An absorbing and approachable introduction to the struggles of refugees.

MY HEART IN KENYA

A debut nonfiction picture book focuses on a young refugee and her family.

Nasteha is an Ethiopian girl who tells her Oromo family’s story in this work for elementary school readers. Bigots in her country targeted the Oromo. As Beardsley writes in Nasteha’s voice: “When the Oromo people were in danger of being killed, my mother and father fled Ethiopia.” This happened before Nasteha was born. The family moved to the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, but only Nasteha’s siblings and pregnant mother were allowed to stay because her father did not have the right paperwork. The camp was a dangerous place, without enough food or water to go around. Eventually, the girl’s family was approved to move to Canada. But when Nasteha was born at the medical facility, she was not on the list to travel with her family. Her mother left her behind with an aunt, and finally, Nasteha was brought to Canada to be reunited with her loved ones. Beardsley’s recounting of these events, using Nasteha’s voice, makes the girl’s story feel relatable and urgent. The technique allows the author to gloss over some of the scarier aspects of the account, making the difficulties evident to young readers without terrifying them. The narrative invites readers to identify with Nasteha and to see the problems faced by refugees. Wood’s photographs of Nasteha and her family make up most of the images. A short, useful glossary defines unfamiliar terms.

An absorbing and approachable introduction to the struggles of refugees.

Pub Date: April 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-6679-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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