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Monday, October 16, 2017

Multicultural Books for Different Ages

Disclosure: I was sent these books in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

It has been awhile since I did a Multicultural Monday review, but here it is. Today I am going to share with you book for different ages from all over the world and with diverse characters. Hazel loves learning about other countries and cultures. Today I am sharing books that tell tales from other cultures, share about other countries and a multicultural young adult book set in Boston. We will start with All About Thailand by Elaine Russell and illustrated by Patcharee Meesukhon and Vinit Yeesman. 


Ready to take a trip to Thailand from your own house? This book is perfect to do just that. It is part of the All About Countries series that Tuttle Publishing offers. We LOVE these books!! They are packed full of so much information about the country and culture and it is told from a child's point of view. This one uses two children living in different parts of Thailand. The book starts by introducing each child. The first is a 9-year-old girl, named Mali, who lives in northern Thailand.

The next page introduces 11-year-old Tawan who lives in Bangkok. 

Throughout the book they share parts of their lives and culture. The reader gets a city view as well as a country view. There is also information about the country in general like the map and its shape, animals, festivals, religions, folk tales and more! 

This book has a bit of everything in it. There are recipes to try as well as crafts to make. It is full of so much information and is a wonderful introduction to Thailand for any child. 
This book (and series) is perfect for any classroom that studies the various countries of Asia. It has a bit of everything from history to modern times as well as how children spend their free time. I hope you will check it out.


Our next book takes us to a war-torn country. It is The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood. As a family flees from their home as bombs are exploding, a boy wonders why his father insists his favorite book from the library (the only book that did not get blown up) is so important to him. He puts it in a special box and insists it is the most important thing to take with them. However he promises his dying father to protect this special treasure. It becomes a choice of survival or leaving it. He buries it and escapes the war. However after the war he is able to return and retrieve his treasure and return the book to the new library so his people will have their own history.

This is a tale that matches so much of our world is going through. What is the most important thing in your life? What would you make sure you take with you if you are trying to escape with your life? What is more valuable to you than gold and rubies? For this tale it was a book about the history of a people and their own stories. It is a sad and sweet tale that will help kids look at a darker side of life. This book is recommended for ages 5 to 8.


Our next book is a tale from Southern India. It is Pattan's Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar and illustrated by Frané Lessac. This is a flood story. It always amazes me how so many cultures have similar stories. Instead of an ark, Pattan uses a giant pumpkin. Pattan planted a pumpkin seed and grew a giant pumpkin. He carved it out with the help of his family and the animals and they all set sail as the giant flood came. 

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. They share a bit of the culture of Southern India. Like I said I love how it is similar to a story many kids already know, Noah's Ark. To be able to see the story in a different culture makes us find similarities. This one is suggested for ages 4 to 8. 


Our next book is based from an on-line video about an amazing real-life whale rescue. The book is The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein. In this book a boy and his father go out to look at the sea and notice that a whale is stuck in their fishing net--their only fishing net. The father is worried about the net and the boy is worried about the whale. There is no easy way to free the whale and the nets are damaged beyond repair so the father goes to borrow new nets so they can still have food. The boy goes back on his own to free the whale. 

The illustrations are beautiful!! Reading the book makes you feel the struggle of the whale and see the beauty of this other country. Plus I love that it is the boy who saves the giant whale.
Can you imagine looking into the whale's giant eyes? It is such a wonderful story about saving this beautiful creature. If only we all cared so much and were brave enough to always make a difference. This book is suggested for ages 4 to 7.


Our next book is for young adults (age 12 and up). The book is Trell by Dick Lehr. Dick Lehr is a well-known Boston-based reporter and was a reporter for the Boston Globe and a member of its famous Spotlight Team. He also wrote the book Black Mass. The story's idea is from a real-life murder of Tiffany Moore in Boston and the wrong person being convicted for the murder. Lehr tells this fictional story from the point of view of the daughter of the wrongly convicted man. Van Trell Taylor, or Trell as she prefers, knows her father did not murder 13-year-old Ruby Graham back when she was a baby. She wants her father out of jail so she can enjoy having a father. She works with her father's new attorney and gets the help of a semi-retired reporter to uncover the truth in the case and get her father out of jail. 

This story is amazing. It shares so much emotion and pain of wrongful convictions as well as what life is truly like in the inner parts of the city. The narrator's point of view makes me think about my Boston students and how their lives were so different from my own. Trell is going to a private school on a scholarship where she is not sure she really fits in. She struggles with whether she wants to continue there or not. She is so confused and feels like she is in two worlds. The characters are developed so well and the story flows. It becomes a page turner very quickly and I can see it drawing in young adult readers. It had special meaning to me because I knew the streets and neighborhoods they talk about in Boston. I can imagine for young adults who live in these neighborhoods it would be even more powerful. There is mention of what the white people think outside the neighborhood and what the people on the streets know. There are so many factors in this book and I can really see it a great book for an English class to study.

I hope you will take the time to check out these diverse books whether you want to travel from home or learn about another culture and another way of life. Enjoy!