Week-end Book Review ~ What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon,
What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World
A Global Fund for Children Book/Charlesbridge, 2012.

Ages: 4-7

Dressing up means something a little different to everyone, but for children dressing up is always important.  It might mean trying on a parent’s clothes in the back of a closet, putting on a costume for a performance or holiday, painting your face, playing pretend, or wearing a team uniform for a big game.  No matter where, dressing up is special, but the details of dressing up differ considerably depending on the traditions of one’s culture.

Though the outfits vary greatly from place to place, the reasons for dressing up unite us all.  This richly photographed book of smiling children from around the world dressing up in every imaginable way will open windows onto other cultures for children everywhere.  Whether vibrant beads on the head, neck, and shoulders of a Kenyan child or identical navy blue baseball caps on a Japanese team, it is clear that children everywhere delight in dressing up, whatever the occasion.  Captions accompanying the photos suggest the different reasons people wear special clothing and where to find people wearing such garments: folk festivals, cultural events, religious rituals and even school.  A world map highlights the countries the photographed children call home, underscoring the point that dressing up is universal.

Children will recognize the familiar in these pages and will also be delighted to see their counterparts in other countries dressed so differently.  The pictures are likely to inspire a sense of wonder that may lead young children to think about what they share and how they differ from people of other cultures.  The authors also make suggestions for learning more about dressing up all over the world such as going to museums, making masks and costumes on your own, and visiting cultural institutions and festivals.

Expressing one’s self and experiencing one’s culture through clothing is an important part of developing self-identity. This makes What We Wear a perfect book to have on the shelves of a pre-school or primary grade library, inspiring kids to see themselves and children everywhere as part of a global community.

Abigail Sawyer
December 2012

Week-end Book Review: I Am Different! Can You Find Me? by Manjula Padmanabhan

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011


Manjula Padmanabhan
I Am Different! Can You Find Me?
The Global Fund for Children/Charlesbridge Publishing, 2011.

Ages 4-8

In this exuberant celebration of differences, Indian cartoonist, novelist and playwright Manjula Padmanabhan makes being unique a source of delight and excitement, rather than something to fear or avoid. Each colorful spread displays an array of a single object, all apparently exactly the same. But wait – one actually is different. Which one?  Readers will love the interactive fun of these sixteen puzzles in which they must identify the one ladder, iguana, car, flower, or other object that is not like the others.  (Where are the wheels on that car?  Is that girl asleep?)

As Padmanabhan writes, “In the United States, eight out of every ten people speak only English.” But in fact, both the country and the continent have always been a place of immigrants, and I Am Different encourages readers to remember those roots. Each spread repeats the question, “Can you find me?” in one of sixteen different languages now spoken in North America. Along with phonetic pronunciation, Padmanabhan offers a brief paragraph about each language, including fun facts like “Cheetah, pajamas, and shampoo are words you might know that come from Hindi,” or instructions on how to count to five in Cree, the most widely spoken indigenous language in Canada. By repeating the same phrase, “Can you find me?”, in a variety of languages, Padmanabhan brilliantly recognizes both the delights of being different as well as the commonalities we all share.

Padmanabhan has illustrated twenty-one children’s books, and is well known for her cartoon strip, Suki, which ran first in Bombay’s Sunday Observer and later the Pioneer in Delhi. In I am Different, bright, kindergarten-friendly colors and cartoon-like illustrations make an engaging game of hide-and-seek that will provoke young pre-readers (and indeed, the adults next to them) to think deeply about and rejoice in our differences. While some individual spreads may challenge the youngest readers, the book remains a valuable teaching tool for colors, shapes and counting, a wonderful bonding book for parents and children or brothers and sisters, and most of all a joyful embrace of discovering and celebrating things that make us unique.

Sara Hudson
October 2011

Exciting News from the Global Fund for Children (GFC)!

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Exciting news from The Global Fund for Children (GFC):

We are pleased to announce the release of our new picture puzzle book, I Am Different, by Manjula Padmanabhan, for children aged 3 to 8. Each colorfully illustrated page contains one key difference to discover—an item that’s a different color, a different shape, reversed from left to right, or just asleep when others are awake.

Paired with each picture puzzle is the question “Can you find me?” in one of 16 languages. Children will have fun trying out Hebrew, Arabic, French, Swahili, and American Sign Language. And they may find that “different” is just as nice as “same.”

Kirkus Reviews calls I Am Different “a tour de force. … A substantive, engaging title for multilingual education.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of I Am Different and all Global Fund for Children books supports innovative community-based organizations that serve children and youth worldwide.

We have also recently released a new guide to high-quality websites and books that foster diversity learning in children. The guide, Kids Becoming Global Citizens: Resources for Parents and Educators, includes 250 summary annotations of children’s books; over 100 online resources, including lesson plans and activities, interactive games, and multimedia resources; and recommended books for parents and educators. Topics range from diversity in the United States to environmental stewardship, and from global citizenship to religious diversity.

The guide is free and available to the public at http://bookstore.globalfundforchildren.org/index.php/resourceguide. All books and resources were chosen for their overall quality and content and for their positive portrayal of different cultures.

“This guide can help  teach children about a wide range of topics related to diversity and global citizenship,” said Cynthia Pon, director of Global Fund for Children Books. “After scouring the Internet and exploring what the literary community has to offer in terms of diversity education, we hope this guide will provide hours of enjoyment, enrich lesson plans, and encourage thoughtful conversations.”

The guide is authored by Pon and Kelly Swanson Turner, with assistance from Laurel Fiorelli.

To learn more about The Global Fund for Children (GFC) be sure to read PaperTigers’  interview with Maya Ajmera, founder and president of GFC.

Going to School in India

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

It is common knowledge that children who attend school have a better chance of developing into their full potential and bringing about change in their communities. It’s hard to believe that, in this day and age, so many of the world’s children still aren’t given the opportunity of an education.

Dedicated to “all children who dream of going to school”, Going to School in India is a celebration of what school can be and mean to children. It shows and tells about all kinds of kids—from street kids to kids who go to government and community schools—and how they “climb into school buses, sit on each other’s laps in cycle rickshaws, walk along the edges of mountains, cross scorching deserts on rickety bicycles, swing across rivers on dangling swings-just to get to school.” A festive celebration of formal and informal school settings in India—and of the ways children get to them—this book also reminds us that, while millions of children do get to go to school each day, millions of others don’t.

Published by Shakti for Children (now Global Fund for Children Books) in partnership with Charlesbridge, Going to School in India (2005) is written by Lisa Heydlauff, with photos by Nitin Upadhye, and designed by B.M. Kamath. Royalties from the sale of the book support educational initiatives in India. Click here to learn more about author Lisa Heydlauff’s projects and her Going to School non-profit.

On a related note, in her 2009 interview for PaperTigers, Maya Ajmera, founder and president of the Global Fund for Children talked about the “moment of obligation” she experienced, over 20 years ago, when she stepped out onto a bustling train platform in India and came across an open-air classroom where children were being taught how to read and write—a moment that led her to start The Global Fund for Children. This anecdote illustrates what our Pacific Rim Voices executive director, Peter Coughlan, loves to say: “A ripple can become a tidal wave, an acorn an oak tree.” GFC nowadays reaches millions of children and youth around the world, and supports hundreds of educational projects, including mobile boat schools for children in Bangladesh, night classes for women and girls in the red light districts of India, and countless more.

A ripple can indeed turn into a tidal wave of goodness.

Calling all readers to share stories about their grandparents

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

imagesIn honor of the release of its latest children’s book, Our Grandparents: A Global Album, The Global Fund for Children invites everyone to submit an endearing, funny, or memorable story about their grandparents by posting a comment on their Facebook fan page by April 15. The author of the winning story will receive a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

To learn more about The Global Fund for Children, read our interview with Maya Ajmera, founder and president of the organization.

Reading into the New Year

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Reading Into the New YearThe last book of the year has been read (Sahwira: An African Friendship, by Carolyn Marsden) and a whole new year of reading is about to start. Oh the joys of being an avid reader!…

If, like me, you’re likely to ring in the New Year in bed, with a good book, you might want to consider Reading Into the New Year. “It hardly sounds like a challenge,” I hear you say. Well, it isn’t. It’s more like an invitation to have fun and share your passion for books with others. However, the book(s) you choose to curl up with to welcome the new year and new decade might reveal much about your aspirations and hopes—and I guarantee the fireworks in your mind’s eyes will be just as incredible as the ones outside!

Whereas I am still planning to get caught up with titles I missed from previous years, the list of 2010 releases I just started already excites me beyond words. Perhaps one or two of these titles might inspire you to start your own brand new pile of books to look forward to?

Ling and Ting by Grace Lin
A Million Shades of Grey by Cynthia Kadohata
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
Our Grandparents: A Global Album (A Global Fund for Children book)
Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler.

The always reliable CCBC is hard at work compiling the best of the 2009 crop: CCBC Choices 2010 will be available after March 6, 2010 (for information on how to have a copy sent to you, go to their website). And Fuse#8 has a great post on the best of the decade.

Happy New Year of Reading to all!