Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

More Multicultural Children’s Book Joy: A Gift for Amma

A Gift for Amma, by Meera Sriram/Illustrated by Mariona Cabassa, (Aug. 2020, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781646860616

Ages 4-7

This is a concept book that hits all the right notes! Inspired by the author’s hometown of Chennai, India, A Gift for Amma follows a little girl as she explores a street market in Southern India, searching for a gift to bring home to her amma (mother). All the colors relate to objects the girl discovers in the marketplace: saffron orange strands, jasmine white blooms, green peacock feathers, all considerations for gifts, paired with necessities like herbs, sweets, and peppers. Bright, vibrant color decorate the spreads, inviting readers to surround themselves in the sights, smells, and textures of an Indian market. An exctiing new take on concepts with a gentle story about a little girl who loves her mother, I can’t say enough good things about A Gift for Amma. Back matter includes descriptions of what the girl found at the market, and a peek at five markets around the world.

I’d love to put together a sensory storytime that would invite kids to experience different textures… consider creating texture boards or boxes for each kiddo (safety first, right?) using cloth, feathers, plastic bowls, plush… anything you can think of for your kiddos to touch and enjoy! Consider fun crafts, like this peacock from Artsy Craftsy Mom, or this elephant from Activity Village.

A Gift for Amma has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Foreword Reviews.

 

The MCBD jazz:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! Thisnon-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, Capstone,Hoopoe Books,KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go GirlsBronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi andAMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat IwataAuthors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell, Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author DianaHuang & Intrepids,Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher,Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and theSophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and ParentsHomeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity KitFREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists KitFREE Teacher Classroom Empathy KitFREE Teacher Classroom Kindness KitFREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Poverty KitGallery of Our Free PostersFREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors,publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Lali’s Feather soars

Lali’s Feather, by Farhana Zia/Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, (Apr. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-129-4

Ages 4-8

Lali is a little girl enchanted by a feather she finds. She brings the feather to Rooster, Crow, and Peacock to ask if it belongs to them; they scoff. She shows the feather to Hen, Duck, and Blue Jay, who are all fascinated by what she can do with the feather: write in the dirt, fan a fire, sweep dust, make her sister sneeze and tickle Bapu’s toes! The birds are just as fascinated by the feather as Lali is, even chasing it down to return to Lali when it flies away. A gentle story about finding joy in the smallest things, Lali’s Feather, set in an Indian village, is a story that spreads happiness as you read it. Repetition helps readers predict what will happen next, as Lali goes from bird to bird to show off the feather; kids learn creativity and different ways of seeing as Lali shows off the feather’s many uses; there’s empathy in the way the birds all come together to find and return the feather to Lali. Digital pastel illustrations are soothing yet infused with discovery and play. Read an excerpt, download the Educator’s Guide, and read the author Q&A at publisher Peachtree’s website.

For a book-related take and make project, consider adding a feather to your kit and a colorful sheet of paper, inviting kids to think of what they could do with their feathers. I’ve also fallen for this TP roll peacock craft from The Madhouse Mummy (consider using a rolled piece of sturdy cardstock in place of TP these days). This paper feather and scissor practice craft is a fun idea, too; print out the feather templates on sturdy colored paper, and make sure that grownups will supervise the safety scissor practice.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

#HomesCool Reads: Math & Nature

There are so many great books that have come out, and are coming out in the next couple of months! With school having started for some kids (NYC doesn’t go back until after Labor Day), I’m transitioning #SummersCool into #HomesCool, since a lot of us will be learning in either a blended or completely remote environment. For everyone who’s back in a classroom, or had to make the decision on how to schedule your children for learning, hang in there. And thank you, teachers!

Up this time, we’ve got folk tales using math and logic; we’ve got lion queens in India, and an archaeologist who discovered Peru’s ancient cultures. Let’s go!

Sharuko: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello, by Monica Brown/Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri, Translated by Adriana Domínguez, (Aug. 2020, Lee & Low Books), $19.95, ISBN: 9780892394234

Ages 7-11

This bilingual (English/Spanish) biography of Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, nicknamed “Sharuko”, is a beautifully written, illustrated, and translated story of Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy growing up in late 1800s Peru, who became a leading expert in Peru’s Indigenous culture. As a boy, Sharuko – a nickname meaning “brave” in Quechua, the language spoken by the Indigenous people of Peru – explored caves and burial grounds in the Peruvian Andes. As he got older and continued his education, he read articles about skulls he had found as a child, which were sent to the city of Lima to be further studied. The article inspired Julio to devote his medical school training to study Peru’s indigenous history; going on to prove that Peru’s Indigenous culture was established thousands of years before, not inherited from other countries, as was the pervasive belief. He awakened pride in his country’s ancestry and its cultural legacy and became a hero to the people of Peru.

Elisa Chavarri’s watercolor and gouache artwork is colorful, with maps, beautiful landscapes, and artifacts all coming together to tell Julio Tello’s story. Author Monica Brown tells Tello’s story in a way that will captivate readers and possibly inspire new generations of archaeologists and anthropologists. The Spanish translation is parallel to the English text, which helps learning readers (like me!) learn the flow of the language, be it Spanish or English. Back matter includes an afterword a note on the illustration, and additional sources. I need more picture book biographies in my Spanish/bilingual collection. Happy to add this one.

Sharuko: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello has starred reviews from The Horn Book, Booklist, and School Library Journal.

 

The Lion Queens of India, by Jan Reynolds, (Sept. 2020, Lee and Low Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781643790510

Ages 6-8

Award-winning photojournalist Jan Reynolds introduces readers to the Lion Queens – a group of female forest guards who track and protect the lions in the Gir Sanctuary. Narrated by Rashila, the first Lion Queen, readers learn about a day in the life of the Lion Queens; from patrolling areas on motorcycle to checking on food and water availability for the lions. There are facts about lions throughout, and Rashila talks about the different lions’ personalities, the “Web of Life” balance in the Gir, and the growing lion population, coming back from the brink of extinction. The Queens work with communities to educate and inform; they discuss conservation and preservation and how to live alongside the lions without hurting the habitats that both human and lion rely on to survive. Back matter includes an author’s note and bibliography. The book is filled with beautiful photos of the lions of the Gir Sanctuary and Rashila and her fellow Lion Queens, and the sentences are brief and to the point, making this a great nonfiction book for emerging readers and for storytimes. It’s an exciting subject to introduce to kids – especially on a Career Day! Consider looking up the Lion Queens of India documentary from Animal Planet to have on hand.

 

Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math, by Rajani LaRocca/Illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan, (Oct. 2020, Lee and Low Books), $19.95, ISBN: 9781885008978

Ages 6-10

Set in ancient India, Bhagat is a boy living with his mother. They are poor and they are hungry, but a chance to win a place at the Rajah’s court as a singer gives Bhagat some hope for bettering their circumstances. As he leaves for the Rajah’s city, his mother gives him the last of their wealth – seven gold links from her wedding necklace – to pay for his food and lodging, and Bhagat knows he must be careful in budgeting, as he doesn’t know how long it will take for the Rajah to see him and he doesn’t want to overpay and run out of money. Bhagat uses math to work out how to safely pay his way and keep the innkeeper satisfied, and his math skills lead to a happy resolution.

There are lessons in computational thinking and mathematics, and has the building blocks for coding units here. An author’s note explains the mathematics at work in the story, touching on binary numbers, base 10, and the history of mathematics in the ancient world. The digital artwork is bright, warm, and attractive, with clear illustrations explaining Bhagat’s use of the golden rings. A solid addition to your fables/folk tales and math tales like the Sir Cumference series, One Grain of Rice, and The Grapes of Math.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Feast of Peas by Kashmira Sheth

I love a good folk tale, and Kashmira Sheth has certainly given me one with her newest book, Feast of Peas!

Feast of Peas, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler,
(March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-135-5
Ages 5-8

Set in India, Feast of Peas is about Jiva, a farmer who works in his garden “until the sun turned as red as a bride’s sari”, tending to his crops; he’s most excited, though, for his peas. He can’t wait for them to grow, so he can gobble them up. He loves peas! But so does Jiva’s friend, Ruvji, who stops by to see how Jiva’s crops are faring. As Jiva sings his Feast of Peas song, Ruvji stands close by, imagining his own yummy feast of peas… and when Jiva discovers that his peas are going missing, Ruvji is right there, suggesting culprits from rabbits to ghosts. Jiva’s precautions don’t protect his poor peas, so Jiva must take matters into his own hands… and wait until he discovers who the thief is!

 

Feast of Peas is so much fun! Kashmira Sheth’s storytelling style is perfect for a storytime setting. She includes easily recognizable folktale elements, like everyday situations, a puzzling problem, and a solution that neatly concludes the story. Her writing style draws readers into the story, and there’s fun repetition in the interplay between Jiva and Ruvji and their daily routines: Jiva’s work in the garden; Ruvji’s daily visits; Jiva’s song, “Plump peas, sweet peas, / Lined-up-in-the-shell peas. / Peas to munch, peas to crunch, / I want a feast of peas for lunch”, and Ruvji’s response, “Peas are delicious. I would enjoy a feast of peas”. A ghost story is played for laughs, and friendship and sharing win the day at the end of the story. Jeffrey Ebbeler’s artwork brings Kashmira Sheth’s story to life with acrylic illustrations giving readers earth tones, characters with expressive faces and body language, and delicious plates of Indian food! Peapods and peas decorate the endpapers, stoking readers’ appetites.

Absolute fun. Add Feast of Peas to your folk and fairytale sections, and ask your kids what they think the morale of the story is. Publisher Peachtree has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide that includes talking points about art, social studies, math, music, movement, and more.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Cultures collide, and blend, in When I Found Grandma

When I Found Grandma, by Saumiya Balasubramaniam/Illustrated by Qin Leng, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $17.95, ISBN: 9781773060187

Ages 5-8

Maya is an Indian girl living in America with her family. She’s thrilled when her Grandma arrives from India for a visit, but she quickly finds things that rub her the wrong way. She doesn’t want Grandma to call her by her full name, Mayalakshmi, and she wishes Grandma didn’t wear her sari and noisy bangle bracelets when she pops in for a visit to Maya’s classroom. She isn’t crazy about the food Grandma makes, and she really, really doesn’t like her family’s decision to celebrate the Holi festival by visiting a temple so Grandma can pray, rather than go for their planned trip to a fair. But it turns out that when Maya needs help, Grandma’s the first one on the scene.

Two generations work things out together in this sweet, authentic story about a grandmother and granddaughter; it’s a cultural and inter-generational story of understanding, compromise, and, above all, love. The story text will resonate with kids and adults alike, and opens so many avenues for discussion between generations and cultures. The soft ink and watercolor artwork reflects emotions touched on the book; namely, familial love. The cover is a beautiful expression of intimacy and affection between grandmother and grandchild; something ever-present in both the text and artwork.

In a library system as diverse as mine, this is a must-add to collections. In less diverse areas, it’s an important book for generating understanding and respect for other cultures and how we look at our elders.

 

 

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Pashmina is an Indian-American girl’s journey of self-discovery

Pashmina, by Nidhi Chanani, (Oct. 2017, :01FirstSecond), $16.99, ISBN: 9781626720879

Recommended for ages 12+

Priyanka is an Indian-American young woman, living with her single mom, in California. She’s got so many questions: Why did her mother leave India to raise her daughter in the States? What’s India like? Why doesn’t she ever talk about India? And the big question: Who’s her father, and why hasn’t she ever met him? For Priyanka’s mom, though, the topic of India is closed. She will only say that things were different for women in India, and that’s that. Left with her questions, and feeling emotional after her uncle – her only father figure – becomes a new dad, Priyanka stumbles across one of her mother’s old suitcases, containing a beautiful pashmina shawl. She wraps it around herself and is transported to a magical, beautiful place: India. She also meets two guides: Kanta, an elephant, and Mayur, a peacock, who show her a breathtaking India. Priyanka gets the feeling she may not be getting the whole story – especially when the two guides keep shooing away a mysterious shadow that lurks by them – but she’s determined to find out more about her heritage and her birth.

Priya gets the opportunity when her aunt calls to reconnect with her estranged sister. She’s pregnant, and Priya’s mom agrees to let her fly to India to spend time with her. Thrilled, Priya embarks on a journey that will provide more answers than she expected, and learn more about her mother – and herself.

Pashmina is brilliant, bold, and beautiful storytelling. It’s the story of a child walking the line between two cultures, and it’s a story about the search for identity. It’s also a powerful story of feminism; the goddess Shakti guiding women to choose their own paths and the women who are brave enough to answer the call. Nidhi Chanani creates breathtaking, colorful vistas within the pashmina’s world, making Priya’s everyday black-and-white world even more stark and humdrum. This is a must-add to graphic novel collections, particularly for middle schoolers and teens. Booktalk and display with Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Na Liu’s Little White Duck, and Sarah Garland’s Azzi in Between.

See more of Nidhi Chanani’s art at her website.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood is SO MUCH FUN – can we get a series?

18378827Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, by Varsha Bajaj, (2014, Albert Whitman & Co.) $16.99, ISBN: 978-0807563632

Recommended for ages 9-14

Abby Spencer has been raised by a single mom for all over 13 years, and it’s been fine – until a health scare sends her to her mom, asking questions about her dad. She finds out that her father – a college romance of her mom’s – lives in Mumbai, India, and he’s a Bollywood heartthrob! When she finally gets in touch with her dad, he sends for her – for a kid who wanted some excitement out of life, even this may be over the top!

I LOVED this book from the first page. Told in the first person, I loved the way the author gave Abby her voice. She is a fun, excitable teen who loves her family and feels conflicted about her feelings for the father she only just met over Skype. I love the way the author gives readers an eye-opening view of India, from the overwhelming spectacle of Bollywood to the families that live in squalor. Her descriptions, told through a 13 year-old’s voice, were spot-on and evoked a range of reactions for me: joy, uncertainty, sympathy, even frustration. This is one of those books that I want to buy five copies of and hand them to kids in my library, yelling, “READ THIS AND TALK TO ME ABOUT IT!”

#WeNeedDiverseBooks? You’re darn right we do, and with a biracial lead character who heads to India to see her dad on a Bollywood set, we’ve got a great one, right here. Ms. Bajaj, PLEASE tell me we’re going to see more adventures with Abby, her family, and her friends!

This book is a Cybils Middle Grade Fiction first round nominee, and I’m thrilled to have shortlisted it.

Posted in Humor, Middle School, Tween Reads

Book Review: Bindi Babes, by Narinder Dhami (Delacorte, 2004)

Recommended for ages 8-12

The Dhillon sisters – Amber, Jazz, and Geena – are perfect. They are perfect students, perfectly dressed, and perfectly popular. Their teachers always look to them for help with their classmates and for the right answers, and the girls never disappoint. The girls keep their act airtight so no one will sense the pain they are in from losing their mother the year before. The sisters will not even talk about her at home for fear of letting loose all the emotions they have bottled up.

Escaping his grief through work, their father is rarely home and when he is, rarely speaks to them other than to indulge them in nearly everything they ask. When he announces that their Auntie is coming from India to live with them and take care of the girls, they are furious – they certainly do not need anyone to babysit them! When Auntie arrives and starts interfering in their lives – especially when their father starts saying no to new clothes, sneakers and pierced ears – they decide she’s got to go. Marrying her off would be the best way to benefit everyone, but who to choose, and how to do it?

The book is ‘tween chick lit; it is an easy read with little emotional depth or character examination. The ending is predictable but satisfying, and leaves the family’s story open to a sequel. In fact, the book is the first in a 4-book series. Ms. Dhami provides a glimpse into Indian culture which has doubtlessly introduced many girls to a new culture in our increasingly diverse society.

Narinder Dhami has also written the popular film Bend it Like Beckham. Her website offers links to her books, author facts, and a link to Amber’s blog, where the Bindi Babes narrator keeps readers up on the latest gossip. Random House provides a teachers guide complete with discussion questions and links for further reading on diversity.