Title: Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today
Multicultural Aspects? Contemporary American Indian Stories
Why Chosen? Recommend by the “I is for Inclusion” article
Synopsis: This book was a collection of short stories by Native American authors put together by an editor who is not a Native American, but feels the absence of good Native American literature today and is trying to change this. Many of the stories center on alcohol or drug abuse as well as other painful events that humans must sometimes endure. However, the language in some of the short stories is very powerful and poetic, especially the images of loneliness and abandonment. The book states it is for 12 and above and I would agree, especially with the talk of drugs and alcohol. This book was a very deep and moving book on the feelings of Native American writers today and their sense of place in the world. I thought the story by Sherman Alexie about the boy and his father was very “real” and touching.
Author: Chen, Chih-Yuan
Title: Guji Guji
Multicultural Aspects? Story from Taiwan/adoption/multicultural families/ self-esteem
Why Chosen? Recommended on booklist/ New York Times Bestseller/ ALA Notable Children’s books/ NPR Weekend Edition Review Book
Synopsis: When a crocodile egg rolls in to a duck’s nest, the duck continues to hatch the egg and raise the crocodile as her own child. Through the course of the story, the little crocodile has some adventures with its “siblings” until one day when some adult crocodiles approach Guji Guji and ask him to assist in the capture and eating of the duck family. Guji Guji must make a hard decision about which group he really belongs in. He eventually decides that the duck family is really his own family and is able to use the support of the ducks to trick the other crocodiles into leaving them alone –permanently.
This is a good book for unconventional families and highlights family loyalty, caring about others and standing up for yourself (self-esteem). Wonderful illustrations, including great teeth, and an important message about accepting yourself and your family no matter how “strange” the world thinks you are.
Why Chosen? Recommended by Jane Devereax, Erickson Librarian
Synopsis: This was a cute story told in alternating chapters by both the main characters. One is Sarah, a Chinese American who was born in Cincinnati and cannot speak any Chinese. The second is Tina or Ting, who was born in China and has now moved to Cincinnati to be with her parents. Each chapter is told from the view of each girl as they are thrown together as the only Chinese students in the school. Each has a different view of the other and it is interesting to see their different reactions to the same situations, and also the evolution of their friendship as it develops from strangers to real friends by the end of the book.
The book also touches on some problems that occur for immigrants including the struggle to get a “green card” for work and also many cultural dishes that are no longer available or acceptable to talk about with the American friends.
Again I enjoyed the view of the world as seen through the eyes of children. I see how they are struggling to understand why their parents are ‘always’ working and away as well as their desire to grow up and become their own person and yet still please their parents.
This book was unfortunately another book that Jane has lent me for this class with a note that it has not been checked out of the school library one time. I am forced to conclude that kids really must need adults to help them select good books to read (and push the multicultural titles. Could it be that the library is a place for only the popular books (Goosebumps etc…) are checked out when a child is making their own decisions?)
Author: Cleary, Brian P.
Title: Eight Wild Nights
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing Inc.
Date/Awards: 2006/ Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner
Multicultural Aspects? Jewish Holiday Traditions
Why Chosen? Recommended by Librarian at Woods Branch
Synopsis: This tale of Hanukkah begins with a little synopsis of why Hanukkah is celebrated and how the holiday came about. The story is told in a rhyme form about the cleaning and preparing of the house and food for all the family members that are soon to show up for eight days of fun. The only part of the story I did not like, was the emphasis on everything going wrong (things breaking and spilling) but I guess that those miss-haps happen and that the point was that the holiday continued to be fun. Indeed even by the eighth day of the family being together, they all get along and can’t wait to do it again next year.
I thought that the multicultural aspect of mentioning typical foods (Blintzes, geld, latkes) without explaining them more must mean that this book was designed for the kids who celebrate this holiday on a regular basis. Good Book.
Author: Cohn, Diana
Title: Dream Carver
Publisher: Chronicle Books, LLC
Multicultural Aspects? Mexican woodcarving tale
Why Chosen? Recommended by Librarian Jane D.
Synopsis: This story was about a young boy who dreams of carving vividly painted animals and must convince his father that trying a new way to carve and paint is still honoring the tradition of woodcarving. In the last two pages of the book, there is an in depth account of the Oaxacan wood carvers and the magic that they can work with wood and paint. Very cute story and I loved the colorful illustrations.
Author: Corpi, Lucha
Title: Where Fireflies Dance/ Ahi, donde bailan las Luciernagas.
Date/Awards: 1997 (2000-2001 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List (Texas ALA))
Multicultural Aspects? Children growing up in Mexico--English-Spanish text
Why Chosen? Award winner and English-Spanish text
Synopsis: The story follows the life of a girl growing up in Mexico, and leaning about her history, the history of her country (Mexican revolutionaries) and her rich culture through songs and stories from her Father and Grandmother. The message from the story is to follow your destiny and do what you are supposed to do.
Author: Cummings, Pat
Title: Ananse and the Lizard
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Multicultural Aspects? West African tale
Why Chosen? Author is a Coretta Scott King award winner
Synopsis: This is my second book about Ananse the Spider. I thought it was interesting that these two people have spelled the spiders name differently, but maybe that is just a translation thing. I also was drawn to this book because the cover has an African Kunte cloth drawing and is very bright yellow and colorful.
In this story Ananse the spider finds an advertisement to marry the Kings daughter and rule a part of the kingdom. He is so excited that he sets off, confident in his abilities to be successful with this challenge. When he arrives at the Palace, he is discouraged by the number of young men there to also there to try and guess at the daughter’s name. That night, Ananse climbs over the fence into the palace and overhears a conversation, and thus learns the name of the King’s daughter. In the morning, he again brags to everyone that he is going to become king and that they all should respect him. The lizard volunteers to announce Ananse, as the important figure that he is, before he meets the king. Ananse thinks that this is a great idea and tells the lizard the daughter’s name so he will be introduced to the king.
The smart lizard has tricked Ananse and goes and claims the daughter and the kingdom for himself. This story is a remake of a series of African tales about the adventures of Ananse and the lesions learned from them. There is a note in the beginning of the book mentioning that you should not tell stories during the day, but at night, when the moon is full and all the work is done.
Author: Curtis, Christopher Paul
Title: Elijah of Buxton
Publisher: Scholastic press
Date/Awards: 2007/ Newbery Award/ Coretta Scott King Award
Multicultural Aspects? African American
Why Chosen? Award winner, recommended on many web sites.
Synopsis: This story is about a settlement of freed slaves who are living in the Canadian town of Buxton in the 1800’s. (Buxton is just over the water from Detroit.) The narrator is 11 year old Elijah the first free-born child in the settlement. Elijah is very gullible believing a story early on that “hoop” snakes were invading the town, but other than that, he is strong and loyal and has a good deal of common sense and sense of what is right and what is wrong in the world. Because few of the adults are able to read, Elijah is asked to read all the letters that arrive in town and that frequently made him the bearer of bad news.
I generally thought the story was well-written and interesting. I thought about Elijah for a few days after I was finished reading the book. My dilemma with the book were because I thought that the story was a bit graphic for a child’s book (reading level 9-12 year olds) (but hey when is a good age to discuss this horrible subject of slavery) But that Elijah was constantly trying not to show that he was fra-gile. (i.e. had feelings). Or behavior that was like a girls. He also spent a lot of time in the story trying to deal with the “looseness in his nose”. I am not sure why this author chooses to include as many remarks as he did, but I found it very distracting.
Synopsis: Jamela decorates her new school shoes much to the dismay of her mother. A neighbor sees the decorated shoes and asks Jamela to help her to create more of these shoes to sell. Jamela earns money from the sale of the shoes to pay for another set of “sturdy” school shoes. The story occurs around Jamela’s birthday but seems detached from this event. In addition there are a few words that are used and are defined in the back. I would say they were South African, but I am not sure of the one used by this book.
Author: Deedy, Carmen A.
Title: Martina una cucarachita muy linda.
Publisher: Atlanta: Peachtree
Date/Awards:2007 (Pura Belpre Medal Honorable Mention)
Multicultural Aspects? Cuban cockroach Folktale
Why Chosen? Award winner—Spanish language
Synopsis: (From ALA website) A humorous retelling of a Cuban Folktale, as cockroach interviews her suitors in order to decide whom to marry. From my reading it appears Martina’s grandmother’s advice in finding a suitor is to pour coffee on the shoes of the men that pledge their love. This advice works and allows Martina to avoid 3 poor choices and find the perfect husband. The illustrations of Cuba were very well done. The book seemed “rich” with colors.
Author:De Paola, Tomie
Title: Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.
Publisher: Simon &Schuster
Date/Awards: 1986 (Previous book in series was award winner)
Multicultural Aspects? This story has words in Italian, depicts Italian village and Italian Christmas time treats.
Why Chosen? I read the first Stega Nona book and thought I would enjoy another.
Synopsis: Strega Nona is working very hard to get the house ready for Christmas and her famous Christmas feast. She makes Big Anthony work very hard for her and Big Anthony eventually forgets to complete many chores she assigned him. Stega Nona is thus unable to cook her famous Christmas feast, and walks home from church very sad. However upon arrival, Big Anthony and the rest of the town are waiting for her, to surprise her with the gift of the Christmas feast that everyone has helped to create.
Author:De Paola, Tomie
Title: Strega Nona.
Publisher: Simon &Schuster
Date/Awards: 1975 (1976 Caldecott Honor Book Award Winner)
Why Chosen? I was browsing in the library and was drawn to the name and the fact that it had received an award.
Multicultural Aspects? This book contains words in Italian, depicts an Italian village and talks about regional foods. Catholic Religion talked about.
Synopsis: Strega Nona hires Big Anthony to help around the house, but when SN goes to visit her friend, Big Anthony removes the pasta pot and tries to mimic SN’s magic. SN returns to the village just in time to save everyone from the advancing wall of pasta. Lesson of the book: Follow directions and respect other people’s property.
Author: Daly, Niki
Title: Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa
Synopsis: This story is an African version of the little red riding hood style story in which the young girl is tricked out of her property by a smooth talking dog even after she has been warned about not talking to strangers by her grandmother. After the dog steals all of Salma’s belongings, she runs to her grandfather for help. Salma teams up with the grandfather and others to scare the dog away before he is able to cook and eat the grandmother.
The back of the book said that this author is from Capetown, South Africa and yet the front of the book said that this was a West African setting, so I am not sure what language is being used when Salma uses the word “ntama” for a skirt. Also I had a little trouble with portrayal of the grandmother and other women in the story as larger. In addition Salma is going to the store for a watermelon and a live chicken. I was not sure if these were all some kind of stereotyping or not, but I found myself reacting critically to them.
Author: Duvall, Deborah L.
Title: How Medicine came to the people: a tale of the ancient Cherokees
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Multicultural Aspects? American Indian/ Cherokee tale
Why Chosen? Cover looked inviting
Synopsis: This was an interesting tale about how humans came to use plants for medicine. The story goes that animals were creating the diseases in humans to counter the human’s eating the animals for food- A sort of revenge plan. The plants however have welcomed humans into their lives, because the humans are always caring for the plants, and weeding them and tending to them and preserving their seeds until the next year. Therefore the plants begin to cure the ailments of the humans, and that is how the Cherokee people know to use peppermint to cure indigestion for example. The illustrations in this book are made from wood cuts and are very detailed. I thought that this story was a little morbid at first and would worry if I used this book during a story time.
Multicultural Aspects? No depiction of children, just the world around them
Why Chosen? I chose this book because of the title (My World)
Synopsis: This book has very little text, but beautiful illustrations and tells the story of an ideal childhood in a coastal area. This book contains many beautiful and colorful references to nature and the ocean with seashells. This book gives the impression that life is full of imagination and abundance when you can pick fruits, play all day long and at night, look up at the stars and say “Thank you world for everything”
Now I wonder if this book is just elitist and wonder how many inner city children can relate to picking fruit off the trees, go swimming in the ocean and play at the beach. I am thinking that the kids I meet last year at Mission Elementary would not really connect to this “exotic” book. I choose this book because it’s title was “In My World” and now I find myself asking “In Whose World?”
Author: Endready, James
Title: The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer: A Huichol Indian Story
Publisher: Bear Cub Books/ Inner Traditions International
Multicultural Aspects? Indian tale from Mexico
Why Chosen? Recommended in I is for Inclusion Article
This story is a modern adaptation of a traditional tale from the Huichol people from North Western Mexico. The tail is a kind of “vision quest” tale in which the young girls and boys search out the questions of where they fit into the world. Unlike other Native groups, the Huichol people embark on the vision quest with the entire family as a unit, so that all people can experience the quest together, not just the girl or boy by themselves.
This story follows a boy, Tunuri on a vision quest with his family. During the long walk to the sacred mountains, Tunuri follows a butterfly deep within the woods and finds that he is lost. A magical blue deer appears and leads Tunuri to meet with his Father the Creator, and his brother wind and sister water. Tunuri meets many people and travels through the woods and leans about the connection between himself, humans and nature.
The illustrations in this book are created from traditional yarn drawings and are absolutely beautiful. There is a page at the back of the book that demonstrates how the yarn drawings are made using yarn and wax on wood. In addition the back of this book has a place that notes Huichol Sacrid Symbols and another, in depth page on the Huichol Indians.
Author: Engle, Margarita
Title: The Poet Slave of Cuba
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Multicultural Aspects? Cuban Poetry
Why Chosen? Recommended/ Pura Belpre Medal Book Award winner
Synopsis: Touching poetry written by a slave in 18 century Cuba. This Poet was able to memorize many entertaining bits of literature and poetic verse and amuse his owner and her guests. Many times the author recalls his cruel treatment as a slave and his feelings that he is not a man but a poodle for his owner. I think this would be a good book for an older child, high school age but again I think I am trying to shelter younger children from the realities of the cold, cruel world and they really should be exposed to these situations early on..
Author: Falwell, Cathryn
Title: Butterflies for Kiri
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Multicultural Aspects? Japanese American culture
Why Chosen? Recommended by Librarian
Synopsis: When Kiri receives an origami kit for her birthday, she learns that she must practice in order to make the (sometimes) complicated animal shapes and other figures. This story has a lot of great illustrations (maybe they are collages?) and uses vibrant colors well.
Author: Frame, Jeron Ashford
Title: Yesterday I had the Blues
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Date/Awards: 2003/ Ezra Jack Keats Book Award
Multicultural Aspects? African American
Why Chosen? Award winner
Synopsis: This book was about associating colors with moods, and the experiences of one boy and all the different feelings that his is seeing around him represented with colors. My favorite one was the “Yellows” that his Grandmother got, singing in the kitchen. He hoped the “Yellows” would cause Grandma to mix up a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies! His sister also got the “Pinks” which would cause her to run around and look for her pink hair clip.
I thought this book dealt with different moods in a unique way and also in a way that students would be able to talk about them in a constructive way. There was a little talk about moods being in red (aka a bad mood) but only a page, most of the moods were handled in a positive manner. Great book, I would recommend it to anyone to read.
Author: Frazier, Sundee
Title: Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in it
Publisher: Delacore Press
Date/Awards: 2007/ Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe New Talent Award
Synopsis: This book was a very interesting look at a month of an 11 year old boy and his thoughts and feelings growing up as a multi-cultural member of society. During the course of the book, he is able to discover an interest in Rocks as well as an un-known grandfather and learn something about himself along the way. Very engaging book, I could not put it down.
Date/Awards: 2003/ IRA/CBC Children's Choice award
Multicultural Aspects? Native American tale
Why Chosen? Recommended by Valencia Librarian
Synopsis: A boy and grandmother’s lives are changed when the boy finds a brave horse that has magical properties and will rescue them from a life of poverty to one of prosperity and notoriety.
Author: Goldin, Barbra D.
Title: The Best Hanukkah Ever
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books
Multicultural Aspects? Celebration of Hanukkah
Why Chosen? Hanukkah/ Jewish culture
Synopsis: When the Knoodle family tries to follow their Rabbis advice about giving the perfect Hanukkah gift, everything goes wrong and their Hanukkah is ruined until the Rabbi comes to explain and the youngest boy in the family comes up with the solution that solves the family’s problems. I chose this book because it dealt with Hanukkah and did find many references to traditional Jewish foods (potato pancakes) and games (dreidel) but I was disappointed to see that the family ONLY was interested in the gifts that they were going to receive and that the little boy had to save the family from crisis and not the Rabbi. Also the family was depicted as very pale, and I thought that was a bit strange.