Allison's Book Bag

2013 MOSAIC Round-Up

Posted on: April 5, 2013

Fifteen books later, I have finished with my first year of writing reviews for MOSAIC, a local committee which was formed within my school district to evaluate multicultural materials available to children and youth. Posting on a daily basis, either in the form of cultural information or book review, proved demanding on my time and energy but also rewarding  because of the gems which I found.

To my surprise, picture books were the winners! Of the seven sent to me, all of them I recommended for inclusion in the MOSAIC collection and gave at least a “Borrow” status to at my blog. They hailed from authors living here in the United States or Canada or from Africa or Latin America. Two addressed religious traditions, one Jewish and one Tibetan. If I had to pick a favorite, it might be Because Amelia Smiled. The clever way in which David Ezra Stein created a positive tribute to cultures by taking readers on a whimsical trip across the world brought to memory a childhood game called World Wide Travel. Oddly enough, the only reason I even agreed to read picture books is that I thought reading fifteen regular books in one month might prove impossible.

To my disappointment, chapter books were the most lackluster. Okay, that might not be a fair statement, given that I only read two of them. Yet these two have not been the first for which I’ve been tempted to excuse the simplistic style as being appropriate because of the age of its audience. The majority of the picture books blew me away by the beauty of their diction–and yet those for our youngest readers. Multicultural or not, I’m still waiting for chapter books to excite me.

Last, there were the juvenile and young adult books. These formed a mixed collection. Of the five sent me, three I recommended for inclusion in the MOSAIC collection and gave at least a “Borrow” status to at my blog. All but one hailed from authors living here in the United States; the exception is The Glass Collector which is by English author Anna Perera. However, two described cultures outside of North America, one being about Egypt and the other set in Japan. Finally, one focused on Latin American students, while another portrayed a soccer team composed of refugees from all over the world. Unlike with the picture books, I don’t think I can pick a favorite from the three I recommended. You should seek out all of them!

Ironically, one thing I tried to avoid at my blog is setting aside one month to read multicultural books. Rather, I prefer to pick diverse selections throughout the year. Unfortunately, by using my spring break (and the subsequent weeks) to focus on books from MOSAIC, I do risk falling into the trap of compartmentalizing my reading selections. Laying ahead of me now, however, is a long stretch of months where I’ll review classics, best sellers, advanced copies, student favorites, and other groupings. Hopefully, these will also have their own diversities.

For your convenience, listed below are the books which I reviewed for MOSAIC. By clicking on any of them, you can find my review, links to other reviews, and links to background information that can help you make your own decision about whether the author accurately portrayed the culture they wrote about.

Evaluating Multicultural Books

PICTURE BOOKS

Jimmy the Greatest by Jairo Buitrago

The Herd Boy by Niki Daly

Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue by Heidi Smith Hyde

Me and Momma and Big John by Mara Rockcliff

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure by Naomi Rose

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

The Matatu by Eric Walters

CHAPTER BOOKS

The Hijab Boutique by Michelle Khan

The Paper House by Lois Peterson

JUVENILE & YOUNG ADULT

Fighting for Dontae by Mike Castan

The Glass Collector by Anna Perera

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town by Warren St. John

Nobody Knows by Shelley Tanaka

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods

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