Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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15 Things Not to Do With a Baby #mixed #biracial #black #diversekidsbooks

15-things-not-to-do-with-a-babyJoining the group of successful “List” books is this title by Margaret McAllister, featuring an interracial family and focused on the older sister’s shenanigans with her new born baby sibling. Like most of the “list” stories, the appeal of this book is its humor. The script and illustrations combine in hilarity with lines like “Don’t give the baby to a kangaroo,” standing alone to make one laugh while the illustration accompanying a line as simple as “Don’t take the baby to school,” gifts the scene with humor. The opening page is a family image of mommy (who is white) and daddy (who is of African Descent), the older daughter and new baby together. There is no mention of the family being interracial and the daughter and baby carry the rest of the story with their fun antics.

Often, mixed heritage children of darker hue feel they have to constantly prove that they are mixed. This engaging title featuring dark brown biracial children serves as a positive, fun, and encouraging reflection of deep chocolate hued mixed kids on the page. This will quickly become a favorite bed time story for your child of any background, who will ask to read it over and over again.

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

Author: Margaret McAllister; Illustrator: Holly Sterling

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow #DiverseKidsBooks #MixedRace #biracial

cover for The Girl Who Fell from the skyNella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing tells the moving story of a young black woman who decides to pass for white, and the story ends with the woman falling or being pushed out of a window to her death. Heidi Durrow has said that Larsen, who, like Durrow, is half black and half Danish, is one of her literary heroes, and the mother of the main character in Durrow’s 2011 bestseller The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is named Nella. Durrow’s Nella has a daughter, Rachel, who is half Danish and half black, and it is this girl, Rachel, whose story is related in The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. Hers is a story that offers homage to Nella Larsen’s work, as well as bears witness to an actual story that Durrow read about, a recent true story of a mother who fell, or jumped, from the top of a building while holding her children; only a daughter survived. (more…)

Mommy Far, Mommy Near – An Adoption Story by Carol A Peacock & Shawn Brownell #TransracialAdoption #BirthMother #DiverseKidsBooks

cover Mommy FAR Mommy NearMommy Far, Mommy Near is a story of adoption told from the perspective of the adoptee—a little girl named Elizabeth who, along with her sister, was adopted from China by a white American family. Illustrated with gently painted images with a dreamy aura, and the story that unfolds is a sort of coming-of-age narrative, as Elizabeth comes to grips with the details and repercussions of her adoption.

Although she has heard the story her whole life – her mother has a book with a silver cover that shows pictures of the process – the book gently reveals her realization that not only are she and her adoptive family of different ethnicities, but that her “mommy far” is an actual person with a family who had given her up for adoption. (more…)

Our Baby From China, An Adoption Story by Nancy D’Antonio #TransracialAdoption #WeNeedDiverseBooks #DiverseKidsBooks #WeHaveDiverseBooks

cover for Our Baby from ChinaOur Baby From China, An Adoption Story is exactly that: the step-by-step story of one family’s adoption of a little Chinese girl who they named Ariela Xiangwei. Told from the perspective of the adoptive parents, the book resembles an intimate travel narrative written specifically with their adoptive daughter in mind.

Illustrated not only with photographs from the trip that the parents took in China, almost half of the book is about the famous places the D’Antonio family visits in China. It also includes a slew of more personal family photographs that seem like they would be more at home in a personal collection than in a book for children. (more…)

A Child’s Calendar by John Updike; illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman

cover for A child's CalendarA Caldecott Honor book, first published in 1965 then reprinted in 1999 with new illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, A Child’s Calendar takes readers through a year’s worth of verse as a racially mixed family enjoys each month. Updike has written one poem for each month of the year. We are ushered through the seasons with sweet, simple stanzas that celebrate all the varied scenes and rituals that children—and those former children, adults—treasure over time.

Hyman’s illustrations are crowded with what appears to be a tight-knit, racially mixed family as well as a racially mixed, easygoing small-town community.

Hyman’s vision and Updike’s verse offer up a world where race matters far less than things like gathering together to share a meal, to rake leaves, or plant tomatoes. This is an ideal world of simple pleasures—a visual representation of the harmonic dream adults should hold on to and to which children should aspire to create.

Buy A Child’s Calendar

Reviewer: Maggie Trapp

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

cover for BreadcrumbsIn Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu has penned a lively, wistful tale that gets at so much of the poignancy that is being a 10-year-old. This is a moving story that offers a modern-day account of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” In Ursu’s version, Hazel, a ten-year-old Indian-American girl with white (adoptive) parents is best friends with Jack, the boy next door until Jack mysteriously changes. The adults around them chalk up this change to typical pre-teen turmoil: it’s not unusual for girl–boy friendships to become awkward. But the reader can feel Hazel’s sadness. It’s hard to grow up, it’s hard to change and watch others change. Hazel is caught between wanting to fit in and wanting to keep her special friendship with Jack the way it is. At its heart, this is a story about how we can hold onto our real selves even as we change along with our friends. (more…)

Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari

Alternate photo for Jasmine SkiesWhen I heard Sita Brahmachari had written a sequel to Artichokes Hearts (Mira in the Present Tense) I could not wait to get my hands and eyes on it. Like a memorable character does, Mira had gone on living in my mind and I was excited to see where her creator had taken her. But while Brahmachari’s second novel does continue to focus on Mira and includes character references from her previous book it did not feel like a sequel or a continuation from the first novel. So while it did not satisfy my curiosity, it does mean this book can stand on its own. A reader can begin with Jasmine Skies and not feel lost.

Jasmine Skies reintroduces the reader to Mira Levenson at the age of 14. After the passing of her grandfather, family ties were tenuously rekindled and Mira is on the way to Kolkata, India to meet her grandfather’s side of the family for the first time. In her bag she has letters taken without permission from her mother. Mira believes these letters hold the clues to discover the reason her grandfather never returned to India and why Mira’s mother and her same aged cousin, Anjali, stopped speaking. Despite the strained relationship, Mira is excited to be staying with Anjali and her daughter, Priya for three weeks. She is excited to meet members of her family for the first time and to get to know Kolkata, the place her grandfather told her stories about all her her life.

(more…)