Posts from the ‘multicultural’ Category

BOLD AND BRASH

How He Comes Out of the Sun

Written by Carlyle Clark

 

This is a tale focusing on The Nobodies, a team of African-American B-17 flyers who were not supposed to exist. The story opens in the middle of the action, a crew is battling the enemy when a split-decision needs to be made. The language is a bit raw, laced with dialect. Readers need to pay close attention to grasp the meaning.

While I enjoyed the short read and thought the characters well developed for the length of the tale, I would have preferred to see the author embellish the story a bit more. If you enjoy wartime stories, you will be engrossed with this one that has an ending with a twist.

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A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS

The Frights of Fiji: (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Series Book 1

Written by Sunayna Prasad

This is the first in a series of fantasy adventures for middle-grade readers. Alyssa is the twelve-year-old protagonist who lost her parents in an accident five years prior. Although her parents had named her Uncle Alex as her guardian, she is now living with her Uncle Bruce and his daughter, Hailey.

Bruce is a stern taskmaster; Alyssa lives a life of unending rules and drudgery. When magic becomes a part of her life, along with some strange-looking wizards and creatures, she believes there is the hope of escape from her plight. But then she learns that an evil wizard intends to capture her and remove Bruce from the picture.

Alyssa has been whisked away to Fiji where her situation goes from bad to worse. She is enslaved with several other children and forced to do the evil wizard’s bidding. Will Alyssa find a way to escape back to the United States and find refuge with her godfather?

There are many fantastical characters and a series of rather far-fetched incidents. Even though this book is a magical fantasy, some of the plot connections don’t come off as genuine.

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CASE SOLVED?

The MEAN GIRL Who NEVER SPEAKS: (The Maya Dove Case Files Book 1)

Written by Zuni Blue

Maya Dove is a six-year-old detective who has already established her reputation at school. One of Maya’s classmates asks her to determine if a new girl at school, Libby Smith is mean or nice. Instead of chapters, the book is presented as a day of the week chronicle as Maya attempts to solve the case. Readers are brought through the day’s happenings in the classroom. Maya gathers her clues, but when Friday arrives she reveals her opinions in a classroom speech.

I am not sure whether Maya really solves the case. She does not state whether Libby is mean or nice but presents her solution in a way that introduces an important social issue. Certainly, Maya’s opinions are quite sophisticated for a six-year-old.

This book is targeted for 5 to 11-year-old readers. The text and vocabulary are an easy read until readers come to the end and Maya’s conclusion. I am not sure whether younger readers will understand the concept of social anxiety. That part of the book is most appropriate for readers ages nine and older. Younger readers will probably need adult help in understanding this concept. I was left with the feeling that the book ended a bit abruptly and the characters might have been fleshed out with more detail.

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WHO DOESN’T NEED A HUG

Who Needs a Hug?: Everybody Needs a Hug

Written and Illustrated by Sally Huss

 

One morning a koala bear wakes up in an exceptionally good mood. He shouts out, “Who needs a hug?” A hippo passing by thinks a catch might be attached so he asks if it is free. The koala scampers down from his eucalyptus tree and hugs the hippo with all his might. Feeling satisfied, the hippo wanders off. The koala renews his offer, hugging any animal that responds to his request. Before long, he has added a giraffe, a porcupine, a brown bear, a snake, a badger, and a tiger to his hugging list. Eventually, the koala comes to a pond for a drink and repeats his question, “Who needs a hug?” This time the answer surprises him.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but children and adults can use a hug any time of the year. The illustrations in this book are whimsical and charming. They need not all be realistic, I enjoyed seeing a blue koala and a purple hippo. This book reminds preschoolers and primary grade children that expressing affection and kindness without expecting anything in return is a valuable reward in itself. Recommended as a bedtime story or read aloud discussion book.

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Gone, but not forgotten

The Yellow Suitcase

Written by Meera Sriram

Illustrated by Meera Sethi

Asha arrives at her grandmother’s house in India from California for her yearly visit, clutching her yellow suitcase. Each year Asha packs her suitcase with gifts for her grandmother and returns with little treasures that her grandmother has created for her. But this year the house is filled with relatives mourning her grandmother’s death. Asha struggles through her grief and becomes inconsolable until it is time to leave. She finds a wonderful gift that her grandmother has made for Asha just before she died.

This multicultural book is a colorful introduction to Indian culture and customs as well as a well-written book to help children understand the death of a close relative and the grieving process. Sethi’s hand-drawn illustrations are vivid and expressive. Perhaps the text could have been a bit larger, but the design of the book is clear and easy to read. Recommended for ages eight and older.

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LESSONS FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

THE PARROT: Short lessons and fables for children: Fable Collection Volume #2

Written and Illustrated by Christy Astremsky

This book contains a collection of five animal fables that teach children lessons about themselves and others. In the first story, the parrot mouths words he has been taught over and over, but the words have little worth. When the parrot escapes from his owners, he can do nothing more than repeat those inane words, he finds that others think little of him. The second story features a zebra who gets lost and finds himself among others unlike himself. He discovers that it is okay to be different. The sparrow and the pigeon teach children what true friendship entails, while the tiger and jackal story teaches to beware of letting one’s guard down. The last story features a butterfly who has a habit of taking from others without ever giving something in return.

The rhyming stories are short and have a few illustrations so the collection might appeal to a beginning reader. Parents and teachers could use the fables on issues that they would like to open with children or students for discussion or intervention. I would especially recommend the book for ages seven through ten though older children who enjoy animal stories will find them appealing.

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A WORLD OF MANY COLORS

UNDERSTANDING BOBBY’S AUTISM DIAGNOSIS: A Social Story

Written and illustrated by Bozena Zawisz

This book explains how an autistic child views his world. It is a valuable reference tool for parents and teachers of autistic children to use to explain autistic behavior. Many autistic children on the higher end of the spectrum are educated in inclusive classrooms. Children can become confused when these children avoid eye contact, have slower speech, and sensitivity to stimuli that other children think normal.

The author uses simple analogies like an abundance of twig branches to explain why autistic children may have difficulty focusing. She talks about teacher adaptations and how they assist an autistic child in learning. Different intensities of the colors of a rainbow is another good example of how all of us are different in the way we behave. Bobby and his friend John have overcome all these difficulties and have become the best of friends. Each of us has unique talents and skills All children need to give and receive respect for these strengths and differences.

I highly recommend this book which contains simple sketches for parents and teachers of elementary school and middle-school children who have contact with children on the autism spectrum.

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