I’m catching up with interviews this week, so I won’t be posting any today.
To make up for it, here is a roundup of some of the books I read last week, all picture books. I’ve decided to make “the reading roundup” a regular feature, and I’ll likely include it in the Friday Fun posts or on Monday, occasionally. Note: in the roundup I share thoughts on what I read. This is, by no mean, a detailed review of the books. As you know, there are extraordinary reviewers who focus almost exclusively in multicultural books. I hope that you’ll visit their sites. You will find them in the multicultural blog roll. 🙂
o Gecko’s Complaint: a Balinese Folktale, by Ann Martin Bowler.
Gecko lives on the island called Bali, in Indonesia. He is bothered at night by hundreds of fireflies, and complains to Raden, lion and leader of the community. The story unfolds like dominos falling down, by introducing us to some of the animals that live in the Balinese jungle. In the end Gecko gets a bigger awareness of his environment, and an understanding of what it means to live in community.
I truly enjoyed reading it and I admired I Gusti Made Sukanada‘s technique–an Indonesian illustrator, and how he conveyed some elements unique to his culture on page 23 and 25, through his drawing of the clouds. The book was published in 2003; in addition a bilingual version, with English and Indonesian text, was released in September 2009.
o Adventures of the Treasure Fleet, by Ann Martin Bowler.
“Adventure of the Treasure Fleet is the amazing story of seven epic voyages and its larger than life commander, Admiral Zheng He.” The Admiral led 300 gigantic ships in the fifteenth century, from China all the way to Africa, visiting place like Siam, Sumatra, India and Arabia on the way! That adventure took place 85 years before Christopher Columbus expedition.
The story blew me away, and is not only informative but suspenseful as well. There are two levels of reading: one for the younger generation–with the text embedded in the illustrations, and a more detailed version at the bottom of the page.
An interview with Ann Martin Bowler will be up soon.
o The Sleeping Giant: a Tale from Kaua’i, retold and illustrated by Filipino American author and illustrator Edna Cabcabin Moran.
On the island of Kaua’i, a fisherman catches an enchanted fish. The fish is very hungry and ends up eating all the villagers’ poi (Note from the book: a Hawaiian food staple, made from cooked taro). Will the villagers be left to starve because of the fish increasing hunger? Read the book to find out! 😀
I learned a great deal about Hawaii food and about some of the island’s traditions, and the story itself is touching. I felt as if I was in Kaua’i when I was reading. In the process, I enriched my vocabulary, though I also had to acknowledge my struggle with the spelling of Hawaiian words (I learned that in English you do not write Hawaï, but Hawaii, possibly even also Hawai’i, but not Hawai’ian, rather Hawaiian). What I need is a cultural immersion in the island! 🙂
An interview with Edna Cabcabin Moran will be up soon.
Besides the illustrations, I had several reasons to love this story:
– First the originality of the plot: how do you choose a child’s name? In some parts of the world there is what is called a Naming Ceremony. Author Marsha Arnold explores that topic in Heart of a Tiger.
– Then there are the issues explored: how does one deal with bully-ism, with an image of him or herself that does not live up to expectations? How does a “child” (a kitten, really) choose his own name?
– Last but not least: the protagonist are cats, big and small! 🙂
From my opinion, Heart of a Tiger is one those stories that is timeless because of the content matter, regardless of the date of publication. I will make sure that my family reads it.
An interview with Marsha Arnold, about her writing process while working on Heart of a Tiger, will be available in the future.
AN EXPERT SCOOP at The Brown Bookshelf!
The Brown Bookshelf recently interviewed agent Jennifer Rofé of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Jennifer accepts submission for multicultural stories, and during the interview gives advices related to multicultural books in the current market. Don’t miss it! 🙂
Note: this post was up earlier this morning. I’ve updated it by adding the roundup. Thanks! And, tomorrow’s post will be dedicated to the ALA Youth Media winners! 🙂