Books on moving and transitions for TCKs

Moving is part of the package (no pun intended) of a third culture kid. Boxes, crates, suitcases, packing and unpacking were all fixtures of my childhood experience. By the time I was 13,our family had moved 9 times.

Move back to France – Fall 1970

 

Each place has special memories, each new home or apartment has its own stories. I remember the purple irises all lined in a row in our home in Villeneuve-Le-Roi, the laundry shoot that went all the way to the basement in our home in Barrington, Illinois, the missionary closet filled with old clothes and the smell of moth balls in the TEAM apartments in Wheaton, the daisy bedspreads my mom made for me and my sister when we moved to our home in Maurepas, France.
Each move brought with it a sense of excitement and anticipation, but also anxiety and fear of the unknown. I have happy memories of moving to new homes and new locations, I think, because it was something we did together as a family, my siblings and my parents were always there, and it bonded us closer together as we braved the unknown united. I remember unpacking all my stuff after returning from a year’s furlough – It was like Christmas, as we re-discovered toys and books that we had forgotten about.
Starting in a new school… now that is a different story. I was a shy child and facing a new school, all the new faces, teachers and students alike, struck terror in me, I had to do this alone, my family could only wave as they dropped me off in front of that new school.
These are some of the reactions and emotions your child may experience during a move:

  •  Loss – so many losses: house, bedroom, school, often extended family, neighborhood, and for TCK, language fluency and cultural identity
  •  Sadness and grief as a result of all the losses
  •  Loss of control – just when your child is learning all the rules, the rug is pulled out from under them and they must relearn many things, especially if moving cross-culturally.
  •  Anxiety – fear of the unknown – will I make new friends? Can I learn or sometimes relearn a new language? When will I see my grandma and grandpa again?
  •  Anger – sometimes anger can be the result of deeper issues of loss, anxiety or lack of control
  •  Regression – in your children, moving can lead to regression – behaviors may resurface, or skills such as toilet training or sleeping through the night may be lost temporarily.
  •  Excitement – the level of excitement is contagious – if you are excitement and your attitude is positive and adventurous, your child will also feel excited.

The following books are great bibliotherapy for third culture kids. Be sure to stock up on books to help them cope with the changes and the emotions that are sure to surface as the boxes are packed and unpacked. A great time to start reading these books about the transition to your child is months before the big move. Knowing a character (even if they are fictional) or other children who go through similar emotions and feelings as a result of a move will help your child identify their own feelings and process them.   This is a long list of books – I hope you can use it as a guide to selecting good books about moving to help your TCK through these times of transition.  This is by no means exhaustive – I would love to her from you if you have found other helpful resources (please share comments and ideas in the comments on this blog post – thanks!)
Preschool picture books


Moving Day by Jan and Stan Berenstain (1994)

If your kids are familiar with the Berenstain Bears, this is a great addition. There is something comforting about a favorite character going through the same experiences as you. Join Mama and Papa and brother bear (sister Bear was not born yet) as they move from their cave up in the mountains to their treehouse down in the valley.

GOOD-BYE/hello by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Michael Bryant (1995)

Great for preschoolers, this is the story of a little girl who moves from a city to a suburb. The first part of the book she says good-bye to all the places and friends she has grown to love in her old neighborhood, the second part of the book she says hello to all the new scenes in her new home and neighborhood. (ages 2-5)

Bella And Stella Come Home by Anika Denise and Christopher Denise (2010)

This is a gentle and comforting picture book for preschoolers and young elementary. A young girl faces a wide range of reactions and emotions as she moves to a new house. l love the rich shades of yellow, pink and purples throughout the book, the adorable and expressive African-American girl, her elephant who becomes large and life like when she is especially frightened or anxious and needs his comfort and the humorous details throughout. Everything about the new house is strange and different – there are more steps going into her house than her old house, the new kitchen is yellow and “Stella thinks kitchens should be blue” like her old house. And the bathtub has feet! Night time comes and everything is even more frightening, but the next day, as they unpack all her things and meet their new neighbors, their new home begins to feel more like home. This book might just become a favorite, long after all the boxes are unpacked. (ages 2-6)


Boomer’s Big Day by Constance W. McGeorge (1996), illustrated by Mary Whyte

This humorous and heartwarming story is told from the perspective of a golden retriever, as he watches anxiously the chaos and confusion of a moving day. The colorful watercolor illustrations compliment the story well. I especially loved the page where Boomer is hiding under a chair while boxes, packing paper and movers scurry about him, followed by a blank page with only Boomer still crouched, look dazed with the text printed below: “Before Boomer knew it, the house was empty.” After a long and cramped ride, Boomer is deposited in another empty house. His anxiety is put aside, however, when he discovers the backyard where there are “things to sniff… holes to dig … squirrels to chase… and best of all…there are new friends to be made!”. The day ends with Boomer returning to the house to find his bed, his dish bowl and his favorite tennis ball. A gentle and comforting book as you and your family face the big day too. Your child will empathize with Boomer and his reactions to all the changes around him. (for ages 3-6)


Moving Day – a Child’s Play book illustrated by Jess Stockham (2011)

In this preschool book, a young African American boy (I would say he’s around 3) is right in the thick of things, as his family begins packing up to move. Lots of bright illustrations focused on a young child’s perspective and at a child’s level (the adults are there and involved, but you rarely see their faces) and simple conversational style text make this an ideal book for a young child’s first move. (ages 2-5)


Big Ernie’s New Home – A Story of Children Who are Moving (2006) by Teresa and Whitney Martin

In this book, the story of a move from San Francisco to Santa Fe, is told from the perspective of a cat. Ernie loves his life and routine in San Francisco, the walks around town, the fog, the rain, the dragon in Chinatown, the smell of dinner rolls baking at Wong’s, the sound of the cable car bell and the wind of his fur. When they arrive is Santa Fe, Henry announces:

Big Ernie, say hello to Santa Fe. This is our new home,” announced Little Henry.

 NEW HOME? How could this be home?

 The colors were all wrong….

 …And everything felt different, too….  

 This couldn’t be home.

 Big Ernie was mad, and a little sad.

 He had trouble sleeping.

 Sometimes he ever got into the red box,

 hoping it would take him back to his old house.”

Ernie gradually starts to notice things about his new home that he likes and his sadness dissipates. His zest for life and adventure returns. Another comforting book for preschool children facing similar changes. In the back of the book, there is a note to parents written by Jane Annunziata, a clinical psychologist, with information and tips of how explain a move, timing the news, reactions and feelings and reducing the stress during this time of transition. (for ages 2-6)
Picture books for older kids


I Know Here by Laurel Croza, illustrated by Matt James (2014)

As she receives news that her family is moving to Toronto, an eight-year old girl shares all the things she knows and loves about her home in Saskatchewan, Canada. She asks herself: “Have people in Toronto seen what I’ve seen?” – the dirt road with the eight trailers all lined up in a row, the cry of the wolves at night, the pond where her sister catches frogs, the old moose standing in the water at dusk, her small one -room school, the forest fires. When her teacher suggests that she draw all the things that she wants to remember about her life here, that is exactly what she does. She says; “I will fold my drawing up small, put it safe in my pocket and I will take the road with me. To Toronto.”. The vibrant illustrations will resonate with children, painted from the perspective of a child. In the sequel From There To Here, the little girl shares what her life is like now, in Toronto and how it compares with her life in Saskatchewan. I highly recommend these two books, especially to families moving from a rural setting to a larger city.
Cranberry Moving Day by Wende and Harry Devlin (1994)


I love the Cranberry picture books so I just had to add this one to the list. In Cranberry Moving Day, Maggie, Grandmother and Mr. Whiskers  just how to welcome their new neighbors. This is a great story to share with your child where they learn how important it is to BE the new friend and the helping hand in times of transition.


The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi (1993)

In this moving story of a Vietnamese family’s plight as they are forced to flee from their home land, a young Vietnamese girl saves and treasures a lotus seed she plucked from a lotus pod in the Imperial garden. The author’s interest in Vietnam grew as she befriended Vietnamese families. Her desire was to show “how a family’s heritage is passed on from one generation to the next, and how hope, like the lotus seed, can survive through the worst of circumstances.” Having objects or traditions that families carry with them, no matter where they live, is a great way to help your children cope with change and loss and bridge the gap between space and time. Each illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi, a native of Tokyo is a painting in itself – I love the painting of the pink lotus flower and the one of the grandmother crying in the window seat at night, the moonlight streaming in through the window.


Here I Am by Patti Kim, pictures by Sonia Sanchez

All I could say after reading this book was “Wow”. This story, told without words, describes the journey of a young Asian boy as he immigrates to the United States, settling in the heart of New York city. The range of emotions the child feels as he steps off the plane, and is subjected to all kinds of new and strange sights and sounds, jump out at the reader through the cacophony of graphic images. Sadness but also fear keep him indoors until he accidentally drops a special red seed pod, his link to his former life, out the window. In a commentary at the back of the book, the author puts it this way: “what happens to us when we forget to be afraid? We loosen our firm grip on what belongs to us. We open our hands. We share. We give.” As the young boy steps out of his comfort zone, he begins to explore his new world, and finds joy in the hustle and bustle of city life and friendship waiting just around the corner. This book is a visual delight and new discoveries will be made with each reading. A great book to “read” with your child. Let them tell the story, add their comments and explore their own emotions, as they relate to the character on the pages.


Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catron

Molly Lou Melon is a first grade girl. She is feisty, brave and determined. But she is also the shortest girl in the first grade, she has buck teeth, a voice that sounds like a bullfrog, and is not always very coordinated. Her grandma gives her four pieces of advice (I love that it’s grandma!):

Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you.”

“Smile big and the world will smile right alongside you.”

“Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy.”

“Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you too.”

When Mollie moves away and has to start at her new school, she must prove herself to her new classmates and face the school bully while everyone looks on. With her grandmas advice and her spunk, she faces each challenge with humor and determination. A great book about believing in yourself in spite of physical limitations and facing new situations with courage. I like the fact that it is focused on adjusting to a new school as well as a child’s relationship with her grandmother.


Lenny & Lucy by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2015)

Philip and Erin Stead are the author and illustrator of the 2011 Caldecott Medal book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee (a great book too!). This is their third book together. Peter and his faithful dog, Harold, move to a new house. The story begins with: “Winding along a bumpy road, through the dark unfriendly woods, Peter said, I think this is a terrible idea.”. Moving to a new house, a new neighborhood is a scary experience for children. Everything is frightening and foreboding. Erin Stead uses black and white illustrations to highlight how foreboding the whole experience can be. To ease their fears as darkness approaches and eery shadows appear in the woods just over the bridge, Peter creates Lenny and then Lucy out of pillows and blankets to stand guard over their new house. Lenny and Lucy are simply the best companions and comfort to the young boy, and he and his dog can’t resist joining them outside in the cold, with mugs of hot cocoa. A warm and comforting “read it again” kind of book – one of my favorites.


Alexander, who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst

From the author of Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, no good, very bad day comes a book about moving. Alexander says he is not moving….”never. not ever. No way. Uh uh. N. O.” He tries to figure out ways to avoid this unwelcome change in his life, like moving in with the neighbors or his best friend, or hiding in places where they can’t find him. But Alexander still says his goodbyes as he looks one last time at all the places that are special to him: Albert’s house, to his school, the park, his friends, his neighbors. I like the fact that the author includes plenty of humor – laughter is a great release in the midst of change. This book goes through the gamut of a child’s emotions and thoughts as the big day approaches and helps kids feel that despite all the changes, and lack of control they feel over their lives, it’s OK to express your feelings.


Courage by Bernard Waber (2002)

From the author of Ira Sleeps Over and The House of East 88th Street, Waber explores courage and the ways we can show courage in everyday situations, from a child’s perspective (as well as from their dog’s perspective). Some examples are light-hearted, others poignant and others thought provoking. My favorites are “courage is being the first to make up after an argument” and “courage is sometimes having to say good-bye.” The whimsical and amusing pen and ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly illustrate the different facets of courage in a child’s life. This would make a great read-aloud, igniting lots of dialogue along the way – your child may even have a few of his/her own to add! A perfect way to talk about fears and emotions.

Books about moving and relocating, specifically written for third culture kids


B at Home by Valery Besanceney (for ages 10+)

Valéry Besanceney, born in the Netherlands, is herself a third culture kid and moved several times during her childhood to different countries. As an adult third culture kid, an international school teacher and the mother of two children herself, she desires to create through this book as strong sense of home, but also highlight the emotions that children have during transitions.

As I read through it, here are some of my thoughts and reactions:

  • Emma lives in the Netherlands, a great way to introduce and talk about cultural differences
  • Thoughts and reflections are interspersed throughout from the perspective of her teddy bear, who has been around Emma since she was an infant and has plenty of wise advice and insight of his own to add
  • The author weaves into the story coping strategies and helpful suggestions such as keeping a moving booklet (see ideas below under workbooks) or planting a tree in each place you live.
  • Emma processes her emotions and feelings by talking them over with her parents and her friends, even her teacher. The adults in her life are supportive.
  • Emma is a strong female character who is smart and tackles the changes in her life with maturity and courage.
  • I highly recommend this book for ages 10+. It’s a one-of-a-kind book. Valérie Besanceney just received an honorary mention for her book, B at Home, Emma Moves Again in the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Awards for children’s books. Congratulations, Valerie!

– Note: I only wish there was another version written about with a boy as the main character. (Moving Day – Poems by Ralph Fletcher (see notes below) is a good book about moving written from the perspective of a 12-year old boy.


Pixie’s New Home by Emmanuelle Payot Karpathakis

Pixie’s New Home is a comforting story for your young children who are facing a new move. Pixie, a little donkey, is moving to a new house. She is especially sad about leaving her best friend and playmate. When she arrives at her new home, she meets another playmate. I like the fact that this book doesn’t downplay the sadness of moving away, the loss of her friend, and emphasizes that even though she makes a new friend, she still misses and feels a sense of loss at what and whom she left behind. This books shouts out loud and clear: “you will feel sad. It’s OK to cry and express your sadness” – an important message for third culture kids.


Pixie’s Holidays by Emmanuelle Payot Karpathakis

This sequel to Pixie’s New Home is a one-of-a-kind book, tailor-made for TCKs. Pixie returns to the place her and her family once lived. She is so excited! However, as many children do, she expects everything to be exactly as it was when she left. The focus of the book is on Pixie’s friendship with her old friend, Lila. Pixie can’t wait to see Lila again, but when she arrives, Lila doesn’t recognize her or remember her. As in Pixie’s New Home, the author stresses that it is OK to feel sad and express your emotions and sense of loss. The story doesn’t end there, though, Pixie reconnects with Lila and even makes a new friend.

The Mission of Detective Mike Moving Abroad by Simone Costa T. Eriksson and illustrated by Meri

This is a fun book geared for elementary age children is specificallyf focused on moving to another country. This book has chapters and explores the different questions children might have about moving overseas. Do I get to keep my stuff? Will I make new friends? Will my old friends forget me? How will I communicate in another language? Written from the perspective of an elementary age boy and his friends who thinks of themselves as detectives, Mike and his friends tackle the mysteries of moving and address each “mystery” one at a time. I like the fact that Mike and his friends invite the adult in their life into their dialogue and ask for advice. In turn, the adults take time to answer questions, explain things and offer solutions to alleviate their children’s fears. This book, although written for children, offers helpful insight and tips that parents can use with their own children throughout the transition.

Note: the only issue I had with this book is there are a few remarks here and there that stereotype girls and boys. Comments like “Even boys can be caring sometimes.” or the fact that Mike younger sister cries a lot, seems to only wear pretty dresses and her main concern is what will happen to all her dolls. My advice when there are things that crop up in a book that you don’t agree with?   read it with your child and TALK about it with them.

About the authors and illustrator of The Mission of Detective Mike Moving Abroad:  Simone T. Costa Eriksson is psychologist as well as a intercultural coach. She lives in Brazil. Ana Serra is a poet and author, whose works have been published in anthologies. She lives in Argentina. The illustrator, Maria Isabel Vaz Guimaraes who uses the nickname Meri, has illustrated 12 books. She has moved 16 times during her childhood.


Sammy’s Next Move by Helen Maffini

Sammy’s Next Move is the story of a snail named Sammy who lives around the world with his parents. He often moves to new countries and has to change schools and make new friends. Sammy experiences the feelings and thoughts common to children in similar situations. However, Sammy is a snail. He carries his home with him wherever he goes, just as a third culture kid does by knowing that home is where their heart is.  This story also includes two pages of practical tips and activities for parent and children to do during a move abroad. The author of Sammy’s Next Move is a ‘third culture kid’ who lived in Japan as a teenager. Since then she has lived in ten countries and has two third culture kids herself.

Poetry


Moving Day – poems by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Jennifer Emery (2006)

In a series of short, free verse poems, this book chronicles a 12 year old boy’s journey as he moves from Massachusetts to Ohio. The strength of this book is how each poem captures so well the sense of loss and confusion a young boy feels in the midst of such a change. The simple pencil drawings and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the emotions of this transition. I can’t recommend this book enough – although poetry may not be something that you are familiar with or drawn to, this free verse book will win you over.

While many books deal with the experience of being a new kid in town, few focus in such depth on what was left behind.” 

 School Library Journal


Double Happiness by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Alina Chau (2015)

This picture book, written in free verse, follows a Chinese American girl and her little brother on a journey, moving from their home in San Francisco to Asia. Their grandmother gives each of the children a box, a memory box, a happiness box. She tells the children to fill it with four treasures each – treasures that will remind them of happy times and of being loved – and this box will go with them wherever they go. As they set out, each child begins to fill their boxes with memories – a panda from grandma, a marble, a snake, a picture, a leaf.  I love the idea of a memory box.  This book is beautifully illustratred by Alina Chau – a visual treat (for ages 5-8)

A great recommendation for relocating families with young children.”–School Library Journal

Chapter Books



B at Home by Valery (see review above under “Books about moving and relocating, specifically for third culture kids”)

The Year my Parents Ruined my Life by Martha Freeman (1999)

Sixth grader, Kate Sommers’ life is about to change drastically. When Kate’s father’s job takes the family from sunny and warm California to snowy and cold Pennsylvania, Kate faces more than severe weather as she transitions to life in a new home, new neighborhood, town and new school (for ages 9-12). What I liked about this book was that it highlights all the differences between the two “cultures” and way of life. I think this book would help those coming from a tropical or warm climate and the adjustments to cold, snow and ice winter days. I disliked the focus on dating and the boyfriend/girlfriend culture, Kate’s mom obsessing about her weight, and a 6th grader caught smoking in the bathroom (although I sometimes feel that kids are better prepared for the negatives in US culture if they can read about it and digest in a novel first) I like the humor, the focus on a pre-teens love/hate relationship with her parents and sibling, and her coming to understand that everything about her former life was not the picture perfect life that she imagines. Pennsylvania does begin to feel more and more like home as the story unfolds.


Blue Willow by Doris Gates (first published in 1940)
A moving tale, set in the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, explores the challenges of a transient life and the need to belong. Janey is the daughter of a itenerant worker, moving from place to place, following the crops. Her mother died years ago, leaving Janie with her one treasured possession, a blue willow plate. She longs to and dreams of, someday, placing that plate, over the mantel of a fireplace, in their very own home – a permanent home. Then, on one of their many stops, they move into a shack next door to the Romero family who have a girl right around Janey’s age. Lupe and Janey become close friends. When Lupe’s mom becomes seriously ill and they are unable to pay for a doctor, Janey gives up her one prized possession to help the family. Her sacrificial act changes her family’s life and future. This book is a great read-aloud, perfect for third culture kids, who will empathize with Janey and her longing for roots. A Newbery honor book.  Highly recommended!
Workbooks

I’ve included in this post, a list of workbooks that have cropped up recently, specifically focused on moving. I think a workbook would be a helpful tool, especially for the introverted child or one who has trouble identifying and/or expressing their feelings.

An excerpt from my childhood scrapbook

When I was a child, I made up a sort of scrapbook about myself, and when I moved, I included pictures and notes written by my friends (see above) It was a real comfort to me and I still have it to this day (I won’t tell you how many years ago this was). Here an excerpt:


My Moving Booklet by Valery Besanceney (written by the author of B at Home)

My moving booklet is designed to help children through the initial stage of moving, with activities such as drawing, writing and crafts. This booklet can turn into a keep-sake, to remind the child of that event in their lives. Valery describes her booklet this way: “In many parts of this booklet, they will have the opportunity to either write about it, to draw a picture, or to glue on a photograph. This is their own unique story that one day will serve as a keepsake of a life-changing event.” This booklet is a great compliment to the novel B at Home. The girl in the story is given a moving booklet by her teacher and it is an integral part of the novel.


Goodbye, House A Kid’s Guide to Moving by Ann Banks and Nancy Evans (1999)

This workbook, although for older kids, is another keepsake scrapbook, covering everything from favorite memories of the home you are moving away from, details of the move, thoughts including likes and dislikes of the new home, and even a section on adjusting to a new school. Lots of activities and journaling options. Stickers included. This would work for grade 3 through 6, or for younger children with help from mom and dad.
Books and journals by Sara Boehm

Sara Boehm has lived the world of corporate relocation, moving 12 times as a child and as an adult. Taking her own experiences in moving as well as those of friends and family, Boehm provides practical advice and encouragement to all going through the process of relocation, especially focusing on those moving their children. Boehm is Founder and CEO of Essential Engagement Services, offering resources and guides to help employees and their families whose lives are being disrupted by relocation. Besides her book for parents The Essential Moving Guide: Practical advice to create a smooth transition and sense of belonging (2015) (I haven’t read this book, so can’t recommend it – but it does look like a helpful resource) she has created 2 workbooks, one for pre-teens and one for teens:


The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Pre-teens All About Me, All About my Move by Sara Elizabeth Boehm
The pre-teen years are a time of transition in a child’s life on many levels and a move can be very challenging for this age group. This workbook provides tips, journaling prompts and games and activities throughout the transition. I like the fact that it goes beyond the details of the move to asking questions related to how the child is feeling, as well as asking other families members to share their own feelings about the move.


The Essential Moving Guided Journal For Teens: My Life and Thoughts, before and after by Sara Elizabeth Boehm

Geared specifically for teenagers, this workbook is more of a guided journal than a scrapbook, with lots of space for writing out thoughts and feelings, for example:  “When I first heard we were moving, I felt… “, “Now I feel…”, or “The hardest part about moving will be…” and “what concerns me most about moving is… “. Good prompts that help your teenage identify and express their emotions and thoughts.


My Very Exciting, Sorta Scary, Big Move: A Workbook for Children Moving to a New Home by Lori Attanasio Woodring.
The strength of this workbook is that it is not writing intensive (probably geared to elementary age children who can read and write). The workbook includes games and activities, as well as information at a child’s level. It is colorful, with amusing and eye catching “cartoon like” illustrations. I also like the chapters that focus on feelings: Feelings about Moving, When you are sad, When you are mad, When you are worried. The chapter on feelings has a checklist of possible emotions that a child can check off to help them identify the confusing and often conflicting emotions during a time of transition. This book is also available in Spanish. This workbook has won several awards, including the Independent Publisher Silver Award Winner for Outstanding Children’s and Mr. Dad Seal of Approval Winners for Winter Holidays 2014 award. (for ages 5-11). The author, Lori Attanasio is a licensed psychologist who works with children and is a national and international speaker.

**Note: There is currently a kindle edition for $1.99 on Amazon. I would convert this to a pdf and print it out, as it is more of a workbook/scrapbook that your child will want to add photos, drawings and writing to.

Please note:  Please check my librarything.com for the above books.  I try to keep the books I list in stock for families living overseas.  I do not currently have any of the journals, except for Goodbye, House – A Kid’s Guide to Moving by Ann Banks and Nancy Evans.

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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


Excerpt:
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.

 

Since Hanna Moved Away

The poetry of Judith Viorst

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Judith Viorst (born February 2, 1931) is an American writer. She has written books for both adults and children. She is best known for her children’s literature, such as The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (about the death of a pet) and the Alexander series of short picture books, which includes the much loved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972). It was made into a movie and has sold over 2 millions copies.


Her books of poetry include:

  •  If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries: Poems for Children and their Parents, illustrated by Lynne Cherry (1981)
  • Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems for Children and Their Parents, illustrated by Richard Hull (1995)
  • What are you Glad About? What are you Mad About?, illustrated by Lee White (2016)

Her children’s poems focus on a wide range of emotions and reactions to the ups and downs of childhood. Some poems are humorous and quirky, others tug at your heart.  I selected a few poems that I think TCKs can relate to – the loss of a best friend (Since Hanna Moved Away), wanting to be remembered in a positive light when you move away (Remember Me) and a very moving poem about that special place called home. I love the line “Home’s the healing place when things unravel“.

 

 

SINCE HANNA MOVED AWAY

The tires on my bike are flat,
The sky is grouchy gray,
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes,
December’s come to stay,
They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.

Flowers smell like halibut,
Velvet feels like hay,
Every handsome dog’s a mutt
Since Hanna moved away.

Nothing’s fun to laugh about,
Nothing’s fun to play,
They call me, but I won’t come out
Since Hanna moved away.

Poem by Judith Viorst (taken from If I were in Charge of the World)

 

Remember Me

What will they say

When I’ve gone away:

He was handsome? He was fun?

He shared his gum? He wasn’t

Too dumb or too smart?

He
Played a good game of volley ball?

Or will they only say

He stepped in the dog doo

At Jimmy Altman’s party?
Poem By Judith Viorst (taken from If I were In Charge of the World)

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And We Call it Home

Home is where the you that’s truly you lives.
It’s where the music of your heart is played.
Home is where you go and what you know gives
You shelter when you’re lonely or afraid.
And when the skies turn dark and bad times chase you,
And all the gates are locked and shades are drawn,
There’s a place where someone will embrace you,
And keep you safe until a kinder dawn,
And we call it home.

Home is where your dreams have their beginning.
Home is where love’s language is first learned.
It’s where you needn’t worry about winning.
It’s where what you receive need not be earned.
And when in anger hurtful words are spoken,
And when you trip and fall into disgrace,
This is where there’s help to mend what’s broken.
This is what remains your sacred place.
And we call it home.

Home’s the hearth from which you’re free to travel
Farther than the farthest winds have blown.
Home’s the healing place when things unravel,
Where supper’s waiting and your name is known,
And when you want to tell your tales of glory,
And speak of what you’ve done and where you’ve been,
This is where they’ll listen to your story.
This is where they’ll always take you in.
And we call it home.
And we call it home.
And we call it home.

 




Poem by Judith Viorst (taken from What Are you Glad About? What are you Mad About?)

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

THE DRUM
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

 

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.

 

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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


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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!
Quotes:


Poetry Potluck

Poetry Potluck

To compliment the post “Let’s Eat” (coming soon!), today, for poetry Monday, I’m setting the table and dishing out poems about food, some humorous and some multicultural, and ending with a Nicaraguan prayer, as we remember that many children face hunger, and as we are thankful for the food at our table, we need to be mindful of this and ask God he would have us do to help those in need. I know many of you work in relief and development. Thank you for being the hands and feet of God.

Enjoy this poetry smorgasbord!


Mango



On Sunday afternoons in mango season,

Alleyne would fill his enamel basin

with golden-yellow fruit, wash them in clean water,

then sit out in the yard, under the grapefruit tree,

near the single rose bush, back to the crotons,

place the basin between his feet,

and slowly eat his mangos, one by one, down to the clean white seed.

His felt-hat was always on his head. The yellow basin chipped near the bottom

with its thin green rim, the clear water, the golden fruit,

him eating slowly, carefully, picking the mango fiber from his teeth,

under those clear, quiet afternoons, I remember.

Me sitting in the doorway of my room, one foot on the steps that dropped

into the yard, reading him, over a book. That’s how it was.

 
Poem by John Robert Lee (poem from Around the World in Eighty poems by James Berry)

JOHN ROBERT LEE (b. 1948, Saint Lucia, West Indies) is a St. Lucian writer who has published several collections of poetry. His short stories and poems can be found in many Caribbean and international journals and  anthologies.

 

Realarro


I love the

friday night

smell of

mammie baking

bread – creeping

up to me in

bed

& tho I fall

asleep before I

even get a bite

I know for sure

when

morning come

the kitchen table

will be laden

with bread

fresh & warm.

salt bread

sweet bread, crisp

& brown &

best of all

coconut buns

make me

love the friday

night smell of

mammie baking bread

putting me to bed

to sleep

dreaming

 

Poem by Marc Matthews
Marc Matthews (b. 1940) is an award-winning Guyanese writer, actor, broadcaster and producer.


Which is the Best?



Ice cream on a stick,

Covered with cold, shiny chocolate,
Or ice cream heaped up in a cone,

Dripping fast on a hot day,
Or ice cream in a big blue bowl

And a spoon you can take your time with-
Which is best?
It is too soon

To give the answer.
I have more testing

To Do.
Poem by James Stevenson (b. 1929) American illustrator and author of over 100 children’s books.

The next two poems are taken from Poem Stew (1981), a fun book filled with humorous poems about food, with poems selected and compiled by William Cole, with his own poems as well as many other poems, from writers such as Ogden Nash, John Ciardi and Shel Silverstein. William Rossa Cole (November 20, 1919 – August 2, 2000) was an American editor, anthologist, columnist, author, and writer of light verse.


Going Too Far



I could eat pails

of snails

cooked with garlic and butter –

they make my heart flutter –

with maybe a shallot

for my palate,

and parsley,

sparsely.

But I would never eat a slug!

Ugh!
Poem by William Cole



It’s such a shock, I almost screech



It’s such a shock, I almost screech,

When I find a worm inside my peach!

But then, what really makes me blue,

Is to find a worm who’s bit in two!

 

Poems by William Cole

This prayer is taken from Thank you for This Food by Debbie Trafton O’Neal – this picture book includes 24 action prayers (with diagrams), songs and blessings perfect for mealtimes with young children.

 

Nicaraguan Prayer


O God,

bless this food we are about to receive

Give bread to those who hunger,

and give hunger for justice

to us who have bread

Prayer from Thank you for This Food by Debbie Trafton O’Neal, illustrated by Nancy Munger

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.
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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

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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)

Psalms for Young Children


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Psalms for Young Children
 by Hélene Delval  illustrated by Arno
As we explore poetry with children, what better place to begin then to turn to the Psalms, the poetry of the Bible. This amazing book, Psalms for Young Children makes the Psalms accessible to young children (for ages 4 to 8). As I read through it, I wish my children were young again and I could read this book with them at bedtime.

Each Psalm is beautifully illustrated, the art work so original and vivid, depicting the world and emotions through a child’s eyes.  The children and the scenes in the illustrations depict diverse cultures and landscapes, from deserts to stormy seas.  This little book, originally published in French as Les Psaumes pour les tout-petits, is now available by Eerdmans for Young Readers.

The author does not shy away from Psalms that speak of fear or sadness, confusion or uncertainty, but also highlights Psalms of thankfulness, reassurance of God’s presence and love and the praise to God for the beauty of nature.

Each “poem” of David is paraphrased in one or two sentences, written in bold letters, in simplified language so even a young child can understand, and an early reader can read the words on his/her own.
I think this book should be in every TCKs home library.  With 40 Psalms, this book is a great little devotional and bedtime book.  Psalms for Young Children might inspire your young writer or artist to write and illustrate their own prayers for God.

Expressing our feelings, however raw or fearful or confused they may be, up to God in prayer, knowing He is there and yearns for us to come to Him in whatever state we are in, is a great gift from God to us as His children – a gift we need to encourage our own children to cherish all the days of their lives. I think this book, Psalms for Young Children, is a perfect little book to encourage this practice.

Here are a few selections:

Let’s shout out loud

with joy to God!

Because God is a really big God.

He can hold the world

in his hands,

the deep caves,

the mountaintops,

the blue seas –

and you and me too!

Psalm 95

If the grounds starts to shake,

if the mountains break into pieces

and fall in the sea,

if the waves grow big as giants,

I’m not scared.

God is with me.

God provides a safe place

for me to hide.

Psalm 46

God is like a rock,

strong and powerful.

God is like a warm, dry place

during a storm.

He protects me from

things that might hurt me.

When I ask for God’s help,

I feel safe.

Psalm 18

Everyone, everywhere,

in every country in the world,

sing a song to God!

Let’s praise God together,

for his great love and strength

will last forever.

Psalm 117

When I trust in God,

it’s like being wrapped

in a warm blanket,

With God on my side,

I am not scared of anything –

not during the day,

not during the night.

Psalm 91

Marie-Helene Delval has also written several other books, including Animals of the Bible for Young Children (2010) and Images of God for Young Children (2010) and The Bible for Young Children.  I currently have several copies of The Psalms for Young Children available for families living overseas.

Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face

The poetry of Jack Prelusky
If you are looking for poetry your child will actually enjoy, even laugh out loud at, even ask for more, Jack Prelusky is your answer. Jack Prelusky’s poems are humorous, playful, witty, quirky, full twists and turns and surprise endings. Jack has a vivid childlike imagination and can turn anything into a fun poem. Prelusky is also great at capturing the emotions of a child. Prelutsky has written more than 50 poetry collections. His most popular collections include:

  • Something BIG has been there
  • The New Kid on the Block
  • A Pizza the Size of the Sun
  • It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles

These four collections of poems are beautifully illustrated by James Stevenson, with pen and ink drawings, in perfect pitch with Prelusky’s playfulness and humor.
Jack was born in 1940 and grew up in New York City. He now lives in Seattle, with his wife Carolyn and assorted pets.

Did Prelusky enjoy poetry as a child?

He says no. In grade school, he had a teacher who left me with the impression that poetry was the literary equivalent of liver. She would read what he considered the most boring poems in the most boring tone, and the whole class would wilt.

How did he become a poet?

Jack says he always enjoyed playing with language, but discovered writing as a career only by accident when he was a young adult. He tried his hand at drawing and spent months drawing several imaginary animals. A friend encouraged him to show the drawings to an editor. He decided at the last minute to add some poems to go along with the drawings. When the editor — Susan Hirschman — called him it was not the drawings she raved about, but the poetry. She thought he had a rare talent for writing verse. She published his first book and remained his editor for more than 30 years. In 2006, the Poetry Foundation designated Jack as the nations first Children’s Poet Laureate.

Here are three poems from various poetry collections. The first Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face captures the vivid imagination of a child, the second I Don’t Want To captures those days when nothing seems to excite you, and the third one We Moved About a Week Ago is a light-hearted poem about moving away and missing your friends – a great TCK poem.
Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face
Be glad your nose is on your face,

not pasted on some other place,

for if it were where it is not,

you might dislike your nose a lot.

 

Imagine if your precious nose

were sandwiched in between your toes,

that clearly would not be a treat,

for you’d be forced to smell your feet.

 

Your nose would be a source of dread

were it attached atop your head,

it soon would drive you to despair,

forever tickled by your hair.

 

Within your ear, your nose would be

an absolute catastrophe,

for when you were obliged to sneeze,

your brain would rattle from the breeze.

 
Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,

remains between your eyes and chin,

not pasted on some other place–

be glad your nose is on your face!

 
-Jack Prelusky from The New Kid on the Block

 

I Don’t Want To

 
I don’t want to play on the sidewalk.

I don’t want to sit on the stoop.

I don’t want to lick any ice cream.

I don’t want to slurp any soup.

I don’t want to listen to music.

I don’t want to look at cartoons.

I don’t want to read any stories.

I don’t want to blow up balloons.

 

 

I don’t want to dig in the garden.

I don’t want to roll on the rug.

I don’t want to wrestle the puppy.

I don’t want to give you a hug.

I don’t want to shoot any baskets.

I don’t want to bang on my drum.

I don’t want to line up my soldiers.

I don’t want to whistle or hum.

 
I don’t want to program my robot.

I don’t want to strum my guitar.

I don’t want to use my computer.

I don’t want to wind up my car.

I don’t want to color with crayons.

I don’t want to model with clay.

I don’t want to stop my not wanting…

I’m having that kind of day.

 
-Jack Prelusky from It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles

 

 

We Moved About a Week Ago

We moved about a week ago,

It’s nice here, I suppose,

The trouble is, I miss my friends,

Like Beth, who bopped my nose,

And Jess, who liked to wrestle

And dump me in the dirt,

And Liz, who found a garter snake
And put it down my shirt.

 
I miss my friend Fernando,

He sometimes pulled my hair,

I miss my sister Sarah,

She shaved my teddy bear,

I miss the Trumble Triplets

Who dyed my sneakers blue,
And Gus, who broke my glider,
I guess I miss him too.

 
I really miss Melissa

Who chased me up a tree,

I even miss “Gorilla” Brown

Who used to sit on me,

The more I think about them,

The more it makes me sad,

I hope I make some friends here

As great as those I had.
—Jack Prelutsky from Something Big Has Been Here

 

This book (A Pizza the Size of the Sun) should be required reading for those out there who claim they don’t like poetry.” – School Library Journal.

 

Note: I have several copies of Prelusky’s poetry collection at Kids Books Without Borders. If you are a family living overseas, order while supplies last.

May Flowers

April Showers Brings May Flowers – poetry Monday

Lena Anderson is a Swedish author and an illustrator of children’s and young adult books. Some of her most popular books translated from Swedish include Hedge Hog, Pig, and the Sweet Little Friend, Hedgehog’s Secret, Linnea in Monet’s Garden, Tick-Tock, Tea for Ten, Stina series and Bunny series. Her books of poetry include Anna’s Garden Songs and Anna’s Summer Songs. These two books of poetry are beautifully illustrated by Mary Q. Steele.

In Anna’s Summer Songs, the 14 poems celebrate trees, flowers, ferns and fruit. Anna, a blond, energetic and adventurous little girl with glasses frolics in the beauty of nature.

As the saying goes “April showers brings May flowers“. Here in Central Indiana, the flowers are bursting to life all around me – as I go out on my daily walk, the trees and the flowers are there to greet me – a reminder that God is one who delights in beautyI I hope that flowers are blooming wherever you may be.

Here are some flower poems for you and your children to enjoy. Lena Anderson’s book Anna’s Garden Songs is available to order if you love the poems below.

Iris

Now I’m dreaming

Iris dreams.

Green and yellow,

White and blue.

And while I’m dreaming

Iris dreams

Do iris dream

Of me and you?

Forget-Me-Not

Forget-me-nots

Have magic powers,

They make my rabbit

Dance for hours

On starlit nights.

He leaps and whirls

And jigs and jogs

And jumps and twirls.

He kick his ears.

I wish I heard

The tune he hears

For though I dance

With all my might

I never get

The steps quite right …

he says.

Poppy

A bright red poppy

Can make me feel happy

And hoppy.

Hop, hip, happy!

Hap, hip, hoppy!

Poppy!

Cornflower

I picked these cornflowers by the road.

Their petals are so blue.

They match the color of my eyes.

They match my ribbon too.

So many summer things are blue,

The sunny seas and skies

And cornflowers growing by the road…

And they all match my eyes!

Lavender

How Lavender loves heat and sun!

Its flowers are sweet to smell.

We dried the blooms and put them in

These little sacks to sell,

So people can on snowy nights

Remember summer’s smells and sights.