Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Beatrice's Goat"

Title: "Beatrice's Goat"
Author: Page McBrier
Illustrator: Lori Lohstoeter
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc., 2001
Genre: Multi-Cultural
Grade: 2-3

This book is about a Ugandan girl named Beatrice. Beatrice longs more than anything to go to school and learn like all the others. One day her family receives a goat that is going to bring them lucky gifts. Mugisa, the goat, has two kids, Expected and Surprise. After the two kids had gotten older, Beatrice began selling Mugisa's goat milk for money. One day she comes home and sees her mother crying and her mother tells her she has enough money to go to school now. Beatrice is so unselfish she asks what about the other things they need and she tells her "First things first." On Beatrice's first day of school, her friend Bunane comes by and tells her that he wishes he was going to school and she tells him not to worry because his family is next in line to receive a goat.

I loved this book. I can't believe how unselfish Beatrice was. She did everything that Mother asked her to do. She worked in the fields, tended to the chickens, watched the children, and ground up the cassava flour they would take to the market to sell. When the goat came she also had to take care of it. She never questioned anything. She just did it for the family! When she finds out she is making all this money, her first thought of what to do with it is to buy a new shirt for Moses and a warm blanket for the bed she shares with Grace. The pictures in this book are amazing! The illustrator uses acryllic paint to illustrate. The village looks exactly like I would picture a village in Africa. They have the banana trees and the straw house just as I have always pictured. I think this book is definitely a good multicultural book. It informs the reader of how life in Uganda would be as a young girl. It tells of all the chores and how school is not an option for every child. This book is written through an insider's perspective because it is written about this little girl and her family but it is told like she knows what Beatrice is going through.

I would use this book in my classroom to talk about the different hardships that different cultures face. I could chose some other books and have my students to compare and contrast these hardships. They could do this in a venn-diagram or in a story. I could also ask them what they would want if a lucky goat could bring them anything. They could write a story about their desires and illustrate it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Ruby's Wish"

Title: "Ruby's Wish"
Author: Shirin Yim Bridges
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc., 2002
Genre: Multicultural
Grade: 2-3

Ruby was one of the one hundred children. Her name was Ruby because she always wore red. If her mother made her wear somber colors, she still wore red ribbons in her hair. One day the children were practicing calligraphy and her grandfather saw that her sheet was more beautiful than all the others so he applauded her for it. One day Ruby was asked to write a poem and she impressed her teacher as well as her grandfather, but her grandfather was worried about what the poem said so he asked her about it. She explained that it was because she didn't want to be like the other girls and just get married, but she wanted to go to a university. On New Years Day, Ruby received a letter from a university saying that "they would be proud to accept Ruby as one of their very first female students." Ruby got her wish and the author knows all this because Ruby is her grandmother.

I thought this book was so cute. I loved it because here is this little girl who wants to go to a university and wanted to be different from all the others. She didn't care what the customs were, she just wanted to be her own individual. The pictures in this book were amazing. It seemed as if I was actually there in the picture with Ruby seeing the same things she was seeing. The illustrations for this book were done on gouache on Arches hot-pressed paper. This book definitely an example of a good multicultural book. The culture shows that of China and how the customs don't allow girls to be schooled and especially for them to go to a university. I think this would be written as an insider's perspective because Ruby is Bridges' grandmother.

I would definitely use this book in my classroom to show my students that it is okay to be different and not dress or do what the others do or what others expect of you. I could have them to compare this book to a book from our culture and see how they differ in what women are allowed to do and not to do.


Title: "Ramadan"
Author: Suhaib Hamid Ghazi
Illustrator: Oman Rayyan
Publisher: Holiday House, 1996
Genre: Multicultural
Grade: 3rd grade

This book begins by telling the reader that Muslim means that he believes in the religion of Islam and Muslims believe in one God called Allah. The book then goes on to tell about the Islam religion and how it is more than 1400 years old. In the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year is called Ramadan, which is a month long time period in which every Muslim fasts. There are exceptions regarding the fasting. Old people and young children are exempt from fasting, as well as sick people and pregnant women. Ramadan is more than just a month of fasting, it is also to clean and purify their bodies and minds. It goes on to talk about the service at the Mosque and everything that goes on there.

I liked this book because it let me become more familiar with the Islam culture. I didn't know what Ramadan was or what it was all about. I had no idea what all fasting entold and who could be exempt. The illustrations in this book look they have been done using water color. This is definitely a book I would consider to be good multicultural literature. This book definitely demonstrated cultural authenticity because it talked about the Muslim culture. It walks the reader through Ramadan. I think this book is from an insider's perspective because it is written from the viewpoint of a boy named Hakeem. I think this book identifies with the cultural group of Muslim Americans and the Middle East. I also really liked that there was a glossary in the back with the definitions of all the Islamic Religion.

I would use this book in a multicultural unit on different religious holidays. I would include this book with the book on Hanuakkah. I would have students to keep a journal on the different religious holidays we discuss and what's significant about all of them.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Festival of Lights"

Title: "Festival of Lights: The Story of Hanukkah"
Author: Maida Silverman
Illustrator: Carolyn S. Ewing
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1987
Genre: Multicultural, Picture Book
Grade: 2-3

The book begins by talking about long ago when all the Jewish people lived in the kingdom of Judea. King Antiochus ruled the land, but he wanted to rule Egypt too. So he sent his soldiers to the Holy Temple where they stole gold cups and dishes from the High Priest. The king became furious because the Jews fought his soldiers so he had the army burn down their houses and took many Jews away to be slaves. Antiochus ordered that the Jews could not pray and they could not keep the Sabbath a day of rest. The Jews began fighting back against the Egyptians. When the temple became ready to be dedicated to God, people came from all over Judea and danced, sang, and praised the Lord for eight days. Judah Maccabbee spoke to them and told them that every year at this time they would call the holiday "Hanukkah" (meaning Dedication).

I enjoyed this book because it allowed me to learn more about the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. I think it is very important that my students become aware of other religions and their holidays. I think this book exemplified good multicultural literature because it presented cultural authencity because it was true and talked about the Jewish culture and their struggle with the Egyptians. I think the author writes from an outside perspective in this particular book because it was based a long time ago, way before the author's time. I enjoyed the pictures in this book. It looks like they have been painted. It reminds me of pictures you would see in a children's book of the Bible. I also liked this book because at the end it gave the legend of the menorah and the legend of the dreidle. It also gave the directions for making a dreidle as well as how to play the dreidle game. It also gave the song "Rock of Ages" which is a traditional song, sung after the Hanukkah candles are lit. It is meant to remind us of the courage of the Maccabees and how, with God's help, they fought for freedom.

I would definitely use this book in my classroom at the time of Hanukkah. I would incorporate it in a multicultural Christmas time unit. We could make dreidles and play the dreidle game. Younger students could color pictures of the menorah. I could also have my students make a journal and keep each culture that we study in their journal and have them write about what they learn about that culture.

A Mother Who Doesn't Deserve or Want To Be One

Title: "Becoming Naomi Leon"
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc., 2004
Genre: Multi-cultural Novel
Grade: 4-5

This book begins with Naomi Outlaw, a fifth grade girl who is made fun of for her last name. She is teased by everyone at school because they ask her if she had stolen anything today? Naomi and Owen live with their great-grandmother, Gram, because their real mother had left them with Gram seven years ago. Then one day their world was turned upside down when their mother, Skyla, shows up on ther doorstep. Skyla thinks that she has every right to be their mother and do motherly things like go to their parent teacher conferences. Naomi had arranged for her new friend Blanca's mother to meet Skyla but Skyla never shows. Skyla wants to take Naomi with her and her boyfriend, Clive, to Las Vegas, but Naomi insists she is not going anywhere without Gram and Owen. Gram then takes Owen and Naomi to Mexico to try and find their father so he can write a recommendation for the children to be left with Gram. When they find him, there is an instant connection. When they leave Mexico, Santiago, their father, says he would love to see the kids over the summer if Gram would allow it. When they get back to Lemon Tree, California they go to court to see if Gram or Skyla will get custody. Gram ends up getting custody because Naomi tells the truth about Skyla and the beer and slapping her.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a great multicultural book about Mexican-Americans. I liked how it included cultural markers throughout the book. The Night of the Radishes was something that a lot of families did because it had been something that generations upon generations had done. Bunuelos are a traditional Western dish that is served at the Night of the Radishes. The family being as close as they were was another thing that played a role in Mexican culture. I think that the author does present an insider's perspective. The Author's Note in the back says that Ryan has background in the Mexican culture. It also says that she went to the Night of the Radishes to experience what that would really be like. I thought this book reminded me a lot of Opal in "Because of Winn Dixie" because of the way they both lived in trailer parks but had no one their age living there with them. Neither had a mother in their lives, however Naomi had a great-grandmother who was her mother figure. Opal and Naomi both had older influences on their lives because they hung out with the older people in their lives. There were also superstitions in both books. Opal became friends with the older lady who had bottles hanging from her tree to keep the bad thing away, while Gram had all these superstitions about writing down things they really wanted to come true. I couldn't believe how their mother acted though. There is no way that she was even fit to be a mother because she didn't even want Owen because he had all these problems and the only reason she wanted Naomi was to babysit Sapphire.

I would definitely use this book in an older elementary to middle school aged classroom. I would have my students to keep a journal much like Naomi's. They could make lists of "Splendid Words" and things that they know about certain things. They could also pick a place they would like to go and write in their journal about that trip to, from, and while they were there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"The Breadwinner"

Title: "The Breadwinner"
Author: Deborah Ellis
Illustrator: Pascal Milelli
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2000
Genre: multicultural novel
Grade: 4-5

Parvana, who is an eleven year old Afghan girl, lives in Afghanistan which has recently been taken over by the Taliban. Females are not allowed to go out of the house without a male escort or a piece of paper giving them permission from a male to be out. It was so bad in Afghanistan that they didn't believe that girls should receive an education, so Parvana and her sisters had to drop out of school. One day the Taliban came to the house and arrested their father. Parvana and her Mother go the next day to find out something about Parvana's father, but they won't tell them anything. Mrs. Weera and Mother decide that Parvana should cut her hair and dress like a boy and work at the market to make some money for the family to eat on. Eventually Mrs. Weera ends up moving in to the house with Parvana's family. Nooria, Parvana's older sister, becomes engaged so the family leaves for Mazar and leaves Parvana with Mrs. Weera. Parvana begins to worry when she gets word that Mazar has been taken by the Taliban. Father is released from prison and Father and Parvana go to the refugee camps to try to find Mother, Nooria, Maryam, and Ali.

I liked this book. It was slow moving in the beginning but once I got into it, it became a book I could not put down. I had no idea that this is how it is over in Afghanistan. I could not imagine not being able to go out whenever I wanted because I didn't have a male escort. I also couldn't believe that the Taliban did not want any Afghan girls getting an education. I really thought Ellis did a great job describing what was going on in Afghanistan. I also thought that the scene where Ellis describes the soccer game, however it is not a real soccer game but rather a place where the Taliban soldiers took prisoners to and cut off their hands.

I would use this book in my classroom one day in a multicultural unit or in an Afghanistan/ War in Iraq unit. I would have the students to read the book and keep a journal of what they read and how they feel about what they read in each chapter. We could also do a venn diagram or something to compare the way the Afghan male treatment compares to the treatment of Afghan females.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems"

Title: "Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems"
Author: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator: Carin Berger
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2006
Genre: Children's Poetry
Grade: 2-3

"The Trumpetoos and Tubaboons"

are blaring out discordant tunes.
They play them loud, they play them long,
But most of all, they play them wrong.

They open up their brazen throats,
unleashing a barrage of notes
That would be better left unplayed....
Bt play they do as they parade.

Their sounds are jarring to the ear,
As noisily they persevere
And play in clashing beats and keys
Unmusical cacophonies.

They march about in close array.
We wish they'd simply march away.
Or stop and take a silent snooze------

I really enjoyed this poem because it was about music. I've always loved the brass sound that tubas and trumpets make. My brother actually plays the tuba which made this poem even better. I loved the imagery that one gets from reading this poem. It's like I can actually see and hear these instruments playing these awful sounds and marching around! I also love the adjectives in this poem, such as brazen and discordant tunes. I would definitely use this book in my class. I love how it takes different animals and adds the animal to an everyday object and makes the poem based on the new object. I would use this book to read it to my students and then have them to draw a picture representing what they think these objects would look like and what actions they would be doing. The illustrations in this particular book were done by making collages on different types of paper. I loved the way the illustrations had different backgrounds.

Sound was a big part of this poem. They blare and play them loud, but play them wrong! The rhythm in this poem seems to be like that of a marching band because they march around playing the wrong notes. In the stanzas the first and second lines rhyme and then the third and fourth rhyme. So it follows an AABB pattern. There aren't really any alliteration or onomatopoeia in this poem. The images in this poem are amazing because without even looking at the pictures I can see the instruments marching around and how offbalance and off kilter they are since they play the wrong notes.