Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Recently Read... for Children

From a new shipment of books in the IMC...

I Love Korea by Andrew Nahn. This tribute to Korea includes songs, folk tales, bits of history, and a strong sense of Korean nationalism. For example, the fact that Korea has never gone to war except to defend itself is emphasized. Really? Which Korea? The book is brightly illustrated and written in both English and Korean.

Angkat: A Cambodian Cinderella by Jewell Reinhart Coburn. I have secretly been amassing every variation of the Cinderella story that I can locate, including Cinderellas from every corner of the globe, Cinderellas from the animal world (penguins, Dinorella,) and "alternative" Cinderellas like Cinder Edna who wears sensible shoes and likes organic gardening. This version from Cambodia is very charming and features the magic fish who grants wishes to the kind and generous Angkat. A few dark turns, like the fact that her father conspires with the evil stepmother to lure Angkat home from the palace and murder her, give this familiar tale a definite edge.

The Story of Divaali by Jatinder Verma. A unique book that relates the story behind the Hindu festival of Divaali is gorgeously illustrated and contains a feature on present-day celebrations. The epic on which the text is based, the Ramayana, is complex but this is definitely a worthwhile exploration and explanation of Hindu culture.

The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb Iijima. This simple little story tells of a family's move to Japan and the young son's reaction to things that are new and strange to him. His parents constantly tell him, "That is the way we do it in Japan." In the end, his classmates make him feel welcome and comfortable. Interesting facts about Japanese culture are effortlessly woven into the tale. A helpful pronunciation guide is included.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. This 2006 Newbery winner caused quite a stir, since the word "scrotum" shows up in the second paragraph. Forget about that. This novel is all about the characters, including the "Lucky" of the title, her French guardian Brigitte, and the 41 other quirky people who populate Hard Pan, California, a desert community. Lucky's mother was electrocuted after a summer storm and Lucky feels unsure of her future with Brigitte, the first wife of her absent father. I admire gifted authors like Patron who are able to recreate a ten year-old's world in the most authentic and moving way, believable even in bizarre circumstances, and making you care about their characters as if they were your own acquaintanes. The drawings throughout the text are small and delicate and lovely.


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