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Multicultural Literature For Children and Young Adults
Multicultural/International Literature

My favorite book when I was growing up was A Bear called Paddington.
He was sitting on a battered suitcase, wearing am odd-looking hat and a sign around his neck that read, Please look after this bear. Thank you

Fox, Meme. Feathers and Fools. 2000. New York: Voyager Books. 0152023658


Feathers and Fools is a beautifully written and illustrated picture books that can be used to discuss conflict with any age group. A group of peacocks lives near a lake of swans. The two groups are living peaceful side by side until one peacock notices how different the swans are from peacocks. The peacock goes back to the lake and tells the other peacock that they should fear the swans because they could one day overpower them. The peacocks begin to fear for their safety. The peacocks begin to arm themselves with sharpened feathers. The swans notice the peacocks arming themselves for battle; they also fear being overpowered and make their own weapons.

One day a swan flying over the peacocks lake drops a reed that he is planning to use to build his nest this innocent action set off the war between the peacocks and the swans. They fight till the end and neither side has a survivor. In the end a new swan and new peacock hatch from eggs, they embrace their similarities, and become friends.

Feathers and Fools would be a great book to help explain the current conflict in Iraq. Fox uses birds to represent present day conflicts whose bases could be religion, race, or governmental differences. Teachers will be able to use Foxs book when every discussing conflict between groups of people that refuse to accepted each others differences and resort to violence.

Nicholas Wilton beautiful illustrations are strong vibrant block prints that express Foxs strong words that war is wrong.

Kirkus Reviews
In its antique, folktale look, and in the descriptions of the birds' subtle shifts toward antagonism, the book turns Fox into a contemporary Aesop and aptly demonstrates that the roots of war can thrive in a pond of gossip.

Funks, Cornelia. Inkheart. 2003. New York: The Chicken House. 0439531640

Inkheart is a readers' book for upper elementary to high school readers. Funks begins each chapter with a quote from a classic childrens book, Peter Pan, Wind in the willows, BFG, just to name a few however the quote has very little to do with the chapter. This is a very creative way to introduce reader to classics they may not have read.
Meggie and her father Mo lives revolve around books and reading. Books are stacked in piles throughout their house. Mo often comments on how Meggie falls to sleep with the hard rectangle shape under her pillow. Mo has a secret that Meggie will soon face her at their front door. Meggie sees a strange man standing in the rain watching the house. After her father invites the stranger into the house Meggie and her fathers life is changed. Meggie learns of secret her father has keep from her for years, Mo can literally read characters from books into life. Was the man that stood outside of her house that rainy night a character from the pages of a book she has read? Meggie begins to question her mothers disappearance 12 years ago, is there a connection between her fathers strange gift? Is this why she has never heard him read aloud?

The language flows except for a few awaked slip-ups because of the translation from the original German. This is a book that could be a favorite for Harry Potter fans waiting for the next book to be published.

Nye. Naomi-Shihab. This Same Sky. 1992. New York: Four winds Press. 0027684407

Nye for most of her career has been an adult poet, but came back to childrens poetry with the birth of her son. Her other strength lies with her ability to collect and arrange poems by various writers to complement one another in tone, or form. This same sky, is an anthology of poems from 68 countries represented by 129 poets. In the introduction Ney shares how she used poetry to give her students a voice to people and cultures that were not familiar. Her use of poetry helped her students gain a sense of human struggle and the real people living behind newspaper headlines in their struggle to gain dignity

The common themes the poems share are their connections with nature. However many of the poets have woven into their poems about nature elements of conflict and struggle that are part of their daily struggle to survive. Nye has created a tool that teachers can use when introducing cultures to their students. I have never thought of using poetry as a tool that can help students learn about the culture, emotions, and struggles of a people.

There were many poems in this collection that connected to curriculum taught in my school, but there were poem that affect my sense of humanity during this time of conflict in the Middle East. I was moved to tears while reading The Prison Cell by Mahmud Darish a Palestine poet. In this poem the prison imagination can take the wall of his cell down. Prison cannot take away the imagination of the prisoner. In the end the guard want the prisoner to give him pack his freedom. (48-49). The second one was Overture, which was found on the back of the book jacket.

Overture

Who can open the door
Of the green river
Of the golden clouds,
Of my heart?
Dixion
Iraq
I strongly recommend This Same Sky for all school libraries, and to share the anthology with teacher and students that are having difficulties explaining conflicts and peoples struggle for human dignity.



Almond, David. Heaven Eyes. 2000. New York: Delacort Press. 0385327706

David Almond has created a world of mystery and suspense and sense of belonging to a family, in Heaven Eyes that will appeal to upper elementary and high school readers. The story takes place in Ireland along the moors of heather. Erin Law and her friends, January, and Mouse are considered damaged children by Maureen the caregiver at the orphanage where they all live. Maureen wants the children to revel their memories so they can move on with their lives. Few of the children share their experiences in-group discussion. But there is a strong sense of family and caring among all the children living in the orphanage. January's, Erin best friend are always running away to freedom but always returning back to Whitegate.

Today January and Erin are going down river with its' powerful currents and swirling eddies. This time they may not come back, it might take them to their death. The raft runs ashore in sticky, oily quicksand like mud called the Black Middens. The trio greeted by a strange speaking girl called Heaven Eyes who calls them her long lost brothers and sisters returned from the Middens.
Heaven Eyes leads then to broken world of abandoned printers and warehouses full of caned food and candies. Grandpa Heaven Eyes only companion calls the visitors ghosts. Or mebbe devils sent from hell or angels sent for heaven.

The strong Irish dialect and description of the land draws the reader into the story. Many young readers will identify with the characters and their struggle to learn where they belong and how to over come events in their lives that they had no control. After reading the book I wanted to hear the characters tell their story in the dialect that Almond written. I listen to the audio book that brought the characters alive.

The hunting eyes on the cover will draw the reader in, a fantasy, suspenseful mystery and eerie. Almond weaves the characters need to be part of a family into this mystical story.