Christmas Around The World – Italy

Christmas Around the World 2017 – Clown of God

I love Christmas picture books!

Reading Christmas books with my own children was one of my favorite Christmas memories from when our children were young. Every year in December, we would wrap up 24 Christmas books and number them 1-24. Every night, we would unwrap the book corresponding to that day, snuggle on the couch and read it aloud together as a family (below is a photo of my 2 daughters, Laura and Lindsay reading together – Christmas 2000 – Laura started reading at an early age and loved to read to her little sister and stuffed animals). I miss those days of sharing books with young children, so I want to share some of my favorites with you. For a longer list, see my blog post “Christmas in July” where I list and describe 24 Christmas picture books.My two daughters, Laura and Lindsay read together at Christmas in 2001

This year, I will highlight a few Christmas picture books set in other countries. There are so many great multicultural Christmas books out there. If you have a favorite book, especially one set in the country or area of the world where you currently live, please share it with others in the comments.

Today, I will start off by sharing one of my family’s favorite books. This is takes place in Sorento, Italy:

The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola (1978)

For ages 4-7

This story is based on an ancient French legend, told and retold from oral tradition. It is the legend of an old Italian juggler who gives to Jesus his very best – his special talent for juggling.

As my husband,Tim, read this book aloud, my three children listened, wide-eyed and enraptured when he belted out the jugglers act:

First the red ball, then the orange,

next the yellow, blue, green, violet,

around and around they went until they looked like a rainbow…

And finally the sun in the heavens!, cried Giovanni,

the gold ball flew up, higher and higher.”

The illustrations by Tomie dePaola captures well the vibrant colors of the country and the energy of the juggler.

A beautiful reminder that God accepts our gifts, great or small, when they are offered to Him, with a sincere heart and a desire to please Him.

If you don’t own a copy, put it on your request list for next year! Or you can hear and see it read out on Youtube. I like this daddy-daughter read-aloud “The Clown of God | Read Aloud (FIAR)

Daddy Daughter Read Aloud 2,192 views”


Library Lions


I recently visited New York city. The highlight of our trip was a stop at the New York Public Library. I was thrilled to finally meet the famous lion sculptures. Edward Clark Potter’s lions have stood proudly at the entrance of the New York Public Library since it’s opening in 1911. Their names have changed however. They were first nicknamed Lady Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, during the 1930s, the mayor changed their names to Patience and Fortitude, qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time.

The New York Public Library itself is worth a visit, if you are in New York. The Rose Reading room with its vaulted ceiling and rich decorations, paintings and murals is nearly the length of a football field. The children’s department also features the lions, made entirely out of legos, as well as the original stuffed animals that inspired the Winnie-The-Pooh stories.

I love to visit libraries when I am on a trip. We also recently visited San Antonio (a 3 hour drive from our new home in Waco, TX). The San Antonio Central Public library is so different from the one in New York. The Mexican Modernist enchilada-red building features multiple angular geometric shapes, plazas, water fountains and playful architectural details. People tended to love it — or to hate it. It was recently named one of 27 most fascinating libraries in the world. What do you think? Love it or hate it?

Many of you have told me that one of the things you miss the most about living in the US is your local library, and your weekly trips there to stock up on books. Today, as a tribute to libraries and librarians everywhere, I want to share with you some books about libraries. The first one, Library Lion, was inspired by the New York Public Library lions:


Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Genre: Fiction

Age Level: 6-9

Inspired by the lion statues at the New York Public Library, Library Lion tells the tale of a real life lion who wanders into the public library one day, and nestles himself into the life and hearts of the children and even the staff. But there are rules in libraries and when the lion breaks a rule, he knows he will not be allowed to return, or will he? A New York Times bestseller, this gentle, cozy tale, with warm, and evocative illustrations is sure to become a favorite.



Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Genre: Fiction

Age Level: 2-5

Lola loves Tuesdays. Tuesday is the day Lola and her mother visit the library. This preschool picture book featuring an African-American girl, is filled with bright and colorful illustrations and is a great way to instill the love of books and reading in your child


My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the Worldby Margriet Ruurs

Genre: Nonfiction

Age Level: 6-9

In this fascinating picture book filled with photos, maps and fun facts, we learn about the many different ways that books are housed and shared around the world. This book includes libraries in 13 different countries. A multicultural book perfect for third culture kids who love books.



The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq by Jeanette Winter

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Age Level: 6-9

This is a great picture book about a librarian who saves books from the library of Basra from destruction during the war in Iraq. She moves over 30,000 books to a neighboring restaurant just in time before the library bursts into flames. The books are safe and Alia can only wait and dream of a new library where once again the people of Basra can come to read, learn and share ideas. The simple drawings, with a mix of bright colors, filled with details of war and Middle Eastern culture, brings this dramatic and heroic story to life.


Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raul Colón

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Age Level: 6-9

Tomas, and his family are migrant workers. They must travel from California to Iowa to pick fruit. In Iowa, Tomas is lonely. At the urging of his grandfather, Tomas visits the local library to gather more stories for their evenings around the fire. There he meets a young librarian who not only shares books, but a cool glass of water, and a quiet place to read, as well as encouragement and friendship. This story is inspired by the life of writer and educator, Tomas Rivera. This is a tribute to all librarians out there who quietly share their love of reading and impact the lives of children.




Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra

In this colorful picture book, we learn about a little girl in a remote village in South America who loves to read, but only owns one book. One day, a man arrives with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, loaded with books. He’s a traveling librarian. Ana is so excited to borrow books to read. While waiting for him to return weeks later, she decides to write a story of her own. The librarian returns, shares her story with the other village children and takes her book with him so other children can read it too. The book includes words in Spanish. At the back, there is a glossary of Spanish words as well as the true story of a librarian in Colombia that this book is inspired by.


A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

E.B. White

What is your local library like? Please share with us in the comments.

Anne Sibley O’Brien

Anne Sibley O’Brien – Part 5 of series on third culture kid children’s book authors

Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted a blog entry!!! These last few months have been a whirlwind of book orders going out around the world. In 2016, Kids Books Without Borders has sent out over 4,000 books to more than 32 countries. It has been a joy to provide books to so many families.

I wanted to start off the new year with another third culture kid children’s book author that I have come to love: Anne Sibley O’Brien.
Anne’s art and writing is a celebration and love of the world’s diversity of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I would love to someday see an exhibit of her artwork, how she lovingly paints children of all races with tenderness and warmth, as a mother would depict her own children. Anne works primarily in watercolor, watersoluble pastel, and brush and ink.
Anne Sibley O’Brien (1952-) is a third culture kid who moved to Korea with her family (Anne has 2 older brothers and a younger sister) when she was 7 and spent the rest of her childhood there.

Anne Sibley O’Brien is a children’s book creator who has illustrated thirty-two picture books, (14 of which she also wrote) including Jamaica’s Find and six other Jamaica titles by Juanita Havill, picture books about a young African-American girl, her life in her family and her community.

She has also illustrated Talking Walls and four other titles by Margy Burns Knight. In Talking Walls, Knight and O’Brien explore notable walls the world over as both symbols and vehicles for cultural connection. Titles by Margo Burns Knight include:

Talking Walls (1992) an exploration of walls around the world, from the Great Wall of China to Aborigine All Art in Australia. Includes 14 different walls. (For ages 8-11)


Talking Walls – The stories Continue (2003) The exploration of walls from around the world continues in this sequel, with another 17 walls from Hadrian’s Wall in England to the fence surrounding the Isla Nebraska home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Both these books are a great introduction for children about culture and history around the world. A map in the back of the book shows the location of each wall. These two books would make a great unit for homeschooling. (For ages 8-11)
Inside the cover of Talking Walls – The stories Continue, Anne describes her painting on the cover:



“Students in Kent Clady’s sixth grade class at the John Marshall Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana, studied walls in a social studies unit, with the book Talking Walls as their focal point. As a community service project, they offered to repair the entrance wall at a nearby apartment complex. The sixth graders worked hard, scraping and painting the wall. The residents of the apartment complex were so pleased with the students’ work that they contacted local T.V. stations and even invited the sixth graders to use their pool at the end of the school year for a cookout.”

Africa is not a Country (2002). In this non-fiction book about Africa, the author describes the daily life in some of its fifty-three nations on the African continent. A great book to introduce children to that part of the world and our many Western misconceptions. (For ages 8-12)

Welcoming babies – (2003). Welcoming Babies shows the diverse ways we treasure new life around the world, focusing on the routines and rituals of a child’s first year. A beautiful show case for Anne’s love of babies. A celebration of babies around the world! (Ages 5-8)

Who belongs Here? An American Story (2003)

Based on a true story of a young boy fleeing war-torn Cambodia, this story highlights our need to better understand and accept others who are different from us. This book can lead to a great discussion on immigration, refugees, compassion and tolerance, a topic in center stage right now.  (For ages 8-13)

Anne with her son, Perry

She has also co-written After Gandhi – 100 Years of Non-Violent resistance with her son Perry. This non-fiction book won the Maine Literary Book Award.

I would encourage you to check out all the books mentioned above, in addition, I will highlight three other favorites here:

A Path of Stars written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien (for ages 5-8)

If you have ever grown up in another country, now just a distant memory, if you have ever loved and lost, then this book will bring it all back to life, both visually and emotionally. Anne Sibley O’Brien has captured some of those poignant memories of love and loss, scooped them up and painted them in vibrant and warm colors for children to understand and empathize with. This book was inspired by the stories of her friends Vaensa and Peng Kem, who were born in Cambodia and had to leave the country because of the war.


I’m new Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Being the new student in a classroom is difficult enough, but when the child comes from another culture and speaks a different language, it can be extremely stressful and lonely. Three youngsters enter a new school—Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatimah from Somalia—and each one experiences the feeling of not fitting in. But as they begin to share their own gifts with the classroom, they begin to start to feel accepted and affirmed.

I love her paintings of the culturally diverse classroom, painted in watercolors on a white background. A great book for third culture kids, who can identify with these children and the initial emotions of loneliness and grief, but also learning to fit in and making new friends. (For ages 4-7)
Whether readers are new themselves or meeting those who are new, there are lessons to be learned here about perseverance, bravery, and inclusion, and O’Brien’s lessons are heartfelt and poetically rendered.”Kirkus Reviews

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong – The Robin Hood of Korea (2006)

This book won the Aesop Award and the Asian-Pacific American Award for Literature, and was named to Booklist’s “Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth 2007.” I must admit, as someone having grown up with French graphic novels, I was quickly drawn into the story and rooting for Hong Kil Dong, as he struggled to find himself and use his gifts to help others. Filled with historical and cultural details, as well as action, magic, and adventure, this story of Hong Kil Dong, will appeal to reluctant readers, and lovers of graphic novels, and is a great introduction to Korean folklore and history. (For grades 3-5)

While Library of Congress places this book with graphic novels, it stands on its own as a traditional tale. Its possibly the first novel written in the Korean alphabet. OBrien has done her homework, using sources in Korean and English and researching her images to display the culture and time period accurately. Her references are well explained and documented…”

Fun Facts about Anne Sibley O’Brien 

Anne was 7 years old, when her family moved to Korea. Her parents moved the family there to fulfill their lifelong dream of serving as medical missionaries. In an interview, she talks about her adjustment to Korea:

I’m sure that there was considerable adjustment for me as a young child, losing one world and encountering a completely new culture and country, but children take their cues from their parents, and mine framed the whole thing as a grand adventure.”

When they first arrived in Korea, her parents were dismayed to find out that they would be living in a missionary compound, with barbed wire around it. Two years later, when Anne was 9, her family managed to persuade the mission to allow them to live in a Korean house, in an all-Korean neighborhood. This began her total immersion into the culture and language, as well as the beginning of lifelong relationships with Koreans.


When they arrived in Korea in 1960, seven years after the end of the Korean War and the partitioning of the peninsula into North and South Korea, they witnessed the devastating affects of war on the country and it’s people. Poverty and sickness was everywhere and it was not uncommon to see children dressed in rags, begging in the street for food.


When Anne was in 5th and 6th grade, she would often go after school to the hospital where her father worked. There, in the children’s wing, were children sent over from local orphanages, who needed medical care. They were short-staffed and Anne remembers spending many hours, holding and playing with these babies, who would all reached out their arms to be held, when she would walk into the ward.


Illustration by Eloise Wilkin

Anne and her family always loved books. Anne’s home was always full of books (see special note below). She was especially drawn to classic illustrators such as Eloise Wilkin, Robert McCloskey, Garth Williams, and Jesse Wilcox Smith. Her favorites stories were fairy tales, books about fairies, and any books with children and babies in them.

A favorite memory of her childhood in Korea include vacationing with Korean friends in the mountains, eating a picnic of kim-bap and swimming in the icy cool streams, with misty mountains and rocky sea coast, and terraced rice fields as a backdrop.

Anne returned to the United States to attend Mount Holyoke College where she majored in art. She spent her Junior year in Korea at Ewha Woman’s University. There was studied Korean history, culture, folklore and painting.

She currently lives on Peaks island in Maine with her husband. She has 2 grown children, a son, Perry and a daughter, Yunhee whom was adopted from Korea. Yunhee is the inspiration and model for her illustrations in Brianna, Jamaica and the Dance of Spring written by Juanita Havill.

Korean traditional wedding costume

When Yunhee was married, the family held a Japanese wedding ceremony for Yunhee and her groom with the help of the Korean American community in Maine.

Anne was recently honored by the Maine Library Association with the lifetime achievement Katahdin Award for her body of work.

In addition to creating books, she has been involved for many years in diversity education and leadership training. Anne Sibley O’Brien is one of the founders of I’m Your Neighbor, an organization that promotes children’s literature featuring “new arrival” cultures.
She also has a blog “Coloring between the lines” ( where she explores issues of race and culture in children’s literature. On her blog, Anne shares a list of children’s books and resources from a workshop she gave called “Books as Bridges: using Children’s Books To Talk about Race”. She offers a great selection of titles – check it out at
Special side note:


Anne mentions in her interview with Tarie on her blog “into the wardrobe” ( that she would receive books from the US when they lived in Korea. Anne says:

“Once or twice a year, we got to order used books from a church warehouse in the States. We checked them off on a master list, mailed off the order, then waited months for the package to be delivered by sea mail to discover whether or not we’d gotten the ones we’d wanted. Books were precious. “

I was excited to see that other ministries have also done what Kids Books Without Borders (and Bookends International, and others I am not aware of) does now. Katherine Patterson, in her autobiography, Stories of my life, also mentioned that there was a woman who sent books to their family in China and that is was like Christmas when they received the box of books.

Quotes from Anne

My career creating multicultural children’s books is a direct response to my childhood in Korea, which kindled in me a fascination for the beauty and glory of human differences, and a passion for the truth that, across our differences, we are all one human family. We belong to each other. That’s what I’m trying to get to, through all my work.



“Growing up in Korea meant belonging to a place I did not belong, being of a place I was not from, being welcomed and loved by people who were not “my” people. Somehow, culture shock and the sense of dislocation always felt more intense when I returned to the U.S., to the place I supposedly belonged, to the place I was from, to “my” people. ”





When our daughter joined our family by adoption from Korea, and my husband and I were raising her and her white brother, I knew that having diverse books, lots of them, depicting all kinds of people, was essential to their wellbeing and development of healthy identities. In different ways, they both needed to see both themselves – and others – reflected in the books they read.”


Bi-cultural identity is a treasure. It’s challenging because people who are not bicultural have no idea what it’s like to be torn between two cultures, two places, two ways of being in the world, but there is so much richness. And I think that those of us who are caught between also have the gift of being a bridge and able to be insightful about both cultures.”

Quote from interview By The INNERview With Host Susan Lee MacDonald

                                           (See full interview at

Homesick, My Own Story

Jean Fritz –  part 1 in a series on TCK children’s authors
I am excited to begin a series here on this blog about children’s authors who are third culture kids. I have yet to find a list out there (anyone know of one?) but I am starting my own list. Here is what I have so far (a work in progress – please let me know if you know of any others I need to add to this list below):
Pearl Buck – TCK from China

Jean Fritz – TCK from China

Meindert DeJong – TCK from Netherlands

Rumer Godden – TCK from China

Rudyard Kipling – TCK from India

Jean Little – TCK from Taiwan

Anne Sibley O’Brien – TCK from Korea

Katherine Patterson – TCK from China

Mitali Perkins – TCK who spent much of her childhood overseas in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana.   (I did write a blog post about Mitali Perkins “Tiger Boy” – check it out – she’s an amazing writer)

Missing anyone? Let me know…
In this first post in my series of TCK children’s authors, I would like to highlight Jean Fritz.

She is an American children’s writer best known for American biography and history as I mentioned above. She won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her career contribution to American children’s literature in 1986. She turned 100 in November 2015.
If you homeschool or love history, you will definitely be familiar with Jean Fritz’s history books for children. Who has not heard of these famous books?

  •  And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
  • Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
  • Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt
  • Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?
  •  George Washington’s Breakfast
  •  Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln
  •  Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
  • What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
  • Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus?
  • Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?
  •  Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock?
  • Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?
  • Why Not Lafayette?
  • You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

In addition to these shorter works for younger children, she has also written chapter books about famous Americans in history including:

  •  The Double Life of Pocahontas
  • Around the world in a hundred years (a book about early explorers)
  • The Great Little Madison
  • Stonewall

Jean Guttery Fritz was born November 16, 1915 in China where she lived until 1927.  When she was 12, she returned to the US and settled in Virginia.

Her book Homesick, My Own Story is the focus of this post. It was published in 1982 . It is a Newbery Honor book, winner of the American Book Award and winner of the Christopher Award. This chapter book with illustrations and drawings by Margot Tomes, is geared from 8 to 12 year olds, although I have loved it as an adult, and I think teens would enjoy it as well, especially TCKs. There is a section at the back of the book with photographs of herself and her family, many of them in China, which brings her story to life.

Although she tells the story of her childhood in China and her subsequent years as she settles in the US and adjusts to life there, she admits in the preface that her memories of her childhood come out in lumps, often not sequential, so she weaves the story together with fictional bits. She says that she would have to consider this a work of fiction, but that “it does not feel like fiction to me. It is my story, told as truly as I can tell it.”.   

I have read this several times and each time I read it, I glean new insights about being a TCK and the joys and struggles that come with it: the loneliness, struggles at school, that sense of living between two worlds and longing to belong, that sense of loss at leaving one country to go to another.
My favorite section of this biography of her life, is when she is on the boat leaving China at the age of 12 – although she is excited about seeing the US and her grandparents and extended family for the first time, she feels as if she was in an in-between state – not in China, not in America – she describes it like this in Homesick My Own Story:


“It seemed to me that once we were completely out of sight of land, I would really feel homeward bound. But as I looked at the Shanghai skyline and at the busy waterfront, I had the strange feeling that I wasn’t moving away at all. Instead the land was slowly moving away and leaving me. Not just Shanghai but China itself…. I could even smell China, and it was the smell of food cooking, of steam rising from many rice bowls it hung in a mist over the land. But it was slipping away. No matter how hard I squinted, it was fading from sight.”

That “in-between” state that we all can relate to as TCKs – it seeps into you and never leaves you: never fully belonging, always longing for a place that feels 100% like home, knowing it will never come to be on this side of eternity.

Jean is not shy about giving you the whole picture of her childhood, the good along with the bad, the happy times as well as the sad times. Life was not easy for Jean. She was ostracized by the Chinese who call her a “foreign devil”. She didn’t fit in in the British school she attended. Her family faced war and violence, separation and anxiety, grief and loss, depression and loneliness. It’s all there, but the overall tone of the book is not negative. As a girl, faced with these difficulties, she learned to cope, she found those places inside herself to escape to, she had supportive parents and a Chinese nanny who herself struggled from being ostracized by her family. Jean is an example of one who takes what life offers, drank the bitter cups and decided to focus on the beautiful and the good she saw around her, like the wild flowers and the mountains, books, her cat, her relationships with family both far and near. Jean also learned to except herself, her weaknesses and hone in on her strength.

I cannot recommend this book enough, especially to TCKs. I would love (and often do) throw it in to the boxes I mail out to family overseas. 

Fun Facts about Jean Fritz’s life :

  • She was born in Wuhan, China and lived there until she was 13. She still misses China. She has visited China three times as an adult. She can speak Mandarin, but did not learn to write the traditional Chinese characters.
  • She is an only child. When she was 11, her mother gave birth to a little girl, they called her Miriam but she was born premature and only lived a few weeks. She was often lonely. She loved to write and writing became her way of processing all her experiences and emotions.
  • Her interest in American history started as a child, when her father shared stories and tales of American heroes from the past. She says traces her love of history to her need for roots. As a child, she often felt disconnected. US history gave her a sense belonging.
  • She said she did not enjoy history as a child, but as an adult, she was fascinated by the different people who lived throughout history. She says:  “Sometimes it seems as if a person from long ago steps out from a page and speaks to me. Then I know I have to write another book.” 

  • She announced that she was going to be a writer when she grew up when she was 5 years old.
  • As a child, she read Peter Pan by Baum, The Secret Garden by Burnett and  Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Just so Stories was her favorite. One of her current favorite books is The Lemming Condition by Alan Arkin
  • Out of all her books (and she has written well over 50 books) she is most proud of Homesick, My Own Story because it is the story of her own childhood. Homesick, My Own Story is also her best seller. The title Homesick has a double meaning: yes, she was homesick for America when she was in China, but after returning to the US, she realized she was then homesick for China.
  • When asked if any of her great-great grand-children were to write a book about her, what would they title the book, she replied: “I think my children and I feel I’ve never quite grown up, so maybe something like She Never Grew Up.”
  • In China, she attended a British school. There she had to sing “God Save the King!” every morning. She did not want to do it. Even though she had never been to America, she felt that singing that song would be traitorous.  Fortunately, her wise father pointed out that the American song, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” had the same tune, so she quietly sang that instead.
  • One of the things she hated the most when she first attended public school in Virginia was having to learn cursive writing.
  • She loves rivers and oceans. When she was in China, she loved the Yangtse River and now she lives in New York beside the Hudson River. She also loves the ocean and vacationed for many years in Virgin Cordo, an island in the Carribean Sea. When she was younger, she loved to swim and snorkel. She still loves to go to the beach and just enjoy the beauty, sounds and smells of the sea. (A woman after my own heart! “A kindred spirit” as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables would say)
  • Of course, she also loves reading. She reads all sorts of books, not just history.
  • In 1983, she went back to her hometown in China and found her house, where she and her parents lived. She visited a school and showed the children a photograph album the children of Dobbs Ferry, NY made to show what their life is like.
  • Her favorite character from history?  She is crazy about LaFayette. She wrote a book about him called “Why Not LaFayette?“. She loves the fact that he was devoted to democracy. He was a very principled man. She is saddened by the fact that he is not studied in school that much any more.
  • She attended Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois.
  • She married Michael Fritz in 1941. She has two children, David and Andrea.
  •      Her birthday is November 16th 1915. She turns 101 in a few months.

Quotes from Jean Fritz:

When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.” ― Jean Fritz

Only when a book is written out of passion is there much hope of its being read with passion.” ― Jean Fritz

Mikis and the Donkey

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman – a book review

I sat down and read this book in one sitting. It’s hard to put down – not because it’s an edge-of-your-seat adventure or a nail-biting suspense but because of the simplicity of the story. In this short novel, the reader is transported to small village in Greece. The reader feels the excitement of Miki, a village boy whose life changes drastically one day when his grandfather surprises him with a donkey. Miki and his donkey are inseparable from day one and the two become best friends. Throughout the year, Mikis learns about caring for his donkey, controlling him (well, sort of). He discovers just how stubborn a a donkey can be. He also come to know him as a constant and faithful companion. The novel is not just about the boy’s relationship with his donkey, it’s also about Mikis and his grandfather, as well as Mikis and his classmates and teacher. It’s a light-hearted story with plenty of humor and amusing twists. Perfect for animal lovers. (for children ages 8-12, but could also be read to younger children as a read-aloud)

This book won the Batchelor Award in 2015, which is given to the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States. Mikis and the Donkey was originally published in the Netherlands in 2011 under the title, Mikis de ezeljongen. It was translated into English by Laura Watkinson.

What I love about this book is that it’s an animal story that doesn’t have a heart-wrenching or tragic ending – nobody dies and there is even a pleasant surprise at the end! I also enjoyed the multicultural aspect of the story – a glimpse of life on a small island in Greece. Finally, I enjoyed the fact that it’s an animal story that is not about a dog, a cat or a horse. The pencil drawings by Philip Hopman throughout the book bring this story to life and help children visualize life in Greece.
The Dutch creators of Soldier Bear bring a lovely simplicity to this affecting picture of a close-knit Greek community. . . . The generous number of loosely drawn illustrations capture windswept landscapes, village life, and human character and diversity with equal aplomb. Visually inviting and easily read, this would also make a fine read-aloud for younger children.”  Horn Book

Miki had to give donkey lessons to his grandpa.

 “Pappou, those baskets make her sore and the strap is far too tight.”

 “So what should I do, my boy?”

 “You need to put a blanket under them. And you shouldn’t load the baskets so full. Tsaki’s not a truck.”

 “Who said she was?”

 “You did. And you said Tsaki’s a tractor on legs. But that’s not true. Oh, and she’s not allowed to work all this week.”

 “Where did you get that idea?”

 “Doctor’s orders”

 “Well I’ll be…” said Grandpa. “Did the doctor really say that?”

 Mikis nodded.

 “Ha, that’s easy for him to say. He drives around in a nice Ford.”

Also by Bibi Dumon Tak: Soldier Bear – another Batchelder Award winner in 2012.

This is an animal story as well and is based on a true story. It tells the story of a young bear who is adopted by Polish soldiers in Iran. Voytek, the bear, then accompanies a Polish battalion onto the battle fields of Italy during World War II. Voytek’s mischief and antics often get him into trouble, but his presence is a lifeline for everyone whose life he touches as the bear and the soldiers journey through war torn Italy. I would recommend Soldier Bear to a slightly older audience (ages 10 and up) because it does depict some of the horrors of war. A moving story that would make an insightful supplemental reading to any study of World War II.
The deep bond between humans and animals is a popular theme in children’s literature. Here are a few other animal stories, some multicultural, some about unusual pets, that I highly recommend:

Shadrach by Meindert DeJong, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (1956) – This story, set in the Netherlands, is about a boy and his pet Rabbit. If you haven’t read DeJong, you are missing out. In Shadrach, Davie is enthralled with his new pet Rabbit which he names Shadrach. A beautiful story of that portrays the depth of a young child’s emotions and attachment to his pet. Meindert Dejong is an award-winning author of Newbery Medalist The Wheel on the School and The House of Sixty Fathers. Born in the Netherlands, Meindert’s family immigrated to the United States when he was 8 (Ages 9 to 12)

The White Elephant by Sid Fleischman (2006). Ever wondered where the term “white elephant” comes from? Inspired by a true story from Thailand, this is a fun and easy read about a young elephant boy named Run-Run and his white elephant, who outwit a prince. Written by the Newbery Award winning author of The Whipping Boy, this novel will take you on a ride, an elephant ride you will never forget.

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, illustrated by Marguerite Kirmse. (1940). Who hasn’t heard of Lassie – probably you have seen the movie. Yes, I will say it – the book is even better. Set in a small Yorkshire village in England during the Great Depression, Lassie is the story of a collie, a faithful companion to Joe. When Joe’s father looses his job, Lassie must be sold. After escaping his new owners multiple times to return home, Lassie is taken North to Scotland, a place so far and so remote that no dog would ever attempt an escape.

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat (1961). The hilarious story of Wol and Weeps, two mischievous pet owls who terrorize the whole town of Saskatchewan, Canada with their crazy antics. Farley Mowat is a famous Canadian author who has written over 45 books.

Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era by Sterling North (1963) This is the classic tale of a boy and his pet raccoon, set in the woods of Wisconsin. It’s a moving tale that chronicles the first year of the raccoon’s life, but also a tale of a young boy’s journey through loss and grief. Rascal does have an emotional intensity to it, but there is plenty of adventure and humor throughout to make this an all-around amazing story.

The Yearling by Margery Kinnan Rawlings (1938) This classic tale, set in the late 1880s in Florida, is the winner of the Pulitzer prize. I had put off reading this book, until recently, partly because I dismissed it as one of those “sad animal stories.” So when I listened to this book on audio, I was completely taken aback by the beauty of the language, the poetic descriptions of plants, trees, birds and beasts, the depiction of the family’s struggle for survival, the raw emotions of young Jody. A must-read! Don’t dismiss this one – the story will linger on long after the last words are read and the book is put aside. (for ages 10+)
He lay down beside the fawn. He put one arm across its neck. It did not seem to him that he could ever be lonely again.” 

                                       ― Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling

The Year of the Panda by Miriam Schlein (1990) – Focusing on the environment and endangered animals, this multicultural story, set in China, is about a young boy who finds an abandoned baby panda in the woods near his family’s farm. So begins Lu Yi’s adventures as he nurses the young cub back to life and tries to solve the mystery of the young cub’s mother’s disappearance.


My Song Is Beautiful

My Song is Beautiful – Poems & Pictures in Many Voices by Mary Ann Hoberman The collection of poems was published in 1994 and includes 14 poems by famous children’s authors.

Mary Ann Hoberman is an acclaimed author of over 40 children’s books. She has written both pictures books and poetry. In 2003, Hoberman was named the second US Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation and she served in that role from 2008 to 2011. In 2003, she also received the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. The Llama Who Has No Pajama is a collection of over one hundred of her poems. Other well-known and loved books by Hoberman include:

  •  The Seven Silly Eaters
  •  You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series
  •  A House is a House for Me

Four things I love about this collection of poems:

  1.  multicultural and diverse perspective
  2.  Illustrations by a different illustrator with illustrations that highlight the culture of the poem and author
  3.  poems are easy to read and accessible to children ages 5 and up
  4.  Focus on self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-expression

“This outstanding multicultural anthology will introduce young readers to a generous range of artistic and literary styles.” Publishers Weekly

These fourteen poems by distinguish authors celebrate that which is special in all of us.” School Library Journal

Art work by elementary school students in Brooklyn, NY

You and I
Only one I in the whole wide world
And millions and millions of you,
But every you is an I to itself
And I am a you to you, too!

But if I am a you and you are an I
And the opposite also is true,
It makes us both the same somehow
Yet splits us each in two.

It’s more and more mysterious,
The more I think it through:
Every you everywhere in the world is an I;
Every I in the world is a you!

Poem by Mary Ann Hoberman

artwork by David Diaz

daddy says the world is

a drum tight and hard

and I told him

i’m gonna beat

out my own rhythm
– Nikki Giovanni (1943)


Nikki Giovanni is one of the best-known African-American poets. Her poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. In addition to her vast collection of poetry and books for children, she is the winner of the 2005 Caldecott Medal for Rosa.


Yoriko Ito




In a hermit’s cottage, silent, still,

I sit all alone with nobody.

A white cloud dozes

To the strains of a quiet song.


No one can know

How happy I am!

– Kim Soo-Jang –  Translated by Virginia Olsen Baron

This poem is a Sijo poem, one of the earliest and most popular forms of Korean verse.

Let’s Eat!

Advocates of multicultural children’s literature critique the fact that children’s books that highlight other cultures and diversity often center around the four Fs: food, festivals, fashion and folklore. I agree that authors, educators, and parents need to delve deeper into other aspects of culture, issues such as identity and belonging, but as someone who grew up in another country, my childhood memories often focus around special meals and times spent around the table with family or friends.



Ratatouille, a Disney Pixar movie about a mouse who becomes a French chef is a favorite movie of mine – just ask my kids! There is a scene where the food critic enters a restaurant and is presented with a dish. As he takes his first bite, he is transported back to his own childhood – he is a young boy who he comes into his family kitchen from a day on the farm and his mom places a plate of streaming ratatouille in front of him. To him, a taste of ratatouille, years later, reminds him of home, of belonging, of love.

When I think of my own childhood, in a very cosmopolitan and multicultural setting in the greater Paris area, it’s crusty french baguette fresh from the bakery, it’s fresh artichokes from the market, steamed and dipped in butter, it’s Madame Lopez’s Moroccan paella, it’s the Sionath’s guadalupian chicken columbo, it’s Marie-Jeanne’s endive salad and grilled trout almandine, it’s a piping hot bowl of cafe au lait on a cold, wet morning, it’s my mom’s fresh homemade apple pie with a cup of tea – wow, such food memories! I’d love to hear yours – please share in the comments.
But on to books!

This series of four books by Norah Dooley and illustrated by Peter Thornton are a great way to introduce multicultural cuisine to your kids and help them appreciate the rich culinary diversity of the culture you live in, or come from. Each of these four books include recipes at the back.

“Multiculturalism at its best” – Parent council

Everybody Cooks Rice (1991)

It’s almost dinner time! As her mom finishes up meal preparation, she sends Carrie on an errand to find her younger brother. As she goes from house to house searching for him, she is invited in and discovers that in her multicultural neighborhood, everyone does indeed cook rice, including rice and black-eyed peas from Barbados, biryani from India, and Vietnamese nuoc cham. Not surprisingly, Carrie comes home to her own mother Italian rice dish, she isn’t very hungry.

Everybody Bakes Bread (1996)

It’s a rainy day in the neighborhood. Carrie is bored. The soccer game she had planned was rained out. Her mom, who is baking bread, sends her off on an impossible errand – find a three-handled rolling pin. As she asked around, she learns about all the various ways families around the world make bread, from Barbadian Sweet coconut bread to Mexican pupusas. When she returns home, although she is full, she can’t resist a slice of her mom’s homemade Italian bread, before heading out to a game of soccer, rain boots and puddles included.

Everybody Serves Soup (2000)

What better way to warm up on a snowing day than a hot bowl of soup? The neighborhood is blanketed in snow. Carrie sets up with her snow shovel to earn a few dollars to buy her mom a Christmas present. As she works her way from house to house, she is welcomed in with the delicious smell of steaming pots of soup – from Puerto Rican chuleton to Jewish beet and cabbage soup. At the end of the day, Carrie not only learned about other cultures and sampled lots of soup, she also comes up with the perfect gift for her mom.

Everybody Brings Noodles (2002)

It’s summer! The neighborhood is preparing for a fourth of July block party, which includes a picnic and a talent show. As she helps set up and collects food, she discovers the wide variety of noodle dishes from around the world that her neighbors are preparing – Chinese yellow sesame noodles; Greek orzo; Vietnamese spring rolls, and Jewish Kugel to name a few. Carrie is delighted at the end of the evening when the neighbors present her with a reward of her own.

The Story of Chopsticks by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng Xuan (2001)

If you live in an area of the world where chopsticks are the main eating ustensil, you will really enjoy this lighthearted tall tale of young Kuai, who never gets enough to eat as the youngest in a large family and comes up with a plan to rectify the situation. Both the author and illustrator are born and educated in China. The book includes a brief history of chopsticks, rules for eating with chopsticks and a recipe for Sweet Eight Treasures Rice Pudding.

How My Parents learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman (1984)

A little girl recalls the story of how her parents met in Japan years ago. Anxious to learn each other’s culture, the Japanese girl learns to eat with a knife and fork, and the young American sailor gets a crash course in how to use chopsticks. The outcome is humorous and makes a good family memory. With Illustrations by award-winning artist Allen Say.
The book is wonderfully thought-provoking in it’s portrayal of the subtle similarities and differences among cultures.” – School library Journal


Feast for Ten by Kathryn Falwell (1995)

In this rhyming counting book, perfect for preschoolers, an African-American family prepare a festive meal together, from shopping, to preparation and cooking, to a family all gathered around the table eating together. Bright colored paper, patterned fabrics, and felt all come together to create beautiful collage illustrations, making this a great read-aloud book.

Community Soup by Alma Fullerton

In this African version of “Mary had a little lamb”, a group of children work hard to collect the vegetables from a community garden outside the schoolhouse to make a soup for everyone to share. Kioni is late for school! As she rushes to get to school, she discovers that her flock of goats have followed her and have snuck into the garden. The class works together to come up with a creative solution to the goat problem. This lively and amusing story, great for preschoolers and reading aloud, is beautifully illustrated by Alma with vibrant and eye-catching 3D mixed media collage.

Let’s Eat! What Children Eat Around the World by Breatrice Hollyer (in association with Oxfam)(2003)

With colored photographs, fun facts, maps, and recipes throughout, this book reads like a scrapbook. Each chapter highlights a day in one child’s life and the special foods that are prepared and eaten in that part of the world. We learn about a wedding in South Africa, a fiesta in Mexico, a day out with Dad in Thailand, mushrooming in France, and a birthday in India.

Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice by Sylvia Rosa-Casanova, illustrated by Robert Roth (1997)

Mama Provi, the grandmother of Lucy lives on the first floor of a city apartment building. Her grandaughter and her family live on the eighth floor. When their evening together is cancelled after Lucy gets sick, Mama Provi decides to cook her a large pot of arroz con pollo to cheer her up. As Mama Provi sets off up the stairs with her big pot of rice in a large shopping bag, she stops at each floor and trades each neighbor a bowl of her delicious rice for samples of their ethnic food – crusty Italian bread, frijoles negros, salad, collard greens, even Mrs. Woo’s green tea and a fresh slice of homemade apple pie. When Mama Provi arrives at Lucy’s door, Lucy is thrilled to see her grandma. “Let’s eat,” said Mam Provi. And that is exactly what they did.” Spanish words scattered throughout the book adds to it’s appeal.

Potluck by Anne Shelby, pictures by Irene Trivas

When I was a student at the University of Illinois in Chicago, I attended an International Church. The pastor was from India. Sam and his wife Sharon have the gift of hospitality. Sam’s curries are the best curries I have ever tasted. Our small church often had over 30 different nationalities represented. When we had potlucks, it was a smorgasbord of delicious dishes from around the world. This book reminds me of those special gatherings. Alpha and Betty decide to invite their multiethnic friends over for a dinner – going through each letter of the alphabet, starting with asparagus soup and ending with zucchini casserole, the pages are filled with colorful, festive dishes that parade across the pages. I especially love “Don did dumplings” and “Quincy, of course, brought quiche, Rose her famous rice and raisin recipe”.
“…Kids will like the way the words sound tripping off the tongue – tongues that may be hanging out a bit, especially when the readers view the final, scrumptious two-page spread.”. Booklist

Let’s Eat by Ana Zamorano and illustrated by Julie Vivas

In this picture book by award-winning Illustrator and her daughter, a large, lively boisterous family gathers together every day at two o’clock to share a meal, prepared and served up by the mother – there’s empanadas, gazpacho, chickpea soup, pollo, and sardinas. Each day, a seat at the table is empty as in turn family members are too busy to come for dinner. The mom sighs and exclaims: “Ay, que pena!” (what a pity). On Saturday, it’s Mama’s turn to be away from the table. When she returns, the following day with their new little sister, Rosa, the family is finally all together again. This calls for a celebration and what better way to celebrate than a pan of paella!
As we say in France, bon appétit!

Rickshaw Girl and Tiger Boy

Mitali Perkins

A friend of mine in Romania recently mentioned these books by Mitali Perkins to me – I had previously read Bamboo People by her and loved it, so I checked these two books: Rickshaw Girl (2008) and Tiger Boy (2015) from the library. I devoured Rickshaw Girl in one sitting, and read Tiger Boy several days later. I can’t recommend these two books (for ages 8 to 12) more. Both these novels are set in other countries – Rickshaw Girl is set in Bangladesh and Tiger Boy is set in India.

I get so excited when I discover a new author whose writing I love (new to me, I mean) and I find out she is a TCK. Mitali’s father was an engineer and his job took their family from port to port in different countries. By the time Mitali was 11, she had lived in India, England, Ghana, Cameroon, Mexico, and then The United States. Settling in the United States as a Middle school student was very difficult for her (I know the feeling – although I didn’t stay, our family returned to the United States when I was in eighth grade). Mitali struggled as a child to find her place in these different cultures, and books became her refuge.

“Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.”

She was brought up as a Hindu but became an agnostic in her teens. During her junior year of college, while studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, she came repeatedly face to face with images and stories of Christ. As she read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, as well as the New Testament, Mitali was confronted with the person of Christ. Mitali explains her reaction upon delving into the New Testament this way:

“I was encountering a Jew with olive-colored skin, black hair, and dark eyes. This Middle Eastern man healed foreign women; he knew what it was to feel lonely and rejected.”

Through her reading, Mitali came to understand how Christ’s death on the cross conquered evil and reconciled man to God.  She came to Faith and upon her return to the US, she was baptized.

She later realized that the many stories and novels she had read as a child were deeply steeped in the Christian Faith. In an article she wrote for Christianity Today, she reflects on books from her childhood:

“Louisa May Alcott wove John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress into Little Women. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi described God’s forgiveness through the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett perhaps subconsciously provided a metaphorical glimpse of the Trinity—Father (Susan Sowerby), Son (Dickon), and Holy Spirit (the robin). And of course, C. S. Lewis’s Aslan leapt into my mind and heart. For years, these spiritual mothers and fathers had been teaching me about the Bible. I just didn’t realize it.”.    Christianity Today – Testimony: When God Writes Your Life Story by Mitali Perkins/ DECEMBER 31, 2015


Mitali has written nine books, including Rickshaw Girl, Bamboo People, an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults and her most recent novel, Tiger Boy. She and her husband currently live in the San Francisco area, where she continues to write, lectures at St Mary’s College and visits schools and libraries throughout the country.

Rickshaw Girl 

Naima is a young girl growing up in a small village in Bangladesh. She loves art and is the best artist in her village, famous for her alpana patterns, a traditional art work. But Naima wants nothing more than to help her family make ends meet. Her father is a rickshaw driver and their family is barely scraping by. They can’t afford to send both Naima and her sister to school at the same time. When Naima accidentally damages her father’s rickshaw and the family is unable to pay for the repair, Naima must find a way to make things right.

Rickshaw Girl was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years.

What I loved about Rickshaw Girl:

  1.  An easy-to-read moving story for ages 8-12
  2. Culturally rich, and beautiful charcoal-on-canvas illustrations by Jamie Hogan
  3.  Well developed characters and relationships including Naima’s close friendship with her neighbor Saleem and Naima’s loving family relationships
  4.  Steeped in Bengali cultural details, with a glossary of Bangla words at the back of the book
  5.  Strong, courageous and loving female heroine


Tiger Boy

When a young tiger cub escapes from the nature preserve and is at risk of being attacked by the island poachers, Neel and his sister set out to find and rescue the cub. Neel is a bright student and the headmaster of his school has selected him to take an exam to win a scholarship to a prestigious school. But Neel has mixed feelings – he doesn’t want to leave his home, his family or his island. It isn’t until the hunt and the rescue of the tiger cub that Neel comes to understand how his academic abilities can help him to someday return and do his part to help preserve the natural beauty of the island, the lives of tigers, and help improve the lives of his family and friends.

  • Tiger Boy is Junior Library Guild selection.
  • NCTE 2016 Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book
  • Junior Library Guild Premier Selection 2015
  • CCBC Book of the Week
  • Selected as a Waterbridge Outreach Book


What I loved about Tiger Boy

  1.  Easy-to-read, yet gripping tale – perfect for ages 8-12
  2.  Amazing charcoal-on-canvas illustrations
  3.  The natural beauty of the Island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal painted so well in the book, from the cool freshwater ponds to the mangrove forest to the long stretches of beaches
  4.  The fragile connection between nature and humans, beautifully portrayed by Mitali
  5.  The fact that Mitali does not down play the poverty and hardships of life on these island (for example, the mother’s illness, and the father’s difficulty finding work)
  6.  Neel’s love and bond with his older sister, Rupa, and his deep respect for his baba (his father)
  7.  Neel, the main character, portrayed as smart and a book lover, but also someone who is passionate about nature and animals, and the great outdoors
  8.  The plight and magnificence of the wild Bengal Tiger, presented in a way that children can understand – Great book for animal lovers – your child will want to learn more about tigers.

Can you tell I love these books?

It’s only once a while that you get a book that manages to create a lump in your throat and at the same time makes you read as fast as you can because you want to know what happens next.” – Indian Moms Connect

Books by Mitali Perkins

For ages 8-12

  • Rickshaw Girl (2008)
  • Tiger Boy (2015)

For Young Adult (*books I’ve read and recommend – I definitely want to read Open Mic!)

  • *The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen (Originally published as: The Sunita Experiment). (2005)
  • *Monsoon Summer (2007)
  • First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover (2007)
  • First Daughter: White House Rules (2008)
  • Secret Keeper (2010)
  • *Bamboo People (2012)
  • Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (2013)

Poems about rain

Here is Southern Indiana, Spring is in full bloom. It is so exhilarating to see nature burst into life again. Along with arrays of color and greenery comes rainy days. They go hand in hand – without the rain we wouldn’t have the beauty of new life. However, I remember when my children were small. They itched to be out of doors and would awaken to rain – we would recite to them the old rhyme – “rain, rain go away, come again another day, little Johnny wants to play” to cheer them up.
O course, rain means different things in other parts of the world. In England and France where I grew up, it was a staple, a part of every day life and you never went out without an umbrella. As in the poem, Duck Weather by Shirley Hughes rain in Europe is mostly something adults grumble about. For the small child, it means a bright raincoat, shiny rain boots (or wellies, as they are called there) and puddles to splash in. What fun! For many of us, the sound of rain trickling down the gutters and the pitter patter in the roof at night, is soothing and relaxing like a lullaby as Langston Hughes describes it in April Rain Song.
In some parts of the world, there are rainy seasons and in others, rain is a rare and precious gift that the dusty dry, cracked earth gobbles up greedily, bringing much relief from the heat. I think Rain Music by Joseph Cotter and it’s drum like cadence is a good example of how rain can be music to our ears and we rejoice in it and praise God for it.

Finally, you can’t have a post about rain without including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Rain for it’s simplicity and depth. It comes down on my little umbrella, but also is expensive and reaches out over vast ocean. This is a great little poem to have a child learn by heart.

Duck Weather

Splishing, splashing in the rain,

Up the street and back again,

Stomping, stamping through the flood,

We don’t mind a bit of mud.

Running pavements, gutters flowing,

All the cars with wipers going,

We don’t care about the weather,

Tramping hand in hand together.

We don’t mind a damp wet day,

Sloshing puddles all the way,

Splishing, splashing in the rain,

Up the street and back again.

Poem by Shirley Hughes (born in 1927). Shirley Hughes is a British author and illustrator. She has written over 50 books for children. She is the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1977 and 2003 for Dogger and Ella’s Big Chance. This poem is taken from Rhymes for Annie Rose. Did I mention I love Shirley Hughes?

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops

Let the rain sing you a lullaby

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk

The rain makes running pools in the gutter

The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night

And I love the rain.

Poem by Langston Hughes (1902-1967). He was an African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. April Rain Song was taken from the Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

Rain Music 

On the dusty earth-drum

Beats the falling rain;

Now a whispered murmur,

Now a louder strain.

Slender, silvery drumsticks,

On an ancient drum,

Beat the mellow music

Bidding life to come.

Chords of earth awakened,

Notes of greening spring,

Rise and fall triumphant

Over every thing.

Slender, silvery drumsticks

Beat the long tattoo–

God, the Great Musician,

Calling life anew.

Poem by Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. (1861-1949) – He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Joseph Cotter was one of the earliest African American playwrights. He was a poet, playwright, community leader and strong advocate for black education.  Rain Music is taken from The Book of American Negro Poetry. Ed. James Weldon Johnson. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922.

The Rain

The rain is raining all around,

It falls on field and tree,

It rains on the umbrellas here,

And on the ships at sea.

Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish author and is best known as the author of the children’s classic Treasure Island, and the adult horror story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He also published A Child’s Garden of Verses from which this poem was taken. Of great children’s writers, it is often said that the child in them never dies – A Child’s Garden of Verses is the perfect example of this – a must have for any child’s home library!)



Paris-Chien – Adventures of an Ex-pat Dog written and illustrated by Jackie Clark Mancuso

I have a new third culture kid book to share with you this week.
I love, love, love this book.  J’aime ce livre.  

 It’s simple, amusing and yet it will reverberate with any child who is thrust into a new country, new city or new school and faces homesickness and the challenge of making new friends.
  Of course, who can resist a story about a feisty Terrier and the charms of Paris?

In this story, Hudson moves to Paris with his owner. He loves Paris where dogs are never left at home and adorn shops, boulevards, boulangeries, parks (except those that have “no dogs allowed” signs) and even restaurants and cafes. However, he is bitterly disappointed when he discovers French dogs speak French and he cannot communicate. He suddenly feels sad and lonely in this new place. His owner enrolls him in French school. His teacher, Madame Vera, is a French poodle. There he learns new words, makes friends and to his amazement, soon begins to understand what other dogs and people are saying. He even has a new girlfriend, Francoise. I love this simple statement at the end of the book:

Paris is a cool place when you have friends.”

  French words are scattered throughout the book and a “petit dictionaire” at the back of the book makes this a great little introduction to the French language as well.

Jackie Clark Mancuso’s bright gouache paintings of dogs and scenes of Paris, Parisien life and French culture brings this story to life… and quite honestly, makes me homesick for France.  
  I also appreciate that the author paints a diverse picture of Paris, with people of different ethnicities and cultures, selling and buying delicious and fresh foods at the open markets or “marche.”

I think Jackie needs to write a sequel where Hudson returns to the US and has to deal with reverse culture shock! (Actually, there is a sequel called Hudson in Provence which I’m looking forward to reading)

Paris-Chien is gem of a book and perfect for any third culture kid who has the courage like Hudson to learn a new language and make new friends in a new place.

La Fin (the end)