Let’s Celebrate Diwali

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Image Credit: Bharat Babies (Mascot Books), Anjali Joshi/Tim Palin

 

It’s almost Diwali, the festival of lights, so why not celebrate with this cool picture book!? ūüôā

Let’s Celebrate Diwali tells the story of Harini and her friends. These four friends are in the same classroom and on Diwali, they share their Diwali stories. Harini is Hindu, Dhimen is Buddhist, Urvi is Jain and Amrit is Sikh. Dressed in traditional outfits, they take turns telling how they celebrate the holiday and readers learn how rich Diwali is. It’s important that their teacher, Ms. Lo, gives her students the ability to share their cultures and religions during circle time. Her classroom is a safe and welcoming space for all religions and cultures which is something children need to see and experience.

Harini and Urvi learn that they both light diyas for Diwali but the stories their families tell are different. This book does a great job of highlighting cultural diversity and respect; all the students in the classroom are engaged during circle time and ask great questions. At the end of the story, Anna, who does not celebrate Diwali, wishes for a special Diwali outfit too¬†and Harini lets her wear her dupatta (scarf) and bangles. Harini races home and can’t wait to share the new Diwali stories she learned at school. Maybe readers will be inspired to learn more¬†about the stories featured in this book!

I love the addition of a pronunciation guide + definitions of the vocabulary in the text. Anjali Joshi’s cute and relatable story is one that children will connect to and learn a lot from. I enjoyed Tim Palin’s vibrant and happy illustrations. I especially like the design of the cover; the bright, blocky letters¬†mimic the bright lights and exciting fireworks of Diwali. The round faces of the children in the book are warm and inviting.

Here is a cute¬†Paper Diya craft from blogger Artsy Craftsy Mom that pairs well with this book. ¬†Just like Harani and Urvi, you’ll have diyas in your home this Diwali.

 

Happy Diwali! ‚̧

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Holidays, Cultural Relativity, Cultural Diversity, India, Diwali, Friendship, Community, School Life, Family, Respect, Religion, Celebration
Book Info: Let’s Celebrate Diwali¬†by Anjali Joshi/Illustrated by Tim Palin,¬†2016 Bharat Babies (Mascot Books),¬†ISBN:¬†9781631774218

Apple Pie 4th of July

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Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Janet S. Wong/Margaret Chodos-Irvine

I found this book by happy accident while shopping in one of my local indie bookstores. The cover drew me in and the content impressed me too.¬†Can’t you tell from the cover that the little girl has some sass? Ha!

The Fourth of July is a very straight-forward holiday for some and complicated for others so I couldn’t pass up¬†a book that features diverse perspectives. In Apple Pie 4th of July, a girl doesn’t understand¬†why her family’s Chinese restaurant/corner store HAS to be open on the 4th of July; no one wants Chinese food on the holiday and she’s missing the parade! Her immigrant parents simply don’t get it. But maybe her parents know something (fireworks ARE from China by the way…) and maybe her holiday will turn out fun in the end!

There’s a lot packed into this book. Though she thinks she knows exactly what it means to be American and she underestimates her parents’ understanding of American culture,¬†she learns that¬†their Chinese-ness fits perfectly in. She’s growing up and¬†finding her way. I really enjoyed the writing; I like the way Wong breaks up sentences and spreads them across the pages. The illustrations are beautiful;¬†Chodos-Irvine’s linocuts are dynamic, with strong shapes and lines. She’s also excellent at characterization. Wong and Chodos-Irvine¬†know how to use space effectively to tell a great story.

AHH how refreshing; of course I had to find something¬†a little different for my 4th of July post! ūüėČ

Happy Fourth! Now I’m ready for a slice of apple pie…

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Fourth of July, Holidays, Asian American, Chinese American, Diversity, Immigrants, Perspective, Restaurant Life, Discussion, Community, Chinese Food, Lessons, Celebration
Book Info: Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong/Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, 2006 Voyager Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), ISBN: 9780152057084

Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story

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Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, Naomi Howland

 

Happy Chanukah!

I recently discovered this lovely book about Chanukah and latkes. Who doesn’t like latkes?? So delicious.

In this folktale, Sadie lives in a drafty house with her four little brothers and they’re so poor that they always worry about their next meal. ¬†On the first night of Chanukah, as Sadie collects firewood, she meets an old woman and kindly offers the wood to her. For her kindness, the old woman gives her a magical frying pan and tells her the words to use it but she must¬†remember to keep them¬†a secret!¬†When Sadie¬†puts the pan on the stove and whispers the words, a feast of latkes appear in the pan. On the last day of Chanukah, her naughty brothers wait for her to leave the house then try to use the pan. But of course they didn’t hear the words correctly and soon the entire village is overflowing with tender, salty, delicious latkes!!

Howland’s gouache and colored pencil illustrations are folksy and beautiful. The story takes place in Russia and she includes colorful folk art flower borders in the illustrations. The character of¬†Sadie is based on an old photograph of her grandmother and the story itself is inspired by The Magic Porridge Pot by The Brothers Grimm. Howland is also kind enough to¬†include a recipe for latkes at the end of the book and there’s a note about Chanukah/Chanukah traditions for readers who aren’t familiar with the holiday.

Happy Chanukah! I hope you’ll seek out this¬†cute story about family, culture and sharing with community. I’m off to find some latkes…

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Chanukah, We Need Diverse Books, Cultural Diversity, Holidays, Food Culture, Religions, Family, Folktale, Morals, Magic, Kindness, Family, Community, Celebration, Storytelling, Russia, Latkes
Book Info: Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat:  A Chanukah Story by Naomi Howland, 2004 (Reprint) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 9780618492954

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

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Image Credit: Abrams, Duncan Tonatiuh

Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh is one of my current favorites. I love not only the abundance of cultural and historical information in his picture books but his art style is simply amazing. It’s so smooth and modern while being unique and a throwback to his indigenous Mexican heritage. Does it get better than that? Not really and that’s why I’m loving his books so much.

Because Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is coming up soon, I’m discussing his newest book Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. I’ve had an interest in Dia de Los Muertos ever since I taught a lesson about it to my Korean students. I wanted to expose them to a cultural tradition that was different but similar to one of their own. Koreans celebrate a holiday called Chuseok where they honor and pray for their dead ancestors. Since there are some similarities to Dia de Los Muertos, I thought the kids might really get something out of it!

Tonatiuh does an excellent job of making culture, art critique and history accessible to kids. Some kids really enjoy the bio books and I think they’ll love¬†this one. We learn about the life and art of Mexican artist Posada who is responsible for making the crazy and vibrant Calavera (bone people) illustrations popular. He also documented important political events like the Mexican Revolution.

What I enjoyed most about this picture book is how Tonatiuh encourages children to do art critique. He reproduces Posada’s art, blends it with his own and poses questions about the meaning of the art all while telling Posada’s story. This is awesome! Because the book is partially about Dia de Los Muertos, it encourages you to think about life and death. This may seem heavy but like the holiday, it is about the celebration of life as well as the celebration of a great Mexican artist!

Recommended for: Ages 7 and up
Great for: History, Art History, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Holiday, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, Artist Bio, Biography, Non-Fiction, Mexico
Book Info: Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh, 2015 Abrams, ISBN: 9781419716478