Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's Here - Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Hi everyone! I'm currently stuck in the middle of Storm Juno, watching the snow pile up outside. However, it is Multicultural Children's Book Day, and as promised, this post will be a review of Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui!

First off though, a little background info:

Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Mission: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

“MCCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.”

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

There are several sponsors that have gracious helped with this project. Sponsorship details can be viewed  HERE.

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include:

Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop 
Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.comAuthor Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof
Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing
Bronze Sponsors: Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books, Author Felicia CapersChronicle Books   Muslim Writers PublishingEast West Discovery Press

Author Sponsors include:

Beautiful Rainbow World by Suzee Ramirez
Lulu and the Very Big Meanies by Mac McGooshie, illustrated by Alexis Hogwood

Real Street Kidz Multicultural Children’s Book Series by Quentin Holmes

There are also several co-hosts:

Africa to America
Kid World Citizen
Multicultural Kid Blogs
Sprout’s Bookshelf

First Book

We’re also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.

Children’s Book Council:
MCCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.

And of course, for more info, go to the Multicultural Children's Book Day blog.

Now! Onto my review!

Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui is an informative, wonderfully illustrated book by Icy Smith and Gayle Garner Roski. The narrator is Min, a young girl who lives with her parents and brother in the village of Sanxingdui. The story revolves around the tradition of mask-making during their Warrior Festival. A minor plot point involves the gift of an elephant to Min's brother, Wei. However, what begins a celebration, ends with the onset of a rainstorm and the impending threat of an attack from the village's enemy from the north. The village, having faced their enemies before, decide to hide their masks and try to prevent the imminent attack of their enemies, as Min's father says, "Sometimes fighting is necessary, but this time we will stop the fighting before it starts." 

The final panel shows the village burning and burying their valuables, including the masks. Though the book ends in a somewhat sobering manner, an author's note speaks to the actual story of the masks, and how in 1986, construction workers in China accidentally stumbled upon a trove of artifacts from around 1300 BCE. It is unknown the fate of the village, but scholars have decided that it may have been destroyed through natural disaster, or an invasion (as the book uses). Because of the sophistication of the articles discovered for the time in which they were created, archeologists and anthropologists have found the excavation site to be a mystery.

I must admit, this is not the type of picture book that I would normally pick up. But, as someone who studied history and took an archeology class as an undergrad, I found this story to be interesting. I'd also not heard of the region of Sanxingdui, so I came into reading this with no context. The author uses key points to frame the story, but this text is a little wordy - I'd say it's for an older reader; and would be appreciated by an older reader who would have a better grasp of geographical constructs. As it is, I felt like I had learned more about the history of region in which the story takes place, and the author's note helped to cement the story's origins in reality. The colors of the illustrations are lovely, and I found myself looking closely at each spread to take in all of the details. 

Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui is a solid read, and is a good jumping off point for a reader interested in ancient cultures. 

That's all for now, folks! Thanks for stopping by!

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