme was the wish for peace. Although there were strong feelings toward from one side to the other, most children did not necessarily wish harm to the other side’s civilians, nor did they want this war to continue. The freedom of each side has been greatly hindered by this conflict and the children would like to see an end to the oppression and violence so that they can live normal lives.
So, how do we teach our students over here in North America (the author is actually Canadian) about the raging war between cultures occurring in Palestine and Israel? This book can serve as means for this. Teachers can use this book with 6th graders and up to guide them through an understanding of this ongoing conflict through the eyes of other children. This is an important element to the book. Often books and the news tell the information in terms of grown-ups and a third person view. This book allows children to learn that it is not just adults that are affected, but children as well. This makes the information much more accessible. There are also times where they can see that despite all of the seriousness of these experiences, children are still children, which our students here can relate to. For example when two 8 year olds were interviewed, they each said some things that made me chuckle. First was Danielle’s statement on page 41, when she mentions what she would wish for: “My three wishes? I have four: to have more wishes, to be a queen, to get whatever I want when I want it, and to see some TV stars for real.” I loved this because this exactly how a child her age might respond to that question here! Likewise, her friend, Gili, shows the contrast of an eight-year-old’s capacity to make a profound statement in one part and then make a very kid-like statement in the next. She talks about how a guard from her school had been killed (not when he was at the school). “Guards are supposed to protect us, but he couldn’t protect himself. If a bomb can kill a guard, it can also kill me or my family.” After this she continues an earlier discussion of how much she loves horses. “I keep asking my mother if I could keep one in my bedroom, and she always says no!” Students can compare this highly unrealistic request her earlier statement, to see how children living in the conditions there differ yet are similar to their own situations here. This could be especially poignant if the students live in an area threatened by gang violence. This book would be a wonderful resource for a 6th grade and higher classroom or school library.
My only criticism for the book is that the language seems a bit stinted. I realized that this is due to a lack of transition words connecting the sentences. I am not sure if this is because of the nature of the languages spoken by the children, or if it is simply the style of the author. I was also curious as to whether or not these children’s words were translated by an interpreter or the author, herself. It does not say. Nor does it say if these stories were prompted by questions and pieced together into one cohesive piece of writing, or if this is how the child spoke—in one solid, uninterrupted story. ...more