Love Family: MCBD Book Review

Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I am thrilled to be involved in this event—now in its fifth year and, very happily for this world, growing each year. It’s so important for children to be able to see themselves in books. And it’s also important for us all to see the diversity in the world—to be knowledgeable about the truth of both our rich variety and history as well as our commonalities.

I volunteered to review a book for the event and was pleased to be selected to review Love Family written by Norah Barrett Cooper and illustrated by Joelle Nelson.  Thank you to Loving Lion Books (www.LovingLionBooks.com) for not only sending me a copy of the book, but letting me personalize it.

LoveFaminFlowers

cover of Love Family by Norah Barrett Cooper and Joelle Nelson, Loving Lion Books

Customizable books hold a dear place in my heart. When I was a child I had a personalized book with a giraffe protagonist whose name was my name spelled backwards. Knowing that book was made just for me made it extra special. This customization is different and even more personal in some ways, which I think will make it a cherished book by many families.

People who order a copy of Love Family can select the look of the girl protagonist, father, mother, and grandmother. The intent is to give families an opportunity to have a book with a family that racially resembles their own—something not easy to come by for families of color and particularly for multiracial families.

The web site is cleanly designed, and I found the personalizing process easy to do technically. Issues of identity bring up a lot of thoughts and emotions for many of us, me included, so that part of the choice-making was not as easy.

BuildYourBookPage

The Build Your Book page for Love Family at the Loving Lion Books web site (https://lovinglionbooks.com/books/love-family)

The kinds of questions that came up for me are really the very kinds of issues that point to why we need diverse books. I found myself bothered that the white girl has super light skin and blonde hair. This brought me right back to memories of the cultural messages that I, once a darker-haired more olive-skinned white girl, picked up on as a child: that golden hair and lily-white skin was some kind of ideal. This notion has particular poignancy for me today, as Multicultural Children’s Book Day falls on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I bring this up to illustrate how these seemingly simple choices can bring up a lot of feelings and thoughts, especially when they relate to our personal experiences and history.

My son noticed that we couldn’t choose a boy and that almost all the girls and moms had long hair. And then I realized that there were no girls or women wearing headscarves like some of the girls and women who live in our neighborhood. The questions went on, but I’ll stop there. I am very sympathetic to the notion that Loving Lion Books can’t offer every possibility, especially with the quality watercolor illustrations that serve the book well. Of course four choices or even ten or twenty can’t cover everyone, but so many of these options for family combinations don’t exist at all in books. In that way, Love Family is greatly expanding the possibilities for kids to have a book where the family racially resembles their own.

[Edited to add that after posting this review, I learned that Loving Lion Books just added a two-father family today and plans to expand the options more.]

So I made the choices that I felt best about. (I found that I identified most with the brown-skinned girl with long, dark hair.) The actual selecting and ordering were easy and in a few weeks a beautiful book arrived.

The book describes a family gathering with elements that are typical of many family gatherings—the anticipation as food is being prepared, the excitement of people arriving, the joy of playing with a group of cousins. The text is lyrically written with many fun sensory details, such as “Even with the music turned up, I can hear laughter from the kitchen.” The watercolor illustrations are beautiful with bright colors and lots of details for kids to enjoy gazing at.

8_9-Spread

spread from Love Family by Norah Barrett Cooper and Joelle Nelson, Loving Lion Books

The daughter, father, mother, and grandmother were as I selected. The cousins are even more racially diverse and include boys as well.

26-27-Spread

spread from Love Family by Norah Barrett Cooper and Joelle Nelson, Loving Lion Books

This book will make an especially great gift for a multiracial family with a daughter, but anyone can choose among the sweetly rendered family members and receive a beautifully written and illustrated book about a family occasion that shows the diversity of our world. It’s easy to picture family members cuddled together reading it, and Love Family is the perfect name.

Below is information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day. May you discover wonderful diverse books today and every day!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

 

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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Posted in book review | 2 Comments

Milkweed Life

Last I posted here I had a newly planted butterfly garden. It grew faster than I imagined, including the milkweed, planted because it is the favorite food of monarch butterfly caterpillars. One appeared in July, but I never saw it as a chrysalis and guessed it became a meal for a bird.

Then something else found the milkweed. Golden aphids began to surround their stems and form mats on their leaves. I tried various methods of ridding the plants of them, careful to avoid anything that might harm butterfly eggs and caterpillars. When leaves started dropping at accelerated rates, I began to think that this part of the experiment wasn’t working (at least for this year).

But while hosing aphids off milkweed stems last weekend, I was very happy to find not one, not two, but three monarch butterfly caterpillars!

Just one of the three monarch caterpillars here!

After a little more work in the garden, I paused to gaze at the milkweed patch again, and who should stop by, but this beauty:

I watched her flit around the milkweed. She’d go off to other areas of the garden and sometimes venture beyond the fence a bit, and kept coming back to the patch of milkweed. I write “she” because I like to imagine she was laying eggs. She spent quite a long while there, basking in the milkweed, and so did I, basking in watching her.

Posted in butterflies | 1 Comment

Butterfly Cap Found

This morning I found a hat with sentimental value that had been lost for over a year. I had been in my coat closet getting a hat to wear on a walk.  I thought of the butterfly cap and another cap we lost around the same time. I actually said aloud, “Those hats are really, really gone.” And then, there, in a spot where I’m sure I’ve looked for it many times, was something that looked like the butterfly cap. And it was. After all that time and all that looking, it was in my hand.

I thought maybe the other missing cap would be underneath it, but, no, there were some caps there we’ve worn in recent months.

The returned butterfly cap seemed like a gift.

Tears came. I think for many reasons. That hat was my grandfather’s. I wore it sometimes when I visited him, and then it became mine. It says “The American Museum of Natural History” on the back, which underscores its connection to his New York City home. It is connected to my interest in butterflies and all the people who have remembered my interest by sharing butterfly stories, words, and objects with me. And it is connected to my grandfather’s friend, Charles, who shared my love of butterflies and even my interest in words for butterflies in different languages, and who once made a butterfly garden in Central Park. And now, in the last month, I have made a butterfly garden in my front yard. What timing.

capingardenhorizontal

Found Cap in My Newly Planted Butterfly Garden

Also, I cried because of the lovely truth that sometimes things that are lost get found.

Posted in butterflies | 1 Comment

Mama and Papa Have a Store: MCBD Review

Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD)! January 27 has been designated as a day to celebrate and be aware of books by and about a diversity of people. It is so important for kids to see themselves in books and to see the diversity of the world we live in. I am grateful that authoring My Amazing Day has gotten me involved with this event, now in its fourth year.

This year, I volunteered to be a reviewer. I thank Lee & Low Books—for being such a longtime leader in publishing diverse children’s books, for being a sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, AND for sending me a review copy of Mama and Papa Have a Store, a Pura Belpré Honor Book published in 1998 and written and illustrated by Amelia Lau Carling.

cover image from Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling, Lee & Low Books

cover image from Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling, Lee & Low Books

Based on the author/illustrator’s own childhood, Mama and Papa Have a Store recounts a day in the life of a girl whose family has immigrated from China to Guatemala. Too young to go to school with her brothers and sisters, she spends the day in and around her parents’ store in Guatemala City, observing what is going on and engaging in a variety of activities connected to her Chinese family background and Guatemalan home. During the story’s day a Mayan family, that has traveled from their village in the volcanic mountains, visits the store to choose colorful threads for weaving clothing.

The language in the book is beautiful—rich in images, sound words, and soothing rhythms. I was particularly taken with the descriptions of the thread colors the Mayan family requests, such as: “[p]arrot green, sky blue, pomegranate red, fire orange, loud magenta, and mango yellow—those are the colors from the rain forest that we want.”

Carling celebrates language not only with her lyrically written English, but also by including descriptions of the meanings of family members’ Chinese names, a smattering of Spanish, and the notion that the Mayan family speaks another language. Children will enjoy exploring the many details in the watercolor and gouache-rendered illustrations, while listening to the lovely rhythmic language. This is a book for a thoughtful time.

spread from Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling, Lee & Low Books

spread from Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling, Lee & Low Books

So often in the United States we present diversity in terms of our own country. Mama and Papa Have a Store expands that notion for American children (including immigrant children) by showing diversity and immigration in a setting outside the United States. While the geographic setting is in a country that will be unfamiliar to many children, the ideas of a store and events in a child’s day are very familiar and easy for kids to connect with.

When you read Mama and Papa Have a Store consider having your young readers find China, Guatemala, and their own country on a globe or map to get a sense of the scope of the world, and how far the protagonist’s family went. Here is a link to a world map with the Pacific Ocean in the middle allowing you to see the distance between China and Guatemala in a more meaningful way than on maps we typically see in the U.S., which have Asia and the Americas separated by a page break.

Mama and Papa Have a Store includes several references to the protagonist’s parents longingly keeping their connections to China. We learn in an introductory comment that the author/illustrator’s mother never was able to return to China, and her father returned once, late in his life. Reading this book provides an opportunity to talk about family members and ancestors who were immigrants. How far did they travel? Do you know if they made any trips back? What, if anything, did they bring with them from their countries of origin?

One of the many benefits of diverse books is that there is so much to discover and discuss. May this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day lead you to many diverse books and great discoveries and discussions for this day and every day!


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From the Multicultural Children’s Book Day team:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Posted in book review | 6 Comments

Thank You, Bev Bos: a National Poetry Month Post

I don’t want to let National Poetry Month go by without posting a poem. It’s been a challenging month for computer time for me, but I’ve thought several times of posting a poem. One always comes to mind that I wrote in February, after the sudden death of early childhood educator, Bev Bos.

Bev Bos was a longtime director and teacher at Roseville Community Preschool, an autoharp serenader, an author and captivating speaker, and a champion of play-based learning for preschool-aged children. She was a great inspiration to my son’s wonderful preschool, El Cerrito Preschool Co-op, and to me, as both a writer and a mom.

My Son Learning and Enjoying at El Cerrito Preschool Co-op, 2009

My Son Learning and Enjoying at El Cerrito Preschool Co-op (Photo by Karin Fisher-Golton, 2009)

Bev knew young kids. She knew what motivated them and what is important for them. She helped me see how crucial it is for very young kids to experience their own power—their ability to impact the world physically and socially. So often when I would hear her thoughts, even if they were a bit novel, they rang with truth. For example, she believed that taking turns is not developmentally appropriate at preschool age. From her influence, at El Cerrito Preschool Co-op we tried to have plenty of everything, but when there were limited resources, like a special swing, we’d have the kids sign up to take turns that weren’t time based. A turn lasted until the child was done.

From My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude by Karin Fisher-Golton, Lori A. Cheung, and Elizabeth Iwamiya, photography © Lori A. Cheung, 2013

From My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude by Karin Fisher-Golton, Lori A. Cheung, and Elizabeth Iwamiya (photography © Lori A. Cheung, 2013)

I want to share my poem, Thank You, Bev Bos, in gratitude for Bev Bos’s contributions and in honor of National Poetry Month, for a number of reasons. First, because Bev’s talks and writing (including a favorite of mine, Tumbling Over the Edge: A Rant for Children’s Play by Bev Bos and Jenny Chapman) have helped me understand my audience when I write for young children. I particularly think of Bev, when I think of the very simple, but power-filled sentence on the page with bubbles in my book, My Amazing Day: “I popped it!” Second, when I was feeling jarred by the shock of Bev’s death, I found that writing a poem helped me calm and ground, as writing poetry so often does. And most of all, the joy and freedom of the play depicted in the poem and inspired by Bev Bos, reminds of the feeling I have when writing poetry is at its best. Maybe I have some play-based education during my own youth to help thank for that.

Thank You, Bev Bos

POW!
Power
Let me go.
I will make this sand
into a fancy meal,
a blasting volcano,
a superduper highway.
This wet, sticky pink paint
swirls with the blue
on the whole paper
and beyond.
Train tracks go ‘round me.
Hammers whack nails.
Water flows down.
Bubbles pop.
I need more blocks.
No, this wall
is not long enough.
There’s no such thing
as too many blocks
or too many beads
or too many bandaids.
This is my art.
This is my castle.
This is my turn.
I might swing all week.
I’m not done yet.
I hear the music.
Let me go.
Power
POW!

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2016

 

Posted in creativity, Karin's poetry, My Amazing Day | 15 Comments

What Creativity Looks Like

Last weekend I decided that I wanted to send some family members Hanukkah cards. In recent years my son has made lovely, creative ones, but this year that was not an option as he was busy with a baseball tournament. (I realize the winter holiday card/baseball tournament conflict is not really a problem in many parts of the world.)

I had not bought greeting cards for a long while, and, looking around at various stores, I was surprised to learn that they now cost $3-4 each. That seemed like quite a lot when I could make them myself, so I decided I would do just that.

The ideas started coming to me. I formed a vision I really liked. It got even better when I looked at the materials I had. But I began to worry that it would not be a quick task. I started thinking that maybe $3-4 was not so much for a greeting card. However, I very much wanted to send timely thoughtful greetings to our family, and the stores were closed, so I continued with my plan.

Once I got into the project, I enjoyed it so much. I was delighted with the results. I knew which card was right for each recipient.

Menorah 3      Menorah 2Menorah 1

When I was done, I stepped back and this is what I saw:

Balagan

What a balagan! (The Yiddish word for a “chaotic mess,” which I picked up from my mother-in-law.)

I had wanted to make those cards, then I hesitated, then I did it anyway and enjoyed the process. I made a mess while creating a neat result. I looked at it all and thought, “That is what creativity looks like.”

Posted in creativity | 8 Comments

A Monumental Poem

This week, with all the talk of refugees, I’ve found myself thinking of the poem, “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 to help raise funds for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and posted on the interior of that pedestal in 1903. I love that a poem is connected to this grand monument.

The Statue of Liberty. New York Harbor. I took this photo myself, in 2012.

The Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor. Those little dark spots at the bottom are people. The gold-coated flame shines in the sun. (Photo by Karin Fisher-Golton, 2012)

For three of my great-grandparents this figure was likely part of their first views of land after crossing the ocean, and leaving close family and their former lives behind. One of them was 17 and traveling alone. Two years later, her sister made the same trip alone at 15.

“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those lines are probably familiar, but do you know the rest? Here is the poem, a sonnet, in its entirety:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

—Emma Lazarus

What a powerful sentiment to have, where the edge of our country meets the ocean. May we find our way to keeping it true.

Thank you, Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting Poetry Friday. Find and enjoy more poetry there!

Posted in others' poetry | 15 Comments