Let’s Celebrate Diwali

letscelebratediwali

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

It’s Ramadan, Curious George

Curious George 1

Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hena Khan/Mary O’Keefe

It’s the month of Ramadan, a time for Muslims around the world to pray, reflect, and fast with loved ones. Last night at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, at least fifty people were killed and the shooter seems to be Muslim. ¬†In this time of sadness, this tragedy¬†has already resulted in increased Islamophobia and racism towards Muslims in our country.

We MUST love and understand each other. Hatred has no place here.

It’s Ramadan, Curious George is¬†an important and sweet addition to the Curious George book series. We need more books that are mirrors for Muslim children and this is one more to add to your shelf. There’s already a Happy Hanukkah, Curious George,¬†many Christmas books, and now we have one to celebrate Ramadan!¬†I hope this cute book makes it into the hands of Muslim children who need it and any child who wants to learn more about¬†Ramadan and Islam.

Curious George 2

Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hena Khan/Mary O’Keefe

It’s Ramadan, Curious George is a¬†tabbed board book; its sturdy size and format is perfect for little hands to grasp. Each tab highlights a chapter of the story with a small illustration. The story follows Curious George, The Man with the Yellow Hat and their new friend, Kareem. Kareem is going to try fasting for Ramadan for the first time and Curious George is actually helpful! ¬†ūüėČ ¬†He cooks delicious food with Kareem’s family¬†and helps Kareem make it through his tough first day of fasting. The book also discusses the importance of sharing with others; Curious George helps with a food drive at the mosque and even inspires a new tradition! At the end of Ramadan, they happily celebrate Eid together and Curious George is glad to have experienced it all.

Hena Khan (Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns) did another great job with this one. Her informative rhyming text with Mary O’Keefe Young’s sweet illustrations is perfect. You’ll want to keep this book on your¬†shelf not only for Ramadan, but all year long. Books like this are not only important for children who need them but are¬†also important¬†for fostering respect and understanding of different cultures¬†at an early age. I hope you’ll enjoy it with your family!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Friendship, Community, Ramadan, Religion, Relationships, Love, Respect, Diversity, Cultural Diversity, Cultural Relativism, Cultures, Understanding, Discussion, Animals, Read-Aloud
Book Info: It’s Ramadan, Curious George¬†by Hena Khan/Illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young, 2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,¬†ISBN: 9780544652262

Horrible Bear!

HorribleBear

Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Ame Dyckman/Zachariah OHora

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and calm down. Anger and frustration are normal but how we make others feel is important.

“HORRIBLE BEAR!” shouts a spunky, freckled girl after her kite flies into a bear’s den. The bear rolls over in its sleep and accidentally snaps the kite in two. >_< ¬†While the girl angrily stomps down the mountain and back home, Bear wakes up frustrated and annoyed (he’s quite amicable!). Bear comes up with a¬†real¬†HORRIBLE BEAR¬†idea and turns into a roaring-destroying-machine and stomps after her. Thankfully the girl realizes that sometimes a mistake really is just a mistake and she shouldn’t be so quick to judge. “I’m sorry” goes quite a long way!

This is such a well written, paced and illustrated picture book. My favorite line is towards the end of the book. OHora’s acrylic illustrations are, as always, BOLD and full of heart. He has an excellent understanding of color and his characters always have a strong presence. I love the black outline he uses and the end papers are so simple and clever.

Check out Horrible Bear! with your little ones; it’s great for teaching kindness and forgiveness.

P.S. Beware that after enjoying this book you might walk around shouting HORRIBLE BEAR! all the time…

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Patience, Respect, Calm Down, Animals, Lessons, Forgiveness
Book Info: Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman/Illustrated by Zachariah OHora, 2016 Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ISBN: 9780316282833

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

BadNewsForOutlaws

Image Credit: Carolrhoda Books (Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.), Vaunda Micheaux Nelson/R. Gregory Christie

“Bass shook his head. He hated bloodshed, but Webb might need killing.” OH SNAP.

The story starts in medias res with an action-packed showdown shootout! Reeves has the tough job of being a lawman in Indian Territory. As Natives were forcibly moved to Indian Territory to live, Whites squatted on the land illegally. The Territory was ripe with outlaws, gamblers and dangerous people. Reeves was the right man to uphold the law; in addition to being clever, well respected and honest, he was a crack shot, tall, broad and strong. He grew up a slave in Texas but escaped after an altercation with his master to Indian Territory. There he lived with tribes and learned their ways and languages until the Civil War when he became free.

Reeves¬†married, had kids and was hired on to be a Deputy Marshal for Indian Territory. Though he couldn’t read, he had an excellent memory and was known for his disguises and clever schemes¬†to track down outlaws. Being a church-going man,¬†he also tried to talk sense into the criminals.¬†Though he was generally respected, he was still a black man with power and many whites weren’t keen on that. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Reeves lost his job as Deputy Marshal but later became a part of the Muskogee police force. In his entire career, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty!!!

BadNewsForOutlaws2

Image Credit: Carolrhoda Books (Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.), Vaunda Micheaux Nelson/R. Gregory Christie

One issue I have with this book is the way in which the author addresses the murder of Reeves’ daughter in law. Reeves’ son Benjamin murdered his own wife because she was “untrue” and though he was sentenced to life, he only had to serve ten years because he was a “model prisoner.” Micheaux Nelson retells historical events (focuses on how tough this is for Reeves)¬†but¬†Reeves’ daughter in law has no agency in this story. She’s the victim of horrific violence yet we never¬†learn her name, we don’t see her in the illustrations and there’s no mention of her in the material at the end of the book. This is unfortunate and I hope readers use this as an opportunity for discussion and to learn more about her.¬†[After about 20 minutes of searching the internet, I found two sources that list her name, Cassie Reeves. Here and here on pg. 39.]

R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations bring Reeves and the unpredictability of the “Wild West” to life. Christie’s color palette is full of sandy browns, rich greens and dark colors. The first page with outlaw Jim Webb bursting through a window (shards of glass flying) to escape from Reeves on horseback is my favorite. By the way, Micheaux Nelson and Christie also collaborated on another excellent book, The Book Itch. Read that one too.

Be sure to check out Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Bass Reeves isn’t as well known as he¬†should be and this picture book is an excellent introduction to his remarkable life.

 

 

Recommended for: 3rd-4th grade and up
Great for:¬†Western, Indian Territory, Native Americans, Oklahoma Tribes, Squatters, Fairness, Law Enforcement, Relationships, Family, Law, Discussion, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Outlaws, African-American, Slavery, Injustice, Respect, Black History Month, Black History Month Children’s Books, Non-fiction, Biography
Book Info: Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson/Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, 2009 Carolrhoda Books (Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.), ISBN: 9780822567646