An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world.

BIRTHDAYS AROUND THE WORLD

Many American children know about piñatas at birthday celebrations, and almost all of them know about blowing out candles, but do they know that dumping flour on the birthday child is a tradition in Jamaica?

Each of the 14 double-page spreads in this informational roundup is devoted to a different country, among them Peru, Latvia, Lesotho, Cambodia, and Australia. The birthday child or a sibling describes the celebratory customs for an individual birthday or other special occasions such as Shichi-Go-San in Japan, when specific age groups (3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds) are honored. In Lesotho, where the idea of celebrating individual birthdays is not widespread, a boy describes the festivities that take place on July 17, when “our entire country celebrates the birthday of our beloved King!!” Hindu birthday celebrations in India start with a religious ceremony and continue with school parties. Klingeris, a sweet, pretzel-shaped bread, is prepared in Latvia, and the birthday child is lifted on a flower-bedecked chair. The short, simple explanations are accompanied by cheerful, stylized illustrations created with cut-paper collages and Photoshop. “Happy Birthday” in each language (in Latin script) appears in each section, with pronunciation and the original script in the glossary. The concluding guide to extension activities mentions that links to birthday-song videos from around the world are provided on the author’s website.

An easy, enjoyable way to start thinking about similarities and differences around the world. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-624-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for.

CELEBRATE KWANZAA

WITH CANDLES, COMMUNITY, AND THE FRUITS OF THE HARVEST

From the Holidays Around the World series

An overview of the modern African-American holiday.

This book arrives at a time when black people in the United States have had intraracial—some serious, some snarky—conversations about Kwanzaa’s relevance nowadays, from its patchwork inspiration that flattens the cultural diversity of the African continent to a single festive story to, relatedly, the earnest blacker-than-thou pretentiousness surrounding it. Both the author and consultant Keith A. Mayes take great pains—and in painfully simplistic language—to provide a context that attempts to refute the internal arguments as much as it informs its intended audience. In fact, Mayes says in the endnotes that young people are Kwanzaa’s “largest audience and most important constituents” and further extends an invitation to all races and ages to join the winter celebration. However, his “young people represent the future” counterpoint—and the book itself—really responds to an echo of an argument, as black communities have moved the conversation out to listen to African communities who critique the holiday’s loose “African-ness” and deep American-ness and moved on to commemorate holidays that have a more historical base in black people’s experiences in the United States, such as Juneteenth. In this context, the explications of Kwanzaa’s principles and symbols and the smattering of accompanying activities feel out of touch.

A good-enough introduction to a contested festivity but one that’s not in step with the community it’s for. (resources, bibliography, glossary, afterword) (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2849-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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