100. Baby Learns to Count (Ed. Jessie Ruffenach, 2005) Young Adult Books (15) 1. Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in it (Sundee Frazier, 2007)
2. Tangled Threads (Pegi Deitz Shea, 2003)
3. American Born Chinese (Gene Yang, 2006)
4. The Year of the Rat (Grace Lin, 2008)
5. Becoming Naomi Leon (Pam Munoz Ryan, 2004)
6. Moccasin Thunder (ed. Lori Carlson, 2005)
7. The Year of the Dog (Grace Lin, 2007)
8. Poet Slave of Cuba (Margarita Engle, 2006)
9. When Heaven Fell (Carolyn Marsden, 2007)
10. Tequila Worm (Viola Canales, 2005)
11. Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi, 2003)
12. Honeysuckle House (Andrea Cheng, 2004)
13. Paint the Wind (Pam Munoz Ryan, 2007)
14. The Gold-Threaded Dress (Carolyn Marsden, 2002)
15. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie, 2007)
16. Re-Gifters (Mike Carey, 2007)
***Books In Depth ***** Author: Alarcón, Francisco X.
Title: Iguanas in the Snow
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
Multicultural Aspects? Spanish and English Poetry
Why Chosen? Recommended by World of Words Multicultural Library
Synopsis: This is a collection of poems that celebrates the diversity in Northern California. The book presents the English poems first and then the same poem is presented in Spanish. The author notes at the end of the book that the inspiration for this book came during a two year stay in a Northern California bilingual school.
Author: Alexie, Sherman
Title: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Why Chosen? Recommended by many sources, including classmates.
Synopsis: This story was very touching and heartbreaking in places. It was the story of Arnold Sprit who everyone on the reservation (the rez) called Junior. Junior is excited for high school to start, because he enjoys learning so much. But when he receives his new geometry book and realizes that this book was used by his mother when she when to school over 30 years ago, he gets mad. He tosses the book and accidentally hits his teacher, and receives one week of detention. During the week off of school, he decides to attend the white school in town and then his life totally changes.
The book is really about fitting in to the all-white school (the only other Indian is the mascot) and making new friends and also his struggles in order to go to the school, frequently walking and hitchhiking his way there and back the 22 miles from the rez. Junior must repair friendships that are destroyed when he goes to the white school and leans to live in a balance between his Indian world and the white school world. This was a very good story. I have been on the waiting list for a long time for this book and it really was worth the wait.
Author: Bae, Hyun-Joo
Title: New Clothes for New Year’s Day
Multicultural Aspects? Korean traditions
Why Chosen? Recommended in class on the first weekend.
Synopsis: This book illustrated the Korena New Year’s celebration and tradition of wearing new clothing . At the end of the book, is a long explanation of the symbolism and importance of each on the pieces of the dress and other important traditions of the Korean New Year. One interesting item mentioned by the book is that in Korea, New Years is counted like a birthday for everyone. Everyone is now a year older. One criticism that I have of the book is that I did not know that it was a Korean book until the end. I did understand that it was “oriental” but I wish that the author had stated this clearly at the beginning of the book. Additionally the illustrations in the book were nice with simple clean lines that would be typical of the culture.
Author: Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.
Title: Cesar: Si Se Puede! Yes we can!
Date/Awards: 2004/ Pura Belpre Honor Book
Multicultural Aspects? Mexican Amerian
Why Chosen? Recommended by Pura Belpre
Synopsis: A collection of poems and illustrations that colorfully tells the tales of Cesar Chaves and his childhood and eventual leadership of the United Farm Workers Union that made many changes in the lives of the migrant workers in California. This book uses some Spanish worlds to add flavor to the story but is mostly in English. The struggle is clearly and concisely developed without omitting too many important details.
In the back of the book is a glossary of Spanish words that are translated into English as well as some more in-depth information about La Causa! There is even a chronological table of events of Cesar’s life from birth to death and even a works cited page that lists some internet sources used. Illustrations were soft and colorful a nice contrast against the hardship and struggles of Cesar and his United Farm Workers Union.
Author: Bolden, Tonya
Title: Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Multicultural Aspects? Daily life of African-American girl in 19 cen. New York
Why Chosen? Recommended on booklist
Synopsis: The daily life of Maritcha R. Lyons (who was born in 1848 in New York City and grew up there and eventually moved to Rhode Island) is examined in depth in this story. She was the first black student to attend high school in Rhode Island (having to sue for the right to attend) and this book is an extensive documentation of her life. This book is full of family photographs, newspaper clippings and maps to illustrate the experiences of Maritcha and her family. Excellent, however wordy for younger children, possibly a good reference book for a report for an older child .
Author: Bootman, Colin
Synopsis: This was a tale of two brothers who live in Trinidad and there fishing trip. They wake up early one morning with the goal of catching more fish than they can eat in one day. But first they have to walk to the market town and buy some hooks. Then they must dig enough worms and finally they arrive at the fishing hole that their Grandmother (The Grand Lady) has recommended. Unfortunately, the fish are not biting well, and the boys get frustrated and toss the bucket into the stream. When they look to collect the bucket, they see that many fish have swum accidentally into the bucket and that they indeed have many more fish than they could eat in one day.
This story from Trinidad used the local dialect to tell the story and sometimes that was hard to read. The author also included a glossary in the back to help clear up any confusion and to explain the new words.
Author: Brett, Jan
Title: The Three Snow Bears
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Multicultural Aspects? Inuit remake of the Goldilocks story
Why Chosen? Recommended by a co-hort member, Jo Anne Jansen
Synopsis: This Goldilocks tale has been very nicely re-created into an Inuit tale, and the characters are still bears! In this tale, however, while Goldilocks is drinking their soup, trying on their clothing and sleeping in their beds, the Polar Bear family is out for a walk, that results in the Bears saving Goldilocks’ sled dogs from drifting away on an ice floe. I thought the Bears where drawn in a powerful, respectful way and although they wore “Inuit clothing” (decorated furs) their faces were not painted, nor were they presented in a negative way. I thought the furs, and carved bowl seemed to reflect the culture accurately. All the snow and huge igloo did make me feel cold, however! This book was also illustrated by Jan Brett and she truly did a wonderful job to represent the culture/feeling of the story with the Inuit culture.
Author: Brown, Janet Mitsui
Title: Thanksgiving at Obaachan’s
Publisher: Chicago: Polychrome Publishing Co.
Date/Awards: 1994( Michigan Team Nutrition Booklist member)
Synopsis: The story of Thanksgiving dinner at a girl’s grandmother’s house. Many Japanese traditions are included as are foods that add to the traditional Thanksgiving meal (Rice and Sushi). There is a glossary of Japanese-English terms at the back of the book. Wonderful watercolor pictures illustrate this book.
Date/Awards: 2004/ Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Multicultural Aspects? Cuban-American singer Celia Cruzes life
Why Chosen? Brought to our first class meting
Synopsis: The life of Celia Cruz is revealed in this wonderfully illustrated children’s book. The author spends a fair bit of time talking about Celia’s childhood memories of life in Cuba and the singing that she shared with many other members of her family. The story even explains the exclamation Azucar! That Cruz used to yell to show alliance with members of the audience of their Cuban heritage. I thought that this story explained the Cuban communism very clearly and well for a children’s book and how Cruz felt too restricted to stay in her country.
Author: Brown, Monica
Title: My Name is/me llamo Gabriela
Publisher: Luna Rising
Multicultural Aspects? Latin American author
Why Chosen? Recommended on Reforma Website
Synopsis: This book in English and Spanish tells the story of Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) Who was the first Latin American writer to receive the Nobel prize for literature. The book tells the story of the life of this remarkable woman in the first person, how she taught herself to read and write and how she was able to fulfill her dream of becoming an author. This book teaches its readers to believe in the power of our own voices no matter where we come from, what we look like, how old or young you are even if we are rich or poor—none of it matters as much as believing in yourself. An excellent book for all children to read.
Author: Bryan, Ashley
Title: Beautiful Blackbird
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Date/Awards: 2003/ Coretta Scott King Award-winner
Multicultural Aspects? Folk tale from Zimbabwe
Why Chosen? Award winner
Synopsis: All the birds in Africa are only one color. No one has any black coloring except for Black Bird. The other birds beg Black Bird to give them some of his colors so he ‘brews’ up some black coloring and artistically ‘paints’ black onto the other birds in the form of stripes, dots and rings.
I thought this story was a little strange as they do not ask any other bird to share his color (identity) with another bird. We did not see the red bird do the same. And I know that the reviews are along the line of “black is beautiful” but I did not see that in this book. I saw “black give me what you have got”. But perhaps I am looking too hard at this folk tale. I did think that all the cut paper art was beautiful and made for some nice illustrations in this story.
Multicultural Aspects? African American traditions
Why Chosen? Award winner
Synopsis: This book highlights three favorite Spiritual songs and uses detailed paper cutouts to accompany the text of the songs. The three songs are “This little light of mine”, When the Saints go marching in” and “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. The back of the books has a note from the author about the history of the spiritual songs. At one point they were called “Negro Spirituals” and were created during a time when African Americans were not allowed to read or write. The author also notes that the illustrations were attempting to capture the underlying meaning in the songs. I thought that this book was rather creative with the mix of illustrations and songs together and I also liked the little historical blurb at the end when the author explains the significance of the music.
Author: Canales, Viola
Title: The Tequila Worm
Publisher: Random House
Date/Awards: 2005/ Pura Belpre Award Winner-
Multicultural Aspects? Mexican American
Why Chosen? Recommended by classmate Lisa D.
Synopsis: This story is almost a collection of short stories about growing up in a small town in Texas as a Mexican –American. Sofia is learning to handle all sorts of grown up situations including her first communion, handling bullies and deciding what she really wants in life. I thought the way the author illustrated the friction between the students at school and the fact that some (European American) called the others (Mexican American) “Beaners” during lunch was handled very well. The gym coach came and ate with Sofia and her friends and raved about how good the bean tacos were and how nice it was that she got to eat tacos not just a sandwich. Furthermore the teacher said that a good way to “get back” at those who were taunting her was to excel at math, English and Sports. I think that the gym coach had a lasting (positive) effect on the outcome of Sofia and some of her contemporaries.
This positive effect and support of the Gym coach enables Sofia to excel in her middle school so much in fact that she wins a scholarship to a boarding school. Her success in school and with her family is what enables her to stay strong and work for what she wants, to go to boarding school, and still stay close to her family. Even in the face of the death of her father at the end of the book, Sophia is able to work through her grief and not let it destroy her. This story was truthful and real life without being super depressing like some others I have been reading. I am going to request other books by this author.
Author: Carbone, Elisa Lynn
Title: Night Running: How James escaped with the help of his faithful dog.
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Multicultural Aspects? African American Slavery tale
Why Chosen? Cover looked interesting.
Synopsis: This book was based on a true story of how a hunting dog helped a slave, James escape to freedom. James assumed that the dog would be a liability and was instead an asset on the journey to freedom. Zeus, the dog, was able to hunt and guard James while he was escaping. Each time that James wanted to leave Zeus behind, the dog would have to come and save his life in some way. James eventually swims ashore on the Ohio River and meets up with a Quaker farmer who gives him and the dog a hot meal, and finds them employment on another Quaker’s farm a few miles away. James saves money for his own farm and even goes to school to become a minister, before completing his dream of escaping to Canada.
Author: Carey, Mike & Liew, Sonny & Hempel, Marc
Publisher: DC Comics Entertainment Company
Multicultural Aspects? Korean American girl grows up in L.A.
Why Chosen? Recommended on ALA’s Booklist
Synopsis: This was a great story about Dixie (Dik Seong Jen) A Korean American teenager who lives in East L.A. Dixie, who has a “life threatening crush” on Adam in her school as well as in her Hapkido classes (a Korean form of Karate). As Dixie tries to concentrate on her schoolwork and family instead of dwell on Adam, she learns the value of her family’s traditions and the importance of keeping your word and your concentration (ki). At the end of the novel, Dixie has won out in many respects, but most importantly, with herself.
This was a great Graphic novel and the ending really surprised me.