It’s mucho, magnifico May, and Newsbee’s flying high about his theme for this month, “One World Many Stories.” As you “Page On” you’ll learn about children from different countries, their cultures and customs, and realize we share heartfelt commonalities that draw us close, despite our far-flung roots.
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Imagine being Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela and having to write your name on school papers. That’s tedious and time-consuming for the captivating child in “Alma, and How She Got Her Name,” by Juana Martinez-Neal.
One day, Alma complains to her dad that her name is too long, and it “doesn’t fit,” so he turns to the family photograph album to show his daughter how her name came about. Alma’s dad introduces her to each of the relatives she’s been named after, starting with her grandmother Sofia, who her father said “ . . . loved books, poetry, jasmine, flowers, and, of course, me.”
With the pronouncement of Alma’s namesakes, each with endearing qualities, Alma begins to realize how many of the same traits she shares with her long-ago loved ones. This book will touch you with its sweet story and adorably rendered illustrations that spell love on each page.
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Crack open “Islandborn” by Junot Díaz, and you’ll hear steel drums as bright, color-splashed illustrations by Leo Espinosa spill forth, as if from a paintbox. This richly told story is about Lola, a girl who attends a city school full of multicultural children — their families from locales with jungles, pyramids, and deserts. The students know a lot about their countries of origin — but not Lola. She only knows her family is from an island, one they left prior to her birth.
That complicates an assignment her teacher gives the class: draw a picture of where their families were originally from. Lola is stymied. She has no idea about hers, so her teacher suggests she interview family members and friends.
Getting information is easy, Lola discovers, because her neighborhood is a hotbed of island folks who can fill her in on life back where the palm trees sway and dolphins play in warm coastal waters.
Lola’s assignment not only provides her with information, it also makes her realize how much she has to be proud of — what a rich heritage she has because Lola is the “daughter of heroes.”
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You’ll meet an admirable character of great courage in “The Night Diary,” by Veera Hiranandani. Her name is Nisha, a 12-year-old twin living in India with her brother, father, grandmother and beloved cook.
Nisha, a quiet child, misses the mother she’s never known, one who died before Nisha and her twin Amil ever got the chance to know her. Despite their loss, the children have a relatively good life until 1947 when Britain grants India its freedom, and the nation splits into two nations, India and Pakistan.
Soon violence erupts and Nisha’s family must flee from what is now Pakistan, with hundreds of thousands of others because of violence caused by religious differences between Hindus and Muslims, people who once lived together peacefully.
In letters to her mother, Nisha relates her personal story in a book loosely based on the author’s family’s experiences as refugees who were forced to relocate, just like Nisha. “The Night Diary” will increase readers’ understanding of a tumultuous time in India’s history using the voice of a girl with grit and great heart.