Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 Book Reviews

It’s here!! Multicultural Children’s Book Day is on the horizon! January 31, 2020, is THE day!

This is one of my favorite events of the year! You know how much I love children’s literature! And (I know, you should never begin a sentence with “and”, but today it is very necessary LOL.) you know how much I love culturally responsive and diverse children’s literature. So, it is an absolute delight and honor to be a Book Reviewer again this year. I love being a part of a movement that encourages everyone to be aware and conscientious of the types of books that we place in the hands of children, and that provides access and awareness of books that children from all different walks of life.

About the Author

I received two complimentary books from the author, Deedee Cummings, to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. One book is titled In the Nick of Time and the other is titled This is the Earth. Ms. Cummings is also the Super Platinum Sponsor for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day event. Her works are listed under the name Deedee Cummings, as well as, Deirdre (Pecchioni) Cummings. It is exciting for me to discover an African-American author and entrepreneur, and I appreciate the opportunity to share her works with each of you.

In the Nick of Time

Photograph of a smiling African-American woman standing in front of a door that is covered with black paper and multicultural hands.  She is holding a book, In the Nick of Time, in her hands.

The essence of the book comes from a very endearing place. The author has written a book in honor of her son, and she has done so to ensure that he is able to see a reflection of himself in children’s literature. Her son’s name is Nick and she has named the main character, Nick, after him. That sentiment is quite lovely. It is not only her son but other brown boys that she wants to have the opportunity to see themselves. This is something that I believe deeply in and I greatly appreciate Ms. Cummings’ attempt to help alleviate that discrepancy in children’s literature.

Representation Truly Does Matter

In the dedication, she goes on to state that she wanted Brown boys to have holiday books that depicted them. That was wonderful! When I stopped to think about it, she was absolutely right. I cannot name one Christmas book that features a Black or Brown male (possibly not a female either) as the main character. Not one! Along those same lines, shame on me for not noticing! I realized that I need to be more intentional in this area.

Sidebar: I actually paused to search Amazon for diverse Christmas books. I didn’t find much. Children’s authors, let’s make more books that feature Black and Brown characters as main characters in holiday books!

Representation does matter and it is desperately needed; which is why I love Multicultural Children’s Book Day so much. With that being said, we all have to remember that every day should be Multicultural Children’s Book Day and Culturally Responsive Day and Diversity Day when we are selecting books for our children (personal and professional) to read and interact with.

On to the Review…

The text itself… Well, I really didn’t enjoy it. Truly, I feel guilty just typing that. I haven’t met too many books for children that I don’t enjoy. Plus, this book is about Christmas, and who doesn’t love a great Christmas story? The book begins with Nick calling the video game that he was playing “stupid”. This caught me off guard at first. I can’t say that I was expecting that. He goes on to use the term stupid two more times; the last time referring to the mail carrier.

His mother does address it and they have a conversation about it. But, it just took away from the book for me. I don’t know. Perhaps this is a real-life, mother-son interaction that Ms. Cummings chose to include in her prose. Maybe boys do speak that way. (Maybe kids, in general, speak that way.) I don’t have biological sons of my own, so I don’t know. It just didn’t appeal to me. Perhaps if it had not been at the very beginning of the book, I may have received it differently.

A Meaningful Message

I do think that the book tries to convey a meaningful lesson about looking outside of yourself and beyond the things that you have to help others. That aspect of the book is touching. Wonderfully, Nick does grow and learn the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of giving when he learns of a classmate whose family is in need. I did appreciate that aspect.

As well, I loved seeing a book for children that showed two African American parents that were engaged and involved in their child(ren)’s life. We don’t always see books for children of color that feature both parents as a unit in the same text. Everyone is well-dressed and both parents look professional. It is obvious that the parents have a loving relationship. Nick’s mother wears a cross necklace (which I love) and the graphics are current and don’t feel dated. That aspect did not go unnoticed and I greatly valued and appreciated that.

Something Was Just… Missing

Do you ever read a book, or watch a movie, and get a sense that the writer was in a hurry to end the movie? Like maybe they needed to finish and they weren’t sure exactly how to end it? Unfortunately, that is the way I felt about this story. Some parts seemed far-fetched and others seemed off-key. For example, towards the end of the story, Nick and his family quickly organize a Job Fair and a Toy Drive. at Nick’s school. Then, Nick’s father hires the classmate’s mother on the spot.

A Job Fair really wouldn’t have been necessary for Nick’s dad to hire her. He could have approached her any time and offered her a job. There are even areas where the illustrations didn’t realistically match the context. Like, when Nick goes outside to get the bag of mail wearing an undershirt and shorts. Conceptually, the idea of the book was very nice, but the content just did not flow well to me.

This is the Earth

This is the Earth is wonderful! I so wish that the same level of thought had been placed into In the Nick of Time. This is the Earth is gloriously diverse in its cultural and religious representation, and its message speaks of inclusion and understanding. Truly, I love the way that the characters are self-reflective while being supportive and encouraging to others. The book has a soft-spokenness to it that lulls you while it shares a message of self-awareness and awareness of others.

I loved the story in all of its complex, yet, simplistic ways. It is a “you should own this book” for me! The watercolors and over-sized-eyed characters are the perfect addition to the words that are shared. This is the Earth checks all of the boxes that you may want to mark for a wonderful book to share with your children/students. The words are simple enough to be read independently while being complex enough to have them be read aloud. This is a book that has a heart and shows children the beauty of being compassionate towards others and of being kind to themselves.

A Story With Heart

This is a book that has a heart and shows children the beauty of being compassionate towards others and of being kind to themselves. One of my favorite lines is “I have a brain and so do you. You don’t have to think what I think. You don’t have to do what I do.” Love this! All the while, caring for the Earth is the backdrop for these sweet mini-lessons on life.

There isn’t much of a specific mention of the Earth. The illustrations tell the story of taking care of our planet. As the characters navigate self- and other-awareness, they take steps to care for Mother Earth. This approach isn’t preachy and it is very effective.

Surprise! Just when you thought that the book couldn’t get any better, Deedee Cummings places discussion questions at the end of the book!  The questions could easily be used as writing prompts, as well. I highly recommend this book! The story is best suited for students in grades Kindergarten-Second Grade. The discussion questions could easily be used through Fifth Grade due to the topic and level of complexity (and adaptability).

Many Thanks

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my book reviews for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing this review and participating in this wonderful event. If you are interested in my book 2019 book review, click here. More thanks than words can say to the Multicultural Children’s Book Day organizers and creators for allowing me to participate again this year! <3

"Tania" signature name circle.  A black square with a black circle and my name in all caps in white letters

Credits to the Amazing Contributors

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language LizardPack-N-Go Girls

Gold

Audrey PressLerner Publishing GroupKidLit TVABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational PublishersPragmaticMom & Sumo JoCandlewick Press,

Silver

 Author Charlotte RiggleCapstone PublishingGuba PublishingMelissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. RomanSnowflake Stories/Jill BarlettiVivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices HeardBarnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTomWisdom Tales PressLee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge PublishingBarefoot BooksTalegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry CraftA.R. Bey and Adventures in BoogielandEugina Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingKenneth Braswell & Fathers IncorporatedMaritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_MejiaKathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardJosh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTERMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove,  Lauren RanalliThe Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon ChappellPhe Lang and Me On The PageAfsaneh Moradian and Jamie is JamieValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena PublishingTUMBLE CREEK PRESSNancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen JacksonAngeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm TreeAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleBEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia WenjenSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books)Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the OceanEvelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the WorldShoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSarah Jamila StevensonTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesTeresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTukGirlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book ClubFinding My Way Books, Diana Huang & IntrepidsFive Enchanted MermaidsElizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling CastleAnna Olswanger and GreenhornDanielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow JeepneyMariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta DiminutaSara Arnold & The Big Buna BashRoddie Simmons & Race 2 RioDuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical DebutVeronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive Co-Host Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our Co-Hosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAfsaneh MoradianAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial BookwormsMichelle Goetzl & Books My Kids ReadCrafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesEducators Spin on itShauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylinkGrowing Book by BookHere Wee ReadJoel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}Imagination SoupKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsSerge Smagarinsky {Australia}Shoumi SenJennifer Brunk & Spanish PlaygroundKatie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

A Black female standing in front of three black boxes that are stacked on top of each other. I am wearing a blue, denim dress that is tied at the waist. My hair is in long braids.

Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.

Let's Connect!

[replace with ConvertKit Shortcode]

%d bloggers like this: