Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘diverse-lit’

When the Rain Comes is “[a]n inspiring story beautifully told” says Resource Links

Posted on December 28th, 2016 by pajamapress

WhenRainComes_website“Malini, a young Sri Lankan girl, is tasked with protecting a bullock cart carrying a load of rice seedlings that will feed her entire village for a year. Malini is eager to accept this responsibility, but when it starts to pour rain, she must make a difficult decision: protect the rice crops or save herself.

This moving story of courage from award-winning author Alma Fullerton is told in lyrical free-verse and the sounds of the impending storm and Malini’s narrow escape with the rice cart come alive through onomatopoeic description. Kim La Fave’s dream-like illustrations imbue Sri Lankan life with a sense of magic, bringing Malini’s seemingly impossible heroic task within the realm of possibility. An explanation of the harsh realities faced by many Sri Lankan citizens at the story’s end highlights that life in Sri Lanka is often far from magical.

When the Rain Comes could serve as a useful point of comparison in many social studies classes, prompting students to weigh Malini’s responsibilities to herself, her family, and her village against their own. An inspiring story beautifully told, When the Rain Comes would be an enriching addition to most school library collections.”
Natalie Colaiacovo

Read the review on page 4 of the December 2016 issue of Resource Links

My Beautiful Birds is “an excellent means of explaining a difficult subject to young children” says Kirkus Reviews

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_websiteSami was feeding his pigeons when his home and his neighborhood were suddenly gone. Sami and his family, Muslims, escape, along with everyone he knows. Hes frightened by smoke and noise, and his father squeezes his hand and assures him his beautiful birds have escaped, too. Days of walking get them to a refugee camp and safety, but while the other kids play and adults try to create a sense of normalcy, Sami cannot join in. Days pass, then he sees four different birds, which land on his outstretched arms. He collects some seeds to feed them, along with paper and wool for their nests, and for the first time since leaving Syria, Sami finds some peace. He then has the strength to welcome a frightened little girl who arrives with a new group. Del Rizzo uses her considerable talent with paint, Plasticine, and polymer clay to create the colorful, highly textured illustrations for this book, which she conceived while searching for a way to explain the Syrian civil war to her young children. Based on a real refugee child who keeps birds, this story isnt about war but its effect on those who experience it and survive. This story of one frightened little boy who finds strength in caring for animals and uses that strength to comfort other kids is an excellent means of explaining a difficult subject to young children. (authors note) (Picture book. 4-10)

Click here to read the full review

A STARRED REVIEW for My Beautiful Birds from Quill & Quire

Posted on December 27th, 2016 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“With the arrival of Syrian refugee families in many Canadian communities, parents and children alike are charged with trying to understand the harsh experiences these new classmates and neighbours have undergone. The compassionate and beautiful new picture book from Oakville, Ontario, illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo – the first for which she has created both pictures and text – imagines a Syrian child and his family driven by war into a refugee camp.

While the others settle into the new realities of life in the camp, sensitive Sami is unable to recover, expressing his trauma through grief for the pet pigeons he had to leave behind. He tries to paint a picture of his pigeons, but covers their coloured feathers with smears of black, then tears the painting to pieces. When four wild birds fly into the camp and respond to Sami’s attention, they break through the little boy’s isolation and misery. By the end of the book, Sami has reconnected with life, and is even able to reach out to help a new child arriving at the camp.

Del Rizzo bases her story on an account from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan of a child finding solace in some wild birds there. She wisely focuses on what Sami sees and feels without trying to explain too much of the context, relying instead on her visuals to provide this information. The first images of the sky over his former home, glowing with flames and explosions, give way to the beauty of the desert skyscapes in which Sami sees the colourful plumage of his beloved birds. These skillful and imaginative illustrations – created with Plasticine, polymer clay, and other media – give a sense of dimension, which is enhanced by striking and unusual perspectives. My Beautiful Birds is a lovely, timely book.
Gwyneth Evans

Read the full review on page 43 of the January/February 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

Library of Clean Reads calls When the Rain Comes “a beautiful book with an exciting plot”

Posted on December 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

WhenRainComes_website“I love books that expose children to another culture, especially when it is in the form of an exciting story with a heroine character. When the Rain Comes is such a book, set in Sri Lanka in a small agricultural village where rice is the main income and food source….

My son and I really liked this story. Malini’s excitement and later her terror and fear are very palpable without being too scary for young children who read the book. The story highlights that even young children are courageous and their actions can make a huge difference in their family. The illustrations beautifully depict the colorful village and later the strength and fierceness of the storm. Through color and sketches, the illustrator captured the culture of the Sri Lankan people and the monsoon season. My son and I loved these unique illustrations.

This is a beautiful book with an exciting plot and a heroine any little child can look up to. It’s a great way to introduce one of the many Asian cultures to our children so as to build in them respect and admiration for other nationalities and ways of life. I don’t think my son has ever seen an ox before. Not one up close as Malini was with the ox she had to move to higher ground. This opened up a conversation about ox and how prevalent they are in some countries for agriculture. So although fiction, this book can be used as an educational tool as well. An excellent addition to any home and school library.”

Click here to read the full review

Kids’ BookBuzz reviewer Kilian, age 8, says French Toast “is great for all ages and all colors”

Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress

FrenchToast_Website“We rated this book: 4.5/5

At school, people make fun of Phoebe for her skin color, which is medium brown, and they call her ‘French toast.’ When she and her grandmother are taking a walk in the park, they walk past her school and the kids yell at her and laugh. Her grandmother doesn’t know why they’re laughing. She is blind, so she can’t understand skin colors. She asks Phoebe to describe her skin color and her family’s. Phoebe finally uses foods to describe the colors. She says her skin is like ‘tea after you’ve added the milk’ and her grandmother’s is like ‘maple syrup poured over…French toast.’ She ends up feeling better in the end because talking about it helps.

When Nan-ma says she has been told her mom is white, Phoebe laughs because white people aren’t really white. All people are just different shades of brown. I like the illustrations because they are mainly different colors of brown, too, and warm colors. The story is set at either sunrise or sunset in winter, which makes it even browner. This book is great for all ages and all colors.”
—Kilian – Age 8

Click here to read more reviews from Kids’ BookBuzz

Library of Clean Reads says French Toast “is an excellent way to introduce new cultures”

Posted on November 11th, 2016 by pajamapress

FrenchToast_Website“Content: G

Even though Nan-ma’s blind, she sees things others do not.’

And so begins this book whose message to be proud of one’s culture and nationality shines through. Phoebe has a good relationship with her grandmother who is blind. On weekends she is her neighborhood guide. As a mother, I liked that this story included a grandma and her wisdom. When Phoebe has to explain why the boys from school yelled out, ‘Hey, French Toast!’ to her, she is embarrassed because she knows it’s because of the color of her skin.

Since her grandmother has never known the colors of skin, she asks Phoebe what color her skin is. So Phoebe describes it like tea after milk is added. And so the story continues. With Nan-ma’s gentle prodding, Phoebe gets to talk and think about her parents. She explores in her mind what she loves about them, her childhood, her favorite foods and her mixed nationality.

Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story and we liked its message. It’s a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages. Children need to feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Using food to bring out the beautiful qualities of a culture works well. My son and I were getting hungry reading this book!

The illustrations use earth-tone colors and are soft. They are a mix of digital media and acrylic. What this means is that they are a mix of real-life photos with the drawings. So, the faces of the characters, for example, are actual real photos but blended in with the drawings. My son noticed it right from the first page and told me he is not fond of this technique. I had to look more closely. In the end, we agreed that the way the illustrator blended the two worked well and also the way he highlighted the food and brought it out in the illustrations was unique.

This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are.”
—Laura Fabiani & Son

Click here to read the full review