December 2007 Archives

Bank Street Best Children's Books

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bankstreet.gifWowee! Selvakumar Knew Better by Virginia Kroll and illustrated by Xiaojun Li has been chosen as a Best Children's Book of the Year by the Children's Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education. Every year, they select a list of the best books and print a wonderful little booklet that is organized by age group and subject, indexed and cross-referenced. A wonderful resource, and a wonderful honor for Selvakumar.

Looky Looky!

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I just discovered this really beautiful site called LookyBook, where you can actually flip through picture books and read them in their entirety. Now, while this is fantastically fun and impressive, the book images are a bit small, and will never truly take the place of holding the book in your lap. Which is why it's so great-- you can browse the book before you decide if you want to buy it.

What does this have to do with multicultural books? Not too much, but there are quite a number of multicultural titles in their listing so far, and you can browse by geographic area. They have many books that we carry in our catalog, which is nice to see (no Shen's Books yet-- you can bet I'll be working on that).

Best of all, you can embed a bit of code to put on your own website our blog, and your readers can look through a book right there. Click on the book below, and click to "turn" the pages. How cool is that?!

Another Multicultural List, This One from the CCBC

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The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) has published their "Global Reading" list, subtitled, "Selected Literature for Children and Teens Set in Other Countries." This list is by no means comprehensive (hey- where are the Shen's Books?), but it's still nice to see. It covers the following geographic areas:

• The Américas
• Africa
• Asia/Pacific
• Australia
• Europe
• Middle East
• Multinational

(Thanks to Mother Reader for the link)

Book Question: Lowji Discovers America by Candace Fleming

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Here's how we play: first I pick a book. Then I pull a question card from my Table Topics cube and answer the question (the book gets chosen first so I don't cheat and choose an easy answer). Then, it's your turn. You pick a book and answer the question for your book in the comments. Though I will always choose a multicultural title, you certainly do not need to.

Today's Book:
Lowji Discovers America by Candace Fleming
Today' Question: Was the writing well-paced?

Yes, definitely! Especially with humorous books, the timing needs to be excellent to achieve true hilarity. I thought Candace Fleming did an excellent job in portraying Lowji as a truly funny, yet thoughtful, boy. Each short chapter in this easy middle reader forwards several aspects of the story at once: Lowji's adapting to a his new country (moving from Bombay, India to a small town in Illinois would cause anyone pause!), his summer boredom without any friends, his hope for a a pet, and the mystery of the five-toed footprints. Throw in a crotchety old neighbor, wonderful parents who understand the balance of Indian tradition with American culture, and a whole bunch of funny animals, and Fleming gets it just right.

Even on a sentence-by-sentence level, I love the pace of the humor.

"Landlady Crisp," I say.

"Are you still here?" she asks. Her words snap like the firecrackers Bape and I light every Indian independence day. "What do you want?"

I take a deep breath. "A pet," I say. "A dog."

"No pets!" says Landlady Crisp. She scrubs the floor.

"A cat?" I say. "A cat would be nice."

"No pets!" she says. She scrubs harder.

I pause. I do not think I should ask for a horse, so instead I say, "A hamster? A gerbil? A teeny, tiny mouse?"
Lowji is such a cutie. And the book is more about being new, finding friends, and making the best of your situation (in his case, no pets!) than about being an immigrant. But Lowji's Indian culture, language, and way of thinking pervades the book without you noticing, making the book a wonderful combination of the two.

2008 Calendar for a Good Cause

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Reading if Fundamental has put out a 2008 wall calendar that features some wonderful children's book art for each month. There's some multicultural representation in there, but the best part of the deal is that RIF benefits when you buy the calendar.

Here's a challenge: can you name all twelve artists represented?





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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.

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